If you're an enterprising investor, you may be drawn to companies that are disrupting the status quo, breaking barriers, or building a completely new kind of business that changes industries. It's even better when you get a chance to buy those stocks on sale.
We asked three of our contributors to write about a stock that fits these parameters, and they came up with a turnaround opportunity with beaten-up TripAdvisor Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP), the ready-to-profit merchant services expert Square Inc. (NYSE:SQ), and infrastructure engineering services upstart NV5 Global Inc. (NASDAQ:NVEE).
Keep reading to learn what sets these three companies apart and why they're worth buying now.
Will this company's bold bet pay off?
Brian Feroldi (TripAdvisor): Travel review site TripAdvisor has become the go-to site for millions of shoppers who wanted to research the perfect vacation. That enormous flow of traffic made it an ideal place for advertisers to spend big bucks in order to reach millions of travel-ready consumers. In turn, TripsAdvisor's revenue and profits soared for years as an ever-increasing amount of high-margin revenue started to hit the company's bank account.
However, in 2015, it made the bold decision to switch its focus away from just advertising and instead become an online travel agent. It wanted its users to book their travel arrangements directly on its site instead of being shipped off elsewhere. The thought was that this would become a better shopping experience for consumers and it would turn TripAdvisor into a more profitable company over time.
Unfortunately, the company's business model switch hasn't exactly gone smoothly. Rolling out the "Instant Booking" platform has proved to be quite expensive. At the same time, advertising revenue has flatlined as it has worked its way through the change. When combined, these factors have pulled TripAdvisor's profits and stock price in the wrong direction.
While it is currently unknown if this massive switch will pay off, the company did report a 6% jump in revenue last quarter even though advertising and subscription revenue dropped by 4%. The difference between those two figures hints that the move to instant booking could finally be paying off. What's more, the company's platform continues to flourish as its user review count recently surpassed 500 million and its unique monthly visitors jumped 14% in the first quarter to 386 million.
Looking ahead, management plans on launching an advertising campaign later this year to get the word out on instant booking. They are also projecting that full-year revenue will grow by double digits, which suggests that growth could reaccelerate from here. If true, then this beaten-down stock could finally be poised for a comeback.
Making small businesses possible
Travis Hoium (Square): Investors who are observing the changing business landscape in the U.S. understand that platforms like Square are a key tool for those starting their own new businesses today. If you're starting a small business like a food truck or coffee shop you need a way to process payments, a point-of-sale system, inventory management, payroll, and even capital. Square provides a platform and partners to fill all of those needs. And after spending to build out those capabilities, the company's finances are starting to improve.
The challenge from an investment standpoint is that Square had to build a critical mass of capabilities before it could attract a critical mass of customers that would drive a profit. That's why you see the negative EBITDA above, a trend that's quickly turning around.
Where I think Square is developing a unique position in the market is in small-business services. An entrepreneur could literally build its business on top of Square's platform and its partner apps. And investing in companies that are giving new companies a chance to flourish makes Square a great stock for enterprising investors.
These enterprising managers are building something big (again)
Jason Hall (NV5 Global Inc.): With a market capitalization of around $402 million at recent prices and revenue of less than $250 million over the past year, NV5 Global is a tiny player in the global infrastructure business. There are multiple companies in the same space that do billions of dollars in sales every quarter.
So what makes NV5 a potential David among so many Goliaths? In short, it's led by a group of executives who have done it before, and the reality that as much as major companies like Jacobs Engineering dominate the space, there are hundreds of thousands of small and regional companies in the industry, making it ripe for consolidation.
And that makes NV5's small size a competitive advantage when it comes to outsize growth. Since its founding, the company has steadily used acquisitions to grow its geographical and technological reach, and that has helped it more than double revenue since 2015. Furthermore, its management is invested in the company's success, with the CEO owning more than 10% of it.
Looking ahead, global infrastructure spending is set to soar, with global population growth and aging infrastructure in many developed countries in need of expansion and improvement. NV5 is very well positioned to profit from that trend. With shares trading at less than 18 times next year's earnings estimates, this is a chance to pay a bargain price for very big growth potential.