Following the smart money can sometimes be a dumb idea, and smart investors can do much better for themselves by not always following the crowd. Particularly in a go-go market where indexes are regularly hitting new highs, finding growth companies worthy of investing in can take some digging.
We asked three top Motley Fool contributors for stocks they think would make for snappy growth investments, perhaps in areas you may not have previously considered. Read on to discover why smart investors ought to consider Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), and Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL).
An exploding online sales platform
Keith Noonan (Shopify): Shares of the e-commerce company Shopify have nearly tripled since its IPO, it currently has no profits to speak of, and its stock is trading at roughly 14 times forward sales, given these points there are valid reasons to question whether the company is a smart investment right now. To understand why Shopify is a growth stock that can continue to deliver wins for shareholders, let's break down what the business does and why it has promising avenues for continued growth.
Shopify provides a platform for businesses that enables them to quickly set up and run their own online stores to take advantage of the growth in online commerce. The company now has a customer base of over 400,000 merchants, and the cost and inconvenience associated with switching to a different sales platform means that these customers are likely to stay with Shopify and help it continue to scale up. Last quarter saw the company grow its revenue 75% year over year on the strength of customer additions and increased merchant spending, and, while the company is still operating at a loss, that's due to investments in growing its sales base and building up the services provided to its client base.
A report from the U.S. Department of Commerce indicated that e-commerce grew faster in 2016 than it had in the previous three years, and still accounted for just 11.7% of the country's retail sales. It's clear from this statistic that there's still massive room for growth in online retail, and Shopify's ability to make it easier for its merchants to capture that growth suggests it's a stock with massive long-term potential.
Don't bet against this stock
Dan Caplinger (Las Vegas Sands): For several years, the casino resort industry was under substantial pressure, and Las Vegas Sands found itself at the epicenter of the problems for the sector. Plunging revenue from the Asian gaming capital of Macau sent Sands and its casino peers into a tailspin, and the long drop lasted for two full years before finally starting to bottom out. At the same time, Sands faced new competition from casino development projects that finally reached completion, flooding the market with new capacity and eating into Sands' first-mover advantage.
However, Las Vegas Sands has an ace up its sleeve. The potential opening of the Japanese gaming market, which has long been closed to casino resorts, could be a huge source of new revenue. Many industry watchers now expect Japan to approve casino gaming as soon as the end of this year, and that could set the stage for a free-for-all battle among industry players for the rights to obtain a gaming license and build a massive resort in the island nation. Sands would have a good chance of winning that license, because it has experience in pioneering other gaming markets and therefore knows how to do it well.
Even if Sands doesn't get a win in Japan, its existing resorts have a loyal audience. With Japan, though, Sands would become a big growth driver in the region and pick up an even bigger advantage over its rivals.
Something to smile about
Rich Duprey (Colgate-Palmolive): Even without the potential for a tie-up with Kraft Heinz, an investment in Colgate-Palmolive still makes sense. The ubiquity of its product portfolio, its brand leadership in virtually every category it competes in, and the diversity of its geographical exposure make it a smart choice for investors to consider.
You probably have at least one of its products somewhere in your kitchen, laundry room, or medicine cabinet, as its brands include Palmolive dish soap, Suavitel detergent, and Speed Stick deodorant. While it is among the leading consumer products companies in the North America, it also generates around three-quarters of its total net sales in international markets, half of which are in emerging markets. And it dominates certain categories. It has a 44% share of the global toothpaste market and 33% in toothbrushes.
It has run into some troubles internationally, such as in Venezuela where confiscatory economic practices by the country's strongman Nicolas Maduro have sent that economy into turmoil. Colgate was forced to withdraw operations there at a great cost, but it remains financially sound.
Moreover, Colgate has an impressive dividend history, paying uninterrupted dividends on its common stock since 1895, and raising the shareholder payout each and every year for the past 55 years. Its current dividend of $1.56 per share currently yields 2.1% annually.
That's likely part of the reason why Kraft Heinz has the stock on its short list. The consumer foods company needs to find a new avenue for growth, and making a move into products that you don't eat could bolster its own bottom line. It's also a smart play for investors looking for long-term growth coupled with impressive financial strength.