3 Growth Stocks for Savvy Investors

Opportunities lie beyond the "hot stock of the day." Here are three ideas for investors with some experience under their belt.

Tim Brugger
Tim Brugger, George Budwell, and Rich Smith
Jun 18, 2017 at 9:09AM
Technology and Telecom

Growth stocks come in all shapes, sizes, and industries, as savvy investors are well aware. Our analysts have found three under-the-radar stocks they think are worth a closer look for more knowledgeable investors: France-based oil giant Total SA (NYSE:TOT), Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE), and biologics upstart Coherus Biosciences (NASDAQ:CHRS).

You have to be pretty savvy to outsmart the laws of physics

Rich Smith (Total S.A.): According to Newton's first law of motion : "An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

It takes a very savvy company to outwit the laws of physics and change its own motion without the aid of an outside force, but that's just what France's Total S.A. is doing. With $136.5 billion in annual sales, Total is one of the world's biggest oil producers. Yet as The Wall Street Journal  reported earlier this week, it is already looking forward to a day when oil demand will peak, and consumers will begin choosing to use renewable forms of energy, such as electricity derived from solar and wind power, instead.

Within the next 20 years, Total has a plan to be producing 20% of its total power from renewable sources. That's almost certainly a reachable goal, as the company's "gas, renewables and power" business accounts for about 5% of the company's annual income already today. This increased focus on renewables is part of the reason why, even if demand for oil is approaching its zenith, analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence see Total growing its earnings by 11% annually over the next five years.

Is that fast enough to satisfy savvy investors looking to own a growth stock? Maybe it should be. With a P/E ratio of 17.2, Total stock looks fairly priced for 11% long-term growth -- at least once you factor in the stock's 5.2% dividend yield. And with OPEC doing its part to boost Total's earnings from oil (by attempting to tighten the tap on oil supply) while the company itself is busily rejiggering its business model for a post-oil world, so much the better.

Total is one "object" that doesn't intend to remain at rest -- but rather to change directions, grow, and even accelerate toward a renewable, electric future.

Digital global growth stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Steady as she goes

Tim Brugger (Adobe) Like many growth stocks, Adobe has recently experienced a healthy share price run, and its subsequent valuation may be enough to move some investors -- particularly those relatively new to the markets -- to explore other opportunities. But for savvy investors willing to look beyond the near-term, Adobe still warrants strong consideration.

Adobe kicked off 2017 with a record  quarter, generating $1.68 billion in revenue -- a stellar 22% higher than the year before. But as strong as its sales were in the first quarter, they pale in comparison to its bottom-line growth, and how it was able to achieve it.

For Q1, Adobe reported earnings per share of $0.80, a whopping 60% increase. Much of the gain on the bottom line was due to CEO Shantanu Narayen sticking to his guns in regards to what was viewed as a fairly drastic shift at the time he initiated it: moving the company from a product sales focus to one based solely on software subscriptions. The annual recurring revenue (ARR) from Adobe's subscriptions not only builds a reliable and predictable foundation, it's less costly than a reliance on product sales.

Last quarter exemplified the benefits of Narayen's aggressive move. While sales jumped more than 20%, Adobe's operating expenses climbed by a mere 11%, and much of that spending came from research and development costs for cutting-edge new technologies.

Adobe's ARR has already ballooned to $4.25 billion, with no end in sight. Forget near-term valuations, savvy investors; Adobe is a growth stock with nearly unlimited upside.

The biosimilar revolution is close at hand

George Budwell (Coherus Biosciences): The market for biosimilars  -- drugs designed to be interchangeable with branded biologically based medicines -- is expected to become one of the fastest-growing segments of the pharmaceutical industry over the next decade. After all, there is $100 billion worth of biologically based drugs on the market that have either lost exclusivity or will lose patent protection by 2020, according to a report by Markets and Markets. 

Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of great ways for American investors to gain direct access to this emerging market. The late-stage biologics company Coherus Biosciences, however, is one glaring exception. 

Coherus is presently working on resolving the outstanding issues regarding its regulatory filing for a biosimilar to Amgen's megablockbuster bone marrow drug Neulasta. The good news is that U.S. Food and Drug Administration reportedly isn't going to require the company run any additional trials in order to refile its application. So, depending on the nature of all the outstanding issues, Coherus could have an FDA-approved biosimilar for a top-selling drug on the market within the next twelve months.  

Although it's hard to say how much of the Neulasta market Coherus can actually capture with its copycat medicine, the drugmaker's shares should get a nice boost even if it only goes on to grab a couple hundred million dollars in annual sales at peak. Coherus, after all, presently sports a market cap of a mere $794 million following its latest dip in the wake of that regulatory setback.

In all, Coherus is well-positioned to take advantage of the rapidly evolving biosimilar market, making it an outstanding growth play for savvy investors.