Investors are always looking for that home run stock, the one that turns thousands into millions, allowing them to retire early and live out their lives in relative comfort. The problem is that this is easier said than done. Not only are these ultra-successful companies notoriously hard to find in their early days, but you need to buy them early enough in their history to make a difference.
Investor psychology also comes into play, and buying the right company is only half the battle. Many investors have purchased such a company, only to sell when times get tough and the company faces challenges, or when the stock price doubles or triples. Life changing gains are only possible if you hold a stock through the inevitable ups and downs that occur in the life of every business.
Let's focus on the first half of the equation -- identifying a company that has the potential to return many times its original investment. One thing investors can do is identify a growing trend or catalyst and a company that is uniquely positioned to capitalize on that trend. E-commerce is a great example of a powerful trend that is changing the way consumers transact business. One company that is poised to reap the rewards of this transformational change is Shopify Inc. (NYSE:SHOP).
Effective solution with powerful friends
Shopify is an e-commerce platform that makes it easy for small- and medium-sized businesses to set up and run an online store, including processing payments. For many, this may seem like a no-brainer, but the majority of mom-and-pop shops don't have the resources or the know-how to make that happen and the same holds true for many companies that don't have a large enough budget to support an IT department.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) previously provided a competing product, its Webstore platform. After a time, not only did the company announce that it would shutter its platform, but Amazon then entered into a series of agreements that made Shopify's platform its preferred provider and shifted its existing customers to Shopify. This culminated early in 2017 in the ability for Amazon vendors to integrate their sales channels directly with their Shopify account. This is a compelling vote of confidence from the largest provider of e-commerce in the world.
Shopify provides 100 ready to use templates and more than 1500 apps to customize the user experience for the respective shoppers of each business. It can also accept and process credit card payments, and track orders. Shopify's offerings also integrate with major payment processors and third party logistics services, while negotiating discounted shipping rates for volume users. The company provides a number of monthly subscription plans that cater to the size of the company and meeting a variety of business needs.
Producing solid results
Shopify has been producing persuasive financial results as well. In its most recent quarter, revenue grew to $127.4 million, a 75% increase over the prior year quarter. Monthly recurring revenue increased to $20.7 million, up 62% year over year, while gross merchandise volume jumped to $4.8 billion, a whopping 81% increase over the prior year period. The number of merchants in its network exceeded 400,000 in the most recent quarter, a year over year increase of 45%. As the company has been foregoing profits to grow the business, and produced a net loss of $13.6 million this quarter, though Shopify expects to show a non-GAAP profit by the end of this year.
Shopify has grown its revenue in excess of 75% year over year in each of the eight quarters since the company went public. Gross merchandise volume and number of merchants have shown similar trajectories at more than 80% and 45% year over year growth, respectively. The company has lately been focusing on expanding its solutions for large, high-volume merchants. Shopify believes that this could provide the next big growth opportunity for the company. Enterprise businesses that use the Shopify Plus tier, which serves this segment of the market, currently accounts for 17% of the company's recurring revenue, up from 11% in the prior year quarter.
The bottom line
Shopify has produced some impressive results that have led some to speculate that it could be acquired. The company isn't resting on its laurels and recently introduced a new chip and swipe reader, and made it easier for merchants to sell wholesale to select buyers without revealing those prices to retail customers.
E-commerce is a huge trend, which currently accounts for 8.5% of retail sales in the U.S., up from just 3.5% in 2007. Shopify provides merchants of all sizes the tools they need to tap into this paradigm shift. It has shown a remarkable customer-centric focus and successfully navigated the early days of its existence. There's no way to know for sure if Shopify will be a millionaire maker stock, but is does have the makings of a successful investment going forward. Time will tell.