NVIDIA's (NASDAQ:NVDA) stock price has nearly tripled over the past year, helped by one stunningly good quarter after another as a broad range of customers have come to realize the power of its flagship graphics chip technology.
This doesn't mean NVIDIA is done climbing yet. Thanks to the central role its GPUs play enabling the advancement of the fast-growing artificial intelligence market, the company believes its best days have yet to come.
But that also raises the question: Are there any stocks on the market that could trounce even NVIDIA's returns?
A different network specialist
Steve Symington (Ubiquiti Networks): Ubiquiti Networks stock has more than quadrupled over the past five years, which already makes this relatively small ($4 billion market cap) business an NVIDIA-esque market beater. But it's also still reeling after short-seller Citron Research leveled fraud accusations against the networking hardware specialist last week. Most notably, Citron's Andrew Left voiced skepticism of Ubiquiti's unusually high margins for its industry, potentially shady international distributors, its small executive management team, and little cash held in the U.S.
But even a cursory glance at the sensationalist report -- which likened Ubiquiti founder and CEO Robert Pera to the heads of Enron and Valeant -- had me questioning whether Citron's claims held water. Sure enough, several analysts quickly came to Ubiquiti's defense by arguing that Left offered little new information that Citron bulls didn't already know.
For example, Morningstar analyst Ilya Kundozerov elaborated:
This is what [Andrew left] does. Ubiquiti is easy to poke holes in. [...] Ubiquiti has a bare-bones organizational structure, that's key, so a lot of the red flags are coming from that point. They don't have enough people, but that doesn't make them a fraud. [...] I would say it's a fairly unique company and for some people that may sound worrisome. It's very unusual, so people may try to stay away from unusual business models.
What's more, while some investors have criticized the company for not formally addressing the report immediately, the following day Ubiquiti responded by increasing its current-quarter revenue guidance, approving an incremental $100 million share repurchase program, and scheduling an investor update next week (on Sept. 26, 2017, several weeks ahead of its expected quarterly call) to be hosted by Pera.
I suspect Pera will offer more specific details at that time to debunk Citron's allegations. But for investors willing to take advantage of its recent pullback, I think Ubiquiti Networks stock should continue to deliver market-beating returns from here.
That Red Hat looks good on you
Anders Bylund (Red Hat): It's true that NVIDIA's stock has gained an eye-popping 840% over the last three years, making it tough to find a match for the company's recent performance. But we are probably getting close to peak NVIDIA these days, and it's not hard at all to find companies I would rather own right now.
In particular, I would recommend that you take a look at open-source software specialist Red Hat instead.
For starters, Red Hat's stock has delivered a market-stomping 84% return over the same three-year period. In 2017 alone, investors have enjoyed a 53% surge that's right in line with NVIDIA's returns.
But Red Hat is no flash in the pan. The company has delivered double-digit sales growth in every single quarterly report since the fall of 2002. The resulting financial chart is downright beautiful:
Note that Red Hat's steady sales growth has been accelerating in recent years. This is how you build a cash machine for the long term. The company is busy stealing market share in the enterprise computing sector from established giants like Microsoft and IBM, with a low-cost business model that includes a worldwide community of open-source developers.
Nvidia has soared before, only to come back to earth again a few years later. I prefer Red Hat's fast-and-steady approach to long-term growth.
A disaster with turnaround potential
Tim Green (Fossil Group): Shares of watch and accessory designer and retailer Fossil are down a whopping 90% over the past three years. Revenue has been tumbling, margins have eroded, and the balance sheet has become more precarious as the company loaded up on debt to buy back shares. Fossil is now valued at $425 million, less than the company spent on share buybacks in 2014 alone.
There's no shortage of reasons to avoid Fossil stock like the plague. But if the company can successfully stop the bleeding, the stock could be in for quite the rebound. Shares of Fossil are cheap, assuming the company isn't in a death spiral. Free cash flow totaled $134 million over the past twelve months, putting the price-to-free cash flow ratio at a hair above 3. The stock trades for about two-thirds book value and just 0.15 times sales. Any good news at all could send the stock soaring.
Fossil's turnaround plan involves pushing hard into the smartwatch market. Fossil became the No. 5 player in the global wearables market during the second quarter, moving 1 million devices and claiming 4% of the market. The company's acquisition of Misfit and its strategy to produce hundreds of different models under a wide variety of brands are producing some results.
Things will likely get worse at Fossil before they get better, and the stock could certainly continue to move lower. But Fossil is priced for catastrophe, and anything better than the direst scenario could turn it into a monster stock.
Teresa Kersten is an employee of LinkedIn and is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. Anders Bylund owns shares of IBM and Red Hat. Steve Symington owns shares of Nvidia. Timothy Green owns shares of IBM. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nvidia and Ubiquiti Networks. The Motley Fool recommends Fossil Group, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.