Every investor wants to own the next great growth stock. However, finding that needle in a haystack before it turns into a multibagger can be a monumental challenge.
To help increase your odds of success, we asked a team of investors to share a stock that reminds them of Alphabet (GOOG -0.48%) (GOOGL -0.54%) from way back in 2004. Here's why they picked Netflix (NFLX -1.63%), Raven Industries (RAVN), and HubSpot (HUBS 3.81%).
Leading the rebellion
Reuben Gregg Brewer (Netflix): The way people are consuming media is changing, and Netflix has done more to push that shift in the video space than, perhaps, any other company on Earth. In fact, most of its main competitors today, like Hulu and Amazon.com (AMZN 0.57%), are little more than video streaming copycats. And while there's no question that Netflix faces stiff competition from these companies, so did Google back when it was reinventing the way we search the Web -- and, of course, advertise on the Web.
The big story with Netflix, however, is future growth. As The Motley Fool's Anders Bylund pointed out, the streaming giant has more than one way to keep expanding the top line at a robust clip. For example, the company was recently able to push through a 10% U.S. price increase without much customer complaint -- look for more in the future. It also continues to grow its business internationally, where Anders believes the company can increase the subscriber count from roughly 60 million today to 300 million. There's also room to expand the profitability of its non-U.S. operations as they gain scale, bringing them closer to the far more robust domestic business.
There's no question in my mind that Netflix is expensive today, to the point where I wouldn't be a buyer right now. (I'm more of a value guy.) But if this industry giant can keep hitting on all cylinders, as it has for most of its public life, there's no reason more aggressive investors shouldn't be taking a serious look at the growth potential offered up by Netflix's streaming business. Maybe it doesn't merit a buy right now, but it might be a good name to put on your wish list for the next price pullback.
A future-driven, under-the-radar technology play
Neha Chamaria (Raven Industries): Finding the next Google is no cakewalk, but I have my eyes set on one tech stock that's operating in a niche space and is doing things differently, some of which have the potential to drive this small-cap stock into the large-cap league in the coming years. It's Raven Industries -- a company that started off as a hot-air scientific balloon manufacturer but has evolved into a technology provider for aerospace, polymer films, and agriculture.
Think wireless and cloud-based applications used in precision agriculture. Or tough, polymer films used for industrial purposes such as lining landfills, frack pits, and silage bunkers. Or aerospace radar systems and stratospheric balloons. Raven does all this and more. Heard about Google's ambitious Project Loon that aims to provide the internet through a fleet of balloons? Well, Raven's Aerostar business is helping Google make those balloons.
Don't think these are far-fetched technologies. Raven is already a profitable company, pays a dividend, and is seeing strong growth in its top line and operating profits. During the nine months ended Oct. 31, Raven grew its sales by 35% and doubled its net income to $32.6 million. Its operating margin jumped from 10.6% to 17% during the period. To give you some more insight, sales from engineered films, which is also Raven's largest segment, grew a whopping 51.2% during the nine-month period. The other two divisions -- applied technology and Aerostar -- grew sales by 19% each.
Each of Raven's businesses is growing and contributing to its top line, which makes for a strong argument in favor of the stock. I wouldn't be surprised to see Raven's market capitalization swell as the company's innovative, technology-driven products and solutions help shape future trends like precision agriculture.
Marketing enters the 21st century
Brian Feroldi (Hubspot): The proliferation of caller ID, the DVR, and ad-blocking software is making it increasingly difficult for advertisers to reach their target audience. Given these realities, how can companies get their message across to prospective customers?
According to HubSpot, you're better off not even trying to break through the noise. Instead, you should focus your efforts on making it easier for prospective customers to find you.
HubSpot calls this radical sales tactic "inbound marketing" and is a pioneer in helping companies make the switch. HubSpot sells software through the cloud that helps companies produce helpful content that can be easily found when a prospective customer has a problem. This helps businesses to build trust and credibility with prospective buyers, which can greatly increase their chance of converting them into a paying customer down the road.
Believe it or not, but HubSpot has already persuaded more than 37,000 businesses to give this new marketing technique a try, including a few well-known businesses like Shopify and Care.com. What's more, the average customer spends more than $10,000 a year on HubSpot's platform, which suggests that they're happy with the results they're seeing.
While HubSpot's growth up to this point has been impressive, there are still tens of millions of businesses worldwide left to convert to the inbound marketing strategy. If HubSpot succeeds at convincing even a small fraction of businesses to make the switch, then its share price should continue to soar from here.