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3 Growth Stocks That Could Put Facebook's Returns to Shame

By Leo Sun, Chuck Saletta, and Jordan Wathen – Sep 5, 2018 at 9:00AM

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GrubHub, Tableau, and Mastercard could generate bigger returns than Facebook over the next few years.

Facebook's (META 0.92%) stock more than quadrupled since its IPO six years ago, but it's recently come under pressure due to ongoing privacy concerns.

It is still a solid long-term growth stock. But according to a team of Motley Fool contributors, three other stocks -- GrubHub (GRUB), Tableau Software (DATA), and Mastercard (MA 0.61%) -- might offer better returns for now. 

A graphical representation of a social network.

Image source: Getty Images.

The Facebook of food deliveries

Leo Sun (GrubHub): GrubHub controls half the U.S. food delivery market, according to March estimates from analytics platform Second Measure. Its two closest rivals, Uber Eats and DoorDash, control 21% and 15% of that market, respectively. Amazon, once considered a significant threat to GrubHub, controls less than 1%.

GrubHub became the 800-pound gorilla in this market by gobbling up a long list of rivals, including Seamless, Eat24, MenuPages, Allmenus, and DiningIn. Like Facebook, GrubHub leveraged its first-mover's advantage in a high-growth market to become a household name.

GrubHub also recently acquired LevelUp, a provider of payments and loyalty-services solutions, to expand its digital ecosystem and lock in its existing restaurants. GrubHub's purchase of Eat24 from Yelp allowed it to integrate its delivery services into Yelp's popular restaurant review platform. It also signed a major partnership with Yum Brands to provide deliveries for Taco Bell and KFC.

GrubHub's growth figures are jaw-dropping. Its revenue rose 51% year over year last quarter, as its daily average grubs (orders) rose 35%, its gross food sales increased 39%, and its total number of active diners jumped 70%. Its non-GAAP net income surged 99% annually, and its GAAP earnings more than doubled.

Analysts expect GrubHub's revenue and non-GAAP earnings to grow 44% and 59%, respectively, this year. However, GrubHub also trades at over 70 times this year's earnings -- so a lot of growth is already priced in.

Making sense of all that data

Chuck Saletta (Tableau Software): As Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal taught us, the enormous amount of data generated online can be incredibly influential when used by someone that understands it well. As a leader in harnessing data via visualization tools and analytic platforms, Tableau Software makes it possible for companies to generate insights from their own data and activate those insights to build their businesses.

Analysts expect Tableau to return to profitability in the next year or so, and deliver rapid profit growth for several years after that. Trading as Tableau does at around nine times revenue, the market certainly expects fast growth ahead. Providing a reason to believe that it can deliver on that promise, Tabelau Software consistently appears among the leaders in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for analytics and business intelligence. 

As businesses put two and two together and decide that it's time to create value from the terabytes of data they're generating and collecting, they'll likely turn to established leaders in that industry. As a company that has repeatedly appeared in that top right quadrant of helping businesses turn their data into insights and action, Tableau Software will likely get more than its fair share of that opportunity.

A woman studies data on a tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

Nothing in the market is guaranteed, but as long as there's value to be had by interpreting the data all our electronic devices are generating, there will be room for companies to make money from it. With the amount of data expected to increase tenfold by 2025, chances are good that Tableau's anticipated growth will materialize and reward investors who are willing to pay for that growth today.

Plenty of growth left in the tank

Jordan Wathen (Mastercard): The most amazing thing about Mastercard is that even more than 50 years after its founding, the payments network continues to grow earnings at a double-digit annual clip as plastic and digital payments take market share from cash.

Think of Mastercard as one of the world's most valuable toll roads. Its network enables thousands of banks to connect with one another to facilitate purchases by credit and debit card, thus playing an integral role in roughly one-fourth of all cashless transactions around the world.

Every time you use a Mastercard-branded debit or credit card, the network collects a small fee. In the most recent quarter, the company generated roughly $3.7 billion in revenue primarily from facilitating nearly $1.5 trillion of debit and credit card payments. 

Over time, one would expect cashless transactions to become a greater share of total worldwide payments volume. In developed markets like the United States, where cashless transactions have become routine, growth is driven by inflation and a shift from brick-and-mortar retail sales to e-commerce. In emerging markets, Mastercard and other payments networks are seeing volume rise as consumers adopt cards for the first time.

At 33 times consensus earnings estimates in 2018, Mastercard's stock doesn't look cheap. In truth, it has never been an obvious bargain. But because of its underlying earnings growth, Mastercard has always been able to grow into its valuation. I continue to believe it can grow into its valuation today, given that I see a long runway for double-digit earnings growth thanks to a combination of rising volume, expanding margins, and rapid share repurchases.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Chuck Saletta has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jordan Wathen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Leo Sun owns shares of Amazon, Facebook, and Grubhub. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Facebook. The Motley Fool recommends Tableau Software and Yelp. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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