We've all done it. You're sitting there, looking at an epic growth stock's incredible rise over the last five or 10 years, and wishing you had owned it. All of the signs that the business was ready for liftoff years ago seem so obvious in hindsight -- maybe you even knew the company or used its products. Oh, what could have been.
Missed investing opportunities sting, but there's a silver lining: The next great growth stock is always out there waiting to be discovered. We asked three contributors at The Motley Fool for their most promising high-growth picks. Here's why they chose Genomic Health (GHDX), Celgene Corp. (CELG), and Axon Enterprise (AXON -1.85%).
A new industry leader with plenty of room to run
Maxx Chatsko (Genomic Health): The recent history of the genetic-testing industry was dominated by Myriad Genetics (MYGN -2.54%). It rose to power by designing diagnostic tests to detect the presence of genetic mutations that increase an individual's risk of developing certain types of cancers. Because it patented the tests -- and sometimes the genes themselves -- it made a fine living selling low volumes of tests at extraordinary prices.
It was a great business model until a new crop of companies emerged, flipped the game board over, and rewrote the rules. Now the entire industry must compete on selling large volumes of tests at the highest quality and lowest cost possible. Myriad Genetics struggled to respond to its younger competitors, and just recently coughed up its title as holder of the highest market cap in the industry to Genomic Health. It was well-earned.
Genomic Health absolutely crushed it during the third quarter of 2018, posting its first quarter with $100 million in revenue and second straight quarter with operating profits. It grew revenue 21% year over year. In fact, the business is doing so well right now that management raised full-year 2018 earnings guidance from a previous midpoint of $2.5 million to $27 million. Not bad considering there's only one quarter left to go this year.
The importance of delivering consistent and growing profits cannot be understated. Investors have patiently waited for years for the scale-up of the business to deliver profitable operations. And if we're being honest, the "grow at all costs and hope it works out later" model has a pretty high failure rate for start-ups. Equally important, operating profits are positioning Genomic Health to pour money into future growth opportunities, and perhaps even get to work in 2019 consolidating the highly fragmented industry.
Short-term stumbles have put this top biotech on sale
Todd Campbell (Celgene): No one can blame Celgene's shareholders for being frustrated by the biotech giant's performance in the past year. A series of high-profile gaffes have overshadowed ongoing double-digit sales and profit growth, and caused a steep slide in its share price.
The missteps, however, are temporary setbacks; with valuation ratios at multiyear lows, it could be the perfect time to pick up shares on sale.
While a phase 3 failure in Crohn's disease and slowing growth for its psoriasis drug Otezla caused the company to ratchet back its 2020 sales forecast by $2 billion to $19 billion, that still represents a major increase from the $15.2 billion Celgene expects to deliver in sales this year.
The company's product lineup boasts four billion-dollar blockbusters, including Otezla, which is on pace for $1.6 billion in sales; Pomalyst, a multiple myeloma drug that could generate $2 billion in sales; and Revlimid, a widely used multiple myeloma drug that could deliver $9.7 billion in sales this year. Celgene also markets the billion-dollar solid-tumor cancer drug Abraxane.
In the future, Celgene's revenue growth could come from a slate of promising drugs that are making their way to market. The company plans to file fedratinib soon for approval by the Food and Drug Administration; if it wins an OK, the drug will compete against the billion-dollar blockbuster Jakafi. Next year with Acceleron Pharma (XLRN), it plans to file for approval of luspatercept, a drug for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia; Celgene thinks it could have $2 billion peak sales potential. It also says it will refile its oral multiple sclerosis drug, ozanimod, for approval early next year, potentially expanding the company into another multibillion-dollar indication.
A little further out, two more promising treatments could make it to market in 2020: the company's gene therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, liso-cel, and a gene therapy it's developing with bluebird bio (BLUE -5.83%) for multiple myeloma, bb2121.
Overall, Celgene is growing its top and bottom lines by double-digit rates. Given that its price-to-sales ratio of 3.79 and trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 18.8 are both at 10-year lows, the stock could be a bargain.
A surprising high-growth cloud stock
Travis Hoium (Axon Enterprise): One of the broad trends in law enforcement this decade is the growing use of body cameras and less-lethal weapons, like Tasers. The company leading both product segments is Axon Enterprise, and it's a company that's just starting to realize its growth potential.
You can see in the chart below that Axon has more than quadrupled revenue in the past decade, and new products will likely keep growth going:
The recently announced Taser 7 electronic weapon and Body 3 camera are the first products to be bundled with cloud storage and a new records system; these will automate a lot of documentation that officers do every day, making their jobs easier. The new products are included in three subscriptions ranging from $109 per month to $199 per month, with more services at higher price points. Axon is trying to lock in customers long term, by getting them on a records management platform, and keep recurring revenue growing, by increasing subscription revenue as opposed to one-time purchases.
The reason I think Axon's growth is just beginning is that it's only reaching a small fraction of potential customers. There are over 1 million officers in the U.S. who could use Axon products, which could be a $2.4 billion market by itself. Internationally, the potential market is multiple times that. Axon says it sees an addressable market of $8.4 billion, nearly six times the revenue generated over the past year. With police-officer cameras growing in importance and less-lethal weapons in demand, Axon has a lot of growth runway ahead.