Investors are drawn to the explosive gains that growth stocks can provide, and oftentimes, those stocks are exciting to follow as they develop and thrive. While those explosive gains are great, they often come at price: paying a premium valuation. But, with the recent market pullback, investors might have an intriguing opportunity to pick up some top growth stocks at cheaper prices. Three Motley Fool contributors have uncovered three intriguing stocks: Control4 ( CTRL ), Kelly Services, Inc. ( KELYA -2.71% ), and Booking Holdings Inc. ( BKNG -3.67% ).
Oversold smart-home stock
Daniel Miller (Control4): If you're done shopping for gifts over the holidays, and have kept an eye on the broader market decline, you have an opportunity to shop for some discounted stocks! The market pullback has given investors a chance to grab shares of once-overvalued stocks: Control4 is a perfect example. For those who haven't heard of Control4, it's a leading global provider of professionally installed systems for homes and businesses that connect up to hundreds of smart devices to work within a single system solution -- these are expensive systems that can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.
Over the past three months, Control4 shares have plunged roughly 50%, bringing its once lofty valuation down to a 24 times price-to-earnings ratio and a consensus forward price-to-earnings ratio of just under 11 times. With those results, you'd think its business is torpedoing, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In early November, the company reported record revenue for the third quarter, with revenue increasing 11% compared to the prior year. Its adjusted earnings per share checked in at $0.38 per share, which was higher than the prior year's result and higher than analysts' estimates. Pessimism came from management moving its full-year 2018 revenue guidance down to a range of $272 million and $274 million, from prior guidance between $273 million and $276 million. It seemed like a classic overreaction, in my opinion, and don't forget its stock is susceptible to large swings, both good and bad, around quarterly earnings.
While the slight revenue guidance pessimism isn't ideal, there is immense room for growth, and the company is making smart moves to grow its brand awareness and sales leads, both of which could send revenue surging. Management has launched Control4 Certified Showrooms as a destination for homeowners to see how much they can benefit from its automation systems and solutions, and essentially "wow" consumers in an attempt to drive stronger sales leads. Further, management estimates it has only penetrated 1.6% of its U.S. market, with the international opportunity remaining even larger.
As the number of smart devices in our homes and businesses continue to multiply in number and complexity, Control4 is poised for strong growth. The faster its Certified Showrooms and other brand-awareness initiatives gain traction, the faster its recent stock decline will reverse.
Who says you have to be a young company to grow?
Chuck Saletta (Kelly Services): Lost in all the worry about when the stock market will crash and all the hubbub about an inverting yield curve is the simple fact that the underlying economy is doing reasonably well. The unemployment rate remains below 4%, and the overall economy is growing at around a 3.5% pace. Indeed, there's reason to believe the low unemployment rate may very well be one of the limiting factors preventing the economy from growing even faster.
In an economy like that, it can be a great time to be in a business where employees are your product. After all, when it's hard to find workers, those available through staffing firms like Kelly Services can often command a premium. In business since the 1940s, with over $5 billion in revenue, Kelly Services certainly knows how to place people with companies that need their services.
Thanks to the current state of the economy, Kelly Services is expected to be able to grow its earnings at a strong 15% clip over the next five or so years. Still, what makes it compelling to consider buying right now is the fact that, like much of the market, its shares have been knocked down in recent months. That knockdown has made its shares so cheap that, despite its expected growth, its stock is available for a mere 8.3 times the company's anticipated earnings.
It's rare to find a company with that kind of expected growth trading at that low a multiple. When it's available, it's certainly worth considering an investment.
The leader in online travel booking
Nicholas Rossolillo (Booking Holdings): As wealth around the globe increases, people are traveling more. As incomes rise, local communities are getting high-quality internet access for the first time. Those two tailwinds have been a boon for the online travel industry, and Booking Holdings (formerly Priceline Group) is the undisputed leader. In spite of the sprawling size of its operations -- the company currently carries a market cap of $79 billion -- it has still found a way to consistently grow its sales at a double-digit clip.
Take 2018, for example. There have been lots of new entrants to the digital booking industry, and a handful of them have even grown to rival the size of some of Booking's subsidiaries. Some of these upstarts like Uber and Airbnb are changing the way many people travel via things like ride-sharing and the ability to easily rent out private residences. Competition is also coming from other tech companies, like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) and its expansion of search and booking tools like Google Flights.
Nevertheless, Booking has still found a way to pace its competition. Through three quarters of 2018, the company grew the value of gross travel bookings by 16% over 2017. That has led to 14% growth in revenue and 19% in earnings per share. Never prone to keep the foot off the gas, management acquired an online tour and events booking site early in the year, made a strategic investment in China's biggest ride-sharing company, Didi Chuxing, and recently bought Asia Pacific-focused hotel search tool HotelsCombined -- setting up more ways it can connect its customers to travel accommodations and services.
In spite of the success it's experienced this year, Booking's stock is down 2% year to date and down over 25% from all-time highs it reached in the spring months. With price to free cash flow (money left over after operations and capital expenditures are paid for) sitting at a lowly 16.6 as of this writing, now looks like a good time to add some Booking Holdings stock to your portfolio.