Growth stocks are a difficult breed, often requiring investors to venture into complicated and technically challenging sectors and niches. That is exactly the case with MongoDB (NASDAQ:MDB), a tech company that offers a database that can handle unstructured data. But our contributors have also made sure in this article to include a couple of names that don't require a computer science degree to understand, like Axon Enterprise (NASDAQ:AXON), which makes stun guns and body cameras for law enforcement; and Albemarle (NYSE:ALB), which is focused on providing lithium for electric vehicles. All three have huge growth prospects, and recent sell-offs for two of them offer what look like discounted prices today.
Axon remains my best growth stock to buy
Brian Stoffel (Axon Enterprise): Last month, I singled out Axon -- maker of Taser stun guns, Axon body cameras, and the Evidence.com platform -- as my top small cap to buy. Since then, the company reported earnings and the stock fell over 10%.
Based on what was in the earnings report, I'm only more confident about its prospects. Axon is making the conscious decision to forgo short-term profits and instead chase long-term market share via recurring revenue. Wall Street doesn't like that, but long-term shareholders with the stomach for volatility should love it.
During the conference call, founder and CEO Patrick Smith announced the company's body cameras and Evidence.com platform would be expanding beyond law enforcement into emergency responders and firefighters, greatly expanding the total addressable market.
The company is also giving away its new Taser 7 weapon in a subscription-based bundle, and it will include access to Axon's newest product release -- Axon Records -- for an initial fee of $0.
That helps explain why management believes revenue growth will be tepid. That's what happens when you give products away for free. But do you know what else happens? You lock those customers in for life: The switching costs and network effects mean the competition won't be able to touch Axon.
When the trial periods are over, high-margin revenue should start flowing in, and long-term shareholders will be handsomely rewarded for their patience.
The opportunity is more important than the stock price
Reuben Gregg Brewer (Albemarle): How can a stock that's still around 40% below its 2017 highs, even after a 14% year-to-date gain in 2019, be a growth stock? The answer is that you need to pay attention to Albemarle's business and not its stock price.
Albemarle is using its bromine and catalyst segments to support the rapid expansion of its lithium operations. Bromine and catalysts account for around two-thirds of the company's business and are slow-growth divisions. They are good businesses, to be sure, but they don't possess the same growth opportunity as lithium. The industrial metal used in batteries is the real growth catalyst for Albemarle.
To put a number on that, the company expects demand for the metal to grow at an annualized rate of 21% between 2018 and 2025 as production of electric automobiles expands. To meet that demand, it is working to increase its lithium production by 30% in 2019, nearly 50% in 2020, as much as 40% in 2021, and a further 30% or so in 2022. After that, Albemarle believes it could increase production another 33% if needed.
The problem here is that lithium is a commodity. Investors soured on the metal in 2018, which pushed Albemarle's shares lower despite the company posting solid earnings results (adjusted earnings were up 23% in 2018). Notably, production increases in the lithium business were a key top- and bottom-line driver. So if you think electric cars are here to stay, Albemarle is a growth stock you should look at today while the shares are still well off their highs.
Keith Speights (MongoDB): The world is awash in data. And every day (actually, every nanosecond), a lot more data is generated. But there's a problem. Most of this data is unstructured -- for example, documents, social media posts, images, and videos -- while most databases that store the data weren't designed for unstructured data.
This presents a humongous opportunity for MongoDB. (The company's name, by the way, comes from the word humongous.) MongoDB's database was designed from the ground up for unstructured or structured data. It was also designed to be run anywhere, from on-site to in the cloud.
The overall database market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9%. But the market for no-SQL (structured query language) databases like MongoDB will almost certainly grow at a much faster rate. MongoDB, by the way, grew revenue by 57% year over year in its latest reported quarter.
But what about Amazon's announcement in January that it was making a version of MongoDB's open-source database available to Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers called DocumentDB? There's really not much to worry about. Amazon's version doesn't have nearly the level of functionality that MongoDB's proprietary Atlas database has.
What's more, even if Amazon adds great functionality to its database, it will have to make the source code for those changes publicly available due to the open-source licensing requirements. That means that MongoDB could easily add any cool new functionality it didn't already have to its proprietary version.
The bottom line, in my view, is that MongoDB continues to be one of the best technology stocks around for investors looking for tremendous growth prospects.