Shares of upstart software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider PagerDuty (NYSE:PD) and gene therapy company Adverum Biotechnologies (NASDAQ:ADVM), with a potentially hot product in testing, are rocking and rolling today. Two of our Motley Fool contributors tell you why -- and why there's a good reason to think the uptrend can continue. On the other hand, according to another contributor, the stock of industrial Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) has hit a rough patch -- except the lithium maker's business continues to put up good numbers, which suggests investors are missing something here. These growth stocks are all worth looking at right now. You might find one or more is worth adding to your portfolio today.
My money is on this coding problem solver
Brian Stoffel (PagerDuty): Once you get past the '90s-era name, there's a lot to like about PagerDuty. The company is a software-as-a-service player offering monitoring and management of technological problems that arise in any business.
In today's business climate, you cannot afford to have buggy websites. Imagine how much business you might lose if the "Buy" button doesn't work on your website. That's where PagerDuty comes into play. The company collects data signals from all of a company's applications and servers, uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to pinpoint the problem, and notifies only the people who can fix it.
This has become a fast-growing business. The number of customers with annual subscription accounts of $100,000 or more jumped 51% in the first quarter -- PagerDuty's first as a public company -- to 242. Just as important, dollar-based net retention held relatively steady at 137%.
For those unfamiliar with the metric, this measures the total amount of revenue one cohort of customers brings in from year to year -- while filtering out the effect of new customers. Because the rate is well above 100%, we know that customers are not only sticking with PagerDuty, but adding more solutions over time, creating a wide moat in terms of high switching costs. Such a moat is a key trait of fast-growing companies worth putting your money behind.
A red-hot gene therapy play
George Budwell (Adverum Biotechnologies): The clinical-stage gene therapy company Adverum Biotechnologies has been one of the hottest biotech stocks this year, with its shares appreciating by a whopping 376% over the first half of 2019. What's all the fuss about?
Apart from the fact that nearly every gene therapy stock has been going gangbusters this year thanks to the high level of buyout interest in the space, Adverum's shares have also gotten a boost from its experimental wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) treatment dubbed ADVM-022. While the company has yet to release any granular details regarding the trial's progress, we do know that ADVM-022's safety record in its ongoing early-stage trial hasn't raised any alarm bells. And the therapy has also reportedly produced some encouraging signs of efficacy, even at its lowest dose.
What's the big deal? If ADVM-022 ultimately pans out, it could be a major improvement in the standard of care for wet AMD. As things stand now, elderly patients with impaired vision currently have to visit clinics every four to eight weeks to receive treatment. ADVM-022, by contrast, is designed to be a one-time treatment, which should greatly enhance compliance among wet AMD patients.
So while it's still early days for Adverum and its lead product candidate, there's a chance that the company could eventually have a megablockbuster product in hand. This developmental biotech stock, in turn, should have a lot more room to run based on ADVM-022's monstrous commercial opportunity.
Time to show this stock a little love
Reuben Gregg Brewer (Albemarle): Every major automaker is building an electric vehicle. Even heavy vehicle manufacturers are getting in on the act. That is what's driving the huge demand for lithium, a key industrial metal used in batteries. Albemarle is a major global supplier of lithium. While its shares have been cut in half since peaking in late 2017, its growth prospects remain very bright.
The steep stock price decline is largely related to investor sentiment. A few years ago Wall Street couldn't get enough of the lithium story and the stocks associated with the metal, like Albemarle. And then investors moved on and dumped lithium and anything related to it. But the story really hasn't changed all that much.
Albemarle believes lithium demand will increase at a compound annual rate of 21% between 2018 and 2025. Vehicles are the main driving force. To meet that demand, it is looking to more than double its lithium production capacity over the next three years.
But this isn't a one-trick pony. The company also produces bromine (27% of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) and catalysts (25%) for the energy industry. It is using that solid foundation to expand its lithium business. And, despite building out its lithium operations, it remains highly profitable, with projected sales growth of between 9% and 15% in 2019 expected to drive an adjusted earnings advance of between 12% and 20%. When all is said and done, this out-of-favor growth stock is worth putting on your buy list today if you believe electric vehicles are the future of transportation.