The summertime financial news is awash with geopolitical tension, inverted yield curves, and "plunging" stock markets. In spite of the negativity, though, the economy continues to chug along, and whether a recession is nigh (and how bad it will be if there is one) is really anyone's guess.
Downturn or not, there are businesses out there posting robust growth with plenty of room to keep going. Three of our Motley Fool contributors think that Alteryx (AYX 2.09%), Tucows (TCX 1.43%), and NV5 Global (NVEE 1.25%) are worth a look.
A data analytics pure play left standing
Nicholas Rossolillo (Alteryx): It's been a busy year for data science and analytics companies. New technologies like AI and connected equipment are making it easier than ever for businesses to monitor operations and gain insight on what's going on. Huge growth has followed for the analytics subset of the technology sector, and larger software outfits have been taking notice. Google parent Alphabet (GOOG 1.13%) (GOOGL 1.13%) and salesforce.com (CRM 1.06%) both dropped billions to acquire Looker and Tableau Software, respectively, earlier in the year.
The data analytics industry thus consolidated, investors have a few less options to sort through. Of those left, Alteryx is particularly intriguing. Through the first half of 2019, revenue was up 55%, total customer count was up 34% year over year, and the company posted a dollar-based net retention rate of 133% during the second quarter. That implies that existing Alteryx customers were spending 33% more with the company than they did in the comparable period the year before.
Adding to the compelling growth story is an equally compelling profit profile. Year-to-date gross profit on total sales was 89.1%, an incredible result even for a software outfit. Though net profit is slim at this point, that is by design as the company is spending heavily to maximize its growth potential. Plus, adjusting the bottom line to get free cash flow -- basic cash profits after operating expenses and capital expenditures are paid for -- is at $19.6 million over the last year and continues to steadily rise as Alteryx grows.
Alteryx shares have already more than doubled in 2019, but data and analytics is only getting bigger. As a preeminent player in the space, this stock could continue to soar in the years ahead as it expands and begins to turn its massive growth into bottom-line profits.
You should milk Tucows
Anders Bylund (Tucows): This may not be much of a household name, but Tucows sports some of the strongest growth in the tech sector today. And I think the company is just getting started.
Tucows runs three distinct businesses. Domain name services accounted for 72% of the company's second-quarter sales at a respectable 29% gross margin. Mobile services under the Ting Mobile brand contributed a much smaller portion of total revenue but at an even richer gross margin of 49%. The fiber-based broadband service known as Ting Internet is not yet profitable but growing very quickly.
At the moment, Tucows is drawing on cash flows from the domain name and Ting Mobile businesses to finance Ting Internet's network installations. In the long run, Ting Internet should become the company's core business, and a profitable one at that.
A combination of organic growth in the two networking operations and several acquisitions in the domain name space are driving Tucows' growth. Over the last five years, the company has delivered average annual revenue growth of 22%. On the bottom line, the same period showed an average increase of 38% per year. Looking ahead, the two analyst firms that offer estimates on Tucows expect the earnings growth to accelerate all the way to roughly 50% per year.
It's also a five-star stock (out of five) in The Motley Fool's CAPS system. Insiders own more than 20% of Tucows' share capital, ensuring that management pays attention to the best interests of investors. The company often buys back lots and lots of shares when its cash isn't being earmarked for progressive investments such as the Ting Internet project.
In short, Tucows is flying under the radar while building out Ting Internet into an impressive long-haul cash machine. That move won't pay dividends for several more years, which means that the long-term benefits of Ting Internet haven't been priced into the stock yet. This is an explosive growth stock, priced like a middle-of-the-road value play at just 30 times trailing earnings.
A high-growth company that's easy to overlook
Jason Hall (NV5 Global): On a global basis, infrastructure is a multitrillion-dollar industry that affects nearly every aspect of modern life. It's also somewhat mature in many parts of the world, and not something many people associate with "high growth." That can cause many investors to not even bother looking for growth stocks in the infrastructure space.
And that would cause you to miss out on one of my favorite high-growth stocks: infrastructure consulting and engineering firm NV5 Global.
Since going public in 2013, NV5 revenue has increased 622% while earnings per share have surged 260%. Some investors have caught on: The company's stock price has increased 727% since its IPO. But it's still a tiny company; it will reach $500 million in annual revenue for the first time this year, and its market capitalization is $815 million as of this writing.
How has the company grown so quickly in a low-growth industry? In short, by building a bigger, better business largely through acquisitions. This isn't an easy way to build a business, but founder and CEO Dickerson Wright has a multi-decade track record of execution, and the company follows a rigorous process that's helped it turn every bolt-on acquisition into a per-share profit growing machine.
These acquisitions further enable it to cross-sell related services to its customers, which often engage it for complex projects that require multiple specialties. This has resulted in organic revenue growth that's approached double-digit rates in recent years.
Put it all together, Wright and his team have a formula that's consistently paid off, and looks primed to deliver for many years to come.