Whether the broad market is finally peaking or is gearing up for another bullish go-around remains in question. The fourth quarter's earnings reports have been collectively better than expected, but the novel coronavirus' persistence could up-end what is seemingly a fragile economy.
A few names, though, look like they can find a way of continuing their forward progress regardless of what lies ahead for stocks. They may dish out more than a little volatility, but the very best names with the right growth stories can shrug off any trouble thrown at them.
With that as a backdrop, here's a closer look at three growth stocks investors may want to mull over at a pivotal time for the market. Notice that not all three are household names.
1. StoneCo Ltd
The name StoneCo Ltd (STNE -7.54%) may not ring a bell, but that's for good reason. The company is based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and primarily serves that local market's retailers -- online and offline -- with a variety of financial technology solutions. For instance, its pagar.me unit allows e-commerce outfits to accept online card payments, while its flagship division, called Stone, offers brick-and-mortar retailers point-of-sale (cash register) solutions.
It's an increasingly crowded arena, particularly now that PayPal owns European payments services company iZettle and Square has become much more than just a card-acceptance solution. Both companies seem to be quietly eyeing international expansion.
The numbers suggest StoneCo has a firm hold on the Brazilian market. Analysts are modeling revenue growth of more than 40% this year, which should drive the company well into the black after turning the profitability corner in 2018.
The kicker: This is actually a stock Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns. It's not a major holding, making up less than 5% of the Berkshire portfolio, but still, that's nearly a $600 million stake in a company few people outside of South America have even heard of.
2. Paycom Software
Paycom Software (PAYC -2.15%) is a more familiar name than StoneCo, but perhaps only slightly. With a market cap of only $17.3 billion and without a must-have consumer gadget, the company still doesn't turn many heads.
It should turn investors' heads, though. Revenue is projected by analysts to grow nearly 24% this year and improve by more than 22% next year. And yes, earnings are growing right along with sales. This year's consensus bottom-line EPS of $4.24 is 21% stronger than last year's, and analysts are calling for nearly 25% earnings growth for 2021.
Oh, and by the way, Paycom hasn't failed to beat analysts' earnings estimates in any quarter in the past four years. Odds are good they're still underestimating the organization's bottom line.
Paycom Software offers a variety of cloud-based human resources solutions, which is proving to be the new norm among large and even small companies. Where Paycom shines for investors is in the business model itself. Nearly all of its revenue is recurring as companies subscribe to its services rather than make one-time, outright purchases of its software.
Last, but not least, is a growth stock most everyone recognizes: NVIDIA (NVDA -4.05%).
Yes, the company is one of several major names affected by the tariff war being waged between China and the United States. The novel coronavirus fallout certainly isn't going to help, either. Then there's the dampened crypto-mining market that was such a huge growth driver for NVIDIA's graphics cards in 2017. Most cryptocurrencies have stabilized since their 2018 crashes, but demand for the hardware that digitally "mines" for crypto is still nothing like it was then.
NVIDIA has always had something of an ace up its sleeve, though. In fact, it's been storing more than one ace up there, and none of them have exactly been secrets to those who bothered to look.
One of those aces is NVIDIA's presence within the artificial intelligence computing market. The same technological architecture that makes graphics cards and their underlying technology so well-suited for mining cryptocurrency also makes it well-suited to handle the millions and millions of calculations needed by AI solutions developers. For perspective, McKinsey says the artificial intelligence semiconductor market alone could be worth nearly $67 billion by 2025, and so far, NVIDIA dominates this sliver of the technology market.
Let's also not forget NVIDIA is developing self-driving car tech and has already partnered with several car companies to advance autonomous driving such as Toyota and Audi.
The point is, NVIDIA is hardly just discrete graphics cards for gaming computers and consoles. The projected 22% increase in sales this year and next year's estimated revenue growth of almost 15% reflects opportunities well outside of the fickle consumer-facing market, and earnings are set to grow at an even faster clip.