Many high-growth companies choose to sacrifice near-term profitability in order to drive as much revenue growth as possible. While that tradeoff can work out well for shareholders in some cases -- pull up any long-term chart of Amazon.com for proof -- the lack of profits tends to amp up the company's risk profile as well.
Thankfully, not every hypergrowth company is forced to make this trade-off. Three high-growth businesses -- Semler Scientific (SMLR -1.43%), Beyond Meat (BYND 5.96%), and Fulgent Genetics (FLGT -0.18%) -- are all producing tremendous top-line growth while also generating profits. Here's why the good times can continue.
Given its market cap of less than $350 million, the odds are good that you've never heard of Semler Scientific. This healthcare company makes diagnostic products that aid in the identification of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which is the narrowing of arteries due to fatty buildup. Patients with PAD are several times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke, yet 75% of them -- as many as 12 million Americans -- are currently undiagnosed.
That's because healthcare providers don't have an easy, accurate, and fast way to measure blood flow to the extremities. That's where Semler comes in.
Semler sells a product called QuantaFlo, which is a small device that is placed on the patient's fingers and toes to painlessly measure red blood cell flow. Semler's software then analyzes the data and produces a report in just a few minutes, allowing doctors to quickly diagnose PAD.
Demand for QuantaFlo is surging as more healthcare providers learn about its benefits. Last quarter, Semler's top line grew 60% to $8.9 million. That might not sound like much, but Semler's costs are so low that the company produced an adjusted net income of $3.1 million during the quarter.
Management believes that as many as 80 million Americans could eventually be screened annually with QuantaFlo. That suggests this company's days of hypergrowth are here to stay.
Beyond Meat, the maker of plant-based meat substitutes, received a lot of fanfare when it went public last year. Given the hype and novelty of plant-based meat alternatives, I figured that this company would be a cash-burning machine. My instincts proved to be dead wrong.
Last quarter, Beyond Meat's revenue grew an eye-popping 250% to $92 million. The surging top line allowed its gross margin to expand from 19.2% all the way to 35.6%. That was a big enough jump to allow the company to produce a net income of $4.1 million.
Wall Street believes that Beyond Meat's hypergrowth and profits are here to stay. The current estimates call for revenue to grow another 75% in 2020 and for the company to produce about $0.42 in EPS. With billions of dollars up for grabs, it's possible that Beyond Meat could turn into the next great growth stock.
With a market cap of about $310 million, Fulgent is another tiny company that likely flies under the radar of most investors. But don't let its small size fool you -- Fulgent is poised to become a major player in the rapidly growing genetic testing market.
Fulgent's tests identify mutations in genes or chromosomal abnormalities that can be used to diagnose or rule out certain genetic conditions. Fulgent offers single-gene tests on approximately 18,000 genes, which is thousands more than most of its competitors. Those tests can be used to diagnose more than 7,600 genetic conditions including cancers, cardiovascular diseases, neurological disorders, pediatric conditions, and more.
Fulgent knows that driving down prices is key to creating demand, so the company uses proprietary gene probes, database algorithms, machine learning, and next-generation sequencing tools to keep its costs low. The company then passes a portion of the savings to its customers.
The strategy is working. Last quarter, Fulgent's testing volume surged 272% to 20,700. That helped drive revenue growth of 84% to $10.3 million, and the sales leverage helped gross margin to expand. The combination allowed Fulgent to produce a net income of $1.5 million.
Excitingly for investors, the numbers suggest that Fulgent is just getting started. The global market for genetic testing is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2022. With management calling for just $32 million in revenue for all of 2019, Fulgent has plenty of runway to remain in growth mode for years to come.