The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic recently crushed many high-growth stocks across the market. Stocks with low profits and high valuations were easy targets for the bears, and entire sectors that were dependent on healthy macro tailwinds collapsed.
Yet growth stocks in defensible niches survived the sell-off, and the valuations of some high fliers dropped to more attractive levels. Let's take a look at three growth stocks that could be worth nibbling on in this volatile market.
Huya (HUYA 4.49%) is the largest video game streaming platform in China. It was spun off from the video streaming company JOYY in 2018 and is now majority-owned by Tencent, the world's largest game publisher.
Huya generates most of its revenue from value-added services like virtual gifts and subscriptions in its live video streams. Only a sliver of its revenue comes from ads, which are more sensitive to macro headwinds.
Huya's business thrived throughout the peak of the coronavirus crisis in China in February, as lockdown and quarantine measures forced more people to stay at home. People played more video games and streamed more gameplay, and viewers bought more virtual gifts and subscriptions.
Huya expects its revenue to rise 45%-47% annually during the first quarter of 2020, which bears the full brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns. Analysts expect its revenue and earnings to rise 35% and 56%, respectively, this year -- which are remarkable growth rates for a stock that trades at just 22 times forward earnings. Huya's stock declined 30% over the past six months, but investors who buy the dip could be well-rewarded over the long term.
2. Veeva Systems
Veeva (VEEV 2.05%) is a cloud services company that was co-founded by Salesforce's former SVP of Technology Peter Gassner. Veeva's services help life science companies manage customer relationships, and track industry regulations, clinical trials, prescribing habits, and other medical data.
Veeva serves pharmaceutical giants like GSK, Teva, and Novartis, which are all developing various COVID-19 treatments. Keeping track of that progress in real-time streamlines that process, and demonstrates why Veeva's tools are invaluable to the healthcare sector.
Veeva expects its revenue and adjusted earnings to rise 33% and 19%, respectively, in the first quarter, even after factoring in the COVID-19 crisis. For the full year, it expects its revenue to rise by 27% with 14% earnings growth.
Veeva's stock barely dipped over the past six months, and still looks a bit frothy at 60 times forward earnings. However, I've long argued that Veeva deserves a premium valuation since it dominates a high-growth niche with a first mover's advantage. That best-in-breed reputation should insulate it from any coronavirus-induced downturns.
Twilio (TWLO 1.61%) is a cloud services company that processes messages, calls, videos, and other content for mobile apps. Developers simply add a few lines of code to their apps to outsource those services to Twilio, which is generally easier and cheaper than building those services from scratch.
Twilio's major customers include Airbnb, Lyft, Twitter, Amazon's Twitch, and the American Red Cross. The growth of the mobile app market is lighting a fire under Twilio's business since it only faces a handful of meaningful rivals in its niche market.
Twilio isn't profitable yet, but it expects its revenue to rise 44%-45% annually in the first quarter and 30%-31% for the full year. Its dollar-based net expansion rate, or its revenue growth per existing customer, also remains well above 100% -- which indicates it's locking in customers with new services.
Twilio's stock tumbled nearly 30% over the past six months, but it still isn't particularly cheap at eight times this year's sales. However, Twilio's business will keep growing throughout the crisis as apps process more calls, messages, and videos -- and should remain well-insulated from the COVID-19 pandemic.