Over the past decade since the last financial crisis of 2008, growth stocks have handily outperformed value stocks. This has been due to a number of factors, including low interest rates and tepid economic growth, which puts a premium on stocks that can actually grow. Lower interest rates mean lower discount rates, which mean earnings and cash flows years from now are worth more today than they otherwise would be.
At the same time, there is a huge sea change going on at major enterprises and small businesses alike -- the digitization of enterprise information technology. This process has been enabled by the innovation of cloud computing, giving rise to a whole new series of applications that allow enterprises to run more flexibly, efficiently, and cost-effectively.
As the COVID-19 outbreak peaks and then subsides, this same low-interest-rate environment should continue for years. Meanwhile, the digitization of enterprise IT is becoming more important than ever. Therefore, the following growth stocks, all of which play into that theme and all of which have held up quite nicely during the market meltdown, should continue to benefit.
E-commerce? Check. Cloud computing? Check. Twitch e-sports streaming? Check. Low prices and fast delivery? Check. These are all the winning attributes of Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Amazon invented the concept of cloud computing, and is still the undisputed leader in the space. Although many have been worried about higher growth rates from second-place competitor Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and challenger Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon is still the clear leader in the space, with over 32% global market share, practically double that of second-place Microsoft. In addition, Amazon is the only major cloud provider to actually divulge its operating profit numbers, which came in at a robust 26.2% in 2019. Amazon's high margins over others signals a scale advantage, meaning that it could perhaps lower prices more than competitors to attract cash-strapped enterprises to switch over to Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Amazon is also reportedly seeing a huge surge in demand in its core e-commerce division, especially for consumer staples. Demand has apparently been so great that Amazon has suspended Shipping with Amazon, the service that uses its excess capacity to ship third-party packages. Already the leader in e-commerce because of its early lead and heavy investment in one-day shipping last year, Amazon certainly looks as if it will post record e-commerce volumes in the first quarter when it reports later this month.
Finally, Amazon's Twitch e-sports streaming platform logged an impressive March, seeing a 23% increase in viewership, compounding its dominant 73% market share in the streaming e-sports market.
While Amazon's digital advertising segment may take a hit this quarter, just about every other segment should see a boom during the pandemic, which should carry on for the rest of the year.
Advanced Micro Devices
Another high-growth stock set to benefit from cloud computing is Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD). AMD had been an also-ran over much of the past decade, with tiny market share in processors against giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), and in graphics processors against leader NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA). However, that's now changing, especially in the processor arena, where AMD managed to actually leap-frog Intel's lead in the race to a 7nm chip back in 2018.
This sets up AMD to take market share from Intel in both the client markets with its Ryzen line of processors, as well as in the data center, with the newly released EPYC data center processors. In client computing, AMD has already taken eight points of unit market share from Intel over the past eight quarters and seems set for much more going forward, as long as its keeps its price-performance lead.
AMD also looks set to take share in the data center, with new contract wins with all three major cloud providers, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, as well as being the data center chip used by Twitter (NYSE:TWTR).
Even AMD's semi-custom business should get a boost this year with the upcoming releases of both the new Microsoft Xbox and Sony (NYSE:SONY) PlayStation consoles, which should be ready in time for the holidays later this year. In addition, AMD's chips are set power Google's new Stadia video game streaming platform.
All of these positive developments led AMD to increase its long-term financial targets at its recent Investor Day, with a long-term model of 20%-plus revenue growth, gross margins increasing above 50%, operating margins in the mid-20% range, and free cash flow margins of about 15%.
Given that this profitable growth will be coming from cloud, gaming, and more powerful laptops, AMD's growth shouldn't be that affected by the outbreak. In fact, it could see an acceleration of all these trends once the pandemic has subsided.
Finally, a software-as-a-service growth stock that seems poised to grow despite COVID-19 is e-signature specialist DocuSign (NASDAQ:DOCU). Amid all of the market chaos, DocuSign delivered a solid earnings report back in March and provided strong guidance as well. The company also picked up a nice bolt-on acquisition in Seal Software, which uses AI to help locate and extract language in contracts by concept rather than keyword, saving customers time and money spent on legal reviews by up to 75%.
Moreover, on the conference call with analysts on March 12, when the virus as hitting the U.S. in stride, CEO Dan Springer didn't anticipate too much of an impact on the businesses, since most of DocuSign's implementations can be done remotely. Additionally, given that DocuSign helps enterprises gain massive amounts of efficiency, its investment, it's unlikely that customers would delay purchasing either DocuSign's core e-signature product or its Agreement Cloud Suite of products. These include automating signatures, payment methods, document management and tracking, and ID verification, all without having to sign manual documents or meet in person.
With 30%-plus growth that shouldn't be too affected by the coronavirus, DocuSign's stock has held up quite well recently, having gotten almost all the way back to its 52-week highs. Nevertheless, it still looks to be a welcome addition to any growth portfolio, especially on any pullbacks.