Sure, April is more than halfway over. But there are still nearly two full weeks remaining this month to buy great stocks. And one stock appears to be an especially smart pick.
To be completely transparent, I didn't wait until April to scoop up shares of this stock. I bought the stock in late March and plan to buy more shares before the end of this month. What is my top stock to buy in April? It's none other than payment processing giant Mastercard (MA 0.20%).
Beaten down for a reason
It was just a few weeks ago that Mastercard shares were down more than 40% off their previous highs from earlier this year. Like most stocks, the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting market sell-off weighed heavily on Mastercard. While Mastercard's share price has bounced back somewhat, it's still down 25% off of its highs.
Some stocks fell even though the COVID-19 pandemic won't impact their businesses very much. It's a different story for Mastercard. There's no question that the coronavirus crisis will hurt its revenue and earnings.
Mastercard already updated its first-quarter outlook to lower its net revenue growth projection by 1% to 3%. The company also withdrew its full-year 2020 guidance because of the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak.
These moves are completely understandable. Travel has dwindled significantly. Many retail businesses have closed their doors. Unemployment has soared. All of this is taking a toll on Mastercard's revenue and will likely continue to do so for a while.
...but only for a season
If I thought that the current climate was the new norm for Mastercard, I'd avoid the stock like the plague (which, unfortunately, is a more relevant expression these days than it has been in a long time). But I don't think that's the case at all. Mastercard might be beaten down for a reason, but it's down only for a season.
I don't know how long it will take to reopen businesses across the U.S. and the world. I'm glad I don't have to make those hard decisions. However, I'm confident that most businesses will return to some semblance of normalcy within the next few months. Even before that happens, I fully expect to see Mastercard stock surge.
Is the true value of Mastercard really 25% lower because of a temporary healthcare crisis? I don't think so. My view is that the company's fundamental long-term prospects remain unchanged.
Fighting a war
Those long-term prospects directly tie-in to an unstoppable trend that some call the "war on cash." What is this war on cash? It's the ongoing shift of consumers choosing to use electronic forms of payment instead of physical forms of payment like cash and checks.
Two of the key drivers of this massive shift are the growth in e-commerce and in mobile payments. Mastercard benefits from both.
Many consumers use credit cards, including Mastercard, for their online purchases. Every time that a sale is made over the internet with a credit card issued by Mastercard, the company makes money from the transaction itself and a percentage of the sale.
Mastercard frequently profits from mobile payments as well. In many cases, digital payments through PayPal and Square use Mastercard's payment processing network.
Fighting in the war on cash also requires a strong defense. Mastercard has the defensive front covered. I'd even say that Mastercard is like the business version of a fortress.
The company is part of a payment-processing duopoly along with Visa. It would be very difficult for a new rival to build a payment network that would seriously challenge either Mastercard or Visa.
Mastercard is also strong financially. It ended 2019 with cash, cash equivalents, and investments totaling $7.7 billion. Even if its earnings were slashed by 75% this year (which I don't think will happen), the company would still deliver profits of more than $2 billion.
There are still quite a few great stocks that you could buy right now. But I think you'll find that Mastercard is hard to beat.