The stock market has been in manic-depressive mode as of late, surging early in June on the euphoria of the country's economic reopening, as well as a surprise jobs gain in the June 5 labor report. However, the market gave almost all of those gains back late last week, after some gloomy commentary from Federal Reserve officials, who now plan to keep interest rates at zero until at least 2022.
What does all of the volatility mean? That you can pick up shares of great companies to buy and hold for the long term. And while stocks relating to the reopening economy have shown a big rally lately, I think it may be time to refocus on stronger technology-related companies that help power the new, more digitized economy. And with lower interest rates here until at least 2022, these companies, which can grow even in a depressed economy, should fetch a premium down the road.
In that light, here are three rock-solid companies that play into these long-term trends. Got an extra $5,000? Then you should think about scooping up shares of these three top companies today.
With businesses reeling from COVID-19 and many companies allowing work-from-home for the foreseeable future, securing enterprise communications among a distributed workforce is more important than ever. Thus, cybersecurity solutions are at a premium as never before.
Not only is the cybersecurity sector poised for long-term growth, but CrowdStrike (NASDAQ:CRWD) also appears to have a novel solution poised to take market share within the industry. CrowdStrike combines its software-based Falcon agents, which can be deployed to any "end point" in an enterprise's IT stack over the cloud, with a centralized artificial intelligence-based Threat Graph that uses all agent data to continuously improve algorithms for the entire customer base. Thus, the more customers CrowdStrike gets, the better its threat detection algorithms, which helps attract more customers, and on and on.
As proof of CrowdStrike's effectiveness, look no further than its blockbuster recent results, reported on June 2. Total revenue was up a whopping 85%, with core subscription revenue up 89%. Annual recurring revenue was up 88%, and the company's subscription customer count more than doubled, up 105%.
Also unusual for a cloud-based software-as-a-service company, CrowdStrike is generating some serious cash flow, although GAAP net profits are still negative. Operating loss improved from $25.8 million in the year-ago quarter to $22.6 million in the first quarter, but operating cash flow surged to $98.6 million from just $1.6 million a year ago, and free cash flow increased to $87 million, up from a free cash flow loss of $16.1 million a year ago.
Even if COVID-19 cases surge in a second wave and the economy stagnates, enterprises are still going to need cutting-edge solutions to secure their infrastructure and avoid the costly breaches we've seen over the past few years. In addition, CrowdStrike's growth and margin expansion are some of the best you'll find in the entire market, making the stock a buy even after a strong recent run.
Another company poised to grow no matter what the economy is doing is European semiconductor equipment manufacturer ASML Holdings (NASDAQ:ASML). Unlike many other companies in the semiconductor and memory space, ASML has seen its stock rocket higher, to even exceed where it was to start the year.
That's because ASML has a differentiated offering, having cracked the code on Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography technology. EUV is a mission-critical technology needed to produce more advanced semiconductor chips and DRAM memory at scale over the next decade, and ASML has a monopoly on it.
While the chip sector, and therefore semicap equipment companies, have traditionally been cyclical, and thus wouldn't be a great place to invest in a recession, things may be different this time around. Leading-edge semiconductors are crucial to making the digital economy run, powering cloud computing, artificial intelligence, 5G communications, and the Internet of Things. While ASML's first quarter revenue was affected by COVID-19, that was entirely due to supply issues, not demand. Management noted on the earnings release, "The demand outlook is currently unchanged and we have not encountered any push-outs or cancellations this year."
Furthermore, leading-edge semiconductors are now seen as a strategically important to both companies and countries alike. In fact, the U.S. Congress just announced a bipartisan bill to subsidize the semiconductor industry to the tune of $22.8 billion, as it aims to build semiconductor manufacturing capacity within the United States.
The building of additional, and perhaps redundant, semiconductor manufacturing plants in the U.S. would only mean additional demand for companies like ASML, and maybe especially ASML, since EUV is so crucial to the production of leading-edge semiconductors. So despite its strong run, ASML still looks like a strong pick to play these future technologies today.
Super Micro Computer
If we're all stuck at home, streaming shows on our phones, ordering items on e-commerce websites, and accessing our work on cloud data centers, what do all of those things need? Servers, and lots of them. Super Micro Computer (NASDAQ:SMCI) makes servers for enterprise, cloud, and consumer customers all across the world. In contrast to the more standardized server offerings from Dell Technologies (NYSE:DELL) or HP Enterprise (NYSE:HPE), Super Micro makes more customized server solutions for specific end-use cases.
As servers become more important for different types of workloads, among artificial intelligence applications, 5G base stations, on-premises or cloud data centers and more, Super Micro could benefit. Also important, Super Micro actually does a fair amount of manufacturing in the U.S., which is somewhat rare, along with significant operations in Taiwan. Finally, as ESG concerns take hold of the corporate world, Super Micro's emphasis on environmentally friendly "green" computing should also resonate with customers going forward as well.
Of these three stocks, Super micro is the value stock of the bunch. Currently, it only trades at 16.5 times earnings, but that's even overrating the company's multiple. Super Micro has $301 million in cash versus just $33 million in debt, yielding $268 million in net cash, or 18.4% of Super Micro's market cap. In addition, Super Micro is still undertaking some extra costs related to remediating an accounting snafu from a few years ago, which has since been remedied. Should those costs fall off going forward and the company begins returning that excess cash to shareholders, and Super Micro is actually trading at something more like a low-teens multiple.
Play the digital future
With COVID-19 still out there accelerating all of these digital trends, investors should look to buy stocks of companies that play to the digital future on these big market pullbacks. As such, CrowdStrike, ASML, and Super Micro Computer all look like solid additions to your portfolio today.