The large and growing role that technology plays in commerce and everyday life makes the tech sector the single best starting point for investors seeking explosive returns. Narrowing in on relatively small companies within the sector creates even more potential for big gains -- so long as you're willing to take on some risk.
Big tech companies are typically more stable and enjoy the competitive advantages that come with having vast resources and deep pockets, but experienced growth investors know that small companies have easier paths to delivering the kind of rapid sales and earnings growth that leads to huge stock gains.
Impinj is a Seattle-based chip company that specializes in radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. It's one of my top growth picks for investors looking to benefit from the evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The IoT trend is about more than simply increasing communication between tech hardware, automobiles, and appliances. It's really about gathering and analyzing valuable data from as many sources as possible. Impinj is delivering technology that allows nonelectronic goods to pass along valuable information to networks.
The company's RFID tags can communicate without a power source, which means that they can have small form factors and can easily be placed in nonelectronic items. Nike is outfitting many of its products with RFID chips in order to better track its inventory and make its supply chain more efficient.
Nike's executive chairman and former CEO Mark Parker discussed the value that RFID and data analytics add to the company's business last July:
RFID gives us the most complete view of our inventory that we've ever had. It's quickly becoming the most precise tool in our arsenal, to meet an individual consumer's specific needs at the exact right moment.
Adoption of RFID technologies for monitoring retail supply chain and industrial manufacturing is still relatively low, but there's plenty of room for expansion, and demand is likely to increase. With a market capitalization of roughly $625 million, Impinj has a huge runway for growth if it maintains a leadership position in its corner of the RFID chip space.
Zuora provides software that allows businesses to easily manage subscription-based billing, charges, and accounting. Subscription-based service models are taking the world by storm because they allow businesses to generate more sales and profits over time. Subscription revenue is also more predictable, and there's less need to worry about marketing to achieve one-time sales, as customers are likely to stick around provided the core service continues to satisfy.
As Zuora founder and CEO Tien Tzuo noted during the company's last earnings call, subscription businesses are seeing strong momentum as a category and proving relatively resilient amid this year's unexpected operating conditions. While average sales for S&P 500 companies dipped 2% annually in the first quarter due to pressures from the coronavirus pandemic, subscription businesses using Zuora's platform climbed 9.5% year over year across the same stretch.
The company stands to benefit as it brings more enterprise customers to its platform and increases spending per enterprise customer. Total payment volume on its platform rose 27% year over year last quarter to $12.3 billion. It's a near-certainty that a growing number of businesses will transition to the digital space and use subscription-service models. This trend should benefit Zuora over the long term.
The subscription software specialist is valued at roughly $1.45 billion and has serious multibagger potential.
If you're in the e-commerce space, there's a good chance you're familiar with Shopify. The Toronto-based e-commerce services company, which provides retail website creation tools and financial services, has been one of the stock market's biggest success stories over the last half-decade. Baozun is an e-commerce software services company that's sometimes referred to as "the Shopify of China." Growth-focused investors should be paying attention to the stock.
Shopify started out primarily focused on small- and medium-sized enterprises and has since rapidly built its business among larger customers. Baozun is the opposite. The Chinese e-commerce's core business has revolved around providing website creation, marketing, and other online-retail support services for major Western brands aiming to quickly deploy and scale in China.
The Chinese market is an important part of many Western companies' growth strategies, and Baozun has avenues to huge long-term growth as it adds new brand partners on its platform and benefits from taking a commission on increased sales volume. Baozun also has a platform for small- and medium-sized domestic businesses that could turn into a major growth catalyst as the country's middle class and online retail market expand.
Baozun has a market capitalization of $2.4 billion and is already consistently profitable. Shares trade at roughly 30 times this year's expected earnings -- a valuation that could wind up looking insanely cheap 10 years down the line.