From streaming video platforms to social networks, digital media has already changed the world. However, the digital communications revolution is still just getting started, and top companies in the space look poised to deliver big growth in the decades to come.
We put together a panel of three Motley Fool contributors and asked each member to identify a stock in the digital-media space that they believe is primed to deliver market-crushing returns. Read on to see why they think Eros STX (NYSE:ESGC), Pinterest (NYSE:PINS), and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL) have what it takes to deliver big wins for your portfolio.
An entertainment leader in a potentially explosive emerging market
Keith Noonan (Eros STX): Eros STX is a subscription streaming leader in the Indian market and the country's best-performing company at the box office over the last decade. If you consider those distinctions along with the fact that India has a fast-growing economy and a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, Eros's recent stock performance might seem a bit surprising.
Shares are down roughly 20% year to date and more than 60% over the last three years. However, the stock has the potential to deliver explosive returns, and recent sell-offs have presented a worthwhile buying opportunity.
Eros's last earnings report arrived with a loss that was much bigger than the market anticipated. Investors also don't seem to be ascribing much value to the company's recently completed merger with STX -- an American film and television company known for movies, including Hustlers and My Spy. The coronavirus pandemic has meant closure for movie theaters in India and around the globe, and the company is taking on debt to finance productions, but Eros stock could turn into a life-changing investment for those willing to weather volatility.
With a market capitalization of roughly $515 million, Eros is solidly in small-cap territory and has the potential to post explosive gains if the company delivers wins on some key fronts. Even if those wins take some time to materialize, the company looks very cheaply valued at present.
Eros and STX generated roughly $600 million in combined revenue in 2019 -- meaning that the combined company is currently valued at approximately 0.85 times last year's sales. Management is targeting strong, streaming-driven revenue growth over the next couple of years and expects to hit $1 billion in sales in 2022, suggesting a forward price-to-sales ratio of just 0.5.
The Indian market still generates relatively little revenue per subscriber or viewer on ad-based platforms, but monetization should continue to improve over the long term. India had a gross domestic product of roughly $2.94 trillion last year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), while the U.S. GDP came in at $21.44 trillion. Here's the kicker: Some analysts expect that India's GDP will surpass that of the U.S. in 2030. That may or may not prove to be the case, but strong growth for the Indian economy through the next decade looks like a solid bet -- and that will include big growth for the country's entertainment industry.
Pin down this emerging social media stock
Will Healy (Pinterest): Like most of its direct peers, Pinterest faces the daunting challenge of competing against Facebook's (NASDAQ:FB) dominance in the social media sphere. Also, let's be honest. When Pinterest launched its IPO more than a year ago, the company attracted little interest. Additionally, Pinterest sold off most stocks early in the year, falling as low as $10.10 per share.
However, since that time, Pinterest stock has more than tripled, surging past its all-time highs of a year ago. The company's most recent earnings report reinforced this move as the company beat earnings estimates, reporting a more modest loss of $0.07 per share. Also, despite the pandemic, the company managed to increase its revenue by 4%. While that translated into a 2% decline in the U.S., international revenues rose by 72% during the previous quarter.
Additionally, the site attracts about 400 million unique users every month. As of last year, approximately two-thirds of those users were female, including eight out of 10 moms. Statistically, they make most of the buying decisions for the household, reinforcing Pinterest's value to advertisers.
The site also attracts people looking for new ideas. This was huge at the height of the pandemic when millions of suddenly cash-strapped consumers sought creative solutions.
Both management and analysts expect these attributes to soon translate into massive revenue growth and a move toward profitability. For the upcoming quarter, CFO Todd Morgenfeld forecasts revenue growth will come in around the mid-30% range compared to the same quarter last year. He also noted that July revenue growth was about 50% higher than year-ago levels. This may explain why consensus forecasts point to a $0.02 per share profit for the upcoming quarter.
Although investors should expect Facebook to remain dominant over generalized social media, Pinterest has pinned a niche that Facebook will likely not be able to touch. Moreover, as it continues to tap into the non-U.S. market, Pinterest should remain in a growth mode for years to come.
A dominant force in digital media
Joe Tenebruso (Alphabet): When people think of Alphabet, their attention often turns toward Google's impressive search-based digital ad empire. It's certainly understandable; Google's search business generates the lion's share of Alphabet's revenue and profits -- and that's unlikely to change anytime soon. But another part of Alphabet's sprawling tech empire is becoming an increasingly important growth driver for the $1 trillion conglomerate: YouTube. And it's making Alphabet a powerful force in the digital media arena.
Alphabet finally began disclosing some of YouTube's financials in the fourth quarter of 2019 -- and they're a thing of beauty. YouTube's ad revenue surged 36% to $15.1 billion last year. The online video-sharing platform's growth has slowed in 2020, due largely to the coronavirus pandemic, which led many large-brand advertisers to pull back on their ad spending. But as the economy recovers, marketers are likely to ramp up their ad spending on YouTube.
The YouTube ad revenue that Alphabet discloses doesn't include its subscription services, such as YouTube Premium, Music, and TV. Alphabet reports this revenue along with that of some of its other businesses in its "Google other" segment, so we don't yet know how much revenue these services are generating. But it's likely growing quickly.
YouTube TV could be a particularly powerful growth driver. With its impressive channel lineup and features such as unlimited storage, it's one of the most attractive streaming TV options available today. In turn, investors should expect YouTube TV to continue to gain share in the potentially massive streaming market, particularly if the cord-cutting trend accelerates as many analysts predict. That should help to fuel Alphabet's growth -- and, by extension, its shareholders' profits -- in the coming years.