The S&P 500 has soared since the lows of the coronavirus market crash and is up an incredible 55% since March 23.
This bullish run is great for fattening portfolios, particularly the portfolios of those who were net buyers during the downturn earlier this year. On the other hand, the market's sharp move higher can make finding good buying opportunities more difficult. Nevertheless, a careful search can still lead to some decent ideas for investors willing to buy and hold for five-plus years.
In fact, as counterintuitive as it might seem, a great place to look for stocks worth buying and holding for years is among those that have soared. If a company's stock is rising faster than the market, the underlying business must be doing something to impress investors.
Case in point: cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD 5.46%) has seen its stock rise 180% over the same time frame that the stock market gained 55%. The stock's rise isn't just powered by hot air; it's backed by rapid growth, impressive business execution, and exciting prospects.
Is there more upside ahead for this growth stock?
Business is booming
CrowdStrike, a provider of cloud-native end-point security solutions, has seen downright explosive growth recently. First- and second-quarter revenue surged 85% and 84% year over year, respectively, fueled by strong growth in customers and increased uptake among its customers of additional cloud security modules. In Q2, 57% of customers had adopted four or more modules, and 39% were using five or more.
"Organizations are shedding outdated systems and accelerating their move to modern cloud-native technologies to meet the demands of today's threat landscape," said CrowdStrike's CEO in the second-quarter earnings release.
The company's price-to-sales ratio of about 45 may seem mind-boggling at first glance. But with nearly 80%-plus top-line growth year over year and subscription gross margins nearing 80%, this isn't your average growth stock.
Even better, the cybersecurity company is already raking in free cash flow -- the excess cash after regular business operations and capital expenditures are taken care of. The company's trailing-12-month free cash flow was $177 million. Further highlighting the company's strong profitability potential, second-quarter free cash flow improved from negative $29.2 million in the year-ago period to positive $32.4 million. As CrowdStrike's top line grows, it is bringing home an increasingly larger percentage of its revenue as free cash flow.
Its shares are worth paying up for.
Buckle your seat belt
Of course, investors who buy CrowdStrike should expect a wild ride. Since growth stocks like this have significant business growth priced in, anything that may impact investors' long-term outlook for the company could have a big effect on the stock price today. We're talking possible 20% to 50% declines in a single day if CrowdStrike hits an unexpected detour.
But this wild volatility is the price of owning rapidly growing, high-quality companies. Stocks like this will rarely trade at prices that make them look like a bargain. So it's often best to just buy into the growth story at a reasonable valuation and hold on for the long haul.
While there's always a risk that an investment in an individual stock like CrowdStrike may not pan out, the cybersecurity company is a good candidate for outperforming the market over five years or more. But investors should plan for lots of volatility and should consider keeping these positions small relative to their total portfolio.