As the coronavirus took root in the U.S. earlier this year, investors flocked to tech stocks they thought would weather the pandemic. As a result, many technology companies both large and small have seen their share prices skyrocket this year.
But not all the tech stocks that are flying high now will continue to be great investments in a few years. So to help investors find a few stocks that are worth buying now and that are worth holding onto for the next decade, we asked a few Motley Fool contributors for their top picks. Here's why they think MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI), Atlassian (NASDAQ:TEAM), and NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA) should be on your high-growth tech stock buy list.
MercadoLibre: At the lucrative intersection of e-commerce and digital payments
Danny Vena (MercadoLibre): The pandemic has resulted in a seismic shift in several already growing industries, and two that have benefited the most are e-commerce and digital payments. While investors in the U.S. typically think of the usual suspects, thinking a little further afield can yield a much greater opportunity. Investors should look no further than MercadoLibre.
MercadoLibre is the undisputed leader of e-commerce in each of the major Latin American countries where it operates, as measured by unique visitors and number of page views. At the same time, however, a vast opportunity remains.
It's important to note that Latin America is coming from a very different place than its northern cousins. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, U.S. consumers were already flocking to online sales, which represented more than 11% of total retail in the fourth quarter of 2019. At the same time, e-commerce represented just 4.2% of retail in Latin America -- a level the U.S. surpassed a decade ago. This gives MercadoLibre a greenfield opportunity in a region where e-commerce is still in its infancy.
It's also important to note that while the population of the U.S. currently stands at about 328 million, Latin America is home to a population of 652 million, nearly double that of the U.S. This gives MercadoLibre a much larger base to draw from.
Then there's digital payments, but it's first important to give this some local context. Many of the countries in Latin America are still largely cash-based societies, and by some estimates as many as 70% of consumers don't have a bank account. It doesn't end there. Depending on the country, only between 20% and 55% of consumers have a credit card. While this would seem to argue against the e-commerce revolution, that isn't the case.
During the company's early days, MercadoLibre created a local payment system called Mercado Pago. The company developed a vast network of convenience stores and other locations that allows customers to deposit funds to their Mercado Pago account. Once there, the money can be used to make online purchases, transfer money, or even pay utility bills. This decision was prescient, as the company's recent results show.
In the second quarter, MercadoLibre's net revenue soared 123% in local currencies, accelerating from 71% growth in the first quarter as the pandemic caused an acceleration in the adoption of both e-commerce and digital payments. Gross merchandise volume soared 102%, up from 34% sequentially. The rise of Mercado Pago's payments was even more impressive, with total payment volume that grew 142%, accelerating from 82% in the first quarter.
Given the opportunities in both e-commerce and digital payments, as well as its leading position in its local markets, MercadoLibre has opportunities it can continue to exploit for the next decade and beyond.
The information technology stock you need to know about
Brian Withers (Atlassian): If you aren't an information technology (IT) professional, you may not have heard of Atlassian. But over the next decade, that will likely change. Atlassian is a software company with a mission to "unleash the potential of every team." It has an ever-growing set of work management software tools that have been focused on enabling IT project teams, but have broadened to support teams from any part of an organization.
Atlassian's products cover the end-to-end lifecycle of a project: from project prioritization and planning to execution, rollout, and post-implementation support. The company has 17 different products that all work together to handle different aspects of team management and collaboration. Many of these software tools offer free trials to allow small teams to experience the products firsthand before starting a paid subscription. This land-and-expand strategy has paid off for the company, as it has grown its customer base to over 174,000 companies, a 14% increase over the previous year, with minimal marketing and sales expenses of 20% of revenue for its most recent fiscal year.
The company's top line has grown at a 38% compound annual growth rate over its last three fiscal years. But recently, there've been some headwinds with the coronavirus. In its most recent quarter, revenues grew "only" 29% year over year. This is slower than its historic growth rate, but a solid mark given the global pandemic and corresponding recessionary climate. But revenue growth isn't the only thing about this quality operator that investors can get excited about.
With its low marketing and sales expense and a high gross margin of 83%, it can afford to invest in research and development to the hefty sum of 47% of revenue. This is driving the bottom line to a negative net income of 22% of revenue ($350 million for the most recent fiscal year). But its $2.16 billion pile of cash and cash equivalents, and impressive cash flows from operations of $574 million in the last 12 months will enable it to continue to invest in growth for years to come.
Atlassian is still founder-led and is taking a long-term mindset in the face of coronavirus headwinds. In the next fiscal year, it plans to bring on more than 1,000 employees, many of which will join the research and development team. It has completed acquisitions this year of Halp and Mindville for undisclosed amounts to shore up its IT service management applications. Lastly, it's supporting customers during this challenging time by expanding its free trials to all of its core products and providing extended payment terms or concessions for those customers facing financial hardships.
This tech company is making all of the right moves to be a much bigger company in the decade ahead. Growth investors should look to get in on this opportunity and enjoy the ride.
A chip company that's leading the pack
Chris Neiger (NVIDIA): NVIDIA is well-known for its graphics processing units (GPUs) that are used for everything from high-end gaming to artificial intelligence. NVIDIA leads the discrete graphics market with an 80% market share, and that massive lead will help keep the company ahead of its competitors for years to come.
NVIDIA has earned its lead in the graphics chip space by creating some of the most advanced processors that are sought after by the world's biggest technology companies. Graphics processors, which were once used mainly just for video games, have proven to be very adept at processing information in cloud computing services, including artificial intelligence.
NVIDIA has wisely diversified its graphics processor revenue streams, and in the second quarter, the company's data center revenue outpaced its gaming revenue for the first time. NVIDIA's data center revenue soared 167% in the quarter and total revenue was up 50% year over year. As a result, investors have been very optimistic about NVIDIA's prospects and have pushed up the stock 129% this year.
But investors shouldn't think that they've missed out on NVIDIA's growth. The company recently agreed to buy Arm Holdings for $40 billion, and once the deal closes (which is expected to be in about 18 months) NVIDIA will enter the massive smartphone chip market. Arm's licensing and chip designs are found in 90% of smartphones, and the new market will help NVIDIA diversify its revenue even more that it is now.
NVIDIA's current market position in discrete GPUs, its expanding data center revenue, and its purchase of Arm Holdings all make this company a compelling tech stock that should be well worth the investment for years to come.