With the stock market at all-time highs, investors need to take the long view now more than ever. Shares of Zoom Video Communications ( ZM 3.07% ), Square ( SQ 2.78% ), and CrowdStrike Holdings ( CRWD 2.38% ) have certainly had an amazing year, but I believe the opportunity for each of these companies will make even today's prices look cheap years from now. The advantages that have shone through during the pandemic should lead to outperformance long after the coronavirus is in the rearview mirror.
Zoom shares are up almost 500% in 2020. The company has been the biggest beneficiary of the COVID-19 pandemic, with sales growing 355% year over year in the second fiscal quarter (which ended on July 31) and 367% in the third fiscal quarter (which ended on Oct. 31). If you're thinking that this amazing growth was built on virtual wine tastings and grandparents dropping in on birthday parties, the numbers tell a different story. For instance, the number of customers with 10 or more employees is up 485% year over year. These are small businesses that are likely to stick with the service in the future as they grow.
According to CEO Eric Yuan, the next challenge for the company will be the shift from being a "killer app" to a platform. To this end, the company announced its OnZoom service at the recent Zoomtopia, the company's annual user conference. OnZoom allows users to create and host paid events on Zoom. The company's ability to host an event and handle ticketing, payment processing, and promotion could launch an entirely new industry.
If you have doubts about people paying to attend virtual events, you're not alone. But Travis Scott's virtual concert inside the video game Fortnite reportedly earned him $20 million and amassed 12.3 million gamers at the same time, the largest audience in gaming history. If that virtual concert is any indication, the market for online events is wildly underappreciated. By handling the commercial details, Zoom could find yet another avenue for growth, making shares a bargain.
Square is building out parallel ecosystems, one for merchants and one for consumers. To date, the company has barely scratched the surface of its addressable markets, despite generating revenue of $7.65 billion over the past four quarters. Gross profit has grown more than 40% annually for the past five years. No wonder Square shares are up 277% in 2020.
For business owners, the company offers services to support sales in-person, online, and through social media. It supplies hardware and software to process payments, generate invoices, and analyze financial details to more efficiently run and market a business. It also offers loans through its Square Capital division. Its payroll services let merchants track hours, pay employees, and manage benefits. If you think that sounds like just about everything a business does, you understand the value Square is delivering to merchants. Tying all of these services together creates a better, deeper relationship with customers, and provides the company more data to help those customers be successful.
For consumers, the company's Cash App is intended to offer a convenient way to send, spend, and invest money. Square even recently announced it would acquire the tax preparation division of Credit Karma. Not only could the company add those services to its Cash App, it will also likely offer them to small-business customers.
In addition to all of the native services, Square also provides interfaces for developers to create their own services, piggybacking onto its back-office, e-commerce, and point-of-sale software. The company is building a network of services that it hopes consumers and businesses never have to leave.
When Square went public, the shares traded at a price-to-sales ratio of about 3.2. Today, that ratio stands at 12.7. This rise is Wall Street signaling that it believes the company has massive growth opportunities.
While Square's valuation is very high, the company could one day dominate small-business services and be a force in the consumer financial services industry. That type of long-term opportunity is worth the risk of any short-term overvaluation.
CrowdStrike's Falcon platform is a cloud security offering that essentially pools information from its clients' security experiences and uses machine learning to anticipate, detect, and neutralize threats. The company augments this with teams of internal experts to analyze threats and perform both proactive and reactive security-related tasks. The numbers show that customers are finding incredible value in the service.
In its earnings release for the fiscal third quarter, which ended Oct. 31, management announced year-over-year revenue and customer growth of 86% and 85%, respectively. Even better, the company's dollar-based net retention rate (what customers from last year spent this year) exceeded 120%. That number includes any customers that left. CrowdStrike is growing more than 20% annually before adding any new customers.
Of course, Wall Street loves growth, and the stock is up 311% year to date. The global cybersecurity market is $67 billion and still growing. High-profile breaches like the one recently announced by several government agencies make it difficult to see when that growth might end. Despite the stock's run-up in 2020, CrowdStrike shares may just be getting started.