It's a debate that's nearly as old as the stock market itself: Growth versus value.
Back in 2016, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch issued a report that compared the performance of growth stocks to value stocks over a 90-year period (1926-2015). The results showed that value stocks were the superior choice (17% annual average return, versus 12.6% for growth stocks), albeit no investors are complaining with annual average returns of 12.6% or 17%.
However, the roles have reversed in a big way since the Great Recession. With lending rates at or near historic lows and the Federal Reserve remaining highly accommodative, growth stocks have run circles around value stocks for more than a decade. As long as access to capital remains cheap, growth stocks can outperform.
With that being said, there are three growth stocks investors can buy right now that should make them richer in March, and well beyond.
Zoom Video Communications
It's possible that there's no greater beneficiary of the unprecedented coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic than cloud-based Web conferencing company Zoom Video Communications (ZM 4.22%). With traditional workplaces being completely disrupted, remote work and teleconferencing has become the norm. The thing is, it'll likely remain a commonplace practice well after the pandemic ends.
To put into context just how amazing Zoom Video was in 2020, it's worth comparing the company's original full-year sales forecast prior to the pandemic with the guidance it offered at the end of the third quarter. Initially, Zoom was looking for a midpoint of $910 million in 2020 sales. Its full-year guidance was ultimately upped to $2.58 billion. It nearly tripled its full-year outlook purely from organic growth.
Furthermore, at the end of September, Zoom Video had nearly sextupled the number of customers with at least 10 employees from the prior-year period, and more than doubled (+136%) the number of clients generating $100,000 or more in trailing 12-month revenue. Zoom Video's teleconferencing platform is resonating with businesses of all sizes.
It's also the most dominant U.S. Web conferencing platform by a mile. According to data from Statista and Datanzyne, Zoom controlled almost 43% of all Web conferencing in the U.S., as of April 2020. That's more than double GoToWebinar's 18.8% share, and miles ahead of Cisco Systems' WebEx at 11.2%.
If you need one more reason to love Zoom Video Communications, let it be because CEO and Founder Eric Yuan owns more than 43.2 million shares of the company (about 21% of outstanding shares). When leaders have a vested interest in the company they're running, good things usually happen for shareholders.
The vast majority of biotech stocks are losing money and will struggle to hit it big with a blockbuster drug. Meanwhile, specialty drug developer Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 3.19%) is out here making it look easy.
What makes Vertex such an amazing company is its success in developing treatments for cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is a disease characterized by thick mucus production that can obstruct the pancreas and lungs. It has no cure, but Vertex's gene-specific treatments are helping to improve the quality of life for CF patients.
The company's newest treatment is combination therapy Trikafta, which was given the green light by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration five months ahead of its scheduled review date. In late-stage trials, Vertex's lead CF therapy improved predicted forced expiratory volume in one second (a measure of lung function) by 3.7 percentage points, relative to the placebo. In its first full year on pharmacy shelves, Trikafta generated nearly $3.9 billion in net sales, and it looks to be well on its way to eventually topping $6 billion annually.
It's also worth pointing out that developing multiple generations of CF therapies should protect its cash flow against potential generic competition for a decade, if not longer.
With Vertex sitting on $6.66 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities at the end of 2020, it's in the perfect position to go shopping in order to diversify its product portfolio beyond CF. Don't be shocked if Vertex's topline growth remains above 10% for a long time to come.
A final growth stock that long-term investors can buy with confidence in March is cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) giant salesforce.com (CRM 7.44%).
CRM software is something that potentially holds value to any consumer-facing business. It helps with logging customer information, tracking/resolving issues, managing marketing campaigns, and suggesting new products to existing clients. It's an obvious fit for retail and service-based companies, but is finding a home more frequently with businesses involved in manufacturing and the financial sector.
Salesforce is the unquestioned most-dominant force in global CRM revenue. According to IDC, salesforce controlled nearly 20% of the world's CRM market share, which was more than No.'s 2 through 5 in worldwide market share, combined. Considering that cloud-based CRM software is expected to grow by a double-digit percentage for years to come, salesforce finds itself in an enviable position.
Last week, the company reported its fourth-quarter operating results for 2020, and wrapped up another successful year. Total sales were up 24% to $21.3 billion in full-year 2020, and CEO Marc Benioff is targeting more than $50 billion in sales within the next couple of years. In other words, 20% annual sales growth is pretty much the baseline for salesforce.
Also, don't forget that salesforce is in the midst of acquiring Slack Technologies for a cool $27.7 billion in cash and stock. Assuming the deal closes, salesforce will be able to use Slack's enterprise-focused communications platform as a jumping-off point to cross-sell its cloud-based CRM solutions.
Salesforce may be a megacap stock, but it's still in the early innings of its growth story.