Tech stocks were the place to be in 2020. Secular growth trends in remote work, streaming, and cloud computing came to the spotlight during the pandemic, pushing the share prices of leading names in these markets to new highs. Let's take a look at what happened to Logitech International (LOGI -0.67%), Roku (ROKU 2.15%), and NVIDIA (NVDA -4.20%), and what investors should expect from here.
1. Logitech International
Before the stock doubled in 2020, Logitech was already a winner for investors. However, sales of webcams and gaming peripherals exploded during the pandemic, as people grabbed the essential gear they needed to work and play games on their computers at home. Sales had been growing at single-digit rates, but accelerated to a robust 64% through the first nine months of the current fiscal year. That level of acceleration will get a stock moving higher.
Logitech makes several types of products for just about any computing task you can imagine. Some categories, such as mobile speakers and smart home products, have experienced declining sales in recent years, so management has been redirecting investment toward faster-growing areas, such as products for video conferencing and gaming.
One important factor driving the stock's performance has been Logitech's operating efficiency. It has been able to ramp up investments in new products, while improving its operating margin. This has fueled faster growth in earnings per share compared to sales, which has contributed to the stock's return of 674% since the end of fiscal 2014 (which ends in March).
Management is guiding for a more modest sales increase in fiscal 2022 as demand cools off. Sales are expected to be anywhere from up 5% to down 5%, adjusted for currency changes. Management also anticipates a decline in profits in the near term as the business returns to normal levels of marketing and promotional spending.
Lower growth expectations for the year ahead may limit near-term gains in the stock, which already trades at a full valuation of 27 times expected earnings. But once the company moves into calendar 2022, year-over-year growth comparisons will get much easier and could be a catalyst for further gains in the stock price.
Roku might have been labeled a "stay-at-home" stock, but it was primed for a breakout year. It was already a fast-growing business heading into 2020, with revenue increasing 52% in 2019. Roku finished 2020 as the top-selling smart-TV operating system in North America, helping send revenue up 58% last year with the spike in digital entertainment consumption.
Roku gets a cut of subscriptions made to third-party streaming services, but most of its revenue on the platform comes from advertising. This sets up the company for a bright future, as consumer brands shift advertising budgets from traditional TV to digital. Roku now has more than 50 million active accounts, with average revenue per user increasing by 24% to $28.76 in the fourth quarter of 2020.
It's got a major advantage with its relationship with TV manufacturers. In 2020, Roku TV held a leading market share among TV operating systems in North America. The company focuses on having its operating system pre-installed in TVs that sell at the bottom of the price spectrum, which drives higher sales and more sign-ups.
As more people cut cable and shift to non-pay TV, Roku should continue to see growing adoption of its smart-TV software. However, investors should be prepared for volatility in the near term. Roku trades at a price-to-sales ratio of 25, which is high for a business that is operating around breakeven in profitability.
Like Logitech, NVIDIA benefited from increased demand for computer products to work and play games at home. In the fiscal second quarter, NVIDIA reported a revenue increase of 50% year over year, up 26% over the previous quarter. This followed strong demand trends entering calendar 2020, where momentum really started to build for its RTX gaming chips during the holiday quarter of 2019.
Sales of gaming laptops featuring NVIDIA's RTX 30 series graphics cards were particularly strong during the pandemic. NVIDIA believes it has a long runway of growth in its gaming segment -- its largest revenue source -- as esports and live game streaming continue to show staying power. During a recent investor presentation, management noted that viewers watched 100 million hours of gaming content on Alphabet's YouTube in 2020, or twice the level from 2018.
Another area to watch is the data center segment. Data center revenue spiked 124% to reach nearly half of NVIDIA's total revenue last year. NVIDIA continues to see strong demand from cloud service providers, in addition to enterprises operating in healthcare and financial services. These companies are using NVIDIA's powerful chips to process mountains of data to handle fraud detection, language processing, and recommendation algorithms. These trends are certainly not going away after the pandemic.
NVIDIA continues to innovate to meet the needs of its enterprise customers. It just introduced "Grace," its first central processing unit (CPU) for data centers. Its pending acquisition of Arm from Softbank Group (SFTB.Y 0.05%) (SFTBF -1.91%) will also open new opportunities for NVIDIA, given that Arm's chip design is in almost every mobile device sold around the world.
NVIDIA recently disclosed that revenue for the fiscal first quarter was ahead of its previous outlook for $5.3 billion, which represented year-over-year growth of 72%. Another strong quarter would likely satisfy the high expectations implied in the stock price -- the shares currently fetch a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of 45 based on analysts' estimates.