This spring has been rough going for investors in high-growth technology stocks. With the economy reopening again, a massive rotation into "old economy" value stocks has ensued -- and a flight from tech has meant steep double-digit percentage declines for many of them.
However, while many value stocks are rallying, the future still favors growing names within the digital economy. Three that have been beat up as of late in spite of stellar first-quarter 2021 earnings are The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD), Twilio (NYSE:TWLO), and Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN). Here's why all three look like solid buys right now.
1. The Trade Desk: Digital advertising growth is far from spent
Shares of The Trade Desk have been humbled. Briefly valued at a whopping 60 times trailing 12-month sales at the end of 2020, the stock is now trading for a much more reasonable 30 times trailing 12-month sales after tumbling nearly 50% from all-time highs. Granted, this is still no "cheap" stock. But growth for this digital advertising software provider is far from over.
Revenue during Q1 2021 increased 37% year over year to $220 million, and adjusted EBITDA was up 81% to $70.5 million as the company reaches a more efficient and profitable scale. Customer retention was above 95% for the seventh year in a row, illustrating the usefulness of the software as marketing agencies and the businesses they represent look for ways to get more out of their digital ad campaigns. CEO Jeff Green cited some reports calling for a 10% rise in global ad spend this year, but with The Trade Desk playing in higher-growth areas of the industry like internet-connected TV, it will far outpace the average. The second-quarter revenue outlook for as much as $262 million implies year-over-year growth of 88% as effects of the initial pandemic lockdowns last spring are lapped.
The 25% drubbing The Trade Desk received in a single day following the quarterly update illustrates just how high the bar has been set for the company. But with the valuation now reset to a more reasonable level, the stock looks like a long-term value to me. Shares trade for about 20 times expected full-year 2021 revenue and 78 times trailing 12-month free cash flow -- again, by no means a bargain bin buy, but not bad considering the rapid pace with which The Trade Desk has been expanding and the even faster pace it's growing the bottom line.
If you were waiting for a pullback to buy or add more to an existing position, now looks like high time to do so with this leader in digital advertising software.
2. Twilio: Communications are headed to the cloud
Mobile communications are a modern staple, but they don't need to be delivered via a smartphone with connection to a mobile network anymore. The cloud computing industry has reshaped the way consumers stay in touch with companies they do business with, and email, text, online chat, and video conferencing are all equally important parts of the modern business call center. Enter Twilio, which helped get the ball rolling in this new cloud computing-based communications industry.
It too has been kicked around the last couple of months. Shares are also down nearly 50% from all-time highs as of this writing. But like The Trade Desk, the steep tumble reflects the incredibly lofty valuation Twilio was carrying just a couple of months ago, because there was little to be disappointed about with the Q1 2021 update. Revenue increased 62% year over year to $590 million ($44.6 million of sales coming from the recent acquisition of customer data outfit Segment). Excluding $67 million in acquisition costs, free cash flow was negative $10.9 million in the quarter, although Twilio is spending heavily to maximize its potential right now and will worry about profits later on. In the meantime, the $5.71 billion in cash and equivalents offset by debt of just $1.22 billion gives Twilio plenty of liquidity to aggressively expand.
Co-founder and CEO Jeff Lawson talked up the diverse mix of customers Twilio has around the globe and the strong demand for the company's cloud communications software as these organizations look to update their operations for the digital age. Net dollar-based retention rate was 133% in the first quarter, implying existing customers spent 33% more with Twilio than a year ago. The top-line outlook for Q2 was pretty good too, with sales expected to be as much as 50% higher than a year ago (including Segment) to $601 million.
Again, this is no value stock at 23 times trailing 12-month sales and about 20 times 2021 sales if the expected Q2 growth rate holds for the rest of the year. The fact Twilio doesn't turn a profit (yet) may also turn some investors off. But for the long haul, this is a promising leader in software-based communications services that is trading for a steal compared to where it was earlier this year. It's time to give Twilio another serious look.
3. Redfin: A market disruptor in a red-hot residential real estate industry
Technology-enhanced real estate broker Redfin said U.S. home sales are continuing their rebound following the freeze last spring. Americans are moving, favoring larger properties in suburbs over the largest and densest cities. But the supply of homes for sale remains slim and is pushing average home selling prices higher. There's investor worry that the trend isn't sustainable. Given the cyclical nature of residential real estate, shares of Redfin have fallen some 45% from all-time highs as of this writing.
Nevertheless, co-founder and CEO Glenn Kelman remains optimistic about the company's long-term progress. After all, Redfin's low-cost brokerage model commanded just 1.14% market share of U.S. home value sold (up from 0.93% last year), and it's still making rapid inroads into the status quo. Revenue increased 40% year over year to $268 million in Q1, and net loss narrowed to $36 million compared to a net loss of $60 million the year prior. Redfin is also quickly growing its ancillary services as well, like its direct offer service (which buys homes from sellers directly for cash), Redfin Mortgage, and the newly acquired apartment and home rental listing sites from RentPath.
In Q2, revenue is expected to increase as much as 114% from last spring as initial pandemic effects are lapped. Included in guidance for revenue of $446 million to $457 million is an expected $41 million to $42 million contribution from RentPath. Total net losses will tally up to at least $32 million according to Kelman and the top team, but this is nevertheless a top play in tech-based real estate services with plenty of room to make further waves.
Redfin shares trade for just 3.4 times expected 2021 sales. This brokerage doesn't turn a consistent profit yet, but this is a growth story through and through. With $1.48 billion in cash and short-term equivalents offset by debt of $1.14 billion at the end of March, this company has ample liquidity to spread the word on its lower real estate transaction costs and simple tech-enhanced home buying and selling process. I for one remain bullish on Redfin's long-term prospects.