IPOs were a hot topic in 2020. Exciting start-ups like Snowflake, Airbnb, and DoorDash went public, making strong market debuts. Well into 2021 now, the excitement hasn't gone anywhere. Roblox, Bumble, and UiPath are just some of the latest names to join the list of shiny new stocks for investors to consider.
This ever-widening array of promising growth stocks offers lots of options and means lots of decisions. Eventually, investors need to get selective when deciding which names to add to their watch lists. When that happens, my bet is that focus will shift toward dominant market leaders with a long runway for growth. I'm talking about companies like Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) and Coupang (NYSE:CPNG) -- two freshly minted IPOs that could actually live up to the hype. Let's find out a bit more about these two hot IPOs.
Coinbase went public last month, and its shares jumped straight out of the gate. At one point, Coinbase's market cap crossed $100 billion -- making it (for a time) one of the biggest financial services companies in the world.
Coinbase began in 2012 as a simple way for people and businesses to send and receive Bitcoin from anywhere in the world. Since then, it has morphed into an "everything store" for finance in the crypto economy. It offers users a safer way to store and transact with over 45 types of crypto assets. And owners can put some of their crypto assets to work, earning interest by "staking" them on the Coinbase platform. Alternatively, they can use their assets to fund Coinbase Cards -- debit cards that can be used at any merchant that accepts Visa.
As with all grand promises, it's the execution that counts. And Coinbase seems to be doing well on that front, which explains its massive user base of 43 million retail investors and 7,000 institutions spread across the world. It has also benefited from booming Bitcoin prices -- revenue more than doubled to $1.3 billion in 2020, driven by surging trading volume. That helped Coinbase swing into the black for the year, delivering $322 million in net profit.
While those are solid numbers, Coinbase is just getting started. Consider this: In 2020, Coinbase held $90 billion of assets on its platform. That's just 12% of the total market cap of all crypto assets, which Coinbase estimates to be $782 billion. The growth opportunity looks even more exciting when you consider that the global financial system -- which crypto aims to disrupt -- is valued in the hundreds of trillions. If you believe crypto assets will eventually go mainstream, you will agree that Coinbase is barely scratching the surface of its potential.
Be aware that Coinbase faces an uncertain path to success. For one, the crypto economy is still in its very early days. New competitive threats and new technologies will emerge, potentially disrupting Coinbase. And while Coinbase already has a massive head start in this industry, there's no guarantee it can leverage this successfully over time. Coinbase shares also look particularly expensive at the moment and are trading at 38 times 2020 sales. For perspective, the Intercontinental Exchange -- which operates several stock exchanges, including the world's largest -- trades at less than one-fifth of that multiple.
Investors should keep the company on their watch list and see if its valuation becomes more palatable.
Coupang is often dubbed the "Amazon of South Korea." But many investors are hoping it will match the recent stock performances of Amazon wannabes like MercadoLibre or Sea Limited. Both stocks delivered triple-digit gains over the past few years, thanks to the unstoppable growth of global e-commerce. And there is much to suggest that Coupang -- which started trading this month -- could follow in their footsteps.
Founded in 2010, Coupang initially provided Groupon-like daily deals to online shoppers. It soon shifted its focus to e-commerce, coming from behind to become the market leader in South Korea. And the secret sauce to its success? An end-to-end delivery network, spanning over 100 logistics centers across 30 cities. This extensive network allows Coupang to guarantee free one-day delivery on millions of items -- something it says rivals can't offer. So far, much suggests customers love what Coupang has brought to the table. Coupang's revenue rose a stunning 196% from 2018 to 2020, while its customer base grew 62% to 14.8 million customers -- roughly 30% of Korea's population.
Coupang may be South Korea's No. 1 in online retail, but it's not stopping there. It's now venturing into adjacent markets like grocery, food delivery, and travel. There are early signs that these efforts are bearing fruit. For example, by leveraging its existing logistics network, Coupang has built the largest online food delivery service in Korea. And as it continues to invest in infrastructure expansion, Coupang can provide better services and widen its delivery coverage. This, in turn, will help Coupang gain market share and widen the gap between the company and its rivals. In the long run, Coupang could also take its business model and replicate it internationally. This will unlock new growth opportunities far beyond what South Korea can offer.
With Coupang firmly on track to become the next Amazon, it was never going to be a cheap stock. But that doesn't justify buying Coupang at its current trailing price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of 4.6 times. Chinese e-commerce behemoth JD.com, for perspective, trades at less than one-fourth of that multiple.
Like Coinbase, Coupang has the potential to deliver explosive returns for investors. But with the stock trading at such a high price tag, investors might find it best to wait for a good entry point on this stock.