For more than a decade, growth stocks have been the crown jewel of investors' portfolios. Historically low lending rates, dovish Federal Reserve policy, and a free-spending federal government have allowed growth stocks to shine.
This outperformance can easily be seen in the Nasdaq 100 -- an index devoted to 100 of the largest non-financial companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange. Over the trailing 10-year period, the Nasdaq 100 is higher by 530%, through June 12, 2021. Comparatively, the widely followed S&P 500, which is commonly used as the benchmark measure of performance, is higher by "just" 234%.
But even with its overwhelming outperformance, the Nasdaq 100 still offers value. As we enter summer, the following three stocks could start heating up and can be confidently bought hand over fist.
First up is e-commerce-giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), which I dubbed as one of the "top stocks that'll make you richer in June (and beyond)" two weeks ago. Amazon may be a $1.69 trillion company, but its growth trajectory suggests it could become a $5 trillion business by mid-decade.
Most people are probably familiar with Amazon because of its online marketplace. In September 2019, nearly 151 million Americans accessed Amazon via a mobile app, and I can only imagine this figure has headed even higher in the wake of the pandemic. According to an April 2021 report from eMarketer, Amazon controlled a little over 40% of all U.S. online sales, which more than quintuples the share of its next-closest competitor.
However, Amazon is acutely aware that retail margins, in general, are razor thin. To counteract this, the company has signed up more than 200 million people worldwide to a Prime membership. The fees Amazon collects from Prime help it to undercut physical retailers on price. It also doesn't hurt that Prime members are compelled to spend more to get their money's worth out of their membership. This had led to a fiercely loyal following.
But it's not retail that could lead Amazon to $10,000 a share by 2025. The company's key operating cash flow driver will most likely be cloud infrastructure service Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS grew by 30% last year (i.e., during the worst economic downturn in decades), and its annual run-rate through the first quarter of 2021 is $54 billion. AWS currently accounts for about an eighth of total sales, but it's been contributing closer to 60% of Amazon's operating income.
If Amazon were to simply remain valued at 23 to 37 times its operating cash flow -- a range it's held since 2010 -- the more than doubling expected by Wall Street in the company's cash flow by 2025 would put it on track to hit $10,000 a share.
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Healthcare stocks are normally well-insulated from economic pullbacks. Since people don't get to choose when they get sick of what ailment(s) they develop, demand for drugs and devices remains consistent, no matter how well or poorly the U.S. economy is performing.
However, the coronavirus pandemic was too big of a monkey wrench for Walgreens and other pharmacy chains to overcome. The good news is that foot traffic has returned to its stores and the company's multiyear turnaround plan is already well underway.
For example, Walgreens is well ahead of schedule on eliminating more than $2 billion in annual expenses by fiscal 2022. At the same time, it's investing aggressively in digitization initiatives. Mobile and direct-to-consumer orders have been up significantly since the pandemic began, and they offer a means for Walgreens to perk up its top-line growth long after the pandemic ends. As a reminder, margins are often in the low single digits for pharmacy chains. Thus, any bump up in foot traffic and digital sales can be huge.
The more exciting development is the company's partnership with VillageMD to launch up to 700 full-service clinics in its stores. Most competing clinics are equipped to handle a sniffle or administer a vaccine. Offering a full-service clinic could attract a broader base of patients that may more frequently use Walgreens' pharmacy. Since pharmacy margins are higher than the margins associated with front-end store goods (e.g., groceries and other discretionary items), these full-service clinics are Walgreens' ticket to faster earnings growth.
Walgreens Boots Alliance is fully capable of sustaining high-single-digit or low-double-digit earnings per share (EPS) growth. That's compelling for a company valued at less than 11 times Wall Street's consensus forward-year EPS.
Perhaps the biggest discount of all in the Nasdaq 100 goes to China-based Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), which would have to rise 71% over the next 12 months to match Wall Street's consensus one-year price target.
Baidu has faced a double whammy over the past 1 1/2 years. To begin with, the coronavirus pandemic hit China hard, which caused advertisers to pull back on their spending on Baidu's internet search engine. Secondly, Baidu has been in the spotlight following the implementation of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. This law requires public companies to submit documents to show they aren't controlled or owned by a foreign government.
The good news is that both of these concerns look to be moving into the rearview mirror. Baidu doesn't appear to be in danger of delisting in the U.S., and the development of coronavirus vaccines offers a return to some semblance of normality in the future. This coming return to normal is being reflected in Baidu's operating results.
In the first quarter ending March 31, online marketing revenue jumped by 27% from the prior-year period. Baidu's internet search engine consistently accounts for around 70% of all search volume in China. Seeing ad revenue up this much bodes well for China's (and Baidu's) turnaround.
Equally impressive is Baidu's operating performance outside of its online marketing. Management has committed to cloud services and artificial intelligence as long-term growth drivers for the company. This non-marketing revenue surged 70% in the recently ended quarter.
A company with sustainable growth of 15% to 20% annually shouldn't be valued at only 16 times Wall Street's consensus profit estimate for the upcoming year. That's a big-time bargain for growth and value investors, and it's why Baidu can be confidently bought hand over fist in June.