The U.S. equity market has recently come under significant pressure, as a surge in COVID-19 cases seems to have shaken the hopes of a rapid global economic recovery. On July 19, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 2.1%, the S&P 500 by 1.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite by 1.1% from their previous closing prices.
This downturn is seen by some investors as a warning of an impending market crash. However, it is impossible to time a market crash accurately. Instead, investors should focus on using these pullbacks as entry opportunities for picking shares of resilient companies that are driven by strong secular tailwinds. Here are three supercharged stocks that have the potential to give solid returns to retail investors in the second half of 2021.
PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) is a major player in the global digital payments market, which is estimated to grow from a $5.44 trillion value in 2020 to be worth $11.29 trillion in 2026.
The company has expanded its product offerings to include several cashless payment services for customers, such as digital wallets (PayPal and Venmo), "buy now pay later," QR codes, and payment cards as well as capital loans, inventory management, fraud detection, and risk management services for merchants. Recently, the company introduced a point-of-sale system called Zettle for small businesses in the U.S., enabling better management of offline and online transactions. The company has also launched features for PayPal and Venmo users to buy, hold, and sell cryptocurrency.
The number of PayPal's active accounts (its customer base) was up 21% year over year to 392 million at end of the first quarter (ending March 31, 2021). The company has reported a trailing-12-month (TTM) revenue of $22.87 billion and total payment volume of over $1 trillion.
As more customers and merchants join the platform, PayPal's network effect (the value and utility of the platform grow as more users opt for these services) becomes stronger. In fact, a survey showed that customers were 54% more likely to make a purchase if a business accepts PayPal, especially in unfamiliar situations. This network effect and customer trust are difficult-to-disrupt barriers to entry for new fintech competition. PayPal also enjoys significant pricing power. Recently, the company hiked the merchant rates in the U.S., citing significantly higher conversion rates and the purchasing probability of its customers.
PayPal is currently trading at over 15 times TTM sales, which is not cheap. However, considering its dominant position in a rapidly growing digital payments market, the company offers an attractive risk-reward proposition to retail investors even at these valuation levels.
2. Realty Income
Realty Income (NYSE:O) is the ninth-largest real estate investment trust (REIT) in the world. The company is also a leader in a highly fragmented global triple-net lease REIT space (triple-net leases involve tenants paying taxes, insurance, and maintenance) with an estimated market value close to $12 trillion.
With over 6,600 properties leased to a highly diversified customer base, including Walgreens, 7-Eleven, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and FedEx, Realty Income can prove to be a highly resilient investment in any economic condition. Approximately 58% of its clients are investment-grade, and 96% of rent collections are not affected by economic uncertainties and e-commerce pressures. Despite the company being affected by a slump in business from fitness centers and movie theaters, Realty Income managed to clock an occupancy rate of 98% in the first quarter (ending March 31, 2021).
This Dividend Aristocrat has paid dividends for 51 years in a row. The company has also raised its dividend for 95 consecutive quarters and currently pays a dividend yield of 4.12%. Realty Income reported a dividend payout ratio (dividends divided by adjusted funds from operations, or AFFO) of 83% in 2020. So, the company has the financial flexibility to continue paying dividends in future months.
The recently announced all-stock acquisition of VEREIT (NYSE:VER), a commercial property-focused REIT, has further improved the investment case for Realty Income. Priced at close to $11 billion, this deal is expected to add 10% to Realty Income's AFFO per share in the first year after the acquisition. The combined company is expected to generate cost savings and refinance VEREIT's upcoming debt at lower interest rates by leveraging Realty Income's strong balance sheet. The combined company is also expected to spin off its office portfolio in a separate and publicly traded REIT. Divestitures have generally been known to create value for existing shareholders.
Against this backdrop, Realty Income seems well-positioned to create significant wealth for retail investors in 2021.
Shares of leading cloud-based cybersecurity company Zscaler (NASDAQ:ZS) have gained over 90% in the past year thanks to the increasing global prevalence of cybercrime and rising demand for its Zero Trust cybersecurity solutions. Zero Trust is a security architecture in which enterprises do not trust anyone, and instead authenticate each user inside and outside their networks before granting access to their resources.
Zscaler is currently targeting an addressable market worth $72 billion, which includes cybersecurity services for employee devices in large enterprises as well as for applications in the public cloud. With TTM revenue of $602 million, the company has hardly scratched the surface of its targeted market opportunity.
Zscaler has reported over 35% year-over-year revenue growth for the past 12 quarters, making it one of the fastest-growing cloud-based cybersecurity companies on the market. In the third quarter (ending April 30, 2021), revenue soared 60% year over year to $176.4 million, and non-GAAP net income jumped by 77.7% year over year to $21.4 million. The company's remaining performance obligations or noncancelable future revenue arising from existing contractual relationships was up 85% year over year to $1.2 billion at the end of the third quarter. This metric implies significant revenue visibility and the continuation of strong revenue growth rates in the coming quarters.
Zscaler's dollar-based net retention rate was a solid 126% in the third quarter, highlighting the company's robust customer retention trends and success of its land-and-expand strategy. In addition to its core cloud-based user security solution called Zscaler Internet Access and core cloud-based private data and application security solution for the public cloud called Zscaler Private Access, the company also sells several add-on services to its clients. The company aims to expand its portfolio by acquiring the leading cloud infrastructure entitlement management player, Trustdome, as well as active defense and deception technology player, Smokescreen Technologies. These portfolio additions will add new clients and bolster the company's cross-selling success story.
Zscaler is currently trading at just over 50 times TTM sales, which is pretty expensive compared to the median software industry multiple of 3.68. However, with a well-capitalized balance sheet carrying a cash balance of $1.4 billion and a solid revenue growth trajectory, this cybersecurity company still is an attractive pick for long-term retail investors.