Investors who have $3,000 left over after covering their expenses, debts, and savings obligations may think they have little money for investing. However, that amount of capital is sufficient to buy into many potentially fast-growth tech stocks. With that amount, investors could comfortably buy shares of tech such as eBay (EBAY -0.62%), Etsy (ETSY 5.53%), and StoneCo (STNE 0.60%) and earn outsized returns over time.
eBay is an old tech darling that fell out of favor amid more favorable, lower-cost service offerings from competitors. However, since e-commerce executive Jamie Iannone returned to the company to become CEO, he has worked to better leverage its base of 187 million buyers, giving investors reasons to consider buying eBay stock.
Iannone has improved its efficiency, shortening eBay's once-cumbersome listing process, enabling storefronts on mobile devices, and adding QR coding for pickups. eBay has also brought more of a digital wallet experience through its managed payments systems. This makes both payments and collections a more efficient process.
Consequently, the company that increased revenue by only 1% in 2019 from year-ago levels grew revenue in 2020 by 19% over the previous year to almost $10.3 billion. Net income rose by nearly 220% during that period to $5.7 billion as operating costs increased only 10%, and eBay earned an additional $700 million from interest and other sources.
Revenue also surged by 42% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with year-ago numbers to reach $3 billion. While net income fell during that period to $641 million, that occurred because the company realized almost $3 billion from discontinued operations in Q1 2020. A 64% increase in the cost of net revenue also hurt profitability, driven mainly by transition costs related to its payments platform.
Such improvements likely helped eBay stock rise 30% over the last year and double since the beginning of 2020. Moreover, the earnings multiple does not reflect this growth. It stands at around 16, lower than other e-commerce companies such as Amazon and its price-to-earnings ratio of 63.
Like other e-commerce companies, eBay issued limited guidance for the second quarter as it emerges from the pandemic. Nonetheless, if it can maintain double-digit revenue increases, eBay stock could easily experience both price growth and multiple expansion over time.
Etsy stands out because it has become so much more than a sales site. It is a community that exists to bolster sellers of artisan goods, craft supplies, and vintage products. It not only limits its site to these types of businesses, but it also offers its platform to sellers at a low price point, providing a search engine that makes it easier to find specific artisans based on what they sell.
The financials appear to reflect this value proposition. In the first quarter of 2021, revenue grew by 142% versus year-ago levels to $551 million. Since operating expenses increased by 114% and the cost of revenue climbed by only 73%, net income spiked by 1,048% to $144 million during that time.
Full-year 2020 numbers show that the growth is not a one-time event. In 2020, revenue climbed to over $1.7 billion, a 111% increase from 2019. Moreover, since Etsy kept the increases in the cost of revenue and operating expenses well below that pace, net income rose by 264% during that time to $349 million.
Despite these successes, Etsy guided to 12-month revenue growth of 15% to 25% in Q2 and did not release full-year forecasts. This may point to some uncertainty as its markets emerge from the pandemic.
Nonetheless, it has posted 90% stock growth over the last 12 months. It also trades at around 52 times earnings. This comes in lower than the Shopify's current level of 77. Not only does Etsy bring investors an increasingly robust community of small businesses, but it also offers investors exposure to the growth of e-commerce at a reasonable price.
Many U.S. investors aren't familiar with StoneCo, since it serves the fintech needs of businesses in Brazil. StoneCo offers solutions for enterprises of all sizes that want to spend and collect money both on and offline. It also provides platforms for the financial management of the businesses themselves. However, unlike a Visa or a PayPal, it gears itself to serve customers in a cash-based society, a niche often overlooked by those with no perspective of how fintech might function in a developing market.
Indeed, peers such as PagSeguro (PAGS -7.60%) and Latin-American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre also serve this market, but StoneCo offers additional competitive advantages. StoneCo prides itself on a "no bureaucracy" approach, opening local hubs and training salesforces quickly in areas that need its service.
Thanks in part to this accessible business model, revenue in the first quarter of 2021 of 868 million reais ($168 million) meant year-over-year growth of 21%. Also, StoneCo reported a net income of 158 million reais ($31 million), a decline of 22% over that period. The rising cost of service, administrative expenses, and selling expenses weighed on profitability as Brazil dealt with a second wave of COVID-19.
Still, the company seems to have handled the impact well. In fiscal 2020, revenue of 3.3 billion reais ($640 million) represented a 29% increase from 2019 levels. Net income rose 4% during that time to 837 million reais ($162 million) as technology and marketing costs as well as expenses related to a merger reduced profit growth.
COVID-19 fears have also affected the stock; it has fallen by more than 40% since its February high. However, this has taken its P/E ratio down to just above 112, down from around 165 in February. While it remains more expensive than PagSeguro, which sports a 82 P/E ratio, investors should also remember that PagSeguro's 20% revenue growth in fiscal 2020 slightly lagged StoneCo's revenue increases. Perhaps more importantly, StoneCo increased its net income in 2020 as PagSeguro's net income fell by 6% from year-ago levels. In my mind, StoneCo's superior performance helps justify paying a bit of a premium compared to competitors.
Furthermore, management predicts a "significant acceleration" in revenue and net income from 2020 levels. Thus, investors may want to consider StoneCo while they can buy it on a dip.