Sometimes growth stocks are knocked off course by external events they can't control. A good company is one that holds steady to its mission until the storm blows over and then resumes its trajectory higher.
Expedia Group (EXPE -2.12%), Fiverr International (FVRR -4.24%), and JD.com (JD 5.00%) have been beaten down pretty well, largely by events over which they had little say. But now at their significantly lower price point, these solid growth stocks are begging to bought.
Get a piece of the fast-growing gig economy
Keith Noonan (Fiverr International): Fiverr International operates an online marketplace that makes it easy to hire and take on gig labor jobs. Want something photoshopped? Fiverr's got you covered. Looking to have a bit of video editing or graphic design work done? Same deal. Gig labor platforms have emerged as a disruptive new labor market force, and it's likely that this unfolding trend is still in the early innings of a much longer growth trajectory.
Gig labor allows businesses to exercise a greater degree of flexibility in many cases. Rather than create new positions and hire employees for what might ultimately go on to be a temporary need, Fiverr gives companies the opportunity to attract talent and hire for jobs on a piecemeal basis. This can also help businesses cut down on additional workforce expenses including employee benefits, payroll taxes, and office space. The traditional employer-employee labor structure isn't going to disappear overnight, but it's likely that gig labor will continue to see rising adoption over the next decade and beyond.
However, the promising outlook for the overall gig labor market hasn't stopped Fiverr stock from seeing volatile swings across 2021's trading. The stock is now down roughly 11.5% year to date and roughly 49% from the lifetime high of $336 per share that it hit back in February. Despite posting strong second-quarter results at the beginning of August, management paired the report with guidance that fell short of the market's expectations, and the labor platform's valuation hasn't even come close to recovering yet.
With the company valued at roughly $6.2 billion and trading at approximately 21.5 times this year's expected sales, Fiverr is still a growth-dependent company, but I think it will eventually go on to deliver big wins for investors who build positions at current share prices. If you're willing to weather some volatility in the near term, this beaten-down growth stock has serious multibagger potential.
Ready for takeoff
Eric Volkman (Expedia): With the shocking rise of the delta variant, the coronavirus pandemic has proven more persistent than many people thought. At least some of those folks snapped up shares of companies in the travel industry earlier this year, on tantalizing indications that we were about to make it past the outbreak. When delta ripped through the world, investors bailed on travel companies.
As a leading stock -- heck, we can confidently say it's the leading stock -- in the online travel agency space, Expedia has taken it on the chin. It's now down by nearly 22% from its we're-about-to-turn-the-corner record high, reached in mid-March.
But amid all the scary headlines about the pandemic lately, there are rays of hope.
According to The New York Times' coronavirus tracker, the 14-day growth rate for cases has been declining. It's doing so slowly, but it is going in the hoped-for direction.
Meanwhile, the recent full FDA approval of Pfizer and BioNTech's Comirnaty is clearly encouraging vaccine holdouts to get their shots. Another spur to wider vaccinations is the growing number of government branches and private companies either mandating vaccinations for their employees or carrot-and-sticking those people to get the jabs.
So even though we might not be getting over the delta hump in the coming weeks or even months, it seems that even this stronger variant can ultimately be tamed (if not entirely defeated). When it is, we can expect a flood of business to come surging back to airlines, cruise ship operators, hotels, and especially the online travel agencies that tie all these together.
Looking back on the early part of this year, there were only about two months between the drop in cases/fatalities of the original coronavirus variants and the rise of delta.
Even with delta clearly on the horizon around the middle -- and cases on a clear upswing at the end -- of the second quarter, Expedia saw quite the recovery in fortune in the quarter. Gross bookings surged nearly 700% higher on a year-over-year basis to $20.8 billion, while revenue nearly quadrupled (to $2.1 billion) and net loss narrowed 71% to $169 million.
Yes, that was from a very low base. And no, none of these headline figures came close to those of the pre-pandemic Q2 2019 ($28.3 billion in gross bookings, almost $3.2 billion for revenue, and an adjusted net profit of $276 million).
Still, it shows how much better Expedia can do with even a short-lived change in sentiment. Meanwhile, that strong demand we glimpsed in Q2 for travel services of all kinds has surely grown in a population driven back to staying at home and avoiding crowds. So I feel the travel industry will be quite the recovery story before long, and there are few bigger travel industry players than Expedia.
An internet retailer primed for new growth
Rich Duprey (JD.com): Chinese internet retailer JD.com (JD 5.00%) continues to shrug off the worries investors have expressed about closer government scrutiny and tighter regulation. It just reported second-quarter earnings showing a 26% surge in sales to 253.8 billion renminbi, or $39.3 billion, as annual active customer accounts jumped over 27% from the year before.
Although net income plummeted year over year, that was partially due to aggressive new marketing spend designed to bring more new customers in as well as a one-time gain recognized last year when a company it invested in, Dada Nexus, had a successful initial public offering.
With new travel restrictions and quarantine orders imposed to combat variants of the coronavirus, Chinese citizens will become even more reliant on e-commerce than they were during the last round of impediments to free movement.
JD notes that in addition to its omnichannel and logistics capabilities, it manages more than 23 million square meters of warehouse space in China with over 9 million SKUs. It also operates tens of thousands of offline stores that sell home appliances, digital products, pharmacies, supermarkets, convenience stores, car maintenance service stores, and more.
And while the Chinese government crackdown on tech companies is a problem for many, it's not as serious for JD.com, which could actually benefit from it.
For example, new restrictions on sharing personal data is an issue for advertising-driven tech companies, but not for JD, which says it has always protected personal data. Similarly, new moves against what Beijing calls "disorderly capital expansion," which includes efforts like subsidizing costs, will help ensure JD's higher-quality, higher-priced products aren't subject to pricing competition.
Shares of the e-commerce and logistics giant are down 25% year to date and trade 40% below the 52-week high hit back in February, making it a dirt cheap growth stock begging to be bought.