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3 Growth Stocks to Buy Hand Over Fist Right Now

By Rich Duprey, Eric Volkman, and Keith Noonan – Updated Sep 20, 2021 at 4:27PM

Key Points

  • Discount stores are a big growth opportunity, especially in a recession.
  • This video game company is a leader in a promising growth industry and never looked stronger. 
  • Consumers go out of their way to ensure their pets are taken care of.

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This could be the best time to be greedy with these growth stocks.

Even in a market rout there are stocks that look too good to pass up. When everything looks like it is going south, that's when savvy investors prepare to pounce.

While it's tempting to wait until all the dust has settled, that may be too late as everyone will be moving in on the bargains. That's why Ross Stores (ROST -0.09%), Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO -0.04%), and The Original Bark Company (BARK -0.08%) are three growth stocks investors might just want to be buying hand over fist right now.

Person giving thumbs up sign and holding cash.

Image source: Getty Images.

Bargain retailer, bargain stock

Eric Volkman (Ross Stores): Hopefully sooner rather than later we'll finally start getting past the coronavirus pandemic. When we do, people will want and need to refresh their wardrobes, and clothing retailers will benefit. So my pick is a big player in the budget end of that segment: Ross Stores.

The company is already doing a better job than many peers at making it through the outbreak. After suffering through the mandatory store closures during the heavy part of the pandemic in early/mid-2020, Ross Stores came back with a vengeance as it began to reopen its doors.

The reopenings, pent-up consumer demand, government stimulus payments, vaccine initiatives, and well-targeted deals from the veteran bargain retailer made for a potent brew in both of its reported quarters for this year.

In the second quarter, the company blasted past both its own and analysts' expectations with a nearly 80% year-over-year rise in sales, to over $4.8 billion. With a far more powerful improvement in net income this rose more than 20-fold to $494 million. These results were achieved with a 13% rise in comparable-store sales, nearly double the top end of Ross Stores' guidance range for the quarter, which was 7%.

The company has a history of underestimating its performance. It produced a 13% improvement in comps for the first quarter, and that was after it predicted that the figure would be negative, to the tune of 1% to 5%.

So we shouldn't be surprised if Ross Stores' guidance for the third quarter falls well short of the actual results. The company is already projecting robust same-store sales growth of 10% to 11% for the entirety of 2021, with bottom-line profitability coming in at $4.20 to $4.38 per share. By the way, if realized, the latter projection would beat the pants off 2020's $0.24.

Finally, Ross Stores' stock is as attractively priced as much of its merchandise. The shares currently trade at a dirt cheap 0.25 five-year forward price-to-earnings-growth ratio, which is a deal even by the standards of the out-of-favor retail industry.

Smiling friends playing video game.

Image source: Getty Images.

Take your portfolio to the next level

Keith Noonan (Take-Two Interactive): Hit video game Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) stands as the single most profitable entertainment release in history, and its performance has helped make Take-Two Interactive one of the industry's biggest success stories. The game has demonstrated incredible longevity and sold more than 150 million copies since its release all the way back in 2013, and its hugely popular online mode has generated billions of dollars in high-margin revenue. 

Even better, Take-Two Interactive is set to release another updated version of the game for Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's next-generation Xbox consoles early next year. Not only is the new Grand Theft Auto V likely to add at least another 10 million in unit sales to the blockbuster title's lifetime sales, it will also extend the life of its incredibly profitable online multiplayer mode. 

Do you hear that sound? It's the money-printing machines firing back up again. If the prospect of another highly profitable GTA V release isn't enough to get you bullish on Take-Two stock, the company is said to be readying a release that will package updated versions of three previously released hits in the franchise. And if being responsible for one of gaming's most successful and dependably bankable series still isn't enough, keep in mind that Take-Two Interactive is much more than just Grand Theft Auto

The company's annual installments in the NBA 2K basketball franchise routinely rank among the best-selling titles in their given release year, and Take-Two's Red Dead Redemption 2 stands as one of the most successful titles of the last decade. The company is also responsible for franchises including BioShock, Civilization, and Kerbal Space Program, and its strong portfolio of established series and proven development and marketing teams should help the publisher continue to serve up strong performance and deliver big wins for shareholders. 

Dog sitting next to woman doing yoga

Image source: Getty Images.

Barking up the right tree with this growth stock

Rich Duprey (The Original Bark Company): Spending on pets, pet food, and pet care continues to steadily rise, jumping almost 7% during the pandemic. The American Pet Products Association estimates it will grow another 6% this year, hitting almost $110 billion. 

Because dogs are the No. 1 pet in the U.S., making up 69% of pet-owning households (compared to 45% with a cat), The Original Bark Company is poised to capitalize on the continued humanization of pets by their owners.

The APPA says most consumer spending is on food and treats, with $44 billion, or 40% of the expected total for 2021.

Bark is a subscription service for dogs; its most notable offering being its monthly BarkBox that delivers toys, treats, and supplements to a pet parent's house. Last quarter total revenue rose 57% year over year to nearly $118 million with its direct-to-consumer operations accounting for 90% of the total (Bark products are also sold at retailers nationwide, including at Target, Petco, PetSmart, and Costco Wholesale.

Gross profit was up an equally impressive 49% due to an increase in active subscriptions, which rose 41% to 1.95 million. However, customer churn increased to 7.4% from 6.2% a year ago, likely due to a post-pandemic reopening of retail stores, a situation that increased its customer acquisition costs some 60%.

The year-ago figure was actually depressed because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which made it exceptionally easy and cheap for internet retailers to acquire customers, but it helps explain why Bark's stock is down 44% year to date and over 58% from its 52 week high. 

That makes The Original Bark Company a bargain. An estimated 63 million households own a dog, and Bark has penetrated just 1.9 million, giving it an enormous runway for growth.

With an increasing ability to leverage its expanding customer data assets to personalize its products toward individual pets, as well as introduce new innovative ways to tap into new households that have yet to try its service, Bark is only just beginning to unleash its potential.

Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Costco Wholesale and Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2023 $115 calls on Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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