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3 Top Stocks That'll Make You Richer in the Fourth Quarter (and Beyond)

By Sean Williams – Oct 1, 2021 at 6:06AM

Key Points

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Bargains abound for long-term investors, even with the stock market near an all-time high.

For 18 months, Wall Street and investors have enjoyed an historic ride. The widely followed S&P 500 has effectively doubled off of its bear-market low, marking the strongest bounce-back rally from a bear market bottom in history.

But in spite of this rally, bargains can still be found. As long as your investing timeline can be measured in years, there's plenty of opportunity to buy great companies at a perceived discount. The following trio of top stocks has the potential to make investors a lot richer in the fourth quarter and, more importantly, well beyond.

A stopwatch with the words, Time to Buy.

Image source: Getty Images.

JD.com

There may not be a more shunned group of companies on Wall Street right now than China stocks. A crackdown by Chinese regulators on data-centric industries has investors clearly concerned.

We've witnessed visible action taken by Chinese regulators, with leading e-commerce company Alibaba (BABA -0.37%) hit with a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine in April. But my take is this short-term political pain could be to long-term investors' gain when it comes to JD.com (JD -3.05%).

JD is the No. 2 online retailer in China behind Alibaba, but the two businesses are nothing alike. Alibaba's e-commerce platform is almost entirely based on a third-party marketplace. Meanwhile, JD's marketplace is predominantly a direct-to-consumer model. This means it handles the inventory and logistics of getting purchased products from Point A to B.

Though it does offer some middleman-type third-party marketplace services, it represents a very small percentage of sales. Since JD is firmly in control of its marketplace, there's little chance it's a target for regulators.

Being in control of the second-largest online marketplace in China is an envious place to be. China's economy has consistently grown at a faster pace than other large countries, and its middle class is still discovering simple luxuries like being able to order products online. As of the end of June, JD had nearly 532 million active customers over the trailing 12 months. That's up from 417 million in the prior-year period. 

Furthermore, it's not just about e-commerce with JD. Even though online retail is what drives most consumers to the brand, the company's management team is aiming to branch off into higher-margin ventures.

Its services segment, which is focused on cloud computing, healthcare, and advertising, grew sales by 49% in the second quarter. Even though these segments account for a small percentage of total sales, their higher margins, relative to online retail, should have a notably positive long-term effect on operating cash flow.

What investors are getting with JD is a company with 15% to 20% annual sales-growth potential that could realistically triple its earnings per share by 2024. That's a screaming bargain.

A person seated on a sectional couch in the middle of a furniture expo.

Image source: Getty Images.

Lovesac

If you like high-growth, innovative small-cap stocks, you're going to love Lovesac (LOVE -0.95%). I mean, the ticker symbol -- "LOVE" -- says it all.

Lovesac is a furniture stock, but it's not at all typical. Traditional furniture businesses rely on foot traffic into their stores and sale events to drive interest. Meanwhile, Lovesac leans on innovation and its omnichannel presence to significantly outpace its peers.

While Lovesac may once have been known as the company with the beanbag chairs (known as sacs), around 85% of its sales these days are derived from purchases of sactionals. These are sectional-like modular couches that can be rearranged dozens of different ways to fit any livable space.

There are also approximately 200 different sactional cover choices, so Lovesac's core product is going to match the color and/or theme of any buyer's home. And perhaps best of all, the yarn used in these covers is made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles. Lovesac is offering eco-friendly, functional furniture that's very clearly speaking to millennials, its core customers.

The company also separates itself in the way it responded to the coronavirus-induced recession. Whereas brick-and-mortar furniture stores rely on foot traffic, Lovesac leans on numerous channels to sell its products, including direct-to-consumer, pop-up showrooms, and showrooms within partnered stores. Last year, close to half of the company's sales were generated online.

This was already a business model designed to lower overhead expenses by not operating many physical locations. The pandemic simply coerced Lovesac's management team to lean on direct-to-consumer sales, which reduced overhead expenses even more and lifted the company to recurring profitability two years ahead of Wall Street's forecast.

Lovesac has the potential to more than double its sales and quadruple its profits over the next four years.

A hacker in black gloves typing on a keyboard in a dark room.

Image source: Getty Images.

Ping Identity

The third and final top stock that'll make investors richer in the fourth quarter and well beyond is cybersecurity company Ping Identity (PING).

The beauty of cybersecurity stocks is they're at the center of a sustainable double-digit growth trend. We were witnessing businesses steadily moving data into the cloud prior to the pandemic. But since the coronavirus completely disrupted the traditional workplace, the need to move data into the cloud has intensified.

As a result, third-party security-solutions providers like Ping Identity have seen demand tick higher. Since hackers and robots don't take time off just because the stock market or U.S. economy are having a bad day, Ping and its peers appear to be sitting on a veritable gold mine of opportunity.

As its name likely gives away, Ping Identity is focused on identity-verification solutions for enterprise customers. Ping's cloud-based intelligence platform leans on artificial intelligence to grow smarter over time at identifying and responding to potential threats. It works hand in hand with on-premises security solutions to add an extra layer of protection that covers user authorization and monitoring, to name a few key functions.

To put things bluntly, Ping Identity's 2020 performance was a stinker. Some of the company's customers chose shorter-term license subscriptions, which ultimately hurt revenue growth. But this is a short-term issue. The company has been pushing its subscription-as-a-service (SaaS) model, with subscription SaaS sales rising at a 44% compound annual rate since the first quarter of 2020.

Over time, this SaaS segment should become Ping's core margin and profit driver. It's also beginning to heat up annual recurring revenue growth, which jumped 19% in the second quarter from the prior-year period.

Whereas most cybersecurity stocks are valued at double-digit price-to-sales multiples, Ping can be gobbled up for less than seven times Wall Street's estimated sales for 2022. That's a reasonable value for a growth stock that's already achieved recurring profitability.

Sean Williams owns shares of The Lovesac Company. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., JD.com, and Ping Identity Holding Corp. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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