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3 Red-Hot Stocks That Could Continue to Beat the Market

By Justin Pope – Oct 8, 2021 at 6:12AM

Key Points

  • Growth stocks have been feeling some pressure in the markets lately, but there have been some standouts.
  • Asana, Upstart, and Upwork have been strong performers thanks to strong and accelerating revenue growth.
  • Each company could continue to perform for long-term investors as they expand into large addressable markets.

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Winners can keep on winning. These three stocks have strong momentum and room to run.

Let's face it; September stunk for most investors. The three major U.S. indexes were down for the month, and many growth stocks experienced even sharper declines. But it's not all bad; some stocks have managed to shine, putting up gains instead.

Despite the market's slide, these three growth stocks are up over the past month and have the fundamentals that could propel them to outperform moving forward.

1. Improving efficiency in businesses

Asana (ASAN -11.06%) is a web and mobile application that helps organizations organize and manage the efforts of their employees. It acts as a single platform where teams can communicate, share information, and hold each other accountable to complete projects and meet deadlines.

Business person giving a presentation to their team.

Image Source: Getty Images

Just think of a project and all of the groups within a company it touches along its journey. An idea often needs to pass through accounting for how it's paid for, marketing for how it's presented, sales staff for input, all while bouncing between leadership for feedback and approval. Asana's software helps keep everyone on the same page, which can help people be more efficient in their work; fewer emails, fewer phone calls, less frustration.

Its most recent quarter, fiscal 2022 Q2, showed revenue growing 72% year over year to hit $89 million; it grew 61% the prior quarter and 57% the quarter before that. In other words, growth is accelerating. Asana now has 107,000 total paying customers, and the number of accounts paying $50K grew 111% last quarter, evidence that the company's software is gaining traction in large organizations.

Over the past month, shares have been up about 30%, showing strength across most growth stocks during this pullback. Asana's accelerating revenue growth demonstrate that the business is performing at a high level and could continue to push higher once growth stocks regain market sentiment.

2. Helping banks lend smarter

Upstart Holdings (UPST -7.23%) is a software platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI), instead of a FICO credit score, to approve loans for consumers. The credit score is this "mysterious" entity that can significantly impact your financial journey. It was developed in the late 1980s before the digital age came about.

The company's AI-based lending algorithms pull many data points to get a more personalized profile of consumers' finances in order to make better lending decisions. Upstart has claimed that its technology approves loans at the same rate as FICO but has 75% fewer defaults. It also claims a net promoter score of 82 out of 100, a higher score than most traditional banks and an indication that consumers are happy with their experience using Upstart. 

If banks see fewer loan defaults and customers are happier, it's not surprising that more banks are partnering with Upstart. When it went public, it had ten banking partners; as of June 30, 2021, that number had more than doubled to 25 in less than a year. Revenue growth has followed; its full-year guidance of $750 million represents 211% year-over-year growth.

Shares of Upstart have been up about 30% over the past 30 days, and with more than 5,000 banks and credit unions in the United States alone, the stock and company could both continue to grow if Upstart continues to find new partners.

3. Giving power to freelancers

Upwork (UPWK -5.90%) is an online marketplace that connects companies with freelance talent. Businesses use several skills, like graphic design or copywriting, that are difficult to justify hiring a full-time employee for. Freelancing gives companies access to these skills at a lower cost.

People tend to associate the "gig economy" with COVID, but as much as a third of the workforce participated in "gigs" before the pandemic. Freelancing comes with perks, like flexibility in when and where you work. Upwork, along with its competitor Fiverr, are the two primary online platforms where freelancers find work.

Upwork's active client base has accelerated growth over the past five quarters, likely attributable to the pandemic. The company currently boasts about 725 thousand clients and has a client-spend retention rate of 114%; clients tend to spend more once they become customers. Revenue has grown behind these tailwinds; the company's second-quarter 2021 revenue grew 42% year over year.

The stock has been up about 7% over the past month and has a long-term runway to continue growing. Management estimates that the global freelance opportunity is worth as much as $1.3 trillion. Investors will want to keep an eye on the company's ability to continue growing its client base and note whether its clients continue to increase their spend once on the platform.

Justin Pope owns shares of Upstart Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Asana, Inc., Fiverr International, and Upstart Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends Fair Isaac and Upwork. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Upwork Stock Quote
Upwork
UPWK
$11.65 (-5.90%) $0.73
Asana Stock Quote
Asana
ASAN
$14.40 (-11.06%) $-1.79
Upstart Stock Quote
Upstart
UPST
$17.32 (-7.23%) $-1.35
Fiverr International Stock Quote
Fiverr International
FVRR
$32.28 (-4.67%) $-1.58

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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