Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, no group of companies has performed better than growth stocks. Historically low lending rates and the Federal Reserve's insistence on using quantitative-easing measures to keep rates low has led to abundant access to cheap capital.
And it's not just small-cap stocks that are leaving a fiery trail of growth in their wake. According to consensus sales estimates from Wall Street, the following five large-cap stocks (companies with market caps of at least $10 billion) are all on pace to grow their annual sales by 313% to as much as 1,304% by 2023.
Nio: 447% implied sales growth by 2023
Electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturers should be some of the fastest-growing companies of the decade, and Nio (NIO 0.42%) is no exception. After the company produced $2.58 billion in sales last year, Wall Street's forecast calls for Nio to drive home roughly $14.1 billion in annual sales by 2023.
It's no secret that virtually all of the largest economies in the world are taking steps to fight climate change. Pushing consumers and enterprises to shift to EVs is one of the easiest ways to reduce carbon emissions. Nio is headquartered in the largest auto market in the world, China, which should see half of its annual vehicle sales be EVs or hybrids (mostly the former) by 2035, according to the Society of Automotive Engineers of China.
Nio's rapid sales growth is being driven by its innovation. The company is introducing a new EV each year -- and its high-margin, loyalty-driven subscription program. Last year, it introduced a battery-as-a-service subscription program that'll allow buyers to upgrade or replace their batteries. This service also reduces the upfront cost of Nio's EVs.
In exchange for giving up near-term sales, Nio is receiving high-margin monthly subscription revenue. More importantly, it's keeping buyers loyal to the brand.
Assuming the auto industry can overcome recent chip shortages, Nio shouldn't have any trouble expanding its capacity and more than quintupling its sales in three years.
Snowflake: 401% implied sales growth by 2023
Although double-digit sales growth is commonplace among cloud stocks, cloud data-warehousing company Snowflake (SNOW 2.30%) seems to be in a league of its own. In fiscal 2021, Snowflake brought in about $592 million in sales. By fiscal 2024, which ends in calendar year 2023, Wall Street is looking for Snowflake to generate almost $2.97 billion in revenue. That's a quintupling in sales, for those of you keeping score at home.
The Snowflake growth story is all about competitive advantages. For example, instead of opting for the popular subscription-based model, Snowflake charges its customers based on how much data they store and how many Snowflake Compute Credits used. This is a more transparent cost approach that its customers seem to like.
Further, Snowflake's infrastructure is built atop the leading cloud-infrastructure service providers. This helps the company's clients work around data-sharing barriers that might otherwise exist between competing cloud platforms.
The big question is whether Snowflake can support its nosebleed valuation of 94 times projected fiscal 2022 sales, with profitability still a long way off. To that end, I'm not so sure -- but I have been proven wrong, thus far.
Sea Limited: 322% implied sales growth by 2023
Another large-cap stock with big-time sales-growth expectations is Singapore-based Sea Limited (SE -0.25%). Sea reported $4.38 billion in sales last year. Come 2023, Wall Street is expecting roughly $18.5 billion in full-year revenue.
Sea's not-so-secret key to success is its diversified trio of high-growth segments. First, there's digital entertainment, which is the only one generating positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Sea ended June with 725 million quarterly active mobile gamers, 12.7% of which were paying to play. This conversion rate is significantly higher than the industry average.
The company's most exciting segment is e-commerce platform Shopee, which has consistently been the most-downloaded shopping app in Southeastern Asia and has seen rapid growth in Brazil. To offer some context as to how quickly Shopee is growing, the gross merchandise value (GMV) transacted in the second quarter was $15 billion. Meanwhile, only $10 billion in GMV was registered on Shopee in all of 2018.
Lastly, Sea's nascent digital-wallet services segment is growing rapidly. The company is nearing 33 million paying mobile-wallet users. With Sea focusing on numerous underbanked regions, this digital financial-services segment could be a sneaky strong growth driver for years to come.
AMC Entertainment: 313% implied sales growth by 2023
Sometimes, sales growth alone doesn't give investors the full picture. For instance, movie-theater stock AMC Entertainment (AMC 6.79%) is slated to grow its sales from $1.24 billion in 2020 to an estimated $5.22 billion by 2023. However, the pandemic ravaged AMC and forced many of its theaters to temporarily close. This $5.22 billion estimate for 2023 still represents a decline from the $5.47 billion in sales recorded in 2019, the year prior to the pandemic.
Whether it's industry or company specific, nothing seems to be working in AMC's favor. The movie-theater industry has been mired in a 19-year decline, with inflation-adjusted box-office gross sales falling 22% between 2002 and 2019.
Even though AMC has been able to secure some exclusivity agreements with major studios, these agreements range from 30 to 45 days. Prior to the pandemic, theatrical exclusivity extended 75 to 90 days. There's no question that AMC has lost its bargaining power to studios, or that streaming is eating into its margins.
As for the company, it's unlikely to be profitable any time before 2024, and the math simply doesn't check out as to how it'll eventually pay back its $5.4 billion in outstanding debt, $420 million in deferred rent, and nearly $4.9 billion in long-term lease liabilities. With weekly box-office gross sales consistently down double digits from 2019, there's little doubt AMC will continue to burn through its remaining cash.
Even with "rapid sales growth," some companies should be avoided like the plague.
Moderna: 1,304% implied sales growth by 2023
The kingpin of sales growth on this list among large-cap companies is biotech-stock Moderna (MRNA -2.66%). In 2020, Moderna posted a little over $803 million in sales. By 2023, analysts expect this hot biotech stock to yield $11.28 billion in revenue. That's a better than 1,300% expected sales increase.
Chances are you're familiar with the Moderna name because of its success on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccine front. The company's vaccine, mRNA-1273, demonstrated 94% vaccine efficacy in a U.S. clinical trial released last November and has played a key role in inoculating adults in numerous developed markets.
The big unknown for Moderna is what sort of legs mRNA-1273 will exhibit beyond 2021-2022. On one hand, variants of COVID-19 and the deterioration of vaccine efficacy over time suggests that booster shots may become a routine moving forward. This would offer Moderna a recurring revenue stream that it's never had before.
On the other hand, new vaccines are set to enter the space, and innovation could threaten Moderna's grip as a top-two COVID-19 player. For example, if competitors bring combination vaccines to market (e.g., COVID-19/influenza), it could make mRNA-1273 a less-tantalizing option.
Considering that Moderna's $141 billion market cap is based on a single therapeutic, there's a lot of risk built into this stock.