Let's face it: We thought the internet would make us all supersmart. While it has obviously helped some, all it really did was create a new problem: information overload. We are bombarded with more information than our brains were ever designed to take in. That's a huge problem for smaller companies that are trying to get customers' attention.
That's where SEMrush Holdings (NYSE:SEMR) comes into play. This recent IPO offers a whole suite of tools -- from search engine optimization (SEO) help to digital marketing to public relations -- that helps these smaller companies get noticed. When Motley Fool analysts Brian Stoffel and Brian Feroldi first dug into the company, they were skeptical. But after their due diligence was done, they were shocked by how much they liked the company. To find out how it scored on their investing frameworks, and why they're convinced there's multibagger potential, watch this five-minute video the duo produced for Foolish investors on Oct. 12.
Brian Feroldi: Is SEMrush, ticker a symbol SEMR, a good investment? Let's run through the bull and bear case in about five minutes to find out. My name is Brian Feroldi.
Brian Stoffel: My name is Brian Stoffel. [MUSIC]
Feroldi: Brian, SEMrush recently came public. What does this company do?
Stoffel: The SEM in SEMrush actually stands for "search engine marketing." Why is that important? Well, in today's world, there's information overload. When there's 400 million Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) status updates today and 6 billion Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)(NASDAQ: GOOGL) searches every 24-hours, there's so much information out there that it can be hard to reach your customers. SEMrush offers a suite of tools that help companies reach the people that they want to reach. They do that by offering search engine optimization, which is SEO, commonly used in Google or digital advertising, content marketing. Basically, they offer a suite of tools that are cobbled together to help you get your name out there.
Feroldi: If you are a small, medium, or even large-size business and you want to go into the digital jungle and find and reach your customers, SEMrush provides a suite of tools to help you do just that. SEMrush operates as a software-as-a-service business model. With that kind of business model, the metrics that we need to look at is the company lending customers and are they sticking around? This chart clearly indicates that, yes, on both fronts. The company has a history of not only adding new customers to its platform, but having them increase their spending over time. That's exactly what we want to see.
Stoffel: What's the bull case for investing in SEMrush? Well first of all, it is a one-stop shop. There are a lot of companies out there that offer one or two of the tools that SEMrush does. But as best we can tell, there's no one out there who offers a full umbrella of services, which makes it an easy choice if you're looking for help and getting your name out there.
Feroldi: Two, once the customers get onboard to SEMrush's platform that are clear signs that it's hard for them to switch away. There's also signs out there that the company has the network effect working for and that they have this massive treasure trove of data that continues to get bigger, and SEMrush's specialized AI helps its customers to cut through the noise and find their target.
Stoffel: Finally, we love the level of skin in the game at this company, a number of co-founders are still involved, including the CEO. They didn't take much in funding, so they own a bunch of the company and they are incentivized to do well right alongside shareholders.
Feroldi: SEMrush sounds like an impressive business, but what is the bear case here? Well, first off, cookies are going to be disappearing from the internet. Cookies are little text files that companies use to track what the users do, and there's definitely a push away from that and toward privacy. If that happens, it's possible that SEMrush's tools might become less effective.
Stoffel: Second, there are geopolitical risks to consider. As best we can tell this company was founded in Russia and it's still has offices in St. Petersburg, although its headquarters is in Boston, reading through Glassdoor reviews, we were led to believe that there's still a number of important employees that are located in St. Petersburg. If there are U.S. or Russia tensions, that could have an effect, or if their tensions between SEMrush and the Russian government, that could also hinder the company.
Feroldi: Finally, this is a competitive landscape. SEMrush seems to offer the largest suite of tools, but make no mistake: There are a lot of competitors out there that do similar things.
Stoffel: Before we get to the final score, we want to give a shout out to the Motley Fool. Brian and I were both paying members of The Motley Fool's flagship service Stock Advisor 10 years ago. And that service has absolutely thumped the market view. If you want access to give this a try for a year at a half off, visit fool.com/feroldi.
Feroldi: All right Brian, how did SEMrush score on our investing checklists? For me, this company got a 79, which was such a good score, I had the go back and recheck my work because it's very rare for a company that's new to the public markets to score that well.
Stoffel: And on mine, it got to a 10, which is also a very solid score. This is a company that really blew us both away when we put it through our framework.
Feroldi: We'd never heard of it before and we didn't know what to think about, but both of us came away very impressed with the quality of this business. What should investors watch moving forward from here? The first thing to keep an eye on is the company's dollar-based net revenue retention rate. This figure will tell you whether or not customers are sticking around -- very important -- and if they're continuing to spend more.
Stoffel: Second, we want to make sure that they are adding new customers. It's hard to get a feel for the landscape of this niche. It seems like SEMrush is in the lead, but we want to see them continue to grab market share, and the best way to see that is that their customer count is growing.
Feroldi: Third, keep an eye on free cash flow. This company has been free cash flow positive for years, but that number isn't growing that rapidly because they're using that free cash flow to invest, invest, invest back in the business. Eventually we want to see that free cash flow start to grow and compound on itself, so keep an eye on that number. Well, we hope you enjoyed that. Thanks for watching. My name is Brian Feroldi, and my mission is to spread financial wellness.
Stoffel: My name is Brian Stoffel, and my mission is to minimize finances as a barrier to wholehearted living.
Feroldi: Brians out.