After rocketing higher in 2020 and early 2021, many growth stocks suddenly slammed on the brakes. Not to worry. Investor over-optimism was bound for an eventual reality check, but many of these businesses are still growing at a healthy pace. The coronavirus Omicron variant is yet another "buy-the-dip" opportunity. Three Fool.com contributors think Zynga (ZNGA), Netflix (NFLX 2.50%), and Sea (SE -1.54%) are worth a buy right now. Here's why.
A couple years of mobile video gaming progress undone by a few months
Nicholas Rossolillo (Zynga): Mobile video game developer Zynga has been absolutely clobbered this year. The company barely registered a dip in March 2020 when initial lockdowns occurred, as stay-at-home orders made millions of people new mobile gamers -- a direct benefit to Zynga's business. But after more than doubling through early 2021, the stock has backtracked all the way to where it was in 2019.
Of course, if Zynga was suddenly losing all of those new mobile gamers and then some, the punishment would be warranted. But that's not what's going on here. Revenue was up 40% year over year to $705 million, and monthly average users (MAUs) skyrocketed 120% compared to last year to 183 million in third-quarter 2021. Of course, a handful of acquisitions, including Rollic (maker of casual game Tangle Master 3D), helped boost these figures, but Zynga is nevertheless doing just fine.
The issue many investors have found with Zynga is its growing advertising business, which is now about 20% of total revenue compared to just 11% last year. With Apple (AAPL 0.83%) and others starting to crack down on device activity tracking, the value of mobile ads could decrease, and publishers like Zynga will need to adapt. Regardless, the company said it still expects to grow by a low double-digit percentage rate in 2022 and expand its profit margins as it starts to fully integrate its acquisitions from the last two years.
After the drubbing Zynga stock has endured, shares trade for a lowly 2.3 times trailing-12-month sales and 22 times trailing-12-month free cash flow. Mobile games are a massive worldwide industry, and Zynga is expanding its reach and finding plenty of growth opportunities. I plan to double down on my investment in this video game leader.
You should absolutely buy Netflix on the dips
Anders Bylund (Netflix): Shares of video-streaming veteran Netflix notched fresh all-time highs in mid-November. Two short weeks later, the stock has retreated more than 12% and is back to prices not seen since early October.
You know how you're supposed to keep some dry powder in your brokerage accounts so you'll be ready to buy certain high-quality stocks on the dips? Yeah, this is one of those notorious dips that had nothing to do with flaws in Netflix's business model or its growth prospects. Instead, the stock was dragged down by the marketwide flight from high-flying growth stocks. Those record prices Netflix's stock touched a couple of weeks ago set the ticker up for this senseless correction.
It's time to take action.
As a reminder, the company got back to delivering positive subscriber and earnings surprises in October's third-quarter report. Management forecast a record-breaking holiday quarter in terms of subscriber additions, and some analysts believe that Netflix's ambitious projections still are too low.
Beyond the potential subscriber explosion over the holidays, Netflix is also dipping its proverbial toe into the video game market and will produce plenty of consumer goods related to the recently acquired Roald Dahl content library. On top of all that, the streaming service remains a bargain-bin deal for many consumers, and the company should be able to raise its subscription prices some more without affecting the customer count.
There are many chapters left in Netflix's growth story. In fact, I daresay that the company and its stock are only getting started. And that's why you should buy Netflix on irrational price dips like the current one.
This emerging markets leader can outgrow interest rates
Billy Duberstein (Sea Limited): Southeast Asian juggernaut Sea Limited is down about 23% from recent all-time highs, but the stock is still up 31.5% on the year. The company did fall after its recent earnings report, but the magnitude of the recent dip was likely caused by fears of inflation and higher interest rates, which tend to compress multiples of all growth stocks.
While it's impossible to call a bottom, Sea Limited has rarely ever looked cheap. And while recent quarterly growth may have been a tad slower than people are accustomed to, it was still pretty great, up 121% over the past year.
Some may have had qualms with the company's gaming bookings, which were up "only" 29.2%. Still, remember that the third quarter was lapping the depths of the pandemic. That's also pretty solid growth considering that Free Fire, the company's massive global hit, has already been around for four years and has 729 million users.
Free Fire isn't so much a game as a digital alternative universe, to which the company continues to add new content and storylines. And one wrinkle that may have gone unnoticed is that Sea just unveiled Free Fire Max, an enhanced version of Free Fire. Management pointed out it has developed its own in-house technology that enables Free Fire Max players to seamlessly interact with players still on regular Free Fire. Perhaps that proprietary gaming engine could be sold to third parties in the future, opening up even more revenue opportunities.
Meanwhile, Sea continues to use its gaming profits to fund growth of its Shopee e-commerce platform, which is its bigger long-term growth opportunity. Shopee continued to cement its leading position in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, and it was actually the most downloaded shopping app in Brazil, where it now seems to be gaining traction. In addition to continued growth in core markets, Sea also began "testing the waters" in large markets it has yet to penetrate, including India, Poland, France, and Spain.
Meanwhile, SeaMoney, the company's digital financial services arm, grew revenue nearly 1,000% over the prior year, albeit off a small base. Paying users grew 120%, and mobile wallet payments volume was up 111%. The company announced more and more merchant partnerships that are now adopting SeaMoney as a payment option outside of Shopee -- a key to long-term growth.
While interest rate fears have knocked down Sea Limited's stock price, the company continues to grow in the triple digits, all while unveiling new products and entering new countries. It's hard to find a company with this much open-ended growth potential, so if you've been waiting to initiate a position in Sea, now may be a good time to start looking.