The Nasdaq Composite index is now down 13.4% across 2022's trading and 16.4% from the high that it hit last year. Many growth-dependent stocks in the index have seen even more dramatic pullbacks from their highs, but investors shouldn't fret too much over recent volatility.
Backing great companies over the long term remains a top avenue for generating wealth, and recent market turbulence has given investors chances to buy great stocks at cheaper prices. With that in mind, here's why a panel of Motley Fool contributors identified Amazon (AMZN -0.16%), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX -1.34%), and CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD 0.03%) as unstoppable businesses that are primed to deliver big wins for shareholders.
Amazon is finally a good value
Daniel Foelber (Amazon): One look at an Amazon stock chart, and you realize how brutal the stock market can be in the short term. Amazon stock is down 8% year to date, which is better than the Nasdaq Composite and many other big tech stocks. But it's worth mentioning that Amazon is down despite posting blowout fourth-quarter 2021 and full-year 2021 results.
When the market is bleeding red, valuation, long-term growth, and fundamentals matter more than ever. And Amazon has these qualities in spades.
Gone are the days of Amazon's lofty valuation. It raked in a staggering $469.8 billion in 2021 revenue and $33.4 billion in net income, giving it a price-to-sales (P/S) ratio of 3.3 and a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 47 -- which is the lowest P/E ratio Amazon has had since 2009. Amazon continues to reinvest in the business. If it were to reel in its spending, it could easily open the tap and generate even more profit.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of Amazon's business is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is the company's cloud computing segment. AWS brought in $62.2 billion in 2021 sales and $18.5 billion in operating income, giving it an operating margin of 30%.
But here's the real kicker -- AWS made up just 13% of Amazon's 2021 revenue but 74% of its operating income. Put another way, AWS is a cash cow that is funding Amazon's other investments. Throw in a steadily growing core retail business, which is low-margin and high-volume, and you have a one-two punch built to outlast a market crash.
Out of the seven largest Nasdaq components, Amazon is the only one that underperformed the Nasdaq between 2019 and the end of 2021. Given the emphasis on profit and value in today's rising-interest-rate environment, it wouldn't surprise me if Amazon beat the Nasdaq in 2022 and beyond.
There's pharma opportunity beyond COVID-19
James Brumley (Vertex Pharmaceuticals): Over the course of the past couple of years, investor interest in pharmaceutical stocks has been mostly limited to names working on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. And that makes sense. That's where the bulk of the biggest and best near-term opportunity was.
The problem: That took away too much focus on companies that continued making great strides in their development of drugs to treat other ailments. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is one of these forgotten tickers. Despite its ongoing work to treat cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, and other difficult-to-address conditions, the stock fell from 2020's peak near $300 to this past October's low of around $180.
The market seems to have caught on to its mistake. Vertex's shares have rallied roughly 30% from that low, mostly thanks to continued sales growth of its cystic fibrosis drug Trikafta, but also due to encouraging results with its midstage trial of VX-147 for the treatment of kidney disease. Trikafta's revenue, in fact, improved more than 50% year over year during the final quarter of last year.
Arguably, though, the stock is still not fully reflecting the company's full potential, which was ignored during the throes of the pandemic. If earnings grow as expected from last year's $13.02 per share to $14.21 this year and $15.22 per share next year, then the stock's only trading at 15.3 times 2023's projected profits. You don't see too many stocks growing actual profits this quickly at that sort of valuation.
Tap into surging demand for cybersecurity services
Keith Noonan (CrowdStrike Holdings): Cyberattacks are the fastest-growing category of crime in the U.S., and digital breaches pose a huge risk to businesses and institutions. CrowdStrike is the world's leading provider of cloud-based endpoint cybersecurity services, and its software helps minimize network vulnerabilities and protect valuable data.
If you're looking for worthwhile long-term investments on the heels of recent tech sector sell-offs, CrowdStrike deserves a spot on your list. The company's share price has slid 19.5% year to date and roughly 43% from its peak, and I believe there's a great chance it will bounce back and go on to reach new highs. The long-term demand outlook for the cybersecurity leader's services is incredibly strong, and the growth story here is just getting started.
Vulnerabilities in computer systems, mobile devices, servers, and other hardware can be used by bad actors to gain access to networks, allowing them to steal or alter valuable information and cause massive financial and reputational damage. CrowdStrike's software platform uses artificial intelligence for threat detection, analysis, and response actions, and it learns with each attack it encounters and evolves to provide improved protection.
As more customers join the company's platform and more cybersecurity attacks come its way, the software becomes smarter and provides improved value for clients. This gives the company a powerful network effect, and it's poised to continue being a category leader over the long term.
With organizations carrying out digital transformation initiatives and more connected devices being added to networks all the time, high-performance endpoint protection will only become increasingly important. CrowdStrike is set to deliver strong growth as it continues to attract new customers and sells added services to those already on board with its platform, and its stock offers huge return potential and an attractive risk-reward dynamic for patient investors.