The stock market has struggled in recent months, especially in the tech sector. Investors are increasingly worried about the economic impact of high inflation and potential interest rate hikes, both of which threaten to slow consumer spending. More recently, geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine added another item to Wall Street's list of concerns. Those countries play an important role in suppling commodities like oil, wheat, and corn, meaning any conflict in the region could reduce global supplies and drive inflated prices even higher.
As always, the current macroeconomic environment is temporary, and these headwinds will eventually pass. In the meantime, many high-quality tech stocks are trading well-below their highs. For instance, Salesforce (CRM 2.63%) and Axon Enterprise (AXON 0.51%) have fallen 33% and 28%, respectively. And now looks like a good time to scoop up a few shares.
Here's what you should know.
Salesforce dominates the customer relationship management (CRM) industry. Its platform comprises a suite of productivity software for sales, customer services, marketing, and commerce, as well as additional tools for analytics and workflow automation. Collectively, those products help businesses build and maintain a loyal customer base.
Of particular note, management's capacity for innovation has kept the company at the forefront of the industry. For instance, Salesforce Einstein is artificial intelligence software that supercharges its other CRM products. Using AI, sales agents can prioritize leads, service agents can respond to issues proactively, marketers can target ads, and commerce teams can personalize product suggestions. More broadly, developers can embed AI-powered recommendations in any application.
Fueled by its first-mover status and innovative culture, Salesforce has held the top spot in the CRM industry for eight consecutive years, and the company captured 23.9% of market share through the first half of 2021 -- more than the next four competitors combined.
Not surprisingly, Salesforce has delivered impressive financial results on a consistent basis. In the past year, revenue jumped 23% to $25 billion, and free cash flow soared 54% to $5.5 billion. Better yet, management says revenue will double to $50 billion by fiscal 2026 (which will end Jan. 31, 2026), implying nearly 18% annualized growth over the next 17 quarters.
Here's the bottom line: Businesses must build and maintain good customer relationships if they hope to succeed over the long term. And when it comes to CRM, Salesforce is the best in the business. That's why this stock looks like a smart long-term investment.
2. Axon Enterprise
Axon is in the public safety business. The company is best known as the market-leading manufacturer of conducted energy devices (CEDs), sold under the brand name TASER. But Axon has also expanded into the tech sector with its ecosystem of connected sensors, including body cameras, in-car cameras, and drone-mounted aerial cameras, all of which feed data to the Axon Cloud, which itself comprises several software products.
For instance, Axon Evidence is a digital evidence management system that helps law enforcement agencies organize files. Axon Records builds on that solution, using video data to streamline the report-writing process, which means officers spend less time on paperwork. Finally, Axon Respond is real-time situational awareness software that allows dispatchers and commanders to access video feeds and GPS information from officers in the field, helping them make data-driven decisions during critical situations.
While Axon faces competition, primarily from Motorola, its broad customer base gives it a significant edge. Axon has a customer relationship with 17,000 of the 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S., which that has helped the company establish itself as the global leader in CEDs, body cameras, and digital-evidence management software.
Not surprisingly, that has translated into solid financial growth. Over the past year, revenue rose 28% to $872 million, and the company posted positive free cash flow of $102.6 million, up from a loss of $20.1 million in the previous year.
Looking ahead, Axon puts its addressable market at $52 billion, and management has outlined a straightforward growth strategy that involves adding sales channels in new geographies, launching new products, and targeting new markets -- especially consumer safety and justice system software.
For instance, Axon recently released TASER Bolt 2, a consumer safety device that automatically alerts dispatchers when fired. The company also launched Axon Attorney Premier, a version of its digital evidence management software designed for defenders and prosecutors.
Here's the big picture: Axon helps law enforcement agencies and public safety officials work more productively. That's a strong value proposition, and it should make Axon a market-beating investment over the next decade.