Famed investor Warren Buffett's suggestion that investors should "be greedy when others are fearful" is easier said than done when the markets are in full correction mode. It takes a disciplined long-term investor to make what can appear to be a foolish leap and buy stock as the market swoons. But history has shown that the right buys in a correction can be highly profitable. It has also shown that an investor doesn't have to time the bottom perfectly to make money.
One strategy cautious investors might want to consider is dollar-cost averaging the buy-in on a stock. Timing the market is almost always a losing game. Instead, purchasing a portion of your intended overall investment at regular intervals allows long-term investors to take advantage of short-term price dips to build a position. This can be especially helpful during market turmoil.
Another key is to purchase seasoned, well-managed companies that are almost sure to rebound when the bull market returns (and it will). With that in mind, here are three beaten-down growth stocks worth closer consideration.
Apple (AAPL -2.54%) has nearly all of the qualities that investors should look for in a company to purchase during a market drop. It has proven sales growth, healthy margins, prolific stock buybacks, excellent management, and a sizeable and dedicated customer base. This is likely why the stock has outperformed the Nasdaq Composite recently. The stock is trading higher than one year ago, but it is down about 20% year to date.
Over the previous three fiscal years, Apple has repurchased shares worth over 8.5% of its current market cap. Add to this the $43 billion repurchased in the first half of fiscal 2022, and this jumps to more than 10%. This fantastic return of capital to stockholders, shown below, makes Apple a very shareholder-friendly company. Investors also get an (admittedly) small -- but safe and growing -- dividend payment each quarter.
Share buybacks are more effective during a down market. The board of directors has just authorized an additional $90 billion for the repurchase program. With this, Apple can repurchase more shares for the same investment when the stock price is lower. Then when the market turns bullish again, shareholders could see greater profits.
Apple posted another record for sales in the second quarter of fiscal 2022 and has generated more than enough cash from operations to fund the dividend and continue the current pace of the buyback program. This performance could propel the stock to continue outperforming the market for years to come.
2. O'Reilly Automotive
New and used car prices have skyrocketed over the past year. The semiconductor shortage coupled with supply chain hiccups has created a scarcity of available vehicles. With demand outweighing supply, vehicle prices spiked, as shown below.
The extreme price leap now has many potential car buyers holding off on buying and instead holding on to their current cars and trucks. This means more money is spent on parts and repairs to maintain those vehicles. That means growth for O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY -0.69%) and an inflation hedge for its shareholders.
O'Reilly supplies professionals and DIYers with everything they need to keep vehicles in running order. In the first quarter of 2022, it reported same-store sales growth approaching 5% year over year. This follows an increase of 24.8% in the previous year, meaning comparable sales have grown almost 30% since Q1 2020.
O'Reilly does have a headwind related to rising fuel prices. Transporting parts will be more expensive, and management will have to be diligent to maintain margins. During the last earnings call, management kept its 2022 guidance for an operating margin of around 21%, roughly the same as in 2021. This is a terrific sign as it indicates that O'Reilly is confident it can still overcome headwinds and reach its profitability goals.
Like Apple, O'Reilly also repurchases a tremendous amount of its stock. The stock price is down about 12% year to date and the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio has dipped to near its lowest level since the pandemic, giving this company the makings of a successful long-term investment at these prices.
3. Intuitive Surgical
The healthcare field can often be a haven for stocks during economic uncertainty. This hasn't been the case for Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 0.68%) which presents investors with an opportunity not seen in years.
Our population is aging. There are 46 million people 65 and older now in the U.S., and this is expected to increase steadily. By 2035, these folks will outnumber children. At the same time, robotic-assisted surgery is continuing to be adopted and could become the norm by that time.
Intuitive's da Vinci surgical system enables surgeons to perform minimally invasive procedures that used to be highly invasive. For instance, doctors can use it to perform several heart procedures with a simple incision that formerly would have required opening the chest cavity. This is just one reason there are 6,920 da Vinci machines in use worldwide, and this number is growing all the time.
Intuitive follows a razor-and-blades model by selling the system on low margins and making most of its revenue from related products and services, and its revenue is 70% recurring. As the market becomes saturated, the company will actually make more money.
The stock price is down almost 41% year to date. As shown above, the P/E ratio has not been this favorable since the March 2020 pandemic crash, and this sale may not last. For long-term investors looking for opportunity -- it may have just come knocking.