Few would argue that right now is probably one of the more painful times to be a long-term investor. This includes analysts themselves, who hold significant positions in many of the growth drivers of tomorrow and have felt the pain as many of these growth tech stocks have cratered.
But despite the recent disappointments, some tech stocks have retained their support among these investors. Three Fool.com contributors remain optimistic about Atlassian (TEAM -0.77%), MercadoLibre (MELI -3.27%), and Qualcomm (QCOM 2.13%), given their growth rates and potential to reshape their respective industries.
Atlassian: Still founder-led and focused after 20 years
Brian Withers (Atlassian): I've been investing in individual stocks since 1998. Needless to say, I've seen quite a few market sell-offs during that time. But even if you've been through this before, these drawdowns are tough to handle. All of my stocks are considerably off their highs from November of last year, but Atlassian is a welcome sight in my portfolio. Not because it's been a winner in this down market; it hasn't been. It's because I have tremendous confidence in the co-founders and co-CEOs, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes. These two have built an incredible $3 billion annual run rate business by focusing the company on a valuable software niche, creating a great culture, and following through on commitments.
Atlassian has a timeless mission: "to unleash the power of teams." It's not surprising that its first software application, Jira, enables software developers to track their progress and communicate with other developers in a formal way. The cool thing about team-based software for investors is that it really helps the company land and expand inside an organization. If one person in an organization discovers the benefits of the tools, it only makes sense to expand the use of the software to the entire team. As businesses have teams working virtually all over the world, Atlassian's ecosystem of productivity tools has some nice long-term tailwinds.
Aside from a solid business niche, the company has a great culture. It boasts a 93% positive rating from its employees on Glassdoor recommending the company as a great place to work. One reason for this positive response could be its simple-to-understand set of values:
- Open company, no bulls***.
- Build with heart and balance.
- Don't #@!% the customer.
- Play, as a team.
- Be the change you seek.
With 7,000 employees in 13 countries around the world, having an engaging culture is critical for long-term success.
Lastly, the company follows through on its commitments. Recently it suffered an outage that impacted 400 customers (less than 0.2% of the overall number of customers). This event made headlines and caught the company a little flat-footed as it took weeks to remedy the issue. This is not what you'd want to see from a company with "Don't #@!% the customer" as one of its core values.
The company did respond with an initial impact statement and explanation from the chief technology officer with a promise to make a full incident report available to all its customers. A little over two weeks later, it did just that, publishing its findings. As a shareholder, you never like to your companies make mistakes, but investors should take comfort in the follow-through on its commitment to communicate this challenging issue publicly.
Over the past three years, the company's top line has more than doubled, but the stock is up only a little more than 30%. It currently sports an "expensive" price-to-sales ratio of 16, but that's actually much lower than in recent years. In fact, shareholders have not seen valuations in this "cheap" since 2018.
I bought my first shares of Atlassian a little over five years ago. Since then, I've added to my position eight more times. All the while, I've grown to love having this stock in my portfolio, regardless of what's happening in the market.
MercadoLibre: A port in the storm
Danny Vena (MercadoLibre): One of the most challenging yet important tasks during a volatile and plunging stock market is separating the wheat from the chaff. Being able to recognize a great stock that's been the victim of indiscriminate selling represents an opportunity for in-the-know investors to increase their fortunes once investors who are panic-selling return to their senses. Such is the case with Latin American fintech and e-commerce powerhouse MercadoLibre.
Pandemic-related business closures have generally been lifted, which has slowed the widespread adoption of digital retail -- particularly in the face of tough comps. Early last year, many consumers were still homebound and waiting for the all-clear. Now, shoppers are venturing outdoors for the first time in ages, relishing in trips to brick-and-mortar stores, malls, and mom-and-pop shops. As a result, digital sales have taken a temporary hit.
A look at MercadoLibre's recent results, however, reveals that not all e-commerce providers are created equal. In the first quarter, the company generated record net revenue of $2.2 billion, up 67% year over year in local currencies. Making this even more impressive was the fact that it was on top of 158% growth in the prior-year quarter. Net income also hit a quarterly record of $65 million. But even that doesn't tell the whole story.
In the face of the aforementioned difficult comps, e-commerce revenue grew 44% year over year, on top of 188% growth during the same time last year. However, fintech revenue was the star of the show, up 113%, after 117% growth in the year-ago quarter. Mercado Pago, the company's digital payments arm, was once used to facilitate sales solely on its platform, but now processes payments on other websites, while also making the jump to physical retail. In fact, off-platform payments grew 139% in the most recent quarter and recently surpassed on-platform payments.
Furthermore, MercadoLibre's ecosystem continues to expand. The company's shipping solution, Mercado Envios, is coming into its own, with 55% of packages delivered on the same day or the day after purchase, while achieving record average shipping times in its markets in Mexico and Chile.
Yet in the face of all this record growth, MercadoLibre stock is currently selling for just three times forward sales, the cheapest the stock has been since the Great Recession began in late 2008.
This combination of its industry-leading position, record growth, and the lowest valuation in more than a decade suggests that MercadoLibre stock, which is down roughly 64% off its recent high, has been caught up in the indiscriminate bear-market selling that has plagued technology stocks. It also suggests that when the rebound comes -- and it will -- MercadoLibre's fundamentals will likely drive the stock to new record heights, leaving the recent plunge as nothing more than a bad memory.
Qualcomm: The rock-solid chip designer seemingly immune to bears
Will Healy (Qualcomm): Qualcomm has been one of the more stable tech stocks amid the sell-off. The smartphone chipset maker continues to register considerable growth numbers despite a market cap of around $150 billion, and the green flags for Qualcomm's future deserve more attention.
Its Internet-of-Things (IoT) segment invests heavily in artificial intelligence (AI), edge computing, and security. This includes the metaverse, and its chips power Meta Platforms' Oculus Quest 2 VR headsets.
On the automotive front, it has created a digital chassis that brings connectivity, communication, and driver assistance to the driving experience. Through the digital chassis, it has partnered with BMW to develop an autonomous driving platform.
But despite these other business lines, handsets still account for the largest share of revenue. And even with the prospect of increasing competition, Qualcomm continues to benefit from the 5G upgrade cycle. In the first half of fiscal 2022 (which ended March 27), revenue in handsets climbed by 49% despite rising inflation and increasingly negative consumer sentiment.
Also, revenue for the first six months of fiscal 2022 came in at $21.9 billion, a 35% year-over-year increase. This includes handset revenue of $12.3 billion, 49% more than in the same period last year. Hence, despite fears of slowing consumer spending, the 5G upgrade cycle still appears robust.
Additionally, net income was $6.3 billion, 50% more than the year-ago period. Slowing growth in costs and expenses more than offset investment expenses and higher income taxes.
Admittedly, such results did not stop Qualcomm from falling by over 30% from its 52-week high, taking it into bear market territory. Still, it has found stability in recent weeks. Its price of about $128 per share as of the time of this writing has dropped modestly from levels of one month ago, while the S&P 500 fell 12% over the same timeframe.
Moreover, despite massive growth, its price-to-earnings ratio stands at only 13. This is well below other communication-oriented chip companies such as Texas Instruments and Broadcom, which sell for 19 and 32 times earnings, respectively. Such a valuation should put Qualcomm in a place where its massive growth can take the stock higher despite the market sentiment.