It's no secret the stock market is having a rough year. The technology sector has been crushed especially hard, with the Nasdaq-100 index nursing a loss of 27% in 2022, placing it firmly in a bear market. High inflation is one of the culprits driving the decline because it's pushing interest rates up at a brisk pace, forcing investors to reconsider their growth expectations for high-flying tech companies.
But what if inflation has peaked? The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is at a 40-year high, but it's a lagging indicator, and the prices of several key commodities have collapsed over the last few months, which could take time to feed through to the CPI data. Wheat, for example, heavily impacts food prices and is down 31% since March.
This might lead to interest rate expectations cooling off, which could reignite investors' appetite for high-growth stocks in the second half of 2022. Here are two heavily beaten-down opportunities that could deliver big rewards for investors who have room for some risk in their portfolios.
Lemonade (LMND 2.44%) has set out to disrupt an industry that's as old as society itself: insurance. The company is using advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to improve pricing models and also to overhaul the customer experience. Dealing with large insurance companies can often be impersonal and slow, so in an age dominated by technology, it's no surprise Lemonade has attracted over 1.5 million customers.
The company operates in five markets, with car insurance being its newest and potentially largest opportunity. The other four include homeowners, renters, pet, and life insurance. According to some estimates, the value of the U.S. car insurance market could top $316 billion in 2022 with a pool of 198 million existing policyholders.
In the tech bear market, investors have been heavily selling shares of companies that are losing money. Lemonade is one of them; it made a net loss of $241 million in 2021 and could be on track to exceed that in 2022. The company's stock has lost 86% of its value from its all-time high as a result, but the downward move might be overdone.
Building scale takes time, especially when chasing new opportunities like Lemonade is. The good news is that the company's in-force premium continues to grow rapidly, hitting $419 million in the first quarter of 2022. That's 66% higher than the year-ago period and 215% higher than Q1 2020. Its premium per customer is also growing, which is a healthy sign that some customers are using more than one Lemonade product.
The path forward might be bumpy, but if inflation resolves, investors might find their appetite for stocks like Lemonade once again. It could deliver significant gains if it recaptures even a fraction of its previous all-time high stock price. The company has over $1 billion in cash, equivalents, and investments on its balance sheet, which affords it a few years of runway to generate more growth and shrink its net losses.
An environment where inflation is high and interest rates are rising often leads to a fall in real estate prices. Therefore, buying shares in a company like Offerpad (OPAD 2.23%) might be a contrarian play -- unless, of course, those trends begin to reverse. Offerpad is an iBuying specialist, which means it purchases homes directly from willing sellers, renovates them, and attempts to flip them for a profit.
It's a risky business that dealt catastrophic losses to Zillow Group, which was an industry leader. The iBuying model requires companies to keep an inventory of homes on their balance sheets, so if there's a broad dip in real estate prices, it can result in devastating financial consequences. Offerpad stock has fallen 88% from its all-time high, perhaps partly out of concern that it could suffer a similar fate to Zillow.
But Offerpad has been extremely selective in the geographic locations it operates in across the U.S., and its strategy involves renovating and then selling a home within 100 days of the purchase date. That helps to reduce its exposure to fluctuations in real estate prices, and so far, it's paying off.
The company generated $2.07 billion in revenue during 2021, nearly double its 2020 result of $1.06 billion. In 2022, analysts are projecting revenue of $5.16 billion, which is an acceleration of growth to 149%. But in Q1, Offerpad sold about 746 more homes than it acquired, so somewhere down the line (possibly in 2023), there's likely to be a slowdown in revenue growth as its inventory is shrinking. While it's a sacrifice, it's a good way to mitigate risk in a tough economic environment.
Unlike Zillow Group, Offerpad is actually making money in the iBuying business. It earned a modest $0.05 per share last year, and analysts expect that to grow to $0.25 in 2022. It's off to a great start with $0.16 in earnings in Q1 already. That should give investors some confidence in this uncertain time, because if inflation and interest rates stabilize, Offerpad should go from strength to strength.