It's been awhile since I've made a trade -- for several reasons. Mostly I've been busy, but also, I've been biding my time, waiting for the market's current indecision to pass. I'm no fan of market timing, but I'm not interested in catching a falling knife either. If it's worth owning today, it'll be worth owning tomorrow.
That being said, I've seen several stocks hold up so well -- and even rally -- in the midst of all this weakness that perhaps the timing matter is moot. Here's a rundown of three of these names that have earned a spot on my near-term buy list, in fact, just because they're proving so resilient. It's no surprise that all of them serve must-have markets.
1. Enphase Energy
It's not a household name and probably never will be. Give the proliferation of residential solar power enough time, though, and there's a chance Enphase Energy's (ENPH -4.25%) equipment could eventually be found in most households.
That's because its microinverters don't just convert the sun's rays into electricity. The IQ8 is a smart energy-management system, automatically switching to and from grid-provided power, optimizing electricity production, and more, all managed from a simple-to-use smartphone app. Its technology aimed at businesses with larger facilities is even more impressive, integrating with energy-storage batteries.
In many ways, a smart microinverter is the missing link that's been holding solar power back -- residential solar in particular. It's clean and efficient, but the sun doesn't shine at night. That's at least a key part of the reason that, despite the hype, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says solar still only accounts for less than 3% of the country's electricity production.
That's changing though, and fast. With smarter system-management tools like the IQ8 microinverter now available, the Energy Information Administration estimates that half of this year's new power-production capacity growth will come from solar power systems. By 2050, solar should account for 20% of the nation's total electricity production. Other countries are seeing similar trends for the same underlying reason -- the underlying tech needed to make solar power viable is truly ready.
To this end, Enphase Energy's revenue is projected to grow by more than 50% this year, and more than 30% next year, with per-share profits on pace to grow at an even faster clip. I'm looking for this sort of growth for years to come, however, now that all the right technologies are in place.
Merck (MRK 0.15%) is of course one of the pharmaceutical industry's biggest, most recognized names, doing nearly $50 billion worth of business last year alone. This year's top line should be closer to $57 billion.
If it seems like Merck didn't -- and still doesn't -- feature prominently in COVID-19 vaccine discussions, you're not crazy. While its antiviral molnupiravir has its place in the race, the company wasn't interested in devoting a bunch of time and resources to an opportunity that would not only be hypercompetitive, but temporary. It instead continued to focus on its pre-pandemic projects, including finding new uses for its current flagship cancer-fighting drug Keytruda.
And in retrospect, it was clearly the right move. Keytruda's 2021's sales of $17.2 billion were up 20% from 2020's levels, which were up 30% from 2019's levels. Keytruda has already surpassed most estimates of its peak potential revenue, yet many analysts don't think it sees its calendar-based peak sales until sometime around 2025, when it's expected to be the world's top-selling drug -- by a country mile.
Merck's got plans for life after Keytruda's peak, though, and even before that. As of the latest look, it's got 29 different phase 3 trials underway, only eight of which are testing Keytruda for new uses. There are 77 more phase 2 trials underway, only one of which is testing the flagship drug for a new indication. Yet, between its phase 2 and phase 3 trials, Merck is addressing seven different categories of medical need.
The point is, Merck's got a lot of different revenue levers it will be able to pull in the foreseeable future. A new blockbuster drug besides Keytruda could already be in the works from this well-proven company.
3. Grocery Outlet Holding
Finally, add Grocery Outlet Holding (GO 0.70%) to the list of resilient stocks worth stepping into, even in the midst of a bear market. Although it fell rather dramatically last year, for 2022 so far it's up 60%, and well into new 52-week high territory.
Like Enphase, you've probably not heard of it. Also like Enphase though, don't sweat it if you haven't. Not only does this company's market cap of less than $5 billion keep it off of most investors' radars, it's not a nationwide outfit. Grocery Outlet operates a little over 400 deep-value grocery stores, most of which are found along the West coast.
It's a concept that's been tried before, often with little success. With the reach of competitors like Walmart, Kroger, and now Amazon, it's difficult for any smaller operator to break into and then remain in the grocery business, no matter how great the prices are.
Grocery Outlet Holding has taken a different tack than other, smaller players, though. While its prices are low, its amenities look and feel like those offered by much bigger chains. The grocery chain offers same-day delivery of online orders, for example, via services like DoorDash and Instacart. It also operates using what is essentially a franchise model, connecting a network of independent grocers that collectively have significant buying power.
Whatever it is that makes the company unique, it's working. Last year's top line of nearly $3.1 billion was just a little less than 2020's pandemic-buoyed revenue figure, yet well above 2019's sales of just over $2.5 billion, when the chain only consisted of about 330 stores. While the industry's biggest players are contending with their sheer size and remote management, smaller, locally managed stores that can add modern technology to their offerings might actually be gaining an advantage.