"Buy low, sell high" is what we all try to do as investors. Even when stocks are soaring, it's our belief that we'll be able to sell them at an even higher price sometime in the future. But stocks have stumbled this year. While they've recovered a little of their lost ground, the S&P 500 is still down 10% year to date, or still officially in correction territory, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index is off 17%.
A low price alone doesn't make a stock a buy -- it needs a business that offers potential to grow to justify the discount -- but it's not a bad place to begin your search. For investors looking to maximize their wealth by the time they retire, the following pair of beaten-down businesses that possess strong growth capabilities are a worthwhile place to start.
Freelance marketplace operator Fiverr (FVRR -1.80%) was a pandemic-lockdown superstar. With people forbidden from going to the office, they turned to one of the gig economy's leading outlets to offer their services.
While it was once a place to find creators willing to do piecemeal work for $5 a pop (hence its name), today small and medium-sized businesses can search the platform's skilled artists and professionals whose services are packaged for all options.
Although Fiverr's stock price is down 65% in 2022 and off 82% from its all-time high, the freelance shop is still growing, albeit at a slower rate as SMBs became more cautious due to rampant inflation and rising energy costs and interest rates. Revenue grew 13% from the year-ago period as the number of active buyers increased 6% to 4.2 million.
Fiverr says the average amount buyers are spending increased 14% to $259, while its take rate, or the amount of money Fiverr keeps from each negotiated deal, stands at 29.8%, a 200-basis-point increase from the year-ago period.
There's no question that fears of a recession have weighed on Fiverr's performance, as business is leery of spending too much on freelancers, but even during this downturn the platform has remained profitable on an adjusted basis.
Fiverr's stock might look pricey on an estimated earnings basis, but as it takes in a larger slice of every deal that helps fund its growth and profitability, it looks worth the premium paid today. Years down the road when we've come through this rough patch, the depressed stock will likely only appear to be a small dip in an otherwise long climb higher.
Online lender Upstart Holdings (UPST -2.67%) is another platform that's been decimated by economic uncertainty -- its stock has lost 92% of its value since last October. As worries about the economy grew and the Federal Reserve began raising interest rates in earnest, concerns that consumers will limit the loans they take out or that lenders will become reticent about loaning them money took precedence.
Certainly a rising interest rate environment could be a problem, but Upstart's proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)-driven borrower evaluation process sets it apart from the competition. It provides lenders with a larger universe of borrowers at no added risk.
Banks and other lenders only make money by loaning money to borrowers. They can't roll up their sidewalks and wait till the storm passes; they need to earn interest on their loans to survive themselves. That's why Upstart is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this ebb and flow of risk and reward.
Upstart-approved borrowers who make it through the evaluation process actually have lower average credit scores than their traditionally vetted counterparts, but the AI technology is so good that Upstart's loss rates are lower than those of the competition. That provides lenders with peace of mind because they're able to target their financial products to a wider audience without worrying they're taking on too much risk.
Upstart has a long growth runway, too. It focuses mainly on personal loans, but it entered the auto loan market last year with the purchase of Prodigy Software, and its technology is now available to dealerships across the U.S. The auto market has been soft because of supply chain issues and the lack of computer chips, but that gives Upstart a long reach for the years to come.
It's also expanded into small dollar loans and small business loans, and could eventually enter the mortgage market and other new verticals. There is a lot of potential for growth with AI-driven technology.