After three rough quarters for the stock market, investors are hoping for some better news as 2022 nears the finish line. However, while the market is depressed, there are still some fantastic businesses whose stocks are trading for significant discounts from recent highs. 

To illustrate that point, I took a look at stocks priced under $30 to find the three companies I think have the most potential, making them no-brainer buys right now. Let's find out a bit more about these three under-$30 stocks.

1. Shopify: Investing in the future

Like many stocks in 2022, e-commerce infrastructure provider Shopify (SHOP 1.25%) saw a steep fall from grace. As of this writing, shares are down 84% off their late 2021 high. While some of that can be attributed to the overall market downturn, there were also some headwinds that the company needs to get through.

Specifically, Shopify's management overestimated its post-pandemic growth projections. This led to overhiring that CEO Tobi Lütke called a bet that "didn't pay off," as the company laid off 10% of its employees in September.

However, there were some bright spots in the Q2 earnings results that should build the foundation for future success. Shopify's omnichannel investments are bearing fruit: Offline gross merchandise volume (GMV) grew 47% year over year. The company attributed this to its Shopify Payments and point-of-sale offerings for customers.

Shopify made investments in its distribution network in an effort to provide fast shipping for its customers. The company's acquisition of Deliverr and its warehouse management system increased the amount of orders with two-day shipping from 2% to over 70%. This will help Shopify compete against Amazon's Prime shipping.

2. Pinterest: Turning pinners into shoppers

Pinterest (PINS 0.02%) is situated in a unique niche of the social media landscape because its users (called pinners) come to the platform to be inspired by the content posted by other users (called pins). For most of its history as a company, Pinterest's user growth and monthly active users (MAU) drove its success. 

During the pandemic, these two metrics in particular led to outsize investor expectations that have since come back down to earth. After spiking to a share price of nearly $90, Pinterest now trades for $25, around the same level as it did in mid-2020.

Pinterest is now focusing on turning its pinners into buyers. The company's founder stepped down as CEO and brought in Bill Ready, an executive with strong e-commerce credentials, to take over in the corner office. Pinterest is hoping to make improvements to the Pinterest platform that make it easy to turn inspiration into purchases right in the app. 

This opportunity could be particularly important internationally. In Q2 of 2020, average revenue per user (ARPU) in Europe grew 20% year over year and 80% in the rest of the world. These two segments represent the smallest contributors to global ARPU. If Pinterest can successfully increase purchasing on its site, there is a lot of opportunity in the international markets.

3. Upstart: Growing the business despite investor concerns

Upstart Holdings (UPST -0.78%) went from Wall Street darling to an afterthought in a remarkably short amount of time. Down almost 95% from its high, investors have turned bearish on this cloud-based lending platform provider due to balance sheet concerns.

Upstart's lending platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to provide a way of assessing credit risk that differs from traditional methods (such as the FICO score.) Until recently, it didn't originate any loans, but rather provided data to lenders. A change in strategy resulted in Upstart carrying these loans on its balance sheet and sent its stock heading in the wrong direction.

While carrying these loans does increase Upstart's risk, this news obscured some strong results that signal its AI risk assessment platform is working.

Upstart's second quarter of 2022 ended with 2.4 million borrowers served, up 119% year over year. Additionally, bank and credit union partners increased by 184% and auto dealerships using Upstart's auto retail software grew by 222%. Clearly, there is strong adoption of Upstart's platform by borrowers, banks, and businesses. 

Why is now the time to buy?

These stocks trade for price-to-sales (P/S) ratios that are at or near all-time lows. 

SHOP PS Ratio Chart

SHOP PS Ratio data by YCharts

Yet at the same time, each business operates in a space with clear long-term tailwinds. Whether it's Shopify's investments in its fulfillment network, Pinterest's efforts to monetize its international users, or Upstart's mission to help more people secure credit, these companies are positioned for success over time.