The market was riding high late last year, when things came crashing down. Since then, macroeconomic conditions drove the broader market indexes -- including he Nasdaq Composite -- deep into a bear market, unparalleled in recent history. The tech-focused index has been hardest hit, currently down more than 29% since late 2021, still in the throes of its steepest sell-off in more than a decade.

Some of the biggest names in technology have been hit even harder. Amazon (AMZN -0.63%) and PayPal (PYPL 0.45%) stocks have cratered, falling 47% and 71%, respectively, during the same time frame. Neither of these stocks has experienced a decline of this magnitude over the past 10 years -- though PayPal has only been public since 2015.

That said, a falling stock price doesn't always signify a business that's in trouble. Investors who can distinguish between the two are most likely to benefit from these once-in-a-decade buying opportunities.

A person keying a credit card number into a smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

Amazon: The undisputed leader in e-commerce and cloud computing

The rapid deterioration in e-commerce spending from the height of the pandemic spooked many Amazon investors and the company's recent results did little to set them at ease. Earlier this year, the company reported its slowest growth rate in more than 20 years. Its third-quarter net sales of $127 billion grew just 15% year over year, while its guidance suggested the holiday quarter won't be so merry. Management forecast year-over-year growth in a range of 2% to 8%, which could mark a new multi-decade low. 

Yet those numbers tend to miss the big picture. In 2021, Amazon's net sales closed out the year up 22%, trending back down toward historical growth trends. To provide context, Amazon's pre-pandemic net sales in 2019 grew 20%. This suggests that lockdown-fueled gains are giving way to more normalized growth. Unfortunately, inflation and rising interest rates have packed a one-two punch that have temporarily delayed that return to normal.

These temporary challenges aside, Amazon dominates e-commerce in the U.S., accounting for 38% of all digital retail -- more than its next 14 competitors combined. Furthermore, while Chinese reseller Alibaba is currently the global leader in terms of platform sales, it's expected to cede that position to Amazon over the next several years. 

These factors represent a nearly unassailable moat for Amazon, which has been the country's leading online retailer for decades.

If that weren't enough, Amazon Web Services (AWS) pioneered the cloud computing industry and is still the undisputed leader, with 32% of the market, followed by Microsoft Azure and Alphabet's Google Cloud, with 22% and 9%, respectively, according to Canalys. 

Finally, Amazon has quickly established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the digital advertising space, commanding nearly 15% of the U.S. digital ad market, behind just Google and Meta Platforms, which control 26% and 24%, respectively. Perhaps more importantly, Amazon's online ad business grew more quickly, showing that it's taking share from its rivals. 

Given its strong position in not two, but three industries, investors can get Amazon for a song. The stock is currently trading for just 2 times sales, its cheapest price-to-sales ratio since late 2014. 

PayPal: The Godfather of digital payments

PayPal has come a long way since its humble roots as a payment facilitator in the early days of digital retail. The company is not only a highly respected name in e-commerce, but also has a digital wallet that boasts enviable engagement. Like many technology stocks, PayPal became a victim of its own success and investors bailed when the company's growth shifted into a lower gear.

In the third quarter, PayPal's revenue grew 11% year over year, while its earnings per share climbed 26%. The results were driven by total payment volume that climbed 14% in constant currency. At the same time, the company added 2.9 million active accounts, up 4%. PayPal's engagement continued to impress, however, resulting in 50.1 transactions per active account on a trailing-12-month basis, up 13%.

PayPal's financial guidance was something of a mixed bag, suffering under the weight of the macroeconomic meltdown. Management expects revenue to grow just 9% in constant currency in the fourth quarter. On the bright side, however, PayPal boosted its bottom-line guidance, as cost-cutting measures are expected to add $900 million to profits this year. 

Yet its recent results tend to cause a myopic view. PayPal is the leading provider of digital payments in an otherwise fractured market. While estimates vary, the global digital payments market topped $7.5 trillion last year and is expected to grow to more than $15 trillion by 2027, according to Statista. This gives PayPal a fertile field to plow, particularly in light of its total payment volume of $1.25 trillion in 2021. 

Given the company's significant opportunity and industry-leading position, investors shouldn't sleep on the fact that all this growth comes at a very respectable price of just 3 times next year's sales. While a reasonable price-to-sales ratio is generally between 1 and 2, PayPal's historical performance and sizable market opportunity illustrate why it's deserving of a slight premium.