It's safe to say that 2022 won't go down as the year of growth stocks. Not only did they substantially underperform the broader market, but several developments, such as interest rate hikes, could continue to affect this category of equities. That's why it's even more important for investors to carefully select which growth stocks to buy.

With that in mind, let's look at two companies with diverging investment prospects: Fiverr (FVRR 4.07%) and Peloton (PTON 2.62%). These two stocks emerged as some of the most exciting growth stocks during the early days of the pandemic, but as things stand today, the former looks like an excellent stock to buy, while the latter seems like a sinking ship no one should board. 

The stock to buy: Fiverr

Fiverr runs a platform that helps connect freelance workers with those seeking their services, making it an important player in the gig economy. Consider what it takes for businesses to hire full-time permanent employees.

First, they have to advertise job openings on online platforms that charge them for this privilege. Then, they have to spend weeks sifting through resumes, interviewing candidates, etc. Furthermore, permanent employees are entitled to all sorts of benefits. The process is expensive and time-consuming. That's why the option to hire freelancers instead is attractive. 

On Fiverr, thousands of skilled freelancers across dozens of industries advertise themselves and display their work. It makes them much easier to find (with a few searches on the platform), and there's no need to offer them all the benefits permanent employees are entitled to since they're typically hired on a project or contract basis.

Businesses increasingly prefer this arrangement. According to some estimates, job growth in the U.S. clocked in at 1.1% between 2010 and 2020. But the gig economy soared by 15% during the same period.

A struggling economy, a challenging labor market, and the desire of businesses to cut expenses may lead them even more toward platforms like Fiverr. Perhaps that's why the company's financial results are still robust.

In the third quarter, the company's revenue of $82.5 million increased by 11% year over year. That was on the back of 3% year-over-year growth in active buyers, which came in at 4.2 million. Fiverr's spend per buyer clocked in at $262, 12% higher than the year-ago period.

The bad news for Fiverr is the red ink on the bottom line. It reported a net loss per share of $0.31, slightly better than the previous-year's quarterly net loss of $0.39.

The continued growth of the gig economy will provide plenty of growth fuel for Fiverr. It shouldn't stop in 2023.

Also, the value of the company's platform increases as more people use it, with more freelancers attracting more businesses and vice versa. That grants Fiverr a competitive edge. And that, combined with its rapidly expanding industry, paints a positive picture for the company's future.

Fiverr should continue to grow its revenue at a good clip next year and beyond while eventually turning in consistent net profits. 

The stock to avoid: Peloton 

Peloton's business rose in popularity during the pandemic, as people stuck at home sought alternative ways to stay active. The company's shares also experienced a boom in this period, but it's been feeling the effects of gravity for the better part of two years. What gives?

Peloton's pandemic tailwind has come and gone, and it doesn't seem on the verge of making a comeback. The company's revenue is declining, as a result. 

In the first quarter of its fiscal year 2023, which ended on Sept. 30, Peloton's total revenue dropped by 23.4% year over year to $616.5 million. That was a result of declining sales of its connected-fitness products, coming in at $204.2 million, a decrease of 59.2% year over year. That's hardly surprising. Peloton's devices are costly, and with economic challenges such as inflation, substantially fewer people have more than $1,000 to spend on an exercise bike.

On the bottom line, the company reported a net loss per share of $1.20, although that was a bit better than the net loss per share of $1.25 it had in the comparable period of its previous fiscal year. There is some good news for Peloton. The company's subscription revenue continues to grow. It climbed by 35.6% year over year in the third quarter to $412.3 million.

Also, Peloton is implementing cost-cutting measures. The company has slashed jobs and outsourced manufacturing.

It's also worth noting that gym memberships remain below their pre-pandemic levels. According to a recent survey, about 27.7% of gym goers haven't returned since government-imposed restrictions were lifted. And 26.9% of them do not plan on returning.

In theory, Peloton could tap into the market of gym-goers who have yet to return, grow its installed base, and increasingly rely on its better margin subscription business to generate consistent and predictable revenue. That and its efforts to decrease expenses could lead to higher revenue growth, profits, and juicier margins.

But the highly prohibitive price of its products, coupled with the fact that much cheaper alternative options exist -- including for those who want to work out from the comfort of their homes -- will make it hard for Peloton to execute this plan. That's why investors should stay away from the company's shares.