2022 has been a year like no other, marked by 40-year-high inflation, rising interest rates, and rampant economic uncertainty. One of the things that no doubt stands out for investors is the ongoing bear market. The Nasdaq Composite has taken the brunt of the punishment, currently down 33% since late last year, still suffering from its worst outing since 2008.

This dark cloud has a silver lining for investors who have seen this movie before. The opportunity to buy top growth stocks at discounted prices is unparalleled in times like these, with some of the world's most popular companies selling at multi-year lows. Pinterest (PINS) and Block (SQ -0.35%) are two such examples, falling 72% and 78%, respectively, from their highs reached in 2021. Neither company has ever experienced a decline of this magnitude.

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

A young person sitting on a couch looking at a smartphone.

Image source: Getty Images.

Pinterest: A different breed of social media

It's well documented that during times of economic uncertainty, marketing budgets are among the first line items on the income statement to get slashed. Yet, in the midst of these troubling times, social media platform and image-based discovery engine Pinterest was actually able to grow its revenue, even as rival Meta Platforms reported declines.

To be clear, Pinterest's progress has slowed -- which isn't surprising given the overhang of the company's growth spurt at the height of the pandemic. Management is undeterred, however, focused on increasing engagement and ultimately the revenue it derives from its existing users -- even as its works to bring new pinners into the fold.

This strategy appears to be bearing fruit. Average revenue per user (ARPU) climbed both year over year and sequentially in the third quarter and Pinterest increased user engagement on a number of fronts, including sessions, impressions, and saves. 

The biggest driver over the coming year, however, could be the company's decision to embrace e-commerce functionality. This will allow users to search and buy many of the items on the platform that inspire them. This move could significantly boost Pinterest's revenue, expand margins, and provide an ongoing catalyst for future growth.

Given the current macroeconomic conditions, there are no doubt challenging days ahead for Pinterest. Marketing budgets are stretched to their limits, as businesses rein in spending to ride out the economic storm. As a result, the tough environment is cutting into the company's profits.

On the bright side, however, Pinterest is near its lowest valuation ever, selling for less than 6 times sales. While most experts agree that a reasonable price-to-sales ratio is between 1 and 2, investors are factoring in a bit of better-than-average growth, which is a reasonable assumption considering all this potential.

Once the economy regains its footing, Pinterest should be off to the races.

Square: A chip off the old Block

When it comes right down to it, few companies are as engrained in the world of fintech as Block. The company, formerly known as Square, pioneered is namesake square credit card readers that turned every smartphone into a digital cash register. But the past couple of years haven't been kind, driving Block shares down 78% from their high reached last year.

The one-two punch of near 40-year-high inflation and rising interest rates has hit consumers hard, who are now holding their purse strings a little tighter, forced to prioritize at the grocery store and the gas station. That leaves them precious little for discretionary purchases. Despite the current economic headwinds, Block has remained remarkably resilient.

During the first nine months of 2022, excluding the extremely volatile Bitcoin transactions, Block grew revenue by 37% year over year. That goes to show the critical part digital payments play in the financial system. 

Cryptocurrencies have currently fallen out of style with fair weather investors -- particularly after the crypto winter and the collapse of FTX -- but that doesn't mean the significant potential for Bitcoin has diminished. Once this dark cloud has passed, Bitcoin will likely regain ground, which will be a net positive for Block.

Furthermore, Block has only just begun to ramp up the significant monetization it can generate from Cash App. Moving beyond peer-to-peer payments by introducing a host of other banking products is a multi-year process, but by all accounts will be a lucrative undertaking. Cash App currently represents just 8% of Block's gross payment volume, compared to Square with 92%. This illustrates the long runway that remains for Cash App and its implications for Block's future success. 

Investors with the stomach for a little gut-wrenching volatility can get Block shares for a song. The stock is currently trading at a bargain-basement price of less than 2 times sales, a valuation not seen since mid-2016.

Given the multiple catalysts for growth, Block is a once-in-a-decade opportunity.