Despite being one of the better tech growth companies on the market, like most technology companies in 2022, Adobe (ADBE 0.26%) had a terrible year, with its stock down 41% due to high inflation and rising interest rates.

Many economists believe the economy will probably fall into a recession sometime in the second half of this year or early in 2024 -- which would be potentially harmful to Adobe's business. Yet solid long-term trends in its industry still support profitable multiyear growth.

So should investors buy the stock today anticipating an eventual economic rebound or wait until the economic storm has passed?

Adobe has two significant long-term growth drivers

Adobe has three major reporting segments. One of those segments, Publishing, is a collection of legacy products that is insignificant to the company's growth. Still, the other two segments have significant multiyear growth tailwinds that should drive investors' interest in this company over the long term. 

The first tailwind comes from the rapid rise of content creation. Its largest segment, Digital Media, offers top-end tools to content creators, whether the content is for text, illustrations, images, music, web, video, and more -- a massive market that continues to multiply.

For example, according to an Influencer Marketing Hub report, the content creation market generated roughly $104.2 billion in 2021. The report's authors believe the market can eventually achieve a size exceeding $1 trillion. Suppose that is true; as one of the most well-known companies in content creation, Adobe still has massive growth ahead in this segment alone.

Next is Adobe's Digital Experience segment, part of a new, fast-growing software category called Digital Experience Platform (DXP). This software helps companies present a personalized experience to customers on whichever electronic devices they choose to interact with the company. Typically, companies use DXP for marketing purposes, but a company can use it at any customer touchpoint, such as customer service.

Thirty years ago, a company didn't need a DXP, as virtually all interactions between companies and customers occurred in person or over the phone. However, with the expansion of the internet and smartphones, more customer interactions with companies occur on electronic devices. Thus, demand for a DXP was already proliferating pre-pandemic. During the pandemic, governments started mandating reduced human interaction, significantly accelerating the trend of companies adopting DXP.

During its 2021 financial analyst meeting, Adobe projected the market for its Digital Experience software would grow to $85 billion by the end of fiscal 2023 and grow an additional 29.4% to reach $110 billion by the end of fiscal 2024 -- a significant secular growth trend. Although this segment only makes up approximately 24% of its revenue, it is the fastest-growing area of the company.

The cherry on top is that content creation and DXP have become mission critical for many companies, meaning Adobe's services will be among the last that customers will turn off in a recession.

Why is the stock not up more this year?

While theoretically, the company has two large addressable markets to grow into, long-term shareholders are concerned about how well it can expand into those markets. Adobe's revenue and net income growth have deteriorated since 2021.

ADBE Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

ADBE Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

It is difficult to determine to what extent a poor macroeconomy is slowing the company down or how much of the decline is due to management finding it harder to discover new high-growth areas that will move the needle. 

Adobe recently found one needle-moving growth area in the Collaborative Design and Prototyping software market. This type of software can create websites, mobile apps, prototypes, build frameworks, images, GIFs, and more. While it already has a product in that market named Adobe XD, many prefer a product called Figma, which has a 34.19% market share, compared to XD, with only a 14.99% market share. 

Adobe management believes Figma could significantly juice its growth. Accordingly, on Sept. 15, it announced that it was purchasing Figma for a reported $20 billion, awarding the company a nosebleed valuation of approximately 50 times annualized recurring revenue. So is this a sign that Adobe is exceptionally desperate for revenue growth?

The market might believe so, because once Bloomberg reported in February 2023 that the U.S. Justice Department was preparing an antitrust lawsuit to block the acquisition, the stock price dropped below where it began the year.

ADBE Chart

ADBE data by YCharts

Some investors believe that Adobe losing the acquisition could be terrible because it leaves a significant competitor in Figma on the board that could stunt its future revenue growth. 

Why you should consider buying Adobe

Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen sounded optimistic on the company's first-quarter fiscal 2023 earnings call that the Figma deal should close by the end of this year. However, he also acknowledged that because of the regulatory environment, there is a possibility that the deal could fall through, and if so, the company has prepared for that scenario.

The negative impact of Adobe potentially losing Figma may be overblown, though. While Adobe's growth might have slowed recently, most of the reason is due to a terrible economy, and once the economy improves, it should cure all ills.

Its content creator growth engine did well enough in the first quarter that management raised its fiscal 2023 Digital Media net new Annual Recurring Revenue guidance to $1.7 billion from the previous guidance of $1.65 billion. So even without the Figma acquisition, management has proven it can grow its Digital Media segment in a challenging economic environment.

Considering that Adobe can survive a bad economy better than most, as it is one of the few companies that has avoided mass layoffs during this downturn, consider investing in the stock today to reap the rewards as the economy improves.