Explosive growth stocks can deliver extraordinary returns over the years, especially when purchased at opportunistic prices. At present, names such as Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), Michael Kors (NYSE:CPRI), and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) look like interesting candidates for investors looking to buy top growth stocks while they are going through a short-term pullback.
Amazon is on sale
Being a growth company is not only about rapidly growing sales, culture and leadership are what ultimately define a business as a growth company. Seen from that perspective, Amazon is arguably one of the most dynamic and aggressive growth companies around.
The online retail juggernaut is consolidating an almost indestructible competitive position in the industry while setting the stage for sustained growth, even if this comes at the expense of current profitability. Amazon is spending huge amounts of money in areas such as building its warehouses and distribution network, digital content, and its Amazon Web Services division. These investments are a big drag on profit margins, so the company is losing money on an accounting basis.
On the other hand, both sales and cash flows from operations are growing at an impressive rate over the last 10 years.
The latest financial report confirms that Amazon is doing remarkably well in these key variables: Sales during the third quarter jumped 20.4% year over year, while operating cash flows in the trailing 12-month period ended in September were $5.71 billion, a healthy increase of 15% versus $4.98 billion in the same period last year.
Investors are getting impatient with Amazon's lack of profitability lately, so the stock is down by more than 25% year-to-date. This has brought the price to sales ratio to the neighborhood of 1.6, which looks like a compelling entry price from a historical point of view.
Michael Kors is still in fashion
Shares of Michael Kors (NYSE:CPRI) are down by 21% over the last six months, as concerns are looming over the possibility of slowing growth in the coming quarters. Fashion is a fickle and competitive business, besides, it's only natural to expect growth to slow down as the company becomes bigger over time. However, make no mistake, Michael Kors is still one of the hottest names in fashion.
Total sales during the quarter ended in September jumped by an impressive 42.7% to $1.1 billion from $740.2 million in the same period last year. Performance was strong across different geographies, sales in North America grew 29.8%, European revenue increased 108.6% and Japan delivered sales growth of 106.3% during the quarter.
On the other hand, comparable-store sales growth in North America slowed to 10.8% in the September quarter, materially lower than the 18.7% increase the company reported in the region during the June quarter. Most competitors can only envy this level of growth, but the business is showing signs of maturing in its main market, which is generating negativity among investors in Michael Kors stock.
The good news is that the stock is very reasonably priced, even in the face of slowing growth. Michael Kors trades at a forward P/E ratio of 18.1, barely above the average valuation for companies in the S&P 500 Index, in the area of 17.6 according to data from Morningstar. Considering that Michael Kors will most likely sustain above-average growth rates for years to come, current valuation looks quite attractive.
The Netflix growth story is far from over
Shares of Netflix are down by more than 21.5% from their highs of the year, the stock took a massive hit after Netflix announced that subscriber growth fell short of guidance during the third quarter. Management believes it miscalculated the negative impact from the price increases the company implemented in May, which resulted in overly optimistic growth guidance for the September quarter.
When putting the numbers in perspective, things don't look that dismal for investors in Netflix stock, though. The company gained more than 3 million subscribers during the last quarter; this is an acceleration versus the 2.73 million subscribers it gained in the third quarter of 2013. Total revenues grew 27.5% to $1.4 billion, and the international streaming segment was especially vibrant, with an annual increase in sales of 89%.
Besides, profit margins are clearly expanding, so earnings should outgrow revenues over the coming years. Contribution margin in the U.S. was 28.6% during the last quarter, a big increase versus 23.7% in the third quarter of 2013. Management also said that markets launched more than a year ago are collectible profitable on a contribution basis, so Netflix is proving its ability to operate profitably in different geographies.
The online streaming industry still offers enormous room for growth, especially in international markets. Netflix has the first mover advantage in the business, and the company is building competitive strength via high-quality differentiated content such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. All in all, Netflix looks well positioned to continue delivering substantial growth in the years ahead.