While the market was in nearly nonstop rally mode for most of the past six years, investors didn't need to look far to uncover an abundance of growth stocks. But not all growth stocks are created equal. While some look poised to deliver extraordinary gains going forward, the recent market turbulence has crushed some that were overvalued, burdening their shareholders with hefty losses.
What exactly is a growth stock? I'll define it as any company forecast to grow profits by an average of 10% or more annually during the next five years -- although that's an arbitrary number. To gauge what's "cheap," I'll use the PEG ratio, which compares a company's price-to-earnings ratio to its forecast future growth rate. A PEG of around 1 or less could signal a cheap stock.
Here are three companies that fit that bill.
We'll begin the week by highlighting a lifestyle retailer that could make the women in your life go crazy: Kate Spade (NYSE:KATE).
The first thing that makes Kate Spade such an attractive investment opportunity is its customer base. Although Kate Spade has lifestyle products for men, women, and children, its core customer is affluent women between the ages of 35 and 45 who have annual household incomes in excess in of $100,000. Building a brand around more affluent consumers means Kate Spade is less likely to feel the pain of minor hiccups in U.S. or global growth.
Another key component to Kate Spade's success is its expansion in China. Early last year, the company announced a 50-50 joint venture with Lane Crawford Joyce Group's Walton Brown unit to speed its entry into the market and boost its brand presence. It also made the decision to focus on its core, higher-priced Kate Spade New York brands to unify its image. Similar to Coach, which has taken a staunch approach against discounting its product, Kate Spade believes that cheapening its brand wasn't the path to take. I suspect this will be a smart move over the long run.
Kate Spade's effort to build its brand globally appears to be working. Following the addition of 21 new store openings in Q1 2016 (including nine in China), net sales increased by 14.5% to $274 million. Fueling that growth was a 19% improvement in e-commerce sales, and a 17.1% increase in North American revenue. Mind you, Kate Spade generates most of its revenue from its North American stores.
Valued at 21 times forward earnings, Kate Spade might look expensive, but its strong growth rate places its PEG at a delectable 0.8. Growth-stock investors looking for a good value should take notice of Kate Spade.
Next up, we'll stroll over to the healthcare sector and take a brief look at specialty pharmaceutical company Supernus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SUPN), which could surprise growth investors in the coming years.
Supernus specializes in developing therapies to treat central nervous system disorders. It has two products currently on pharmacy shelves: Trokendi XR and Oxtellar XR. As reported by IMS, prescriptions for these two products grew to 114,773 in Q1, a 50% increase from the prior-year period. Not surprisingly, net product sales also grew 53% to $43 million. Oxtellar XR's sales growth outpaced prescription growth, signaling improved pricing power for the drug. It's encouraging to see that Supernus is having little difficulty maintaining or raising prices in the wake of pricing struggles by select specialty pharmaceutical companies.
Perhaps more important, earlier this week Supernus announced that it had reached a partial settlement in its patent dispute over Oxtellar XR with Actavis, which is now a part of Allergan (NYSE:AGN). A February district court ruling found that Allergan's Actavis had infringed on two of Supernus' Oxtellar XR patents. This week's partial settlement involved Supernus' dropping of its claims against Actavis, as well as Actavis' dropping of its appeal. It's Supernus' hope that the Federal Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will affirm the New Jersey district court's ruling and protect Supernus' patents. Based on this partial settlement, a favorable ruling appears quite possible.
Supernus also has an intriguing pipeline. SPN-810, a late-stage therapy for the treatment of impulsive aggression associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), should yield top-line study results by mid-2017, while SPN-812, an experimental treatment for ADHD, is slated to reveal top-line phase 2b results by early 2017. If SPN-810 meets its primary endpoint in clinical studies, it could have peak annual sales potential of around $500 million.
Sporting a PEG of just 0.3 and a forward P/E of 11, Supernus looks to be a bargain growth stock that investors can consider scooping up.
Last, but not least, growth investors looking for a great deal might want to consider taking a deeper dive into Ameriprise Financial (NYSE:AMP), a financial services and product provider.
Amerprise's first-quarter results certainly showed that the company isn't impervious to a volatile market. Net income on a year-over-year basis fell slightly to $364 million from $378 million in Q1 2015. This was in direct response to a decline in assets under management precipitated by increased equity market volatility in the United States. But a minor quarterly hiccup is far from a reason to disregard this potential investment gem in the financial sector.
One factor working in Ameriprise's favor is that it's growing more efficient. Despite a 4% decline in Q1 net operating revenue, its operating expenses dipped 2%. A big component of this cost decline came from reductions in general and administrative expenses associated with a more challenging equity environment. As long as Ameriprise can tightly manage its expenses, a volatile equity environment now and then isn't going to be damaging to its valuation or business model.
Secondly, a persistent low-yield environment could play right into Ameriprise's hands over the long run. With consumers struggling to find substantive growth with bonds, CDs, and money markets sporting paltry yields, they could turn to wealth advisors in increasing numbers. Ameriprise notes that during Q1 it delivered a 1% increase in operating net revenue per advisor on a trailing-12-month basis to $510,000. I'd look for assets under management to increase over the long term if avenues to nest egg growth remain challenged by a low-yield environment in the U.S.
Having a solid shareholder return policy in place – Amerprise returned $568 million to investors in Q1 via buybacks and dividends, as well as raised its quarterly payout by 12% -- Ameriprise's forward P/E of 9 and PEG of 0.8 look mighty intriguing.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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