Most investors tend to fall into two camps: they're either seeking growth stocks or they're after value stocks.
To put it simply, growth stocks tend to be younger companies that are growing at a very rapid pace. They tend to eschew returning money to investors via dividends in favor of reinvesting back into their business. As should come as no surprise with the name, growth stocks favor any path that will lead to rapid business expansion, even if it involves putting profits off for the future.
Value stocks, on the other hand, tend to be more mature businesses, they often value the idea of rewarding investors with shareholder returns such as dividends or share buybacks to make up for their generally slower rate of growth, and they're often a mainstay holding for retirees.
But, can the two -- growth stocks and value stocks -- actually be one in the same?
Can a growth stock simultaneously be a value stock?
The answer to this question is yes -- though, it's an uncommon occurrence. Normally growth stocks trade at premium valuations indicative of their growth rate. However, once in a blue moon, a growth stock comes along that also has a relatively low P/E and PEG ratio (a measure of future revenue growth relative to P/E), qualifying it as a value stock as well.
What might this hybrid growth/value stock look like? Here are three examples.
Gilead Sciences (GILD -0.22%)
Gilead Sciences' claim to fame is its dynamic duo in hepatitis C, Sovaldi and Harvoni.
Four years ago the standard of care for treating hepatitis C involved up to 48 weeks of IV interferon and ribavirin treatment. Only around half of all patients were cured of the disease, and most dealt with flu-like symptoms, anemia, and rashes for the duration of the treatment.
Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni, on the other hand, are a once-daily pill that (in most cases) removes the need for a ribavirin and definitely removes the need for IV interferon. The result is better patient quality of life during treatment, as well as a cure rate of 90% or higher in most instances. Combined, these HCV drugs brought in more than $12 billion in sales last year. But, that's far from Gilead's entire pipeline.
Gilead is also working on possible cures for hepatitis B, an even more superfluous disease than hepatitis C, as well as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a disease affecting millions of Americans in its most severe form. Additionally, Gilead has an up-and-coming oncology portfolio and sales of Stribild, its four-in-one HIV/AIDS therapy, are soaring.
All told, Gilead is projected by Wall Street to grow by 13% per year over the next five years, yet its forward P/E is under 11, working out to a PEG ratio of around 0.8! Thus, Gilead is both a growth stock and value stock. It also pays a 1.5% annual dividend to boot!
3D Systems (DDD)
It may be hard to believe, but 3-D printing specialist 3D Systems is also a hybrid growth stock and value stock.
The first thing you need to realize about 3D Systems is that it's come a long way -- both to the upside and to the downside. Between 2009 and 2013 shares rose around 5,000% as the potential of 3-D printing came to light. 3-D printers were expected to revolutionize the industrial sector by making the prototyping process easier and more cost-efficient. Even more, 3-D printing is expected to allow the medical sector to perhaps one day bioprint organs or medical devices.
However, in late 2013 the bubble burst on 3-D printing companies. 3D Systems shares are down almost 80% from their highs following a few quarters of growing pains where expenses have risen and margins have been pressured. But, the good news is the long-term investing thesis in the sector still holds water.
We have to remember that 3D Systems went on an acquisition spree over the past decade, so growing pains when assimilating dozens of businesses should be expected. Investors should also understand that this is the type of technology where growth is expected to accelerate toward the end of the decade. It's still so new on a commercial scale that businesses are trying to figure out how 3-D printing is going to benefit them.
Overall, 3D Systems has average growth potential over the next five years of 20% per year, and by 2018, per Wall Street's estimates, it could deliver $1.24 in EPS. That would mean a 2018 forward P/E of less than 17. Although I'm extrapolating out a little bit, an argument can easily be made that 3D Systems' PEG ratio will soon be below one as well, making it an intriguing growth and value stock.
Apple (AAPL -0.76%)
Lastly -- and stop me if you've heard this one before -- the largest company in the world, Apple, is both a growth stock and a value stock.
The case for Apple as a value stock has been made for years, and it's an argument I support. At the conclusion of its latest quarter, Apple held $194 billion in cash and equivalents, and it generated $13.6 billion in net income. Based on consumers' acceptance of Apple's iPhone's and the positive early response toward the Apple Watch, it's not out of the question that Apple could generate $60 billion in annual free cash flow over the next couple of years.
Apple's ability to generate cash has produced some of the most ridiculous shareholder returns imaginable. In April, Apple upped its share repurchase program to $140 billion and it boosted its annual dividend by 11% to $2.08 per year. The dividend alone works out to $12 billion returned each year to investors.
But, Apple is also in the process of transforming from just a product company into a platforms company. It's developed Apple Pay which utilizes near-field communications technology in its mobile devices to help pay for goods and services and keep your financial information secure, and it recently launched its Apple Watch as a way to take advantage of a growing market for tech wearables. These wearables may someday work side-by-side with our doctors to give them information on our health and help personalize our care. Don't get me wrong, consumers are still going to line up around the block for the latest iPhone; but this is no longer Apple's only means of growth.
Projected to grow at 13% per year over the next five years and sporting a forward P/E of 13 as well, Apple's PEG ratio of one certainly classifies it as both a growth story and a value stock at the same time.