Conditions in the stock market now are just plain nasty. Growth investors, who have benefited from more than a decade of ultra-aggressive loose-money fiscal policies dating back to the Great Recession, are feeling the hangover that happens when the Federal Reserve finally takes the punch bowl away. It was a heck of a party, but plenty of investors believe the lights are being turned on and it’s time to go home.
Of course, the best time to buy stocks is when folks seem to think the party’s over. There’s a reason why many savvy investors are getting excited right now.
That said, there’s probably something to the market’s current “bearish” line of thinking. It’s unclear how rapidly the Fed will need to move as it tightens the money supply and raises interest rates in its effort to get inflation back in check. And for many investors, particularly younger ones, this may be the first time they’ve experienced this type of painful and extended market plunge. Thus, it’s unclear how the collective psyche of the market will handle the stress.
However, as a long-term investor, the marketwide sell-off we’ve seen thus far in 2022 also presents opportunities. Plenty of great companies are trading at lower valuations than they’ve touched in some time. Many growth stocks with strong fundamentals are getting punished nearly as badly as their more risky peers.
Here are two companies I consider to be among the greatest buying opportunities in this down market.
The case for buying Pinterest
A true pandemic winner, Pinterest (PINS 6.50%) saw what most investors would characterize as explosive growth over a short period of time. With lockdowns came a surge in social media interest, a rising tide that lifted all online boats to a great degree.
Pinterest stock went from trading around the $20 level for much of 2019 and 2020 to more than $80 per share at its peak. As of Tuesday, it’s right back to that $20 level.
This move intrigues me because the market has essentially priced out all the growth Pinterest saw during the pandemic. Yes, the number of monthly active users of the platform has declined in recent quarters, and it may continue to decline relative to last year’s impressive numbers. However, I think Pinterest remains a serious growth story from a bottom-line perspective, especially over the longer term.
In the first quarter of 2022, the company reported a decline of 9% in global monthly active users. However, total revenue was 18% higher, a reasonable pace considering this decline.
How did this happen?
Well, Pinterest reported some stellar average revenue per user growth. Globally, this number came in at 28%. However, markets outside of the U.S. and Canada reported growth rates well in excess of that: In Europe, growth came in at 40%, and in its “rest of world” geography, it was 164%. While the total revenue coming from these regions is a lot lower than what Pinterest makes in North America, it has more room to grow in those markets. And they are the places where its user growth is coming from.
Now, it’s important to note that Pinterest’s Q1 revenue growth rate of 18% was considerably below the comparable Q1 results from last year (which came in at 78%). Additionally, concerns about declining MAU numbers are real. That said, I do think that the unprecedented (and largely unexpected) surge in MAUs in the 2020/early 2021 period tied to pandemic lockdowns resulted in an unsustainable rise higher, which needs to see some mean reversion. Compared to 2019 levels, Pinterest’s performance has been remarkable. Thus, the base effects from last year’s incredible results continue to haunt this stock. I think unjustifiably so.
Furthermore, Pinterest’s much-talked-about partnerships with Shopify and WooCommerce are helping it to better monetize its user base. As such, I think impressive bottom-line growth will overshadow slower top-line growth, at least in the near term.
The case for buying Zoom
Zoom Communications (ZM 11.62%) was an absolutely incredible outperformer for most of 2020. This stock surged from below $100 per share to more than $560 per share late that year. Since then, it has experienced a rather orderly decline and is back below $100 as of this week.
Indeed, many fundamental valuation metrics suggest Zoom is trading more like a value stock than a hyper-growth stock. With a price-to-earnings ratio of around 20, investors are getting a 5% earnings yield from a company that grew its revenues by 55% over the past year. Looking at the company’s stock chart, it’s clear the market thinks that sort of growth won’t be repeated.
Perhaps not. Many offices are reopening, most schools are fully back to in-person classes, and the incredible work-from-home surge that took easy videoconferencing mainstream may be waning. Nevertheless, there are obvious reasons why the market is bearish on Zoom Communications.
That said, I think this view is overly simplistic. Experts suggest that despite a “return to normal,” the videoconferencing market is likely to grow at a compound annual rate of 15.5% over the next five years. Should Zoom Communications maintain its rather impressive market-share lead in key markets such as the U.S., that 15.5% growth would roughly double its revenues within five years. That’s not bad for any company.
Like Pinterest, Zoom Communications is profitable — very profitable. And I’m of the belief that a future that involves a hybrid work model will require Zoom’s technology. That’s not to say that competition in that segment won’t remain fierce, but I think Zoom does have some technological advantages that investors are overlooking right now.