Last year was exceptionally tough for investors. All three major U.S. stock market indexes slipped into a bear market, and while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has technically entered a new bull market, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite have not. In fact, the benchmark S&P 500 is still down 16% from its high, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is still down 31%.
Fortunately, investors got some good news last week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said inflation fell to 6.5% in December, meaning inflation has now decelerated for six consecutive months. Assuming that trend continues, it could help send the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite back into bull market territory in 2023.
But even if that doesn’t happen, every past bear market has ended in a bull rally, and there is no reason to believe this one will be any different. That means investors can rest assured the next bull market is indeed on its way. In the meantime, promising growth stocks like Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) and Cloudflare (NYSE: NET) are trading at must-buy prices.
Shopify: Making e-commerce easier for merchants
High inflation has created problems for Shopify. It has been a headwind to revenue growth (rising prices have caused consumers to spend money more cautiously) and an accelerant for operating expenses. That combination led to disappointing financial results over the past year. Revenue rose just 25% to $5.2 billion, and the company reported negative free cash flow of $200 million.
However, shareholders have good reason to believe Shopify can turn things around. The company simplifies virtually every aspect of commerce, helping merchants manage sales across physical and digital storefronts — meaning online marketplaces, social media networks, and direct-to-consumer (D2C) websites — from a single platform. It also provides adjacent solutions for payments, financing, and advertising, and it’s building a U.S. fulfillment network to simplify logistics for merchants.
Shopify is also pushing upmarket with Shopify Plus, an omnichannel commerce platform built for larger brands. It packs all the same conveniences as other Shopify plans, but it gives brands more flexibility to build customized shopping experiences for consumers. Plus merchants also have access to more sophisticated tools like machine learning-powered marketing software and business-to-business (B2B) commerce features.
So what? Shopify and Shopify Plus are the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world, according to research company G2. The company pairs that competitive advantage with a differentiated business model — unlike Amazon, Shopify supports physical stores and D2C websites. That attractive value proposition should translate into strong financial results for years to come, especially in a more favorable economic environment.
Beyond that, Shopify also benefits from a massive market opportunity that is only getting bigger. Retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. alone are expected to grow at 12% annually to reach $1.7 trillion by 2026, while B2B e-commerce sales are expected grow at 10% annually to reach $2.5 trillion by 2026, according to eMarketer.
Cloudflare: Aiming for five-fold revenue growth in five years
Despite economic headwinds, cloud services company Cloudflare has continued to grow at an impressive clip. Its customer count increased 18% to 156,000 over the past year, and existing customers spent an additional 24% on average during that period. In turn, revenue in the past year soared 52% to $894 million, and the company generated $86 million in cash from operations.
For long-term investors, the bull case is straightforward: Cloudflare provides a broad range of cloud services that improve the performance and security of business-critical applications and infrastructure, while eliminating the cost and complexity of on-premise network hardware. Cloudflare also provides developer tools that help businesses build software, websites, and streaming experiences for their own customers. Demand for those products should only increase in the coming years, driven by the never-ending need for digital transformation.
Building on that, industry analysts have already recognized Cloudflare as a leading vendor of content delivery network software, web application protection tools, and edge development tools. The company operates the fastest cloud network in the world — it can deliver content to 95% of internet users within 50 milliseconds — and its development pipeline is bursting with new products. As an example, Cloudflare recently announced D1 database, a storage solution that will support its developer platform, and CEO Matthew Prince said he expects D1 to “quickly become one of the largest databases in the world.”
In short, shareholders have every reason to expect rapid growth in the coming years. In fact, Cloudflare just achieved a $1 billion annual revenue run rate in the most recent quarter, but management says that figure will organically increase five-fold to $5 billion over the next five years. In other words, Cloudflare believes it can deliver annualized revenue growth of 38% through 2027 without building any new products or buying any companies. Of course, Cloudflare will continue to innovate as it has in the past, meaning the company will likely exceed that target of five-fold growth in five years. That makes its current price-to-sales ratio of about 16 look very reasonable, and it’s certainly a discount compared to the three-year average of 41.8 times sales. Investors should take advantage of that buying opportunity.
10 stocks we like better than Shopify
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Shopify wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
*Stock Advisor returns as of January 9, 2023
John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Trevor Jennewine has positions in Amazon.com and Shopify. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon.com, Cloudflare, and Shopify. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2023 $1,140 calls on Shopify and short January 2023 $1,160 calls on Shopify. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.