Peter Lynch Playbook Part III: 3 Growth Stocks to Look At

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This would be the third article of our 7-part Peter Lynch Investing Playbook series. 

If you’ve missed the first part, fret not, as you can read it here: Part 1 of The Peter Lynch Investing Playbook. Don’t worry, this article would not be going anywhere so you can come back to it anytime! 

The Peter Lynch Investing Playbook is essentially a guide inspired by the book, One Up on Wall Street, where the legendary investor, Peter Lynch, revealed how his ‘amateur’ approach in managing Fidelity’s multibillion-dollar Magellan Fund led him to become one of America’s number one money managers, and, one of the most successful investors of all time. 

His thesis is simple: Amateur Investors can continue to reap exceptional rewards from mundane, easy-to-understand companies they encounter in their daily lives. 

There are different types of stocks and Peter Lynch classifies them into 6 general categories. He’s found that these 6 categories cover all of the useful distinctions that any investor has to make. 

Today, we would be going in-depth into one of the six different categories pointed out by Lynch – The Fast Growers

What Are ‘Fast Growers’?

These counters are among Lynch’s favourite investment. These stocks typically have the characteristics of small, aggressive new enterprises that grow at 20-25% a year. Lynch claims that if you were to choose these Fast Growers correctly, it could potentially be a 10 to 40 bagger. 

We would be picking stocks utilizing the following criteria to select our Top 5 Fast Growers:  

  1. Companies Earnings growth at least 20% over the past year 
  2. Debt to Equity ratio less than 25 
  3. Stable Revenue and Profit growth Y-O-Y

To elaborate a little further on the above criteria: 

  1. Companies Earnings growth at least 20% over the past year means the company has achieved a certain level of growth versus prior year to be deemed as a “Fast Growers” as described as Peter Lynch.
  2. Debt to Equity less than 25. The debt-to-equity (D/E) ratio compares a company’s total liabilities to its shareholder equity and can be used to evaluate how much leverage a company is using.  Higher leverage ratios tend to indicate a company or stock with higher risk to shareholders.
  3. Stable Revenue and Profit growth Y-O-Y is a measure of a company’s ability to be able to continue producing similar sustainable results in the long term. 

At Dr Wealth, we believe that the Singapore Stock Exchange Market is more catered towards investors with the strategy of earning a passive income. Thus, while SGX is a fantastic market for dividend stocks/REITs there are much better growth stocks available beyond SGX. 

We would, therefore, apply the aforementioned criteria in the US markets as we feel that growth stocks are aplenty there. 

Given the above criteria, we shortlisted 3 Fast Growers that we will cover today, which we feel have significant growth potential. In addition, all of the stocks will have one or more of the following traits of a ten-bagger, representing a potential return 10X of what you invested.

Adopted from The Swedish Investor

#1The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD)

Shares of the Trade Desk have gained explosive momentum, going from $138 last year to $260 this year.
Market Cap.$11.62B
Debt-to-Equity Ratio18.54
Stable Top & Bottom Line Y-O-YYes
Numbers in Millions (USD)

As seen in the graph, The Trade Desk’s earnings have been growing year-on-year from 2015 to 2018. Earnings grew from $242M in 2017 to $363M in 2018, displaying a whopping 50.1% growth versus the prior year. 

We would also potentially expect the earnings growth to maintain or even increase as The Trade Desk looks towards gaining a firmer foothold in China and other regions.

What does The Trade Desk do? 

Do you realize that what you have searched on Google would start popping up in your Facebook/Instagram/Youtube feeds as adverts? 

Eerily, most of the adverts are also very relevant to what you are interested in. Welcome to the world of Programmatic Advertising!

The Trade Desk is essentially a programmatic advertising company which operates a cloud-based platform that lets companies streamline their efforts to the apt consumer’s groups they are targeting. 

This, in turn, cuts down the advertising expenditure of the company and allows it to achieve a greater ROI with its adverts. 

TTD allows its customers to buy targeted ad space on many different channels like social media, video/streaming, audio and many more. 

The Trade Desk’s Growth Potential

Jeff Green, chief executive officer and founder of The Trade Desk, sees China as an untapped market. 

This strategic move was solidified with its launch in China earlier this year, inking deals with tech powerhouses such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent. 

Thus far, companies such as Sheraton Hotels have successfully utilized the platform to expand their customer base greatly through its targeted advertisements.

In the next five years, CEO Jeff Green claims that The Trade Desk plans to turn China into one of its top three markets.

The company says international revenue currently accounts for about 15% in revenue but expects it to grow to roughly two-thirds of its total revenue as the programmatic industry matures.

For investors, this means that there is still huge untapped potential for The Trade Desk to grow as it would take awhile for one to see material contributions from the China market to its top & bottom lines. 

With the company already growing at such a blistering pace Y-O-Y without tapping on China, one would potentially expect their growth to sustain or even increase in the future. 

With earnings growth, this would inevitably lead to greater appreciation in stock prices, thus allowing the investor to potentially attain a multi-bagger. 

#2Shopify (NYSE:SHOP)

Market Cap.$37.38B
Debt-to-Equity Ratio5.3
Stable Top & Bottom Line Y-O-YYes
Numbers in Millions (USD)

As seen in the graph, Shopify’s earnings have been growing year-on-year from 2015 to 2018. Earnings grew from $380M in 2017 to $596M in 2018, displaying a huge 56.8% growth versus the prior year. 

Shopify has secured its status as the e-commerce platform of choice for small entrepreneurs. Its client base and gross merchandise volume are both growing explosively. 

As of June 2019, there are 820,000 Merchants from Shopify growing 55% from the prior year. 

What does Shopify do? 

Shopify is an e-commerce platform that allows merchants of all sizes to “set up” their own stores online. They all provide a suite of advantages such as fulfilment, payment and shipping services. 

Shopify’s winning formula includes its platform’s ability to give online merchants an easy way to handle many aspects of their business: inventory management, fulfilling orders, processing payments, and communicating with current and prospective customers alike.

It is also extremely flexible with its ability to be connected with sites such as Ebay and social media such as Instagram. Small and medium-sized businesses still make up the core of Shopify’s clientele. 

However, the company also offers a $2,000 a month Shopify Plus package for bigger businesses which the likes of Nestle and Red Bull utilize. 

Shopify’s Growth Potential

The company estimates that there are 46 million small and mid-sized businesses around the world, and it’s only serving 1.3% of them. That leaves plenty of opportunities for Shopify to keep growing well into the future.

With the advent of the switch from traditional/physical shopping to online commerce, Shopify’s addressable market continues to grow as e-commerce captures a larger share of overall shopping. 

Furthermore, one should note that Shopify isn’t a competitor to Amazon

Amazon is an aggregator who internalises suppliers (people think they buy from amazon but actually make purchases from other suppliers). 

Shopify as a platform externalises suppliers (people buy from various brands without knowing shopify powers them). There is nothing to purchase on Shopify.com other than its suite of platforms, unlike Amazon. 

TLDR, Amazon is pursuing customers and bringing suppliers and merchants onto its platform on its own terms. Shopify is giving merchants an opportunity to differentiate themselves while bearing no risk if they fail.

The only way to beat an aggregator is to be a platform that externalise suppliers with differentiation.

For investors, this is a great business model which is still helmed by its charismatic and visionary founder, Tobi Lutke. In the long run, Shopify could potentially continue dominating the market and growing at a blistering pace. 

With a huge untapped addressable consumer market and large growth capacities, Shopify as a fast grower could turn into one of the legendary Lynch Multi-Baggers. 

#3Health Equity (NYSE:HQY)

Market Cap.$4.95B
Debt-to-Equity Ratio7.56
Stable Top & Bottom Line Y-O-YYes
Numbers in Millions (USD)

As seen in the graph, Health Equity’s earnings have been growing year-on-year from 2016 to 2019. Earnings grew from $135M in 2018 to $181M in 2019, displaying a 34% growth versus the prior year. 

HealthEquity is not only profitable but has also seen impressive profit growth to go with rising sales in recent years.It’s identified multiple pathways toward future expansion that includes both organic growth and potential strategic transactions.

What does Health Equity do? 

Health Equity is a cloud-based platform that provides access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and other health-care benefits. 

HSAs were implemented by the US Federal Government in 2003. It allows one to set aside cash for certain healthcare expenses that are not covered by their insurance. 

HSAs come with huge tax benefits: money placed inside of HSAs are tax-deductible, and investments inside the HSA grow on a tax-deferred basis. 

Additionally, withdrawals from HSAs aren’t taxed as long as the money is used to cover qualified healthcare expenses.

They help employers and employees alike to save on healthcare costs while taking advantage of tax incentives provided. 

Health Equity’s growth potential

Health Equity’s business model is also simple: 

  1. It charges employers and health plans that are placed on the platform monthly service fees in order to provide its platform to employees and subscribers. 
  2. It earns custodial revenue by keeping custody of customer assets such as cash. 
  3. HealthEquity offers a payment network that allows users to have medical expenses paid directly from their HSAs, and the company collects interchange fees when those transactions go through.

With recurring revenue and simple services, Health Equity is definitely in it for the long run. 

Furthermore, its founder, Stephen Neeleman was one of the doctors that lobbied for the federal government to implement HSAs and then subsequently built the platform, Health Equity to trade the accounts. 

Rising Health Care costs will definitely be a huge proponent that drives up the demand for Health Equity services and products. 

As the number of discerning healthcare consumers expands exponentially, interest in Health Savings accounts and highly deductible savings plans will rise in tandem. 

For investors, the rising number of consumers being aware of Health Savings Accounts will drive demand for Health Equity’s platform. This would subsequently propel top-line sales and in turn, earnings. 

With Earnings growth comes appreciation in stock prices. 

Conclusion

So there you have it. The Fast Growers Category explained in accordance with Peter Lynch’s guidebook. If you choose wisely, this is the land of the 10-40 baggers and even the 200 baggers. However, Lynch reminds us that there’s plenty of risk in fast growers, especially in the younger companies that tend to be overzealous and underfinanced. 

The stock market also does not look too kindly fast growers that run out of steam and turn in to slow growers. Hence, it is essential to figure out when the company is going to stop growing (lack of future plans, depreciating financials and loss of key leadership). 

As one would notice, Peter Lynch identifies a stock using Qualitative Analysis before diving into the Quantitative. 

That means he looks at a stock’s story before he looks at a stock’s business. There is nothing inherently wrong with that.

Whether you approach it from the numbers angle or the story, both ways work. However, we would advise retail investors to focus on approaching stock investing from the quantitative side of things.

This is to avoid biases and to avoid falling in love with a stock’s story. To hunt growth stocks, we have developed a robust, evidence-based framework that has delivered stellar returns per year historically.

We also hold regular introductory courses to share our structured investing course called the Intelligent Investing Immersive Programme. This is where you can learn more about our exclusive framework and ask questions on investing. You can get a free seat here.

We have started a telegram group for easier mobile access to our articles. You can join the group using this link. I hope this article has been informative for you.

Disclosure: The author of the article, Asher Siow owns shares of The Trade Desk and Shopify. This is not an incitement to invest. Do your own due dilligence.

    • Hi Freddy,

      Thank you for your question! I understand your concern too.

      Some businesses, though they’re losing money, are growing fast enough that a future payoff is likely.

      Amazon is one prominent example as it started off as a cash-burning company as well. They pumped nearly all of the cash it generates into huge new investment areas, like Amazon Prime, Amazon Web Services and, most recently, the Alexa voice computing platform.

      This is due to the company’s focus of growth over net income.

      Thus, shopify’s cash-burning is not too much of a concern at the moment. However, if they are unable to turn their investments into profitable drivers for the future, we would then relook at our decision once again.

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