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Up 42% to 138%, Is Now the Time to Buy These 3 Growth Stocks?

Motley Fool - Sun Sep 10, 7:00AM CDT

Without a doubt, growth stocks have been big winners in 2023. Yet, with autumn right around the corner, many growth stocks appear to have stalled out. So, is now the time to buy or the time to bail out?

This week, three Motley Fool contributors will examine Shopify(NYSE: SHOP), Palantir(NYSE: PLTR), and Cloudflare(NYSE: NET) to see what's going on.

Dollar bills stuffed in a glass jar.

Image source: Getty Images.

Shopify's revenue growth is back to levels not seen since 2021.

Jake Lerch (Shopify): Up 86% year to date, Shopify has enjoyed quite the rebound in 2023. Yet, after a dismal 2022, shares of the Canadian e-commerce platform remain more than 61% off their all-time high achieved roughly two years ago. Still, I think Shopify is worth considering because of its massive growth potential.

In its most recent quarter (the three months ended on June 30, 2023), Shopify reported $1.7 billion in revenue and $55 billion in Gross Market Value (GMV) sales on its platform. That represents year-over-year revenue growth of 31%, nearly double the 16% revenue growth that Shopify recorded a year ago.

What's more, the company's product attach rate (company revenue divided by GMV of all products sold on the platform) increased to a best-ever 3.08% -- meaning Shopify is generating more revenue for each dollar of products sold on its platform.

In addition, the company's subscription revenue has grown to $444 million, up 21% from a year ago. Not only is this subscription revenue more consistent, but it's more profitable. Shopify's Subscription Solution segment boasts a gross margin of 81%, compared to the company's overall gross margin of 49%.

Looking ahead, management anticipates around 20% revenue growth next quarter as the company completes the sale of its logistics business. In addition, Shopify expects free cash flow to increase as its recent cost-cutting measures kick in.

Overall, Shopify is a company that is trimming the fat and revving up growth -- an excellent combination for a growth stock on the rise.

A new AI platform breathed new life into this emerging analytics company

Will Healy(Palantir): One of the more prominent beneficiaries of this year's tech rally is Palantir. Year to date, the stock has risen by approximately 140%, even when accounting for a recent pullback.

Investors piled into Palantir in the spring as the artificial intelligence and machine-learning-related benefits of Palantir's Gotham and Foundry platforms became more apparent to investors.

However, the stock reached a new level when Palantir introduced its Artificial Intelligence Platform (AIP) in May. The AIP enhances Palantir's analysis capabilities, capitalizing on large language models to refine the software package's analytical results. Despite its recent release in May, more than 100 organizations have begun to use AIP, according to CEO Alex Karp.

Moreover, even with the massive stock price increase this year, Palantir trades 61% below its all-time high.

PLTR Chart.

PLTR data by YCharts.

Despite that discount, it may be a more attractive investment now. Its revenue for the first half of 2023 came in at just under $1.1 billion, a 15% increase from the same period in 2022.

Also, unlike the days of the 2021 bull market, Palantir now earns a generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) profit and has done so for three consecutive quarters. In the first two quarters of 2023, it earned $47 million in net income, an improvement over the $281 million loss during the same period in 2022. Interest income accounted for most of that profit, though it reported $14 million in net operating income. Palantir also expects to earn a profit in each of the next two quarters.

The downside of these improvements is that the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio has risen to 16. While that does not make Palantir a cheap stock, it is less expensive than in the 2021 bull market when the sales multiple rarely fell below 24.

Ultimately, the fact that the software as a service (SaaS) stock is now profitable should make such valuations more tolerable. As long as more organizations continue turning to Palantir's technology, investor interest should grow over time.

Investors are paying up for Cloudflare's long-term prospects

Justin Pope (Cloudflare): Shares of this content distribution network (CDN) and internet technology company are up more than 40% in 2023. Despite this comeback, the stock is roughly 70% off its former highs. Cloudflare was a market darling in 2021, and investors bid shares to an eye-popping valuation as high as 113 times sales.

What makes Cloudflare such an appealing company? It began as a CDN, which houses data centers worldwide. Customers cache their websites and data on these servers. When someone calls up a site, the network will send the information from the closest server, creating faster load times and better reliability. But Cloudflare is taking things further, layering additional products and services such as security on top of its CDN product.

This encourages revenue growth from existing customers spending more on Cloudflare over time. The company's dollar retention rate has ranged from 115% to 126% over the past five quarters, meaning it's growing without adding new customers, though it's not slouching there either. The company has 174,129 paying customers, and those spending at least $100,000 (2,352) grew 34% year over year in the second quarter.

Perhaps best of all, Cloudflare has grown enough to generate free cash flow, a big step toward profitability. Management estimates that product innovation and secular growth will raise its addressable market to $204 billion by 2026. In other words, Cloudflare could grow for years to come.

NET Revenue (TTM) Chart.

NET Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts

The stock isn't necessarily cheap at a price-to-sales ratio (P/S) of 16, but it's at least feasible (versus 113 times sales) enough for long-term investors. Consider dollar-cost averaging into Cloudflare as a potential cornerstone of the internet over the coming decades.

Find out why Shopify is one of the 10 best stocks to buy now

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Jake Lerch has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Justin Pope has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Will Healy has positions in Palantir Technologies and Shopify. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Cloudflare, Palantir Technologies, and Shopify. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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