The stock market’s recent, sudden shellacking would make an easy excuse to step away for a while, and let whatever is in the cards for this month just run its course.
That may not be the best move for the long haul, though. Without a crystal ball to point out exactly where the bottoms are, most investors are better served by sticking with stocks — even in tough times — rather than attempting to avoid pullbacks. When rebounds take shape, they tend to do so quickly, and with no real warning.
To that end, semi-related growth stocks PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL), Shopify (NYSE:SHOP), and Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK) are picks I’d be willing to buy right now despite the environment. See, all three stories are bigger than the current marketwide turbulence.
1. PayPal for the new payments norm
It’s not a name that needs any introduction. PayPal was one of the pioneers of e-commerce, perhaps best known for its affiliation with eBay. Though PayPal was spun out as its own publicly traded entity in 2015 and eBay replaced the payment platform with Adyen as its preferred provider in 2018, PayPal remains the digital payments market leader by almost any measure.
That’s not likely to change anytime soon either. In fact, the company may be approaching a point where it starts to widen its lead.
Yes, the coronavirus contagion has something to do with that. Consumers fearful of physically visiting a store have embraced online shopping. Its total payment volume jumped 30% during the quarter ending in June, reaching record-breaking levels. CEO Dan Schulman explained in an interview with MarketWatch shortly afterward, “I don’t think there is any going back,” suggesting online consumerism was now the new norm.
That’s not the overarching reason PayPal is still such a solid buy, however. Online consumerism was growing anyway — COVID-19 just accelerated that growth. The most compelling bullish argument for PayPal is all that the company is doing to ensure it captures more than its fair share of the payment market’s growth. These efforts include acquisitions, like last year’s deal that garnered a 70% stake in China’s GoPay that serves as a foothold in China’s growing e-commerce arena. Early this year the company acquired Honey, which helps people track down the best deals for a particular product.
It’s not just acquisitions either. PayPal is also stepping up its R&D efforts in preparation for this new normal. In May, it launched a quick response (QR) code feature that lets small businesses offer truly contactless transactions.
In short, PayPal is thinking earnestly about the future and responding as needed.
2. Shopify for the new consumerism norm
Shopify is another big beneficiary of the coronavirus pandemic that’s pushed a great deal of offline shopping into the online shopping realm. By offering a platform and tools that help small — and large — businesses manage an online store, the company’s total facilitated sales grew a whopping 119% year over year during the second quarter of this year.
It should be noted, however, that Shopify was on a roll even before COVID-19 reshaped how merchants connect with consumers. Last year’s company revenue, as well as the amount of business it facilitated, were both up 47% on a year-over-year basis.
Driving that past growth is the same thing that will create similar growth in the future: the e-commerce landscape is changing. Amazon has arguably been alienating its third-party sellers for years, while consumers have become more than comfortable with direct-to-consumer (DTC) shopping outside of major channels like eBay and Amazon. It was only a matter of time before technology developers like Shopify and rival BigCommerce found the winning formula for merchants looking to develop their own online stores.
The direct-to-consumer movement has only scratched the surface of its potential though. Market research outfit eMarketer estimated in March of this year that direct-to-consumer sales in the United States would grow 24% this year and 19% next year, as small businesses and Shopify both make their way further down the learning curve. Next year’s DTC market of an estimated $21 billion, however, is still only a fraction of the National Retail Federation’s retailing market size estimate of around $4 trillion.
3. Slack Technologies for the new work norm
Finally, online collaboration solutions provider Slack Technologies is perfectly positioned to capitalize on new norms in the world of work once the COVID-19 smoke clears.
Slack, in simplest terms, helps groups communicate in real-time. One of its features is a hosted instant messaging that lets employees discuss matters in topically segregated chat rooms. It also facilitates video calls though, as well as co-editing of documents shared online.
It’s not exactly a new concept; document sharing and real-time collaboration has been around for years. Shutdowns related to the coronavirus have accelerated the industry’s growth, though. Slack’s revenue for the quarter ending in April was up 50% year over year, as organizations scrambled for ways to let employees work from home.
Perhaps more important (and also like online shopping and digital payments), the recent growth of cloud-based corporate communication has likely become the new norm. International Data Corp. opined earlier this month that by 2024, 60% of the nation’s workers won’t work from a centralized office. They’ll be in the field or at home. That’s 15 million more mobile workers than currently employed in the U.S.
Of course, even the enterprises that won’t need so many remote employees in the future may find the Slack tools they’ve recently employed have become too important to cancel them now.