The last year has been brutal, especially for tech investors. The Nasdaq Composite remains in bear-market territory, down 22% over the last 12-month stretch and some 30% off its all-time high.
Things have been even worse for many individual tech stocks. Many quality companies are being tossed out indiscriminately, creating opportunities for the patient and long-term minded investor. Three smart buys right now are: Alphabet: (GOOGL: 0.87%) (GOOG: 0.56%), Block: (SQ: -5.92%)and: Doximity: (DOCS: -3.29%). Here’s why.
Alphabet: A tech titan too cheap to ignore
Alphabet, parent of internet search engine Google, needs little introduction. It’s one of the largest and most powerful organizations around. Over the last two-decades-plus, Google’s digital advertising-fueled empire has managed to grow steadily in good times and bad.
Nevertheless, Alphabet stock is down 27% in the last year and has dipped over 30% from its all-time peak. This is a blue-chip name in the tech world, so what’s eating at Google? Investors are worried that a recession could spell trouble for the internet giant. As demonstrated in 2008 and in 2020, an economic downturn means lower advertising activity and lower ad monetization. In short, a recession would likely spell a revenue decline for Alphabet.
However, the company has also demonstrated that internet search ads are quite resilient — even in a recession. Digital marketing has an easy-to-flip off-on switch. Given that many brands will start to die if they keep the switch off, even a recession can’t keep marketing activity down for too long. When Alphabet registered a dip in revenue in past recessions, it proved to be very short-lived.
This ad empire has other challenges ahead, like rising regulatory scrutiny of its online activity and accusations of suppressing competition. Suppressing competition or not, some of Google’s peers like The Trade Desk: (TTD: -3.88%) are making headway. But Alphabet benefits from participating in a massive and growing industry in digital ads, and it’s more diversified than it’s ever been in the past. A gargantuan balance sheet featuring almost $120 billion in cash and short-term investments net of debt also doesn’t hurt.
Alphabet stock now trades for just 20 times trailing 12-month free cash flow. That looks mighty cheap to me for a company with enduring growth that’s so deeply embedded in the fabric of the global economy. I’m a buyer.
Block: Surprise! Block is actually profitable in this key metric
Block, the company formerly known as Square, has continued its steady expansion into the financial industry. Starting with merchants with its ecosystem of digitally integrated point-of-sale solutions and financial management services, Block has been making fast headway with consumers in recent years with Cash App. Nevertheless, the stock is down a whopping 76% in the last year.
Some investors take issue with the company’s bets on: Bitcoin: (BTC: -1.10%) as a future internet-based currency. However, Bitcoin has not been all bad for Block. Enabling Bitcoin trading helped Cash App quickly onboard millions of users during the pandemic. Once in the ecosystem, Cash App can promote even more valuable services to those new users. Now a commonly used fintech in the US, the merchant services segment and Cash App are now making a concerted push internationally, where Block has few users and plenty of untapped potential.
The company recently acquired buy-now pay-later outfit Afterpay (which has a strong presence outside of the states) to help strengthen the bonds between its merchant and consumer apps. And Block just announced a new partnership with international digital payments superstar Adyen: (ADYE.Y: -1.19%) to add Cash App Pay as a checkout option to Adyen’s large US merchants. Perhaps that will pave the way for deeper integration overseas too. Time will tell.
Despite heavy spending to expand its list of capabilities and marketing, Block is now profitable on a free-cash-flow basis. In fact, Block has driven healthy free-cash-flow-per-share returns for shareholders over the last five years. The stock now trades for just shy of 60 times enterprise value to free cash flow. I’m not saying this is a “cheap” stock. But given the company’s solid expansion execution, now looks like a fantastic time to buy for the long haul.
Doximity: Dedicated to growth, but especially profitable growth
Let’s visit the healthcare industry, often considered a stable place to stash money during uncertain times. However, even healthcare stocks have taken it on the chin during the current bear market. As measured by the: Vanguard Healthcare ETF (VHT: 0.08%)US healthcare stocks are down 13% from all-time highs.
Healthcare technology is faring far worse, though, Doximity included. This small company that connects healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and patients together via a unified app has fallen hard this year. The stock has tanked some 70% from its peak in the autumn of 2021.
However, while Doximity was carrying a steep premium last year, there’s still a lot to like about this company right now. Management has always had a focus on growing profitably. While the growth trajectory is slowing this year due to macroeconomic factors (revenue is now expected to increase 25% in fiscal year 2023), this remains a very profitable business. Free cash flow profit margin was 36% over the last 12-month stretch.
What’s noteworthy about this is that tech companies have had a hit-or-miss track record of successfully making headway into the US’s massive but incredibly complex healthcare sector. Where many have failed, Doximity is making a pretty good run of things. The stock now trades for 39 times enterprise value to free cash flow. Again, this isn’t a cheap stock, but not a bad price tag if you think Doximity will continue to grow its top and bottom lines with its communications-driven healthcare application. I, for one, think it will, and am still a buyer.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Nicholas Rossolillo and his clients have positions in Alphabet (C shares), Bitcoin, Block, Inc., Doximity, Inc., The Trade Desk, and Vanguard Health Care ETF. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Adyen NV, Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Bitcoin, Block, Inc., Doximity, Inc., and The Trade Desk. The Motley Fool recommends Adyen. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.