S&P 500 Bear Market: Time to Buy These 3 Market-Beating Growth Stocks

While the markets have had a pretty good couple of days recently, the S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.87%) is still down about 16.9% from its January peak and still on shaky footing. It could easily slip back into a full-blown bear market.

For long-term investors, the poor stock performance in 2022 has meant there are now a handful of growth stocks out there that fell too far and are now priced too low to pass up. You may want to consider adding three of these discounted growth stocks to your portfolio, regardless of what direction the overall market next turns.

1. Amazon

It’s been a challenging year for e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN 0.46%). The soaring costs of shipping, personnel, and supplies pushed its online retailing business into the red. Indeed, with no end to this expense headwind in sight and perhaps a recession on the horizon, it’s now being reported the company is planning to lay off 10,000 tech and corporate employees.

The stock’s 46% sell-off over the course of the past 12 months, however, is simply an overreaction by the market.

While all companies should clearly adjust to an ever-changing environment, what’s largely lost about Amazon is that it is making lots of savvy adjustments. For example, while the business of selling goods online may be unprofitable right now, thanks to burgeoning operational costs, the company is monetizing its e-commerce platform in a very different way. Amazon collected more than $9.5 billion in revenue last quarter — up 25% year over year — from third-party sellers paying to promote their products on Amazon.com. While its e-commerce business is still in the red, its nascent and fast-growing advertising venture could soon change and unwind these losses.

In the meantime, although Amazon Web Services only accounts for about 16% of its top line, it still drives the vast majority of its profits, even in goods years like 2020 and 2021. Its cloud computing business grew an impressive 30% year over year through the first three quarters of this year as well, extending a long growth streak that isn’t apt to slow anytime soon.

2. Palantir Technologies

Palantir Technologies (PLTR 2.96%) isn’t exactly a household name. That’s because the company makes software primarily aimed at institutions and government organizations, allowing them to turn mountains of data into actionable insight. For instance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention enlisted Palantir’s help to figure out how best to address the COVID-19 pandemic and determine the most efficient means of deploying COVID-19 vaccines. The company’s technology also works with for-profit outfits looking to improve efficiency, decrease waste, or solve complex problems using an otherwise overwhelming amount of information.

There’s one overarching reason the stock’s been such a poor performer of late. That is, despite continued top-line growth of more than 20%, the company remains in the red, losing $62 million on $478 million worth of sales last quarter alone. It’s a backdrop that makes even the slightest shortfalls a seemingly big deal.

This is a case, however, where investors would be wise to take a step back and look at the (much) bigger picture. While last quarter’s loss was bigger on a year-over-year basis, the net loss actually shrank once the impact of stock-based compensation was stripped away, and revenue itself still grew a hefty 22%. Moreover, analysts expect earnings growth to be rekindled in a big way going forward as costs are contained. The current consensus calls for top-line growth of 23% next year, paired with operating per-share profits of $0.17, up from this full year’s likely figure of only $0.05 per share.

Given all this, the stock’s 80% slide from its early 2021 post-initial public offering (IPO) peak is apt to reverse course sooner or later, probably sooner than later.

3. The Estee Lauder Companies

Finally, add cosmetics outfit The Estee Lauder Companies (EL 2.86%) to your list of growth stocks to step into, despite the likelihood that we’re still in a bear market. Its 40% pullback from January’s peak is increasingly rooted in all the wrong reasons.

Those reasons are economic weakness, in general, and trouble in China, in particular. Many retailers here and abroad scaled back inventory levels on worries of a slowdown. And ongoing lockdowns in China meant to curb the continued spread of COVID-19 are just making it tough to do business there. These measures are a key driver of last quarter’s 5% year-over-year dip in revenue and an even bigger 24% tumble in per-share profits. The company says it isn’t expecting any meaningful relief from these headwinds until the latter half of its fiscal 2023, beginning in calendar 2023.

It’s just possible, however, Estee Lauder may be underestimating the speed and pace of its rebound.

That’s the takeaway from Wells Fargo analysts’ recent upping of its price target on the makeup company’s stock anyway. These analysts cite a combination of rekindled demand for foreign cosmetics and a slight policy shift in making these goods easier to ship to China itself. The technical burdens were lifted at the same time Beijing scaled back its strong lockdown measures. It’s a big deal to this cosmetics brand simply because about a third of its business comes from Asia, mostly in demand from China’s consumers.

In the meantime, the rest of the world’s discretionary consumerism may be more resilient than it’s getting credit for. September’s consumer spending within the United States topped expectations by growing 6.2% year over year, despite still-rampant inflation and frequent headlines about job layoffs. Further, the National Retail Federation is calling for holiday spending growth of between 6% and 8% above last year’s levels.

Wells Fargo is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. James Brumley has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon and Palantir Technologies Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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