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For better or for worse, tech stocks are often synonymous with growth in many investors' minds. In good times, high-flying growth stocks can soar to impressive -- some might say irrational -- heights (see the tech bubble). When things go south, tech stocks can also fall off a cliff. (Again, see the tech bubble.)
However, it certainly seems logical that companies that have grown their sales at above-average rates for extended periods of time are doing something right. As such, here are the 10 tech stocks with the fastest average annual growth rate (CAGR) over the past decade.
Data Source: S&P CapIQ.
Though correlation and causation are not necessarily the same thing, it bears noting that all eight of these 10 high-growth tech stocks have outperformed the Nasdaq Composite over the past decade.Interestingly enough, the tech companies represented here target a wide set of sub-industries and employ a diverse mix of business models to fuel their prodigious sales growth. To suss this out a bit further, let's briefly review some of the names that seem most deserving of investors' attention today.
Leading Chinese search engine Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) remains one of the most heavily recommended stocks in the Fool's premium newsletter business for good reason. The company's mix of a winning core business model and numerous investments in long-term growth markets makes it somewhat analogous to global search leader Alphabet.
As with all growth companies, Baidu's financial results have shown some volatility in recent quarters. The company saw a 15% decline in the number of companies that purchase its search advertisements in its Q3 report; importantly, this reflects new Chinese government regulations banning certain shady online marketing practices. As such, this should be viewed as Baidu "cleaning up" its online advertising operations, and such improvements are likely to build long-term value by improving the overall user experience across Baidu's online properties.
Furthermore, Baidu continues to invest headlong into expanding its range of online services. In the near term, this increased investment has pressured its profit margins. However, given the compelling long-term growth potential of the Chinese internet industry, Baidu's spending to build out new services and win market share today should be viewed as sowing the seeds for future profit drivers. As such, Baidu's vaunted revenue growth history appears poised to continue for decades to come.
One of the companies at the forefront of the cloud-computing revolution, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), launched the sales software for which it is best known 17 years ago. In the interim, the company has developed a potent mix of cloud-based services that help enterprises of all sizes manage their business relationships at each point in the customer lifecycle, which has, in turn, made Salesforce into the model of revenue-growth consistency.
Looking to the future, Salesforce sees its outsized growth rates continuing for years to come. Oddly, the company's fiscal year is an entire year ahead of the current calendar year -- its most recent report was for the FY 2017 third quarter-- but the company has already projected that FY 2018 (calendar 2017) sales will grow 21%, to eclipse $10 billion for the first time in its history.
The company spends heavily to incentivize its own account sales teams, which artificially depresses its margins on all new revenue. As such, its 242x P/E ratio obscures Salesforce's true valuation. Its 55x forward P/E ratio is still expensive, but a more accurate ballpark estimate. Either way, with its massive market opportunity to disrupt enterprise software and its visionary leadership, Salesforce.com remains a great option for growth investors.
Investing in organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs for short, has been something of an adventure over the past decade. Long on promise, but seemingly always another year away, OLED technology offers significant benefits over traditional liquid crystal displays (LCD), both in terms of their brightness and their flexibility. Their adoption among electronics makers, though, has been gradual, to say the least, but signs of mass-market adoption may finally be materializing, which is great news for OLED leader Universal Display (NASDAQ: OLED).
Consumer-electronics giants like Samsung and LG each have major investments in OLED production set to come on line within the next year, and Universal Display continues to add new original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) as clients. Perhaps most exciting, reliable rumors strongly suggest that Apple plans to integrate OLED screens into next year's fully redesigned 10th-anniversary iPhone. This newfound momentum led researcher IHS to predict the OLED market will grow to roughly $25 billion by the year 2020.
Universal Display only sells chemicals to OEMs and collects some licensing revenue, so it won't capture the majority of that value creation. However, its current $200-million sales base is still estimated to increase nearly 30% next year, and there's clearly plenty of room for continued growth at this OLED market leader.
10 stocks we like better than Apple When investing geniuses David and TomGardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter theyhave run for over a decade, the Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
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*StockAdvisor returns as of December 12, 2016The author(s) may have a position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends shares of Apple.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple and Baidu. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, and Baidu. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends NetEase, Salesforce.com, Sohu.com, and Universal Display. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.