3 Top Growth Stocks You Can Buy Today

Stop me if you've heard this before, but this market is expensive. It may not be pre-dot-com-bubble expensive, but it's enough to make an investor pause before hitting the "buy" button. According to Nobel-winning economist Robert Shiller's 10-year cyclically adjusted P/E ratio, stocks today are priced almost 50% higher than their historical average.

The bull market has been running for over five years now. Photo: Flickr user karang.

Despite this, there are a number of growth stocks you can buy today for reasonable prices. Read on to learn about three such stocks and what makes them great.

3 great growth stock characteristics
When it comes to finding growth stocks, there are three key characteristics I look for that go far beyond a company's price or even profitability. Here they are, with a quick explanation of why investors should look for them:

  1. Rapid revenue growth: This is more important than earnings growth. A company rapidly growing revenue is one that is supplying a product or service that people like -- a lot. In early stages of growth, that revenue could be quickly reinvested into the business, leading to lower profitability. But the day will come when that spending subsides and profitability booms.
  2. Founder-led: A company doesn't need to be founder-led to be successful, and not every founder-led business is a great investment. That being said, when you can find a founder-led business that is successful, it makes for a top-tier holding. That's because founders often view their companies as an extension of themselves and are far more apt to take the path to long-term success when it comes to their company.
  3. Sustainable competitive advantage: Competitive advantages come in many forms, but few of them are sustainable. The key here is that a company either offers something no one else can or offers it for a price that's unbeatable.

Combine these three factors, and you have a recipe for investing success.

The 3 top growth stocks, revealed
There's one big thing that all three of the companies I'm singling out have in common: They represent three of the world's leading search engines. They are Google , China-based Baidu , and Russia-based Yandex . All three fit these criteria well.

All three companies are showing impressive growth in revenue, far outpacing the broader market.

Furthermore, each company still has one of its founders at the helm. And these founders been involved with their companies for quite some time and show no signs of leaving anytime soon.



Year Founded

Current Age


Larry Page




Robin Li




Arkady Volozh



But perhaps the most important thing about all three of these companies is that they have sustainable competitive advantages.

One of the things I love about search engines, as an investor, is how sticky they are. Once an individual starts using a certain search engine as their go-to source for information, they are unlikely to switch. Google has become so predominant that the company name has become a verb for finding information -- "Just google it!"

Though Google is easily the global search leader, Baidu dominates China, the most populous country in the world, while Yandex boasts 60% market share in Russia, the ninth-most populous nation.


Global Market Share

Domestic Market Share

Domestic Website Ranking




No. 1(No. 1 worldwide)




No. 1 (No. 5 worldwide)




No. 1 (No. 20 worldwide)

Source: Domestic website ranking from Alexa.com. Global market-share data as of January 2013 from ComScore.

But let's not forget how these companies bring in the bulk of their revenue: advertisements. All three have collected gobs of information on users, and that information is incredibly valuable to companies that want specific ads placed in front of the eyes of specific Internet users. There's no company that can target companies' markets better than these three companies.

All at a reasonable price
If we forget Robert Shiller's metric mentioned above and just focus on the S&P 500's P/E, it currently sits at about 18.4. That means the average company trades for about 18 times earnings.

Currently, Google, Baidu, and Yandex trade at respective P/Es of 28, 36, and 20 times earnings. All three are clearly more expensive than the overall market, but they also have much more potential than the average company.

As I said, however, watching revenue might be even more indicative of a growth company's value. Based on price-to-sales, Yandex and Baidu have rarely been cheaper over the past five years!

GOOGL PS Ratio (TTM) Chart

Data by YCharts.

While it's the cheapest, Yandex is definitely the riskiest of the bunch: The company counts Google as its main rival, but since Google decided against pursuing rapid growth in China, that's not a major factor for Baidu to worry about.

For the time being, Yandex is enjoying the benefits of being the primary Russian-language search engine, but investors need to watch how Google is doing in Russia. Currently, Google is the second-most popular search engine in Russia, with 26% market share.

Baidu, on the other hand, probably has the biggest opportunity in front of it. The world's most populous country still has an Internet penetration rate below 50%. If Baidu can fend off upstart Qihoo 360 and dominate the mobile market, today's price could one day look cheap.

And, of course, Google is the behemoth of the bunch. An investment in Google provides you with global exposure to a company that isn't resting on its laurels and could one day expand far beyond the reach of just search. For example, through the company's Google[x] initiative, the company is experimenting with everything from alternative energy to self-driving cars.

Investors looking for growth at a reasonable price would do well to research these three companies further. If you think they are for you, initiating a position in all three might be a great first step; you could then buy at good price points over time to fill out your growth portfolio.

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The article 3 Top Growth Stocks You Can Buy Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Brian Stoffel owns shares of Baidu, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Yandex. The Motley Fool recommends Baidu, Google (A shares), Google (C shares), and Yandex. The Motley Fool owns shares of Baidu, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). 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.

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