2 Growth Stocks to Buy Before the Bull Rally

The recent collapse of SVB Financial Group's Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank has triggered fears about contagion in the banking system and a potential financial crisis in the coming months.

However, this is not the time to panic. Historically, every stock market correction has been followed by a bull rally. So investors can still benefit from this macroeconomic uncertainty by putting their money in financially stable and robust businesses such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Mastercard (NYSE: MA).

Here's why shares of these companies are well poised to grow rapidly in the next bull rally.

1. Microsoft

Lately, technology behemoth Microsoft has been in the news for the launch of AI-powered versions of its Bing search engine and Edge browser. The company is also integrating ChatGPT technology in its Office ecosystem of products and services. The possibility of Bing becoming a leader in the high-margin ad-based internet search market helped drive up Microsoft's share prices. However, this tailwind may take some time to materialize as Bing faces challenges related to computation costs and monetization.

Several other catalysts can also push up Microsoft's share prices in the long run. The Windows operating system has been installed on more than 70% of all PCs in the world. Understandably, a slump in demand for PCs (including tablets) in the second quarter of fiscal 2023 (ending Dec. 31, 2022) had a detrimental impact on the company's profitability.

While IDC further expects a 10.7% decline in global PC shipments in fiscal 2023 to 403.1 million units, the outlook for fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2025 is quite optimistic -- mainly due to the sunsetting of the Windows 10 operating system. IDC expects educational institutions to drive demand for Chromebooks and Android tablets in the coming years. Microsoft seems well positioned to capitalize on this trend.

Further, despite the slowdown in corporate spending, Microsoft's cloud business raked in revenue of $27 billion in the second quarter, up 22% year over year. Azure's share in the global cloud infrastructure services market rose by 200 basis points year over year to 23% at end of December 2022. Azure has differentiated itself from the competition by focusing on hybrid cloud implementations and providing comprehensive security and compliance services.

Microsoft is a highly profitable and cash-rich company. It generated $20.4 billion in operating income and $11.2 billion in operating cash flows in the second quarter -- an impressive performance in the current uncertain economic environment.

Microsoft's near-term performance is not immune to macroeconomic challenges. However, the company's long-term growth story is mostly intact, making it a promising pick now.

2. Mastercard

The second-largest payment processor in the world, Mastercard is also the third most popular credit card brand globally. It powers around 24% of all credit card transactions in the world and processes around 5,000 transactions per second.

With a presence across 210 countries and 150 currencies, Mastercard's payment network enjoys significant economies of scale. The company also benefits from the network effect, since its payment processing platform becomes more entrenched as more merchants, banks, and customers use it. These factors create a high entry barrier for new players, thereby resulting in sustainable moats for the existing payment processors. Hence, being a dominant payment processor focusing on cashless transactions, Mastercard is in an excellent position to benefit from secular growth in the payments industry estimated to be worth $3 trillion by 2026.

Mastercard earns a bulk of its revenue by taking a percentage of every transaction processed on its network (the data and technology infrastructure connecting customers, merchants, and banks). Hence, while inflation may affect overall transaction volume, rising consumer prices are increasing the value of every transaction. Understandably, Mastercard is one of the few companies set to thrive in an inflationary environment. The company is also neither a lender nor a bank, and therefore does not take on a large degree of credit risk.

To further strengthen its business position, Mastercard has been expanding its payment network in international markets. The company is also focusing on introducing innovative payment solutions such as buy now, pay later and blockchain technology.

The strength of Mastercard's business model is apparent in its recent financial performance. Revenue was up by 18% year over year to $22.2 billion, while net income jumped 14.3% year over year to $9.9 billion in fiscal 2022 (ending Dec. 31, 2022). Mastercard boasts a net income margin of more than 40%, which is quite impressive for a mature company. Lastly, it also has a decent dividend yield of 0.65%.

A solid business model and stellar financials make Mastercard stock a buy right now.

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SVB Financial provides credit and banking services to The Motley Fool. Manali Bhade has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Mastercard, Microsoft, and SVB Financial. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2025 $370 calls on Mastercard and short January 2025 $380 calls on Mastercard. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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