Personal Finance

These 3 Stocks Are Up 25% in 2018 -- Are They Still Buys?

Two men in suits shown behind a stock board.

A stock that gains 25% in less than a year is going to turn a lot of heads on Wall Street. It's also going to make you ask yourself if the stock still has lots of room to run or if it's headed for a crash. Three companies that have gained more than that amount this year are Baozun (NASDAQ: BZUN) , SolarEdge Technologies (NASDAQ: SEDG) , and Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE: CLF) .

So let's consider whether these stocks still have something left in the tank for 2018 and beyond. Here's what three of our contributors have to say on the matter.

Two men in suits shown behind a stock board.

Image source: Getty Images.

East meets West

Keith Noonan (Baozun): Chinese e-commerce specialist Baozun has risen roughly 78% year to date, but I think it remains a worthwhile buy for long-term investors. The company's business revolves around providing customizable online stores and related support services for major Western brands such as Nike , Microsoft , and Calvin Klein that are eager to benefit from momentum in China's fast-growing e-commerce market.

These online portals are then featured on leading Chinese e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba 's Tmall and , and they're also integrated into social-media platforms such as Tencent 's WeChat. In light of Baozun's focus on bringing Western brands to the East and recent escalation in trade tensions between America and China, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the company's share price has seen some big swings over the past six months. However, investors willing to weather volatility could see their steadfastness rewarded.

While worsening trade relations might be cause for some short-term concern, there's no stopping the e-commerce train. Online retail spending in China climbed 32% in 2017 and 34% year over year in the first quarter of 2018, and Baozun is making smart moves to capitalize on this high-growth market.

The March quarter saw the company's operating margin expand more than 60% thanks to moving some of its major partners off its merchandise warehousing and distribution package and over to the offering that includes only e-commerce portals, marketing, and customer management services. Baozun is already profitable, and while shares trade at roughly 48 times this year's expected earnings, the company has a long runway for growth as it expands its customer base and transitions to a more profitable business model .

SolarEdge flew too close to the sun -- and got burned

Rich Smith(SolarEdge Technologies): SolarEdge is a stock I own, and it's up 26.5% so far in 2018. But here's the thing: However, it reported Q2 2018 earnings that missed Wall Street's expectations last week -- and its stock promptly plunged 18% .

That makes the question of whether it's still a buy more than academic to me. So here's how I look at it.

SolarEdge may have missed expectations, but its performance last quarter was still superb. Sales soared 67% year over year. Earnings, while not growing quite as quickly as sales, were still up a more than respectable 44%.

Over the past 12 months, SolarEdge has generated $152 million in positive free cash flow, 29% more than reported earnings, and its stock now sells for less than 15 times free cash flow. Analysts forecast 22% long-term earnings growth at the company, and SolarEdge's Q3 guidance is calling for more sales growth than Wall Street is forecasting.

Call me a crazy optimist, but all these numbers still look good to me, and I think SolarEdge is still a buy.

BZUN data by YCharts

Up 40%, still undervalued

Tyler Crowe (Cleveland-Cliffs): Whenever a commodity company's stock climbs more than 40% in less than a year, as iron ore producer Cleveland-Cliffs has done, it's going to attract some attention. In this case, the company has been digging itself out of a massive hole that had it teetering on the brink of bankruptcy from 2014 to 2016. CEO Lourenco Goncalves came in and turned the company around with drastic moves to shed unprofitable assets, focus on its advantage iron ore mines in the U.S., and use opportune financing and operating cash flow to shore up the business.

In a few years' time, Cleveland-Cliffs has gone from hemorrhaging money to churning out steady cash profits . Now that it has a much stronger balance sheet, management is looking to grow the business with investments in new iron ore pellet mines and a pellet-upgrading facility designed to supply more advanced electric arc furnaces, versus Cliffs' current clientele of older blast furnaces. Management has also said that it thinks it will be able to soon reinstate a dividend and possibly buy back stock.

Even though management has transformed the company into a reliable cash-generating business with a much-improved capital structure, Wall Street still seems to be treating this company like the previously unfocused and debt-laden company it was. Shares currently trade at a price-to-earnings ratio of just 7.1. If the company continues to churn out quarters like its most recent one, Wall Street is eventually going to catch on to this amazing turnaround story that is creating shareholder value now.

10 stocks we like better than Cleveland-Cliffs

When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor , has quadrupled the market.*

David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Cleveland-Cliffs wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

Click here to learn about these picks!

*Stock Advisor returns as of August 6, 2018

Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Keith Noonan owns shares of Baozun. Rich Smith owns shares of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Baozun,, and SolarEdge Technologies. Tyler Crowe owns shares of Cleveland-Cliffs and SolarEdge Technologies. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Baozun and The Motley Fool recommends Nike. 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.

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

In This Story


Other Topics


The Motley Fool

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, VA., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community. Reaching millions of people each month through its website, books, newspaper column, radio show, television appearances, and subscription newsletter services, The Motley Fool champions shareholder values and advocates tirelessly for the individual investor. The company's name was taken from Shakespeare, whose wise fools both instructed and amused, and could speak the truth to the king -- without getting their heads lopped off.

Learn More