Longtime Fool.com contributors Matt Frankel, CFP, and Jason Hall compared some of their portfolios’ most beaten-down stocks on an episode of The Rank, recorded on Aug. 23. The worst performer in both of their portfolios was Appian (NASDAQ:APPN), and in this clip, you’ll hear why both feel like the company is an excellent opportunity right now.
Matt Frankel: Worst performer of this group down 62% from its 52-week high. To be fair, that 52-week high was during that whole meme stock craze where it was short squeezes left and right. It probably shouldn’t have been $260 a share just yet. It was trading at about $60 last September and peaked at $260 in January. It was pretty parabolic rise. But having said that, it has pulled back a ton despite the numbers looking pretty strong. If you’re not familiar, Appian provides what’s called a low-code app development platform. All companies need apps, everyone needs mobile app these days, but not everyone has an in-house app development team, not everyone can afford to hire developers to do their app. It’s not financially practical in a lot of cases. Appian, their whole business model’s they sell this low-code platform, provides some training, and they say that they could have anyone’s app ready in six weeks with minimal technical knowledge. Pretty interesting business. They have a lot of high-profile clients, including a lot of U.S. government divisions. I know a few major airports use Appian to develop their apps. They’ve a whole big list of customers on their website, check it out sometime. Numbers haven’t quite looked so great to justify their valuation, which is where I think the market is getting jittery.
Jason Hall: Yeah.
Frankel: Most high valuation stocks have taken a hit lately. They still trade for about 20 times last 12-month sales, free cash flow’s negative. Subscription revenue growth, which is the most important, they sell this as a subscription product, for the most part, was up 31% year over year during the first half. A lot of our high-flying tech stocks did a lot better than that, which is I think where the market is getting concerned. But this is a massive addressable market opportunity. Like Jason said, I was surprised to see this one got beaten down quite as much as it did. But like I said, this was a meme stock victim, I guess, I would call it.
Hall: Yeah. I think that’s fair.
Frankel: I like Appian’s business long-term. I own the stock because I think in 10 years, everything is going to have a mobile app. Not everything is going to hire app developers. It’s a big addressable market. A lot of things need more than one app. I know my bank has three different apps I can use. It’s a good value proposition. It’s a product that essentially sells itself to a lot of these businesses. My favorite thing to invest, and I’ve said time and time again, it’s products that sell themselves. Things that save the user more money than they cost. Appian is one of those products. Companies who need apps save money by using Appian instead of going the traditional development route. I’m a big believer in Appian, I think it’s got a bright future, it’s a huge addressable market opportunity. They are the best at what they do, I think, is really how I can put it.
Hall: Yeah, I think that’s fair. I’m just going to show a chart here, talk about some of the economics of the business that are important. Let’s go back to the beginning of 2019, up about 46%, but it’s only up I think around maybe 20% or so over the past 12 months. It doesn’t have the same high rate of growth, but look how fast its gross profit dollars are growing and it’s increasing its margins. Those are the metrics for this business that really matter a lot over the long term. Because even though operating losses are growing and it’s negative free cash flow. I’ll use Zoom, we talked about Zoom earlier, because these are the businesses that once they get to a certain critical mass, start generating really, really impressive cash flows. I think Appian’s headed for that same trajectory.
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