Returns as of 11/15/2021
Returns as of 11/15/2021
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Artificial intelligence (AI) might be the most transformative technology ever created. By infusing machines with the capacity to learn, understand, and make decisions, improvements in efficiency and productivity should stimulate businesses using AI as well as the broader economy. And some of the companies that harness that technology will create tremendous wealth for their shareholders.
Building on that idea, billionaire fund manager Larry Fink recently added shares of CrowdStrike Holdings (NASDAQ:CRWD) and Lemonade (NYSE:LMND) to BlackRock’s portfolio. Of course, as the largest asset manager in the world, BlackRock owns a piece of virtually every company, but Fink’s decision to buy is still noteworthy. CrowdStrike and Lemonade have built their businesses around AI, and both have strong prospects.
Here’s what you should know about these two disruptive stocks.
Image source: Getty Images.
CrowdStrike is a pioneer in cloud security. Its software safeguards devices and workloads across any environment, from desktops in a corporate office to virtual machines in a public cloud. More importantly, its cloud-native Falcon platform was built to crowdsource data on a massive scale: Monitoring 1 trillion signals per day, making its AI models uniquely effective.
For that reason, CrowdStrike has earned a reputation for best-in-class threat detection, and its Falcon platform has become the gold standard in endpoint security. In fact, Forrester Research, Gartner, and the International Data Corp. have all recognized CrowdStrike as an industry leader, and that advantage has translated into impressive financial results.
In the second quarter, total customers jumped 81% to 13,080. And 66% of those customers now use four or more of its software modules, up from 57% last year. That increased spend per customer boosted CrowdStrike’s revenue 70% to $337 million. But with a $44 billion addressable market by 2023, the company still has plenty of room to run. And management is executing on a strong growth strategy.
Building on its acquisition of Humio, a data ingestion and analytics platform, CrowdStrike recently launched a new module: Extended Detection and Response (XDR). This product integrates data from endpoints, cloud workloads, networks, and email into a single console, using AI to produce insights. CrowdStrike XDR also integrates with Falcon Fusion, a framework that streamlines incident investigation by helping clients automate complex workflows.
Collectively, these new products should keep CrowdStrike on the cutting edge of cybersecurity, helping it capitalize on its massive and growing market opportunity. From that perspective, Fink’s decision to double down on CrowdStrike makes sense. In fact, BlackRock now owns 6.7% of the company.
Lemonade brings AI to the insurance industry. Whereas legacy vendors still rely on agents and actuaries to sell insurance and price policies, Lemonade accomplishes those tasks with big data and machine learning, an approach that should (theoretically) make its business more efficient.
For instance, Lemonade employs just one person per 1,700 customers, while traditional insurance companies require one employee per 150 to 450 customers. Likewise, its digital-first platform captures 100 times more data than traditional systems, and Lemonade uses that data to quantify risk, underwrite policies, and detect fraud.
In turn, that means the company should pay out less in claims (on a relative basis) than its rivals. Collectively, lower payroll expenses and a lower loss ratio should translate into lower prices for consumers.
On that front, things are moving in the right direction. Lemonade’s entry-level renters’ policies are about 50% cheaper than the industry average. But the company posted a loss ratio of 77% in the third quarter, roughly 7 percentage points above the industry average. On the bright side, that was primarily due to growth in less-mature lines of business, like homeowners and pet insurance. And in both those segments, management noted that the loss ratio is trending downward.
Moreover, Lemonade reached 1.4 million customers in the third quarter, up 45%. And the premium per customer rose 26% to $254. That compounding effect boosted gross profit by 60% to $11.7 million. Even so, Lemonade is still burning money. It generated negative free cash flow of $102 million through the first nine months of the year.
However, its digital-first business model is clearly resonating with consumers, and the recent launch of Lemonade Car (auto insurance) should only reinforce that trend. It also adds $300 billion to the company’s addressable market in the U.S. alone. And given Lemonade’s potential to disrupt a massive industry, I’m not surprised to see Fink buying shares for BlackRock’s portfolio.
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Stock Advisor launched in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/15/2021.
Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.
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