Stocks to buy

Last year was a rough one for growth stocks, as investors shied away from risk in the face of rising interest rates. But in 2023, investors are once again on the hunt for companies with above-average growth rates.

This is evidenced by the performance of the Vanguard Growth Index Fund (NYSEARCA:VUG) versus that of the Vanguard Value Index Fund (NYSEARCA:VTV). Year to date, VUG has gained more than 15% while VTV is up less than 1%. For comparison, the S&P 500 is up around 7% so far in 2023. 

With many expecting the Federal Reserve to slow or stop hiking rates soon, growth stocks could continue to run. And given how far many of them fell last year, there are opportunities for potential returns of 100% or higher in some cases. 

Below are three growth stocks that could deliver outsized gains over the next 12 to 18 months.

LAC Lithium Americas $19.74
DNA Ginkgo Bioworks $1.34
PSNY Polestar Automotive $3.84

Lithium Americas (LAC)

Source: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com

Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC) is a growth stock that is integral to the development of the U.S. electric vehicle (EV) industry. The industry is subject to intense geopolitical factors that necessitate domestic supply chain dominance for global players. In other words, the countries that desire to dominate the EV industry must secure their respective supply chain inputs. Domestic supply, then, is king. This bodes extremely well for Lithium Americas, which holds rights to Thacker Pass in Nevada, the second-largest lithium mine in the world.

Investors have seen the runup in price of other lithium stocks in 2022, with names like Albemarle (NYSE:ALB) providing strong returns. LAC, on the other hand, is down 36.5% over the past 12 months. However, patient investors could be handsomely rewarded. 

Construction at the Thacker Pass mine site commenced in early March. The company is expected to produce 40,000 tons of battery-grade lithium a year beginning in the second half of 2026 and work its way up to 80,000 tons a year.

The 15 analysts who track the stock all rate it a “buy” with an average price target of $36.76. That implies upside of 86% from current levels over the next 12 months. And once production begins flowing from its Thacker Pass mine, LAC could go much, much higher.

Ginkgo Bioworks (DNA)

Source: T. Schneider / Shutterstock.com

Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE:DNA) is working to develop a platform to “program cells to make everything from food to materials to therapeutics.” Industries it serves include agriculture, biopharmaceuticals (therapeutics and vaccines), industrials, and nutrition and wellness. Additionally, its biosecurity and public health unit seeks to help governments and public health officials “prevent, detect and respond to a wide variety of biological threats.”

While the company is not yet profitable, revenue shot up 52% in 2022 to $478 million. The number of programs added to Ginkgo Bioworks’ cell programming platform last year increased by 90%, with 59 new programs. This was on the high side of management’s guidance.

Analysts are forecasting revenue will fall 36% this year as Covid-19 opportunities dwindle. However, the company’s losses are projected to continue to shrink, and revenue growth is expected to pick back up next year, rising nearly 43%.

Of the eight analysts who cover the stock, five rate it a “buy” or “overweight,” with two “holds” and one “underweight” rating. Their average price target of $4.68 is nearly 250% above where the stock currently trades.

Polestar Automotive (PSNY)

Source: Robert Way / Shutterstock.com

Polestar Automotive (NASDAQ:PSNY) is an EV startup that is essentially an offshoot of Volvo (OTCMKTS: VLVLY). There’s a lot to be said for that and how it relates to the company’s ability to maneuver in the evolving EV industry. 

Polestar has an advantage in that it’s basically a legacy brand manufacturer entering into the EV space but untethered from the fossil fuel manufacturer from which it came. For instance, people may be more trusting of the Polestar brand due to its Volvo connection than they are of, say, relative newcomer Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN). That’s a big benefit. And while a brand like Ford (NYSE:F) has plenty of brand recognition, it is tied to a legacy automotive business. Polestar, on the other hand, offers the high growth potential of an EV stock while benefiting from the recognizability of its vehicles.

Polestar delivered 51,491 vehicles in 2022, up 80%. For comparison, Rivian delivered just over 20,000 and Ford sold more than 61,000 EVs. Polestar’s strong deliveries should allow the company to raise capital in 2023 as it seeks continued growth while attempting to stem losses. 

While just two analysts cover the stock, and both rate it a “hold,” their average price target of $7 implies upside of 82% over the next 12 months.

On the date of publication, Alex Sirois did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Alex Sirois is a freelance contributor to InvestorPlace whose personal stock investing style is focused on long-term, buy-and-hold, wealth-building stock picks.Having worked in several industries from e-commerce to translation to education and utilizing his MBA from George Washington University, he brings a diverse set of skills through which he filters his writing.

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