Stocks to buy

The S&P 500 index currently trades at 4,300. Based on estimates, the index is likely to trade at 4,500 by the end of 2024. Clearly, the markets will continue to face macroeconomic challenges and this will keep the index subdued. However, the index remaining sideways does not imply that there will be no multibagger return opportunities in the next 18 months. There are attractive growth stocks with 100% return potential during this time horizon.

It’s worth noting that the S&P 500 index has trended higher by 13% for year-to-date 2023. During this period, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) stocks have surged by 137% and 194% respectively. This underscores my view on individual stocks massively outperforming the index.

This column focuses on three relatively smaller names that are poised to double from current levels. This is a conservative view and returns can be potentially higher. Let’s discuss the catalysts for an impending rally.

Riot Platforms (RIOT)

Source: Venomous Vector/Shutterstock

For the year, Bitcoin (BTC-USD) has surged by 81%. I would not be surprised if there is a rally of 50% to 100% from current levels by the end of 2024. A major catalyst being Bitcoin halving that’s due in the coming year.

Riot Platforms (NASDAQ:RIOT) stock is an attractive name to consider with 100% return potential. RIOT stock has witnessed a big rally of 244% for the year, but remains undervalued considering the growth outlook.

Talking about fundamentals, Riot reported zero debt and a cash buffer of $188 million as of Q1 2023. Additionally, the company has digital assets worth $202 million in its balance sheet. Therefore, financial flexibility is high for aggressive expansion of mining capacity.

The company has already boosted its capacity to 10.5EH/s as of Q1. On a year-on-year basis, capacity has expanded by 144%. Once realized Bitcoin price increases, Riot is positioned for significant margin expansion.

It’s worth noting that the company is a low-cost Bitcoin miner. For Q1, the company reported mining gross margin of 58%. The cash flow visibility for the coming quarters is robust and RIOT stock is positioned to surge higher.

Leonardo DRS (DRS)

Source: anttoniart / Shutterstock

There seems to be no dearth of news or events on the geopolitical front. This has translated into sustained growth in global defense spending. Among emerging stocks in the defense sector, Leonardo DRS (NASDAQ:DRS) is worth considering. It’s among the top stocks with 100% return potential in the next 18 months.

As an overview, Leonardo DRS is a provider of defense products and technologies. This includes advanced sensing, network computing, force protection, and electric power & propulsion. Last year, the company reported revenue of $2.75 billion and EBITDA of $323 million.

It’s worth noting that as of Q1 2023, Leonardo reported an order backlog of $4.3 billion. This provides clear revenue visibility. Further, with a net leverage ratio of 1.5, the company has financial flexibility to invest in product development.

Another point to note is that Leonardo DRS was formed after the merger of Rada Electronic and Leonardo. The company continues to pursue potential merger and acquisition opportunities to accelerate growth.

Li Auto (LI)

Source: Anna Kraynova / Shutterstock

Li Auto (NASDAQ:LI) is another attractive name among stocks with 100% return potential by 2024. It’s worth noting that LI stock has surged by 58% for year-to-date 2023. However, the stock is lower by 15% on a 12 month return basis. The rally from deeply oversold levels is likely to sustain on the back of strong financial performance.

For May, Li Auto reported vehicle delivery of 28,277. On a year-on-year basis, deliveries surged by 146%. The strong growth has been backed by the launch of multiple new models coupled with aggressive retail expansion.

From a financial perspective, there are two important points to note. First, Li Auto reported vehicle margin of 19.8% for Q1 2023. Amidst competition and inflation, margins remain robust. Further, the company reported free cash flow of $975.9 million for the quarter. Robust cash flows will have a positive impact on valuations.

Additionally, Li Auto ended Q1 with cash and equivalents of $9.46 billion. The company has ample flexibility for investing in new car development, innovation, and retail presence expansion. International expansion is an impending catalyst for LI stock.

On the date of publication, Faisal Humayun did not hold (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.

Faisal Humayun is a senior research analyst with 12 years of industry experience in the field of credit research, equity research and financial modeling. Faisal has authored over 1,500 stock specific articles with focus on the technology, energy and commodities sector.

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