3 ASX shares with fortress like fundamentals

With over 2,000 stocks on the ASX, it can be daunting to try and narrow the list down to a selection of stocks that you would buy at the right price.

However, one of the best strategies to identify winners is to find those businesses that have a part of their business model that is difficult or impossible for a competitor to replicate.

Here are three ASX-listed stocks with great fundamental business advantages.

It’s likely that you are already familiar with the premier property portal of REA Group Limited (ASX: REA), You are also likely to know about its major competitor, What you may not know is that REA is light years ahead.

The two key metrics for online portal success are people viewing the site, and how long they stay. In the first of these measures, REA Group’s website beats Domain, with browser numbers greater for REA. Crucically, however, REA Group browsers stay on the website for far longer than Domain users.

REA Group has added future upside with investments in online property portals across the world, including in the number two website in the United States and the leading network of property portals in south-east Asia thanks to its takeover of the fast-growing iProperty Group.

Trade Me Group Ltd (ASX: TME) is a relative unknown in Australia, however, in its native New Zealand, it is a household name. Trade Me, like many great internet businesses, began life in the garage of its founder.

After beginning life as an online auction website, the portal has become a rough approximation of what Gumtree is in Australia, with an online jobs website, car, and property websites thrown in. There are also complementary online businesses in peer-to-peer lending and online dating.

In short, there is almost zero chance that another company could achieve the scale and breadth of the Trade Me online offering in New Zealand. There is proof of this, with the Kiwi upstart seeing off the threat of global giant, eBay, when it attempted to stake its claim to e-commerce in the country.

The drawbacks for investing in the company are that it is unlikely to be able to expand meaningfully beyond New Zealand, coupled with the fact that it is highly leveraged to the economy of its home market.

Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) is stock that has a slightly more contentious competitive advantage. Those in favour of the Flight Centre model argue that the large physical store footprint is a strength, while those against feel that online travel agents are likely to take an increasing share of the travel booking market.

This divergence of opinion can be seen in the stock price, with the company prone to large swings. While it is true that booking domestic travel with single destinations is now a very simple process online, the same cannot be said of multi-stage international bookings.

With these more complex trips, many travellers prefer to have someone else managing the multiple bookings, reservations and itinerary changes on their behalf. In this sense, travellers are not paying as much for the booking service as the “concierge” style service that Flight Centre can offer through its vast network of travel agents.

Flight Centre also has an underappreciated presence in corporate travel booking, tour operation and equity investments in travel related businesses.

Flight Centre has, and will continue to have, the largest network of travel agents and stores in the country, which is not a position that any other company will be able to replicate in the near future.

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Motley Fool contributor Ry Padarath owns shares of Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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