Nasdaq sell-off: 2 growth stocks billionaires were buying in Q1

These hedge fund managers were buying stocks even as the market was falling.

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This article was originally published on All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

TheĀ Nasdaq Composite fell 9% in the first quarter, as many investors weighed concerns about the strength of the economy. Even so, a wave of Form 13-Fs recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission suggests that some asset managers remain bullish on growth stocks.

In the first quarter, billionaire Chase Coleman of Tiger Global Management added over a million shares of CrowdStrike Holdings (NASDAQ: CRWD) to his hedge fund, making it the third-largest position in the portfolio. Likewise, billionaire James Simons of Renaissance Technologies doubled down on Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), and the stock now ranks as the second-largest holding in his hedge fund.

Clearly, these professional money managers see something they like in both companies. But let's take a closer look before you add them to your own portfolio. Here's what you should know.

1. CrowdStrike Holdings

CrowdStrike is the gold standard in endpoint and cloud workload security. Its cloud-native architecture is the foundation of that success, as it allows the company to crowdsource tremendous amounts of data from the devices on its network. In fact, its Falcon platform captures trillions of security signals each week, and it leans on artificial intelligence (AI) to surface insights and prevent cyberattacks.

That forms a powerful network effect. Each new data point makes CrowdStrike's AI models a little better at identifying malicious activity, meaning each new customer creates incremental value for all existing customers and vice versa. To add, CrowdStrike has further differentiated itself with a broad suite of software beyond endpoint and cloud workload security, including solutions for identity protection, threat intelligence, and managed services.

Financially, CrowdStrike is firing on all cylinders. Its customer base jumped 65% to 16,325 in the past year, and the average customer spent 24%Ā more, evidencing the successful execution of its land-and-expand growth strategy. In turn, revenue climbed 66% to $1.4 billion and free cash flow jumped 51% to $442 million.

Looking ahead, CrowdStrike is well-positioned to maintain that momentum. The company puts its market opportunity at $67 billion by 2024, and its capacity for innovation should keep it on the cutting edge of cybersecurity. For example, CrowdStrike recently debuted the industry's first fully managed identity threat protectionĀ service. That means organizations that lack the time or talent to handle their own security can outsource it to CrowdStrike. And adding identity protection to that service is especially significant because 80% of cyberattacks start with compromised credentials.

In summary, CrowdStrike has a strong presence in a critical industry, and its market opportunity should only get bigger as digital transformation creates more attack surfaces for hackers. With that in mind, Coleman's decision to add shares to his hedge fund makes a lot of sense. More importantly, with the stock price down 50% from its high, now is a great time to buy a few shares for your own portfolio.

2. Tesla

In the first quarter, Tesla once again ranked as the leading electric vehicle (EV) brand, capturing a 15.5%Ā market share. The company also continued to take share in total car sales across its three core geographies: China, Europe, and the US. But the real story was Tesla's operating margin.

In the first quarter, revenue rose 81% to $18.8 billion, but GAAP earnings surged 633% to $2.68 per diluted share. What drove that accelerated growth on the bottom line? Tesla posted an industry-leading operatingĀ margin of 19.2%, fueled by increased production, pricing power, and initiatives like single-piece casting. That figure is likely to drop in the near term as production scales at the new factories in Berlin and Texas, but that uptick in capacity should make Tesla even more efficient in the long run.

Even more exciting, CEO Elon Musk announced plans for an EV robotaxi. The company aims to reach volume production by 2024, which puts Tesla one step closer to realizing its goal of launching an autonomous ride-hailing platform. On that note, Musk believes the company's full self-driving software will be safer than a human driver by the end of the year, paving the way for software to become the most important source of profitability for Tesla's car business.

Asset manager Ark Invest has a similar outlook. In a recent report, the firm says autonomous ride-hailing platforms could generate $2 trillionĀ in profits by 2030, while boosting global economic output by $26 trillion. On that note, Tesla has moreĀ real-world driving dataĀ than any rival, which arguably makes it a frontrunner in the race to build a fully autonomous car.

If you think self-driving cars sound like science fiction, what about intelligent machines? Musk believes Tesla's autonomous humanoid robot (known as Optimus) will ultimately be worth more than the car business. The company could have a prototype as early as this year, and full-scale production could start next year.

The biggest argument against Tesla is valuation. It's currently worth more than the next seven automakers combined, and the stock trades for 12.8 times sales. But if Tesla executes on its vision of robotaxis and autonomous robots, that multiple may look cheap in hindsight. Renaissance Technologies clearly believes in the company, but should you add the stock to your own portfolio? That depends on your risk tolerance. If you can handle volatility and you believe in Tesla's vision, I think it's worth buying a few shares. For what it's worth, I own the stock and I have no plans to sell.Ā 

This article was originally published on All figures quoted in US dollars unless otherwise stated.

Trevor Jennewine has positions in CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. and Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. and Tesla. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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