August has been a volatile month for the stock market. Corporate earnings, a rise in bond yields, and a deepening economic correction in China have conspired to send all three major U.S. indices down about 3% over the past month. Amid the downturn, there are still some clear winners among the top growth stocks to buy, and clear losers among the top growth stocks to sell.
With the market rally taking a breather, now is an opportune time for investors to review their portfolios and make tweaks and adjustments to ensure that they maximize their growth potential. With that in mind, dump these four growth stocks, and consider buying the ones that follow.
Growth Stocks to Sell: Foot Locker (FL)
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On the day of this writing, shares of Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) are down 30% after the retailer suspended its quarterly dividend and announced disappointing second-quarter financial results. Specifically, Foot Locker announced earnings per share of four cents, which matched analysts’ forecasts. Revenue in Q2 came in at $1.86 billion compared to $1.88 billion that was expected. The Q2 revenue was down 10% from $2.07 billion a year earlier. FL stock is now down 56% on the year.
Foot Locker also lowered its outlook for the second time this year, saying consumers are not spending as much. The company now expects sales to decline 8% to 9% for all of this year, compared to a previous forecast of down 6.5% to 8%. Full-year earnings guidance was cut to $1.30 to $1.50 per share, down from $2 to $2.25 previously. Worse, Foot Locker suspended its quarterly dividend of 40 cents a share, making this a growth stock to now sell.
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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s (NYSE:BABA) Q2 print wasn’t the disaster that Foot Locker experienced. Instead, Alibaba managed to beat Wall Street forecasts for its Q2 financial results, announcing that its revenue grew by 14% year-over-year to 234.16 billion Chinese yuan ($32.29 billion U.S.). Analysts expected 224.92 billion yuan. Net income came in at 34.33 billion Chinese yuan, which was better than the 28.66 billion yuan that was forecast — an increase of 51% from a year earlier.
Despite the Q2 earnings beat, BABA slid 6% lower over the last month and is down nearly 50% over the past five years, making this chronic under-performer a growth stock to sell. The main problem currently facing Alibaba is the slowing Chinese economy. Plus, Alibaba is undergoing some big changes with a CEO shuffle and plans to split into six separate business units.
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Coffee chain Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) might be headquartered in Seattle, but it’s heavily exposed to the Chinese market, presenting a risk to its future sales and earnings. For Q2 of this year, Starbucks reported mixed financial results, posting EPS of $1 versus 95 cents that had been expected on Wall Street. The company’s revenue fell short of consensus forecasts at $9.17 billion compared to $9.29 billion that was anticipated. Same-store sales grew 10% in Q2, falling short of estimates for 11% growth.
Starbucks reaffirmed its 2023 outlook, forecasting revenue growth of 10% to 12%. The company raised its EPS growth estimate to 16% to 17% from the low end of 15% to 20%. The company also reported that its Q2 operating margin expanded to 17.3% from 15.9% a year ago, driven by improvements in productivity and higher prices. Moving forward, Starbucks remains vulnerable to a deteriorating Chinese economy. Should the U.S. enter a recession, it would be a double whammy for the company. SBUX stock is down 6% so far in 2023.
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Since announcing its Q2 results in early August, shares of Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB) have declined 16%. While travel is rebounding, Airbnb is seeing slumping demand among consumers. Many of whom continue to struggle with inflation. Airbnb reported EPS of 98 cents compared to 78 cents expected on Wall Street. Revenue in Q2 totaled $2.48 billion versus $2.42 billion which was forecast by analysts.
Despite the earnings beat, Airbnb’s stock fell 6% immediately after the Q2 print. Not helping, the company also reported 115.1 million nights and experiences booked during Q2, which was less than the 117.6 million forecast. Gross booking value per night came in at $166.01, up only 1% from a year earlier. In terms of forward guidance, Airbnb said it expects $3.3 billion to $3.4 billion in current third-quarter revenue or 14% to 18% growth. Analysts were looking for $3.22 billion in Q3 sales.
Growth Stocks to Buy: Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
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One of the top growth stocks to buy is Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW), which jumped 15% higher after the company issued financial results that exceeded Wall Street forecasts. In its latest quarter, it posted EPS of $1.44, as compared to expectations for $1.28. Revenue in the quarter ended July 31 increased 26% from a year ago to $1.95 billion compared to $1.96 billion that was anticipated.
While investors anticipated a negative report, Palo Alto Networks allayed those concerns with its strong Q2 print and forward guidance. , Palo Alto Networks also forecast revenue of $1.82 billion to $1.85 billion for the current quarter, as well as full-year sales of $8.15 billion to $8.20 billion. PANW stock has rallied 70% this year.
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Another one of the top growth stocks to buy is Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). The company proved to be one of the big winners of Q2 earnings season, with results that crushed Wall Street estimates. Notably, Amazon’s EPS of 65 cents was 85% higher than the 35 cents expected on Wall Street. Revenue in Q2 totaled $134.4 billion versus the $131.5 billion that was anticipated.
Amazon also beat Q2 forecasts on several key metrics, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), which earned $22.1 billion in revenue during the quarter, greater than the $21.8 billion that Wall Street expected. Advertising across Amazon’s various services and platforms totaled $10.7 billion in the period, which beat consensus forecasts of $10.4 billion. The Q2 results represented Amazon’s biggest earnings beat since the fourth quarter of 2020 and came after aggressive cost-cutting by the company. AMZN stock has gained 58% since January.
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Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) reported earnings per share of $2.69, which was better than the $2.55 anticipated. Revenue came in at $56.19 billion, as compared to expectations of $55.47 billion. Sadly though, MSFT stock sank 4% on news that the company expects fiscal first-quarter revenue of $53.8 billion to $54.8 billion, which was short of the $54.94 billion expected on Wall Street.
Despite the disappointing guidance, Microsoft continues to roll out new artificial intelligence products as it builds on its partnership with the privately held company OpenAI. That Microsoft is a clear leader in the AI space should be reason enough for investors to take a position in the stock. However, Microsoft also continues to grow its cloud computing unit, which saw its revenue grow 15% in Q2. It is in the process of finalizing its $68 billion acquisition of video game maker Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) after winning a key court case.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole held a long position in MSFT. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.