The ASX's next major growth stock

In this episode of The Pitch, Medallion Financial's Michael Wayne points to a stock with a serious turnaround story on the cards.
Ally Selby

Livewire Markets

Every few years, the attention of investors will be captured by a stock with a spectacular growth story.  

Right now, that stock is NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA- which naysayers love to hate and fans just adore in general. Locally, a few years ago - that stock was Afterpay, but we've also seen the spectacular rise of companies like CSL (ASX: CSL), Pro Medicus (ASX: PME), Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS), Altium (ASX: ALU), WiseTech Global (ASX: WTC), Aristocrat Leisure (ASX: ALL), A2 Milk (ASX: A2M) and Xero (ASX: XRO), to name a few. 

So which company will be the next ASX growth darling? 

According to Medallion Financial's Michael Wayne, investors should look to businesses with consecutive years of revenue and earnings growth, expanding margins, high return on equity and low levels of debt. 

And there's one stock, and one stock in particular, that has captured Wayne's attention for all these reasons and more. 

In this episode of The Pitch, Wayne points to a stock that has just turned EBITDA positive and is growing revenues at around 60% per annum. It's also expanding globally with a bigger headcount. To learn which business it is, watch the video or read the transcript below. 

Note: This interview was recorded on Wednesday 21 February 2024. You can watch the video or read an edited transcript below.

Edited Transcript 

Ally Selby: Hello and welcome to Livewire's newest show, the Pitch. I'm Ally Selby. And today we're on the hunt for the ASX's next big growth story. To do that, we're joined by Michael Wayne from Medallion Financial. Thank you so much for joining us today, Michael. Really excited to feature you on the show.

Michael Wayne: Yeah, glad to be here. Looking forward to it.

Ally Selby: I'd love to know, where are you finding opportunity right now?

Michael Wayne: At the moment, we're focusing heavily on the mid-cap part of the market as well as the small-cap area as well. The performance of the mid-caps and the small-caps has deviated significantly from the ASX top 50, really, in the last 18 months or so. Nevertheless, that's a part of the market that's generating significant earnings growth and compounded on an annualised basis. 

So when we look at the revenue growth profile, the earnings growth profile of the small and mid-cap part of the market, it's far more appealing and more attractive than the ASX 20. So that's an area of the market that we're focusing on at the moment. 

That said, with these things, it's unsure as to the timeline where that valuation gap closes. However, on a one to two-year basis, we see that mean reversion occurring and the value starting to play out in those areas.

Finally, the second main area that we're seeing value at the moment is low P/E companies. And by low PE companies, we still want those that are growing at a decent clip, but for whatever reason the market has them trading on a low P/E ratio. 

If we look again across the market, low P/E stocks are trading at a significant discount to the 20-year average relative to the rest of the market. So again, over time we think that that discount to the long-term average will mean revert and the value will play out for investors.
Ally Selby: Two questions off the back of that. You talked about a mean reversion or expecting a mean reversion in small and mid-caps, often that happens post-recession, which we haven't seen. Why do you believe we will definitely see that reversion? And then on the low P/E stocks, do you feel like they could be cheap for a reason right now?

Michael Wayne: Well, I think it's a symptom of the environment that we've come from. We went through a very challenging 12-18 months where there was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fears around inflation and interest rates moving higher. And off the back of that, a lot of the smaller companies and mid-cap companies, which have long duration earnings - so they're the businesses where earnings are expected to kick in a couple of years from now - they got penalised the most in that environment.

Also, it's a psychology-type of thing where people like to keep their large, what they perceive to be quality businesses and cast aside anything that might be small or illiquid or perceived to be risky. So I think there's been an overreaction to a degree on those smaller caps and some of those mid-caps as well have been cast aside even though their earnings and revenue profile looks very good.

But we also look at the larger part of the Australian market and we don't find it that compelling. The reality is the earnings growth within that part of the market has been fairly subdued for a number of years now. You look at the large banks, for instance, earnings growth has been very anaemic, and dividends per share have fallen over the last couple of years for some of the banks.

And then you look at the miners as well. The miners have had a decent run. The likes of BHP Group (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) have held up very well. But on a longer-term basis, we look at the China story and we've come to the belief that China has probably reached peak consumption in a lot of commodities such as coal and iron ore for steel. So we're just a little bit more optimistic about other parts of the market, that being the mid and small caps, and trying to unearth the next emerging leaders that will come to the fore in the years and decades to come.

Ally Selby: We've seen growth stocks soar on hopes of fed cuts later this year. What does it take for a growth stock to make it into your portfolio?

Michael Wayne: So from our standpoint, we want growth businesses where we have a good line of sight as to their earnings growth over the medium to longer term. We think it's very important that these businesses can deliver compounded earnings growth throughout the cycle, but we also have a pretty detailed filtering system. 

We look for businesses with consecutive years of revenue growth, for instance, and consecutive years of earnings growth. Ideally, we want to see businesses whose margins are expanding. We want to see companies that have a very high return on equity relative to their peers in the industry, and low levels of debt.

All of this has to not only be present within the business, but we also then have to see it being reasonably valued relative to other peers within the market, but also just fairly valued from the way that we see the growth playing out for the years to come.

So there is obviously a high hurdle because there are over 2000 companies on the market. So you've got to filter it down and try and work out which businesses can deliver that strong, consistent earnings growth year upon year throughout the economic cycle and win market share. 

Ally Selby: Okay. Let's put all that theory into practice. Which stock do you think could be the ASX's next big growth story?

Michael Wayne: So the business that we like at the moment is a company called Polynovo (ASX: PNV). Polynovo has had moments of euphoria followed by moments of despair over the last couple of years. It's still well and truly off its all-time highs reached in 2020, but the business has improved considerably. This is a company that came out of the CSIRO. 

Effectively, they've developed a product used to treat burn victims or people who are suffering from large wounds, for instance. It's a biodegradable mesh that allows the skin cells to regenerate themselves and then basically prepares the groundwork so that a skin graft can be done over the top. I know it's pretty gory stuff, but it's a very important technology.

They're really usurping the traditional forms of treatments, which often involved using animal byproducts or animal skins, like pig skins, for instance. This is a new technology. The chances of infection or something going wrong are diminished. 

The business is growing revenues in the vicinity of 60%. They're really looking to bed down the US market where they've increased their sales team by 60 odd headcount. 

So they're investing in building up the sales team to now go out and commercialise this procedure, spread the word, build the narrative if you like. But then down the track, they've got the opportunity to expand into places like India, and then also look for other alternative uses of this technology as well.

So it's a very interesting business. They have reached an inflexion point, which we like to see, where they've turned EBITDA positive after years of making losses, and revenue growth is accelerating. So when you're seeing revenue growth accelerate, it's often a very exciting story. 

So that's one that we quite like at the moment, Polynovo.

Ally Selby: Okay. Well, I really enjoyed that interview and definitely learnt something about growth stocks, if not about skin grafting. I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. If you did, why not give it a like? And remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel, we're adding so much great content just like this every single week.

Invest in tomorrow's leaders today

The Medallion Australian Equities Growth Fund provides investors with a high-conviction portfolio of top-tier ASX stocks. Blending meticulous bottom-up research with a style and sector-agnostic approach, Medallion hunts for high-quality businesses in their early stages of growth.

To learn more about the Fund, click the link here.

Or, for more insights like this, follow my profile on Livewire. 

Livewire gives readers access to information and educational content provided by financial services professionals and companies (“Livewire Contributors”). Livewire does not operate under an Australian financial services licence and relies on the exemption available under section 911A(2)(eb) of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) in respect of any advice given. Any advice on this site is general in nature and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision please consider these and any relevant Product Disclosure Statement. Livewire has commercial relationships with some Livewire Contributors.

12 stocks mentioned

1 contributor mentioned

Ally Selby
Deputy Managing Editor
Livewire Markets

Ally Selby is the deputy managing editor at Livewire Markets, joining the team at the end of 2020. She loves all things investing, financial literacy and content creation, having previously worked for the likes of Financial Standard, Pedestrian...

I would like to

Only to be used for sending genuine email enquiries to the Contributor. Livewire Markets Pty Ltd reserves its right to take any legal or other appropriate action in relation to misuse of this service.

Personal Information Collection Statement
Your personal information will be passed to the Contributor and/or its authorised service provider to assist the Contributor to contact you about your investment enquiry. They are required not to use your information for any other purpose. Our privacy policy explains how we store personal information and how you may access, correct or complain about the handling of personal information.


Sign In or Join Free to comment