Although gainful employment may seemingly represent a source of gratitude during a season of layoffs, that might not be the case right now, thus cynically bolstering the narrative for specific stocks to buy. According to a late-Jan. 2023 report by Chicago-based staffing firm LaSalle Network, its survey found that 85% of U.S. workers may consider leaving their jobs in the next six months.
If so, that would likely impose a radical paradigm shift in the labor force. To be clear, it’s not that 85% of workers already have their foot out the door. However, the magnitude of dissatisfaction should startle onlookers. For instance, the survey found that “39% of managers are dissatisfied with their roles, compared to only 29% of staff-level employees.” Therefore, a possible quitting en masse could cut a diverse range of career trajectories.
Again, it’s unlikely that so many workers would just up and quit, particularly during a rough economic cycle. Nevertheless, investors should prepare for some discontent materializing in the form of resignation letters. Below are the stocks to buy to bank on this trend.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) fits in well with practically any subject. And so it is with rising discontent in the workplace. Should people leave their current jobs, it’s likely more than a few will try their luck with the gig economy. And why not?
With Industry Research analysts pegging the segment to command a valuation of $873 billion by 2027, in some ways, it’s better to start early. The dirty secret about gig work is that it’s a competitive field. Further, enterprises have a good idea with whom they wish to collaborate. Thus, it’s probably better to get a foot in the door and establish a strong reputation early.
Should this framework materialize, Microsoft practically enjoys a natural monopoly with its Software as a Service. No matter how many times other competitors enter the field, Microsoft utterly dominates office applications like Word or Excel. Don’t expect this to change anytime soon. Further, Wall Street digs MSFT, pegging it a strong buy. Thus, I wouldn’t fight the tape – it’s one of the stocks to buy.
An indirect player in the gig economy, PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) nevertheless strikes an incredibly relevant tone. Primarily a digital payments processor, the underlying platform provides a convenient and intuitive business app for independent professionals. From receiving payment for goods or services delivered to its automated record-keeping system, PayPal is a blessing for gig workers.
To be fair, the competition presents a concern, particularly in the broader financial technology ecosystem. Nevertheless, PayPal brings much trust to the table, having been created in December 1998. Significantly, it’s not some fly-by-night operation, which gives confidence to those that are just starting out on the road to business independence.
According to Gurufocus.com, PYPL rates as significantly undervalued based on its proprietary calculations for fair market value. On an objective basis, PayPal enjoys strong growth metrics, especially revenue growth of 16.7% in the past three years. This ranks better than nearly 78% of the competition. As well, Wall Street analysts peg PYPL as a consensus moderate buy. As well, their average price target stands at $101.77, implying nearly 31% upside potential.
Robert Half (RHI)
With more than a few workers expressing discontent, the case for Robert Half (NYSE:RHI) suddenly looks quite intriguing. Now, let me first acknowledge that RHI does carry risks regarding stocks to buy on shifting work paradigms. After all, RHI stumbled more than 32% during the trailing year. And for the fourth quarter of 2022, Robert Half’s revenue tally of $1.73 billion fell 2.4% on a year-over-year basis.
However, not everyone who’s discontent in the office will join the gig economy. From personal experience, it’s better to have a job and inch your way into the arena. Going full bore into the gig lifestyle can create needless headaches and anxieties. Instead, the dissatisfied may simply want a change of scenery. For that, Robert Half provides an intriguing profile.
Also, the recent surge in mass layoffs may cynically favor RHI stock. Essentially, beggars can’t be choosers anymore with enterprises shaving headcount. Thus, when a reasonable opportunity – not a perfect one – comes up, more people may be inclined to take it.
Speaking of mass layoffs, it might be a good time to have a loose discussion about DoorDash (NYSE:DASH). By loose, I simply mean that the food-delivery service represents a higher-risk, higher-reward opportunity. Therefore, it’s not one of the stocks to buy with mortgage money. Rather, it’s an investment with morning coffee shop money, if that makes sense.
Fundamentally, the rise of discontent in the workplace should make DoorDash progressively more intriguing. Even without the extraordinary pressures of the pandemic, corporate burnout represented a significant dilemma. For many folks, the allure of a paycheck just isn’t enough to work the daily grind in the cubicle. Rather, they may value more their quality of time on this Earth.
Now, I’m not suggesting that DoorDash represents the holy grail of the gig economy – it’s not. However, I’ve seen far too many diverse groups of people work food-delivery jobs to recognize that at least some do it because they hate the suit-and-tie paradigm.
For full disclosure, Dash continues to post net losses, which isn’t encouraging. However, it enjoys stout stability in the balance sheet, making it an interesting idea for stocks to buy.
Given that so many managers seem dissatisfied with their jobs, many people seeking an exit from the rat race may quit corporate America altogether, instead joining the ranks of the gig economy. After all, people in middle management likely got to their position based on both experience and acumen. Therefore, they might put their skills to the test in the freelancer market, which may bode well for Upwork (NASDAQ:UPWK).
Connecting enterprises that need short-term roles filled with independent professionals that can fill them, Upwork represents a direct player in the gig economy. Coincidentally, shares have been soaring this year, just as worker dissatisfaction is apparently rising. Since the January opener, UPWK gained over 29% of its equity value.
To be fair, UPWK also presents a wildly risky profile among stocks to buy. In the past 365 days, shares fell 45%. Also, the financials leave much to be desired, particularly in the revenue growth and earnings department. Still, Wall Street loves UPWK, pegging it a consensus strong buy. Also, analysts’ average price target of $17.67 implies upside potential of nearly 27%.
Rover Group (ROVR)
For those seeking a fun, if not unorthodox platform for the gig economy, Rover Group (NASDAQ:ROVR) might fit the bill. Similar to Upwork above, Rover represents a direct player among stocks to buy for the gig economy. But rather than connecting businesses with independent professionals, Rover connects pet (dog) owners with pet service providers. These services may include dog-walking sessions or boarding.
Fundamentally, Rover checks so many boxes. For one thing, several managers and rank-and-file worker bees report job dissatisfaction. Part of that stems from working with silly humans and their drama. Dogs? They’re four-legged manifestations of unconditional love.
In terms of demand, the narrative for Rover should only accelerate from here on out. True, the pandemic forced many people indoors, allowing them to care for their pets. But guess what? Some of the biggest enterprises have quashed remote operations. And that means people will now have to find some means to care for their pets while they’re away nine to five. To be fair, it’s a risky narrative because of the yet-to-be-proven financials. Still, it’s such a great narrative that it might be worth a speculative bet.
Before discussing ShiftPixy (NASDAQ:PIXY), the narrative requires a caveat or five. Primarily, it’s an extremely risky “investment,” so much so that I hesitated to include it on this list of “stocks to buy.” During the trailing year, PIXY suffered a devastating blow, hemorrhaging 92% of its equity value. It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that companies don’t lose that much value without a reason.
So, why bother mentioning ShiftPixy at all? Fundamentally, I go back to the narrative. The company specializes in a next-generation human resources platform that connects employers and employees. Further, the platform has significant implications for the gig economy in reducing the impact of worker turnover. Essentially, ShiftPixy keeps enterprises’ schedules stacked with a live, on-demand workforce.
With several people questioning the nature of work in the post-pandemic paradigm, a reliable schedule has never been more important for companies. Therefore, PIXY could rise above the muck, despite earlier troubles.
However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore the risks so only wager with money you can afford to lose.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (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.