I think that the single most important factor in choosing a stock is it’s growth rate. There are, of course, other important factors but I will argue that the revenue growth rate is the most important. I think people can get caught up in valuation which can lead them to sell a stock because it’s too expensive. I think that we should look more at the growth rate as the primary decision driver. Looking back or looking only one year ahead can also lead us astray. It does not give us a sense for the importance of growth.

**TOTAL REVENUE GIVEN A CONSTANT GROWTH RATE**

```
growth Year 0 Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
40% 100 140 196 274 384 538
50% 100 150 225 338 506 759
60% 100 160 256 410 655 1049
70% 100 170 289 491 835 1420
80% 100 180 324 583 1050 1890
100% 100 200 400 800 1600 3200
120% 100 220 484 1065 2343 5154
```

The above table can give a better sense for how much more valuable a higher growth rate is. A 40% growth rate compounded after 5 years gives almost a 440% gain after 5 years. If you double the growth rate to 80% then you get almost an 1800% gain after 5 years. If you triple the growth rate to 120% then you get more than a 5000% gain. So after 5 years doubling growth is more than 4x better and tripling growth is more than 12x better.

Now let’s consider how much EV/S would be reduced with the passing of each year and considering each of the growth rates:

**REDUCTION OF EV/S AS A PERCENTAGE OF YEAR 0**

```
growth Year 0 Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
40% 0% 29% 49% 64% 74% 81%
50% 0% 33% 56% 70% 80% 87%
60% 0% 38% 61% 76% 85% 90%
70% 0% 41% 65% 80% 88% 93%
80% 0% 44% 69% 83% 90% 95%
100% 0% 50% 75% 88% 94% 97%
120% 0% 55% 79% 91% 96% 98%
```

When a company is growing at 100% then the EV/S comes down very fast. Take ZM as an example. We’ve heard a lot of people saying that the EV/S was just too high. It’s intolerable at 70x or 80x. Consider 2 years of growth at 100% and you will see an 80x EV/S drop to 20x. Rather than looking at the 80x and ruling the company out, one might be better served by asking “for how long can ZM’s 100% growth be maintained?”. If the answer is 2 years or longer then buy at 70-80x EV/S may still look like a bargain. It ZM could manage 100% growth for a third year then its EV/S drops from 80x to less than 10x.

Yes, there are many other things to consider in investing decisions: gross margin, operating margin going in the right direction, stock dilution, etc. But I think that the single most important factor with our SaaS companies is be the revenue growth rate and the duration of that growth rate. Think about why or why not will the growth slow.

Chris