The stock market is currently on the roughest losing streak since the start of the pandemic in 2020. The broad S&P 500 index is down 19% from its all-time high, putting it within a whisker of bear market territory. But the tech-centric Nasdaq-100 index is already there, with a loss of 28.3% since November 2021.
While the investment picture might be nerve-wracking for many investors, history suggests down markets always eventually recover, so this might actually be a great time to put some money to work. Here’s one fast-growing stock leveraging advanced technology, and it’s worth considering because it’s trading at an 88.9% discount to its all-time high, despite the company being highly profitable.
Upstart is transforming the lending business
For several decades now, Fair Isaac‘s (FICO 4.41%) FICO credit scoring system has been the standard for determining consumer creditworthiness. It considers five key factors, including an individual’s repayment history, current debt levels, and the types of loans currently held.
But Upstart Holdings (UPST -13.34%) says those metrics don’t provide the full picture of a person’s ability to repay a loan. The company has built an artificial intelligence algorithm that measures 1,600 data points, including where a potential borrower currently works and his or her education, to generate a more accurate credit score. The algorithm also arrives at a decision instantly 74% of the time, which can save days or weeks of an employee manually generating a credit assessment.
That’s a big win for banks, one of which has ditched FICO scores altogether in favor of this new-age technology. That raises an important point: Upstart’s goal isn’t to write loans itself but rather originate them for its bank partners in exchange for a fee. Typically, this means Upstart holds little to no credit risk, although it recently deviated from this strategy temporarily, which is one reason its stock has fallen so steeply.
The company has been conducting research and development for its new automotive lending segment, and it had used $252 million of its own cash by the end of 2021 to make loans to borrowers. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, that figure soared to $597 million as the company struggled to sell the loans to its partners amid difficult credit conditions.
Upstart’s management says it expects this situation will be temporary, and since Upstart originations topped $4.5 billion in the quarter, the $345 million in additional credit risk it absorbed in Q1 represents just 7% of all the loans its algorithm originated.
Upstart’s growth is soaring
Upstart has come a long way from its humble beginnings originating unsecured personal loans, which is a $112 billion annual market opportunity. The company’s 2021 entry into the far more lucrative automotive loan segment opens an addressable market that’s approximately six times larger.
The key to originating the maximum volume of automotive loans is to meet potential borrowers where they make their purchases — inside car dealerships. To accelerate its progress, Upstart acquired car dealer sales software company Prodigy. It has integrated its algorithm into that platform to create what is now called Upstart Auto Retail, a two-in-one sales and lending software that has been adopted by
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