Not too long ago, Disney (NYSE:DIS) dropped a bombshell, which effectively boosted the narrative of the best gig economy stocks to buy. According to a CNBC report, Disney’s reappointed CEO Bob Iger requested that in March, hybrid employees will be expected to come into the office for four days of the week. Later, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) made an announcement that its corporate workers must also come into the office three days a week.
Frankly, this development reeked of inevitability. While worker bees claimed that they were more productive at home than in the office, the big bosses can see through the BS. It’s akin to men self-reporting their height or women their weight: these are not credible statistics. With companies no longer playing ball, investors should consider the best gig economy stocks to buy.
Let’s also be real about another reality: most teleworkers prefer working from home (probably because many are not really working). In the subsequent conflict between workers and management, the latter will almost always win. Therefore, it’s time to get cynical and consider the below best gig economy stocks to buy.
Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL)
Branching out on your own as a freelancer can be tough. It might even be tougher to quit your job because the company asked for a return to normal policy; you know, the original contract to which job applicant and employer agreed to prior to the coronavirus. Whatever the circumstances, gig workers (i.e. independent contractors) will find Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) and its ecosystem absolutely critical.
It’s not just that Google dominates the search engine market and by logical deduction, the Internet. Don’t get me wrong – that’s a massive part of the narrative. Whether as a worker bee looking for greener pastures or a gig worker seeking new contracts, Alphabet is indispensable. However, it’s also that many companies that “contract out” work needs freelancers to utilize Google’s business architecture for content-sharing purposes.
As well, Google’s ownership of YouTube and its AdSense protocol enables practically anyone to monetize their independent content. While Alphabet isn’t directly one of the best gig economy stocks to buy, its overriding relevance makes it worth consideration.
A suitable investment in arguably most circumstances, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) rates very well as one of the best gig economy stocks to buy. Fundamentally, that’s because Microsoft owns the business ecosystem. Sure, we can talk about Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) dominating the mobile consumer market with its i-Whatever products. But for business purposes, Microsoft stands alone.
When you consider the global desktop operating system segment, Microsoft Windows dominates with over 75% market share. Until this equation changes in favor of other operating systems, the logical deduction rings clear: as a freelancer, you must be fluent with Microsoft’s ecosystem or risk getting passed over. It’s not that you can’t use Apple but you must know Microsoft.
Fundamentally, this should bolster Microsoft’s pivot toward Software as a Service (SaaS). Frankly, it’s just easier for freelancers to have access to business applications such as Word and Excel. Again, you can use competing platforms. However, Microsoft has been doing business suite software for a long time. It’s not going to lose dominance easily, thus making MSFT one of the best gig economy stocks to buy.
At first glance, software specialist Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) doesn’t appear to justify inclusion among the best gig economy stocks to buy. In the trailing year, for instance, ADBE gave up nearly 33% of equity value. And if we’re being blunt, Adobe’s products seem to be limited in nature. For instance, it’s perhaps best known for Photoshop, which is not necessarily a universal business program.
Not to justify ADBE with a whataboutism but the ticker isn’t the only one with a poor trailing-one-year performance. Both Alphabet and Microsoft above suffer from double-digit losses in the mentioned period. However, Adobe’s fundamental relevance could make ADBE a relative discount, which leads to my second point. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic changed the workplace environment, some sources recognized the potential for creatives finding opportunities in the gig economy. Even with advertising spending down in 2022 amid budget tightening, freelancers can undercut the enterprise-level competition. And it would be match made in heaven. Therefore, ADBE deserves consideration for best gig economy stocks to buy.
H&R Block (HRB)
Among the best gig economy stocks to buy, tax-preparation service provider H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) is a clear-cut chart winner. In the trailing year, HRB shares dramatically bounced higher to the tune of over 70%. This performance beats out so many other major enterprises. Of course, an inherent risk exists in chasing after strong players, particularly in this market.
I understand the hesitation. Still, if you’re a prospective investor, think of it this way. In the trailing half-year period, HRB only gained a bit over 1%. Since Aug. 18 through the close of Jan. 13, HRB fell nearly 22%. However, the underlying fundamentals drives confidence that HRB really does rank among the best gig economy stocks to buy. Let’s face facts. If you file a standard W-2 form, in arguably most cases, several tax-filing companies offer free filing services. Why free? Because it’s flippin’ easy to do.
However, when newly minted gig workers file their 1099 forms, then things suddenly stop being free. Taxes for gig workers feature greater complexities. H&R Block can help, thus bolstering HRB stock.
Admittedly, bringing up Uber (NYSE:UBER) as one of the best gig economy stocks to buy presents a tricky conundrum. Effectively, Uber pioneered the ride-sharing concept, disrupting the traditional taxi business in the process. And disruption represents one of the characteristics of the gig economy. However, Uber also attracted much controversy, particularly regarding the employee-versus-independent-contractor debate.
Further, debates erupted recently about drivers demanding higher wages amid rising costs for everyone. Fundamentally, Uber faces a messy situation. At the same time, the company still offers opportunities for those that want to make extra cash. As well, with the ride-sharing specialist expanding its Uber Eats food-delivery service over the years, it’s well-positioned to become a utilitarian service provider rising beyond the transportation component.
Naturally, questions will come up regarding Uber’s financial profile which honestly stinks as of now. However, because of the relevancies and Uber’s brand dominance, the fiscal viability may eventually arrive.
Rover (NASDAQ:ROVR) may not be for everyone. In the trailing year, ROVR dropped 42% of equity value. Per data from Google Finance, ROVR’s lifetime return is over 65% below parity. Clearly, the underlying enterprise needs time for its business narrative to blossom. However, that time could come soon.
Here’s the first part of the equation. Americans love their pets. So much so, in fact, that the American Pet Products Association revealed that in 2021, the pet industry rang up total revenue of $123.6 billion, a banner year. Therefore, Rover, which connects dog owners with pet-service providers, plies its trade in a very relevant market. The other factor benefitting ROVR stock is the aforementioned return-to-the-office policies that companies now demand. Suddenly, the work-from-home types can no longer care for their furry friends themselves. Therefore, Rover may enjoy a significant demand spike, making it one of the best gig economy stocks to buy.
Although Upwork (NASDAQ:UPWK) represents one of the direct plays among the best gig economy stocks to buy, it’s also one of the riskiest. In the trailing year, UPWK dropped over 52% of equity value. In terms of its lifetime performance, UPWK is down 40%. Still, it’s definitely on a recovery path. For the year so far, shares gained a remarkable 17%.
An online marketplace connecting freelancers with entities seeking workers for generally short-term projects, Upwork should gain more support as people encounter a choice: either go back to the office like many companies demand or take a stab at the gig economy. While Upwork carries both technical and financial risks, Wall Street analysts really love UPWK. Currently, among a total of nine experts, eight of them rate UPWK a buy. The outlier rates it a hold, making for a consensus strong buy view. As well, the average $19.44 price target implies over 54% upside potential from the time of writing.
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.