Most investors who want to become wealthy shouldn't be in a rush to do so. After all, the market's movements are impossible to predict, so it makes sense to construct a portfolio of stocks that wisely balances risk and reward. Doing so properly should allow you to grow your money when times are good and protect you from the downside when the next bear market rears its ugly head. Buying and holding shares of great companies, such as the three I'll describe below, is a proven way to grow your wealth over the long term.
The slow path to wealth
Investors who are after long-term growth but want downside protection might want to take a close look at CVS Health (NYSE:CVS). CVS' services are likely to be in demand no matter what is going on in the economy, which should gives its stock downside protection.
You're likely familiar with the company's retail pharmacy empire, a network of more than 9,600 stores, mostly in the U.S. With more than 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day, the demand for pharmacy services is bound to steadily increase.
However, you might not know that CVS Health also operates one of the largest pharmacy benefits management businesses in the country. This business line helps providers of healthcare benefits -- such as governments, unions, and employers -- to lower their spending on prescription drugs. For a modest fee, CVS Health uses its massive scale and deep pharmacy knowledge to negotiate favorable drug prices, and the savings are passed on to its customers. This business is in high demand right now, which is evidenced by continued double-digit revenue growth and a customer retention rate of 97.5%.
With both business segments poised for steady growth over the years ahead, CVS Health can easily use its financial might to reward shareholders. The company has a nice history of buying back shares and steadily growing its dividend.
CVS Health's stock is unlikely to double anytime soon, but if you're after steady growth and a shareholder-friendly management team, CVS Health is a great choice.
A little more upside, a bit more risk
Investors who are after a stock with more upside potential and are willing to accept a bit more risk might want to consider looking at American Tower (NYSE:AMT).
American Tower is organized as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, and the company specializes in owning and operating cellular towers. American Tower builds or buys cellular towers around the world and then makes money by leasing out space on the towers to local wireless carriers. Wireless providers are happy to sign on as customers since leasing space saves them the headache and expense of finding and operating their own towers.
The massive global growth in smartphone sales has been a boon to American Tower's business. Wireless providers have scrambled to keep up with consumer demand for coverage and data, which drives demand for tower space. Since American Tower isn't competing for wireless customers directly, it's agnostic about which carriers uses which towers, giving it the advantage of being able to lease out space to multiple carriers on the same towers at the same time. That fact allowed the company to drive strong revenue and profit growth over the past decade.
Looking ahead, American Tower looks well positioned for continuing double-digit growth for years to come. With shares currently yielding 1.76% and only trading for about 21 times full-year adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) estimates -- the REIT equivalent of earnings -- this is a great stock for growth focused investors to consider owning.
A high-risk stock with strong appreciation potential
The final company on our list today is the spiciest of the bunch, but I think it offers the greatest shot at near-term upside potential.
Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACAD) recently launched its first drug for sale after winning Food and Drug Administration approval earlier this year. The drug is called Nuplazid and it was approved to treat Parkinson's disease psychosis, or PDP, a disease that causes delusions and hallucinations. Roughly 40% of the 1 million patients in the U.S. with Parkinson's suffer from PDP, and prior to Nuplazid's approval, there were no FDA-approved drugs on the market for this indication.
That sets the stage for strong growth if Nuplazid gains support from the medical community. In clinical trials, Nuplazid was effective at alleviating the symptoms of PDP. In addition, patients who used the drug did not have their motor control compromised, which is a common side effect of antipsychotics.
Acadia knows it's in a great position with Nuplazid and has priced the drug accordingly. With an annual wholesale price of $23,400 and no competition in sight, it's not hard to imagine the drug becoming a blockbuster. The numbers will get even more attractive if Nuplazid wins approval in international markets or expands into other indications like Alzheimer's disease psychosis or schizophrenia.
All in all, the growth ahead of Acadia could be extreme if Nuplazid can live up to its full potential. Commercial success is never guaranteed and the risks here are certainly high, but if you're looking for a stock that could appreciate rapidly from today's prices, Acadia is a great choice.