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The biggest advantage that investors in their 40s have over other age groups is that time is still on their side. With retirement a few decades away, it is the perfect time for these investors to buy a portfolio of growth stocks and let the power of compounding work its magic.

With that in mind, here's a list of three growth stocks that I think are poised for rapid growth in the years ahead.

A picks-and-shovels play on biotech

I'm convinced that the biotechnology sector offers some of the best long-term growth prospects in the markets today. However, it is hard to guess which companies will go on to develop tomorrow's breakthrough drugs ahead of time, which makes investing in the sector quite risky.

One solution to this conundrum is to buy companies that are suppliers to this burgeoning industry, which is a great reason to give Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) a closer look.

Illumina is a leading provider of genetic testing equipment. Researchers have depended on this company's products for more than a decade to help them study the human genome, which has helped turned Illumina into a $27 billion giant. However, this company's next phase of growth will come from helping biopharmaceutical companies to develop next-generation drugs, which should ensure that demand for its products stays strong for years to come. 

Hires Illumina Building

Image source: Illumina.

Another reason to warm up to Illumina's stock is because of its strong business model. Illumina's gene sequencing machines require consumables to operate, which provides the company with a stream of recurring revenue. As the company's install base of sequencing machines continues to grow, sales of consumables should also continue to tick higher, too.

Of course, Wall Street is aware of this company's growth prospects and has awarded shares a premium valuation. With a trailing P/E ratio of 62, Illumina isn't short-term cheap. However, if you can take the long-view then I think there is ample time for the company to grow into its valuation and still put up a market-beating performance.

A millennial favorite

The way that consumers pay for things is changing, and one company that is at the forefront of the revolution is PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL). The company has been gobbling up market share in the payment space for nearly two decades, and its recent results suggest that it is still in early innings.

Last quarter total payment volume on PayPal's platform grew to $86 billion, which was up a strong 29% over the year-ago period. Those gains came from the combination of 11% growth in active accounts and 13% growth in the number of transactions per account. Both of those figures continue to head higher, which speaks volumes about how popular the company's platform has become.

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PayPal also should get a boost from the recent deals that it signed with both Visa and MasterCard. These agreements will make it easier for customers to use PayPal for in-store purchases. Last year it also acquired the money transfer service Xoom, which is rapidly taking share in the global remittances market. Add in the company's popular person-to-person payment app Venmo to the mix, and there are plenty of reasons to believe that growth will continue for the foreseeable future. 

Looking ahead, analysts are projecting that PayPal's bottom line will grow by more than 16% annually over the next five years. With shares trading for 27 times next year's earnings estimates, I think right now is a great time to buy into this proven winner.

Multiple shots on goal

The final stock on today's list is Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN), one of the best-performing stocks of the last decade.

Shares of Regeneron have soared on the back of huge sales growth of its blockbuster eye disease drug Eylea. The company boasts a strong history of winning market share and expanding the drug's labeling, so I feel confidence that it should have no problem growing at double-digit rates for years to come.

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Image source: Regeneron

Beyond Eylea, Regeneron also has a handful of potential blockbuster drugs on deck that should propel its next phase of fast growth.

The first is called Praluent, a next generation cholesterol-busting drug. Currently, Praluent is off to a slow start, but sales could start to grow rapidly if a cardiovascular outcomes study shows that using the drug lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke. We should have that data in hand in the next few quarters.

Regeneron also has two new drugs that are awaiting FDA approval. The first is called sarilumab, which is a hopeful treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. A go/no-go decision is expected to be released by the FDA later this month. The second drug is called dupilumab, which is a potential treatment for atopic dermatitis. We should have a ruling by the FDA in hand in the first quarter of 2017. Both drugs could eventually breach the $1 billion in peak annual sales mark.

Add it up and Regeneron stands a decent chance at having up to four blockbuster drugs on the market within the next year, positioning the company well for continued fast growth. With shares only trading for 28 times forward earnings, I think it is a great time to consider getting in.

Brian Feroldi owns shares of MasterCard, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and Visa. Like this article? Follow him on Twitter where he goes by the handle @Longtermmindset or connect with him on LinkedIn to see more articles like this.

The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Illumina, MasterCard, PayPal Holdings, and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.