All investors are looking to move up in the world by investing in winning stocks. With this in mind, and with the knowledge that one of the best ways to generate above-average returns is by buying value stocks, we asked some of the Motley Fools contributors to come up with three solid picks for value investors looking to rise above their station. In response, they offered up Shopify (NYSE:SHOP)Chipotle (NYSE:CMG), and Mastercard (NYSE:MA). Read on for the key details.

A stock price chart moving upwards through time.

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Riding the secular trend toward online retail

Sean O'Reilly (Shopify): Shopify is a key player in the ever-expanding e-commerce industry. However, unlike Amazon.com, Shopify provides an e-commerce platform and services geared toward small and medium-sized businesses. The company offers individuals and businesses the ability to cut out the barriers to selling online by giving anyone looking to offer their wares online a one-stop shop to promote, manage, and track online sales, all in an easy-to-use dashboard. Shopify's offerings have become so vital to hundreds of thousands of businesses that its own business has been expanding at a blistering pace.

In the first quarter of 2017, Shopify reported an adjusted loss per share of $0.40 on revenue of $127.4 million. This top-line figure represents a 75.2% increase from a year earlier. The quarter also saw subscription revenue (think membership fees) grow 60.4% year over year to $62.1 million. Merchant Solutions, on the other hand, blew this figure away when it registered a 92% growth to $65.3 million for the period. The company finished the first quarter of 2017 with cash and equivalents amounting to $118.6 million, while long-term debt stood at just $12.6 million. Management is guiding Q2 2017 revenue in the range of $142.0 to $144.0 million. All of this serves as a follow-through on fiscal year 2016, which saw reported revenue of $389.3 million, up 90% from the prior year. Subscription revenue for the year increased 68% to $188.6 million, while Merchant Solutions revenue rose 115% to $200.7 million.

We all know that, as a younger man, Warren Buffett had the realization that growth stock and value stock investing are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, often the best stocks to own offer substantial growth potential for decades into the future. Shopify is not only growing rapidly, but its potential remains enormous given the relatively tiny portion of retail sales that are occurring online. According to research firm eMarketer, worldwide e-commerce sales excluding restaurant, ticket sales, and travel will grow to $4.1 trillion by 2020 from $1.9 trillion in 2016. Even after this projected growth, retail e-commerce will only amount to 14.6% of total retail spending. Clearly, Shopify and the e-commerce industry itself have a long growth runway of growth ahead of them. 

Valuing such high-growth companies is tricky, but given Shopify's market position and the secular trend toward online retail, it seems reasonable for investors looking to move up in the world to take a close look at Shopify. 

Chipotle, if the recovery is for real

Jason Hall (Chipotle Mexican Grill): Trading for nearly $500 per share, it can be harder for investors with fewer resources to invest very much in Chipotle Mexican Grill. But as your cash flow improves, it can feel a little less risky to buy a few shares. At the same time, Chipotle's roughly $481 stock price doesn't make it "expensive" when normalized for the portion of the company you get for that big dollar amount. 

Frankly, I'm willing to argue that Chipotle shares are a decent value, based on the company's potential future earnings. 

Over the past couple of years, Chipotle has taken a beating over multiple food-borne illness incidents which sent huge numbers of regular Chipotle burrito eaters for the doors. At its worst, sales at Chipotle restaurants that have been open for more than one year were down over 30%. 

Management has made significant strides in making sure its food preparation and inventory tracking will ensure fresh, safe food for customers, while other moves to improve operations and empower its people have helped the company keep employees focused on delighting customers. 

These efforts are working, and customers (and profits) are coming back. Furthermore, Chipotle has increased its restaurant count by more than 20% since earnings peaked in 2015, and it continues to add nearly 200 new locations every year. 

At this point, it looks like Chipotle's recovery is real. If that proves to be true, the current share price could turn out to be a bargain in a few years' time. 

The payments world is changing

Steve Symington (Mastercard): When it comes to "moving up in the world," money is almost always a central theme of the process. So, I think it makes sense to consider buying shares of Mastercard -- an established industry leader poised to benefit from the future of payments technology. After all, earlier this year, Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga noted that around 85% of the world's retail transactions are still completed using cash and checks.

That's not to say Mastercard hasn't already started delivering on that growth. Revenue last quarter climbed a robust 12% year over year to $2.7 billion, helped by a 17% increase in switched transactions to 14.7 billion. On the bottom line, adjusted net income per share rose 17% to $1.01, bolstered partly by the company's decision to spend $1 billion to repurchase and retire nine million shares during the quarter (leaving $3.8 billion remaining under its current repurchase program). 

What's more, Mastercard isn't afraid to pursue acquisitive growth if need be. Last quarter alone, it not only completed its $920 million acquisition of U.K.-based payment platform specialist VocaLink, extending its reach in the U.K. and expanding its payment options worldwide, it also finished its purchase of mobile fraud prevention company NuData Security (albeit with undisclosed terms).

That's not to say shares look particularly cheap, trading at 24 times this year's expected earnings, but I think that's a reasonable premium to pay given both the high quality of Mastercard's business and its enormous runway for long-term growth.

Sean O'Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Mastercard, and Shopify. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.