High-octane growth stocks can build your wealth very quickly, but they also tend to come with a generous helping of risk. It's not always easy to separate the long-term winners from the flash-in-a-pan gadflies -- and making the wrong bets can get expensive in a heartbeat.
To help you get moving in the right direction, we asked three of The Motley Fool's top contributors for their best ideas in high-growth investing right now. Read on to see why they selected Monster Beverage (NASDAQ:MNST), Visa (NYSE:V), and Trex (NYSE:TREX).
Charge ahead with this industry leader
Dan Caplinger (Visa): One of the best business models a company can have is to act as an intermediary, taking a small piece of every transaction that comes in its doors. Visa has executed that business model to perfection, offering millions of people and businesses across the globe the ability to move money effortlessly through its electronic payment systems.
As the global economy has grown, Visa has grown with it, and the rise of electronic payments in countries that are underserved by banks and other traditional financial institutions has only accelerated that process. Despite being the industry's giant, Visa has done a good job of keeping up its pace of innovation rather than letting rivals catch up.
The best thing about Visa is that even though it's best-known for its credit cards, the payment processor bears no credit risk in its business. Instead, it allows banks to issue its cards, letting them take on responsibility for ensuring payment and leaving Visa to focus on making its technology as powerful and efficient as possible. That has led to long-term average annual growth rates in the high teens on a percentage basis, and most investors expect that trend to continue.
For those seeking high growth, Visa will keep finding ways to participate in the global economic boom for the benefit of its shareholders.
Energy drinks can still power a highly caffeinated growth story
Anders Bylund (Monster Beverage): Once upon a time, not too long ago, Monster Beverage was the raunchiest growth story on the market -- bar none. From 1997 to 2006, the company then known as Hansen Natural delivered a heart-pounding return of 25,500% -- about triple the gains of the second most profitable stock during this period.
That decade-long surge started from a tiny market cap of just $10 million, of course. Repeating that performance today would create an impossibly huge titan with a $770 billion market cap. No amount of energy drink sales would ever deliver that kind of supercharged growth from a $29 billion starting point.
That doesn't mean Monster Beverage is out of rocket fuel -- not by a long shot. In fact, sales have improved by an annual average of 12.4% over the last five years. Earnings grew at a compound clip of 18.4% over the same period -- and analysts expect that rate to accelerate to roughly 20% in each of the next five years.
These numbers stand tall next to just about any other growth stock, particularly ones with market caps closing in on $30 billion. Monster Beverage is back among the strongest growth stocks on the market, albeit from a very different angle. The company has matured a lot, struck a mutually beneficial partnership with industry giant Coca-Cola, and positioned itself for a new chapter of international growth.
An under-the-radar high-growth stock in a sleepy industry
Jason Hall (Trex Company): The decking industry is dominated by -- no surprise here -- real wood, which makes up some 90% of lineal feet of decking sold every year in North America. Trex is trying to change that.
Already the No. 1 seller of wood-alternative decking with more than 40% of annual sales, Trex makes up around 6% of lineal feet of total decking when factoring in wood and wood alternatives. But management is taking steps to continue its history of growing faster than both its alt-wood peers and total decking sales.
For a number of years, the company's marketing efforts have been focused on building brand recognition and defining Trex as the superior product versus competitors. The company has used both traditional media and social media to great effect, with the company saying it commands more audience share and engagement on Facebook than all of its competitors combined. This has helped drive big increases in traffic to its website, and established it as the most-named brand in alt-wood decking. That has the company incredibly well-positioned to continue its strong record of growth for years to come.
The best part for investors? Trex has proven it can generate significant operating leverage, creating a lot more profits from its incremental sales growth. Since 2014, earnings have more than doubled on a 44% increase in revenue.
At 28 times earnings, Trex may not be cheap -- but it's worth paying a premium for small growth company that's set to disrupt a much bigger industry.