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3 Growth Stocks for the Long-Term

By Sean Williams, Jordan Wathen, and Keith Noonan – Jun 17, 2017 at 8:32AM

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These growth stocks have "set-it-and-forget-it" potential.

According to a report released last year by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, value stocks have outperformed growth stocks since 1926. However, since the Great Recession, growth stocks, which have benefited from low lending rates, have left value stocks in the dust. With a low-rate, steady growth environment expected to continue, growth stocks could really be poised to keep outperforming. 

With this in mind, we asked three of our Foolish contributors to weigh in with one growth stock they believe could dazzle over the long term. Rising to the top of the list were gold and silver miner Yamana Gold (AUY 0.34%), video game publisher Activision Blizzard (ATVI 0.14%), and regional bank holding company South State Corporation (SSB -0.06%)

A rising stack of gold coins, implying gains over the long-term.

Image source: Getty Images.

A growth stock you can dig 

Sean Williams (Yamana Gold): Sometimes superior growth stocks really do sprout up from the ground, as is the case with gold, silver, and copper miner, Yamana Gold.

We don't often think of precious-metal miners as "growth stocks" because we assume their performance is driven by the economy and underlying metal prices. However, Yamana has been masterful with its capital spending on developing projects and cost-cutting (when necessary) such that investors are on the verge of witnessing a major top-line and bottom-line expansion that will likely last for between five to 10 years, at minimum.

Looking ahead, Yamana is on track to bring three major projects online between 2018 and 2019. The biggest increases are set to come from Cerro Moro, which should provide an average of 150,000 ounces of gold and 7.2 million ounces of silver per year over the first three years , and C1 Santa Luz, which should average 114,000 ounces of production over its 10-year mine life. Cerro Moro is expected to come online during the second quarter of 2018, with C1 Santa Luz also being recommissioned in 2018. Finally, the Suruca development in the Chapada mine should add 45,000 to 60,000 ounces of gold production over a four- or five-year span beginning in 2019. 

All of this added production is expected to catapult Yamana's sales higher by roughly 30% between 2017 and 2019, with the company's cash flow rising by more than 60% over that same timeframe. Wall Street is projecting full-year EPS will more than quintuple to $0.27 per share by 2019 from $0.05 in 2017.

And it's not just that Yamana's production portfolio is set to see a major boon -- gold itself is looking lustrous. Uncertainty surrounding the Trump presidency and Britain's imminent exit from the European Union, generally steady demand growth coupled with constrained supply, and rising inflation, all bode well for continued higher prices in physical gold.

If you're looking for a growth stock to sock away for years, don't let Yamana's diminutive share price stop you. Considering "digging right in."

A person using a video game controller.

Image source: Getty Images.

Ahead of the game

Keith Noonan (Activision Blizzard): Video game publisher Activision Blizzard has gained more than 50% over the last year and now trades at roughly 30 times forward earnings estimates, but the fast-growing company still has what it takes to deliver wins for the long-term investor. At the heart of the company's growth story are three driving factors: favorable industry conditions, talent for creating and maintaining high quality franchises, and opportunities in emerging categories like virtual reality and e-sports.

The video game industry is still growing at a solid clip, and leading publishers including Activision Blizzard are benefiting from the migration of game purchases from physical retail outlets to digitally distributed channels as well as momentum for in-game purchases. Games purchased digitally generate higher margins for the company because it does not need to worry about packaging and other manufacturing and distribution costs. Video game enthusiasts are also spending big on virtual currency and content expansions for their favorite titles, and producing these goods is relatively inexpensive for publishers. The company's most recent quarter saw it increase digital sales 50% over the prior-year period.

Activision Blizzard also has a stable of great franchises that put it in good position to capitalize on momentum in its industry, with OverwatchCall of DutyWorld of Warcraft, and Candy Crush representing just a handful of its many standouts. These are properties that seem poised to deliver strong sales for years to come, and the company's breadth of blockbuster series looks to be a major asset as it aims to capitalize on explosive growth opportunities in virtual reality and e-sports.

A bank teller handing cash back to a customer.

Image source: Getty Images.

A small bank growing in big markets

Jordan Wathen (South State Corporation): South State Corporation is a small bank-holding company with big ambitions. Shortly after closing on the acquisition of deposit-rich Georgia-based bank in January, South State announced its intention to swallow up Park Sterling Corporation (NASDAQ: PSTB), a North Carolina-based bank in April.

The acquisition will give South State Bank a new avenue for loan growth in fast-growing markets like Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA, and Raleigh, NC. South State's loan portfolio is made up primarily of residential and commercial real estate loans. Park Sterling is more heavily concentrated in commercial and industrial business lending.

Bank executives are hopeful that the combined balance sheet will enable it to grab a greater share of larger loans that weren't the right fit for each bank individually. South State will grow into the top 15 in Georgia and North Carolina, while further cementing its position as the fifth-largest bank in South Carolina. That's roughly the sweet spot where South State can compete for business customers who are too big for smaller community banks, but too small for the national banks that have the lion's share of the market. 

Shares trade for about 2.6 times tangible book value, which gives it currency for future acquisitions in its core markets. And with a branch network already built out in most of its target geographies, future acquisitions should be very accretive to earnings, as it can acquire smaller banks, take on their customers, and get rid of the costly branches.

Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. Keith Noonan owns shares of Activision Blizzard. Sean Williams owns shares of Bank of America. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Activision Blizzard. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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