Given the strength of the market this year, you might think finding a stock, let alone three, that have crushed its results would be a tough chore. But that's exactly what we asked three of our investors to do. Surprisingly, it wasn't that difficult: Finding three stocks that will continue to soar was a bit tougher, but our investors managed to do just that.
The three high-flying stocks that made the grade include leading software design provider Adobe (ADBE 0.24%), diversified business and infrastructure leader Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (BIP 5.92%), and marijuana giant Canopy Growth (CGC 10.36%).
Strong and getting stronger
Tim Brugger (Adobe): It's been four and half years since Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen announced the big news: Designers could only use its solutions on a subscription basis. After the initial uproar, Adobe and its clients are overwhelmingly pleased with the switch. Based on its stock performance, Adobe shareholders are also enjoying the once controversial business shift.
Its stock is up 69% in 2017 because Adobe continues to obliterate earnings each quarter largely due to the annual recurring revenue (ARR) its subscriptions generate. Last quarter's $2 billion in total revenue was up 25% compared to a year ago and set yet another record, but even that takes a back seat to its ARR.
Ending fiscal 2017, Adobes now boasts a mind-boggling $5.23 billion in annualized recurring revenue, much of it cloud-related. Think about that: Assuming Adobe didn't add a single customer in 2018 but simply maintained its existing client base, it would still generate well over $5 billion in revenue.
Thanks to keeping a fairly close eye on spending -- operating expenses rose 16% to $4.12 billion in 2017 -- the $3.38 a share Adobe earned for the fiscal year was a 46% improvement over 2016. Better still, growth investors that haven't gotten onboard still have time. At 31.5 times forward earnings, Adobe is hardly over-priced despite crushing the market.
Considering Adobe has already built a reliable foundation of revenue that's continually growing, and given its reasonable share price, its stock will continue to outperform the market in 2018 and beyond.
Visible organic growth with continued upside from acquisitions
Matt DiLallo (Brookfield Infrastructure Partners): Global infrastructure company Brookfield Infrastructure Partners crushed the market's return this year, which was no small feat since it has been an exceptional year for stocks. However, that's nothing new for the company since it has generated a 20% total annualized return over the past decade, vastly outperforming the S&P 500's 9% annualized total return.
The primary fuel driving Brookfield Infrastructure Partners over the years has been its knack for buying high-quality assets for bargain basement prices. A prime example of that was in 2016, when the company took advantage of an economic and political crisis in Brazil to scoop up toll roads, electric transmission lines, and a massive natural gas pipeline system in the country at depressed prices. Those deals helped fuel nearly 15% growth in funds from operations (FFO) per unit so far this year.
Meanwhile, Brookfield Infrastructure still has plenty of growth left in the tank. For example, the company estimates that its current portfolio of infrastructure businesses alone can fuel 6% to 9% annual growth in FFO per unit, driven by inflationary price increases on existing contracts, volume growth as the global economy expands, and $2.3 billion of expansion projects it has underway. In addition to that, the company has a top-notch balance sheet, which gives it the ability to continue making needle-moving acquisitions. Those dual growth fuels have the potential to keep driving market-crushing returns for Brookfield Infrastructure's investors in the coming years.
Growing like a weed
Keith Speights (Canopy Growth Corporation): Unlike the U.S., Canada allows nationwide legalized use of medical marijuana. And there's currently no bigger player in the Canadian medical marijuana market than Canopy Growth Corporation. The stock is smoking hot this year, with shares soaring more than 150%.
While demand for medical marijuana has driven Canopy Growth's revenue much higher (more than doubling year over year in the last quarter), that's really not the main reason the stock has taken off. There are three other factors that explain Canopy Growth's tremendous growth.
One is that the company has expanded internationally. Canopy Growth now has its own operations or partnerships in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, and Spain. Another major catalyst for Canopy Growth stock was the $245 million stake bought by alcoholic beverage maker Constellation Brands (STZ 0.61%) in October. Constellation plans to work with Canopy to launch a cannabis-infused beer. This deal amounted to a huge vote of confidence in Canopy Growth's potential.
Still, the biggest factor behind Canopy Growth's sizzling stock performance in 2017 is anticipation of Canada legalizing recreational use of marijuana next year. Estimates for the size of this market range from $4.2 billion annually on the low end to up to near $12 billion. I suspect Canopy Growth could capture a market share of 20% or more. If it does, this marijuana stock will only get hotter in the future.