My boys are 18 and 21 years old and are two of 83 million millennials in the U.S. They've been investing in companies that excite them from The Motley Fool's universe of stock recommendations for the last 13 years. They have some uninvested cash in their accounts from dividends, and I struck up a conversation recently about what stocks look good to them right now. They picked Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) and PayPal Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:PYPL), and my older son's girlfriend gave us a bonus pick with her pitch for Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

Read on for the reasons these millennials like these companies enough to invest in them.

Activision Blizzard

My youngest son is into video games, but he's much more than a casual gamer. He plays online with people all over the world, attends a weekly tournament in the area, and participates in national events with players who travel across the country and internationally to compete. These large events have sponsors, are streamed to thousands of viewers, and have large bonuses for the winners. This online gaming scene, commonly called esports, is a big deal that Activision Blizzard is poised to capitalize on.

College-age people smiling and all looking at a single laptop screen on a sunny day.

The 83.1 million millennials in the U.S. were born between 1982 and 2000, according to the Census Bureau.  Image source: Getty Images.

The software gaming company has embraced the esports trend and has sponsored its own league for its popular Overwatch game. Announced in July 2017, the league started its first season in January with 12 city-based teams. The league has made quite a splash; the first day of games peaked at over 415,000 viewers. While the potential of this opportunity is still to be determined, the company is generating a lot of momentum from its league and other online titles.

With eight billion-dollar game franchises, the top two video games from 2017, and a finger on the pulse of the esports trend, it's no wonder that Activision Blizzard was my youngest son's choice.

PayPal Holdings

My older son is in college and with classwork, team projects, and a girlfriend, he appreciates the convenience of buying products online, but wants a simple, safe, and secure way to pay. This is why he depends on PayPal for processing his online payments.

PayPal has an edge with buyers and seller as its One Touch feature makes it so you don't have to type in your credit card number every time. In addition, since my son and his friends don't often carry cash, they use PayPal's Venmo app to transfer money among themselves when splitting the bill.

Incredible growth numbers from the most recent quarter show that PayPal is continuing to be more valuable for more customers.


Q3 2017

Currency-Neutral Growth (YOY)


$3.2 billion


Earnings per share



Active customer accounts

218 million


Total payment volume

$114 billion


Mobile payment volume

$40 billion


Venmo total payment volume

$9 billion


Data source: Paypal. YOY = year-over-year.

With e-commerce less than 10% of total spending in the U.S. and cash still being used in over 80% of global transactions, PayPal has a long runway of growth. My son already owns PayPal stock, but I can see why he'd want to add to his position.


When I was talking with my boys about the companies they would invest in right now, my older son's girlfriend joined in and made a pitch for Wal-Mart. She explained that she can often find a better price there than on Amazon, and can pick it up same-day with the "buy online/pick up in-store" option. This got me curious about how this giant retailer is doing in fending off its online juggernaut competitor, and turns out it's doing pretty well.

Wal-Mart accelerated its online capability in late 2016 when it bought At the time, I was wondering how Wal-Mart, a brick-and-mortar company that's more than 50 years old, would really meld with, an online e-commerce start-up. Looking at the results a year later, the move looks like a successful play that caught everyone by surprise. In its most recent quarter, Wal-Mart saw 50% growth in its digital sales, but more importantly, it thinks differently about how it's capturing customer sales. The company is comfortable with its omnichannel future and is happy when it makes a customer sale, whether online or in-store.

While it would be foolish to take a few millennials' experiences and opinions as a buy signal, these companies have growing customer bases and are focused on growth trends that will pay off long into the future. As these companies look for ways to attract the younger generation, they are becoming better companies, and that's something that investors should get excited about.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.