In 1986, Microsoft Corporation was set to take advantage of an incredible transition, as the world increasingly shifted to the use of computers for everything from work to recreation over the ensuing decades. Investors in the stock were rewarded by huge price gains for taking a position before the trend was in full swing. That's exactly the opportunity presented by Canadian marijuana stock Aphria Inc. (NASDAQOTH:APHQF), internet banking pioneer First Internet Bancorp (NASDAQ:INBK), and healthcare property owner Ventas Inc. (NYSE:VTR). Keep reading to find out the big trends that this trio is set to ride to higher profits.   

The marijuana industry could be bigger than you think

Neha Chamaria (Aphria Inc.): Between 1986 when Microsoft listed publicly, and 2000, the stock rose exponentially on the back of the technology boom. Right now, there's another industry that appears to be on the verge of a boom along with a player that could benefit tremendously -- marijuana and Aphria.

The marijuana market is still in its nascent stage, but the landscape is changing rapidly. Several marijuana producers have gone public in the past couple of years, especially in Canada, where medical cannabis is already legal, and recreational cannabis is likely to be legalized in the coming months. Aphria is a licensed Health Canada medical marijuana producer and among the largest players in the industry.

A woman with dollar signs coming out of her fingers over a rising bar chart

Image source: Getty Images.

Aphria is growing its top line at a torrid pace. For instance, the company just reported a 100% jump in year-over-year revenue for its third quarter on the back of higher shipments and prices. For the nine months ended Feb. 28, 2018, Aphria's revenue surged 69% year over year.

At the same time, Aphria is striving hard to cut costs even as it expands production. Its sub-$1 cash cost of production per gram of dried cannabis last quarter makes Aphria one of the lowest-cost cannabis producers among publicly listed companies. Aphria is also already profitable and is rapidly expanding capacity through both organic programs and acquisitions.

Cannabis research firm ArcView, in partnership with BDS Analytics, is projecting that the legal weed market could grow at a compounded annual rate of 28% through 2021. With Canada expected to be the first developed country to legalize adult-use marijuana, Aphria could make it big in coming years in its industry, just like Microsoft.

A tiny internet bank with massive growth prospects

Jason Hall (First Internet Bancorp): First Internet Bank is one of the pioneers in online banking, and has the distinction of being the first state-chartered, FDIC-insured, internet-only bank. And while others have since passed it in assets and market capitalization, its growth prospects are still wonderful, and its branchless model gives it a competitive advantage with lower costs. In recent years, it has been able to leverage this and deliver solid growth. 

Since the beginning of 2015, First Internet Bank has increased earnings per share by 124%, and tangible book value per share by 26%:

INBK Tangible Book Value (Per Share) Chart

INBK Tangible Book Value (Per Share) data by YCharts. 

With less than $3 billion in assets and a tiny $300 million market capitalization, its best growth days -- like Microsoft 32 years ago -- could be ahead of it. 

That's not to say there's no risk. A substantial portion of First Internet Bank's deposits -- over two-thirds at last report -- are time deposits like CDs, which are far less "sticky" than checking and savings deposits. With interest rates set to rise, First Internet Bank may face net interest margin pressure as it raises CD rates to remain competitive, retain deposits, and attract new deposits. Management has prioritized growing other kinds of deposits, which should help address this risk and improve profitability. 

Trading for 17 times trailing earnings and 1.4 times tangible book value, First Internet Bank is relatively cheap, in part because of its deposit mix. For investors willing to invest in a bank with a tiny market cap that could be very volatile, the long-term returns could be immense. 

Demand will soon start to soar

Reuben Gregg Brewer (Ventas Inc.): It's odd to compare a technology company to a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns medical properties, but Ventas is set to ride a wave of demand as baby boomers age. That's roughly similar to the explosion in demand for computers in the late 1900s that helped build Microsoft into what it is today.

Ventas operates in a number of healthcare sub-sectors, including senior housing properties (about 50% of net operating income), medical office and research facilities (roughly 25%), and hospitals (6%). The rest of its business is from loans, acute care and rehab facilities, and a tiny exposure to nursing homes. Ventas is set to see notable growth in its medical office and research segment, driven by over $400 million in new development projects (much of which is in this space) and strong results from current assets. However, management expects to experience headwinds in its senior housing business, the largest contributor to performance, because of overbuilding.   

VTR Chart

VTR data by YCharts.

Overcapacity has investors worried about Ventas' future and has helped push the stock lower -- and the yield up to a robust 6.3%. However, according to Ventas, a mere 1% increase in penetration would clear the current imbalance. Which is where baby boomers and demographics come into play. The 80-plus age cohort, the main residents in senior housing, is projected to see a notable pickup in growth starting in 2020. The wave should continue until 2040 as boomers age. This isn't a question of "if," it's a question of "when." But now is a good time to pick up a big yield while you wait for the demographics to play out in Ventas' favor.   

These trends could be your friends

Microsoft benefited from the increasing adoption of computers, a huge trend that drove the company's financial results and stock price for years. The three above are looking to do the same thing, but in different industries: Aphria as legal marijuana goes mainstream in Canada (and beyond), First Internet Bancorp as consumers increasingly accept online financial relationships as normal, and Ventas as the aging baby boomers crest into their highest medical-use years. If you are a big-picture thinker, take a deep dive on each of these very disparate companies -- it's likely that at least one could find its way into your portfolio.