Since 2000, e-commerce giant Amazon.com's (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock has risen by a staggering 2,070%. That's an annualized return of about 18.7%.
While there's no way to know for sure which stocks will become the next Amazon, three of our contributors think BofI Holding (NYSE:AX), XPO Logistics (NYSE:XPO), and iQiyi (NASDAQ:IQ) have pretty good chances.
Big advantages and lots of room to grow
Matt Frankel (BofI Holding): BofI Holding (stands for Bank of Internet) is an online-only bank and has grown impressively.
Over the past year alone, BofI's assets have grown by nearly 15%, and its net income has soared by 25% as a result. Since 2012, BofI has grown its earnings at a 29% annualized rate.
The best part of BofI's business model is its branch-free structure, which provides a big competitive advantage. Since it doesn't have the same expenses as brick-and-mortar banks, its overhead is surprisingly low. In fact, BofI's non-interest expense is 1.64% of its total assets, compared to a 2.91% average among its peers.
This allows BofI to operate more profitably than competitors. The bank's return on equity and return on assets are nearly double the industry benchmarks of 10% and 1%, respectively. Also important is that this cost advantage also allows BofI to pay more interest on deposit products like checking accounts and CDs, helping to attract more business and fuel growth.
Finally, although BofI has grown at a tremendous rate, it's still extremely small as far as banks go. With about $10 billion in assets, BofI is less than 0.5% of the size of the largest U.S. banks and is on par with banks like Florida Community Bank and Provident Bank. If you just said "who?", that's kind of the point.
The bottom line is that BofI has a business model that allows it to grow faster than its competitors while generating more profits than those competitors at the same time. And since BofI could still be in the very early innings of its growth story, investors who buy for the long haul could be handsomely rewarded.
This stock is already giving Amazon tough competition
Neha Chamaria (XPO Logistics): Given the apprehensions around Amazon taking over logistics companies after disrupting retail, my pick for today -- XPO Logistics -- sounds ironical. Yet, there are several reasons to believe XPO could beat Amazon. In fact, you probably haven't noticed how the two stocks have moved in the past few years.
Two things, in particular, are working in XPO's favor: an asset-light business model and leadership in last-mile delivery.
While delivery companies like FedEx and United Parcel Service have to cough up big sums of money to own, operate, and upgrade a fleet, nearly 69% of XPO's revenue comes from its non-owned transportation network. So, XPO owns only around 16,000 tractors and 39,000 trailers, but it uses the services of nearly one million brokered trucks and 11,000 independent-owners owned contracted trucks.
Such an asset-light business also means XPO is spending only around 3% of revenue in net capital expenditures even as FedEx and UPS are constantly ramping up capex and spending as much as 8% or more of revenue. Not surprisingly, XPO's free cash flows have soared in recent years, unlike its rivals. Meanwhile, XPO has also gained a solid competitive advantage as North America's largest last-mile delivery provider for heavy goods such as furniture and home appliances.
That aside, XPO's latest moves prove how it wants to remain ahead of the curve. From tech-based services like order tracking via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to a cloud-based freight marketplace to sharing its warehouses and last-mile hubs, XPO is experimenting with a whole lot of ideas to keep up with the changing times, all of which point at bigger things to come for the company and its stock.
The next entertainment giant
Matt DiLallo (iQiyi): Chinese entertainment streaming company iQiyi has been incredibly volatile since its IPO earlier this year. Shares initially surged as investors piled into what many are calling the "Netflix of China" before trade-war fears cooled some of that enthusiasm. That tug of war between promise and pitfalls will likely continue in the future. However, when it comes to stocks with the potential to deliver Amazon-like returns, iQiyi is one of the few where the market opportunity seems to match the hype.
While billed as China's Netflix, iQiyi thinks more of itself as an "online Disney" because it makes as much money on advertising as it does on subscriptions. Either way, the numbers are awe-inspiring. At last count, the company had about 61 million paying subscribers, which is almost half the size of Netflix at 118 million. Meanwhile, more than 540 million people currently have the iQiyi app installed on their mobile devices, with more than 420 million of them using it each month. While those users might not be paying for iQiyi's services, their eyeballs are quite valuable to advertisers.
The company hopes to grow the more lucrative subscription business by creating exclusive content for subscribers. It's taking a unique approach by using artificial intelligence to determine the right content to develop. This strategy has already proven successful since the company has produced many of the top internet shows in China. With it just scratching the surface, iQiyi certainly has the potential to deliver amazing returns.