Every investor wants the kind of stocks that will last for the long haul -- the kind of companies that can reliably grow into the future because they have a wealth of competitive advantages to help ensure continued dominance in their industries. If you're looking for the kind of stocks you can count on for the next 50 years, keep reading to see why Crispr Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP), Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS), and Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) all look like smart bets.
The future of medicine?
George Budwell (Crispr Therapeutics): A central theme in the march toward personalized medicine is the development of more precise and cost-efficient methods to manipulate the human genome. To this end, researchers have been cautiously testing the waters with the latest gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR/Cas9, over the past few years. This closely watched effort is now set to enter the next major phase of its development -- perhaps making now a great time for long-term investors to jump into the fray.
Long story short, Crispr Therapeutics and its partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals are gearing up to evaluate their experimental blood disorder treatment, CTX001, in patients with sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. These early-stage trials will mark the first time a CRISPR-based therapy has been assessed by a publicly traded company in human subjects.
Why is Crispr's stock worthy of buying ahead of this seminal event? If these initial efforts prove fruitful, Crispr's therapeutic platform could quickly become a revolutionary new treatment option for a wide swath of diseases, including a host of blood disorders, Duchenne's muscular dystrophy, and many, many others.
It will obviously take years -- and maybe even decades -- to fully flesh out CRISPR's therapeutic potential across this diverse set of conditions. But the commercial opportunity presented by this novel gene-editing platform is undoubtedly immense and perhaps even unprecedented in modern medicine.
That said, Crispr, as an investing vehicle, is a speculative bet with no guarantee of success. Investors, therefore, shouldn't buy more than they can afford to lose -- despite the company's very real potential to become a giant in the industry over the next half-century.
The Magic Kingdom's best days are ahead
Keith Noonan (The Walt Disney Company): Disney has been a dominant player in the entertainment industry for well over half a century, recently celebrating its 95th year in operation. Predicting a company's performance on a 50-year timeline is no easy task, but the House of Mouse appears to be on track to retain a leadership role in entertainment and continue enriching shareholders for decades to come.
With all the changes in technology, culture, and industry over the last 50 years, people's love for entertainment is one thing that hasn't wavered -- and global demand for great characters, stories, and experiences will likely continue to rise going forward. Disney's incredible wealth of bankable franchises, unparalleled track record when it comes to creating new properties, and brilliantly integrated business model position it to remain one of the industry's biggest winners.
The company's famous characters typically become hits at the box office before going on to draw crowds at theme parks, spur merchandise licensing deals, and populate its television networks. Next year, some of Disney's biggest franchises will be used to launch a stand-alone streaming service, solidifying the company's push into over-the-top distribution and shifting its home market film-and-television strategy to take better advantage of its properties.
Shareholders can also look forward to a fast-growing dividend. Disney stock yields roughly 1.4% at today's prices, and the company is generating enough free cash flow to cover its forward distribution roughly four times over despite having nearly doubled its dividend over the last five years. Long-term investors can book a likely ticket to substantial payout growth at a non-prohibitive valuation -- shares trade at just 16 times this year's expected earnings.
With its fantastic assets and promising business outlook, a valuation that leaves plenty of room for upside, and a fast-growing returned-income component, Disney is a stock that's worth buying and holding for the next half-century.
A wide-open healthcare opportunity
Jeremy Bowman (Teladoc Health): One industry that seems virtually guaranteed to continue to grow is healthcare. The aging baby boomer population is driving increased demand, and healthcare spending continues to outgrow the overall economy as technology improves and new treatments become possible. One company well positioned to take advantage of this growth in multiple ways is Teladoc Health, the world's leading provider of telehealth services, or virtual care.
Teladoc is capitalizing on the increasing demand and availability of doctor visits through telecommunications tools like videoconferencing. Its services benefit multiple stakeholders, including insurance companies, patients, and doctors by lowering costs, improving outcomes, and adding convenience for everyone involved.
Teladoc has grown recently both organically and through acquisitions as takeovers of companies like Best Doctors and Advance Medical have helped the company further cement its leadership in telehealth. In its most recent quarter, revenue jumped 112% to $94.6 million, or 39% without the impact of those acquisitions, with visits more than doubling as well. The stock has also surged this year, climbing 83% so far as the market seems to be waking up to the opportunity, here.
The company is still operating at a loss as it invests in growth opportunities and spends more than a third of its revenue on sales and marketing, but patient investors should be rewarded over the long haul. Advances in technology and rising costs should only buoy demand for Teladoc's services as more doctors, insurance providers, and patients embrace the advantages of telehealth.