Growth stocks outperform the market because they're able to grow revenues at a faster pace than the industry average year after year. How long can such growth last, though? The answer could surprise you.
There are some great companies out there that can potentially grow bigger and better for not just years, but decades, thanks to a strong footing and innovative approach to growth in an industry with a huge addressable market. They're the kind of growth stocks you'd want to buy and hold for as many as 50 years. Here are three that our Motley Fool contributors have identified: NextEra Energy Partners (NYSE:NEP), Visa (NYSE:V), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).
Read along to learn what makes these stocks such terrific long-term buys.
A fast-growing, high-yielding renewable energy stock
Maxx Chatsko (NextEra Energy Partners): It's easy to be pessimistic when it comes to humanity's response to climate change, but that has a lot to do with pessimistic headlines. The trajectories of renewable energy technologies -- which are exponential, not linear -- suggest humanity could actually end up crushing long-term clean energy and climate goals. And it's all supported by cold, hard data.
Onshore wind power is set to replace hydropower as the top renewable energy source in the United States in 2018 -- one year ahead of the most ambitious estimate... from 2017. Current trends indicate wind and solar could combine to generate 25% to 30% of total U.S. electricity by 2030. That doesn't even include an estimated 24,000 megawatts of offshore wind power currently in the nation's pipeline or the very real possibility that nearly all of the country's coal-fired power plants might be retired by 2040.
That's great news for companies with leading positions in renewable energy and ambitious plans to plow full steam ahead into the future. NextEra Energy Partners is one such business. It owns 4,700 megawatts of wind and solar to go along with 4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas pipeline capacity in South Texas. In other words, it's all over the future of energy in America -- and it's only getting started.
The company's close association with NextEra Energy, which expects to grow its renewable energy asset backlog to 40,000 megawatts by 2020, provides easy access to great growth assets. The pair just completed a transaction that added $1.275 billion in wind and solar assets to the portfolio of NextEra Energy Partners. That provides enough firepower to grow the dividend (currently yielding 3.8%) at least 12% per year through 2023.
That's a big reason why management thinks it can deliver total returns of around 16% per year between now and then. That means an investment of $1,000 today would grow to $2,100 by 2023 -- if management delivers. While it could fall short in the next five years for any number of reasons, investors have to like the chances for growth in the next 50 years.
Fintech is the next big thing to profit from
Neha Chamaria (Visa): As the world goes digital, a company that's investing in the next wave of digital payments should have a bright future. That's why I believe in Visa, a company whose branded cards you're probably already using, thanks to your bank, which probably issued them.
As cashless modes of payment and e-commerce gather steam, more banks will scramble to issue debit, credit, and prepaid cards. With nearly 3.3 billion cards in circulation across the globe, Visa is a top choice for merchants and banks alike. For Visa, every additional card issued on its payments-processing network adds value to its business. Visa earns transaction and volume fees every time someone swipes its card to make a purchase.
Emerging markets are a hotbed of opportunities for Visa, and the company is going all out to exploit them. For example, Visa recently renewed its relationship with India's leading private and public sector banks, even as it bought a stake in Billdesk, one of the nation's largest online-payment gateways. The Indian government's aggressive cashless drive makes the nation one of the largest potential markets for Visa. Likewise in Latin America, Visa recently struck deals with a leading travel agency and card issuer.
Visa also is tapping new technologies and trends such as mobile payments. Examples include Visa Checkout, which allows users to make payments through Visa with a single-click option on integrated digital wallets, and the company's collaboration with tech giant IBM to use the latter's Internet of Things platform to embed payments into devices and home appliances.
Each of these moves is futuristic, which, when combined with Visa's network effect moat and a high-margin business, makes it a compelling stock to own for decades to come.
Amazon just can't stop winning
Chris Neiger (Amazon): If you look at Amazon's stock price over the past six months, you'll notice it's relatively flat. But don't let the steep share-price drop that happened in October fool you -- this company's best days still are ahead of it.
I think Amazon is a stock to buy and hold for the next five decades because of its ability to enter new markets and dominate them. For example, there's no question that Amazon is an e-commerce powerhouse, with about 49% of all online sales in the U.S. happening on the company's platform. That's impressive, but how does Amazon plan on keeping its competitive advantage? By keeping customers tied to its platform by selling Prime memberships that offer free two-day shipping, video- and music-streaming services, and more.
That's not just a service -- it's a way to get users hooked on using Amazon for more of their retail needs, and the data shows they spend more on Amazon's site once they become members. The great news is that in 2019, more than half of American households will have Prime membership.
While retail brings in most of Amazon's revenue, the company also has invested heavily in its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing platform, as well. This gives the company a completely different business than retail to benefit from -- and with better margins -- and provides the company with a bigger chance of having staying power for decades to come. AWS is the No. 1 public cloud-computing company, far outpacing its No. 2 rival Microsoft, and the market is expected to grow to $302 billion by 2021.
If all of that wasn't enough to help give Amazon staying power, the company just recently became the third-largest digital ad platform in the U.S. That's notable because in the next few years, Amazon's advertising operating income could surpass Amazon's AWS operating income and become an even more significant part of the company's overall business.
Amazon is one of those rare companies that can evaluate a new market and enter it, then beat nearly every competitor in that space -- and then go and do the same thing a few years later in a completely different area. For that reason, I think Amazon is a great buy-and-hold stock for the next 50 years.