Investing in supertrends like e-commerce and video streaming would have resulted in outsized returns for your portfolio over the past 10 years. Looking out over the next decade, three Motley Fool contributors have identified Cronos Group (CRON 0.57%), Welltower (WELL 1.54%), and Zscaler (ZS 5.40%) as three stocks that will lead the way on tomorrow's biggest trends.
Read on to find out why marijuana, healthcare, and cybersecurity are the waves of the future.
A derisked cannabis stock
George Budwell (Cronos Group): The legal cannabis space is widely expected to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the world over the next several decades. As a result, investors have been piling into so-called pot stocks for the better part of the last two years in hopes of participating in this rising tide. Not all cannabis stocks are worthwhile investing vehicles, however. In fact, most of these stocks are fraught with risk due to problematic financing issues and the lack of a clear competitive moat as well as the sheer volume of companies entering this space all at the same time.
Canadian pot producer Cronos Group, though, stands out from the crowd for a couple of reasons. First off, Cronos recently inked a whopping $1.8 billion equity investment agreement with American tobacco giant Altria (MO 1.68%). This landmark deal gives Cronos a leg up over its competitors in a number of ways.
Apart from filling Cronos' coffers with cash, this partnership puts the company in a particularly strong competitive position in the North American market. Altria, after all, has the regulatory affairs experience and infrastructure necessary to capture the lion's share of the ginormous American cannabis market -- that is, once federal prohibition ends sometime in the coming decade.
Additionally, Cronos' collaboration with Ginkgo Bioworks to produce rare cannabinoids on a commercial scale could be a game changer for the company. While this effort won't yield any major products in the near term, it does have the potential to open up a largely untapped sales channel for the company within the next three to perhaps five years. Best of all, derivative cannabis products -- or products based on less-common cannabinoids than THC or CBD -- could even turn into a billion-dollar market in their own right.
In all, Cronos' stock appears primed to march higher in the years ahead -- thanks largely to the company's ability to attract top-notch partners with unique capabilities.
A promising leader in a promising industry
Neha Chamaria (Welltower): Looking out into a decade from now, you'd want to be invested in companies that are capitalizing on megatrends taking shape between then and now. One such unarguable trend is rising healthcare spending by an aging U.S. population.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that one in every five residents in the U.S. will be at retirement age by 2030. Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (better known as CMS) projects national healthcare spending to grow 5.5% annually between 2017 and 2026. As you might guess, the markets for senior housing and postacute care, among others, should likely grow bigger in coming years. Welltower, a company that specializes in these services and currently owns nearly 1,500 properties in the space, could be a major beneficiary.
Welltower is, in fact, the largest publicly listed healthcare real estate investment trust (REIT) in the U.S. Aside from senior housing and postacute care, the company also has a strong presence in the outpatient medical market. While the company's growth moves in these markets should boost its cash flows, patient shareholders can expect a double bounty, thanks to dividends.
As an REIT, Welltower has to pay out 90% or more of its taxable earnings to shareholders in the form of dividends. That means the company's dividends should rise with earnings, further driving up the returns for shareholders. The stock currently yields a juicy 4.7%. This potential dividend growth, when combined with the strong prospects in Welltower's business, should position the stock for solid growth in the coming decade.
Guardian at the gate
Rich Duprey (Zscaler): Unfortunately, data breaches have become so commonplace that even major lapses in security don't seem to impact people or the markets the way they used to. Between hackers accessing our most private data and huge social media companies selling our personal information to the highest bidder, we've become inured to the loss of privacy.
Yet not all businesses take a cavalier attitude toward cybersecurity, and Zscaler (ZS 5.40%) identified that with so much business being performed in the cloud (by employees accessing data in remote applications from distant locations), it was an area especially vulnerable to attack. Zscaler focuses its cybersecurity solutions on the cloud, not in-house networks, and enterprise-level customers have responded.
In its fiscal-first-quarter earnings report, Zscaler reported rapid-fire growth, with revenue surging nearly 60% from last year while narrowing its GAAP losses as its client base of more than 3,200 businesses buys its cloud-delivered solutions. Because its area of expertise is in greenfield opportunities, Zscaler is in hypergrowth mode, but many already see the potential. Since the company went public in March, Zscaler's stock is up more than 150%.
That doesn't mean it can't grow even more. In fact, security will only become a greater concern as time progresses, suggesting Zscaler will enjoy huge growth for decades to come.