Everyone wants financial independence; it's at the heart of the American dream. And while plenty of us earn enough income to live a pretty unfettered lifestyle during our working years, far too few people will retire with a big enough nest egg to live the retirement of their dreams.
A few uncomfortable stats: The average Social Security check is around $1,400 per month, less than $17,000 per year, or $34,000 for a married couple if both spouses worked and collected the average benefit. That's good for just over half of the median American household income, and very close to the poverty level in many parts of the United States.
Furthermore, Social Security payroll taxes no longer cover expenses, and the Social Security Administration has started drawing down from trust fund reserves to make ends meet. By 2034 that money will be gone, and payroll taxes will only support 79% of obligations. And while I'm hopeful we find the political will to fix this broken system, retirees are headed straight for a 21% pay cut as things stand today.
The takeaway? Don't count on the government, your employer, or anyone else to pay for the lifestyle you want to enjoy in retirement. It's truly up to you.
But there's hope. Taking advantage of the compounding power of time, the tax-savings benefit of retirement accounts, and the profit-growing potential for the best companies, can help you reach retirement with enough wealth to not have to worry about Social Security getting cut. And two stocks that can play a big role in helping you do it include Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE:BIP) and The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD).
The $94 trillion investment opportunity you're overlooking
Much is made of the decline of the middle class in America as more wealth accrues to a few of the most wealthy, but globally the middle class is burgeoning. According to public policy organization The Brookings Institution, more than half of the world's population is in the middle class, and this number is set to grow rapidly. Between 2017 and 2027, the global middle class population is expected to expand by an incredible 1.7 billion new members, with the majority of them living in urban environments.
And while plenty of companies are focused on what to sell this burgeoning consumer class, potentially the biggest overlooked opportunity is the trillions of dollars that will be spent to build out and improve the water, transportation, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure it will take to support nearly 2 billion more people.
And when it comes to those kinds of asset Brookfield Infrastructure is is one of the best-run, best-capitalized businesses to own. Since going public just over a decade ago, Brookfield Infrastructure has rewarded its investors with more than 464% in total returns, much of that through its incredible dividend growth.
But that could be just the beginning of a very long run. The Global Infrastructure Hub estimates it will take $94 trillion in spending by 2040 to pay for the world's infrastructure modernization and expansion needs. With a current balance sheet of around $35 billion in assets, Brookfield Infrastructure's assets make up a few handfuls of water compared with the global infrastructure ocean.
Furthermore, it's a business worth owning in any economic environment, since the services it provides are necessary in good and lean times. That's why it has increased its dividend payout every year since going public and has a long-term goal to raise the payout at least 5%-9% every year.
Brookfield Infrastructure is set to be a compounding monster for investors who buy to hold, and reinvest the big 4.6%-yielding dividend. Even better, unlike most limited partnerships, Brookfield Infrastructure can be owned in an IRA or 401(K) with very little risk of generating a tax bill. That makes it an ideal investment for retirement.
A rare upstart and insider in a massive industry
Rarely are companies both a disruptor and well aligned with some of the biggest players in a particular industry. In most cases they're breaking down walls and making a list of much bigger enemies whose goal is to take them off the playing field. However, The Trade Desk is doing just that in the massive global advertising industry.
The Trade Desk's programmatic advertising platform plays a huge role in making it a valuable partner for some of the world's biggest ad agencies, and not a competitor, by giving them new tools and powerful data to help deliver better results from their clients' ad spending.
So far, The Trade Desk's technology and relationship-focused strategy is working incredibly well. CEO Jeff Green described 2018 as a "groundbreaking year" for the company, which just reported that revenue increased 56% and adjusted earnings per share more than doubled to $1.09 in the fourth quarter.
Since going public in late 2016, The Trade Desk has rewarded investors with incredible 557% in gains. Over the past year alone, shares are up almost 300%, following a giant 32% single-day surge after 2018 earnings were announced.
Yet despite these returns, there's plenty of growth left in the tank. Revenue was only $477 million in 2018, and management expects "at least" $637 million this year on approximately $3.2 billion in client gross ad spend. That's a tiny fraction of the ad market -- it's over $700 billion per year already -- that's set to get much bigger over the next couple of decades.
A potentially bright future
These two stocks alone won't make you retire rich, but they could go a long way toward helping it happen. With excellent management, mega-trends creating huge tailwinds, The Trade Desk and Brookfield Infrastructure Partners are set up for potentially decades of market-crushing returns. As much as investors have already been rewarded in both stocks, their futures look to be even brighter.