The past decade has seen incredible economic growth, sending stocks steadily higher. But even as one of the longest periods of economic growth continues, there are signs that a recession could be looming. Moreover, every investor should have a plan; there's no time like the present to prepare for a recession.
But even with indicators pointing toward an economic slowdown at some point in the next couple of years or even sooner, it's a big mistake to let these short-term concerns keep you from taking actions that can deliver long-term wealth.
One of the biggest mistakes? Sitting on the sidelines and not buying stocks because you don't want to "buy at the top." The reality is, nobody knows when the next recession will start, or -- more importantly -- how much more stocks could go higher from here before the inevitable decline.
Most importantly, getting distracted by short-term market worries will almost certainly make you miss out on the real opportunity: The long-term wealth generated by buying and holding the best growth stocks.
For instance, there are three massive trends already happening, that are set to generate enormous wealth over the next decade and beyond: The aging of America's massive Baby Boomer generation; the huge growth of online retail; and lastly, a multi-trillion dollar need to expand and improve infrastructure around the world.
Caretrust REIT (CTRE 1.69%), Shopify (SHOP 2.00%), and NV5 Global (NVEE 3.29%) are, respectively, three of the best-positioned companies you'll find to profit from these trends. Not only have they already generated impressive returns for investors, but all three have plenty of room to grow much, much bigger over the next decade.
A recession-resistant business with a massive growth opportunity
At its height, the Baby Boomer was the largest in American History; even millennials -- now the largest segment due to the shrinking Boomer population -- never surpassed the peak Boomer population. Yet even as they age, retire, and are surpassed by younger cohorts as an economic power, the sheer number of Baby Boomers -- along with improved health outcomes and more active lifestyles that are resulting in longer life expediencies -- is set to double the number of Americans over 65 to about 80 million from 2010 to 2030. The number of 80-plus seniors will also double over that same period.
Simply put, the supply of seniors-focused housing and healthcare properties in operation today, won't be enough to meet the need in a decade. And that's already proven an excellent gap that Caretrust is helping to fill.
Having already doubled the size of its real estate portfolio since going public in 2014, Caretrust is on its way to having its biggest growth year in 2019. On the second quarter earnings call, CFO Mark Lamb said the company has already invested $305 million to acquire new skilled nursing properties. To put it in perspective that's already approaching triple the $116 million it spent in all of 2018. And that's just halfway through the year.
Yet even after this spending spree, Caretrust continues to maintain one of the strongest balance sheets in its business, finishing the quarter with a net-debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 3.4 and with a debt to asset ratio of 37%. Simply put, management continues to pull the right levers to grow the business while also keeping it healthy.
What's in it for investors? To start, a nice -- if below average for its peer group -- dividend yield of 3.8% at recent prices, and a strong track record of payout growth that's very likely to continue for years to come. Since implementing its quarterly dividend in late 2014, Caretrust has increased it every year, and it's up 80% in total.
No, Caretrust isn't cheap today, with one of the lower yields in its industry and a premium valuation. But it's also proven one of the best-run, and it's small size today has it in an enviable position for above-average growth for at least another decade. Combine that with the recession-resistant nature of healthcare and seniors housing, and investors should be happy to own this stock in any economic environment.
Profiting from the blurring lines of physical retail and e-tail
There's no denying it: E-commerce is booming (and my family's spending habits are ample proof). It's getting easier and easier to buy more things online, and what was once just the bastion for cheap deals has arguably become more appreciated for its convenience.
Yet at the same time, brick-and-mortar retail isn't going away; to the contrary, it is likely to grow in the decades to come, even as some parts of brick and mortar retail lose relevance and many retailers close their doors.
The point to all this rambling? Companies that successfully connect with customers however they choose to shop, will prove successful.
Shopify has already proven itself a valuable partner for merchants. Whether just a beginner at e-commerce, or a company that's already tried it alone and has realized how complicated it can be, and how specific the necessary skills to build, support, and improve an e-commerce platform can be, Shopify's "turnkey" solutions become deeply embedded in how their customers do business.
As a result, Shopify's revenue and operating cash flows have increased more than tenfold over the past five years:
But with revenue just passing $1 billion this year, it's still a bit player in retail. Moreover, there are still millions of retailers that either haven't fully embraced e-commerce, or are struggling to get it right, that could benefit from Shopify's powerful offerings.
Moreover, the company is making a major foray into fulfillment. While this is being touted as taking on Amazon.com -- and there's some truth to it -- the bigger picture makes it clear that third-party fulfillment is not going to be a winner-take-all business. Retail is so enormous, there will be plenty of room for multiple winners, including Amazon and, I expect, Shopify.
Yes; by every discernible metric, Shopify stock is exceedingly expensive, a product of its incredible growth, and regularly crushing investor's expectations with every passing quarter. Yet even at what some consider incomprehensible valuations, Shopify strikes me as a business that's still tapping its potential, and a decade from now, it's likely that the cash flows it will be generating will make today's stock price look pretty cheap.
There's risk, clearly, that the company doesn't execute on its business plan, or that the competition finally develops a platform that's just as appealing as Shopify's. It's up to you to decide if the risk/reward profile is right for you. I, for one, wouldn't bet against, such as well-run founder-led business.
It's gonna take a lot of money to fix this...
In the U.S., infrastructure is a nightmare. Our highways and bridges are crumbling. Water systems are poisoning people. Don't get me started on the power grid...
Simply put, we are way overdue on keeping the systems we rely on for modern society and commerce in the U.S. up to date. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. has regularly under-invested in nearly every kind of infrastructure for decades, to the tune of multiple trillions of dollars that will need to be spent to bridge the gap. And that's just here at home.
On a global basis, the numbers get much bigger, driven by a combination of aging infrastructure in developed countries, and surging urban middle class populations in the developing world. The G20's Global Infrastructure Hub initiative estimates it will take more than $3 trillion annually to meet global infrastructure needs over the next decade.
And this is a tremendous opportunity for NV5 Global, a small -- yet fast-growing -- engineering and consulting firm with an amazing track record of growth in its short life as a public company. Since its IPO in 2013, the company has grown revenue over 2,600%, earnings per share 1,300%, and its stock price is up almost 800%.
Yet it's still a small company, with a market cap below $1 billion, and revenues that will reach $500 million per year for the first time in 2019. Moreover, it's very reasonably priced, trading for less than 18 times expected 2019 earnings per share, and about 23 times management's more conservative earnings guidance.
Either way, it's a fair price for what could prove the best growth stock to buy in global infrastructure over the next decade. Another founder-led business (the CEO also owns about 25% of shares) with a strong record of performance, don't overlook what could prove to be a millionaire-maker stock.