Right now, the stock market is in the midst of one of the greatest rallies long-term investors have ever seen. This happens to coincide with the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, which now spans more than 10 years. If you bought into high-quality companies and trusted your investment theses, you've probably done quite well.
But as investors, we're also keenly aware that no economic expansion can live on forever, no matter what conventional or unconventional methods the Federal Reserve uses to stimulate and/or stabilize the economy. Recession, the evil "R" word, is an inevitability at some point in the future, and that often spells doom for high growth stocks that carry around valuation premiums.
However, there are a handful of high-growth stocks that, frankly, won't be impacted much, if at all, when the next recession strikes. Consider putting these growth names high on your list of businesses to buy.
One sector that should be (pardon the pun) mostly immune to the impacts of a recession is healthcare. Since we don't get to choose when we get sick or what ailments we develop, this creates a steady influx of demand for everything from pharmaceuticals to medical devices. That's why I believe Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG) is poised to thrive no matter what the U.S. economy throws its way.
Intuitive Surgical is a robotic-assisted surgical system developer. In other words, its highly sophisticated machines are used by surgeons in hospitals to perform soft tissue surgeries with incredible precision. Though these surgeries are often pricier than laparoscopic surgery, the healing time for patients is often reduced, thereby helping to even out expenses by reducing hospital stay costs.
Intuitive's da Vinci surgical system is a robotic-assisted surgical Goliath. The company ended September having installed 5,406 of its machines worldwide over the past two decades. No other competitors are even remotely close to this total of installed surgical systems. Because of the rapport that the company has built up with the medical community, the many hours of training provided to surgeons, and the cost of these machines (up to $2.5 million), client loyalty remains high.
Further, Intuitive Surgical's margins should just keep getting better with age. The company's surgical systems, while pricy, are costly to build, and therefore offer only modest margins. The real meat and potatoes of profitability can be found in the instruments and accessories provided with each procedure, as well as the servicing needed on these systems. As the installed base grows, Intuitive Surgical should generate juicier margins from these ancillary revenue streams.
Finally, don't discount Intuitive Surgical's push into new indications. It's already dominant in gynecology and urology surgeries, but has plenty of runway to gain market share in colorectal, thoracic, and general soft tissue surgeries.
Suffice it to say that no recession is going thwart Intuitive Surgical's enormous economic moat.
Innovative Industrial Properties
The idea of buying a marijuana stock during a recession probably sounds preposterous. Even though vice stocks have generally shown some ability to fend off the sales weakness that typical retailers contend with during economic contractions, marijuana stocks also come with their own set of growing pains, atop the uncertainty that a recession could create. But none of this is of the least bit concerning to Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR).
Innovative Industrial Properties (also known as IIP) is a cannabis real estate investment trust (REIT). This is just a fancy way of saying that it buys up land and facilities that'll be used for growing medical marijuana and processing cannabis, then leases these properties out for an extended period of time. The hope here is that IIP will generate far more in rental income than it did to acquire these assets, and in the process, pass along a healthy dividend to its shareholders.
Usually, REITs are not considered high-growth companies. But with the U.S. pot industry being worth as much as $100 billion in a decade, and IIP pretty much starting from scratch, there could be a long runway of acquisition-based growth to come.
When the year began, Innovative Industrial Properties owned just 11 properties. But as of the end of October, IIP had 38 properties on its books in 13 states, including $403.3 million in invested capital. The beauty of this business model is that IIP's weighted-average remaining lease term is 15.6 years, and its 13.8% current yield on invested capital should produce a complete payback on its investments in a tad over five years' time. In other words, this is highly predictable cash flow that isn't going to be disturbed by a recession.
Plus, as one added bonus, Innovative Industrial Properties passes along a 3.25% annual rental increase to its tenants, thereby securing modest organic growth that should allow it to keep up with inflation. This high-growth, and coincidentally high-yield, stock should have no trouble when the next recession strikes.
Now, I know what you're probably thinking: "Why on Earth would I want to buy into a company that's dependent on consumer spending when a recession strikes?" The answer is twofold.
First, Visa operates solely a payments processor through its merchant network. Unlike banks, and even some of its processing peers, Visa does not lend money. While this prevents the company from double-dipping on the profit front during times when the economy is expanding, it also protects Visa from credit delinquency exposure. It's this credit delinquency exposure that really sinks financials during a recession.
Second, Visa has global appeal beyond the United States. Even though it does control the lion's share of purchasing volume through merchants in the U.S., it has Visa Europe and a number of emerging market economies to pick up the slack if consumption were to slow in the United States. Additionally, regions like the Middle East, southeastern Asia, and Africa remain largely untapped and underbanked markets that offer a long growth runway for Visa.
Maybe most telling is the fact that Visa, between March 2008 and October 2009 (I chose the latter because it represented the height of the unemployment rate at 10%), actually saw its share price rise by a double-digit percentage. History shows that Visa pays little heed to short-term fluctuations in the U.S. economy, which makes it the perfect high-growth financial to add to your portfolio.