Historically speaking, value stocks have outpaced growth stocks over the long run, although both have produced handsome returns for buy-and-hold investors. A Bank of America/Merrill Lynch report released in 2016 found that the average annual return for value stocks was 17% between 1926 and 2016, compared to 12.6% for growth stocks over the same 90-year period.

Yet, here's something investors will find interesting: Since the Great Recession, growth stocks have run circles around value stocks. The historically low-interest-rate environment has encouraged lending and borrowing, which is great news for rapidly expanding growth stocks. And with rates expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, it leaves the door open for ongoing outperformance.

Though you might be tempted to look for growth stocks in the small-cap and mid-cap arena, don't forget about large-cap stocks (those with markets caps of at least $10 billion). Despite often being viewed as mature businesses that left their growth phase in the rearview mirror a long time ago, the following three companies would respectively disagree. In fact, these three large-cap stocks are some of the fastest-growing companies on the planet.

A businessman holing a potted plant in the shape of dollar sign.

Image source: Getty Images.


Although Wall Street estimates can be incredibly fluid, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system manufacturer DexCom (NASDAQ:DXCM) is expected to see its sales grow from $1 billion in 2018 to $2.5 billion by 2022, with the company's earnings per share (EPS) on track to grow 11-fold, from $0.30 per share in 2018 to $3.62 (estimated) by 2022.

Make no mistake about it, DexCom isn't a cheap company at 119 times next year's projected EPS, but that's not scaring away Wall Street or investors. That's because diabetes is a serious and growing problem in the U.S., with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that 30.3 million Americans (more than 9% of the population) had diabetes in 2015. Further, more than 84 million people aged 18 and over had prediabetes, which, if left untreated. could lead to diabetes years down the line. This presents a massive market opportunity for DexCom and its monitoring devices to help diabetics take better control of their health. 

With DexCom continuing to innovate, it should be able to grow its core U.S. CGM market share, which currently sits at a little less than 20%. Look for the launch of the G7 in 2020 or 2021 as the next major growth driver for a company that's on track for 40% full-year sales growth in 2019.

A young woman using a point-of-sale system in a retail store.

Image source: Getty Images.


The tech sector is another area where you're bound to find high-growth companies, and large-cap Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) does not disappoint. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud company is expected by Wall Street to grow sales from $1.07 billion in 2018 to around $3.6 billion in 2022. At the same time, full-year EPS will climb from $0.38 in 2018 to an estimated $2.92 over the same period.

The beauty of Shopify is that its business model offers two ways to grow. There's the higher-margin SaaS services, such as website hosting and file storage, which have seen growth taper a bit in recent years but does an excellent job of avoiding client churn. There's also the faster-growing merchant solutions, which helps with in-house payment processing and shipping, and even provides cash advances to merchants. Even though merchant solutions is a lower-margin segment than subscription services, it requires considerably less upkeep and marketing to drive this growth, making it an indispensable operating segment.

Similar to DexCom, Shopify isn't cheap at 400 times next year's EPS, but few cloud companies of its size ($43 billion market cap) are expected to grow sales as quickly. With Shopify even acting as a point-of-sale platform for cannabis operators in Canada, it's bound to remain a popular stock among growth investors.

A person running a credit card through a smartphone-attached Square point-of-sale reader.

Image source: Square.


Speaking of growth you can bank on, point-of-sale solutions provider Square (NYSE:SQ) is projected by Wall Street to see its sales skyrocket from $1.59 billion in 2018 to a cool $4.8 billion by 2022. At the same time, EPS for the company should nearly quadruple from $0.47 in 2018 to $1.75 by 2022.

Square is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the payment processing space as an alternative to traditional merchant solutions providers Visa and Mastercard. In the most recent quarter, Square processed $28.2 billion in gross purchasing volume (GPV), ultimately helping the company generate 44% year-over-year net revenue growth. What's really impressive is that GPV from large sellers rose 34% from the prior-year quarter (Q3 2019 vs. Q3 2018), with these large sellers now accounting for 55% of the company's total GPV. Translation: Square isn't just for small- and medium-sized businesses anymore.

This is also a company reliant on financial innovation to drive growth. The company's Cash App, which allows users to send, store, and even invest money, generated year-over-year net revenue growth of 115% in the third quarter. The Cash App ecosystem is clearly working wonders for Square, and with Cash App's margins improving in each of the past two years, it should not be surprising if the company remains among the fastest-growing large-cap stocks for the foreseeable future. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.