Winners tend to keep winning.
This is one of the most important lessons I learned working beside Motley Fool co-founders and master investors Tom and David Gardner. While many people would have you believe otherwise, a business's past performance is one of the best indicators of its future success. It certainly is not a guarantee, but winning is a habit -- one that tends to perpetuate itself by helping a company build the confidence and momentum needed to constantly ascend to new heights.
Here are two businesses that have been winning for decades -- and that are likely to continue to deliver market-beating returns to investors in the year and decade ahead.
1. Amazon: The e-commerce juggernaut
Few enterprises give investors as many ways to win as Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). The e-commerce giant dominates online retail in the U.S. and many other areas of the world. Global e-commerce sales will grow to more than $6.5 trillion by 2023, according to research company eMarketer, up from $3.5 trillion in 2019. Despite Amazon's decades of torrid growth and gargantuan $940 billion market capitalization, this massive and rapidly expanding global market still represents a tremendous growth opportunity for the e-commerce leader.
Amazon has another incredible growth opportunity in cloud computing. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the global leader in cloud infrastructure services. Like e-commerce, this is a large and fast-growing market -- one that's expected to surpass $166 billion by 2024, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets, up from $73 billion in 2019. AWS has become Amazon's most powerful profit driver, and it's likely to fuel its growth well into the future.
Amazon also has a booming digital advertising business. By allowing its massive army of third-party merchants to purchase highly relevant product listing ads on its search results pages, Amazon has become a powerful force in a digital ad industry that's projected to generate more than $500 billion in annual sales by 2023, according to eMarketer. This high-margin revenue stream provides yet another way for Amazon's -- and its shareholders' -- profits to march steadily higher in the coming years.
2. Visa: The payments titan
With the economy on sturdy ground and consumer confidence at a nearly 20-year high, Visa (NYSE:V) should also be on your list of stocks to buy in 2020. The digital payments giant operates the largest credit and debit card network in the world today. And when consumers are confident, they tend to shop more, which ought to be a boon for Visa.
Visa earns a fee on each transaction it processes, including every time someone makes a purchase with one of the 3.3 billion credit and debit cards on its network. Although small on an individual basis, the fees Visa received on the more than 138 billion transactions it processed in fiscal 2019 alone helped the payment titan generate $23 billion in revenue and $12 billion in earnings last year.
These figures should only grow larger in the decade ahead. In many international markets, cash remains the primary means of payment. Visa is expanding its international operations via both acquisitions and organic growth to meet the rising need for digital payment solutions in these markets. This global shift away from cash and toward digital forms of payment is a powerful long-term trend that's likely to fuel Visa's growth for many years to come. And it makes Visa's stock a terrific buy today.