Consider three relatively new public companies that have already delivered serious profits for their shareholders: The first one came public in April 2017, and has gained 736% since then. The second company had its initial public offering in December 2016. It's returned 457% to its investors in a little more than three years. The final company went public in October 2017, and has returned 219% to its investors since then.
These fantastic, high-growth companies have all obliterated the S&P 500 since they went public, but those in the rear-view mirror performances might lead investors to think it's too late to buy into them. It's not.
Wall Street has rewarded these companies with skyrocketing market caps because they've been growing at astronomical rates -- and they still are. The slowest of them is expanding its revenues at 104% a year. The other two are growing revenues almost twice as fast -- 194% and 197%, respectively. Here's what's driving the success for these three growth stocks.
1. Carvana: This company could dominate used car sales in the next decade
The first stock in this trio is Carvana (CVNA -2.85%). The company had $2 billion in revenues in 2018 and should come close to $4 billion for 2019. Can it double sales yet again in 2020? Probably not, but it will sure be fun to watch it try.
It's rather shocking how many people still don't appreciate internet retail stocks. You would think, 20 years after Amazon showed us the way, that people would understand that the company that dominates the used-vehicle space online will have a superior business model to all its brick-and-mortar competitors in this $764 billion industry.
People like shopping online. It's easier, simpler, cheaper, and gives you far more options. Carvana has 33,600 vehicles for sale. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that all the mom-and-pop used car lots are in big trouble.
Clearly, there are plenty of investors who do recognize that. Its stock has been an eight-bagger in less than three years as a public company. Yet there's also massive short interest in Carvana -- more than 50% of its float is sold short. Plenty of people are failing to recognize its huge market opportunity, and are disdainful of the retailer. Investors had a similar view of Amazon, back in the day. Will these doubters never learn?
2. Innovative Industrial Properties: The largest marijuana farm landlord in the U.S.
Now that we've got that "slowpoke" Carvana out of the way, let's discuss a marijuana company that is growing revenues by 194%. Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR -2.26%) is relatively tiny -- it had perhaps 1% of Carvana's revenues in 2019. And it's much easier to double or triple your revenue when starting from a small base. Carvana jumping from $2 billion to $4 billion in a year is more impressive than a company growing from $14 million to $42 million.
On the other hand, while Carvana is still operating at a loss, IIP is firmly in the black with a profit margin of 51%.
Innovative Industrial Properties has margins like Visa because it's basically the Visa of marijuana. Due to federal banking laws, fledgling pot entrepreneurs can't get credit from banks -- no loans, no mortgages, they can't even open deposit accounts. Into this rather strange state of affairs under which legal, above-board businesses are treated like criminal enterprises, Innovative Industrial Properties has come to the rescue. Its a real estate investment trust whose business model is to buy these companies' underlying cannabis growing facilities, then lease them back to the sellers. This gives the growers the capital they require to operate, and it's how IIP got to be the largest owner of marijuana-growing acreage in the United States.
Sometime in the next few years, the federal government will probably change the rules and allow the marijuana industry access to conventional financial markets. Until that happens, however, it's all green fields ahead for Innovative.
3. Sea: What billion-dollar company has 197% revenue growth?
Out in Southeast Asia, a monster is rising, and its name is Sea (SE -2.13%). In its last quarter, the region's most popular internet platform tripled its revenue year-over-year to $753 million.
How can such a large company grow so fast? By expanding into new market verticals. Sea comprises three businesses. The first (and most profitable) is video game unit Garena. Management projected it would bring in at least $1.7 billion for 2019. The company owns the rights to Free Fire, a billion-dollar mobile title. Garena is highly profitable, and grew EBITDA 395% to $266 million last quarter.
However, its most dramatic revenue growth is coming from Shopee, its e-commerce arm. Internet retail has vast potential in Southeast Asia, where it's projected to grow from $38 billion in 2019 to $153 billion in 2025. In the third quarter, Shopee's revenues soared 261% to $257 million.
Sea's third and newest business is digital financial services provider SeaMoney. The payments field is highly lucrative -- PayPal, after all, is a $143 billion company in the U.S. There's no reason Sea couldn't achieve similar results in Southeast Asia. And that doesn't even include the possibility that Sea may soon be allowed to start offering digital banking services in Singapore.
With a $22 billion market cap, Sea is already large. But the opportunities for internet companies are huge in emerging markets. With strong and popular offerings in financial services, video games, and e-commerce, Sea should dominate for many years to come.