What a truly wild time to be an investor. In mid-February, following an 11-year bull market, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic pushed equities off a veritable cliff, resulting in the fastest descent into bear market territory in history, as well as a peak 34% decline in the S&P 500 in just 33 calendar days.
Yet fast-forward 10 weeks and you'll find that the S&P 500 has regained nearly three-quarters of what's been lost. In fact, discussion on Wall Street has shifted from wondering whether we'd retest the lows set on March 23 to what stocks should be bought in the brand-new bull market.
If you have, say, $3,000 in disposable cash available for investment (i.e., cash you won't need for bills or emergencies), consider buying into these five high-growth stocks.
Palo Alto Networks
Arguably one of the most exciting trends for the new bull market (and beyond) is cybersecurity. To be clear, cybersecurity was already important well before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the need to have employees work remotely has only elevated the importance of cloud-based cybersecurity solutions. That's why Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) is a company you're going to want to have in your portfolio.
In recent years, Palo Alto has been shifting its focus from cybersecurity product offerings to subscription-based solutions and support. Subscriptions provide better margins and more consistent cash flow, and there's less concern about client churn and lumpy revenue relative to product sales. In its fiscal third quarter, ended April 30, 2020, Palo Alto reported 20% sales growth, with virtually all of this growth derived from subscription and support services. With this higher-margin channel now accounting for almost 68% of total sales, up 6 percentage points from fiscal Q3 2019, Palo Alto should see rapid earnings acceleration in the years that lie ahead.
This is also a company that's not afraid to make big investments in its cloud-protection solutions. Palo Alto's management team has not been shy about curtailing very near-term profit growth if it means more cloud-protection market share over the long run.
Similar to a lot of big trends brought to the forefront by the coronavirus pandemic, telemedicine was already a big theme. All COVID-19 did was accelerate the demand for personalized health solutions at a time when the healthcare system was stretched thin. But even as life begins to return to a bit of what we might call "normal," there's little question that Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) has carved out its share of the telemedicine growth story.
During the first quarter, which only accounted for a relatively small portion of the time people were asked to stay at home by their respective governors, Teladoc Health saw visits from subscribing members rise 93%, with fee-only visits in the U.S. catapulting 263%!
There's no question that COVID-19 is driving visits through Teladoc's platform. But the fact is that time constraints on physicians coupled with patients' desire for a more personalized and convenient experience makes Teladoc Health's solutions a no-brainer long-term growth story. Value investors could struggle to stomach near-term losses as Teladoc reinvests in its platform, but a doubling in sales every three or four years is a very feasible expectation going forward.
There's a really good chance we're going to be talking about financial technology a lot following the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we were already seeing fintech disrupt traditional financial services prior to the coronavirus, the demand for personalization and improved convenience in the financial space is going to drive companies like Square (NYSE:SQ) considerably higher in the new bull market.
Even though you probably know Square best for its point-of-sale solutions or perhaps its lending platform, the most intriguing growth driver is Cash App. Between the end of 2017 and the end of 2019, the number of monthly active Cash App users more than tripled from 7 million to 24 million, with average revenue per user more than doubling. With users able to send and receive funds, connect their Cash App account to Cash Card, and invest directly from their Cash App account, it wouldn't be shocking if Cash App grew into Square's most disruptive (and profitable) financial solution.
Of course, we can't overlook the seller ecosystem, which is also transforming before our eyes. In recent years, we've begun to see a shift toward larger businesses utilizing the platform. That's great news for Square, which has a real shot to double its total sales for 2019 within the next four years.
Another thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the American public is the importance of having health insurance. With most folks not having nearly enough in savings to cover an emergency, the health insurance industry is liable to see a steady boost in demand in the years to come.
However, it's not just people that need to be insured. The American Pet Products Association finds that 42.7 million U.S. households own a cat, and another 63.4 million own a dog. Yet only between 1% and 2% of North American households have insurance on their companion pets. That's liable to change, and Trupanion (NASDAQ:TRUP) should be a prime beneficiary.
Despite clear economic hardships during the first quarter, Trupanion's subscription pet enrollment rose by 14% from the prior-year period, with total enrolled pets up by 25% to north of 687,000. Nearly all pet owners in the U.S. view their four-legged friends as family and, as such, are likely willing to spend top dollar to ensure their health. This puts Trupanion in an enviable position to continue growing by double digits, all while generating the bulk of its revenue from highly predictable subscriptions.
Finally, if you don't already own a stake in e-commerce giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), you might want to consider changing that.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown us the importance of online shopping, and I doubt we're going to see this demand for retail convenience ebb much once the COVID-19 crisis is over. Depending on your preferred source, Amazon is responsible for around 40% of all U.S. e-commerce, a market share roughly 6 times larger than that of its next-closest competitor. Amazon is also collecting membership fees from its more than 150 million Prime members worldwide, which is another tool in its arsenal to undercut brick-and-mortar retailers on price and ensure that its members stay within its ecosystem.
But the reason you'll want to own Amazon for the new bull market is due to its role as an infrastructure cloud play via Amazon Web Services (AWS). Cloud services are responsible for much better margins than the retail and ad-based revenue that Amazon generates from its core operations. This means that as AWS grows into a larger percentage of total sales, Amazon will see its operating cash flow skyrocket.