This year has truly been a tale of two markets. For a five-week period in the first quarter, downside momentum in the stock market tied to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was unlike anything we'd ever seen before. But over the past 3.5 months, Wall Street has undertaken its strongest rally in more than two decades.
If 2020 has taught investors anything, it's the power of long-term investing and sticking with your initial investment thesis, even if some pretty big hiccups present themselves.
It's also taught investors that you don't need to be rich to become rich in the stock market. If you have $5,000 in cash at your disposal that won't be needed to pay bills or for emergencies, then you have more than enough capital to put to work in some of the fastest-growing industries in the new bull market. Here are five industries you'd be smart to consider buying into right now with $5,000.
If these industries were being presented in any particular order (which they aren't), cloud computing would likely be at the top of the list. Even before COVID-19 became a serious concern, we were already witnessing a steady transition toward remote and shared-work capabilities. COVID-19 simply provided a shot in the arm to facilitate this transformation even faster. In my mind, there's little question that cloud growth should consistently remain in the double-digits on an annual basis throughout this decade.
While there are no shortage of cloud service companies to choose from, e-commerce giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) might be the preferred stock to own. Amazon Web Services (AWS) operates as an infrastructure-as-a-service player, which is a fancy way of saying that it supplies small and medium-sized businesses with the tools necessary to form the building blocks of their cloud-based platform. In just a five-quarter stretch, AWS has grown from 11% of Amazon's total sales to 13.5% of total sales, while accounting for the lion's share of its operating income during the first quarter.
Make no mistake about it, high-margin cloud sales are going to generate insane amounts of cash flow for Amazon and other cloud-service providers.
If there's such a thing as a no-brainer industry to buy, it's cybersecurity. No matter how well or poorly the U.S. and global economy are performing, hackers don't take time off. This makes the hardware and subscription protection services provided by cybersecurity companies an absolute necessity. And with more businesses pushing into the cloud than ever before, there's a growing need for more sophisticated security solutions.
Here, I continue to be a fan of what Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW) is doing. In recent quarters, Palo Alto has deemphasized physical firewall products in favor of higher-margin subscription and support services. This will lead to more consistent revenue recognition and should help reduce what little client churn the company is contending with. And yes, it'll help improve operating margins over the long run, too.
Palo Alto has also diversified its product offerings through numerous bolt-on acquisitions. Look for the company to continue spending aggressively on innovation and inorganic growth to improve its cloud-protection market share.
The cannabis industry gets a bit of a bad rap given that the bubble finally burst in pot stocks over the past 15 months. Supply issues to our north, high tax rates in select U.S. markets, and financing concerns throughout North America have coerced caution from investors.
But this is still an industry where tens of billions of dollars in sales are conducted annually in the black market. It's expected that these illicit channels will gradually give way to legal sales over time and offer the North American marijuana industry a double-digit growth opportunity throughout much of the 2020s.
An intriguing name to consider here is Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF). Green Thumb is a multistate operator with 48 open dispensaries and licenses to open as many as 96 stores in a dozen states. Green Thumb is currently generating about two-thirds of its revenue from higher-margin derivatives, rather than dried cannabis flower, which is a big reason it looks to be on the cusp of recurring profitability.
Furthermore, Green Thumb has established a significant presence in Illinois, which opened its doors to recreational weed sales on Jan. 1, 2020, as well as Nevada, which has the potential to lead the nation in cannabis spending per-capita by mid-decade.
Internet of Things
Another industry that looks set to come into its own is the Internet of Things (IoT). By IoT, I'm talking about wireless devices that can communicate with other wireless devices, as well as data centers. Like marijuana, IoT was hyped up too quickly in the 2010s, but has now had time to mature. This growing focus on technology making our lives easier is bound to have a positive impact on IoT companies for years to come.
The name to watch here is NXP Semiconductors (NASDAQ:NXPI), which generated almost half of its revenue last year from the automotive industry, with industrial equipment, communications, and mobile comprising the remainder of sales in 2019. In particular, NXP is a leader in self-driving and sensor equipment used in a number of newer automobiles. Between 2018 and 2021, NXP expects to have delivered a compound annual growth rate of 7% to 10% (this includes 2021 as an estimate), which is outpacing the CAGR for the IoT auto market of 5% to 7% over this same time frame.
Additionally, don't overlook other growth drivers for NXP, such as mobile payment adoption, the rollout of 5G networks, and its scalability in industrial processing applications.
Last, but not least, don't forget about the personalized medicine push. Anything that caters to individual patient needs, especially during a pandemic, is likely to see demand improve significantly over the long run.
As a perfect example, take a closer look at Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC), which provides telemedicine visits for patients. Not only are these virtual visits critical during the pandemic to ensure that sick people remain in their homes, but it's a considerably more convenient method of arranging a consultation with a physician. It also doesn't hurt that telemedicine visits tend to be cheaper for insurance providers.
During the pandemic-impacted first quarter, Teladoc reported an absurd 92% uptick in virtual visits, with its paying membership increasing by 61% to 43 million people in the United States. Visit-fee-only access increased by a whopping 89%, as well. Though there's little question that Teladoc Health will continue to lose money in the near-term as it enhances its platform and makes complementary acquisitions, it clearly has the tools necessary to become a major player in personalized health over the next decade.