This year has tested the resolve of investors like nothing before it. Although the stock market has undergone plenty of previous corrections, none resulted in the benchmark S&P 500 losing 34% of its value in just 33 calendar days.
The good news is that if investors held onto their positions and stuck to thesis, they're probably in great shape right now. That's because we've witnessed the strongest rally from a bear-market bottom of all-time. It took less than five months for the S&P 500 to rocket to a fresh high.
The thing is, if time is your friend and you can devote five years, 10 years, or even longer to investing in companies you believe in, your chance of making a game-changing profit grows significantly.
And with time as your greatest ally, you don't need to begin with a fortune to build one. If you have, say, $3,000 that you can set aside for investment purposes, which won't be needed for bills or emergencies, you have more than enough capital to buy into some of the most surefire growth stocks in the stock market today. Though these companies might be volatile in the short-term, they provide exceptional growth potential over the next decade and beyond.
Intuitive Surgical is the runaway leader in assistive surgical systems in hospitals and surgical centers. As of the end of June, it had 5,764 of its systems installed worldwide (most of which are in the U.S.), which is far more than any of its competitors, combined! What's more, some of its deep-pocketed competition have run into snafu's that'll delay the launch of a competing surgical system. After 20 years, Intuitive has built up a virtually impenetrable moat and sound rapport with the medical community.
It also doesn't hurt that Intuitive Surgical's business model is designed to grow stronger over time. Even though selling its pricey da Vinci systems ($0.5 million to $2.5 million per system) brings in a decent amount of revenue, these are highly intricate machines that yield only mediocre margins. Where the company generates the bulk of its margin is from selling instruments and accessories with each procedure, as well as in servicing its systems. As the number of installed systems grows, the percentage of revenue derived from the company's higher-margin channels will increase. That's a fantastic recipe for long-term investors to make money.
Palo Alto Networks
Another surefire growth stock to consider buying for the long haul is cybersecurity solutions provider Palo Alto Networks (PANW -2.77%).
Cybersecurity may not be the fastest-growing trend, but it's probably the safest industry that investors can count on consistent double-digit growth this decade. This is especially true now that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed workers out of the traditional office environment and placed more onus on security solutions providers to remotely protect clouds.
What's made Palo Alto Networks so intriguing has been the company's pivot from a hybrid software-as-a-service (SaaS) and physical firewall company to one that's almost entirely focused on SaaS cloud security applications. Making this change is a smart move given the higher margin, predictable revenue, and lower client churn associated with subscription-based models.
Palo Alto is also not afraid to aggressively invest in securing new market share. It's been regularly making bolt-on acquisitions to broaden its reach to small-and-medium-sized businesses, and has invested heavily in next-generation security solutions. Over the trailing 12 months, next-gen security billings rose 105% from the prior-year period.
Though it might be something of a vanilla pick given its low-margin retail ties and the fact that it's already a $1.7 trillion company, Amazon (AMZN -3.01%) is a growth stock that has a history of making patient investors rich.
As many of you are probably well aware, Amazon is the kingpin of e-commerce. Bank of America estimates that it controls 44% of all online sales in the United States. It also has more than 150 million worldwide Prime subscribers. Amazon uses the fees it collects from Prime, as well as its lower overhead cost advantage, to ensure that it undercuts brick-and-mortar retailers on price and keeps consumers loyal to its ecosystem of products and services.
What you may not know is that Amazon is also a leader in the infrastructure cloud space. Amazon Web Services (AWS) was responsible for generating $10.8 billion in COVID-19-affected second-quarter sales, "slowing" its growth rate to 29% from the previous year. With the push to e-commerce being more important than ever for small businesses, the cloud building blocks that AWS provides should play a big role in the company's long-term growth.
Since cloud margins runs circles around retail and ad-based revenue any day of the week, Amazon can expect its operating cash flow to per share to nearly triple by 2023.
Last, but certainly not least, growth seekers should know by now that betting on payment facilitator Mastercard (MA -1.60%) over the long run is a smart move.
As a financial services company, Mastercard is cyclical and dependent on an expanding U.S. and global economy to grow its business. Economic contractions and recessions are a natural part of the economic cycle, which means Mastercard will endure rough patches from time to time.
But also consider that Mastercard is a bet on the expansion of the U.S. and global economy. Periods of positive economic growth often last substantially longer than recessions. Buying Mastercard simply puts investors on the right side of history, thereby allowing them to take advantage of growing U.S. and global consumption.
What's more, Mastercard acts as a payment processor and not a lender. Although it has an array of financial service components, lending isn't one. That's actually great news, because it means the company has no direct liability when loan delinquencies rise during recessions. This is a big reason Mastercard's profit margin is regularly above 40%.
Considering that over 80% of all transactions are still conducted with cash, Mastercard's growth trajectory, as it fights the war on cash, remains robust.