There isn't much any of us can do in large groups these days. Concert venues are closed, many movie theaters remain shuttered, and many large, outside events have been canceled thanks to COVID-19. With so many restrictions on where people work, how they have fun, and where they can be social, many technology companies have offered up solutions to our pandemic-induced work and entertainment woes.
Three companies in particular, Shopify (SHOP 0.22%), Amazon (AMZN -0.94%), and Apple (AAPL 0.88%), are actually growing during the pandemic as their products and services meet the growing needs of the stuck-at-home masses. These tech stocks are more than just flash-in-the-pan stocks that are seeing temporary upside -- each can build wealth for investors years after we kiss COVID goodbye.
Helping businesses, large and small
Shopify's platform allows businesses of all sizes to set up online shops to sell their products and services. The company was already growing by leaps and bounds before COVID-19, but the pandemic forced many businesses online -- and Shopify's e-commerce platform has grown even faster as a result.
Shopify's revenue jumped 97% in the second quarter (reported July 29), driven by both the company's Subscription Solutions segment, which grew 28% year over year, and its Merchant Solutions segment, which spiked 148%.
Shopify's chief operating officer, Harley Finkelstein, said on the company's second-quarter earnings call: "Many merchants were caught off guard, and we knew that Shopify needed to act fast to help them survive. So from late March through the second quarter, we dialed up our urgency to enable independent businesses to adapt and compete in this new reality."
As more merchants moved online to Shopify's platform to sell their products and services, the company's gross merchandise volume (GMV) -- the dollar amount spent on its platform in the quarter -- skyrocketed 119% to $30.1 billion.
Aside from Shopify's recent growth, the company will continue to benefit from the expansion of the e-commerce market. E-commerce still only represents a sliver of the entire U.S. retail market, and as it grows, Shopify's e-commerce platform is perfectly poised to grow along with it.
A tech leader for uncertain times
Just like Shopify, Amazon is benefiting from everyone's need to buy more and more items online. Even as some stores have opened back up, in-person shopping during a pandemic isn't very appealing to many customers.
As a result, Amazon's second-quarter results blew past analysts' expectations, with the company's $10.30 of earnings per share trouncing Wall Street's estimate of $1.46. The company's revenue also spiked 40% in the quarter, to $88.9 million.
But Amazon isn't just benefiting from e-commerce. The company's cloud computing infrastructure service, Amazon Web Services (AWS), is also experiencing more demand as companies boost their online offerings during the pandemic. AWS revenue increased 29% in the quarter to $10.8 billion, and the segment generated $3.4 billion in operating income -- much higher than even the company's $2.1 billion in North American retail sales.
In addition to all of this growth, Amazon is also making the rare move of actually hiring during the current recession. Brian Olsavsky, Amazon's chief financial officer, said on the second-quarter earnings call: "We welcomed more than 175,000 new employees in March and April, many of whom were displaced from other jobs in the economy. As we've seen demand remain high, we are in the process of bringing 125,000 of these employees into regular full-time positions."
Between the company's impressive earnings, e-commerce demand, AWS growth, and its mass hirings, it's clear Amazon deserves to be a top stay-at-home stock pick for many reasons.
Apple just can't seem to lose
Last, but certainly not least, is Apple. The company has been a darling of investors during the pandemic, with its share price skyrocketing 65% since the beginning of this year. But why are so many investors optimistic about this tech stalwart? Probably because the company's products and services match up perfectly with the stay-at-home world.
As more people moved out of their offices and into their living rooms and bedrooms for work, Apple's products have benefited. New laptops, desktops, and wearable devices for video calls are all in high demand right now. Some of that demand helped boost the company's revenue by 11% in the third quarter and helped push its earnings per share up 18% to $2.58, beating Wall Street's estimate of $2.07.
But Apple is also benefiting as more people need more at-home entertainment right now. The company's Apple TV+, Apple Music, and Apple Arcade services are all part of its broad services offerings, and Apple's services sales jumped 15% in the most recent quarter to $13.2 billion. Apple set out to double its 2016 services revenue by the end of 2020, and the company has accomplished that goal months ahead of schedule.
Apple CEO Tim Cook summed up the quarter, saying on the company's third-quarter earnings call: "In an uncertain environment, Apple saw a quarter of historic results, demonstrating the important role our products play in our customers' lives."
Going forward, Apple will not only benefit as more people use its products for their work-from-home and entertainment needs, it could see additional growth from its iPhone sales segment as well. A 5G-enabled iPhone could debut this year and help drive an upgrade cycle for current iPhone users.