Of far more importance than a stock's valuation is the business's current size relative to its future potential. And with the COVID-19 pandemic reshaping the economy, lots of smaller companies could realize big upsides over the next decade by capitalizing on these disruptions to the status quo. If you have money to put to work for the long term, Pinterest (PINS -1.97%), Etsy (ETSY 3.76%), Applied Materials (AMAT 0.89%), Anaplan (PLAN), and Teladoc Health (TDOC 0.21%) are all worth investing in right now.

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1 and 2. A pair of companies operating at the intersection of e-commerce and self-employment

The businesses of online search, discovery, and shopping are evolving, and the big tech companies involved in them are increasingly under the antitrust microscope. Simultaneously, more and more people are starting their own businesses and going the self-employment route. The confluence of these trends bodes well for visual search company Pinterest and handmade goods marketplace Etsy.

As with other internet search and social media companies, Pinterest makes its money from advertising. Ad spending has been disrupted this year due to the pandemic, but Pinterest is doing just fine. It added 49 million new users during the spring, bringing its global monthly average user count up to 416 million -- a 39% year-over-year increase. Increasing the number of people utilizing the Pinterest platform makes it a more effective place for companies to market their wares, so the recent surge in signups bodes well for it.

To wit, this social media company is still in the very early stages of monetizing its platform. Average revenue per user (ARPU) was just $0.70 in the second quarter. By way of comparison, Facebook's (META -2.70%) ARPU was $6.91 in the same period. Paired with adding new users, growing its ARPU could provide a huge boost for Pinterest over time. And with a market cap of $26 billion, this is still a relatively small company compared to others in the online advertising space valued in the hundreds of billions.

Etsy is also benefiting from the fast-changing use of the web. A surge in e-commerce this year brought hundreds of thousands of new craftspeople to the online marketplace. The results have been dramatic. In Q2, active sellers increased by 35% year over year to 3.1 million, active buyers increased 41% to 60 million, and value of merchandise sold increased 146% to $2.69 billion. But with a market cap of $18 billion, Etsy is small potatoes. Global retail sales top $23 trillion every year, and e-commerce spending -- which is growing at double-digit percentages annually -- is just over $4 trillion a year. There is ample open space for this marketplace to keep going.

Etsy could pick up serious steam in a digital era that better facilitates self-employment. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that new business creation and self-employment are on the rise: 95,000 new business applications were filed in the last week of September alone, more than 44% higher than the same week in 2019. If more sellers continue to flock to Etsy and e-commerce continues to gobble up a growing share of global retail, there's lots of upside ahead for this digital economy firm.

3. A broad-based play on semiconductors

As with all areas of the economy related to manufacturing, the semiconductor industry is cyclical. But a surge in demand for cloud computing services and the hardware that underlays them has pulled chip sales into an upswing in 2020, and over the next decade, demand for tech hardware will only continue to rise.

Rather than pick just one chipmaker, though, investors who buy Applied Materials can ride the gains of the whole industry. That's because AMAT is one of just a handful of companies -- among them, Lam Research (LRCX 0.93%) and ASML Holding (ASML 2.14%) -- that supply chip manufacturers with equipment and process engineering. AMAT's customers run the gamut from makers of highly commoditized memory chips to next-generation OLED screen manufacturers to solar panel companies. Whatever the latest trend in hardware tech may be, AMAT will have a hand in supplying the equipment needed to make it a reality.  

During its fiscal third quarter, which ended July 26, the company's revenue grew by 23% to $4.4 billion, and adjusted net income rose by 41% to $976 million. Its market cap is just shy of $56 billion, and shares currently trade for just 19 times trailing 12-month free cash flow (revenue less cash operating and capital expenses). For a growing and highly profitable firm in a massive industry that touches all areas of the tech world, that looks like a real deal to me.

4. Budgeting and planning software powered by AI

A lot of corporations temporarily paused their spending on software earlier this year as they reassessed their financial situations after COVID-19 struck. Despite those far-from-perfect conditions, though, machine learning enterprise-planning software firm Anaplan did just fine.

In the second quarter, Anaplan's total revenue increased 26% year over year to $107 million -- a sharp slowdown from the 45% growth it posted in 2019. Full-year growth of 26% was also called for, but with corporate spending normalizing and the ability to plan and budget effectively more important than ever, that could turn out to have been a conservative forecast. After all, in its short history as a public company, Anaplan has made a habit of under-promising and over-delivering.  

Since delivering its last earnings report, the company has also announced new AI capabilities for its software suite, further integration with Amazon (AMZN -0.29%) Web Services, and a new partnership with Alphabet's (GOOGL -0.27%) (GOOG -0.28%) Google Cloud. Those things could open the door to lots of new customers and higher usage among its existing customers. And with a market cap of just $8.8 billion, its still a small player disrupting an enterprise software industry in which tens of billions of dollars are spent every year. I expect Anaplan will be a much larger business in a decade's time.

5. Healthcare ripe for disruption

Teladoc has been making waves this year. It already had a lead in delivering virtual care to patients, and its merger with Livongo Health (LVGO) will create a massive digital platform offering what Teladoc calls "a single access point for whole-person care regardless of clinical situation." The deal is expected to close by the end of 2020, after which Teladoc will have a market cap of just over $30 billion (based on share prices as of Oct. 7).

But healthcare spending tops $3 trillion a year in the U.S. alone, and Teladoc has a global presence established with its virtual visit platform. Together with Livongo, the new company will have annual sales well in excess of $1 billion and expects to remain in double-digit expansion mode. (Livongo grew 125% in its last quarter and Teladoc 85% due to effects from the pandemic). And, as a result of the tie-up, the new Teladoc thinks it will be able to unlock an additional $500 million in annual revenue by 2025.

If you think the healthcare industry is ripe for disruption by technology in the next decade and beyond, Teladoc deserves a spot on your buy list right now.