This has been a year that's tried the patience of both tenured and novice investors. We've watched the benchmark S&P 500 set records to both the upside and downside, with the fastest bear market decline in history, as well as the quickest rebound to new all-time highs from a bear market low.
But if we've learned anything about investing over the years -- other than the fact that the market is completely unpredictable in the short term -- it's that long-term investing pays. Eventually, every single stock market crash and correction is completely erased by a bull market rally, which means patient investors with their eyes on innovative companies tend to come out ahead.
Best of all, you don't need to start with a fortune to get rich investing in the stock market. If you have $2,000 that you can spare for investment purposes, which won't be needed to pay bills or cover emergencies, you have more than enough capital to buy the following three great stocks.
One of the fastest-growing game-changing stocks that investors can buy right now is edge-cloud services provider Fastly (FSLY -3.31%). Even after gaining more than 500% on a year-to-date basis, Fastly's ascent may be just getting started.
You see, the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has completely reshaped the traditional office environment and how people shop. In other words, we've witnessed what was a steady push online and into the cloud become an utter stampede over the past seven months. This has taken already impressive growth for Fastly, which helps to improve the efficiency and speed by which content reaches the end user, and cranked it up a number of notches.
In the most challenging quarter in decades for the U.S. economy, Fastly announced a dollar-based net expansion rate of 137%, which is up 4 percentage points from the sequential first quarter. This means Fastly's existing customers are upping their spending in the wake of this major economic pullback. That says a lot about the role Fastly will play moving forward.
What's more, Fastly isn't just signing up no-name companies. To date, it counts Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok, Etsy, and Airbnb as some of its most well-known clients.
To add, investors should be aware that edge-cloud services can yield exceptionally high margins for Fastly. Though the company is making big investments in the short run that are bound to weigh on its near-term profit potential, adjusted gross margin in the second quarter jumped 610 basis points to 61.7% from the prior-year period. Fastly is already moving toward recurring profitability, yet its growth rate isn't slowing.
Though marijuana stocks have been very hit-and-miss over the past 18 months, U.S. pot stocks have differentiated themselves from Canadian licensed producers as the superior plays of the group. No matter what happens with the upcoming election, it's pretty clear that the U.S. federal government will maintain a hands-off approach on state-level legalizations. That's great news for this fast-growing industry and multistate operator Cresco Labs (CRLBF -5.66%).
Cresco offers two pathways to exceptional growth. First, it has a budding retail presence, with a keen focus on Illinois. This is a company with 29 total retail licenses, of which 19 retail locations are currently open. Nine of these dispensaries are located in the limited-license state of Illinois. By 2024, the Land of Lincoln should be generating $1 billion in weed sales annually. That gives Cresco a solid chance to scoop up meaningful market share in adult-use legal Illinois.
The more intriguing growth pathway is actually Cresco Labs' wholesale operations. When Cresco acquired Origin House in Jan. 2020, it gobbled up one of the very few companies in California that possessed a cannabis distribution license. As a result of this all-share buyout, Cresco gained access to more than 575 dispensaries throughout the Golden State. Since California is the largest marijuana market in the world by annual sales, and these sales could more than double by mid-decade, Cresco Labs looks to be sitting pretty.
Another great stock that can make investors rich is Singapore's Sea Limited (SE 1.25%). Sea has its fingers in a number of high-growth ventures in Southeast Asia that offer strong double-digit growth potential.
At the moment, Sea's breadwinner segment is gaming. The company's mobile global game, Free Fire, hit more than 100 million peak daily active users during the second quarter and played a key role in pushing adjusted segment revenue up 62% from the prior-year period.
But make no mistake about it, the real growth catalyst here is the company's e-commerce platform Shopee. Southeastern Asia is an underbanked region of the world with a burgeoning middle class and growing access to the internet. During the COVID-19-impacted second quarter, adjusted sales for Sea's e-commerce segment nearly tripled to $510.6 million, with gross merchandise value traversing its platform more than doubling to $8 billion. Sea is having little issue engaging prospective consumers, and the post-COVID-19 world we're living in now is only going to heighten the importance of convenient and safe online shopping. In short, it won't be long before e-commerce becomes the single most-important operating segment for Sea Limited.
Also interesting is the company's foray into digital financial services. Sea may be able to step in and fill financial services voids that major players have overlooked or ignored in Southeastern Asia. The company notes that the number of quarterly paying users for its mobile wallet services has already topped 15 million.
Sea Limited isn't a cheap company by any means, but this premium will be well-deserved if Shopee continues to deliver triple-digit sales growth and the company's digital financial services platform gains in popularity.