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Forget FAANG, Buy These 4 Top-Notch Stocks Instead

By Danny Vena – Updated Oct 13, 2020 at 7:15AM

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A recent congressional report hints at big trouble for big tech, but there are compelling alternatives for investors.

Over the course of the past decade, investors who put their money to work in the vaunted FAANG stocks -- Facebook, Amazon (AMZN -0.77%), Apple, Netflix, and Alphabet -- have beaten the broader market by a wide margin. These tech bigwigs have gained between 398% and 4,800% in share price over the past 10 years, compared to just 160% average gains for the S&P 500. It would be hard to replicate those gains in the decade to come.

Additionally, the drumbeat of antitrust sentiment is getting louder in Washington, D.C., these days. A scathing report released last week by the antitrust panel of the House Judiciary Committee accused big tech of abusing its power and stifling competition, and potentially called for the breakup of some of technology's biggest players. At least four of the five FAANG stocks have recently become the target of antitrust investigations.

Some investors are looking for compelling alternatives to buy and hold for the coming decade, without the specter of antitrust hanging over their shoulders. Here are four alternative stocks investors should consider.

Man in a tuxedo sitting in a bathtub catching falling $100 bills.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Pinterest: The anti-Facebook

There's no denying Facebook is the biggest social media provider on the planet, with 2.7 billion monthly active users. But the company has drawn the gaze of regulators and legislators, and an antitrust suit could be filed by year-end. Investors looking for compelling alternatives need look no further than Pinterest (PINS -0.16%).

The website and smartphone app bills itself as the anti-social media, working to deliver a positive experience missing on other platforms. By allowing users to "pin" pictures to a personal board, Pinterest works to motivate them to back away from the keyboard and live, inspiring such pursuits as traveling, starting a project, or cooking up a new recipe, to name just a few.

In the second quarter, Pinterest announced that it passed a major milestone with more than 400 million visiting the platform every month. Its monthly active users (MAUs) grew by 76 million, up 39% year over year, bringing the total to 416 million, accelerating from 26% growth in Q1. 

Pinterest continued the slow pace of monetizing its platform, as revenue grew 4% year over year and its net loss improved by 91%. It's the overseas markets that are driving much of the growth, as international revenue climbed 72%. The average revenue per user (ARPU) is considerably lower in overseas markets than it is in the U.S., coming in at $0.14 and $2.50, respectively, which illustrates the massive opportunity that's ahead.

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Image source: Getty Images.

2. Roku: Netflix and more

While Netflix has thus far avoided the gaze of regulators, the simple truth is that the stock isn't likely to generate returns of 4,800% in the coming decade like it did over the past 10 years. That leaves investors looking for a fast-growing alternative. That's where Roku (ROKU -0.76%) comes in.

The company is widely known for its namesake streaming devices, but it's the combination of data, digital advertising, and its ecosystem that will propel Roku into the future. In addition to its pocket-sized streaming devices, Roku has the No. 1 selling smart-TV operating system in North America, found in 1-in-3 smart TVs in the U.S. and 1-in-4 in Canada. This gives the company an unparalleled reach with streaming viewers for its targeted advertising. 

Roku has always been platform agnostic, opening its system to all comers, with literally thousands of apps available within its system. This includes not only paid services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video but also thousands of ad-supported services. Roku uses its massive cache of viewer data to pinpoint and target ads to the right consumer.

Even as marketing budgets have been slashed during the pandemic, Roku's revenue grew 42% year over year in the second quarter, as advertisers sought more bang for their buck. At the same time, active accounts climbed 41%, and streaming video hours jumped 65% as existing viewers became more engaged. 

By avoiding the need to continually generate new content, Roku has carved out a large and lucrative niche for itself in the streaming-video market.

Woman with a credit card in one hand and a smart phone in the other making an online e-commerce purchase.

Image source: Getty Images.

3. Shopify: Amazon's not the only e-commerce game in town

Amazon was once a scrappy underdog but has risen to be the leading e-commerce marketplace, not only in the U.S. but worldwide. But it's the platform's sheer dominance that has attracted the interest of antitrust watchdogs that accuse the company of abusing its leading position. 

For investors, however, Amazon isn't the only e-commerce game in town -- in fact, it isn't even the fastest growing. Among the biggest names in digital retail, that honor goes to Shopify (SHOP 0.05%).

With the onset of the pandemic, merchants that still hadn't embraced e-commerce turned to Shopify in droves, pushing year-over-year revenue growth up 97% in the second quarter, while its adjusted earnings per share (EPS) soared tenfold. Other metrics show the magnitude of the ongoing gold rush to online retail. Gross merchandise volume (GMV) -- the value of products sold across its ecosystem -- grew 119%, while merchant-solutions revenue jumped 148%. 

Shopify already boasted more than 1 million merchants worldwide, but that number has surely grown as the result of the sea change of e-commerce that has proliferated this year. Shopify said new stores on its platform grew 71% since the end of the first quarter alone.

Once merchants have created an additional revenue stream from online sales, there's simply no going back. That bodes well for Shopify going forward.

A man working on a tablet producing a cloud computing image and various graphs.

Image source: Getty Images.

4. Microsoft: A compelling cloud alternative

The move to cloud computing has been ongoing and received a big boost from the pandemic, with both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud benefiting from the trend. However, with both companies drawing the ire of antitrust regulators, where's a cloud investor to turn? Enter Microsoft (MSFT -0.04%).

There's no denying that AWS dominates the cloud landscape, but Microsoft Azure has been closing the gap by generating faster growth over the past few years. For the three months ended June 30, 2020, Azure grew 47% year over year during the quarter, while AWS grew just 29%.

Microsoft's commercial cloud surpassed $50 billion in trailing-12-month revenue for the first time. For context, AWS reported $40 billion in net sales.

It's important to note that neither company provides a detailed account of what's included in their respective segments, so this isn't an apples-to-apples comparison. It does show, however, that Microsoft continues to close the gap with its larger rival.

That's not the only reason to be bullish on Microsoft. For its fiscal fourth quarter (ended June 30), revenue grew by 13% year over year, while net income climbed 15%, as the company leverages the strong position of its business software, artificial intelligence, and cloud ecosystem in the tech world. 

It's also worth noting that even as many of the FAANG stocks have drawn the gaze of regulators, Microsoft has avoided the attention of those inside the beltway (at least in this decade).

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Danny Vena owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Pinterest, Roku, and Shopify. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Pinterest, Roku, and Shopify and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft, short January 2021 $115 calls on Microsoft, short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon, and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Microsoft Stock Quote
Microsoft
MSFT
$247.49 (-0.04%) $0.09
Shopify Stock Quote
Shopify
SHOP
$36.79 (0.05%) $0.02
Roku Stock Quote
Roku
ROKU
$56.08 (-0.76%) $0.43
Pinterest Stock Quote
Pinterest
PINS
$24.99 (-0.16%) $0.04
Amazon Stock Quote
Amazon
AMZN
$93.41 (-0.77%) $0.72

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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