Robinhood has certainly found itself in the spotlight in 2020. Young investors have flocked to the platform in record numbers this year, particularly in the wake of the record volatility that plagued the market earlier this year.
There were roughly 6 million new online trading accounts opened during the first half of the year, according to Barron's, and Robinhood was responsible for half of those. There were 4.3 million transactions processed by Robinhood during the month of June, outpacing every other brokerage platform. To put that number in context, it was nearly quadruple that of competitor E*Trade, which was recently acquired by Morgan Stanley.
While traders using the app have made some downright questionable investment choices, there are also many high-quality stocks on the list of the most popular Robinhood stocks. Let's look at three of those top choices and why other investors should consider stocking up on these companies, as well.
PayPal: A time-tested digital-payments leader
Robinhood investors have been absolutely gaga over PayPal (PYPL 1.57%) in recent weeks, buying up stock in the digital-payment processor like there's no tomorrow. The world's original online payment option is also the 14th most popular stock on the Robinhood app this month.
The onset of the pandemic has brought new urgency to no-touch payment methods, which has been a boon to the digital-payment pioneer. In fact, when PayPal reported its second-quarter results in early August, it was the company's best quarter ever.
Revenue grew to $5.26 billion, up 22% year over year, while earnings per share of $1.29 climbed 86%. The surge in cash generation was even more impressive, with free cash flow of $2.19 billion, soaring 112%.
What drove this impressive growth spurt? In a word -- customers. PayPal added a record 21.3 million net new active accounts, marking the strongest quarterly additions in the company's history. To give that perspective, PayPal added 37 million new accounts in all of 2019.
PayPal isn't stopping there, expanding into Latin America with its investment in MercadoLibre (MELI 0.04%), becoming a payment option on the company's platforms in Mexico and Brazil, as well as offering cross-border payment options. PayPal also partnered with Gojek, a mobile e-commerce provider in Asia, adding its 170 million users to PayPal's network.
Digital payments were already gaining greater adoption, but this was accelerated by the pandemic. As the industry leader, PayPal is in a great position to continue to benefit, so it's easy to see why it's a favorite among Robinhood investors.
Nike: Winning with e-commerce
Investors on the Robinhood platform were no doubt attracted to Nike (NKE -0.46%) for its easily recognizable brand, but there are also other factors at play that have made the sportswear giant the 12th most popular stock on the investing platform. One of the unexpected results of the pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home orders is a renewed interest in fitness. People suddenly found themselves at home with more time on their hands. With fewer leisure activities to choose from, consumers finally had the time and inclination to exercise.
Even as consumers continue to avoid physical retail, Nike surprised investors last month with quarterly results that trounced expectations. Revenue of $10.6 billion was flat year over year but exceeded analysts' consensus estimates by more than $1 billion. Profits grew, with earnings per share of $0.95 increasing 10%.
The headline was the performance of the company's e-commerce efforts, as Nike-brand digital sales soared 82%, scoring double-digit growth in North America, China, and the Asia Pacific/Latin America (APLA) segments. It also generated triple-digit growth in its Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) segment.
Nike sought to capitalize on the growing adoption of online sales by expanding its online retail operations. CEO John Donahoe said: "[D]igital is a new normal. The consumer today is digitally grounded and simply will not revert back."
It's also worth noting that Nike pays a dividend that yields 0.76% and uses just 55% of its profits to fund the payments. The company also has a history of payouts stretching back more than 18 years.
Nike has a long track-record of success in the athletic footwear and apparel space, so it isn't surprising that Robinhood investors are running to Nike.
Activision Blizzard: Game on!
Millennials grew up with joysticks in their hands, so video games are second nature. This no doubt influenced their investing choices in recent weeks, as many bought stock in video game kingpin Activision Blizzard (ATVI 5.94%), making it the 10th most popular choice among Robinhood investors.
Consumers looking for new sources of in-home entertainment turned to an old favorite -- video games -- to while away the hours, and many turned to popular games by Activision. The company is known for its flagship Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Overwatch franchises, among others.
This was evident in the company's game-winning second-quarter financial results. Net revenue of $1.93 billion grew 38% year over year, while earnings per share of $0.75 climbed 74%. Even more impressive were the underlying user metrics. The number of monthly active players jumped by 100 million, up 30% year over year, while engagement soared as the amount of time spent on Activision's games grew 70%.
There are reasons to believe its impressive performance will continue. Call of Duty: Warzone, the company's free-to-play battle royale game, debuted earlier this year to glowing reviews and strong demand, engaging 75 million players to date. At the same time, there was an eightfold increase in hours played in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare universe. Let's not forget Candy Crush, Activision's free-to-play franchise, which was the top-grossing franchise in U.S. mobile app stores during the quarter.
Activision also pays a dividend that yields about 0.50% and uses just 17% of its profits to support the payout. The company has been checks to shareholders since 2010 and raised its payout each year since.
Given the company's strong tailwinds and even stronger financial showing, its little wonder that Robinhood investors think Activision's got game.