There's little doubt that this is a Thanksgiving Day like few others before it. With coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases hitting record highs in the U.S., many of us have forgone our traditional holiday gathering and chosen to fall asleep in a tryptophan-induced turkey coma on our couches while watching football.
But even amid this chaos, we can be thankful that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Recent interim analyses in late-stage studies from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna showed respective vaccine effectiveness of 95% and 94.5%. While COVID-19 isn't going to disappear overnight, there looks to be a real solution on the horizon.
Even when things are at their grimmest, there's always something to be thankful for -- and that, too, goes for investors.
As we celebrate and honor Thanksgiving Day, I offer up five absolutely perfect stocks that investors can gobble up right now.
Alphabet (GOOG 0.16%) (GOOGL 0.07%), the company behind Internet search giant Google and streaming content platform YouTube, did something this year that investors had never before seen -- it reported a revenue decline (during the second quarter) from the prior-year period. As an ad-driven operating model, the steepness of the COVID-19 correction stalled out Alphabet's growth engine.
But the amazing thing about this company is just how quickly it's righted the ship. Following a single quarter of sluggish sales, Alphabet was right back to 14% year-on-year sales growth during the September-ended quarter. This is a company that, according to data from GlobalStats, consistently owns 92% to 93% of worldwide internet search share. That makes it a logical go-to for advertisers during multiyear bull markets, and it provides Alphabet with exceptional ad-pricing power.
I'd also encourage investors not to overlook its burgeoning ancillary segments beyond Google. YouTube has become one of the top three most-visited social platforms, and cloud infrastructure service Google Cloud has been growing like a weed. With more businesses shifting their data into the cloud, the proverbial building blocks that Google Cloud provides to small and medium-sized businesses are in high demand. Look for Google Cloud to play a big role in Alphabet's operating cash flow growth moving forward.
With the U.S. economy trying to climb out of recession and the Federal Reserve pledging to keep interest rates at or near historic lows for years to come, bank stocks probably aren't high on a lot of investors' lists. But failing to gobble money-center bank Wells Fargo (WFC -0.57%) when it's this historically inexpensive would be a mistake.
Despite working through a pretty big PR flub, Wells Fargo has a long history of delivering superior return on assets among big banks, and has done exceptionally well with regard to attracting affluent clientele. Wealthier banking clients are less likely to alter their spending habits during minor economic hiccups, and would be expected to take advantage of multiple financial tools offered by Wells Fargo, such as mortgage servicing and asset management. These affluent customers are Wells Fargo's ticket to a return to glory.
We're also witnessing Wells Fargo join the 21st century by investing heavily in digital initiatives. An uptick in digital and mobile app usage should allow it to consolidate some its branches and somewhat reduce its noninterest expenses.
With little exception, Wells Fargo hasn't been this cheap in decades.
Cannabis enthusiasts can certainly be thankful for the Nov. 3 election, which saw marijuana measures pass across the board in five states. With nearly three-quarters of the country now legalized in some capacity, it's time for investors to get aggressive and gobble up shares of multistate operator Cresco Labs (CRLBF 1.21%).
Even without federal legalization, Cresco's two-part operating model is set up to thrive. First, it has a modest but growing retail segment. The company holds 29 retail licenses, with roughly half of its 19 operational dispensaries located in Illinois. The Land of Lincoln opened its doors to adult-use weed sales on Jan. 1, 2020, and it's a limited-license state, meaning Cresco Labs has a real shot to nab significant market share. By 2024, Illinois should be generating north of $1 billion in full-year pot sales.
Cresco Labs also has a thriving wholesale model. It completed the acquisition of Origin House in January 2020, which meant it inherited Origin House's highly lucrative cannabis distribution license in California. This license gave Cresco a way to get its products into more than 575 dispensaries in the biggest marijuana market in the world.
With recurring profitability around the corner, Cresco looks to be a perfect stock to own in the cannabis industry.
Pharmacy chains should be concerned about Amazon entering their domain. But the fact is, some pharmacy giants are better positioned to cope than others. That's why investors should consider carving out a position in CVS Health (CVS 0.01%).
What allows CVS Health to stand out from the crowd is its 2018 acquisition of health-benefits provider Aetna. When it was announced, it had a lot of folks scratching their heads. But it's a deal that offers a number of perks, including significant cost synergies, a higher long-term organic growth rate, and the incentive for tens of millions of Aetna's members to stay within the CVS Health network of products and services. In other words, this transaction looks to be the perfect way to fend off a competitor like Amazon.
CVS is also in the process of building out some 1,500 HealthHUB health clinics nationwide that'll primarily target people with chronic health conditions. If CVS can build rapport at the grassroots level with these folks and act as the intermediary between patients and specialized care, it shouldn't have any issue growing its higher-margin pharmacy segment.
Finally, I'd encourage investors to consider gobbling up one of the fastest-growing large-cap stocks on the planet, and perhaps the perfect stock to own in the e-commerce space, Sea Limited (SE -0.25%).
The Singapore-based Sea is actually comprised of three operating segments, all of which are growing exceptionally fast. Currently, its gaming arena division is generating the bulk of its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). In particular, the number of paying users in the third quarter more than doubled from the prior-year period.
However, it's Sea's opportunity in e-commerce that stands out like a bright beacon. Southeastern Asia has a burgeoning middle class, many of which are just beginning to enjoy the opportunity to buy goods online. In the third quarter, Sea processed almost 742 million orders (up 131% from the prior-year period), with gross merchandise volume jumping nearly 103% to $9.3 billion. Over the long run, e-commerce should be Sea's biggest profit driver.
Third, Sea is offering mobile wallet services, which had over 17.8 million paying customers in Q3 2020.
Investors can be thankful they have the opportunity to buy into high-growth and value companies like these that can make them richer over time.