COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by the coronavirus disease are surging to record levels in the U.S. The trend is causing many local governments to issue modified forms of the stay-at-home orders they mandated at the onset of the pandemic. There is light at the end of the tunnel in the form of two vaccines. Still, because of supply constraints, it could be months before enough of the population gets inoculated to reach herd immunity. In the meantime, people are preparing to hunker down in their homes again.
Here are three stocks that will thrive since they are able to deliver goods and services to people without expecting them to leave their homes.
Roku wins as people stream more content
As the pandemic drags into the winter and people have fewer and fewer things to do outdoors, they will have limited choices on how to entertain themselves. Millions have been turning to streaming content through smart TVs powered by Roku (ROKU 2.66%). The company added 3 million active accounts in its latest quarter. Roku now boasts 46 million active accounts that streamed a total of 14.8 billion hours of content on the Roku platform. Both the active accounts and the total streaming hours figures were increases of over 40% year over year.
Importantly, Roku makes more money from advertising sales than from the sale of its hardware. In the most recent quarter, the company reported gross profits of $194 million from the platform segment and $20 million from the hardware segment -- highlighting the fact that the company will be a winner as more people stream more content during the surge in new COVID-19 cases.
Chegg will win as remote learning continues
Chegg (CHGG -1.57%) is the leading online student-learning platform, and it is benefiting as millions of students around the world learn remotely. The most popular feature the company offers students is the ability to look up sample solutions to problems. Additionally, paying members are given the right to ask a limited number of questions that will be answered by subject-matter experts on its site. Students can also gain access to hiring subject matter experts for tutoring on the company's platform. Chegg's services help fill the void left when learning goes off-campus.
Chegg's results this year are giving credence to the idea that students are increasingly finding their services helpful. In the nine months ended Sept. 30, Chegg has increased revenue by 53.6%. Meanwhile, it reached 3.7 million active subscribers at the end of the third quarter -- a 69% increase over the previous year. The rapid increases in subscribers and revenue have allowed the company to nearly double the cash it generated from operating activities in the first nine months of the year.
With COVID-19 cases surging in many parts of the world, more students will be learning remotely, thereby increasing usage of the company's platform. Interestingly, the company generates 90% profit from each new signup. As the pandemic continues, the company will surely win by assisting an increasing number of students worldwide.
Amazon has proven its reliability during the pandemic
Early on in the pandemic, Amazon (AMZN 0.37%) proved itself to be a reliable source to deliver everyday essentials to households all over the world. It prioritized essential items by making more room for them in its warehouses. As a result, there was little disruption in people's ability to receive the goods they needed fast.
The company has reported net sales of $260 billion in the first nine months of fiscal 2020 and is expecting sales of $116.5 billion in the holiday quarter. However, when management gave that guidance, it was not certain that COVID-19 cases would be surging again. The increase is likely to make people more hesitant to visit their local stores. Rather, they are more likely to look to Amazon more often to deliver everyday products along with holiday gifts.
As people turn to the e-commerce retailer more often for more items, its Amazon Prime membership becomes an even greater value. It offers faster shipping for members than non-members, and it removes the $25 minimum required for free shipping. Also included in the Prime membership is access to Prime Video, which helps fulfill the increasing demand for in-home entertainment.
These consumer discretionary stocks are sure to expect an increase in revenue as people stay home to protect themselves from getting sick, but greater revenue doesn't ensure smooth sailing. Operating a business during a pandemic is a difficult challenge that Amazon has already spent nearly $10 billion trying to meet. You would like to think that no business is happy when revenue is increasing because more people are getting sick. However, these companies are providing products and services that are helping people make it through the pandemic, and for that reason, they are winning.