As 2020 draws to a close, it's time for investors to consider which stocks are good buys for next year. While many stocks have taken off despite the COVID-19 pandemic (the S&P 500 is up 15% this year), investors shouldn't assume the same investments that did well in 2020 are still strong buys in 2021. It's important to consider both company-tailored and industry-specific factors when selecting new stocks to add to your portfolio and choosing which holdings to double down on.

Two hot stocks that look to generate explosive growth next year include pot stock Curaleaf (OTC:CURLF), which could benefit from a rapidly growing cannabis industry, and salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), which just made a splashy acquisition. Both of their stock prices have significantly increased in 2020, but there's plenty of reason for investors to be optimistic that 2021 could be even better. Here's a closer look at what's likely going to drive their share values up in the new year and beyond.

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1. Curaleaf

Multistate cannabis operator Curaleaf is a growth machine, constantly looking for new places to expand and grow its business. And that's why news of more states passing marijuana initiatives in November could mean a lot more opportunities starting in January. Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota have passed legislation allowing the recreational use of pot, and Mississippi will permit medical marijuana.

While there's no guarantee when sales will commence in those states, the one big market that's aggressively looking to get sales going as soon as possible is New Jersey. It could arguably be one of the hottest markets for cannabis given its proximity to New York and Pennsylvania, where recreational use is not legal, and from where consumers may be tempted to make the drive into the Garden State to purchase pot. It would be an easy way for the company to build off its already impressive sales numbers.

On Nov. 17, Curaleaf released its third-quarter results for the period ending Sept. 30, showing sales of $182.4 million rose an incredible 195% from the prior-year period. The company's acquisition of Grassroots is a key reason for its strong numbers, as that helped expand its reach into more states.

And its acquisition of Cura Partners in February gave Curaleaf access to the Select brand, which has a strong presence on the West Coast, and the company has been expanding its footprint ever since. In just the past few months, Curaleaf launched Select in Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio, bringing its total reach to 16 states. New Jersey is one of the markets Select isn't in yet, but it likely won't be long before that changes.

With an ultra-aggressive growth strategy, look for Curaleaf's expansion efforts to hit another gear in 2021 with more states for the company to penetrate. Year to date, the stock is up 89%, and it has been one of the best pot stocks to buy this year, widely outperforming the Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF, which has risen less than 1%.

2. Salesforce

Customer relationship management company Salesforce has been enjoying a strong year in 2020 as more companies move to the cloud to conduct business. On Dec. 1, Salesforce released its third-quarter earnings for the period ending Oct. 31, and its revenue of $5.42 billion rose at an impressive 20% year over year. It was a record quarter for the company, and Salesforce notes that online shopping trends aren't going anywhere but up; its data showed that during Cyber Week, global online sales were $270 billion and grew 36% from a year ago.

And Salesforce is doubling down on its online presence with the announcement that it's acquiring Slack Technologies for $27.7 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. Slack is popular for its ability to allow businesses to collaborate and communicate easily via group chat. Salesforce is going to integrate Slack into its existing cloud platform and will look to grow the business and acquire more enterprise clients. 

In total, Salesforce estimates that its top line will get a boost next year of about $600 million from Slack (assuming the transaction closes in the second quarter), projecting revenue for fiscal 2022 to come in between $25.45 billion and $25.55 billion, for year-over-year growth of more than 21% from the $21.1 billion it expects to finish fiscal 2021 with.

Year to date, Salesforce stock is up 38%. But with more growth ahead for the company as it integrates Slack into its operations, 2021 could be another banner year for the company as it looks to be among the big winners in an increasingly online business world. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.