It's looking increasingly likely that one of the wildest years on record for the stock market is going to end on a high note. Despite the benchmark S&P 500 losing over a third of its value during the first quarter, the widely followed index now finds itself higher by close to 15%. That's a return that easily tops its historic annual average.
But just because the market is up for the year doesn't mean there aren't bargains for investors to scoop up. If you have $500 that you can put to work right now and won't be needed for bills or emergencies, the following three stocks can make you a boatload of money over the long run.
Investing in timeless, high-growth trends is a great way to build wealth over the long term. That's why telemedicine kingpin Teladoc Health (TDOC 0.05%) should be bought hand over fist by investors.
I know what you might be thinking and you're correct -- the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has accelerated sales growth for the company. With physicians wanting to keep COVID-19-infected patients and at-risk people out of their offices, we've witnessed a significant uptick in virtual visits. In each of the past two quarters, Teladoc's virtual visits have catapulted higher by over 200% from the prior-year period.
What you might be overlooking is that Teladoc Health's revenue grew by a compound annual rate of 74% between 2013 and 2019. It was no slouch before the pandemic hit and will continue to grow at a breakneck pace long after there's a resolution to the COVID-19 health crisis. That's because telemedicine provides benefits up and down the healthcare-treatment chain. It's almost certainly more convenient for the patient and physician and usually cheaper for insurers than office visits.
Teladoc also recently completed the acquisition of applied health-signals company Livongo Health, which will further accelerate its growth rate and boost margins. Livongo's solutions help patients with chronic health conditions (e.g., diabetes) lead healthier lives. In particular, Livongo collects copious amounts of data on people with chronic illnesses, and with the assistance of artificial intelligence, sends its members tips and nudges to incite lasting behavioral changes.
As a combined company, Teladoc and Livongo will be able to leverage their existing partnerships to enhance the precision-medicine experience for patients. Look for Teladoc to be one of the fastest-growing healthcare stocks this decade.
After many years, the North American cannabis industry is starting to turn the corner toward profitability. But as demand for cannabis products has picked up, it's not necessarily the direct players that've shined brightest. Rather, its ancillary marijuana stock GrowGeneration (GRWG 1.49%).
As of mid-November, GrowGen was operating 36 stores in 11 states, with a focus on selling hydroponic and organic growing solutions. Hydroponics involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solvent, as opposed to soil. The company also supplies soil, nutrients, lighting, and other materials that can aid growers in improving yield and keeping away pests. It's the perfect way to indirectly play the U.S. marijuana boom -- and Wall Street seems to agree.
In each of the past seven quarters, GrowGen has delivered respective year-over-year sales growth of 199%, 172%, 159%, 180%, 152%, 123%, and 153%. Though acquisitions have played a key role in the company's explosive growth, overlooking organic sales growth would be a mistake. Same-store sales were up 73% in Q3, with online sales surging by triple digits for a second-consecutive quarter. GrowGen also increased its full-year sales guidance, which is practically becoming a tradition every three months.
As noted, GrowGeneration plans to use acquisitions to fuel its growth and broaden its reach. Not even one month ago, it closed on its purchase of The GrowBiz, which was the nation's third-largest hydroponic garden-center chain. The deal added five new locations on the West Coast for GrowGen, and puts the company on track to hit 50 operational locations in 15 states by the end of 2021.
With cannabis-industry momentum picking up in the U.S., GrowGeneration is the type of stock that can make investors a lot of money.
Another game-changing company to put $500 to work in right now is online-retail platform Etsy (ETSY 1.41%). Although there are a lot of ways for consumers to buy goods, Etsy's marketplace stands out for the uniqueness of its products, its focus on small businesses, and the personalization of the sales process.
Etsy has two core growth drivers. The first is its marketplace, which generated gross merchandise sales (GMS) of $2.2 billion in the latest quarter. That's nearly double its GMS from the prior-year period, with a resurgence of purchases by existing clients driving total sales dollars higher. According to the company, 69 million of its 138 million lifetime buyers have made a purchase on the platform within the past year. Excluding face-mask purchases, which accounted for 11% of companywide sales in Q3 2020, existing buyers upped their GMS spending by more than 50% from the prior-year period.
The other major growth catalyst is high-margin services. This is a segment that allows Etsy to generate revenue from sellers' willingness to promote their products on Etsy's platform. Interestingly, Etsy launched listing videos in the most recent quarter, with roughly 1.5 million seller videos uploaded. These videos could help to boost consumer engagement, deepen existing customer loyalty, and further expand the company's high-margin services segment.
Eventually, we're going to see face-mask revenue decline as the COVID-19 pandemic is resolved. Nevertheless, Etsy's steady growth before this crisis and ongoing push for online-marketplace personalization suggest that it can continue to grow at a double-digit rate for a long time to come. That's a recipe for patient investors to make a lot of money.