Twenty years ago, we made it through the day without using an iPhone, streaming music or a full-length video, or checking a Facebook newsfeed. Given the technological advances in the last 20 years, it's hard to imagine what the next 20 will bring.
But it's a good bet that companies utilizing technology to create great customer experiences will still be thriving. MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI), Home Depot (NYSE:HD), and Lemonade (NYSE:LMND) are three such companies.
Let's look at why these three are stocks you'd want to buy and hold for the next two decades.
1. MercadoLibre: Riding powerful trends
MercadoLibre started as an e-commerce platform for the Latin American region, but quickly realized it needed a digital payments platform to make it easier for customers in that region to purchase goods online. Today, the company's payments and e-commerce businesses are thriving. Last quarter, customers purchased almost $6 billion worth of goods on the platform and spent over $14 billion using MercadoPago, its payments platform.
But the company is just getting started. Online purchases are still only a small fraction of the total retail sales in the region, and a large portion of the 638 million people in the region are unbanked or underbanked. It is investing heavily in its e-commerce platform and fintech capabilities to ensure new customers have a great experience and will come back. It's also deepening its logistics network to deliver packages quicker and cheaper all across the region.
The coronavirus has accelerated growth this year. In the most recent quarter, the company achieved its first-ever $1 billion top-line total on the back of triple-digit local currency growth (equivalent to an 85% increase in U.S. dollars). The coronavirus tailwinds may slow in the coming quarters, but its new customers aren't likely to leave. Look for this e-commerce and fintech leader to continue to delight customers and its shareholders in the decades ahead.
2. Home Depot: A tech company at heart
It's not hard to find homeowners visiting their local Home Depot on the weekend to buy parts for a leaky toilet or plants for a backyard garden. The do-it-yourself retailer has made a name for itself by catering to do-it-yourselfers and creating a great in-store experience. Now it's extending those efforts to online shopping too. In 2018, the company committed $11 billion to upgrades for tech services, store improvements, and its supply chain to create what it calls the One Home Depot experience. The idea is that no matter how customers choose to buy, they will have a great shopping experience.
Its technology upgrades allow customers to locate items in the store using a mobile app, buy goods online and pick them up in the store, or get that hard-to-find item in stock. As the coronavirus encouraged homeowners to make house upgrades a priority, these improvements have contributed to record-setting results this year. Over the last nine months, the company put up 18% year-over-year top-line growth to hit just short of $100 billion in revenue. Even with $1.7 billion in additional coronavirus expenses, it recorded $10 billion in net income year-to-date, a solid 14% gain over the previous year.
This brick-and-mortar retailer will continue to be relevant in the decades to come because of its adoption of customer-focused tech improvements and the U.S.'s growing number of aging homes. Investors would do well to get on board with this quality stock and hold for the next 20 years or more.
3. Lemonade: A new approach to an old industry
Lemonade is striving to reinvent the way consumers shop for an insurance provider. Throwing out the playbook on the way it's always been done, the company's tech enables its customers to get an insurance quote in 90 seconds, get almost a third of claims paid instantly, and have a portion of the leftover proceeds each year donated to the customer's designated charity.
Lemonade's technology is not only creating a great digital experience, but it allows it to offer customers insurance for less. Its operations are built on a "digital substrate" rather than a human-powered one, which enables it to be more efficient. Examples include artificial intelligence bots solving common customer issues and a highly capable mobile app that allows customers to submit claims in minutes.
This has been a highly successful model for its renters, homeowners, and pet insurance. It's captured more than 940,000 policyholders who each pay an average of more than $200 annually in premiums. But it's just getting started. Lemonade's $189 million in yearly premiums collected are only a small portion of the trillions collected by insurance carriers in the U.S. While it is attracting potential new customers, its tech-savvy current customers skew younger (in their early thirties) and are likely to stick with Lemonade as they upgrade from renters insurance to a homeowners policy and maybe a pet policy on the side.
Look for this disruptor to continue to innovate and grow. Insurance has been around for centuries -- it's about time a company embraced technology to make the experience a delightful one for customers. Investors should consider getting some shares of this sweet stock and holding to at least 2040.
The bottom line for investors
These three tech-forward businesses have staying power because of their large market opportunity and a successful customer-centric approach. Investors would do well to buy one or all of these quality stocks and hold them for at least the next 20 years. If you decide to buy today, as the year 2040 rolls around and you are still a shareholder, you are likely to be a happy one.