Most investors would agree that the best path to long-term wealth generation is investing in quality companies and holding them for years, if not decades. Even investors who achieve average returns are head and shoulders above those who are counting on the paltry rates of savings and CDs to meet their financial goals. However, for investors willing to do their homework, there is a special breed of company that can help supercharge your returns.
Finding stocks with the right combination of market-leading products and services, large and growing market opportunities, and significant secular tailwinds can provide game-changing returns that could make you a fortune. Let's look at three companies that fit the bill.
DocuSign: Digital signatures is just the beginning
The events of 2020 have accelerated the digital transformation, highlighting the need to ratify documents and contracts remotely. DocuSign (DOCU -0.68%) was there to answer the call.
Demand has certainly been on the upswing. When DocuSign reported earnings earlier this month, it marked the third successive quarter of revenue acceleration. For Q3, revenue grew 53% year over year, while subscriptions increased 54%. At the same time, billings -- which includes sales that have been contracted but not yet included in revenue -- increased 63%. Even as DocuSign remains unprofitable, free cash flow moved into the plus column after the company was burning cash in the year-ago quarter.
There's little question that DocuSign is the leader in the e-signature space, dominating the competition and controlling an estimated 70% of the market. Yet it's the company's future prospects that should have investors most excited.
Management is quick to point out that the digital signing of documents is just the start of a relationship with customers. "Typically, eSignature is the first step that many customers take on their broader digital transformation journey with us," said CEO Dan Springer. "So from a financial point of view, we believe this surge in eSignature adoption bodes well for future Agreement Cloud expansion."
DocuSign debuted the Agreement Cloud early last year, marking the next step in the company's evolution. The platform is a suite of a dozen applications and more than 350 integrations that help companies manage the entire life cycle of contracts and agreements.
There's plenty of market opportunity remaining for DocuSign. The company estimates that the e-signature market still represents a $25 billion opportunity. Add in the Agreement Cloud and its total addressable market jumps to $50 billion, according to management's calculations. DocuSign produced just $974 million in revenue in 2019, which helps illustrate the magnitude of the opportunity ahead.
Okta: Identity verification moves into the mainstream
With the onset of the pandemic, more employees than ever before were forced to work remotely, leaving many businesses in uncharted territory. The need to prevent unauthorized access to workplace systems took on greater significance than ever before. That's where Okta (OKTA 1.29%) (pronounced Ahk-tuh) comes in.
The company is the clear leader when it comes to identity and access management. Businesses can outsource the task of user authentication for employees, contractors, and customers. Okta integrates with more than 6,500 business software applications to create a single, secure login or provide more complex multi-factor authentication. More than 9,400 global organizations count on the company to manage their identification and access protocols.
Don't take my word for it. Okta was named the industry leader in access management for the third successive year by research company Gartner, taking the top spot in its high-profile Magic Quadrant. Forrester Research came to a similar conclusion, naming Okta as the top identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) provider.
Business is booming. During the third quarter, revenue grew 42% year over year, while subscription revenue grew 43%. Okta's remaining performance obligation (RPO) -- which represents the backlog of subscription revenue -- grew even more quickly, up 53%. This helps illustrate the increase in the company's future opportunity. Okta isn't yet profitable as it works to secure future revenue growth.
This could be just the beginning. Okta generated revenue of $586 million last year, barely scratching the surface of the company's total addressable market, which clocks in at roughly $55 billion, according to management.
Shopify: Operating the toll gate at the entrance to the e-commerce revolution
E-commerce has been one of the undisputed winners of 2020, with the industry finally getting its day in the sun. There was already plenty of growth for certain players (I'm looking at you, Amazon) but this was the year when all the procrastinators finally got on board. For many of the late arrivals, Shopify (SHOP -0.09%) helped with the transition.
Shopify has a laundry list of products and services, virtually everything a merchant needs to set up and maintain an online store. It helps integrate multiple sales channels into one easy-to-use interface, bringing in web, mobile, social media, brick-and-mortar stores, and online marketplaces. Shopify also provides solutions for many common problems, including payments, logistics, shipping, and inventory -- the works.
Being at the intersection of one of the biggest secular trends is paying off. In the third quarter, Shopify grew revenue by 96% year over year, while the gross merchandise volume climbed 109%. This was before the company announced record sales between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which will no doubt help boost the current quarter's tally.
More than 1 million merchants use Shopify's services to help run their digital operations, so it's undoubtedly the industry leader. But that could be just the beginning. The company generated revenue of $1.58 billion in fiscal 2019, which pales in comparison to its total addressable market of $78 billion -- and that's just the small- and medium-sized businesses. Shopify+ caters to large enterprise businesses, significantly increasing the company's market opportunity.
The fine print
Eagle-eyed investors will have noticed a common theme running through these recommendations. Each is at the forefront of the digital revolution and is also a high-risk, high-reward proposition. They also each possess a somewhat lofty sticker price and valuation to match. DocuSign, Okta, and Shopify are currently selling at 34, 42, and 56 times sales, respectively -- when a good price-to-sales ratio is generally between 1 and 2. It's also noteworthy that none of these companies is currently profitable, opting to spend their limited resources to lock in future growth.
Thus far, however, investors have been willing to pay up for the impressive top-line growth and the explosive potential for future profits. Looking out a decade, investors could make a fortune on these stocks.