Amidst the rollout of coronavirus vaccines, continuing economic fallout from the pandemic, and a new administration in the U.S., there's plenty of uncertainty to go around. Nonetheless, in the last six months, the S&P 500 has grown substantially, and some people expect 2021 to usher in a bull market.
While there's no guarantee that the market will soar, with a little bit of forethought we can identify some of the companies that might be on the leading edge of a surge. The three stocks I'll discuss today are contenders for fast growth during a bull market -- if they can navigate around the largest obstacles on their radar.
1. Teladoc Health
Telehealth provider Teladoc Health (NYSE:TDOC) could flourish during a bull market, as long as it can keep improving its subscriber numbers, that improved by 47% year over year as of the third quarter. Likewise, it'll be a major boon if it can improve the efficiency of its operations to deliver investors consistent profitability.
If you expect Teladoc's stock to go down because people will be more willing to go to their doctors in person once they're vaccinated next year, you're not alone. There's also the question of how many people will continue to sign up for telehealth services even when they aren't necessary to stay safe. Furthermore, it's hard to see how Teladoc could grow its quarterly revenue as rapidly as it did this year, when it expanded by 79% compared to 2019.
Should the company demonstrate that its subscriber base and revenue can keep growing -- even when there's a more traditional option to safely get quick advice from a clinician -- it'll be a leader during a bull market. On the other hand, if its revenue collapses, it'll be a laggard, which is what makes it a wild card.
2. Inovio Pharmaceuticals
If Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO) can continue to make progress on its coronavirus vaccine, it'll keep expanding and enriching its investors. Even though competitors like Moderna will see revenue from vaccine sales first, they'll also face the market's scrutiny surrounding their earnings before Inovio. Plus, given that demand for coronavirus vaccines far outstrips the anticipated supply through at least next year, there's plenty of room in the market for another competitor.
For Inovio, the vaccine project has already sparked significant investment via the U.S. government, which it has used to develop a special injector device called the CELLECTRA 2000. The device is why Inovio is a wild card; if the government is pleased with how it works in the ongoing clinical trials, it could easily invest further. On the flip side, if the vaccine or the device is a flop, it's hard to see how its stock could outperform the market. Keep a close eye on management's mention of collaborations with the government, as well as larger pharmaceutical companies that may want to license its technology.
3. Innovative Industrial Properties
After the wave of marijuana legalization prompted by the 2020 election, Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) is poised to roar through next year. In case you aren't familiar with it, IIP is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that buys and then leases out properties to businesses for the purpose of cannabis cultivation. Thus, as the newly opened cannabis markets start to see high levels of demand from consumers, the company will benefit as new entrants start up operations to serve them. This makes it a likely benefactor of a bull market, as rising stock prices will allow its primary customers to raise more cash by issuing new stock.
Currently, IIP focuses on facilities that are accredited for medicinal marijuana farming. So, the recent surge in recreational cannabis legislation may not directly benefit the company unless it leads to higher adoption of medical cannabis as well. And, in the event that medicinal use cannabis sales drop in states where recreational marijuana is newly legalized, it could face significant downside risk to its revenue.
Of course, IIP could circumvent this issue by pivoting to recreational cannabis cultivation facilities. Doing so could position it to become the de facto landlord of the cannabis industry in the U.S., which would lead to strong long-term growth as the market matures.