After months of political wrangling, Congress finally passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package on Monday. This marks the second-largest federal stimulus bill in history, behind only the $2 trillion CARES Act passed in March.
One of the provisions of the current bill is another round of direct stimulus payments for most Americans. Payments would be $600 per adult and $600 per eligible child, subject to certain income limits, with distribution potentially beginning as early as next week. While President Trump has suggested he might veto the bill, both the House and the Senate have a sufficient number of votes to override a veto.
If you have as little as $600 (or less) in disposable cash that you don't need for immediate expenses or to bulk up your emergency fund, putting it to work in these three companies with significant growth prospects would be sheer genius.
1. PayPal: The digital payments revolution is just getting started
When it comes to digital payments, PayPal (PYPL -1.96%) is the granddaddy of them all. The company introduced the concept of online payment systems to the masses, as well as being the first widely adopted digital wallet.
The pandemic accelerated an already notable trend toward digital payments and mobile wallets, an area that PayPal simply dominates. That's not all. PayPal's Venmo is frequently listed among the most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) payment systems. The app, which began as a way to move money between friends or split a bill, has evolved and can now be used to pay merchants with the Venmo card.
The sea change caused by the coronavirus has helped cement PayPal squarely at the intersection of e-commerce and digital payments, helping the company generate record growth. In the third quarter, PayPal reported revenue that grew 25% year over year, while profits jumped 121%. This marked the second successive quarter of record results for the company.
Most notable is the addition of more than 15 million net new active accounts, bringing the total to 361 million. To put this recent metric in context, PayPal has added as many new users over the preceding two quarters as it did during all of 2019. This bodes well for future results.
Financial technology (fintech) has only just begun, and as the undisputed leader in online payments, PayPal believes this is just the beginning. "Our aspiration is to have a billion people on our platform," CEO Dan Schulman said at an investors' conference last year.
2. Roku: Connecting the world to streaming
If you could invest in a company that continued to beat Amazon (AMZN 0.90%) at its own game, wouldn't you do it? Roku (ROKU -4.98%) is one of the few companies entitled to make such a claim, and has the evidence to back it up.
When it comes to streaming devices, Roku's industry-leading offerings run rings around Fire TV, according to a recent report by streaming analytics and intelligence company Conviva. Roku absolutely dominated the competition, sweeping the top five spots of the connected TV devices category, based on Conviva's Streaming Performance Index (SPI).
The Roku Ultra LT, Roku Ultra, and Roku Smart Soundbar took the top 3 spots with scores of 95.7%, 95.1%, and 94.9%, respectively, thrashing Amazon's offerings. The Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV had scores of 92.9%, 91.8%, and 91.4%, respectively, to nab the sixth, eighth, and 10th spots. Each device was rated on how the overall experience was impacted by issues like buffering, picture quality, slow start times, start failures, playback failures, and exits before the video starts.
That's not all. Roku built a dedicated operating system (OS) that's the top choice of a growing number of smart TV manufacturers. The company boasts the top-selling smart-TV OS and accounts for 1-in-3 connected TVs (CTVs) sold in the U.S. and 1-in-4 CTVs in Canada.
Its massive installed base of streaming devices and CTVs is fueling its impressive results. In the third quarter, Roku's revenue grew 73% year over year, led by a 78% increase from its platform segment. Active accounts jumped 43% while streaming hours grew 54%.
With a primary focus on the quality of its streaming products, it's easy to see how Roku has kept Amazon at bay.
3. NVIDIA: The sequel is just beginning
When it comes to gaming, no other graphics processing unit (GPU) holds a candle to NVIDIA (NVDA -2.85%). The company's top-of-the-line GPUs are the top choice of gamers everywhere.
But don't take my word for it. NVIDIA dominates the competition with an 80% share in the discrete desktop GPU market, according to Jon Peddie Research. The company's gaming segment is still firing on all cylinders, growing 31% year over year during the first nine months of 2020.
Yet for all the opportunity that remains in supplying cutting-edge processors to gamers, NVIDIA's second act may be even more lucrative. It turns out that the parallel processing capability that allows GPUs to run multiple complex mathematical calculations simultaneously (which is how they render lifelike images) is also a great fit for the unique needs of artificial intelligence (AI). As a result, researchers turned to NVIDIA GPUs early and often, making them the de facto standard for developing AI systems.
That continuing trend is on full display in the company's 2020 financial results. The cloud computing, AI, and data center use cases that make up NVIDIA's data center revenue increased 137% year over year during the first nine months of 2020, accounting for 41% of the company's total revenue. Even more telling, the segment overtook gaming for the first time during the second quarter, showing what the future could hold for the GPU maker.
As the digital transformation continues to gain steam and the adoption of cloud computing and AI accelerate, there's arguably no other company better positioned to reap the benefits than NVIDIA.