The upcoming year is expected to be filled with big changes. For instance, the rollout of coronavirus vaccines may mark an end to a pandemic that's cost more than 300,000 Americans their lives.
Additionally, President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Jan. 20. Biden will be taking office right as this vaccine rollout is ramping up, and shortly after another round of fiscal stimulus hits the bank accounts of more than 100 million American taxpayers. When coupled with dovish monetary policy, the table would appear to be set for a powerful bull market to take shape with Biden in the Oval Office.
If this young bull market grows powerful legs and thrives under new leadership in Washington, D.C., the following five stocks would become must-owns for 2021.
It's become crystal clear in recent years that digital payments and cashless transactions are a major growth theme. Perhaps no company embodies this growth more perfectly than Square (SQ 2.54%).
Most consumers have probably seen one of Square's point-of-sale devices in action at some point. The company's seller ecosystem has historically focused on helping smaller businesses facilitate cashless transactions. Between 2012 and 2019, the gross payment volume crossing its payment network grew by almost $100 billion ($6.5 billion to $106.2 billion). Since this is an operating segment that's driven by merchant fees, increased uptake of these payment solutions, especially among larger merchants, could drive gross profits significantly higher.
But let's not beat around the bush -- Cash App is why Square's stock catapulted higher in 2020. Square's peer-to-peer payment platform is benefiting from an aversion to cash during a pandemic, as well as increased favorability toward digital transactions among millennials and Generation Z. Since the end of 2017, Cash App's monthly active user base has more than quadrupled, with investing activity, including bitcoin exchange, pushing segment revenue through the roof. I expect Cash App to become Square's leading profit driver in 2021 and beyond.
Innovative Industrial Properties
There's been a lot of hope in recent months that a Biden presidency would open the door to legalizing marijuana in the United States. However, that doesn't fit with Biden's campaign pledge to merely decriminalize cannabis at the federal level (which isn't the same as legalization). The good news is that, no matter what happens, pot stock Innovative Industrial Properties (IIPR 2.78%) will be set up for success.
Innovative Industrial Properties (IIP) is a cannabis-focused real estate investment trust. It acquires cultivation and processing assets that are then leased out for an extended period of time (10 to 20 years). As of mid-December, it owned 66 properties in 17 states, with more than 99% of its 5.4 million square feet of property leased for a weighted-average period of 16.6 years. In other words, the beauty of this operating model is the predictability of cash flow, and the company's ability to pass along inflation-topping annual rental increases.
Innovative Industrial Properties has also benefited from a lack of cannabis banking reform at the federal level. As long as cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, it can be difficult for pot companies to access basic financial services. IIP is resolving this issue with its sale-leaseback program. It's acquiring cannabis assets for cash, and immediately leasing acquired properties back to the seller. This provides cash to multistate operators, while landing IIP long-term tenants.
Another unstoppable trend that'll continue to thrive with Biden in the White House is cybersecurity.
The coronavirus pandemic has stressed the importance to businesses of having an online and cloud-based presence. No matter how well or poorly the U.S. economy is performing, hackers and robots don't take a day off. That means cybersecurity is no longer an option. It's a basic-need service, which is why Okta (OKTA 9.81%) is a must-own.
Okta specializes in multiple forms of identity verification solutions for enterprise customers. With the aid of artificial intelligence, Okta's suite of solutions grows smarter over time at identifying and addressing potential threats to clients' data. Since it's a cloud-native platform, it can actually be cheaper and more effective than on-premises identity verification solutions.
What's more, Okta's revenue is generated almost entirely from subscription services. Subscriptions often lead to predictable cash flow and help to minimize customer churn. The gross margin on subscriptions is also delectable (78% in Q3 2020).
Investors should expect Okta's revenue to continue growing by 20% to 30% annually.
Kirkland Lake Gold
There's both a macro and company-specific buy thesis with Kirkland Lake. On a broader scale, the Fed's pledge to keep the federal funds rate at or near historic lows through 2023, coupled with ongoing quantitative easing measures ($120 billion in government-backed bond-buying each month), will keep bond yields low. A new round of fiscal stimulus from Capitol Hill should also put pressure on the U.S. dollar, which has an inverse relationship to gold. In short, physical gold should be buoyed by a host of catalysts.
But it's not just higher gold prices that'll help Kirkland Lake Gold. The company's three producing assets are highly cost-efficient, which should lead to a cash operating margin of over $1,000 per gold ounce.
Kirkland Lake Gold also has the best balance sheet in the entire gold-mining industry. It ended September with $848 million in cash, no debt, and since the beginning of the year has repurchased $526.6 million worth of its common stock and roughly tripled its quarterly dividend.
Last but not least, investors should strongly consider scooping up shares of semiconductor giant Broadcom (AVGO 0.46%) to take advantage of the Biden bull market.
The biggest catalyst in Broadcom's sails is the ongoing rollout of 5G infrastructure. It's been roughly a decade since we've been privy to a major upgrade in wireless download speeds. Broadcom generates a majority of its sales from manufacturing 5G wireless chips and other smartphone solutions. Keep in mind that deploying 5G infrastructure isn't going to happen overnight, which should lead to a multiyear hardware upgrade cycle for consumers and businesses. Translation: Broadcom's largest operating segment will see increased demand for years to come.
Broadcom is also prime beneficiary of the noted move by businesses online and into the cloud. Moving greater amounts of information into the cloud should boost demand for data centers. As a manufacturer of connectivity and access chips for data centers, Broadcom finds itself at the center of a double-digit growth trend.
As the icing on the cake, Broadcom has grown its quarterly dividend by over 4,500% in the past decade. It's not often you can mesh growth with income; but that's precisely what you'll get with Broadcom.