A new year brings new opportunities for the investment community. Following one of the most volatile years in history for the stock market, investors are looking forward to the young bull market stretching its legs in 2021.
Though a stock market crash or correction is always possible, there are ample tailwinds to suggest that equities can continue marching higher. Lending rates should remain at or near historic lows for the foreseeable future, which is going to encourage growth stocks to borrow. This extra cash can be used to hire, innovate, and acquire other businesses.
As we ready to say goodbye to 2020, here are four high-growth trends for 2021.
We've learned a lot in 2020 about where the future of healthcare is headed. There's little question that you'll want to invest in precision medicine. By precision medicine, I'm talking about drugs, devices, and services that are designed to personalize a previously one-size-fits-all treatment process.
A good example is telemedicine giant Teladoc Health (TDOC -1.14%), which saw virtual visits more than triple from the prior-year period in each of the past two quarters. Teladoc fully understands that virtual visits are more convenient for patients and physicians. They're also usually cheaper for health insurers than office visits. With the addition of fast-growing applied health signals company Livongo Health, Teladoc is on the leading edge of treatment personalization.
Investors might also consider a leader in medical devices like DexCom (DXCM -0.47%). DexCom produces and sells continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems that help diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels. DexCom's CGMs can also be used to provide instant data to physicians. Considering that there are 34.2 million people with diabetes in the U.S., and another 88 million with prediabetes, DexCom should remain busy.
Prior to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, businesses big and small were steadily building online presences and increasingly sharing data via the cloud. The pandemic has simply accelerated this trend and demonstrated the importance of cloud building-block infrastructure.
One of the more obvious key players in cloud infrastructure is e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN -1.07%). Retail comprises the bulk of Amazon's total sales, but most of its operating income comes from cloud infrastructure platform Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS currently has an annual sales run rate of $46 billion. It should be responsible for tripling Amazon's operating cash flow over the next four years.
Don't overlook Alphabet (GOOG -2.51%) (GOOGL -2.62%), either. Ad placement on Google, its internet search platform, is Alphabet's key growth driver. Yet the company's fastest-growing segment is Google Cloud, with 45% sales growth in Q3 2020. Cloud has an annual sales run rate approaching $14 billion. Alphabet's deep pockets and the Google brand name should be more than enough to give Amazon a run for its money.
Growth seekers would also be wise to consider putting their money to work in U.S. marijuana stocks in 2021. The U.S. is the largest cannabis market in the world. 2021 looks as if it'll be the year vertically integrated multistate operators (MSO) push into recurring profitability. Additional state-level legalizations could further bolster industry sentiment.
Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF 0.46%) is one MSO on the cusp of going green for good. The company generates approximately two-thirds of its revenue from derivatives (i.e., edibles, infused beverages, vapes, topicals, and concentrates). These derivatives boast considerably higher margins than dried cannabis flower, which will help Green Thumb beat some of its peers to the profit column. Green Thumb has 50 operational dispensaries at the moment, but holds enough licenses to open 96 total stores in a dozen states.
Cresco Labs (CRLBF -3.14%) should also be on track for a banner year. Nearly half of the company's 19 open dispensaries are in the limited license state of Illinois. The Land of Lincoln opened the door to recreational pot sales on Jan. 1, 2020, and looks well on its way to north of $1 billion in annual sales by 2024.
Further, Cresco has a massive wholesale presence in California that gives it access to more than 575 dispensaries. California is the largest cannabis market in the world by annual sales.
A fourth and final high-growth trend that investors should be all over is pet ownership. According to the American Pet Products Association, nearly 85 million households own a pet today, with $99 billion expected to be spent on companion animals in 2020. At no point over the last quarter-century have U.S. pet expenditures declined year over year.
Pet health insurer Trupanion (TRUP -3.63%) is one of the biggest opportunities in its industry. Trupanion has been building up rapport with veterinarians at the clinic level for two decades, which gives it a priceless advantage over other competitors entering the pet insurance space. At the moment, only 1% of U.S. pet owners have health insurance on their furry family member. Ongoing pet owner education at the clinic level should help drive these penetration rates significantly higher in years to come.
Freshpet (FRPT 0.21%) is yet another fast-growing company in the companion pet space. Like grocers who latched onto the organic and natural foods growth phase of the 2000s, Freshpet understands that pet owners will pay for higher-quality pet food and treats. Freshpet is still in its marketing infancy, yet has already found its way into over 22,000 retail doors. A sustainable double-digit growth opportunity lies ahead.