This year has certainly been one like no other. Pandemic-induced fear resulted in one of the fastest declines in stock market history, followed by one of the most rapid recoveries on record. The recent introduction of at least two coronavirus vaccines has given people hope and pushed the major stock market indexes to new all-time highs.
It's still unclear when this pandemic-influenced economy will actually get back to normal and uncertainty still reigns. Yet two things are certain: Investing in quality stocks over years or perhaps decades remains the clearest path to generate wealth over the long term, and there are still stocks worth buying, even as the market is setting new benchmarks.
Assuming you have a sufficient emergency fund built up and $10,000 (or less) that you don't expect to need over the next five to 10 years, here are three companies that are set up to flourish in the years and decades to come.
1. CrowdStrike: Providing digital safety in an uncertain world
There's no denying the massive shift to remote work that occurred as the result of the pandemic. The scattering of the workforce presented unprecedented challenges for IT departments trying to protect businesses and employees from the growing threat of cyber-intrusion. CrowdStrike Holdings (NASDAQ:CRWD) was there to answer the call.
Stopping cybersecurity threats before they take hold is key to the cloud-native company's offering. This comes courtesy of its Falcon platform, which focuses on protecting the endpoints -- servers, desktops, laptops, and mobile devices -- from recognized threats.
But its work doesn't stop there. CrowdStrike's cutting-edge protection uses cloud analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and real-time visibility to power its Threat Graph Breach Prevention Engine. These sophisticated algorithms not only detect breaches and stops them in their tracks, but they also learn and improve over time, harnessing the power of AI to stop the next generation of threats. As new customers join the fold, its network becomes stronger.
Business is booming. For the first nine months of 2020, CrowdStrike's revenue is up 85% year over year. This was driven by annual recurring revenue that jumped 81% and the addition of net new subscription customers that increased 88%. The company has yet to produce a profit, but the results are moving in the right direction, as CrowdStrike cut its losses by nearly 62% so far this year.
CrowdStrike is well-positioned to not only benefit from the ongoing need for remote work but to continue to provide cybersecurity in an increasingly dangerous digital world.
2. Twilio: Making in-app communications a snap
One thing that became abundantly clear this year was the need to keep the lines of communications open between businesses and their customers. Rather than reinvent the wheel, many companies with consumer-facing apps turned to Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) to bridge the gap. A growing number of developers embed the company's communications technology into their apps, which works behind the scenes to process calls, video, and text messages without ever leaving the app.
Sound familiar? Those real-time messages you get from your food delivery service or rideshare provider? The ability to reset a password without leaving an app? Those in-app chats with customer service? There's a pretty good chance that many of those experiences were powered by Twilio's technology.
The importance of reaching customers where they live took on even greater significance during the pandemic, helping boost Twilio's fortunes. During the first nine months of 2020, revenue grew 51% year over year. In a surprise development, Twilio delivered an adjusted (non-GAAP) profit in the third quarter, when investors were expecting a loss.
Twilio's active customer base continues to edge higher, up 21% year over year. Not only is the company adding new customers at a brisk pace, but existing customers are expanding their relationship with Twilio, spending 37% more, on average, than they did this time last year.
Even more important for investors was the recent acquisition of customer data platform Segment, which pushes Twilio further into the field of customer engagement services. This will provide businesses with a single view of customer information from a variety of channels, providing for more seamless and effective customer engagements. The move also significantly increases Twilio's total addressable market.
The importance of customer communications has never been more important and Twilio provides the tools that help bridge the gap.
3. Datadog: Giving the cloud a silver lining
The shift to cloud computing was already in full swing but was unceremoniously pushed forward by the pandemic. The strategic importance of monitoring and maintaining these cloud-based systems can't be overstated, and it's more important than ever before to keep these employee- and customer-facing systems up and running, as any downtime can become critical and costly. That's where DataDog (NASDAQ:DDOG) comes in.
The cloud-native platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider offers a wide variety of monitoring services that gather vital information from across a business's cloud operations, pulling the data into a single dashboard, and notifying developers when there's a problem that could result in crucial downtime. DataDog's ability to break down silos and bring together otherwise fragmented data into one place makes it a top pick among developers.
That's why the platform has been selected as a top choice for application performance monitoring by research company Gartner, which named it one of the "Visionaries" for 2020 in its vaunted Magic Quadrant. The company was also identified as an industry leader in intelligent application and service monitoring by Forrester Research. Customers agree, with a whopping 98% giving DataDog a four or five-star rating.
Business is brisk. For the first nine months of 2020, DataDog reported revenue that grew 71% year over year. The company is also on the verge of consistent profitability, cutting its losses by 85% so far this year. What's even more impressive is that DataDog has notched these achievements just one year after the company went public.
The need to keep critical systems up and running has never been more important, so investors should consider taking DataDog for a walk.
A word on valuation
Each of these companies offers the opportunity for mind-boggling growth over the coming decade, but like many high-growth stocks, they land in the high-risk, high-reward category. As such, they are by no means cheap. CrowdStrike, DataDog, and Twilio are selling at 53, 51, and 34 times forward sales, respectively -- when a good price-to-sales ratio is generally considered to be between 1 and 2. That high sticker price is partially explained by each stock's performance so far this year, as noted in the chart above.
Each of these companies has come to understand a fundamental, yet critical fact for software-as-a-service businesses: the lifetime value of new customers is much higher than what's being spent now to acquire them, so profits could remain elusive for these high-flyers.
Thus far, however, investors have been more than willing to pay up for the impressive top-line growth and the potential for explosive profits that remains.