With 2021 upon us, you're probably evaluating stocks to add to your portfolio so you can kick off the new year with a bang. No matter what 2021 has in store, focusing on recession-resistant companies that continue to deliver growth and value to shareholders is the best way to stabilize your portfolio and boost your returns in the long run.

If you have $2,000 to invest in the stock market, start 2021 on a high note by adding one or more of the following top-notch stocks to your portfolio.

Pile of mail packages on rug surrounded by string lights. Fireplace and lit candles in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.


When you think of top e-commerce stocks, companies like Shopify or Amazon are likely the first that come to mind. Don't get me wrong -- I love both of these stocks. But if you're looking to invest in the e-commerce sector, there's another key contender to consider: MercadoLibre (NASDAQ:MELI). The company is the dominant force in the Latin American e-commerce market, and it also happens to operate the biggest digital payments ecosystem in the region.

A diverse business model has allowed MercadoLibre to flourish at all stages of the pandemic, and the boom of online e-commerce sales during lockdowns has only driven more consumers to its one-stop-shop platform. Bear in mind, retail e-commerce sales in Latin America alone are expected to reach nearly $116 billion by 2023, and MercadoLibre controls a sizable corner of that market.

Investors have stampeded to buy up shares of the company over the past nine months, and the stock has gained more than 170% since the beginning of 2020. A quick look at MercadoLibre's financial performance explains why the market has been increasingly bullish about this stock's long-term prospects in the pandemic economy and beyond.

The company has achieved either double- or triple-digit revenue increases in each quarter that it's reported for 2020. In the first quarter, MercadoLibre's revenue grew 70.5% from the year-ago period. Revenue grew at an even higher rate during the second and third quarters: 123.4% and 148.5%, respectively. Both MercadoLibre's total payment volume and gross merchandise volume grew at similar rates during these quarters. And in the third quarter alone, the company registered more than 205 million items sold on its platform.

MercadoLibre has demonstrated its resilience and relevance throughout the pandemic, and its growth streak is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Given the company's foothold in two highly lucrative sectors (e-commerce and digital payments), this stock can unlock mouth-watering returns for investors for decades to come.

Johnson & Johnson 

After more than 130 years in business, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) continues to prove its mettle as a stellar investment opportunity. Shares of the stock fell sharply in the spring along with the broader market but have since rebounded to their year-ago trading price.

Johnson & Johnson could be gearing up to unseat rival COVID-19 vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer if phase 3 clinical trial results show its candidate to be safe and effective. The company's coronavirus vaccine candidate, JNJ-78436735, is being developed by subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals and is being studied in two global, concurrent phase 3 trials.

The first phase 3 trial, called Ensemble, completed enrollment on Dec. 17 with a total of 45,000 subjects. The Ensemble study is testing the safety and efficacy of a one-dose treatment course of JNJ-78436735. The second phase 3 trial, Ensemble 2, will test the safety and efficacy of two doses of the vaccine and enroll up to 30,000 subjects. Interim results from the single-dose Ensemble study could be available as early as January.

As a major player in the coronavirus vaccine race, Johnson & Johnson stands to gain plenty if JNJ-78436735 earns a regulatory nod, and shareholders could certainly reap trickle-down rewards from the vaccine's success. That said, Johnson & Johnson is already one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, so its viability as a long-term investment isn't dependent on the success of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson was known for its steady, albeit conservative, growth prior to the pandemic. The company has dealt with some challenges due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but these should only be short-term concerns. Johnson & Johnson's third-quarter sales rose nearly 2% year over year, driven by 3.1% growth in its consumer health segment and 4.7% sales growth in its pharmaceutical business.

Last but not least, Johnson & Johnson is one of just a handful of stocks that bear the title of Dividend King. A company must raise its dividend every year for at least 50 years to be crowned a Dividend King. In the case of Johnson & Johnson, it has upped its dividend every single year for nearly 60 years. And with a yield of 2.6%, the company's payout more than beats the S&P 500's average.


Shares of Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY) continue to break new records, and have risen by nearly 300% over the past 12 months. Etsy is currently trading at about 100 times earnings, but its impressive upside potential is worth the price tag.

It's important to emphasize that Etsy's growth story didn't start with the pandemic. For instance, the company's revenue grew 37% in 2018 and 36% in 2019. That's more impressive than Amazon's net sales growth of 31% and 20% during the same periods. While the size and scope of Etsy's customer network aren't anywhere close to Amazon's at the moment, the company is clearly holding its own as a highly competitive player in this space.

During the first, second, and third quarters of 2020, Etsy's revenue surged by 35%, 137%, and 128%, respectively, while gross merchandise sales jumped 32%, 146%, and 119%, respectively, from the year-ago periods. In these same quarters, the company also reported that active sellers and active buyers on its platform rose significantly. Management has estimated that fourth-quarter revenue will mark 70% to 90% year-over-year growth. At the same time, analysts are forecasting that Etsy can boost its annual earnings by approximately 57% over the upcoming five-year window.

Etsy isn't swimming in debt either, as some high-growth companies are prone to do. The company has $1.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet, and about the same amount in long-term net debt, so it has decent liquidity to work with.  

E-commerce has by far been one of the most profitable industries in the pandemic economy. People had been increasingly turning to digital channels for shopping prior to 2020, but as consumers worldwide have been forced to stay at home for weeks or months at a time due to pandemic restrictions, online shopping destinations have seen unprecedented surges in customer traffic and revenue.

Etsy's platform fills a distinctive niche in e-commerce with its range of sellers who provide everything from unique, specialty items to custom household goods, and the company's growth story is far from over. There's never been a better time to invest in e-commerce, and a surefire stock like Etsy is one that you can hold for the next decade or longer.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.