This could turn out to be a very big year for the relatively young bull market. The Federal Reserve has pledged to keep lending rates at or near historic lows through 2023, and the Biden administration is fine-tuning a plan to spend as much as $1.9 trillion on a new fiscal stimulus package. This would come atop the more than $3 trillion spent last year in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
With access to cheap capital readily available, businesses of all sizes should benefit. However, it might be especially good news for small-cap stocks.
Following the March 2020 bottom, we've watched established and/or high-growth large-cap businesses thrive. Meanwhile, small-cap stocks (publicly traded companies with a market cap ranging from $300 million to $2 billion) have mostly lagged. But with so much available capital and investors' appetite for risk returning, this trend may be ready to reverse.
If you're looking to add unstoppable small-cap stocks to your portfolio, the following trio can be bought with confidence right now.
1. Jushi Holdings
Despite the incredible volatility we've witnessed in North American marijuana stocks since 2017, cannabis is an industry with incredible growth prospects this decade. That's why small-cap multistate operator Jushi Holdings (JUSHF -2.27%) is such an unstoppable force in the largest marijuana market in the world, the United States.
Though Jushi has retail or cultivation operations in around a half-dozen legalized states (36 U.S. states have waved the green flag on weed in some capacity), it's the company's core focus on three states that makes it unique.
In 2021, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Illinois are expected to account for around 80% (or more) of total sales for Jushi. What these states have in common is that they issue cannabis-dispensary licenses on a limited basis. In Pennsylvania and Illinois, only a preset number of licenses can be granted. Meanwhile, in Virginia, licenses are issued on a jurisdictional basis.
The point is, Jushi is focusing its efforts on states where competition will be limited or nonexistent, which should allow it to build up its brand and gobble up lucrative market share. You know the phrase, "work smarter, not harder?" This is it in action.
Even after a roughly tenfold increase in its shares since the March 2020 bear market bottom, Jushi remains relatively inexpensive. Most pot stocks are valued at anywhere from four to five times Wall Street's forecasted sales for 2022 or 2023.
As for Jushi, its $902 million market cap is approximately 2.4 times projected 2022 sales and 1.6 times 2024 sales, based on Wall Street's consensus. Plus, with adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) guidance of $40 million to $50 million in 2021, there's a really good chance the company will turn the corner to recurring profitability this year.
If you need one more reason to like Jushi, let it be this: Management and insiders collectively put up $45 million of the first $250 million in capital raised by the company. When the interests of management and shareholders align, investors tend to do very well.
When you think of unstoppable businesses, companies tied to the insurance industry probably aren't on the radar. But ignore high-growth online insurance marketplace EverQuote (EVER -2.77%), and you're going to regret it.
The insurance advertising and distribution market is probably a lot bigger than most people realize at $146.1 billion. Through 2024, this figure is expected to grow by about 3% a year. EverQuote makes its home in the digital insurance advertising space, which works out to only $5.6 billion of this $146.1 billion in total spend. However, the digital spending sphere is expected to grow by 16% annually through 2024, and EverQuote currently controls approximately 6% of it.
There are a number of reasons to be excited about this shift to online insurance ad spending. In particular, it's convenient for consumers and often cheaper for insurers since it's bringing them motivated/targeted consumers actively looking to purchase a policy. EverQuote notes than 1 in 5 consumers using its insurance marketplace purchases a policy.
But it gets even better. Although auto insurers still (pardon the pun) drive most of the company's revenue, they've shifted into a host of new insurance verticals in recent years, including home, rental, life, and health insurance. Together, these new verticals averaged sales growth of 127% between 2016 and 2019.
With EverQuote, investors are getting a sustainable double-digit growth rate for less than three times Wall Street's forecasted sales for 2022. That's inexpensive, considering the ongoing shift to online insurance ad spending.
3. Northern Star Acquisition
The third unstoppable small-cap stock that could yield life-changing long-term returns is Northern Star Acquisition (STIC).
Northern Star Acquisition is a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) that's announced its intention to merge with dog-focused product and service company BarkBox in a deal with an enterprise value of $1.6 billion. Assuming shareholders on both sides of the aisle vote in favor of the combination, it'll be completed in the second quarter, thus bringing BarkBox into the public realm.
The beauty of BarkBox can be seen at both the macro and company-specific level. On a broader basis, it's been at least a quarter of a century since year-over-year spending on U.S. pet expenditures has declined. Last year, companion pet owners spent an estimated $99 billion, with over $38 billion on food and treats. Dogs and cats are overwhelmingly viewed by pet owners as members of the family, which makes it all the more likely that pet expenditures will keep heading higher.
More specific to BarkBox, it has a host of growth catalysts it can bring to the table. For instance, it's a digitally native platform that's driven by data. This is a fancy way of saying that it doesn't deal with the high overhead costs of running retail locations and relies on predictive analysis to recommend new products to existing subscribers.
BarkBox is also highly innovative, with the company introducing a number of additional service/product lines to go along with its themed monthly treat and toy boxes. This includes Bark Home, which provides an assortment of essential accessories, and Bark Eats, which is a personalized, high-quality dry-food diet for dogs.
With approximately 1.1 million subscribers and nine-month sales for fiscal 2021 up by 65% from the prior-year period, BarkBox looks to have major upside potential when it goes public via a merger with Northern Star Acquisition.