For nearly 11 months, the stock market's three major indexes have been virtually unstoppable. Since the March 23 bear market low, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite are up a cool 70%, 76%, and 104%, respectively.
Yet, on a combined basis, these major indexes don't even come close to matching the 672% return of cryptocurrency giant Bitcoin (BTC -1.38%) over the same time frame.
Ignoring the Bitcoin hype would be a smart move
Many of the same theses that bulls have extolled for years continue to drive Bitcoin's ascent. For example, fans still view its 21 million token limit as a hedge against the long-term devaluation of the U.S. dollar as the money supply increases.
Enthusiasts also still value Bitcoin for its payment potential. A greater number of businesses are accepting cryptocurrency now than ever before, and Bitcoin's network can settle payment transactions in an average of 10 minutes. This compares to cross-border payments on traditional networks, which can take up to a week to be validated and settled.
The world's most popular digital currency has also received a boost from brand-name enterprise adoption. Electric-vehicle maker Tesla recently announced a $1.5 billion purchase of Bitcoin, which will be added to the automaker's balance sheet.
But you might be disappointed if you dig beyond the short-term cheerleading and technical analysis. History is clear that when next-big-thing investments go parabolic, they eventually implode. Furthermore, Bitcoin is full of flaws and misconceptions perpetuated on social media platforms.
These high-growth stocks are all better buys than Bitcoin
Rather than putting your hard-earned money to work on an asset that doesn't seem to have any true utility or sustainable advantages, consider the following four growth stocks, all of which have tangible long-term growth prospects.
Though it may not be the fastest-growing trend this decade, there's a good chance cybersecurity will be the safest double-digit growth opportunity. As businesses continue to shift online and into the cloud, the onus of protecting company and consumer information will fall on third-party providers. That's where CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD 1.29%) comes in.
CrowdStrike's selling point is its cloud-native Falcon platform, which oversees over 3 trillion events each week. Falcon relies on artificial intelligence to improve at identifying and responding to threats. Because it was built entirely in the cloud, Falcon is more nimble than on-premises security options. Interestingly, it's also cheaper.
The fact of the matter is that CrowdStrike's clients love the product. Over the past 3.5 years, the percentage of customers with at least four cloud module subscriptions has grown from 9% to 61%. This tells us that CrowdStrike's platform is easily scalable to its clients' needs.
What's more, CrowdStrike has just scratched the surface of its addressable market ($32.4 billion, as of fiscal 2021), and it's already reached its long-term subscription gross margin target of between 75% and 80%. It's a fast-paced business you can buy into with confidence.
Many investors are pounding the table on pot stocks because they think a Democrat-led Congress will legalize marijuana at the federal level. That's far from a given considering how little our country's two political parties agree on. It's also worth noting that President Joe Biden has only pledged to decriminalize and reschedule cannabis. Thankfully, legalization isn't necessary for a handful of multistate operators to shine, and Cresco is part of that group.
Following the completion of the Verdant Creations acquisition, which added four dispensaries in Ohio, the company has two dozen operating retail locations. Cresco has been particular in targeting limited license states like Illinois and Ohio. With a predetermined number of licenses being issued, it should be able to effectively build up its brand and secure meaningful market share in potentially billion-dollar markets.
Even more exciting is Cresco's wholesale operations. The company holds one of only a handful of cannabis distribution licenses in California, the largest pot market in the world by annual sales. This gives it the ability to place marijuana products into more than 575 dispensaries throughout the Golden State. Even though wholesale margins aren't as high as retail, Cresco is generating more than enough volume from wholesale to make it a highly lucrative venture.
What makes Vertex so special is the company's overwhelming success in treating cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disorder characterized by thick mucus production that can obstruct the lungs and pancreas. CF has no cure, but Vertex has developed multiple generations of gene-specific CF treatments that have improved quality of life for patients.
The latest development, Trikafta, is a combination therapy that easily met its primary endpoint in phase 3 clinical studies and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration five months ahead of its scheduled review date. In its first full year on pharmacy shelves in the U.S. and Europe, it brought in nearly $3.9 billion in net sales. Wall Street believes it will generate $6 billion annually in sales, but this might prove to be a conservative estimate.
Vertex is also sitting on a mountain of cash, thanks in part to the high margins associated with selling brand-name therapies. It ended the year with $6.7 billion in cash and is likely to use some of this capital to go shopping. While it already has a half-dozen other treatments in development, expanding its portfolio beyond CF would be a smart idea.
Finally, ignore Bitcoin and pound the table on cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solutions kingpin salesforce.com (CRM 0.46%).
In simple terms, CRM software helps consumer-facing businesses grow. It can be used for everything from simple tasks like logging client information to more complex tasks like managing a marketing campaign or suggesting new products to existing clients. The retail and services industries are obvious CRM software beneficiaries. However, healthcare, manufacturing, and financial businesses can often also benefit from CRM solutions.
When it comes to cloud-based CRM software, every other business looks up to Salesforce as the Goliath. According to IDC, Salesforce controlled just shy of 20% of the global CRM revenue share in the first half of 2020. That's more than its four closest competitors combined. No tea leaves are needed to see that Salesforce is the go-to in this double-digit opportunity.
Salesforce is also in the process of acquiring enterprise communications platform Slack Technologies in a $27.7 billion cash-and-stock deal. Assuming it gets the green light, Slack's platform will provide Salesforce with an opportunity to cross-sell its products, much in the same way Microsoft uses Teams as a jumping-off point for its CRM solutions.