Despite a very recent pullback in equities, the table is set for stocks to thrive under the new administration.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has pledged to keep interest rates at or near historic lows through 2023, all while pumping in liquidity via monthly Treasury bond purchases. At the same time, Capitol Hill is working on another round of fiscal stimulus that could total as much as $1.9 trillion. This comes atop the more than $3 trillion in fiscal stimulus passed last year in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Long story short, there's ample access to cheap liquidity and a clear three-year outlook from the Fed. That's a recipe for the stock market to thrive with Joe Biden in the White House.
If you're looking to take advantage of this utopian growth scenario, the following five stocks look like no-brainer buys in a Biden bull market.
Although I'll get no points for originality, e-commerce giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has proven to be one of those companies that's a no-brainer buy in any economic environment.
Most people are likely familiar with Amazon for its seller ecosystem. According to eMarketer, Amazon's share of U.S. online sales is expected to grow from 38.7% in 2020 to 39.7% in 2021. To put this into some context, roughly $0.40 of every $1 spent online in the U.S. is routing through Amazon. Even with retail margins as slim as they are, this is an incredible figure.
Amazon has also been able to use its prowess as the king of e-commerce to sign up well over 150 million people to Prime worldwide. The fees Amazon collects from Prime help it undercut brick-and-mortar retailers on price. It certainly doesn't hurt that paying members have added incentive to spend more and stay within Amazon's ecosystem of products and services.
Throughout the Biden presidency, we're liable to see Amazon's cloud infrastructure operations play a big role in its growth prospects. Amazon Web Services (AWS) delivered 30% sales growth in 2020 during the worst economic downturn in decades. With margins that trounce retail, AWS has the potential to triple Amazon's operating cash flow by 2024.
If there's one issue I'm fairly certain will be swept under the rug, yet again, its brand-name drug pricing reforms. That's an open invitation for profitable drug developers and innovators to thrive with Biden in the White House, which is precisely why AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) is a no-brainer buy.
Having moved well beyond the patent cliff that constrained AstraZeneca's growth prospects for so long, the company is now a successful cancer- and cardiovascular-drug developer. Last year, its trio of cancer blockbusters -- Tagrisso, Imfinzi, and Lynparza -- grew between 36% to 49% on a constant-currency basis, with type 2 diabetes drug Farxiga delivering 30% constant-currency growth. These are indications with growing patient pools and increasing duration of use, which should lead to consistent growth in the company's oncology and cardiovascular segments.
AstraZeneca is also in the process of buying specialty drugmaker Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN) for $39 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. Alexion specializes in ultra-rare diseases, meaning its therapies often face little or no competition.
The great thing about this buyout is that Alexion covered its cash flow by developing Ultomiris as a replacement for blockbuster drug Soliris. Administered every eight weeks, as opposed to every two with Soliris, Ultomiris is a genuine upgrade for patients and will secure Alexion's (and soon AstraZeneca's) cash flow for the next decade.
It wouldn't be a smart idea to overlook bank stocks in a Biden bull market. While there are plenty of time-tested banks to choose from, regional banking giant U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB) might be the safest bet.
One of the best aspects of an economic recovery is the typical steepening of the yield curve. Even with the nation's central bank holding steady on interest rates, it's possible for a steady steepening of the yield curve to boost interest income for big banks like U.S. Bancorp.
But more important is the fact that U.S. Bancorp has historically avoided the riskier derivative investments that have gotten its larger peers into trouble. This is a company that's predominantly focused on the bread-and-butter of banking -- i.e., growing loans and deposits. By avoiding risky investment opportunities, U.S. Bancorp has delivered superior return on assets and is quick to bounce back from recessions.
The company is also quite adept at getting users to bank online. As of the end of November, 77% of all transactions were undertaken online or through its mobile app. This includes 56% of all loan sales, which is up from just 32% in November 2018. Since digital banking is considerably cheaper on a per-transaction basis than in-person or phone-based transactions, the company has been able to cut costs by consolidating some of its branches. This is yet another key to its long-term success.
Palo Alto Networks
Another no-brainer buy for the Biden bull market is cybersecurity stock Palo Alto Networks (NYSE:PANW).
The beauty of cybersecurity is that it's evolved into a basic-need service. No matter the size of the business, network and cloud protection services are essential. Hackers and robots don't take time off or show sympathy just because the economy isn't running on all cylinders. As time passes, third-party providers like Palo Alto Networks will be counted on even more to protect enterprise and consumer data.
In recent years, Palo Alto Networks has undertaken an operating model shift that's seen it focus on subscription-based cybersecurity solutions, all while de-emphasizing physical firewall products. Subscriptions provide better margins, more transparent cash flow, and they're better at reducing client churn. Even if this shift hurts near-term earnings potential, it's a smart strategy when it comes to long-term operating margins and growth.
Palo Alto isn't afraid to make regular bolt-on acquisitions, either. With cheap access to capital, now is the perfect time for the company to broaden its product portfolio and scoop up companies that'll resonate with small and mid-sized businesses.
Finally, investors can confidently buy into the Pinterest (NYSE:PINS) growth story in a Biden bull market.
There's no mistaking that Pinterest was a beneficiary of the coronavirus pandemic. People cooped up in their homes turned to the internet and social media platforms like Pinterest for entertainment and a way to connect. That's why Pinterest's monthly active user (MAU) count grew by 124 million in 2020 (up 37%) to 459 million. Pinterest was no slouch before the pandemic hit, either. MAU growth averaged 30% annually in the three years prior to 2020.
International user growth has been particularly strong. Of the 124 million net users gained last year, more than 90% originated from ex-U.S. markets. The downside of international users is that ad revenue spent on these MAUs is substantially lower than what merchants will spend for ad placement in the United States. However, average revenue per user in overseas markets can double many times over this decade, which is what makes these international users the key to Pinterest's long-term growth.
Pinterest is also making the necessary investments to grow its status as a burgeoning e-commerce medium. Since its users are willingly posting about the people, places, and services that interest them, Pinterest is making it easier than ever to get merchants in front of these motivated consumers. The sky looks to be the limit for Pinterest over the next four years (and beyond).