If investors have learned anything about the stock market over the past year, it's that patience pays.
Over the past 71 years, there have been 38 corrections of at least 10% in the broad-based S&P 500. Yet each and every one of these significant declines was eventually erased by a bull market rally. In many instances, it's taken just months or a couple of quarters to put the bad memory of a short-term decline in the rearview mirror. The point is, investors who seek out brand-name and/or innovative businesses to hold for long periods of time have been handsomely rewarded.
Regardless of what the stock market does over the short term, you can consider putting money to work right now in some of the best growth and value stocks. If you have, say, $5,000 at the ready, here are five of the best stocks to invest it in.
One of the most under-the-radar, yet undeniable, growth trends is companion-animal spending. According to the American Pet Products Association, an estimated $99 billion was spent on companion animals in the U.S. last year, and expenditures on companion pets hasn't declined on a year-over-year basis in at least a quarter of a century. Pet owners are willing to pay up to ensure the well-being of their four-legged friends, which is why health-benefits provider Trupanion (TRUP -5.62%) is such a perfect buy right now.
For the past 20 years, Trupanion has been building rapport with the veterinary community. It ended 2020, the most challenging year in decades, with over $500 million in annual revenue (31% sales growth) and nearly 863,000 enrolled pets, which was a 33% increase from the prior-year period.
Trupanion has penetrated roughly 1% of the addressable companion-animal market in the United States. If pet health insurance penetration levels were to reach U.K. levels (about 25%), Trupanion's addressable market would be over $32 billion (and growing).
Aside from helping to keep our four-legged friends healthy, Trupanion is also the only large pet-focused health insurer with software capable of handling payments directly to veterinary clinics at the time of checkout. It's yet another way Trupanion can differentiate itself and stand out in an increasingly crowded field.
Following its recent pullback, Trupanion looks like a smart place to put your money to work.
Another genius way to put $5,000 to work right now would be to scoop up shares of online advertising-marketplace EverQuote (EVER -4.57%).
According to EverQuote, the advertising industry spends more than $146 billion annually on advertising and distribution. Just a fraction of this amount ($5.6 billion) is spent on digital insurance advertising. However, this small sliver is expected to grow by 16% annually through 2024, compared to just 3% per year through 2024 for insurance advertising and distribution as a whole. In other words, it's in the bread-and-butter growth sweet spot for insurance industry growth.
What EverQuote brings to the table benefits all parties. It allows consumers to quickly and concisely price a variety of insurance policies. Meanwhile, it attracts motivated consumers for insurers, which means their ad dollars are stretching further. About 1 in 5 users who receive a policy quote will make a purchase on EverQuote's insurance marketplace.
EverQuote has also expanded into new insurance verticals, which is broadening its client base and boosting its growth prospects. Last year, traditional auto insurance vertical revenue grew 33% to $283.2 million, while revenue from its home, rental, health, and life insurance verticals collectively jumped 74% to $63.7 million. EverQuote is a sneaky-good growth story.
If you're noticing a theme, it's that growth and innovation go hand in hand. Investors with a long-term mindset can consider putting some or all of their $5,000 to work in Singapore-based Sea Limited (SE -7.49%).
The Sea growth story boils down to three rapidly growing segments. The first and most fruitful (for the time being) from the standpoint of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) is gaming. The company ended the year with over 610 million active gaming users (up 72%), 73.1 million of whom were paying customers (that's up 120% from last year). With nearly 1 in 8 users paying to play games, the company's adjusted EBITDA rocketed higher by 94% to $2 billion in 2020.
Arguably the most exciting segment is e-commerce. Primarily targeted at southeastern Asia, Sea's popular Shopee platform saw its gross merchandise value double to $35.4 billion, with total orders up 133% to 2.8 billion. Remember, Shopee is targeting a burgeoning middle class, so this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Finally, the company's digital financial services segment saw $7.8 billion in full-year mobile wallet payments, with over 23 million paying customers at the end of the most recent quarter. Since parts of Southeastern Asia are underbanked, digital banking services could make Sea a major financial services player in the region throughout the decade.
Marijuana stocks look as if they might be one of the decade's most impressive growth stories. That's why U.S. multistate operator (MSO) Cresco Labs (CRLBF -1.03%) can confidently be added to portfolios by long-term investors.
Like most MSOs, Cresco has a retail presence. Following the closing of its Verdant Creations acquisition, it has approximately two dozen open dispensaries. A number of these retail locations are in limited-license states, such as Illinois (10 stores) and Ohio (five stores). By choosing to set up shop in states where the number of retail stores are capped, Cresco is giving its brands the opportunity to establish themselves without being overrun by competition.
The more intriguing growth segment for Cresco is wholesale cannabis. Even though wholesale pot generates lower margins than retail, Cresco has more-than-enough volume to justify the lower margins. That's because its January 2020 purchase of Origin House gave it access to a lucrative cannabis distribution license in California, the largest weed market in the world by annual sales. Having this license allows Cresco to place pot products into more than 575 California dispensaries -- a figure that's bound to grow.
Expect Cresco to turn the corner to recurring profitability this year and remain one of the fastest-growing MSOs through 2025.
Sometimes, great deals are right under our nose. Social media company Facebook (FB -5.12%) isn't going to win you any awards for investing originality, but its utter dominance in the social media space should make you a boatload of money.
Should you choose to invest $5,000 into Facebook right now, you'd be buying into a company that had 2.8 billion people visit its namesake site at least once monthly during the fourth quarter, and 3.3 billion unique people visiting at least one of its owned assets on a monthly basis (Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp). There's not a social media platform that allows advertisers to reach a broader audience, which is what fuels Facebook's ad-pricing power.
What's hard to believe about Facebook is that it's not even close to fully monetizing its assets. It's generating nearly all of its ad revenue from Facebook and Instagram. Meanwhile, the company hasn't opened the floodgates on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp as of yet. That's two of the six most-visited social sites in the world that aren't being meaningfully monetized yet. Once Facebook presses the gas pedal on these assets, the sky becomes the limit for its cash flow.
Historically speaking, Facebook is about as cheap as it's ever been, relative to earnings and cash flow. That makes now the perfect time to buy.