Despite the recent volatility in the stock market, the next four years could be extremely promising for investors.
Even though President Joe Biden inherited an economy damaged by the coronavirus pandemic, the policies being put in place by the Biden administration, as well as those continued by the Federal Reserve, should allow the U.S. economy and stock market to fire on all cylinders.
Last month, the Biden administration signed a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus into law, pushing the total relief passed by Congress since the pandemic began to north of $5 trillion. Meanwhile, the nation's central bank will continue its monthly bond-buying efforts to keep lending rates at or near historic lows. With ample access to cheap capital, businesses and stocks are poised to thrive.
However, investing in a Biden bull market doesn't mean you have to take outlandish risks. The following five safe stocks would be perfect for investors who want to see their initial investment grow, without the wild volatility we've been accustomed to over the past year.
It's pretty hard for investors to go wrong when you're buying into the most dominant retail platform in the world's No. 1 economy, which happens to be dependent on consumption.
According to a March 2020 report from eMarketer, Amazon (AMZN 1.63%) was expected to pick up another 100 basis points of U.S. online retail market share in 2021. If accurate, this'll mean that roughly $0.40 of every $1 spent online in the U.S. will be routed through Amazon.
The company's sheer dominance online has helped it attract well over 150 million Prime users. The fees Amazon collects from Prime help it to undercut brick-and-mortar stores on price. Furthermore, Prime users spend many times more each year than non-Prime customers, and they're more inclined to stay within Amazon's ecosystem of products and services.
Although retail margins are often minimal, Amazon also has its cloud infrastructure service segment, Amazon Web Services (AWS), to lean on. AWS grew sales by 30% in 2020 (that is, during the worst economic downturn in decades), and it's shown little sign of slowing down. With margins that trounce traditional retail, AWS is Amazon's true moneymaker.
2. NextEra Energy
When you think of utility stocks, "safe" and "boring" may well be the two words that come to mind. However, electric utility stock NextEra Energy (NEE -0.58%) aims to remove the stigma of being boring.
What makes NextEra such a stand-up stock to own in a Biden bull market is its focus on renewable energy. No utility in the country is currently generating more capacity from solar or wind power. Investing so heavily in green-energy projects has helped the company stay ahead of whatever clean-energy legislation might be working its way through Washington, and it's boosted the company's compound annual growth rate to the high single digits for more than a decade.
NextEra isn't done, either. It's set aside $50 billion to $55 billion for infrastructure projects (mostly renewable energy) between 2020 and 2022, and has ambitious plans to install 30 million solar panels in Florida by 2030 (the "30-by-30" project), which'll generate around 10,000 megawatts of additional capacity.
The Biden administration has made no secret of wanting to tackle climate change with a focus on renewable energy. This puts NextEra Energy's operating model squarely in focus, and for all the right reasons.
You could spend days scouring the tech sector for the next great innovator -- or you could simply buy into the most dominant social media company in the world, Facebook (META 2.88%).
Facebook ended the world's most challenging year in generations with 2.8 billion people visiting its namesake site each month. It had another 500 million unique visitors going to Instagram or WhatsApp on a monthly basis. Combined, that's 3.3 billion people (over 42% of the people on the planet) visiting a Facebook-owned asset at least once a month. There's nowhere else advertisers can go where they're going to get access to 3.3 billion people, or a potentially larger targeted audience. This is how Facebook grew ad revenue last year by 21%.
It's no secret that advertisers tend to spend more when the U.S. economy is expanding and rein in their spending during contractions or recessions. With the Biden administration and Federal Reserve seemingly doing everything imaginable to light a fire under the U.S. economy, it's hard to see ad spending not picking up in a big way over the next four years.
Plus, Facebook hasn't even fully monetized all of its core assets yet. The more than $84 billion it recognized in ad revenue last year came from Facebook and Instagram. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have not come close to being fully monetized. When that happens, Facebook's operating cash flow is going to skyrocket.
To keep with the theme, FAANG stocks are usually very safe investments. That's why Alphabet (GOOGL 5.32%) (GOOG 5.34%), the parent company of Google and YouTube, should be on investors' buy lists in a Biden bull market.
Unlike Facebook, Alphabet's internet search platform Google suffered its first-ever quarterly year-over-year sales decline as a public company last year. Then again, it turned out to be a one-quarter anomaly. With Google controlling between 91% and 93% of global internet search, according to StatCounter Global Stats, advertisers often champ at the bit to gain prime placement on its platform. If Biden is successful in leading the U.S. economy to a robust recovery, you can be assured that ad spending on internet search is going to pick up.
But it's not just search dominance that should have Alphabet's investors excited. Streaming content platform YouTube has become one of the three most-visited social sites in the world -- and its operating results prove it. Ad revenue for YouTube jumped 46% in the fourth quarter, with the segment pacing nearly $28 billion in annual run-rate revenue.
There's also Google Cloud, which grew revenue by 47% in Q4 and is pacing an annual run rate in excess of $15 billion. Cloud is currently generating losses for Alphabet, but the high margins associated with infrastructure cloud services should begin paying off very soon.
5. Berkshire Hathaway
Even though all brokerages tell their customers that past performance is no guarantee of future returns, it's pretty hard to overlook Buffett's overwhelming success over more than five decades. Between 1965 and 2020, Berkshire Hathaway's stock averaged an annual return of 20%. Meanwhile, the total annual return of the benchmark S&P 500 was 10.2% over the same time span. In terms of aggregate performance, Berkshire Hathaway has outpaced the S&P 500 by nearly 2,800,000%.
Two factors make Berkshire Hathaway such an attractive buy. First, you're getting Warren Buffett as your portfolio manager, and the Oracle of Omaha's track record speaks for itself. He and his team have a knack for buying into businesses that have sustainable competitive advantages, and he tends to hang onto his investments for long periods of time.
Second, the vast majority of stocks in Berkshire Hathaway's investment portfolio, along with its five dozen wholly owned companies, are cyclical in nature. Buffett has aligned his company to take advantage of economic expansions. Since periods of expansion last significantly longer than recessions, it's a simple numbers game that patient investors seem bound to win.