The pandemic has boosted businesses that have been able to adapt and evolve their business models to cope with the challenges. Some companies have been resourceful in pivoting toward online sales and services or latching onto trends that have been accelerated by the crisis, and the companies that posted growth despite these tough times have seen their share prices double over the last 12 months.
But don't be put off by this sharp jump. In some cases these price increases are justified, and there's reason to expect even better days to come. Investors need to extend their time horizons and look at the potential for these companies to grow even larger as they latch onto continuing catalysts.
Here are three stocks that have doubled over the last year that I believe have the potential for further growth.
MercadoLibre (MELI -0.94%), Latin America's largest e-commerce company, has seen its share price almost triple over the last year. The company was already growing rapidly before the pandemic, and the crisis accelerated digital adoption and pushed the continent to embrace online payments and e-commerce like never before.
The company's numbers demonstrate the strength of this trend. The number of unique active users on its platform jumped from 74.2 million in 2019 to 132.5 million last year. Gross merchandise volume, a measure of transactional activity, jumped by 49.5% year-over-year to $21 billion. Total payment volume (TPV) on MercadoLibre's payment platform Mercado Pago surged from $28.4 billion to $49.8 billion over the same period.
Although economies may reopen soon as vaccines are distributed globally, it's unlikely that people will revert to physical transactions once they enjoy the comfort and ease of conducting business online. MercadoLibre should enjoy continued momentum in digital adoption, which should carry on past the pandemic, setting the company up for many more years of steady growth.
Another company whose share price has more than doubled in the past year is online payments specialist Paypal (PYPL -3.23%). Paypal is enjoying a similar boost to what MercadoLibre has experienced, with TPV and net new accounts surging. For 2020, TPV grew by 31% year-over-year to $936 billion, while 72.7 million net new active accounts were added, a record for the company.
Net revenue increased by 22% year-over-year, while operating income rose by 21% year-over-year, capping an extraordinary year for Paypal as it released numerous new products and scaled up its global acceptance. Business momentum is expected to continue in 2021, with an estimated 50 million net new accounts added and TPV growing in the high-20% range year-over-year. Paypal generated $5 billion of free cash flow in 2020 and believes that it can generate $1 billion more this year.
The company is also going big on cryptocurrencies. It acquired Curv, an Israeli-based provider of cloud-based infrastructure for digital asset security, back in early March. Paypal also launched an initiative known as "Checkout with Crypto", enabling customers in the U.S. to utilize cryptocurrencies in tandem with other payment methods when paying with their Paypal digital wallets. These moves will potentially add even more users to its platform, and help to boost its TPV further.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle Mexican Grill's (CMG 0.32%) stock price has more than doubled from $744 a year ago to the current $1,530 level. When the pandemic first broke out, the restaurant chain had to temporarily halt dine-in services. However, it quickly adapted by shifting its business model to digital orders, thus reducing its reliance on physical customer visits. Chipotle has continued opening new restaurants with Chipotlanes, a drive-thru digital order pick-up lane, with 42 of 61 new restaurants having one in the last quarter.
The company recently reported an impressive set of numbers for the fiscal year ended Dec 31, 2020. Revenue for the year increased by 7.1% year-over-year to $6 billion, while comparable restaurant sales eked out a small 1.8% year-over-year increase. It's important to note that digital sales surged by 174.1% year-over-year and made up 46.2% of sales, up significantly from making up just 18% of sales a year ago. Net income improved slightly from $350.2 million to $355.8 million, an admirable feat considering the temporary dining-in stoppage during the year.
And Chipotle isn't stopping there. It started testing its new Chipotle Carside app recently in 29 restaurants in California, allowing customers to park close to a restaurant, order through its app, and get their order delivered to the car by a staff member. The company is also forging ahead with its expansion into Canada, opening its first new outlet since Oct 2018 on March 30 in Surrey. Canada's first Chipotlane will also debut at a new restaurant in Port Coquitlam, and the company is planning to open six more restaurants in British Columbia and Ontario over the next 12 months. Investors have many reasons to cheer, as Chipotle has demonstrated that it has what it takes to grow despite the crisis.