Following one of the wildest bear market declines in history, the stock market looks unstoppable. Since bottoming out 13 months ago, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has more than doubled, while the benchmark S&P 500 is closing in on a nearly 90% gain. As crazy as this might sound, things could be just getting started under the Biden administration.
Though President Joe Biden inherited an economy that was battered by the pandemic, there are two monster catalysts in his sails: ongoing dovish monetary policy from the nation's central bank and multiple rounds of fiscal stimulus, which are being used to reignite economic growth. Things couldn't be more perfect for equities.
If a Biden bull market does take shape over the next four years, investors are going to want to own stakes in businesses that'll offer seemingly guaranteed returns. The following five foolproof stocks fit the mold as winners in a Biden bull market.
Few companies offer growth, value, and set-it-and-forget-it appeal quite like social media platform Facebook (META 1.89%). In spite of the constant concern that Facebook could face some sort of regulatory backlash for its dominance of the social media space, these worries are greatly overshadowed by the benefits associated with a rebounding economy under the Biden administration.
As some of you might already know, Facebook is an ad-driven company. Roughly 98% of the $86 billion in revenue it generated last year was derived from ads. Ad spending tends to grow at a steady pace when the economy is expanding. In Facebook's case, it has the added catalyst of having more than 42% of the world's population visiting one of its owned sites on at least a monthly basis, as of the fourth quarter. The breadth of audience that Facebook can offer advertisers makes its platform too enticing for businesses to pass up.
What's truly amazing is that Facebook is still relatively early in its growth trajectory. Of the $84.2 billion in ad revenue brought in during 2020, nearly all of it was derived from its namesake site and Instagram. Despite being two of the most visited social platforms in the world, neither WhatsApp nor Facebook Messenger have been meaningfully monetized as of yet. When that happens in the coming years, Facebook should see its sales, profits, and cash flow soar.
What's set NextEra apart in generally a slow-growing (aka, boring) sector is the company's focus on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar. Investing in these projects has been costly, but it's resulted in the company pushing down energy generation costs and growing its adjusted earnings per share by a high single-digit rate for more than a decade. For some context here, most electric utilities grow by a low single-digit percentage annually.
With Biden in the White House and Democrats narrowly controlling Congress, Washington a real chance to pass some form of green-energy/climate change reforms. While it's too early to say what a final bill might look like, NextEra Energy could be further incented to go green via tax credits or other benefits.
Plus, it doesn't hurt that the company offers basic-need services. Whether it's a recession or booming bull market, consumers need electricity and/or natural gas. This makes NextEra a steady grower in most economic environments.
Green Thumb Industries
Speaking of "going green," the U.S. marijuana industry should make big strides under the Biden administration, regardless of whether or not federal legalization or decriminalization takes place. As long as the status quo persists -- i.e., the Justice Department maintains its hands-off approach regarding state-level regulation -- multistate operator Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF -0.81%) will thrive.
Green Thumb has been using a combination of acquisitions and good old-fashioned organic growth to expand its presence. As of the end of March, the company had 56 operational dispensaries and enough licenses in its back pocket to open 41 more retail locations. With a presence in a dozen states, Green Thumb has focused on markets that have billion-dollar annual potential and/or offer limited license issuance. In particular, it's bought its way into Illinois, which hit over $1 billion in statewide weed sales in 2020, and Nevada, which should lead the nation in per-capita cannabis spending by mid-decade.
Equally exciting is Green Thumb's product mix. In the neighborhood of two-thirds of the company's sales are derived from derivatives, such as edibles, vapes, and oils. Derivatives have higher price points, juicier margins, and are far less susceptible to oversupply than dried cannabis flower. They're Green Thumb's ticket to recurring profitability in 2021 (and beyond).
Innovation should also be showcased in the healthcare sector during a Biden presidency. That's what makes robotic surgical system developer Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -0.37%) such a foolproof buy.
Last week, Intuitive Surgical reported its first-quarter operating results, which, as usual, were stellar. One of the reasons it's such a successful company is the dominance of its da Vinci surgical system. Since 2000, the company has placed 6,142 of its systems worldwide in hospitals and surgical centers. While this might not sound like a huge number, it blows its competition out of the water on a combined basis.
The Intuitive Surgical operating model is also conducive to improved margins over time. In its early years, most of the company's revenue was generated from selling its pricey systems. The only problem is that these systems are costly to build and don't produce high margins. Over time, the company's revenue mix has shifted, with 71.5% of all sales in the first quarter coming from instruments and accessories sold with each procedure, or servicing done on its machines. The more da Vinci systems installed, the more the needle swings in favor of these higher-margin segments.
With da Vinci still scratching the surface on a number of soft tissue surgical indications, sustainable double-digit growth throughout the decade is a real possibility.
A final foolproof stock to add for a Biden bull market is cybersecurity stock Okta (OKTA 0.01%). With businesses shifting their data online and into the cloud, protecting this data is no longer optional. This means third-party providers like Okta are being relied on now more than ever.
What sets Okta apart from much of its competition is the fact that its identity verification platform is cloud-native and relies on artificial intelligence. In simpler terms, it means that Okta's solutions are nimbler than on-premises solutions, and grow smarter over time at recognizing and responding to threats. In short, Okta's suite of services can be a cheaper, yet more effective, long-term cybersecurity solution for enterprises.
Okta is also likely to benefit immensely from its pending all-stock acquisition of Auth0 for approximately $6.5 billion. With this deal, Okta brings one of its biggest competitors under its umbrella, with Auth0 likely opening the door for the combined company to push into the European market.