It's a common misconception that you have to be rich to make money in the stock market, but the truth is -- you don't. Although larger initial investments are helpful, where, when, and how you invest your money are far more important than the dollar amount you start with.
If you're a long-term investor with $1,000, you can contribute to your stock portfolio right now, here are two unbeatable growth stocks you should consider buying.
The number of people in the freelance workforce has skyrocketed in recent years, and the pandemic only accelerated that trend. As one of the leading freelance platforms on the web, Upwork (UPWK 0.99%) continues to benefit from the expansion of the gig economy, and its stock presents a compelling growth play for the long-term investor. Shares are trading about 450% higher than they were a year ago, but the stock still trades for less than $50.
Upwork had a stable history of growth prior to 2020. In 2018, its revenue increased by 25% year over year while gross services volume surged by 28%. And in 2019, these two metrics both grew 19%.
Last year featured remarkable growth on just about every front for Upwork. Revenue increased 24% while its marketplace revenues surged by 26%. Its gross services volume also rose by 21% compared to 2019. Another notable development occurred during the fourth quarter. The company reported positive net income of $900,000, a stark contrast to the net loss of $5.5 million it recorded in the prior-year period. This could be a sign that Upwork is moving toward consistent profitability in addition to its impressive pattern of top-line gains.
Management is forecasting that revenues could grow by as much as 26% in 2021, which is in line with the revenue increases it has delivered over the past few years.
According to a study released by Upwork in September, freelancers now comprise approximately 36% of the labor force in the United States. At the time of the study, Upwork estimated that freelancers had pumped roughly $1.2 trillion into the economy over the previous year, representing a 22% spike in freelance-derived earnings from 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic also stimulated a massive surge in the availability of freelance talent, as the worldwide transition to remote work environments and sharp spikes in unemployment drove a new wave of individuals to seek out other methods of making money. Upwork's study also noted that half of the freelancers in the workforce offer skilled services, and that 75% of those who had transitioned from full-time to freelance work were able to generate at least as much income as they had earned in their previous roles.
The remarkable growth of the freelance economy during the pandemic reflects the fast-changing employment landscape. Upwork's platform provides an invaluable tool to connect skilled individuals with those who require their talents. We can expect the freelance job market to keep expanding in the coming years, and Upwork shareholders can expect to see the results of that expansion on its balance sheet and in its stock price.
2. Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 0.75%) is a particularly compelling growth play in the healthcare space because of its unique competitive advantages. It's a market leader in the fight against cystic fibrosis (CF) -- all of the approved medicines in its portfolio treat the genetic disease.
The company has four approved treatments on the market: Trikafta, Symdeko, Orkambi, and Kalydeco. All have raked in stellar revenues for the company, but Trikafta has been the true game-changer. When Trikafta -- a triple-drug combination treatment -- was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2019, it became the first drug of its kind approved to treat 90% of patients with cystic fibrosis.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals isn't sticking solely to the CF market though. Its large pipeline contains candidates targeting a host of other rare conditions, including sickle cell disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The company has also entered into a number of high-profile partnerships in its mission to expand its portfolio, including gene-editing treatment collaborations with Swiss biotech CRISPR Therapeutics and Massachusetts-based biotech Obsidian Therapeutics.
Vertex Pharmaceutical's strategy for building upon its success in the CF treatment space could produce serious gains on its balance sheet (and for its shareholders) in the coming years. The rare disease treatment market was valued at $144.3 billion in 2019, according to Global Market Insights. And Grand View Research estimates that the cystic fibrosis therapeutics market alone (in which Vertex is a dominant force) will hit a $14 billion valuation by 2025.
2020 was one in a long line of high-growth years for Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The company reported product revenues up 49% from 2019, while its net income surged 130%. For the year, Trikafta, Symdeko, Orkambi, and Kalydeco brought in revenues of $3.9 billion, $629 million, $908 million, and $803 million, respectively. Trikafta is by far the company's top-selling treatment. It accounted for nearly two-thirds of 2020's $6.2 billion in total revenues.
Management forecasts revenues of between $6.7 billion and $6.9 billion for 2021. Vertex Pharmaceuticals' stock has fallen considerably in recent months from its pandemic high, but that just means you can snag shares at a cheaper price. Last fall, Vertex decided to cease developing a midstage drug candidate for the treatment of inherited disorder alpha-1 antitrypsin (AATD) after a number of study participants exhibited indications of liver damage. As a result, the stock dropped by more than 20% in mid-October and is still trading around 20 times trailing earnings.
But Vertex's current portfolio of medicines combined with its robust pipeline of other promising rare disease drug candidates and strong balance sheet make the stock a compelling investment nonetheless. For growth and value investors, the stock remains a rock-solid long-term investment.