Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are one of this year's emerging trends. NFTs are digital assets that reside on the blockchain, and can make for extremely speculative investments. Some people have paid millions of dollars for NFT artwork, betting that its value will rise.
But there's a safer way to experience some of the excitement and potential growth that NFTs offer, without gambling on what may prove to be nothing more than the next fad. Instead, investors are better off buying shares of two companies that have compelling growth prospects but are still more of a sure thing: Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG -1.57%) and Facebook (META 1.89%). Both businesses are flourishing, and are likely to rise in value for the foreseeable future.
1. Scotts Miracle-Gro
Whether you're bullish on stay-at-home gardening trends, the cannabis sector, or both, Scotts can be a terrific growth stock to own -- the company will benefit from expansion in both areas. For its 2020 fiscal year (which ended in September), the company's net sales of $4.1 billion represent year-over-year growth of 31%. Driving much of that growth was the company's Hawthorne business, where sales rose 61%. The Hawthorne Gardening Company provides materials for hydroponics, which is a way for people to grow crops (including cannabis) without soil. It utilizes a system of pumps and pipes (along with other components) to do the job more efficiently than conventional gardening, and also takes up less space.
As the market for cannabis grows, Scott's growth potential will grow with it. The company offers supplies for every type of customer, from the everyday gardener looking to grow marijuana for their personal use to licensed producers with huge volume. For fiscal 2021, Scotts projects that its Hawthorne sales will grow by up to 20%, while its U.S. consumer segment (its core gardening business) will also see positive growth. The company didn't state a specific percentage for the latter in its March update, saying only that it will be better than the flat-to-negative guidance it provided for the segment in its Q4 results.
With New York and New Jersey recently legalizing marijuana, there could be many more cannabis growers out there looking to utilize hydroponics for themselves or their businesses. That's why, though shares of Scotts are up 88% over the past year (beating the S&P 500's 48%), it still makes for a great long-term investment.
Facebook released its first-quarter results of fiscal 2021 on April 28, and the social media company is off to a rocking start. Sales of $26.2 billion for the period ending March 31 represent growth of 48% from the prior-year period. That was a big improvement from the fourth quarter, when its growth rate was just 33%. For all of 2020, sales were up by even less -- 22%.
Now that concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to subside and companies are resuming normal operations (which includes advertising), Facebook's ad business is booming. In the second quarter, it expects sales to "remain stable or modestly accelerate relative to the growth rate in the first quarter." It notched 2.85 billion monthly active users in Q1, up 10% year-over-year, meaning that the popular social media network is continuing to attract more people despite its already high user base. Although there are ways for people to share content through other platforms like Twitter and Snap, Facebook continues to act as a hub for many users, making it easy for them to stay connected with friends and family.
The biggest risk facing the company today is what happens with Instagram and WhatsApp, as last year the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit to force Facebook to sell those assets. It says that "Facebook has maintained its monopoly position by buying up companies that present competitive threats and by imposing restrictive policies that unjustifiably hinder actual or potential rivals."
However, given its vast resources (more than $19.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of Q1), even under a worst-case scenario where the businesses split off, Facebook would still likely be OK. The company has copied some of Snap's most popular features in the past, including its "stories" that users share with one another, and it could likely do the same with Instagram if it needed to. Facebook also already has a messenger service that it could evolve into more of a WhatsApp competitor. The key takeaway here is that with plenty of cash and a strong user base, investors don't need to worry about Facebook's businesses despite the uncertain road ahead. This is a growth machine that will continue to find ways to evolve and meet the needs of its users.