Ask any tenured investor and they'll tell you the key to generating significant wealth on Wall Street isn't being right often, but rather being very, very right on a handful of stocks. Having the foresight to identify game-changing companies, and staying firm on your conviction over many years, if not decades, is one of the easiest ways to gain your financial freedom.
Though it may be hard to believe, Apple and Amazon were, at one time, part of a very large pack of growth companies struggling to differentiate themselves from their peers. Today, there are countless potential game-changers attempting to stand out from the crowd.
The big question is: Which stocks have what it takes to eventually enter the $1 trillion valuation club?
Rather than take the easy road and select companies that are already halfway (or more) to reaching $1 trillion, I decided to look for true innovators with market caps below $200 billion that could grow to a $1 trillion market cap. All four of the following stocks have a real shot at becoming trillion-dollar companies by 2035.
Sea Limited: Current market cap of $114 billion
Singapore-based Sea Limited (SE 2.46%) has all the tools necessary to become a trillion-dollar stock over the next 14 years. It has three operating segments, all of which can play key roles in its ascent to becoming one of the world's largest companies.
For the time being, Sea is generating most of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from its gaming division. With people stuck in their homes throughout 2020 due to the pandemic, Sea saw its total gaming users grow by 72% to 610.6 million, while the number of paying users rose an even more impressive 120% to 73.1 million.
Though gaming can be a solid long-term growth driver, it's not the catalyst that'll put Sea over the top. That title belongs to online e-commerce platform Shopee, which is the most popular shopping download in Southeastern Asia. Gross orders last year surged 133% to 2.8 billion, with the gross merchandise value traversing Shopee effectively doubling to $35.4 billion. The scary thing is these figures are just scratching the surface of what Shopee is capable of. Sea is purposely targeting emerging market countries with burgeoning middle classes, which is what'll drive sustainable high double-digit growth.
Lastly, Sea has a nascent but rapidly growing digital financial services segment. Last year, it tallied more than 23 million paying mobile wallet customers. This operating segment could be surprisingly profitable given how underbanked some of the regions are that Sea operates in.
With the company on track to more than quadruple its sales by 2024, the sky is the limit.
Salesforce: Current market cap of $198 billion
Cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) software juggernaut salesforce.com (CRM 0.79%) is another innovator that has a real shot at hitting $1 trillion in market cap by 2035.
CRM software is used by consumer-facing businesses to handle simple tasks, such as logging customer information and overseeing product/service issues. It's also leaned on to manage online marketing campaigns and help predict which existing clients might be likeliest to buy new products or services. The retail industry is an obvious beneficiary, but CRM software is finding its way into new industries and sectors as time passes. That's why CRM software remains a double-digit growth trend.
Salesforce is the unquestioned leader in CRM solutions. IDC's estimate for the first half of 2020 showed that Salesforce controlled 19.8% of global CRM revenue share. By comparison, the next four companies behind it didn't even add up to a 19.8% share. It's going to be extremely difficult for competitors to chip away at what seems like a virtually insurmountable market share lead.
Furthermore, Salesforce has not been afraid to use acquisitions to broaden its product portfolio or reach new customers. It's currently in the process of acquiring cloud-based enterprise communication platform Slack Technologies in a $27.7 billion cash-and-stock deal. Assuming it closes, Salesforce will be able to use Slack's platform as a jumping-off point to cross-sell CRM to small and medium-sized businesses.
In fiscal 2021, Salesforce generated $21.3 billion in sales. In five years, CEO Marc Benioff sees his company surpassing $50 billion in annual revenue. If this roughly 20% growth rate keeps up, Salesforce should have no issue hitting $1 trillion in 14 years.
Airbnb: Current market cap of $81 billion
The long shot of the group but nevertheless a company with serious growth potential is stay-and-hosting platform Airbnb (ABNB 0.60%). Airbnb would have to increase in value by more than 1,100% over the next 14 years to hit a $1 trillion valuation.
A gain of 1,100%+ probably sounds like a tough task for a company that's nearly a megacap. However, Airbnb is completely revolutionizing the travel and hotel industry, which means its total addressable market is larger than most folks (including those on Wall Street) probably realize.
The vast majority of investors are probably familiar with Airbnb's hosting platform. The company has courted approximately 4 million hosts worldwide and effectively quintupled bookings between 2016 (52 million) and 2019 (272 million). Yet it's still just getting started. There are more than 130 million households in the U.S. alone and likely more than 1 billion worldwide. Each represents an opportunity to expand its marketplace.
Best of all, Airbnb isn't just sitting on its laurels and allowing its listing marketplace to do all the work. It has multiple avenues within the travel industry that could prove lucrative. As an example, the introduction of Experiences -- i.e., activities hosted by local experts -- gives the company a new way to generate revenue while also creating unforgettable moments that will bring consumers back to the brand.
Because Airbnb's potential customer pool is nearly as large as the global population, Wall Street is looking for revenue to more than triple to $10.4 billion in 2024 from $3.4 billion in the pandemic-affected 2020. With consistent growth potential of at least 20%, Airbnb has a real shot at a $1 trillion market cap in 14 years.
Square: Current market cap of $92 billion
Square's most mature operating segment is its seller ecosystem. Square provides point-of-sale devices, analytics, loans, and other services to merchants to help them grow. In turn, the seller ecosystem generates most of its revenue from merchant fees via gross payment volume (GPV) traversing its network. Between 2012 and 2019, GPV grew by an average annual rate of 49% to reach north of $106 billion.
What's worth noting about the seller ecosystem is that it's beginning to attract bigger merchants. In the March-ended quarter, Square generated 61% of its GPV from merchants with at least $125,000 in annualized GPV. That's up nine percentage points from the same quarter in 2019. Bigger merchants mean more gross profit for Square's foundational operating segment.
But what really has the investment community intrigued is peer-to-peer digital payments platform Cash App. In three years, Cash App's monthly active users more than quintupled to 36 million. Further, gross profit per user, as of the end of 2020, was $41, compared to less than $5 in costs to attract each new user. Not surprisingly, Cash App overtook the seller ecosystem in the first quarter of 2021 as Square's biggest contributor to gross profit.
Cash App gives the company a multitude of avenues from which to collect revenue. It's pocketing merchant fees, bank transfer revenue, and investing commissions and has generated a boatload of sales from Bitcoin exchange. Square could reasonably double its sales every couple of years through 2035, due in large part to Cash App.