The stock market offers few guarantees. For example, we're never going to know when a stock market crash or correction will rear its head, how long it's going to last, or how steep the decline will be.
But history has clearly shown that if you buy high-quality businesses and hang on to them for a long time, you have a very good chance to build wealth. This means there are always opportunities to make money, regardless of whether the stock market's major indexes are near a new high or contending with a steep correction.
As we move headlong into June, three top stocks stand out as exceptional values. Buying them now could make you richer in June, and well beyond.
Sometimes the best stocks are the biggest. After all, publicly traded companies don't achieve a trillion-dollar valuation because of luck. They've earned their title as one of the world's largest businesses because of their competitive advantages and operational execution. That's why e-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN 0.97%) is one of the three top stocks to buy for June, and beyond.
If you buy goods online, there's a pretty good chance you're familiar with Amazon. The company's online marketplace controls 40.4% of all e-commerce sales in the U.S., according to an April report from eMarketer. That's $0.40 of every $1 spent online routing through Amazon.
The thing is, retail sales as a whole generally produce low margins. Amazon gets around this by using its popularity to push Prime memberships. The fees that Prime members pay help it to undercut brick-and-mortar retailers. Additionally, Prime members tend to spend a lot more annually than non-Prime shoppers, and they're very loyal to the company's ecosystem of products and services. In total, it has more than 200 million Prime members worldwide.
And it's not just retail sales where Amazon has been dominant. Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company's cloud infrastructure segment, is an absolute beast in the cloud data storage space. Despite the worst economic downturn in decades last year, AWS' sales grew by 30%. As of the first quarter, AWS had an annual run-rate of $54 billion in revenue.
You'll want to pay close attention to AWS because cloud-service margins absolutely run circles around retail margins. Even though AWS accounts for around an eighth of Amazon's total sales, it's often generating well over half of its operating income. Thus, AWS is the company's leading driver of operating cash flow.
As the icing on the cake, I'll note that Amazon ended every year between 2010 and 2019 at a multiple of 23 to 37 times its cash flow. Given AWS' immense growth, Wall Street is expecting Amazon's cash flow will more than double by 2024 to $314 per share. Put another way, the company is valued at roughly 10 times Wall Street's projected cash flow in 2024 after trading at a median multiple of 30 times operating cash flow last decade. That's a big-time bargain!
A smart way to get rich is by putting your money to work in trends that offer double-digit growth potential for a very long time. That's why cybersecurity stock Ping Identity (PING) gets the nod as a top stock that'll make you richer in June and beyond.
Once optional, cybersecurity has transformed into something of a basic-need service. We were already witnessing a steady shift by businesses online and into the cloud prior to the pandemic. But when the coronavirus hit in full force, it coerced companies to go remote and entrust protecting their data to third-party providers. That's where Ping Identity comes in.
As its name gives away, Ping is focused on cloud-based identity verification. The company's intelligent cloud platform relies on artificial intelligence to grow smarter over time at identifying and responding to threats. In many instances, third-party cloud providers are more efficient and cost-effective than on-premises security solutions.
To be blunt, Ping Identity struggled a bit in 2020 as many of its cloud-based cybersecurity peers thrived. With some of its customers choosing shorter-term subscriptions, it temporarily slowed sales growth. But if you dig deeper, you'll find a growth stock in transition.
For example, because Ping is focused on growing its high-margin software-as-a-service subscriptions, the company's annual recurring revenue (ARR) is a much better measure of its growth than actual sales. In the latest quarter, ARR grew 16% from the prior-year period. Because subscription revenue is recognized over the life of the subscription, it'll take a few more quarters for sales growth to catch up with Ping's mid-teens ARR growth.
What's more, the company delivered an 85% gross margin on subscriptions in the first quarter. Even if Ping isn't growing as quickly as its peers, an 85% gross margin is more than enough to drive bottom-line growth when ARR is increasing by approximately 15% each year.
As one final note, Ping Identity's peers are regularly valued at a multiple of 10 to 20 times future sales (or more). You can scoop up shares of the profitable Ping Identity for a little over six times Wall Street's projected full-year sales in 2021.
Northern Star Acquisition (The Original BARK Company)
A third top stock that's set to make investors richer in June and beyond is Northern Star Acquisition (STIC).
Northern Star is a special purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC. Last week, its shareholders approved the company's merger with dog-focused product and services company BarkBox. Beginning June 2, Northern Star Acquisition will change its name to The Original BARK Company, and its ticker symbol will change to (NYSE: BARK) -- which is why I've included both company names above.
Why Northern Star/BarkBox? Check out pet spending trends in the United States. According to the American Pet Products Association, pet owners will spend close to $110 billion on companion animals in 2021. This includes more than $44 billion on food and treats, which is what BarkBox specializes in. It's also been over a quarter of a century since spending on companion animals declined year over year. It's as steady an industry as they come.
A big part of BARK's current and future success is its subscription-based operating model. Even though more than 23,000 retail outlets carry its products, the company primarily sells high-margin recurring subscriptions online. It ended March with about 1.2 million subscribers, a 91% increase from the prior year. The company's S-1, released last year, also noted that monthly retention rates are the highest in company history. This is a fancy way of saying that more subscribers than ever are sticking with the company.
BarkBox also thrives off innovation. Beyond its core service, which sends treats and toys to dog owners monthly, it launched Bark Eats and Bark Home last year. Bark Eats works with owners to develop a personalized high-quality diet of dry food for their dogs; Bark Home retails basic-need accessories, such as beds and leashes.
If BARK can meet the expectations laid out in its S-1, sales for the company could nearly double over the next two years. This would make it one of the cheapest stocks in the pet industry.