Stock market crashes, double-digit corrections, and heightened periods of volatility are more common than you probably realize. Nevertheless, patience pays off handsomely for long-term investors. Since 1980, the benchmark S&P 500 has averaged an annual total return, inclusive of dividend payments, of 11%. That's good enough to double your money with dividend reinvestment in about 6.5 years.
The key to making bank on Wall Street is to identify game-changing trends and buy into those trends for the long run. If you have $10,000 in cash at the ready, which won't be needed for emergencies or to pay bills, that's more than enough to buy into five of the most unstoppable trends right now.
One of the safest double-digit growth opportunities over the next decade is cybersecurity.
As businesses have shifted their presence online and into the cloud, the onus of protecting company and customer data has increasingly fallen on third-party providers. Plus, with data-hacking attempts becoming more sophisticated and proficient, cybersecurity has effectively become a basic-need service for businesses of all sizes, no matter how well or poorly the economy is performing.
As an example, we've watched enterprise demand soar for cloud-based identity verification solutions specialist Okta (OKTA 2.07%). Okta's identity solutions are cloud-native and rely on artificial intelligence (AI). In English, this means its platform is growing smarter at identifying and responding to threats all the time. Since Okta's platform is built in the cloud, its response time and efficiency in dealing with threats is often much more impressive than on-premises security solutions. The aggregate cost of keeping hackers at bay tends to be cheaper with cloud-based third-party providers than on-premises security options.
Although investors will pay a pretty penny to buy into cybersecurity stocks, their long-term future looks incredibly bright.
If you live in one of the 36 states that's legalized marijuana in some capacity, you probably don't need me to tell you that cannabis is booming in the United States. New Frontier Data has estimated that average annual sales growth through 2025 will be 21%, ultimately leading to $41.5 billion in sales by mid-decade.
Notice how I'm not mentioning Canadian pot stocks in this discussion? The simple reason for that is we don't know if or when the U.S. federal government is going to change its stance on marijuana. Without removing pot from the controlled substances list, Canadian weed stocks are stuck contending with the regulatory disaster known as the Canadian marijuana market. In other words, U.S. marijuana stocks are where you want to consider putting your money to work.
A good example here would be multistate operator Cresco Labs (CRLBF -2.32%). Once all of Cresco's acquisitions close, it'll have approximately three dozen operating dispensaries and enough licenses in its back pocket to open another dozen retail locations.
More important, Cresco is one of only a small number of companies to hold a cannabis distribution license in California. Even though wholesale cannabis produces inferior margins compared to the retail side of the equation, simply operating in the world's largest weed market makes this a moot point. Cresco can place pot products into close to 600 dispensaries statewide, which'll allow it to make bank.
Another absolutely unstoppable trend you can invest $10,000 in right now is fintech -- i.e., companies involved with financial technology products or services, such as digital or peer-to-peer payments. Based on a MarketDataForecast.com report, the global fintech market can grow north of 22% annually between 2020 and 2025.
Why fintech? The most-compelling answer is that they can expedite the processing and settlement of payments, especially when crossing borders. Financial technology services also holds the key to reducing payment transaction costs. It's no secret why we've been seeing money-center banks pushing mobile and digital banking use. And lastly, fintech can help level the playing field in underbanked regions of the world by offering the underbanked access to traditional financial services.
Square (SQ -5.37%) is the perfect example of a company that embodies both traditional payments and game-changing financial services technology. On one hand, Square's seller ecosystem processes credit card payments on its network via point-of-sale solutions given to its merchants. Last year, more than $112 billion in gross payment volume traversed its network.
On the other hand, Square's peer-to-peer digital payments platform Cash App has all the look of a revolutionary service. It's allowing users to pay merchants, transfer to and from traditional bank accounts, and invest their money. This includes purchasing the world's most popular cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
Even though it's the slowest-growing of the five unstoppable trends, pet care is the one I'm most confident will continue to grow, no matter what happens with the U.S. and global economy.
Data from the American Pet Products Association shows that companion animal ownership has jumped from 56% of all U.S. households in 1988 to 67% of all U.S. households by 2019-2020. What's more, year-over-year spending on pets hasn't declined in at least a quarter of a century. This year, an estimated $109.6 billion will be spent on pets in the U.S., with $44.1 billion allocated for food and treats and $32.3 billion for veterinary care and product sales.
A good example of a company set to thrive from beefed-up companion animal spending is insurer Trupanion (TRUP -4.09%). It ended March with nearly 944,000 total enrolled pets, many of which are part of its high-margin subscription business. The crazy thing is 944,000 pets represents only around a 1% penetration rate in the United States. If Trupanion were to reach the 25% pet insurance penetration rate observed in the U.K., its addressable market would be more than $32 billion.
Additionally, Trupanion has been building rapport at the clinical level for two decades, and it's the only major pet insurer to offer software to handle payment at the time of checkout.
Last, but not least, telehealth has all the hallmarks of a transformative, high-growth trend in the healthcare space.
I know what you're probably thinking, and you're right -- the pandemic absolutely helped businesses focused on telemedicine. But it's important to recognize that telehealth was growing at an exceptionally quick rate in the years leading up to the pandemic, and it'll continue to do so afterwards, too. That's because virtual visit platforms are more convenient for patients, they can help doctors keep better tabs on chronically ill patients, and they're billed at a cheaper rate than office visits, which insurers are bound to love.
The name in telehealth to own is Teladoc Health (TDOC -6.99%). Teladoc handled 10.59 million virtual visits in 2020 and is on track to oversee a median estimate of 13 million visits this year. That's up from 4.14 million in 2019. Teladoc averaged sales growth of 74% annually in the six years leading up to the pandemic, and it'll likely be one of the fastest-growing large-cap healthcare stocks this decade.
Also, don't overlook that Teladoc acquired applied health signals company Livongo Health in the fourth quarter of 2020. Livongo uses AI to send tips and nudges to patients with chronic illnesses to help them lead healthier lives. It was profitable on a recurring basis when acquired and was roughly doubling its member base each year.