The stock market has long been the preferred creator of wealth. Although other investment vehicles, such as bonds or gold, have had superior performances for short stretches of time, no asset class has delivered better average annual returns than stocks over the long run.
However, the emergence of cryptocurrencies is changing this mode of thinking. After watching Bitcoin (BTC 0.23%) rise from $1 to $40,000 in a little over a decade, and seeing Dogecoin (DOGE -3.06%) gallop higher by 27,000% in a six-month span, investors are feeling compelled to chase the momentum in the crypto space.
Unfortunately, this could prove to be a huge mistake.
The cryptocurrency bubble is eventually going to burst
While there's no denying that cryptocurrency has delivered some game-changing returns, most of this upside has been built on unsubstantiated hype. In other words, some folks view tokens like Bitcoin and Dogecoin as the future global currencies, but virtually nothing has suggested that this will come to fruition.
The reality is that digital currencies are virtually useless outside of a cryptocurrency exchange. Bitcoin has been stuck handling 250,000 to 300,000 transactions daily for years, while Dogecoin has been averaging closer to 30,000 daily transactions of late. For comparison's sake, payment-processing giants Visa and Mastercard handled 700 million transactions daily on a combined basis in 2018.
To build on this point, Fundera estimated earlier this year that only around 15,200 businesses worldwide accepted Bitcoin. Meanwhile, online business directory Cryptwerk finds that Dogecoin is accepted by 1,400 companies. For context, there are more than 32 million businesses in the U.S., and an estimated 582 million entrepreneurs worldwide. There simply isn't the broad-based adoption that's being hyped by cryptocurrency supporters.
At the same time, blockchain technology is caught in a Catch-22. Blockchain being the transparent and immutable underlying ledger of digital currencies that logs transactions. No business is willing to abandon time-tested infrastructure in favor of blockchain until it's demonstrated that blockchain can be scaled in the real world. At the same time, there won't be any evidence that blockchain is revolutionary if no businesses are willing to be an early stage guinea pig, so to speak.
History unequivocally shows that all bubbles eventually burst, without exception. That's the fate awaiting cryptocurrencies.
Dump digital currencies in favor of this fast-growing trio
Rather than put your money to work in an asset class that's being driven by hype and emotion, my suggestion would be to buy the following trio of supercharged stocks. If you buy stakes in innovative businesses whose products and services have growing real-world application, and you hold these stakes for long periods of time, you'll very likely get rich.
To begin with, e-commerce platform Etsy (ETSY -2.10%) will have long-term investors forgetting all about the volatility and hype associated with digital currencies.
To state the obvious, Etsy was a clear winner of the coronavirus pandemic. With people stuck in their homes, many turned online to buy basic-need and discretionary goods. For Etsy, this included a healthy uptick in sales from facial coverings. But the Etsy platform has one key advantage that not even Amazon looks to be a threat to: personalization.
Etsy's platform is built on the idea of putting customers in contact with small merchants who can, if needed, customize their order. Etsy's collection of merchants focuses on personal engagement and uniqueness that shoppers simply won't find on bigger e-commerce platforms. The proof is in the pudding that Etsy's platform is resonating with shoppers. Habitual buyer spending -- those who purchased at least six separate times totaling more than $200, in aggregate, over the trailing year -- has been rocketing higher. Habitual buyers spent 205% more in the first quarter of 2021 than they did in the prior-year quarter.
Since Etsy generates the bulk of its revenue from merchant ads, the company has also been aggressively reinvesting in its platform to streamline searches and keep users engaged. Last year, it introduced listing videos to promote products, and it's been giving its smaller merchants greater access to analytic tools.
It's not out of the question that Etsy triples its annual revenue by mid-decade.
Another supercharged growth stock that can make investors rich is Singapore-based Sea Limited (SE -3.44%). Even though Sea is far from inexpensive, the premium you'd be paying takes into account that it has three exceptionally fast-growing operating segments.
For the time being, Sea is generating virtually all of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) from its gaming division. Similar to online shopping, gaming benefited notably from people being stuck in their homes. Since Sea's mobile games target global audiences, and the pandemic is nowhere near over in many parts of the world, demand for gaming entertainment will likely remain robust. Over the past year (through the end of March), quarterly active paying users grew by 124%, with 12.3% of the company's total gamers now paying to play.
Over the long run, Sea's crown jewel should be its e-commerce platform Shopee, which is consistently the most-popular shopping download in Southeastern Asia, and is gaining significant traction in Brazil. With a focus on emerging markets and regions where the middle class is growing at an incredible rate, Shopee saw gross orders jump 153% in the first quarter, with the gross merchandise value of these orders doubling to $12.6 billion. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Lastly, Sea's digital financial services division is bringing mobile wallet services to underbanked regions. Mobile wallet payment volume is on pace to potentially surpass $14 billion in 2021, with more than 26 million paying customers in Q1.
If all goes well, Sea Limited's revenue could possibly quintuple over the next four years.
Cybersecurity might not be the fastest-growing industry over the next decade, but it could very well be the safest double-digit growth opportunity. With more businesses than ever shifting their data online and into the cloud due to the pandemic, the importance of protecting enterprise and consumer data is greater than ever before. In short, demand for third-party cybersecurity solutions providers is soaring.
While there is no shortage of cybersecurity specialists to choose from, what sets CrowdStrike apart is its cloud-native Falcon platform. Being built in the cloud, and relying on artificial intelligence, Falcon oversees approximately 6 trillion events each week. This is to say that CrowdStrike's core platform is getting smarter at recognizing and responding to potential threats over time. And in many instances, CrowdStrike's solutions are more efficient and cost-effective than on-premises security options.
It's plainly evident from the company's operating results that Falcon is resonating with enterprise customers. It's been able to retain 98% of its customers for two consecutive years, and existing clients have spent between 23% and 47% more on a year-over-year basis for 12 straight quarters. Arguably even more impressive is that 64% of customers have purchased four or more cloud-module subscriptions, which is up from 9% just four years ago. It's this rapid scaling from the company's enterprise clients that has CrowdStrike generating a subscription gross margin in the upper 70% range.
Investors should expect CrowdStrike to grow by 30% or more on an annual basis through the midpoint of the decade.