As a growth-focused investor, I look for companies that could disrupt the status quo. Oftentimes, that means investing in stocks that should benefit from major secular trends.

For instance, Airbnb (ABNB 2.43%) is reimagining the travel and tourism industry, and MercadoLibre (MELI -0.81%) is leading the e-commerce and digital payments revolution in Latin America.

Here's why these two stocks look like smart long-term investments. 

1. Airbnb

In 2007, Airbnb got its start when three travelers spent the weekend at a San Francisco home. Since then, its platform has expanded to include 4 million hosts in over 220 countries. It has also moved beyond simple lodgings, and now offers guided experiences for guests as well.

Airbnb rental property featuring an airstream trailer.

Image source: Airbnb.

Travel and tourism is one of the world's largest industries, representing over 10% of global GDP prior to the pandemic. And Airbnb's business model capitalizes on that massive opportunity, but with a disruptive twist. Its platform helps hosts monetize spare rooms and vacation homes, which enables guests to plan trips that wouldn't be possible with hotels.

To add, Airbnb's approach has also proven more resilient than traditional travel solutions. According to Brand Finance, Hilton and Hyatt are the two most valuable hotel brands in the world, and COVID-19 has impacted both to a far greater extent than Airbnb.


2019 Revenue

Q1 2021 (TTM)



$4.8 billion

$3.7 billion



$9.5 billion

$3.3 billion



$5.0 billion

$1.5 billion


Source: Airbnb, Hilton, and Hyatt SEC Filings. TTM = trailing 12 months.

Airbnb's resilience gives the company a tremendous advantage, but that competitive edge is compounded by the flexibility afforded to travelers. Guests can book stays in big cities, rural towns, and everywhere in between. Not only that, but Airbnb lists unique lodgings like adobes, castles, yurts, and treehouses.

Put another way, Airbnb is the gatekeeper to a multitude of unique experiences. That should be a powerful growth driver as the travel industry rebounds.

Arrows rising upward from a person's open palm.

Image source: Getty Images

2. MercadoLibre

MercadoLibre owns the leading e-commerce marketplace and digital payments platform in Latin America. It operates in 18 countries, though three of those countries accounted for 94% of revenue last year: Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.

Notably, the gross domestic product (GDP) of those three countries is much smaller than that of the United States, but it's also expected to grow more quickly. Put another way, even with a market cap of $75 billion, MercadoLibre has only scratched the surface of its full potential.


2020 GDP

2025* GDP


Argentina, Brazil, Mexico

$2.9 trillion

$4.0 trillion


United States

$20.9 trillion

$26.7 trillion


Source: International Monetary Fund. Note: 2025 figures are estimates. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

Last year, the number of items sold on MercadoLibre jumped 90%, as more consumers turned to online shopping during the pandemic. Not surprisingly, the number of payment transactions also increased, surging 128%. Together, these metrics translated into revenue of $4.0 billion, up 73% from the prior year.

But the company's performance was even more impressive in the first quarter of 2021. Items sold and payment transactions soared 110% and 117%, respectively, and revenue growth accelerated to 111%.

In the years ahead, the expansion of the Latin American economy should be a growth driver for MercadoLibre. Likewise, the increasing popularity of digital payments and online shopping should bring new merchants and consumers to its platform. That, in turn, should power strong growth for the company and big gains for shareholders.