Last year, the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses around the globe, stunting economic growth and leaving millions of people unemployed. And while the coronavirus is by no means gone, things are moving in the right direction. More vaccines are being administered each day, employment rates are trending upward, and many businesses are reopening.

As those trends continue, the global economy could see a post-pandemic boom fueled by pent-up consumer demand. If that happens, companies like Mastercard (NYSE:MA) and Match Group (NASDAQ:MTCH) could benefit in a big way. Here's why.

Mastercard

Mastercard is one of the largest payment networks in the world, with over 2.8 billion cards in circulation. That scale gives the company a significant advantage -- with such a broad user base, merchants are essentially obligated to accept Mastercard.

Smiling person making credit card payment on mobile device.

Image source: Getty Images.

Even so, the coronavirus hit the company hard last year. Businesses cut spending and consumers spent more time at home, causing point-of-sale transaction volume to fall 4.4% worldwide in 2020.

Even worse, the reduction in international travel led to a sharp decline in cross-border payments. That's particularly noteworthy because cross-border fees accounted for 22% of Mastercard's gross revenue in 2019.

Collectively, pandemic-driven headwinds caused Mastercard's top line to drop 9% last year.

However, business started to rebound in the first quarter of 2021. Domestic spending returned to pre-pandemic trends, and management noted particular strength in retail sales and domestic travel. As a result, Mastercard's top line returned to growth in Q1, with revenue rising 4% to $4.2 billion.

That's a good start, but the rest of 2021 looks even brighter. During the recent earnings call, CEO Michael Miebach expressed his belief that international travel would improve during the second half of the year. If he's right, the resultant rise in Mastercard's cross-border volume could boost its top line in a big way.

However, even if the recovery plays out more slowly, shareholders can take solace in the company's impressive track record. Despite challenges posed by the pandemic, Mastercard has managed to grow at a steady pace over the long term.

Metric

2016

Q1 2021 (TTM)

CAGR

Revenue

$10.8 billion

$15.5 billion

9%

Free cash flow

$4.2 billion

$6.2 billion

10%

Data source: Mastercard SEC filings. TTM = trailing 12 months. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

Here's the big picture: Mastercard is a trusted brand name around the world, and the company has built a strong moat around its business. As the pandemic fades and the global economy returns to growth, Mastercard should benefit. That's why investors should consider adding this stock to their portfolio.

Match Group

Match Group was a pioneer in online dating. Of course, its best-known product is Tinder, the highest-grossing dating app worldwide. But Match actually owns four of the top 10 dating platforms, including Pairs, Hinge, and Plenty of Fish, which rank third, sixth, and seventh by revenue, respectively.

Woman holding a red paper heart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Last year, business closures and social distancing measures made dating virtually impossible. Even if you were willing to go out in public, there weren't many places to go. As a result, Match Group saw first-time subscribers plunge as COVID-19 cases spiked in both the first and fourth quarters.

However, the company still fared better than many others during the pandemic. Revenue grew 17% and profits came in at $2 per diluted share in 2020, up 6% over the prior year. Moreover, sales growth has now accelerated in each of the last four quarters. And in a recent press release, management noted that engagement on Tinder is well above pre-pandemic levels.

That's good news for investors, and it illustrates the benefits of a strong competitive advantage. As the industry leader, Match Group was able to weather a difficult time period without much trouble. More importantly, it has also posted strong growth metrics over the long term.

Metric

2017

Q1 2021 (TTM)

CAGR

Revenue

$1.3 billion

$2.5 billion

22%

Free cash flow

$292.3 million

$780.6 million

35%

Data source: Match Group SEC filings. TTM = trailing 12 months. CAGR = compound annual growth rate.

Here's the bottom line: Romance and social interaction are essential to human happiness, and as global economies reopen, the dating industry could see a post-pandemic boom. If that happens, Match Group's portfolio of popular products almost guarantees that it will be a big winner.

Looking further ahead, Allied Market Research values the online dating market at $9.2 billion by 2025. I wouldn't be surprised to see Match capture the lion's share of that figure. That's why this growth stock deserves your consideration.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.