Buying meme stocks or investing in a company due to a pandemic-related trend can be risky. Investors in these companies can face a lot of volatility, especially as consumer preferences or conditions in the economy change.

A better way to invest for the long term is by identifying trends that are likely going to continue or even intensify in the future. Robotic-assisted surgery, cloud-based technology, and sports betting are examples of sectors that could provide investors with some terrific growth opportunities for several years. And three companies that would give you exposure to those areas are Globus Medical (NYSE:GMED), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG)

Sports fans betting online by smartphone app sit together at a bar.

Image source: Getty Images

1. Globus Medical

Globus is a medical device company that makes surgical instruments and implantable devices. It also has an ExcelsiusGPS platform, which is a navigational system for robot-assisted surgery. The company says it is "the world's first revolutionary robotic navigation platform." It specifically helps with alignments of the spine.

The bulk of the company's revenue today comes from its musculoskeletal segment, which relates to its physical devices; in 2020, sales related to that segment totaled $748 million and represented 95% of its revenue. Its enabling technologies segment, which includes ExcelsiusGPS, generated a more modest $40.5 million in sales.

However, the growth opportunities in this area are too enticing to ignore. Analysts project that the market for robot-assisted surgical systems could be worth nearly $18 billion by 2027, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.8% until then. 

With a solid business today that provides hospitals with important implantable devices plus an exciting growth area related to robotics, Globus can be an investment that provides excellent returns for many years. The healthcare stock has already been picking up steam in the past 12 months, rising more than 70% and outperforming the S&P 500, which is up just 42% during that period.

2. Microsoft

Tech giant Microsoft is an easy pick for long-term investors. The company provides businesses and individuals with many products and services that will be used for the foreseeable future. Its fastest-growing product is Azure, its cloud computing service where companies can build and test applications. Last quarter, for the first three months of 2021, its year-over-year growth rate was 50% -- highest among the company's segments.

The cloud computing market is a high-growth sector to invest in, which could be worth more than $832 billion in 2025. It is already more prevalent than robotic-assisted surgery, but it is still growing at a strong CAGR of 17.5%.

Microsoft also has a stable and growing business that is still generating great numbers. Its Office 365 suite, which includes popular programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, grew its commercial sales by 22% in the most recent quarter. And because Office365 is a recurring service, it should be an excellent source of revenue for the company as businesses and individuals renew their licenses.

Now that companies are spending more time on the cloud, especially as employees look to continue working remotely, investing in businesses that have many attractive cloud-based products and services like Microsoft is a solid move. Shares of the tech stock are up 37% over the past year, and although they have underperformed the S&P 500, investors shouldn't count on that trend lasting over the long term. 

3. DraftKings

It has been more than three years since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting. It is a hot new sector to invest in, and it's only getting bigger as more states choose to legalize it.

Although not everyone has gotten on board with the industry, more than two dozen states now permit some form of sports betting. Globally, the market could be worth $134 billion by 2024 -- growing at a CAGR of close to 10%.

One company that is in an excellent position to benefit from that is DraftKings. It entered into an exclusive deal with ESPN last year, which will make DraftKings its "exclusive daily fantasy sports provider." While sports activity has been muted during the pandemic, as the economy gets back to normal and sports leagues are back to operating at or near capacity, it could lead to some stellar results for DraftKings this year. 

When the company released its latest results on May 7, it upgraded its guidance and now projects that sales could top $1.15 billion in 2021 (up from a previous forecast that called for no more than $1 billion in revenue). That represents a year-over-year growth rate of 79%. 

Sports betting should only become more popular in the years ahead as more states legalize it, leading DraftKings to deliver fantastic returns to investors. Over the past 12 months, the stock has risen by more than 55%, but that jump shouldn't scare away those with a long-term mindset.

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.