Though there are a lot of ways to build wealth, few, if any, have been more consistent over the long run than the stock market. Compared to other investment vehicles, such as bonds and commodities, none can match the long-term average annual return of the benchmark indexes.
But you don't have to settle for market-matching returns. The following five innovative stocks all possess the tools and growth outlooks to make their shareholders rich. All that's required from investors is the patience to allow their investment thesis to play out.
Some folks might call telehealth giant Teladoc Health (TDOC -5.80%) a one-hit wonder. After all, it was in the right place at the right time when the coronavirus pandemic hit. But focusing on a single year would ignore a very clear sales trend and treatment shift that we've been witnessing in the U.S. healthcare space.
In the six years leading up to the pandemic, Teladoc Health averaged annual revenue growth of 74%. That's not a one-hit wonder. The company's telemedicine services are making it more convenient for patients to get in touch with their doctor or a specialist, and it's also making life easier on physicians by giving them an avenue to keep in touch with chronically ill patients. Although telehealth won't replace all visits, a more personalized and convenient healthcare system can lead to improved outcomes for high-risk patients. That's a recipe for less money out of the pockets of health insurers.
Teladoc also differentiated itself by acquiring leading applied health signals company Livongo Health during the fourth quarter. Livongo collects huge amounts of data on patients with chronic illnesses and leans on artificial intelligence to send its members tips and nudges to help them lead healthier lives. At the time it was acquired, the company was already profitable on a recurring basis, despite the fact that it had penetrated only a little over 1% of the U.S. diabetes market.
Teladoc Health is the face of personalized care in the 2020s and beyond, which gives it a good shot to make its shareholders rich.
Whereas advertising and distribution within the insurance industry are expected to grow by an average of 4% annually through 2024, EverQuote anticipates that digital insurance advertising will grow by 16% annually over the same period. The company's online marketplace helps consumers quickly price out policies, while at the same time allowing auto insurers to get the best bang for their advertising buck. Approximately 1 out of 5 consumers pricing a policy on EverQuote's marketplace makes a purchase. This shift to digital advertising should allow EverQuote to sustain a double-digit growth rate for a long time to come.
What's more, EverQuote is moving beyond auto insurance and into other verticals. Its marketplace now accommodates rental, home, health, and life insurance policies. Even though these new verticals represents a smaller percentage of total sales than auto insurance, revenue growth from these ancillary verticals has been superior to auto policies -- 25% sales growth from auto policies in Q1 2021 vs. 41% from non-auto policies.
When EverQuote makes the turn to recurring profitability within the next year or two, the sky could be the limit.
Whereas most biotech stocks are losing money and in search of their first blockbuster drug, Vertex has made a habit of developing drugs that generate $1 billion or more in annual sales. More specifically, its success is tied to the multiple generations of gene-based therapies developed to treat cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease characterized by thick mucus production that can obstruct the lungs and pancreas.
The company's newest CF treatment, a combination therapy known as Trikafta, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration five months ahead of schedule and brought in almost $3.9 billion in its first year on pharmacy shelves. Targeting the most dominant CF mutation -- a mutation roughly 90% of patients have -- should allow Trikafta to eventually hit $6 billion in annual sales.
Vertex's success in treating CF has turned it into a veritable cash cow. It ended March with over $6.9 billion in cash and cash equivalents, which'll ultimately fund the nearly one dozen drugs being developed internally. Further, this cash could be used as an acquisition stepping stone. In terms of growth and value, Vertex is tough to beat in the biotech arena.
Have I mentioned that innovative small-cap stocks can make investors rich? When you think innovation, furniture stocks probably don't come to mind. But in the case of Lovesac (LOVE -5.58%), innovation is driving superior and sustainable growth prospects.
The first readily differentiable thing you'll notice about Lovesac is its furniture. Though it may once have been known for its bean bag-styled furniture, its sactionals now comprise more than 80% of total sales. Sactionals are effectively modular couches that can be arranged in a variety of ways to fit any livable space. The company offers more than 200 different cover choices with its sactionals, proving again that its furniture can work with any living space. And best of all, the yarn for its covers is made entirely from recycled plastic water bottles. Not surprisingly, Lovesac's eco-friendly and choice-conscious furniture has struck a chord with its core user base: millennials.
Lovesac's management team is impressive, as well. During the pandemic, most brick-and-mortar furniture stores were clobbered since they rely on foot traffic to drive sales. Meanwhile, Lovesac was able to effectively pivot its sales strategy to a direct-to-consumer and pop-up showroom model during the height of the pandemic. Lovesac's operating model was already designed with lower overhead costs in mind prior to the pandemic; but with online sales skyrocketing, it allowed the company to push to recurring profitability two years before Wall Street had expected.
It may be "just furniture," but Lovesac could potentially double its sales over the next four years.
A final innovative stock that can make investors rich is e-commerce platform Etsy (ETSY -0.68%).
I know what you're probably thinking: "But what about Amazon?" Interestingly, Amazon isn't what I'd consider a direct competitor to Etsy. That's because the Etsy platform predominantly focuses on small merchant customization and personalization. Amazon simply doesn't offer the level of engagement or personalization consumers will find when shopping with Etsy's sea of small businesses.
The real key for Etsy has been keeping shoppers engaged. While it's been able to attract previous buyers back to the platform during the pandemic, what really stands out is the ability transform casual shoppers into habitual buyers -- defined as shoppers who make purchases on six or more days totaling at least $200 in aggregate over the trailing 12-month period. In the first quarter of 2021, habitual buyer growth more than tripled.
The company isn't a slouch when it comes to giving merchants the tools they need to succeed, either. It's streamlined the analytics used by small merchants and introduced video listing to improve shopper engagement. Chances are that the Etsy growth story is still in the very early innings.