If you have $5,000 that you can afford to invest in the stock market today, there are plenty of good companies to choose. Although valuations may be elevated right now, timing the market can be costly and you could miss out on profits by waiting too long for a correction. Instead, you're better off focusing on companies that are likely to continue growing over the years -- so even if they dip in value over the short term, their long-term trajectory remains strong.

Three stocks that fall into that bucket and that have outperformed the market over the past five years are Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE), and Visa (NYSE:V). They remain some of the most promising growth stocks out there today, and here's why. 

People at a business meeting reviewing results.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Abbott Laboratories

One of the reasons to be bullish on Abbott Laboratories is the diversity of its business. Its major segments include medical devices, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and nutrition. While diagnostics and its COVID-19 tests have attracted many investors over the past year, this is far from just a testing company. Even though diagnostics revenue of $3.2 billion for the period ending June 30 grew 63% year over year, it still wasn't the company's top segment. Medical devices, which brought in $3.7 billion, took the lead. That number was also up an impressive 51%, largely thanks to a recovery from COVID-19 and a return to normal for hospitals and physicians.

Even if the pandemic does come to an end, the company could continue to see an increase in demand for its products and services; the long-term health effects of COVID-19 are still unknown and may be an ongoing drain on the healthcare industry. Beyond that, there's also the demand that comes from an increase in elderly populations around the world -- in 2019, prior to the pandemic, analysts were already projecting the global healthcare market would grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.9% until 2022.

Abbott Laboratories is projecting some strong numbers as well. For 2021, the company anticipates that its diluted per-share earnings will come in between $2.75 and $2.95. The low end of that estimate would still represent a 10% improvement from the $2.50 earnings per share it reported for 2020.

Over the past five years, shares of Abbott Laboratories have risen 170% while the S&P 500 is up a little over 100%. And the stock still looks like a safe bet to continue beating the market.

2. Adobe

Adobe has soared more than 530% in value over five years, making it the best-performing stock on this list. The company is versatile and well-suited to the demand of the ever-changing workplace. Whether employees are working from home or in the office, they can use Adobe's software all the same -- via subscription. It has plans for photographers, students, small businesses, and enterprises. The company also provides analytics and can give companies valuable insights about their businesses. 

For the period ending June 4, sales of $3.8 billion grew 23% year over year. Subscription-based revenue continues to make up the majority of Adobe's business, accounting for 91.8% of revenue this past quarter versus 90.5% a year ago. In turn, that helped boost the company's operating profit from $1 billion to $1.4 billion. And if not for a higher tax bill, its net income would have shown more than just a 1.5% increase from the prior-year period.

Although Adobe's stock isn't cheap, trading at more than 50 times its earnings (the average tech stock in the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund trades at a multiple of 34), if it continues generating these types of numbers, that multiple won't matter much; the ratio will likely come down in the future. And that's why even at a high price tag, Adobe may still be an excellent buy if you plan to hold on to it for years.

3. Visa

Visa also trades at 50 times its profit -- although that's cheap compared to rival Mastercard, whose investors are paying a multiple of almost 60. Its five-year returns of 215% lag behind its rival (which is up by more than 300%), but its lower valuation might make Visa a bit of a better buy right now. 

According to the company's "spending momentum index," 53% of consumers are spending more in July than last year. Although the pace has slowed down since May, the company's chief economist, Wayne Best, states that it "reflects a continued broadening of the spending recovery across regions of the country."

And that clearly looks to be the case; Visa's net revenue of $6.1 billion for the period ending June 30 was a year-over-year increase of 27%. Its pre-tax profit of $4.4 billion was also up an impressive 50% from the same period in 2020. 

Management is also focusing on new opportunities, announcing in June that it will be acquiring fintech company Tink for $2.1 billion. Tink operates an open banking platform that allows companies to gain access (where authorized) to financial data from thousands of banks through just a single API connection. Open banking is still in its early stages, but this is just one example of a new opportunity for Visa to develop and grow over the long term.

The credit card company is generating some strong growth numbers, and with still more opportunities on the horizon, it wouldn't be surprising for the stock to continue to outperform the S&P 500.

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.