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3 Top Large-Cap Stocks to Buy in August

By Jamal Carnette, CFA – Aug 7, 2021 at 6:25AM

Key Points

  • Traditionally, investing in large-cap stocks has meant sacrificing growth.
  • A few large-cap tech stocks have debunked this myth.
  • Recent big-tech sell-offs provide reasonable entry points.

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These three large-cap stocks provide growth and stability.

Investors need large-cap stocks in their portfolios. These proven companies provide the bulk of index returns, as both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are weighted by market capitalization. Large cap stocks have also earned their massive sizes due to their histories of exceeding expectations and making patient investors steady returns.

The trade-off has always been framed as sacrificing growth for the stability large-cap stocks provide. But investors are increasingly rejecting this false narrative as many large-cap tech stocks continue to post above-average growth rates. These three large-cap companies offer the stability of large-cap stocks, with above-average growth potential.

Woman researching stocks at a table with charts in the background.

Image Source: Getty Images

Amazon's "slowing growth" narrative is too bearish

Amazon (AMZN 0.24%) has made quite a few investors rich on its way to a $1.7 trillion market cap, including its founder Jeff Bezos -- now the second-richest man in the world. If you had invested $10,000 at its market debut in 1997, your stake would be worth more than $20 million today!

That said, shares of Amazon are trailing the S&P 500 this year, posting a 3% return versus 17% for the index. Despite posting a year-over-year revenue increase of 27%, Amazon missed analyst expectations of a 29% top-line beat. Additionally, the company guided for third-quarter revenue to come in at $109 billion at the midpoint, below consensus estimates of $119 billion.

After being faulted for having no earnings for years, Amazon smashed earnings per share estimates by 23% despite missing on the top line. Ironically, investors ignored the increased profitability of the business to focus on slowing growth.

There are reasons for long-term investors to consider this nothing but noise. Pandemic lockdowns boosted demand for e-commerce last year, which made 2021 a difficult year for comparisons. However, Amazon's higher-margin business segments like third-party seller services (38%), AWS (37%), and subscription services (32%) all outperformed analyst expectations.

However, what's exciting is the company's catch-all other division, which is mostly advertising. During the quarter, revenue attributable to other increased 87% and is now half the size of AWS. Amazon's temporary sell-off has given long-term investors an attractive entry point.

Facebook's slowing user-growth isn't an issue

Facebook's (META -0.17%) Mark Zuckerberg isn't as rich as Bezos, trailing him by an estimated $70 billion, but at 37 he still has a long career ahead of him. Zuckerberg has grown Facebook from an idea to a $1 trillion market cap, and shares are currently 840% higher than their $38 IPO price nine years ago. And there are still long-term drivers drivers ahead for the company.

Facebook's stock rally was halted in its tracks due to second-quarter earnings, despite growing revenue by 56% and EPS by 101% -- both higher than consensus estimates. Investors were disappointed with the company's commentary on revenue growth in the back half of 2021 and the fact that daily active users in the lucrative U.S. and Canadian markets declined from the prior year's corresponding period.

Like Amazon, Facebook is seeing a return to normal after the pandemic. Social media usage understandably exploded during the pandemic, and a return to more in-person events was always going to impact the company's engagement.

Despite the modest yearly decline in daily active users (DAUs) (1.5%), the company still has 195 million people across the U.S. and Canada logging into a Facebook product daily, and can monetize users by raising costs per ad, like it did this quarter.

Zuckerberg is now focused on his most audacious plans yet -- the metaverse. The company acquired virtual reality company Oculus in 2014, and plans to use its headsets to create an entirely new virtual world for users. The potential upside could be bigger than anything it's done yet.

Apple is going from strength to strength

By now, you might have identified a theme in the above stocks, as all are mega-cap tech companies that sold off after earnings. Against that backdrop, Apple (AAPL -1.38%) is a natural fit, as shares moderately sold off after the company reported fiscal third-quarter earnings. Although its market cap is approaching $2.5 trillion, the company continues to have growth drivers.

Despite concerns that the iPhone market was saturated, Apple grew revenue attributable to the device 50% over the prior year and boosted total revenue higher by 36%. Although Apple easily topped analyst expectations for revenue and earnings, investors reacted negatively to commentary from CEO Tim Cook that chip shortages could impact iPhone and iPad sales in the current quarter.

While shortages are never ideal, in the short term this is an example of a "good problem." Demand outstripping supply means your product is coveted, and it's unlikely many iPhone users will step out of its ecosystem to buy an Android. In fact, it's this sticky user base that will power Apple's next phase of growth, as Apple has been aggressive at monetizing its installed base with services and recurring subscription-based revenue.

Revenue attributable to services grew 33% over the prior year, an acceleration from the 27% growth rate the prior quarter. During the earnings call, Cook noted the company has nearly 700 million subscribers, a 27% increase from the prior year. Ignore the short-term chip bottleneck, Apple has many growth levers to pull going forward.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Jamal Carnette, CFA owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Apple, and Facebook. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Amazon.com Stock Quote
Amazon.com
AMZN
$88.46 (0.24%) $0.21
Apple Stock Quote
Apple
AAPL
$140.94 (-1.38%) $-1.97
Meta Platforms Stock Quote
Meta Platforms
META
$113.93 (-0.17%) $0.19

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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