The one word I would use to describe Eli Lilly (LLY -0.46%), Adobe (ADBE -0.48%), and Costco Wholesale (COST -0.41%) is definitely "unstoppable." In five years, their shares have all risen more than 230%, far exceeding the S&P 500's return of 101%. These companies have continually found ways to grow and expand their businesses, and investors shouldn't expect much to change in the near future.
Heading into 2022 and beyond, they are still solid growth stocks to buy and hold -- and each has catalysts that can drive its numbers even higher in the months ahead.
1. Eli Lilly
Eli Lilly has been enjoying a great 2021, and next year could offer much the same. Through the first nine months of this year, the company has produced $20.3 billion in revenue, up 19% from the same period last year. While type 2 diabetes drug Trulicity has led the way with sales of $3.6 billion thus far, the company has multiple medications that have generated more than $1 billion this year, including insulin durg Humalog which has brought in $1.9 billion.
For the year, the company expects to record at least $28 billion in sales, including $2.1 billion from its COVID-19 antibody treatment. In 2022, it anticipates similar revenue but without a boost from that treatment, which Eli Lilly says will likely add just "minimal revenue."
But that's OK as innovation has been the driving force behind Eli Lilly's success. The company has launched 16 new medicines over the past eight years and hopes to bring five more to market in the next two years. One particularly exciting drug candidate is donanemab, an Alzheimer's treatment that could go head-to-head against Biogen's Aduhelm, which received accelerated approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration earlier this year.
Eli Lilly is a top innovator in the healthcare industry, and with the business performing so well this year, its future looks even brighter.
Tech giant Adobe is coming off a rough earnings release. Last week, the company delivered its latest quarterly report and while its numbers were fine, investors weren't impressed with its guidance for the upcoming year. Sales totaled a record-high $4.1 billion for the period ended Dec. 3 -- up 20% year over year -- but the company is expecting its level of growth to slow down in 2022.
During the next fiscal year, Adobe projects that its top line will hit $17.9 billion, which would be a 13% increase from the $15.8 billion it reported over the past 12 months. That forecast was below analysts' expectations of about $18.2 billion. However, it's not a huge miss. For the stock to have one of its worst days in the past decade -- it fell 10% on the announcement -- does appear to be an overreaction.
While Adobe's growth rate is slowing down, its products remain in strong demand. Adobe anticipates more growth in the years ahead as it takes advantage of companies moving onto the cloud and employees working remotely. Plus, with operating cash flow of more than $2 billion in just the latest quarter, the company could acquire a business if it needed to expand its product base or find new opportunities to pursue.
Costco also released its quarterly results in December and the company continues to impress with yet another period of strong growth. For the three months ended Nov. 21, the big-box retailer's comparable sales were up 15% and e-commerce grew over 14%. Sales of $49.4 billion were 17% higher than in the prior-year period.
What's most impressive is that the company has already been thriving throughout the pandemic. A year ago, its e-commerce business was growing at a year-over-year rate of 71% while comparable sales were up 13%.
Whether it is amid lockdowns or not, Costco has shown that it can continue to captivate shoppers and deliver strong growth numbers. And the company believes it can be competitive even with the challenge that inflation poses to its business. Given its purchasing power and the strong relationships it has with vendors, it can negotiate with them to help minimize the impact on its customers as it tries to avoid raising its prices.
In an inflationary environment, that could make Costco a popular place to shop next year. And that also makes it one of the safer retail stocks for investors to be holding right now.