Investors looking to create generational wealth will find no better vehicle than investing in stocks. Gold, bonds, and real estate may outperform stocks over short periods, but the long-term results prove that if you want to accumulate large amounts of wealth, there is only one asset class to choose from: stocks.
A Deutsche Bank study found that over the past 100 years, equities trounced oil by 8.4% annually, Treasuries by 6.8%, housing by 6.6%, and gold by 5.6%. There have only been two decades when stocks had negative returns: the Great Depression of the 1930s that saw a negative 0.5% return, and the 2000s when a combination of the dot-com implosion, 9/11, and the financial markets collapse created a perfect storm that sunk the market by 0.9% for the decade.
It's apparent then that being invested in the market is of greater importance than trying to time its top or bottom. To have the best chance at a comfortable retirement, investing in stocks and staying in the market for the long haul is the correct strategy.
That doesn't mean you should buy just any stocks. Investing in great companies at reasonable prices can enhance your returns, and the three stocks below are all cheap enough now that buying them could help you retire early.
1. Smith & Wesson Brands
Few companies have been around as long as Smith & Wesson Brands (SWBI -1.24%) or have as much of a storied history. The gunslinger is the largest firearms manufacturer in the country. Its handguns represent some of the most important and iconic firearms in history for the military, law enforcement, and civilians. The Smith & Wesson Model 1 revolutionized gun manufacturing, and the Model 29 gained international fame as Clint Eastwood's firearm of choice in Dirty Harry.
Smith & Wesson's firearms have been very popular because they are affordable, reliable, and innovative, adjectives that still apply today.
For investors, the gunmaker's stock might fit the bill, too. Shares trade at just three times trailing earnings, six times next year's estimates -- a fraction of its sales and projected earnings growth rate and just three times the free cash flow it produces.
The stock lost half its value from where it was trading last summer. The market has been unable to correctly adjust to the massive run-up in sales in 2016 and then again in 2020, as presidential elections threw the industry into turmoil. That said, industry sales remain elevated, even if they are lower than they were during times of crisis. These factors point to continued long-term growth potential.
An investor who bought $10,000 worth of Smith & Wesson stock at its IPO in 2002 would be sitting on a massive nest egg worth over $4.4 million. By comparison, the S&P 500 would have given you around $40,000. The firearms manufacturer's stock has never traded at high multiples, typically making it a consistently inexpensive value.
It may be hard to figure that a company valued at $1.4 trillion is "cheap," but Amazon.com (AMZN 0.83%) trades at less than two times the $458 billion in sales it generates, making its stock price of about $3,150 a bargain.
Don't be discouraged by the share price, thinking you can't afford it. With most brokerages allowing for the purchase of fractional shares, even investors with just $100 available can own a piece of this e-commerce juggernaut.
Amazon.com accounted for more than 41% of all online spending in the U.S. last year. Its nearest competitor, Walmart, had just 7.2% of the pie. Incredibly, Amazon's share is larger than its top nine rivals combined. It will likely widen the gap this year. E-commerce sales are expected to grow 17% in 2022, while Amazon's revenues will accelerate compared to pre-pandemic levels, both here and abroad.
Amazon is, of course, more than just selling products online. Its Amazon Web Services (AWS) business is the unquestioned leader in cloud infrastructure market share, with the segment on pace to generate more than $60 billion in revenue.
AWS was created as Amazon's primary producer of operating cash flow, and it remains the e-commerce giant's most profitable segment. With a finger in so many pies, Amazon stock still has decades of growth before it.
Unlike Amazon, some stocks are so beaten down they are just too cheap to ignore, which is the case with GoPro (GPRO 1.28%), the action-camera maker that stumbled a few years ago and has never quite gotten back on its feet.
Although its stock has doubled from its price just before the pandemic broke wide open, it remains below where it was just one year before that and is down some 90% from those heady days following its 2014 IPO. That's what makes GoPro compelling today.
The action-camera maker was essentially a one-trick pony: It made incredibly good cameras, which was also its downfall. The cameras were so well-made and came so packed with features that you rarely needed to upgrade to the newest models, and sales slumped.
GoPro has since added a few more important arrows to its quiver, including top-notch video editing software and a subscription service that gives members unlimited cloud storage, premium editing tools, a live streaming platform, and discounts on equipment.
Its cameras are still the industry gold standard. As my colleague Anthony DiPizio recently noted, the latest GoPro HERO10 Black, which offers leading video stabilization and the ability to shoot in 5.3k high-definition, is so good it won an Emmy.
Considering GoPro's growth prospects, the stock is now at super cheap multiples like Smith & Wesson: three times trailing earnings, eight times estimates, a fraction of projected earnings growth, and less than seven times its free cash flow. But unlike the gunsmith, there is a lot of room for multiple expansion, making it a stock for the long haul that could help you retire early.