Investing is a slow and steady process of wealth accumulation that requires both patience and discipline. By buying great businesses and increasing our stakes in them over time, we can build a robust nest egg for our retirement. Any dividends received can be reinvested in the very same companies that paid out these dividends, thereby aiding the virtuous cycle of compounding.
The key to ensuring that this powerful process works well is to select reliable companies that can continue to grow for many more years. Attributes to watch for include a strong and durable franchise, market leadership, and sustainable catalysts to help propel the business forward. These characteristics have served investors well during good times and bad to filter out the wheat from the chaff.
With that in mind, here are three stocks with such attributes that can help you compound your way to becoming a millionaire by the time you retire.
The pandemic was a catalyst that pushed many people to set up online shops and become entrepreneurs as the downturn cost them their jobs. Shopify's (SHOP -0.25%) platform became a boon for these people as it provided the infrastructure and tools to help them get started. The company now powers more than 1.7 million businesses in over 175 countries and is continually improving its platform to ensure merchants and customers extract the best value from it.
Shopify's popularity is clear in the company's numbers. For the first nine months of 2021, total revenue surged by 66% year over year to $3.2 billion. Of this amount, subscription solutions revenue climbed by 58% to $991 million. Shopify also announced an operating profit of $254.2 million, reversing the operating loss of $22.3 million it incurred a year ago. Free cash flow soared 52% year over year to $219.2 million.
Operating metrics also demonstrated the increased usage of the company's platform. Gross merchandise value rose 35% year over year to $41.8 billion in the third quarter of 2021 while gross payments volume jumped 46% to $20.5 billion. And there could be more growth in store for Shopify as it partners with e-commerce behemoth JD.com in China, opening up opportunities for the company to begin selling its services there.
As a market leader in athletic apparel, Lululemon Athletica (LULU -0.72%) offers clothing for such activities as yoga, running, and training. The company champions a healthy lifestyle and is seeing its business flourish from the strong tailwinds of that trend. The pandemic has also boosted the fortunes of the company as more people work and exercise from home, resulting in surging demand for its products.
Those benefits are showing up in the company's results. For the first nine months of 2021, net revenue surged 55% year over year to $4.1 billion while operating income more than doubled to $742.8 million, and net income soared 109% to $540.8 million.
Lululemon is now working on initiatives to expand its business further. During the quarter, it signed a multi-year partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee to develop more than 30 new product styles. Its digital footprint has also grown with online revenue surging at a 54% annual rate over the past two years. International expansion has also borne fruit, registering 42% annual revenue growth over the past two years.
With its acquisition of Mirror, an at-home fitness business, nearly two years ago, Lululemon can also cater to the new hybrid workplace and roll out its growth strategy that should benefit the company for years to come.
The pandemic caused many people to show a renewed focus on caring for their homes and farms. This has boosted business for America's largest rural online retailer, Tractor Supply (TSCO -0.93%).
The company reported that net sales for fiscal 2021 increased nearly 20% year over year to $12.7 billion with comparable-store sales rising nearly 17%. Meanwhile, net income jumped 33% to $997 million, and the company upped its full-year dividend from $1.50 to $2.08 per share.
Tractor Supply recently celebrated the opening of its 2,000th store, in White House, Tennessee, and this comes just a decade after the company opened its 1,000th store. Management expects to open 75 to 80 new stores this year and has set a new, long-term target of 2,700 stores, up from 2,500 previously.
The company also sees a total addressable market of around $180 billion, up from its prior assessment of $140 billion. That's due to market expansion, partly because of increased pet ownership. Its Neighbor's Club loyalty program has also gained significant traction, closing the year at 23.6 million members, up from 19 million a year ago.
All of these strengths, together with Tractor Supply's omnichannel delivery service and increased mobile engagement, should see the company continuing to connect with the rural population -- thus, increasing its sales and net income for the foreseeable future.