The stock market enables anyone to potentially make a lot of money without much effort. The key is finding and investing in well-run companies that can grow their profits at above-average rates. While that is easier said than done, some companies have particular knacks for enriching their investors because they're in booming sectors.

Three stocks that have delivered big gains for their investors in recent years are Extra Space Storage (EXR 1.53%), Prologis (PLD 1.35%), and SBA Communications (SBAC 1.04%), and all three appear to be in excellent positions to continue to do so.

Turning extra space into extra cash

Extra Space Storage has delivered a total return of more than 165% over the last five years. That's an annualized rate of return of 21.6% -- significantly higher than the S&P 500's 12.6% during that period. 

The self-storage-focused real estate investment trust (REIT) has delivered those strong returns for shareholders by achieving above-average earnings and dividend growth. It has produced sector-leading growth in revenues, net operating income, and funds from operations over the last five years. It has benefited from the strong demand for self-storage space and its ability to grow its portfolio. One thing that differentiates it from its self-storage REIT peers is its third-party management platform. Extra Space Storage is a leader in that category, which enables it to generate high-margin management and ancillary income. 

The REIT's fast-growing earnings have enabled it to grow its dividend by 92.3% over the last five years. At the current share price, it yields 2.9%, nearly double the yield of the S&P 500. Meanwhile, continued demand for self-storage space should allow Extra Space to keep growing its cash flow at above-average rates, increasing rents, and expanding its owned and managed portfolio.

A trio of growth drivers

Prologis has produced a more than 100% total return over the last five years, or 15.3% annualized, delivering above-average growth thanks to the strong demand for warehouse space. At current share prices, its dividend yields 2.5%.

Also over the last five years, Prologis has achieved double-digit percentage growth in core funds from operations per share and dividends, outpacing other logistics REITs and the S&P 500. Three catalysts have helped propel its sector-leading growth:

  • Prologis has a global focus, while most other industrial REITs are domestic only.
  • It's one of the few REITs with a third-party investment management platform, which provides it with significant incremental earnings.
  • It has a large-scale development business, which some other logistics REITs lack.

These catalysts should enable Prologis to continue making a lot of money. That's in addition to the income it generates from its core property portfolio. Thanks to surging rental rates, Prologis estimates that it can grow its net operating income by more than 8% per year without any further increase in rental rates. On top of all that, it's working on closing its needle-moving acquisition of fellow logistics REIT Duke Realty. Add it all up, and Prologis should be able to continue growing its core funds from operations per share and its dividends at above-average rates for years to come. 

Connected to the powerful data trend

SBA Communications has delivered a nearly 120% total return over the last five years (16.9% annualized). The infrastructure REIT has benefited from strong demand for communications infrastructure and its ability to expand its portfolio.

SBA Communications' rental contracts supply it with lots of cash flow. It uses those funds and its borrowing capacity to pay a growing dividend, make acquisitions, repurchase shares, and build new cell towers. Last year it signed a $973 million deal to license over 700 transmission towers that have wireless equipment attached to them. Meanwhile, it recently agreed to buy 2,600 additional cell towers in Brazil this year. Those investments are helping grow its funds from operations per share, enabling the REIT to create value for investors, including paying a rapidly rising dividend. It increased its payout by 22% earlier this year, pushing its yield at current share prices to 0.9%.

With data usage growing, demand for wireless infrastructure should continue rising too. That should enable SBA Communications to keep growing its portfolio, its funds from operations, and its dividend.

The boom times should continue

Extra Space Storage, Prologis, and SBA Communications all focus on booming sectors. And with all three companies expected to keep expanding, they should be able to continue rewarding their investors.