As 2023 approaches, it marks the end of what can be called a turbulent year for the stock market. The S&P 500 is down 15% year to date. But there is no guarantee next year could be better. In a volatile market, it is smart to own stocks that have high growth prospects.

Healthcare is one such industry that will never run out of demand. This sector has a lot of room to grow. Meanwhile, cannabis is another hot industry that has the potential to be worth $149 billion by 2031. Let's take a look at three such stocks that are screaming buys this month.

Stack of coins.

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1. Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Thanks to its rising top and bottom line, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 0.87%) shares have surged 46% so far this year. The biotech's cystic fibrosis (CF) drugs could bring immense success in the long run. Trikafta, its top-selling CF treatment, jumped 30% year over year to $2 billion in the third quarter. This single drug saw phenomenal growth both in the U.S. and international markets.

Total product revenue was $2.3 billion, a 21% increase year over year. Meanwhile, adjusted earnings per share (EPS) increased by 14%. A strong quarter prompted the company to raise its revenue forecast, which is now expected to be in the $8.8 billion-to-$8.9 billion range for the full year. If the upper end of the guidance is met, it would imply a 19% year-over-year increase.

The company recognizes the dangers of relying solely on one type of product. As a result, it is diversifying its pipeline by investing in "potentially transformative small molecule, cell, and genetic therapies aimed at serious diseases." 

Vertex submitted exa-cel (a gene-edited therapy) for FDA regulatory approval as a treatment for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia in November, partnering with CRISPR Therapeutics on it. Submissions could be completed as early as the first quarter of 2023. If successful, this could be good news for its top line.

A robust cash balance of $9.8 billion at the end of Q3 paves the way for another stronger year. 

2. Axsome Therapeutics

Axsome Therapeutics (AXSM -0.91%) has soared this year, gaining 103% and outperforming the market. This surge is being driven by expectations that sales of its two new drugs will skyrocket in the coming years, as well as its recent excellent quarterly results.

Sunosi, acquired from Jazz Pharmaceuticals in May, has been Axsome's best-selling product. It is used to treat narcolepsy-related excessive daytime drowsiness. In the third quarter, the drug generated $16.8 million in net sales in the U.S.

Another one of its products, Auvelity, which is now available by prescription, was launched in the U.S. in October. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved this medication to treat depression or major depressive disorder (MDD).

Given the rise in MDD diagnoses since the pandemic started, this medication may completely alter the game for Axsome. These two medications could significantly increase Axsome's revenue once they are made available on international markets.

Axsome is also working on several intriguing products. A clinical trial for AXS-05 to treat MDD, smoking cessation, and agitation associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is currently in its second phase. Axsome may reach new heights once products like AXS-07 (to treat migraines), AXS-12 (a potential therapy for narcolepsy), and AXS-14 (to manage fibromyalgia) hit the market. 

The company's finances are adequate to support its current and future pipelines. It had $227 million in cash at the end of the third quarter. Management believes that its current cash reserves and "remaining committed capital under the $300 million term credit facility" will be enough to cover projected plans through 2025. 

3. Cresco Labs

Cannabis multi-state player Cresco Labs (CRLBF -3.23%) may not have surpassed the broader market this year, but it has a promising future. Despite having strong fundamentals, cannabis stocks still suffer from a lack of progress toward federal legalization. However, legalization in the U.S. seems to be inevitable in the next decade or so. Companies like Cresco Labs would have dominated the American legal marijuana market by then.

Cresco made $822 million in revenue last year while operating only 54 stores nationwide. The company's home market of Illinois, where it operates 10 stores, has been a significant contributor to sales. Since the state legalized recreational marijuana in 2020, sales have surpassed $3 billion.

The company's strategies also include focusing on markets with a limited number of licenses. Because cannabis is federally illegal, state regulators exercise caution when issuing licenses. This has aided Cresco in maintaining a loyal customer base. From an operational standpoint, the company has been consistently profitable.

However, adjusted EBITDA fell to $41 million in the most recent quarter, down from $56 million the previous year, with revenue slipping 2% to $210 million. According to management, this decline was caused by actions taken to focus on long-term profitability, such as the closure of underperforming facilities and inventory adjustments.

Cresco's acquisition of peer cannabis company Columbia Care will be adding 130 dispensaries to its portfolio and is expected to close in Q4. 

Cresco's stock is down 43% this year, but Wall Street analysts are optimistic about the stock. Analysts see a 78% potential upside in the next year and rate it a buy. 

Investors may benefit greatly from purchasing these three growth stocks now and holding them for the long term.