There are 25 times more stocks listed in the U.S stock market than there are countries in the world. Unfortunately though, only a tiny fraction of those stocks deserve admiration.
Below, you will find three companies with business models as perfect as they come. Not only are they the envy of competitors, but each has a long runway for growth, and they all share a commonality that has made them such successful investments to this point.
The Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) of five to 10 years ago would be unrecognizable to those giving the company a passing glance today. One thing will stay constant though: Tesla customers will receive white glove treatment and a valuable car for the price.
It's no surprise then that Tesla placed first in Consumer Reports' annual car dealer survey in early 2015. For more details on how the company rolls out the red carpet for each and every customer, read fellow Fool Daniel Sparks' article here.
Investors today may be stumped, wondering who would right-mindedly invest in just a niche car manufacturer trading at a forward price-to-earnings level of 86? The answer requires some forward thinking.
On the company's short-term road map is winning the niche market for its battery-powered cars at luxury price points of $52,000 plus. I could argue that goal has already been reached with its high customer ratings and demand from customers that's resulted in consistent delivery backlogs.
But the high-end market is only part of a larger growth narrative playing out right now.
Tesla plans to leverage its expertise gained in the luxury market to go down market, unveiling its mass market entrant -- the Model 3 priced around $35,000 -- in March 2016.
Near-term execution can't be ignored though. Thankfully, Tesla plans to deliver a company record 55,000 cars in 2015, even outpacing its own guidance in the most recent quarter. Notably, Tesla accomplished this growth without sacrificing margins. Gross margins increased 2.7 percentage points compared to same quarter last year.
It's not often that an investing thesis can be based upon hot dog prices, but it's definitely the case with Costco (NASDAQ:COST). Let me explain.
Costco's bucked inflationary pressures, keeping the price of its hot dog and soda combo locked at $1.50 for 27 years running.
While something as inconsequential as the price of a combo meal may sound trivial, that sort of related thinking about the customer experience and price is ingrained in Costco's approach. What Costco's management team recognizes is that consumers are fickle, happy to choose one of the many other options for better deals and a better experience.
This thinking has paid off. Costco's same store sales are on a hot streak, registering positive quarterly growth since the company's first fiscal quarter in 2010.
Oddly enough, total company same store sales -- including international -- turned negative in the recent quarter, declining 1% for the first time since fiscal year 2009. Keep in mind though, total company same store sales actually increased 6%, excluding the temporary effects of gasoline and foreign exchange pressures.
3. Chipotle Mexican Grill
The old adage goes it takes money to make money. In the public stock market that loosely translates to it takes external capital -- debt and equity issuances -- to grow. Well, Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) is happy to shun Wall Street-sourced funding and go it alone.
What's most astonishing is that Chipotle's restaurant count has grown 66% since 2010, and this capital intensive growth was accomplished recycling profits from existing operations. Without tapping outsiders for funding, that sort of monstrous growth is rare.
Attribute this rarity to industry-best operating margins, a die-hard fan base built through solid branding, and a leading industry position where the company is shaping consumer trends.
While commodity costs, worries over rising wages, and price increases are always concerns, Chipotle operating margins remain pristine. In fact, its operating margins increased 1.6 percentage points in the most recent quarter, compared to the same quarter last year.
And the company shows no signs of tempering growth. Its average revenue per restaurant hit a record of $2.5 million in 2015 and the company continues to grow its restaurant count with internal funds -- at historical annual rates of 10% unit growth.
Tying it all together
While there is no secret sauce to finding perfect company stocks to buy every time, there are some traits that the three companies discussed above have in common. Not only did all three companies shape their respective industries, but they did so with management teams that have a fanatical focus on their customers.
If you're looking three perfect companies today, and the best of tomorrow, I'd start searching for companies with a growing, and raving, fan base.