Investing in the stocks of stable, well-run, innovative businesses is one of the surest ways to generate wealth. Not every company will produce epic gains, but that isn't necessary for an investor to be successful.
So how do you go about finding these potential opportunities? One way is to look to the stock market and identify companies whose winning streak has already begun, and will likely continue into the future.
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To help with that, I've done some of the legwork and selected three companies that are pioneers in their respective fields, have already produced outsized gains, and have a clear runway to future growth. Read on to see why Shopify Inc. (NYSE: SHOP), NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) fit the bill.
Help navigating e-commerce
The story has it that Shopify co-founders Tobias Lutke and Scott Lake were searching for a simple online platform to sell a line of high-end snowboards. When no suitable solution was found, Shopify was born. What began as a way to help small and medium-sized businesses navigate the path to online sales has blossomed into a worldwide e-commerce dynamo.
Over 600,000 businesses from 175 countries have chosen Shopify's easy-to-implement solutions for creating an online presence and simplifying the e-commerce experience. The company provides more than 100 ready-to-use website templates and more than 2,300 apps to customize the experience.
Shopify has gone on to incorporate solutions for other business necessities like payments, shipping, invoicing, order tracking, and working capital loans. It also created Shopify Plus to cater to the needs of enterprise-level businesses, now one of the fastest-growing segments of the company's business.
Providing a much-needed service has proven particularly lucrative for Shopify. Since going public in mid-2015, the company's revenue has risen nearly 500%, and its stock has more than quadrupled. Shopify is not yet profitable, having chosen to pour all its profits into its expansion, as the majority of its customers are still in North America.
With a track record of stellar growth, a market cap of just $15 billion, and ongoing international expansion, it's easy to see how Shopify's stock price could double from here.
Teaching an old chip new tricks
NVIDIA revolutionized modern gaming with the introduction of the graphics processing unit (GPU) and remains the worldwide leader in the technology it pioneered two decades ago. The company still controlled more than 66% of the discrete desktop GPU market to close out 2017.
NVIDIA's flagship gaming business is exploding, with revenue growing 67% year over year in its most recent quarter. That growth could continue, as battle-royale games like Fortnite add new gamers to the fold and esports continues to gain wider adoption.
While processors used in video games still generate the majority of NVIDIA's business, it's the potential from emerging technologies that could drive significant growth. Researchers found that the same massive parallel processing capabilities that made GPUs perfect for rendering images was also the ideal solution for training artificial intelligence (AI) systems. NVIDIA's data center segment, which houses revenue from AI and cloud computing uses, has exceeded 70% year-over-year revenue growth in each of the last eight quarters, though it has slowed somewhat from the triple-digit growth it had produced. This has led to a stock that is up over 77% during the trailing 12 months.
NVIDIA's GPUs are also found at the heart of several other emerging technologies, including augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and self-driving cars. The autonomous car market may represent the one of the greatest opportunities, as the data collected by the multitude of sensors in each vehicle needs to be processed to facilitate the self-driving functions -- and that task falls to the GPU. NVIDIA believes the total addressable market for autonomous vehicles will be $60 billion by 2035, with the first truly self-driving cars hitting roads between 2020 and 2021.
With a commanding lead in its primary market, and a number of emerging technologies that could drive blockbuster growth, NVIDIA stock is a prime candidate to double from here.
The future of television
From its humble beginnings as a DVD-by-mail service, Netflix has emerged as a worldwide entertainment powerhouse. Since the debut of streaming in 2007, the television landscape has undergone a paradigm shift. The world has begun to move away from linear TV, with more consumers content to watch programs on their own schedule.
With that paradigm shift well under way in the U.S., Netflix took its show on the road, setting up operations in over 190 countries. Its global subscriber count just topped 125 million, but many believe that's just the beginning, which explains why Netflix stock has doubled over the past year. The nearly 57 million subscribers in the U.S. equates to about 50% penetration in its home market.
If the company succeeds in growing its customer count by just 8% annually between now and 2030, its subscriber base will grow to 360 million, nearly triple its current level. Considering the 25% viewer growth Netflix has generated in each of the last four quarters, it certainly seems achievable.
Creating a growing library of original content and a massive international expansion has given bears reason to growl, as the company expects its cash flow for the coming year to be in a range of negative $3 billion to negative $4 billion. While some view this growing cash burn as a red flag, some analysts believe the company will turn cash flow positive with five years.
Netflix has said that the programs it produces are much less expensive on a per-subscriber basis, and as the company marches toward its goal of 50% self-generated content, the economics of its model will continue to improve, along with the company's improving operating margins and its ever-increasing profitability.
Even given the company's $145 billion market cap, its addressable market remains massive, and Netflix could double shareholders' money.
While past performance is no guarantee of future results, each of the companies presented here has proven it has what it takes to get the job done. Each is a pioneer in a specific area, has generated significant returns for shareholders, and still has massive opportunity. While they may not all double from here, the potential is there, and my money's where my mouth is: I'm invested in all three!
Find out why Shopify is one of the 10 best stocks to buy now
Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner have spent more than a decade beating the market. (In fact, the newsletter they run, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market!*)
Tom and David just revealed their ten top stock picks for investors to buy right now. Shopify is on the list -- but there are nine others you may be overlooking.
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