Welcome To The Virtual Future. Invest Accordingly…
Not long ago, I tried to pump a quarter into a downtown parking meter, only to find that it had been removed in favor of a phone-based parking app. I also skipped a trip to the bank, depositing a check electronically rather than wait in line in the lobby. And earlier this month, my kids began a new school year remotely from home using Chromebook computers assigned to each student.
If you’re like most of us, then chances are you’ve probably been spending a bit more time on the internet these days.
Maybe you’ve been shopping on Amazon or another favorite online retailer. Or perhaps you’ve been staying up late downloading music or playing video games. You might even be logging in each morning to teleconference with work colleagues.
Whatever the case, most Americans are spending more time than ever in the digital realm. That trend was already building long before the Covid-19 pandemic erupted. But in recent months, state lockdowns and ongoing social distancing requirements have only accelerated this revolution.
Roku (Nasdaq: ROKU), whose hardware turns ordinary televisions into connected “smart” TVs, reports that its legions of users have streamed 13.2 billion hours of news, sports, movies, and shows over the past 12 months. That’s an average of 3.6 hours per user per day.
And that’s just for leisure entertainment. We are going online for much more than simply to binge-watch old reruns of Friends. Let me give you a few examples…
The Undeniable Trend
Grocery shopping: Sprouts Farmers Market (NYSE: SFM), an upscale organic grocery chain, reported “elevated” sales above $150 million last quarter through its e-commerce channel. That’s a lot of milk and bread picked up curbside or delivered via third-party couriers such as Instacart.
Telemedicine: Teladoc Health (Nasdaq: TDOC) helped facilitate 2.8 million virtual visits with physicians last quarter, triple the number from this time last year. Revenues have surged 85%, and the company just upped its earnings guidance.
Travel Planning: While vacation plans have been postponed for many, it’s only a temporary lull. Already, TripAdvisor (Nasdaq: TRIP) is seeing tangible signs of pent-up demand to get out of the house. Searches for travel to relaxing destinations such as Key West have grown rapidly since March and April.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Our daily routines are changing in many ways. Of course, savvy investors have taken notice of the shifting landscape. While Covid-19 has been brutal for some industries, it is proving to be a brisk tailwind for a select few. Take Camping World (NYSE: CWH), the nation’s largest dealers of recreational vehicles.
With more people looking to get away from it all, CWH stock has soared nearly 200% in 2020.
Or how about Shopify (Nasdaq: SHOP), which helps thousands of small business owners strengthen their e-commerce capabilities. Citing the “rapidly changing environment,” the company reported a 71% increase in new store openings last quarter and a 119% surge in gross merchandise volume (GMV) sold on the firm’s platform.
Investors have driven the stock from $400 at the beginning of the year to a record high of $1,000 per share.
Not surprisingly, money managers are chasing this trend and launching new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) specifically built to profit from the stay-at-home economy. Direxion Work from Home (NYSE: WFH) was the first to hit the market, targeting stocks like Facebook and Zoom. Soon after, industry leader BlackRock unveiled plans to create the iShares Virtual Work and Life fund.
Any why not? The market leaderboard is littered with companies like online pet food retailer Chewy (NYSE: CHWY) and cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike (Nasdaq: CRWD) that benefit from our increasing reliance on digital interaction.
The Next Big Cloud Winner?
Enthusiasm for some of these stocks may die down when the economy starts to return to normal. But for others, this influx of business isn’t a passing fad, but a new reality. In fact, I’ve been eyeing one in particular that has been booming since long before anyone had even heard of the Coronavirus — and that won’t change when the threat fades.
That’s because this well-positioned company specializes in one aspect of technological innovation that binds buyers and sellers, students and colleagues, and friends and families all together: digital communication.
This relatively obscure business holds critical cloud communication patents and intellectual property that bigger fish would desperately love to have – to say nothing of its customer relationships and soaring revenues. It has been whispered as a possible acquisition target for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Salesforce (Nasdaq: CRM), and Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), among others. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a potential bidding war emerge. After all, mature companies are typically long on cash and short on growth catalysts. And this company is posting some of the best growth numbers I’ve ever seen…
Action To Take
The law of large numbers says that sizzling triple-digit growth is increasingly hard to maintain after a few years. But this pick continues to defy that law, with no sign of a slowdown in sight. I almost hope the company isn’t acquired — just to see what it can accomplish on its own in 2021. Either way, stockholders are likely to be well rewarded.
Unfortunately, I can’t share the name of this pick with you today out of fairness to my premium subscribers. But the takeaway here is simple… The effects of Covid-19 will be long-lasting. Sure, some of them will fade in time, but many will simply accelerate trends that were already in place.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the wrong side of these trends. That’s why I’m spending a large part of my time researching areas from cloud-computing to e-commerce to online health and more. And that’s where you should be devoting your research efforts, too.
Editor’s Note: Another tip to go along with this is to employ the classic “barbell” approach. That means while you look for high-upside growth opportunities in things like tech, you also put some cash aside in a more defensive asset, like gold.
Fortunately, you don’t have to sacrifice gains in precious metals. In fact, my colleague Dr. Stephen Leeb has found an under-the-radar gold miner that could be sitting on one of the largest gold deposits ever discovered.