Long-term stocks require patience and, post-pandemic, some stocks are better long-term plays.
After all, a lot changed during the pandemic, and many of the life-changing trends that occurred over the past year are likely here to stay.
From online shopping and virtual medicine to greater reliance on robots and the need for enhanced cybersecurity, many trends were accelerated by the Covid-19 health crisis and have now become entrenched in our everyday lives.
Looking forward, there are a number of companies that are at the forefront of these life-changing trends. And their stocks are worth buying and holding for the long-term.
While no investor has a crystal ball, the following four stocks are safe bets that investors can make to capitalize on the permanent shifts taking place in society.
Best Long-Term Stocks to Buy: Amazon (AMZN)
Does anyone think we’re going to stop shopping online once the Covid-19 pandemic is firmly behind us? Neither does Amazon.
The company’s dominance of online shopping was cemented during the pandemic as people in the U.S. and around the world turned to the e-commerce platform to buy everything from toilet paper to the latest iPhone.
Coming out of the pandemic, Amazon has reported two consecutive quarters of revenue that topped $100 billion. In its most recent earnings report, Amazon’s sales jumped 44% year-over-year to $108.5 billion.
Amazon so thoroughly dominates online retail now that no other company comes close to it.
The company is diversifying its operations, moving into new areas such as cloud computing and storage with Amazon Web Services (AWS); self-driving vehicles through a strategic investment in start-up company Aurora; groceries through its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods; and internet connectivity through a new venture called “Project Kuiper” that plans to provide internet to the world using a network of more than 3,000 satellites.
Amazon is also constantly innovating and testing new technologies, including robots in its warehouses and flying drones that make household deliveries.
If there’s one stock to buy and hold for the long-term, it’s Amazon. AMZN stock is up 5% year-to-date but has been trading sideways since April. At $3,355.32, investors may want to buy shares now before the next leg higher.
Teledoc Health (TDOC)
Medicine changed during the pandemic. In a socially distant environment, people were forced to access doctors and other health care providers remotely through video conference calls.
This is a trend that is likely to continue as technology makes it more convenient for people to consult with physicians online rather than make an in-person visit to a doctor’s office.
A survey published last fall found that the percentage of physicians using telehealth to see patients jumped from 22% in 2019 to 80% in 2020 during the pandemic.
The trend towards telemedicine is unlikely to reverse even after Covid-19 recedes, and that is good news for Teledoc Health, the largest virtual healthcare company in the world with 27 million members in 130 countries.
The company saw demand for its remote medical care skyrocket during the pandemic. Usage of its videoconferencing service and mobile app helped push Teledoc Health’s revenue in this year’s first quarter to $454 million, an increase of 151% year-over-year. The company reported 3.2 million virtual customer visits in the first quarter.
TDOC stock is available at a discount right now, which makes it one of the most enticing long-term stocks to buy. The company’s share price is down 23% year-to-date at $153.85.
The downward pressure has come from concerns that Teledoc Health cannot maintain its torrid growth rate. But the company has shown no signs of slowing down yet. Grab shares while they’re on sale.
The robots aren’t coming, they’re here, and robots are not just being used in manufacturing. Increasingly, consumers are turning to robots to help them with everyday chores and to make life easier. iRobot is one of the best long-term stocks to buy at the forefront of consumer robots.
Started in 1990 by three members of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, iRobot today is best known for its Roomba vacuum cleaners and other household cleaning robots.
iRobot continues to experiment with all manner of consumer-friendly robots, including ones that clean pools and gutters, disinfect homes and even mow the lawn.
While not every robot is a success, iRobot has hit it out of the park with its Roomba vacuum and Scooba floor-washing robot. Sales of those products have been strong.
The company obliterated analyst expectations with its most recent quarterly results, reporting revenue of $303 million, 58% higher year-over-year, and earnings per share (EPS) of $0.41. Analysts expected revenue of $264 million and negative EPS.
IRBT stock has performed well this year, up nearly 20% since January at $94.91 per share. However, some analysts continue to feel the stock remains undervalued relative to its earnings. The median price target on the stock is $130, suggesting a potential 37% gain in the coming months.
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
Cybersecurity is a real and growing concern for governments and citizens. The danger of hackers was driven home by two recent high-profile cyberattacks.
First was the attack on the Colonial Pipeline that provides nearly half of the U.S. east coast’s fuel supply, and second was the hack of JBS, the largest beef supplier in the world.
In the JBS attack, the company paid $11 million to the cybercriminals who paralyzed its computer network with a ransomware hack. The attacks have sent a chilling message about online vulnerabilities in an interconnected world.
Cybersecurity will increasingly be important as the world becomes even more connected and threats posed by cybercriminals escalate, and that is good news for companies such as Palo Alto Networks that specialize in cybersecurity.
The company provides advanced firewalls and cloud-based security offerings to corporate clients. Founded in 2005, Palo Alto Networks today serves more than 70,000 organizations in 150 countries. A total of 85 companies listed on the Fortune 100 are clients of Palo Alto Networks.
The company posted strong third-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ expectations, with revenue up 24% year-over-year to $1.07 billion. That beat estimates by $10 million.
Net income grew 22% to $139.5 million, or $1.38 per share, which beat analyst expectations by nine cents. For the full year, Palo Alto expects its billings to grow 23% and its revenue to increase 24%. PANW stock is up 4% year-to-date, but has enjoyed a 13% jump since the aforementioned cyber attacks occurred.
Disclosure: On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.