At this point, companies sporting a $1 trillion market valuation aren't so special. State-backed oil titan Saudi Aramco was valued at $2 trillion shortly after its IPO late in 2019. As of this writing, Apple just reached $2 trillion, and Amazon, Microsoft, and Google parent Alphabet are all over the $1 trillion market cap mark. A number of other companies like Facebook are “only” a couple hundred billion from reaching the 13-digit valuation line, too.
The law of compound growth dictates plenty of other businesses will arrive at the arbitrary trillion-dollar valuation. Last month I outlined three stocks I think could do so in the next decade. Three more that are benefiting from secular growth trends that could be knocking on the $1 trillion valuation door in 10 years are Mastercard (NYSE:MA), Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), and Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE). Let's take a closer look at what makes these three companies so valuable.
IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.
1. Mastercard: One of the world's largest toll booths
With a market cap of over $330 billion, Mastercard would need to increase another 200% to make it into the trillion-dollar club. But with digital payments and fintech continuing to increase in importance around the globe, it isn't such a farfetched notion.
Mastercard — together with its rival Visa, which has a market cap of over $420 billion — has a virtual duopoly on the global payment processing network industry. Mastercard processes about a third of digital payment volume excluding China, which is mostly walled off to outside entities but which Mastercard got approval to enter in early 2020 from the People's Bank of China. Using a credit or debit card or some other means of electronic payment is commonplace in developed countries, but digital payments overall are still in growth mode and are expected to grow at a high single-digit percentage over the next decade.
Thus, even though it has hauled in over $16 billion in revenue in the last 12 months (including a 19% decrease in revenue in the second quarter of 2020 during the height of the economic lockdown), there's a lot to like about Mastercard. The company earns service fees from its card issuer partners based on transaction volume, as well as a toll booth-like “switched fee” every time an individual transaction is processed. As developing economies slowly but steadily move away from cash and e-commerce grows in importance, Mastercard's payment volumes and number of transactions are sure to increase.
The best part about this business, though, is its lean operating model. Even in tough times, Mastercard's operating margin was a massive 53% during the first half of 2020. Paired with the $11.5 billion in cash and short-term investments on balance at the end of June 2020, this digital payments giant has a cash spigot to tap into to continue developing its network or acquire smaller fintech peers. This stock is worth making a core portfolio holding for the long term.
2. Disney: The world's most-loved entertainment
Consumers vote with dollars, and using that metric, Disney rings up as the most-loved entertainment brand. Besides all the classic Disney characters and stories, the company is deeply invested in sports with ESPN, has extensive TV properties through ABC and Fox, and owns the Marvel superhero universe and Star Wars franchise — all in a vertically integrated empire that spans theme parks, film and broadcast entertainment, and merchandise.
Of course, the current pandemic's effect on Disney is well documented. Its theme parks are running on a limited basis (with the exception of the one in Hong Kong, which remains closed). Many sports events it has broadcast rights to have been sidelined. Movie theaters are closed. It isn't a pretty picture, and Disney's sales took a 42% dive during the three months ended June 2020. However, even in extreme circumstances, the House of Mouse has remained profitable, generating operating income of $1.1 billion on revenue of $11.8 billion during the spring.
That's not to say it's in great shape, but eventually the entertainment segments that rely on in-person interaction will be able to recover. In the meantime, Mickey and company aren't resting on their laurels. The direct-to-consumer segment that encompasses streaming properties Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+ Hotstar (in India and soon also Indonesia) has over 100 million subscribers already. A new international general entertainment service under the Star name making use of ABC and Fox TV and studio content is coming in 2021. And with the future of the theater industry in question, Mulan will be the biggest-budget film to date going direct to streaming, available to Disney+ subscribers for $29.99.
Put simply, Disney remains a powerful entertainment empire that is helping lead the charge into a new digital age. It's far from perfect at the moment, but the current state of affairs won't last forever. And with a market cap of over $230 billion, it isn't hard to imagine the world's preeminent entertainment consortium being a lot bigger in a decade.
3. Adobe: Powering the world's “digital transformation”
A lot has changed since the dawn of the internet in the 1990s. More than just a means for obtaining information, the internet has created an interconnected digital world that is now the very foundation for business operations and the means for obtaining and delivering goods and services. This “digital transformation” was already underway before COVID-19, but those businesses and individuals dragging their feet on making needed tech updates had a fire lit under them in recent months.
That's where Adobe (and a growing rival in salesforce.com) comes in. Adobe began as a creative software developer but has used its leadership in that realm as leverage into a full-blown software suite for enterprise. From day-to-day workflow management (like electronic document signing) to marketing management (ad purchasing and data monitoring) to creative tools (graphical design and digital content creation), Adobe has businesses covered. The options that lay before it in coming years seem endless.
Underscoring just how important this technologist has become, revenue increased 14% to $3.13 billion during its fiscal 2020 second quarter (the three months ending in May) and management forecast another 11% increase during the third quarter. The world may be in the grips of recession, but spending on Adobe's wares continues almost unabated. And with the need for software and cloud services only expected to increase in the next 10 years, Adobe sits at the forefront of a massive industry worth hundreds of billions worldwide every year and still increasing.
Currently valued at over $220 billion, this software firm has the farthest to go to reach $1 trillion on this list. But still in expansion mode and toting enviable operating margins of about 30%, there's a lot to like about Adobe. It's not unreasonable to think it will be close to the 13-digit market-cap range in a decade's time.
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