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2 Brilliant Growth Stocks That Simply Cannot Be Stopped to Buy for 2024

In Business
January 23, 2024

The stock market has remained an incredible tool for building wealth over the years, particularly for patient investors. While no one can predict what stocks will do in a given week, month, or year, the market has a habit of consistently rising upward with the passage of time, despite occasional bearish headwinds.

The performance of your individual portfolio will revolve around several factors. These include the types of stocks that you buy, how often and how much you invest, the industries and sectors you put your cash into, and the extent to which your risk tolerance level informs the kinds of stocks you buy.

If you’re looking for top growth stocks that have rock-solid financials and compelling businesses behind them, you don’t have to look far. Here are two such names to consider as you kick off your 2024 stock buying spree.

1. UnitedHealth Group

As a healthcare services and healthcare insurance giant with a presence that spans millions of lives globally, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is well-positioned to capitalize on the multi-faceted medical needs of an aging population. The company operates in two segments: UnitedHealthcare and Optum.

The UnitedHealthcare business facilitates a wide selection of employer and individual insurance options. Optum features three individual businesses: Optum Health, Optum Insight, and Optum Rx.

Optum Health encompasses a network of medical and ambulatory care providers that work in partnership with health systems, employers, and other plans, while Optum Insight provides healthcare services like research and consulting to doctors, hospitals, life sciences organizations, and other clients.

Optum Rx is the company’s pharmacy care services segment that fulfills close to 2 billion prescriptions annually through its network of speciality pharmacies, infusion pharmacies, and other locations.

In short, UnitedHealth covers the full span of needs that may arise in a healthcare customer’s journey. While an increase in patient claims has weighed on the company’s financials in recent quarters, it’s still profitable, and revenue is steadily on the rise. It’s worth noting that the costs of doing business have risen across the industry in recent quarters. For example, many patients are getting surgeries after postponing elective procedures during the pandemic lockdowns, particularly older patients, so claims are on the rise.

For all of 2023, UnitedHealth clocked revenue of $372 billion, a healthy 15% increase from 2022. This was driven by double-digit top-line growth in both the UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses, 13% and 24%, respectively. Earnings from operations for the 12-month period rose 14% year over year to $32 billion. The company also raked in $29 billion in operating cash flow in 2023.

It’s worth noting that UnitedHealth is a faithful dividend payer, too. The stock currently yields 1.45%, but its dividend has risen about 109% over the trailing five-year period alone.

The company first started paying an annual dividend more than 30 years ago, and has paid out a quarterly dividend since 2010. If it’s a solid business with a steady dividend you’re looking for, UnitedHealth Group is a well-diversified, profitable healthcare stock to consider for your buy basket.

2. Shopify

Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) has seen shares rocket upward by around 100% over the trailing 12 months. The stock’s rapid ascent could be attributed to a range of factors, including warming investor optimism toward growth stocks as fears of a recession appear to be somewhat waning, and the fact that the business has done remarkably well in recovering from a series of tough financial reports.

While growth-oriented businesses have struggled in a volatile macro landscape, the value proposition for Shopify, in my humble opinion, has remained untarnished. This is a business that supports approximately 11% of all e-commerce websites worldwide (ranking fourth among the top e-commerce platforms in the world), and 28% of all e-commerce sites in the U.S. alone (that’s the leading market share above other platforms like WooCommerce and Wix).

Shopify offers a range of services and tools designed to support entrepreneurs with online and offline presences, and a selection of annual or monthly plans geared toward businesses at all stages of growth (the lowest one starts at just $39 a month for a Basic subscription). It’s not hard to see why companies of all sizes are choosing Shopify to launch and/or scale their businesses.

Bear in mind, the e-commerce industry is on track to witness a compound annual growth rate of 9% globally in the next four years alone, reaching a valuation of $5 trillion by the year 2028. Even then, estimates show that e-commerce user penetration (the number of people who shop online for retail goods) will still only be 34%. That means there is still tremendous space for this industry to grow. Given Shopify’s continued dominance in this space, the business can benefit directly.

The most recent quarter saw Shopify report revenue of $1.7 billion, a 25% increase from one year ago. It also brought in free cash flow of $276 million while reporting $718 million in GAAP profits. Shopify has gone through a series of changes in recent quarters, from downsizing its workforce to exiting its fulfillment business to enhance operational efficiency.

These changes, while painful in the short term, appear to be delivering results while Shopify focuses on what it knows best: Seamless software and hardware solutions for business owners. That is a journey that long-term investors may want to take part in.

Should you invest $1,000 in UnitedHealth Group right now?

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Rachel Warren has positions in Shopify. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Shopify and Wix.com. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

2 Brilliant Growth Stocks That Simply Cannot Be Stopped to Buy for 2024 was originally published by The Motley Fool

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