As the Sun Sets on 2021, These 5 Stocks Are My Highest-Conviction Holdings

Are you still on the hunt for some core long-term holdings to start the new year? Names you can have every confidence in no matter what might happen to the broad market? If so, keep reading. Below are my top-five foundational picks for almost any portfolio as 2021 transitions into 2022. In no particular order…

Alphabet

You know the company. Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is of course parent to search engine behemoth Google and online video venue YouTube. It’s got some other revenue-bearing projects in its collection as well, but those two platforms alone account for about 80% of its total business. More than that, both platforms’ business is pretty darn secure. Data from GlobalStats suggests Google handles more than 90% of the world’s web searches — a statistic that’s held steady for a decade. And although it’s anything but a traditional streaming service like Netflix or Disney+, YouTube has worked its way into our living rooms as a preferred entertainment destination. Numbers from Nielsen posted earlier this year indicate that U.S. consumers are streaming about as much YouTube content as Netflix content, and streaming a heck of a lot more YouTube content than Disney content.

Credit that viewership to YouTube’s 2 billion regular monthly users collectively watching more than 1 billion worth of YouTube videos every single day. The watch-anything format works!

Shopify

Amazon may have pioneered and then mainstreamed the idea of online shopping. But, its business model was and still is far from perfect. The bigger it gets, the more complicated and impersonal the site becomes. And, if it wants to continue growing, eventually it will have to compete with its own third-party sellers as well as pit them against one another.

Image source: Getty Images.

Enter Shopify (NASDAQ: SHOP), the un-Amazon. Rather than restricting an online seller’s options to Amazon’s online storefronts, Shopify gives merchants a means of building their own stores their own way. As of the latest tally, more than 1.7 million business use Shopify’s online selling tools.

That’s just the beginning, however, as many small businesses have yet to discover this friendlier alternative. Last quarter’s top line grew 46% year over year, extending what’s become a well-established uptrend.

Walmart

At the other end of the size spectrum sits Walmart (NYSE: WMT), the reason many small brick-and-mortar businesses had to turn to e-commerce to survive, yet a disadvantaged competitor to Amazon as well. Walmart’s brick-and-mortar retail empire didn’t seem equipped to deal either with Amazon or with the armada of newly empowered small merchants that have gone online.

The world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer isn’t as helpless now as it was just a few years ago though. Indeed, it’s turned everything around, leveraging its physical footprint with its growing online reach. While it still only does a fraction of the e-commerce business Amazon does, this year’s third-quarter online sales rolled in 87% better than 2019’s pre-pandemic total. That growth extended a long-standing streak of improvement as well.

It’s also just the beginning of Walmart’s melding of its online and offline operations into a powerful platform, however. The company announced in February that it intended to invest on the order of $14 billion in its supply chain, automation, and other customer-centric technologies over the course of the coming months. These investments should start to bear fruit in 2022.

Verizon

If you’re looking only for high-growth prospects, take a pass on Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ). Before you dismiss the idea altogether though, might I make a plea to even the most growth-minded investors that there’s a lot to be said for generating reliable dividend income? That’s true even if you’re only looking for recurring cash injections to buy more growth stocks with.

Despite the low interest rate environment we’re in now, not every dividend-paying stock’s yield has been whittled back to reflect this dynamic. Verizon currently sports an above-average yield of nearly 4.9% — based on a dividend, I might add, that’s been paid like clockwork in every quarter since 2000 when Verizon came into existence via the merger of GTE and Bell Atlantic. The dividend payment’s also been raised at least a little bit every year since 2007. That doesn’t qualify the stock for Dividend Aristocrat status yet, but given the nature of its business (consumers aren’t about to stop using mobile phones now!), that possibility is certainly on the radar.

Nvidia

Finally, computer technology outfit Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) has earned a spot on my high-conviction stock list for 2022.

You may know it first and foremost as a video-gaming hardware name, and the company still does plenty of video gaming business to be sure. In fact, video gaming hardware sales was its biggest business last quarter, accounting for 45% of its top line.

There’s another venture that will eventually drive much more revenue for Nvidia than video games though. That’s data centers, and data centers dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) applications in particular. As it turns out, the same technological architecture that’s well-suited for handling the intense graphical display needs of video games is also ideal for the intense number-crunching being done for AI purposes. And, Nvidia is now building this hardware from the ground up with artificial intelligence in mind. That’s a big reason why nearly 70% of the world’s supercomputers currently in use are powered by Nvidia’s tech.

The world’s only scratched the surface of the AI evolution, however. Technology market research company IDC believes the AI hardware market will swell from this year’s $85 billion to $200 billion in 2025. Even winning a fraction of that business would be an enormous boon for Nvidia.

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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. James Brumley owns Alphabet (A shares). The Motley Fool owns and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Netflix, Nvidia, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Verizon Communications and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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