The stock market’s volatility lately has made heroes of some investors and fools out of others. But for long-term investors who simply want to buy stock in great companies and hold them long-term, there are still opportunities available. And many of the best long-term stocks have been overlooked by short-term traders.
As I looked for opportunities in today’s market, I came back to three great companies that will define the future of their industries: Disney (NYSE:DIS) in media, General Motors (NYSE:GM) in transportation, and Zillow (NASDAQ:Z)(NASDAQ:ZG) in real estate. Those are my top stock picks for February.
Disney isn’t done yet
No traditional media company has made as swift a transition to streaming as Disney, and it’s already defining the company’s future. In the first year of operation, Disney+ amassed 73.7 million subscribers, more than one-third what Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has built globally in more than a decade, and it’s adding millions more each month. Add in Hulu and ESPN+ and there are over 130 million streaming subscriptions on Disney platforms.
When Disney announced its plans for future programming, Disney+ was the highlight. Ten Marvel series, ten Star Wars series, and 15 Disney and Pixar series are in the works. The current lineup on Disney+ is primarily legacy programming, which is important for obvious reasons, but a few years from now it will be the hub for all of Disney’s studios’ new content.
As Disney+ gains steam, Disney’s other businesses should benefit. Parks, cruise lines, consumer goods, and all of Disney’s other businesses are dependent on the content studios churning out great content, and with Disney+ they have the incentive and distribution channel to do just that. As an added bonus, as a direct-to-consumer service Disney+ improves the direct relationship the company has with consumers, who can then be sold other products in the Disney family.
Given the impact of COVID-19 on business, Disney’s shares look expensive today. But if we just take the long-term view of media and streaming, I think it’s clear that Disney will be at the center of our viewing habits for years to come. And that’s the kind of business I want to buy in February and hold for decades.
GM isn’t what you think it is
It may seem like General Motors is being overrun by electric vehicle companies like Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), Lucid, Rivian, and others. But this is still a highly profitable company with a bright future in electric and autonomous vehicles.
GM just announced that it is going to transition its entire fleet to electric by 2035, a transition that’s already begun. Management is getting out ahead of the transition to electric vehicles before it’s too late, and with a growing lineup of compelling vehicles and manufacturing capacity that start-ups can’t match, I wouldn’t count the company out.
Not only is GM a leader in the future of EVs, it has a controlling stake in autonomous driving company Cruise. And it’s Cruise that could ultimately be the company’s most valuable asset. Cruise is building autonomous technology that will enable ride-sharing vehicles without steering wheels, and GM’s role will be manufacturing the vehicle. If the world uses autonomous EVs to move beyond vehicle ownership, Cruise will be the path forward, and that’s very bullish for GM’s future.
If there’s any market in the world that’s due for disruption, it’s real estate. The traditional broker system is expensive, and millions of people are already doing their own research online, which was once the value that brokers brought to the market.
For now, Zillow’s business is being the data hub for the housing market, where realtors can also advertise in the hopes of getting leads. It’s a decent business, but it’s also not the future for Zillow.
Zillow Offers gives us a view of how the company plans to disrupt real estate. The company will make a cash offer without the hassle of listing the house on the market. The offer may not be as high as the open market would bring, but it’s an easy way to sell a house quickly.
Zillow then lists the house itself, hoping to make money on the spread between what it can sell a home for and what it offered. With the world’s biggest real estate database, it’s betting that pricing is pretty accurate even without the local knowledge of a realtor.
There are still changes coming to Zillow, but the company has built unmatched scale, data, and brand recognition in real estate. If it can even capture a small percentage of the real estate transactions in the world, it will be a disruptive business and a huge winner for investors.
Big names and great stocks
Small companies have gotten a lot of the attention from the market over the last year, but these big, established companies are also built to grow long-term. Given their market leading positions, Disney, GM, and Zillow are my top stocks for February.
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