Sometimes the best investment to buy is the proven winner that you already own. They may not be the most exciting stocks anymore, but Visa (NYSE: V), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) are still benefiting from massive secular changes in the global economy, and growing at brisk rates. After reporting calendar year 2021 Q2 earnings results, all three still look like great places to invest some money for the long-term.
Visa: Back to breaking payment volume records
It took a year, but digital payments network leader Visa is back in growth mode. In fact, during its fiscal 2021 third quarter (the three months ended June 30, 2021), Visa reported across-the-board payment volume growth for the first time in the pandemic era (including cross-border payments), and was just a few million dollars away from reaching a new all-time record for total revenue (last reached back in 2019).
Data source: Visa. YoY = year-over-year.
In addition to the top-line increase, Visa also reported a return to earnings growth as it starts to lap the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and the depressed financial results that went along with it. Adjusted net income was up 39% to $3.1 billion. Free cash flow has also increased 39% to $10.8 billion through the first three quarters of Visa’s 2021 fiscal year, good for an incredible free cash flow profit margin of 62%. The stock is trading for 49 times trailing 12-month free cash flow (based on a current market cap of $527 billion), a reasonable price tag given the improving outlook for the company.
Visa should get some lift the rest of this year as it continues to notch rebounding numbers as the effects of COVID-19 ease. It isn’t the fastest-growing name in digital payments and financial technology, but the world still has a long way to go in transitioning away from cash. As it does so, Visa will be there with a solution. I remain a buyer at these levels.
Image source: Getty Images.
Apple: The first to a $10 trillion valuation?
While Visa could be one of the next companies to join the trillion dollar-valuation club, Apple and Microsoft are already members of the ultra-exclusive group. In fact, the two tech giants could be in contention for becoming the first publicly traded company to eventually reach a $10 trillion valuation.
Apple is well on its way. Though it stumbled a bit after its fiscal 2021 third quarter (again for the period ending June 30, 2021) on iPhone chip supply constraints, shares are up a respectable 10% so far this year, and value the hardware designer at a market cap of $2.4 trillion as of this writing. Despite ongoing COVID-19 issues in many corners of the globe, Apple reported a record June quarter for sales, with all categories — from iPhone to wearables to services — growing at double-digit percentage clips compared to a year ago.
Total revenue was up 36% and net income was up 92% during the quarter. Apple’s top brass expects sales growth to be less than the 36% pace just set for the final period of its fiscal 2021, but growth will no doubt remain at a double-digit rate as iPhone, iPad, and other device adoption continues in many regions. Besides consumers, businesses are a key driver of growth for Apple these days as they update their equipment for a new era of 5G network connectivity and cloud computing.
Apple stock currently trades for just 26 times trailing 12-month free cash flow after the last earnings update. Given the enduring growth story and consistent profitability this company is able to churn out, this is one great long-term value.
Microsoft: The software giant that won’t quit
Microsoft is the world’s most valuable software company, including on the fast-expanding cloud computing front. From the public cloud service Azure to more specific cloud-based apps, Microsoft has a presence on nearly every front in the software world. It currently has a market cap of nearly $2.2 trillion.
Size is of little importance, though. What really counts is that this is still a fast-and-steady grower, and fiscal 2021 Q4 (ended June 30, 2021) didn’t disappoint. Revenue expanded 21% year-over-year to $46.2 billion, and net income was $16.5 billion, good for a net profit margin of 36%. Not bad at all for a company fast approaching the 50-year anniversary of its founding.
Given that the cloud computing industry is expected to expand at a double-digit percentage clip and reach $1 trillion in annual spending by the end of this decade, Microsoft looks like a sure bet to continue its run for some time. Add in the myriad ancillary services and tech hardware it produces, plus the distribution deals it often signs with other cloud companies, and this is one stock worth keeping as part of the core of any investment portfolio.
After the conclusion of Microsoft’s fiscal 2021, shares trade for 38 times trailing 12-month free cash flow. With yet another fiscal year of robust revenue and profit growth on the horizon, Microsoft looks like a solid buy right now.
10 stocks we like better than Microsoft
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Microsoft wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
*Stock Advisor returns as of June 7, 2021
Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Nicholas Rossolillo owns shares of Apple and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Microsoft, and Visa. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.