The law of accelerating returns is probably the most important economic concept you’ve never heard of, with broad implications across the stock market, the economy, and politics. It’s a simple, yet powerful, idea which could guide to 1,000%-plus returns in the stock market, help you explain America’s widening wealth gap, and give you ammunition to win a political debate against Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
So, what exactly is the law of accelerating returns?
Coined by futurist Ray Kurzweil in 1999, the law of accelerating returns states that while most things progress linearly, technological change does not — instead, technological change is exponential. That is, the pace at which technology changes, actually accelerates over time.
A quick glance at history confirms this. It took humans thousands of years to understand fire, stone tools and the wheel. But, in the late 1990s, it took only about 30 years for humans to turn the computer and internet from science fiction into reality. Then, in the 2000s, we’ve gone from a world where only a handful of people had smartphones and DVD players in 2005, to a world where everyone has an iPhone and Netflix in 2020.
This phenomena of accelerating returns has huge implications. Companies aligned with technological change have advanced forward at breakneck speeds. Their revenues, profits and stock prices have soared. Similarly, individuals aligned with this trend have also benefited. Their net worth, reach and influence has grown.
More importantly, the pace of technological change is still accelerating. That means the implications are only getting bigger and not always in a positive way. Research conducted by Gustavo Grullon, Jesse H. Jones Professor of Finance at Rice University, has shown that the ability for many firms to generate sales commensurate their assets has not kept pace with technological acceleration:
“What we’re finding is that the market valuation factor has been increasing exponentially over the past few decades,” said Professor Grullon. He added:
“But for some reason the asset utilization (the ability of firms to generate sales given their assets) has been declining systematically over the last 40 years … That has huge implications for the market because [investors] are not keeping track of the fundamentals. So the market valuations are going up relative to sales, but for some reason, the ability of firms to generate sales has been going down.”
For this reason, investors have to know the difference between overvalued stocks and true industry disruption to understand which companies are right for long-term gains.
Eric Fry (the sharp investing mind who famously bested the prowess of Bill Ackman, David Tepper, Joel Greenblatt, Dan Loeb and David Einhorn) believes the law of accelerating returns is the driving force behind the wealth gap. This means that while it is a massive wealth-creation tool, it only functions favorably for those at the forefront of technological advancement.
“The issue is that most of the value created in the markets is mainly driven by technology,” says Grullon. “So you see the market valuation of many high-tech firms has exploded over the past decade, and the problem is that most of those firms are controlled by few individuals … so the market value is highly concentrated and only a small fraction of the population is benefiting from these increases in stock valuation.”
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 20 stocks to buy to align your portfolio on the right side of the law of accelerating returns:
Stocks to Buy for the Law of Accelerating Returns: Amazon (AMZN)
Source: Mike Mareen / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: E-commerce & cloud
The law of accelerating returns says to buy Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) because this company is only extending its lead in the rapidly growing e-commerce and cloud infrastructure markets.
Over the next ten years, the pace at which consumers migrate to online shopping will accelerate. Amazon will leverage its Prime ecosystem, wide distribution network, and huge fulfillment centers to remain the world’s largest online retailer. Amazon’s e-commerce sales and profits will continue to roar higher. At the same time, the pace at which enterprises migrate to the cloud will also accelerate, and Amazon will similarly sustain leadership position in that market given its huge data-center capacity. Cloud revenues and profits will push higher in the long run, too.
So will Amazon stock. Sure, you can knock the valuation. But, valuation has been a “headwind” for the past decade. That hasn’t stopped Amazon stock from rising 1,750% over that stretch. It won’t stop Amazon stock from heading higher over the next decade, either.
Source: rafapress / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Cloud communications
Twilio (NYSE:TWLO) stock is a buy according to the law of accelerating returns because the company is pioneering a new way for businesses to communicate with customers.
Long story short, everyone texts these days. Businesses have been slow to catch onto this trend. Most of them still use email marketing to reach and communicate with customers. Twilio is changing that, by creating programmatic APIs which allow businesses to employ text-based customer communication at any scale. This is the future of business-to-consumer (B2C) communications, and the pace at which companies migrate to text-based B2C communications will only accelerate over the next few years.
As it does, Twilio’s customer base and spend per customer will rise dramatically. Revenues and profits will run higher, too. And so will Twilio stock.
Source: Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Digital advertising
There are many reasons to like Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stock as a long-term holding, and the law of accelerating returns is one of them.
In a nutshell, consumers are spending more and more of their time on their phones. Facebook owns four of the biggest apps on those phones. As such, the more consumers shift their time to the mobile channel, the more time they spend in one or several of Facebook’s four apps. Ad dollars chase eyeballs. So, the higher Facebook app engagement goes, the more ad dollars will flow into those apps.
This dynamic is only accelerating. Over the next several years, the digital consumption shift will accelerate. That will spark a digital ad shift acceleration. For Facebook, that means the company’s core growth drivers are only going to get more robust over the next few years. As they do, the company’s revenues and profits will keep running higher, and so will Facebook stock.
Source: Casimiro PT / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Digital education
Accelerated adoption of digital education services will power shares of America’s leading connected learning platform Chegg (NASDAQ:CHGG) higher over the next few years.
Consumption of all sorts is pivoting online. The education world has been slow to adapt to this change. The majority of learning materials remain physical, not digital. Chegg is changing that. They are creating a digital, on-demand learning platform which allows students to access tutoring services, homework solutions, writing help, test prep, and many other academic help services, at any point, through any internet connected device.
It’s education services, made for the modern student. Adoption of these services will accelerate over the next five to ten years. During that stretch, Chegg will become ubiquitous in the high school and college worlds. Accelerated adoption will push Chegg’s revenues and profits higher. As those trend higher, so will the stock.
Source: Beyond The Scene / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: E-commerce
One of the hottest stocks on the market over the past few years has been Shopify (NYSE:SHOP). Shares of the e-commerce solutions provider are up 800% over the past three years, and the law of accelerating returns implies that there’s plenty more upside over the next decade.
For all intents and purposes, Shopify is the digital storefront. Whereas retailers in 2005 needed a pretty storefront in a mall in order to succeed, retailers in 2020 need a well-built website on the internet in order to succeed. Shopify makes those websites. And they do a better job of making those websites than anyone else. Consequently, Shopify isn’t just a nice-to-have in the e-commerce world — many would argue it’s a must-have.
Over the next decade, retail sales will increasingly pivot online. As they do, retailers will increasingly pour money into building better and more robust online storefronts. That means more money going to Shopify. This positive dynamic will keep Shopify stock on a healthy uptrend for a lot longer.
Source: Sheila Fitzgerald / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Electric vehicles & self-driving
By now, it’s pretty clear that electric vehicles are the future of the auto market, given ground-level demand changes (consumers actually want electric vehicles now) and top-level government support (legislation across the globe continues to support electric vehicle adoption through tax subsidies). And there’s a secret behind Tesla that few investors understand, but you can learn to apply that thinking to your own portfolio.
That’s great news for the world’s leading electric vehicle maker Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA). Over the next decade, electric vehicle penetration in the auto market will soar from about 3% today, to somewhere north of 20%. That will translate into something like 20 million or more electric vehicle sales by 2030, versus just 2 million in 2018.
This accelerated adoption of electric vehicles will provide a huge tailwind for Tesla, who has an enormous lead in the market in terms of battery tech, production capacity, and brand equity. Consequently, Tesla’s delivery volumes will roar higher over the next several years. That will push revenues higher, lead to positive operating leverage, and push profits higher. Ultimately, all that growth will inevitably result in Tesla stock moving higher in the long run, too (yes, even from today’s elevated levels).
Source: Riccosta / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Streaming TV
There’s been a lot of competitive noise surrounding Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) recently. But, the truth is that the law of accelerating returns implies that there’s only good things to come for the streaming TV giant.
Zooming out, streaming TV is the future of TV consumption. Eventually, for price and convenience reasons, all content will move to a streaming model, and all consumers will cut the cord. The linear-to-streaming pivot will accelerate in coming years as more traditional media players move into the space, meaning that the whole streaming TV market is due for huge growth in the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, zooming back in, Netflix is well positioned to fight off competition thanks to its low price, and huge size and data advantages. That is, because Netflix allocates more resources to original content production than anyone else and because they have more viewing data to inform their content production than anyone else, the streaming giant should continue to produce some of the best original content in the market. So long as that remains true, consumers won’t stop paying $15 a month for the service, which delivers a ton of value for that $15.
Big picture — both the streaming market and Netflix are due for huge gains over the next several years. Those big gains will push Netflix stock higher in the long run, once competitive concerns fade.
Source: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Identity security
Cloud security giant Okta (NASDAQ:OKTA) understands that the future of security is identity-based security, and because of this, the law of accelerating returns implies a bright future for Okta shareholders. It also helps that OKTA only boasts a $16 billion market capitalization, which aligns with Fry’s recommendation of spotting small companies that have the bulk of their growth still ahead.
Broadly speaking, enterprises are becoming increasingly complex and decentralized, with a lot of moving parts. It’s tough to secure all those moving parts with one giant cybersecurity solution. Instead, it’s much easier to secure all those moving parts by outfitting each one of them with their own individual security systems.
That’s exactly what Okta does. They employ an identity-based security solution which focuses on protecting each individual in the ecosystem, with the rationale being that if each individual is protected, so is the whole system. Enterprises are just now starting to pivot towards identity-based security. Over the next several years, this pivot towards identity-based security will accelerate.
As it does, Okta will add a ton of customers, current customers will increase their spend, revenues and profits will run higher, and Okta stock will post huge returns. Read more about which small stocks Fry believes will disrupt entire industries and create massive amounts of wealth for early investors.
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG)
Source: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Medical robotics
Over the next several years, adoption of automation technology across various verticals and applications will accelerate meaningfully higher. As it does, one company positioned to benefit from this automation boom is Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG).
Intuitive Surgical is a leader in the medical robotics field. Specifically, they are the maker of the Da Vinci Surgical System, which is essentially a smart robot that is designed to help doctors perform surgeries. Adoption rates of Da Vinci Surgical Systems remain relatively low. But, they are rising rapidly. They will continue to rise rapidly over the next few years, as the systems get better and medical professional and public trust in the systems improves.
Thus, over the next five to ten years, Intuitive Surgical will sell a ton of Da Vinci Surgical Systems. This sustained robust sales momentum will help power Intuitive Surgical higher in the long run.
Beyond Meat (BYND)
Technology Disruption: Plant-based food
There are two things which underpin the long term bull thesis on Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND).
First, plant-based meat is the future of meats consumption. This is because plant-based meat is more environmentally friendly, cost-efficient, and safe at scale. Consequently, plant-based meat penetration will grow exponentially from less than 1% today, to 10%, 20%, and higher over the next decade.
Second, Beyond Meat is the brand in plant-based meat, much like Tesla is the brand in electric vehicles. That is, when consumers think of plant-based meat, they think of Beyond Meat. This gives the company tremendous branding leverage over competitors. At the same time, Beyond Meat has huge production and tech advantages over new entrants, and those advantages should help sustain the company’s leadership position for a lot longer.
Net net, plant-based meat is the future of meat consumption, and Beyond Meat reasonably projects as the leader in the plant-based meat market in a decade. That’s a recipe for big long-term gains in Beyond Meat stock.
Source: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Cashless payments
Shares of payments processing giant Square (NYSE:SQ) should move higher over the next several years because the company is perfectly aligned with one of the world’s most robust technological pivots: the shift from cash to cashless payments.
Cash has many shortcomings. It’s clunky. It’s inconvenient, easy to lose, and tough to keep orderly. Cash transactions also take longer because merchants have to count change. That’s why banks invented cashless payment methods like credit and debit cards. These payment cards are slim, convenient, easy to keep in a wallet, and transaction times are very short (just insert the chip).
Because of this, we’ve already seen consumers pivot gradually from cash to cashless payments over the past few years. This pivot will accelerate over the next decade. As it does, cashless payments processors — like Square — will become more important than ever in the global retail ecosystem. Merchants will increasingly deploy Square’s chip readers, and sales volume through those chip readers will accelerate higher with the cashless payment shift.
Broadly, then, acceleration of the cashless payments pivot over the next few years should power Square stock higher.
Source: turtix / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Digital advertising, cloud, & autonomous vehicles
Global technology giant Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) is aligned with many technological changes, the sum of which will only accelerate over the next few years and keep the company and stock on a winning path.
First, you have the digital advertising pivot. Consumers are increasingly spending time in the digital channel. Marketers are increasingly chasing that engagement and spending ad dollars in the digital channel. This dynamic will persist over the next few years. As it does, Alphabet — the world’s largest digital advertiser — will continue to be supported by healthy ad growth trends.
Second, you have the cloud pivot, where enterprises of all shapes and sizes are increasingly moving their data and workflows into the cloud. This pivot, too, will only gain momentum over the next few years, as cloud-based work becomes the enterprise norm. Alphabet — the world’s third largest cloud service provider — will benefit from this continued shift.
Third, you have the whole self-driving angle. Alphabet owns Waymo. Waymo is considered the leader in self-driving. Sure, self-driving seems like science fiction today. It’s not. Cars are already driving themselves, and it’s only a matter of time before these self-driving cars start to generate enormous revenue. When they do, Waymo will accelerate the entire Alphabet growth trajectory meaningfully higher.
All in all, thanks to its exposure to multiple secular technological pivots, Alphabet stock is positioned to keep moving higher over the next few years. As is another virtually unheard-of company that has logged more than a million autonomous miles and has developed the standard for self-driving vehicles. This is a small corporation with big partnerships in the form of the world’s top car companies and most disruptive technological firms. Best of all? It’s a bargain right now. If you want to know the name of this potential 10x stock, Eric Fry details all in The 1,000% Portfolio.
The Trade Desk (TTD)
Technology Disruption: Programmatic advertising
Programmatic advertising, or the use of data and algorithms to optimize the advertising process, is the future of advertising. That’s great news for The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD), who has established itself as a leader in the programmatic ad world.
Long story short, the traditional, human-powered advertising process is inefficient, clunky, and slow. Programmatic advertising is not any of those things. It’s efficient, streamlined, and fast, because it leverages data and algorithms to make real-time, dynamic ad allocation decisions.
Because programmatic advertising is simply better, marketers everywhere are accelerating their adoption of this new ad method. Many of these marketers are turning towards The Trade Desk, because the company has established itself as a demand-side leader in the programmatic ad world, helping ad buyers increase the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.
Over the next decade, programmatic advertising will become ubiquitous across the entire ad ecosystem, meaning that The Trade Desk’s reach, relevance, and revenues will all grow significantly. That big growth will provide ample firepower to keep The Trade Desk stock on a long-term winning trajectory.
Source: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Telemedicine
Huge breakthroughs in telemedicine will power the field’s leading company, Teladoc (NASDAQ:TDOC), to sizable long term gains.
In a nutshell, telemedicine has been around for a while. But it hasn’t been that good, mostly because the technology wasn’t good enough to support sufficient virtual healthcare. That’s changing now. Thanks to advances in data analysis and streaming video connectivity, telemedicine is finally getting to a point where it’s “good enough” for most everyday healthcare issues. Because of this — and because consumers hate going to the doctor’s office or urgent care — the telemedicine field has becoming increasingly popular over the past few years.
The law of accelerating returns implies that telemedicine’s growth will continue for the foreseeable future. As it does, Teladoc, the world’s largest provider of telemedicine services, will leverage favorable network and marketplace effects to maintain its market leadership position and drive sustained huge growth.
That sustained huge growth will keep Teladoc stock on a healthy long-term uptrend.
Source: Fozan Ns / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Streaming TV
As mentioned earlier, the law of accelerating returns implies that streaming TV adoption rates will soar over the next few years, and that eventually, all consumers will be in the streaming TV channel. That reality implies huge growth ahead for Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU).
At its core, Roku is the “cable box” of the streaming TV world. They make little devices and smart TVs. Those devices connect you to a centralized internet TV ecosystem, from which you can watch any streaming service in the world. Importantly, Roku is the biggest player in this market, with the largest market share among both streaming devices and smart TVs. That’s important, because Roku is a marketplace. The more supply Roku has (the more streaming services), the demand the company will attract (more viewers), and the more demand the company has, the more supply it will attract. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Consequently, for the foreseeable future, Roku is a platform pure-play on the linear-to-internet TV consumption pivot. This pivot will only accelerate going forward. So will Roku’s growth narrative.
Source: Michael Vi / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Big Data
Splunk (NASDAQ:SPLK) is an enterprise data analytics company which will grow by leaps and bounds over the next few years as we increasingly move into a data-driven world.
Splunk’s core product is its Data-to-Everything platform. That platform does exactly what the name says it does. It transforms data into anything you want it to, from selling and marketing insights, to market research, and everything in between.
Over the next decade, data-driven decision making will become the norm across the enterprise landscape, mostly because it’s more reliable, more efficient, and produces better results. As that happens, companies will increasingly allocate resources towards data capture, monitoring, and analysis. Splunk does all three of those, and better than anyone else. Consequently, Splunk’s big data services will become ubiquitous across the enterprise landscape. As they do, the company will grow significantly.
Significant growth will power significant gains in Splunk stock.
Source: r.classen / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Paper-to-digital transformation & creative media
The law of accelerating returns implies that cloud giant Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) has robust long-term growth prospects in both its creative media and digital document businesses.
On the creative media side, videos and pictures are everything these days. Where content creators can put a video or a picture instead of text, they are doing so, because those videos and pictures resonate much more deeply with consumers. Adobe is the king of solutions which help content creators capture, edit, and publish creative media like pictures and videos. Consequently, as the pivot towards digital video and photo consumption accelerates over the next few years, demand for Adobe’s creative media solutions will move higher.
Meanwhile, on the digital documents side, enterprises are in the midst of enormous paper-to-digital transformations. This transformation won’t slow until all workflows and processes are digital. Thus, the enterprise paper-to-digital transformation will likely only accelerate, and as it does, demand for Adobe’s leading digital document solutions will similarly accelerate.
Acceleration in its two core businesses will power Adobe stock significantly higher over the next few years.
Source: TY Lim / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Ride sharing
Ride sharing giant Uber (NYSE:UBER) has had a rough run on Wall Street. But, the company is aligned with a huge technological change, and as such, the law of accelerating returns implies that Uber stock actually has a very bright future.
Ride sharing won’t ever completely eradicate car ownership. But, given its price and convenience advantages in many situations, it is quite likely that consumers continue to opt for ride sharing over personal driving for things like going out at night, going into a city where parking is tough, going to the a hotel from the airport, etc.
Ride sharing usage in those situations will accelerate over the next few years. Because Uber is one of only two companies in the North American ride sharing market, ride sharing usage growth in North America will translate into billing and revenue growth for Uber. At the same time, the company is cutting back on promotions, rationalizing its driver fees, and gutting the expense model. All of those moves should lead to improve profitability.
Higher revenues plus improving profitability equals rising profits, and rising profits should guide Uber stock higher.
Technology Disruption: Police smart technology
Over at Axon (NASDAQ:AAXN), the long-term bull thesis is all about accelerating adoption of police smart tech.
The law enforcement world is behind the curve when it comes to adopting technology. Axon is changing that. They are providing the law enforcement world with an array of technology solutions ranging from smart weapons and cameras to cloud-based record management systems, the sum of which will modernize law enforcement agencies everywhere.
Adoption of these smart tech solutions will accelerate in coming years. As it does, Axon’s revenues will roar higher, because they are essentially the only game in town when it comes to police smart tech. More than that, Axon’s cloud-based solutions are high margin, so the more of those Axon sells, the higher margins and profits will go.
As go profits, so go stocks. Thus, considering Axon’s robust profit growth outlook over the next few years, Axon stock should keep moving higher over that stretch, too.
Source: Pavel Kapysh / Shutterstock.com
Technology Disruption: Big Data
Last, but not least, on this list of stocks to buy for the law of accelerating returns is little-know but red-hot Cardlytics (NASDAQ:CDLX) stock.
Cardlytics is a payment card analytics company, which leverages credit and debit card data to pair marketers with consumers and power relevant and strong bank loyalty and rewards programs. In so doing, they’ve leveraged big data to create a win-win-win situation. Marketers win because Cardlytics leverages data to match their products and services with target consumers. Banks win because, through matching consumers with products and services they’ll actually buy, Cardlytics ups how much consumers spend with a specific credit or debit card. And, of course, Cardlytics wins because they collect a fee for setting up the whole system.
It’s a genius business model. Over the next few years, more and more banks will sign up with Cardlytics. More and more marketers will, too. The entire Cardlytics ecosystem will expand dramatically, and this company will become the backbone of bank loyalty and rewards programs everywhere.
For reference, Cardlytics has a market cap of $2.5 billion. If that seems way too small for a company with this much potential, that’s because it is. In the long run, Cardlytics stock has tremendous upside potential.
When all is said and done, these are prime examples of companies that will contribute to the widening wealth gap in America today. And none of our politicians are thinking about how to solve this problem in an equitable manner for U.S. citizens. The only thing you or I can do is to align ourselves on the right side of the law of accelerating returns, allowing us to benefit from, rather than be victimized by, wealth inequality.
In addition to these stocks mentioned here, Eric Fry’s treatise on the law of accelerated returns comes with his No. 1 recommended high-tech company behind the starkest disruption in the markets — one that he considers very likely to be his next 1,000% winner.
Luke Lango is an equities trader and portfolio manager. He is the founder of a San Diego-based investment fund — L&F Capital Management, LLC — which focuses on overlaying fundamental analysis with behavioral economics to identify both short-term trading and long-term investment opportunities. The fund focuses on investments in the consumer and technology sectors, but has exposure to and dabbles in all industries. Luke graduated from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with a degree in Applied Mathematics & Economics. An entrepreneur at heart, Luke has spent much of his free time in the startup tech world, with his most recent venture being a crowdsourced experience curation platform called Fantastic. As of this writing, Luke Lango was long FB, NFLX, BYND, SQ, TTD and UBER.
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