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3 Hot Trends Warren Buffett Is Missing Out On -- But You Don't Have To

Keith Speights, The Motley Fool

You have an investing advantage over Warren Buffett. No, seriously, you really do.

Buffett has admitted that he regrets not buying Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Amazon.com years ago. And he's only been a big buyer of Apple stock in the past few years. Apple gained more than 2,000% in the 10 years before Buffett jumped aboard.

The reality is that Buffett doesn't invest in what he doesn't understand. That means he can miss out on some of the hottest trends -- at least for a while. And therein lies your advantage: gaining an understanding of trends relatively early on and buying the best stocks to profit from those trends. Here are three hot trends that Buffett is missing out on, along with investing ideas for each one.

Three light bulb drawings made of jigsaw puzzle pieces with a man's finger pointing to one of them

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm. Global consulting firm Accenture predicts that the use of AI could add $8.3 trillion in economic output by 2035 in the U.S. alone. The technology holds the potential to transform the way we work and live.

But Warren Buffett's only AI-related investment is in Apple, which hasn't been as strong in AI as it should have been. Buffett bailed out on one stock of a company that's a leader in AI -- IBM. He did have good reasons for doing so, though, with IBM facing headwinds that even its AI expertise can't overcome.

What's a great stock for investing in AI now? I like Alphabet, one of the stocks Buffett wished he had bought in the past. Alphabet is a pioneer in using AI in self-driving car technology. Investment bank UBS thinks Alphabet's Waymo subsidiary will capture 60% of a self-driving car market worth $2.8 trillion by 2030. In addition, Alphabet is also using AI in its cloud applications and ranks as a top player in AI-enabled smart home products. 

2. Cannabis 

Don't laugh. The global cannabis market could top $100 billion in the not-too-distant future, according to BDS Analytics CEO Roy Bingham. And that doesn't include opportunities in Asia. The U.S. marijuana market alone could increase to $22 billion by 2022 -- more than tripling in just five years.

As you might expect, Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) doesn't have anything even close to a cannabis stock in its portfolio. Buffett stated close to 30 years ago, "I'm wealthy enough where I don't need to own a tobacco company and deal with the consequences of public ownership." This same sentiment almost certainly applies today to marijuana-related businesses. 

But Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands thinks cannabis presents "potentially the most significant growth opportunity for the next decade." Sands' company recently backed that up with a whopping $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC), the leading Canadian marijuana producer. Thanks to the deal, Canopy Growth appears to be poised to cement its position as the global cannabis leader.

3. Gene editing

There are over 10,000 diseases caused by mutations in a single gene -- referred to as monogenic diseases -- and even more are caused by mutations in multiple genes. But less than 5% of monogenic diseases have an approved treatment. Gene editing holds the potential to not only treat these disease but to cure them. 

Berkshire Hathaway does own a handful of pharma stocks. None of them, though, have significant research under way in using gene editing. As a result, Buffett is missing out on this exciting opportunity. 

Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT) ranks among the leaders in gene editing. The biotech has made tremendous progress in using a type of gene editing called CRISPR-Cas9 to treat Leber congenital amaurosis type 10 (LCA10), the most common cause of hereditary childhood blindness. Editas hopes to soon begin clinical testing in humans for its LCA10 gene-editing therapy. The company is also targeting other genetic diseases and is working with big biotech Celgene to use gene editing to engineer the body's immune system cells to fight cancer.

The trends are your friends

I can understand why Buffett isn't invested in AI, cannabis, and gene editing. One trend is highly controversial, while the other two are highly complicated. There's also a significant amount of risk, especially with investing in cannabis and gene-editing stocks.   

If you're more of a conservative investor, you probably will want to stay away from Canopy Growth and Editas Medicine. Neither company is profitable yet. It's possible that the global cannabis industry won't take off as quickly as expected. Editas could run into clinical setbacks for its experimental therapies.

However, I would argue that Alphabet is a pretty safe bet even for conservative investors. The company enjoys a strong moat with its dominance in search engines. It also has multiple pathways to generate growth, notably including its Waymo self-driving car technology business.

More aggressive investors might want to consider all three of these stocks, though. Alphabet, Canopy Growth, and Editas are definitely leaders in their respective markets. Over the long run, I think the trends of growth for AI, cannabis, and gene editing will make some adventurous investors quite wealthy. 

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Keith Speights owns shares of Alphabet (A shares), Apple, Celgene, and Editas Medicine. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Apple, and Celgene. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Accenture, Berkshire Hathaway (B shares), and Editas Medicine. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.