Have you ever wondered what the best companies in the world are? Not just the biggest companies, or the most valuable companies or the ones that make the most money. Rather, the companies that the public thinks are the best, based on things like how well-made the company’s products are, or how well they pay their employees, or how much they take a leadership role in ecological and ethical issues.
Well, wonder no more. JUST Capital compiles this list, every year, by asking the American public what they think of companies based on factors like fair pay, ethical leadership, work-life balance, equal opportunity, ecological sensitivity and job creation, among many more.
The 2020 version of the JUST 100 list was published in early November.
But, as investors, we don’t necessarily care which companies the American public think are the best. We care about which stocks to buy.
With that in mind, I dug through the JUST 100 list of the world’s best companies, and put together my own list of the 10 best stocks to buy right now from the JUST 100 list.
Let’s take a deeper look into what makes each of these companies among the best to invest in right now.
JUST 100 Ranking: 1
The No. 1 company in the JUST 100 list for the second year running — global technology giant Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) — also happens to be a great stock to buy right now.
The current bull thesis on MSFT stock is fairly simple. The whole growth narrative at Microsoft is centered around the company’s rapidly growing cloud services, including Azure and Office 365. Those cloud services just got a huge boost when Microsoft topped Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) in winning the Pentagon’s big $10 billion cloud contract.
Make no mistake — this is more than just a one-time contract win. The deal was so highly publicized and widely followed that everyone in the business world was aware of it. That means everyone in the business world is aware that one of the world’s most-trusted organizations believes Microsoft — not Amazon — is king of the cloud industry. Naturally, this vote of confidence will lead to many customers adopting Microsoft’s cloud services, which should lead to supercharged revenue and profit growth over the next few years.
That supercharged growth should push MSFT stock higher.
JUST 100 Ranking: 2
It also happens that JUST 100’s second best company — graphics processing unit (GPU) giant Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) — is yet another great stock to buy.
The long-term bull thesis on NVDA stock has always been compelling. The future is one powered by artificial intelligence, automation, connected devices, self-driving, so on and so forth. Nvidia makes the building blocks that make those technologies work. As such, Nvidia provides the structural foundation for the world of tomorrow, and in so doing, has guaranteed itself a bright future.
Although that has been true for several years, NVDA stock has struggled over the past few quarters thanks to the trade war. That is, rising U.S.-China trade tensions have dampened international demand in the semiconductor market. This dampened demand has converged with elevated supply levels to create revenue, pricing and margin headwinds for Nvidia.
Those rising trade tensions, are now easing. As they have, the semiconductor market has started to bounce back. This semiconductor demand rebound should continue into 2020. As it does, Nvidia will get back into growth mode — rising revenues and margins — and NVDA stock will power higher.
JUST 100 Ranking: 3
Global consumer technology giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) came in at No. 3 on the JUST 100 list. More relevant to this article, though, AAPL stock is also a great buy for 2020.
The big reason to buy AAPL stock into 2020 is that, for the first time ever, both the hardware and software businesses here are firing on all cylinders. That is, for the better part of the past decade, Apple has been a hardware-focused company. They sold phones, tablets, computers, earphones and more. They did so with great momentum, but they also did little else.
Then, over the past few years, the hardware business started to slow, thanks to install base saturation (you can only sell so many phones before everyone has one). Apple turned to the software segment to offset this slowing hardware growth. Specifically, Apple created a suite of subscription software services — like Apple Music, TV+ and Arcade — to push onto its massive hardware install base, and generate big software revenues.
This software push has been extremely successful so far, but its success has been somewhat offset by a sluggish hardware business. Until now. The hardware business is finally starting to grow at an impressive pace again, helped by lower price tags on the new iPhone models. This hardware ramp should improve in 2020, thanks to Apple launching a 5G iPhone next year. At the same time, the software business will gain momentum in 2020 as Apple TV+ really comes into its own.
Big picture — for the first time ever, both the software and hardware businesses at Apple are going to be on fire in 2020, and that powerful combination should shoot AAPL stock to all-time highs.
JUST 100 Ranking: 4
I promise I didn’t just pick the top ten companies on the JUST 100 list for this gallery of stocks to buy. It just so happens that the top four companies on the JUST 100 list, are also great stocks to buy right now, including semiconductor giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC).
Zooming out, the big picture bull thesis on INTC stock is compelling. Intel dominates the central processing unit (CPU) world. For the past two decades, that means Intel has been the CPU backbone of things like computers. But, over the past few years as the computer market has dried up, Intel has shifted its business focus from the computer market, to the data markets. That is, Intel is now in the game of making CPUs for all things data-related, including connected devices, self-driving and automated tech, data-centers, so on and so forth.
This pivot has dramatically expanded Intel’s addressable market. More importantly, it has created a pathway here for sustainable and strong revenue and profit gains over the next few years as data-related technologies expand their reach across the enterprise and consumer landscapes.
Zooming in, the near-term bull thesis on INTC stock is all about rebounding data-center demand thanks to easing trade tensions. Specifically, for the past few quarters, escalating U.S.-China trade tensions have dampened what was red-hot data-center CPU demand, and Intel’s data-centric businesses went from growing, to declining. But, easing trade tensions over the past few months have brought that demand back into the picture, and Intel’s data-centric businesses are growing again.
This demand rebound will persist into 2020. As it does, Intel’s numbers will remain strong, and INTC stock will keep moving higher.
JUST 100 Ranking: 8
Coming in at No. 8 on the JUST 100 list, and at No. 5 on this list of stocks to buy right now, is digital payments processor PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL).
The long-term bull thesis on PYPL stock is simple. The payments world is going digital. It’s also going mobile. Gone are the days of cash transactions. Here are the days of buying things and sending money through a computer, tablet or phone. PayPal is at the epicenter of this digital transformation, providing not just one of the most popular digital transaction methods (PayPal), but also one of the most popular mobile transaction methods (Venmo). Thus, as the digital transformation across the payments sector continues over the next several years, PayPal’s transaction volumes, revenues, profits and stock price will all march higher.
The near-term bull thesis on PYPL stock is also very simple. As goes the global consumer economy, so goes PYPL stock. That is, because PayPal is the backbone of the digital payments space, this company does very well when consumers are spending a lot of money, and struggles when consumers aren’t spending a lot of money.
Throughout 2019, consumers were bogged down by recession talk, worries about the inverted yield curve, and rising trade tensions. Going into 2020, though, recession talk has largely faded from the scene, the yield curve has un-inverted, and trade tensions are de-escalating. At the same time, pretty much everyone who wants a job, has one, and wages are rising at a healthy pace. That’s a recipe for strong consumer spending trends this holiday season, and into 2020.
As consumer spending trends pick up, so will momentum in PYPL stock.
JUST 100 Ranking: 22
Another JUST 100 company that doubles as a great stock to buy at the current moment is creative solutions giant Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE).
ADBE stock looks good here for two big reasons. First, the company’s long-term growth prospects remain favorable. The whole world is becoming more visual-centric than ever before. Consumers are spending all their time in video- and image-first applications, and business are increasingly communicating with their customers through video and image formats. Because of this, there is growing consumer and enterprise demand for image and video creating and editing solutions. Adobe provides those solutions, and no one rivals them in this space. They also provide these solutions at high gross margins, through a recurring subscription revenue stream, and with minimal operating expense.
In other words, in the big picture, Adobe is a big growth, big margin, big profit and highly predictable and reliable company. That’s a long-term winning recipe.
The second reason to like ADBE stock here is that improving trade relations between the U.S. and China will reinvigorate global capital spending plans. As businesses start to spend and invest more, they will put money toward things like Adobe’s Document Cloud, Creative Cloud and Experience Cloud. Bigger spend into those verticals will supercharge revenue and profit growth, and provide a nice lift for ADBE stock.
JUST 100 Ranking: 23
Right behind Adobe on the JUST 100 list is telecommunications giant AT&T (NYSE:T), a company that could be due for a big 2020 thanks to 5G and streaming tailwinds.
The 2020 bull thesis on T stock breaks down into two parts. First, there’s the 5G part. In 2020, 5G will go mainstream, as the infrastructure widens out to reach more consumers and as more 5G smartphones hit the market. This proliferation of 5G tech in 2020 will provide a significant boost to AT&T’s mobile business, both through more favorable pricing trends and a bigger volume of devices in the network (5G won’t just power smartphones; it will power an entire ecosystem of internet-connected devices).
Second, there’s the streaming part. Also in 2020, AT&T will jump head-first into the streaming wars with HBO Now, it’s very own streaming service that will include HBO content packaged together with all the other content AT&T has acquired through the years, including Warner Bros, TNT, CNN, DC Universe and much more. This streaming service should see healthy early adoption, and healthy early adoption should be enough to ease AT&T’s cord-cutting concerns.
Ultimately, AT&T’s push into 5G and streaming in 2020 should propel T stock meaningfully higher.
JUST 100 Ranking: 38
Heading into 2020, you want exposure to the payments space thanks to improving global economic trends. Therefore, my list includes two payment stocks from the JUST 100 list. PayPayl, as mentioned earlier, and Visa (NYSE:V).
The global economy is in rebound mode. Easing trade tensions between the U.S. and China are sparking confidence back into the global corporate sector. This renewed confidence will cause a rebound in corporate spending trends. That spending will breathe life back into the global economy. Things will start firing on all cylinders again, especially since other economic fundamentals remain supportive (low interest rates, dovish Fed, strong labor markets, muted inflation, etc.).
As things start firing on all cylinders, this economic rebound will trickle its way into the consumer economy. Sure, the global consumer economy hasn’t been hit that hard by geopolitical uncertainty. But, a big rebound at the corporate level won’t hurt what is already a very strong consumer. Into 2020, then, global consumer spending trends should pick up momentum.
As they do, Visa stock will march higher. This company is the global backbone of the payments market, since they own majority market share in the global card transactions market, and cards are the most frequently used transaction medium. Thus, as goes the global consumer economy, so goes Visa stock.
JUST 100 Ranking: 53
Clocking in at No. 53 on the JUST 100 list is specialty e-retail marketplace Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY).
There are three big reasons why I like ETSY stock here and now. First, shares plunged recently following disappointing earnings, and presently sit at their most attractive valuation level in years. Second, the culprit behind the recent selloff is temporary in nature. That is, ETSY stock dropped big because of declining take-rates and margins in its most recent earnings report, but these declines stem from the integration of recently acquired Verbo into the financial results (which runs at lower take-rates and margins). This acquisition-related noise will fade in 2020, and take-rates and margins will improve again.
Third, the technicals imply that ETSY stock has plunged into oversold territory. Shares are also running into multi-year resistance around the $40 level. The combination of these technical factors imply that the worst of the selloff may be over.
Over the next few months, then, ETSY stock looks positioned for a big rebound.
JUST 100 Ranking: 67
Last, but not least, on this list of JUST 100 stocks to buy right now is U.S. automotive company Ford (NYSE:F).
The bull thesis on Ford stock has two parts. First, there’s the rebounding auto market part. In 2019, the auto markets in most developed economies (namely, the U.S. and China) slowed meaningfully amid rising geopolitical uncertainty and bigger tariffs. But, heading into 2020, geopolitical tensions are easing and the threat of tariffs appears to be sidelined. Consumers are also gaining more confidence that a recession is not on the horizon. This combination ultimately implies that the U.S. and China auto markets will rebound in 2020. As they do, Ford’s sales trends should improve meaningfully.
Second, there’s the electrification part. Ford is behind the curve on the electrification front. There’s no denying that. But, over the next few years, Ford is set to unveil a ton of new electric and hybrid vehicles, including an electric F-150 pick-up truck. That truck could change the whole narrative for Ford. Just see Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) and its Cybertruck. They botched the launch show, and the Cybertruck still hit 200,000 pre-orders in its first weekend. Clearly, there’s huge demand out there for an electric pick-up truck, and the Ford F-150 is the world’s favorite pick-up truck.
Overall, the fundamentals should improve meaningfully for Ford, starting in 2020. And these improvements should power a sharp move higher in Ford stock.