As the Sun Sets on 2020, These 5 Stocks Are My Highest-Conviction Holdings

This very miserable year is nearly over, and like most people, I say good riddance! Between political tensions, social unrest, and a worldwide pandemic, 2020 will easily go down as a year to forget. Amazingly, the stock market’s been one of its few bright spots. The S&P 500′s going to end the year up on the order of 14%…

Don’t misunderstand though. While the global economy may be in recovery mode, it’s recovering into a different sort of business environment. Consumer-facing companies must offer online shopping options now. Disinfecting is a stand-alone industry. Streaming has become the preferred form of entertainment. And these are just a sampling. Much more has changed.

With these evolutions in mind, here’s a rundown of my top five stock picks for the so-called “new normal” we’ll see firm up in 2021.

Walmart

It may technically be the world’s biggest retailer, but as of this year, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is no longer just a mere retailer. It’s become a lifestyle company by finding ways to integrate itself with how people live their lives.

The unveiling of Walmart+ is one example of this paradigm shift, more or less mirroring Amazon‘s Prime subscription service, which offers free, speedy deliveries to its members.

It’s not just Walmart+, however. The retailer is building its own network of surprisingly complete health clinics, not to mention its new health insurance business. The company is also experimenting with technology consulting and installation service akin to Best Buy‘s Geek Squad at the same time it’s rolling out in-store signage and technology that turn a shopper’s smartphone into a digital tour guide.

Walmart even updated its private-label wine selection to include lower-cost options while adding more premium liquors to its product mix.

None of these initiatives directly drive more sales. All of them, however, make it easier for Walmart to draw a post-pandemic crowd.

Alphabet

It may be an oldie at this point, but Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is still a goodie. That’s because its Google remains a perpetual cash cow.

Data from GlobalStats puts things in perspective. As of November, Google handled 92% of the world’s web searches, a proportion that’s been in place for over a decade. The amount of revenue it collects every time a person clicks on one of its ads may be shrinking, but the company more than makes up for it with increasing click volume. Not counting the impact the coronavirus had on the its business in the second quarter of this year, in only one quarter since 2006 has Alphabet’s revenue slipped year over year.

At the same time, despite the progress Apple has made on this front, Alphabet is…

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