The U.S. has millions of small businesses. In fact, they make up the large majority of all businesses in the country while employing close to half of all workers, too. But this is one sector of the economy where opportunities for investors can be tough to find.
In this Motley Fool video, senior analyst Jason Moser unveils his take on how to invest in small businesses, and why a stock basket has its advantages when investors want exposure to a long-term trend.
A full transcript follows the video.
Jason Moser: Hi! I’m Jason Moser, senior analyst here with The Motley Fool. This is the Small Business Big Investment basket. Now, what is the basket approach? The basket approach is identifying a long-term trend that you believe will affect the world in a big way, and then investing in it via four to six companies that you believe will lead the way in that trend.
Why baskets? I get this question a lot. There are a number of different reasons, I believe. No. 1, it’s the trend. We talk about investing in these big trends, large and growing market opportunities. Those are the attractive investments that we as investors are looking for. There are also many winners when it comes to baskets. When we’re talking about these long-term trends, why not benefit from multiple players in the space as opposed to trying to just pick one winner? Also, from the risk management perspective, this gives us equal-weight exposure that spans the risk spectrum from low to high. So, we’re getting our eggs in a few different baskets there from an attractive risk perspective. And ultimately, the goal is to invest in good businesses that we feel comfortable holding indefinitely as a group.
Now, why small business? Well, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, small business in the United States employed almost half of our workforce in 2015, and that number continues to grow. It’s an important market, a growing market, and I think it’s an opportunity for investors.
Stock one in the basket is Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY). Etsy is an e-commerce platform that connects local suppliers and producers with buyers across the country. Even from their own 10-K, by shopping on etsy.com, Etsy buyers are supporting creative entrepreneurs in their local communities and around the world. Why do I think it’s basket-worthy? Well, I think that Etsy has great brand recognition. It’s still growing. A very capital-light business model. They don’t carry any inventory on the balance sheet. It really boils down to the power of the network. Already nice and profitable, cash flow positive, a holistic solution and a company that is existing very successfully in an Amazon world today.
The second company in the basket is Ameris Bancorp (NASDAQ:ABCB). Ameris Bancorp might not be familiar to most. It’s just a small community bank that’s based in Moultrie, Georgia. I picked this company back in 2011. Since then, it’s up over 425%. Why is it basket-worthy? I believe its seasoned leadership keeps the bank’s roots as a community bank. This affects everything that they do. It’s part of the culture of the business. Even though it’s a small bank today at a $2.5 billion market cap, there’s still plenty of opportunity for them to grow. Back during the financial crisis, the FDIC saw Ameris Bancorp as a partner in helping roll up some of the failed institutions that resulted from the financial crisis. This gave them a lot of risk-free ways to grow their deposits and assets over time. I think this is something that stands to continue over the next five years and beyond.
The third basket holding is TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP). This is the world’s largest travel site, linking up travelers to local accommodations, experiences, and restaurants worldwide. They had a little bit of a strategy bungle a few years back with instant booking, but I think they finally turned the corner. From a platform perspective, it’s still as engaging as ever, growing users, growing reviews. Hey, listen, perhaps you’re in Paris and you want to stop by the Eiffel Tower. Maybe you’re here in Washington D.C. and you want to see the Washington Monument. Or maybe you’re like me, you’re in the Bahamas and you want to take your kids to go swimming with the pigs on Pig Island. TripAdvisor can help you get to all of those places and more.
The next holding is Markel (NYSE:MKL) Insurance. Markel is a name that every Fool here probably knows by now. It’s our baby Berkshire. I think that with a specialty insurer like Markel, they’re writing business that others simply can’t, at least as effectively. We’re talking about things like weddings, camps, horse farms, bouncy houses. There’s also the Markel Venture side of the business, as well, which gives us additional exposure to small businesses in the form of bakery equipment or even dredging and beyond.
The fifth and final holding of the basket is Square (NYSE:SQ). Square brings financial and merchant services to local economies everywhere via their hardware and software ecosystem. Leadership in Jack Dorsey and Sarah Friar are proving to be very forward-thinking. I think there’s tremendous brand recognition among the small business community as an ideal holistic solution. Let’s not forget about the Square Capital side of the business, as well, which helps provide another avenue for financing for these small businesses beyond the traditional vehicles like the Small Business Administration. Tremendous market opportunity in payments. I think Square has a lot of room to run here. That’s why it’s part of this basket.
That’s our Small Business Big Investment basket. To recap, we’ve got Etsy, Ameris Bancorp, TripAdvisor, Markel, and Square.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jason Moser owns shares of Markel, Square, and TripAdvisor. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Etsy, Markel, Square, and TripAdvisor. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $80 calls on Square. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway (B shares). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.