Rising interest rates and general economic uncertainty crushed the stock market last year, dragging all three major indexes into bear territory. Those headwinds haven't fully evaporated despite 2023's rebound, but here's some good news: These challenges are temporary, and some companies are showing they have what it takes to thrive once the situation improves.
Now, here's some more good news: Bear markets also are temporary, and historically, in the U.S., they've always been followed by bull markets. We may be on the way to that next bull, as indexes have rallied since the start of the year. And all of this means now is a great time to start planning for growth ahead.
That means buying stocks that could excel in a market favoring growth. A great place to start is with companies that have delivered stock market and earnings performance in the recent past. In some cases, these companies' stocks have climbed so high they've undergone stock splits recently. It's worth considering these players, and right now, two of them could also win thanks to their investments in one of today's hottest areas: artificial intelligence (AI).
Tesla (TSLA 2.22%) split its stock last year after the shares soared by more than 1,000% in just two years. The electric vehicle maker is a leader in a high-growth market, and even though its competitors are gaining ground, the company still should stand out thanks to its brand strength and focus on innovation.
Speaking of innovation, that brings me to AI. Tesla already uses AI in many ways, from the ongoing development of its self-driving technology to details like the Dog mode temperature control in its vehicles -- a system that regulates the interior temperature so your furry friend can safely stay in the car while you run a quick errand.
Now, though, Tesla is taking a major step forward with the introduction of its Dojo supercomputer, meant to boost the company's ability to train the AI systems powering its self-driving platform. Using its own supercomputer ramps up Tesla's ability to train the platform, which should eventually result in faster and more precise updates and therefore a better self-driving system. And using its own supercomputer should deliver cost savings to Tesla over time.
All of this could translate into an AI win for Tesla, and it makes a great addition to an already solid earnings picture. Even amid today's economic headwinds, Tesla has reported record production and deliveries, and ongoing growth in revenues and profits. So in a market favoring growth, Tesla could truly excel.
Amazon (AMZN 2.10%) also split its stock last year after significant gains in share price and earnings in prior years.
The company has been using AI for quite some time across its e-commerce business, for purposes from improving transport and logistics to offering more appropriate product recommendations. All of these efforts help the company better serve customers -- and therefore maintain its leadership position in e-commerce, a market that's growing at double-digit percentage rates. The company recently announced a major upgrade to its virtual assistant, Alexa, powered by AI, of course.
It also has increased its investments in AI at its cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services (AWS). It offers a whole suite of products and services that make it easier for clients to power their own AI projects -- without having to write code or build infrastructure. For example, Amazon Bedrock offers clients foundation models they can tailor to their own needs.
AWS today is the leader by far in cloud infrastructure globally, and I'd expect this focus on AI to keep the business in its top position. This is particularly important because AWS generally drives the profit picture for Amazon.
Though Amazon had some tough times with economic headwinds and other challenges last year, the company has demonstrated its strength by turning things around pretty quickly. It improved its cost structure, worked on efficiency, and lifted its investments in technology infrastructure. As a result, earnings climbed in the most recent quarter.
So it's clear Amazon could benefit from those efforts and the company's early adoption of AI -- making it a great stock to buy ahead of a bull market.
John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Adria Cimino has positions in Amazon.com and Tesla. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Amazon.com and Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.