by Will Ashworth | May 31, 2012 7:15 am
I believe shoppers tend to open their wallets more during the summer months, so my pick for the best sector for investors in the coming season is consumer-discretionary businesses.
First, I’ll make an ETF recommendation — and it’s probably not what you’re expecting. The Select Sector Consumer Discretionary SPDR (NYSE:XLY) is by far the biggest consumer-discretionary fund, with net assets of $2.95 billion.
However, my preference is the PowerShares S&P Small Cap Consumer Discretionary Portfolio (NASDAQ:PSCD), whose top 10 holdings include a number of stocks directly affected by warm summer weather. Wolverine World Wide (NYSE:WWW) recently acquired the Saucony, Sperry Topsider and Keds brands from Collective Brands (NYSE:PSS) for $1.23 billion. Topsiders and summer go hand in hand.
The ETF’s next biggest holding is Brunswick (NYSE:BC), the maker of boats and boat engines. Although it has had some serious troubles in recent years, the stock now trades at levels it hasn’t seen since late 2007. Lastly, what would summer be without a swimming pool? Pool Corp. (NASDAQ:POOL) is America’s largest distributor of pool supplies and equipment.
My first stock pick from PSCD’s list of holdings is Genesco (NYSE:GCO). Although the shoe retailer’s stock is up 52% in the past year through May 25, it’s still reasonably priced. Genesco’s first-quarter earnings announcement on May 23 beat analyst estimates by 11 cents, or 15%, prompting it to raise its full-year earnings projection from $4.58 a share to $4.70. Its well-timed acquisition of Schuh Group, a U.K. shoe retailer, appears to have accelerated the company’s international growth beyond Canada. And with a warm summer projected across much of North America, hats from Genesco’s Lids stores will be popular with consumers.
Next up is Oxford Industries (NYSE:OXM), whose two key brands, Tommy Bahama and Lily Pulitzer, will continue to benefit from strong sales. Since Oxford announced it was acquiring Lily Pulitzer in December 2010, its stock has more than doubled, compared to a negative return for the Russell 2000. All it needs to do at this point is sell the Ben Sherman brand, and the business is well-positioned for profitable growth.
My final pick from the stocks in the PowerShares S&P Small Cap Consumer Discretionary Portfolio is BJ Restaurants (NASDAQ:BJRI), a California-based casual restaurant and brewhouse chain with 120 locations in 13 states. Rather than select a single brewery to benefit from the hot weather (breweries generally are considered consumer staples), I’m going to go with the publicly traded restaurant chain that most identifies with good beer and great food.
The stock has struggled in the past year, and while longtime director Roger King bought 3,000 shares on May 2 at an average price of $43.13 in order to comply with the company’s minimum-share ownership rules, he did manage to buy within 8% of the stock’s 52-week low of $39.80. With BJ’s expected to open 16 restaurants in 2012 — the most in the past three years — King should benefit from good timing both in the price he paid for the stock and the further lift-off in its growth. I see BJ’s coming out of its slump this summer.
My two consumer-discretionary picks outside the PSCD ETF are Entertainment Properties Trust (NYSE:EPR) and Polaris Industries (NYSE:PII).
The former isn’t a consumer-discretionary company — it’s a REIT that owns a majority of the movie-theater buildings AMC Entertainment leases. With the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group acquiring AMC for $2.6 billion, it appears as though AMC is going into expansion mode. In addition, Entertainment Properties owns water parks in Texas and Kansas City that will definitely be busy this hot summer.
Polaris is attractive because it sells motorcycles, ATVs and snowmobiles. The first two products will be used extensively for leisure this summer. And both Polaris and Arctic Cat (NASDAQ:ACAT) have experienced tremendous growth in snowmobile sales in recent quarters, with no sign that that will wane anytime soon.
According to Investors Business Daily — known for covering momentum stocks — the leisure sector ranked 31st out of 33 in January. But by the beginning of May, it was No. 1. The sector has cooled a little due to the correction in the markets, but if it heats up again, look for Polaris to lead the way.
As of this writing, Will Ashworth did not own a position in any of the stocks named here.
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