The dog days of summer are here. And while some investors would like to take a vacation, the U.S. stock market has other ideas. A number of huge post-earnings moves — notably in social media stocks Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) — have driven volume and volatility higher.
At the same time, however, the broad market has steadily ticked higher. Last week, the S&P 500 touched its highest levels in almost six months before pulling back. Macro news looks good, and potential progress on tariff talks with the European Union may calm trade war fears.
For investors looking to find the best stocks to buy in August, then, there are some opportunities. These five stocks offer attractive valuations and the opportunity to catch up with the rest of the market. Investors looking to keep working on their portfolios, instead of heading to the beach, should give a solid look to these stocks to by for August.
Best Stocks to Buy for August: Bank of America (BAC)
I’ve been pounding the table for Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) for some time now, but that call looked a bit aggressive as recently as earlier this month. BAC had dipped to an 8-month low, losing over 15% from its March highs.
A strong Q2 report, however, has given BAC its mojo back. Similar results from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) confirm that, in the financial sector, these are the two best stocks to buy in August. And with the economy solid, loan provisions reasonable, and interest rate hikes on the way, both stocks have a clear path to post-crisis highs, and perhaps beyond. Add on a nice dividend raise from BAC and it looks like the company, and the bull case for the stock, both are nicely on track.
Best Stocks to Buy for August: Adobe Systems (ADBE)
A recent sell-off in the tech space has knocked down a few high-flyers, but Adobe Systems (NASDAQ:ADBE) looks like the baby tossed with the bathwater. ADBE isn’t cheap, and after a 400%+ run over five years, some profit-taking isn’t necessarily surprising. An 8% pullback in that context isn’t a big deal, and it also might not be the end of the ADBE sell-off.
Still, recent trading aside, there’s an awful lot to like here. ADBE’s growth continues to impress, with revenue rising 22% and earnings-per-share increasing 77% in its fiscal second quarter. In the context of that growth, a 31x forward P/E multiple isn’t as prohibitive as it sounds. This is a classic case of investors paying for quality, and some indiscriminate selling of late makes that quality even cheaper.
Best Stocks to Buy for August: Quanex Building Products (NX)
Quanex Building Products (NYSE:NX) might seem like an odd choice for this list. Quanex is a small (market capitalization of about $600 million), relatively sleepy manufacturer of parts for windows and cabinets.
It’s hardly an exciting business, and NX stock has been nothing close to exciting for years now. The stock has traded in a firm range since recovering after the 2008-2009 financial crisis. But there’s actually quite a bit to like in NX as the calendar turns to August.
For one, I still think the homebuilder and construction sectors have been hit too hard this year. I’ve recommended Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN) as a stock due to rebound in the second half, and American Woodmark (NASDAQ:AMWD) as an attractive buy for this earnings season. NX’s exposure to both new construction and remodeling makes it another play on that thesis.
In addition, NX is much cheaper than it looks; a 16.5x forward price-to-earnings multiple actually suggests a price-to-free-cash-flow-multiple closer to 10x, given low capital expenditure requirements. Technically, support has held for years near current levels. And fiscal Q3 earnings, due right after Labor Day, could provide an upside catalyst. NX jumped after the Q2 report last month before giving back those gains.
It’s not a sexy play, and this is a stock where investors are looking for upside of 30% or so, not necessarily multiples (at least not in the near term). But NX has a very nice risk/reward, with the potential to rise if its sector shows some strength in August or its business does the same in early September.
Best Stocks to Buy for August: JD.com (JD)
JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) just can’t quite get off the mat. The stock has been stuck in neutral basically since last May, with two rallies so far this year both fizzling out.
In fact, JD stock is threatening a 15-month low at the moment, but this looks like a “buy the dip” opportunity. Q2 results next month could provide an upside catalyst, with JD’s strong growth reminding investors of the long-term upside here. Near-term concerns, including a bear market in China, trade worries and even a weakening yuan, are real and need to be considered.
But JD.com has a real opportunity to compete with Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) in the lucrative Chinese e-commerce market, and current levels around $35 represent long-term support. JD may see some volatility into and out of earnings, but getting into the stock at the lows, and ahead of those earnings, seems like a bet worth taking.
Best Stocks to Buy for August: Ulta Beauty (ULTA)
Ulta Beauty (NASDAQ:ULTA) is another high-quality stock available on a bit of a pullback. ULTA shares have dropped almost 7% since hitting a 52-week high earlier this month.
There simply doesn’t seem like much reason for the weakness. I recommended ULTA at a similar level last month, and I still think it’s a solid buy below $250. Its same-store sales are the envy of the retail sector. And yet the stock trades for just 19x next year’s earnings.
The market still prices the stock as if growth is going to come to a relatively abrupt end. That seems unlikely. Between in-store revenue, e-commerce and footprint expansion, Ulta’s revenue and profits should increase for some time to come. Q2 earnings due at the end of August likely will provide more evidence for that argument. And that report very well may make some investors wonder why on Earth they sold ULTA in July.
As of this writing, Vince Martin was long shares of Quanex Building Products.