This year appeared to be the breakout moment for consumer stocks. After a lengthy period of disappointing performances, the broader retail sector found another gear. As evidence, the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (NYSEARCA:XLY) was up over 19% by the end of September. But then October happened.
The Halloween month has been a frightful affair for consumer stocks. In the XLY fund, we’ve only seen five positive sessions; otherwise, you’re looking at a sea of red ink. Initially, investors feared that the broader markets needed a correction after turning frothy. Later, deteriorating relations with China brought everyone on edge.
As China is the world’s second-biggest economy, an economic slowdown there will impact our own wellbeing. That obviously puts a damper on the consumer sector. However, investors shouldn’t entirely give up on this market segment. Those with a contrarian mindset could benefit longer-term.
For one thing, I firmly believe that we’ll win out in the contentious China tariffs issue. I’ve consistently argued that while a trade war hurts us, they will be impacted much more severely. Looking at Chinese companies that were once considered stocks to buy, my thesis is so far proving accurate.
Next, going bearish on the American markets have largely proven hazardous. Even in the global meltdown that began in late 2007, the downside lasted no longer than two years before things picked back up. History doesn’t always repeat, but it does provide confidence, especially toward consumer stocks.
Finally, unemployment is at multi-year lows. If this trend continues, the jobless rate would approach levels not seen since the late 1960s. In order words, it’s a great time to go against the grain. Here are three consumer stocks to buy at a discount:
Best Buy (BBY)
Prior to its restructuring, business analysts mockingly stated that Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) was a “free showroom” for Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). People could walk into a Best Buy store, test the products they want, and later, buy it on Amazon. To address that dilemma, management revitalized the brand. The company diversified its product offering, most notably in the mobile services arena. Additionally, Best Buy became more than just a retail store, diving into lucrative markets like senior-assisted living. Effective and out-of-the-box thinking has bolstered BBY stock.
Unfortunately, the retail giant suffered under the October selloff. Since the beginning of this month, BBY stock is down 10%. Shares are currently at levels not seen since June.
I think this is a huge opportunity for contrarians, and not just for management’s business smarts. Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD) is now mired in bankruptcy court. The situation doesn’t look great for the once iconic firm, but it represents a boon for BBY stock.
Sure, it’s a cynical play, but where else are you going to get your appliances? Some purchases are better suited for the old-fashioned platform, so don’t expect Best Buy to be discounted for long.
Stitch Fix (SFIX)
When thinking about consumer stocks to buy, the contrarian mind naturally gravitates toward the apparel market. How could you not? Names like Gap (NYSE:GPS), Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) and American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) have all tanked in October. But given that the industry rebounded so strongly earlier, they appear compelling.
I’m not going to argue against speculating on these companies. That said, I’ve got my eye on Stitch Fix (NASDAQ:SFIX). SFIX stock has really taken a beating in October. Since the opening price, shares are down a staggering 46%.
Despite a strong earnings beat on paper, SFIX stock tanked when fiscal fourth-quarter revenues missed analysts’ expectations. The declining growth rate spooked traders, who initially felt that Stitch Fix’s subscription-based apparel service offered a unique niche.
Also, the company is vulnerable to copycat competition from big outfits like Amazon. Obviously, that’s a big no-no for SFIX stock.
However, with shares almost halving over the past three weeks, I believe the company deserves a second look. Yes, growth declined, but the volatility assumes very little upside potential. I think that’s a little much considering that Stitch Fix has a viable consumer database.
If you’re looking for a sure thing among consumer stocks to buy, you probably won’t regret bargain-hunting Hanesbrands (NYSE:HBI). Hanesbrands, of course, is a well-known clothing manufacturer. People recognize the brand primarily for its socks, underwear and intimate apparel.
This gives HBI stock secular exposure. No matter what condition the markets or the economy is in, people will buy new underwear — at least I hope they do! And within the company’s portfolio are everyday, low-cost brands like Champion. Should consumer confidence not pick back up, I expect the apparel maker’s fighter brands to compete with premium names.
That’s why I don’t quite understand the severe volatility in HBI stock. Since the start of this month, shares are down nearly 10%. Also, from the end of July, Hanesbrands has given up over 25% of market value.
However, I would be surprised if HBI stock remains on discount for long. The company essentially levers an always-demanded product base. Plus, with a current dividend yield of 3.6%, Hanesbrands provides a mix of speculative potential and passive income.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.