Technically, we have yet to reach a point where the markets have entered bearish territory. Despite the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding nearly 300 points to officially kick off September, the major indices are still up double digits. However, that might change soon, which is why you should consider contrarian investments like entertainment stocks to buy.
Before we get into that, let’s briefly discuss the current situation. President Donald Trump doubled down on his ongoing feud with China, promising to apply continued pressure. Moreover, on another geopolitical front, rogue Parliament members in the U.K. are prepared to delay Brexit, openly defying Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s goal to leave the European Union. Unsurprisingly, gold and other precious metals swung higher.
Under this circumstance, companies levered to the U.S.-China trade war or other geopolitical flash points will likely incur volatility. However, I believe that entertainment stocks to buy can provide air bubbles for otherwise beleaguered investors.
Primarily, if we do fall into a recession, demand for consumer goods will initially deflate. That said, people gravitate toward cheap distractions to keep them forging ahead during the troubles. And this isn’t just my own anecdotal observation. Throughout both recent and distant history, entertainment stocks have played a vital but perhaps under-appreciated role in our economy.
For instance, the “golden age” of Hollywood sparked to life during the Great Depression. More recently during the Great Recession, the modern cineplex provided a similar kind of distraction from everyday struggles.
Today, with the plethora of companies specializing in amusement, investors have many options. Here are eight entertainment stocks to buy.
For many years, Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony (NYSE:SNE) has hardly figured into consideration for stocks to buy. But in just the past 30 days, this sentiment has shifted notably. Since the first of August, SNE stock is up nearly 3%. It’s not a great tally, until you consider that rival Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is down 1%.
Now, it’s true that both companies face very similar headwinds. Moreover, the U.S.-China trade war impacts them both. Primarily, Apple misses out on its historically robust Chinese iPhone sales, while China is an important trading partner to Japan. Still, I think there’s reason to go contrarian with SNE stock: of course, I’m referring to Sony’s ace up its sleeve, the iconic PlayStation.
With the current-generation PlayStation 4 nearing the end of its product cycle, anticipation is sky-high for the PS5. While Sony is many things, it’s the undisputed leader in video-game console popularity. The upcoming PS5 should produce similar results, even during a recession. Therefore, I’m liking my chances with SNE stock as one of the best entertainment stocks to buy.
In my last write-up for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), I suggested that it wasn’t quite time to panic on MSFT stock. Although I believe shares may incur some nearer-term volatility – after all, China represents the biggest revenue stream for Microsoft outside the U.S. – the company levers viable, relevant businesses. For one thing, its software solutions are unparalleled in their ubiquity and, in my opinion, usefulness.
But another reason to take a shot on MSFT stock if the markets discount its price is gaming. Of course, everyone knows Microsoft as not only a software giant, but the creators of the now-iconic Xbox.
I’m no video-game expert so don’t take my word as gospel. However, in my many conversations, I’ve realized that some folks are PlayStation people, and others are Xbox loyalists. There might be some nationalistic rivalries too. The Xbox is America’s answer to long-dominant Japanese video game consoles.
Overall, I think this is very healthy longer-term for MSFT stock, especially as Microsoft gears up for its own next-gen Xbox release. Thus, I wouldn’t ignore MSFT for your portfolio of entertainment stocks to buy.
Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL)
Earlier this year, I wrote that Stadia, a new gaming platform from Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), won’t appreciably impact Sony. For the most part, I still stand by that comment. While Sony has made some serious blunders, it doesn’t fail in gaming. Therefore, I don’t think Stadia will suddenly make GOOGL stock the king among entertainment stocks to buy.
However, if we suffer a recession, Alphabet’s gaming system suddenly looks more appealing. Unlike the top two console makers, Alphabet has a video game system without the physical element. All you need is a Google-branded controller and a relatively quick internet service. From there, subscribe to either a free or paid-membership service, and you’re off and running. The convenience alone makes GOOGL stock appealing.
Furthermore, Sony and Microsoft may release their nex-gen consoles at around $400. Prices higher than that have not worked out well for either company. But in a recession, even $400 might be a stretch. With Stadia’s paid membership service costing only $10 a month, it might perform well in an economic downturn. Thus, GOOGL stock provides a nice hedge against SNE or MSFT if their consoles don’t perform to expectations.
One of the biggest reasons why the best entertainment stocks to buy have increased in popularity is their underlying products’ broad appeal. For instance, today’s video games are often incredibly realistic, and therefore gritty and intense. But for those gamers who just want to enjoy casual sessions, Nintendo (OTCMKTS:NTDOY) offers an appropriate solution.
Most of the under-40 crowd grew up with various iterations of Nintendo gaming consoles. Historically, this has bolstered the case for NTDOY stock. But as gaming companies have increasingly turned toward realistic simulations, Nintendo has stuck true to its roots. Eschewing popular trends, they deliver quirky, usually family-friendly entertainment, and they’ve found and cemented a large loyal user base.
But in an economic downturn, that user base might increase significantly. For instance, Nintendo doesn’t just go against the grain in terms of content; they also do so in terms of pricing. As an example, their Nintendo Switch is priced at $200, while their portable system Nintendo 2DS is offered at $80. The company is the very definition of a cheap distraction, which is why I’m optimistic toward NTDOY stock.
Recently, an analyst suggested that beleaguered video game retailer GameStop (NYSE:GME) was among the best stocks to buy. Normally, any discussion about going long GME stock is met with ridicule. But this particular analyst is none other than Michael Burry. He’s the one who shorted the mortgage industry, and whose exploits were later chronicled in the book and film, “The Big Short.”
If you’re curious about a more detailed analysis of Burry and GME stock, I recommend you read my take on the subject. In it, I present both the bull and bear case. However, in the end, I give Burry the benefit of the doubt. Essentially, if we fall into a recession, the public’s emphasis on cheap entertainment may be enough for GME stock to overcome its myriad of problems.
I’d also like to add another point that I didn’t include in my write-up. In a possible recession, GameStop’s core business of buying and selling used games would become incredibly relevant. That’s because with video game downloads, you can’t sell them after you’re done and bored with them. With physical games, you have the ability to recoup at least some costs for your next purchase.
I don’t have the same confidence to put GME in my list of best stocks to buy. However, if you’ve got the risk tolerance, it’s more than worth a gamble.
On Aug. 23, I made perhaps an audacious statement: over-the-top streaming device manufacturer Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) could really use a recession. Unlike most other companies and industries, ROKU stock is one of the most highly-regarded entertainment stocks to buy. Under an economic slump, more consumers will gravitate toward low-cost entertainment solutions, which obviously helps Roku.
In many ways, this concept is playing out much better than I expected. Since my article published, ROKU stock is up nearly 14%. On the day when the Dow Jones lost nearly 300 points, ROKU gained nearly 4%. It is quite literally digital gold.
Moreover, the worse a possible recession gets, the more it supports the case for putting ROKU among the list of best stocks to buy. With their OTT solutions costing as low as $25, and without monthly fees, a traditional TV service makes no sense. Also, it’s easy to add on premium streaming services if additional funds trickle in. Therefore, I’m bullish on ROKU stock, especially if we have a recession.
AMC Entertainment (AMC)
Curiously to most folks, AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) gained nearly 3% while the broader markets floundered. Under the most common assumption, AMC stock is irrelevant in the modern consumer landscape. When you can easily watch the latest shows and compelling original films from the comfort of your living room, why bother with the cineplex?
Questions about the viability of the box office have lately plagued AMC stock. That said, I’m not surprised that shares popped up while the broader indices slipped down.
For quite some time, I’ve consistently made the argument that the cineplex represents cheap entertainment. The movies offered respite during some of the absolute worst economic events in our nation’s history. Even with the streaming revolution, AMC stock is still very relevant.
Another factor that provides a tailwind for AMC is the wellness effect. According to Psychology Today, human civilizations evolved into cooperative and interdependent structures. In other words, just being around people can evoke some joy into our lives. And getting a laugh or thrill while you’re at it? That’s the under-appreciated reason why AMC belongs on your list of entertainment stocks to buy.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)
I’ve never really liked wrestling, and therefore, I had a dim view on World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE:WWE). While it’s true that since my last pessimistic article on WWE stock shares have tumbled, that was only because of one thing: I was a broken clock that finally got the time right.
In reality and under a broader context, WWE stock has been a massive winner. Despite taking some losses lately, over the trailing five-year period, shares are up 366%. And I completely missed all of that, not giving the company and its services a fair shake.
Well, I’m not entirely a convert. With WWE stock, I’m worried about the underlying company’s demographic appeal, or lack thereof. It’s not effectively reaching out to young people, and it’s not exactly diverse either.
That said, let’s give credit where it’s due: World Wrestling appeals to female viewers. It also features the fairer sex in high-profile events.
Plus, WWE might receive a boost in viewership during a recession. Admittedly, seeing someone get hit by a flying chair is funny, if only based on schadenfreude. So with that, if you’re looking for speculative entertainment stocks to buy, WWE might have something for you.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto is long SNE and AMC.