With the major indices flashing red for the year, contrarian investors may want to turn to these S&P 500 sleeper stocks before the rest of the crowd wakes up. Fundamentally, bear market cycles provide excellent wealth-building opportunities. Effectively, new market participants can load up on high-potential equities, waiting for a boon to materialize.
At the same time, investors will want to avoid acquiring cheap equities because of their deflated price tag. Instead, the main focus should be on S&P 500 sleeper stocks. An index that tracks the performance of 500 large companies listed in U.S. exchanges, this arena gives you greater probabilities of eventual upside. As blue chips, these market ideas command business models with long track records of success.
In addition, the below S&P 500 sleeper stocks feature relevant solutions. Because of the current dour environment, Wall Street has trouble seeing the forest for the trees. But over the long run, these companies may gain positive traction.
|Advance Auto Parts
Wynn Resorts (WYNN)
One of the marquee names among casinos, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN), enjoyed a solid performance for the Oct. 3 session. Gaining 2.5% for the day, it matched the upside move by the underlying S&P 500 index. However, the picture looks much different on a year-to-date basis, suffering a loss of more than 26%.
According to Gurufocus.com, WYNN rates as fairly valued against its propriety valuation metrics. However, against traditional metrics, the narrative is so-so. Wynn enjoys a gross margin of 33.7%, which is middling for the travel and leisure industry. At the same time, it’s not entirely fair to bash the company based on “paper” assessments. For instance, Wynn and the casino sector suffered disproportionately during the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, WYNN represents one of the S&P 500 sleeper stocks to buy. That’s because, over time, the east-west cultural divide should play out favorably for Wynn’s Asian resorts. Essentially, revenue by segment data confirms that eastern patrons prefer gambling, whereas western patrons enjoy experiences. Since games of chance offer multiple revenue cycles per unit of time, WYNN may be a surprisingly viable idea once international markets normalize.
NRG Energy (NRG)
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) primarily focuses on energy generation and retail electricity. According to its website, the company provides power-related services to six million customers. Fundamentally, then, the company enjoys inelastic demand at the baseline. While economic forces always influence consumer behavior, every household consumes a basic threshold of electricity.
Still, NRG doesn’t quite attract much attention for this inelasticity, thereby making it one of the S&P 500 sleeper stocks. While the stock gained almost 3% on Monday, it has lost more than 8% for the year. True, it’s performing much better than the benchmark index, but it arguably deserves better. Never mind – it’s an opportunity for contrarian investors.
Gurufocus.com labels it as a possible value trap. I cannot entirely agree with this assessment. For instance, NRG’s three-year compound annual revenue growth rate stands at 43%, which is better than most of its sector peers. In addition, the company commands solid profitability metrics — for example, NRG’s net margin pings at just under 12%, above the industry median.
Campbell Soup (CPB)
Although always relevant because of its low-cost food products, Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB) ranks among S&P 500 sleeper stocks to buy. Unfortunately, the reality is that the company presents a boring business profile. Following the almost narcotics-fueled joyride of 2021, pivoting to CPB seems rather dull. It’s merely the nature of the beast.
Moving forward, investors have two ways of looking at Campbell Soup. First, they will recognize that CPB gained 9% YTD. Given the slow-rising nature of the underlying business, this might not draw many fans to the investment opportunity. Indeed, TipRanks notes that among eight analysts, six of them have a consensus hold rating. The remaining experts rate CBP shares as a sell.
Second, other investors may appreciate that the framework of the broader markets has shifted. Rather than rewarding risk-on ideas, the equities sector turned deflationary (i.e., red ink). Therefore, companies with well-established businesses may win out.
Advance Auto Parts (AAP)
Perhaps one of the most fundamentally underappreciated S&P 500 sleeper stocks, investors should pay close attention to Advance Auto Parts (NYSE:AAP). Mainly, its bullish narrative focuses on the record age of vehicles (12.2 years) on U.S. roadways. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, many households struggled to make ends meet. Therefore, it’s not surprising that cars have become long in the tooth.
Cynically, though, this framework bolsters AAP. With the underlying business specializing in aftermarket parts, demand may increase as consumers attempt to keep their rides running. At the same time, Wall Street doesn’t appreciate this narrative, with shares down 31% YTD. To be sure, at some point, it makes more financial sense just to buy a new (or new-ish) car rather than to repair a money pit.
Still, for the bold contrarian, Gurufocus.com labels AAP modestly undervalued. Advance Auto features a three-year revenue growth rate of 9.6%, better than 70% of its peers. The company has a net margin of 4.8% on the profitability spectrum. This is better than the industry’s median of 2.5%.
Domino’s Pizza (DPZ)
With the focus of this article on S&P 500 sleeper stocks, invariably, some riskier ideas will pop up. Naturally, mentioning this tidbit provides an excellent segue into Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DPZ). A fan favorite following its corporate do-over, Domino’s should perform well with football season underway. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve also opened its season for a game of, “How high can interest rates go before the economy collapses?”
While I jest, the framework remains unpleasant for the consumer economy. Sadly, some analysts predict that the quick-service pizza segment could suffer weak same-restaurant sales. If so, DPZ could tank.
On the other hand, recessions tend to create desires for channels of escapism. Frankly, there may not be a more effective form of escapism than a steaming hot (and reasonably priced) pizza delivered to your door.
Clearly, the fundamentals can go either way for Domino’s Pizza. However, if you use Gurufocus.com as an arbiter, the investment resource rates DPZ as significantly undervalued. Basically, the website urges investors not to ignore the company’s excellent longer-term growth and profitability metrics.
Iron Mountain (IRM)
Seemingly everyone loves talking about digitalization this and digitalization that. However, digital innovations tend to be somewhat fragile. For example, what if you accidentally pour water on your laptop? Boom! Your data is gone, and you’re left wishing you had an analog (paper) backup. Well, that’s one of the surprisingly viable but overlooked business units under Iron Mountain (NYSE:IRM).
Essentially, you can look at Iron Mountain as a company that keeps your data from turning into an odorous material that meets the proverbial fan. It offers both cloud-based storage solutions and good ole fashioned paper backups of critical documents. Still, Wall Street is no fan of IRM at the moment, with the security down 11% YTD.
What’s more puzzling, Gurufocus.com labels IRM as modestly overvalued. Mathematically, you can make this argument because of share price premiums against historically lower growth rates. However, in the current paradigm, where several odious materials hit several proverbial fans, demand for Iron Mountain’s services should increase.
For the forward-looking investor, IRM stands as one of the S&P 500 sleeper stocks to buy.
The riskiest idea among S&P 500 sleeper stocks on this list, I can appreciate why investors overlook NortonLifeLock (NASDAQ:NLOK). While the company provides a valuable cybersecurity service, the sector remains highly competitive. As well, NortonLifeLock may have a product evangelism dilemma. Computer users may suffer from a false assumption that cybersecurity solutions become irrelevant if they don’t do anything questionable on the internet.
Add the troubling nature of the consumer economy today, and you immediately incur a rigid framework for NLOK stock. Nevertheless, cyber breaches and identity theft incidents only need to happen once for people to wake up. With experts in the field forecasting a rise in cyberattacks, NortonLifeLock may receive a cynical benefit.
Again, if you use Gurufocus.com as an investing resource, it has good news: it rates NLOK as modestly undervalued. Perhaps surprisingly, NortonLifeLock features decent growth metrics and solid profitability indicators for some folks. For instance, the company has a net margin of over 30%, ranked better than nearly 96% of its peers.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.