The two main reasons people argue for online sales tax is they say that it is unfair to the bricks-and-mortar companies, and it will raise more tax revenue. In the view of UBS A.G. (NYSE: UBS) e-commerce will be more of a friend than a foe for most of the hardline retailers over the next several years. Importantly, these retailers are currently generating significant amounts of Web traffic that they have the opportunity to capitalize on.
The recent UBS report on who is winning the online sales war gives investors a good look at which companies are taking advantage of the growing consumer acceptance of online purchasing. Here is a list of the current industry leaders among the best positioned to harness growth in the e-commerce channel over the next few years.
Williams-Sonoma Inc. (NYSE: WSM) leads all companies in online sales per unique visitor. A recent R.W. Baird report indicated Williams-Sonoma is capable of out-analyzing brick-and-mortar competition and out-merchandise online competition, which will result in share gains as the housing recovery unfolds. The Thomson/First Call price target for the stock is at $55.50. Investors are paid a 2.2% dividend.
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) has had its share of issues in the past year, but the company is a strong second in online sales. The company recently inked a deal with Samsung to build specialty, dedicated shops within larger Best Buy stores. The consensus price target for the stock is $29.50. Investors receive a 2.5% dividend.
O’Reilly Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: ORLY) recently hit a 52-week high and has been on fire. It also ranks third in the UBS online sales report. The company recently announced a $300 million senior note offering to finance repurchases of shares of common stock, repayment of debt and to invest in other business opportunities, including acquisitions, and to pay related fees and expenses. The consensus price target for the stock is $115.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) is the up and comer at UBS. Analysts think the company is among the best positioned to harness growth in the e-commerce channel over the next few years. The consensus price objective for this widely owned name is $59. Investors are paid a 1.0% dividend.
Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW) has been a large benefactor of the current housing boom. The company has also made a $205 million offer to struggling California hardware chain Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corp. (NASDAQ: OSH). The consensus price target is at $46. Investors receive a 1.7% dividend.
Autozone Inc. (NYSE: AZO) has been one of the hottest stocks over the past three years. It also comes in as one of the top 10 online retailers as well. The company announced last week it is buying back up to $750 million worth of stock. The consensus price target is at $460.
Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is another stock like its competition that has received solid sales gains from the housing recovery. Insiders also have been purchasing the stock, even at current higher trading levels. The consensus price target for the home improvement giant is $85.50. Shareholders are paid a 2.0% dividend.
HHGregg Inc. (NYSE: HGG) is a small cap name that makes the grade at UBS. This lesser known name is a specialty retailer of home appliances, televisions, computers, consumer electronics, mattresses and related services. It operates 228 stores primarily in the Midwest and southern United States. The consensus price objective for the stock is $14, which is below its current trading level.
The UBS team looked at each companies’ online sales per unique Web visitor to assess the efficiency of hardline retailers in capitalizing on Web traffic to drive sales. The names for investors to remember are the ones in our story that are driving the highest amount of online sales per unique visitor. The consumer who does not want to drive to the mall or store can still be a viable part of sales growth online for these leading names.