How Hurricane Harvey Rebuilding Could Boost 4 Great Companies

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The data are starting to pile up, and it’s looking like Hurricane Harvey may be the costliest and certainly among the worst tropical storms to ever hit the U.S. mainland. Some experts have estimated that over 100,000 homes in the Houston metropolitan areas were damaged or destroyed, and that number looks to increase when all is said and done.

While the damage has been overwhelming, the spirit of those who weathered the storm has not, and as the waters recede, people can return to survey the damage and start the process of rebuilding their homes and lives. We screened the Merrill Lynch research database for companies that should benefit from the rebuilding and found four that look like pretty solid bets. All are rated Buy.

Home Depot

This company remains the undisputed leader in the home improvement retail category. Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD) is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer, with 2,270 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico.

Home Depot stores sell various building materials, home improvement products, and lawn and garden products, as well as provide installation, home maintenance and professional service programs to do-it-yourself (DIY), do-it-for-me (DIFM) and professional customers.

The company posted solid second-quarter results but saw some selling on the print on investor concerns of online competition. The analysts said this:

We see strong fundamentals as well as a highly consolidated industry as the key distinction from other retail subsectors. Home Depot remains, in our view, the “best house on the retail block” with room for continued upside on strong traffic & share gains.

Shareholders are paid a solid 2.36% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target is $180, and the Wall Street consensus target is $171.15. The shares traded early Thursday at $153.90.

Mohawk Industries

This company has benefitted from the strong housing market and is a member of the Merrill Lynch US 1 list. Mohawk Industries Inc. (NYSE: MHK) is a leading building products company, manufacturing and selling flooring products such as carpets, rugs, ceramic tile, wood, stone, luxury vinyl tile and vinyl flooring. The company believes it is the world’s largest flooring company, with operations in 10 countries.

The company sells flooring products under the Aladdin, Columbia Flooring, Durkan, Horizon, IVC, Karastan, Mohawk, Pergo, Portico, QuickStep and SmartStrand brands. The Flooring ROW segment provides laminate and hardwood flooring, as well as roofing elements, insulation boards, medium-density fiberboards, chipboards and vinyl flooring products under the IVC, Moduleo, Pergo, Quick-Step and Unilin brands, and it licenses patents related to flooring manufacturers.

Merrill Lynch has a $288 price target, and the consensus target is $278.20. The shares were last seen trading at $255.25.

Whirlpool

This is another company that could see a big increase in sales, as a result of floodwaters destroying appliances. Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) is the leading global appliance manufacturer, with approximately 40% market share in the United States, and global revenues of nearly $22 billion.

North America is the company’s largest market, followed by Latin America, EMEA, Asia and others. Laundry appliances make up roughly 30% of revenues, as do refrigerators/freezers. Cooking accounts for just under 20% of revenues, with other products accounting for just over 20% of sales.

Shareholders receive a 2.54% dividend. The $210 Merrill Lynch price objective compares with a consensus target of $201.67. The shares were trading at $172.90 Tuesday morning.

Nucor

This top steel company also could do very well if the economy sees a continued solid pickup this year, and the administration’s infrastructure push is in place. Nucor Corp. (NYSE: NUE) is one of North America’s largest steel producers, with almost 27 million tons of finished steel capacity at 23 mini mills throughout the United States. The company’s downstream steel products business includes rebar fabrication, steel joists/deck, cold finished bars, fasteners, building systems and wire mesh. Nucor also has 5 million tons of scrap processing capacity.

Nucor has always kept a very conservative balance sheet and is poised for slow but steady growth next year and beyond, especially if a huge infrastructure build-out becomes a reality. Some think that demand from the rebuilding of large parts of Houston after Hurricane Harvey could also be a positive.

Nucor investors receive a 2.72% dividend. The Merrill Lynch has set its price target at $73. And the posted consensus target is $69.50. The stock was trading at $55.85.

The horrific storm damage should help push sales for all these top companies for some time to come, and that combined with their already strong presence is a good reason to look at owning shares now.