Much of the pre-announcement news and guidance for first-quarter earnings, which are right around the corner, is companies warning of the dreaded “currency headwinds.” What that means in simple terms is that these are companies that sell a ton of product overseas, and as the dollar has strengthened against the currencies of the countries they are selling into, the price of the products are ratcheted higher.
The portfolio strategy team at Oppenheimer has scanned the universe of stocks that historically benefit from a higher dollar, many of which do the bulk of their business at home in the United States.
We screened the Oppenheimer list for stocks that were rated Outperform at the firm and found these five that make good sense for investors to buy now: Discover Financial Services Inc. (NYSE: DFS), Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), Lowe’s Companies Inc. (NYSE: LOW), Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Tractor Supply Co. (NASDAQ: TSCO).
Discover Financial Services
Discover Financial Services is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. The company issues the Discover card and operates the Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations. It also operates PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks, as well as Diners Club International.
Discover investors receive a 1.6% dividend. The Oppenheimer price target for the stock is $76, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $70.25. Shares close trading Friday at $59.41.
Kroger had a monster 2014, up 64%, and the question for investors is can the supermarket giant continue its winning ways. Kroger is one of the world’s largest retailers, employing nearly 400,000 associates in 2,625 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.
The company also operates 782 convenience stores, 326 fine jewelry stores, 1,330 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the United States.
Kroger investors are paid a 1% dividend. The Oppenheimer price target is posted at $80, and the consensus target is $79.87. The stock closed trading on Friday at $76.83 a share.
Microsoft remains a top technology pick, and a stock that may hold sizable upside in 2015. The software giant disappointed on earnings and was sold off pretty hard in the middle of January, and we have seen insiders recently start to acquire stock at current levels.
After an outstanding year in 2014, the sell-off in the stock gives investors a much better entry point into the venerable Silicon Valley firm. The company recently announced plans to start selling mobile phones and tablet computers in Africa that run on the U.S. company’s operating systems to tap surging demand for smart handsets on the continent. With its potential to beat what was perceived by Wall Street as somewhat disappointing guidance, investors may want to buy shares now in front on next month’s earnings report.
Microsoft shareholders are paid a 2.9% dividend. The Oppenheimer price target is $50, above the consensus target of $47.06. Shares closed Friday at $42.88 apiece.
This home improvement company ranks the highest with consumers, and it also ranks high with the Oppenheimer analysts as they have the stock rated as a top pick. As spring is here, the company is poised to see the usual huge move by homeowners to spruce up and do their spring cleaning. A plethora of new and previously owned homes also generally see the highest purchasing rate in the spring and early summer, another big benefit to this top domestic home improvement retailer.
In a another very positive moves for shareholders, the board of directors for Lowe’s recently authorized a new repurchase program of $5 billion of the company’s common stock. This new repurchase program has no expiration date and adds to the previous program’s balance, which was $2.4 billion as of January 30, 2015.
Lowe’s shareholders are paid a 1.2% dividend. The Oppenheimer price target is set at $85, and the consensus target is $79. The shares closed Friday at $75.23
Tractor Supply is billed as the largest rural lifestyle retail store chain in the United States. It operates 1,382 stores in 49 states, and the stores are focused on supplying the lifestyle needs of recreational farmers and ranchers, and others who enjoy the rural lifestyle, as well as tradesmen and small businesses. The company’s stores are located primarily in towns outlying major metropolitan markets and in rural communities. It has also been one of the top retail stocks over the past six-year bull market run.
Tractor Supply investors are paid a small 0.7% dividend. The Oppenheimer price objective is $95, and the consensus figure is $92.80. The stock finished the day Friday at $88.94.
While the dollar’s strength may have peaked for the time being, it will continue to stay strong as countries around the world now look to weaken their own currencies with the kind of quantitative easing that was used in the United States.