Cheap Gas Could Give Consumers Up to $80 Billion This Year: 4 Stocks That Could Benefit

Home Depot

This company remains the undisputed leader in the home improvement retail category and its stock recently was upgraded to Buy from Hold at Jefferies. 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. In fiscal 2014, Home Depot had sales of $83.2 billion and earnings of $6.3 billion. The company employs more than 370,000 associates.

With this year’s mild winter, due to the El Niño, and spring right around the corner, consumers are busy on projects at home, and that remains a benefit to Home Depot and other home improvement companies. In addition, the continued strength in the housing market could also bode well for the company. Earnings gains consistently have been in the 15% to 20% range, and a consensus of analysts is forecasting earning increases to continue to grow at about 15% annually for another two to three years.

Home Depot investors are paid a 2.2% dividend. Jefferies has a $140 price target, while the consensus price objective is set at $142.19. The stock closed Friday at $125.56 per share.


This top consumer staples stock fits the bill. PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE: PEP) products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $66 billion in net revenue in 2014, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

The company released solid fourth-quarter results as higher sales of snacks and non-fizzy beverages such as Gatorade in North America helped reduce the impact of a strong dollar. PepsiCo increased its annual dividend to $3.01 per share from $2.81 and said it would return about $7 billion to shareholders this year, with about $3 billion through buybacks. However, the company forecast 2016 adjusted earnings below many analyst estimates, citing a strong dollar and the exclusion of its Venezuelan business from its financial statements. While this is a short-term headwind, the stock still makes good sense for conservative accounts.

PepsiCo investors are paid a 3.12% dividend, based on the new increase. The Jefferies price target is posted at $110. The consensus target is $105.20, and the stock closed Friday at an even $100.

While the increased cash could support sales increases, all these companies make good sense for growth portfolios. Despite the market finally firming some, they also are available to buy at reasonably attractive prices.

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