The stock market gains of 25% in the Dow and 19.4% in the S&P 500 Index in 2017 were initially followed by strong gains at the start of 2018. Still, this is a market full of stocks. It is no secret that some stocks do better than others during the various phases of business cycles. It is also almost never the case that some companies perform so badly that their shareholders would never know it was a raging bull market if they only looked at the weak company.
Many investors are wondering exactly where they should be committing their funds in the months ahead. Investors were rewarded handily in recent months and years when they bought the indexes after pullbacks. That has not been the case for some of those disappointing stocks. Still, if nothing lasts forever then it may be a ripe time for investors to start thinking about value stocks. And in the “value” theme there are almost always some solid turnaround candidates that make for great investments if the companies deliver on their plans.
Along with tax reform taking the corporate rate down to 21% from 35%, one solid backdrop expected to be in place in 2018 is accelerating GDP growth, back to perhaps above 3%.
For the 24/7 Wall St. base case of the Dow heading toward 26,500, as well as 2,850 on the S&P 500, at least some participation from some unexpected and underperforming areas will be needed. This is where some of the battered stocks that can be turnaround candidates can come into play.
24/7 Wall St. is featuring several groups of turnaround stock candidates during the first full trading week of 2018. Some of these companies have been severe disappointments for Main Street investors, and some of them were disappointing for far longer than just in 2017. Still, there is the real risk that some companies may simply be unable to turn around in a way that can please investors.
Here, trading data and commentary has been offered up on five turnaround candidates for 2018. Thomson Reuters has provided consensus estimates. Note that another five potential turnarounds for 2018 have already been featured.
Mattel Inc. (NASDAQ: MAT) is a stock that has much potential to do better, but there continue to be many risks. The toy business is vast, and there are many non-toy “toys” that kids occupy their time with (TV, smartphones and tablets, and video games). The toymaker was down 44% in 2017, but its ex-Google CEO really wants to turn this ailing toy giant around and get its operations up better in China and elsewhere. Analysts expect a loss of 12 cents per share for the last year, but the coming year is expected to return to a $0.38 per share profit despite close to an expected 1% decline in revenues.
On January 8, Citigroup raised its target price to $19 from $16 as a gesture that perhaps things are no longer as dire for investors as they may have seemed. And Mattel was able to borrow $1 billion for seven years late in December, even if it was with a 6.75% coupon on the notes. Neither of those sounds great, but turnaround investors often have to worry about “less bad” before they can ever think about “great” in a turnaround story.
A serious risk is what happens with Toys “R” Us due to such a large exposure there. The flipside of the Toys “R” Us argument is that Mattel may greatly reduce its retail exposure ahead if it does not have to worry about receivables and inventories as much.
Mattel closed out the year at $15.38, and it was a $15.72 stock after a full week of trading in 2018. That being said, this was a $48 stock in 2013. Mattel has a 52-week trading range of $12.71 to $31.60. Its consensus analyst price target is $15.17, and the market cap is $5.3 billion.
Newell Brands Inc. (NYSE: NWL) was down just over 30% in 2017, but its top last year was roughly $55. This consumer brands player ended 2017 at $30.90 a share. The shares were barely above $31 after a full week of trading in 2018.
Newell has dozens of brands, and it has been cutting down on its vast numbers of brands to focus on growth, dominance and margin. Of course it has the competitive retail market as a risk, but Newell’s stock has dropped so much that it is valued at only about 11 times earnings, and its dividend yield is now close to 2.9%.
On January 5, Oppenheimer raised its price target on Newell to $35 from $33. That is a “less bad” endorsement, considering how much the stock is down. It is hard to know if Newell will win under tax reform because its effective rate of 27.3% in 2016 is expected to be 20.9% in 2017 and then 25.7% in 2018.
Newell has a 52-week range of $27.46 to $55.08 and a consensus price target of $36.86. Its market cap is $15.3 billion.