While investors in the top oil companies have cringed over the past six months as the price of oil has dropped over 50%, the American consumer has gotten a huge shot in the pocketbook. It doesn’t take an economics genius to figure out that filling up the family cars has been cut in half in many areas of the country. A new report from J.P. Morgan indicates that incoming news has increased the confidence of the firm’s economists that the collapse in crude oil prices is lifting growth, both here and abroad.
With consumers having more money to spend, not only are the top retail companies poised to benefit, but J.P. Morgan says so are manufacturers, as both good and services benefit from this increase in income. With consumer discretionary stocks so out of favor in 2014, as well as down 2.08% year-to-date, some of the top stocks in the sector could be ready to post outstanding earnings.
We screened some of our Wall Street research for top stocks to buy now.
Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) got hit hard in the middle of January when it surprised Wall Street with results far lower than had been expected. Although conditions improved for Best Buy in the third quarter of fiscal 2015, the road ahead still seems difficult. The company is trying to combat difficult conditions by reducing costs, pricing competitively, optimizing stores and enhancing distribution. The store-within-store partnerships it has with suppliers like Samsung are expected to drive more store traffic. Best Buy’s online channel growth also looks promising, as it continues to battle Amazon.com.
Best Buy investors are paid a 2.16% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a Buy rating on the stock and a big $45 price target. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $41.14. Shares closed Friday at $35.20.
Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) is a top consumer media company with multiple streams of income to push revenue, and many Wall Street analysts see the stock outperforming on a near-term basis. With the movie studio business poised to improve, as with accelerating theme park business, the network programming continues to drive viewership with extensive sports programming on ESPN. Combining that revenue growth with the company’s solid media networks and interactive presence, and the first quarter revenues could be outstanding.
Disney shareholders are paid a 1.2% dividend. J.P. Morgan has an Overweight rating on the stock and a $105 price objective. The consensus target is lower at $98.31. Shares closed Friday at $90.96.
Dicks Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) is the top name in the sporting goods arena, and it has been a top portfolio manager name for the past few years. The company is gearing up for huge growth and stated last year it intends to significantly build its store base to more than 800 — a greater than 300 store increase. Some recent speculation that the company would be sold turned out to be just that, and shares fell some, offering investors a better entry point.
Dicks Sporting Goods investors are paid a 0.95% dividend. UBS has a Buy rating and $65 price target. The consensus target is $55.13. The stock closed Friday at $51.65.
Ross Stores Inc. (NASDAQ: ROST) is another top retail stock that may be poised to shrug off a poor 2014 and continue its hot streak. Even if the economy does pick up, consumers are expected to still flock to the off-price retailers looking for bargains. At one point last year. CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Ross Stores may be on the prowl to make an acquisition to spur growth. With the stock on fire, they certainly have the currency to do it with.
Ross Stores investors are paid a very small 0.9% dividend. Merrill Lynch has a Buy rating and a $95 price target. The consensus target is $77.88, and shares closed trading on Friday at $91.71.
TJX Companies Inc. (NYSE: TJX) is another top stock for investors looking for a consumer discretionary position. The stock is ideal as it is the low price leader in retail, and like Ross, still has many customers who shop for bargains. Growing online sales and increased store traffic may bode well as the company’s refocused efforts over the last couple of years to increase and enhance the online presence. The company operates stores under the T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, Winners, HomeSense, T.K. Maxx and Sierra Trading Post banners.
TJX investors are paid a 1.1% dividend. UBS has a rating of Buy on the stock and maintains a $70 price objective. The consensus price target is also set at $70. Shares ended Friday at $65.94.
Despite consumer spending being lower in December than expected, the overall boost of prolonged lower gasoline prices is very positive for the economy. While consumers are wary after years of slow wage growth, this immediate boost in spendable income will be a factor.