It's finally beginning to feel like spring here in the mid-Atlantic. It can be hard to concentrate on much other than the great outdoors during this time of year, but as we begin to think about all of the great things springtime brings, keep an eye on these stocks.
Out to the park
Since the Red Sox won the World Series last October, Americans have been waiting patiently, or maybe not so patiently, for baseball's opening day, and it has finally come. We all know there is no better way to spend a spring night than barbecuing or enjoying a night at the ballpark with a Ball Park Frank made by Hillshire Brands (NYSE: HSH ) .
As we have our eyes on their products this spring, we can also keep an eye on Hillshire as investors as well. The company that produces a wide variety of meat-based products under brand names Hillshire Farm, Ball Park, Jimmy Dean, and more, currently trades at 16.5 times earnings compared to the S&P 500 at 18 times and has a dividend yield of 1.9%.
The company reported on January 30 that second-quarter revenues for 2014 rose 2.1% from the same period a year ago, and earnings per share rose 6.5%. Higher food prices may have a negative impact on this company moving forward for the rest of the year. As the packaged food industry is highly competitive, more times than not, companies will attempt to absorb price increases for as long as possible before raising prices at the store.
Hillshire is constantly working on product innovation and hopes new products will make up significant portions of their revenue stream moving forward. The company isn't financed overly aggressively, though a long-term debt to equity ratio of nearly 1.5 is a little higher than we would like to see. However, if the company can keep costs low and have successful innovation, they have the opportunity to make our wallets and stomachs a little fuller this spring.
Our spring to-do list
Unfortunately, the to-do list for projects around the house never seems to get any shorter; however, spring is the season when we first try to knock a few things off the list. And fortunately for us, Home Depot (NYSE: HD ) is right around the corner. Whether you are adding a sunroom to the house, planting your garden, or just doing some spring cleaning, Home Depot will have you covered.
Taking a break from our consumer needs and looking at our investment needs, we find a company that has grown revenues over 3.5% and earnings per share over 19% a year over the last five years. To sweeten the deal, the company also had a 35% return on equity last year. These could be reasons the market likes the company, valuing shares at over 21 times earnings, which is higher than the market average.
Investors should feel safe in Home Depot's care, though, as the company is one of the largest home needs retailers in the nation, and as we said earlier, the to-do list never grows shorter. Home replacement, repair, and improvement goods are nearly always in need.
We can't forget our outdoor activities
Lastly, we cannot forget about all of our favorite outdoor activities. Whether you like fishing, hiking, golfing, playing soccer or baseball, or anything else for that matter, you could get all of your sporting goods in one stop at Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS ) .
Dick's, which operates over 500 stores in the United States and sells anything you could ever need for the outdoors, has seen its revenues and earnings per share expand at over 11% and 15% per year, respectively, over the last 10 years.
Also Dick's is extremely conservatively financed, having very few long-term liabilities. As of the end of last fiscal year, Dick's had total long-term liabilities of $376 million, which is easily trumped by the $1.6 billion of current assets the company has. Dick's also returned over $300 million to shareholders in 2013, $255 million via share repurchases, and $65 million in dividends.
I would say the company's growth, strong balance sheet, and commitment to investors easily justifies its price to earnings ratio of 20.5, which is higher than the market's 18 times earnings.
As the weather gets nicer and nicer, it can be hard to keep our head interested in investing when there is so much going on.
However there's no harm in mixing our consumer and investor brains; keep an eye out for products you use daily and places you shop regularly for your next great investment idea. These three companies could be a good start to your springtime investment thinking.
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