With so many products available, brand strength can provide the crucial competitive edge that translates to long-term success and market-beating stock performance.
To help you generate leads for investments that could make for worthy portfolio additions, we asked three Motley Fool contributors to profile a big-brand company that looks like an attractive buy this October. Read on to learn why Nike (NYSE:NKE), Hasbro (NASDAQ:HAS), and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) made the list.
Rich Duprey (Nike): When a company like Nike (NYSE:NKE) goes on sale, investors really need to sit up and take notice. Shares of the footwear leader are trading 20% below where they were a year ago, meaning this is the perfect time to buy into this world-class brand on the cheap.
Nike's stock has pulled back because, despite beating analyst expectations for quarterly earnings, it has offered up weaker-than-expected guidance on metrics that once were important to it, but no longer play the same critical role. As the market adjusts to Nike's move toward a more direct-to-consumer model, its stock needs time to adjust to the new reality, but until then, it's providing investors a chance to get in while the price looks good.
There's no doubt Nike owns the footwear world, commanding a 60% share of the market, while Skechers (NYSE: SKX) comes in at a distant second around 5%. With the latter's own recent woes in selling footwear, it may be that Adidas (NASDAQOTH: ADDYY) will move back into the No. 2 spot as its own business thrives. But the point is, no one is catching Nike anytime soon.
Not only does Nike have dominant share, but it excels in the financials department as well, having a commanding position across margins, which gives it pricing power despite recent slippage. That's apparent anytime a new shoe model is released and there are still lines out the door and around the corner as people line up to buy it.
I might not understand the kind of thinking that goes into dropping such serious coin on a pair of sneakers, but I do understand the brand loyalty that's still attached to Nike and what it means for future returns.
The long-term story remains intact with the footwear king, and despite what looks like a weakening power structure, Nike's stock is a big brand that's on sale right now.
The Force has been with the best-performing toy maker
Beth McKenna (Hasbro): Investors should consider adding toy and game maker Hasbro to their shopping lists because of its powerful brand portfolio, management that continues to execute superbly, strong financial and stock-price performance, catalysts for future growth, and reasonable stock valuation.
While Hasbro trails rival Mattel as the largest toy company in the world based on revenue and market cap, its brand portfolio is arguably the strongest in the industry. Its internal brands include such well-loved classics as Nerf, Play-Doh, Monopoly, and Transformers, and newer favorites, such as Pie Face. Moreover, its partner brand line-up is superhero-powerful and includes Disney's Star Wars, Disney's Marvel, Disney Princess, Disney Frozen, Disney Descendants, Sesame Street, and DreamWorks Animation's Trolls.
Thanks to Hasbro's internal and partner-brand strength combined with its successful strategy of leveraging brands across various platforms and media, its financial and stock performances have been robust for several years. Meanwhile, Mattel has been struggling. In the recently reported third quarter, Hasbro's revenue rose more than 14%, operating profit jumped more than 19%, and adjusted earnings per share soared more than 28%.
Hasbro has many exciting catalysts for growth on the horizon. Notably, it should benefit from its golden Star Wars license for many years to come. Disney has five Star Wars movies slated for release through 2020, beginning with the stand-alone film Rogue One on Dec. 16. Analysts expect Hasbro's year-over-year earnings per share to increase 15.1% this year and its EPS for the next five years to grow at an average annual rate of 12.6%. Hasbro routinely beats analysts' estimates, so these growth estimates could prove too conservative.
Hasbro stock is priced at 20 times forward earnings -- a reasonable valuation given its consistently solid earnings, catalysts for growth, and dividend yield of 2.3%.
Coca-Cola's transformation effort looks to produce bubbly results
Keith Noonan (Coca-Cola): Coca-Cola boasts one of the strongest brand portfolios in the food and beverage industry, a reasonable valuation, and an excellent returned income component -- making it a big-brand stock that deserves a spot on investors' buy lists. The company manages more than 500 brands under its corporate umbrella, with 20 brands that do more than $1 billion in annual retail sales, including Coca-Cola, Sprite, Minute Maid, Simply Orange, Powerade, and Dasani.
While soda sales have been slipping and pressuring performance, the company is undergoing a transformation that sees it experimenting with new products and marketing avenues to serve the changing consumer landscape. Coke is the leader in non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages with roughly a third of market share, and even with soda headwinds in key territories, the company anticipates that this segment will grow roughly 5% annually over the next five years. The company is also undergoing a refranchising push for its bottling operations that should have beneficial effects on margins, with plans to reduce Coke-owned bottling volume from roughly 18% to 3% and move roughly two-thirds of its global workforce to franchise-owned plants.
Coca-Cola stock is down about 11% from its 52-week high, and trades at roughly 22 times forward earnings projections -- not exactly cheap, but closely in line with the industry average forward P/E of 21. Weak share performance compared to the broader market over the last year presents a potential buying opportunity and only makes the stock's returned income component sweeter. Coca-Cola's dividend profile is stellar, with a chunky payout yield of roughly 3.3% and a 53-year history of delivering payout increases.