No two investors are alike. While some are excited by explosive growth, others look for predictable businesses with competitive advantages. Still others hunt for bargains, aiming to find stocks overlooked by the market. NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), Rollins (NYSE:ROL), and General Motors (NYSE:GM) cover this entire spectrum. Here's why these top stocks are worth getting excited about.
This tech stock's got game
Beth McKenna (NVIDIA): One stock it's hard not to be excited about is NVIDIA. On Feb. 9, the graphics chipmaker reported superb fourth-quarter results that capped off a wonderful fiscal year 2017. More importantly, its future looks bright in its core gaming business and in its emerging businesses.
NVIDIA has the dominant position in the graphic processing unit (GPU) market for desktop and laptop computers, and it has been firing on all cylinders in gaming. Moreover, its products have applications in several hot tech spaces, including self-driving cars and virtual reality (VR).
In the fourth quarter, NVIDIA's revenue jumped 55%, earnings per share on the basis of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) surged 183%, and adjusted EPS soared 117%. Revenue and earnings growth both marked an acceleration over full-year 2017 growth figures.
The stock has run up tremendously over about the last year -- returning 348% over the one-year period through February 10 -- and so has its valuation. The stock currently trades at roughly 42 times trailing-12-month GAAP earnings.
NVIDIA is far from cheap, but it offers investors significant long-term growth potential, and that's worth paying for.
A stock to make your skin crawl
Rich Duprey (Rollins): Because roaches, termites, ants, and other pests are something we'd rather not think about invading our homes, there will always be a need for businesses like Rollins, a national pest control and extermination service. And as if to underscore how pervasive these pests are, Rollins reported fourth-quarter earnings last month that showed a 6% jump in revenues on a better than 5% increase in organic sales.
Doing this kind of dirty work is profitable, too, as Rollins also said net income soared nearly 20% year over year. A large part of its gains last year came about as a result of higher bed-bug infestations (ew!) -- though that's expected to lessen some in 2017 -- but also because of a better termite business and international expansion. It's also doing a good job of increasing the recognition of the Orkin brand.
Rollins would seem to be the epitome of the type of business in which investing legend Peter Lynch would invest. He highlighted how garbage hauler Waste Management (NYSE:WM) would likely trade at a discount because no one really wants to think about picking up trash, and there are few businesses that make the skin crawl more than dealing with the creepy crawlies.
Analysts are looking for Rollins to grow earnings 13% for the next two quarters and to be up 10% for the year, with long-term earnings growth pegged at 9% annually. Revenues for the next two years are expected to be up 5% year over year. The pest control specialist doesn't forecast the future itself, but it continues to see great growth opportunities ahead both here and abroad.
The stock has gained 50% over the past year, but like taxes and death, rats, roaches, and other pests that creep along in the night will always be with us (and may even outlive our species). That means there will always be business for Rollins to take care of, and its stock could very well take care of investors, too.
Too much pessimism
Tim Green (General Motors): The automobile market is cyclical, and General Motors' fortunes are tied to supply and demand. With sales of vehicles in the U.S. showing signs of leveling out, a period of record profitability for the company may be coming to an end. However, the market is pricing in the worst-case scenario, making GM stock an attractive bargain.
GM produced adjusted EPS of $6.12 in 2016 and expects to deliver adjusted EPS between $6.00 and $6.50 in 2017. Per-share earnings will be aided by share repurchases, so net income may actually decline while EPS grows this year. The prospect of shrinking profits in the coming years as promotional activity ramps up is very real. But with shares of GM trading in the mid-30's and sporting a dividend yield topping 4%, it would take a disaster for an investment in GM today to turn out all that badly.
The Trump administration, with promises of taxes that punish importers, could be that disaster for GM. This creates a lot of uncertainty, and as a GM investor, I would be lying if I said I wasn't concerned. But the low stock price offers a sizable margin of safety. If the market finally begins pricing GM stock sans extreme pessimism, shares of the automaker could soar.