The stock market peaked in March, when both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrials reached all-time highs. And while both indices are down a couple percent since, a lot of stocks are still at or near all-time highs -- or at the very least, near the highest they've been in the past year.
But that doesn't mean there aren't any stocks worth buying -- even some of those at or near their highs. Three stocks in particular look attractive to our contributors: e-commerce specialist Shopify Inc (US) (SHOP 5.88%), casino and resort operator Wynn Resorts (WYNN 12.05%), and homebuilder Lennar Corporation (LEN 1.73%)(LEN.B 1.49%).
Keep reading below to learn what makes these three stocks, all trading at -- or very near -- their 52-week highs, worth buying right now.
The company that may save small and local retail
Jason Hall (Shopify Inc (US)): Online retail is growing like wildfire. And while the convenience and price competition is undoubtedly good for shoppers, it's decimating the brick-and-mortar retail landscape.
And it's not just big-box retailers feeling the pinch, since many large companies have the resources to develop an online presence. In fact, smaller sellers are having just as hard a go of it, considering that many lack the resources and expertise to build an online brand and store.
That's where Shopify comes in. The company's core business is helping sellers build and manage e-commerce, and to put it plainly, business is going gangbusters. The company has more than 375,000 individual businesses -- both small and large -- and has seen its revenues nearly triple since going public less than three years ago, while gross profit dollars have increased a remarkable tenfold since 2012.
And maybe my favorite thing about the company is that its competitive position is very strong. There's a certain "stickiness" to its service, because the breadth and depth of what it offers its customers in terms of its e-commerce platform, social media integration, and robust capabilities combine to make it a lot of trouble for clients to move away or replicate the platform in-house. Furthermore, both Facebook and Amazon.com are partnered with Shopify, which is the preferred provider on those two companies' platforms.
Even with its stock price setting new all-time highs nearly every day recently, Shopify's market capitalization is still less than $8 billion. It's a rare chance to buy a stock with so much growth potential this early in the story.
Why investors are putting more chips on Wynn
Seth McNew (Wynn Resorts, Limited): Casino operator Wynn Resorts has hit a 52-week high multiple times in recent months as it climbed 35% over the last year. Still, the stock is less than half of its all time high in spring of 2014, which was followed by a dizzying drop in gaming stocks due to government regulations that decimated the Macau market -- one of Wynn's most important markets then (and still).
Things have gotten much better for Wynn as the Macau market has started to turn around since August, which is also the month that Wynn's massive new resort there opened. The resort has already started to perform well, which, coupled with the rising overall market that's expected to continue in 2017, could mean big earnings increases for Wynn going forward. Wynn's operations in the U.S. are stable, if not high growth, but the company has broken ground on a new resort near Boston expected to open in 2019, and it announced a planned overhaul of its Las Vegas resort, both of which seem to be encouraging the market about Wynn's long-term diversified growth.
Wynn resorts sales jumped nearly 10% in 2016 year over year, but they were up 37% in the fourth quarter, and that momentum seems set to continue this year thanks to Macau's regrowth. Wynn's stock is historically expensive at 49 times earnings following its recent rise, but its earnings are expected to keep growing, which puts its price at 23 times forward earnings estimates.
A reasonable price as long as we don't have another housing crash
Chuck Saletta (Lennar Corporation): Home builder Lennar is trading right around its 52-week high. Despite that optimism, the company's stock still looks reasonably priced unless we're headed for another housing meltdown. Its A class shares trade at barely one times sales and less than 14 times trailing earnings, while its B class shares trade at closer to 11 times earnings due to a wide gap between share class prices.
The B class shares have 10 times the voting rights as the A class shares, though the B class votes as a group. In addition, the B class shares can convert into A class shares if a majority of B class shareholders elect to do so. Despite that potential voting rate advantage, Lennar's B class shares recently fetched a mere $43.08, while its A class shares fetched $51.79.
Complex corporate structure aside, if you're looking at Lennar's shares, the B class shares offer a clearly better bargain between the two. Though the fact that the spread has persisted for so long suggests that there's very little chance it will actually reverse, the lower price of the B class shares gives buyers the opportunity to buy more shares for the same dollar amount.
The key risk with Lennar -- albeit one that may be somewhat reflected in the company's relatively low price to earnings ratio -- is the fact that homebuilding remains a cyclical industry. If the next recession is right around the corner -- and if housing sinks the way it did in the last recession -- Lennar and other homebuilders could easily see their shares sink. After all, people need someplace to live, but it doesn't have to be a new house.