With the stock market still trading near all-time highs, finding good stocks that offer reasonable valuations becomes more difficult. The rising tide has lifted most boats beyond the point where they're still fairly priced.
Most, but not all. There remain a few gems that still sport price-to-earnings ratios below the market multiple of 25, yet offer excellent growth potential. Read on to find out why American Outdoor Brands (SWBI 4.26%), Best Buy (Buy (BBY 2.09%), and Party City (PRTY -11.12%) hit all the right notes for investors looking for growth at a more than reasonable price.
American Outdoor Brands
Investors are only just starting to wake up to the fact that their prior belief that the U.S. gun market was going to implode was wrong. Following the election that cemented Republican control of the presidency and congress, the conventional wisdom was that gun sales would tank since there was no urgency to buy a gun right away. American Outdoor Brands and industry peer Sturm, Ruger (RGR 2.99%) both saw their stocks tumble as a result.
However, a string of surprisingly strong months of robust gun-buyer background checks, coupled with Ruger reporting earnings recently that caught analysts by surprise, has caused shares of both gunmakers to jump. While Ruger's stock is up 35% off recent lows, American Outdoor is 30% higher and represents the better opportunity.
Its Smith & Wesson brand is one of the most widely owned firearms brands in the country, and its own upcoming earnings report is likely to reflect the renewed realization that the gun industry can still shoot out the lights. Background checks on gun buyers may be below last year's record-setting pace, but they're still about 20% higher than two years ago, which was a record breaker at the time. Moreover, American Outdoor has diversified its business into the rugged outdoors market, which, as it grows, should help smooth out the volatility of gun sales.
Trading at less than 10 times earnings and 13 times next year's estimates, American Outdoor Brands also goes off for an incredibly bargain-basement price of nine times free cash flow. This is a stock that still offers investors an incredibly long runway of growth.
I'll admit I was one of those who wrote off electronics superstore Best Buy a few years ago as the rise of Amazon.com (AMZN 1.04%) and e-commerce created a tumult in the retail marketplace that's still being felt today. I didn't think Best Buy would be able to come back from the brink, instead following Circuit City, Radio Shack, and most recently hhgregg over the edge.
But CEO Hubert Joly has managed to transform the company from a financial basket-case that was hemorrhaging sales to one that can reliably produce strong earnings and growth. Through an initiative called Renew Blue, Joly cut costs and improved customer service while continuing to ring up sales. Now he's on his way toward taking Best Buy to the next phase, which is called Best Buy 2020.
The remarkable thing is that the new vision for the electronics superstore is similar to what almost killed it. The online channel will be the centerpiece of the next phase of Best Buy's transformation. While its sales levels aren't on par with Amazon's yet, its growth rates surpass those of the e-commerce king. Last quarter, Amazon's online sales growth was up 15% year over year, but Best Buy's comparable online growth exceeded 17%.
Best Buy trades at just 13 times earnings and next year's estimates, but also at just a fraction of its sales. With a price that is 11 times its free cash flow and analysts anticipating that the electronics superstore will grow earnings 11% annually for the next five years, Best Buy is a cheap stock that offers more opportunity to grow, even though the stock has already climbed 68% over the past year.
The biggest specialty retailer in the celebrations space, Party City remains a discounted retailer because of the upheaval in the marketplace, but it might not be so for very long. Rumblings that Party City was exploring a possible sale two years after going public sent the stock soaring, but shares have settled down since.
There's good reason someone might be interested in buying it. The specialty retailer is being lumped in with a lot of other companies in the retail space, which has discounted its stock. It's true the party retailer is highly dependent on the Halloween holiday, which typically accounts for 20% of its annual revenues, helped along by a string of 250 to 300 pop-up stores it opens every year under the Halloween City banner, and last year, those stores alone generated $59 million.
But Party City is not a one-trick pony. That reliance on a single holiday has led analysts to look askance at the retailer affecting its valuation, yet it also derives a ridiculous amount of revenue from selling balloons -- some $106 million in sales globally last year. In March, it announced it had acquired Australia's largest balloon retailer, Balloon Agencies, meaning balloons will make an even greater contribution.
While a lot of party supply sales are moving online, just as they are across all retail, Party City is enjoying strong growth there as well. Last year, e-commerce sales exceeded $152 million, a 7% increase from the prior year.
At 16 times earnings and just under 11 times next year's estimates, Party City might be the most "expensive" stock mentioned here, but it too trades at a discounted 10 times its free cash flow, making it another low PE stock with good growth prospects to purchase in May.