With the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial both trading within 1% of their all-time highs, it may seem like every stock out there is overpriced right now. And while plenty of stocks are expensive, there are some bargains to be found, if you know what to look for.
Sometimes, value can be found in unexpected places. U.S. grocery giant Kroger Co (NYSE:KR) and rural-focused retailer Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ:TSCO) are both facing stiff competition in a changing retail landscape, while Nucor Corporation (NYSE:NUE) continues to deal with competitive threats from overseas that have taken significant steel market share in recent years.
And while it may seem surprising to find value in two retail companies under major competitive threat, and a company in one of the most difficult industries to consistently be profitable in, there's significant long-term opportunity for investors with all three of these companies today. Keep reading to learn why.
Kroger has faced Amazon-like encroachment before -- and thrived
In recent weeks, shares of Kroger have taken an absolute beating. Since the beginning of June they've fallen 25%, and are now down a painful 47% from the all-time high. Most recently, the market has sold off the grocery giant following the news that e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc was buying Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion. This announcement sent shockwaves through the grocery business, with shares of essentially every grocer retreating on news that the company which had already disrupted almost every other part of traditional retail was advancing into the grocery business.
But I'm quite certain that Mister Market's reaction was too severe. After all, this isn't the first time Kroger has dealt with a bigger company entering the grocery business. Kroger has delivered a fantastic return to investors since Wal-Mart debuted the Supercenter in the late 1980s:
As a matter of fact, it's been nearly as good an investment as Wal-Mart has, and delivered market-beating returns.
And looking forward, Kroger's scale has it in a very good position to continue delivering great returns to investors. Amazon's entry into the grocery business will likely bring prices down at Whole Foods, and that could take some share away from Kroger in the 400 markets they compete in, but Kroger already has the logistics and scale to remain a price leader, with nearly 2,800 total retail locations in 35 states.
Kroger trades for 13.6 times trailing earnings, and its dividend yield is over 2% at recent prices. That's the cheapest its stock has been since 2013, and the highest its dividend yield has been since the company started paying a regular dividend. Even with increased competition from Amazon -- not to mention several European grocers recently crossing the pond -- Kroger is a great company trading at a bargain price now.
This cash-cow retailer is set for more growth
There's no getting around the reality that e-commerce is proving that it can disrupt any kind of retail. And while that is certainly having a seismic impact on the retail landscape and forcing companies that thought they were immune to make changes, Tractor Supply is still a traditional retailer that should continue to do well over the long-term. The company reported a hiccup last quarter, with an unseasonably warm winter impacting sales of certain cold-weather merchandise. But even with this hurting comps a little bit and impacting profits due to markdowns to move excess inventory, total sales still increased 7%.
Even better, the company's cash flows continue to remain solid, affording a 13% increase in the dividend recently. That puts the yield at nearly 1.9%. Furthermore, management is committed to steady dividend growth, as new stores drive revenue up at high single-digits and earnings up at a slightly faster rate.
Trading at slightly more than 16 times earnings and 16 times cash from operations, Tractor Supply is a cash-cow retailer that's worth buying at these prices.
A "steel" of a deal
The steel industry is cyclical, and also a very hard place to consistently make a buck. However, Nucor Corporation has proven to be capable of both being consistently profitable, and also being able to consistently build up and improve its operations while the competition often struggles simply to keep steel mills operating.
This was plenty evident when it last released earnings, reporting its biggest quarterly profit in nearly a decade. Ironically, its share price is down 7% since then, even though the fundamentals for the steel market continue to look very good, including higher steel prices, reduced imports after years of illegal dumping (with more trade restrictions on the way which will further reduce imports), and a generally strong economy which should lead to even more spending on commercial and infrastructure construction in coming years.
This recent sell-off has Nucor -- which could be on its way to its most profitable year in a decade -- trading at 17 times trailing earnings, and its dividend yield above 2.6%. Nucor hasn't been this cheap since the Great Recession; now's a great time to buy the best steelmaker while it's on sale.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Jason Hall owns shares of Amazon and Nucor. Jason Hall has the following options: long October 2017 $25 calls on Kroger. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Nucor and Tractor Supply. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.