The stock market set a new all-time high this past week to extend a rally that's been making it harder for investors to find good deals. Many stocks aren't participating in the surge, though. In fact, roughly one-third of the members of the S&P 500 are in negative territory for the year, compared to a 12% increase for the index.
Today, we're taking a closer look at a few of those underperforming stocks. Read on to find out why Starbucks (SBUX 1.55%), Ulta Beauty (ULTA 2.72%), and Walt Disney (DIS 0.78%) might represent great buys at today's discounted prices.
Investors have become pessimistic about Starbucks as they avoid almost any business that's saddled with a primarily retailing focus. After all, with its 7,800 locations that across the country, the coffee giant's operations are exposed to any consumer shift away from malls and shopping centers.
That move appears to be happening, and it's catching Starbucks executives by surprise. The company last quarter reduced its business outlook after posting a 1% drop in customer traffic over the past nine months.
Starbucks has been through weak retailing environments in the past, though, and it always managed to recover by focusing on improving the cafe experience. While the short-term outlook isn't bright, the company believes an expanded food offering will spark that faster growth in U.S. stores starting this year. Healthier gains in international markets, meanwhile, should keep operating results churning higher, just not as quickly as Wall Street had hoped.
Ulta Beauty shares are more than 25% below the high they set in early June, but that slump doesn't correspond to any dip in operating results. Instead, the spa and beauty products specialist recently posted a 28% profit spike as comparable-store sales growth -- a blistering 12% -- hit the top end of management's forecast.
CEO Mary Dillon and her executive team raised their outlook in early August and now see comps rising by between 10% and 11% thanks to a mix of increased customer traffic, higher average spending in stores, and booming growth from the online sales channel.
Given its impressive sales and profit figures, it's likely that investors are selling this stock simply due to worries about a slowdown eventually impacting Ulta Beauty's business. That means the stock should return to its winning ways if the company keeps outperforming management's aggressive targets.
Disney shares are on sale thanks to a rare operating stumble for the entertainment giant. Weak results out of its TV segment have helped push operating income lower over the last nine months, which suggests the company might take a step backwards in profits in 2017 to mark the first time in seven fiscal years that earnings have dipped.
But while the company faces major challenges in the shift away from a broadcast TV business and toward app-delivered, on-demand content, the long-term outlook for Disney remains bright.
Its parks and resorts business is booming and should enjoy another record year as the massive Shanghai, China, park builds on its strong 2016 launch. The studio division, meanwhile, has no less than four Marvel movies on the way in fiscal 2018, in addition to two releases from Pixar, four live-action Disney films, including a reimagining of Dumbo, and a new chapter in the blockbuster Star Wars franchise. It's likely this stacked pipeline will spark significant consumer products sales, too, and so the company has a good shot at returning to healthy growth in the new fiscal year that begins in October.