With a market that's still hitting new highs daily, finding good companies at a reasonable valuation is surprisingly easier to achieve than you might think.
Scouring the universe of stocks, I identified Honda Motors (NYSE:HMC), Malibu Boats (NASDAQ:MBUU), and TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) as stocks that look as if they not only trade well below the market average, but can also be expected to grow earnings at a respectable pace for the next few years.
Despite seeing second-quarter profits take a hit because of the massive airbag recall that's still rolling through the automotive industry and resulted in the worldwide recall of some 100 million air-bag inflators, Honda Motors enjoyed a nearly 16% jump in global auto sales, which hit $33 billion.
Honda was one of airbag maker Takata's biggest customers and recently agreed to a $605 million settlement with some of those who were suing the car company. Yet the Japanese carmaker was able to drive past those concerns on the strength of the Chinese market, where demand for its compact Civic is strong, allowing it to record its highest sales there in history. It's also looking toward electric-car sales growth because the government is pushing electric vehicles to combat pollution. It will be building such vehicles with a local IT company named Neusoft.
Although the U.S. auto market lagged in recent months, Honda was one of only two cars to record domestic car sales growth in October (Subaru was the other), registering a 10% gain when General Motors and Chrysler were notching double-digit declines.
Honda trades at only 10 times trailing earnings and next year's estimates while going for a fraction of its estimated earnings growth rate and sales. At 11 times the free cash flow it produces, Honda is a low-P/E stock to buy today.
Even though performance sports-boat manufacturer Malibu Boats has been the industry leader since 2010 and currently has a 32% share of the U.S. market, comfortably ahead of MasterCraft and Correct Craft, which are virtually tied for second place with a 21.7% and 21.6% share, respectively, it still trades at reasonable valuations. The stock is valued at less than 20 times trailing earnings and only 14 times next year's estimates.
Analysts still expect the boat maker to increase earnings 15% annually for the next five years, which is double the growth rate it's enjoyed over the past five years.
Recently, Malibu announced a deal to buy smaller rival outboard boat maker Cobalt Boats. Although the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Statistical Surveys says outboard boats are losing ground to towboats like those produced by Malibu as wakesurfing grows in popularity, Cobalt has been experiencing sales growth.
Further, Malibu also has a 53% share of exports to the international market, which is more than its top two competitors combined. Although foreign markets are considerably weaker at the moment because of oil and gas issues and currency exchange rates, sales in the U.S. have more than offset such softness, and Malibu was able to significantly pad its market share lead.
Having doubled in value over the past year, Malibu Boats has pulled back 11% from its recent highs, making it a good time to speed away with this stock.
How the mighty have fallen. TJX Companies remains one of the few retailers that's been able to shine in the age of Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), but its stock has tumbled 15% after hitting an all-time high back in May. Part of the problem is probably Amazon's ambitions of having greater reach in the apparel market.
Macy's (NYSE:M) is currently the largest apparel retailer, but Amazon is expected to surpass it this year. It recently was estimated to have seen apparel sales surge 32% year over year in the third quarter as it integrates technology into its retail business. Earlier this year it unveiled a new way for customers to see how clothes fit before buying them, as well as its new Prime Wardrobe service that lets customers order several items at once, try them on at home, and then ship back those they don't like.
Yet TJX is still enjoying strong growth of its own, with same-store sales coming in 3% higher companywide as customer traffic remained strong across each concept. Many retailers are able to report higher comps by raising prices even as traffic falls.
TJX Companies, the owner of T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods, trades at less than 20 times earnings, which is well below the market multiple of 25.8 times earnings. With analysts forecasting the discount retailer to still expand earnings 11% annually for the next five years, it may be that its stock, as well as its clothing, is being discounted.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends The TJX Companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.