From time to time, an individual stock will absolutely crush the market, assuming your investing horizon stretches out over years rather than months. A booming stock market helps. With a major contribution from the 80% surge in the S&P 500 over the past five years, roughly 200 stocks in the index have risen by 100% or more since late 2012.
Below, I'll highlight a few of those stocks that have a good shot at extending that positive momentum. Read on to see why favorable industry trends could power more long-term doubles for Ross Stores (NASDAQ:ROST), Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ), and McDonald's (NYSE:MCD).
If surging e-commerce demand is killing physical retailers, Ross Stores appears well-protected from the onslaught. The off-price specialist recently posted a 4% comparable-store sales improvement that looks even better when you consider the 7% growth the business logged in the prior-year period. Third-quarter profitability also beat management's expectations thanks to robust pricing trends.
CEO Barbara Rentler and her executive team now believe comps will rise between 2% and 3% for the holiday season, which should keep the company right within the 3% to 5% annual rate it has managed in each of the prior four fiscal years. That steady growth, combined with expanding gross profitability, should push its streak of double-digit earnings gains into its fourth year.
Since it sources most of its products directly from manufacturers, Ross Stores tends to perform well during periods of contraction in the industry. Its same-store sales growth sped up to a 6% pace in 2009 from 2% in the prior year, for example. Thus, slowing customer traffic among full-priced competitors could lift both market share and profitability in the years ahead.
You might think that a massive, well-known business like McDonald's couldn't post eye-popping stock returns -- but you'd be wrong. After all, Mickey D's is one of the best-performing stocks in the Dow today, boasting a nearly 40% gain so far in 2017.
The surge has been powered by improving operating trends that allowed the fast food giant to post back-to-back quarters of 6% comps growth. Better still, its customer traffic levels are rising across all its geographic segments as diners respond positively to menu changes and restaurant upgrades.
McDonald's is aiming to extend the market leadership position it recently recaptured through initiatives like digital ordering, home delivery, and drink and food innovations. And its aggressive refranchising plan promises to push operating margin up to 45% of sales by 2019, so shareholders can reasonably expect to benefit from significantly higher profits and surging cash returns.
Whereas the broader alcoholic beverage industry is struggling with weak demand, Constellation Brands is having a record year. Earnings are on pace to rise by 23% in fiscal 2018 while net sales improve by 5%.
Investors can thank the beer business for those impressive results. Its portfolio includes several of the country's most popular imports: Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico.
Surging demand for these premium products has driven prices higher, and that's powered a 10-percentage-point improvement in operating margin since 2013 to over 30% of sales. Management isn't just resting on those gains, though. It's just finishing a multiyear, $4 billion capital improvement plan directed toward boosting capacity and raising manufacturing efficiency. Sure, that spending soaked up lots of cash. But now that the projects are wrapping up, Constellation Brands should soon begin generating over $1 billion in annual free cash flow, which the company will be free to send directly back to shareholders or allocate toward more growth-focused acquisitions.
While no one can predict which stocks will post market-thumping gains, investors can tilt the odds in their favor by focusing on companies that, like the ones profiled above, are enjoying expanding sales and profitability.