Knock, knock. It's me, again... the reminder that the stock market can actually go down. Despite the fact that the broad-based S&P 500 has undergone 36 corrections totaling at least 10% (not rounded) since 1950, which works out to a notable decline every roughly 1.9 years, investors are seemingly shocked every time the market turns violently lower within a short time frame.
Since the beginning of the week, and through Thursday's close (Oct. 11), the 122-year-old Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and tech-centric Nasdaq Composite, have declined by 1,394.22 points, 157.20 points, and 459.39 points, respectively. In percentage terms, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq are now 7%, 7.2%, and 9.9% below their all-time intraday highs set recently. That's dangerously close to correction territory for the FANG-driven Nasdaq, and getting close for the iconic Dow and highly followed S&P 500.
Although this stock market correction might have investors yearning for the sidelines, historical data overwhelmingly suggests that buying high-quality companies and hanging on to them for long periods of time gives an investor the best possible chance to significantly grow their wealth. With this in mind, here are five stocks investors should love as the market continues to deflate.
1. Sirius XM Holdings
Forget for a moment that satellite radio operator Sirius XM Holdings (SIRI 0.34%) announced a little over two weeks ago that it planned to buy streaming radio operator Pandora Media for $3.5 billion in an all-stock deal (a deal that Wall Street isn't thrilled with), and instead focus on the company's core strengths.
For starters, Sirius XM generates very little of its revenue from advertising, compared to terrestrial and online radio. During the second quarter, Sirius XM reported just $47.2 million in sales from advertising, which represents a meager 3.3% of aggregate quarterly revenue. The bulk of its sales are derived from subscription services, which is far less likely than advertising revenue to dry up if the U.S. economy slows or contracts.
Also, keep in mind that Sirius XM's satellite radio system has relatively fixed costs. Sure, the company does spend aggressively on its content by hiring talent like Howard Stern and by forging a long-term agreement to carry National Football League games. But the key point here is that no matter how many new subscribers Sirius XM acquires -- remember, it is the only satellite radio operator -- its satellites will cost exactly the same. In other words, Sirius has a business model with relatively strong pricing power that should see continued cash flow expansion.
While most of Wall Street is absolutely hating on retail, the appliance kingpin Whirlpool (WHR 2.69%) is a company that should have the undivided attention of investors.
In recent months, Whirlpool has been hammered by the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China, which has made material costs like aluminum and steel considerably pricier. As a result, Whirlpool has had to choose between eating these higher costs and raising its prices. It chose the latter, and the short-term result has been weaker sales.
But here's a news flash: Whirlpool has been here before. In fact, Whirlpool's stock has a historical tendency to turn substantially lower well before the depth of any U.S. recession or economic contraction is realized. Despite this downturn, it has a well-known brand name, and has actively pushed into the faster-growing Asian markets through acquisitions in recent years. This should help hedge some of the weakness it's experiencing in its core U.S. market.
More importantly, the American consumer tends to be only temporarily resistant to pricing changes. History suggests that Whirlpool should have little issue passing along higher product prices as a result of the trade war within a few quarters.
Meanwhile, Whirlpool is now sporting a 4.4% annual yield (that's more than double the average yield of the S&P 500), and its forward price-to-earnings ratio (6.4) is lower than it's been in a decade. It might be the value stock worth looking into.
Arguably, one of the most dumbfounding effects of the ongoing stock market downturn has been the decline in drug developers like Celgene (CELG)... as if a declining stock market is going to halt or reduce sickness. Put simply, we can't determine when we get sick or what ailment we'll deal with, which means that drug developers tend to be mostly immune (save for drug-pricing power) to economic contractions.
The longtime worry about Celgene is the threat of generic competitors to its multiple myeloma drug, Revlimid, which is forecast to account for $9.7 billion of the company's estimated $15 billion in annual sales in 2018. The good news is that Celgene has regularly (and vigorously) protected its key product through settlements and agreements. A December 2015 agreement with a handful of generic producers will keep a flood of generics off pharmacy shelves until the end of January 2026. There's a long runway for Celgene to reap the rewards of producing one of the best-selling drugs in the world.
Celgene should also be able to atone for a new drug application (NDA) mistake that'll keep ozanimod off pharmacy shelves as a treatment for multiple sclerosis for a few years. Once its NDA is refiled with the Food and Drug Administration and (likely) approved, the company should have a pretty clear path for $2 billion or more in added annual sales from ozanimod. It also has plenty of organic runway left with Revlimid, Otezla, and its cancer-drug pipeline.
In short, this downturn looks to be much ado about nothing.
4. Philip Morris International
Another smart consideration is tobacco stock Philip Morris International (PM -0.54%), which should be relatively unfazed by a volatile ride in U.S. markets.
In recent years, Philip Morris International has come under pressure for falling shipping volumes. Yet, the company continues to deliver year-over-year sales and earnings-per-share growth. The reason why is the company's almost unbeatable pricing power, brought about by the addictive nature of tobacco products.
Even more so, it's as if Wall Street is overlooking the fact that many of the concerns being raised in the U.S. market -- rising interest rates, the trade war, and President Trump criticizing the Federal Reserve – have absolutely no impact on Philip Morris, which doesn't operate in the United States. Philip Morris operates in more than 180 countries worldwide, giving it a pretty impressive moat with which to grow its top and bottom lines.
Philip Morris also has the iQOS heated tobacco device in its back pocket. Although sales in Japan, a test market for the company, haven't lived up to lofty expectations, a simple switch in the company's early marketing strategy with the product could allow it to attract the older demographic (think 45 years old and over), which has been somewhat resistant to alternative tobacco products.
This company is far from yesterday's news, and its 5.5% dividend yield, which doesn't look to be in any danger of being reduced, is just icing on the cake.
Lastly, don't forget about growth, even though value stocks would logically be expected to outperform when the market turns lower. And frankly, few growth stories looks to have more long-term legs than Amazon.com (AMZN 3.04%). I know, negative points for originality. But find a company that can throw its weight around and generate the type of cash flow growth Amazon can, and I'll gladly replace this selection.
The beauty of Amazon is that while it's a retail-oriented business on the surface, and retail typically takes it on the chin during an economic contraction, the bulk of its profit and margin is derived from its cloud computing business, which is less likely to be impacted if there's a short-term downturn. During the second quarter, Amazon Web Services (AWS) generated $6.1 billion in net sales, a 51% year-over-year increase. In spite of accounting for only 11.5% of total sales, however, AWS's operating income ($1.64 billion) equated to 55% of the entire company's operating income in Q2 2018.
Furthermore, as with Whirlpool, Amazon could be cheaper now than at any point in its history. Though this might be a tough fact to believe, Amazon has historically been valued at 25 or more times its trailing-12-month cash flow per share. Between 2017 and 2021, Wall Street is looking for Amazon's annual cash flow per share to more than triple to almost $150 per share. That'd place the company at less than half its historic average, making it an exceptionally enticing high-growth stock following the recent move lower.