The last month has been brutal to the stock market thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. All but five tickers in the S&P 500 index posted negative returns, and 440 of its 500 stocks fell at least 20%. The median move on this highly respected index was a massive 36% plunge.
These price drops might feel painful today, but they're also opening up some fantastic buying windows. Many of the high-quality companies you see going on fire sale today will not only make it through the COVID-19 panic, but they are also poised to emerge even stronger on the other side.
On that note, you should consider picking up a few shares of Amazon.com (AMZN 0.23%), Micron Technology (MU 0.10%), and American Tower (AMT 1.02%) right now. They are the real deal, and you'll thank me profusely for these ideas in a year or two.
This juggernaut isn't slowing down at all
E-commerce and cloud computing titan Amazon has seen its shares slide 14% lower in 30 days. That's a downright silly market reaction, if you ask me.
Amazon was doing everything right when the virus panic started in February. The stock inched across the trillion-dollar market cap mark thanks to a combination of fantastic holiday-season sales and exploding cloud computing prospects. The successful Amazon Prime membership program doesn't hurt either.
And what's happening in the coronavirus era? A hundred million Americans are facing government lockdowns right now, relying on online orders and home-delivery systems to a never-before-seen degree. Amazon responded by hiring another 100,000 workers, a step usually reserved for the extraordinary shipping volumes of the holiday season. Even so, the company is giving top priority to essential items such as medical supplies, groceries, and household staples.
It would have made more sense if this stock had been skyrocketing over the past month, really. And even if I'm wrong about the short-term boost Amazon should see from a massive cohort of homebodies, there's no denying that this experience will get a lot of brand new customers used to online shopping. We are training an entire generation to get what they need from e-commerce vendors like Amazon.
The 5G revolution is still happening
American Tower is in the business of helping wireless networks operate. This company owns or leases many of the cell towers you see dotting modern landscapes, as well as the unseen small-cell network hubs that keep your phone connected in crowded spaces like malls and sporting arenas.
There's no question that the virus-based quarantines will slow down American Tower's expansion plans. The wireless networks are tapping the brakes on their infrastructure investments, and American Tower's own installation crews need to stay off the road for a few weeks as well. But this is just a speed bump, not a dead end.
If you thought wireless networking was a big deal today, you ain't seen nothing yet. 5G networks are able to manage a much larger number of devices per network hub, with greater reliability and tighter security. The Internet of Things has been waiting for this game-changing network upgrade. Connected devices will be all around us in a few years. It's not a small change -- we're looking at orders of magnitude here. American Tower will help make it happen.
... and here's another way to skin that 5G cat
Memory-chip maker Micron Technology was a deep-discount value stock in February. Now trading 38% below its yearly highs, the stock has evolved into a no-brainer buy.
Mr. Market often mistakes short-term snags for deal-breaking disasters. Yes, everyone is buying fewer smartphones, computers, and electronic gadgets at the moment. Sure, the electronics giants of the world aren't rushing to order a ton of memory chips for the devices they aren't building. And the coronavirus slowdown may even hang some dark clouds over this year's holiday season as the typical design and manufacturing processes behind this year's consumer electronics stocking-stuffers have slowed down to a crawl.
But 5G devices often need a lot of memory. 5G-capable smartphones tend to ship with twice the DRAM and NAND memory allotments found in 4G flagships. Modern cars come equipped with more processing power -- and associated memory-chip requirements. Long story short, many of this era's most exciting growth opportunities tie right back to increasing memory-chip requirements.
Micron's balance sheet holds more cash than debt, alongside a billion-dollar stream of free cash flows. You can pick up this market-leader for pennies on the dollar as the stock trades for just 12 times trailing earnings and 1.1 times Micron's total book value. You just don't see deals like this very often.