Our need to connect with one another has never been more evident. Stay-at-home orders have driven up the number of video chats, phone calls, and evening dance-on-your-own-porch events with neighbors. As time passes and the coronavirus becomes smaller in our rearview mirror, three on-sale stocks stand to benefit from the new normal that will emerge on the other side: Arista Networks (NYSE:ANET), Slack Technologies (NYSE:WORK), and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX).
With prices at significant discounts to their 52-week highs, let's dive in and see what makes these three stocks good buys today.
Arista Networks: Connecting people through data centers
Arista Networks sells a hardware and software bundle to direct network traffic through data centers. As its large "cloud titan" customers (Facebook and Microsoft) began pulling back on purchases last year, the stock started to decline. During the company's most recent earnings call, management said that the push to move data centers to a faster 400G standard is getting delayed into next year. But demand for faster networks isn't going away. In fact, many stay-at-home activities may increase the need for additional network bandwidth.
Arista is well positioned to wait it out. It has a full lineup of 400G hardware and software for when the industry starts to transition, and its balance sheet is rock solid, with cash and investments of $2.7 billion and no debt as of the end of 2019.
Smartly, management hasn't provided revenue guidance for the coming year, since there are still uncertainties about when cloud customers will begin to increase data center investments again. In the meantime, investors can purchase this long-term winner at more than a third off its 52-week high.
Slack: Software to connect with colleagues
Slack is an alternative to email, but that's really underselling it. The product has a unique channel-focused design, and 87% of Slack customers report that the tool "improved communication and collaboration." Unless you've been part of a Slack team, the benefits are hard to grasp and make the tool harder to sell to customers unfamiliar with the software.
But with millions working remotely for the first time, many are trying out the software and starting to experience its benefits. Between Feb. 1 and March 25, the company added 9,000 new paying customers, "an 80% increase over the full quarterly total for the preceding two quarters." And average daily usage has increased an impressive 25% between March 10 and March 25.
Because the company has been burning cash, it recently issued $750 million in convertible senior notes, nearly doubling its cash position, giving investors more confidence it can ride out the storm. With no certainty on when people will be heading back to work, this collaboration platform looks like a good buy at more than 40% off its 52-week high.
Starbucks: Employee-friendly moves will preserve its "third place"
Starbucks was one of the first restaurants to close its dining spaces when the pandemic started, depriving customers of a "third place" to meet with others (outside of work or home). As it moved to a drive-thru and delivery-only model, its need for fully-staffed stores was reduced. But its employees haven't been left out in the cold: The company is helping by putting its $3.1 billion of cash to work. It's covering associates' paychecks through May 3, even if they aren't actively working; adding $3 per hour for those who are working, and making hardship grants for those who need them.
These employee-friendly measures should increase the chances that its personnel will be available when Starbucks is able to fully reopen its cafes. Unfortunately, many smaller businesses -- including local coffee shops -- don't have the same kind of resources. Even with government assistance, some may have to close permanently. This could put Starbucks at an advantage when things get back to normal. Meanwhile, investors can get this global coffee giant at 28% off its all-time high.
Getting back to the new normal
Stuck at home, there's a growing pent-up demand for us humans to meet in person. As social restrictions start to relax, people will inevitably hang out with friends at the local Starbucks. In the meantime, many are trying collaboration tools like Slack for the first time. New customers will realize what they've been missing and will probably end up sticking around. All the while, Arista will benefit from our ever-increasing need for network bandwidth that enables our human-connection tools such as our 5G phones or our new video-chatting habit.
If you have cash set aside for investing, you would do well by adding one or all of these stocks to your portfolio (from the comfort of your couch).