While the overall stock market fell sharply in late February and the first few weeks of March, it has rebounded significantly since then. Indeed, at one point in March, the S&P 500 was down about 34% from a high in February. But the market index is now only down 16% from February highs.
After watching the market rebound so quickly, some investors may feel like they've missed out. But there are still some good buying opportunities for investors who look close enough.
Two top stocks worth considering during this downturn are media conglomerate Walt Disney (DIS 3.59%) and tech giant Apple (AAPL 1.56%). Both of these stocks are still down significantly from recent highs, yet their long-term prospects remain promising.
Walt Disney's stock has been hit particularly hard. Shares are down 28% since Feb. 19, when the coronavirus market crash started gaining steam. Of course, it makes sense that its shares are down more sharply than Apple's; Disney's business is getting hit more directly by the lockdowns. To help curb the coronavirus, Disney has had to shut down its parks and resorts; the company's live sports entertainment (ESPN) has nearly come to a complete standstill; and Disney's studio segment has been impacted by the closing of movie theaters and a pause in movie and television productions.
But there are several reasons for investors to remain optimistic about Disney during this pandemic.
First, the company's newest and most important initiatives -- Disney+ and Hulu -- will likely see a huge boost in subscribers and viewing as consumers are sheltering at home. Indeed, the company announced this month that Disney+ has already garnered 50 million subscribers. This is on top of the 30.4 million paying Hulu subscribers Disney said it had at the end of Q1.
Second, the stock's 28% decline has arguably fully priced in the challenges ahead; shares trade at just 17 times earnings -- a great deal for a media company with some of the world's most enduring brands under its ownership.
Finally, there's likely light at the end of this coronavirus tunnel. Sure, while in the middle of a pandemic it's difficult to believe businesses highly dependent on travel and large crowds can ever recover. But history shows that they typically do. Though Walt Disney may never be the same again, it will likely find ways to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.
Shares of Apple have recovered significantly from lows in March, but the stock is still down about 14% from an all-time high before the coronavirus triggered a downturn in stocks.
In the near term, the coronavirus will likely negatively impact Apple's sales thanks to store closures in most countries (though Apple notably reopened its stores in China early last month) and weakness in consumer spending. But the circumstances surrounding the coronavirus have made it clear that technology has become critical across the world. Apple devices are providing consumers entertainment, helping friends and family communicate virtually, and enabling mobile work during this lockdown. The company's loyal customer base will likely continue turning to the tech giant to buy new devices for years to come.
But the best part of about Apple's business is that its second-largest segment -- services -- may actually benefit from more consumers sheltering at home. The segment is primarily made up of the tech giant's share of revenue from sales and subscriptions in the app store, but it also includes recurring revenue from iCloud, AppleCare, and Apple's own native services like Apple Music and Apple TV+. With more consumers across the world sheltering at home, app usage and downloads are spiking. Apple's services segment, therefore, is likely seeing a big boost in sales and subscriptions during this time.
Of course, Apple's services segment isn't reliant on a pandemic to be successful. The segment was already growing rapidly. Trailing-12-month revenue in the segment is up 18% year over year.
Further, since the segment is so lucrative, it accounted for nearly 30% of the tech company's operating income despite only representing 18% of sales in fiscal 2019 -- and that operating income was notably up 22% year over year.
A combination of a potential strong rebound in Apple's product segment post-COVID-19, a fast-growing services segment, and a conservative valuation make the stock's recent sell-off a great buying opportunity.
Brace for turbulence
With both of these stocks, there could be significant volatility ahead.
Buying shares of individual stocks during uncertain times gives investors the benefit of being able to buy at cheaper prices. But the price investors have to pay is the chance of shares falling even further or a recovery taking longer than expected. It's impossible to know all the macroeconomic and company-specific ramifications of the economic upheaval we are seeing today, including record unemployment claims, struggling small businesses, and a sudden slowdown in consumer spending.
But when the market does recover, both world-class companies will likely continue attracting droves of customers.
Investors who buy these stocks while they are on sale could see significant gains over the long haul.