The stock market volatility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely causing investors to consider "selling in May and staying away" until the crisis ends. The U.S. certainly seems to be in a tough spot right now, with high unemployment rates, delayed stimulus payments, virus misinformation, insufficient testing and containment measures, and political gridlock.
It might be prudent for some investors to consider cashing out profits on their more resilient stock positions or trimming positions on battered ones. But it's also a good idea to consider diversifying into international markets, which have stocks that are faring better than those in the U.S.
Today I'll highlight three resilient international stocks investors should consider buying in the dreaded month of May.
Beijing-based Lenovo (OTC:LNVG.Y) is the world's largest PC maker. It controlled 23.9% of the global market in the first quarter of 2020, according to Canalys, while its rival HP (NYSE:HPQ) claimed a 21.8% share.
The COVID-19 crisis has significantly boosted demand for PCs as more people work and study from home, but Lenovo, HP, and other top PC makers are still struggling to meet that demand due to supply chain disruptions and an ongoing CPU shortage at Intel.
However, that balance should return as Intel resolves its issues, PC makers buy more chips from its rival AMD, and supply chains come back online. Unlike HP, which is hamstrung by a fading printing business, Lenovo generates most of its revenue from PCs, data center servers, and mobile devices. Rising revenue at Lenovo's PC and data center businesses offset a slowdown at its smaller mobile business last quarter, and boosted its revenue and net profit by 0.5% and 11% year-over-year, respectively.
Lenovo has grown its revenue annually for 10 straight quarters, and the stock's semi-annual dividend yield -- which is set every year based on its profits -- has hovered between 5%-7% over the past year. That high yield and a low P/E of 9 could set a floor under Lenovo's stock, and make it a more appealing investment than HP.
Chinese tech giant Tencent (OTC:TCEH.Y) has remained resilient throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Last quarter, its revenue and adjusted profit rose 25% and 29% year-over-year, respectively, as its core gaming, advertising, and fintech and business services (including cloud services and digital payments) units all generated double-digit growth.
The quarter ended before China implemented aggressive lockdown measures in February, but Tencent's gaming, media streaming, cloud, and digital payments businesses likely benefited from stay-at-home directives. The crisis also cemented China's dependence on Tencent's WeChat, the top mobile messaging platform, which serves 1.16 billion monthly active users with over 300 million integrated Mini Programs.
Tencent's ad business, which generated 19% of its revenue last quarter, will inevitably face fierce headwinds, but the strength of its stay-at-home businesses should offset that slowdown. Tencent also recently took over Huya (NYSE:HUYA), the largest video game streaming platform in China, to bolster its gaming and video streaming ecosystem and attract more Gen Z users.
Analysts still expect Tencent's revenue and earnings to rise 21% and 15%, respectively, this year. The stock isn't cheap at over 30 times forward earnings, but that premium is arguably justified by its diverse portfolio, wide moat, and entrenched positions across multiple high-growth markets.
Paris-based LVMH (OTC:LVMU.Y), the world's top luxury goods company, might seem like a risky investment as the pandemic curbs consumer spending. However, we should remember that the company -- which owns 75 iconic brands, including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Bvlgari, Hennessy, and Sephora -- has easily bounced back from previous market meltdowns.
Throughout the Great Recession, LVMH's revenue rose 7% in 2008, declined 4% in 2009, and rebounded 13% in 2010. Its stock price subsequently rose 240% over the past 10 years. The reason is simple: LVMH's affluent customers, who aren't living paycheck to paycheck, generally keep buying luxury goods throughout economic downturns.
LVMH's portfolio is also so well-diversified that it can usually offset the weakness of one business segment with the strength of others. Its organic sales tumbled 17% annually in the first quarter as the pandemic shut down most of its stores, but it noted its brands maintained "good resilience" and would "emerge even stronger" after the crisis ends.
Unlike other struggling retailers, LVMH isn't starved for cash or credit. It's already seeing purchases accelerate again in China as more stores reopen, and leveraging its online stores to pick up the slack in other markets.
LVMH pays a forward yield of 1.4%, and the stock isn't cheap at 30 times forward earnings. However, this luxury leader could rebound much faster than other retailers -- and investors are willing to pay a premium for a seat at the table.