After a volatile stretch earlier in the year, the stock market is going through a patch of relative calm. Since its bottom on March 23, the S&P 500 is up over 40%. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking the upward trajectory will continue unabated.
However, the recent surge in coronavirus cases and the uncertainties surrounding how long the pandemic will last -- or if localities will need to reverse course in reopening businesses -- could cause another market crash. Fiscal policy is another factor that can play a negative role. The bonus unemployment support of $600 per week is set to run out in July, which could take away an essential lifeline for millions of people.
Given the stock market's rapid bounce off the bottom and potential catalysts for another correction approaching, it's not a surprise that some people are waiting for a pullback before adding to their portfolios. If you've been putting aside money, waiting for the next opportunity to put those funds to work, here are two stocks to consider.
Home Depot has our essential needs covered
Home Depot (HD 0.71%) proved to be resilient during the pandemic. Sales surged to $28.3 billion in the fiscal 2020 first quarter, a 7.1% increase from the prior-year period as the retailer was deemed an essential business and remained open during lockdowns across the U.S. Still, it was not all good news. The company had to make adjustments that are increasing expenses to keep its 400,000 employees and customers safe from exposure to the coronavirus. However, when the pandemic has run its course, these costs can mostly be eliminated.
Importantly, in the post-pandemic long run, Home Depot can stave off Amazon from encroaching on its business. The nature of its inventory -- often bulky materials or equipment -- offers it protection from the e-commerce giant, which would have to invest substantially to build out the product availability and fulfillment capabilities to neutralize this competitive advantage.
Furthermore, management's three-year, $11 billion investment plan aims to sustain and grow this advantage over the competition. The initiative aims to make it easier for customers to order online and pick up in-store, for example, which is a more profitable transaction for Home Depot compared to shipping. In its most recent quarter, this fulfillment option made up 60% of overall internet sales for the company.
Moreover, long-lasting changes from the outbreak may boost revenue for Home Depot even when there is a return to normalcy. One of these changes is the growing number of young people moving out of big cities into the suburbs. The shift likely means people moving out of apartments into single-family homes, which will help Home Depot as families turn to the retailer to fix up and maintain their homes.
Additionally, the increasing prevalence of remote work is another change that has the potential to increase revenue for Home Depot long term. The work-from-home trend will require many people to upgrade existing in-home offices or build-out new workspaces entirely.
Nike's digital sales are lifting off like Jordan from the free-throw line
Nike's direct-to-consumer business allows it to continue reaching customers during a time when people are staying home more often. In its fiscal fourth quarter, Nike (NKE -0.32%) reported digital sales were up 75% year over year. During the earnings call, CFO Matthew Friend noted, "On average, a sale of an incremental unit via digital generates double the revenue versus a sale to wholesale with a higher gross margin, translating into two times the operating income dollars."
Additionally, the Nike Commerce App is gaining traction and has been downloaded eight million times since February. The data collected from the app will help inform the company on how people are using its products and how to create better ones that fit with what customers want most. That information will reduce the risk of spending millions on development and marketing for products that fail to resonate with consumers.
Nike is the market leader in athletic apparel and should benefit as gyms continue reopening and sports leagues resume their seasons. According to Nike, consumer interest in sports, fitness, health, and wellness has never been greater. The increase in interest was on full display when Disney's ESPN aired The Last Dance, a docuseries based on Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls. The documentary attracted record viewership.
Coinciding with the docuseries debut was increased sales of Nike's Jordan Brand. Next in its journey, The Last Dance will move to Netflix in July, which will further raise interest for the Jordan Brand and potentially provide another revenue boost.
What this means for investors
Home Depot and Nike are great companies that will likely increase your wealth if you invest in them for the long term. However, Home Depot is selling at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 24, on the high end of its historical range. Meanwhile, Nike shares are trading at 41 times forward earnings estimates, though that figure has recently spiked as a result of business disruptions from the pandemic.
The relatively rich valuations and the potential macro factors that could roil the broad market make it practical to wait for a pullback before buying shares in these leading consumer goods stocks.