The market's been roaring of late. In fact, it's been so bullish that some investors fear it may be due for at least a small setback.
The thing is, not every stock has fully participated in that rally. Some names are lagging the overall market, and a handful are still in the red in recent months even though they don't deserve to be. Among the buried treasure within these laggards are CVS Health (CVS -0.67%), Leidos Holdings (LDOS 0.09%), and Realty Income (O -1.20%). Here's why you may want to step into these picks while they're still on sale at bargain prices.
The coronavirus did more good than harm for CVS Health
Like most other stocks, CVS Health tanked in late February and early March. The arrival of COVID-19 in the United States simply sparked a sweeping panic. Unlike most other stocks, though, CVS was already losing ground at the beginning of the year, and it's failed to keep up with the overall market's rebound effort since June. End result? The S&P 500 is slightly up year to date, while CVS Health is down 13%. Uncertainty regarding the future of healthcare in the United States has taken an added toll, as has the feared effect of the coronavirus contagion.
This company is far more resilient than the market seems to be giving it any credit for, and its stock is cheap too.
One only has to look at last quarter's results to see the resiliency. Revenues grew 3% year over year despite mandatory and voluntary quarantining making it difficult for consumers to set foot in stores. Its insurance arm -- Aetna -- boosted its revenue by 6%. COVID-19 has actually been a good thing for the company, so much so that CVS Health raised its full-year earnings guidance.
That pandemic-driven boost won't last forever, of course, but bear in mind that the drugstore chain is becoming more than just a drugstore, and more than an insurer. It's becoming a one-stop shopping solution by adding walk-in clinics to its stores, helping meet the unique needs of kidney disease and cancer patients, and more. All of that makes it easier to choose the CVS/Aetna partnership over its rivals' offerings.
As for the stock's price, there aren't too many other names out there trading at less than 10 times next year's expecting earnings.
Leidos Holdings is cycle-resistant
CVS Health may be a household name, but Leidos Holdings isn't. There's a good chance, however, that you've tapped into one or more of Leidos Holdings' products without even realizing it. The company makes technology for industries including aviation, healthcare, and energy, just to name a few.
It's got a big base of diverse institutional customers, too. It's going to be building railroad car inspection systems for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which examines rail freight cars as they come into the country. Leidos was also recently awarded a managed IT contract by the Department of Justice. The company is collaborating on a possible treatment for COVID-19.
You get the idea -- Leidos Holdings has a lot of different levers it can pull to consistently make money. And, since much of its work is done for government agencies, it doesn't have to worry as much about cyclical slowdowns either. Analysts certainly aren't. They're still modeling a 12% sales improvement for the company this year, which should drive earnings from last year's $5.17 per share to $5.48 in 2020. Next year's sales and earnings growth is expected to be even better.
That growth outlook hasn't helped Leidos shares outperform the broad market, however. It was lagging the S&P 500 headed into February, and while it bounced nicely with the rest of the market in late March, the buyers gave up on the effort in June. Shares continue to lag, down about 3% for the year. Investors may not like the above-average price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios they've been seeing from LDOS of late.
But one has to pay for quality, and Leidos Holdings offers it in an environment where not a lot of other stocks can.
Realty Income is holding up better than expected
Finally, think about scooping up some Realty Income shares while it's down 15% for the year. It tumbled in March with most other equities, but even more so. The recovery effort since then has been disappointing too. While the S&P 500 has bounced 40% from its March low, Realty Income has rallied less than 30% from the hard landing following its 50% rout.
The market's worries about this real estate investment trust, or REIT, are certainly understandable. Realty Income is landlord to a lot of consumer-facing companies that could seemingly struggle during a recession. Among its top tenants are retailers like Walgreens Boots Alliance, 7-Eleven, Dollar General, LA Fitness gyms, FedEx, and AMC Theaters. A wide swath of other retail names stopped paying rent in April, claiming lockdowns and a business slowdown made it impossible to collect revenue.
Now take a closer, scrutinizing look at Realty Income's tenants. A bunch of them happen to be consumer-facing names not only positioned to hold up against the headwinds of a pandemic, but even thrive in it. Like the aforementioned CVS Health, Walgreens has actually seen some benefit from the coronavirus outbreak to offset weaker foot traffic. Dollar General has been an unexpected savior in the midst of the pandemic. Sales for the quarter ending in early May were up nearly 28%, with the company already well-positioned as a nearby, neighborhood seller of essentials, groceries, and consumables. Delivery companies like FedEx have allowed companies to continue doing business with customers by mail when in-person transactions were discouraged (if not impossible).
Realty Income suffered a loss for the three-month stretch ending in May, when the world was still scrambling for solutions. FedEx shares rallied 20% last month, though, with investors starting to believe things are already moving back toward normal. FedEx has even been able to tack on "peak" surcharges generally only seen when demand for deliveries to and from certain locales is exceedingly strong.
The end result? Realty Income was able to collect 91.5% of the rent payments it was due in July, up from a decent 86.5% collection rate for the entire quarter ending in June. Things never got quite as bad for the real estate investment trust as some may have expected, and collection rates are already firming up again.