Just before I sat down to write this, the S&P 500 hit a fresh all-time high. That means that the most popular benchmark stock index is actually more expensive than it was at its pre-coronavirus peak.
However, not all stocks have rebounded so strongly from this year's plunge. In fact, if you look at some of the more beaten-down industries like banking and real estate, you could find some incredible values for patient long-term investors. Three in particular that I think are worthy of a closer look are Ryman Hospitality Properties (NYSE:RHP), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Tanger Factory Outlet Centers (NYSE:SKT).
An awful business -- for now
Hotels have obviously been a terrible business in 2020. But group-focused hotels like those operated by Ryman Hospitality Properties (which owns the Gaylord hotels) are doing really badly. Many hotels decided to stay open during the pandemic, but given that virtually every convention, conference, and trade show has canceled for the rest of 2020, Ryman didn't even bother -- in late March, it shuttered all five of its landmark hotels, and most are just now starting to get back on track. The company has done a good job of pivoting its near-term focus to leisure travelers, but Ryman needs large groups of guests who show up for big events -- plain and simple. Shares of this real estate investment trust are still down by more than 60% from their pre-pandemic levels, and it's easy to see why.
Even so, there are reasons to be optimistic about the REIT's future. One of the best things about group-focused hotels is that event organizers tend to be loyal. Events book their spaces years in advance in many cases, and often return to the same venues year after year. In fact, Ryman has successfully rebooked nearly half a million canceled room nights from 2020, and actually has more reservations on its books for 2021 and 2022 than it did at this point last year.
In a nutshell, the group hotel business may take significantly longer to rebound than either the leisure or business travel hospitality segments. But it will rebound, and when it does, it will be an excellent business to be in.
Warren Buffett's (new) favorite bank stock
We recently learned that Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A)(NYSE:BRK-B) has been unloading some of its bank stocks. In addition to selling its entire Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) stake, the conglomerate also sold billions of dollars worth of Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) shares during the second quarter, and also reduced several of its smaller bank stock positions.
However, we also learned that Warren Buffett and his team have spent more than $2 billion to add to the company's massive Bank of America investment in the weeks since the second quarter ended. Berkshire now owns more than 1 billion shares of the bank – an 11.9% stake in it worth more than $26 billion.
It's not difficult to see why Buffett is a fan of Bank of America. CEO Brian Moynihan and his team have done a fantastic job of improving asset quality and efficiency since the financial crisis, and they have also done a great job of crafting a favorable public perception of the brand. In recent quarters (before the pandemic), Bank of America's loan and deposit growth rates have generally been the best of the large U.S. banks.
While there are certainly some short-term uncertainties regarding how the pandemic will affect the bank's business, the fact remains that this is a well-run institution that should be just fine long term. And it's a well-run institution that trades for just 91% of its book value right now.
Lots of potential after some challenging times
Shares of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, the only pure-play outlet shopping REIT, have performed terribly during the pandemic. Despite the broader stock market rebound, Tanger is still down by nearly 60% in 2020.
There are certainly some good reasons for this. Not only were most of Tanger's tenants forced to shut their doors during the early phases of the health crisis, but several of its major tenants like Ascena Brands, J. Crew, and Brooks Brothers have filed for bankruptcy in recent months. In fact, management recently said that 11% of its billed second-quarter rent would be uncollectible specifically because of tenant bankruptcies.
However, the future could still be bright for the outlet industry. Tanger recently reported that it's having success in filling vacated spaces with larger-scale retailers such as furniture stores, and has suggested that it plans to bring more experience-oriented tenants to its properties. Plus, the outlet industry itself is still relatively small, and there are major U.S. markets that don't have any outlet centers at all. When the dust settles from the pandemic, I wouldn't be surprised to see this retail REIT with a 27-year track record of success make some big moves.
Expect a roller-coaster ride
As a final thought, it's worth emphasizing that these three value stocks could be excellent choices for patient, long-term investors. They are likely to be rather volatile for the rest of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I have absolutely no idea what any of them will do over the next month or year. Having said that, I'm confident that investors who hold onto them for years to come will be glad they bought before their recovery.