The past two months have been rough for investors, with the S&P 500 slipping 6.6%. But a market drop of that level doesn't necessarily mean we should avoid buying stocks. In fact, this could be the perfect time to scoop up a few bargains.
Market turmoil isn't over, of course. Mounting coronavirus cases, the election aftermath, and economic weakness may continue to weigh on even the strongest companies. But long-term investors will eventually reap the rewards of investing today.
If you have $10,000 to spend on stocks, look for companies with a track record of revenue and profit -- and bright future prospects. Three companies -- an online retail giant, a leader in fast food, and the go-to company for telehealth -- appear to fit that description. Let's find out a bit more about them.
1. Amazon: A hot stock trading at a discount right now
Many consumers prefer avoiding crowds these days as the coronavirus crisis continues. And that has offered online retailer Amazon (AMZN 4.44%) an extra advantage. During the height of the crisis, the company had to hire 175,000 workers just to keep up with orders. Most recently, Amazon reported a 37% year-over-year increase in third-quarter net sales to $96 billion. Net income tripled to $6.3 billion.
The company predicts fourth-quarter sales will climb in the range of 28% to 38% from the prior year. That represents $112 billion to $121 billion in sales for the period. I expect Amazon will benefit in these final weeks of the year as consumers continue to opt for online shopping. And official COVID-19-related lockdowns in markets such as France and the U.K. heading into the holiday season should boost Amazon's international sales. But the company isn't a "coronavirus only" buy. It has proven itself even in ordinary times; annual revenue has gained consistently for more than a decade.
Amazon shares fell 3.6% in October. That might not seem like much. But the stock price is now lower than even the lowest Wall Street 12-month share price forecast.
2. McDonald's: Making progress despite the coronavirus headwind
Prior to the current health crisis, McDonald's (MCD 0.18%) posted a 5.9% year-over-year increase in global comparable sales -- its highest in more than a decade. The company suffered during the earlier days of the pandemic as some locations closed and consumers stayed home. But the fast-food giant's rebound has begun. Last month, McDonald's said third-quarter U.S. comparable sales were positive -- up 4.6% year over year. U.S. sales have improved from month to month since the 19% drop in April.
Though international sales still are negative, they, too, have improved from month to month. As a result, McDonald's total third-quarter comparable sales were down 2.2% from the prior year. In the second quarter, total sales fell more than 23% year over year. The restaurant chain is set to release full third-quarter earnings on Monday, Nov. 9.
McDonald's still will face rocky terrain amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Consumers continue to limit their activity beyond home and work. But McDonald's strength in drive-thru and the development of its online platform should fuel growth. Its shares slipped 3% in October, bringing its forward price-to-earnings ratio back to September's level.
3. Teladoc: Raised forecasts from a COVID-19 boost
Business is skyrocketing at Teladoc Health (TDOC -0.87%). The company, which provides a platform for online medical visits, reported a 109% year-over-year increase in third-quarter revenue to more than $288 million and said total visits soared 206% to 2.8 million. The company raised its forecast for full-year sales to more than $1 billion from an earlier forecast of $980 million to $995 million.
Teladoc serves about 51.5 million members and offers a selection of more than 450 medical subspecialties. The company recently completed a merger with Livongo, a specialist in the digital management of chronic diseases. For example, members can track their blood pressure, receive personal feedback, and chat with a health coach.
While the current crisis surely gave the telehealth industry a boost, we can expect the momentum to continue even once the crisis is over. Teladoc's increase in visits in the third quarter is a positive sign. At that point, most medical offices that had temporarily closed due to the outbreak had reopened. The global telehealth market is forecast to reach $55.6 billion by 2025, more than double this year's level, according to a MarketsandMarkets report.
Teladoc's shares slid 10% last month. And the company's price-to-sales ratio, a measure of a company's share price in relation to revenue, has fallen to about 16. That's its lowest since April. This level represents a good entry point for shares of a company that is at the beginning of its growth story.