Recent weeks have been a stark reminder that stocks don't always go up. But volatility and uncertain markets can provide compelling opportunities to buy great companies at discount prices. Figuring out what those stocks are in advance can be half the battle.
On this clip from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 25, "The Wrap" host Jason Hall and Fool.com contributors Danny Vena and Lou Whiteman each share a stock that they'd buy without thinking twice if the stock fell 25%.
Jason Hall: We're leading with this theme of the 25% decline day. It's interesting because we've already seen some well-known companies, some high-quality businesses with stocks that have fallen pretty sharply. And I thought it would be interesting if we could each just talk about a stock that we'd buy without even thinking twice, that we'd buy if the stock fell 25%. Danny, you want to kick this off?
Danny Vena: Absolutely. This is not theory. I'm talking from experience here. I want to take you back in your mind's eye to February of last year when we were looking at the market that was just falling. It seemed like day after day, after day after day, after day. It did that for more than a month, it was like five or six weeks. It was the fastest and quickest bear market decline that the market had ever seen.
We got to one point where I was looking at my portfolio and there was one stock in there where I said, there is no way that this stock is worth 50% less than what it was four weeks ago. Even if bad things happen, this stock is worth more.
If you think about economic uncertainty and you think about recessions, one of the first things that happens is companies will batten down the hatches. They will rein in spending. They'll try to augment their balance sheet. They'll try to spend less money.
One of the first lines, having been a controller in a previous life, one of the first and easiest lines to save money on is marketing and advertising. Companies will rein in their spending there.
The first thing I did was four weeks into the crash last year, I doubled down on my position on The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD). Because I know that the Trade Desk is a company that deals in digital advertising and it's a solid, solid bet on this overarching trend toward digital and programmatic advertising.
One of the things I really like about the company, and this proved out further on into the downturn, was that companies are not going to stop advertising altogether. But they're going to want more bang for their buck, they want more return on that investment.
What happened was, as even at the depth of the downturn, The Trade Desk was able to increase its year-over-year revenue growth because companies wanted that bang for their buck. If we had a 25% crash, I would buy more shares of The Trade Desk without even thinking about it.
Hall: Lou, I like where you're going with the one you've got lined up.
Lou Whiteman: Honestly, part of mine it's a good company, where part of mine is purely irrational emotion, too, but [laughs] I'm going to go with that.
Danny, I'm going back a year ago, too, and NextEra Energy (NYSE:NEE) is my white whale, and I almost bought it last March. It fell like a 35% in a matter of weeks. But I didn't, I bought other things instead. It has given me ulcers ever since [laughs] looking at it, it's up I think somewhere up [laughs] 60% since, then it was up 90% only a few weeks ago.
I love this company and the combination of the predictable income as a utility and the forward focus using that income to invest in renewables. The company makes so much sense, but it's so expensive. I think what nearly double the forward earnings multiples most of these utilities, it's been falling in recent days. Maybe I'll get a chance. It's not done 25%.
But despite everything we preach about "buy up winners," the value of good companies, I will confess on this one. I get anchored to that price I passed on and it annoys me and I haven't been able to buy it. If it was to plunge some 25% tomorrow or something, I think I'd run and buy it, so that's my choice.
Hall: I have a tough time paying eight times sales for utility.
Hall: That's what I continue to come back to it NextEra Energy. But it's the best utility to own full stop.
Hall: They are so dynamic there. They are exactly the things you said. They are where utilities are going to be. I agree with you very much. I'm a huge fan, and I would do the same thing.
I'm going to go in a similar vein here. I'm going to talk about Brookfield Renewable Corporation (NYSE:BEPC) and Brookfield Renewable Partners (NYSE:BEP). There's two tickers, Brookfield Renewable Corporations, BEPC, Brookfield Renewable Partners, BEP.
Not going to get into the implications of the difference. Besides, there are some tax implications that could affect which one makes the best sense for you to own.
But I think in terms of buying a business that offers you the best, like high floor, but also very high ceiling, I think Brookfield Renewable Partners is perfect. This is a business that makes its money selling electricity that are generated from renewable assets: wind and solar, hydro-electric.
These guys are just really good at investing in assets and getting meaningful long-term returns and growing those returns over time and growing the cash flows so they can return to investors.
By the way, guess what? Brookfield Renewable Partners is down 27% from the high earlier this year. There you go, guys. Go load up on it. Brookfield Renewable Corporation's down that much. Brookfield Renewable Partners is down 16%.
Part of that is a little bit of a normalization because these two are economic equivalents. With this, you own the same amount of the same business. They pay the same quarterly distribution to investors, Brookfield Renewable Corporation's share price had gone up wildly higher, so the little bit of this normalization. But this is an incredible business that to be able to buy at a double-digit discounts what investors would pay for it just a few weeks ago, it's absolutely worth buying.