Vaccines are rolling out. President Biden is pushing new spending packages. Earnings season is in full swing, and stocks are at all-time highs.
There's a lot to wrap you head around in the stock market these days as the economy reopens and Americans begin to return to pre-pandemic lifestyles. If you're looking for a few good ideas for where to invest, take a look what five of our writers chose as their top stock for May. Keep reading to see why they like Revolve Group (RVLV 9.33%), Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP -1.25%), Skechers (SKX 3.34%), Netflix (NFLX 3.29%), and Zoom Video Communications (ZM 8.52%)
Get ready for hot vax summer
Jeremy Bowman (Revolve Group): It's a difficult to forecast exactly what the recovery will look like, but one thing is clear. There is enormous pent-up demand to do the kind of things we've been unable to do during the pandemic. Americans, especially young people, are desperate to return to social gatherings, parties, wedding, concerts, and other such live events that were off-limits during the health crisis.
There are a number of ways to play that trend, but one of the most appealing is with Revolve Group. The company is an influencer-driven online apparel retailer targeting millennials and Gen Z. There's substantial evidence that Americans are starting to buy "going-out" clothes again as retailers like American Eagle, Anthropologie, and Everlane have reported, in anticipation of returning to a normal social life. That's great news for Revolve, whose top-selling category is dresses.
Apparel sales plunged last year across the industry, but Revolve handled the pandemic challenges well, and actually delivered a solid increase in profit in 2020, thanks to strong inventory management, even as revenue declined 3%. That's a testament to the company's execution and sets it up well to capitalize on the reopening, from which the company said it is "well-positioned to benefit."
Revolve will report first-quarter earnings on May 6. While the January-March period probably won't deliver any fireworks just yet, management's guidance could call for a sharp spike in sales as its customer base gets ready to celebrate the end of the pandemic. Some upbeat remarks in the report could send the stock soaring.
Leading the energy transition
Matt DiLallo (Brookfield Renewable Partners): The global economy is slowly switching fuel sources. It's pivoting from carbon-emitting fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives like renewable energy. This massive undertaking will take an estimated $100 trillion investment over the next 30 years.
One of the companies leading this charge is Brookfield Renewable. It's already a global leader in renewable energy with a diversified platform that includes hydroelectric, wind, solar, and energy storage. It sells the power these assets produce under long-term, fixed-price contracts. That enables it to generate steady cash flow to pay an attractive dividend and invest in new renewable energy projects.
Brookfield Renewable currently has more projects in its backlog than its entire operating portfolio. Add in other growth drivers like rising power prices as well as future acquisitions, and it should have ample power to continue growing its cash flow and dividend. Brookfield estimates it can grow the former by at least a 10% annual per share rate through 2025. Meanwhile, it sees the latter rising at around a 5% to 9% yearly pace during that timeframe. That leads Brookfield to believe it can generate total returns in the mid-teens over the long-term, which should enable it to continue beating the market in the coming years.
Skechers is making a comeback
Tim Green (Skechers): The pandemic has been rough for footwear retailer and manufacturer Skechers. Sales tumbled nearly 12% last year as COVID-19 forced retail store closures and changed consumer behavior, and the bottom line plunged..
The worst is now very clearly over. Skechers reported a blowout first-quarter report in April, with sales soaring 15% and earnings per share nearly doubling. The company set a quarterly sales record, driven by 24% growth in international wholesale and 18% growth in direct-to-consumer. Notably, sales in China were up an astonishing 174%.
What's more, Skechers expects the momentum to continue for the rest of the year. The company is calling for revenue between $5.8 billion and $5.9 billion for 2021, along with EPS between $1.80 and $1.90. At the midpoint, that guidance represents sales growth of 27% and a near-tripling of EPS compared to 2020.
Skechers still has a rock-solid balance sheet even after weathering a difficult year. Net of debt, it has over $600 million in cash. That cash gives the company plenty of firepower to invest in growth and to potentially buy back stock.
Shares of Skechers trade just shy of their all-time high, but it's not too late to invest in this pandemic recovery stock.
Netflix really shouldn't be this cheap
Anders Bylund (Netflix): Digital video giant Netflix (NFLX 3.29%) got a haircut a couple of weeks ago. The company fell short of its own subscriber additions target, delivering 4 million net new paying subscribers instead of 6 million, triggering an immediate drop in share prices.
That's a shortsighted reaction that ignores the company's larger context. Streaming services are disrupting the traditional cable TV industry around the world, led by Netflix and a small handful of powerful rivals. At the same time, the high-speed internet service that makes these video services possible are becoming available to billions of people who never had that option before. And, reliable payment services that will allow unbanked consumers to sign up for monthly subscription programs like Netflix are also rolling out worldwide.
In other words, the addressable market for broadband-based subscription services should see a ton of growth over the next couple of decades, and I can't think of a single company that benefits more from these converging trends than Netflix does.
So what's a couple of million missing subscribers worth in that scenario? The market reaction removed roughly $20 billion from Netflix's market cap and the stock is trading roughly 15% below February's all-time highs today.
In reality, Netflix reported 208 million paid subscribers instead of 210 million, which amounts to a rounding error in the big picture. This small hiccup will be forgiven and forgotten the next time Netflix collects more subscribers than expected. The only reason to pay attention the price drop is to take advantage of it to buy some Netflix shares at a generous discount.
This COVID winner is on sale
Brian Feroldi (Zoom Video Communications): Few companies benefited from COVID-19 as much as Zoom Video Communication. The company's product went from nice-to-have to must-have virtually overnight, which led to explosive demand.
Zoom's 2020 numbers were so good that they are almost hard to believe. Customer count grew 470% to more than 467,000. The dollar-based net expansion rate exceeded 130%. Revenue grew 326% to $2.65 billion. Free cash flow jumped 11-fold to $1.39 billion. Non-GAAP net income per share was up 9-fold to $3.34. It was in a game-changing year on every front.
The amazing numbers caused Zoom's investors to realize multibagger returns in 2020. However, Zoom's stock has been in the doldrums since October. Wall Street is worried that its growth rate is going to slow to a crawl as COVID restrictions ease up and people start to return to in-person work. As a result, the share price is down more than 40% since its 2020 highs.
Are the glory days over? I don't think so. Zoom previously believed that its total addressable market opportunity was about $43 billion, which, if true, provides plenty of room for growth. However, that estimate was made before COVID-19 took hold. When adding in Zoom's other growth initiatives like Zoom Phone, I think there's still plenty of runway ahead of this business.
Zoom's management team doesn't think the good times will end anytime soon. They are currently projecting that revenue will grow another 42% in fiscal 2022 to $3.77 billion. While shares still cannot be called "cheap" -- the stock is trading for about 89 times next year's earnings estimates -- I think that's a reasonable valuation for a top-tier growth stock.