Stock indexes are near record highs in early May, as investors anticipate booming economic growth through the rest of 2021. The COVID-19 virus threat is slowly subsiding in the U.S., which is now sparking rebounds in a few industries that were pummeled by social-distancing efforts over the past year.
So let's look at a few standout businesses that, while attractive investments in their own right, are positioned for a growth spike as economies fully reopen over the next few months. Read on for some good reasons to like Coca-Cola (KO -0.66%), Winnebago (WGO -0.52%), and lululemon athletica (LULU 2.27%) as stock buys today.
Coca-Cola took an unusually big hit from the pandemic. It didn't benefit from having a large snack and foods business, like PepsiCo (PEP -0.98%), or a huge presence in supermarket chains and big-box retailers. That situation spurred a near-10% slump in organic sales last year while Pepsi kept growing at a healthy clip.
But Coke might have the last laugh. The beverage giant's focus on on-the-go beverages means it should see surging sales as consumers start moving around during relaxed social-distancing efforts. Investors were treated to some early signs of this boost as volumes hit new all-time records in March.
And while the sales rebound will be bumpy, Coke's industry-leading profitability should help support strong returns for shareholders in 2021 and beyond.
Winnebago has turned in some eye-popping operating results over the last few months. Sales have been soaring as consumers turned to recreational vehicles as an alternative to international travel and other indoor-focused vacation options.
RV prices are rising, too, thanks to a flood of innovative product launches and a reduced need for promotions at dealerships. Winnebago is also benefiting from a wider portfolio that today includes several industry-leading brands like Grand Designs, Newmar, and Chris-Craft.
Relaxed social distancing isn't likely to harm this momentum. Instead, CEO Michael Happe and his team said in late March that demand is still spiking through early 2021. That optimism is backed up by metrics like soaring order backlog. As a result, investors holding this consumer discretionary stock are likely to see rising earnings and increased market share through the next phase of economic recovery.
3. Lululemon Athletica
You might have a hard time finding the negative impact from the pandemic on Lululemon's business. The yoga-inspired apparel specialist posted a 10% sales increase for fiscal 2020, and earnings expanded at an even faster pace thanks to spiking profit margins.
There's far more growth ahead, as illustrated by its 24% sales jump in the most recent quarter. Lululemon is predicting that sales will reach about $5.6 billion this year compared to $4.4 billion in 2020, with help from loosening customer traffic restrictions in key markets like China, Europe, and the U.S.
A return to in-person exercising classes is sure to help the business, but Lululemon proved over the past year that assets like its digital sales channel and pop-up store base are enough to keep sales rising through unpredictable demand environments. That implies a strong period ahead for the business as it pushes into new markets and expands outside of its traditional demographic by selling more menswear and outerwear.