Glancing at the headline numbers, the stock market seems to be doing well. The S&P 500 is up over 10% for the year and the Dow Jones Industrial Average just hit a new intraday high above 35,000. Yet at the same time, last year's market leaders (small-cap tech stocks) are vastly underperforming the market. Cathie Wood's ARK Innovation ETF, which in many ways embodies hypergrowth investing, is down over 15% for the year.
Investors continue to shift away from growth toward income and value. With that, we asked some of our contributors which value stocks they thought were worth buying now. They chose United Parcel Service (UPS -0.54%), JELD-WEN (JELD -1.25%), and Acuity Brands (AYI -0.09%).
Daniel Foelber (United Parcel Service): UPS's surge has been nothing short of extraordinary. It was one of just a handful of industrial stocks that grew revenue and adjusted earnings throughout the pandemic. On top of that, it has been one of the few companies across all sectors that continues to grow in a post-pandemic environment. This dynamic starkly contrasts with other "pandemic plays" like Peloton, whose record-high results will be hard to surpass in the years to come.
UPS's business-to-consumer sales soared during the pandemic as more customers ordered online. Yet what makes UPS stand out is its ability to tap into small and medium-sized businesses looking to grow their e-commerce presence. This was a trend in the making that accelerated during the pandemic.
During its most recent earnings call, UPS noted that SMB volumes reached a new high in the first quarter and continue to grow faster than its larger customers. At the same time, UPS is seeing a rebound from its business-to-business customers as the broader economy recovers.
Complementing this strong domestic performance is its international segment. International has been UPS's secret weapon. Its operating margin consistently comes in between 20% to 25%, whereas UPS as a whole tends to garner margin in the low double digits. International has also been the main contributor to growing UPS's bottom line -- comprising over one-third of net income in the first quarter.
Without international, UPS would be a moderate success. But with impressive revenue growth from U.S. domestic paired with the profitability from international, UPS is a breakout value stock that is able to fund its growth and grow its dividend.
Lee Samaha (JELD-WEN): Investors in doors and windows company JELD-WEN woke up to a double-digit decline in their stock price on May 11. The reason? It comes down to an offering of 10 million shares by a major shareholder, Onex Corporation, and investment funds managed by Onex. JELD-WEN will purchase 1 million shares with the remaining 9 million offered to the public from time to time.
That's likely to act as an overhang on the stock until it's cleared. Unfortunately, it's tough to predict the timing of this, but what investors can know is the value of the stock. As you can see below, JELD-WEN looks like a good value by most conventional valuation metrics.
In addition, if the U.S. housing market is in the early innings of a multi-year recovery, then JELD-WEN is very well placed to be a key beneficiary -- around 47% of its sales go to the new residential construction market. For reference, the company is the leading player in the North American residential doors market.
The heavy exposure to new residential construction means JELD-WEN will suffer in any housing slowdown because it's less reliant on the repair and remodel market than many other housing-related stocks. That said, the housing market is a pretty good place to be in right now, and annual housing sales are still shy of the levels reached before the last housing peak in 2006.
Buying this bargain stock is a bright idea
Scott Levine (Acuity Brands): While tech stocks have suffered precipitous declines recently, many investors unsurprisingly are looking for options that are exhibiting less volatility -- stocks like Acuity Brands. A global leader in lighting products and solutions, Acuity Brands, currently found in the discount bin, provides investors a steady stock that can offset some of the turbulence that they may be finding in other parts of their portfolio.
With infrastructure rising in importance among President Biden's priorities, Acuity stands to benefit considerably from the passage of a bill that would provide for an increase in infrastructure spending -- especially with regards to its Holophane brand, which specializes in outdoor LED lighting. But that's hardly the only reason investors should consider lighting up their portfolios with Acuity.
As is the case for so many other businesses, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the company's top line; however, Acuity has successfully reigned in costs and consistently generated a strong gross profit over the past year. In Q2 2021, Acuity reported a gross profit margin of 43.4%, representing an increase of over 170 basis points above what it reported during the same period last year. Further down the income statement, Acuity recognized more year-over-year growth in profitability; it reported an operating profit margin of 11.7%, an increase of 180 basis points over Q2 2020.
On the Q2 2021 conference call, management recognized that COVID-19 continues to pose challenges for the company, but it also acknowledged that there are signs that its end markets are improving. In addition, management acknowledged the potential growth that the company can achieve through acquisitions -- a strategy that the company has benefited from in the past as it moves into other markets. Speaking to this, CEO Neil Ashe reiterated that the company has aspired "to be a technology company that solves problems and spaces in light and we see the opportunity to expand to additional areas over time."
Despite the fact that shares of Acuity popped 12% in April after the company reported a strong Q2 2021 earnings report, the stock still seems cheap. Currently, it's trading at 14.2 times operating cash flow, a bargain considering its five-year average multiple is 17.3. And that's not the only perspective from which the stock seems inexpensive. Shares are trading hands at about 2.2 times sales, representing a discount to the S&P 500, which has a P/S ratio of three.