The COVID-19 pandemic harmed many industries even as it sparked soaring demand in areas like home furnishings, home entertainment, and pantry essentials. Some of the hardest-hit niches included travel and apparel as shoppers postponed vacation trips and spent less on clothing in 2020.
Now those trends are swinging back in the opposite direction, which is creating some attractive opportunities for investors. So, let's look at why you might want to buy shares of lululemon athletica (NASDAQ:LULU), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), and TJX Companies (NYSE:TJX) before these three companies post what should be dramatic rebounds in 2021.
1. Lululemon: The athleisure movement has legs
Athletic apparel specialist Lululemon is already looking like a stronger business than it was before the pandemic struck. That's a high bar to clear, too, considering that its sales were soaring and margins were rising for several years prior to 2020.
Last year was a break from that story. Sales rose just 10% and gross profit margin was flat. But CEO Calvin McDonald and his team are predicting a 22% sales surge in the retailer's fiscal 2021 now that stores are seeing steady customer traffic again, while the e-commerce segment continues to handle fundamentally higher sales volumes.
Shareholders should reap the rewards of that market-thumping growth over the next year or so. But even bigger gains are to come as Lululemon branches out into new geographies and new clothing demographics. Its $6 billion of expected annual sales this year, up from $4 billion in 2019, might be just a small step on the way to much higher revenue.
2. TripAdvisor: Primed for a rebound
Over the past few months, investors have scaled back their excitement about TripAdvisor's impending rebound, but that presents a profit opportunity to buyers of its stock today. Traffic to its network of travel booking websites hit 80% of pre-COVID levels in March, management said in May. Widespread vaccine availability in the U.S. could prime the travel industry for a much bigger rebound: Most Wall Street pros are looking for sales to rise by more than 200% year over year in the second quarter.
TripAdvisor hadn't solved its core problem of creating a sustainably profitable business before the pandemic struck, but it was making progress at cutting expenses and moving into the booking of experiences and restaurant reservations. Investors who buy the stock now are hoping these wins will propel a sharp rebound for this popular travel booking platform.
3. TJX Companies: Back in business
The retail chains operated by TJX Companies weren't classified as essential businesses during the pandemic, and the lack of that designation helped ensure that sales cratered during the pandemic shutdowns. The company's share price rebound since the depths of the early 2020 market crash was also less pronounced than those of rivals like Target, which remained open.
However, there are some good reasons to believe TJX Companies will see a lift to its business similar to the one Target experienced. In late May, management revealed that sales in its fiscal second quarter are running significantly higher, in line with the prior quarter's strong results.
Its HomeGoods division is looking especially attractive as the home furnishing niche expands. Success there, and in its core off-price apparel segment, should power a much brighter 2021 for shareholders.
Those returns will be amplified by a reinstated dividend and aggressive spending on stock buybacks. TJX Companies was on the cusp of joining the Dividend Aristocrats before the pandemic forced it to pause its payouts. But even though it won't earn that prestigious designation, the company has a long history of returning cash to shareholders. Look for that pattern to resume as the business returns to setting sales records in the months ahead.