While COVID-19 cases have seen a resurgence in recent weeks, social restrictions have eased across several states over the last year. Just as the pandemic caused a sales boom for companies that provide digital services, the reopening could drive equally strong near-term demand for certain consumer discretionary companies that experienced a sales collapse in 2020.
Which stocks should you buy? We asked a team of Motley Fool contributors for their best reopening picks. Here's why they chose Yeti Holdings (YETI -1.94%), Walt Disney (DIS -1.46%), and Airbnb (ABNB -0.47%).
A promising small-cap growth stock
John Ballard (Yeti Holdings): Amazon recently released some shopping data showing booming sales for luggage and rising demand for teeth-whitening toothpaste, which is quite revealing of how eager people are to return to normal routines.
The growing desire for travel spells booming demand for Yeti's premium coolers, backpacks, thermal mugs, and other outdoor essentials. Sales accelerated for the second straight quarter through Q2, driven by a 69% increase in drinkware products and a 23% increase in coolers and equipment.
The stock is up 50% year to date, but management's guidance suggest more upside could be in store. Management now expects full-year sales to grow between 26% to 28% over 2020, with adjusted profits growing slightly faster.
Yeti has garnered itself a niche brand in a consumer goods category that is ripe for explosive growth in the near term as people plan trips and outdoor activities. What's really attractive about the stock is that it trades at a fairly reasonable price-to-earnings to growth (PEG) ratio of 1.66 relative to analysts' long-term growth expectations, which makes it an attractive reopening stock to buy right now.
Waiting to start the party at the House of Mouse
Jennifer Saibil (Walt Disney): Badly beaten by pandemic closures, Disney remains one of the most powerful entertainment companies in the world, and it has managed to stay profitable while sales have decreased. Streaming has been a big part of that, and Disney's vast content library lends itself to success in many areas.
It's unique in that it's a top company whose struggles haven't ceased as the economy has started to recover in the U.S., like others who weathered the hard times. Many great companies that suffered during the pandemic, such as Nike and Coca-Cola, are on the rebound and posting dramatic sales increases as compared with pandemic lows, and even overtaking 2019 levels.
That's because Disney is reliant on tourism for what was once its largest segment, parks and experiences. These have been closed or operating at limited capacity since the pandemic started, now for over a year, with no clear end date. There have been some positive developments in parks progress, such as the opening of Disneyland in May and the Shanghai park operating at or above 2019 levels in the second quarter. At Disney World, spending per guest increased by double-digits year over year in Q2. The company has also been adding new rides to parks in anticipation of welcoming back guests. But after two quarters of losses, Disney has already posted two quarters of profits, even as sales still decreased year over year in the first and second quarters.
Some of that comes from the excellent performance of Disney+, and all of its streaming sites. Disney+ added more than 100 million subscribers in less than a year and a half of operations, and the company expects that to grow to up to 260 million by 2024. Hulu and ESPN+ were winners as well during the pandemic, and Disney reorganized to get the most of its unmatched content library. But parks are still weighing on the top line, and when the economy truly reopens, sales should skyrocket.
Despite sales decreases, the stock price has rebounded, gaining nearly 50% over the past year. Investors are confident in the entertainment king's chances for future success. Disney stock has returned 360% over the past 10 years, and between its parks and experiences, streaming, and other businesses, investors should expect more gains.
This travel stock is ready to stretch its legs
Parkev Tatevosian (Airbnb): With a popular business model that offers more selection to travelers than hotels in both destination and type, Airbnb has a competitive advantage that is difficult to overcome. For instance, on Airbnb you can book a room inside a host's apartment in an urban city or reserve an entire beachfront home.
Airbnb's revenue crashed at the onset of the pandemic as travel nearly came to a halt. Economies were shutting down worldwide, and people were hesitant to get on a plane with other passengers. Thankfully, over 4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, allowing governments to ease lockdowns. Airbnb stands to benefit from the pent-up demand.
In its most recent quarter, Airbnb reported revenue that has surpassed levels before the pandemic. Moreover, unearned fees, essentially nights booked but not yet experienced, surged 44% from the same quarter last year. Keep in mind that while economies are reopening, many international restrictions have yet to be removed, making Airbnb's sales recovery all the more impressive. As more COVID-19 vaccines are administered and people have more freedom to travel, Airbnb should continue to expand.
The company is still in the beginning stages of expansion. The hotel and resort industry worldwide is estimated to be worth $1.21 trillion in 2019. By comparison, Airbnb generated a paltry $10.3 billion in bookings in its most recent quarter. Moreover, one of the pandemic trends that's likely to remain in the aftermath of the crisis is expanded remote working opportunities. People working from home will no longer be tied to a single location, freeing them up to travel more than before.
Airbnb has a business model with a competitive advantage and a long runway for growth, which could deliver strong gains for investors in this reopening stock.