The leaves are changing colors, the weather is getting colder, and many businesses right now are preparing for the last quarter of 2021 -- typically, their biggest season. Investors can take advantage of that seasonality by finding stocks to invest in that are well-positioned to thrive during this time.
1. For Etsy, differentiation is a critical strength
As the leading online marketplace for handcrafted and vintage goods, Etsy is a top destination for shoppers seeking creative gift ideas for their friends and family. You can find a broad assortment of items on Etsy's site, ranging from jewelry and clothing to toys and home décor. It doesn't take much of an imagination to recognize that Etsy's 5.2 million active sellers can serve its 90.5 million active buyers with a truly diverse set of products.
During the fourth quarter of 2020, Etsy's gross merchandise sales (GMS) and revenue surged 118% and 129%, respectively, over the same time last year. It will certainly be a difficult task to show the same monster growth numbers this time around, but management is optimistic.
"As we look beyond Q3, we are excited about the upcoming holiday season, with so many product and marketing initiatives already bearing fruit and more to come," CFO Rachel Glaser said on the Q3 earnings call. One of these initiatives that has shown remarkable success is the seller "Thank You" coupons that merchants can immediately send to buyers in order to encourage repeat purchases. "Now 11% of purchases include a Thank You coupon," CEO Josh Silverman pointed out.
Etsy doesn't carry any of its own inventory. It simply facilitates transactions that happen on its marketplace. So the business isn't directly affected by supply-chain or labor-shortage issues facing many other physical-goods companies. In fact, because 88% of buyers admit to finding things on Etsy that they can't find anywhere else, a longer wait time is expected and accepted for a truly unique item.
By the holidays, management believes it can hit its goal of having 90% of domestic orders display an expected delivery date. This will drive higher buyer confidence and engagement, and it could be the push Etsy needs to ascend to even greater heights.
2. Lululemon's premium pricing offers flexibility
Lululemon, the burgeoning "athleisure" brand, has become extremely popular with both female and male customers. And the popularity of remote work thanks to the pandemic has had an impact on what we choose to wear. Now that we're naturally spending more time at home and less time in an office, the desire for all-day comfort has never been more relevant.
Customers of Lululemon know that the company sells premium products. The gross margin, an indication of pricing power, was an incredible 58.1% in the last quarter. What better gift to give your loved ones than high-quality, fashionable, and extremely comfortable apparel that they will probably wear more often than they initially think.
Unsurprisingly, Lululemon's fiscal fourth quarter, which includes November, December, and January, is the most lucrative time of the year for its business. During that period last year, Lululemon generated record quarterly sales of $1.7 billion, a 23.8% year-over-year jump. For the upcoming fourth quarter, Lululemon plans to launch a new and improved website for its at-home fitness subsidiary Mirror as well as prioritize the production of key, in-demand styles.
Although Lululemon can't ignore supply-chain and inventory issues plaguing the global economy today, the premium status of its products affords the business the ability to invest in greater shipping capacity. CEO Calvin McDonald explains, "Our vertically integrated model and high margin structure allows us to use more airfreight while still delivering gross margin expansion."
Moreover, management expects the inventory balance to expand 15% to 20% in the final months of this year vs. last year, helping ensure it has plenty of goods to sell. McDonald firmly believes this will support the company's upgraded revenue guidance of about $1.4 billion for this quarter.
The final stretch of the year is here, and companies are positioning themselves for what will be another busy holiday shopping season. Smart investors should view this as an opportunity to adjust their portfolios. Adding Etsy and Lululemon to your shopping bags could be a great decision.