Pessimism seems to be the prevailing theme in the current market. Yes, the S&P 500 index hit bear market territory last week, down by over 20% from its all-time high. Watching the red color all over the portfolio can be very unsettling, but what gets lost in such moments -- often clouded by media-driven fear and anxiety -- is the fact that bull and bear markets are natural progressions over time. In the history of the U.S. stock market, every bear market has been followed by a bull market. So if history is any indication, the current downturn too shall pass.
For savvy investors with long-term time horizons, bear markets in fact present excellent opportunities to invest in resilient businesses at bargain prices. Two such businesses worth investors' attention at this time are Lululemon (LULU 4.43%) and Accenture (ACN 1.48%). Let's look into why these two companies could make a great addition to your portfolio.
1. Lululemon: A battle-tested brand with exceptional staying power
Since its humble beginnings in a small yoga studio in Vancouver, Canada, in 1998, Lululemon has been at the forefront of the "athleisure" category and emerged into a top global brand. With its outstanding execution, the company has handily beaten the benchmark S&P 500 over the past five years, returning a massive 453% to shareholders vs. the S&P 500's 78%.
It hasn't always been an easy journey for Lululemon. The infamous scandal in 2013 around the quality of its yoga pants gave the company a major black eye. The handling of the situation by its founder and CEO at the time, Chip Wilson, was seen to worsen matters, eventually resulting in Wilson's exit. Laurent Potdevin then took on the CEO responsibilities, and his tenure was mired with controversies as well.
Lululemon's current CEO Calvin McDonald took over the reins in 2018 and has led the company remarkably. McDonald reinvested in innovation and built a culture of inclusivity. He is guiding the company through the COVID-19 pandemic and supply-chain challenges. It's a period of time that has been especially harsh on retailers and apparel makers. Defying all headwinds, Lululemon grew its revenue at a cumulative average growth rate of 25.4% over the past two challenge-filled fiscal years (ended in March).
Lululemon's ability to rebound from setbacks -- to not only survive but come out stronger -- is a testament to the resilience of the company as well as the brand's staying power. Lululemon's products have become a symbol of kindness, strength, well-being, and ecologically sustainable practices. Consumers aspire to wear it and are willing to pay a premium for it.
Over the past few years, Lululemon has expanded into a ubiquitous brand with its wide-ranging apparel and accessories suitable for all age groups. Consumers wear Lululemon's products for a variety of workouts, casual activities, outdoor excursions, and even in offices.
Three years ago, the company set out its ambitious The Power of Three strategy with the goal of doubling sales of men's products, doubling sales via digital channels, and quadrupling sales internationally. The company reported that it is delivering those results ahead of schedule and is now doubling down on that three-legged strategy to reach $12.5 billion in annual revenue over the next five years from its fiscal 2021 revenue of about $6.3 billion.
Lululemon has attained its impressive growth while being consistently profitable, an outcome of its scalable business model and high operational efficiency.
Now, with a nearly 50% drop in its share price, the stock's current price-to-earnings ratio of 36 doesn't look too pricey for this outstanding business.
2. Accenture: Leading its industry with unmatched scale
Accenture has emerged into a global powerhouse in professional services. The company helps its clients develop strategies, adopt modern technologies, and improve processes to grow revenue, operate more efficiently, and become competitive in an increasingly digital world.
Just like Lululemon, Accenture has comfortably beaten the market since its inception and produced almost double the market's returns -- 143% vs the S&P 500's 78% -- over the past five years. But what truly separates Accenture from rivals is its unparalleled breadth and depth of services, including expertise across all company functions and specialized skills in various industries. It is very difficult for companies to compete against Accenture, especially on large, lucrative, enterprise-scale solutions.
Accenture's strong reputation keeps it high on its clients' Rolodex and also makes it a highly desired place to work. Brandz, a brand review agency, ranked Accenture 27th on the top 100 most valuable global brands list in 2021. At the end of its fiscal 2021 (which ended last August), Accenture served more than three-quarters of Fortune magazine's Global 500 companies, and 98 of Accenture's top 100 clients have been with the company for more than 10 years.
The company is investing aggressively to accelerate its growth. In the recently reported second quarter of fiscal 2022 (which ended in February), Accenture increased revenue by an impressive 24% relative to a year ago. The company is expecting revenue for fiscal 2022 to grow by 24% to 26%, much faster than 14% in 2021, 2.5% in 2020, and 5.4% in 2019. Additionally, thanks to its resilient business model, Accenture has been a highly profitable business.
The pandemic hurt many businesses, including Accenture's smaller competitors. Adding to that, the demand for the company's services got a major boost with higher urgency from its clients around digital transformation. Both of these factors have extended Accenture's lead, and it is an even stronger company coming out of the pandemic.
Shares of Accenture have slumped over 30% from their all-time highs in December 2021. The current price-to-earnings ratio of lower than 29 seems more than reasonable for this proven winner.