It's easy to get sucked into the anxiety that can build from a volatile stock market. It's harder to focus on the tremendous wealth-building machine the stock market has been for decades. And I'm not talking about overnight gains from growth stocks; I mean the steady, long-term investing in great companies that investors like Warren Buffett believe in doing.
Even in the current market, you can set yourself up for long-term success by investing in quality businesses with the potential for higher growth. In fact, you can use this market, which offers the opportunity to buy on the dip, to find great deals. Dutch Bros (BROS 4.75%), Home Depot (HD 0.17%), and Lululemon Athletica (LULU 0.58%) are three top choices.
1. A different kind of coffee
Coffee shop chains don't usually make a splash on the investing scene. It's hard to compete with Starbucks, and smaller companies are just that -- smaller. But Dutch Bros has a unique culture and model, and as small as it is, it's growing quickly and deserves notice.
The company operates over 600 coffee shops in 14 states, with plans to open 65 in the second half of 2022, or 130 new stores this year. It sees an opportunity for 4,000 stores in the next 10 to 15 years, giving it a huge growth runway.
These stores are instrumental in increasing sales in a tough economy. Comparable-store sales are just about flat, but the company posted a 44% year-over-year sales increase in the second quarter to $186 million, mostly due to the new stores.
It also posted a net loss of $1.8 million, after posting net income of $12 million last year. The loss was mostly due to charges related to the initial public offering, but expenses have increased as the company grows and from inflation and supply chain issues. These should be temporary, and the company has already demonstrated the ability to be profitable.
The reason the stock looks like a compelling buy is the large opportunity for new stores, which could multiply its count almost sevenfold. Over the next decade or so, the economy is likely to stabilize, and Dutch Bros is likely to scale up, helping it achieve greater profitability.
Dutch Bros went public just a year ago, and after an initial jump, the stock has been on a downward slide -- 31% lower in 2022 alone. But over the next 20 years, Dutch Bros stock should reward patient investors.
2. Unmatched in home improvement
Home Depot has been the leader in home improvement for decades, and that's been amplified as we enter the next phase of digital and omnichannel shopping.
It was a big winner at the beginning of the pandemic when people were quarantined and taking care of home improvement projects. And it has continued to build on that success even while it faces some tough year-over-year comparisons.
Sales increased 6.5% in the 2022 second quarter to $43.8 billion, and earnings per share (EPS) rose from $4.53 to $5.05, beating analysts' estimates of $4.95.
Home Depot operates more than 2,300 stores in North America, making it the largest retailer by store count. It is also the largest by sales, and management has heavily invested in digital infrastructure and distribution networks in recent years to maintain its lead.
It was well-positioned to benefit from pandemic trends after completely revamping its digital presence before the onset of COVID-19, and it continues to upgrade digitally, such as recently integrating the website with the ordering system.
Home Depot stock is down 33% this year, and shares trade at a reasonable 17 times trailing 12-month earnings, its cheapest valuation in more than a decade. It's a great time to buy shares of this top stock, which offers strong potential for gains over the next 20 years.
3. Leading apparel in a new direction
Athleisure has been a growing phenomenon in the apparel industry, and Lululemon has led the charge for it to become a dominant, everyday trend. The Canadian activewear company has a successful formula of quality products, connection with customers, and a robust omnichannel network. This has led to high full-price sales and strong profitability, and there's no sign it's slowing down.
In the second quarter (ended July 31), sales increased 29% year over year to $1.9 billion, and EPS increased from $1.59 to $2.26. Even more impressive, at a time when most retailers are seeing the effects of inflation and rising costs on their margins (at the very least), the clothing company's gross margin improved 1.5% over last year, and operating margin improved 2.5%.
And the future looks just as bright. Management recently launched a new strategy to double men's sales and digital sales and quadruple international sales by 2026. The company has already achieved earlier-than-expected success with this strategy, and it expects to double 2021 annual sales by that year as well.
Lululemon stock has been an exceptional investment over the past five years, gaining almost 450%. Shares are currently trading at about 40 times trailing 12-month earnings, which looks like an acceptable valuation for this growth stock.