If the economy is turning the corner, let's go out and have some fun.
Few sectors will be as grateful for the recession's demise as the leisure industry. It's a slave to discretionary income, and nothing good happens when pockets are empty.
There are certainly plenty of established leisure stocks worthy of your investing dollar. Disney
Let's aim lower. A lot lower. I have spent the past few weeks taking a look at more obscure opportunities among Chinese, Internet, retail, and restaurant stocks. This week I'm going to delve into a few of the leisure specialists that Mr. Market appears to be ignoring.
You won't find any billion-dollar babies here. I'm going to stick to companies with a market cap of at least $100 million, because we also don't want to paddle too far into micro cap uncharted waters.
Ready? Let's go.
The company behind the gargantuan movie screens and enhanced sound and projection systems is rolling. Its stock hit a fresh four-year high this morning, as the good news keeps on coming.
This month alone, IMAX has delevered gobs of debt, expanded a partnership with a multiplex operator, and tacked on another flick to its release slate. After years of getting by, its joint ventures with major exhibitors are starting to pay off. By 2010, IMAX plants to have about 400 screens around the world, and there hasn't been a shortage of consumers willing to pay a modest premium to see spruced-up versions of cinematic blockbusters on the even bigger screens.
Analysts also see big things in IMAX's future. They expect the company to earn $0.46 a share next year, after a modest profit of $0.09 a share this year. Exhibitors have held up surprisingly well during the recession. One can only imagine how much better things get when the simple pleasures of escapism become easier to afford.
If you have ever gone in for a spa treatment on a cruise ship you have probably been pampered by Steiner. The company operates the onboard spas on 127 of the largest ships from all of the major cruise lines. It also runs 50 resort spas for landlubbers, but its real advantage is in staffing and training its floating service centers.
As you can probably imagine, 2009 hasn't been a good year for Steiner. Folks aren't cruising as much as they used to, and once onboard, they are uncomfortable with spending on lavish treatments. This will change, of course, as the economy improves.
Steiner is trading at a reasonable 13 times this year's projected profitability, and 15 times next year's bottom-line target. It's a fair price to pay for a company that has cornered the market so well that even when cruise lines have tried to take their spas in-house, they find themselves ultimately throwing in the warm towel and handing Steiner the keys again.
Oversized Callaway golf clubs were all the rage in the 1990s. Its Big Bertha driver revolutionized the industry; then Callaway raised the bar by introducing titanium clubs.
Callaway is a bit of a forgotten player these days, as its market cap is roughly half of the $1.1 billion it rang up in revenue last year. It's easy to see why premium golfing gear has landed in the rough during the economic meltdown, but analysts expect Callaway to return to profitability next year, and experience reasonable growth over the next five years.
In a sign of the times, concert promoters are marking down their acts. I'm on the Live Nation mailing list, so I find myself deluged with half-priced concert ticket offers and ridiculous markdowns on Wednesdays. Things weren't always this way.
Obviously, these aren't the gravy years at Live Nation. It's also bumping into considerable resistance in completing its acquisition of ticketing specialist TicketMaster
This is one for patient investors, since the company is mired in deficits outside of its seasonally potent summers. It's unlikely to turn a profit this year, or even next year. However, when the economy bounces back, there's a good chance Live Nation will rock the house again.
I'll be back next week with four "under the radar" stocks in a different industry. Which industry should I cover next? Let me know in the comment box below.
IMAX is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Walt Disney is a Stock Advisor selection. Walt Disney is also an Inside Value recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services, free for 30 days. Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz wonders what happens if something is "over" the radar. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story except for Disney. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.