People watch stocks for different reasons -- they're waiting for a dip in price, watching for a specific catalyst, gathering all the news and information that might affect stocks they already own, or considering a sell. Regardless of their motivation, we can better understand market sentiment by seeing who's watching what. With the Fool's free My Watchlist service, we have tens of thousands of people telling us the businesses that have, for whatever reason, piqued their interest.

With this data we have come up with a new metric, watch interest, to inform investors what stocks their peers keep tabs on in each industry. In the case of the multiline retailers industry, watch interest is the percentage of people keeping an eye on multiline retailers stocks in general who are specifically watching each company. By looking at what stocks catch people's interest the most in an industry, you can get ahead of the curve by finding hot stocks that you might have otherwise overlooked. The industry is trading at low-double digit P/E multiples as investors fret over stagnated economic growth and a potential disaster if the debt ceiling isn't raised.

The most-watched multiline retailer is ...
Looking at the aggregate data, we see that Target (NYSE: TGT) is above the rest in terms of watch interest and for good reason. As CAPS player truthisntstupid wrote in April:

A great dividend growth stock with a long track record, a still-low payout ratio in spite of having raised dividends for 39 years, and a fast-growing dividend that provides an ever-growing margin of safety while your income grows.

Selling at 10 times forward earnings, while the past 10 years show it trading at over 20 times earnings quite frequently.

Here are the rest of the 10 most-watched companies in the industry with their watch interest along with the stocks' CAPS rating to show the sentiment of our investing community.

 

Company

Market Cap (in millions)

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Watch Interest

1

Target

$34,864

***

27.6%

2

Macy's (NYSE: M)

$12,671

**

8.8%

3

Family Dollar Stores (NYSE: FDO)

$6,304

****

7.7%

4

Nordstrom (NYSE: JWN)

$10,889

**

7.6%

5

J. C. Penney (NYSE: JCP)

$6,686

*

6.9%

6

Kohl's (NYSE: KSS)

$15,491

**

6.5%

7

Dollar Tree (Nasdaq: DLTR)

$8,260

***

6.3%

8

Dollar General (NYSE: DG)

$11,291

**

5.9%

9

Sears Holdings (Nasdaq: SHLD)

$7,938

*

5.7%

10

Big Lots (NYSE: BIG)

$2,536

***

3.3%

Sources: Motley Fool, Motley Fool CAPS.

Whether you're keeping an eye on the industry stalwarts like Target or are watching an up-and-comer like Big Lots, it pays to watch. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with My Watchlist, our free, personalized stock tracking service. Click here to start now.

Dan Dzombak's musings and articles he finds interesting can be found on his Twitter account: @DanDzombak.

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