Companies delivering superior growth in sales and earnings tend to be winning names over the long term. However, these companies rarely sell for low valuations, so you generally need to pay premium prices for top-growth stocks. With this in mind, it makes sense to look for strong-growth companies going through temporary challenges and trading at convenient valuations.
Companies such as Priceline (NASDAQ:BKNG), Michael Kors (NYSE:CPRI), and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) look attractively valued when considering both valuation ratios and growth potential. These names can remain volatile over the coming months, but they offer big room for gains for investors willing to put long-term opportunity above short-term uncertainty.
Priceline is the global growth leader in online travel services, meaning the companies that provide access to online hotel rooms reservations, plane tickets, and car rentals. The company generates most of its sales and earnings outside the U.S., with nearly 88% of gross bookings coming from international markets during the first quarter of 2015.
The recent appreciation of the U.S. dollar against other world currencies is taking a serious toll on Priceline's financial performance when measured in dollars. Still, the company is doing better than fine in spite of these currency headwinds, and currency-adjusted growth is nothing short of impressive.
Total sales during the last quarter grew 12.2% to $13.8 billion, while the increase in constant currency sales was a much stronger 26% year over year. Priceline booked 104.6 million hotel nights across its platforms during the period, establishing a new record and growing by 25.4% versus the first quarter of 2014.
Priceline's Booking.com hotel platform continues consolidating its leadership position in the online hotel reservations business, extending its presence to more than 635,000 hotels and other accommodations during the last quarter, a 40% annual increase.
Because of market fears over currency movements, Priceline is trading at a forward P/E ratio in the neighborhood of 17.5, in line with the average valuation for companies in the S&P 500 index. However, everything suggests that Priceline will materially outgrow most other companies in the index over the years to come, so the company can easily justify a higher valuation.
Michael Kors is one of the hottest names in the fashion business right now. However, you wouldn't have guessed that by looking at the stock price, since Michael Kors' stock is down by an unfashionable 50% over the past year.
The business is reporting solid numbers, though. Michael Kors delivered a big 29.9% revenue increase during the last quarter, on the back of a 37% increase in retail sales, a 24.4% jump in wholesale revenue, and an 8.6% increase in licensing revenue. Sales in North America grew 22.6%, while Europe delivered a bigger 72.1% increase in year-over-year sales.
Fashion is a very competitive and always changing business, and same-store sales in North America are slowing down as the company gains penetration in this market. Also, Michael Kors is expanding into lower-priced products, and analysts are concerned that doing so could hurt the brand image.
While these concerns aren't completely unreasonable, the risks seem to be clearly incorporated into the valuation. Michael Kors trades at a forward P/E ratio of around 10 times earnings forecasts for the coming year, an entry price that allows for a lot of upside room if performance turns out to be better than expected.
Las Vegas Sands
Las Vegas Sands is the leading casino and hotel operator in Macau, the only region in China where gambling is legal. The company owns a dominant 45% market share among gambling operators in the region, and it's especially strong in the particularly lucrative mass market.
Chinese authorities are imposing a series of restrictions on VIP players to combat corruption and money laundering through Macau casinos. In addition, the Chinese government is trying to change Macau's reputation, building it into a family-oriented center with more attractions such as restaurants and live shows, as opposed to mostly gambling. This development is proving to be a painful transition for Las Vegas Sands and other Macau casinos, as gambling revenue in the region collapsed by 37% during May, marking the fourth consecutive quarter with declines of more than 30%. In this context, Las Vegas Sands stock is down by 32% from its highs of the past year.
However, that's no reason to despair. While it's hard to forecast demand in Macau over the coming months, things look much more encouraging when taking a multi-year perspective. Chinese middle-class consumption spending is expected to amount to a staggering $10 trillion by 2030, and Macau is in a privileged position to benefit from rising spending in leisure and entertainment in China for years to come.
Las Vegas Sands pays a dividend yield of more than 5% at current prices. That looks like an attractive valuation for such a profitable company with a leading strategic position in one of the most exciting gaming markets in the world.