The consumer sector is home to many popular brands and successful businesses, so it offers plenty of opportunities for investors who know how to pick the best stocks in the sector.
With this in mind, we asked our contributors to share with us three consumer goods stocks to buy in July, and names such as Michael Kors (NYSE:CPRI), Atlria (NYSE:MO), and Kate Spade (NYSE:KATE) came out as promising candidates to consider.
Andres Cardenal (Michael Kors): Michael Kors is not a fashionable name among investors lately. The stock is down more than 50% over the past year, mostly because of concerns about slowing growth in a savagely competitive industry such as fashion. While performance could be hard to predict over the coming quarters, Michael Kors' recent decline seems to be presenting a buying opportunity for long-term investors.
The company is aggressively opening new stores, while also betting on more affordably priced products to broaden its customer base. This is hurting comparable-store sales, and Michael Kors reported a 5.8% decline in comps during the last quarter. However, overall performance was still quite healthy, as both total revenues and earnings per share grew by a strong 23% on a currency-adjusted basis.
Constant currency sales in North America grew 14.3% in the last quarter, while less penetrated markets performed even better: Constant currency sales grew 49% in Europe and 42.7% in Japan. This shows that demand is still pretty healthy across the board, and international markets look like promising growth drivers for the company.
The price tag is particularly attractive when considering the company's performance and prospects. Michael Kors is trading at a P/E ratio of 10 times earnings over the past year, a significant discount versus the S&P 500 index and its average P/E ratio of around 19.
Even if growth understandably slows down in the coming quarters, Michael Kors will probably continue delivering above-average performance over the next five years or so, so the stock arguably merits a much higher valuation. Smart shoppers know that the right time to make a purchase is when top-quality merchandise is offered in the bargain bin, and Michael Kors stock is on sale right now.
Bob Ciura (Altria Group): Tobacco giant Altria Group is a strong pick for July. Not only is Altria a cash cow and a great dividend stock, but now is also the perfect time to consider Altria because geopolitical risk has reared its ugly head once again.
Altria is a cash flow machine, thanks to the sterling economics of the tobacco industry. Tobacco companies have very low capital expenditure requirements. They by law spend nothing on advertising, and sell a product that enjoys tremendous pricing power. This is especially true for Altria, which manufactures the industry-leading Marlboro brand. The strong underlying economics result in huge amounts of free cash flow.
For example, Altria generated more than $4.6 billion in operating cash flow last year and spent just $163 million on capital expenditures in that period. With its robust $4.5 billion in free cash flow, Altria handsomely rewards shareholders with a growing dividend. The stock currently yields 4%, and Altria has increased its dividend 48 times in the past 46 years.
Plus, Altria is a very timely choice for dividend investors. Altria generates virtually all of its revenue and profit from the United States, after spinning off its international arm, Philip Morris International(NYSE:PM), a few years ago. That means Altria isn't as affected by the geopolitical turmoil currently shaking the markets. This relative stability is yet another margin of safety that Altria offers, which makes it a strong buy this month.
Tamara Walsh (Kate Spade & Company): With shares of Kate Spade now trading less than 1% above the stock's 52-week low, opportunistic investors can scoop up shares of the fast-growing luxury retailer at a discount. Wall Street punished the stock recently, following weak first-quarter earnings. However, there is more to this budding growth story than the quarterly results reveal.
For starters, Kate Spade is tiny compared with rival Michael Kors, which has more than 526 corporate-owned stores worldwide today, compared with just 125 specialty retail stores for Kate Spade. Unlike Kors, Kate Spade is still in the early stages of its growth story both domestically and abroad. In addition to expanding in key markets such as Europe and Asia, Kate Spade is also growing its licensing business.
The luxury handbag and accessories company recently announced a licensing partnership with Exclusive Brands International to expand its brand presence in Latin America. The deal promises not only to build brand awareness of Kate Spade products throughout Central and South America, but also to help Kate Spade scale and accelerate growth in regions where they don't have an existing retail network. This should fuel licensing revenue in the quarters ahead.
The company is also expanding into new product categories including swimwear and kids apparel. This together with the stock trading at attractive levels is why I believe Kate Spade is one of the best consumer goods stocks to buy in July. Moreover, the stock looks affordable with a price-to-earnings growth rate of 0.86, which is one of the lowest in the industry today.