The stock market has been something of an unstoppable force since the Great Recession. Although the last few months have witnessed the major indexes trade in a pretty tight pattern, the broader market S&P 500 has ticked off more new all-time highs than I can count. It's also led to a lot of stocks hitting new 52-week or all-time highs.
According to a quick screen using the Motley Fool CAPS Screener, nearly a third of all stocks are at or within 10% of their 52-week high. Some of these companies have valuations that would boggle the mind of value, and even some growth, investors. But, not all companies trading near their highs are necessarily worth avoiding. Some stocks near 52-week highs can still remain gems in your portfolio for a very long time.
With that in mind, let's take a look at three stocks near 52-week highs that you can still considering buying today.
Social media stocks have been regularly touted as having astronomical valuations, but the king of all social media, Facebook, isn't part of that group.
In Facebook's most recent quarterly report it announced that its revenue crested the $4 billion mark from $2.91 billion in the year-ago quarter as adjusted profits grew by $315 million and the number of mobile daily active users spiked 29% to 844 million. In fact, it's worth noting that of daily active users, 87% were mobile-based, with the remainder accessing Facebook from their PCs. Facebook has decisively transformed itself into a mobile company, and over the coming years it has the opportunity to utilize its platforms to reach the nearly 1.49 billion monthly active users worldwide.
At the heart of Facebook's growth is innovation and personalization. Facebook has worked tirelessly to refine its platform to make it as interactive as possible for the consumer, while also collecting as much data as is possible to bolster its pricing power with advertisers.
One way Facebook has worked toward bridging this engagement between users and businesses is by allowing businesses to interact with users via Messenger if the user makes a post on a business' Facebook page. It's all about personalized content for Facebook, and no other social media service has demonstrated that it knows how to deliver it better.
Looking down the road, Facebook is currently being forecast by Wall Street to more than triple sales to $38.2 billion and deliver close to $5 in EPS by 2018. Based on its current valuation, Facebook could still see its share price grow by leaps and bounds.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)
Consumers may not be thrilled with the service they receive at national banks like Bank of America, but it's hard to deny from an investing aspect that things are finally turning around. Following many years of legal settlements tied to its purchase of Countrywide Financial during the credit crisis and its handling of consumer mortgages, it appears as if Bank of America is ready to put its big one-time charges in the rearview mirror.
In Bank of America's latest quarterly filing it reported a 2% increase in revenue to $22.3 billion, but more importantly it noted a better-than-doubling in profits to $5.3 billion from $2.3 billion in the year-ago quarter. Not only was this a result of decreased litigation costs, but it also stemmed from a notable 6% reduction in expenses. As consumers (specifically millennials) have pushed for a better mobile banking experience, B of A has closed about a fifth of its U.S. branches since 2010. These cuts help more of B of A's revenue flow to its bottom-line.
The expected long-term normalization of lending rates should be another factor that continues to help banks' profitability. Bank of America pointed out that an uptick in long-term interest rates helped boost its profits in Q2, and an expected push by the Federal Reserve to move the federal funds target rate closer to 2% from 0.25% in the coming years should help B of A earn more off of its interest-based assets.
Looking three or more years down the road Bank of America has the potential to deliver $2 or more in EPS. Based on its current price point we could be talking about a very forward P/E of less than nine. I'd opine that this personal holding of mine is still an attractive buy.
Let me preface this with the statement that Starbucks isn't a cheap stock by any means. It's valued at 30 times next year's profits and has returned more than 1,300% since its recession lows. But, I'm just crazy enough to opine that this coffee giant could head even higher over the long run.
An examination of Starbucks' latest quarterly results demonstrates that the company is as strong as ever. Global comparable-store sales rose 7% in Q3, driven by a 4% increase in traffic and a modest increase in price, while adjusted profits soared 24% to $0.42 per share. The signs of its success are absolutely littered throughout its report: 70 basis point improvement in operating margin; 431 net new stores; and 11% comparable-store sales growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
Starbucks' success continues to boil down to two primary factors: pricing power and innovation.
As a regular visitor to Starbucks I can tell you that price hikes have become common. But, consumers appear more than willing to absorb these incremental hikes because Starbucks has done something few brands are able to accomplish -- they've created an emotional attachment between the brand and the consumer. Starbucks has become more than a place to get coffee. It's a meeting place for your business, a first-date destination, or even a place to get away and unwind. This connection with the consumer allows Starbucks to effectively boost its pricing at will.
Secondly, Starbucks is a master innovator. While not all of its efforts will prove successful, many have worked to increase traffic. Starbucks' push into organic and natural foods, and its more recent ventures which include a delivery service, and locations that sell wine or beer, are examples of Starbucks overreaching the notion that it's "just a coffeehouse."
Starbucks may appear expensive, but I believe this stock has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Sean Williams owns shares of Bank of America, but has no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
The Motley Fool owns shares of, and recommends Facebook and Starbucks. It also recommends Bank of America. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.