Betting on turnarounds can be a risky business for investors. While management is almost always confident that success is right around the corner, most turnaround efforts ultimately fail. Even the most optimistic projections can't fix a broken business.
But all turnarounds aren't created equal. While investors would be wise to avoid companies hemorrhaging cash as they attempt to right the ship, sometimes, good companies have bad years. With the stock market prone to overreaction, long-term investors can often swoop in and get a great deal for a company with a good chance at turning things around.
With that in mind, here are three companies that are great turnaround plays for long-term investors, according to our Foolish contributors.
Andres Cardenal: Las Vegas Sands(LVS 1.32%)is going through a challenging period, and shares of the casino and hotel operator are down nearly 50% from their 2014 highs. However, there are strong reasons to believe this stock offers considerable room for gains over the middle and long-term.
Macau, the only region in China where gambling is legal, is a major market for Sands. While the company stands to profit substantially from the rise of the Chinese middle class during the coming decades, gaming demand in Macau has been under heavy pressure.
The Chinese government has imposed a series of restrictions on visas for Macau tourists in order to control illegal money laundering via casinos in the region. Traffic has taken a big hit since then, and accumulated gross gaming revenue in Macau has declined 36.5% in the first eight months of 2015.
It's hard to tell how things may evolve in the short-term, but it makes sense to assume that the regulatory framework should be normalized over time. Gaming is one of the most lucrative businesses around, and Las Vegas Sands is the market leader in one of the most promising gaming markets in the world. Once tourists start coming back to Macau, this should be reflected in strong gains for investors in Las Vegas Sands.
At current prices, Las Vegas Sands stock is paying a compelling dividend yield of 5.5%. The company has a solid track record of dividend growth -- management has increased payments by 40% for 2013, 42.9% for 2014, and 30% for 2015. While investors wait for demand to improve in Macau, they are being rewarded with big and growing cash distributions.
Tim Green: Mattel (MAT 3.17%), known for its toys like Barbie, Fisher Price, and Hot Wheels, is currently struggling with diminished demand for its products. In 2014, Mattel revenue slumped, declining by 7%, while the company's net income was nearly cut in half. Its brands, some of which have been around for decades, appear to be out of favor.
The stock has fallen by about 50% since the beginning of 2014, with the market valuing Mattel as if it will never recover. Mattel does have a challenge ahead of it: A bloated bureaucracy has stifled creativity within the company, and new CEO Christopher Sinclair, appointed after the firing of the previous CEO, will need to revamp the company culture before he can hope to reinvigorate sales.
The toy industry as a whole is doing just fine -- NPD recently reported that U.S. toy sales are up 7.3% year-to-date. Mattel has implemented an aggressive cost-cutting program, with the company looking to remove $250 million to $300 million of costs through 2016. Much of these savings will be reinvested in advertising related to its core brands, as well as accelerating growth in both Russia and China.
The toy industry is fickle, and Mattel has been too slow to adapt to changing demand in recent years. The company will become leaner and more nimble as the turnaround progresses, and a renewed focus on creativity and getting new toys to market quickly should help Mattel regain market share.
It's still a long road ahead for the company, and earnings will certainly continue to be pressured in the short-term. In the long term, Mattel stock offers value for investors willing to wait.
Steve Symington: Coach(TPR 2.81%)shares are down more than 30% from their February peak. But as a Coach shareholder myself since 2013, I'm perfectly content collecting and reinvesting its 4.6% annual dividend while I wait for the business to fully implement its turnaround.
On the surface, things things don't look pretty right now. Quarterly revenue fell 12% year-over-year last quarter -- 8% on a constant currency basis -- to $1.0 billion -- and that's including a $43 million contribution from Coach's recently completed acquisition of luxury footwear company Stuart Weitzman. Meanwhile, adjusted net income plunged 48% to $85 million, or $0.31 per share.
While those declines aren't particularly encouraging, keep in mind that both figures easily exceeded analyst expectations. And Coach CEO Victor Luis insisted the company is happy with the progress it has made so far in the multi-year brand transformation it unveiled a little more than a year ago. As a reminder, that transformation entails updating the global store fleet, realigning inventory levels, closing or renovating dozens of underperforming North American stores, and implementing various operational efficiencies.
Meanwhile, the widely anticipated multi-channel launch of the inaugural collection from Coach creative director Stuart Vevers was widely deemed a success, and the Stuart Weitzman brand is expected to drive healthy incremental growth for the company in the coming years. What's more, Coach is experiencing relative strength overseas, where sales fell 5% on an absolute basis to $392 million but would have climbed 3% had it not been for the negative effect of foreign exchange. As Coach continues to show progress and grow in popularity on a global scale, I suspect investors willing to take advantage of its current weakness will be handsomely rewarded.