A disappointing earnings report or other bad news can send a stock tumbling without regard to the true potential of the company. Smart investors can often take advantage of stocks that are beaten down on bad news, buying low and waiting for the storm to pass.
Our Foolish contributors have identified three consumer stocks that have been unfairly punished by the market, and each case represents an opportunity for long-term investors. Here is why Disney (NYSE:DIS), Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS), and Michael Kors (NYSE:CPRI)don't deserve their depressed stock prices.
Andres Cardenal (Disney): Disney took a big hit after reporting earnings for the last quarter. While the stock has recovered somewhat since then, it's still trading 15% below its highs of the last year.
This doesn't sound like such a big move in the current market environment of rising volatility. However, it's important to keep in mind that Disney is a particularly big and stable company, so the recent decline is quite significant coming from a low-volatility name.
The business is doing quite well on a global basis. Total earnings per share increased by a vigorous 13% year-over-year last quarter. However, management announced "a modest decline" in ESPN subscribers, and this was a major reason for concern among investors.
As many customers are moving away from traditional cable TV toward online streaming, this is having a negative impact on ESPN. However, ESPN is by far the most popular brand in sports media, and big sport events are typically watched live. ESPN is clearly strong enough to adapt to emerging industry trends and continue thriving under the cord-cutting revolution.
Besides, Disney's other business segments are as strong as ever, and the company will be launching the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, in December. Considering the popularity of the Star Wars franchise and Disney's track record of success, this could be an explosive blockbuster for the company.
Long-term investors in Disney have no reason to worry. If anything, short-term weakness in the stock seems to be offering a buying opportunity.
Tim Green (Staples): When Staples first announced that it would merge with fellow office supply retailer Office Depot, the stock surged with the move widely seen as inevitable following the merger of Office Depot and Office Max in 2013. But over the past few months, regulatory agencies in both the U.S. and the EU have raised questions about the deal, and shares of Staples have collapsed as a result. The stock is now down over 30% from its 52-week high.
If the merger with Office Depot were to be rejected, I believe that Staples would be just fine in the long run. The key thing to understand is that the most important part of Staples isn't its retail stores but its commercial business. While Staples' stores face a slew of competition from big-box and online retailers, which has led to falling sales and profits in Staples' retail segment, the business of selling supplies to large companies remains strong.
During the most recently reported quarter, Staples grew sales in its North American Commercial segment by 2.6%, and the segment's operating margin rose 19 basis points year-over-year to 6.7%. The commercial business has become the most profitable part of the company, and it's growing despite the poor performance of the stores. While the market has punished Staples stock as the odds of a successful merger have declined, it seems like an overreaction to me.
Steve Symington (Michael Kors): Almost a year and half ago, I went out on a limb to suggest that Michael Kors might be on the cusp of a pullback. After all, I worried at the time that margins might be peaking, growth could slow eventually, and shares looked expensive to me trading around 30 times trailing 12 month earnings and 25 times forward estimates. Sure enough, Michael Kors stock has fallen over 50% since then, growth has slowed considerably, comps have turned negative on a year-over-year basis, and margins have contracted following discounting to move inventory amid intense industry competition.
That said, Michael Kors remains solidly profitable, ending last quarter with over $800 million in cash (around 10% of its market capitalization) with no debt, and the stock price arguably reflects these concerns trading around 10 times trailing 12 month earnings and 9.4 times next year's estimates. What's more, Michael Kors is still enjoying the glow of its most recent quarterly report two months ago, the day after which shares rallied 11% as investors saw early signs of an impending rebound.
In that report, Michael Kors easily beat expectations on both the top and bottom lines, thanks to broad-based strength (relatively speaking) in its accessories and footwear business. The company is also investing heavily in its outperforming e-commerce business, while at the same time putting resources into growing its budding international presence and expanding its influence with the largely untapped men's segment. On top of that, Michael Kors appears to agree its stock is cheap as it aggressively buys back shares, including $350 million repurchased last quarter. That left a little over $658 million remaining under its current repurchase authorization.
To be fair, Michael Kors still has plenty of work to do if it wants to win back the affections of investors and command a similar premium as before. In particular, I'd love to see improvement in comparable store sales, which Michael Kors currently expects to remain flat this fiscal year on a constant-currency basis. But given its precipitous decline so far in 2015, I think shares of Michael Kors have been unjustly punished.