The holidays are upon us, and we here at The Motley Fool are back to dole out our preferred brand of merriment -- stock picks. To that end, we asked a group of our contributors for their best consumer goods stock picks for investors this month. Here's what they had to offer.
Poised to extend this year's business momentum, IMAX (NYSE:IMAX) should benefit from what appears to be a lock for the biggest movie opening of 2015 next week when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters. Short-term currency headwinds have kept a lid on online travel booking giant Priceline's (NASDAQ:BKNG) stock price, creating a compelling buying opportunity for a great long-term business. After again flexing its muscles on Cyber Monday, e-commerce powerhouse Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has once more demonstrated why its mix of competitive spirit and massive market opportunity make it one of the few truly generational growth stocks in the consumer goods space today. And thanks to a recent, and possibly misguided, pullback in its shares, athletic apparel powerhouse Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) offers investors an attractive entry point as it continues its brisk business expansion.
Read on to see why investors ought to consider adding these stocks to their wish lists this month.
Rick Munarriz (IMAX): It's a great time to be IMAX, and not just because Star Wars: The Force Awakens is going to pack theaters with its super-sized sci-fi experience. IMAX has already been rolling through 2015 with revenue up 35% through the first three quarters and earnings nearly doubling along the way.
IMAX is at the right place at the right time with a compelling value proposition for exhibitors, movie studios, and audiences. Multiplex operators and studios can charge a few bucks more for a ticket to an IMAX screening, and audiences aren't flinching at the prospect of paying up for a sense-stirring outing that they can't duplicate on a home theater.
There are now 1,008 Imax screens all over the world, and the growth prospects both here and abroad are great. China has become IMAX's largest market outside of the U.S., accounting for more than a quarter of its installed base and more than half of the order backlog. And the deals keep coming: IMAX just signed its biggest theater deal in Japan.
Analysts see growth decelerating sharply in 2016. They're now targeting revenue and earnings per share to climb 4% and 16%, respectively. However, that could all change as the new Star Wars flick and IMAX's impressive slate of 2016 digitally mastered releases encourage more multiplex operators and movie goers to go IMAX. December will be a big month for IMAX because of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but the real growth will come once it harvests the benefits of its growing global exposure.
Andres Cardenal (Priceline): Wall Street typically puts too much attention on short-term factors versus overall business strength and fundamental quality. This is particularly true when it comes to online travel leader Priceline lately, and the situation could be creating a buying opportunity for long-term investors.
Priceline has a big presence in Europe, a key destination for travelers from all over the planet. While this is a valuable strategic advantage in the long term, the euro is depreciating versus the U.S. dollar lately, and this is hurting the company's performance. In addition, growing concerns centered around fears of terrorist attacks and military conflicts in the Old Continent are keeping investors away from Priceline stock.
On the other hand, the company is still delivering impressive performance during challenging times. Total gross profit grew 29% on a constant -currency basis during the third quarter, and Priceline's Booking.com platform ended the quarter with over 820,000 properties, an annual increase of 38%. Management is typically cautious when it comes to guidance, yet the company is anticipating that constant-currency gross profit will grow between 14% and 21% during the full year 2015.
External conditions come and go, but Priceline is a top-quality business to buy on any temporary weakness and hold in your portfolio for years to come.
Andrew Tonner (Amazon.com): I'm not reinventing the wheel by recommending e-commerce titan Amazon.com here. However, Amazon's dominant performance this Cyber Monday once more demonstrated why Amazon remains one of my favorite long-term stock picks in this space. According to ChannelAdviser, Amazon saw its Cyber Monday sales increase an impressive 21.1%, outperforming overall online sales, which rose 18% in total.
Amazon has built a better model for shopping and distribution online. It's the Wal-Mart of the 21st century. And most importantly in my investment thesis, most consumers vastly underappreciate the massive scope of Amazon's long-term market opportunity. See for yourself.
According to the Department of Commerce, e-commerce accounted for only 7.4% of total U.S. retail sales during Q3 2015. It isn't clear what the full extent of retail sales that Amazon will be able to ultimately fulfill is; grocery sales and delivery remain clear sticking points. However, as the company doing the most to reinvent the modern retail supply chain (drones, 1-hour delivery, etc.), it's reasonable to expect Amazon will fight for every percentage of market share it can.
It's also worth noting that Amazon realizes about 60% of its total sales from the U.S., where, as we saw above, e-commerce penetration is still in its infancy. When thinking about the long-term opportunity facing Amazon globally, the company's growth runway becomes truly awe-inspiring. It's a generational buy-and-hold type company whose best days still remain decades into the future.
Steve Symington (Under Armour): Under Armour recently achieved its first billion-dollar quarter, beating analysts' expectations on both its top and bottom lines, and raising full-year revenue guidance in the process. But shares of the athletic apparel specialist plunged anyway as investors eyed an 80-basis-point decline in gross margin during the quarter, as well as an expected 100-basis-point gross margin decline in the fourth quarter due to currencies and a higher mix of lower-margin footwear revenue. As of this writing, shares of Under Armour are down nearly 20% from their 52-week high set in late September.
But I still have confidence in Under Armour's recently accelerated plan to nearly double this year's revenue to $7.5 billion by 2018. To achieve that growth, Under Armour will rely on continued momentum not only from its core apparel business, where sales grew 23% year over year last quarter, but also from its budding footwear (up 61%) and international (up 52%) businesses. Under Armour also reiterated confidence in the promise of its enormous Connected Fitness platforms to contribute strong incremental sales and -- admittedly harder to measure -- brand awareness and rapport with consumers.
In the end, though, as a longtime Under Armour shareholder, I can safely say we've read this book before. In fact, I've been rewarded handsomely more than once for taking advantage of similar pullbacks over the past few years. And even if it comes at the expense of the bottom line in the near term, I'm convinced this one is no different as Under Armour continues to invest heavily in its ambitious growth initiatives.