3 Top Retail Stocks to Watch in August

Many retail stocks recently plunged after the Trump administration announced that it would apply a 10% tariff on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese goods -- which will affect clothing, shoes, electronics, and other goods -- on Sept. 1. But some babies were also thrown out with the bathwater, and a trio of our investors will highlight three stocks to keep an eye on this month -- Lululemon (NASDAQ: LULU), Home Depot (NYSE: HD), and Skechers (NYSE: SKX).

A high-growth apparel darling

Leo Sun (Lululemon): Shares of Lululemon rallied nearly 50% this year as the athleisure apparel maker repeatedly impressed investors with its robust comps and earnings growth. Lululemon's revenue rose 24% last year, its comps rose 7%, its gross margin expanded, and its adjusted EPS surged 48%. A group of women attend a yoga class.

Image source: Getty Images.

That momentum continued in the first quarter of 2019, with 20% revenue growth, 14% comps growth, expanding gross and operating margins, and 35% earnings growth. For the full year, it anticipates low-double-digit comps growth, 13%-14% sales growth, and 17%-19% earnings growth.

Lululemon's growth was fueled by three main factors. First, its direct-to-consumer sales surged 33% annually last quarter, boosting its total comps from single-digit to double-digit levels. Second, it inspires brand loyalty with its free yoga classes, running events, and other community gatherings. Lastly, it's expanding its portfolio beyond women's yoga apparel with men's apparel and footwear. The company believes that it will double the size of both its online and men's revenues by 2023.

Lululemon also has limited exposure to China. Jefferies analysts recently cited Lululemon, Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE: ANF), and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE: TIF) as three retailers well insulated from the latest tariff hike.

Lululemon's stock isn't cheap at over 30 times forward earnings, so I'm not suggesting that investors buy the stock right away. But if Lululemon's stock gets hammered in a big trade war sell-off this month, investors should consider starting a new position in this best-of-breed retailer.

Clearing up the sales outlook

Demitri Kalogeropoulos (Home Depot): Its last two earnings reports included growth slowdowns that management blamed on unseasonably wet weather. Executives left their full-year outlook unchanged, though, and that means investors will be demanding better news when Home Depot announces its fiscal-second-quarter results on August 20.

The main metric to watch will be comparable-store sales, which have fallen to about half the 5% rate that Home Depot is targeting for 2019. Weather issues weren't a big factor over the early-summer weeks, so it's likely that the projects put off in the first quarter simply shifted into the retailer's second quarter.

As usual, investors will be looking for a balance between higher customer traffic and increased average spending. They'll also be watching for signs that rival Lowe's (NYSE: LOW) is putting up a stronger market-share fight, especially within the professional contractor niche that both companies have targeted.

If Home Depot continues soaking up share, though, shareholders could be treated to an outlook upgrade later this month. Thanks to a long streak of market-thumping performance, CEO Craig Menear and his team see annual sales reaching between $115 billion and $120 billion by 2020 after having only crossed the $100 billion level in 2017.

Comfortably beat the market with this outperformer

Steve Symington (Skechers): Shares of Skechers may have rallied more than 20% last month after the footwear specialist posted strong second-quarter 2019 results. But if the underlying drivers of its quarterly beat are any indication, I think the stock is still worth watching now.

A young woman shops for shoes.

Image source: Getty Images.

For perspective, one of the biggest concerns facing the broader footwear industry today is the potential impact of tariffs on goods imported to the U.S. from China. But Skechers managed to impress in Q2 thanks to the relative outperformance of its international business, where sales marched nearly 20% higher last quarter to comprise 56% of its total top line -- led by increases in China (where Skechers is currently constructing its first distribution center), India, and the Middle East -- easily outpacing its more modest 1.5% domestic growth.

What's more, only a few weeks ago Skechers followed by announcing a new collaboration with NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal to launch a new line of basketball shoes for kids. That move could not only provide a significant source of incremental sales growth for Skechers in the near term but also serve as a perfect avenue to expand its reach in the lucrative, multibillion-dollar basketball shoe market in the coming years.

If Skechers stock pulls back as trade tensions and macro concerns escalate, however, it could present a fantastic opportunity for patient, long-term investors to open or add to their positions before its global strength becomes more apparent.

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Demitrios Kalogeropoulos owns shares of Home Depot. Leo Sun has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Steve Symington owns shares of Lululemon Athletica. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Lululemon Athletica and Skechers. The Motley Fool has the following options: short August 2019 $195 calls on Home Depot and long January 2021 $120 calls on Home Depot. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot and Lowe's. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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