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5 Consumer Stocks to Fight Through Retail Doldrums

Holiday season and retail are synonymous, with the spotlight falling on the sector and its participants. This time too, retailers had started steering the wheel, when they were suddenly caught on the wrong side with a few retail stocks stumbling on sales and raising investor concerns ahead of the holiday season.

The effect of this was clearly visible on the bourses that ended trading in the red on the much-dreaded Friday the 13th. While the NASDAQ Composite (^IXIC) lost 1.5%, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) slipped 1.1% and 1.2%, respectively.

What Went Wrong?

The massive sell-off seen in retail stocks compelled major indices to slide in their last trading session. Amid the holiday season cheer, disappointing sales results by major players like Nordstrom Inc. JWN and Macy's M dampened spirits. Nordstrom and Macy's hit 52-week lows of $50.43 and $39.01, respectively, last Friday. In fact, some other bellwethers such as J. C. Penney Company, Inc. JCP and GameStop Corp. GME were also hit hard as they tanked 15.4% and 16.5%, closing at $7.44 and $37.18, respectively.

Just when investors were learning the art of making peace with overseas turmoil, foreign currency headwinds, softness in the energy sector and the Fed's pending decision on the interest rate hike, the recent sell-off raised new fears. They are now skeptical about sales during the holiday season, which starts unofficially in less than two weeks and is usually a peak money-making period for most retailers.

Apart from this, there are several other factors that highlight worries pertaining to the holiday season. These include the U.S. retail spending for October, which climbed only 0.1%, falling short of analysts' expectations. Also, the Consumer Confidence Index dipped to 97.6 in October from 102.6 in September. Additionally, the U.S. GDP data unveiled that the economy grew at a rate of 1.5% in the third quarter, marking a sharp deceleration from 3.9% registered in the second quarter.

Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side?

As we know, every dark night is followed by a bright new day. Consequently, though the current scenario might keep even the most stoic investor on the sidelines, they should not lose hope. Instead they should play it right and invest in stocks that appear promising backed by their robust fundamentals, impressive earnings history and solid estimate revisions. These might change the game this holiday season.

Play It Smart

We screened for stocks with a favorable Zacks Rank in the consumer discretionary sector and zeroed in on the following 5 picks:

NIKE, Inc. NKE the athletic goods retailer is a solid bet. The stock flaunts a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and has seen its earnings estimate for fiscal 2016 jump 2.4% to $4.27 per share over the last 60 days. Based in Beaverton, OR, the company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 10.2% over the trailing four quarters and has a long-term earnings growth rate of 13.8%.

Next we suggest Hanesbrands Inc. HBI , which carries a Zacks Rank #2. The company's earnings estimate for 2015 moved up by 2.4% to $1.68 per share over the past 30 days. The Winston-Salem, NC-based company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 3.5% over the trailing four quarters. Further, this leading marketer of innerwear, outerwear and hosiery apparel has a long-term earnings growth rate of 17%.

Investors can also count on Ralph Lauren Corp. RL , which is engaged in designing, marketing and distributing men's, women's and children's apparel, accessories, fragrances and home furnishings. Holding a Zacks Rank #2, the company has seen its earnings estimate for fiscal 2016 rise 1.3% to $6.99 per share over the past 30 days. Also, this New York-based company registered an average positive earnings surprise of 4.7% over the trailing four quarters and has a long-term earnings growth rate of 7.8%.

Adding Columbia Sportswear Company COLM to your portfolio can also buoy up your returns as this Zacks Rank #2 company possesses a spectacular earnings history. The company has outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate by an average of 26.8% over the past four quarters, with a beat in every quarter.

Further, this global leader of active outdoor apparel and footwear has seen its earnings estimate for 2015 advance 1.7% to $2.38 per share over the past 30 days. Moreover, the company with its headquarters in Portland, OR has a long-term earnings growth rate of 12.6%.

Last but not least is Nutrisystem, Inc. NTRI with a Zacks Rank #2. The company is one of the leading providers of weight management products and services and has witnessed its estimate revisions for 2015 move upward by 1.1% to 95 cents per share, over the past 30 days.. Based in Fort Washington, PA, the company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 31.4% over the trailing four quarters, with a positive surprise in each. Also, it has a long-term earnings growth rate of 17.5%, underscoring its potential.

Let's Conclude

So, investors should ensure that their blood pressure doesn't mimic the stock market volatility. They should play it smart, and see their portfolios jingle this Christmas.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days.Click to get this free report >>

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report

NIKE INC-B (NKE): Free Stock Analysis Report

MACYS INC (M): Free Stock Analysis Report

PENNEY (JC) INC (JCP): Free Stock Analysis Report

COLUMBIA SPORTS (COLM): Free Stock Analysis Report

RALPH LAUREN CP (RL): Free Stock Analysis Report

GAMESTOP CORP (GME): Free Stock Analysis Report

NORDSTROM INC (JWN): Free Stock Analysis Report

HANESBRANDS INC (HBI): Free Stock Analysis Report

NUTRI/SYSTEM (NTRI): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

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


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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