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The huge growth of sales on the internet has been staggering and should continue this year. Last year between November 1 and December 31, online sales hit $91.7 billion, up 11% from $82.5 billion in 2015. The 2016 holiday season also broke a major the e-commerce record, as Cyber Monday became the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, generating $3.45 billion in online sales, up 12% from 2015. Black Friday wasn’t far behind, with sales jumping nearly 22% year over year to $3.34 billion. While this year’s numbers aren’t all in yet, they are expected to be gigantic.
Clearly the companies that dominate the internet are poised to do well, but there are some old-school brick-and-mortar stocks that also have a big internet presence and look poised to post gigantic sales as well. Jefferies has focused on what is expected to be another banner year during the holiday season, and the firm likes two top retail stocks.
We also screened our Wall Street research database for other internet and retail companies that will be the big winners.
This top retailer has traded sideways for almost all of 2017 but is Jefferies favorite specialty retailer for the holidays. Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) operates department stores in the United States that offer private label, exclusive and national brand apparel, footwear, accessories, beauty and home products to children, men and women customers. The company also sells its products online at Kohls.com and through mobile devices.
While retail chains have suffered from internet pressure, Kohl’s has held its own as consumers see the company as a solid discount retailer. In addition, Amazon is growing its partnership with the department store chain. Last summer, the two companies announced that Kohl’s would begin selling Amazon devices, such as the Echo and Fire tablets, at 10 of its stores. Kohl’s also will be accepting Amazon.com returns at certain U.S. locations.
Jefferies is very bullish on the company’s prospects for the season and noted this:
45% of respondents from our survey intend to increase spending at Kohls this holiday season. The analyst thinks that the company is a share gainer as their initiatives to drive traffic appears to take hold and will benefit from peer store closings, new brand additions and omni-channel initiatives. Margins are on the upswing, driven by growth in regular priced sales, while cost savings and efforts to right size select boxes are also helping.
Investors receive a 4.88% dividend. The Jefferies price target for the stock is $48, and the Wall Street consensus target is $43.11. But the stock was trading at $45.15 early Monday.
The giant retailer posted huge quarterly results and also is Jefferies favorite stock for the holidays. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is the world’s largest retailer, operating retail stores in various formats, including Sam’s Club, in the United States as well as a growing e-commerce business (including Jet.com). Internationally Walmart also operates locations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Each week, nearly 260 million customers and members visit the company’s 11,535 stores under 72 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. With fiscal year 2016 revenue of $482.1 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.2 million associates worldwide.
The Jefferies report had this to say:
The company’s big earnings-per share beat last week reflected strong +2.7% U.S. comparisons and the 1 & 2-yr comparison trends accelerated with the best performance in 8 years. Wal-Mart’s omni-channel momentum continued in the quarter with healthy gross merchandise volume and owned e commerce growth plus broad-based strength in stores.
The company announced earlier this year a massive $20 billion stock repurchase plan that was met with open arms by Wall Street. Many think it is in an effort to ward off potential activist investors. Most shareholders could care less.
Shareholders receive a 2.24% dividend. Jefferies has a $110 price target, while the consensus target is $99.94. The shares traded recently at $97.50.
This absolute leader in online retail and dominate player in cloud storage business remains the top internet pick at many firms on Wall Street. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) serves consumers through retail websites that primarily include merchandise and content purchased for resale from vendors and those offered by third-party sellers.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is also the undisputed leader in the cloud now, and many top analysts see the company expanding and moving up the enterprise information value chain and targeting a larger total addressable market. The company serves developers and enterprises through AWS that provides compute, storage, database, analytics, applications and deployment services that enable virtually various businesses.
The company absolutely blew out earnings, and the Merrill Lynch report said this:
Strong quarter with top and bottom line beat. International, retail, subscriptions (Prime) and AWS above expectations. Raising revenue estimates by 2% and price objective based on 1.2x gross merchandise value, and 7.0x AWS revenues in sum of the parts. Amazons share should continue to expand supported by new categories; Prime customer lock-in, and growing traction in international.
Most on Wall Street agree that Amazon remains the top destination for increased spending during this year’s holidays with broad advances in toys and electronics. Toss in the fact that Amazon Prime members receive free shipping on many products and there is no reason to believe that the company will not continue its domination of internet sales.
The $1,220 Merrill Lynch price target compares with a consensus target of $1,227.32. The shares were last seen at $1,208.50.
This company has had its share of issues over the past few years but seems like a solid and safe holiday retail total return play now. Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) is one of the largest discount retailers in the United States, operating roughly 1,800 Target stores across the country. The company sells merchandise in its Signature Categories Style, Baby, Kids and Wellness, as well as other products in both physical Target stores and online at Target.com.
The company seems to be working away from the headline issues that have dogged it. With the economy looking better and the holiday shopping season in full effect, many expect the company to post outstanding results. Merrill Lynch said this when the company reported earnings most recently:
Target’s adjusted fiscal third quarter earnings per share was above forecast with better-than-expected comps and gross margins. Two-year comparisons and traffic trends accelerated. Our fiscal 2019 earnings per share remains $4.45 given the tough-to-predict promotional environment and channel mix impact on gross margins in the fiscal fourth quarter. We reiterate Buy as the company’s turnaround efforts are gaining traction. We also see Target as a “discount store decade” beneficiary.
And despite warning of a difficult holiday season this year, the company appears to have had a solid start to the traditional shopping period, as Merrill Lynch said this in a new report:
On Thanksgiving(stores opened at 6pm for Black Friday deals, same as last year) and Black Friday, traffic was healthy across the store. We saw particular strength in electronics (Samsung & LG 4K TVs, PS4 & Xbox One video games, Beats headphones), seasonal, and toys (with 1,400 new & exclusives items). We also observed steady traffic in apparel and home, which we believe is supported by the launch of eight new brands since last holiday.
Shareholders receive a stellar 4.44% dividend. The Merrill Lynch price objective is $72. The consensus target is $43.11 and shares traded at $55.75.
While it may come as no surprise that these four top companies are expected to post huge holiday sales, it is surprising how much the three retail brick-and-mortars have increased their internet presence in an attempt to compete with Amazon more efficiently. The trend is one they need to continue to stay relevant to the U.S. consumer.