7 Historically High Performing Thanksgiving Stocks

Amid mounting global challenges, it's essential to savor the lighter aspects of life. History shows a bullish trend during the holiday-shortened Thanksgiving week, fueled by increased consumer spending, the surge in holiday travel, and a lower cost of Thanksgiving spread.

Retailers anticipate robust sales during the festive week to turn over a profit for the year. Consequently, they offer discounts and attractive deals on overstocked items, seasonal goods, high-priced commodities, and holiday decor and gifts. Over the past decade, the retail sector has consistently surpassed the S&P 500 during this time frame.

2023 is predicted to witness a record-breaking holiday expenditure during November and December, indicating growth between 3% and 4% over 2022, snowballing the total spent from $957.3 billion to an estimated $966.6 billion. A 2023 Deloitte holiday survey suggests consumers are projected to spend an average of $1,652 during this holiday season, exceeding the pre-pandemic spending levels.

Despite witnessing a dip in October – its first in seven months – U.S. retail sales are expected to rebound. Despite economic uncertainties pressurizing customers, they prioritize holiday expenses during this year's shopping season and are looking for attractive deals and promotions to guide their expenditures.

Approximately 90% of shoppers planning to shop during the Thanksgiving break aim to visit a store to make purchases or collect an online order, with 84% planning to shop online.

Auto manufacturers were grappling amid the United Auto Workers strike. After successful negotiations with General Motors, October 30, 2023 marked the end of the strike. Kelley Blue Book reports that many car dealerships hoarding new vehicles due to fears of scarcity are currently dealing with an oversupply. The average dealership now boasts a 67-day supply of vehicles, although certain brands are still coping with undersupply. The swing in supply could generate lucrative deals for the holiday season.

The airline industry is bracing for the imminent holiday season, expecting record passenger volumes. The Transportation Security Administration projects a staggering 30 million passengers to be screened, potentially setting a new travel record. The pinnacle of this busy stretch is expected to be the Sunday following Thanksgiving, with approximately 2.9 million air travelers anticipated.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Thanksgiving flights could peak at 49,606 on the preceding Wednesday – a significant rise compared to last year's all-time high of 48,192. Many airlines are adequately prepared for severe weather conditions, having learned lessons from the previous year when they were compelled to cancel thousands of flights across the country due to adverse weather.

Thanksgiving continues to defy economic headwinds like rising inflation and dwindling consumer savings. Understanding the holiday's implications goes beyond recognizing it as a time for feasting and expressing gratitude; it is also crucial to comprehend its effects on stock market trends.

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, the stock market traditionally experiences more substantial activity as traders recalibrate their strategies. Historically, the S&P 500 has closed the week on an optimistic note three-quarters of the time since 1961, with a median gain of 0.3%.

Furthermore, the S&P 500 has posted positive figures for the week two-thirds of the time, presenting investors with a median gain of 0.75%. Notably, amid the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the S&P 500 reported an impressive 12% profit during Thanksgiving week.

This article will delve into the influence of Thanksgiving on various sectors like food, beverage, auto, e-commerce, and travel stocks. The seven stocks that could benefit from the holiday week are discussed below:

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)

E-commerce behemoth AMZN is primed to reshuffle the deck of the festive commerce landscape. With a soaring 71.3% year-to-date gain, the company's performance deserves praise. The most recent earnings report depicts an impressive 12.6% revenue surge, hitting a staggering $143.08 billion. AMZN's efforts have been focused on more than just following the market trend, but indeed establishing it.

Market murmurs reflect the awe inspired by the company. Its impressive market cap exceeding $1.48 trillion, coupled with an energetic average volume of 52.49 million, reveals the momentum of AMZN this Thanksgiving.

In a period blossoming with high consumer activity, hundreds of millions of goods are purchased from AMZN. Thus, the company’s fourth-quarter results will provide Wall Street with a comprehensive snapshot of the festive shopping season.

Analysts expect AMZN’s revenue to increase 11.2% year-over-year to $165.85 billion, while EPS is expected to be $0.76, up significantly year-over-year.

Monster Beverage Corporation (MNST)

The Corona, California-based energy drink provider MNST maintains a consistent demand for its beverages, unfazed by frequent price uplifts. The third quarter’s profit surpassed expectations, catalyzed by increased energy drinks and hard seltzers prices.

A decrease in freight and aluminum can costs from the peaks experienced during COVID-19 has inadvertently facilitated the elevation of previously pressured margins.

As of May 2022, MNST beverages have reached the list of top-selling energy drinks in America. The company's momentum will likely persist as a dynamic array of product launches is forecasted to encourage stable growth. A profound distribution network across international markets and a focus on expanding opportunities bode well for future gains.

Bolstered by robust demand trends, sound pricing strategies, and continuous product development, MNST's resilience stands firm. Net sales for the 2023 third quarter increased 14.3% to $1.86 billion. Analysts expect MNST’s revenue and EPS to increase 16.3% and 36% year-over-year to $1.76 billion and $0.39, respectively.

General Motors Company (GM)

2023 is shaping to be a benchmark year for car consumers seeking year-end deals. An unprecedented converging scenario involving elevated inventory levels, significantly increasing interest rates, and traditional holiday discounts is navigating toward big discounts.

Annually, the holiday season witnesses an eruption of optimum offers from car dealerships. Conscious that consumers are more inclined to spend during the festive season, automakers and dealerships deliver enthralling promotions, markdowns, and exclusive deals.

Consequently, after years of observing these seasonal conventions, buyers expect bountiful year-end car discounts, often holding back on purchases until December to avail of them.

For November, GM offers notable cash rebates on various 2023 models. Buyers can expect up to $4,000 off the GMC Sierra 1500 and $3,500 off the Silverado 1500. On average, a rebate of around $1,500 is currently on offer across all GM models.

This tactic could pivotally steer the Detroit-based auto giant's fortunes upward as we enter the holiday season. Amid these developments, for the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect GM’s revenue and EPS to be $39.58 billion and $0.97, respectively.

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL)

As Americans traverse the nation to unite with their families during the Thanksgiving season, the holiday is anticipated to act as a definitive marker for the aviation industry's capacity to navigate the year-end festivity period despite facing hurdles of sustained deficit of air traffic controllers.

DAL, bolstered by its strong position, is primed to capture a sizable share of this travel surge. Boasting one of the most comprehensive domestic route networks within the continental U.S., DAL is optimally set up to accommodate these customers.

Being one of the four major carriers dominating over 60% of the U.S. aviation market, DAL persistently demonstrates robust bookings – a trend spearheaded by its premium offerings, which significantly eclipsed the main cabin reservations in recent quarters. Catering to premium passengers has successfully insulated DAL from some of the financial strains budget airlines have faced recently.

DAL projects to witness between 6.2 million to 6.4 million passengers this Thanksgiving, an increase of 5.7 million passengers the airline accommodated last year and is anticipated to surpass the 6.25 million passengers transported in 2019.

DAL emerges as a promising prospect for investors weighted towards capitalizing on dwindling oil prices and the future supply chain improvement. These factors stand to positively impact profit margins within the aerospace industry down the line.

For the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect DAL’s revenue is expected to increase 3.9% year-over-year to $13.96 billion, while EPS is expected to be $1.14.

eBay Inc. (EBAY)

With over $20 billion in market cap, EBAY, an established e-commerce heavyweight, is tirelessly striving to attract its consumers' interest and spending power. Customers seeking automotive necessities, smartwatches, and Apple products can reap the benefits of up to 75% discount by commencing their shopping endeavors with EBAY this holiday season.

EBAY constantly refines its strategies to uphold its preeminence in an industry characterized by relentless evolution and revolution. As the holiday season looms, its performance is under intense scrutiny as never before, making its sales forecast a widely watched indicator in the e-commerce landscape.

For the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect EBAY’s revenue and EPS to be $2.51 billion and $1.02, respectively.

Conagra Brands, Inc. (CAG)

CAG, a leading North American food company, stands to gain as the anticipated cost of this year's Thanksgiving meal is set to decrease.

American Farm Bureau Federation survey has revealed that the average expense of a conventional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people in 2023 will be roughly $61.17, or under $6.20 per individual. This reduction is largely attributed to a 5.6% year-over-year decrease in turkey prices and notable reductions in the whipping cream and cranberries prices by 22.8% and 18.3%, respectively.

The declining grocery costs could lead to a sales uptick for CAG this festive season.

Moreover, preparing a Thanksgiving dinner also encompasses multiple stressors, including shopping, planning, and the actual cooking process. However, CAG's sophisticated meal-kit delivery service can eliminate two primary pressure points.

By delivering all the necessary pre-portioned and prepared ingredients required to prepare a mouthwatering meal directly to the customer's doorstep, CAG offers a solution for consumers to enjoy a stress-free holiday season.

For the fiscal quarter ending November 2023, analysts expect CAG’s revenue and EPS to be $3.25 billion and $0.68, respectively.

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (UAL)

UAL anticipates a record-breaking surge in travelers this Thanksgiving holiday season, projecting significant revenue growth. The holiday travel period, defined as November 17 to November 29, sees the airline expecting to serve over 5.9 million passengers. This indicates a roughly 5% rise compared to 2019 and a significant 13% increment from last year's figures.

UAL plans to operate an average of over 3,900 daily flights to manage the increased traffic, translating to approximately three departures per minute. Therefore, the airline has introduced over 550,000 seats to accommodate high passenger volumes.

UAL attributes its heightened demand to the success of its basic economy pricing option. This economical ticket option allows UAL to compete effectively against rival ultra-low-cost carriers.

UAL’s third-quarter revenue from its basic economy rose 50% annually. UAL’s CEO Scott Kirby credits this substantial gain to the company’s “improved product.”

For the fiscal quarter ending December 2023, analysts expect UAL’s revenue is expected to increase 9.5% year-over-year to $13.58 billion, while EPS is expected to be $1.69.

Analyzing Microsoft’s (MSFT) Soaring Success – What’s Next?

Shares of Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) have been performing exceptionally well lately, with the stock surging more than 12% over the past month. Moreover, it hit a new 52-week high of $376.35 in the previous session. The stock has gained more than 20% over the past six months and nearly 55% over the past year.

The rally in the stock kicked off a couple of days after Microsoft reported upbeat fiscal 2024 first-quarter results. Since then, the stock has added more than $350 billion to its market capitalization. MSFT is the second-largest component in the S&P 500 with a market cap of $2.796 trillion, behind only Apple Inc. (AAPL) at $2.951 trillion.

Market research firm Bespoke Investment said that MSFT has joined AAPL as the second individual company with a larger market cap than the companies that comprise the Russel 2000 index.

Now, let’s discuss the factors that could impact MSFT’s performance in the upcoming months:

Solid Financial Performance in the Last Reported Quarter

For the fiscal 2024 first quarter that ended September 30, 2023, MSFT reported revenue of $56.52 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $54.55 billion. This compared to the revenue of $50.12 billion in the same quarter of 2022.

Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud segment, which comprises Azure, public cloud, SQL Server, Visual Studio, Nuance, Windows Server, GitHub, and enterprise services, was up 19.4% year-over-year.

MSFT’s Productivity and Business Processes segment posted $18.59 billion, up 13% from the previous year’s period. This business unit comprises Microsoft 365 productivity app subscriptions, LinkedIn, and Dynamics enterprise software. The software company’s gross margin grew 16% year-over-year to $40.22 billion.

In addition, the software maker’s operating income came in at $26.90 billion, an increase of 25% year-over-year. Its net income rose 27% year-over-year to $22.29 billion. MSFT posted an EPS of $2.99 versus the consensus estimate of $2.65. This was up 27.2% from the same period last year.

As of September 30, 2023, the company’s cash and cash equivalents stood at $80.45 billion, compared to $34.70 billion as of June 30, 2023. Its total current assets totaled $207.59 billion, compared to $184.26 billion as of June 30, 2023.

For the fiscal 2024 second quarter, Amy Hood, MSFT’s finance chief, expects the company’s revenue to come in the range of $60.40 billion to $61.40 billion, which implies approximately 15% year-over-year growth.

Robust Historical Growth

Over the past three years, MSFT’s revenue grew at a CAGR of 14.1%. Its EBITDA and net income improved at CAGRs of 16.7% and 17.5%, respectively, over the past three years. Also, the company’s EPS increased at a CAGR of 18.5%. Its levered free cash flow improved at 15.9% CAGR over the same timeframe.

Further, the company’s tangible book value and total assets increased at CAGRs of 25.7% and 14% over the same period, respectively.

Rebound In Cloud Spending

Revenue from Microsoft’s Azure cloud business surged 29% year-over-year during the September quarter, compared with 26% growth in the fourth quarter. Moreover, Microsoft is pulling ahead of its major competitors, Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Google parent Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), in the race to recover from a two-year slowdown in cloud spending.

When multi-decade inflation hit last year, the Fed hiked interest rates, and companies responded by lowering their tech spending as a part of their cost-reduction measures. The inflation has fallen sharply from its peak of 9.1% hit in June last year. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the most widely used measure of inflation, further showed signs of easing in October.

The core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.2% for the month and 4% year-over-year, lower than the estimates of 0.3% and 4.1%, respectively. Also, the annual level was the lowest in nearly two years and down from 4.1% in September. With declining inflationary pressures, organizations’ cost-cutting efforts have begun to wane, which should bode well for MSFT.

According to the latest forecast from Gartner, worldwide end-user spending on public cloud is projected to grow by 20.4% to a total of $678.80 billion in 2024, up from $563.60 billion in 2023. Growing business needs and emerging technologies like GenAI drive cloud model innovation.

MSFT is “still helping customers use the Microsoft Cloud to get the most value out of their digital spend, and driving operating leverage,” CEO Satya Nadella said in the latest earnings release.

Significant Advancements in AI

MSFT has been making several initiatives to infuse generative AI into its software and services.

In January this year, Microsoft announced a multiyear, multibillion-dollar investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI. The agreement marked the third phase of the partnership between the two companies after MSFT’s prior investments in 2019 and 2021. The company is providing its Azure cloud computing infrastructure for OpenAI.

Also, Microsoft is adding OpenAI models to its consumer and enterprise software products.

In February, the company launched a new, AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser with built-in support for OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The new Bing search version could deliver better search, more accurate answers, a new chat experience, and the ability to generate content.

Further, on March 16, the software maker announced the addition of AI tools to its Office productivity applications and introduced a feature called Microsoft 365 Copilot. The Copilot feature uses next-gen AI to automate and simplify tasks and offer suggestions. MSFT announced that Microsoft 365 Copilot in Windows will be available on September 26.

Starting November 1, Microsoft 365 Copilot will be generally available for enterprise customers. In addition, this AI-powered Copilot is added to the company’s cybersecurity offerings and GitHub service for software developers.

On November 8, MSFT-owned GitHub introduced a Copilot assistant that can assist developers in working with their employers’ internal code, priced at $39 per person a month. The new launch might help the company boost revenue in its cloud business unit by taking enhanced advantage of partner OpenAI’s technology.

Recovery in the PC Market

MSFT reported a 4% growth in sales of Windows operating system licenses to device makers in the last reported quarter, putting an end to a streak of five quarters of year-over-year declines. Amy Hood stated that the PC market has started to stabilize.

As per the estimates from Gartner, worldwide PC shipments totaled 64.3 million units during the third quarter of 2023, a decline of 9% from the third quarter of 2022. A 9% decrease in the third quarter compared to a 30% decline in the first quarter.

After eight straight quarters of decline, the PC market is expected to begin recovery in the fourth quarter of this year. For 2024, Gartner projects the global PC market to witness 4.9% growth, driven by both the business and consumer segments.

“The good news for PC vendors is that the worst could be over by the end of 2023,” said Mikako Kitagawa, Director Analyst at Gartner. “The business PC market is ready for the next replacement cycle, driven by the Windows 11 upgrades. Consumer PC demand should also begin to recover as PCs purchased during the pandemic are entering the early stages of a refresh cycle.”

In September, MSFT introduced new Surface computers and revealed details about the release of this year’s version of Windows 11. The company unveiled the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and the Surface Laptop Go 3; both computers will have Microsoft’s revamped Windows 11 OS, which includes its Copilot software. The company could capitalize on the PC market’s expected recovery with these new launches.

Favorable Analyst Estimates

Analysts expect MSFT’s revenue for the second quarter (ending December 2023) to grow 15.6% year-over-year to $60.96 billion. The consensus EPS estimate of $2.75 for the ongoing quarter indicates an 18.7% year-over-year rise. Moreover, the company has topped the consensus revenue in three of the trailing four quarters and EPS estimates in all the trailing four quarters.

Additionally, for the fiscal year (ending June 2024), Street expects MSFT’s revenue and EPS to increase 14.5% and 14.1% year-over-year to $242.69 billion and $11.19, respectively. Also, the software company’s revenue and EPS for the fiscal year 2025 are expected to increase 13.8% and 15.1% from the previous year to $276.22 billion and $12.88, respectively.

Bottom Line

Microsoft’s revenue and earnings beat analysts’ expectations in the last reported quarter, fueled by its cloud business strength, with Microsoft Cloud revenue up a staggering 24% year-over-year. Further, the software giant continues to make numerous advancements in AI, helping it regain tech leadership.

"With copilots, we are making the age of AI real for people and businesses everywhere," said Satya Nadella. “We are rapidly infusing AI across every layer of the tech stack and for every role and business process to drive productivity gains for our customers,” he added.

According to Brent Thill, Jefferies analyst, the tailwinds of AI have begun to kick in for MSFT.

MSFT’s stock notched a new 52-week high in the previous trading session. The software maker’s early dominance in the realm of AI has been the primary driver of the stock’s impressive gains so far this year, and the stock is expected to surge higher in the upcoming months.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) research, the generative AI market could grow at a CAGR of 42% to reach $1.3 trillion by 2032.

Given MSFT’s solid financials, high profitability, and optimistic growth outlook, it could be wise to invest in this software stock now.

Datadog (DDOG): A Software Industry Savior?

  Shares of Snowflake Inc. (SNOW), MongoDB Inc. (MDB), and Elastic N.V. (ESTC) rallied sharply in last Tuesday’s premarket trading after Datadog, Inc.’s (DDOG) stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings report eased fears about consumption-based software companies for the most recent quarter.

SNOW’s shares surged more than 8%, shares of MDB were up nearly 6%, while ESTC shares climbed about 4%. DDOG’s stock surged more than 24% last Tuesday, marking its best day ever. Moreover, the stock has gained more than 22% over the past month and nearly 51% year-to-date.

Mizuho desk-based analyst Jordan Klein called DDOG “clearly one of the most shorted and over-sold names” in all software and among consumption-based players. After Datadog topped expectations with its latest results and outlook, “Other peers like SNOW, MDB and ESTC yet to report should bounce, but also a good sign for AWS and Azure demand trends in my view and broader software,” wrote Klien.

Let’s determine if DDOG is a solid buy now and what the stock’s upbeat earnings report means for other computer-based software companies.

Here are some of the factors that could impact DDOG’s performance in the near term:

Robust Financial Performance in The Last Reported Quarter

For the third quarter that ended September 30, 2023, DDOG, the monitoring and security platform for cloud applications, reported revenue of $547.54 million, beating analysts’ estimate of $524.20 million. This compared to the revenue of $436.53 million in the same quarter of 2022. Its non-GAAP gross profit grew 29.5% year-over-year to $450.87 million.

Datadog continued to grow its customer base and ended the quarter with 3,130 customers worth $100,000 in annual recurring revenue (ARR). This is an increase of 140 customers from the previous quarter and 530 more than the company had a year ago, at the end of September 2022.

The cloud company’s non-GAAP operating income came in at $130.76 million, an increase of 74.7% from the prior year’s quarter. Its non-GAAP net income rose 95.5% year-over-year to $158.46 million. It posted non-GAAP net income per share of $0.45, compared to the consensus estimate of $0.34, and up 95.7% year-over-year.

Furthermore, net cash provided by operating activities increased 82.7% year-over-year to $152.78 million. DDOG’s free cash flow stood at $138.19 million, up 105.9% from the same period last year.

Upbeat Full-Year Guidance

“We were pleased with our execution in the third quarter, with 25% year-over-year revenue growth, robust new logo bookings, and a continued focus on solving our customers' DevSecOps pain points,” said Olivier Pomel, co-founder and CEO of DDOG.

“Companies across all industries and sizes are building cloud applications and services to deliver positive business outcomes, including more users, higher revenue growth, improved productivity, and cost savings. With our unified, cloud-native, end-to-end observability and security platform, Datadog is uniquely positioned to help our customers reach their goals,” added Pomel.

After upbeat third-quarter earnings and confidence in continued business momentum, DDOG raised its revenue and profit view for the full fiscal year 2023. For the full year, the company expects its revenue to be between $2.103 billion and $2.107 billion. Its non-GAAP operating income and non-GAAP net income per share are expected to be in the range of $453-$457 million and $1.52-$1.54, respectively.

DDOG now expects fourth-quarter revenue between $564 million and $568 million. The company’s non-GAAP operating income is anticipated to be between $129 million and $133 million, while its non-GAAP net income per share to be between $0.42 and $0.44.

Impressive Historical Growth

Over the past three years, DDOG’s revenue grew at a CAGR of 55%. Its tangible book value and total assets increased at CAGRs of 16.5% and 25% over the same period, respectively. Also, the company’s levered free cash flow improved at 88% CAGR over the same timeframe.

Positive Recent Developments

On November 8, Datadog expanded a strategic partnership with Google Cloud, which allows Google Cloud customers to proactively observe and secure their cloud-native and hybrid applications within Datadog’s unified platform.

As a part of the extended partnership and integrations, DDOG is one of the first AI/ML observability solution partners for Vertex AI, enabling AI ops teams and developers to monitor, analyze, and optimize the performance of their ML models in production.

Also, on August 3, DDOG announced new AI observability capabilities that assist customers in deploying LLM-based applications to production with confidence and help them troubleshoot health, cost, and accuracy in real-time.

These capabilities include integrations for the end-to-end AI stack: AI Infrastructure and compute, embeddings and data management, model serving and deployment, model layer, and orchestration framework. Datadog’s LLM observability includes model catalog, model performance, and model drift.

Datadog’s CEO Olivier Pomel told analysts on a conference call that “AI-native customers” contributed 2.5% of the company’s annualized revenue during the last reported quarter.

Favorable Analyst Estimates

Analysts expect DDOG’s revenue for the fourth quarter (ending December 2023) to grow 21.1% year-over-year to $568.56 million. The consensus EPS estimate of $0.44 for the ongoing year indicates a 68.6% year-over-year increase. Moreover, the company has surpassed the consensus revenue and EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters, which is impressive.

For the fiscal year 2023, Street expects DDOG’s revenue and EPS to grow 25.4% and 56.4% year-over-year to $2.10 billion and $1.53, respectively. In addition, the company’s revenue and EPS for the fiscal year 2024 are expected to increase 22.7% and 14.8% from the previous year to $2.58 billion and $1.76, respectively.

Rating Upgrade

Mark Murphy, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., upgraded his rating of DDOG to “Overweight” from “Neutral”, stating that the “worst period” of declining revenue growth at the solution solutions group has most likely ended. Also, the analyst bumped up the share price target of the stock to $115 from $90.

What Do DDOG’s Upbeat Earnings Mean for Other Computer-Based Software Firms?

Datadog and other consumption-based software companies, including Amazon.com, Inc.’s (AMZN) AWS, Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT) Azure, and SNOW, among others, have been grappling with a slowdown in cloud spending by inflation-hit customers.

After COVID-19 prompted companies, governments, and schools to switch to cloud services driven by the surge in work-from-home, several cloud-computing firms enjoyed robust demand. However, when inflation hit last year, the central bank hiked interest rates, and cloud stocks began tumbling as companies responded by scrutinizing their IT spending as they engaged in cost-reduction measures.

Inflation has declined sharply from its 2022 peak, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) showing further signs of easing in October. The core CPI, excluding volatile food and energy prices, increased 0.2% for the month and 4% year-over-year, against the forecast of 0.3% and 4.1%, respectively. The annual level was the lowest in nearly two years and down from 4.1% in September.

With these positive developments, cloud infrastructure providers indicated last month that some organizations’ cost-cutting efforts have begun to wane. Datadog’s Pomel also validated this observation, saying optimization activity among the company’s clients could be easing.

“Overall, we continue to see impact from optimization in our business, but we believe that the intensity and breadth of optimization we’ve experienced in recent quarters is moderating,” he said.

DDOG’s significant surge last week, following its upbeat earnings and optimistic guidance, also buoyed other cloud-computing names, including SNOW, MDB, and ESTC.

As per the latest forecast from Gartner, global end-user spending on public cloud is expected to rise by 20.4% to a total of $678.80 billion in 2024, an increase from $563.60 billion in 2023. Growing business needs and emerging technologies like GenAI drive cloud model innovation.

Bottom Line

DDOG, the data analytics platform provider, beat third-quarter Wall Street’s expectations for earnings and revenue. Further, the cloud company raised its full fiscal year 2023 guidance on third-quarter upside and expected continued business momentum.

Due to reduced IT spending by inflation-hit clients, Datadog’s revenue growth slowed from 83% in early 2022 to 25% now. However, this slowdown will likely “moderate and level out,” driven by the recovery in companies’ cloud spending, benefitting DDOG significantly. The company is well-positioned to serve its customers effectively with its unified, cloud-native, end-to-end observability and security platform.

According to Alex Zukin of Wolfe Research, DDOG has the potential to become the “fastest-growing software company” amid the AI boom. Datadog’s platform can offer advanced predictive analytics and intelligent alerting by leveraging new AI and ML capabilities.

Given DDOG’s solid financials, accelerating profitability, and bright growth outlook, it could be wise to consider investing in this software stock.

4 Must-Have Holiday Stocks for Your Portfolio

As the Christmas season approaches, traditionally marked by increased discretionary spending, retailers anticipate a much-needed boost. The consumer discretionary sector has faced considerable challenges in recent years, with many retailers depending on the festive season for over half of their annual sales.

Although post-Thanksgiving sales have evolved beyond their traditional one-day events, the closing weeks of the fourth quarter remain crucial for retailers seeking to improve their financial health. The National Retail Federation anticipates holiday spending this November and December to achieve record levels, projecting growth between 3% and 4% over 2022 to reach between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.

Deloitte's annual Holiday Retail Survey projects that 2023 consumer spending will exceed pre-pandemic levels for the first time, with the average consumer predicted to spend $1,652 on gifts, up 14% year-over-year.

Interestingly, there is a commonly observed "Santa Claus Rally" phenomenon in the financial market during this period – a seasonal surge in volume and trading that tends to last until Christmas. LPL Financial found that since 1950, a Santa Claus rally has occurred around 79% of the time.
Year-end holiday shopping, driving sales for retailers and related businesses, can increase stock prices. Investors are generally keen on a year-end rally that boosts their portfolios, while professional traders often consider it an influential factor in determining their year-end bonuses. The occurrence of a Santa Claus rally this year could be welcomed, given the sluggish behavior of stocks since August.

Investment focus is shifting toward stocks presenting the most significant opportunities now, with some manifesting more profitability potential than others if acquired before price surges. Many investors are identifying holiday stocks to capitalize on with the holiday shopping season looming.
Given this backdrop, let us delve into an in-depth analysis of consumer discretionary stocks Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Walmart Inc. (WMT), Target Corporation (TGT), and Etsy, Inc. (ETSY) now.

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)

As the winter holiday season draws near, e-commerce behemoth AMZN, with a market cap of over $1 trillion, is ramping into full festive gear. The Seattle-based firm hosted its recent Prime Day event on October 10 and 11, further revealing plans to enfold 250,000 additional personnel across its global operations in anticipation of the busy year-end shopping frenzy.

AMZN's biannual Prime Days are effective levers for amplifying revenue. The July event yielded over $12 billion worth of sales – a record-breaking feat that crowned it the most successful Prime Day ever. Striving to expand the holiday shopping duration, the company has been progressively ushering its secondary Prime Day event into the fourth quarter.

The impact extends beyond just the Prime Days. The company also greatly benefits from the surge in sales during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions tied to the Thanksgiving holiday, offering substantial financial reinforcements. The company forecasted revenue between $160 billion and $167 billion for the current holiday quarter. However, analysts polled by LSEG were expecting revenue of $166.62 billion, at the higher end of AMZN's guidance.
AMZN has restructured its delivery network in its retail operations to strategically position goods closer to customers, allowing for faster, more cost-effective order fulfillment. The enhancement of its same-day delivery services has positively influenced its profit margins by encouraging shoppers to place orders more frequently and in larger quantities.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending December 2023, its revenue is expected to increase 11.2% year-over-year to $165.86 billion, while EPS could reach $0.76, up significantly year-over-year.

On the stock market front, shares of AMZN have appreciated over 69% year-to-date and are trading above the 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages – an apparent sign of a bullish trend.

Echoing these encouraging prospects, Wall Street analysts expect the stock to reach $176.13 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 24%. The price target ranges from a low of $145 to a high of $230.

Walmart Inc. (WMT)

Initially established as a conventional brick-and-mortar retailer, WMT has become an influential omnichannel contender. The company’s strategic acquisitions of Bonobos, Moosejaw, and Parcel and its partnerships with industry giants Shopify and Goldman Sachs underscore this evolution. Further efforts, such as introducing delivery programs Walmart + and Express Delivery and investing in Flipkart – an acclaimed online e-commerce platform – exemplify these changes.

These mechanisms have strengthened the retail behemoth's position, allowing it to remain resilient within the dynamic landscape of the retail industry. The company's adaptive initiatives ensure continuous relevancy and competitiveness in this changing ecosystem.

The prominent discount retailer goes the extra mile for the holiday season, employing additional personnel and offering round-the-clock service from Thanksgiving to Christmas to accommodate last-minute shoppers. The company notably profits from Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day promotions, with attractive offers ranging from electronics and toys to clothing.

WMT's in-store and virtual purchases witnessed a substantial escalation during the holiday season, complemented by an upswing in the market.
WMT’s second-quarter financial performance exceeded Wall Street predictions, and the company elevated its full-year guidance. Propelled by robust grocery sales and enhanced online expenditure, the retailer registered a remarkable second-quarter earnings per share of $1.84, while revenue touched $161.63 billion.

The retail giant revealed a 24% year-over-year growth in its e-commerce sales during the second quarter of 2023, with same-store sales observing a 6.4% uptick. WMT anticipates a 4% to 4.5% overall surge in annual sales.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending January 2024, its revenue is expected to increase 3.6% year-over-year to $158.42 billion, while EPS is anticipated to reach $1.66.

Shares of WMT have gained over 15% year-to-date and trade above the 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages, indicating an uptrend. Moreover, Wall Street analysts expect the stock to reach $180.46 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 9.8%. The price target ranges from a low of $165 to a high of $210.

Target Corporation (TGT)

Boasting a market cap exceeding $51 billion, TGT has demonstrated robust financial health in 2023, successfully safeguarding its profit margins amid a challenging retail environment. The firm maintained solid earnings and cash flow despite subdued consumer spending in fundamental areas like home décor.

As holiday shoppers navigate TGT’s illustrious aisles, they are presented with the retailer's holiday price match guarantee – a strategy aimed at streamlining shopping experiences while offering optimal pricing. Frequently running comprehensive sales on daily essentials and holiday requisites – from electronics to clothing and household goods, TGT facilitates economical purchases, countering rising inflationary pressures.

TGT adopts a strategic stance this festive season by emphasizing affordability in its holiday marketing schemes. Guided by the motto "However You Holiday, Do It For Less," TGT links everyday items within its seasonal collection, providing an affordable range for consumers facing economic challenges.
Recognizing that 75% of TGT customers initiate their digital shopping journeys on mobile platforms, the corporation has augmented its investment in digital channels by 20% in 2023, specifically focusing on media mix optimization throughout the holiday period. This concerted effort towards optimizing digital footprint hones in on social media.

Furthermore, TGT's innovative advertising campaigns encapsulate broad holiday themes like “Lights,” “Magic,” and “Style,” demonstrating their application across various product categories. These aspirational campaigns aim to inspire consumers as they prep for holiday social events, alongside fulfilling their routine shopping needs.

Enhancing its product offering, TGT has introduced thousands of new items this year, expanding from toys priced at $25 to affordable $1 stocking stuffers. The corporation spotlights partnerships with renowned brands, including Fenty Beauty, Kendra Scott, and Mattel and private label introductions like the recent Figmint kitchen range.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending January 2024, its revenue and EPS are expected to increase 1.2% and 19.4% year-over-year to $31.77 billion and $2.26, respectively.

Wall Street analysts expect the stock to reach $145.03 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 32%. The price target ranges from a low of $105 to a high of $180.

Etsy, Inc. (ETSY)

Renowned as a premier online hub for handcrafted and vintage goods, ETSY is an ideal platform for consumers looking for inventive gift options, particularly during the bustling winter holiday season. The broad spectrum of products available on ETSY – from jewelry and clothing to toys and home décor – caters to the preferences of its 97.3 million active users offered by 8.8 million energetic sellers.

However, this year has posed significant challenges for ETSY. ETSY grapples with unfavorable financial outcomes, unlike its competitors, who have rebounded from pandemic-induced downturns. The company experienced another decline following the release of its third-quarter earnings report.

ETSY's unique business model – a marketplace that emphasizes handcrafted and vintage items and operates via network effects and switching costs – may be attractive, but ultimately, consistent growth is vital to sustain investor interest. While ETSY insists on its distinct positioning within a large potential market, its struggle to bolster gross merchandise sales (GMS) post-pandemic suggests that the demand for its products may be more limited than anticipated.

Growth in GMS was barely perceptible in the third quarter at just 1.2% year-over-year to $3 billion. GMS per active buyer was down 6% to $127, possibly reflecting the economic challenges.

Moreover, the company estimated GMS for the fourth quarter of 2023 to decline in the low-single-digit range year-over-year. This could deteriorate into a mid-single-digit drop if financial circumstances worsen and stabilize or marginally increase if conditions improve.

CEO Josh Silverman said, "There's no doubt that this is an incredibly challenging environment for spending on consumer discretionary items. It's therefore important to acknowledge that this volatile macro climate will make it challenging for us to grow this quarter."

Yet, amid this financial gloom, bright spots are visible for ETSY. For the fiscal third quarter that ended September 30, 2023, active buyers on the ETSY marketplace witnessed a 4% year-over-year increase, totaling 91.6 million, with growth in U.S. active buyer trends for the first time in seven quarters. The company has reactivated 6 million buyers, marking a 19% year-over-year uptick, and retention rates exceed pre-pandemic levels.

Simultaneously, ETSY's seller base surged 19% to 8.8 million overall. An additional 400,000 sellers have joined the Etsy marketplace in the quarter, bringing its total to 6.7 million. These sellers may use the platform to supplement their income amid inflationary and other economic strains.

However, it is crucial to point out that even though other discretionary retailers are grappling with the prevailing economic climate, ETSY continues to underperform compared to its e-commerce competitors. This inevitably prompts queries regarding when or whether we might witness a resurgence in ETSY’s growth on par with its peers.

For the fiscal fourth quarter ending December, its revenue and EPS are expected to increase 1.7% and 16.2% year-over-year to $820.69 million and $1.33, respectively. Wall Street analysts expect the stock to reach $74.39 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 16.3%. The price target ranges from a low of $50 to a high of $125.

Investor Alert: Are These 11 Back-to-School Stocks Making Big Moves?

The end of summer and the onset of fall usually mean one thing in the United States — it’s time to replenish supplies and head back to school. This also translates to wardrobe refreshes and gadget upgrades. The average planned back-to-school spending per household in the United States has gradually increased year-over-year to $848.9 in 2021, with electronics or computer-related equipment emerging as the biggest category.

While stressed American consumers have been forced to go bargain hunting to squeeze out the maximum possible value from money for bare essentials so that more of it can be set aside in favor of outdoor experiences instead of manufactured goods, the trend is unlikely to be significantly impacted even by the seismic shifts in the consumption ecosystem.

In fact, since the supply chain disruptions in the aftermath of the pandemic, concern for stockouts has only pulled back-to-school sales have increasingly been pulled forward to the end of July, compared to the conventional peak during the beginning of August. Prime Week by Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) has also done its fair bit to catalyze that shift.

Given the above, we have shortlisted a few relevant apparel/fashion/luxury, grocery, and technology stocks below that are expected to benefit from back-to-school sales to determine if they are worth buying in the aftermath of the sales event and ahead of the holiday season.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

The technology and consumer electronics giant, which has a history of revolutionizing products like the personal computer, smartphone, and tablet, has begun scripting the next key chapter in its success story with the announcement of its first product in the AR/VR market, the Apple Vision headset, which will sell for $3,499 when it is released early next year.

Despite its 7.9% dip during the past month, AAPL’s stock has gained 22.2% over the past six months. While the business boasts excellent profitability, in view of its stretched valuation in the face of frigid trade relations between the U.S. and China, AAPL’s manufacturing hub and key market, investors should wait for a better entry point.

Walmart Inc. (WMT)

Sam Walton, founder of the largest grocer in the world, built the company on a no-frills approach aimed at making groceries and other products more affordable. With 60% of its revenue in the U.S. coming from the grocery segment, the retail giant’s focus on value through “everyday low prices” has helped it become relatively immune to the seismic shifts in the consumption ecosystem.

WMT’s stock has dipped slightly over the past month but has gained 11.7% over the past six months. With core PCE at 4.3%, indicating stretched budgets and high borrowing costs in the foreseeable future, WMT is best positioned to capture the upside from “modest improvement” in sales of big-ticket and discretionary items like electronics during the Back-to-School season.

Target Corporation (TGT)

TGT sells an assortment of general merchandise and food items to its guests through its stores and digital channels. With product categories such as apparel and accessories, beauty and household essentials, food and beverage, and home furnishing and décor, the budget retailer has converted its 1900+ stores into mini-malls offering a range of “cheap chic” items.

Due to the recent miss in revenue and a not-so-optimistic outlook for the holiday season, TGT’s stock has lost 9.5% over the past month. However, the slump has also brought the stock to a more attractive valuation, which could protect investors from downside risks and a potential upside from a mid-term recovery in consumer confidence and market sentiment.

Ross Stores, Inc. (ROST)

ROST operates two brands of off-price retail apparel and home fashion stores, Ross Dress for Less (Ross) and dd’s DISCOUNTS, with the latter offering in-season, name-brand apparel, accessories, footwear, and home fashions for the entire family at savings of 20% to 70% off department and discount store regular prices every day.

ROST’s shares have gained about 5% over the past month and 8.5% over the past six months. Given its healthy profitability, investors could consider buying the stock to capitalize on a rally during Back to School and the holiday season.

Dollar General Corporation (DG)

As a discount retailer, DG offers merchandise, including consumable items, seasonal items, home products, and apparel.

DG’s stock has plummeted 7.4% over the past month and 27.6% over the past six months. In view of its bleak prospects, investors are advised to stand by until sentiments improve before investing in the stock.

Logitech International S.A. (LOGI)

Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland, LOGI designs, manufactures, and markets products that connect people to working, creating, gaming, and streaming worldwide. The company offers accessories, such as mice, keyboards, webcams, and other accessories for mobile devices. The company sells its products under the Logitech, Logitech G, ASTRO Gaming, Streamlabs, Blue Microphones, and Ultimate Ears brands.

Despite a 4.3% dip in the past month, LOGI’s shares have gained 24.2% over the past six months. While the business boasts excellent profitability, investors could wait for the pendulum of personal consumption to swing from services back in favor of high-ticket discretionary goods before buying into it.

Crocs, Inc. (CROX)

CROX designs, develops, and markets casual lifestyle footwear and accessories for women, men, and children, containing Croslite material, a proprietary, molded footwear technology. The company’s segments include North America; Asia Pacific; Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America (EMEALA); and the HEYDUDE Brand.

CROX’s stock has lost 7.8% over the past month. While the decently profitable business is well-positioned to benefit from increased expenditure on outdoor expenses, investors could wait for further valuation comfort before taking a long position in the stock.

Dillard's, Inc. (DDS)

DDS is a fashion apparel, home furnishings, and cosmetics retailer. The company’s operating segments include its retail department stores and a general contracting construction company.

DDS’ stock has gained 5.6% over the past month. Despite the recent price gains, its excellent profitability at a decent valuation means that investors could benefit from further upside in the stock.

Levi Strauss & Co. (LEVI)

The well-known apparel company designs and markets jeans, casual wear, and related accessories for men, women, and children under the Levi's, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co., Denizen, Dockers, and Beyond Yoga brands.

LEVI’s stock has lost 5.9% over the past month and 22.4% over the past six months. While the sentiment has been improving lately, investors would be wise to wait for its valuation to improve before deciding to add the stock to their portfolio.

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF)

As an omnichannel specialty retailer of apparel, personal care products, and accessories for men, women, and kids, ANF sells its offerings primarily through its digital channels, company-owned stores, and various third-party arrangements.

ANF’s stock has surged 26.3% over the past month and 68.3% over the past six months. Given its excellent track record and profitability, investors could consider investing in the stock.

Shoe Carnival, Inc. (SCVL)

SCVL is an omnichannel family footwear retailer that offers customers an assortment of dress, casual, and athletic footwear for men, women, and children.
SCVL’s stock has plummeted 15.9% over the past month. While valuations have become more attractive, investors are advised to wait for the outlook to improve before acquiring a stake in the business.