Stocks Set to Pop Off Following 4th of July

With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, Independence Day has taken on an entirely new significance for most Americans this time. Americans appear to have gone above and beyond to compensate for the years spent indoors by making the most of the (unofficially) long weekend with short trips, camping, cookouts, pool parties, and eating out.

The increased demand for, and consequently expenditure on, services and experiences is also evident in the recent employment data, with leisure and hospitality adding 208,000 positions out of the expectation-beating private sector employment increase of 278,000 for May. The sector was also a notable contributor to the increase of 339,000 in non-farm payrolls for the month.

In view of the above, leisure stocks could be the beneficiaries of the increased levels of outdoor activities around the nation’s Independence Day. In this context, the following stocks that could witness significant upsides in the near term could be worth watching.

The Walt Disney Company (DIS)

While the global entertainment giant has recently been in the news for its ongoing feud with Gov. Ron DeSantis, outside the political and legal arena, DIS is going through a significant transition under the leadership of its returned CEO, Robert A. Iger.
In addition to the Disney Entertainment and the ESPN divisions, the rest of DIS’ businesses will be organized under the existing parks, experiences, and products division.

As a result, DIS reported significant growth at its theme parks during the fiscal second quarter, which saw a 17% increase in revenue to $7.7 billion, with around $5.5 billion contributed by theme-park locations. Moreover, its cruise business also saw an increase in passenger cruise days as guests spent more time and money visiting its parks, hotels, and cruises domestically and internationally during the quarter.

Domino's Pizza, Inc. (DPZ)

The global pizza chain operates two distinct delivery and carryout service models within its stores. The company operates through three segments: U.S. stores; international franchises; and supply chain. In addition to company-owned and franchised stores across the United States, its network of franchised stores is spread in 90 international markets.

Given the increased outdoor activity, while delivery sales will stabilize, carryout sales are expected to grow in the next twelve months. In view of the widespread reversal of consumer behavior to pre-pandemic patterns, on June 20, DPZ launched its Pinpoint Delivery service nationwide that allows customers to receive a delivery almost anywhere, ranging from parks and baseball fields to beaches, without a standard address.

American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL)

Being one of the major air carriers, AAL is reaping the bounty of the surge in leisure travel during the first summer in three years in which the pandemic is not making headlines.

With enough pent-up demand from consumers ever keener to redeem their pile of airline miles and other travel rewards on their credit cards through revenge travel, it’s unsurprising that AAL has turned to bigger airplanes, even on shorter routes, to help ease airport congestion and find its way around pilot shortages.

As a result of this tailwind, AAL’s revenue surpassed the airline’s cost to help it report a $10 million profit during the first quarter of the fiscal year. Moreover, with fuel prices yet to rise significantly due to a stuttering recovery of the Chinese economy and Memorial Day travel topping 2019 levels, the operator has raised its adjusted earnings outlook for the second quarter.

Nathan's Famous, Inc.

NATH operates in the food service industry as an owner of franchise restaurants under Nathan’s Famous brand name. The company also sells products bearing Nathan’s Famous trademarks through various distribution channels.

Driven by post-pandemic momentum, for the fiscal year that ended March 26, 2023, NATH’s revenues increased 13.8% year-over-year to $130.79 million. During the same period, the company’s income from operations increased by 15.3% year-over-year to $34.45 million, while its adjusted EBITDA grew 16.8% year-over-year to come in at $36.38 million. As a result, net income for the fiscal came in at $19.62 million, up 44.3% year-over-year.

Is Meta Platforms (META) a Buy with Plans for New App to Rival Twitter?

On October 27, 2022, Elon Musk completed his purchase of Twitter, Inc. Before everyone could let that sink in (figuratively as well as literally), the maverick entrepreneur implemented sweeping changes at the social networking company. In addition to slashing its headcount significantly, it also leaned on automation to moderate content.

While Mr. Musk claims that it has gained users after the change of ownership and management as an advertising-reliant business, Twitter’s troubles are far from over. It has witnessed an exodus of advertisers that was triggered by concerns, including the deterioration of moderation standards at the platform and a botched relaunch of Twitter’s subscription service, which led to a slew of verified impersonator accounts.

On March 10, Facebook-parent Meta Platforms, Inc. (META) announced its plans for a new decentralized, text-based social network. The stand-alone app, codenamed P92, is being built with the expectation of some of Twitter’s disenchanted users looking for alternatives after overhauling the microblogging site.

On June 9, META’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said the app aimed for “safety, ease of use, reliability” and giving creators a “stable place to build and grow their audiences.”

Given that public figures reportedly want a similar platform that is “sanely run,” Cox added that META was in discussion with Oprah Winfrey, who has more than 42 million followers on Twitter, and the Dalai Lama, who has nearly 19 million, to be potential users.

The project is being helmed by Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, META's image-sharing app. The coding began in January, and although no date was given, there is some speculation that it could be released as early as the end of June.

From the screenshots that were shared internally and have since appeared online, the app's layout bore a resemblance to Twitter. However, it would enable users to log in using their Instagram credentials and could allow users to follow accounts they already follow on Instagram.

By relying on a protocol called ActivityPub, which enables interoperability between social networks, META is also exploring integrations allowing users to bring followers from their accounts with existing social networks like Twitter or Mastodon. This could bring down switching costs and encourage adoption.

How the Market Reacted?

META has been finding many takers on the Street in what, according to it, is its Year of Efficiency. In this context, its initiative to take on its more accomplished microblogging peer has been welcomed by investors.

Since the announcement of P92 on March 10, META’s stock has gained around 57% compared to the 14.6% gain of the S&P 500.

The Jury Is Still Out

Decentralization and interoperability are double-edged swords. While META hopes to gain adoption by lowering the entry barriers for users of other networks, in theory, this could also allow users of its new app to take their accounts and followers to apps supported by ActivityPub, such as Mastodon.\

Secondly, excluding its flagship social-networking app, META’s attempts at organic growth have a track record of flops, including the very name of the company and the purpose behind adopting the new nomenclature. Previous attempts at cloning, such as Lasso, which was supposed to offer an alternative to TikTok, have also failed.

Lastly, decentralized social networks, such as Mastodon or Jack Dorsey-backed Bluesky, rely on individual servers that use a uniform protocol, avoiding centralized content control and possible censorship.

Hence it remains to be seen if and how META, which is driven primarily by advertisement revenue, can productively marry decentralization with ownership while respecting the privacy of its users.