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.

Walmart (WMT) vs. Costco Wholesale (COST) vs. Target (TGT): Navigating Inflation's Impact on Grocery Chains

U.S. domestic consumption has been on a roller coaster ride over the past three years. People have gone from not being free enough to spend practically free money to spending like there’s no tomorrow.

That, in turn, led to a not-so-transitory inflation, the hottest since the 1980s, forcing the Federal Reserve to implement eleven interest-rate hikes in a span of 16 months, taking the benchmark borrowing cost to 5.25%-5.50%.

Meanwhile, with the pandemic firmly in the rear-view mirror, Americans have been going above and beyond to compensate for the years spent indoors trying to substitute real experiences with virtual ones.

However, with the stash of stimulus cash fast dwindling, average American consumers have been forced to go bargain hunting to squeeze out the maximum possible value from money, which has gotten dearer so that more of it can be set aside in favor of outdoor experiences instead of manufactured goods.

Consequently, they have been forced to trade down to budget-friendly retailers, leaving the businesses that offer something in between wrong-footed and stranded. Although budget retailers have lost sales from low-income consumers, that loss has been offset by increased business from the middle-income consumer segment.

However, not budget retailers are created equal. Hence, let’s take a closer look at three such retailers' varying fortunes and prospects.

Walmart Inc. (WMT) has been relatively immune to the seismic shifts in the consumption ecosystem, as discussed in our piece on June 22. Hence, despite closing 21 stores in 12 states and DC this year owing to poor financial performance being cited by the company, the big-box retailer surpassed Street expectations for both earnings and revenue for the second quarter of fiscal year 2024.

Encouraged by the strong performance, WMT also raised its full-year guidance. It said it now anticipates consolidated net sales will rise by about 4 to 4.5% in the fiscal year. It expects adjusted earnings per share for the full year will be between $6.36 and $6.46.

WMT’s e-commerce sales for the U.S. also jumped 24% year-over-year as customers bought more items from the company’s growing third-party marketplace and placed more orders for store pickup and delivery.

With the double-edged sword of inflation cutting both ways, while WMT attracted new and more frequent shoppers, including younger and wealthier customers looking for both convenience and value, the shift back to services is taking a bite out of sales of goods, particularly after a pandemic-fueled spending boom. Consequently, consumers have been buying fewer discretionary items, such as electronics and home appliances, and trading down for lower-priced items.

Since general merchandise prices have dropped compared with last year, WMT saw a “modest improvement” in sales of big-ticket and discretionary items like electronics and home goods during the quarter. According to the CFO, John David Rainey, the retailer also had fewer markdowns as the inventory was down by 5% at the end of the second quarter compared to a year ago.

Moreover, as food prices remained steady, and some staple grocery items have fallen, shoppers have been buying more fresh meats, seafood, and eggs, accounting for nearly 60% of the annual U.S. sales for the nation’s largest grocer.

Although consumers are facing newer challenges, such as the return of student loan payments, with the Back-to-School season getting off to a strong and early start and with stock price gains of more than 10% year-to-date, WMT is looking forward to the holiday season with cautious optimism.

Warehouse club Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST) found its famous $1.50 hot dog and soda combo back in the headlines as inflation bit harder to squeeze pockets further. The hot dog combo and its rotisserie chicken, whose price has been pegged at $4.99 since 2009, are the retailer’s loss leaders that lure in customers who are likely to buy other items as well.

This could be helpful, especially in times like these in which, according to CFO Richard Galanti, even COST’s relatively well-to-do members have been ditching pricier beef products for cheaper meats such as pork and chicken, while others are bypassing the fresh meat aisle entirely and opting for cheaper canned meat and fish products with longer shelf life. Even the retailer has been forced to restrict itself from handing out unlimited free samples to shoppers.

Ahead of its earnings release, analysts expect COST’s revenue and EPS for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2023 to increase by 8.3% and 14.5% year-over-year to $78.05 billion and $4.82, respectively. As a result, its revenue and EPS for the fiscal would increase by 6.3% and 9.8% year-over-year to $241.23 billion and $14.58, respectively. That could lend momentum to the stock, which has gained more than 19% year-to-date.

At the other end of the spectrum, Target Corporation (TGT), which also caters to value-conscious shoppers, missed Wall Street’s sales estimate for the fiscal second quarter and consequently slashed forecasts for the year ahead. The company expects comparable sales to decline by about mid-single digits for the full fiscal year and earnings per share to range from $7 to $8, from a previously expected range of $7.75 to $8.75.

One of the reasons behind this bearish outcome and outlook could be the shifting patterns of consumer expenditure, which was redirected to prioritize groceries over discretionary items to make room for outdoor experiences.

As a result, TGT, which caters to a segment generally more affluent than that served by WMT and draws only about 20% of its yearly revenue from grocery, found its top line getting negatively impacted and even its online sales declining by 10.5% year-over-year. However, given the higher margins on non-essential items compared to those for food items, TGT’s quarterly EPS of $1.80 exceeded Street expectations of $1.39.

TGT is taking measures to stem the rot, including remodeling its digital experience in the next three months. The remodeled site would include different landing experiences, more personalized content, enhanced search functionality, ease of navigation, and other updates to bring more joy and convenience to our digital guests.

However, even as WMT has been experiencing a “modest improvement” in discretionary goods, such as blenders, hand mixers, and other kitchen tools in the second quarter, as some consumers cook more at home, TGT has not shared the same optimism.

With the Back-to-School season in its early days, sales of frequency categories, such as food and beauty items, have not been enough to offset weaker discretionary sales at the retailer, which has seen its stock price decline by more than 19% since the beginning of the calendar year.

Bottom Line

With increased borrowing costs expected to keep weighing on the economy in the foreseeable future, WMT is expected to keep benefiting from consumers’ shift to essentials, which could offset weaker clothing and electronics sales until a potential recovery at the beginning of the holiday season.

Meanwhile, in order to manage and improve slimmer margins from food items compared to general merchandise, WMT has been doubling down on initiatives to increase the efficiency of its operations through innovations in packaging and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Hence, given its stronghold on sales of low-margin and high-volume groceries and other essentials, shoots of recovery in discretionary expenditure, and ever-growing moat by figuring out what the customer wants to buy and how best to get it to them, WMT’s prospects appear to be the most promising of the three retail chains.

Target (TGT) and The Monthly Trade Triangles

There's no doubt that Target (TGT) has been one of the hottest stocks of the year capping off the year with a move to a record high of $125.32, gaining over +12% on the day. Target has gained +67% on the year. The question is, have you been in on this historic run? As a MarketClub member, did you use the monthly Trade Triangles to enter the Target trade?

Today I'm going to use Target (TGT) as an example of how you can use the monthly Trade Triangles to capture long-term profits while making minimum trades and letting your money do the work for you.

There were a total of seven trades dating back to 2/23/2012, 5 winning trades and two losing trades resulting in a profit of +$74.43 a share.

Click on the image to enlarge

First, let's review the rules for trading the Monthly Trade Triangles.

Monthly Trade Triangles determine the overall long-term trend and the entry points and exit points. Continue reading "Target (TGT) and The Monthly Trade Triangles"

Trade Triangles Hit The Target

Hello traders everywhere. Target Corporation (TGT) posted its strongest sales growth in more than a decade posting a 6.5% increase in the second quarter of this year, and the stock price jumped more than 5% in early trading. As my headline states, the Trade Triangles hit the target when it came to Target. A green monthly Trade Triangle was issued a little over a year ago at the $58.65 and with Target trading at $87.44 that's a +48% increase!

Now I'm not going to lie to you and say that I took this trade and made a significant profit, cause I didn't. I remember looking at the Trade Triangle list as I do every day and I saw Target on the list, and I passed on it. At that time I was of the thinking that brick and mortar retail just didn't fit into my trading thoughts as it was struggling. This is indeed a lesson in not overlooking a market because of how you feel about a particular sector.


We finally got the record high from the S&P 500 that we've been waiting for with it hitting an all-time high of $2,873.23 before backing off that high and eeking out a +.2% gain on the day. Today the stock market is mixed to unchanged after hitting the record, and that's mostly due to political uneasiness surrounding President Donald Trump and a growing tariff worry as many of the imposed tariffs are starting to affect businesses.

Key Levels To Watch This Week:

Continue reading "Trade Triangles Hit The Target"