Black Friday, a renowned shopping holiday, is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide. The fervor surfaces like clockwork every year. The event signals the onset of the festive retail period, where vendors entice consumers with considerable discounts and appealing deals on merchandise.
Consumers’ scramble for long-desired products is typically the culmination of months of intense preparation undertaken by retailers, warehouse supervisors, and distribution center managers.
Financial analysts conventionally consider the sales returns on Black Friday to outline prevailing consumer confidence. For retail entities, Black Friday has consistently offered an immense financial uplift. Many consumers leverage the occasion to fulfill their Christmas shopping needs at competitive prices.
With persistent escalations in living costs pressurizing household budgets, 74% of consumers intend to exploit the November sales extravaganza in 2023. The National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday spending will increase annually by 3% to 4%. This year's total festive spending is anticipated to range between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion.
Black Friday is transitioning from physical store-bound activity to being predominantly digital. In 2022, 69% of Black Friday shopping occurred online, as consumers splurged a record-breaking $9.2 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Furthermore, logistical operations for this retail marathon require meticulous strategizing by retail managers, leading to millions in annual outlay.
As digital transactions encroach on the week-long event, it carries notable implications for delivery logistics. Notably, while retailers profit from the holiday season, package delivery services also stand to reap considerable benefits.
Considering this backdrop, it is pertinent to examine why United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), FedEx Corporation (FDX), eBay Inc. (EBAY), and Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY) could be solid investments this festive season.
With a market cap of over $121 billion, UPS is a logistics behemoth that offers various integrated solutions for customers scattered across more than 200 locations worldwide.
Despite its significant standing, the company has been grappling with an assortment of challenges throughout this year. These range from a weakening demand due to economic slowdown to expensive, drawn-out labor contract negotiations, all translating into a forecasted decline in the company’s revenue and earnings for the current fiscal year.
The protracted labor talks significantly distorted UPS' earnings during the year. The resulting five-year contract led to a whopping $500 million upfront expenses in the third quarter alone. At the same time, the extended negotiations caused many customers to switch their deliveries to other networks.
However, opportunities abound as the Black Friday holiday season approaches for UPS to turn the tide. This retail extravaganza provides ample scope for UPS to augment its revenue, attract fresh clientele, and retain its existing customer base, courtesy of its high-quality service offerings.
UPS is improving the underlying quality of its business. This is most easily seen in two areas relating to its revenue. The first is the conscious decision to be more selective over deliveries rather than chasing volume growth. Second is that UPS has made great strides in expanding its connections with small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) and healthcare customers, and it's been able to significantly grow its revenue per piece in recent years.
Moreover, the company's noteworthy 4.7% dividend yield appeals to a broad swathe of income-oriented investors, and value investors also find favor given its appealing valuation metrics. The firm's below-industry non-GAAP P/E ratio presents a lucrative buying opportunity for investors.
Over the past year, the stock has lost roughly 20% and trails behind the 50, 100, and 200-day moving averages. However, Wall Street analysts forecast the stock to reach $168.30 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 17.6%. The price target ranges from a low of $100 to a high of $202.
The shipping and logistics company FDX, with a market cap of over $63 billion, is poised to reap significant benefits from the upcoming Black Friday sales. In anticipation of heightened online shopping activity during this period, increased demand for shipping services allows the company to expand its customer reach and deepen its market penetration.
Its potential to attract consumers by offering holiday promotional discounts on its services could significantly drive its revenue growth and expand its market share. The company's decision to partner with retailers for shipping services further bolsters the potential for enhanced revenues during this season of heightened consumer spending.
Additional services provided by FDX, including gift wrapping, package tracking and insurance, could further distinguish it in a competitive marketplace, attracting additional consumers during the holiday season.
Furthermore, FDX's effective cost-reduction strategies have successfully strengthened its financial standing. Outperforming Wall Street predictions, the international courier company reported impressive fiscal first-quarter adjusted earnings of $4.55 per share.
This robust financial performance led the company's management to elevate its future financial outlook. FDX shares gained momentum after the Memphis-based firm announced adjusted earnings expectations for fiscal 2024, projecting $17 to $18.50 per share.
The company also expects capital expenditure to reach $5.7 billion, with investment priorities geared towards improving efficiency through fleet and facility modernization, network optimization, and automation strategies.
Driven to implement transformative initiatives enhancing efficiency and reducing expenses, FDX anticipates building upon current momentum to improve profit margins and returns throughout the fiscal year. The stage is set for another year of exceptional profitability for FDX, with shares currently trading at a reasonable valuation.
Over the past year, the stock has gained roughly 45% and trades above the 200-day moving average of $237.12. However, Wall Street analysts forecast the stock to reach $297.85 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 17.2%. The price target ranges from a low of $265 to a high of $330.
With over $20 billion in market cap, EBAY, an established e-commerce heavyweight, is tirelessly striving to attract its consumers' interest and spending power. The company initiated the publication of its discount coupons on November 6.
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.
The company recently expanded access to its Generative AI technology, an innovative system designed to upgrade the listing experience for sellers, which is now available to mobile users in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and 50% of desktop users in these regions.
However, EBAY's recent sales forecast for the upcoming holiday period has somewhat dispirited investors. Expected revenues for the current quarter are anticipated to total between $2.47 billion and $2.53 billion, which, while robust, fall below the industry analysts' average projections of $2.60 billion.
Its bleak revenue predictions for the historically lucrative holiday quarter indicate continued difficulties in retaining customers amid fierce competition from larger competitors. Despite U.S. online sales being projected to increase by 4.8% during the holiday season spanning November 1 to December 31, EBAY faces an uphill battle to attract traffic. To weather these challenges, the company plans to enhance its cost efficiencies to safeguard profit margins and earnings.
The unexpected forecast emanated shockwaves throughout the financial sector, particularly unsettling EBAY investors. Post-announcement, the company's shares suffered a significant plunge, underscoring the heavy expectations investors attach to EBAY due to its commanding position in the e-commerce market.
Over the past year, the stock has lost over 12% and trades below its 50-, 100-, and 200-day moving averages. However, Wall Street analysts forecast the stock to reach $44.75 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 11.6%. The price target ranges from a low of $32 to a high of $56.
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.
BBY, with over $14 billion market cap, is a specialty consumer electronics retailer that introduces various promotional events via its recently inaugurated Holiday Gift Center – offering unique exploration and immersive discovery experiences of cutting-edge technologies for its clientele. BBY members can anticipate exclusive savings throughout the holiday period. The company will depend on its My Best Buy membership benefits to boost this year's holiday sales.
Interestingly, BBY finds itself in a unique situation this festive season as it battles to maintain market share during a time frame it typically dominates. The retailer has tempered expectations for a highly successful holiday season, which usually accounts for a significant proportion of its profit margins.
While BBY has a low non-GAAP P/E of 10.30x, its dividend yield of 5.74% remains low for various reasons. As of July 29, 2023, BBY has $8.43 billion in current liabilities and $8.30 billion in current assets. Of its current assets, $5.65 billion in merchandise inventories highly depends on consumer spending patterns.
The company’s vulnerability can be illustrated further by its lower than 1x current ratio. Given the upcoming debt maturity, the company’s fortunes largely hang on the successful sale of inventory to maintain its dividend.
This year’s holiday season provides a moment for BBY's modern retail business model – which largely thrived during the pandemic – to prove its resilience. The Richfield, Minnesota-based firm continues to concentrate on enhancing its digital capabilities, such as augmenting its omnichannel services. Its consultation service, supporting customers' personalized tech requirements, has grown in popularity.
In the second quarter that ended July 29, 2023, digital sales comprised 31% of our domestic revenue, consistent with the year-ago quarter and nearly twice as high as the domestic revenue percentage in the pre-pandemic second quarter of fiscal 2020.
Although the BBY stock has declined over 10% over the past year and is trading beneath the 100-day and 200-day moving averages, Wall Street analysts remain optimistic. They forecast the stock to reach $78.60 in the next 12 months, indicating a potential upside of 18.2%. The price target ranges from a low of $60 to a high of $110.
Even though it is perceived as a risky stock with slim margins and limited appeal to investors, BBY is determined to convince potential investors that its forward-looking strategies, industry reshaping efforts, and focus on advancing in-store experiences and robust pickup/delivery operations mark it as a worthwhile investment prospect. Hence, it could be best added to the watchlist.