Investors have rushed into so-called cyclical stocks as the economic outlook has gotten a shot in the arm. Even though many of those stocks, which perform better in times of economic expansion, now look a little expensive, a few still stand out as fairly cheap.
Stocks in economically-sensitive sectors such as banks, oil and industrials have performed more than handsomely this year as states announced reopenings and trillions of dollars of fiscal stimulus more than shored up demand. The
(XLE) exchange-traded funds are all up double digits year to date, dwarfing the
roughly 6% gain.
Tons of cyclicals now look fairly overextended.
(CAT), for example, is up 27% year to date. The average analyst price target is 6% below its current trading price. Fortunately, there are some out there trading at attractive valuations with earnings momentum on their side.
Strategists at Citigroup compiled a list on Monday of stocks with tolerable valuations, a few of which are cyclical in nature. Citi looked at the PEG ratio, or price/earnings to growth, which divides the forward earnings multiple by the expected earnings growth rate. It tells how justified a stock’s valuation is by showing the gap between the multiple and earnings growth. The slimmer the gap, the cheaper the stock. Citi looked at large capitalization stocks—those with market caps above $10 billion–and looked for those with the 25 lowest PEG ratios.
When economic demand rises robustly, so do manufacturing projects, increasing demand for industrial metals used to build machinery. That’s propelled shares of Freeport McMoRan (FCX), the $50 billion by market capitalization metal miner. The company is worth a quarter more now than it was at the beginning of 2021. But the stock still trades at a PEG ratio of about 0.3, based on an expected compound annual growth rate of earnings for the next 3 years. By comparison, the average stock on the S&P 500 trades at a PEG ratio of 1.3. Freeport McMoRan shares could have plenty of runway ahead.
Auto makers and other manufacturers need steel to build more products and machines when demand firms up. That’s good news for steelmaker
(NUE), which has seen its currently $20 billion market cap rise by about a third this year. It trades at a 0.9 PEG ratio.
(GM) are up 45% but still trade at a PEG ratio around 1.3, in line with that of the broader market. The stock looks a little less attractive than the others on the list and earnings are only expected to compound in the high single digits over the next 3 years. Still, earnings in 2022 are expected to grow 19% over 2021, according to analysts polled by FactSet. The stock could therefore enjoy plenty of momentum in the near-term. People purchase more cars when they have more discretionary spending capacity.
(MAR) is up more than 20% this year. It trades at a PEG ratio of 0.4. As the virus risk associated with hotels fades, people may be more comfortable visiting them. Plus, people’s increased discretionary spend is a major tailwind for hotels.
Stocks are pricey by some measures, but that doesn’t mean there are no bargains to ride the sharp economic rebound.
Write to Jacob Sonenshine at [email protected]