9 Great Stocks for Back-to-School Time

By Tim Lemke on 31 August 2016 0 comments

The kids are heading back to school, which means there's plenty of money being spent on notebooks, computers, and three-ring binders.

The National Retail Federation reported that it expects $75.8 billion in back-to-school sales, up from $68 billion last year. That means many companies should see good revenue and share price performance this fall as a result of the back-to-school season, and there are several other companies that seem to have a knack for great returns in the fall.

Want to make a little bit of money as the weather cools? Here are some good back-to-school stocks for investors looking to cash in this autumn:

1. Wal-Mart [NYSE: WMT]

Rest assured that millions of families will head to the massive retailer for cheap prices on spiral notebooks, pens, and whatever else kids need in the classroom. The NRF projects that the average family will spend $673, up from $630 last year. Moreover, some analysts think that Walmart is due to get a boost from its big investments in employee training and e-commerce.

2. Target [NYSE: TGT]

With nearly 1,800 retail locations, you can bet that when it comes to back-to-school sales, Target will get a good chunk of whatever Walmart fails to grab. Shares of Target fell sharply over the spring after disappointing earnings results, and from a loss of revenue following the sale of its pharmacy to CVS. But all that means is that there is potential for share growth if the company rebounds with a strong back-to-school season.

3. Staples [NASDAQ: SPLS]

There was a lot of buzz around Staples earlier in the year after it sought to buy Office Depot/OfficeMax, but the merger got shot down by regulators. Still, the retailer intends to be a major player at back-to-school time. Staples is the third-largest online retailer, so it will land its share of e-commerce sales, but it also has physical stores that Amazon can't boast. Staples, which began its back-to-school marketing before summer vacation even got underway, is trading at just above $9, close to its 52-week low, so investors may find a bargain here.

4. Seagate Technology [NYSE: STX]

This maker of hard drives and other data storage products has been one of the market's best performers during the fall in recent years. While 2015 saw a down autumn, the previous five fall seasons saw 25% share growth, on average. While overall sales of external hard drives have been on the decline due to the growth of cloud-based solutions, Seagate still has about a 40% market share. Portable hard drives remain necessary back-to-school tools for college students.

5. Gannett [NYSE: GCI ]

It's not so much back-to-school sales that will help Gannett, but the race to decide the next U.S. President. As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump enter the home stretch toward the November election, they'll be spending money on advertising. And companies like Gannett, which operates more than 100 newspapers and other media properties, stand to benefit from that. Between 2009 and 2013, Gannett saw an average share price increase of 24% in the fall. Shares are trading near a 52-week low, so you may get a bargain. To be clear, Gannett may not make a great long-term investment, as newspapers have really taken a beating in recent years. But for a short-term play, this is not a bad bet.

6. Amazon [NASDAQ: AMZN]

Those who want to avoid the brick-and-mortar world at back-to-school time will likely head to the world's top online retailer. Customer Growth Partners reported that e-commerce sales between July and September will rise 11% this year, so expect Amazon to get a significant chunk of that. Amazon shares are not cheap, but it seems like every time analysts predict a fall, they go even higher.

7. TJX Companies [NYSE: TJX]

The NRF reports that 61% of families will do their back-to-school shopping at a discount retailer. This bodes will for companies like TJX, the owner of TJ Maxx and Marshalls stores. TJX has had a strong year, with 7% year-over-year sales growth in the most recent quarter, and investors will also benefit from a recent increase in the company's dividend.

8. VF Corp. [NYSE: VFC]

This company owns some of the most recognizable retail brands, including Vans, North Face and Wrangler. You can expect a strong quarter from VF, but more importantly, it's a steady stock to own anytime, as it's consistently paid and increased its dividend each year for more than four decades. VF's current price-to-earnings ratio suggests it's a better deal than many of its competitors.

9. Under Armour [NYSE: UA]

Under Armour got some great exposure during coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympics, as it was the designer of several team uniforms and boasted a number of high-profile brand ambassadors, including swimmer Michael Phelps. Under Armour has been one of the market's biggest growth stories in recent years, with 25 straight quarters of 20% revenue growth. High-schoolers and college kids love Under Armour gear, and will buy it as they head back to class.

Are you adding any fall performers to your stock-pile?

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