5 Stocks With Opportunity In Consumer Goods Despite A Rough Economy

Includes: DMND, GLW, JVA, MDLZ, PG
by: Brian Nichols

As investors, I believe, we were all happy to watch the month of August pass us by and turn to September for a fresh start. The month of August was horrible with the first 10 days posting a loss of more than 11% on the Dow Jones. The second half of the month we saw light, and began to trend higher, which gave investors a reason to be optimistic about the future. Yet September has started rough and after considering what's ahead I am no longer optimistic, regarding the fresh start of the new month. Throughout September, there will be several important announcements which could affect the trend of the markets or push the major indices lower. Below is a look at a few key dates, what it could mean for the market, and five particular stocks.

I am expecting more losses from the markets during the month of September, as there are several key events set to take place that are scattered throughout the month, with each presenting a strong chance to move the markets lower if investors hear something unpleasant.

  • Sept 8 - President Obama speaks on Jobs/Economy and unveils a proposal to create new jobs. This announcement, or speech, is not what I expect to drive the markets lower, although it could. I expect Congress' reaction will drive the markets lower as I expect them to be reluctant to agree to any plan that will increase spending. If the market believes that Congress may not approve the plan or if the markets believe Obama's plan is unrealistic then it could drive the markets lower as investors may believe that Washington is running out of options.
  • Sept. 15 - Greece needs more aid! Greece has, arguably, the most significant financial crisis in Europe which plays a large role in its overall financial health. Investors are hopeful that Greece receives aid quickly and without any problems. A large portion of the loss experienced in early August was related to the European debt crisis as high sovereign debt affected the stock of American banks. Financial institutions across America posted losses with the same intensity as European banks, despite being completely different institutions.
  • Sept. 20 - All eyes will be on Ben Bernanke, once again, as investors are still hopeful the chairman will implement some type of quantitative easing. Mr. Bernanke spoke in Jackson Hole last month insinuating that federal aid was being explored and could potentially come in the future. I personally, do not believe that investors will get anything positive out of this speech. Mr. Bernanke was correct on his analysis of the economy as large corporations are posting strong earnings and regardless of speed, the economy is growing.
  • Sept. 30 - The short-sale ban for many European financial stocks will be discussed and possibly lifted for the countries which implemented the regulation. I do not believe the ban will be lifted as the countries are in no position to open the banks to more loss. However, I do not believe the ban has been successful, and further reflects an act of desperation. Despite its relevance, if the ban is lifted, I believe it will have a strong impact on financial institutions in America since our banks trade heavily on global financial news. I cannot imagine U.S. markets trending higher if the ban is lifted, regardless of its meaning.

These events are almost perfectly positioned throughout the month to cause, potential, distress within the markets. Investors have a pessimistic view as the market is cautious to post large gains on positive developments but trends very low on news with little importance. This reflects our consumer confidence levels, which are at lowest levels in several years, as investors are not confident, in our markets or economy.

There are few sectors, and industries, that have performed well during the last month, outperforming the market. The consumer goods sector has nearly broke even over the last month, while the S&P lost roughly 7% of its value. Since January, the S&P has lost nearly 8% of its value while consumer goods have gained almost 4%. The performance within the sector is not necessarily strong enough to return massive gains while the market trends south, but it's stable enough to present opportunity if an opportunity presents itself. Below are 5 stocks that, I believe, are presenting a buying opportunity, regardless of market performance during the next month.

Kraft Foods Inc (KFT) - I believe this stock is a perfect buy at its current price of $34.27. The stock is roughly $2 from its 52 week high, trading with a market cap of $60.52 billion. It has posted gains of 12% over the last year, 26% during the last 2 years, and comes with a solid dividend yield of 3.38. The company released earnings on August 4 with revenue of $13.9 billion a gain of 13% year-over-year with an EPS of $0.61. This put the company on pace to outperform 2010 in revenue, its strongest year, along with an EPS over $2.00 for the first time in over five years. North American revenue growth was only 2.5%, yet the revenue growth in foreign markets was quite substantial. The European market grew 26% and the emerging markets grew 22% year-over-year. This level of global growth is why I am optimistic regarding this company. Along with a solid dividend, and consistent gains I believe this stock could offer security in an uncertain economy.

Diamond Foods (NASDAQ:DMND) could be the best kept secret in consumer goods with an average volume of only 230,000. I say the stock is a "best kept secret" because it has gained over 88% during the last year and more than 400% during the last 5 years. The stock is one of very few that actually gained during the month of August, 10%, with the acquisition of Pringles contributing to its success. The acquisition from Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) is believed, by some, to contribute more than $1.4 billion in sales which could lead to a new level of financial growth. The company's growth has been unbelievable with 2011 on pace to significantly outperform its record year in 2010. During the last quarter, the company grew revenue by more than 60% and doubled its EPS year-over-year, and is showing no signs of slowing down. I do not believe this company has come close to its full potential, and with a market cap of $1.68 billion there is much room for growth. Diamond Foods is scheduled to release earnings on September 15, which are sure to impress. With earnings that continue to outperform, and an almost certain update on the progress of Pringles, I expect the stock to see gains with the future looking very bright for this food processing company.

Coffee Holding Company (NASDAQ:JVA) is a stock that is much different from the others on the list, and should be played much different from the others on the list. This stock has posted gains of 383% year-to-date after the price of coffee increased and the company announced blowout earnings. Even after the YTD gains of more than 380%, the stock is still down nearly 40% from its 52 week high. The stock has posted large gains, but has lost a large amount of value from its high on July 11, with a 17.6% loss during the last month. Therefore, I would play this stock much different from the others on this list, and here's why.

The stock is small with a cap just under $100 million and at $18 a share it gets heavy volume with an average of $1 million shares traded. To me, this indicates that the stock can be easily manipulated, which presents a strong opportunity to see big gains or a significant loss in a short period of time. After considering the speed at which the company has grown, I believe its price to earnings of 30 is appropriate. Therefore, the stock presents less risk than if it were trading at $25 a share.

The company will announce earnings on Sept. 12 and after last quarter earnings, when revenue grew 87% and income grew 50%, I expect investors to be very optimistic regarding the company's future growth. Therefore, I find it hard to believe that current holders will sell their shares before earnings are released, as most anticipate strong results. This makes JVA a strong buy, before earnings, as the chances of the stock posting gains before earnings are considerably high, versus it losing value. However, if the stock were to miss earning expectations then it could crash down very hard, which is why I believe the best way to play this stock is before earnings. I am not confident enough to hold this stock until earnings are announced because of its risk versus reward, but it should provide traders with short term gains as investors buy before Sept 12 anticipating a strong quarter.

The Procter & Gamble Company (PG) presents a solid opportunity for investors who desire a low risk consistent investment. The stock is trading at $62.55 which is almost, exactly, the midpoint of its 52 week range. The company has posted revenue and EPS gains for each of the last 3 years, and is on pace to continue its trend in 2011. During the most recent quarter, the company announced revenue that increased by more than $2 billion and net income that increased by more than $300 million year-over-year. The company's consistent growth and stabile price make this stock a safe long term investment during this time of economic uncertainty. Not to mention, the 3.36% yield which trumps the hold on bonds giving investors even more incentive.

Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) is my pick, in the consumer goods sector, as the best long term investment with potential to post large gains. The stock is trading at $14.12 which is near its 52 week lows. The stock lost a large portion of its value during the second half of July and the first half of August as a result of the market's performance along with the market's reaction to earnings. The company's net income fell along with the company lowering its guidance for the LCD segment, the largest of the company. The timing of this news was bad as the markets were falling hard during that time. However, since that point, the stock has since balanced and found a consistent trading range, and I believe is offering a great opportunity for investors, with a price to earnings under 7, and revenue that continues to increase.

During the last quarter, which investors considered so bad, revenue increased 17% year-over-year despite the slumping display sales. The large gains were a result of growing segments such as telecom up 24%, environmental up 40%, and specialty materials which doubled year-over-year. The company is doing a great job at developing other areas and is creating a market that is no longer dependent on the display segment. The company did lower its guidance on the very important LCD market but it still believes it can reach sales in excess of $10 billion by 2014. Which means the company still anticipates that the LCD segment will remain strong, long term, but that the emerging segments will continue to grow. The company has a large amount of cash and a solid balance sheet, therefore the company has the ability to expand without negatively affecting earnings. At any price under $15 the stock is a steal, as it could easily double within the next few years and with a modest dividend yield, I see no reasons why Corning shouldn't be a great investment for the long term investor.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in GLW, DMND, KFT over the next 72 hours.