Fidelity Investments fund manager Peter Lynch popularized the idea of investing in what you know. He believed that people could often find the best opportunities in popular consumer stocks that frequently and consistently deliver value for their customers. Lynch’s track record is one of the best in the history of the mutual fund industry. And his central idea retains much wisdom to this day. After all, popular brands tend to have a lot of sticking power. People are creatures of nostalgia and tradition. Brands from a popular resonance with shoppers can endure, sometimes even across generations.
This is particularly useful during times of economic chaos. During these current inflationary times, for example, firms with strong consumer brands have an advantage since they have pricing power. While some of these firms are facing challenges at the moment, all seven of these consumer stocks should come out stronger in the years to come.
Consumer Stocks: Starbucks (SBUX)
Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) speaks to the power of Lynch’s idea. The brand had just 154 stores in 1992, the year in which Starbucks completed its IPO. Over the decades, it has grown into the current behemoth that it is today. People that appreciated the company’s beverages in the early days could make a life-changing investment in Starbucks while it was still a small firm.
Starbucks may not have quite the same upside today as it used to. But it has matured into a solid dependable firm selling billions of beverages every year in nearly every corner of the globe. Lately, Starbucks has bet heavily on its expansion efforts in China. This was arguably poor-timed, given the economy’s lingering impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns. However, investors shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Starbucks has a tremendous brand. A huge chunk of the population has a pattern of going to — or increasingly ordering delivery from — Starbucks and getting a nice pick-me-up during the day. That habit should lead to increased profits for Starbucks going forward.
Consumer Stocks: Nike (NKE)
Nike (NYSE:NKE) has struggled with some of the same issues as Starbucks. Namely, Nike has a large footprint in China and thus has been tripped up by prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns and reduced commercial activity in that country. However, investors should look past the short-term slowdown for Nike. Yes, the company is currently working through a backlog of inventory and is dealing with profit margin pressures. However, we’ve seen these sorts of fluctuations before and Nike has always come out stronger.
At the end of the day, Nike is the most well-known name in athletic gear. It has continued to prosper even as peers such as Under Armour (NYSE:UA) have seen their fortunes fade. Nike’s various advantages include having the strongest direct-to-consumer sales channel in the industry along with its unmatched list of celebrity athlete endorsements. NKE stock has dropped from a peak of $175 to just $125 now amid the current slide in earnings. However, for longer-term investors, the drop is an opportunity. Nike took some losses in 2022, but its long-term trajectory remains unrivaled.
Consumer Stocks: Brown-Forman (BF-B)
Brown-Forman (NYSE:BF-B) might not be a household name. But its leading brand certainly is. Brown-Forman is the maker of Jack Daniels whiskey, along with numerous tequilas and other spirits products. Jack Daniels whiskey has been around for ages. Founded in 1870, the distiller even managed to survive America’s alcohol prohibition period. Since the 1930s, Jack Daniels has seen tremendous growth and is the world’s second-best-selling whiskey brand. In addition, according to Interbrand, Jack Daniels is the most valuable spirits brand out there, with a value of more than $6.5 billion.
The brand has tons of built-in cachet with consumers. People ask for a “Jack and Coke” at the bar. Tons of songs reference Jack Daniels whiskey in particular. While other companies can market different whiskeys, it’s hard to displace the market leader given its tremendous cultural presence.
All this is great news for its owner Brown-Forman. The family-run company has focused on the long-term, building up Jack Daniels and its other brands for success which spans generations. That’s all played out well for shareholders too; BF-B shares went for $10 each twenty years ago and are now worth $65. That’s not a bad return for a business with such a storied brand of whiskey.
Consumer Stocks: Domino’s (DPZ)
Domino’s (NYSE:DPZ) is a well-known pizza chain. The interesting thing, however, is that Domino’s wasn’t always so successful. DPZ stock fell from $30/share to less than $5/share during the 2008 financial crisis amid a drastic downturn in the company’s fortunes. By 2009, Domino’s was viewed as having among the worst-tasting pizzas in the industry. Sales were in decline and people feared that the company might not survive.
The company’s new management team took responsibility and made major changes. Domino’s came up with a new formula for its pizza, changed its delivery techniques, and invested in technology and digital marketing channels. The results were a tremendous success, and Domino’s shares surged as much as one hundredfold since then.
Today, Domino’s is a fast food giant. The company’s franchise model and large international footprint give it diverse revenue streams. Domino’s leadership in its app and delivery platform allowed it to extend its lead over competitors during the pandemic. And with shares down 30% from their 2021 peak, DPZ stock is now selling at a reasonable entry point as well.
Pepsico (NASDAQ:PEP) is the owner of its namesake soft drink. But that’s not the only strong consumer brand under Pepsico’s control. It has other sodas such as Mountain Dew with widespread appeal. In addition, Pepsico has its snack food business, Frito-Lay, which controls popular brands such as Doritos and Cheetos.
A lot of investors might look past PEP stock thinking that soda’s best days are behind it. After all, soda sales peaked in the United States in the late 1990s and have declined significantly since then. However, Pepsico has done well to diversify with lower-sugar beverages. And, on the snack food side, the demand for chips keeps on going up. Frito-Lay has been a wonderful asset that has allowed Pepsico more flexibility than other soda companies. Over the past decade, Pepsico grew revenues from $66 billion to $84 billion annually while earnings per share rose from $4.32 to $6.42.
Pepsico will never blow you away with tremendous year-over-year growth. But, over time, it steadily continues to gain in size and profitability. It hikes its dividend each and every year as well. With shares now selling for under 25 times forward earnings, Pepsico should be positioned to deliver investors more steady returns in the years ahead.
Mondelez (NASDAQ:MDLZ) is a consumer staples company, with heavyweight brands such as Oreos, Cadbury, Chiclets, Triscuit, and Sour Patch Kids. These are the perfect sorts of brands that thrive during economic hard times. The products are tasty, relatively cheap, and tap into tons of nostalgia and cultural heft. Sure, people can buy a cheaper brand of chocolate cookies that imitate Oreos. But the taste and texture aren’t quite the same.
Like many consumer companies, Mondelez has faced higher input costs with the recent inflationary conditions in the commodity markets. However, Mondelez should be able to push through price increases that offset these concerns. In the meantime, Mondelez shares have now slipped to just 21 times forward earnings. That’s an attractive entry point for a powerhouse food and snacks company like this one.
Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) is a household name when it comes to health and wellness products. The company has a 40% global market share in toothpaste and 32% in toothbrushes. In addition, Colgate’s products are particularly popular in numerous emerging markets such as South America and India, which should lead to long-term growth thanks to favorable demographics and income growth.
Colgate shares have been roughly flat since 2016 even as the company has grown top-line revenues by roughly 20%. This is likely due to margin compression that we’ve seen over the past year with current inflationary conditions. However, long-term demand for toothpaste and other cleaning products tends to be incredibly stable. Colgate’s profits will reach new highs and should carry the company’s share price there as well.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek held a long position in BF-A stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.