TipRanks has identified top analysts and the five stocks they prefer this holiday season.
The company uses a natural language processing algorithm to rank analysts based on two factors:
- Average return of buy-sell recommendations
- Success rate of buy-sell recommendations
Here are the five stocks that the top-ranked analysts say are well worth tracking this holiday season.
1) Amazon (AMZN)
E-commerce giant Amazon is already raking in the holiday sales. The company accounted for 45 to 50 percent of online sales during Black Friday, according to GBH Insights. In just 24 hours, Amazon made sales of over $1 billion. Amazon also revealed that orders made from mobile devices on Thanksgiving were up 50 percent compared with this time last year.
Top Wells Fargo analyst Ken Sena just raised his Amazon price target to $1,525 from $1,430. His new price target — the Street's highest yet — is 30 percent above the current share price. In his Dec. 1 report, Sena highlights Amazon's "record-breaking" early holiday sales data as a key reason to be bullish on the stock.
Overall, this strong buy stock has one of the best outlooks on the Street. In the last three months, top analysts published 29 buy ratings and just one hold rating. These analysts have an average price target on the stock of $1,277, which is about 10 percent higher than the current share price.
2) Costco (COST)
Warehouse club Costco has a particularly strong setup right now. Shares are spiking after Costco reported net sales of $11.26 billion for the month of November, up 13 percent from the same period last year.
Following the news, JP Morgan analyst Christopher Horvers raised his estimates to reflect the November sales beat. He raised his price target to $200 from $190 (6 percent upside potential) on Dec. 4 and says the company can "comp the comp."
Costco has a key advantage over other struggling brick-and-mortar stores. A huge 75 percent of its profits come from membership fees rather than product sales. And on the fourth-quarter earnings call, CFO Richard Galanti revealed that the company still enjoys a very high renewal rate: "In terms of renewal rates, at year end, business members renewed at 94 percent, Gold Star members at 89.3 percent," said Galanti. "These are numbers for the U.S. and Canada combined, which is over 80 percent of our company."
The stock has a moderate buy analyst consensus. However, the top-ranked analysts have a consensus of strong buy. These top analysts have 7 buy ratings on COST versus two hold ratings and a $186 average analyst price target.
3) Apple (AAPL)
On the back of Apple's iPhone X launch, top Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley is very bullish about this holiday season. Walkley reveals that his recent "survey work" suggests strong holiday sales for Apple, especially if iPhone X supply improves for the 256GB models. He reiterated his buy rating on the stock with a $195 price target (13 percent upside potential) on Nov. 20.
"Following solid September quarter iPhone sales consistent with seasonal trends, we estimate Apple captured 72 percent of industry profits, up from 68 percent in the June quarter, and we anticipate much stronger share during the lucrative December quarter. We believe strong sales and mix of the iPhone X will sustain strong gross margin dollars given the high price points and likely improving manufacturing efficiencies," says Walkley. He sees the iPhone installed user base as exceeding an impressive 635 million exiting 2017.
Apple has scored 23 buy ratings and six hold ratings in the last three months. At $188, the average analyst price target indicates upside potential of close to 10 percent. Interestingly, the individual price targets vary considerably from just $152 on the low to $235 on the high.
4) Starbucks (SBUX)
Starbucks is making headlines this holiday season with a range of festive initiatives. On Nov. 28, Starbucks came out with a second limited-edition holiday mug. The coffee chain is also brewing up a range of special Christmas drinks, from toasted white chocolate in North America to Christmas panettone latte in China.
After hosting a call with Starbucks CFO Scott Maw, Morgan Stanley analyst John Glass raised his price target on Starbucks to $67 from $62 last month (17 percent upside potential). He cited the company's plan to meet or exceed its new long-term targets. Note that Glass has a very strong track record on Starbucks. Across his nine stock ratings he boasts an 89 percent success rate and 19 percent average return.
In the last three months the stock has received 10 buy ratings and two hold ratings from the Street's best analysts. These top analysts believe Starbucks can spike to $62, which is 8 percent above the current share price.
5) Skechers USA (SKX)
Shoe brand Skechers USA looks set to end the year on a high note with strong retail sales. Top Susquehanna analyst Sam Poser has just boosted his price target to $46 from $38 (26 percent upside potential). Following positive Black Friday store checks, Poser met with management who confirmed that industry trends are improving. Poser is now predicting revenue for the fourth quarter of $885 million, up almost 16 percent from the same period last year.
According to Poser, both the kids business and the international business are performing "exceptionally well with no slowdown in sight." Skechers is investing heavily in China, and this move is paying off with sales on the recent Chinese shopping bonanza Singles Day exceeding expectations.
"Feedback from retailers and our meeting with management at Fashion Footwear Association of New York leaves us very confident that global momentum is improving across most all merchandise categories," Poser concludes in his Dec. 4 report. On Skechers specifically, Poser has an impressive 72 percent success rate and 38 percent average return across 41 stock ratings.
In the last three months, Skechers has received five consecutive analyst buy ratings. These analysts have an average price target on the stock of $38 (7 percent upside potential).