Stocks to buy

Recently released macroeconomic data shows that consumer spending is strong and is likely to continue to be powerful. First, consumer spending surged 3.7% year over year in the first quarter. Although warmer weather may have fueled the increase, I believe that the strong labor market also played a very important role. And the jobless claims data showed that the labor market remains strong, as the historically low 230,000 weekly jobless claims shows that worries about layoffs are overdone.

With the vast majority of Americans who want jobs still able to get one, the growth of consumer spending looks poised to remain elevated going forward. For investors who want to take advantage of this situation, here are seven of the best consumer stocks to buy with high growth potential.

Best Buy (BBY)

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There are multiple signs that consumer spending is bottoming. Specifically, Intel’s (NASDAQ:INTC) second-quarter guidance was widely seen as indicating that spending on PCs has bottomed. Of course, that’s excellent news for the only major retail chain focused on consumer electronics, Best Buy (NYSE:BBY).

Further  supporting my theory that a rebound is likely near for the consumer electronics sector, Best Buy’s CEO said on the company’s fiscal Q4 earnings call that “We will [likely] start to see the benefit of the natural upgrade and replacement cycles for the tech bought … when the pandemic [began] possibly later this year, depending on the macro environment.” With the macro environment much stronger than expected, that upgrade cycle appears to be starting now.

Another factor that could help Best Buy going forward is the tremendous interest in artificial intelligence. That interest could boost the number of computing devices sold by the retailer.

With BBY trading at a low forward price-to-earnings ratio of 12x and analysts likely underestimating the company’s outlook this year and next, the stock could very well rocket much higher by the end of 2024.

Chipotle (CMG)

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Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) reported extraordinarily strong first-quarter results, indicating that the restaurant chain is resonating with American consumers and suggesting that it is one of the consumer stocks with high growth potential. As a result, I believe that the company’s shares could surge much higher in the short term, medium term and long term.

The company’s comparable restaurant sales climbed 11% versus the same period a year earlier, while its operating margin soared a huge 6.1 percentage points and its earnings per share jumped an incredible 87%. Obviously, CMG is doing many things right.

Investment bank BTIG responded to the results by hiking its price target on CMG stock to $2,175 from $1,825. The bank believes that the increases of the company’s “restaurant margins” are “still in the early innings.”

After turning around Taco Bell, Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol has clearly turned around CMG, and I believe that Chipotle’s turnaround is far from over.

Rivian (RIVN)

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One of the most well-respected automobile stock analysts, Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas, trimmed his price target on Rivian (NASDAQ:RIVN) to $24 from $26, but his target is still almost double the current price of RIVN stock.

Although Jonas believes that the electric vehicle maker faces significant challenges, he thinks that the company’s EVs are “differentiated,” while the company operates in a “niche” part of the EV sector. Jonas also believes that the company can cut its costs in order to boost its profitability.

I would add that the company’s per-vehicle costs will likely greatly decline as it expands its manufacturing capacity, while its contract with Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) gives it a continuous, large source of demand for its EVs.

Also noteworthy is that some buyers of the company’s EVs that cost less than $80,000 qualify for a $3,750 federal tax credit.

Macy’s (M)

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Macy’s (NYSE:M) stock has a tiny valuation and a high dividend yield. Specifically, the shares have a forward price-to-earnings ratio of just 4.85x and a dividend yield of 4.3%.

As inflation eases, more middle-class and upper-middle-class shoppers should return to Macy’s from discount chains, while its labor costs are likely to drop sharply. Moreover, the retailer is already quite profitable, as in March it reported earnings per share of $1.88 for its fiscal Q4.

On April 3, JPMorgan upgraded Macy’s to “overweight” from “neutral.” The firm believes that the retailer can increase its EBITDA by around 10% annually, driven partly by “technology investments” and opening stores outside of malls. JPMorgan also is positive on the retailer’s balance sheet and placed a $29 price target on M stock.

Also noteworthy is that TD Cowen raised its price target on the shares to $29 from $27 on March 3. The bank says that Macy’s was able to effectively reduce its inventory and should benefit from its strength in “gifting occasion-wear beauty and luxury,” The Fly reported. The bank maintained an “outperform” rating on the shares.

Brunswick Corporation (BC)

Source: Shutterstock

Brunswick’s (NYSE:BC) net cash used for operating activities fell to $15.8 million during its seasonally weak first quarter from $141 million during the same period a year earlier, while its top line climbed 3% year over year to $1.74 billion.

The boat maker’s profits should be boosted by easing inflation going forward. Moreover, many wealthy homeowners who have locked in low interest rates for their mortgages, spent money on remodeling their homes during the pandemic and have benefited from income increases, have a significant amount of disposable income to spend.

While many of those individuals likely spent a great deal of money on travel in the wake of the pandemic, their hunger for travel is likely almost satiated. Going forward, many of them will probably spend their excess funds on other recreational activities, including boats.

BC stock has a very low forward price-to-earnings ratio of 7.8x and a significant dividend yield of 1.9%.

Investor’s Business Daily gives BC stock a high overall grade of 90 out of 99. Its earnings per share grade is 91, while its Relative Strength score is 88, indicating that the shares have performed well over the last 12 months.

El Pollo Loco (LOCO)

Source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

El Pollo Loco (NASDAQ:LOCO) reported strong fourth-quarter results on March 9 as its revenue climbed 6.3% year over year to $115.9 million, while its net income came in at $6.5 million, up from $6.2 million during the same period a year earlier.

Like many other names on this list, the reduction in inflation in general and wage growth in particular should help LOCO going forward. Moreover, the very strong results from Chipotle, which, like LOCO, serves healthy Latin American food, bodes well for LOCO and LOCO stock.

Also positively, the company has shown that it can effectively use TikTok to market itself among younger consumers, as its promotion of its Overstuffed Quesadillas special garnered nearly 10 million views, LOCO reported in March.

The company’s price-to-earnings ratio is a low 8.7x, and its trailing price-to-sales ratio is a tiny 0.7x.

Denny’s Corporation (DENN)

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Denny’s Corporation (NASDAQ:DENN) has a few important positive catalysts. It can benefit from increased fears about the economy, which can lead some consumers to trade down to Denny’s from more expensive restaurants.

Another trend that could boost Denny’s is the migration of many people from Northeastern states to the Sunbelt. Many Americans from Northeastern states love diners. As an American who moved from New Jersey to Texas five years ago and has traveled extensively in other southern states, I can attest to the fact that there are not many diners in the south. Denny’s, however, is quite ubiquitous in the region, and it’s a pretty good substitute for diners.

Finally, Denny’s can cash in on the trend toward healthy eating, as I’ve noticed that the restaurant has many healthy breakfast options and even offers Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) burgers.

Analysts, on average, expect the company to generate earnings per share of 71 cents next year. That means that DENN stock is currently trading at an appetizing forward price-to-earnings ratio of 15.6x.

As of the date of publication, Larry Ramer owned shares of RIVN and his wife owned shares of LOCO. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Larry Ramer has conducted research and written articles on U.S. stocks for 15 years. He has been employed by The Fly and Israel’s largest business newspaper, Globes. Larry began writing columns for InvestorPlace in 2015. Among his highly successful, contrarian picks have been PLUG, XOM and solar stocks. You can reach him on Stocktwits at @larryramer.

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