January Effect: 3 Under-the-Radar Stocks Poised for a New Year Jump

Stocks to buy

As the world bids adieu to one year and eagerly ushers in the next, the financial landscape comes alive with whispers of a phenomenon known as the January Effect. It’s a time when astute investors set their sights on uncovering hidden treasures poised for a leap into the spotlight of profitability. Amidst this captivating speculation, three enigmatic entities loom on the edge of anticipation.

The first one, a retail juggernaut, exerts a strategic blend that caters to the demands of do-it-yourselfers and skilled professionals, positioning itself for unparalleled growth. The second, a pharmaceutical luminary, rides the waves of a product’s stellar performance and vaccine prowess, solidifying its market stance. Meanwhile, the third dances through global markets, pivoting gracefully amidst challenges while pioneering sustainability and innovation.

Read more to decode the covert strategies of these market leaders. Unravel the potential catalysts, propelling them toward a dazzling surge in the imminent year.

Lowe’s (LOW)

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Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) delivered a nearly 4% month-over-month return in January 2019, 2021 and 2023. At the top line, Lowe’s has a revenue breakdown of 75% from DIY customers and 25% from pros. The company has established a unique market position compared to the broader market mix. That distinction allows Lowe’s to focus its strategies, offerings and marketing efforts — specifically on the needs of DIY customers.

Meanwhile, it also caters to the distinct demands of professional contractors and builders. Therefore, this targeted approach enables the company to tailor its product assortment, service levels and loyalty programs to meet the preferences and requirements of these customer segments.

Despite experiencing a decline in DIY sales, Lowe’s showcased positive sales growth (2x the market pace) in the Pro segment during Q3 2023. That resilience in Pro sales highlights the effectiveness of Lowe’s strategies aimed at catering to the needs of professional customers.

Additionally, the company’s emphasis on enhancing service offerings, developing loyalty programs like MVP Pro Rewards and improving job site delivery has resonated well with Pro customers. That lead demonstrates Lowe’s ability to provide specialized services and products. Therefore, they are tailored to the professional market, sustaining growth even in challenging market conditions.

Furthermore, Lowe’s has invested heavily in upgrading its service model. These investments include enhancing customer loyalty through initiatives like the MVP Pro Rewards program, developing a world-class customer relationship management (CRM) platform, improving job site delivery and augmenting service levels across its stores.

Finally, the company elevates the customer experience through seamless online interactions, personalized service and improved in-store experiences. That focus contributes to building stronger relationships and higher retention rates among the DIY and Pro’s customer base.

Merck (MRK)

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Merck (NYSE:MRK) delivered over a 5% month-over-month return in January 2017, 2018 and 2022. Product performance serves as a key fundamental for Merck. For instance, the company had impressive growth in Keytruda sales, experiencing a 17% year-over-year increase, reaching $6.3 billion in Q3 2023. That signifies its established market position and acceptance as a vital therapeutic option in various cancer treatments. Notably, the drivers of Keytruda’s success include clinical trial data, regulatory milestones, the competitive landscape and global market expansion strategies.

In the vaccines category, Gardasil’s sales surged by 16% to $2.6 billion, driven significantly by robust global demand, particularly in China. Conversely, the animal health segment experienced a more modest growth of 2%. Livestock sales grew by 7%, primarily influenced by pricing actions and higher demand for ruminant products. However, companion animal sales declined due to reduced vet visits in the U.S., somewhat offset by pricing adjustments.

At the bottom line, maintaining a stable gross margin of 77% indicates efficient cost management and product mix optimization. The gross market can mitigate the impact of unfavorable foreign exchange rates. Furthermore, the decrease in operating expenses by 4% to $5.8 billion, excluding significant business development expenses, suggests a prudent approach to cost management.

Looking at the pipeline, there are advancements in cardiometabolic diseases. For instance, the sotatercept is for pulmonary arterial hypertension, and MK-0616 is for cholesterol management. These developments highlight the potential for these therapies to substantially impact patient care and contribute significantly to Merck’s revenue streams.

Coca-Cola (KO)

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Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) has delivered positive month-over-month returns in January 2018, 2019 and 2020. Coca-Cola’s performance across diverse regions and markets highlights its strategic approach to market diversification. While facing challenges in certain regions, the company progressed in leveraging consumer strength in Latin America, India and Central and Southeast Asia. That demonstrates the company’s resilience and adaptability to regional economic conditions and consumer sentiments.

Fundamentally, the company can optimize sales in both developed and emerging markets. Also, the company has the agility and capability to tailor its strategies according to regional nuances. Despite challenges in specific markets such as Africa and China, Coca-Cola’s performance in other regions, like Latin America, highlights its effective market penetration strategies and consumer engagement initiatives.

Furthermore, Coca-Cola’s focus on sustainability initiatives, such as its World Without Waste strategy, demonstrates its commitment to responsible business practices across various regions. Initiatives like launching 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging in multiple countries reflect the company’s effort to address environmental concerns and cater to regional sustainability needs.

Moreover, Coca-Cola’s investment in innovative marketing campaigns and consumer engagement strategies drives brand relevance and consumer loyalty. The company’s shift towards digital-first campaigns, leveraging technology, social media and digital platforms, showcases its adaptability to changing consumer behaviors and preferences.

Finally, the emphasis on digital marketing initiatives, such as Coke Y3000 and Coke Studio in Brazil, indicates Coca-Cola’s focus on engaging consumers through interactive and creative approaches. Therefore, these initiatives enable the company to connect with consumers more deeply, fostering brand affinity and enhancing value growth.

On the date of publication, Yiannis Zourmpanos did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

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