The stock market has widely recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, with the S&P 500 index up more than 5% year to date. But some companies are still trading at attractive discounts because of the disproportionate impacts they faced during the crisis.
Ford Motor (NYSE:F) and Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) are both included in Robinhood’s list of its 100 most popular stocks, and their share prices look absurdly cheap considering their strong brands and long-term potential. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out why these stocks could make a good addition to your portfolio.
1. Ford Motor: Leaner and meaner
Ford Motor is one of America’s most iconic companies, but its stock performance has often left much to be desired. Shares are down roughly 25% this year as the automaker struggles with weak margins and the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which has dampened demand for automobiles in key markets like the U.S. and China. But despite the headwinds, Ford looks poised to bounce back because of its low valuation, strong brand, and aggressive cost-cutting strategy.
We can’t value Ford on its earnings, because it’s swung from bottom-line profits to significant net losses over the trailing 12 months. But with $118.62 billion in revenue over the trailing 12 months — and with a market cap of roughly $27 billion — it carries a price-to-sales multiple of just 0.23, compared to the S&P 500 average around 2.4. Ford’s low valuation can be explained by its extremely low margins. The company reported an adjusted EBIT margin of just 4.1% in 2019, and it expects to lose money in the full 2020 fiscal year.
But over the long term, management has an excellent opportunity to create value for shareholders by simply cutting costs and improving business efficiency. Ford cut 7,000 white collar positions in 2019, which is expected to save $600 million a year. And the company plans to further reduce redundancies by cutting an additional 1,400 jobs this year. Ford has also improved its product lineup by discontinuing low-margin sedans to focus on more profitable trucks and SUVs.
2. Walt Disney: Poised to bounce back
Walt Disney is another great American brand trading at a discount because of the coronavirus pandemic and other company-specific challenges. Shares are down 9% year to date because of weakness in the company’s parks, experiences, and studio entertainment business segments, which were hit hard by lockdowns in the first half of 2020.The second half of the calendar year is poised to be a decisive period for Disney, and investors will get more color on how the business will perform in a post-pandemic world.
Most of Disney’s global parks and resorts are now open (although the company is facing setbacks in California). And its cruise line could soon resume operations with the CDC-mandated no-sail order set to expire Sept. 30. On the media side of things, Disney’s studio entertainment business will get a boost from AMC Entertainment’s decision to reopen 70% of its theaters by Labor Day weekend.
Over the long term, Disney has used the pandemic as a way to drive the adoption of its fast-growing direct-to-consumer (streaming) business. Management made the risky (although potentially game-changing) decision to release the much-anticipated Mulan on Disney+ for $29.99 in the U.S. The film will be available to all Disney+ subscribers after the Premier Access period expires on Dec. 4.
While it is still unclear how much money Disney will recoup by monetizing Mulan through video on demand, the decision serves as a massive incentive for consumers to subscribe to Disney+, and it could result in better-than-expected numbers in the fiscal fourth quarter. Disney+ boasts 57.5 million subscribers as of the third quarter. ESPN+ and Hulu report 8.5 million and 35.5 million, respectively.
It’s not too late to hop on board
Ford Motor and Disney are both relatively inexpensive stocks right now. But they probably won’t stay this affordable forever as they shake off the lingering impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and their company-specific challenges.
While Ford is a compelling investment because of its potential for significant margin improvements, I think Disney takes the cake based on my outlook for its direct-to-consumer business, which could evolve into an industry leader if Disney takes advantage of its edge in original content creation and intellectual property — whether by developing movies and shows specifically for Disney+, or licensing its studio creations to the platform after their theatrical run. Investors should considering adding one or both of these companies to their portfolios while they can still get a good deal on the shares.