Ian Winer, the head of equities at Wedbush Securities, is making a bold call: buy retail stocks.
Many investors may be fearful of stocks in the space after a rough start to 2017. The XRT SPDR S&P Retail ETF fell 14% from December 2016 to April of this year.
“The consumer discretionary group, while still subject to “headline risk” around a border tax, feels like it has bottomed to me and is going to make a slow grind move up 5% to 10% from these levels,” Winer told Business Insider.
Winer says institutional investors have been pulling money out of the XRT ETF as a source of funds to put money to work in more promising sectors of the economy. Additionally, most of the buying in the last few weeks has been traders covering their short positions. However, Winer believes he has seen real institutional demand for stocks in the retail sector over the past few days.
While Winer said the Border Adjustment Tax or “BAT Tax” is the most prolific risk to retail, he does not think that the tax will come to fruition. He said:
“If the BAT was the big negative headwind when tax reform was on the front burner, then should not it logically follow that with tax reform growing less and less likely any time soon, that headwind recedes? I think so, but I also think there are enough politicians and lobbyists opposed to the BAT that even in the case of tax reform, a BAT will not be a part of that package. (Regardless what Brady and Ryan say).”
Winer thinks the BAT Tax is unlikely because of the real and immediate effects it would have on the American people.
“89k Americans have been laid off in the General Merchandise Stores since October, which is more than all of the people employed in the coal industry,” Winer said. “1 out of every 10 Americans works in retail.”
On the auto retail front, there have been fears surrounding the concept of “peak auto,” that US auto and with it, auto parts sales, are about to level off and decline. Winer said he thinks that auto parts retailers will thrive in the next three to six months because he said, sentiment surrounding the sector has reached, “near-term max bearishness.”
Many investors have been counting out brick-and-mortar retail on account of Amazon. While Winer said the devastating effects Amazon has on brick-and-mortar retail are real, there are plenty of opportunities to buy stocks Amazon can’t beat such as, Brunswick Corporation because, Amazon isn’t selling recreational watercraft anytime soon.
Winer believes that while there is little growth in the retail sector at the moment, there is still money to be made at these low levels and that investors should buy the space as a value play.
“To be clear, I am not saying the coast is clear for all of retail forever,” Winer concluded. “I am saying that the pendulum has swung so far against this space that I see a continuation of this move off the lows and an opportunity to make some money.”
Winer’s favourite retail stocks to buy right now are: