Valentine's Day could be extra sweet for travel stocks
Seems that romantic getaways are the new chocolate this year, and these travel stocks are set to cash in.
Valentine's Day has moved way beyond cards and candy, with ads for diamonds and new cars becoming more frequent in February. In fact, total Valentine's Day spending is expected to reach $17.6 billion this year, up 3.3% over 2009, according to consumer spending researchers at IBISWorld. And it looks like this year a different V-Day gift is going to be in style: The romantic getaway.
IBIS expects cash spent on romantic getaways to gain just over two percent to $2.05 billion. When you consider that Valentine's Day falls on a Sunday and that many consumers will have a three-day weekend because of Presidents' Day the following Monday, the occasion could be extra sweet for hotel and travel stocks.
Here are five romantic getaway stocks I expect to cash in on this trend.
Priceline.com (PCLN): Priceline.com has got lovebirds covered whether they're flying south for a warm vacation or just finding a first-class hotel with a spa for some time alone. Priceline.com allows buyers to name their own price for everything from airline tickets to rental cars to cruises. You may not think that travel spending is very high right now, but the bottom line is that value-conscious consumers really love Priceline's ability to "haggle" on prices. This has allowed the Web site to become an oasis for cash-strapped consumers and generate huge numbers even during the recession.
Southwest (LUV): As one of the most popular air carriers with more than 530 planes servicing about 70 cities, Southwest should do brisk business as lovebirds take flight over Valentine's Day weekend. What's more, investors can fall in love with this stock because of its great fundamentals. The company has topped earnings estimates by more than 40% for two straight quarters.
Las Vegas Sands (LVS): Want a racy getaway? Well, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. This operator of the Sands and the Venetian is seeing brisk business in anticipation of Valentine's Day. The company is posting great earnings even without the holiday boost, with earnings surprises of more than 150% for three straight quarters.
Wyndham Worldwide (WYN): If you're looking for an upscale hotel, Wyndham is one of the first names that comes to mind. The company owns approximately 7,000 franchised hotels with 593,000 rooms in some of the world's most popular travel destinations. This company has topped earnings estimates for each of the last four quarters, and is going strong right now. I expect a nice Valentine's Day weekend to boost this stock even more.
Marriott (MAR): Marriott is a hotel leader that provides a variety of rooms ranging from economical singles to plush suites at its Renaissance branded locations. This gives the company a broad customer base, and it's resulting in nice profits. The company operates or franchises 3,200 lodging properties with 560,000 rooms. Marriott has topped earnings estimates for three of the last four quarters, including a whopping 84% earnings surprise in one report. Marriott is an excellent buy for Valentine's Day and beyond.
Valentine's Day may be a commercialized holiday to some, but there's no denying that its big business. But not all companies in these love-struck industries are good buys. Read: "10 Stocks to Break Up With This Valentine's Day."
At the time of this writing, Louis Navellier owned shares of PLCN and LVS in personal or client portfolios.
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