5 Popular Stocks To Buy Right Now

By Markets Fool.com


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Smart investors always think for themselves. However, with some research supporting the wisdom of crowds, investors may also be well served by keeping an eye on the top-performing and most popular stocks to buy today. Here's a brief rundown of five of the most popular stocks on the market today.

Apple

As the world's largest and most profitable publicly traded company, technology colossus Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is hardly a surprise appearance on this list. In fact, Apple is so popular among investors that its shares are roughly 3 times more heavily traded than some of the more popular broad-market ETFs.

Popular Stock Name

Market Cap

Avg. Daily Volume

Average Analyst Rating

Apple

$579.4 billion

33.4 million

Buy

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

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However, Apple offers investors a lot more than just liquidity. Even if the forthcoming iPhone 7 were to end up a dud, demand for new iPhones would simply transfer from one Apple product cycle to the next, setting up an iPhone "supercycle" in late 2017.

Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) is a divisive entry on this list. Its notable expansion over the past decade has been rocket fuel for its financial results and stock-price performance. But more recently, Chipotle's food-poisoning woes have tainted the company for many investors. Not that it isn't a longtime Fool favorite -- or still a popular stock:

Popular Stock Name

Market Cap

Avg. Daily Volume

Average Analyst Rating

Chipotle

$12.0 billion

1.08 million

Hold

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

The shares are down roughly 50% versus the S&P 500 over the past 12 months. But the current weakness appears unlikely to permanently impair what had been one of the most successful restaurant concepts since McDonald's pioneered fast food in the middle of the 20th century.

Shake Shack

The new kid on the block, January 2015 IPO Shake Shack (NYSE: SHAK), was billed as the next Chipotle. But it's gone from enjoying a spectacular post-IPO to seeing a sell-off. Today, its shares are down roughly 20% from its IPO level, as the market struggles to sense of whether Shake Shack has the growth potential to justify its forward earnings multiple of 63. Regardless, the company enjoys plenty of interest from the investment community.

Popular Stock Name

Market Cap

Avg. Daily Volume

Average Analyst Rating

Shake Shack

$1.3 billion

1.05 million

Hold

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

The fundamentals underpinning its continued growth story appear compelling. In addition to a 37% year-over-year sales increase last quarter, Shake Shack saw its comparable same-store sales grow 4.5%. The average analyst seems to have settled the tension between major potential and the lofty stock price by suggesting investors stand pat, though those looking for a company with multibagger potential might consider Shake Shack shares today.

Wal-Mart

In today's low-yield environment, dividend investing is all the rage, making Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), the world's largest retailer and longtime dividend aristocrat, a natural stock of interest. The company's 2.8% yield and 41 consecutive annual dividend increases are well above average, but they aren't the only reason to like Wal-Mart's stock today.

Popular Stock Name

Market Cap

Avg. Daily Volume

Average Analyst Rating

Wal-Mart

$222.8 billion

10.1 million

Hold

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Wal-Mart recently completed a roughly $3 billion purchase of e-commerce start-up Jet.com in what many analysts, myself included, saw as a renewed commitment from Wal-Mart to challenge Amazon.com's superiority in this increasingly important segment. Amazon enjoys a number of structural advantages, some of which Wal-Mart has the resources and skill sets to replicate. It has more help now, considering Jet's management helped build several e-commerce challengers to Amazon, including Diapers.com.

Costco

Another longtime Fool favorite and market-beater, Costco Wholesale (NASDAQ: COST) might be the most interesting name on this list, thanks to its unique business model, in which it sells bulk items at wholesale costs and generates profits from high-margin membership fees. It's no accident that Costco's stock has outperformed the market over the last one-, five-, and 10-year periods, not to mention its entire lifetime. That's an impressive accomplishment, and one that helps explain its popularity among investors.

Popular Stock Name

Market Cap

Avg. Daily Volume

Average Analyst Rating

Costco

$72.8 billion

2.23 million

Buy

Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

However, like Wal-Mart, Costco is a mature company. As of its most recent earnings report, it had nearly 47 million members, and it's fair to ask how much further it can grow that membership base. Sustaining above-average growth could be challenging, and given the generational growth story in e-commerce, the Costco of today appears better suited for income investors than for those seeking long-term revenue growth.

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Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon.com, Apple, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.