There's little doubt the long-term outlook for American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ: AOBC) is exceedingly bright. The Smith & Wesson owner has no need to worry gun buyer demand is going to evaporate, and its foot in the door of the rugged outdoors market gives it the potential to vastly expand sales, as the industry is some four times larger than firearms.
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Yet it's true the current situation serves as a drag on performance because there are no catalysts for immediate growth. That's why investors wouldn't be wrong to look elsewhere for an opportunity. Where American Outdoor Brands is down 31% of the past year, a number of stocks have actually doubled in value or more, including TrueCar (NASDAQ: TRUE), Conn's (NASDAQ: CONN), and Chemours (NYSE: CC).
TrueCar (up 103.6%)
It's no secret the vast majority of the car-buying public hates to haggle with car salesmen. TrueCar has solved the problem for the masses. Working with a network of over 11,000 new-car dealers, car buyers select the vehicle they want from TrueCar's website and find the average price others paid for that same car. They can then be connected to local dealers, who will provide their best price on the vehicle, which the buyer can either accept or reject and then continue shopping.
TrueCar is finding traction with this business model, and saw a 10% bounce in the number of unique visitors to its site in the first quarter from the year ago period, facilitating 24% more transactions. Truecar gets paid when a deal is accepted. It did find that average per vehicle prices were down slightly year over year, falling from $328 to $324, but it's narrowed its losses and has added more dealers to its network.
Although its stock has pulled back from its recent highs ahead of its second quarter earnings report next week, there still seems room for the rubber to hit the road with TrueCar.
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Conn's (up 222.8%)
There was a time when all consumer electronics seemed to be on the brink of oblivion, but after the great shake out that saw the demise of Circuit City, Sixth Avenue Electronics, RadioShack, and more, those that remain are doing much better. Best Buy has certainly been a premier beneficiary of lessened competition and the dramatic weakening of retail in general, but Conn's, too, is much improved.
Although the electronics superstore is still seeing regular declines in same store sales, it is finding its reduced footprint and more curated product selection a boon to its turnaround plans. The result has been improving margins and stabilized delinquencies among customers who borrow to finance their purchases.
Management still says it's on track for full year profitability, and investors are buying into the game plan. The stock is up 32% in just the past month and has risen 81% year to date. With shares more than tripling over the past year, a lot of confidence is going into the belief that the pros outweigh the cons with Conn's.
Chemours (up 395%)
Not that Chemours was set up to fail when it was spun off from DuPont in 2015, but it was saddled with almost $4 billion in debt, released into one of the worst bear markets for titanium dioxide prices, and had promises made that it would maintain a hefty dividend payment.
It didn't take long for the specialty chemicals company to slash that payout 94%, and it's since taken steps to bolster its financial position by cutting expenses, cutting its workforce, and shedding or shutting non-core assets. Fortunately, the TiO2 pricing cycle also turned, and Chemours was able to initiate a series of price hikes that have since carried its business higher.
Shares of Chemours have gone from around $8 a year ago to over $47 today, and that's not necessarily unreasonable. All three of its business segments are returning to healthy profitability, with titanium technologies and fluoroproducts, its two biggest divisions, doing especially well.
In particular, Chemours has already seen a big uptake in the adoption of its so-called low global-warming potential refrigerant Opteon, and by the end of 2017 there will be an estimated 50 million cars on the road globally using low GWP-style refrigerants. That is a bigger opportunity than the volatile TiO2 market, and Chemours may yet go higher still.
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