Stocks to buy

The pandemic changed a lot of types of consumer behavior, and one of the most prevalent areas was the pet industry. People seeking more companionship during quarantine had a favorable impact on pet stocks, with several seeing their share prices soar to unprecedented heights.

Since then some pet stocks have cooled back off and newer data has cast some doubts on the actual extent of the purported rise in pet adoptions in recent years. By the Fall of 2022, it appears pet adoption levels have returned to pre-pandemic era levels. That said, people may be too worried about near-term weakness in the pet market. After all, pet ownership is up dramatically in recent decades and people spend more than ever on them, with dog owners laying out $730 per year on their animals on average. This favorable backdrop should support the outlook for pet stocks going forward.

Idexx Laboratories (IDXX)

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Idexx Laboratories (NASDAQ:IDXX) is a leading way to benefit from the rise of pet ownership. The firm is a leader in the animal labs and testing space.

As people treat their pets more like humans, they are willing to spend far more to try to keep their animals in top health. In prior years, people often put a pet down once it developed a serious illness. Now, folks are far more open to advanced medical procedures for their cats and dogs.

Idexx has a great position for this, having a reputation for being a one-stop shop across the industry. It offers rapid tests for vet’s offices, off-site testing, and in-hospital settings. Regardless of the exact nature of future growth in pet wellness spending, Idexx should be involved.

IDXX has been a tremendous performer, with shares rising from $9 in 2003 to nearly $500 today. Not surprisingly, shares trade at a high P/E ratio given the firm’s wonderful track record. Regardless, for long-term investors should be able to expect positive upcoming years from Idexx.

Chewy (CHWY)

Source: Chie Inoue / Shutterstock.com

Chewy (NYSE:CHWY) is a major e-commerce retailer focused on the pet market. It has food, treats, toys, medicines and other health items. It has an extensive catalog, carrying more than 100,000 different products and services.

CHWY stock had a tremendous run during the early days of the pandemic. The stock soared from $30 to a peak of almost $120. It has crashed back to around $30 now as the tailwind around pet spending has slowed from peak 2021 levels. In addition, e-commerce stocks have sold off more generally amid changing macroeconomic conditions such as high inflation.

At this price, Chewy could be set for a rebound as the company is already profitable, which sets it apart from various other online retailers. Chewy has done a fine job of building a solid brand for itself that seems to be capable of thriving against mass market competitors such as Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Bark (BARK)

Source: IgorGolovniov / Shutterstock.com

Bark (NYSE:BARK) is a smaller company focused on the pet food and toys business. The company rose to prominence with its Barkbox subscription business.

In it, Bark sends customers a box full of new pet items every month on a recurring basis. Traditionally, investors have been drawn to recurring revenue subscription models which would seemingly make Bark a winning stock idea.

Yet, the business has struggled to reach profitability. Over the past 12 months, the company brought in $538 million of revenues but lost $84 million overall. That’s not an ideal profit margin.

However, Bark already has a large revenue base and the company is seeking to expand its business into related items, such as pet food. If the company can crack the code for reaching profitability, shares could be a deal here at a $200 million market capitalization today.

On the date of publication, Ian Bezek did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.

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