Stocks to buy

The stock market has been hit a few headwinds in 2023. High inflation, interest rate hikes, and declining earnings have been put into focus. Despite the headlines, indices have performed well to start the year. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 are up 8% and 23% year to date, respectively. 

Some investors believe a summer rally will take shape and push the stock market higher. Inflation still remains high but has cooled in recent months, recently ticking in at 4.9% in April 2023. Every stock market rally produces outliers that outperform indices and many of their peers.

If you’re getting ready for a summer rally in stocks, these are some stocks to buy now.

Perion (PERI)

Source: photobyphm / Shutterstock.com

Advertising companies haven’t faired well in 2023. Meta (NASDAQ:META), Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL), and The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD) had declining earnings in FY 2022 compared to FY 2021. 

Those declines in the broader industry make Perion’s (NASDAQ:PERI) growth more astounding. The global advertising company achieved 34% year-over-year revenue growth and 156% year-over-year GAAP net income growth in FY 2022. While most of Perion’s competitors experienced single-digit revenue growth and net losses in Q1 2023, the small cap stock had 16% year-over-year revenue growth and 54% GAAP net income growth in Q1 2023.

Perion’s ability to achieve high growth numbers as the industry faces headwinds highlights the company’s resilience during economic uncertainty. Despite surging over 750% in the past five years, the stock only has a 15x P/E ratio and 0.54x PEG ratio. The small-cap stock has a market capitalization just shy of $2 billion. 

Perion focuses on three types of digital ads: search, social media, and CTV. This focus gives Perion several revenue streams, and advertisers seem to enjoy the service based on the corporation’s 115% customer retention rate in FY 2022. The stock’s recent pullback may be setting it up as one of the top stocks to buy now before the rally.

Axcelis Technologies (ACLS)

Source: Pavel Kapysh / Shutterstock.com

Axcelis Technologies (NASDAQ:ACLS) produces ion implantation and other equipment for semiconductor manufacturers worldwide. Companies need equipment like Axcelis’ for their chips. These chips are in various products like computers, vehicles, mobile devices and data storage servers. 

The semiconductor industry is cyclical. When semiconductor companies have too many chips, they have to lower the prices to adjust to the current environment. Some companies do better than others at navigating slowdowns, and Axcelis Technologies has been an outlier.

Axcelis Technologies has comfortably outperformed the S&P Semiconductor ETF (NYSEARCA:XSD). While the S&P Semiconductor ETF has increased by 17% in 2023, Axcelis Technologies has surged by over 75% since the start of the year. Axcelis Technologies has also outperformed the ETF over the past 1-year and 5-year timeframes. 

Healthy profit margins, along with growing top and bottom lines, can make this company one of the stocks to buy now before the summer rally. The semiconductor stock is a small cap valued at a little over $4 billion and has a 22x P/E ratio. In the Q1 2023 earnings call, Axcelis Executive Vice President and CFO Kevin Brewer stated that the company expects the company’s 2023 revenue to exceed $1.03 billion. This development would represent a 12% year-over-year increase in revenue.

Walmart (WMT)

Source: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

High inflation and rising interest rates have many consumers feeling cautious about their expenses. When costs rise, people turn to affordable businesses for their products and services. That’s good news for Walmart (NYSE:WMT), a retail conglomerate that offers a wide range of low-priced products. 

Walmart doesn’t have the same eye-popping revenue growth or valuation as the other two stocks to buy now. The company achieved 6.7% year-over-year revenue growth for FY 2022. The company returned over $16 billion to investors through dividends and share purchases.

Walmart is also slowing down on its hiring to keep costs low.

Walmart may surprise investors in the second quarter, but it remains an attractive long-term dividend stock that has hiked its dividend for over 50 consecutive years. A dividend payout ratio slightly above 30% suggests the payments are sustainable. 

The average price target for Walmart is $164.95 based on price targets from 40 analysts. This price target implies 8% growth by the end of the year, excluding the dividend. 

On the date of this publication, Marc Guberti held LONG positions in PERI and ACLS. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Marc Guberti is a finance freelance writer at InvestorPlace.com who hosts the Breakthrough Success Podcast. He has contributed to several publications, including the U.S. News & World Report, Benzinga, and Joy Wallet.

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