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Hold out for a Lower Valuation Before Buying Home Depot Stock

Will Healy

Home Depot (NYSE:HD) stock continues to ride high. An earnings beat in its second-quarter sent Home Depot stock surging to over $232 per share an all-time high. Lower interest rates and a renewed interest in the housing market have also helped HD stock.

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However, not all headwinds for Home Depot stock have gone away. Home prices have plateaued in many major markets. Also, an inverted yield curve and the length of the current economic growth period point to a possible recession.

Although HD stock remains a long-term winner, investors should not add to positions at these levels.

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HD Stock Is a Long-Term Winner Facing Near-Term Struggles

Taking a negative view of Home Depot stock is a difficult decision. After all, it did not grow to almost 2,300 stores and a $250 billion-plus market cap by making poor decisions. HD has delivered massive returns to investors over the last few decades and remains a solid long-term investment now.

Admittedly, bulls have many signs of optimism on which to base their call. The Fed lowered interest rates over the summer, setting up the highest level of mortgage originations since 2018. Moreover, the company announced they had beaten estimates by nine cents per share on Aug. 20. This sparked a rally that took the HD stock price from about $208 per share to the approximate $232 per share level where it trades today.

Furthermore, both Home Depot stock and its main peer Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) continue to show resiliency. It continues growth even as a mature company. It also has fended off any potential threat from Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), a company many feared would “take over retail” a few short years ago.


Multiple Does Not Price in a Possible Recession

However, the recent rally took the forward price-to-earnings (PE) ratio to about 21.2, very close to the average PE of almost 23 it has experienced over the last five years. Admittedly, a 21.2 forward multiple is not high by S&P 500 standards. However, it seems pricey when analysts predict only 2.4% profit growth this year and 8.4% in fiscal 2021.

Also, many signs point to tough times coming soon. For one, the company missed its revenue estimates. Although the market has chosen to ignore that fact, it indicates some level of struggle for the home improvement giant. Moreover, investors cannot know for sure that the economy has avoided a recession. An inverted yield curve has frequently pointed to a downturn within two years in the past.

Home price growth appears mixed as well. Thanks to the lower rates, analysts forecast annual price growth of 5.4% over the next year. Still, that is an average number. Many of the larger, pricier markets such as New York or Seattle continue to see a decline in prices. Since many consider Home Depot stock a proxy for the housing market, this indicates contradiction more than growth.

Further, the current economic expansion is in its 11th year. This does not mean the economy will stop growing. However, it dramatically increases the chances of a downturn. It also calls into question whether investors should pay a higher multiple for Home Depot stock in such an environment.

The Bottom Line on Home Depot Stock

Home Depot stock has become the solid equity that investors should avoid for now. In a sense, the recent run in HD stock makes sense. Interest rates have fallen in an environment where home prices have plateaued in many major markets. Without a doubt, this increases home affordability for many.

Still, the current economic expansion has become long in the tooth. Moreover, an inverted yield curve has always pointed to a recession over the last 60-plus years.

Although Home Depot has matured as a company, its ability to maintain growth over the last few decades is a testament to its long-term resiliency. I still believe in the future of Home Depot stock, and I do not recommend selling at these levels, except to log some profits.

However, given the current circumstances, this seems like a time where investors should try to buy Home Depot stock on the cheap, not when it trades at a higher multiple.

As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.

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