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JP Morgan’s 2H19 Outlook: 3 Stocks to Add, and 1 to Avoid

JP Morgan has just released a valuable report setting out its tips for the second half of 2019. The firm takes a deep dive into an often-overlooked area of the market- the restaurant industry. Here we take a closer look at three of the stocks the firm’s John Ivankoe is recommending for 2H19, and one stock where it’s better to steer clear.

Encouragingly, two of the stocks highlighted by the firm also boast a bullish Strong Buy consensus from the Street. The third still scores a cautious optimistic Moderate Buy rating. That’s based on all the ratings received by each stock over the last three months. Let’s see how the following top stock ideas stack up now:

Stocks to Buy: Domino's Pizza, Inc. (DPZ)

First on the ‘buy’ list comes one of the world’s largest pizza sellers- Domino’s Pizza. But DPZ does much more than just sell pizza. JP Morgan describes DPZ as a technology company disguised as a marketing company disguised as a pizza company. The firm first upgraded Domino’s back in March with a $290 price target. That’s actually on the low-end vs the Street’s average price target of $313.

 “We continue to remain constructive on shares of DPZ following our March 19th upgrade. We believe DPZ trends are easing down to the lower-end of its stated 8- 12% system-wide sales growth, but for such results to still leave them near/at the top of franchise-driven growth within global QSR [quick service restaurants]” explains the firm.

In short, its Domino’s low-cost delivery model that keeps DPZ ahead of the game, says Ivankoe. That’s down to 4 key reasons, namely: 1) total pre-tip fees to the consumer are only $3-4 2) the 5,903 US store network allows excellent service times, 3) franchisees pay only $0.25 to receive a digital order (much cheaper than competitors), and 4) the popular 2-for-$5.99 each delivery promotion.

Meanwhile superior customer insights, data-driven decision making, and system sales growth of 8-12% justify a premium multiple over peers, the analyst tells investors. Overall we can see how the stock scores 10 recent buy ratings from analysts vs just 1 hold rating:

Stocks to Buy: Mcdonald's Corp (MCD)

From one food giant to the next, McDonald’s is another key stock that the firm recommends buying/ adding to now. Plus McDonald’s makes it to the firm’s elite Analyst Focus List of stocks set to outperform.

“We continue to be constructive on MCD shares and given the strong top line momentum, feel comfortable owning into 2Q results” cheers Ivankoe.  “F19 lapping the difficult F18 in US, developed market strength should continue. Not too expensive” he added.

Interestingly the analyst highlights delivery as a source of future upside for the stock. Right now delivery is available in over 9,000 stores (20,000 globally), but looking ahead it should become a more meaningful contributor. App integration is set for 3Q19 and national advertising around delivery is coming online in 2H19.

“We continue to recommend MCD as a long-term core holding in the restaurant space for relatively low risk/solid absolute return” concludes Ivankoe. “We focus investors on the company’s FCF generation and long-term FCF potential matched with low sensitivities to comps and margins (both company-owned and franchise) and the company’s move to a lower-risk business model via refranchising.”

As with Domino's, MCD boasts a Strong Buy Street consensus with 15 analysts making bullish calls on the stock, and 5 analysts staying on the sidelines:

Stocks to Buy: US Foods Holding Corp (USFD)

US Foods is a leading foodservice distributor, with over 250,000 customers, including restaurants, regional chains and healthcare groups. Ivankoe sees USFD as well positioned to manage competition from Restaurant Depot and Amazon (AMZN), while noting that “Business transformation efforts focused on efficiency and effectiveness remain a major opportunity.”

And according to JP Morgan this is by far the better choice over rival distributor Sysco Corporation (SYY). “We prefer USFD over SYY: USFD trades at a meaningful discount to SYY despite better volume trends and a more favorable 2019 margin setup” is how Ivankoe sums up the situation. He has a $40 price target on USFD.

In fact, the analyst reveals that SYY recently pointed to weak industry volume trends, however, in a follow up call with USFD they noted no change in industry dynamics. “Distinctive merchandising approach and customer-facing technology allow for differentiation in what can be seen as a commoditized offering” states the analyst.

Plus the company is gearing up to close its massive $1.8 billion acquisition of SGA Food Group. USFD is aiming for $55m of runrate synergies by the end of 2022. “This acquisition will significantly increase US Foods’ reach across key markets in the attractive and growing Northwest region of the U.S. and adds one of the most well-regarded regional distributors to our company,” commented US Foods CEO Pietro Satriano. 

Stocks to Sell: Texas Roadhouse Inc (TXRH)

The outlook isn’t quite so rosy for steak specialist Texas Roadhouse. The company, rated Sell by JP Morgan, is on track for a tricky second half of the year according to the firm.

“We expect another relatively difficult quarter at Texas Roadhouse” writes the analyst, who expects continued store margin declines (down 95bp vs. consensus down 60bp) driven by higher labor costs.

He notes that TXRH trades well on top of casual dining and vs. its 10-year monthly average multiples of ~20x. Indeed, Ivankoe’s $55 price target is only very marginally above the stock’s current share price of $53.67.

“We would argue that MSD positive comps are priced in at this multiple and that even maintaining store margins at or above the 17.0% level (vs 17.4% in F18) will be difficult given persistent labor inflation and rising commodity costs.”

See which other stocks top analysts are recommending from different industries here