While upscale restaurants struggle, budget diners flock to lower-cost options. One stock poised to benefit from this trend is Sonic (SONC). The fast food drive-in chain offers busy, cash-strapped consumers an affordable option for dining out. Although shares of Sonic have bounced from the market lows in March, the bounce has not been as strong as with other companies. I view that underperformance as a market oversight and an opportunity for forward-looking investors.
For the current fiscal year ending in August, Wall Street predicts a profit of 78 cents per share. In the 2011 fiscal year, that number jumps to 92 cents. Investors can buy that expected 20% growth for just 11 times 2011 forward earnings. That's cheap in my book. More importantly, earnings at the beginning of a new business cycle tend to do better than expected. As such, a value like this becomes even more attractive.
China and Brazil may be the sexy trading markets of the moment, but PriceSmart (PSMT), a warehouse retailer that operates in Central America and the Caribbean, has built a nice business operating south of the border. The company is profitable with a strong balance sheet. Economic weakness across the globe fits well with its business plan of selling goods at low prices, and it provides fertile ground for continued growth. Analysts expect a profit of $1.39 in the current fiscal year ending in August. For 2011, earnings are predicted to be $1.73. You can buy that 24% growth for just over 10 times forward earnings.
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