Cosmetics are luxury goods that sit in an attractive space. For starters, consumers aren't likely to forgo makeup for budgetary constraints; they're more likely to trade down their brands than they are to go without. On the flip side, luxury consumables like cosmetics rarely have a large correlation between selling price and input costs. Estee Lauder hits both of these benefits because of its wide product net -- because the firm sells brands positioned all along the cost spectrum, it can continue to sell in tougher times and boost margins when consumers are willing to spend more on makeup.
Emerging markets offer a big growth opportunity for Estee Lauder right now, with a burgeoning population of middle class women is eager to trade up their makeup. A hefty cash position on Estee Lauder's balance sheet effectively offsets its debt load, providing ample liquidity for the firm. Earnings on February 22 could be a big price catalyst for this stock in the near-term.
Oil service firm Halliburton (HAL - Get Report) is having a good start to 2012 -- shares of the $34 billion company have rallied nearly 5.7% since the market opened on January 2. In a sentence, Halliburton helps oil companies pull crude out of the ground. The firm is involved in pressure pumping, drilling, and other services for sites in more than 80 countries.Halliburton's expertise in integrated drilling gives it a big advantage in pulling that oil out of the ground cheaply, something that's critical for cost-conscious oil firms. While HAL's income statement isn't directly impacted by crude prices, they obviously impact its clients' decisions about when to bring new drill sites online. Even though oil prices have trudged sideways for the last few months, they're on the high side of their historic range, a fact that makes more oil drilling projects economically viable. For the past few years, Halliburton has been putting effort into integrating more services for clients. That should help make the firm more competitive in the near-term, and it should help boost margins in 2013 as well. Meanwhile, earnings on January 25 offer up a big possible catalyst for upside in this stock.
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