That doesn't make this pick a sure thing, however. It's a department store that would like to see online sales catch up in what is becoming a crowded e-commerce market place. And while it's classified as a discount retailer -- which consumers favor in a recession -- it's closer to the higher end of retail than its peers.
Still, the reasons to buy are aplenty.
1. Valuation and Support
Kohl's is currently trading at $65.99 a share, and the average price target from sell-side analysts on Wall Street is $74.65, representing upside of 13%. It's trading at a forward earnings multiple of 11.39. That multiple is attractive against Burlington Stores Inc.'s (BURL - Get Report) forward multiple of 22.9, TJX Cos.' (TJX - Get Report) multiple of 19.25, and Ross Stores Inc.'s (ROST - Get Report) 20.72.
Even if Kohl's earnings, to be released March 5, are a disappointment and the stock falls to roughly $60 a share, Zev Fima, a research analyst for Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS investment club, said it's hard to get hurt owning the stock at that level. First, the stock hasn't fallen below $58 in the past year. Secondly, if the forward earnings multiple falls to just above 10 in the event earnings don't offer much for investors to like, that's a very attractive valuation, Fima said.
Third, Kohl's has struck a deal with Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN - Get Report) in which Amazon shoppers can return items to Kohl's locations, which boosts the department store's foot traffic and hopefully sales. Plus, online sales are continuing to strengthen, which was clear in the third-quarter earnings report in November. These points are both supportive of long-term success and baked into a cheap valuation.
In addition, entering the stock at $60 a share could certainly be a good move since the dividend yield would become even more attractive.
The dividend is $2.44 a share per year and yields 3.74%. That is far superior to the 2.7% yield of the 10-year Treasury. While the stock could certainly run up, a $60 per share entry point would mean a dividend of about 4%, providing premium income without very much risk. It's not very likely an investor will lose principal at $60 a share, and so the 4% yield isn't a misleading indicator of a good stock pick.
Investors looking for income and protection in the face of a potential U.S. recession within the next one to three years may certainly look to solid dividend stocks, said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade.
Another reason Kohl's could reach that $74 target is that it's a discount shop, rather than high-end. Shoppers usually stay away from Nordstrom Inc. (JWN - Get Report) and Macy's Inc. (M - Get Report) when they don't have big budgets to unload. Impressive sales growth for the entire discount retail group could be in store for the next few years. Kohl's is at the slightly higher end of the discount category, but could still rake in some meaningful wallet share for some time to come.
One factor that could really provide a lift for Kohl's sales for the foreseeable future is that the store carries a heavy dose of Under Armour Inc. (UAA - Get Report) products. Under Armour recently beat earnings expectations handily and maintained its forward-looking guidance, so Kohl's is enjoying leaning on Under Armour -- among other brands -- for sales growth.
For Kohl's earnings on March 5, Wall Street is looking for adjusted earnings of $2.18 a share, which would be a 16.6% year-over-year increase, on revenue of $6.61 billion.