NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The gay marriage issue is once again on the front burner, and while many debate if President Barack Obama's move will aid or hinder the administration politically, we can spend our time looking at ways to profit.
One issue not in dispute is that marriage is big business and appears poised to become bigger. Last year saw the average wedding budget hit more than $27,000, according to
, with wedding dresses at around $1,100, floral expenses at $1,900 and engagement rings costing $5,130.
Here are 10 stocks positioned to take advantage of an increase in weddings:
XO Group, a $230 million dollar marketcap company, operates wedding-related Web sites including TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com. This stock has growth priced in, with a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 22.5. The high price multiple is supported with encouraging sales numbers -- sales last year were $124.2 million, up from $112.8 the year before and $106.4 million in 2009. The bottom line is also growing, with $6 million falling to the bottom line.
XO Group is thinly traded, with an average daily volume of 170,000 shares.
XO Group's chart looks intriguing with a technical analyst view. The main 200-day moving average is rounding and poised to move higher, with the smaller moving averages above the key 200-day moving average. The price is also trading above the 200-day moving average, providing trend followers with a bullish sentiment.
, a $68 billion market cap company, provides many services, including travel planning, travelers checks and charge cards. Other credit card companies will certainly benefit, but the combination of the various services offered combined with relative size and profits pushes American Express to the top of my credit card wedding list.
, through its subsidiaries, provides consumer products and services over the Internet in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. The company operates FTD Florist. United Online shares trade an average of 856,000 shares per day and has a market cap of $353 Million.
With flowers for a wedding costing nearly $2,000 on average, companies such as FTD are sure to benefit. The stock has performed poorly in the past few months, falling below $4 a share. Along with FTD is
, but 800 Flowers is less liquid, with only 107,000 shares traded per day on average and a market cap of $200 million.
United Online's revenue took a dip from $990 million in 2009 after a record year, but last year had nearly $900 million in sales. A boost in weddings could help propel United Online to records in revenue and profits. Analyst earnings estimates are for 15 cents per share this quarter.
shares trade an average of 686,000 shares per day, and the company has a market cap of $3.9 billion. What's a wedding without a ring, after all? Gold prices have fallen to fresh lows for this year, and a combinations of lower gold prices with increased demand are the proposals jewelers long for. Keep an eye especially close on gold and other metal prices.
Overall, Signet shares are performing well on a larger time frame, although recently they took a dip. Signet is reporting earnings this month, so expect some volatility in price. Analyst estimates are coming in between 90 cents and $1.01 per share. Signet pays a 48 cent dividend yielding 1%.
operates as an online retailer of diamonds and fine jewelry. Blue Nile shares trade an average of 344,000 shares per day and the company has a market cap of $398 million. Like Signet, Blue Nile is front and center for companies to benefit from increases in marriages.
Blue Nile is firing on all cylinders. Investors saw a record year in 2011 -- $348 million in sales. Blue Nile trades at an extraordinarily rich premium with a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 37.
Not everyone is convinced Blue Nile makes a wise investment; short interest is a massive 29% of the float. Shorts have done well with Blue Nile, making recent 52-week lows. Price weakness is not surprising considering Blue Nile has come up short in the past four quarters. If Blue Nile improves margins, it may once again prove to be a sweetheart of an investment. Wall Street is expecting 0.07 cents per share this quarter based on earnings estimates.
, through its subsidiaries, operates as a specialty retailer of fine jewelry. Zale shares trade an average of 242,000 shares per day, and the company has a market cap of $79 Million. Zale is expected to report last fiscal quarter's results before the opening bell May 23.
On average, analysts expect a drop of 94 cents in earnings per share compared with last quarter's results of 78 cents. The reporting quarter's mean estimate is for a loss of 16 cents per share.
Wall Street is expecting results within -28 cents and -0.07 cents per share.
While losing money in the past three out of four quarters, the last quarter was profitable, and Zale did manage to beat earnings by a penny. Short interest is much lower with Zale than Blue Nile at 11%, but such a large short interest is decidedly bearish, and the shorts clearly have made the right call up to now. Don't be surprised if Zale is beated again if gold prices continue lower.
In the meantime, Signet appears to be the prettiest of the jewelers.
trades an average of 585,000 shares per day and has a market cap of $1.8 billion. The Mens Wearhouse, with its subsidiaries, operates as a specialty apparel retailer, renting tuxedos and other apparel. The company is performing well with annual revenue and net profits climbing. It reports earnings June 6, and Wall Street is expecting results within 54 cents and 58 cents per share. The mean earnings number of 55 cents places the price-to-earnings multiple at a relatively low 11.6. MW has beat estimates in the last four quarters.
Looking at the chart from a technical analyst's point of view, MW has rising 90-day and 200-day moving averages. The current price broke below the 90-day moving average, bouncing off support at $35. It appears the 90-day moving average resistance is about to be tested. A breakthrough above will signal a bullish trend continuation.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia
shares trade an average of 146,000 per day, and the company has a market cap of $231 Million. While investments in MSO have been put in jail, with shares trading near 52-week lows, MSO's position in lifestyle ideas for home, weddings and celebrations makes it an ideal candidate to take advantage of increasing weddings.
Short interest is high, with more than 8% of the float short. Expectations are low, making MSO a long shot that investors may want to keep on the radar if wedding numbers increase.
provides an Internet-based publishing service that enables consumers to share, print and preserve their digital photos. Shutterfly trades an average of 1.5 million shares per day and has a market cap of $845 million. A 24% short interest sums up the situation of how the smart money views Shutterfly. Shorts were rewarded from a 56% decline in price from a year ago.
Shutterfly has beaten estimates in the past four out of four quarters, although only one quarter was profitable. For the current quarter, the mean estimate is for another loss of 35 cents per share. Maybe what Shutterfly actually needs is gay marriage for what is missing in their life?
Author does not hold a position in any stock mentioned.