The 2nd Best Performing Dow Stock Is What?


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Hey, Fools, Austin Smith here to look at Home Depot's return in 2012, maybe take some lessons from it in how we can maybe profit in 2013.

So a review of what this stock has done: It's been an incredible performance. It's the second-best-performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average , and I feel like the stock that most investors have missed.

This company's up 50% for the year, compared to the Dow's 8.4% return. It's sort of been this silent, very steady-building -- basically a linear trajectory from the beginning of the year. I believe this just speaks to the vindication of the strength of the housing market.

Home Depot has ridden it to aplomb, and this is reflected across the entire consumer goods space. We see Lumber Liquidators up 190%, KB Homes up 114%, Whirlpool up 114%, and the list goes on. It's littered with stocks related to the housing recovery.

So, looking at this, when you see stocks up over 100%, investors of course assume that maybe the market has been too enthusiastic. You wonder how much room does it really have left to grow in 2013. It's been at double so far.

Well, I do think that there are a lot of opportunities in this space, but I don't think Home Depot's the best one. I think this company's a bit too expensive for the growth you're going to expect for the next 12 months.

They're trading for 22.7 times earnings. They have no real new store openings on the horizon, they've only got a 1.8% dividend, and I think they're suffering from the same thing that McDonald's did when it went from 2011 to 2012.

It was the best-performing stock in 2011 on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It got bid up to a premium multiple that you just couldn't justify with its growth. Then in all of 2012 it languished, despite actually having a lot of great execution, but it just had to come back down to a fair multiple. I expect Home Depot to do the same thing.

That's not to say we can't profit from this space, though. There are still a lot of companies that have extra gas in the tank. So I'm looking at a report that came out of Renaissance Macro Research, LLC, which said that the average age of the appliance is now 4.6 years, the highest it's ever been since 1962.

It's the same trend we've seen going in the automobile space, where autos are the oldest they've ever been, and you have this huge pent-up demand as consumers were tightening their purse strings in this weak economic climate.

But as soon as that starts to rebound, as soon as unemployment starts to show steady gains downward, I believe you're going to unlock huge pent-up demand in both of these sectors, so Whirlpool could be a tremendous way to play this.

They trade for only 16.5 times earnings, they've got a 2% dividend. Year to date, they may be up 114%, but they still only trade for 16.5 times cash and a pretty fair multiple, considering this potential demand you can unlock.

Lumber Liquidators, a company that looks pricy, but they're still growing that income at 80% over the last 12 months, and there's a lot of room left for them to run. They're still a small player in this space, and there's a huge dearth between the homes we're building and new households created.

Fellow contributor Morgan Housel has touched base on this extensively. That's a huge potential for Lumber Liquidators to continue putting up another 100% year, as crazy as it sounds.

So there are still a lot of great ways to play this space. I think Home Depot's done a tremendous job. I don't think a lot of people saw this performance coming at the beginning of the year, but I don't think they're the best stock for 2013 because I just think their multiples ran ahead of them a little bit.

That's not to say you can't profit, though. There are still great ways to play it. Fools, thanks for tuning in, and Fool on!

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Austin Smith has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Lumber Liquidators. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend The Home Depot and Lumber Liquidators. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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