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Why Retail Stocks Are Up

In this episode of Motley Fool Money, Chris Hill chats with Motley Fool analysts, Jason Moser and Ron Gross, about the latest headlines from Wall Street. They discuss the big gains in the retail sector, a big decision for ridesharing companies and a big number for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). They also talk about home improvement stocks hitting all-time highs. Finally, they share some stocks to put on your watchlist and much more.

Also, Chris chats with Barry Svrluga, Sports Columnist, The Washington Post, to get an update on the business of pro sports.

To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on August 20, 2020.

Chris Hill: Shares of Walmart (NYSE: WMT) hit an all-time high this week after second-quarter results came in better than expected, highlighted, Jason Moser, by e-commerce sales nearly doubling. Walmart is crushing it.

Jason Moser: Yeah, I mean, this was definitely another good quarter. It wasn't a knock it out of the park quarter, but it certainly does seem like they've got things moving in the right direction, and they're continuing on the success that we saw last quarter. We'll look at some of the numbers, the topline grew 5.6%. U.S. comps were up 9.3%; now that's on top of U.S. comps growth of 10% just a quarter ago. And if you remember, that actually marked the best Q1 comp for the company in nine years. So, you can just see the comparison there. I mean, they are continuing that success. And it was, thanks in large part, as you mentioned, to e-commerce. And e-commerce, [laughs] which was once a convenience, has now really turned into a necessity. And so, it's an opportunity for a lot of these big retailers with these vast resources to invest a lot in their e-commerce operations. And certainly, Walmart had been making those investments long before the pandemic hit.

But as you noted, e-commerce sales increased 97% for the quarter. If you look just a quarter ago, e-commerce sales grew 74%. And if you compare that quarter to a year ago, that number was only 37%, so you can see the trend, and again, the importance that e-commerce is playing in the business.

And I think one of the big stories with all retailers has been inventory levels, availability of things, typically we like to see inventory, kind of, growing along with revenue. Inventory was actually down; U.S. inventory levels were down 4.6%. So, there were some little just, you know, snags in the supply chain, so to speak, but management is very clear, the supply chain is just a formidable advantage for the company. They continue to exploit it in the best of ways. And I suspect we'll continue to see Walmart do what they're doing right now for the remainder of the year and far on into 2021 and beyond.

Ron Gross: Yeah, as longtime listeners of the show will know, I've only been in a physical Walmart once or maybe twice; don't send me letters, it's not my fault. But what I found [laughs] during the pandemic is I've turned to Walmart more for their online abilities, and it's been quite strong. And I've abandoned Amazon actually, in certain circumstances, whether it's availability, as you said, sometimes pricing on Amazon; you got to be very careful, it's out of whack. And so, I'm going to be interested to see if going forward, if the likes of Walmart, Target, those folks, continue to take share from Amazon, because I'm not as impressed with Amazon's actual technological offering as I was, let's say, a year ago. I don't know if you're feeling any of that.

Moser: You know, Ron, that's an interesting point you make there. I will say, I've noticed the same, like, our personal behavior here at home, Amazon is getting fewer of our dollars than they did a year ago. Part of that, I think, is because the pandemic has just really put supply and logistics into a really difficult spot. But there are a lot of options out there today, that just didn't really exist before. But an example, and I've said this before, we've basically taken our pet food and pet medicine and all of those demands that we have in our household, and all of that has moved over to Chewy now. And that's money that I used to spend on Amazon on a very regular basis, and now they're not getting any of it. And frankly, Chewy, the shipping there has been just phenomenal. I mean, you order it and it's on your doorstep the next day. So, they're really under-promising and over-delivering. [laughs]

Gross: The Chinese food of the pet care industry.

Hill: Meanwhile, Ron, Target looked at Walmart second quarter results and basically said, hold my beer. Target's second quarter profits rose 80% and their same-store sales were up a record 24%.

Gross: Yeah, clearly benefiting from the fact that they didn't need to close, like so many other retailers did, and the stimulus checks helped out for sure. Comp sales up 10.9%. So, not just an online story, that's in-store comp sales up 10.9%. Digital comps up 195%, accounting for 13.4% of the total comp growth; which we said is so strong at 24%. So, really, really strong.

Interestingly, the average cost to fulfill each digital order declined by about 30%. And that was one of the things that investors had been concerned about, the high cost of fulfillment. And you're able to leverage the wider, the higher level of sales across those fulfillments. And we saw a nice decline of 30%; I think that's maybe one of the reasons that the stock reacted so favorably, not just the real strength in comp and revenue, which I think people, for the most part, were expecting.

Those same-day services that they've done such a great job of building up, so it's the order pick up, it's the drive-up, it's the Shipt business, that was up 273%; accounted for 6 percentage points of total comp growth. Really strong across the board. All five merchandise categories of things that they sell were up.

They claim they've gained, to my point with Jason a moment ago, they claim to have gained approximately $5 billion in market share in the first six months of the year; it'd be very interesting to see if that persists; it's a competitive game, obviously. But you know, adjusted EPS up 86%; you can't argue with results. That kind of growth is not going to continue; it's partially a result of the times we live in right now. But you got to give it to them, they've done a really nice job with the business.

Hill: Do you think that Jeff Bezos looks at Walmart and Target, their stocks hitting all-time highs, crushing their latest quarterly results, do you think he looks at this and smiles a little bit, because it probably reduces to some degree the pressure from Capitol Hill?

Gross: Well, you certainly can argue that there's competition, I think. So, to your point, I think, yes. It's very interesting to see Amazon going backwards now and opening up brick-and-mortar stores. I scratch my head a bit when I see that. I'm not sure why that really is necessary. We'll see how that plays out, if it even does play out in a big way. But certainly, I mean, almost every business has an online presence. Walmart and Target have huge online presences. So, I think Amazon has an argument with the Justice Department.

Hill: Let's move on to home improvement. Home Depot and Lowe's both out with second quarter reports this week, both stocks hitting all-time highs as well. Home Depot's profits up 25%. Lowe's profits up [laughs] nearly 70%. Jason, let's start with Home Depot. This really is as steady a business as I can think of in the retail industry.

Moser: It is a very steady one. I mean, we talk about the strong coming out of all of this stronger, and I think Home Depot is just going to be a shining example of that. That's partly due to the operational efficiencies and expertise and partly due to the market that they serve. But one thing that's interesting, [laughs] we saw this play out here in this most recent quarter. That coronavirus, it's a lot like real estate, now follow me here for a second, it's all about location, right? It's location, location, location. What I mean by that is that, there is one way to view it and then you enforce these strict nationalized policies. And that's what happened initially when this pandemic really first began. But what we've seen is certain companies have been very, very quick to use data to pivot and change their policies a little bit.

And so Home Depot did that, they modified this nationalized approach to where now they're taking a bit more of a localized approach with the stores. And so, where you saw maybe they would say, OK, only 100 people in a store at any given time, and that was just a national policy. Well, that's not a national policy anymore. They're taking how things are going in given areas and saying, OK, this is an area where problems aren't too bad, we can take a little bit more of a lax approach. Other places where maybe cases are spiking, they can tighten things up a little bit there. But again, I think it's that they have the freedom to take a little bit more of a localized approach that's certainly played out on the business to a degree at least.

I mean, you see sales $38.1 billion; that was up 23.4% from a year ago. Comp sales up 23.4%. U.S. comps up 25%. Tickets and transactions, double-digit growth in the quarter on both sides. Growth there on pro and do-it-yourself customers. They just paid their 134th consecutive dividend. I mean, there are just a lot of things going on with this company that have investors excited. And I certainly understand why; just again, I mean, it's a big company, a lot of resources and they're able to really dig in and take a more of a localized approach, and I think they're benefiting from that.

Hill: Ron, one thing we saw with Lowe's and with Home Depot, both of these companies are spending more money. That was part of the report as well. They're spending more on safety for their customers, for their employees. They're also paying more in terms of actual wages and bonuses. But you know, the results are really starting to show under Marvin Ellison's leadership at Lowe's.

Gross: Yeah, these are very strong results as well. As you said, they did spend $460 million on COVID-related expenses. I think, if I recall, Home Depot spent a similar amount; maybe $480 million. So, they're clearly spending money. And I was really happy to see they actually put in a profit-sharing bonus for hourly associates at 100% of the stores, totaling $107 million. So, giving back to those frontline workers, really great. As you said, really strong business. Comp sales up 34%. U.S. comps up 35%. All divisions posting comparable sales growth exceeding 20%. All U.S. geographic regions delivering comp sales growth of at least 30%. Online was up 135%. So, really strong across the board.

They're going to begin rolling out a tool rental business, where you can rent your tools instead of buying them. I will not be partaking in that, but you should feel free. [laughs] So, that could be interesting. But both companies, and we've talked about this before, whether you want to own Lowe's or Home Depot, you can certainly own both; I think that's great. The disparity between value, kind of, continues with Lowe's at about 20X earnings, and Home Depot at about 24X earnings. That remains, kind of, persistent year-over-year with Home Depot commanding just a bit of a premium over Lowe's.

Moser: That's really fascinating. I did not know that Lowe's was going to start rolling out a rental program. I mean, it's easy to, kind of, snicker at that, but frankly, that is a massive lever to pull. Home Depot has been really successful with their program for a while. So that dummies like me can go in there and rent the tile-cutter. But it's not just for dummies like me, it's for those contractors that come and redo your bathroom or build your deck or screen in that porch, Mac, right? I mean, those contractors are going there and renting those tools as well. Those rentals result in incremental sales, longer-term relationships; it's a very powerful driver.

Hill: On Thursday, Uber (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft (NASDAQ: LYFT) got a last-minute reprieve from an Appeals Court in California. Both companies had been ordered by a Superior Court judge in San Francisco to classify their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors, resulting in both Uber and Lyft threatening to shut down operations in California. So, Jason, crisis averted for now as this Appeals Court decision gives them both time to figure out how they're going to proceed.

Moser: The operative phrase you used there, Chris, "for now." And yeah, I certainly think this is something that will continue to linger for some time. It's really fascinating to watch these businesses that have formed this sharing economy develop. And we're starting to see that perhaps while these are compelling services for consumers, it's becoming more difficult to see the case for them being actually good investments.

I mean, clearly there are regulatory risks at play here that could have profound impacts. And it really, kind of, all boils down to what makes these businesses successful in the first place; and I'm not talking about technology, I'm talking about employees, the people that help these businesses run.

And employees, in the traditional sense, I mean, employees are long-term investments. That's a big commitment. And contractors are just much less so, right. That's the nature of the relationship. When you look at Uber and Lyft and companies like that, I mean, they're a service, like anything else, really. If McDonald's employees are just that, employees, then why shouldn't Uber or Lyft contractors actually be employees? So, maybe this all goes back to, kind of, the fatal flaw as to how these business models were built, to begin with. Maybe the competitive advantage was never the tech, it was the cost structure.

And if that is the advantage, and if that's something that could be flipped on its head so quickly through regulatory actions, I mean, yeah, I don't understand exactly what the attraction to these businesses as investments really is.

Hill: Second quarter profits for Foot Locker (NYSE: FL) came in higher than expected. Shares up a bit on Friday, as same-store sales for Foot Locker rose nearly 20%. Ron, I [laughs] got to be honest, I had to double-check that number, because I didn't exactly believe it when I first saw it, but that's, you know, great for Foot Locker.

Gross: This one really took me by surprise, I agree. They've been struggling. Nike represents about 70% of their inventory. And as Nike has moved to multichannel distribution over the years, that's really hurt Foot Locker in a pretty significant way. So, to see numbers like this, I'm scratching my head and I'm wondering where they came from, with comp sales up almost 19%? Gross margins did take a hit. Changes in the mix, more online fulfillment, kind of, hurts the cost to revenue structure. Promotional activity hurt that a bit as well. So, even though comps were up 19%, adjusted earnings were only up about 7% or 8%, but still not bad, especially considering where they are.

Still not providing any guidance, not surprised by that, but they did reinstate the quarterly dividend, which was kind of a show that they think things are firming up and will continue to firm up. The yield right now is about 2.1%, if you extrapolate out this quarter to the year. Not too shabby at all. Executive salaries are going to be restored on September 1st; they had previously been cut. Share repurchase program was reinstated. Foot Locker management is signaling that they think good things are to come.

Hill: I'm glad you mentioned the quarterly dividend, because in its own way, that's as powerful a statement by management as guidance would be, isn't it?

Gross: For sure. If they think they're going to be [laughs] generating excess free cash flow more than they need to reinvest in the business, and that they therefore can afford to give some of it back to shareholders, that's a strong vote of confidence. I'm surprised, to be honest with you. I think they jumped the gun a little bit. They maybe should have waited a quarter or two to see how things shake out.

Hill: This week, Apple became the first company in the U.S. to have a market cap of more than $2 trillion. It was 2018 when Apple's market cap cleared the $1 trillion mark. And, Jason, I think it's worth reminding everyone, this isn't normal, [laughs] like, this very much breaks the law of large numbers.

Moser: Well, in the words of Ron Burgundy, "that escalated quickly." I mean, that was really fast, wasn't it? It did seem really fast. Given all of the attention that we gave to the $1 trillion market cap, and then, boom! just out of nowhere, here you go. But you know, I mean, we all knew that was eventually coming, I guess it's just timing. But like Emily said earlier this week on MarketFoolery, I love this point, the world is only getting bigger. And I think that's what a lot of people, sort of, don't really think about. And ironically, at the same time, it's technology that's helping make the world smaller through connecting us all. But generally speaking, the world is getting bigger. So, why wouldn't these businesses continue to get bigger with the world?

Now, we can argue the pace, but Apple is clearly one of the most important, one of the most successful businesses on the planet, and they really have captured lightning in a bottle with that iPhone and all of the different services and the additional hardware that's come from this mobile revolution.

So, I'm not surprised to see them get there, frankly. I mean, it was probably a little bit faster than any of us would have thought. But I also don't see why this should be the end. I mean, this is a company that should keep on growing as long as they keep innovating.

Gross: $2 trillion, huge number. I want to say, the gross domestic product in the U.S. is $21 trillion, so I will. It's 21 trillion, [laughs] I believe. $2 trillion for one company in market cap is just humongous. I will remind folks that when we were pounding the table back in the day when Apple was a value stock at 10X earnings, it's now a 30X, 35X earnings. It's not as cheap as it used to be.

Hill: With so much on the line in terms of player health and safety, it's not surprising that some athletes have decided to opt out of the NBA and NHL playoffs, as well as the upcoming NFL season. Barry Svrluga is a Columnist for The Washington Post. I caught up with him earlier this week to get his thoughts on what the sports business landscape could look like next year as well as the current state of pro sports starting with Major League Baseball.

[...]

Where are we now with [laughs] Major League Baseball and the prospects for as many teams as possible getting through the regular season and getting MLB to the playoffs?

Barry Svrluga: I have thought, because baseball did not elect to enter a bubble or a couple of bubbles, that they've always been at greater peril then the NBA or the NHL. And there's a little bit of hindsight there, because the NHL and NBA bubbles have worked out so well as far as the testing protocols go. But if you consider what baseball was trying to do; 1,800 players, 60 players for each of the 30 teams, plus hundreds more staff, playing in home ballparks, getting on planes, staying in hotels, traveling from city-to-city. You're asking thousands of people to all follow the same protocols and behave the same way, when we know we live in a society where people don't share the same beliefs about the virus and don't behave the same way about the virus. And so, there was always going to be some risk that there would be infections.

And they blazed through two clubhouses very early on; the Marlins and the Cardinals. And that really upset the sport. I think now that has been a wakeup call for players and staff that this is not going to work if we don't follow these protocols. There has been only a couple of positive tests on different teams since that. And so, I think MLB, because they so badly want to get to postseason that would yield the postseason TV money, the owners really need that money to make this season work, they're going to scratch and claw and fight to get as many of those 60 games completed for 30 teams and get to that [...]

Hill: When I think back to March and College basketball canceling the tournament, the NHL and the NBA hitting the "pause" button, Major League Baseball trying to figure out what they could do with their season, the NFL executives were essentially sitting back and either saying quietly or saying out loud, [laughs] we'll be OK, because we've got months, our season doesn't start till the Fall, we're going to be OK. How do you think NFL executives are feeling now that they're watching what's happening in Major League Baseball? Because like Major League Baseball, they're not going with a bubble either.

Svrluga: So, I think there are a couple of factors at work there. One, anything with the NFL comes with an enormous amount of hubris. They rule the sports landscape in this country, there's no problem they can't solve, in their minds. Yes, you're right, they're not creating bubbles like, you know, their plan is more similar to baseball than it is to the NBA or the NHL. But they do only play once a week, it's not the amount of travel and not the amount of, kind of, interaction with opponents.

I have always wondered about the very nature of the sport of football, however, which doesn't just give you the option of being close to other humans, it requires you to be close to other humans breathing heavily on them for sustained periods of time. So, that's a very easy way to see a spread through a football team quite quickly. How will they handle that if that happens? I have no idea, I'm not wishing that on anybody, but I do think that the sport of football and the actions and activities that are required, makes it seem like spreading it in a team would happen quite easily.

Hill: When you think about the television money involved for the major professional sports in America, you know, various teams are going to take various levels of financial hits based on their own balance sheets and that sort of thing. But it seems like everybody is going to get through this season. But looking ahead to 2021, how nervous, whether it's baseball, football, any of the major sports, how nervous do you think they are with regards to the television contracts and the billions of dollars that are at stake?

Svrluga: Well, I think because all four of the major North American pro sports leagues are managing to stage some kind of a season now, the NFL I think makes $5 billion annually from TV contracts. I think that they feel like they'd be able to put out that product and get that money.

The teams and the leagues that are hurt the most. Baseball, I think, makes somewhere between 40% and 50% of their revenue from at the gate stuff, the tickets, the concessions, the parking. That's a bigger chunk, and the NFL, you know, could play in empty stadiums I think for several years, because it's such a TV addiction for America. So, I think it's a little different depending on the sport. And I think the economics weigh more heavily on baseball, if we enter 2021 and fans are not allowed in the ballpark.

Hill: I'm going to go local for a second, before we move on to college sports. Given everything that has gone on with his run as owner of the Washington Football Team, how likely do you think it is that Dan Snyder is still the owner a year from now?

Svrluga: So, I think he'll be the owner in a year. That's not to say I don't think this is an extraordinary time for this franchise. It's a major pivot point on all fronts. Dan Snyder has owned this team for 21 years. It has been one of the least successful franchises during that time. He has essentially torn down what was once one of the NFL's pillars, one of the best brands out there. And now it's on the field and off, has been a complete train wreck. The fan base has eroded, the long-ballyhooed waitlist for season tickets has been shown to be fraudulent.

But if you look at how they've already pivoted, the name, whether Snyder wanted to change the name or not, will be changed. That is a huge moment. They have forced out a President of the team that was reviled by fans and now replaced him with the first African-American President in the history of an NFL team. The Head of their Communications and Media Department is now a woman. They have a new coach who has put a new face on the football operations.

If Dan Snyder can't take this moment and capture it and start to listen to new voices about how to do things differently in all aspects of this business, then there's no moment that's big enough to make him [...] I'm going to take the optimistic view and say that things can pivot even with him in that chair, even though 21 years of history has told us that, with this owner, not much good happens.

Hill: So, it seems like the four major professional sports in America are going to make it through the year. The other major sport in America [laughs] is college football, which in theory should be starting in the next couple of weeks, but we've already had a couple of the major conferences come out and say, we're not playing football this Fall. "Doomed" seems like too strong a word to use with respect to what's happening in college football. I guess I'd put it this way, how much trouble is college football in right now in terms of what the major sports are doing, which is, we're figuring out a way to get through this season, we're figuring out a way to get a legitimate viable champion? It's hard to see how college football can pull that off.

Svrluga: College football has always seemed, to me, to be the most difficult to pull off in these circumstances. You're talking about more teams, more players on each team. And it's a massive unpaid labor force. You can't negotiate with the union, here are the protocols, this is what we're going to do. I mean, some of these major programs are trying to make players sign waivers on the way in, to say, hey, if you are stricken with COVID, it has further exposed the just crass and craven nature of not just college football, but college sports, in general. Because if you talk about college football being in trouble, you're really talking about all of college sports being in trouble, because you need the football money to prop-up these massive athletic departments and pay these coaches, you know, $5 million, $7 million, $9 million apiece.

So, I think it's going to be fascinating to watch as the athletes gain more of a sense of their own worth and their own voice. We've seen that happen in the Pac-12, which has punted its football schedule at least until 2021. Athletes there organized and said, we're not on board with these protocols, we don't feel safe, we are pawns in the structure, we're not going to do this.

And then if you look at the viability of the season, right now there are three conferences, three of the five major conferences that are trying to move forward. But if you take the example of one school and one of those conferences, University of North Carolina in the ACC, that school had tried to bring students back, and a week later there were nearly 200 coronavirus cases, and they said, everything is remote. Yet the football team remains behind, trying to stay in a bubble and practice, and then eventually play so that the school and the conference can get their TV money. Doesn't that further expose what a just kind of ridiculous structure this is, that these unpaid workforce, it's supposed to be student athletes and the student comes first, yet all the students are sent home and the football team remains behind so that they can prop-up the athletic department to [...] It's backwards, it's broken.

And if there's something athletically that's good that comes out of this pandemic, I would hope it would be some sort of fundamental change in the way college athletics [...]

Hill: Guys, Revlon (NYSE: REV), the cosmetics company, has been struggling lately. So, Revlon has taken out a bunch of loans from various lenders. And last week someone in the loan operations department at Citigroup accidentally wired $900 million to those various lenders, seemingly on behalf of Revlon. But Citigroup has told the lenders that they made a clerical error and they would like the $900 million back. And, yes, Ron, I can't help but giggle a little bit at the, we didn't mean to send you the $900 million, can we please have it back?

Gross: I feel bad. Have you ever made a mistake at work and like, you know, you feel really bad about it? Can you imagine this clerical person who made this error? You're supposed to pay interest on the loans and instead you paid back the loans, the full some of the principal, oh, just brutal. And they're having trouble getting the money back, as you said. A judge has stepped in, granted Citibank a freeze on the cash for now. There are some hedge funds that represent big pieces of it. They are concerned that Revlon is going to default, so they're happy to take the money and just hold it, because that's the way to make themselves whole. This is -- I really do feel quite bad.

Hill: I think I'd be tempted to keep the money; I'm just saying. [laughs]

Moser: I mean it's understandable, right? You feel like, you know, we talk about fat-finger errors and whatnot. I mean, it's like, whoever was entering these numbers was doing it with a catcher's mitt. But the thing I look back to, when I was at the bank and we would wire transfer money, you're talking about transferring $15,000, $100,000. But there was a chain, there was a procedure there like, if someone enters the numbers, it's like turning the keys, right, you can't turn -- you have to have someone else turn their key. And I don't understand how this happened. And so, this idea that maybe it was done intentionally, who knows, but wowzah! This is just turning into a litigation festival that is going to ultimately, it sounds like, end up being a boon for the lawyers at the end of the day.

Hill: Restaurant Brands International (NYSE: QSR) is the parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. And the company has a new promotion to hopefully juice sales. Burger King is enabling people to order customized face masks with their favorite orders printed on them. That way you can walk into Burger King wearing a mask that reads, a large Whopper combo, fries and a diet coke, and not even have to speak. Ron, this is now currently only available at Burger King locations in Belgium, but I'm really hoping this catches on. [laughs]

Gross: Oh, Belgium, you're so playful. [laughs] I guess. Do we go to Burger Kings very often? I don't really ever have them near me, but it's a cute idea. It's not a needle-mover or anything like that, but it's cute.

Moser: Isn't this what apps are for? I mean, seriously. Like, there's a Chick-fil-A right down the street here. And I could just hit one button on my app on my phone and have the entire order sent, and I just go over there for curbside pickup. I mean, I don't even need to wear a mask. I understand the playful nature behind it, but yeah, it's hard to imagine this being much more than anything than just playful at best.

Gross: I'm just happy to see people wearing masks.

Moser: Yeah, it's a good point.

Hill: Let's get to the stocks on our radar. Our man behind the glass, Dan Boyd, is going to hit you with a question. Ron, you're up first. What are you looking at this week?

Gross: I just started looking at Ross Stores (NASDAQ: ROST), ROST. You may know it as Ross Dress for Less. I own TJX, which is the parent company of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods. And Ross is a similar business; a discount apparel retailer. As I started looking into this, I was actually shocked, I tell you, shocked, to discover that Ross has no online presence at all, which is fascinating to me. But maybe I should be surprised that TJ Maxx actually does have an online presence. Either way, this really surprised me. Coincidently, they just reported earnings this week. Comp sales were down 12%, not surprising, because stores were closed for quite some time, but they have reopened. They have almost 1,600 locations, almost all of them are open. I'm going to do some more digging on this one, because I do like TJ Maxx, not so sure about Ross.

Hill: Dan, question about Ross Stores?

Dan Boyd: First off. I'm a huge fan of Ross Dress for Less; absolutely love it. Ron, when it comes to discount retailers, what is a company that Ross can emulate to have a permanent place on your watchlist?

Gross: Well, I think, as I said, TJ Maxx is the one for sure. I mean, you walk into the store, it looks like a tsunami hit it. But still, they do a great job. Relationships with thousands and thousands of buyers, [laughs] where they get great merchandise for cheap prices, they do it very well from a merchandising perspective.

Hill: Jason Moser, what are you looking at this week?

Moser: Yeah, keeping an eye out on Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), ticker is ADSK. Earnings are out on Tuesday. The stock has had a great year thus far. Given the nature of what they do, it's not something their clients can tend to cut a whole lot during tough times, because it is design software. That does not mean they are immune to what's going on, though. They have seen some weakness and they are extending some payment terms. So, it may be pushing some of their results out a little ways, but that's OK.

They made this move to a SaaS business model, which has worked out really well. Something akin to an Adobe, and I like and own both of them. So, I'd be watching that earnings report on Tuesday.

Hill: Dan, question about Autodesk?

Boyd: Sure, Chris. When I heard the word "Autodesk" I didn't think of, you know, whatever Autodesk actually does, I thought of a car that is also a desk. And I am suddenly gripped by the idea of having one in our office. Instead of walking down to the studio, I could drive my auto-desk [laughs] to the studio and just get there and film things and record things. I think that would be a great addition to The Motley Fool headquarters.

Gross: You better get a patent on that.

Moser: I'm right there with you. I was thinking about that earlier today, I was like, you know, this Autodesk is carrying a name, that during the pandemic we're in, with all of us working from home, don't we all want an auto-desk? I mean, Dan, you really took that to the next level. I love that idea. Let's talk after the show.

Hill: What do you want to add to your watchlist, Dan?

Boyd: I'm a huge fan of Ross, I love Dressing for Less; and more importantly, I love it when my wife dresses for less, [laughs] so I'm going with Ross.

Hill: Ron Gross, Jason Moser, guys, thanks for being here. That's going to do it for this week's show. Our Producer is Mac Greer, our Engineer is Dan Boyd, I'm Chris Hill, thanks for listening and we'll see you next week.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Chris Hill owns shares of Amazon. Jason Moser owns shares of Adobe Systems, Amazon, and Autodesk. Ron Gross owns shares of Amazon, Apple, Nike, Target, and The TJX Companies. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Adobe Systems, Amazon, Apple, Autodesk, Home Depot, and Nike. The Motley Fool recommends Chewy, Inc., Lowe's, The TJX Companies, and Uber Technologies and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $120 calls on Home Depot, short January 2021 $210 calls on Home Depot, short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon, and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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