Checking In on the Market’s Latest Happenings and Some Retirement Tips

In this episode of Motley Fool Money, host Chris Hill and Motley Fool analysts Ron Gross and Jason Moser discuss the latest news in the market: FedEx (NYSE:FDX) rises on a strong holiday quarter. Nike (NYSE: NKE) stumbles on earnings. Williams-Sonoma (NYSE:WSM) surges on strong stay-at-home sales. Laser technology company Coherent (NASDAQ:COHR) rises on competing buyout offers. Five Below (NASDAQ: FIVE) ramps up expansion plans. Lennar (NYSE:LEN) raises the roof. Disney (NYSE:DIS) prepares to reopen Disneyland. And Hershey (NYSE: HSY) introduces a peanut butter cup without chocolate. 

Plus, Motley Fool retirement expert Robert Brokamp talks with Ed Slott, author of The New Retirement Savings Time Bomb: How to Take Financial Control, Avoid Unnecessary Taxes, and Combat The Latest Threats to Your Retirement Savings.

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.

This video was recorded on March 19, 2021.

Chris Hill: We’ve got the latest headlines from Wall Street. Retirement expert Ed Slott is our guest. As always, we’ve got a couple of stocks on our radar, but we begin with a bellwether stock. FedEx had what they called an unprecedented holiday shipping season. Third quarter profits and revenue were higher than expected, and shares of FedEx were up 7% on Friday. Ron, it wasn’t just a great quarter, the guidance from Fred Smith was pretty positive as well.

Ron Gross: Strong report with increased margins, really, being the highlight here. Shares are up 214% from the March lows. It’s going to be really interesting because we’re starting the anniversary of the lows of March 2019, the COVID lows. It’s going to be really interesting to compare how companies have rebounded versus the lows, as well as where they were pre-COVID, but this is a really strong report. Revenue up 23%. Now that’s primarily due to both strong volume growth and higher prices so you get the double whammy there, and the higher prices were across all transportation segments, which is also pretty strong. As I mentioned earlier, operating margins, really the story here, widened significantly and strengthened the ground segment specifically, and that’s thanks to higher prices. 

Growth was partially offset by some costs to support that strong demand, higher labor rates as we’re seeing in a lot of businesses. Now, if you’ll recall, there was some severe winter weather in February down south that reduced operating income by about $350 million, so not inconsequential at all. Nothing you can really do about it. It’s interesting from just an investor analytical perspective to take that into account, adjusted earnings almost tripled. As you said, strong guidance citing “Great momentum coming out of Q3.” Management said e-commerce will grow faster than they projected just six months ago, estimating 101 million packages per day in 2022, with 86% of that coming from e-commerce. Really strong report, still trading only 15, 16 times earnings. Again, it’s not a technology company, so we necessarily shouldn’t expect really high-flying multiples, but that’s not too bad, 15, 16 times for a company that finally has its act together both on the pricing and the cost angle.

Hill: Ron, you mentioned we’re about to come into all of these comps from March of 2020 on. When you hear the guidance from FedEx, it gives me optimism that these great digital sales numbers we’ve been seeing from retailers like Target, Walmart, and others, if FedEx is that optimistic, maybe those retailers should be as well.

Gross: I think it bodes well. You called it a bellwether when we started, and it is specifically from the retail perspective. Listen, online is here to stay, guest stores will open up, and folks will go back in, but there still be a lot of online purchasing with in-store pickup. Online is definitely going to be driving FedEx’s business forever, I would have to say. They’re finally in a good position to capitalize on it.

Hill: Nike’s third quarter was mixed. Digital sales were strong but Nike had supply chain issues as well as store closures. You tell me, Jason, what stood out to you, whether it was the third quarter, or anything they said in terms of guidance?

Jason Moser: I think you used the right word there in mixed. All things considered, this business has really done what I think most of us would have expected it to do over the past year. Really almost never missed a beat. The stock has essentially doubled over the past year, but that’s not to say that it has been without challenges. There are some things to keep an eye on in the near-term. If we look at the results from the quarter, digging into that mixed bag, so to speak, sales were basically flat, excluding currency effects. However, sales in China were up 51%, clearly that’s what drove a lot of these results. Nike direct sales were up 16%, but then, when you look over at the North American segment, it pulled a little bit of an Under Armour on us Chris here. I don’t mean that in a good way. North American sales were down actually 11%, but you made the point there in the intro, that was really mainly due to supply chain challenges, there were global container shortages that came into play, U.S. port congestion, so inventory flow was impacted there. Gross margin actually expanded 130 basis points, thanks in part to the pricing the Nike is able to maintain on that quality brand. 

In speaking of tech companies and online, like Ron was talking about, digital business is thriving. The digital business grew 54% on a currency-neutral basis. Thanks really, in most part, but to North America that had its first ever quarter with $1 billion in digital revenue. Now, to put that into context, the ultimate target for management here, they want digital to ultimately account for half of the overall business. Clearly they are not there yet, but they are on the right path. Looking at inventory, inventory was up 15%, that’s a lot, but again, that goes back to a lot of inventory that was actually stuck in transit, so nothing to really hold against them there. Share repurchases will resume now. They put a hold on share repurchases for a while to get through the pandemic. The balance sheet is in wonderful shape, which is about $12.5 billion in cash and equivalents, thanks to a bond raise that they performed last year. All things considered, a strong business, a strong brand, not without its challenges, but again, it’s challenges seem to be more domestic in nature and really don’t seem to be business-related. They seem to be a little bit more greater economy related. I think they’ll be able to weather that storm.

Hill: Shares of Williams-Sonoma up big this week and hitting an all-time high on Friday. After strong fourth quarter results, profits and revenue both came in higher than expected. Ron, we can add Williams-Sonoma to the list of retailers who stepped up their e-commerce game in 2020.

Gross: Absolutely. Out of necessity, but did a wonderful job. Another COVID comparison. Shares up 480% from the March lows, and up 140% from pre-COVID levels. It’s not just a rebound, it’s an actual execution, really strong execution, 26% comp growth overall. Looking across Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, West Elm, all of those up around 25% or 26% from a comp perspective. So growth across all of the segments. E-commerce, comparable brand revenue growth of 48%, with e-commerce penetration holding at about 70% of total net revenues, which is really strong. That will probably come down as we reopen more fully, but that’s a really strong number. Gross margins widened significantly, adjusted EPS up 85%. 

This is a really strong quarter. Then you look at the guidance where management pointed out favorable macro trends including high consumer confidence, a strong housing market, continuing shift to e-commerce, continuing working from home for many of us. They expect 2021’s performance to be pretty much in line with their long-term guidance of mid-to-high single-digit net revenue growth. They did a lot of other things since they have such strength. They increased their dividend 11%. They approved the $1 billion share repurchase program, and they paid back a $300 million term loan. It’s still only trading at 17 times earnings. This is a pretty nice report.

Hill: There’s a bidding war going on for Coherent, a company specializing in equipment to make and measure lasers, and the bidding war is heating up. Back in January, Coherent agreed to be acquired by Lumentum in a deal worth $5.7 billion. Since then, MKS Instruments and II-VI have made competing offers. Lumentum has responded, and the last time I checked, Jason, the top bid is now $7 billion. By the time this airs and people are listening to it, there might be another bid even higher than that. What does this company do? I’ve never seen a bidding war like this.

Moser: Chris, everybody wants stuff that makes them measure lasers. Come on, that seems pretty cut and dry. I don’t know what we’re questioning here. In all seriousness, I do. I thought we might have seen the end of things with the most recent Lumentum offer, but apparently now II-VI said they wanted a little bit more. Coherent has until 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Monday, March 22nd of this year to come up with a counter offer. Why is all of this happening? I think the reason for this back and forth, I think the reason why it continues, it’s less about coveting Coherent’s actual business, it’s more about coveting what these companies can do with Coherent’s technology to ultimately bolster and grow their own businesses. It’s very complementary technology for what these companies do as they look to gain more share in that photonics and laser market. If you check the call from the very first offer Lumentum made for Coherent, Lumentum made it and said, “Listen, we’re a leader in multiple growing market segments that benefit from the capabilities of photonics.” 

They really are looking to this acquisition as a way to help bolster that capability. It makes sense and II-VI sees it from very much the same perspective. Here’s where we stand on the offers. Right now, II-VI has an offer in there that consists of $220 per share in cash, and around $61 for the II-VI share that Coherent shareholders would get. Now, that compares to a Lumentum deal which has the same cash component, $220, but it’s about $52 for the Lumentum share. There’s a little bit of a difference there. It is true that II-VI’s offer is better. It is slightly better, and because it’s slightly better on the equity side, it wouldn’t shock me at all to see Lumentum come in with a counter offer. Again, we’ll probably see something either this weekend or Monday, but regardless, it really does seem like these are businesses, they covet that technology, because Coherent, on its own, it’s a decent business. It’s not a business that makes you say, “Wow,” but I think it’s really more about what these companies can do with that technology. From that perspective, I guess I do understand the bidding war here.

Hill: Five Below wrapped up its fiscal year with a strong fourth quarter report. Profits and revenue were higher than expected, and same store sales up 14%. Ron, this really was a great 12 months for Five Below as a business and a stock.

Gross: Absolutely. Another COVID comparison. Shares are up 300% from those March 2019 lows. Again, not just a rebound, but strong execution of the business, including opening new stores and a new concept that we can discuss in a moment. As you said, comp sales up 14%, net sales up 25%, net income up 12%. Again, this isn’t a high-flying company, this is a discount retailer. They are putting up very strong numbers. They opened two new stores in the quarter, ending with 1,020 stores in total in 38 states. That represents an increase of 13% from the end of the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019. Obviously, the way retailers grow earnings is by opening new stores, as well as increasing their comparable same-store sales growth. They are doing both. Now, they plan to open 170-180 new stores in their Five Beyond prototype. As the name suggests, that will offer merchandise above that $5 price tag but still at a discounted price, that’s a pretty crowded market. I’m not sure of the wisdom of that. Their growth plans are pretty aggressive, in my opinion. We will wait, and we will watch, but guidance for Q1 was pretty solid. They approved a share repurchase program of $100 million, but anywhere near cheap at 44 times forward earnings for a discount retailer.

Hill: Shares of Lennar up 8% this week. First quarter revenue came in higher than expected for the homebuilder. Lennar’s guidance, Jason, indicates that they don’t think the housing market is cooling off anytime soon.

Moser: No, not at all. I don’t own shares in any homebuilders, but if I were looking to add shares, the homebuilder in my portfolio, this really would be the first one I would look at. It’s the largest homebuilder in the U.S. by revenue. To your point, they look at what continues to be a very strong housing market. There’s tremendous tailwind really for the rest of the year here. If you go all the way back even in September of 2020, the language regarding the housing market, even then, they were really, really optimistic about the way things were shaking out. Interest rates remain low. They noted, even in spite of a rising uptake in interest rates, ever so slight one, the housing market remains very strong. You’ve got just this confluence of events here where low interest rates. You’ve got maybe what appeared to be some strong personal savings rates. We’ll see how long that lasts. 

That’s obviously a little bit situational, but stimulus clearly that’s going through now in household formation, which continues, that drives a lot of demand in the space. Right now, we are seeing a shortage of housing, which plays into Lennar’s favor. When you look at the numbers, earnings are up 60%, that excludes a one time gain from an investment, but revenue’s up 18%, delivery’s up 19%, new orders up 26%. All of the numbers tell you that what they do is in very high demand, and it looks slated to continue with a backlog up 25%. As they continue to do a very good job of keeping costs down, that makes this to my mind of one of the more attractive opportunities in the homebuilders space. As long as investors are looking toward that space, you can really embrace that long term mentality because it is one of those stocks. It’s going to add to their flow with economic cycles.

Hill: This week, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced the company’s theme parks in California will reopen at the end of April. They will operate at 15% capacity to start but Ron, there is one more sign of growing confidence from the business community as more Americans are vaccinated.

Gross: Yeah, this is a really big deal for Disney, because parks and consumer products represent about 38% of revenue pre-COVID. It is not inconsequential that these have been shutdown for quite some time. It’s nice to see them open, as you said, at 15% capacity to start. The Disneyland resort hotels will open in phases. The highlight of the story for me is that 10,000 Disneyland employees will be recalled to work. That’s a wonderful thing to see. I think that’s a really great news. Shares have already rebounded on anticipation. Investors playing this reopening of our economy play but I still think this is a wonderful company long term. You’ve got obviously Disney+ as the growth engine. With the resorts coming back online, I think things will firm up nicely.

Hill: We’re just a couple of weeks away from Easter. An important holiday for the chocolate industry. Yet one of the leaders in that industry is launching a limited run product with no chocolate whatsoever. Hershey’s announced it will be selling a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup with no chocolate. The chocolate is being replaced by peanut butter candy flavored shells. Jason, they’re calling it the ultimate peanut butter lovers cup. What are you calling it?

Moser: Chris, much like Gary Dell’abate’s early call on the iPad, I feel like this is a bit of a stumble. Perhaps history will prove my call to be a little bit more on target. I like to at the very least keep an open mind. That said, I think somewhere right now, chocolate is angry, Chris, and it’s planning for it’s revenge. There are certain things that just don’t work without the other. Beavis doesn’t work without Butt-head. Phineas, he doesn’t work without Ferb. Sometimes you can get away with it with something like an all berry cereal, but even then you really know you’re missing out on the support that Captain Crunch gives those crunch berries. So to me, listen, I’m as big of a peanut butter fan as anybody. When I’m looking for that true peanut butter experience, I’m stacking that kitchen spoon all the way to the bottom of the Jif jar. I’m not going out to the store and buying it all peanut butter Reeses.

Gross: Can somebody tell me, is this a limited release around Easter, or is this hopefully they want it to be a permanent product?

Hill: They are starting out as a limited run product. It’s just going to be starting in early April, but I think like all companies with all limited run products, if it’s a surprise hit, then maybe it becomes permanent, or maybe it becomes their version of the McRib. Then every April, they just roll this atrocity out there but I don’t know who’s asking for this.

Gross: I agree with Jason, but the peanut shell is intriguing to me.

Hill: Chances are you’ve got a retirement account, maybe even a few. At some point, the state and federal governments are going to want some of the money you’ve got in those accounts. If you want to keep more of it for yourself, you might want to listen to Ed Slott. He’s one of the leading retirement experts in America. He’s written several books, including his latest, The New Retirement Savings Time Bomb. He recently talked with the Motley Fool’s Retirement Expert, Robert Brokamp, about traditional retirement accounts, the benefits of Roth IRA, and the new threats to your retirement savings.

Ed Slott: The ticking tax time bomb, say that three times fast, ticking tax time bomb is the tax building up in what may be your largest single account, your largest single asset for many people, larger than the value of their homes, your IRA and 401(k), it’s a big bag of tax. You won’t find that out. Some people know it, and bury their heads, but when do you realize it? At the worst possible time. When you reach to get yours in retirement, and you find out, “Wait a minute, who is this guy Uncle Sam?” I thought this was my account. It’s a big problem because that’s the worst time to get hit with the tax bill, just when the paycheck stopped, you’re the most vulnerable, and who knows what future tax rates could be. So your retirement savings are at high risk. That’s what I call the Ticking Tax Time Bomb. It’s going to go off the minute you need it the most. I propose a bunch of things you can do now, basically my five-step plan in the book, to move your money from accounts that are, well, I like to say, forever tax to never tax, because I love tax free. That means you keep all your money, no partners, no co-owners.

Robert Brokamp: When you’re talking about tax-free accounts, people think of the Roth. You’re a big fan of the Roth, have been for many, many years. Many people will follow the rule of thumb that says, “Well, if I’m going to be in a lower tax bracket in retirement, I should stick with […]. Is that still a good rule of thumb?

Slott: No. In theory it is, but in practicality and reality, almost nobody that has saved any kind of money for retirement is going to be in a lower bracket in retirement. For years, I’ve had clients tell me this. I’ve been doing taxes for over 40 years, I don’t do them anymore, but people used to be amazed. I would have retirees come in and they say, “How can it be? I have more income now than when I was working?” It’s called RMDs, Required Minimum Distributions, and if you do nothing, and you built up a healthy retirement account, guess what? The mandatory distributions from those accounts can exceed what was your income from working. Not only that, I worry about what future tax rates might be, given our level of deficits and debts, so even a low bracket, even if you say, “Well, I’ll be in the lower bracket in retirement,” who knows what the lower bracket is? 

There’s another more devious item there, and this involves married couples. Married couples might say, “Well, we’ll be in a lower bracket in retirement, neither of us will be working.” With most married couples, I am going to go out and make a bold prediction: one of them will die first. When that first spouse dies, and most people leave everything to their husband or wife, the surviving spouse. Let’s say the husband dies first. The wife inherits everything he had. Now, she has everything they had together. Her income is roughly the same income they had together, other than maybe some adjustments for social security, except now her rate goes through the roof. Now, she’s in a much higher bracket because she’s filing at single rates. She doesn’t get the married joint rates, that’s what I’d call the widow’s penalty. Most people don’t look beyond that. You’ll have to look to the end of when this money will actually be taxed. 

Here’s the thing I love about the law. Let’s say I’m wrong about everything, and you’re right, I’m a big Roth fan because I love tax-free. I like to get rid of the problem. This is why I love root canals. Why? It gets rid of the problem. I take the pain upfront, never have to worry about cavities or anything else. Now, I just found out that root canals can go bad, and you have to do them again, but maybe a bad example. This is why I love Roth IRAs. Let’s say I’m wrong about everything, and tax rates don’t go up. Maybe they even go down, I doubt. Here’s what I love about the Roth or any financial decision. Before you make any financial decision or any decision in anything, you always want to look to the worst case scenario. What if I am wrong about everything? The worst case scenario, if you convert to a Roth, you’ve locked in a 0% tax rate for the rest of your life, and even after the new SECURE Act eliminated the stretch IRA, you can still go out another 10 years for your children and grandchildren, all growing tax-free, you keep every cent. Locking in a 0% rate now guarantees it’s not a bad consolation prize. You can’t beat a 0% rate. What? Do you want them to pay you? That’s the worst case scenario, which is why I love Roth. I never have to worry about what the uncertainty of future higher taxes can do to a person’s standard of living in retirement. Who wants that hanging over your head when you have the ability now to make your tax rate zero if you want to?

Brokamp: Just to drive home a point you alluded to previously, one of the other benefits of the Roth is you don’t have the requirement of distributions, if you don’t need the money, you can just let it grow and grow.

Slott: Actually, money grows the fastest because it’s never eroded by current or future taxes. You’ll accumulate more. Imagine, in the last few years people have these big stock gains, if that’s in your IRA, as you said, you have a co-owner, you have a joint owner. If it grows in your Roth, you are the only owner. You keep 100%. That’s what real accumulation is.

Brokamp: I’m going to ask you a question. I know it’s one of the most common questions you get asked, but I know everyone is curious about it. What about the people that say, “Yes, that’s the current rule for the Roth –“

Slott: I love that question.

Brokamp: What if the government changes its mind in the future and decides to apply tax to it?

Slott: That is the No. 1 question I get in seminars. Back in the day, I used to go out and do seminars. I would get on something called an airplane, go to an airport, and go into these big buildings called hotels. They were all over the country, and people went there. It was back in the golden age, now we’re doing this virtual thing. Every time I did, one of these programs that I would talk about excitedly about the Roth, tax spray, and keeping more of your money, somebody would always get up and ask a question you asked, but not as nice as you asked it. They would say, “Yeah, but can you trust the government?” I’m making it nicer than they said it. “Can you trust the government to keep its word that Roth IRAs will always be tax-free, that they won’t change the laws?” My answer is, and I say it in my book, “Of course not, you can’t trust these guys as far as you can throw them.” 

There’s an old CPA tax advisor saying, “Tax laws are written in pencil.” They can always change them. That’s why you want to take advantage of today’s Roth bottom bargain basement low rates now. These are the lowest rates you will ever see in your lifetime. Take advantage, it’s here now. Could Congress change the rules? They could, but highly unlikely. Anyway, they would probably grandfather anybody that already paid the tax. Here’s why my theory is they won’t touch the Roth IRA, because the people in Congress are the worst financial planners on earth. Look at our national deficits. If any financial planner did that, they’d be thrown from a building, but here’s why they’re such poor planners, they only look short term. See that’s the secret for the Roth. Don’t look short term. There’s money due now. Look at the long-term big picture. For example, let’s say I was the Accountant for the Congress. You remember that movie years ago, Dave, where he became the president, and he was like a look alike for the President?

Brokamp: Yes, I remember.

Slott: He brought his accountant in to talk to the President. He took a sheet of paper, and he fixed the whole budget deficit. Remember that scene?

Brokamp: Yes.

Slott: All right. If I was that guy coming in, I would tell the Congress and the President sitting around, I’d say, “You got to get rid of this.” If I was advocating for the government for bringing in revenue, I would tell, “You got to get rid of this Roth IRA.” Sure people pay tax upfront, but if everybody did this, you’d have a whole country of tax-free millionaires with their work. They’d never paid taxes again.” You know what they would say to me? “Well, we don’t care about them. We only care about the first two year budget cycle. The way we look at it, the Roth IRA is bringing money upfront. That’s all we care about.” Luckily, they’re such short term thinkers and horrible planners. They use the Roth IRA to fill budget gaps. If you look at the last few tax laws, if you go in the back after the first thousand pages, they have to say how they’re paying for everything. That’s where you always see the Roth provisions, where they expand use. They want more people to do the Roth because it gives them money upfront. In fact, in the last few administrations, I haven’t heard it in my latest round. Do you remember Congress and the budget agendas coming out with the term “rothification?” Do you remember seeing that in the last five years?

Brokamp: Yes.

Slott: You know what that was? They wanted everyone to go Roth because they wanted the money upfront, not realizing they get nothing later. That’s a horrible deal for the government, but a great deal for us because they’re such lousy planners. I don’t think they’re going to kill the golden goose that brings them all their money upfront.

Hill: Guys, a bit of sad news this week. On Thursday, Texas Roadhouse (NASDAQ: TXRH) announced that Founder and CEO Kent Taylor passed away, at the age of 65. Taylor started Texas Roadhouse in 1993. Today the restaurant chain has more than 600 locations in the U.S. and abroad. We had the pleasure of having Kent Taylor as a guest at one of our events in 2017. Our colleague, Bill Mann, interviewed him on stage in front of an audience of more than 500 people. One of the things Bill asked him was about the growing trend of automation in the restaurant industry. Kent Taylor talked about how he saw the people working at his restaurants as a genuine asset. Dan Boyd, can we run that clip?

[…]

Kent Taylor: When I have three table stations and they can spend more time, our table turns are actually much quicker than our competitors. The reality is I can get more dollars or more cents per minute as we look at it off the table. If you have busters ready to turn the table, tables might sit empty a minute versus when you have less labor, your table might sit empty for five minutes, where you’re not making any money on that table sitting empty for five minutes. I really look at it as how we’re churning table turns. We don’t really promote desserts because I don’t want somebody sitting there for 20 minutes, spending $5 on a desert. I want them to get the hell out. 

[…]

Hill: Guys, I loved that clip for a couple of reasons. Obviously, Kent Taylor’s sense of humor comes out at the end there but it does make good business sense. It’s part of what made him so great at running and growing that business, but also Ron, in the face of growing questions, like all CEOs, every quarter he’s dealing with questions from Wall Street analysts, and he would get those questions from time to time about essentially, do you need to employ so many people at your restaurants? Why can’t you automate some of the stuff? Taylor looked at a restaurant much more as a relationship that you have with your customers, and he wants not just friendly people working there on the wait staff team, but also he knew the economic impact of being able to turn over a table quickly.

Gross: Great guy and a great CEO. It reminds me a lot of conscious capitalism where you’re worried about all your stakeholders, including your employees and your customers. Not just the pesky analysts or the investors out there who are trying to or hoping that your share price will go up. I think he struck the nice balance being a strong businessman and a strong human being.

Hill: Guys, we will get to the stocks on our radar in just a second, but for the dozens of listeners who are listening, if you’re looking for even more stock ideas and recommendations, you can check out our flagship service Stock Advisor. You get stock recommendations from Tom and David Gardner. You get their best buys now and a lot more. Get a 50% discount off of Stock Advisor, just for being one of the dozens. Go to radarstocks.fool.com. All right, let’s get to the stocks on your radar. Jason Moser, you’re up first. Our man behind the glass, Dan Boyd, is going to hit you with a question, what are you looking at this week?

Moser: Sure thing, been digging more into Teradyne (NASDAQ: TER), ticker T-E-R. Dan, if you’re looking for a 5G investment, which I think, hey listen everybody out there is looking for a 5G investment these days. Teradyne, this is a company that is playing an important role in the roll-out of 5G infrastructure and technology. The company itself designs and builds equipment that helps its users test new electronics reliability and performance. There’s a very good chance that all of that tech you have with you right now has been tested with Teradyne equipment at some point or another. They actually also make robotic systems and other tools for industrial task automation, but primarily this is really a 5G play in the sense of semiconductor testing. Stock is up close to 150% over the last year. I think that’s really just the beginning management mentioned in the most recent call that in 2020 they saw the beginning of meaningful 5G silicon content. As we roll through ’21, as we see the semiconductor shortage, start to ease up, as we see 5G really start to roll-out, Teradyne is going to witness some real tailwinds that I think should keep this winner winning.

Hill: Dan, question about Teradyne?

Dan Boyd: Yeah, Chris. Jason, thank you so much for explaining what this company does because I had no idea. I was reading about it, and my eyes would glaze over and slide past the words on the page, just seems like a very, very boring company.

Moser: It is. I couldn’t agree with you more and really that’s the beauty of it. It is one of the more boring ideas out there but when you dig into the numbers, it really is a very impressive performer.

Hill: Real quick, Jason, the semiconductor shortage is getting a lot of oxygen. Is that warranted or are some companies out there using it as an excuse?

Moser: No, it’s definitely warranted. We’ve seen a lot of reasons for the calls. There are no companies out there that are immune. This is something that’s real, but it is something that should ease up here in the back half of the year.

Hill: All right. Ron Gross, what are you looking at this week?

Gross: Dan, you want boring? I got boring. For those longtime listeners, I’m putting Titan International (NYSE: TWI), TWI, back on my radar. Truth be told, it never left my radar. I’ve owned this company for a long time, and it’s pretty much been a dud until recently. Titan makes wheels and tires for industrial applications, and shares are up almost 500% over the last year. Latest quarter showed some real promise. Net sales volume up 20%, sales up 15% on a constant-currency basis. They made money, Dan. They made $2.7 million, which may not sound like a lot, but positive is positive. Balance sheet has firmed up. The CEO says confidence of U.S. farmers is at record levels. Tailwinds from strong commodity prices, healthy government payments received this year bode well. Dealers are hungry for inventory as channels have been depleted, to the lowest levels in the past 20 years. This company still only has a market cap of $640 million. This could be a good one for this current environment that we’re in right now.

Hill: Dan, question about Titan International?

Boyd: Wow, the old economy run back at it again. Tyre company founded in 1890 is your radar stock. Unbelievable. The 500% is compelling. I will not lie, but man, Ron, this is right in your wheelhouse?

Gross: It’s only fair to mention that it’s up 500% because it was down in the doghouse. Said it was almost left for dead. So not only has it rebound, but it’s rebounded significantly. Things I think do bode well for the next, call it 12-24 months as folks replenish that depleted inventory.

Hill: What do you want to add to your watch list Dan?

Boyd: As the resident millennial, Chris, I’m going to have to go with Teradyne, because I see a little bit more future in 5G than perhaps tire manufacturing.

Moser: There you go.

Hill: Ron Gross, Jason Moser, thanks for being here guys.

Moser: Thanks.

Gross: Thank you.

Hill: That’s going to do it for this week’s edition of Motley Fool Money. The show is mixed by Dan Boyd. Our producer’s Mac Greer. I am Chris Hill. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next week!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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