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Vacation Thoughts and Vacation Stocks

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Friday, July 17, 2015
Money and Markets
Vacation Thoughts — and Vacation Stocks
by Mike Larson

Dear ,

Mike Larson

I'm not going to lie. I have vacation on the brain.

My wife and I can't wait to step on board our cruise ship tomorrow with the kids, and enjoy some long-anticipated R&R. My recent "appetizer" trip with the girls to their Grammy's and Grampy's house in North Carolina was a blast, too. Swimming, hiking and whitewater rafting? How can you go wrong?

But just because I'm having vacation thoughts, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about vacation stocks, too! As a matter of fact, there are some surprisingly strong investment gems in the leisure and hospitality space — names that might be worth your while.

Just because I'm having vacation thoughts, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about vacation stocks.

Take a look at the cruise lines, including the one we're taking — Carnival Corp. (CCL, Weiss Ratings: B). It's been on a tear for some time, with gains of around 16% year-to-date.

Things also look good for its main competitor, and the line we typically take, Royal Caribbean (RCL, Weiss Ratings: B). The stock has more than doubled in the past 18 months. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH, Weiss Ratings: B-) has performed very well, too, up 26% this year.

The multiple catalysts: Strong demand, lower energy prices, profit-enhancing renovations, the retirement of old, less-efficient ships, and the introduction of new vessels with enticing new features.

Click image for larger view

How about the airlines? We all know that planes have been flying fuller lately, and that discount tickets are harder to find. That's why one of the airplane leasing firms I recommended in my Safe Money Report as far back as 2013 just delivered fantastic profits of up to 39.9%.

But it's hard to advise jumping in now, in part because airlines are finally competing more aggressively and adding more capacity. Discount carrier Spirit Airlines (SAVE, Weiss Ratings: A-), for one, just warned this week that increased fare competition would crimp profit margins in the back half of the year.

As for the lure of the open road, cheaper gasoline has made it easier for Americans to hit the highway — and boy are they ever! AAA said this Fourth of July was the busiest such holiday in eight years. That strong gasoline demand, coupled with relatively low input prices, has helped the refiners churn out hefty profits and attract scores of investors.

Well-known names like Tesoro (TSO, Weiss Ratings: A-) and Valero Energy (VLO, Weiss Ratings: A) have risen nicely this year as a result. Plus, one of my favorite smaller refiners — which spins off a very hefty dividend to boot — is in the Safe Money portfolio and looking poised for a nice move higher.

Finally, for those of you who prefer a Vegas-style vacation, check out the casino stocks. There's a HUGE dichotomy there between the domestically focused operators and the companies with large international operations in places like Macau.

One of the former, Penn National Gaming (PENN, Weiss Ratings: C-), is up around 40% so far this year, while one of the latter, Wynn Resorts (WYNN, Weiss Ratings: C) is down 29%. The reason? Cheap gas, new casino openings, and strength in the domestic economy are all helping domestic companies like PENN, while weakness in China's economy and other regional gaming restrictions are punishing the likes of WYNN.

Now I'm not saying you should rush out and buy all of these vacation stocks right here, right at this time. But it's clear from their performance that mine isn't the only family out there enjoying the summer travel season.

So do some research, with the assistance of our Weiss Ratings, and see if maybe there is a good match or two for you. I'll be digging into the industry further myself, and could have more for you when I get back.

Until then, bon voyage!


The investment strategy and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of any other editor at Weiss Research or the company as a whole.

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