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Navigating Market Volatility: The Rise of GARP Stock Investments


Benjamin Hughes

June 3, 2024 - 10:21 am


Harnessing the Power of GARP Stocks Amidst Market Volatility

As the dance between market uncertainty and a robust economy ensues, investors find themselves at a crossroads, seeking strategic investments that promise sustainability and growth. With an air of rate policy ambiguity looming, the stock market's recent triumphs reflect a renewed investor focus on stocks that yield growth at a reasonable price (GARP). Jefferies, the renowned financial advisory firm, has illuminated this investment route, terming it as the ultimate in strategizing a winning portfolio.

A May Market Milestone: Indices Soaring to Unprecedented Heights

The stock market's strong performance this May highlights the financial landscape's current vibrancy, with the major stock index benchmarks achieving unprecedented milestones. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a barometer of stock market strength, surpassed a landmark 40,000 points. In tandem, the technology-centric Nasdaq Composite Index broke the 17,000-point ceiling for the first time, setting the stage for a potentially lucrative investment climate.

The Striking Balance: Understanding GARP Investing

Jefferies advocates for a GARP-centric investment strategy, a fusion of growth and value investing principles. This approach bears the potential for sustained returns in the face of a market that alternates between growth impulses and value consolidation, based on shifting expectations about interest rate cuts. Desh Peramunetilleke, Jefferies' global head of quantitative strategy, extols the virtues of the GARP method. Peramunetilleke underscores that a dichotomy exists where peaking rates bolster growth stocks and solid economic data buttresses value stocks. Investors are guided to walk a middle path, exploiting stocks that are not only valued optimally but also come with robust earnings backing.

Pinpointing the GARP Champions: Criteria for Selection

The list of U.S. stocks that align with the GARP concept is a curated selection. To identify these jewels, stocks must satisfy rigorous criteria, as detailed by Jefferies. First, the company must be U.S.-based with a market valuation north of $2 billion. Additionally, the firm's valuation on GARP-centric metrics must indicate a price/earnings-to-growth (PEG) ratio below a threshold of 1.5 times—though the firm occasionally makes exceptions. Thriving earnings growth over a two-year horizon is crucial, with expectations of at least a 10% annual growth rate in earnings per share between 2024 and 2025. This earnings trajectory must also be mirrored in past performance, where a positive earnings trend is discernible over the preceding two years. Furthermore, these stocks must also exhibit earnings revisions with a positive tilt over a three-month period.

The Pioneers of GARP: Stocks Defining the Strategy

Several companies have emerged as exemplars of the GARP paradigm. Netflix, the streaming colossus, represents a key player, with its stock surging nearly 32% within the year. Its PEG ratio of 0.9 signifies a value proposition for GARP adherents. Analysts from Morgan Stanley and Evercore ISI have reinforced their recommendations for Netflix with "outperform" ratings, citing the company's sustained subscriber growth and revenue robustness as indicators of its enduring market viability.

Nvidia, the semiconductor maven, similarly embodies the GARP archetype. The company brandishes a modest PEG ratio of 0.6, signaling an enticing valuation. Nvidia has taken the helm in leading this market rally, with an impressive leap exceeding 120% in 2024. Notably, the month of May witnessed an exceptional 27% boost in Nvidia's stock price, driven by a sound fiscal first-quarter performance that surpassed earnings and revenue expectations. Daiwa analyst Louis Miscioscia raised the price target on Nvidia to $1,325, up from $900, implicating an upward potential exceeding 20%. Miscioscia's commendation rests on Nvidia's comprehensive solutions that align seamlessly with the demands of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Meanwhile, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch stands out with an attractive PEG ratio of 1.2. Following the company's announcement of its most profitable first quarter to date, Abercrombie's shares surged by 24% on a single Wednesday. The narrative of success is adorned with a 22% year-on-year sales increase and profits multiplying sevenfold from the comparable period. Abercrombie's streak continues through 2024, with shares amassing a 95% increase. CEO Fran Horowitz attributed this achievement to successful merchandise transitions, marketing efficacy, and disciplined inventory control leading to surpassing sales forecasts.

Broadening the Horizon: Looking Beyond Netflix and Nvidia

The GARP stock mosaic extends into other sectors, with Pinterest, Progressive, and Texas Roadhouse also making the cut. These diversified offerings underscore the potential for investors to craft a balanced and dynamic portfolio, tailored to withstand market fluctuations and to optimize earnings prospects.

The Final Word: Strategizing Long-term Growth

Long-term investors are encouraged to look beyond the immediate allure of deep-value cyclicals and exceedingly pricey growth stocks. By aiming for a sustainable edge in the market, a judicious blend of valuation and earnings solidity lies in stocks that exemplify the principles of GARP. As the market persists in its vacillation, the growth-at-a-reasonable-price strategy emerges as the beacon for discerning investors, endeavoring to bridge the gap between transient gains and enduring value.

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