Stock Market

12 Stocks Near Record Highs Thanks to Bullish Consumer Sentiment

The stock market is off to a solid start of 2024. All the major indices are at or near all-time highs, thanks in large part to bullish sentiment for tech. Artificial intelligence is going to change the world (according to Wall Street and Silicon Valley at least) and that’s led companies like Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) to all hit new all-time highs in the process.

But tech stocks aren’t the only companies marching to new records. Several consumer stocks are also setting fresh milestones this year, powered by bullish consumer sentiment, strong retail sales, diminishing inflation pressures and a still-healthy job market. Adding to the mix? Investors are convinced that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates as soon as March and most certainly by May, a move that could fuel spending even further.

With that in mind, here’s a look at a dozen consumer stocks trading at or near their all-time peaks.

Visa (V) and Mastercard (MA)

Visa (NYSE:V) and Mastercard (NYSE:MA): The credit card and debit card giants are benefiting from the American consumer’s continued willingness to shop until they drop. Both stocks have gained about 20% in the past 12 months and have outperformed the broader market over the past five years, with Visa nearly doubling and Mastercard soaring more than 115%. Visa and Mastercard each have a consistent track record of reporting earnings that have topped Wall Street estimates, and both companies are expected to report double-digit annual profit gains for the foreseeable future.

McDonald’s (MCD), Chipotle (CMG), and Wingstop (WING)

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE:CMG) and Wingstop (NASDAQ:WING): Busy consumers are more than happy to order fast food. And that’s great news for these three popular restaurant chains. The December retail sales report showed that sales at food and drinking spots were up more than 11% from a year ago. Mickey D’s, Chipotle and Wingstop have also boosted their mobile ordering capabilities in the past few years, leading to surging demand from people looking to make the fast-food experience even more convenient.

Uber (UBER)

Uber Technologies (NYSE:UBER): The ride-hailing giant is also increasingly dominating the food delivery business thanks to its Uber Eats subsidiary and acquisition of Postmates in 2020. Its Uber Eats delivers from many top restaurant chains. Profits for the delivery business grew more rapidly than the mobility (ride-hailing) business for Uber in the third quarter. And Uber’s diverse business model seems to be giving it a big leg up on top competitors; Uber’s stock has surged nearly 80% in the past two years while DoorDash (NASDAQ:DASH) and Lyft  (NASDAQ:LYFT) have both fallen.

Costco (COST), Abercrombie (ANF), and Dicks Sporting (DKS)

Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS): People love to shop for gigantic vats of ketchup and other super-sized items at wholesale retail giant Costco. The company  remains one of America’s top retailers, with analysts predicting more than $250 billion in sales this year. And who says that the shopping mall is dead? Trendy clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, which also owns the Hollister and Gilly Hicks chains, is thriving. Sales are expected to rise nearly 15% in 2024. Finally, Dick’s Sporting Goods continues to dominate the market for team apparel and sports equipment. Sales are steadily growing, and analysts have consistently boosted their earnings estimates for this year and 2025.

Marriott (MAR), Hilton (HLT), and IHG (IHG)

Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR), Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT) and InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE:IHG): The Covid-19-induced slowdown in travel seems like ancient history now. People are taking vacations again and going on business trips. That’s great news for the traditional hotel chains. Marriott, Hilton, and Holiday Inn owner IHG are all near record highs despite competition from home sharing giant Airbnb (NASDAQ:ABNB). This trio of lodging stocks are all expected to post average annual earnings increases north of 15% over the next few years. Looks like many consumers still enjoy having room service and getting their beds made.

As of this writing, Paul R. La Monica did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Paul R. La Monica is a veteran financial journalist with nearly 30 years experience (including more than 20 at CNN) covering the stock market and other asset classes, the economy and other corporate and business news.