The strong rally we saw at the start of the year has cooled off, and while the markets are currently looking for direction some stocks continue to trade higher to new 52-week or all-time highs.
As the earnings season comes to an end, and a trade deal between the U.S. and China seems more likely, the market will likely continue to look for direction over the next month or so until earnings pick back up again.
While the broader market continues to look for direction, stocks that have maintained their upward momentum as the overall market cooled look very attractive. A lot of stocks enjoyed strong gains at the start of the year simply in sympathy to overall market gains, but the ones that continue to hit new highs are being driven by true investor confidence.
Here are four stocks that hit new all-time highs in today’s action.
Ecolab (ECL) hit a new all-time high in today’s trading of $171.98. With the exception of some selling pressure during the market correction in December, ECL has enjoyed steady gains over the last three years. The company has shown solid earnings growth of 7 percent per annum over the last five years and analysts see even more growth in the future with forecast annual growth of 13.3 percent over the next five years. The company most recently reported earnings February 19 with earnings and revenue in-line with the consensus. The stock is priced for perfection with a forward P/E of 25.7, so any sign of weakness will lead to profit taking, and the company must deliver earnings that are at least in-line with estimates moving forward for the stock to maintain its momentum. Analysts have an average price target of $166.36 on the stock.
Yum! Brands (YUM)
Yum! Brands (YUM) is the parent company behind restaurant chains Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC. The company struggled to grow earnings in recent years, but looking ahead analysts expect to see profits rise at an annual rate of 15.8% over the next five years. The stock hit an all-time high today at $96.73, but shares are still reasonably priced at just 20 times earnings. The company reported mixed Q4 numbers in February, with better than expected earnings and slightly weaker than expected sales. The market overlooked the small revenue miss ($1.56 billion versus the $1.59 billion consensus) and pushed the stock higher. Analysts have an average price target of $95.29 on the stock.
American Tower (AMT)
American Tower (AMT) is one of the world’s largest REITs with a portfolio of over 170,000 communication sites, and the company has operations in 16 countries. The stock hit a new all-time high of $182.28 in today’s action. AMT has traded strongly higher over the last two years, but at this time its valuation could put a ceiling on the stock. AMT trades at 65 times earnings and 44 times future earnings. The valuation is high, but part of the reason for the stock’s high valuation is its strong historical and expected growth. The company has grown profits by 16 percent per annum over the last five years, and looking ahead analysts forecast average annual earnings growth of 19.6% for the next five years. The 16 analysts who cover the stock have an average price target of $174.73.
Planet Fitness (PLNT)
Planet Fitness (PLNT) set a new all-time high in today’s action at $64.50. The stock was already in a strong upward trend before its February 28 earnings report which topped estimates on both the top and bottom line and sent the stock even higher. With the recent run up in the stock, PLNT is currently trading at 63 times earnings and 34 times future earnings, so shares are definitely priced for perfection at this point and the company will need to continue posting strong numbers for the stock to build on its recent gains. Analysts expect to see earnings growth 24 percent per annum over the next five years and have an average price target of $60.50 on the stock.