Five Retail Picks for the Gurus

In his latest column for, Validea CEO John Reese says that the U.S. consumer is continuing to show resilience despite economic fears, and that has helped create some big bargains in retail stocks.

“[Consumers have] been steadily increasing their spending since the Great Recession ended in mid-2009, with real personal consumption expenditures almost 7% off their lows — and significantly above their pre-recession highs,” Reese writes. “Retail and food service sales, meanwhile, are about 24% off their lows, and nearly 9% above their pre-recession highs.” And, he adds, all of that has happened while consumers have been improving their balance sheets. In the third quarter, he says, Americans’ Debt Service Ratio (which looks at debt obligations as a percentage of disposable personal income) was 10.61% — the lowest it has been since the fourth quarter of 1983.

Despite data like that, many investors continue to focus on the doom and gloom predictions about the economy and consumer, Reese says. And that pessimism has created some big-time bargains in the retail sector. He looks at five stocks that get high marks from his “Guru Strategies”, each of which is based on the approach of a different investing great. Among the picks: Handbag maker Coach, which gets strong intrest from his Warren Buffett-inspired model.