The S&P 500 (^GSPC 1.91%) is off to a promising start so far in November. The broad-market index rose for eight consecutive trading days earlier this month. And although that impressive streak ended on Thursday, more gains have followed.
Inflation appears to be moderating. The Federal Reserve may be done hiking interest rates. And despite a host of challenges, the economy is still on relatively solid ground. Meanwhile, artificial intelligence (AI) and other exciting technologies promise to bolster economic growth via productivity and efficiency gains.
Against this bullish backdrop, profit opportunities abound. Here are two low-risk stocks that are particularly well-positioned to deliver sizable profits to their investors as the stock market heats up.
1. Chipotle Mexican Grill
Proven wealth creators are smart buys in any market environment. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG 0.72%) is one such company. The popular restaurant chain is having another great year. Chipotle’s shares are up about 55% so far in 2023.
But you haven’t missed your profit opportunity yet. This fantastic growth story is still in its middle chapters.
Chipotle has a simple formula for success: delicious food made from fresh, high-quality ingredients, prepared to your specifications and served fast. It’s a strategy that’s helped the company grow from a single restaurant in Denver in 1993 to over 3,300 locations today. This same formula, with a few tweaks, should propel Chipotle toward its goal of operating at least 7,000 restaurants across North America.
In addition to increasing its store count, Chipotle has a demonstrated ability to increase sales at existing locations. Comparable restaurant sales rose by 5% in the third quarter. Menu price increases, which have helped to preserve Chipotle’s industry-leading profit margins amid inflationary pressures, contributed to the gains.
Chipotle’s tech-focused approach should drive its margins even higher in the coming years. The company is testing AI-powered, guacamole-making robots, as well as other automation technologies that could make its food prep operations more efficient and slash its labor costs.
Additionally, the burrito baron’s popular Chipotlanes have it well positioned to benefit from the trend toward mobile dining. The increasingly automated drive-throughs should allow Chipotle to serve more guests and boost sales at its already highly profitable restaurants.
2. Costco Wholesale
Like Chipotle, Costco Wholesale (COST 2.17%) has a simple — yet not easily replicated — strategy for success: The discount warehouse chain sells quality merchandise at rock-bottom prices. It’s a strategy that should continue to appeal to shoppers of nearly all income levels, particularly as this recent bout of elevated inflation drives more people to seek bargains.
Costco creates a treasure hunt-type experience by constantly modifying its store offerings. Doing so drives its customers to frequent its stores.
Costco’s members also have a strong financial incentive to maximize the return on their investment. Once they pay their annual membership fee, they’re motivated to increase their savings by buying from Costco — and benefiting from its low prices — as often as possible.
By deriving a sizable portion of its profit from membership fees, Costco can charge prices that its rivals find difficult to match. That entices more people to become members, which leads to higher profit for Costco, which leads to lower prices on more goods. This creates a positive cycle for Costco’s customers — and a formidable competitive advantage for the retail giant.
For these reasons, Costco tends to perform well across economic environments. When times are good and people are spending more, Costco tends to sell more big-ticket items. And when times are tough, the discounter tends to gain market share as shoppers seek cost savings.
This strong all-weather performance makes Costco a solid buy today — and a great long-term investment.
Joe Tenebruso has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Chipotle Mexican Grill and Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.