5 Stocks Any New Parent Should Own [Amazon.com, Inc., Natus Medical Inc, Johnson & Johnson, The Procter & Gamble Company, Children’s Place Retail Stores, Inc.]

fiveChris Preston: As you read this article, I may be rushing my wife to the hospital for the birth of our first child.

We (i.e. she) is due on April 5, just two days from now. I’m expecting to get “the call” at any minute. I’m filled with so much anticipation/excitement/anxiety that I’m about ready to burst.

The only thing that has kept me – and, more importantly, my wife – sane over the past few weeks is getting the house ready for the baby. My last five or six weekends have been spent putting together the crib, putting together the changing table, decorating the nursery, installing the car seat – basically anything to keep my mind occupied.

Oh, and shopping … lots and lots of shopping. It’s amazing how much it costs to bring a tiny little seven- or eight-pound person into your home. I’m sure it will be worth every penny. But it sure ain’t cheap.

And that got me thinking…

Given the astronomical costs of Baby, Inc. – second only to the even more outrageous costs of Wedding, Inc. – the companies that sell us expecting mothers and fathers all this stuff must be making a killing. And with the population expanding and consumers willing to spend now that the threat of a double-dip recession is safely behind us, those companies must be raking it in like never before.

Some of them may even make for good investments.

So, with baby on the mind, I went looking for “baby stocks” – the public companies that sell us all those car seats, cribs and changing tables. I found five baby stocks that look potentially appealing.

Baby Stock #1: Natus Medical (NASDAQ:BABY)

The maker of birth center equipment with the easy-to-remember ticker symbol has been on a tear of late.

BABY shares have risen 98.5% in the last year and 124% in the last two years. The reason is simple: Natus Medical’s earnings per share have risen from -$0.39 in 2011 to a record +$0.74 last year. One reason for the financial windfall is that more and more hospitals are buying Natus Medical’s equipment to enhance their treatment facilities.

And it doesn’t look like the company’s sales will be slowing down anytime soon. Analysts are expecting Natus Medical’s EPS to increase by another 61% this year.

Baby Stock #2: The Children’s Place (NASDAQ:PLCE)

A specialty retail company that sells apparel for children ages newborn to 10 years old, The Children’s Place hasn’t performed as well as Natus Medical of late. Sales and EPS have dipped in the last year, limiting the stock to a very modest 10% gain.

However, the company did initiate a dividend last month, and the stock trades at less than 15 times forward earnings.  With earnings per share expected to improve dramatically this year, The Children’s Place looks like a decent value buy.

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