This time of year it would be easy for investors to start feeling rosier about retail stocks. After all, holiday sales are the best time of year for the stocks and it would be dangerously easy to think these shares might have turned the corner because of better holiday sales. However, the key to choosing these names is to understand “bifurcation”, according to Cowen research. That bifurcation is that broadline retailers like Target and Walmart are doing well, while apparel-driven retailers like Kohl’s, Gap, and Macy’s are not. For example, Target and Walmart are up 88% and 27% respectively this year while Macy’s and Gap are down 49% and 33% respectively.
FINSUM: Momentum seems like a friend in the the retail space. We expect this bifurcation to keep going, especially as consumer purse strings are likely to be tighter this holiday season.
The likelihood of a recession is growing. Weak manufacturing data this week accompanied by poor jobs data this morning is once again driving fears that the economy may be headed for a downturn. Accordingly, Goldman has put out a recommendation for the best stocks to hold for the forthcoming recession. According to the bank, stable growth stocks fare best in an environment of slowing growth and rising uncertainty. As a reminder, stable growth stocks are those on the less risky end of the growth curve, a group which has been underperforming fast-growing stocks by a considerable margin. Some names to look at include Fiserv, Autozone, Amdocs, Omnicom, Johnson & Johnson, and Walmart.
FINSUM: We quite like Autozone and Walmart for their consumer-staple characteristics and unique abilities to hold up well in a recession.
Walmart did something a lot of conservatives may not like this week—they announced that they would stop selling ammunition for assault weapons. Despite the political turbulence it may cause for the company, it could have a bullish effect on the stock in the long run. The reason why might not be obvious at first glance, but immediately becomes so once you hear it—the ban on assault weapons ammunition will give the company a higher ESG score, which means it may be included in more funds by default, and thus see increased buying.
FINSUM: Whatever your politics on this move, from an investment perspective this could be bullish.
A year ago, the FAANGs were flying high. In the previous twelve months they had risen 52% against the market’s 13% growth. The group of tech stocks has since suffered, underperforming the S&P 500 in the last year. In fact, a group of very conservative stocks have been leading the way. Call them the “WPPCK” (not as catchy, we know), which is comprised of Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, Costco, and Coca-Cola. This group has risen 27.1% in the last year versus the S&P 500’s 7.2% gain and the FAANGs’ 5.7%.
FINSUM: It is hard to imagine a less flashy group of stocks than these, but they have been strong and steady, which seems like a good formula for this unpredictable market.
Walmart has taken a pounding this year. The stock is down 8.4% even though it has seen solid earnings performance. The reason why? Shares first got beat up early in 2018 when investors worried its digital strategy wasn’t taking hold. Then in the middle of the year worries about margins cropped up. Finally, in November, shares saw losses even though Walmart beat earnings and raised payouts. Interestingly, the shares were a counterpoint to the rest of retail, which saw gains for much of the year.
FINSUM: We think Walmart is a great buy. It has good same store sales momentum and its ecommerce operation is growing rapidly. This seems like a good buying opportunity to us, especially as the brand sells consumer staples, which will hold up even in an economic downturn.