Displaying items by tag: covid
Dividend stocks have gotten a whole lot harder to choose this year. It used to be that you could pick a wide selection of stable decent-yielding stocks and hold them for the long haul. However, COVID has disrupted that in many ways, as it has disproportionately weakened some sectors and disrupted many business models. With that in mind, here are three key lessons to remember when choosing dividend stocks in 2020: expect lower payouts, be wary of financing, don’t chase after yields. The first one is simple—many companies have had to cut dividends and many more will. The second is highly related to the first: be wary when companies have to use debt in order to maintain a dividend. In that sense, simply maintaining the dividend is not necessarily a sign of strength. Finally, and most interestingly, is the lesson about not chasing yields. Because yields are so low, dividend stocks are likely to see gains anyway, so it is more important to focus on the sustainability of dividends than chase yields that might collapse.
FINSUM: All of these lessons make a great deal of sense in the current environment. We particularly like the idea that stocks which don’t have the very highest dividends might actually produce the best combined returns.
The market seems to be in a tussle with itself. On the one hand, some investors are feeling bullish on the economic outlook, while many others feel the recovery is losing momentum. The data isn’t helping because it seems to validate both sides. For instance, jobs recovery numbers have been strong (disappointing somewhat today though) and the overall dip in output is not as bad as many expected. Metals prices, like silver and copper, have been rising, a leading indicator of growing economic activity. However, consumers seem to be hurting with real income dropping tangibly because of the end of government stimulus checks.
FINSUM: It increasingly seems like a k-shaped recovery is taking hold on the sector level. Certain areas of business are doing very well, while others like airlines, retail and more are doing poorly. This appears to mirror what is happening in consumer spending, where the upper middle and wealthy are surviving fine, but the middle and lower classes are getting hurt badly.
The better the economy gets, the more banks seem like a good buy. Banks have been rather severely beaten up over the last several months, largely missing on the price recovery of so many other stocks. This is primarily because of two factors—ultra-low interest rates, and the potential for losses on their loan portfolios. However, it is increasingly appearing like loan losses may not be nearly so severe as forecast, and that billions of Dollars set aside to account for such losses may now be released onto earnings over the next couple of quarters.
FINSUM: Two considerations here. Firstly, the idea of loan losses flowing back to the bottom line and causing upside surprises at earnings time sounds great, especially within the longer-term perspective that banks are a good macro bet on the recovery. The downside risk here relates to an article yesterday in BuzzFeed that accused banks (using obtained data on potential fraudulent activity in client accounts) of not following regulations related to money laundering. That could obviously turn into a big mess, but as yet it is unclear if that is a material risk.
The initial winners from the pandemic were sorted out long ago—FAAMG, Zoom etc. Investors are now trying to figure out who the winners will be over the potentially long next stage. The recovery may take several years and the economy is changing right before our eyes, so this is a time of great alpha capture if you can identify the next big trends. With that in mind, here are three stocks to look at: MercadoLibre, Ryan Air, and SAP. The first is like the Alibaba of Latin America. Their market cap is only $60bn versus Alibaba’s $800bn, and Latin America is roughly half the size of China (population-wise), so a $400 bn goal seems reasonable. It almost feels like investing in an early stage Amazon. Ryan Air is a best-of-breed European airline whose operating model and unit costs run circles around the competition. They will likely gain the most as airlines come back. Finally, SAP is a great cloud play. They are relatively new to the cloud game, but grew very quickly through acquisition, so as the market digests their new business line and WFH drives huge cloud growth, they should be in a position to benefit.
FINSUM: These seem like very refined and well-considered choices. MercadoLibre feels like the largest opportunity to us.
Banks have been absolutely hammered since COVID erupted, and they have not come back very much at all. Overall they are down 33% on the year versus a 5% gain for the S&P 500. Worries about loan losses and low interest rates headline the set of fears for the banking sector. However, banks may have an ace in the hole. Early in the year they set aside tens of billions for loan losses—which hurt earnings, but that may now be their good fortune. Loan losses have not been as bad as expected and many suspect that banks may start to let some of those loss provisions flow through to the bottom line in the next couple earnings seasons.
FINSUM: In our view, this would be a double whammy to the upside for the sector. Not only would it result in blowout earnings, but it would officially alleviate a big fear—that loan losses are going to be very bad because of COVID. Altogether seems like a good opportunity.