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New coronavirus stimulus checks may not trigger an economic jolt: poll

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

A fresh round of stimulus from a bickering U.S. government may do nothing more than plug a hole in the worsening finances of COVID-19 impacted households. In other words, those on the Street expecting a jolt to economic growth from rampant frivolous consumer spending could be quite misguided.

More Americans would put new stimulus checks toward improving their personal balance sheet than spending willy nilly at Best Buy, Walmart, Target and various malls, suggests findings in a new Yahoo Finance-Harris Poll survey. About 53% of people surveyed would take the money and pay down bills, 43% said they would use it for necessities, 39% are inclined to rebuild personal savings and another 30% are keen on using the funds for their rent/mortgages. Only 22% polled said they would spend new stimulus checks on holiday gifts.

“I think there is a huge demarcation here we have to draw between what’s going on in the near-term [with the economy] — which we think is not going to be pretty — versus what things will look like getting further into next year,” warned Morgan Stanley Chief U.S. economist Ellen Zentner on Yahoo Finance Live.

Indications of renewed U.S. economic weakness is starting to appear as states enact new mobility restrictions in an effort to gain some form of control back over the virus. Not helping matters is the lack of stimulus, a situation that has been in play for months now amid the election.

U.S. consumer confidence tanked to 96.1 in November from 101.4 in October, according to the Conference Board on Tuesday. It marked the lowest headline reading since August (when stimulus was still around). The report highlighted sizable drops in consumer expectations for income, business and job market conditions.

The Conference Board’s read on consumers comes after an equally dismal reading from the University of Michigan. Consumer sentiment for the two weeks ended November 10 fell to 77 from 81.8 in October, also because a noticeable drop on expectations.

FILE - In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio. All that aid is now gone. Yet prospects for more federal stimulus this year appear all but dead, clouding the future for the unemployed, for small businesses and for the economy as a whole.(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
FILE - In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump's name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio. All that aid is now gone. Yet prospects for more federal stimulus this year appear all but dead, clouding the future for the unemployed, for small businesses and for the economy as a whole.(AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales in October rose at their slowest rate since the spring, according to new data out of the Commerce Department last week. Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in October, far slower than the 1.6% gain in September. Retailers such as Macy’s and Kohl’s reported very weak third quarters this week, too.

The Yahoo Finance-Harris Poll found a cautious consumer ahead of this week’s key Black Friday period.

Nearly half of Americans polled said they are cutting back on holiday spending versus last year. Roughly 36% said they would spend about the same on gifts year-over-year. But, one-in-10 Americans conceded they will not spend money on holiday gifts for others at all this year.

Added Zentner, who is bullish on economic growth in 2021, “We have got to get past a really big hurdle here. The winter of discontent, if you will. It’s not looking very good.”

And sadly, even new stimulus checks wouldn’t be enough to stop the said discontent.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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J.P. Morgan: 2 Stocks to Consider Buying (and 1 to Stay Away From)

In a report on current market conditions – and the strategic view going forward – JPMorgan’s Marko Kolanovic sees plenty of reasons for optimism. Kolanovic sees that risk has eased in the last few weeks, and taking the usual daily fluctuations into account, markets are likely to see a sustained rally.The biggest news, in Kolanovic’s view, are the positive reports about the rapid development and imminent availability of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is a ‘game-changer,’ allowing investors to “look through the recent surge in COVID-19 cases to the impending end of the pandemic and broader reopening of the economy.”In a close second, as far as market importance is concerned, is the split result of the national election. Kolanovic describes a Biden Presidency combined with increased Republican strength in the House and a continued Republican Senate majority as ‘the best of both worlds.’ A divided government is unlikely to dismantle the pro-business moves taken by the Trump Administration, while Biden is likely to ease the trade war. The result, according to the Kolanovic team, will be “less market volatility, which could drive inflows to risk assets.”To this end, JPM’s stock analysts have been busy scanning the tickers, seeking out those that are likely to win – or lose – in the coming months. Of particular interest, we’ve pulled the TipRanks data on two stocks that the firm predicts will show double-digit growth, and one that JPM says to avoid. Vroom, Inc. (VRM)We’ll start with Vroom, an online retailer in the used vehicle space. In addition to cars, the company also sells spare parts and accessories, and offers insurance, car rentals, and funding for purchases, for US customers only.Vroom is a newcomer in the markets; it IPO’d in June and rose quickly, peaking in on September 1. Since then, the shares have slipped and are now down 22% since their first day’s close. The rise and fall are the result of conflicting tailwinds and headwinds pushing against the stock.On the positive side, Vroom has gained during the general shift to online retail. Also, the company’s focus on used vehicles was beneficial during the pandemic, when customers were nervous or cash-strapped – but in either case, reluctant to lay out large sums for a new car. On the negative side of the ledger, that reluctance to spend slipped over to the used car market, too. Vroom had to contend with low margins while cutting prices to attract sales.Covering the stock for JPM, analyst Rajat Gupta sees the stock’s current state as an opportunity for investors. The bad times are likely temporary, he believes, and this company is set to take off. “Net-net, with near-term expectations now reset and potential for acceleration in both unit growth and gross profit into 2021, we view the setup as favorable in the near to medium term for the stock with little incremental negative catalysts… we believe execution will be key given heavy reliance on third parties for key operational aspects such as reconditioning and logistics,” Gupta wrote.In line with this assessment, Gupta rates the stock an Overweight (i.e. Buy), and his $70 price target implies an upside of 91% for the year ahead. (To watch Gupta’s track record, click here)Even after the fall in its share value, Vroom retains a Strong Buy from the analyst consensus. The rating is based on 11 reviews, including 10 Buys and 1 Sell. VRM is selling for $36.81, and its $59.40 average price target suggests it has room for ~61% growth on the one-year horizon. (See VRM stock analysis on TipRanks)Colfax Corporation (CFX)Next up is Colfax, a niche manufacturing company. Colfax produces a range of equipment for the welding, medical device, and air and gas handling markets, ranging from medical equipment for joint reconstruction to welding helmets and cutting torches. While it may sound incongruous, the combination works for Colfax, and the company is experiencing a turnaround from corona crisis losses in 2Q20.The third quarter earnings, at 41 cents per share, showed both good and bad. It was down 32% year over year, but has more than quadrupled sequentially and beat the estimates. Revenues were up 29% sequentially, coming in at $805 million. Management expects to see continued sequential improvements through the remainder of 2020, and predicts full-year earnings in the range of 45 cents to 50 cents per share.Representing JPM, 5-star analyst Stephen Tusa commented, “[We] see the stock as being relatively cheap compared to close peers within the Fab Tech and Med Tech space with significant upside post COVID-19 that does not appear to be entirely realized in the valuation as of yet compared to the peer FY2 expectations. CFX has strong brands and franchises… and an underappreciated productivity opportunity with primary end market bounce back in Fab Tech and demand spikes in Med Tech.”Tusa backs his upbeat comments with an Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating and a $52 price target indicating his confidence in a 38% one-year upside. (To watch Tusa’s track record, click here)Overall, Colfax has a Moderate Buy rating from the analyst consensus, based on 8 reviews breaking down to 5 Buys, 2 Holds, and 1 Sell. However, the majority expect shares to stay range bound for now, as the current $38.63 average price target indicates. (See CFX stock analysis on TipRanks)Beyond Meat (BYND)Last on today’s list of JPM calls is Beyond Meat, a company that made a lot of waves last year when it raised over $3.8 billion in its IPO. The company offers a vegetarian-based meat substitute, and it markets as more nutritious, better tasting – and more like meat – than competing products. The company was founded back in 2009, and has expanded its lineup of products to include simulated beef, pork, and chicken products.Overall, BYND stock still presents a positive façade. The shares are up 88% year-to-date, and the company registered a net profit in 1Q20, just as the corona crisis started. Since then, however, earnings have turned negative – and even worse, revenues showed a strong sequential drop in Q3. The latest quarterly figures showed $94 million at the top line, down 16% from Q2 and well below the forecast of $133 million, and an EPS loss of 28 cents – far worse than the 3-cent loss predicted. The biggest hit to Beyond Meat came from declines in restaurant business that was only partially redeemed by a 40% surge in grocery sales. The company did announce a partnership with McDonald’s to provide the meat substitute for the fast food giant’s new McPlant menu, but even that announcement was bungled. BYND shares fell sharply when it was rumored that McD’s had developed the meat substitute in-house. While that misconception has been corrected, BYND has only partially bounced back.In short, this company is facing serious headwinds in the near-term, and JPM is advising caution due to “visibility so low and the most recent quarter surprisingly soft.” Ken Goldman, rated 5-stars at TipRanks, writes of BYND, “We are now trying to model a company for which (a) we are not exactly clear why 3Q was so bad (the company’s explanation did not seem to be backed up by meaningful data), and (b) the partnership with McDonald’s could either be a game-changer or a dud.”Goldman’s caution is clear from his Underweight rating (i.e. a Sell), and his $104 price target suggests a 26% downside to the stock. (To watch Goldman’s track record, click here)JPM is not the only firm advising caution here. Beyond Meat’s analyst consensus rating is a Moderate Sell, based on 2 Buys, 7 Holds, and 7 Sells set in recent weeks. The stock is selling for $141.91 and its average price target of $110.71 indicates a probable downside of 22% in the coming year. (See BYND stock analysis on TipRanks)To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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Summary | 6 Annotations
A fresh round of stimulus from a bickering U.S. government may do nothing more than plug a hole in the worsening finances of COVID-19 impacted households. In other words, those on the Street expecting a jolt to economic growth from rampant frivolous consumer spending could be quite misguided.
2020/11/26 14:59
About 53% of people surveyed would take the money and pay down bills, 43% said they would use it for necessities, 39% are inclined to rebuild personal savings and another 30% are keen on using the funds for their rent/mortgages. Only 22% polled said they would spend new stimulus checks on holiday gifts.
2020/11/26 14:59
“I think there is a huge demarcation here we have to draw between what’s going on in the near-term [with the economy] — which we think is not going to be pretty — versus what things will look like getting further into next year,” warned Morgan Stanley Chief U.S. economist Ellen Zentner on Yahoo Finance Live.
2020/11/26 14:59
Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales in October rose at their slowest rate since the spring, according to new data out of the Commerce Department last week. Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in October, far slower than the 1.6% gain in September. Retailers such as Macy’s and Kohl’s reported very weak third quarters this week, too.
2020/11/26 14:59
Nearly half of Americans polled said they are cutting back on holiday spending versus last year. Roughly 36% said they would spend about the same on gifts year-over-year. But, one-in-10 Americans conceded they will not spend money on holiday gifts for others at all this year.
2020/11/26 14:59
Added Zentner, who is bullish on economic growth in 2021, “We have got to get past a really big hurdle here. The winter of discontent, if you will. It’s not looking very good.”And sadly, even new stimulus checks wouldn’t be enough to stop the said discontent.
2020/11/26 14:59