After a month of rising stock markets, which have seen the S&P 500 gain 14%, there is a hope that the economic contraction will be shorter than was initially feared. As the Trump administration has begun setting guidelines for reopening economic activity, and at the State level some governors are planning to reopen while others tighten social distancing restrictions, some market strategist are openly saying that the worst is now behind us.
Chiming in from Ned Davis Research, chief US strategist Ed Clissold has revised the cautious stance he set early in March. Noting, “The market tends to lead the economy,” Clissold goes on to say, “An average of four months before the end of recessions is when the S&P 500 bottoms. So, if you look out a few months and think things will be getting a little bit better, stocks should anticipate that.”
Assuming that the S&P’s March 23 reading of 2,237 was the bottom, then by Clissold’s logic we should see the recessionary factors start to recede in mid-July. This would be consistent with the V-shaped recovery hypothesis, and an early economic turnaround in 2H20. Other recent forecasts have proven correct – especially that the S&P would find resistance in the 2,750 to 2,850 range. The index has now broken above that level, in a positive sign for investors.
If the optimists are right, and markets are just a few months away from breakout, then now – while prices remain low – is the time to prepare your portfolio.
And this brings us to penny stocks, those low-cost equities priced below $5 per share – are a high-stakes opportunity with upsides that frequently approach several hundred percent and a low enough cost of entry to mitigate the attendant risk. These companies are priced low for a reason, but for those that break out, the rewards are tremendous.
With this in mind, we’ve used the TipRanks database to pinpoint three penny stocks poised for sky-high gains. To minimize the risks, all three combine high ratings from Wall Street’s analysts, and a growth potential of 80% or higher.
Arcimoto, Inc. (FUV)
We’ll start with a green manufacturer. Arcimoto has developed a tandem two-seater electric vehicle – a three-wheeled design – Fun Electric Vehicle, or FUV, as the company has dubbed it. The company is currently producing FUVs at a rate of one per day in its Oregon factory, and has received pre-orders for 4,128 vehicles. The tiny FUV is marketed as a leisure product, perhaps the only marketing route for American customers who usually prefer their cars large.
Looking forward, Arcimoto has plans to upsize its vehicle line, and is developing prototypes to test out FUVs as emergency or delivery vehicles. The company already has a rental franchise in Key West, Florida, and has delivered 8 vehicles. The rental franchise will target tourist rentals on the island.
H.C. Wainwright analyst Amit Dayal sees the current economic slowdown as a net positive for the company. Arcimoto is using the opportunity to streamline operations and increase efficiency, measures that will reduce overhead in the long run. Dayal writes, “We were expecting the company to deliver 729 vehicles during 2020, which we have revised down to 235 now. We expect production to bounce back to nearly 2,000 units in 2021. We expect the company’s operating costs to be lower because of the furlough; we are projecting 2020 operating costs of $9.3M, compared to $21.3M previously.”
"We believe that the company could see increased interest in its Deliverator model, as businesses shore up their delivery strategies in a post-COVID-19 environment. In line with this, the company has expanded its Deliverator pilot program to include a major national grocer," Dayal added.
As a result, Dayal gives FUV shares a Buy rating, and his $7 price target suggest an upside potential of 220%. (To watch Dayal track record, click here)
Wall Street generally agrees with Dayal that Arcimoto has a clear path forward. This is seen in the average price target of $4.50, which indicates an upside of 105%. The Strong Buy consensus rating is based on a unanimous 3 Buy reviews. (See Arcimoto stock analysis on TipRanks)
Emcore Corporation (EMKR)
Next up is a technology company, with strong links to the defense industry. Emcore produces mixed-signal optics and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) that underlie many leading aerospace and defense systems. Emcore products are vital components in navigation systems.
After missing earnings expectations in calendar Q3 by 12 cents, and reporting a 29 cent per share loss against a forecast of 17 cents, calendar Q4 (fiscal Q1) showed a strong sequential improvement. The company still recorded a net loss, but it was only 8 cents – far better than the 22 cents forecast. Revenue in the final quarter of 2019 reached $25.48 million, up 6% from the year-ago quarter.
The long – and recently extended – lockdown in California is hurting Emcore’s production capabilities. At the same time, as a company with contractual ties to the defense establishment, Emcore is almost certain to have a deep backlog of pent-up demand waiting for it when normal or near-normal work resumes.
That is the thesis underlying 5-star analyst Dave Kang’s stance on EMKR. Writing from B. Riley FBR, Kang says “We believe it has a compelling risk/reward, considering its CATV business should benefit from increased telecommuting, and once the CA lockdown is lifted, its A&D business should immediately kick into a high gear based on strong pent up demand.” The analyst added, "We are buyers of EMKR into the print based on a favorable risk/reward profile, coupled with a recent trend of investors being less concerned about supply-related issues as long as demand remainsr obust. We believe its CATV demand could benefit from increased telecommuting, and its Aerospace/Defense (A&D) should immediatelykick into a high gear once the CA lockdown is lifted by the end of May."
Kang gives Emcore shares a Buy rating, in line with this bullish stance. His $5.80 price target indicates his confidence in a 122% upside potential for the stock. (To watch Kang’s track record, click here)
This is another stock with a unanimous Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus. Like FUV above, EMKR’s rating is based 3 recent Buy reviews. The stock is priced low, at just $2.61, and the average price target of $5.10 suggest that is has room for 95% upside growth in the coming 12 months. (See Emcore stock analysis on TipRanks)
Medallion Financial (MFIN)
The last stock on our list is a specialty finance company based in New York City. Medallion’s name reflects an important part of the company’s portfolio: taxi medallions. These permits to operate a taxi cab are available in limited numbers, and cab operators will pay top dollar – often securing large loans – in order to procure them. In addition to medallion-backed loans, Medallion also offers and services consumer, light industry, and small business loans.
Medallion reported its Q1 results just yesterday (April 30), and showed deep losses. EPS came in at a 56-cent per share net loss, much worse than the 12-cent loss expected. Revenue for the quarter was also down – the $19.6 million reported was 33% below forecasts and down 32% year-over-year.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic disruption are behind MFIN’s Q1 losses. The company’s portfolio has large numbers of taxi medallions and consumer loans – and both are segments that have been hard-hit by the lockdowns. NYC taxi traffic is far down, and unemployment is skyrocketing – making it harder for people to make their loan payments.
Riley FBR analyst Scott Buck sees the current difficult times as an opportunity for Medallion. He believes that the company can make a meaningful write-down in its medallion loans, and pivot toward more profitable endeavors. Describing MFIN’s prospects, he writes, “Given what we expect to be a more challenging environment for consumer loan demand, more challenging credit and the ongoing shutdown in New York City, we are reducing our estimates for 2020 and 2021. We are now modeling full-year 2020 EPS of $0.26, down from $1.05. The decline is driven almost entirely from higher provisioning, predominantly on the medallion portfolio, which we view as a positive long-term as it allows investors, and management, to put their attention on the growing and profitable consumer lending segment.”
Buck keeps his Buy rating on MFIN, and his $7 price target suggests a robust 220% upside potential. (To watch Buck’s track record, click here)
Overall, Medallion Financial keeps a Strong Buy analyst consensus rating, based on 4 recent reviews, including 3 Buys against a single Hold. Meanwhile, the $6.83 average price target reflects an impressive 12-month upside potential of 189%. (See Medallion stock analysis on TipRanks)
To find good ideas for penny stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.
The post 3 "Strong Buy" Penny Stocks With Over 80% Upside Potential appeared first on TipRanks Financial Blog.
Las Vegas Strip faces growing bed bug problem
With huge events including Formula 1, CES, and the Super Bowl looming, the Las Vegas Strip faces an issue that could be a major cause for concern.
Las Vegas beat the covid pandemic.
It wasn't that long ago when the Las Vegas Strip went dark and people questioned whether Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, and other Strip players would emerge from the crisis intact.
In the darkest days, the entire Las Vegas Strip was closed down and when it reopened, it was not business as usual. Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Free Report and MGM reopened slowly with all sorts of government-mandated restrictions in place.
The first months of the Strip's comeback featured temperature checks, a lot of plexiglass, gaming tables with limited numbers of players, masks, and social distancing. It was an odd mix of celebration and restraint as people were happy to be in Las Vegas, but the Strip was oddly empty, some casinos remained closed, and gaming floors were sparsely filled.
When vaccines became available, the Las Vegas Strip benefitted quickly. Business and international travelers were slow to return, but leisure travelers began bringing crowds back to pre-pandemic levels.
The comeback, however, was very fragile. CES 2022 was supposed to be Las Vegas's return to normal, the first major convention since covid. In reality, surging cases of the covid omicron variant caused most major companies to pull out.
Even with vaccines and covid tests required, an event that was supposed to be close to normal, ended up with 25% of 2020's pre-covid attendance. That CES showed just how quickly public sentiment — not actual danger — can ruin an event in Las Vegas.
Now, with November's Formula 1 Race, CES in January, and the Super Bowl in February all slated for Las Vegas, a rising health crisis threatens all of those events.
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The Las Vegas Strip has a bed bug problem
While bed bugs may not be as dangerous as covid, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), Legionnaires’ disease, and some of the other infectious diseases that the Las Vegas Strip has faced over the past few years, they're still problematic. Bed bugs spread easily and a small infestation can become a large one quickly.
The sores caused by bed bugs are also a social media nightmare for the Las Vegas Strip. If even a few Las Vegas Strip visitors wake up covered in bed bug bites, that could become a viral nightmare for the entire city.
In late-August, reports came out the bed bugs had been at seven Las Vegas hotel, mostly on the Strip over the past two years. The impacted properties includes Caesars Planet Hollywood and Caesars Palace as well as MGM Resort International's (MGM) - Get Free Report MGM Grand, and others including Circus Circus, The Palazzo, Tropicana, and Sahara.
"Now, that number is nine with the addition of The Venetian and Park MGM. According to the health department report, a Venetian guest reported seeing the bloodsuckers on July 29 and was moved to another room. An inspection three days later confirmed their presence," Casino.org reported.
The Park MGM bed bug incident took place on Aug. 14.
Bed bugs remain a Las Vegas Strip problem
Only Tropicana, which is soon going to be demolished, and Sahara, responded to Casino.org about their bed bug issues. Caesars and MGM have not commented publicly or responded to requests from KLAS or Casino.org.
That makes sense because the resorts do not want news to spread about potential bed bug problems when the actual incidents have so far been minimal. The problem is that unreported bed bug issues can rapidly snowball.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shares some guidelines on bed bug bites on its website that hint at the depth of the problem facing Las Vegas Strip resorts.
"Regularly wash and heat-dry your bed sheets, blankets, bedspreads and any clothing that touches the floor. This reduces the number of bed bugs. Bed bugs and their eggs can hide in laundry containers/hampers. Remember to clean them when you do the laundry," the agency shared.
Normally, that would not be an issue in Las Vegas as rooms are cleaned daily. Since the covid pandemic, however, some people have opted out of daily cleaning and some resorts have encouraged that.
Not having daily room cleaning in just a few rooms could lead to quick spread.
"Bed bugs spread so easily and so quickly, that the University of Kentucky's entomology department notes that "it often seems that bed bugs arise from nowhere."
"Once bed bugs are introduced, they can crawl from room to room, or floor to floor via cracks and openings in walls, floors and ceilings," warned the University's researchers.
spread social distancing pandemic
Americans are having a tough time repaying pandemic-era loans received with inflated credit scores
Borrowers are realizing the responsibility of new debts too late.
With the economy of the United States at a standstill during the Covid-19 pandemic, the efforts to stimulate the economy brought many opportunities to people who may have not had them otherwise.
However, the extension of these opportunities to those who took advantage of the times has had its consequences.
A report by the Financial Times states that borrowers in the United States that took advantage of lending opportunities during the Covid-19 pandemic are falling behind on actually paying back their debt.
At a time when stimulus checks were handed out and loan repayments were frozen to help those affected by the economic shock of Covid-19, many consumers in the States saw that lenders became more willing to provide consumer credit.
According to a report by credit reporting agency TransUnion, the median consumer credit score jumped 20% to a peak of 676 in the first quarter of 2021, allowing many to finally have “good” credit scores. However, their data also showed that those who took out loans and credit from 2021 to early 2023 are having an hard time managing these debts.
“Consumer finance companies used this opportunity to juice up their growth at a time when funding was ample and consumers’ finances had gotten an artificial boost,” Chief economist of Moody’s Analytics Mark Zandi told FT. “Certainly a lot of lower-income households that got caught up in all of this will feel financial pain.”
Moody’s data shows that new credit cards accounts that were opened in the first quarter of 2023 have a 4% delinquency rate, while the same rate in September 2022 was 4.5%. According to the analysts, these levels were the highest for the same point of the year since 2008.
Additionally, a study by credit scoring company VantageScore found that credit cards issued in March 2022 had higher delinquency rates than cards issued at the same time during the prior four years.
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Credit cards were not the only debts that American consumers took on. As per S&P Global Ratings data, riskier car loans taken on during the height of the pandemic have more repayment problems than in previous years. In 2022, subprime borrowers were becoming delinquent on new cars loans at twice the rate of pre-pandemic levels.
S&P auto loan tracker Amy Martin told FT that lenders during the pandemic were “rather aggressive” in terms of signing new loans.
Bill Moreland of research group BankRegData has warned about these rising delinquencies in the past and had recently estimated that by late 2022, there were hundreds of billions of dollars in what he calls “excess lending based upon artificially inflated credit scores”.
The Government's Role
Because so many are failing to pay their bills, many are wary that the government assistance may have been a financial double-edged sword; as they were meant to alleviate financial stress during lockdown, while it led some of them to financial difficulty.
The $2.2 trillion Cares Act federal aid package passed in the early stages of the pandemic not only put cash in the American consumer’s pocket, but also protected borrowers from foreclosure, default and in some instances, lenders were barred from reporting late payments to credit bureaus.
Yeshiva University law professor Pam Foohey specializes in consumer bankruptcy and believes that the Cares Act was good policy, however she shifts the blame away from the consumers and borrowers.
“I fault lenders and the market structure for not having a longer-term perspective. That’s not something that the Cares Act should have solved and it still exists and still needs to be addressed.”
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Inflation: raising interest rates was never the right medicine – here’s why central bankers did it anyway
We need to start cutting rates, but there’s something that has to happen first.
Inflation remains too high in the UK. The annual rate of consumer price inflation to September was 6.7%, the same as a month earlier. This is well below the 11.1% peak reached in October 2022, but the failure of inflation to keep falling indicates it is proving far more stubborn than anticipated.
This may prompt the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to raise the benchmark interest rate yet again when it meets in November, but in my view this would not be entirely justified.
In reality, the rate hikes that began two years ago have not been very helpful in tackling inflation, at least not directly. So what’s the problem and is there a better alternative?
Right policy, wrong inflation
Raising interest rates is the MPC’s main tool for trying to get inflation back to its target rate of 2%. The idea is that this makes it more expensive to borrow money, which should reduce consumer demand for goods and services.
The trouble is that the type of inflation recently witnessed in the UK seems less a problem of excessive demand than because costs have been rising for manufacturers and service providers. It’s known as “cost-push inflation” as opposed to “demand-pull inflation”.
Inflation rates (UK, US, eurozone)
Production costs have risen for several reasons. During the COVID-19 pandemic, central banks “created money” through quantitative easing to enable their governments to run large spending deficits to pay for furloughs and other interventions to help citizens through the crisis.
When countries started reopening, it meant people had money in their pockets to buy more goods and services. Yet with China still in lockdown, global supply chains could not keep pace with the resurgent demand so prices went up – most notably oil.
Oil price (Brent crude, US$)
Then came the Ukraine war, which further drove up prices of fundamental commodities, such as energy. This made inflation much worse than it would otherwise have been. You can see this reflected in consumer price inflation (CPI): it was just 0.6% in the year to June 2020, then rose to 2.5% in the year to June 2021, reflecting the supply constraints at the end of lockdown. By June 2022, four months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, CPI was 9.4%.
The policy problem
This begs the question, why has the Bank of England (BoE) been raising rates if it’s unlikely to be effective? One answer is that other central banks have been raising rates. If the BoE doesn’t mirror rate rises in the US and eurozone, investors in the UK may move their money to these other areas because they’ll get better returns on bonds. This would see the pound depreciating against the US dollar and euro, in turn increasing import prices and aggravating inflation.
Part of the problem has been that the US has arguably faced more of the sort of demand-led inflation against which interest rates are effective. For one thing, the US has been less at the mercy of rising energy prices because it is energy self-sufficient. It also didn’t lock down as uniformly as other major economies during the pandemic, so had a little more space to grow.
At the same time, the US has been more effective at bringing down inflation than the UK, which again suggests it was fighting demand-driven price rises. In other words, the UK and other countries may to some extent have been forced to follow suit with raising interest rates to protect their currencies, not to fight inflation.
How harmful have the rate rises been in the UK? They have not brought about a recession yet, but growth remains very weak. Lots of people are struggling with the cost of living, as well as rent or mortgage costs. Several million people are due to be hit by much higher mortgage rates as their fixed-rate deals end between now and the end of 2024.
UK GDP growth (%)
If hiking interest rates is not really helping to curb inflation, it makes sense to start moving in the opposite direction before the economic situation gets any worse. To avoid any damage to the pound, the answer is for the leading central banks to coordinate their policies so that they cut rates in lockstep.
Unless and until this happens, there would seem to be no quick fix available. One piece of good news is that the energy price cap for typical domestic consumption was reduced from October 1 from £1,976 to £1,834 a year. That 7% reduction should lead to consumer price inflation coming down significantly towards the end of 2023.
More generally, the Bank of England may simply have to hope that world events move inflation in the desired direction. A key question is going to be whether the wars in Ukraine and Israel/Gaza result in further cost pressures.
Unfortunately there is a precedent for a Middle East conflict leading to a global economic crisis: following the joint assault on Israel by Syria and Egypt in 1973, Israel’s retaliation prompted petroleum cartel OPEC to impose an oil embargo. This led to an almost fourfold increase in the price of crude oil.
Since oil was fundamental to the costs of production, inflation in the UK rose to over 16% in 1974. There followed high unemployment, resulting in an unwelcome combination that economists referred to as stagflation.
These days, global production is in fact less reliant on oil as renewables have become a growing part of the energy mix. Nonetheless, an oil price hike would still drive inflation higher and weaken economic growth. So if the Middle East crisis does spiral, we may be stuck with stubborn, untreatable inflation for even longer.
Robert Gausden does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.recession unemployment economic growth reopening bonds monetary policy mortgage rates currencies pound us dollar euro governor lockdown pandemic covid-19 recession gdp interest rates commodities oil uk russia ukraine china
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