Not only is September historically the worst month for the equity market, stocks presently look susceptible to a pullback due to Harvey, North Korea tensions and U.S. government shutdown. However, fresh data have indicated that the domestic economy continues to grow at a steady albeit slow pace. Corporate earnings also continue to impress and from a trading perspective, more market participants are expected this month as vacation time comes to an end.
Thanks to these encouraging developments, Wall Street is expected to be more disciplined and prepared to withstand the habitually rough trading period. Thus, investing in solid stocks that have given consistent returns this month will be judicious.
The Somber September
Investors shouldn’t sell based solely on the calendar, but, this seasonal peculiarity can’t be ignored as we head into a busy month of trading. Since the World War II, the S&P 500 Index has seen losses in September. Also, September has seen the worst monthly drop in equities on average.
Stock Trader’s Almanac found out that since 1950, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones averaged a loss of 0.5% and 0.8%, respectively. The Nasdaq Composite, as incepted in 1971, averaged a loss of 0.5%, as did the Russell 2000 of small-cap stocks since it was started in 1979. Such a dismal performance compelled Jeff deGraaf, head of Renaissance Macro Research, to tell his clients that we are “entering the only month of the year that has statistically significant negative returns.”
This year could also spring surprises. With North Korea attacking Japan, hurricane Harvey wreaking havoc and the political climate in the United States losing stability, possibilities of a market correction haunt investors.
Market-Jolting Events that Spooked Investors
North Korea’s ballistic missile launch over Japanese airspace reignited tensions. This has resumed the logjam between Pyongyang and President Trump that had unnerved markets in August. The South Korea military that was conducting a war game with the United States has been put on alert, while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile test an “unprecedented, grave and serious threat that seriously damages peace and security in the region.”
On the domestic front, Harvey, the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland in almost 12 years, has put vast areas under water. The rainstorm originated from a tropical depression which rapidly ballooned from a Category 1 hurricane to Category 4. It worsened due to a lethal confluence of meteorological events. While it is too early to gauge the financial impact of the hurricane, some experts are calling for losses in the double-digit billions. The hurricane disrupted oil refineries and led to a decline in shares of insurance companies (read more: 4 Home-Improvement Stocks to Buy Post Harvey Mayhem).
As if all of that wasn’t enough, anxiety gripping the Wall Street over the debate to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling has frayed relations between President Trump and the Republican leadership. Such disputes, may, further delay the implementation of the promised pro-business policies. In fact, with the disconnect growing, the chances that the government will shut down is 50/50, says Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS - Free Report) .
Positive Economic Environment & Earnings Buoy Markets
But, let’s be optimistic. Not everything is as dampening about the markets. The U.S. GDP expanded 3% in the second quarter, the fastest rate of growth in more than two years. An uptick in consumer outlays and business investment helped the economy gain traction. Increased spending on goods and services pushed consumer expenditure up 3.3% in the said quarter. Consumer spending – the biggest driver of the economy – picked up on higher income for consumers and low inflation.
The second-quarter earnings season, in the meanwhile, has come to an end for 11 of the 16 Zacks sectors, with results from 491 S&P 500 members or 98.2% of the index’s total membership already out. Total earnings for these companies are up 11.2% from the same period last year on 5.6% higher revenues, with 74.3% beating EPS estimates and 68.4% beating revenue estimates (read more: Plenty of Small-Cap Earnings Still to Come).
Investors Will be Back, Market to See Some Upside
With the Labor Day fast approaching, the summer months and vacations are soon to be over. During such holiday periods, major market participants don’t make big moves. Big decisions are often postponed. But, once the summer months come to an end and the markets get back to normal, the major decisions are taken.
This suggests that trade will increase and market leaders will return and take control of the equity market in a commanding manner. Furthermore, typically after Labor Day, the market is slow for a day or two before things pick up pace.
5 Top-Performing Stocks for September
September may be a rocky month for the stock market. But, as mentioned above, there are positives that may propel the broader markets. We have, thus, selected five stocks that have not only gained, traditionally during the rough trading month of September but also flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy).
Here’s a closer look at them:
Percentage of Positive Returns
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN - Free Report) is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, invents, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines for the treatment of serious medical conditions. The company has a Zacks Rank #1. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 16% over the last 60 days. The company has outperformed the industry in the year-to-date period (+35.3% vs +7.5%).
Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI - Free Report) is a developer and publisher of interactive entertainment content and services. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #1 company’s current-year earnings increased 4.9% over the last 60 days. The company has outperformed the industry in the year-to-date period (+81.6% vs +30.5%).
Intuit Inc. (INTU - Free Report) is a provider of business and financial management solutions for small businesses, consumers and accounting professionals. The company carries a Zacks Rank #2. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings improved 1.9% over the last 30 days. The company has outperformed the industry in the year-to-date period (+23.4% vs +21.8%). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN - Free Report) is a biopharmaceutical company. The company is focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutic products. The company has a Zacks Rank #1. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings increased 5.5% over the last 60 days. The company has outperformed the industry in the year-to-date period (+16.4% vs +7.6%).
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD - Free Report) is also research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes medicines in areas of unmet medical need. This Zacks Rank #2 company is in the news for the $12-billion buyout of cancer specialist Kite Pharma Inc (KITE). The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings improved 7.4% over the last 60 days. The company has outperformed the industry in the year-to-date period (+16.9% vs +7.5%).
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