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5 Knockout Stocks to Play the World Cup Fever Pitch

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FIFA World Cup 2018 will enter the knockout stage today. As the top 16 teams fight it out for the coveted trophy, soccer fans will be closely watching a host of the stars, who will be contending for the five big awards — Golden Ball, Golden Boot, Golden Glove and the FIFA Fair Play Trophy.

It goes without saying that the mega football event has always been closely followed across the globe and has driven economic growth across continents.

Meanwhile, many investors would like to bet on stocks that could definitely help them mint money over the next 15 days and through the year. That said, markets have been suffering for a while, with stocks taking a hit owing to escalating trade war fears. However, there are still a host of stocks that have braved this turmoil and have emerged winners this year.

We suggest five stocks for those who are psyched up for the last leg of the World Cup and anxiously waiting for the top five awards.

Trade War Fears Continue

Markets started 2018 on a high but have been suffering since the end of February. The turmoil started after President Donald Trump imposed 25% and 10% tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, from China. Things worsened as the United States announced additional tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. As expected, China retaliated with tariffs on U.S. goods.

Markets since then have been bleeding, with almost all the sectors suffering. The tech sector, which has been driving markets so far, too hasn’t been spared. Things aggravated after the United States announced the imposition of higher tariffs on goods imported from Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

 Investors have been feeling over the last few months and despite a robust earnings season, stocks have been tumbling. However, despite trade war fears showing no signs of subsiding, the picture may not be that gloomy. There are stocks that are confidently surviving the bloodbath and are poised to do well in the long term.

Bullish Economic Scenario

Trade war fears may be taking its toll on stocks but there’s definitely a brighter picture. The U.S. economy is stepping up, which is a good sign for the overall markets. Higher wages, an 18-year-low jobless rate and upbeat consumer confidence, all indicate a bullish economy. Higher wages mean more money in the hands of people, which definitely is a positive sign for markets.

Moreover after a surprising decline in U.S. trade deficit in May, a few analysts are of the opinion that the country’s GDP might top 5% growth in the April-June period. The single-best quarter of economic growth since the end of the recession was the fall of 2014, when GDP grew 5.2%. These factors definitely are a good sign for markets for the days to come.

Our Choices

Trade war fears definitely have made investors jittery, leading to huge selloffs but a bullish economic scenario bodes well for stocks. Much like any tournament can’t be won without putting up a strong fight, markets too go through ups and downs.

However, amid all these odds, winners leave a mark with their performance. Keeping this in mind, as we enter into the final round of World Cup 2018, and wait for the five coveted awards, we choose five stocks that are winners this year. However, picking winning stocks may be difficult.

This is where our VGM Score comes in. Here V stands for Value, G for Growth and M for Momentum and the score is a weighted combination of these three scores. Such a score allows you to eliminate the negative aspects of stocks and select winners. However, it is important to keep in mind that each Style Score will carry a different weight while arriving at a VGM Score. 

We have narrowed down our search to the following stocks, each of which has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and a VGM Score of A. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Champion

The Ensign Group, Inc.’s (ENSG - Free Report) independent operating subsidiaries provide a broad spectrum of skilled nursing and assisted living services, physical, occupational and speech therapies, home health and hospice services and other rehabilitative and healthcare services.

The Ensign Group sports a Zacks Rank #1 and VGM Score of A. The company has expected earnings growth of 34.8% for the current year. The company has given maximum year-to-date returns of 65.3%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved by 1.1% over the last 60 days.

Golden Boot

Amedisys, Inc. (AMED - Free Report) is a leading provider of healthcare in the home with a vision of becoming the premiere solution for patients. 

Amedisys has a Zacks Rank #1 and VGM Score of A. The company has expected earnings growth of 40.7% for the current year. The company has returned 62% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved by 3.7% over the last 60 days.

Golden Ball

Korn/Ferry International (KFY - Free Report) is the world's leading and largest executive recruitment firm. 

Korn/Ferry International has a Zacks Rank #1 and VGM Score of A. The company has expected earnings growth of 18.1% for the current year. The company has year-to-date returns of 45.8%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved by 5.2% over the last 60 days.

Golden Glove

Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. (NOG - Free Report) is an exploration and production company based in Wayzata, MN.  

Northern Oil and Gas has a Zacks Rank #1 and VGM Score of A. The company has expected earnings growth of more than 100% for the current year. It has year-to-date returns of 41%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved by 33.3% over the last 60 days.

Fair Play Award

America's Car-Mart, Inc. (CRMT - Free Report) operates automotive dealerships and is one of the largest automotive retailers in the United States focused exclusively on the Buy Here/Pay Here segment of the used car market. 

America's Car-Mart sports a Zacks Rank #1 and VGM Score of A. The company has expected earnings growth of 32.2% for the current year. The company has returned 40.1% year to date. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved by 1.8% over the last 60 days.

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