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5 Big-Brand Stocks to Buy in the Coming Bear Market

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Trade-related uncertainties between the United States and its major trading partners have kept investors on the edge, as a potential trade war could have negative implications on global economic growth. The grilling of tech executives by U.S. lawmakers increases volatility. At the same time, a stock bear signal hits a four-decade high, while a sub-4% unemployment rate indicates that a recession is not far off. 

Given the gloomy scenario, investing in big-brand companies seems prudent. After all, such companies have established business models and tend to draw consumers and investor attention even when the equity market is choppy. We shouldn’t forget that such stocks are financially stable enough to cash in on a market rebound.

Shares Wobble Due to Trade Concerns

The equity market continues to suffer several months of uncertainty. Predominantly, it’s because of the possibility of a Sino-U.S. trade war in the near term. President Trump recently said that he was “ready to go” on hitting China with an additional $267 billion worth of tariffs. The Trump administration is already finalizing plans to impose tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products. If these measures are met with retaliatory actions by China, it could lead to a full-on trade conflict, one that could adversely affect global economies and eventually squeeze corporate profits.

By the way, investors are keeping an eye on Washington’s relationship with other major economies, including Canada. Both the United States and Canada are yet to secure a deal that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Lest we forget, Trump did threaten to leave Canada out of the new NAFTA. He said that there was “no political necessity” to have Canada in the new NAFTA deal. This has been challenged by Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO. Trumka categorically mentioned that NAFTA won’t work if Canada isn’t included and that the new deal structure remains too vague.

Tech Worries Remain

Tech stocks that have been the strongest performer so far this year, in the meantime, did snap a four-day losing streak on Sep 10. But, let’s admit that such stocks are vulnerable to trade-related issues. Trump himself urged Apple Inc APPL to shift its production from China to the United States. The trillion-dollar company said that tariffs on China would hurt its revenues and impact a wide range of its products.

Political scandals and backlashes against tech behemoths aren’t doing any good either. Facebook, Inc. (FB - Free Report) and Twitter, Inc.’s (TWTR - Free Report) executives have already been testified on Capitol Hill about online misinformation (read more: Twitter and Facebook Appear on Capitol Hill and Their Shares Slide).

A Bear Market on the Anvil?

And do you know that a gauge of bullish and bearish momentum in the U.S. equity market is ringing alarm bells for market pundits at The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc (GS - Free Report) ? The investment banking giant’s so-called bull-bear indicator, shows that likelihood of a bear market in the near run is at its highest point since mid-1970s.

Goldman did mention that the nine-year bull run was mostly due to loose monetary policy and a spate of fiscal stimulus measures. However, September is a month when the Fed is widely anticipated to raise rates for the third time this year. That certainly doesn’t bode well for the economy. Lest we forget, an accommodative monetary policy helped the market recently complete the longest-ever bull run (read more: Wall Street's Longest Bull Run Shapes Winners & Losers).

Michael Wilson, the chief U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley (MS - Free Report) , added that “over the past two months, the U.S. equity market has moved decidedly more defensive and value is showing more persistent performance versus growth.” This move toward defensive sectors and value strategies indicated that the market is concerned about growth fading later this year and next.

Sub-4% Jobless Rate Signals a Recession

Some may argue that a healthy labor market in the past couple of years in contrast to the dark days of the Great Recession will certainly help the broader market gain traction. After all, the unemployment rate remains below the 4% mark for the past several months, weekly jobless claims touch a 49-year low and wage growth hits the fastest pace since 2009.

But, historically, whenever the unemployment rate fell below the 4% mark, the economic cycle matured, the labor market tightened and inflation became quite a bother. This in turn indicates that a recession and a bear market are knocking at the door.

5 Big-Brand Stocks Worth Buying

With the U.S. stock market going through a volatile phase, investing in big-brand companies seems judicious. These stocks will offer some respite as they boast stable cash flows. Needless to say, the value of brands is that they instantly convey information on quality, durability and consistency to consumers. These traits help stocks counter market gyrations. And if the market pulls itself up in the near term, such companies will make the most of the positive trend as their products and services are widely accepted.

We have thus selected five of the best big-brand American stocks that have a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy).

Caterpillar Inc. (CAT - Free Report) manufactures and sells construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives for construction, resource, and energy and transportation industries. The company has a Zacks Rank #2. In the last 60 days, 11 earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings rose 8.4% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 44.6% and 69.3%, respectively.

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) engages in the retail sale of consumer products and subscriptions in North America and internationally. The company has a Zacks Rank #2. In the last 60 days, 19 earnings estimates moved up, while none moved down for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings soared 39.3% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 526.9% and 290.8%, respectively.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B - Free Report) , through its subsidiaries, engages in insurance, freight rail transportation, and utility businesses. The company has a Zacks Rank #2. In the last 60 days, three earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings increased 12.5% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 76.4% and 68.9%, respectively. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT - Free Report) develops, licenses, and supports software, services, devices, and solutions worldwide. The company has a Zacks Rank #1. In the last 60 days, 15 earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings increased 7.3% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 14.3% and 9.5%, respectively.

The Goldman Sachs Group operates as an investment banking, securities, and investment management company worldwide. The company has a Zacks Rank #2. In the last 60 days, seven earnings estimates moved north, while none moved south for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings increased 7.6% in the same period. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current quarter and year is 15.5% and 26.5%, respectively.

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