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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Hallmark Financial, Chuy's, Boot Barn, Exantas and Eagle Bancorp

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL –August 21, 2019 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Hallmark Financial Services Inc. (HALL - Free Report) , Chuy's Holdings Inc. (CHUY - Free Report) , Boot Barn Holdings Inc. (BOOT - Free Report) , Exantas Capital Corp. (XAN - Free Report) and Eagle Bancorp Montana Inc. .

Here are highlights from Tuesday’s Analyst Blog:

Small Business Optimism Rebounds in July: 5 Top Picks

Small business organizations’ optimism bounced back in July after it suffered a setback in the previous month. Lingering trade conflict with China, concerns about slowing U.S. and global economy and several geopolitical concerns failed to dampen the confidence of small business owners.

Small Business Optimism Bounces Back in July

Last week, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported that the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose to 104.7 in July from 103 in June. Notably, July’s reading was close to that of May’s index value of 105, the highest since October 2018. More importantly, the uncertainty index fell 10 points after it surged in June, which was the highest level since March 2017.

While optimism remains at historically high levels, the July figure reversed the loss posted in June, with seven of the total 10 survey components increasing, two components declining and one remaining unchanged. Both capital spending and plans to order new inventories advanced in July.

Why Small Business Is Important

Small corporates create a significant amount of jobs in the U.S. economy. More than 50% of the newly created jobs in the private sector originate here. These people constitute a large part of customers for big businesses.

Moreover, small companies are a major part of the supply chain management systems of large companies for innovative and technologically superior inputs. Additionally, small businesses often end up being an important part of corporate America's customer base.

U.S. Economy Remains Strong

On Aug 15, the Department of Commerce reported a 0.7% jump in retail sales in July compared with 0.3% in June. Moreover, core retail sales (excluding sales at auto dealers and gasoline stations) increased 1% in July, surpassing June’s rise of 0.3%.

On Jul 31, the Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence index for July skyrocketed to 135.7 compared with 124.3 in June. In addition, a healthy labor market with 164,000 job additions in July, and a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.7% boosted consumer confidence.     

Small Caps Are Important in a Volatile Market

Small-cap stocks carry some special features that make them very useful in a volatile market. They are mostly immune to any external shock since the United States is the primary market of their products. This is aiding this segment to outperform the broader market defying extreme volatility.

Owing to their domestic business strategy, small-cap stocks are immune to the movement of the U.S. dollar.  A strong U.S. dollar will make exports of large companies uncompetitive. However, small-cap stocks remain unaffected by foreign exchange volatility.

Our Top Picks

At this stage, it will be prudent to invest in small-cap stocks with a favorable Zacks Rank and strong growth potential. We have narrowed down our search to five stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Hallmark Financial Services Inc.underwrites, markets, distributes and services property/casualty insurance products to businesses and individuals in the United States. The company operates in the Specialty Commercial, Standard Commercial, and Personal segments. The company has an expected earnings growth rate of 41.6% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved 5.9% over the last 30 days.

Chuy's Holdings Inc.owns and operates full-service restaurants under the Chuy's name in Texas and 19 states in the Southeast and Midwest United States. The company has an expected earnings growth rate of 8% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved 3.3% over the last 30 days.

Boot Barn Holdings Inc.is a lifestyle retail chain that operates specialty retail stores in the United States. Its specialty retail stores offer western and work-related footwear, apparel and accessories for men, women and kids. The company has an expected earnings growth rate of 20.7% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved 7.2% over the last 30 days.

Exantas Capital Corp.is a real estate investment trust, which primarily focuses on the origination, holding and management of commercial mortgage loans and commercial real estate-related debt investments in the United States. The company has an expected earnings growth rate of 60.6% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved 6.5% over the last 30 days.

Eagle Bancorp Montana Inc. provides various retail banking products and services in Montana. It accepts various deposit products, such as checking, savings, money market, and individual retirement accounts, as well as certificates of deposit accounts. The company has an expected earnings growth rate of 57.9% for the current year. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year has improved 15% over the last 30 days.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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