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Morgan Stanley strategist who called sell-off sees it getting worse, recommends these stocks

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Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson sees further pain ahead in the market, so he recommended certain cheap stocks with upside to weather the downturn. “While we maintain our bearish outlook, it’s no longer out of consensus. However, given the risks to growth are just emerging, it’s too early to get bullish. Biggest areas of risk remain the consumer’s ability and/or willingness to spend, margin pressure and a cyclical downturn for tech spending,” Wilson said in a note Monday. The bank’s chief U.S. equity strategist and chief investment officer is a prominent bear on Wall Street, having called the sell-off earlier this year. Wilson had the lowest year-end 2022 target for the S & P 500 in CNBC’s annual market strategist survey . Stocks have struggled this year as investors weigh persistent inflation, the Federal Reserve’s rate-hiking cycle, recession risks, the war in Ukraine and the Covid pandemic. The S & P 500 on Friday fell into bear market territory briefly , dropping more than 20% below its January all-time high. Despite the declines, investor exposure to equities remains high — a sign of further market deterioration ahead — Wilson noted. “As they reallocate, this should further weigh on equity prices,” Wilson said. The strategist sees the S & P 500 reaching 3,400 by the end of the second-quarter earnings season. The index closed near 3,900 on Friday. “Until then, vicious bear market rallies should be used to lighten up on the areas most vulnerable to the oncoming earnings reset,” Wilson said. As for stocks to pick up in this environment, Wilson is recommending investors use a “growth at a reasonable price,” or GARP, strategy. GARP employs a mix of both growth and value investing metrics. “We ran a GARP screen to look for high quality companies that can potentially weather this bear market on a relative basis and could still see upside after the bear market,” Wilson said. The firm identified stocks with strong free cash flow and an overweight rating at Morgan Stanley. Take a look at five names on Morgan Stanley’s list. The stocks on Morgan Stanley’s list have a defensive tilt. These names tend to be stable regardless of the economic cycle, such as health care and consumer staple stocks. Coca-Cola is a consumer staple stock that made Morgan Stanley’s screen. The stock is beating the market this year, up 5.6% in 2022. The firm sees even further upside ahead with a price target nearly 25% higher than Coca-Cola’s closing price Friday. CVS Health also appeared on the list. The health-care stock is down for the year, but it’s still faring better than the S & P 500. Morgan Stanley sees more than 33% upside for CVS from Friday’s close. Exxon Mobil is another name on Morgan Stanley’s GARP screen. The energy stock is one of the top 10-performing S & P 500 stocks this year, up more than 53%. Oil and gas companies have seen shares climb in 2022 as the crisis in Ukraine impacts global energy commodity prices. Two other names on the firm’s list are Deere & Co and Abbott Laboratories . –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.

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