Warren Buffett famously said one should be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful. Right now, there is a lot of fear around stocks, with an 18% year-to-date loss on the S&P 500 index – and that’s after gaining 3% in recent trading sessions.
Does that mean it’s time to get greedy? Perhaps a hint is coming in from Oppenheimer. The firm is less pessimistic than most, and in recent note, chief investment strategist John Stoltzfus lays out a bull case for gains on a mid-term time scale.
Stoltzfus doesn’t back down from the current headwinds. He acknowledges inflation, the lingering difficulties of COVID lockdowns and supply disruptions, and the recessionary pressures brought on by the Federal Reserve’s switch to an anti-inflationary regime of increasing interest rates. But in Stoltzfus’ view, “Even in the face of uncertainty and palpable risks of recession, our longer-term outlook for the US economy and the stock market remains decidedly bullish. We believe US economic fundamentals remain on solid footing. US growth should remain well supported by consumer demand, business investment, and government spending.”
Stoltzfus sees a 23% upside to the S&P 500 by year’s end, from its current level near 3,900. A gain of that magnitude would put the index at 4,800.
Against this backdrop, we’ve used the TipRanks database to pull up the details on two stocks that Oppenheimer analysts have tapped as Top Picks for 2022 and beyond. Are these the right stocks for your portfolio? Let’s take a closer look.
American Express (AXP)
First up is one of the most recognizable names in finance, American Express. This New York City-based company has a world-wide reach and a reputation for offering financial services to a higher-end clientele. The company’s products include credit access and financing, which customers can use via credit cards and charge cards, business and corporate checking accounts and credit programs, and business lines of credit.
Even though the corona pandemic put a damper on consumer spending in 2020, Amex still saw more than $8 billion in revenues at the height of the crisis in 2Q20. Since then, the company’s top line has generally increased, topping out at $12.44 billion in 4Q21.
The most recent quarterly report, for 1Q22, showed $11.7 billion in revenues, which despite a 6% sequential drop was still up 29% year-over-year. The company’s earnings were in-line with the previous year’s 1Q, at $2.73, but 12% above the analyst forecasts.
This stock gets ‘top pick’ status from Oppenheimer, where analyst Dominick Gabriele explains why: “We see tailwinds still mounting at AXP vs. peers given the return of T&E spend and pent-up demand among the affluent consumer. Loan growth is likely to stay elevated vs. the industry and AXP isn’t seeing any inflationary impacts to discretionary spend among their customer base. We think the average ticket size could continue to increase at AXP and be a boon to volumes in coming quarter vs. peers. We expect continued OP of AXP vs. peers. Structural changes materializing pushing LT revenue growth expectations higher.”
To this end, Gabriele quantifies his position with an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $212 price target. Investors stand to pocket a 50% gain, should all go according to plan over the next 12 months. (To watch Gabriele’s track record, click here)
Overall, the stock has 14 recent analyst reviews, split down the middle on Buys versus Holds for a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The shares are priced at $141.03 and their $185.15 average price target suggests a 31% upside in the next 12 months. (See AXP stock forecast on TipRanks)
Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG)
The next Top Pick we’re looking at is Chipotle Mexican Grill, a recognizable brand in the fast food industry. Chipotle has been expanding its network over the past few years, and in 12 months between March 31, 2021 and March 31, 2022 the chain grew from 2,803 locations to 3,014. New location openings per quarter have ranged from 40 to 78; the 51 new openings in 1Q22 was well within that range.
In other positive metrics, Chipotle’s $2 billion in 1Q revenue was up 16% year-over-year. Drilling down, we find several positive data points supporting that gain, including a 9% increase in comp store sales and a 33% increase in in-restaurant sales. The company’s digital sales came to nearly 42% of food and beverages. Getting to the bottom line, adjusted earnings came to $5.70 per share, up nearly 6% from the year-ago quarter.
Chipotle’s management was particularly pleased with the 51 new locations opened during the first quarter. Of these, 42 include a drive-thru Chipotlane, a feature which, according to the company, has shown solid performance since the onset of the pandemic crisis.
Covering this restaurant chain for Oppenheimer, 5-star analyst Brian Bittner writes: “CMG remains a top pick owing to its unique pricing power, robust traffic drivers, and ongoing margin/EPS upside path. We also believe its accelerating unit growth (to the 10% range) with higher-return Chipotlanes is underappreciated.”
Bittner has also taken a broader look at the fast food sector in general, and continues to place Chipotle at the top relative to peers. Of that broader view, Bittner looked at the last cyclical recession, and said of Chipotle, “With investors focused on a potential recession, we carefully analyzed industry-wide and company-specific data points during the ’08/’09 economic downturn. In a nutshell, restaurant industry sales were surprisingly resilient (despite 8.6M jobs lost) and significantly outperformed overall retail sales trends. On a bottom-up basis, CMG and MCD were the only brands in our coverage where quarterly same-store-sales never turned negative.”
In-line with his upbeat view of CMG, Bittner rates the stock an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and sets a $1,925 price target that shows his confidence in 42% growth going forward. (To watch Bittner’s track record, click here)
All in all, this restaurant chain has picked up 20 analyst reviews in recent months, and these include 16 Buys against 4 Holds, for a Moderate Buy consensus rating. The average price target of $1,777 and change implies a 12-month upside potential of ~32% from the current trading price. (See CMG stock forecast on TipRanks)
To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
BofA Securities maintains Amazon.com at ‘buy’ with a price target of $154.00
Six people in critical condition, one still missing after Paris blast – prosecutor
© Reuters. French firefighters and rescue forces work after several buildings on fire following a gas explosion in the fifth arrondissement of Paris, France, June 21, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
PARIS (Reuters) – Six people remained in a critical condition and one person was believed still missing on Thursday, one day after a blast ripped through a street near Paris’ historic Latin Quarter, the city’s public prosecution office said. “These figures may still change,” prosecutor Maylis De Roeck told Reuters in a text message, adding that around 50 people had been injured in the blast, which set buildings ablaze and caused the front of one to collapse onto the street. Of two people initially believed missing, one has been found in hospital and is being taken care of, the prosecutor said, adding: “Searches are ongoing to find the second person.” Authorities have not yet said what caused the explosion, which witnesses said had followed a strong smell of gas at the site. The explosion led to scenes of chaos and destruction in the historic Rue Saint Jacques, which runs from the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral to the Sorbonne University, just as people were heading home from work. It also destroyed the facade of a building housing the Paris American Academy design school popular with foreign students. Florence Berthout, mayor of the Paris district where the blast occurred, said 12 students who should have been in the academy’s classrooms at the time had fortunately gone to visit an exhibition with their teacher.
“Otherwise the (death toll) could have been absolutely horrific,” Berthout told BFM TV. She said three children who had been passing by at the time were among the injured, although their lives were not in danger.
4 big analyst cuts: Alcoa & DigitalOcean shares drop on downgrades
Here is your Pro Recap of the biggest analyst cuts you may have missed since yesterday: downgrades at Alcoa, DigitalOcean, Teleflex, and Xcel Energy.InvestingPro subscribers got this news in rapid fire. Never be left in the dust again.Alcoa stock drops on Morgan Stanley downgrade Alcoa (NYSE:) shares fell more than 3% pre-market today after Morgan Stanley downgraded the company to Underweight from Equalweight and cut its price target to $33.00 from $43.00, as reported in real time on InvestingPro.The firm sees a significant decline in consensus estimates, and as negative earnings revisions materialize, it believes the stock will face downward pressure and underperform.The analyst’s estimates for EBITDA in Q2, 2023, and 2024 are substantially lower than the consensus. The stock is currently trading above its historical average. The firm said its downward revisions in earnings estimates and price target are attributed to the company’s high operating leverage to aluminum prices.DigitalOcean stock plunges on downgradePiper Sandler downgraded DigitalOcean (NYSE:) to Underweight from Neutral with a price target of $35.00. As a result, shares plunged more than 5% pre-market today.The company reported its last month, with revenue beating the consensus estimate, while EPS coming in worse than expected. Furthermore, the company provided a strong outlook, which was above the Street estimates.2 more downgradesTeleflex (NYSE:) shares fell more than 3% yesterday after Needham downgraded the company to Hold from Buy, noting that UroLift expectations may still be too high.According to Needham, their checks indicate that urologists are reducing their use of UroLift due to its retreatment rates, reimbursement cuts, and increasing use of competing procedures. This is also supported by their Google Trends data analysis, which indicates decreasing search interest in UroLift.BMO Capital downgraded Xcel Energy (NASDAQ:) to Market Perform from Outperform and cut its price target to $64.00 from $69.00 to reflect the lower-than-expected terms of the company’s regulatory settlement in Colorado.Amid whipsaw markets and a slew of critical headlines, seize on the right timing to protect your profits: Always be the first to know with InvestingPro.Start your free 7-day trial now.
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