Should You Buy During The Stock Market’s August Angst?

Once again, stock market jitters worldwide have emerged in August when trading desks are thinly manned with junior staff. This year, the worries emanated from the self-inflicted economic woes in Turkey brought on by its leader, President Recip Tayyip Erdogan.

He thinks he knows more than markets and has taken full control of the Turkish economy. Even though its economy needs much higher interest rates and tough austerity measures, he will not hear of that and is leading his country down the path of Venezuela toward economic oblivion.

Turkey’s troubles then spread to much of the emerging world even though many countries hit by selling (by those junior staffers) have solid fundamentals. I cover all the details for you in an article that will appear on Monday at the Investors Alley website.

Why do I say the selloff in emerging markets was not justified? Because Turkey is ‘small potatoes’.

The country is not a significant player in the global economy. Last year its GDP was $900 billion, or about 1% of global GDP at market exchange rates. And when it comes to foreign exposure to Turkish assets, the impact is equally limited. Non-residents hold 20% of Turkey’s equity market, which has a market capitalization less than 2% the size of the U.K. stock market. In terms of debt, foreigners hold about 40% of Turkish government bonds – and Turkey’s public debt is quite low, at 30% of its GDP.

There’s been much talk about the exposure of certain European banks to Turkey. But even there, the exposure is quite limited. Of the Eurozone’s roughly €175bn claims on Turkish assets, Spanish banks have the largest exposure, with one of the country’s biggest, BBVA, having the most at risk. French and Italian banks are next, a very distant second. Korea barely slides into the top ten, and no other Asian country has any significant exposure to Turkey.

Market Effects

Emerging market stocks last Wednesday that their worst day in six months, sending the FTSE Emerging Index to a decline of more than 20% from its January 26 peak – a classic definition of a bear market.

The decline was exacerbated by a plunge in one of China’s tech giants, Tencent, as pressure from the Chinese government on video games and e-sports led to the company reporting its first quarterly drop in profits in over a decade.

The selloff also spread to developed markets on Wednesday, with Wall Street experiencing its steep decline since late June. And more importantly, a widely watched measure of the yield curve briefly dipped to a new decade low on Wednesday morning, as the fallout from Turkey’s escalating economic crisis ricocheted around the world.

The difference between two- and 10-year yields on U.S. Treasuries dropped to only 23.4 basis points. That was below its previous low of 23.6 basis points reached in mid-July. This spread is important because of its reliability as an economic indicator. It has turned negative, with the yield curve inverting, before every recession of the past 50 years.

Related: Buy These ETFs Setting Up for Profit’s from a Strong U.S. Dollar

Markets did stabilize and enjoy a robust rally on Thursday though after word that the U.S. and China are to resume formal trade talks in late August.

Time to Play Defense?

One interesting item I want to bring to your attention has been happening even before the Turkish turmoil. . .that is that investors around the world have turned more defensive. Some investors seem to be bracing themselves for some sort of economic slowdown or financial stress.

That can be seen in the recent outperformance of healthcare stocks. Globally, healthcare stocks have outperformed the technology sector to the greatest extent since mid-2016. Healthcare stocks have gained 8.5% in the three months through mid-August, according to data from Thomson Reuters. In comparison, the former leaders – global tech stocks –  rose only 4.1%. This is a classic sign of portfolio re-positioning to a more defensive posture.

This is good news if you’re invested in the sector. I’ve seen in my personal portfolio some European healthcare stock ADRs that have hit all-time highs recently.

Related: Dump These Healthcare Stocks Getting Amazoned

It looks like prolonged trade war talk is unfortunately slowing the global economy. “We are seeing a lot of leading indicators already starting to turn down; year-on-year trade growth is now decelerating quite rapidly and we are starting to see a rotation within markets,” said Ian Harnett, chief strategist at Absolute Strategy Research to the Financial Times.

And indeed, the rate of growth in world trade is slowing. The volume of world trade increased a mere 0.4% in the six months to May, according to the latest figures from CPB, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis — down month on month from 2.8%. It was the slowest growth rate since the six months to October 2016.

Hints of slowing can be seen here in the U.S. too, if you know where to look. If the economy starts to grow more slowly, the impact will show up first in the price of refined fuels such as road diesel, marine gasoil and jet fuel that play a central role in the freight transport system.

These middle distillate fuels are principally burned in the high-powered engines used in trucks, ships, railroads, barges and aircraft to move freight around the world, as well as in factories, on farms and at mines and oilfields. Mid-distillates actually account for more than a third of the oil used around the world every day, and are the single-largest category of refined products.

In other words, distillate fuels are closely correlated with the global economic and trade cycle, and at the moment they confirm other indications the rate of growth is slowing. Even here in the U.S., distillate stocks, which had been drawing down faster than usual during the first four months of 2018, have now been building faster than normal since late May.

Even the mighty U.S. tech sector could become more and more vulnerable to the rising geopolitical and trade tensions. As Mr. Hartnett said to the Financial Times, “Trade wars could morph into tech wars, with a lot more talk about the tech sector and whether the U.S. administration will remain relaxed about how tech companies are fostering the globalization that it seems Trump is looking to reverse.”

Even if that doesn’t happen, I will be looking for more high-quality companies in the healthcare sector to add to the Growth Stock Advisor portfolio in the months ahead. In the meantime, stay tuned for more volatility – the historically volatile period of August, September and October is far from over.

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5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch

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To be honest, I’m not entirely thrilled about investing in marijuana stocks at the moment. Movement toward legalization at the state level in the United States and at the national level in Canada has sent a number of pot stocks soaring. But not all marijuana stocks necessarily are going to be winners. The sector may not be an outright bubble — yet — but there’s certainly a case that rising marijuana-related optimism has lifted all boats, including several that have some leaks.

As is so often the case in “hot” sectors, investors need to focus on quality stocks and the best companies. These five marijuana stocks offer ownership in companies that at least have proven their ability to drive revenue growth and have a coherent, solid plan for future profits.

Valuations are generally high across the space, and these stocks are not immune to that trend. But all at least have a chance to grow into those valuations — and don’t have the questionable business models or tactics of some of the smaller operators that have sprung up over the past couple of years.

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH)

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH)

GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) might not be considered a marijuana stock by some investors. Rather, GW really is a biopharmaceutical company whose lead product happens to be derived from cannabinoids — a compound found in the marijuana plant.

That said, GW is a real biopharmaceutical company with a very attractive pipeline. Initial products such as Epidiolex and Sativex are used to treat epilepsy and spasticity caused by multiple sclerosis. And the growing acceptance of medical — and even recreational — marijuana likely will help GWPH longer term.

More patients will be willing to try marijuana-derived drugs, particularly as GW expands its indications. In the U.S., marijuana’s inclusion as a “Schedule 1” recreational drug still creates regulatory hurdles for the company. And down the line, the headline risk of an acquisition by a company like Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) or Merck (NYSE:MRK) would seem to be lessened as marijuana’s reputation turns from “evil” to “helpful.”

GWPH remains a high-risk play, like most early stage drug companies. Profits remain negative, and will remain so for several years. But GW Pharmaceuticals also has real promise — and an intriguing pipeline.

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Canopy Growth (CGC)

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Canopy Growth (CGC)

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Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) has changed the recreational marijuana sector. In May, it became the first marijuana pure-play to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Last week, a major deal gave the entire industry a new level of credibility. Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ, NYSE:STZ.B) — owner of Corona and Modelo beer, Svedka vodka, and other wine & spirits brands — is investing some $4 billion into CGC for a 38% stake in the company.

CGC shares soared on the news and have kept gaining, reaching a new all-time high on Monday. The only concern at this point is valuation. Canopy obviously has a huge growth opportunity in front of it, as Dana Blankenhorn detailed last month. But valuation is simply huge: at a market cap around $8 billion, CGC is trading at something like 170x trailing-12-month revenue.

If Canopy turns out to be a dominant wholesaler and retailer of marijuana, the current price could be cheap. But CGC is not a stock for the faint of heart. Indeed, few marijuana stocks are.

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Tilray (TLRY)

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Tilray (TLRY)

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Canadian producer Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) went public last month. Soon after the IPO, I wrote that TLRY stock looked overvalued — and that it probably didn’t matter.

Indeed, TLRY has continued to push higher after initially falling back. Citron Research — better known as a short-selling firm — helped stoke the rally last week. In the wake of the Constellation-Canopy deal, Citron cited a $45 price target for TLRY — still 25% above Monday’s close (and an all-time high).

Here, too, valuation is a concern. TLRY trades at over 100x sales. But I might actually like Tilray’s business model more than that of Canopy. The company already produces medicinal marijuana for customers in ten countries. According to its prospectus, it was the first company to export marijuana (legally) from North America. It has a pharmaceutical partnership with Novartis(NYSE:NVS), and is moving quickly and heavily into the recreational space.

Tilary has a solid “first mover advantage” and a huge opportunity. I’d still worry about the stock price and margins: this is an old-line manufacturer at the end of the day, not a high-flying tech stock. But for investors who see the Canadian market as a multi-billion-dollar opportunity, TLRY is one of the better plays.

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Cronos (CRON)

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Cronos (CRON)

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Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) is another manufacturer with a nosebleed valuation. CRON has a market cap over $1 billion — and generated around US$3 million in revenue in its second quarter.

Admittedly, that figure rose 430% year-over-year, so there is some reason for optimism here. Cronos’ smaller size could make it a takeover target down the line, with Canopy off the table for now and Tilray perhaps looking to go it alone. Molson Coors (NYSE:TAP) has been looking for a deal in the space, and recently set up a joint venture for cannabis-infused beverages. It could theoretically be a suitor as well.

From here, CRON looks stretched, even by the standards of the sector at the moment. But with huge growth and a perhaps lower profile than the leaders, the company does have time and potential to one of the best, if not the best, performers in the space.

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG)

5 Marijuana Stocks to Watch: Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG)

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Unlike seemingly every other stock even tangentially related to marijuana, Scotts Miracle-Gro(NYSE:SMG) has struggled in 2017. SMG shares are down 27% so far this year, and hit a nearly two-year low earlier this month before a recent bounce.

But SMG still represents an intriguing “picks and shovels” play for the marijuana gold rush. The company’s Hawthorne Gardening unit targets the cannabis industry, and is acquiring Sunshine Supply to accelerate its growth and scale. Unfortunately, performance hasn’t been great of late, leading Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagedorn to unleash an expletive-filled tirade on his company’s fiscal Q3 conference call.

That said, as Will Healy pointed out, the long-term opportunity remains intact. SMG isn’t exactly cheap — but it’s certainly cheaper, and at 18x forward EPS cheap enough for investors to have some patience. (A 2.7% dividend yield helps as well.) Growth investors likely will go for the headline manufacturing stocks, but value investors seeking a back door to marijuana growth should take a long look at SMG.

As of this writing, Vince Martin has no positions in any securities mentioned.

Source: Investor Place