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Why Visa, Mastercard, and Disney Stocks Dropped Today

By Rich Smith – Feb 24, 2020 at 1:33PM

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Blue Chip status offers no immunity to the great coronavirus selloff of 2020.

What happened

Stocks sold off hard Monday morning on coronavirus concerns, and while high-flying, profitless tech stocks got hit hardest, it's looking like investors cannot count on stolid, cash-rich blue chips to be immune to coronavirus either.

In afternoon trading, shares of Visa (V -0.95%) tumbled 4.2% and Mastercard (MA -1.42%) fell 5%, while Walt Disney (DIS -2.88%) suffered a 5.4% loss as of 12:35 p.m. EST.

So what

The good news is that Visa and Mastercard are up a bit off their lows of earlier today; the bad news is that Disney hasn't recovered much at all. Why not?

Consider the business models. As payment processors, Visa and Mastercard's fortunes are both tied to the economy and to consumer spending at large. Providing credit for purchases of everything from vacations to concerts to restaurant visits -- all of which can be expected to take a serious hit from consumers looking to avoid human contact while the coronavirus runs its course -- is the crux of Visa and Mastercard's business. So too, though, are sales of health-care items like face masks and hand sanitizer -- which could moderate the damage to Visa and Mastercard's revenue streams.

And yes, Walt Disney may have some insulation from coronavirus. Some consumers can be expected to cocoon at home and watch Disney+ for a while. But the company gets much more of its revenue from movie production (Disney's third largest revenue provider by business segment) and domestic parks (the company's biggest business). If consumers avoid movie theaters and, especially, postpone trips to Disneyland while this pandemic runs its course, it will be especially bad for Disney.

Now what

For now, no one's quite sure how bad the COVID-19 coronavirus will get, but the weekend's news that it has broken out in sizable numbers in South Korea, Iran, and Italy suggests things may get worse before they get better.

As bad as today's selloff looks, it could also get worse before it gets better. With today's S&P 500 still trading at a very rich 24.3 times earnings, I wouldn't rush to try and catch this falling knife just yet.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Mastercard, Visa, and Walt Disney and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney and short April 2020 $135 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$97.16 (-2.88%) $-2.88
Mastercard Incorporated Stock Quote
Mastercard Incorporated
$294.97 (-1.42%) $-4.26
Visa Inc. Stock Quote
Visa Inc.
$183.83 (-0.95%) $-1.76

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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