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Why Shares of Consumer-Facing Companies Are Down Today

By Lou Whiteman - Mar 12, 2020 at 1:33PM

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Coronavirus concerns continue to weigh on a number of large household names.

What happened

Wall Street was in sell mode again on Thursday, sparked by a new wave of COVID-19 coronavirus travel restrictions and uncertainty about the U.S. plan to steady the economy during this crisis.

The sell-off was broad based. Anheuser-Busch Inbev (BUD 0.26%) is down 16%, while a number of other consumer-facing companies including Walt Disney (DIS -1.20%), Twitter (TWTR -0.56%), Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG 0.20%), and Hasbro (HAS -0.10%) were all down 10% to 12% each.

So what

Anheuser-Busch Inbev is actually down despite an analyst upgrade, with RBC Capital analyst James Jones upping the company to outperform from sector perform. In a note, Jones said that while 2019 results were "underwhelming," the shares are now undervalued. The note echoed comments made by Argus analyst John Eade on Wednesday, who said the recent weakness in the shares is a buying opportunity.

Disney continues to be under pressure due to the company's large park business, which is likely to feel the pinch of a broader travel slowdown as people try to avoid crowded places. The company's broadcast business will also lose revenue due to the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer suspending play, as well as other dropped sporting events.

A stock trader stares at a desk with multiple screens loaded with financial data.

Image source: Getty Images.

Similar to Disney parks, Chipotle seems likely to be impacted in the near term if consumers decide to stay at home and avoid crowds. But the stock on Thursday got an endorsement from Cowen analyst Andrew Charles, who said Chipotle remains at the top of his list of best ideas to buy in the current environment.

Hasbro doesn't have to worry about crowds the way Disney and Chipotle do, but the toy company's supply chains have been disrupted and could face delays delivering red-hot products including toys based on Disney's Baby Yoda.

Finally, Twitter would seemingly be a potential beneficiary of the crisis, as the platform is again showing itself to be a vital source of news and information, and its business is not reliant on users being in groups. But the company on Thursday was targeted along with other tech giants with a plea from the White House to control the spread of misinformation.

Now what

It's easy for Wall Street analysts to say the shares appear oversold, and in many cases the stocks likely are. These are all strong businesses that can weather a downturn, and yet all but Twitter are down more than 30% year to date.

It's important to remember that just because a stock is oversold, that doesn't mean it won't keep going down. Until there is some sort of sense that the coronavirus is under control, and the actual economic impact can be measured instead of just speculated about, it is going to be hard for markets to find the bottom.

The best advice is to hold steady and be on the lookout for stocks likely to grow faster than the overall market over the next decade. The names on this list are a pretty good place to start.

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Stocks Mentioned

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Stock Quote
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.
$1,331.71 (0.20%) $2.69
The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
$96.61 (-1.20%) $-1.17
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV Stock Quote
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV
$54.08 (0.26%) $0.14
Hasbro, Inc. Stock Quote
Hasbro, Inc.
$85.65 (-0.10%) $0.09
Twitter, Inc. Stock Quote
Twitter, Inc.
$39.19 (-0.56%) $0.22

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

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