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The Flight to Quality Is Sometimes a Round Trip

By Rick Munarriz - Mar 24, 2020 at 8:04PM

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Some of this year's biggest winners shifted into reverse in Tuesday's market rally. It probably will not stay that way.

Tuesday was a great day to be long the market. The three major market indexes soared 8% to 11% higher, and you probably had several stocks in your own portfolio bust out with double-digit percentage gains. 

Obviously not every stock moved up during Tuesday's rally. A handful of stocks bucked the buoyancy, and you probably won't be surprised to find that many of the day's laggards just happened to be some of the biggest year-to-date leaders. A flight to quality sent investors scrambling into some of these stocks in recent weeks, following the narrative that they are among the few companies positioned perfectly to thrive through the coronavirus crisis. With investors feeling a little more confident about Wall Street's near-term prospects, it's only natural that some of the money should rotate out of these bear-market-bucking winners.

A lady sitting dejected on a chair as a stock chart heading lower is displayed against the wall.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's all relative

Let's go over six of the stocks that defied Tuesday's surge. Even after the day's slide, they continue to trade with at least double-digit percentage gains so far this year.  

Stock March 24 Change (Decline) 2020 Year-to-Date Change
Zoom Communications (ZM 2.78%)  (15%) 99%
Vir Biotechnology (VIR 1.57%)  (11%) 161%
Teladoc (TDOC 4.88%) (3%) 94%
Quidel (QDEL) (3%) 14%
Clorox (CLX 2.07%) (1%) 10%
Netflix (NFLX 2.90%) (1%) 10%

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Zoom has become the video platform of choice for educators and folks working from home. It's powering the virtual classrooms and conference centers that will define the social-distancing phase of the world's efforts to contain COVID-19.

Vir Biotechnology, Teladoc, and Quidel are toiling away on the medical front. Quidel has the tests, Vir is working on the treatment, and Teladoc is making it easier to receive a medical consultation without having to expose anyone else in a doctor's office to the deadly strain. 

Clorox may seem like an unusual name here, but between bleach and its signature disinfectant wipes that retailers can't seem to keep in stock, it has become a popular play in cleaning supplies. Netflix as a "shelter in place" play is fairly obvious. Folks are staying in, and Netflix happens to run the world's leading premium streaming service with more than 167 million subscribers worldwide. 

Nothing that triggered the market's enthusiasm for Tuesday's gainers diminishes the appeal of these six stocks that took a breather. The passing of financial stimulus bills will help ease some of the pain that was going to accompany the economic hit that we're all bracing for now, but the coronavirus is still out there. Folks will still be spending time at home. COVID-19 will still need to be tackled.

There's an argument to be made that the entirety of the double-digit percentage gains of these six stocks weren't warranted. It was just the dynamic of too many investors chasing too few stocks. But all six of these companies will continue to grow more relevant in the coming weeks and months. The flight to quality may be a round-trip experience, but the improving fundamentals suggest that in the long run, this could ultimately be a one-way trip.    

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Stocks Mentioned

Netflix, Inc. Stock Quote
Netflix, Inc.
$179.95 (2.90%) $5.08
The Clorox Company Stock Quote
The Clorox Company
$143.90 (2.07%) $2.92
Quidel Corporation Stock Quote
Quidel Corporation
Teladoc Health, Inc. Stock Quote
Teladoc Health, Inc.
$34.83 (4.88%) $1.62
Zoom Video Communications Stock Quote
Zoom Video Communications
$110.97 (2.78%) $3.00
Vir Biotechnology, Inc. Stock Quote
Vir Biotechnology, Inc.
$25.87 (1.57%) $0.40

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

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