Will it, or won't it? Most of the right government officials say talks about another round of stimulus checks are happening, though nothing's been firmed up yet and President Donald Trump seems to be of two minds on the subject almost simultaneously. Even if an agreement could be hammered out in the very near future though, it could still take some time to print and mail them.
Translation: Don't hold your breath about getting something, for a couple of different reasons.
Nevertheless, with a presidential election coming up and both parties seeking ways to take credit -- and victory laps -- for taking care of voters, such a handout still has some small potential for happening. Walmart (WMT -1.93%), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY -1.62%), and Charles Schwab (SCHW -1.06%) are three companies that could be among the biggest beneficiaries if more stimulus checks end up being delivered.
1. Walmart offers more stuff to more people
It's an obvious pick, to the point of being cliched. Nevertheless, the nation's biggest brick-and-mortar retailer is arguably the best-positioned organization in terms of providing a place for people to spend the aforementioned windfall. It operates more than 4,700 stores peppered across the country and sells everything from groceries to guns to games.
Its e-commerce operation and curbside pickup offerings have also become go-to solutions since the COVID-19 contagion took hold earlier this year. Online sales were up 74% year over year during the quarter ending on April 30, and its e-commerce business grew 97% during the three-month stretch ending on July 31. Same-store sales growth in the United States was 10% and 9.3%, respectively.
The company didn't specify how much of that growth it believed was solely due to the extra $1,200 most consumers were supplied in the middle of the year. Clearly consumers were stocking up on food and cleaning supplies in the midst of shutdowns meant to curb the contagion. The company's CFO even explicitly warned in August that such spending growth wouldn't be sustained without more stimulus checks. Given Walmart's second fiscal quarter numbers for this year, there's good reason to believe the opposite is also true.
2. Bed Bath & Beyond is back, just in time
Bed Bath & Beyond is a name that was already falling off investor radars even before the coronavirus pandemic got going. Revenue growth has been slowing since 2014 and started to fall last year. Profits have been steadily declining since 2014 as well, with operating losses becoming the norm in 2019.
With no end to the deterioration in sight, now-former CEO Steven Temares stepped down in May of last year, but he wasn't replaced until October when the board selected former Target (TGT -2.24%) executive Mark Tritton to assume the role. Right in front of the busy holiday shopping season is a tough time of year for any newcomer, but when most of the company's top executives resigned in mid-December, it was easy to assume the worst. Store closures related to the coronavirus outbreak had the potential to serve as a death blow to the already weakened retailer.
Tritton and his new management team have adapted amazingly quickly, though. Same-store sales growth improved 6% for the quarter ending on Aug. 31, largely driven by an 89% increase in Bed Bath & Beyond's once-lacking online shopping presence.
The beginning of the company's digitally minded overhaul couldn't have come at a more opportune time. Online sales accounted for almost all of last year's revenue growth in the home goods category of consumer goods, according to Digital Commerce 360, and rival retailers like Target, TJX Companies, and Lowe's all mentioned notably strong growth in recent sales of home goods.
With the economy at least stabilizing at a time when people are accepting that they'll be spending more time at home, consumers are increasingly willing to make that living space as nice as possible.
3. Charles Schwab shares discount the company's not-so-near future
Finally, add Charles Schwab to any list of stocks that will benefit from more stimulus checks.
As was the case with Walmart, we've already seen what happens when you pass along billions of dollars worth of stimulus to consumers. Some people spend it on stuff, but others will put it into the stock market. Even during Schwab's fiscal first quarter that ended in March -- before the brunt of COVID-19 was felt -- the brokerage firm opened a record-breaking 609,000 accounts, followed by roughly another 550,000 new accounts during the second quarter, not counting accounts linked to its acquisition of USAA. That growth mirrors similar account growth from online brokers TD Ameritrade, Robinhood, and E*Trade. These newcomers tended to be more active traders too, perhaps in an effort to replace the sports betting that had been missing since March as well.
More (and more active) accounts don't necessarily translate into more revenue or profits, for the record. Most online brokerage firms offer commission-free trading, including Schwab. The bulk of Charles Schwab's revenue comes from net interest charges, with the next biggest chunk coming from asset management fees. The former of those has tanked this year, against a backdrop of record-low interest rates.
With shares down nearly 40% from highs hit earlier this year, though, investors may not be fully factoring in the earnings recovery expected next year once this year's dust finally settles. While interest rates my not soar higher, there's little room left for them to move any lower. In the meantime, Schwab will start the new year out with a few hundred thousand more accounts than it would have otherwise started 2021 with. They may be small accounts now, but at least these investors are now in Schwab's fold in front of economic growth. The market may connect these dots sooner rather than later.