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Are These Nasdaq Laggards Ready to Explode Higher?

By Dan Caplinger – Oct 13, 2020 at 4:46PM

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They've weighed on the market all year. Some see them finally catching up.

The stock market had a bad day on Tuesday, but even in the midst of losses, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.52%) still managed to top other major market benchmarks. Even as the Dow and S&P 500 sank considerably, the Nasdaq's losses were limited to just a tenth of a percent by the end of the trading session. At times during the day, the Nasdaq even traded higher briefly.

Yet even the Nasdaq can't boast a 100% participation rate in terms of every stock gaining ground in what's been a tumultuous 2020. A couple of stocks in the Nasdaq 100 index stand out as major holdouts in the bull market lately. While it's not terribly surprising to see Marriott International (MAR 0.65%) on the list, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA -0.24%) doesn't seem to make as much sense at first glance. Below, we'll take a closer look at both.

Plenty of room at the inn

Marriott International saw its stock fall almost 2.5% on Tuesday, adding to its downward move for the year. So far in 2020, the hotel giant's share price is down by 33%.

Person in hotel room looking out window, with box of chocolates on bed.

Image source: Getty Images.

Marriott's struggles don't require a whole lot of in-depth explanation. For much of the first part of the year, the international hotel chain had to deal with massive closures of its properties. Even now that economies are starting to open up again, many companies have nevertheless pulled the plug on business travel. That's weighing on occupancy rates, which were still below 35% as recently as a couple of months ago.

Investors have had to suffer not only the loss of management revenue at Marriott but also seeing their dividend payments suspended. Marriott made the move to conserve cash and ensure that it would have ample liquidity to deal with any new challenges that arose. Yet even those who are optimistic about Marriott's prospects in the long run have nevertheless been surprised by just how bad it's been.

In order to recover fully, Marriott will need travelers to hit the road once again and feel comfortable that they're doing so in a prudent and healthy way. That'll take time, and Nasdaq investors will need to be patient if they expect to cash in on a return to normal for the hotel industry.

Trying to look healthier

Elsewhere, Walgreens Boots Alliance was also down more than 2% on Tuesday. The drugstore chain has been somewhat of a surprising loser in the COVID-19 pandemic, but many see the Dow component as a bargain stock that's ready to rise.

You'd think that during a pandemic, more people would have demand for the prescription drugs and other medicines available at drugstores like Walgreens. However, the retail chain relies on people not just coming in for their medical needs but also shopping for ordinary household goods in the front ends of its stores. That hasn't been happening to nearly the same extent during the coronavirus crisis, and the resulting drop in sales has knocked the stock down by more than 35% in 2020.

One thing that Walgreens has been able to do that Marriott couldn't is to keep its dividend payments consistent. It just raised its quarterly payout by $0.01 to $0.4675 per share in August. The stock currently yields more than 5%, and with Walgreens claiming elite status as a Dividend Aristocrat, the drugstore chain will inevitably keep doing its best not only to sustain its payout but also to give shareholders at least token increases in the future.

The Nasdaq's gains have been impressive, but some rightly question how long the leading stocks in the benchmark can keep leading the overall market higher. Value investors are watching laggards like Walgreens and Marriott closely, and if things go well for their businesses, their share prices could have a lot further to rise.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Marriott International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Marriott International Stock Quote
Marriott International
$162.53 (0.65%) $1.05
Walgreens Boots Alliance Stock Quote
Walgreens Boots Alliance
$41.66 (-0.24%) $0.10
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return) Stock Quote
NASDAQ Composite Index (Price Return)
$11,226.36 (-0.52%) $-58.96

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

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