President-elect Joe Biden supports another round of stimulus money. But with Congress divided, a second round of stimulus checks is far from a given. Even if another stimulus bill passes, it may not include the $1,200 checks for the majority of adults in the U.S. brought to us by the CARES Act.
While we don't know what kind of relief measures are coming, here are three stocks that stand to soar if the 117th Congress approves more stimulus checks.
1. Dollar General
Like pretty much any discount chain, Dollar General (NYSE:DG) would benefit from more stimulus checks for the obvious reasons: its core customers are the people most likely to actually spend their stimulus checks, rather than saving or investing them. Plus, more affluent customers also tend to trade down from higher-priced retailers during recessions, meaning they're more likely to shop at discount stores.
During the first and second quarters of its fiscal year, Dollar General saw same-store sales rise by 21.7% and 18.8%, respectively. Some of that increase was driven by consumers stocking up on consumable goods like food, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies, early in the pandemic before checks arrived. But once people began receiving stimulus checks in April, the chain saw an increase in consumer discretionary categories like toys, home products, and seasonal items, that continued throughout the second quarter.
But there are a few reasons Dollar General is especially well-positioned to benefit from more stimulus checks. Consumers are spending more on groceries during the pandemic, and Dollar General has been pushing into the grocery space for several years by adding fresh food and frozen items. Also, about three-quarters of its 16,720 stores are located in cities with populations of 20,000 or less. Big-box chains like Walmart (NYSE:WMT) tend to avoid these smaller markets. Dollar General's high concentration in rural America may limit its long-term growth, but it could get a jolt from more direct payments, simply because it will face less competition for its core customers' stimulus dollars.
Countless small brick-and-mortar businesses were forced to shift to e-commerce overnight due to shutdown orders earlier this year. Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) ushered in that transition with its host of products that allow merchants to set up digital storefronts. Its shares are up by more than 150% year to date.
More stimulus money would be a win for the Canadian e-commerce platform for the simple reason that the pandemic has driven our shopping online. In the third quarter, merchant solutions revenue (basically, the money Shopify gets when a customer makes a purchase) was up by an astounding 132%. If people get another check, they'd obviously have more money to spend online and Shopify would bring in even more revenue from those purchases.
But its subscription revenue (the money merchants pay each month to use its platform) was also up 48% in the third quarter. Businesses that have set up shop online through Shopify are unlikely to remove their digital presence, and switching platforms is costly and time-consuming. If additional stimulus payments can help small- to medium-size businesses stay afloat longer, Shopify will reap the benefits from continued subscription revenue.
3. AMC Entertainment
AMC Entertainment Holdings (NYSE:AMC) recently reached another deal to avert the bankruptcy filing that seems inevitable by selling more shares. With attendance down 97% in the third quarter compared to 2019, it's safe to say that Americans won't use a second stimulus check to return to movie theaters in droves.
But guess who loves AMC stock? Robinhood investors. The troubled movie theater chain is consistently on the list of the app's 100 most popular stocks and remains there as of Nov. 27. When stimulus checks went out in April, people with incomes between $35,000 and $75,000 traded stocks at a 90% higher rate than they had the week before, with Robinhood seeing a huge surge.
The idea that Robinhood's 13 million users are moving the entire stock market is nonsense, given that the average account balance is under $5,000. But where Robinhood users can have a big impact is when they invest en masse in a deeply troubled company when most of Wall Street is running. Remember how Hertz (OTC:HTZG.Q) shares soared nearly 900% in the weeks after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year?
If there's another round of stimulus checks, expect a surge in trading on apps like Robinhood. Shares of dirt cheap-for-a-reason stocks like AMC ($4.45 as of Nov. 27) could temporarily soar as a result. By no means does that mean you should invest in them. If AMC winds up in bankruptcy, it's very likely that its shares will eventually be worth $0. No amount of stimulus checks or Robinhood speculation can change that fact.