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All Contents © 2019The Kiplinger Washington Editors
By Tom Petruno, Contributing Writer
| From Kiplinger's Personal Finance, January 2018
Recommending stocks to sell in a hot market is begging to be humbled. Even when a company disappoints investors, a “buy the dip” mentality can mean that any share-price decline will be short-lived. Nonetheless, here are five stocks we think are good candidates to jettison.
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Many of the biggest players in the packaged-food industry continue to struggle amid heated competition and changing consumer tastes. Shares of General Mills (GIS, $52) have been falling since mid 2016. The stock took another hit when the company, known for brands such as Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Yoplait, reported that sales in the quarter ended August 27 slid 4% from a year earlier. Goldman Sachs advises selling the stock, predicting continued earnings erosion “for the foreseeable future.”
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Likewise, Goldman has a bleak outlook for J.M. Smucker (SJM, $106), known for its iconic jellies but also home to brands that include Crisco, Folgers, Jif and Milk-Bone. Smucker is among the most vulnerable to industry pressures, including market resistance to price increases and more competition from grocers’ private-label brands, Goldman says. The brokerage sees flat sales and earnings for at least the next two years.
Consumer-products companies’ woes are bleeding into the advertisers that get paid to peddle their brands. Brokerage Morgan Stanley says revenue growth at major U.S. ad agencies has been decelerating over the past 18 months as consumer-goods companies rethink their marketing spending. The brokerage is particularly concerned about ad firm Omnicom Group (OMC, $67). In October, fast-food king McDonald’s, an Omnicom client, said it was reviewing its ad-buying decisions. Morgan Stanley says Omnicom’s shares could fall to $52 if revenue growth shrinks further.
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Department-store shareholders keep looking for reasons to hang on. Dillard’s (DDS, $51), which operates 268 stores in 29 states, has seen its shares plunge 64% since April 2015. Yet even with sales at its stores still shrinking, management has been “complacent” about innovation, says Deutsche Bank. With the shares priced at about 17 times expected profit of $3.06 a share in the fiscal year ending January 2019, the brokerage says Dillard’s has the “least compelling” valuation in the industry.
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A year ago we said you should sell electric-car phenomenon Tesla (TSLA, $332), when it traded for $190 a share. We were too early. But we think Tesla is even more overpriced now.
There’s no denying that Tesla’s technology is exciting. But production snafus have caused the company to repeatedly scale back founder Elon Musk’s plan to churn out 500,000 of the new mass-market Model 3 cars in 2018. Even so, analysts at stock research firm CFRA still are optimistic that Tesla’s losses will continue to shrink, and that the company can earn $5.50 a share in 2019. But as Tesla gets closer to profitability, investors should begin to value it more in line with other manufacturers. Even allowing for a very rich P/E of 50 on the 2019 profit estimate, CFRA says, the shares should be trading at $275 a year from now.