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The market's big struggle right now, its driving narrative, is between COVID-19 and the prospects of a new, multitrillion-dollar round of stimulus.
Stocks have rebounded over the past two days, after an apparent improvement in the president's COVID-19 symptoms merited his discharge from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
On the coronavirus front, investors seem to have digested the bigger picture: The virus remains a severe threat and a major disruptor, but death rates are declining right now, better therapeutics are available, and several vaccine candidates are on the horizon.
Against this backdrop, we've seen no convincing signs of progress in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's negotiations over a fresh multitrillion-dollar round of stimulus. The rally lost some significant "steam" on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Speaker Pelosi stressed the need for fresh stimulus, then began a much steeper dive minutes after Trump said negotiations were off until after the November election.
White House-watchers and Wall Street insiders opined that Trump's abrupt move was likely a negotiating tactic, not the end of the stimulus road.
That's established the pattern investors will have to contend with: pullbacks, driven by stimulus worries, will be promptly followed by rallies, as coronavirus fears ease. Rinse and repeat, until further notice.
I'll tell you what I think of our stimulus chances, where the market will go next, and most importantly, the one profitable play you can make right now…
Stimulus Is Coming – It's Just a Question of When
FOX Business Network's Stuart Varney asked me point-blank on "Varney & Co." yesterday: "Mnuchin and Pelosi are talking – do you think we get a stimulus deal before the election?"
I'll tell you, straight-up, what I told him… Yes.
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Yes, I think we do get a stimulus deal before the election, and I think we'll have old-fashioned political gamesmanship practically guarantee it.
It's as irresistible as gravity. In an election year like this, no politician is going to want to come back to their constituents and stump with no stimulus deal for which to take credit.
It may be late in coming, it may even be lukewarm, but we'll get that stimulus, and when we do – watch out.
There's another irresistible "force" at work, too. Since at least 1950, stocks' fourth-quarter performances tend to be strong. And while this is certainly a year the likes of which we haven't seen for 100 years, Wall Street is still gearing up for its annual relentless quest for year-end performance bonuses. Historically, that's good news for stocks.
So we know a stimulus is coming; we know stocks should respond favorably. The only thing we don't know is exactly when, just "sometime before the election."
I suggest looking at these stocks in the meantime – I think they're going to have a big week.
One to Watch, One to Trade, and One to Buy
Paychex Inc. (NASDAQ: PAYX) makes its quarterly report tomorrow, and it should be riveting in more ways than one. A good result, as I think is quite likely given the slowly-but-surely improving U.S. unemployment picture, will move the stock that's been bumping up against four-month resistance levels.
But remember – Paychex does lots of payroll processing and human resources functions for small- and medium-sized businesses. Its outlook and guidance – should the company elect to share it – could give us a good sneak preview of what's ahead in the labor market. This stock is a bet on economic recovery – proceed according to your convictions and risk tolerance.
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I expect bad – very bad – news from some of the pandemic's hardest-hit corporate casualties, Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) and Delta Air Lines Inc. (NASDAQ: DAL). Unlike rival carriers American and United, Delta has so far been able to keep furloughs and huge layoffs at bay due to folks taking early retirement packages. Delta is looking at the prospect of nearly 2,000 pilot layoffs, though.
Investors don't always react well when companies avoid layoffs and furloughs, because they tend to read these tragic events as cost-cutting and good for a company's bottom line. I expect Carnival will do even worse. There's not much appetite for cramped, close-quarters travel and, indeed, cruising is still prohibited in most areas. Absent a bailout package – which could come with stimulus – I'd avoid buying cruise lines and airlines; look for favorable points to trade puts on them instead.
The standout, and one unequivocal "go long" opportunity this week, is Domino's Pizza Inc. (NYSE: DPZ). I like this stock. We've seen delivery restaurants like Domino's adapt quickly to the pandemic, and this one in particular has thrashed the competition. It's still rising, so expect good things in its reporting. I'll be watching closely for its outlook and guidance.
If we're very lucky, we'll get a little "sell the news" pullback in DPZ to give us an even more attractive entry point.
Three Companies We Like Even More Than DPZ
My friend and colleague Shah Gilani just named three stocks he thinks are "screaming buys" right now.
They're all trading at a discount right now, too, with powerful tailwinds that could potentially make their prices skyrocket.
About the Author
D.R. Barton, Jr., Technical Trading Specialist for Money Map Press, is a world-renowned authority on technical trading with 25 years of experience. He spent the first part of his career as a chemical engineer with DuPont. During this time, he researched and developed the trading secrets that led to his first successful research service. Thanks to the wealth he was able to create for himself and his followers, D.R. retired early to pursue his passion for investing and showing fellow investors how to build toward financial freedom.