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Goldman Sachs Says Utilities and Consumer Staples Stocks Are Set to Outperform as the Presidential Election Approaches — Here Are 2 Names the Banking Giant Likes
Stock Analysis & Ideas

Goldman Sachs Says Utilities and Consumer Staples Stocks Are Set to Outperform as the Presidential Election Approaches — Here Are 2 Names the Banking Giant Likes

Almost exactly a year from now, Americans will cast their ballots and vote for a President, doing so for the 60th time since 1788. The election process will kick off in earnest on January 15th when the Iowa Republican caucuses mark the official commencement of primary season.

Right on time, says Goldman Sachs’ Chief U.S. Equity Strategist David Kostin, investors have started asking how the 2024 election will impact the stock market.

Going by the history books, it’s not going to be a vintage year. In the 12 months heading into an election, since 1932, the S&P 500 has averaged a return of 7%, below the 9% average return seen in non-election years. In fact, recent performance has been even worse; since 1984, the S&P 500 has posted an average return of only 4% in the preceding 12 months of an election.

So, what should investors specifically focus on during the next year? “Profit growth is typically strong in election years while valuations move sideways,” Kostin noted. “Info Tech has usually been the worst performing sector in the year ahead of the election. Defensive sectors tend to perform best, led by Utilities and Consumer Staples.”

Against this backdrop, Goldman Sachs analysts have pinpointed two stocks in these defensive sectors worth examining closely. We’ve decided to give them a closer look and for a fuller view of their prospects we ran them through the TipRanks database. Here’s what we found.

Don’t miss

Sempra (SRE)

Starting with the Utilities sector, we’ll explore Sempra, an energy infrastructure company that ranks among the largest regulated providers of electricity and natural gas services in the United States. Sempra primarily serves approximately 40 million customers in Southern California and Texas.

The company’s operations are organized into distinct segments, which include San Diego Gas and Electric Company (SDG&E), Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), Sempra Texas Utilities, Sempra Mexico, and Sempra LNG. By the numbers, at the end of 2022, the company boasted of $79 billion in total assets while Sempra oversees a 20,000-strong workforce spread across its family of businesses.

The company only recently released its Q3 earnings report, showing mixed results. On the one hand, revenue fell by 8% year-over-year to $3.33 billion, while missing the Street’s forecast by $350 million. However, Sempra fared much better at the other end of the equation, with Q3 adj. earnings rising from $622 million in the year-ago period, or 0.98 per diluted share, to $685 million, or $1.08 per diluted share, thereby outpacing analyst expectations by $0.07.

On the back of the strong performance seen during the first 9 months of the year, for the full year, the company now expects adj. earnings to come in above or at the high-end of its guided range of $4.30 to $4.60 vs. Street expectations of $4.49.

Scanning these results, Goldman Sachs analyst Carly Davenport finds plenty to like about the latest display whilst noting the catalysts ahead.

“This quarter increased our conviction that SRE’s Texas utility Oncor is a material strength for the company. The reduction of regulatory lag, potential increase in capex, and a clear runway for organic load growth in the region all highlight why we have viewed Oncor as an underappreciated asset for SRE. We believe SRE has several key catalysts ahead, including the aforementioned capex raise, the conclusion of the California GRC (general rate case), and the announcement of FID for the Cameron expansion and Port Arthur Phase 2 in 2024. SRE continues to trade at a 0.7x discount to our coverage group on our 2025 numbers, which we view as unwarranted given these strengths,” Davenport opined.

These comments underpin Davenport’s Buy rating while her $89 price target suggests shares will climb 24% higher in the months ahead. (To watch Davenport’s track record, click here)

Overall, the analyst consensus rates SRE shares a Moderate Buy based on a mix of 6 Buys and 4 Holds. The forecast calls for one-year returns of 11%, considering the average target stands at $80.56. The company also pays a regular dividend. The latest div payout reached $0.59 per share, providing a ~3.25% yield.

Mondelez International (MDLZ)

Let’s now turn to the Consumer Staples sector and check the details on global snack powerhouse Mondelez International. The company was created in 2012 when spun off from Kraft Foods and boasts a diverse range of iconic products, including Oreos, Cadbury, Toblerone, Ritz, and Trident, to name just a few. With a presence in more than 150 countries, Mondelez is one of the world’s biggest snack companies, claiming first global spot in biscuits (cookies and crackers) ands second in chocolate.

Last year, global net revenues reached around $31.5 billion, and the company appears on track to exceed that figure this year. In fact, in the recently released Q3 report, despite substantial reinvestment endeavors, the company bettered expectations on several fronts. Revenue reached $9.03 billion, representing a 16.4% YoY increase while beating the consensus estimate by $220 million. On the bottom-line, adj. EPS of $0.82 outdid the forecast by $0.04.

And looking ahead, the company delivered, too. Mondelez increased its FY23 organic net sales growth outlook from 12%+ beforehand to +14-15% vs. the consensus estimate of +13.8% and boosted the adj. EPS growth outlook to ~16% compared to the prior 12%.

Goldman Sachs analyst Jason English expects that strong performance to persist. “We continue to believe the company is well positioned to see widening fundamental outperformance versus Staples peers,” English said. “It is aggressively investing in both marketing and commercial activation with a long runway of distribution growth still ahead of it in markets such as Mexico, Brazil, China, India and other Southeast Asian markets. We expect this to sustain its momentum in the foreseeable future and reiterate our Buy rating in this context.”

That Buy rating is accompanied by an $82 price target, which makes room for one-year growth of 20%. (To watch English’s track record, click here)

Overall, Mondelez gets plenty of support on Wall Street. The stock claims a Strong Buy consensus rating, based on 16 Buys vs. just 2 Holds. Over the next year, shares are expected to appreciate by 14%, considering the average target stands at $78.35. Investors can also enjoy a dividend here. The latest payout stood at $0.42/share, and that offers a yield of ~2.45%.

To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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