With financial markets across the globe in free-fall on concerns that the coronavirus from China is turning into a pandemic, investors are naturally looking for safe stocks to buy to weather the coronavirus storm.
Fortunately, there are plenty of good options out there.
First, though, let’s get one thing clear. The coronavirus is a big, scary and volatile thing. We don’t exactly know how this thing will play out. But, as of today, the base case is that it will have minimal and short-lived damage on the global economy.
Warmer weather, coupled with strict quarantining, quick government responses and broader distribution of Gilead’s (NASDAQ:GILD) remdesivir treatment (which is apparently working in treating coronavirus), will likely help kill the spread of this virus in coming months.
So, much like other health outbreaks, this too shall pass.
In the meantime, there are plenty of stocks to like on the dip. Right now, investors are indiscriminately selling everything. But, everything won’t be hurt by the coronavirus. Namely, U.S. companies who do business primarily in the U.S. will likely continue to do business as usual amid this non-U.S. outbreak. At the same time, one could reasonably argue that as Treasury yields have fallen to record lows on coronavirus fears, that plunge actually creates significant runway for growth stocks to surge once the outbreak dies down.
So, what exactly am I saying? Use recent weakness to buy the dip in high-quality, U.S.-focused growth stocks, because these stocks are attractively positioned to roar higher once coronavirus fears pass.
With that in mind, let’s take a look a seven safe stocks to buy on the coronavirus dip.
Safe Stocks to Buy on the Coronavirus Dip: Square (SQ)
Payments processor Square (NYSE:SQ) was red hot in 2020. Until it wasn’t. And that’s entirely because of the coronavirus.
Through Feb. 20, SQ stock was up 37% year to date. Ever since, shares have dropped 10%.
In simple terms, this selloff doesn’t make much sense. Square is a payments processor with a big U.S. focus. Unless U.S. consumers stop spending, Square’s growth trajectory won’t be meaningfully impacted by the coronavirus. Right now, the coronavirus has hit America — but not in a meaningful enough way to significantly slow consumer activity. If anything, consumers have upped their spending as they stock up on hand sanitizers, wipes, and other basic goods. Even further, if you look at the data, it looks like this virus won’t be much an issue for that much longer.
So, the coronavirus impact on Square will be temporary and small.
Meanwhile, the stock is down 10%. The company is firing on all cylinders in the digital payments world. Its subscription and seller service products are gaining material traction. Cash App is growing very quickly. Revenues are roaring higher. Margins are expanding.
Lots is going right for this company. The stock just happens to be down. So, take recent weakness as an opportunity to buy into this long-term winner at a discount.
Shares of streaming device maker Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) have dropped about 20% over the past month on coronavirus concerns. But one could very reasonably argue that the outbreak is actually a net positive for ROKU stock for two big reasons.
First, Roku sells streaming devices, which are essentially a go-to form of at-home entertainment. Anywhere the outbreak is live, consumers are stuck in their homes. Anywhere the outbreak isn’t live, but concern is real, consumers are likely opting to stay home more than usual. In both situations, consumers are engaging more with at home entertainment options, like Roku. I wouldn’t be surprised that, in the wake of the outbreak, global streaming hours through Roku devices have actually spiked.
Second, Roku is a richly valued growth stock trading at 8-times forward sales. In a world of 4% to 5% interest rates, an 8-times forward sales multiple for Roku wouldn’t make much sense. But, the 10-Year Treasury yield has plunged to a record low 1%. In that low rate world, an 8-times forward sales multiple makes a lot of sense, because low yields translate into low discount rates, which provide support for extended equity valuations.
All in all, then, ROKU stock looks quite compelling amid recent weakness.
Enterprise technology giant Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) has been punished by coronavirus fears in February, with shares dropping about 10% off their February highs.
The concern is that if coronavirus concerns escalate in North America, consumers and enterprises will peel back their spend on creative media, experience management, and digital document solutions, the sum of which comprise Adobe’s product portfolio.
I simply don’t see that happening. Creative media demand from consumers and enterprises should remain resilient. As should experience management demand. Digital document demand may even get a boost, as companies temporarily pivot towards more offline, digital-only interactions.
Big picture, then, Adobe’s business will be just fine during the coronavirus outbreak.
Perhaps more importantly, once the virus fades, the business will potentially catch fire. That’s because there’s now more liquidity in the market than there was throughout 2019, providing more favorable spending conditions for both consumers and enterprises. When consumers and enterprises spend more, some of that money makes its way into Adobe’s suite of creative and digital products, providing a material revenue and profit tailwind.
So, not only will ADBE stock withstand coronavirus headwinds, but it will also push higher with great momentum once virus fears pass.
When it comes to social media platform Snap (NYSE:SNAP), the “buy the dip” thesis is pretty simple.
Are consumers interacting with Snap less because of the coronavirus outbreak? No.
This is a U.S.-heavy social media app. U.S. consumers have not changed how much they interact with social media because of the outbreak. Nor have consumers in any of Snap’s other core markets, like Europe.
Are advertisers spending less with Snap because of the coronavirus outbreak? In the big picture, no.
Sure, maybe some of Snap’s advertisers have pulled back some ad spend in recent weeks amid supply chain disruptions, tight budgets, and end-demand uncertainty. But, those issues will be resolved within the next few weeks, as coronavirus concerns fade. Once they do get resolved, advertisers will re-up spend.
In the big picture, then, Snap is not losing because of the coronavirus outbreak. And, it’s also getting big support for its supercharged valuation from the plunge in interest rates.
Yet, SNAP stock is down 30% over the past month. This plunge doesn’t line up with the fundamentals, meaning more than anything else, it’s an opportunity to buy the dip in a high-quality, big-growth digital advertising company.
Much like Snap, Pinterest (NYSE:PINS) is a strong digital advertising company that has been unfairly punished by the coronavirus outbreak.
This company just reported blowout fourth-quarter numbers that included sustained, robust user growth, big and stabilizing revenue growth and healthy profit margin improvement.
Yet, Pinterest stock is down 16% since early February.
Is the coronavirus outbreak really that bad for Pinterest, that it should outweigh the company’s strong fourth-quarter earnings report? No.
Pinterest is blocked in China, so it has no exposure to where the outbreak is the worst. Meanwhile, the company has a huge presence in North America and Europe, where the outbreak has been largely contained and is unlikely to spread to concerning levels (given that both geographies have sufficient resources to thwart spreading).
So, the coronavirus outbreak isn’t a big deal for Pinterest. Yet, the stock is plunging as if it were.
This discrepancy is an opportunity. Over the next few months, coronavirus fears will fade, Pinterest will report another strong growth quarter, and the stock will shoot higher.
Digital education platform Chegg (NYSE:CHGG) operates entirely in the United States, and it just reported a strong double-beat fourth-quarter earnings report. Add to that the fact that it is a 20%-plus revenue grower with huge profit margins and a ton of room to sustain big growth for a lot longer.
When you put all of that together, you wouldn’t think that a China-centric health outbreak would weigh all that much on CHGG stock. But it has. Since coronavirus fears escalated in mid-February, CHGG stock has shed 15%.
This irrational selloff is an opportunity.
Over the next few months, coronavirus fears will fade. Chegg will report another strong quarterly earnings report, and analysts will hike forward profit estimates. At the same time, low rates will provide room for multiple expansion. Higher profits plus multiple expansion will lead to a big rebound in the stock.
It’s that simple. Don’t overthink it. This is a high-quality, U.S-focused growth company with a ton of momentum. Coronavirus fears won’t derail that momentum. So buy the dip.
The biggest company on this list, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), is one of the best and most safe stocks to buy on coronavirus fears.
Why? A few reasons.
First, Facebook is blocked in China, so the company has no exposure to where the outbreak is the worst. Second, there are no signs that minimal outbreak in various other countries has resulted in weaker social media engagement. Third, so long as the outbreak is contained in other countries — which it likely will be — digital ad spending trends in Facebook’s core markets won’t take that big of a hit from the coronavirus. Any hit they do take, will be recouped in short order once the virus passes. Fourth, Facebook is a growth stock, and growth stocks tend to do very well in low interest rate environments (and we are in the lowest interest rate environment, ever).
Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, FB stock was cheap before the coronavirus selloff. It’s even cheaper now.
Pre-sell off, this was a 20%-plus revenue grower with expanding profit margins trading around 25-times forward earnings. Now, it’s still that. It’s just trading at 22-times forward earnings.
So, with FB stock, you have a high-quality, big-growth company with minimal coronavirus exposure. And it’s trading at a relatively dirt cheap valuation on coronavirus fears. Sound like an opportunity? It is.
Luke Lango is a Markets Analyst for InvestorPlace. He has been professionally analyzing stocks for several years, previously working at various hedge funds and currently running his own investment fund in San Diego. A Caltech graduate, Luke has consistently been rated one of the world’s top stock pickers by various other analysts and platforms, and has developed a reputation for leveraging his technology background to identify growth stocks that deliver outstanding returns. Luke is also the founder of Fantastic, a social discovery company backed by an LA-based internet venture firm. As of this writing, he was long PINS, CHGG and FB.