The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ameren, American Electric, Portland General Electric and Chefs' Warehouse

Studying market data including diagrams

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL -October 25, 2018 - announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Ameren CorporationAEE , American Electric Power Company, Inc.AEP , Portland General Electric CompanyPOR and The Chefs' Warehouse, Inc.CHEF .

Here are highlights from Wednesday's Analyst Blog:

4 Top-Ranked Stocks to Buy During a Market Meltdown

The US-China trade conflicts are likely to get reflected in U.S. companies' Q3 earnings results. Rise in benchmark bond yield that resulted in steeper borrowing costs for both corporates and individuals is also a dampener. The drab investment scenario shifts the spotlight to defensive companies. Such stocks provide risk-adjusted returns and steady earnings, regardless of the state of the equity market.

Extended Stock Market Rout

The broader S&P 500 fell for the fifth straight session on Oct 23 and is off nearly 6% so far this month. In fact, the broader index is now trading below its 200-day moving average as stocks continue to struggle. By the way, market analysts consider moving averages as a dividing line of bullish and bearish momentum of an asset. Chief market technician at MKM Partners, JC O'Hara further added that "the average S&P 500 stocks are off minus 17% from its 52-week high, and this shows just how much selling has already occurred."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average has also declined for two straight days and has shed 4.8% thus far this month. The Nasdaq, in the meantime, has gone through a volatile stretch this month and is down 7.6%. The tech-laden index, thus, is almost on the verge of slipping into the correction territory. At the same time, market volatility continues to be high, with the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX) reading 21.24. Market pundits view VIX below 12 as low and more than 20 as high.

What's Haunting the Markets?

Strained trade relation between the United States and China dragged the equity market down. U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products applied last month at a rate of 10% are expected to increase to 25% by the end of this year. Tariffs are widely expected to have an adverse effect on corporate profits, with about 30 companies already mentioning its negative impact duringearnings callso far, per Bank of America's Savita Subramanian. In fact, major Dow components 3M and Caterpillar issued downbeat 2018 guidance in their latest quarterly reports mostly due to the adverse effects of tariffs.

Rapidly climbing benchmark bond yield has fueled fears that the profit margins of U.S. corporates will get hurt by steeper borrowing costs. This escalating cost of borrowing had a negative impact on mega-capitalization companies like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet (Google). Lest we forget, these players better known as FANG stocks do have an outsize impact on the broader market by dint of their market values.

At the same time, the rate on fixed-rate mortgages goes up with an uptick in the 10-year Treasury note. Thus, individuals looking to buy a home or condo will also be hurt as the cost of financing the purchase will increase as rates go up. The Fed, by the way, has raised its federal funds rate three times this year and that typically spells short-term jitters for stocks, especially, now when the equity market is deemed lofty by some measures.

President Trump has also partly blamed the Fed for the market adversities. He said that "I think the Fed is making a mistake. It's so tight, I think the Fed has gone crazy." After all, the equity market did enjoy a bull run for a prolonged period of time, mostly due to ultra-low yields.

But it's not over. Political drama in Europe related to Italy's budget row and Britain's efforts to exit the European Union have also hurt inventors' sentiments.

Take Refuge in These 4 Top Stocks

As markets continue to gyrate, defensive stocks seem to be the safest investment options. Such stocks are generally non-cyclical or companies whose performance and sales are not highly correlated with activities in the broader market. Their products are in constant demand irrespective of market volatility and such names include companies from the utilities and consumer staples sectors.

Utilities are deemed defensive stocks as electricity, gas and water are essentials. Food, beverage and tobacco companies are true defensive plays as demand for such staple stocks remains unaffected by market gyrations.

We have, thus, selected four such stocks that sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Ameren Corporation operates as a public utility holding company in the United States. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 1.9% in the last 60 days. The company is expected to return 15.6% this year, better than the industry 's estimated return of 7.2%.

American Electric Power Company, Inc. is an electric public utility holding company. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 1.3% in the last 60 days. The company is expected to return 11.8% in the current quarter, better than the industry 's estimated return of 9.4%.

Portland General Electric Company is an integrated electric utility company. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings climbed 0.4% in the last 60 days. The company is likely to return 13.6% in the current quarter, higher than the industry 's estimated return of 9.4%.

The Chefs' Warehouse, Inc. distributes specialty food products in the United States. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 1.3% in the last 60 days. The company is expected to return 77.3% this year, better than the industry 's estimated return of 5.6%.

Will You Make a Fortune on the Shift to Electric Cars?

Here's another stock idea to consider. Much like petroleum 150 years ago, lithium power may soon shake the world, creating millionaires and reshaping geo-politics. Soon electric vehicles (EVs) may be cheaper than gas guzzlers. Some are already reaching 265 miles on a single charge.

With battery prices plummeting and charging stations set to multiply, one company stands out as the #1 stock to buy according to Zacks research.

It's not the one you think.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss . This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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Portland General Electric Company (POR): Free Stock Analysis Report

Ameren Corporation (AEE): Free Stock Analysis Report

American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP): Free Stock Analysis Report

The Chefs' Warehouse, Inc. (CHEF): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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