Wall Street continues to apprehend a potential trade war due to President Trump's protectionist stance. Trump has planned to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the United States, a move that has faced opposition from House Speaker Paul Ryan and compelled chief economic advisor Gary Cohn to resign. Both raised concerns that other countries will retaliate, increasing the odds of a trade war and harming the global economy.
The European Union (EU) is preparing retaliatory tariffs on iconic U.S. brands, while fears of a full-fledged trade war since the 1930s has been raised by the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
As uneasiness about trade policy spikes, small-capitalization stocks remain fairly immune to the adverse effects. And why not? These stocks have high domestic exposure in terms of revenue generation, which shields them from international disputes. Thus, investing in sound small-caps seems sensible at the moment.
Ryan Can't Legally Stop Trump's Tariffs
Trade continues to be the primary focus for investors after Trump planned to raise tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. But, key Republican Ryan expressed concerns that such tariffs will lead to a trade war. It will also jeopardize the positive impact the tax overhaul policy had on the economy. Ryan requested the President to take a "surgical" approach rather than applying penalties on all imported steel and aluminum. However, Trump told reporters, when asked about Ryan's comments that "no, we're not backing down" from imposing tariffs.
So, can the Congress stop Trump from starting a trade war? The answer is no. After all, it is the Congress that has enacted laws over the past century that authorizes the President to impose tariffs. Trump has chosen the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 - Section 232 that clearly states that the President can impose tariffs on all other countries only if imports pose a threat to U.S. national security. Trump argued that steel and aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico and all other countries pose a risk to national security, something that baffled world leaders.
Cohn's Resignation to Spark a Global Trade War
The head of Trump's National Economic Council, Gary Cohn's resignation was a setback for world leaders. Cohn was viewed as part of a globalist faction in the Trump administration who called for a moderate approach toward protectionist trade policies.
Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS executive, is viewed by many market pundits as a level head within the Trump administration. He was chief architect of the business-friendly tax cut policy signed into law last year. Thus, the President's top economic advisers' resignation has raised concerns that Trump is set to soon adopt a protectionist stance.
The European Union Strikes Back
Trump's tariff announcement has already evoked anger among global leaders, with the EU saying that it will impose tariffs on 2.8 billion euros ($3.5 billion) worth of U.S. imports, per Reuters. Tariffs will be implemented on a range of consumer, agricultural and steel products imported from the United States.
According to EU's executive arm, the Brussels-based European Commission, the target list includes imported shirts, jeans, cosmetics, other consumer goods, motorbikes and pleasure boats totaling 1 billion euros; orange juice, bourbon whiskey, corn and other agricultural products worth 951 million euros, and other industrial products of around 854 million euros.
WTO Warns Trump Not to Escalate Trade War
The WTO, in the meantime, warned Trump that his proposed tariffs will trigger tit-for-tat protectionist measures, leading to a global recession. Roberto Azevedo, the WTO's director general, said that "in the light of recent announcements on trade policy measures, it is clear we now see a much higher and real risk of triggering an escalation of trade barriers around the world."
WTO officials said that the EU, Mexico, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Canada and India were among the prominent members that expressed "very strong concerns" regarding Trump's proposal. But, Trump remained defiant and said that he won't back down.
Is a Trade War Brewing? Buy 5 Small-Cap Stocks
As prospect of a potential trade war looms large, investing in small-cap stocks seems judicious. Due to their limited international exposure, small-caps offer higher protection than their large- and mid-cap counterparts against any global downturn.
We have, thus, selected five small-caps that should make meaningful additions to your portfolio. These stocks flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or 2 (Buy). The search was also narrowed down with a VGM Score of A or B. Here V stands for Value, G for Growth and M for Momentum and the score is a weighted combination of these three metrics. Such a score allows you to eliminate the negative aspects of stocks and select winners.
RCI Hospitality Holdings, Inc.RICK engages in the hospitality and related businesses in the United States. The company has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings moved up 7.9% in the last 90 days. The stock's expected growth rate for the current year is 44.1% versus the industry 's projected rally of 17.8%.
Northern Oil and Gas, Inc.NOG engages in acquisition, exploration, exploitation, development, and production of crude oil and natural gas properties in the United States. The company has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose more than 100% in the last 90 days. The stock's expected growth rate for the current year is 200% versus the industry 's estimated rally of 31%.
American Public Education, Inc.APEI provides online and campus-based postsecondary education. The company sports a Zacks Rank #1 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 34.2% in the last 90 days. The stock's expected growth rate for the current year is 15.5% compared with the industry 's projected rally of 13.1%. You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
The Marcus CorporationMCS owns and operates movie theatres, and hotels and resorts. The company has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM Score of A. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings climbed 12.5% in the last 90 days. The stock, which is part of the Leisure and Recreation Services industry, is expected to yield a solid return of 21.2% and 16.9% for the current quarter and year, respectively.
Echo Global Logistics, Inc.ECHO provides technology-enabled transportation and supply chain management solutions in the United States. The company has a Zacks Rank #2 and a VGM Score of B. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its current-year earnings rose 28.9% in the last 90 days. The stock's expected growth rate for the current year is 45.4% versus the industry 's estimated rally of 15.3%.
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Zacks has just named 4 companies that enable investors to take advantage of the explosive growth of cryptocurrencies via the stock market.
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