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Goldman says beware these stocks with unsustainable margins in a tough environment ahead

Investors should brace themselves for difficult times ahead, with some stocks in particular facing unsustainable margin growth expectations, according to Goldman Sachs chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin. Stocks have been on a tear recently, with the S & P 500 up about 13% from a low reached mid-June. Kostin noted that better-than-expected second-quarter earnings have supported this rally. However, the macro outlook has deteriorated in recent months, he said. While the firm’s outlook for 2022 earnings-per-share remains the same at 8% growth year over year, it has trimmed its 2023 EPS estimate to 3% growth from 6%. “US and global economic growth is weaker, the US dollar is stronger, and inflation is higher than we previously assumed in our top-down model. Economic growth is the primary driver of EPS growth and our economists now forecast real US GDP growth will average +1.1% in 2023 (vs. prior estimate of +1.6%),” Kostin wrote in a note. He’s also forecasting net profit margins will expand 9 basis points in 2022 before falling by 25 basis points in 2023. “We forecast 2023 margin contraction in every sector, led by Materials, Energy, and Health Care,” Kostin wrote. With that in mind, Kostin identified dozens of companies that are vulnerable to downward EPS revisions given their recent margin trajectory. The names reported a decline in trailing four-quarter net profit margins in the second quarter versus the first quarter of 2022. However, consensus expects them to expand margins during the next 12 months, he said. “A re-acceleration in profitability will be challenging given the macro backdrop of decelerating economic growth (and possible recession) and high albeit falling inflation,” Kostin wrote. Here are 10 of the names he believes may face trouble. Match Group is one of the names that made the list. The stock has been pummeled this year, down 46%. The dating app operator reported revenue for the second quarter that missed estimates along with a weaker-than-expected guidance. Kostin said Match Group’s margins fell 565 basis points from the first to the second quarter. However, analysts are expecting margins to grow by 1,623 basis points year over year. Whirlpool also made the list. On Monday, the company announced it would acquire Emerson’s food waste disposer business InSinkErator for $3 billion. The home appliance company is down more than 28% year to date, although it recently reported second-quarter earnings that beat expectations. Whirlpool’s margins fell 438 basis points between the first and second quarter, but analysts still see expansion of 264 basis points in Q2 2023, Goldman’s data shows. Another name that made the list is Yum Brands , which reported mixed results for the second quarter. The restaurant operator saw strong sales growth with Taco Bell, but lockdowns in China weighed on Pizza Hut’s and KFC’s sales. Yum Brands shares are down 14% year to date. Yum margins declined by 82 basis points in the second quarter from the first. However, analysts see margins growing by 118 basis points year over year. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.

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