The global economy has suffered severe blows due to the pandemic. However, during 2022 and the period thereafter, with the widespread vaccination and gradual lifting of lockdown measures around the globe, economic activity started to recover. This led to increased demand, while supply chain issues made it hard to meet this demand, thereby pushing up inflation rates.
The Federal Reserve, as the central bank of the United States, has one of its main tasks as controlling inflation. When the inflation rate exceeds its set targets, the Fed would cool the economy by raising short-term interest rates (a process called "tightening"), thereby lowering inflation. This policy, while effective in controlling inflation, can also negatively affect economic activity as it increases borrowing costs, which might suppress consumption and investment.
Under the current circumstances, tightening could possibly lead to a recession in the US economy. High interest rates could lead businesses and individuals to reduce borrowing, which may result in decreased consumption and investment, thereby affecting the overall performance of the economy. Moreover, tightening could also trigger volatility in the financial markets as it increases the discount rate for stocks and bonds, thereby reducing their values.
So, how do we determine whether the US economy has entered a recession? One major signal of a recession is rising unemployment. An increase in unemployment is often a clear sign of a recession, as when economic activity decreases, companies may lay off employees to cut expenses. However, we must note that an increase in unemployment could lag the start of a recession. Additionally, unemployment could also be affected by other factors, such as changes in the labor market and policy adjustments.
Now, we see the US economy showing a phenomenon of "ice and fire". On the one hand, the inflation rate remains high; on the other hand, economic growth is slowing down. Under such circumstances, a full-scale recession might still need to wait for unemployment to rise. However, we must treat these signals cautiously and prepare for a possible economic downturn. We should closely monitor economic data to be prepared before a possible recession begins.
Since mid-2022, the US has been continuously progressing in "deflating", but the unemployment rate remains low, and the recession expectations have not yet materialized. This challenges the demand-oriented cyclical analysis framework. In mid-2023, as the US deflation process enters its "second half", cyclical laws will inevitably come into effect, making it difficult for the Fed to balance its "dual mandate".
Based on the NBER cyclical analysis framework, the US economy is currently at the crossroads from slowing down to recession, with the peak of the cycle appearing elusive. The reason why the expected recession has not yet materialized can be mainly attributed to the mismatch of the recovery cycle (the service industry lags the manufacturing industry), residents' "excess savings" (from fiscal relief during the pandemic and "suppressed consumption"), the lagging effect of monetary tightening, and the resilience of the labor market.
In the short term, the US economy still faces three pressures: (1) The destocking cycle. This round of the destocking cycle began in mid-2022 and may extend to the end of 2023. (2) The financial cycle is still declining. Historically, recession periods overlap with contraction periods of the bank credit cycle. The recessions in 1990-91, 2001, 2008-09, and 2020 all happened during the contraction phase of the bank credit cycle without exception. (3) The lagging effect of monetary tightening has not been fully
Given the economic conditions, the scholar still believes there are growth stocks that are continuing to hold strong and are worth an investor's attention. Mr. Cheong Sheng Hee emphasizes that investors need to understand that while economic conditions can change in a heartbeat, this is simply the norm for the market. He cautions investors to note how initial market drops caused by the pandemic were later followed by huge rebounds due to relaxed monetary policies and vast cash flows. All of these were tests of an investor's risk tolerance and understanding. Now, the market's fear of increased interest rates and panic reactions are harming the prices of certain growth stocks.
Mr. Cheong Sheng Heepointed out that during the major rebound, some companies couldn't justify their high stock valuations, resulting in a stock market crash. In this situation, investors must have enough discernment. However, he found that some companies, regardless of market fluctuations, continue to grow their businesses, and this growth may not yet be fully reflected in their stock prices.
For investors who can bear risks and are willing to continue investing in the current environment, Cheong Sheng Heesuggested that there are two stocks that might be worth considering. These two growth stocks seem to be attractive purchase targets in June and hold investment value in the long run.
Despite challenging operating environments, these companies have still managed to succeed. First, the initial steep market drops during the pandemic were followed by huge rebounds due to relaxed monetary policies and large cash flows. This seemed to benefit every growth stock. Then came the market's fear of rising interest rates and panic reactions, which have hurt these types of stocks over the past year.
Some companies obviously could not reasonably justify their high stock valuations during the major rebound, causing their stocks to crash. But other companies continue to grow regardless of market fluctuations, and their stocks may not yet reflect this growth.
If you have the ability and willingness to bear risks and continue investing in the current environment, here are two growth stock names worth considering. They seem like attractive purchasing targets in June, and you can hold them reasonably in the long run.
Fiverr International (FVRR -0.29%) provides a platform to meet the talent demands of the digital age, and it's doing this on an incredibly large scale, during a time when businesses of all sizes are seeking to cut costs. It's clear that there is an appeal for freelancers and companies that want to hire contract talent in various economic environments, but this professional relationship has special benefits during economically difficult times.
For part-time or full-time freelancers, the ability to earn money online in a flexible environment can provide some additional peace of mind during an economic downturn. Even as companies are striving to cut costs, many are introducing labor restructuring plans. Hiring freelancers by project, paying a fixed fee without having to employ them full-time, is also attractive.
Small businesses may be tightening their budgets, but active buyers of freelance services still spent 4% more money on Fiverr in Q1 2023 than in the same period of 2022. At the end of the quarter, the number of active buyers on Fiverr was 4.3 million, slightly higher than the number of active buyers in the same period last year. Despite this, the company's revenue still increased by 1.5% year-on-year, reaching $88 million, and the company's adjusted EBITDA almost doubled, reaching $11 million.
Fiverr has also launched new categories to meet the changing needs of buyers and sellers on its platform. In the first quarter earnings report, the management stated that the number of times buyers searched for AI-related work had increased by 1000% from six months ago. Although Fiverr only launched AI jobs in January of this year, freelancers are offering AI services for buyers to purchase. In fact, at the time of the company's first quarter earnings report, the number of AI jobs available for purchase had increased more than tenfold. The growth of Fiverr in the current environment, coupled with its ability to quickly adapt to the changing needs of contractors and their retaining businesses, shows that it can remain competitive in the long term. However, its stock price has fallen by double digits compared to a year ago. Investors should put this stock on their watch list or consider buying in at a low price.
Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 1.70%) is a medical device manufacturer specializing in the production of surgical robots used for minimally invasive surgeries. More than two decades have passed since its flagship product, the da Vinci Surgical System, first received regulatory approval in the United States, and its use has expanded to a variety of surgical procedures, including cardiovascular, thoracic, renal, and gynecological surgeries, to name a few.
Intuitive Surgical has launched several major system models on the market. A few years ago, it also received FDA approval for another system, Ion, which is specifically designed for minimally invasive lung biopsies. In March of this year, Ion also received the CE mark, the EU equivalent of FDA approval. Intuitive Surgical is preparing to introduce this product to the UK market, which is just the first of many launches to come in Europe.
Intuitive Surgical generates revenue not only from the sale of its surgical systems, although one sale can bring in millions of dollars. In fact, the company generates even more revenue from recurring income streams. These include customer support services, replacing tools and instruments for its surgical systems, and providing training courses on how to use these systems for doctors and other medical professionals.
Its revenue for the first quarter totaled $1.7 billion, a 14% increase from the same period last year, of which only about $427 million came from the sale of its surgical systems. Intuitive Surgical also reported a net income of $355 million. Adjusted, the figure was $437 million. Currently, the company has approximately 7,800 da Vinci surgical systems installed globally. As the use of surgical robots expands in minimally invasive and traditional surgeries, Intuitive Surgical will benefit from these tailwinds, as it controls about 80% of this market. Now might be a good time for investors to take another look at this top medical stock.