These companies are showing some worrisome signs and trends that should sound alarm bells for investors.
Source: shutterstock.com/Leonid Sorokin
The benchmark S&P 500 index is at a record high and on the cusp of closing above 5,000 for the very first time. While the index is comprised of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in America and is viewed as a diverse collection of both small and large cap stocks, its gains continue to be driven by a small group of technology companies, most of whom are leaders in the area of artificial intelligence (AI).
The majority of stocks in the index continue to lag its overall performance. So lopsided is the current performance of the S&P 500 that when the index rose 1% on Feb. 2, the average stock in the index was down on the day. The gain in the S&P 500 on Feb. 2 was mostly due to a 20% rise in the share price of Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META) on news that the company plans to pay a dividend for the first time. The current rally may eventually broaden out.
But for now, it remains highly concentrated in a few names. Here are three doomed S&P 500 stocks to dump before they dive: February 2024.
The New York Times Co. (NYT)
The New York Times Co. (NYSE:NYT) suddenly looks vulnerable. While the newspaper publisher’s fourth quarter 2023 print contained some impressive figures, it also unveiled some worrying trends. On the positive side, the company added 300,000 paid digital subscribers in the final months of last year, and the continued growth pushed its annual revenue for digital subscriptions above $1 billion for the first time. But the Times also saw a drop in advertising and raised concerns about artificial intelligence.
Overall advertising at The New York Times declined in Q4 by 8.4% to $164.1 million. Digital advertising fell 3.7% while print advertising dropped 16.2%. The number of print subscribers also continues to decline, falling to 660,000 at the end of 2023 from 730,000 at the end of 2022. And the Athletic, the sports site the company bought two years ago, continues to lose money, posting a $4.4 million loss for Q4 2023. The share price fell 8% after its latest print, making The New York Times look like a doomed stock.
United Parcel Service (UPS)
United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) continues to struggle after the Covid-19 pandemic ended. So far in 2024, UPS stock is down 7%, bringing its 12-month decline to 22%. The company’s shares have been sliding lower ever since it lowered its forward guidance for this year, citing weak demand for its services. The world’s largest delivery and logistics company said that it expects 2024 revenue of $92 billion to $94.50 billion, which is below Wall Street forecasts of $95.57 billion.
The company said that it continues to wrestle with weak demand, particularly among e-commerce shipments. For the final quarter of 2023, UPS reported earnings per share (EPS) of $2.47, which was a smidge ahead of Wall Street forecasts of $2.46. Revenue totaled $24.92 billion, missing the consensus expectation among analysts of $25.40 billion and marking the sixth consecutive quarter that the company’s revenue missed expectations. Sales were down 8% from a year earlier. Along with its latest print, UPS announced 12,000 job cuts.
British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) put the best spin possible on its most recent earnings report. Or rather than company distracted media and analysts by announcing that it plans to buyback a total of $14 billion of its own stock through 2025, including $3.50 billion in this year’s first half. News of the increased stock buybacks dominated the headlines and led to BP stock rising 5%. However, beneath the cheering there were some worrisome signs in BP’s latest print, including a big drop in its annual profit.
BP reported a net profit for all of last year of $13.80 billion. That was half of the record $27.70 billion the company earned in 2022 when crude oil prices were above $100 a barrel. The company also announced that its net debt stood at $20.90 billion at the end of 2023, basically the same level it was at a year earlier. And the European oil giant now has a new and unproven CEO in Murray Auchincloss, who replaces former CEO Bernard Looney who resigned last fall after a workplace scandal.
BP stock has declined 5% in the last 12 months and is down 15% over the past five years, making it a doomed S&P 500 stocks to dump before it dives further.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.