Things continue to look up for the U.S. economy. Bloomberg reports an improving job market has spurred consumerism in Americans.
Labor department data shows payrolls increased by 227,000 in February, the third month of gains in excess of 200,000. And thanks to six months of job growth and climbing stock values, more Americans are planning to purchase cars, homes, and appliances -- news that is certain to boost analyst expectations.
The Conference Board's gauge of present conditions increased to 51 in March from 46.4 in February, the highest since September 2008. And Bloomberg's measure of consumer confidence ranges between 66 to 77 after reporting a 70.8 in February.
Of course, gasoline prices are rising, creating a "tug of war" between the labor market and disposable income.
"We are close to that key psychological level of $4 a gallon. Assuming gas prices don't shoot to the moon, consumers will keep spending," says Carl Riccadonna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities to Bloomberg.
Business section: Investing ideas
How do you think March numbers will look? And what can we expect going forward?
In the meantime, we wanted to find out which companies on the S&P 500 index have been benefiting.
We ran a screen on the index for companies with a negative yearly performance but a positive monthly performance. We then looked for the bullish sentiment of institutional investors, with net institutional buying in the current quarter.
So, are these companies, which performed negatively for the year, ready for a comeback? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)
1. Aon Corporation (NYS: AON) : Provides risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human resource consulting and outsourcing services in the United States and internationally. In the past year the company has lost 6.39% but gained 2.14% in the past month. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 11.2M shares, which represents about 3.46% of the company's float of 323.53M shares
2. Express Scripts (NAS: ESRX) : Provides a range of pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services in North America. In the past year the company has lost 3.31% but gained 0.3% in the past month. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 16.2M shares, which represents about 3.37% of the company's float of 481.10M shares
3. Hospira (NYS: HSP) : Develops, manufactures, and markets pharmaceuticals and medication delivery systems in the United States and internationally. In the past year the company has lost 29.38% but gained 4.9% in the past month. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 6.3M shares, which represents about 3.84% of the company's float of 164.14M shares
4. Micron Technology (NYS: MU) : Engages in the manufacture and marketing of semiconductor devices worldwide. In the past year the company has lost 25.76% but gained 0.18% in the past month. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 49.0M shares, which represents about 5.11% of the company's float of 959.39M shares
5. Sears Holdings (NAS: SHLD) : Operates as a retailer in the United States and Canada. In the past year the company has lost 6.73% but gained 6.89% in the past month. Net institutional purchases in the current quarter at 2.2M shares, which represents about 6.07% of the company's float of 36.25M shares.
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.
Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Institutional data sourced from Fidelity.
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