The warning signs are getting a bit stronger.
The U.S. market experienced a momentary rotation out of growth stocks and into value between Sept. 5 and Sept. 10. The yield curve for the 3-month and 10-year treasuries remain inverted, indicating to many on Wall Street a recession is coming sooner rather than later. But Tuesday morning, Morgan Stanley industrial analysts published a research report highlighting clear risks in cyclical sectors and industrials.
Against the fundamental risk in some of these cyclicals, S&P 500 is still up 19% year-to-date and the chances of two Federal Reserve interest rate cuts fell from 80% last week to below 60% Tuesday, albeit because of trade war optimism. Still, stock investors want two rate cuts. Without a second rate cut, cyclical stocks could conceivably fall from here.
Cyclical Warning Sign
Airlines, trucks and original equipment manufacturers, or OEM's, and freight and transport lines were said to bare the most risk.
"Net-net, U.S. airlines are a tough place to be in the near-term as risks are evident around pricing, demand, capacity and costs (e.g. labor and fuel)," the bank wrote.
Airline stocks performed mixed in 2019. Delta (DAL - Get Report) is up 18.9% year to date, roughly in line with the S&P 500. American Airlines (AA - Get Report) is down 11% on the year. United Airlines (UAL - Get Report) is up 7.1% in 2019. Still, a slowing consumer would threaten these stocks. Many are optimistic on consumer spending, but the trend has largely been a down one of late.
"Rail volume weakness has come into focus as carloads across Class 1 rails have deteriorated -4.2% [year-over-year] in the second quarter to -5.4% in the third quarter," the analysts wrote. They mentioned three railway services have guided volumes downward for the full year of 2019. Those three are Union Pacific (UNP - Get Report) , which is guiding second-half 2019 volumes down 2%, Canadian National Railway (CNR) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CP - Get Report) .
There may certainly still be risks with the railways, and since July 31, some of their stocks have not performed well. Union Pacific is down 6.7% in that span, with Canadian National up 3.6% and Canadian Pacific down 2.5%.
Lastly, truck and OEM production cuts are "increasingly likely" for the second half of 2019, Morgan Stanley said. Cummins (CMI - Get Report) , an engine and power generation products maker, warned of a sales slowdown, a trend that Morgan Stanley says shows no indication of reversing.
Defensive and Dividend Stocks
Recently, slightly bearish Wall Streeters have vouched for not only defensive sectors, but premium dividend payers specifically. And those dividends are aplenty. With the 10-year treasury yield at 1.83%, select defensive stocks with low volatility seem like a no brainer for those who believe a selloff is in the cards.
"In this low-rate environment, dividend payers are certainly a great place to start for investors on the hunt for yield," Rick Swope, vice president of investor education at ETrade recently emailed TheStreet.
Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report) , a consumer staple, pays a 2.95% dividend at present. Procter & Gamble (PG - Get Report) pays 2.46% to its current share price. Verizon (VZ - Get Report) and AT&T (T - Get Report) pay 4.1% and 5.5% dividends, respectively.