Why It Pays to Start Companies in Recessions - Kanebridge News
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Why It Pays to Start Companies in Recessions

A study suggests that when jobs are hard to come by, the best workers are more available—and stay longer

Mon, May 6, 2024 3:42pmGrey Clock 2 min

Could a recession be the best time to launch a tech startup?

A recent study suggests that is the case. The authors found that tech startups that began operations during the 2007-09 recession—and received their first patent in that time—tended to last longer than tech startups founded a few years before or after. And those recession-era companies also tended to be more innovative than the rest.

“The effect of macroeconomic trends is not always intuitive,” says Daniel Bias , an assistant professor of finance at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, who co-wrote the paper with Alexander Ljungqvist, Stefan Persson Family Chair in Entrepreneurial Finance at the Stockholm School of Economics.

Drawing on data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the authors examined a sample of 6,946 tech startups that launched and received their first patent approval between 2002 and 2012.

One group—about 5,734 companies—launched and got their patent outside of the 2007-09 recession. Of those, about 70% made it to their seventh year. But the startups that launched and got their first patent during the recession—about 1,212 companies—were 12% more likely to be in business in their seventh year.

These recession-era firms were also more likely to file a novel and influential patent after their first one. (That is, a patent the researchers determined was dissimilar to patents in the same niche that came before it, but similar to ones that came after it.)

So, why did these recession-era firms outperform their peers? Labor markets played a big role.

A widespread lack of available jobs meant that the startups were able to land more productive and innovative employees, especially in their research and development groups, and then hold on to them. More important, the tight labor markets also meant that the founding inventors—the people named on the very first patent—were more likely to stick around rather than try for opportunities elsewhere.

For startups started during the 2007-09 recession, founding inventors were 25 percentage points less likely to leave their company within the first three years. On average, about 43% of founding inventors in the entire sample left their startup within the first three years.

“Our study really highlights the importance of labor retention for young innovative startups. Retaining founding inventors cannot only help them survive, but also thrive,” Bias says.


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These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .