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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa has surpassed 500,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, but President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday he sees “promising signs” that the rapid growth of cases has stabilized and that the country’s strained health system is managing to cope.

Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced 10,107 new cases Saturday night, bringing the country’s cumulative total to 503,290, including 8,153 deaths.

South Africa has now tallied more than 50% of all reported coronavirus infections in Africa’s 54 countries.

With a population of about 58 million, South Africa has the fifth-highest number of cases in the world, behind the U.S., Brazil, Russia and India, all countries with significantly higher populations, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the true toll of the pandemic worldwide is much higher than confirmed cases, due to limited testing and other reasons.

Ramaphosa, in a letter to the nation on Sunday, said despite the high number of confirmed cases, he sees some positive developments.

“After a rapid rise in infections over the last two months, the daily increase in infections appears to be stabilizing,” said Ramaphosa. He said the number of new infections has slowed in the provinces of the Western Cape, which includes Cape Town, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, which hosts the major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria.

South Africa’s hospitals have been stretched to the limit but in most provinces they are succeeding in providing treatment to COVID-19 patients, he said.

“The health system has so far had sufficient capacity to cope with the number of admissions,” said Ramaphosa of the hard-hit provinces of Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. He said, however, that in the Eastern Cape several public hospitals were overwhelmed and a specialist team has been deployed to help.

He said his government is working hard with “greatest urgency” to deliver adequate supplies of personal protective equipment to areas where shortages have been reported. South African authorities are also working to root out corruption in the purchase and distribution of medical equipment, he said.

“It is unconscionable that there are people who may be using this health crisis to unlawfully enrich themselves,” said Ramaphosa.

South Africa’s case fatality rate – the number of deaths as a proportion of confirmed cases – is at 1.6%, significantly lower than the global average, said Ramaphosa.

“While South Africa has the fifth-highest number of total COVID-19 cases globally, we have only the 36th highest number of deaths as a proportion of the population,” said Ramaphosa. “For this, we are grateful to the work of our health professionals and the innovative treatments they have pioneered.”

South Africa also has a younger population than countries in Europe that were hard hit in the pandemic, and the virus kills elderly patients at a far higher rate than younger people.


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20 stocks that investors hate but Wall Street loves as the S&P 500 nears a record high

Many questions remain two years after New York mother was gunned down while driving with children in Buffalo From cereal startups to fast-food chains, everyone wants to cash in on people eating breakfast at home 20 stocks that investors hate but Wall Street loves as the S&P 500 nears a record high DEEP DIVE © Bloomberg All is quiet outside the Las Vegas Sands’ Venetian resort. The company is among a group of large-cap U.S. stocks that are down at least 20% in 2020 but have buy ratings from more than 70% of Wall Street analysts.

This has been an adventurous year for stocks, with almost a full rebound for the S&P 500 Index from the pandemic lows of late March. But the rally has not been as broad as you might think.

Below is a list of 20 stocks that are still down at least 20% for 2020, but also have majority “buy” or equivalent ratings among sell-side analysts.

The FAANG-led recovery

Ben Carlson said a lot with a tweet Wednesday morning:

As of this morning, on a total return basis, SPY is now less than 1% away from its all-time highs

Was down 34% at the lows 4 months ago

March feels like 7 years ago in market cycle terms

— Ben Carlson (@awealthofcs) August 5, 2020

This turnaround has been fueled by the tremendous increase in the money supply resulting from the timely action of the Federal Reserve and the federal government. Very low interest rates play their part. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes (BX:TMUBMUSD10Y) is 0.55%, while the dividend yield for the entire S&P 500 Index (SPX) is 1.70%, according to FactSet.

Load Error

The S&P 500 was up 3.5% (with dividends reinvested) for 2020 through Aug. 4.

But the S&P 500 is weighted by market capitalization and therefore dominated by the FAANG stocks, to which we add Microsoft Corp. (MSFT):

Company Ticker Total return - 2020 Share of S&P 500 market cap
Facebook, Inc. Class A (FB) 22% 2.2%
Apple Inc. (AAPL) 50% 6.9%, Inc. (AMZN) 70% 5.7%
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) 58% 0.8%
Alphabet Inc. Class C (GOOG) 10% 1.8%
Alphabet Inc. Class A (GOOGL) 10% 1.6%
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) 36% 5.9%
 Source: FactSet

Together, the FAANG group plus Microsoft make up 25% of the S&P 500. Their outperformance this year has had a great effect on the entire index’s return.

Loved by Wall Street

Among the S&P 500, 292 stocks that were down for 2020 (with dividends reinvested) through Aug. 4. That may be a big surprise and it underscores the influence of the big tech names listed above.

Among those 292 stocks, 149 were down at least 20%.

Here are the 20 stocks among the S&P 500 down at least 20% this year that have the highest percentage “buy” or equivalent ratings among sell-side analysts polled by FactSet. The table is sorted by the percentage of “buy” ratings. (Scroll to the right to see all the data.):

Company Ticker Industry Total return - 2020 through Aug. 4 Share 'buy' ratings Closing price - Aug. 4 Cons. price target Implied 12-month upside potential
Phillips 66 (PSX)  Oil Refining/Marketing -43% 95% $61.85 $82.11 33%
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD)  Oil & Gas Production -33% 92% $99.52 $121.46 22%
Diamondback Energy Inc. (FANG)  Oil & Gas Production -55% 91% $41.07 $58.00 41%
AES Corp. (AES)  Electric Utilities -20% 90% $15.47 $17.75 15%
ConocoPhillips (COP)  Oil & Gas Production -41% 89% $37.64 $50.08 33%
Valero Energy Corp. (VLO)  Oil Refining/Marketing -41% 86% $53.02 $71.79 35%
Concho Resources Inc. (CXO)  Oil & Gas Production -41% 86% $51.47 $72.66 41%
Citigroup Inc. (C)  Financial Conglomerates -35% 85% $50.14 $69.38 38%
Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS)  Casinos/Gaming -35% 84% $43.73 $58.47 34%
General Motors Co. (GM)  Motor Vehicles -29% 84% $25.80 $38.44 49%
Baker Hughes Co. Class A (BKR)  Oilfield Services/Equipment -36% 83% $16.19 $20.56 27%
Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG)  Multi-Line Insurance -32% 78% $40.57 $51.56 27%
Citizens Financial Group Inc. (CFG)  Regional Banks -38% 76% $24.21 $29.28 21%
TechnipFMC PLC (FTI)  Oilfield Services/Equipment -61% 75% $8.26 $11.34 37%
Marathon Petroleum Corp. (MPC)  Oil Refining/Marketing -36% 75% $37.69 $47.79 27%
Ross Stores Inc. (ROST)  Apparel/Footwear Retail -24% 74% $88.38 $104.83 19%
Capital One Financial Corp. (COF)  Major Banks -38% 74% $63.24 $80.08 27%
Synchrony Financial (SYF)  Finance/Rental/Leasing -35% 74% $22.65 $28.36 25%
Raytheon Technologies Corp. (RTX)  Aerospace & Defense -34% 74% $57.51 $77.56 35%
Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN)  Casinos/Gaming -47% 72% $72.75 $97.56 34%
 Source: FactSet

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