Is It Time to Buy May's Worst-Performing S&P 500 Stocks?

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These were the S&P 500’s biggest losers in May. But could they be winners over the long run?

“Buy on the dip.”

“Sell in May and go away.”

You’ve no doubt heard both investing adages many times. But could combining the two sayings be a smart strategy by buying on stocks that dipped in May and then go away? Is it time to buy May’s worst-performing S&P 500 stocks? Let’s take a look.

1. EPAM Systems

EPAM Systems (EPAM -0.95%) was the biggest loser in the S&P 500 last month. Shares of the information technology services provider plunged 24% in May. EPAM is now down more than 40% year to date.

The May sell-off came after EPAM’s first-quarter update disappointed investors. EPAM reported Q1 revenue of $1.165 billion, down 3.8% year over year and below Wall Street expectations. While the company’s Q1 earnings beat analysts’ estimates, the bigger concern was EPAM’s outlook.

EPAM said that “client demand is not improving to the degree originally expected.” The company expects full-year 2024 revenue will be between $4.575 billion and $4.675 billion, down 1.4% year over year at the midpoint of the range. It also projects Q2 revenue of $1.135 billion to $1.145 billion, down 2.6% year over year at the midpoint of the range.

2. Paycom Software

Paycom Software (PAYC 1.02%) didn’t perform much better than EPAM Systems in May. Shares of the payroll technology company sank nearly 22%. The stock is down close to 30% so far this year.

Part of Paycom’s dismal performance last month stemmed partly from its Q1 update. The company beat analysts’ revenue and earnings expectations. The problem was its outlook for the second quarter. Paycom’s guidance was for Q2 revenue between $434 million and $438 million. Wall Street was looking for Q2 revenue of $442 million.

However, Paycom left its full-year guidance unchanged from its previous forecast. The company still expects revenue of between $1.86 billion and $1.885 billion with adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) of $720 million to $730 million.

3. Illumina

The S&P 500’s third-worst stock in May was Illumina (ILMN -1.27%). Shares of the gene-sequencing pioneer fell 16% last month and are down roughly 26% year to date.

Illumina topped Wall Street’s expectations with its Q1 results on both the top and bottom lines. The company reported revenue of $1.06 billion, a little higher than the consensus estimate of $1.05 billion. It posted adjusted earnings per share of $0.09, well above the $0.04 expected by analysts.

The main issue with Illumina is that revenue declined 2% year over year in Q1, and the company doesn’t look for growth in full-year 2024. Illumina is also in the process of divesting Grail, with some uncertainty remaining about the timing and impact of the move.

Time to buy?

All three of these S&P 500 losers in May could be winners over the long run. However, I think that investors might be better off waiting for more details on Illumina’s divestiture of Grail before buying the stock.

On the other hand, the current pullbacks could present great buying opportunities for both EPAM Systems and Paycom. These two companies face headwinds that should only be temporary. EPAM remains a top go-to technology consultant for organizations across the world.

Paycom is an industry leader but still has a relatively small share of the growing human capital management software market. The stock is also valued attractively with a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 18.7 compared to the S&P 500’s forward earnings multiple of over 21.1.