Mr. Cooper, a mortgage company, believed it could face a financial crisis in the spring when some homeowners were unable to make monthly payments. But a federal regulator provided relief to mortgage lenders, and then business was helped by a refinancing push. Mr. Cooper’s earnings in the first nine months of the year were up 40%, and his stock was up 341% from its April low.
During recessions, consumers often decide to pull out and avoid big spending. But this year something different happened. Many Americans who did not lose their jobs but also did not spend on travel and leisure ended up with higher disposable income. Government stimulus payments of $ 1,200 also helped.
This has been a boon for companies that initially feared a deep recession. General Motors and Ford Motor, for example, rushed to borrow billions of dollars at the start of the year, hoping car sales would drop and remain weak for some time. The auto industry struggled, and manufacturers had to shut down factories for about two months, but sales started to pick up this summer. For the third quarter, GM, Ford and other automakers reported big profits.
Some large restaurant chains, after pushing for a federal bailout, did much better than expected, as customers driving, deliveries and take-out boosted sales. Papa John’s, whose shares have risen 32% this year on Thursday, announced increased sales, earnings and cash flow and announced a new share buyback program. Its chief executive, Rob Lynch, said the company added “more than eight million” customers this year.
Asked on a call with financial analysts on Thursday whether the company could hold onto such gains, Lynch said many new customers dine more frequently and the average spend per order was higher than before the pandemic.
“So it gives us a lot of confidence that they have come, that they are enjoying their experience and that they are coming back,” said Lynch.
But there are winners and losers even within industries. Darden Restaurants, which owns Olive Garden and other brands that rely more on restaurant food, reported a 28% drop in sales in the three months to the end of August. Its share price is down 6% this year.