The Federal Reserve’s rate hiking cycle appears to have reached its end. With this in mind, Barclays named its top stock picks for the rate cuts in sight. “The timing of the eventual cut in interest rates has been one of the key debates for investors since the onset of the Fed’s hiking cycle. However, this past December’s FOMC meeting seemingly became a de facto turning point for the markets in this debate, providing the long-awaited ‘Fed Pivot’ or ‘Fed Pause,'” analyst Terence Malone wrote in a Thursday note. A hotter-than-expected CPI report released earlier in February has likely pushed back the start of the rate cuts to June, Malone said. This would likely push the federal funds target range to between 4.5% and 4.75% by the end of this year, he said. Take a look at the stocks Barclays thinks are best-positioned for lower rates later this year. The following companies are all rated overweight by Barclays’ analysts. Darden Restaurants is one of the consumer names Barclays believes can outperform when the Fed loosens rates. The restaurant group, whose brands include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, benefits from being the only large-cap casual dining company, according to analyst Jeff Bernstein. This gives the company more scale, data and insights, as well as “rigorous” strategic planning efforts. Even in the case of “a broader economic slowdown (should such transpire), we continue to view QSR as better positioned than casual dining, benefiting from lower priced value offerings coupled with a franchise model to insulate against earnings volatility,” Bernstein said. Shares are up nearly 3% year to date, and 13.1% over the last 12 months. Regional banking company Fifth Third Bancorp is another name on Barclays list. Shares are down more than 3% in 2024, following a 7.1% decline during the past year. However, analyst Jason Goldberg expects recent management changes and “disciplined” credit risk and balance sheet management could boost the bank’s stock. Fifth Third’s share buyback program is also expected to restart in the third quarter, he added. All of this “gives the company flexibility (‘cannot spell flexibility without FITB’) to navigate multiple economic environments and achieve relatively strong performance through the cycle,” Goldberg said, with a nod to the company’s ticker symbol. Clothing retailer Gap is another stock Barclays believes will be a rate-cut cycle winner. “Our highlight call out for the quarter is GPS, with three of the four core brands ‘better,’ or less promotional on a y/y basis. We expect improved merchandise margin coupled with input cost favorability to result in potential for GM upside,” analyst Adrienne Yih wrote. In addition, to its namesake Gap brand, the company operates Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta stores. The stock has rallied more than 45% during the last 12 months, but has declined 8% in 2024. Analysts covering the stock are mostly on the sidelines, with 70% issuing a hold rating, per Refinitiv. The consensus price target suggests a 3.8% pullback from its current levels. Gap will report its fiscal fourth-quarter results on March 7. GPS YTD mountain The Gap shares in 2024 Agribusiness company Bunge also made the cut. The stock has underperformed the S & P 500 year to date and the last 12 months, falling 7% and 4% during those periods, respectively. Nonetheless, Barclays is confident in the company’s ability to react to market fluctuations. Its growth initiatives will also start to pay off as the agribusiness market begins to normalize, analyst Ben Theurer said. “The continued execution of strategic initiatives … strengthen the core business and diversify its operational footprint, paving the way for long-term growth. While FY24 is far from a ‘home run’ (as it was in FY22 and FY23, in our view), fundamentals are still net more favorable,” wrote Theurer. Wall Street overall is bullish on the stock, with 10 out of 14 analysts covering Bunge rating it at least a buy, according to data from Refinitiv. The average price target implies shares gaining nearly 24%, per LSEG. BG YTD mountain Bunge stock in 2024 —CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.