Displaying items by tag: covid
The better the economy gets, the more banks seem like a good buy. Banks have been rather severely beaten up over the last several months, largely missing on the price recovery of so many other stocks. This is primarily because of two factors—ultra-low interest rates, and the potential for losses on their loan portfolios. However, it is increasingly appearing like loan losses may not be nearly so severe as forecast, and that billions of Dollars set aside to account for such losses may now be released onto earnings over the next couple of quarters.
FINSUM: Two considerations here. Firstly, the idea of loan losses flowing back to the bottom line and causing upside surprises at earnings time sounds great, especially within the longer-term perspective that banks are a good macro bet on the recovery. The downside risk here relates to an article yesterday in BuzzFeed that accused banks (using obtained data on potential fraudulent activity in client accounts) of not following regulations related to money laundering. That could obviously turn into a big mess, but as yet it is unclear if that is a material risk.
The initial winners from the pandemic were sorted out long ago—FAAMG, Zoom etc. Investors are now trying to figure out who the winners will be over the potentially long next stage. The recovery may take several years and the economy is changing right before our eyes, so this is a time of great alpha capture if you can identify the next big trends. With that in mind, here are three stocks to look at: MercadoLibre, Ryan Air, and SAP. The first is like the Alibaba of Latin America. Their market cap is only $60bn versus Alibaba’s $800bn, and Latin America is roughly half the size of China (population-wise), so a $400 bn goal seems reasonable. It almost feels like investing in an early stage Amazon. Ryan Air is a best-of-breed European airline whose operating model and unit costs run circles around the competition. They will likely gain the most as airlines come back. Finally, SAP is a great cloud play. They are relatively new to the cloud game, but grew very quickly through acquisition, so as the market digests their new business line and WFH drives huge cloud growth, they should be in a position to benefit.
FINSUM: These seem like very refined and well-considered choices. MercadoLibre feels like the largest opportunity to us.
Banks have been absolutely hammered since COVID erupted, and they have not come back very much at all. Overall they are down 33% on the year versus a 5% gain for the S&P 500. Worries about loan losses and low interest rates headline the set of fears for the banking sector. However, banks may have an ace in the hole. Early in the year they set aside tens of billions for loan losses—which hurt earnings, but that may now be their good fortune. Loan losses have not been as bad as expected and many suspect that banks may start to let some of those loss provisions flow through to the bottom line in the next couple earnings seasons.
FINSUM: In our view, this would be a double whammy to the upside for the sector. Not only would it result in blowout earnings, but it would officially alleviate a big fear—that loan losses are going to be very bad because of COVID. Altogether seems like a good opportunity.
The real estate space—at least parts of it—have been red-hot since COVID began. Residential real estate in particular has done well, as the fall in interest rates has sent mortgage issuance surging. One area of residential that you might want to stay away from, however, is apartments. Investors have been shying away from the sector. For instance, the FTSE Nareit Equity Apartments index is down 21% to-date. The big fall comes despite landlords saying rent collections are strong. The reason why seems to be the big rent reductions in coastal cities. Landlords in New York, San Francisco etc have had to drop rents by 15% or more to keep tenants and attract new ones, and that figure doesn’t even price-in other incentives, like months of free rent.
FINSUM: Our view here is that COVID will likely lower demand for urban apartments, since the pandemic highlighted some of the weaknesses of densely populated buildings. However, occupancy overall seems likely to stay strong.
The Fed made some highly anticipated policy adjustments at the end of last week. This was not about short-term rate moves either, but rather about its long-term role in the recovery and how it plans to manage the economy. The biggest change seems rather small in wording. The Fed basically corrected its mandate to say that it would not automatically tighten policy just because employment had reached or exceeded what it consider to be “full employment”. In effect, this means that the Fed is ready, willing, able to let the economy run very hot for many years. Analysts think the Fed will likely not hike again until at least 2024.
FINSUM: So the Fed is going to be very accommodative for the next several years. It is starting to feel like equity valuations are going to have no choice but to rise as the Fed has taken “there is no alternative” to a never-before seen level for equities.