‘Long COVID?’: September 2021 New Zealand stock market reporting season net positive but impacted by COVID-19
- Results ahead of expectations
- COVID-19 continued to hit sales & costs, offset by pricing power for some
- Structural growth stocks continued to beat expectations
- Several capital raisings to bridge COVID and support growth
- Notable increase in focus by companies in improving their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standings
- Net positive upgrades to profit forecasts post results with high single digit earnings growth expected for the next few years
Is there a COVID-19 endemic equilibrium for investors?
- At some stage the world may learn to live with COVID-19 and, while that may be hard to believe in the middle of a local lockdown, this pandemic may eventually morph into an endemic.
- From an investment perspective, we need to accept that this is likely and it will allow markets to continue to swing attention to other risks like climate change, inflation, interest rates, disruption, regulation, innovation and corporate earnings.
- That path may not be straightforward but two data points are encouraging. First the US and European rate of new COVID-19 infections looks to have peaked and, secondly, by the end of this year close to 80% of the world’s adult population are expected to be fully vaccinated.
The Delta Blues
- We hope you are all keeping safe & well as we find ourselves back in level 4. We have done this before, and we can do it again!
- As well as the challenges of a snap lockdown, today has been one of the busiest days of the year for both companies reporting and the macro-economic calendar.
- Today the New Zealand equity market bucked the trend from markets overnight with equity prices recovering after strong local company results and AGM updates positively impacting some of our largest companies.
- Fixed income and currency markets, however, were more affected by the COVID-19 outbreak news, with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) displaying considerable risk awareness in deciding not to proceed with a rate hike today that it was widely expected to make.
ESG & COVID-19 – Did the long term add value in the short term?
- Whilst Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies take time to impact investment returns, we present evidence that ESG policies added value in the volatile first half of 2020
- Companies with better ESG credentials fell by less when the market dropped in the first quarter of 2020 and kept up with the market when it rallied in the second quarter of 2020
- Companies with lower ESG credentials dropped more in the first quarter, recovered less in the second quarter and underperformed the market over the first half of 2020.
COVID-19: Building the bridge across the void
- Extraordinary global fiscal and monetary policies are starting to build a bridge across the void
- Markets are beginning to look beyond COVID-19 case trends, and towards solving the pandemic with tests, a new standard of care and vaccinations
- Quality companies, with strong balance sheets, are performing well
- This is a time to stay at home and be kind, it is also a time to pay close attention to discipline in investment decisions
Novel Coronavirus – What you need to know
- Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a more contagious coronavirus than Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), but fortunately, has a lower fatality rate so far.
- While we can look to SARS for the potential economic impact, China’s position in the global economy is far larger now than it was in 2002/03.
- Equity markets have typically rallied once the number of new cases peaks. We are not yet at that stage and expect volatility until that happens.
- We have added to some stocks with structural tailwinds that have been sold off as a result of the event. But otherwise, we are taking a vigilant stance continuing to emphasise longer term positive structural influences.
- This is continually evolving, World Health Organisation (WHO) situation reports are being produced daily and are available online. In addition, cases are being tracked in real time here.