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NEW YORK: Some of the world’s top money managers are betting on a post-pandemic spending boom that will boost real-world companies as economies reopen and people go back to their normal lives.
Investors from Aberdeen Standard Investments Inc and GAM Investments to UBS Asset Management are increasingly pouring money into companies where face-to-face interaction is the norm – things like travel companies, restaurants, off-line shopping and “consumer experiences.”
“A lot of people are estimating this is really going to lead to a new ‘roaring 20s’ theme, ” said Swetha Ramachandran, the manager of GAM’s Luxury Brands Equity fund, referring to growing views that post-pandemic spending will hark back to the excesses of the 1920s. That’s when euphoric consumers piled into a wave of spending after the first World War and the 1918 flu pandemic. “There will be a lot of peacocking” as people start socialising, she said.
Investors began piling into cyclical stocks that benefit from an economic rebound late last year following good news on the vaccine front, while pulling back from high-valued technology stocks. The rotation accelerated as Treasury yields rose in mid-February. Now with stimulus checks wending their way across the US – the beneficiary of half the US$2.9 trillion (RM12.02 trillion) in savings amassed globally during the pandemic – consumer stocks are in for an even bigger pick-up.
To be sure, no one’s saying that the pandemic is near-over. Europe is facing a slow vaccine rollout, with renewed restrictions on day-to-day life in some countries, while the seven-day average of new US Covid-19 cases has soared, showing that cases stateside are rising again and threatening a return to normal life. Digitisation is here to stay – no retailer is going to go back to a pure bricks-and-mortar world.
But a short-lived shift into consumer discretionary stocks in November, when the “reopening” trade became fashionable, has room to catch up. A sub-gauge of global energy shares is the best performer by sector since the end of October, up 53%, while the index for consumer discretionary is only 17% higher.
In fact, the gauge for global consumer discretionary shares is expected to return 17% over the next 12 months, according to Bloomberg-compiled data, while the S&P 500 index is estimated to rise 12%.
“People want to travel. They want to see family that they haven’t seen in a long time. They want to go out with friends, ” said Donny Kranson, European equities portfolio manager at Vontobel Asset Management. — Bloomberg