Assessing 2020 earnings prospects in a fast-changing world

4Factor global analysts comment on what they are seeing in their sectors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Apr 24, 2020

19 minutes

At a glance

  • Published earnings forecasts are not a reliable guide in these uncertain times with many companies suspending forward guidance
  • Our global analysts comment on what they are seeing in their sectors — industrials and financials are the most vulnerable, while health care has been resilient
  • We are stress-testing scenarios to find stocks that are attractively valued even in a worst-case situation, while avoiding those with balance sheet risk and structural headwinds
  • Secular trends, particularly in technology and consumer discretionary appear likely to be accelerated by recent events. Therefore, it may be dangerous to assume that stocks and sectors will follow the pattern of previous downturns and we look to see where things may truly be different

2020 had generally been expected to be a year of earnings growth for most markets. This earnings growth story has been derailed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and we expect earnings growth to weaken this year, with cuts already evident in first-quarter earnings.

Several extremes in markets have emerged from the hit to global economic growth, exacerbated by the lowest oil prices ever seen. Never has there been such a global coordination of mandated economic inactivity, bringing businesses and activity to an abrupt halt. However, there has been an equally unprecedented monetary and policy stimulus response. Nevertheless, it is clear that the pandemic will have a profound effect on people’s lives, and on the prospects for companies big and small around the globe.

In this market setting, our analyst team is re-evaluating each of our companies on their credit worthiness and their individual investment case in the new environment. In our view, it is in such tumultuous times that a consistent, repeatable approach helps to guide us. We are working hard to assess where the risks and opportunities may lie, in particular what the future may hold for companies’ end- markets.

In this viewpoint, we share our sector analysts’ insights on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on companies’ prospects.

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Authored by

4Factor Global Core team
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