Vaccination shares: GSK vs Moderna

Equities

Moderna and GlaxoSmithKline represent two interesting paths pharmaceutical stocks have taken this year. We examine the GSK share price and Moderna shares to see which has come out on top – and what the future holds for both.

GSK shares & Moderna

Examining the GSK price

GlaxoSmithKline’s fortunes in 2021 have been up and down. While competitors like Pfizer and AstraZeneca have enjoyed major share price growth across the pandemic, GSK stock hasn’t been so reactive.

At the time of writing, the GSK share price is around £14.35. Before the pandemic, GlaxoSmithKline shares had peaked at £18.42 in January 2020. Since then, it’s been a tale of ups and downs. Shares fell to a new low in February 2021, but as we can see from the current price, progress has been made since then.

News came in June from CEO Emma Walmsley that GlaxoSmithKline is currently in the progress of separating its core pharmaceuticals business from its consumer goods side. New GSK, taking over pharmaceuticals, and the spin off, which will be listed on the London Stock Exchange, will remain linked with New GSK taking a 13.6% share of the new entity.

The whole plan could put GSK share price back on a growth footing. After the separation, New GSK is aiming at annual sales growth of over 5% between 2021-2026. Underlying profit growth is targeted at 10% in the same period, hoping to generate £33bn in sales by 2031.

That’s the mid-to-long term outlook. One thing that may put off investors is the GSK’s updated dividend payment scheme. The company has stated it will pay shareholders a dividend of 55p per share in its new form – down from the 80p investors used to enjoy.

Shares rose 2.8% after the demerger plans were announced at the tail end of June. The plan is ambitious, but some analysts believe this may not be enough to support GSK share prices in the long run. Questions over CEO Walmsley and her senior team are being raised as, under Walmsley’s tenure, GSK has struggled to take off compared with some of its competitors.

What about Moderna shares?

Moderna shares, on the other hand, are having a much better 2021 than GSK’s.

Share prices have risen 125% across the first six months of the year. Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine is one of the most widely distributed inoculants used to combat the Covid-19 virus.

Moderna is nearing an $100bn market capitalisation. Its product revenue has grown from virtually nil at the start of the pandemic to around $1.7bn – purely driven by vaccine sales. Given the company is just 11 years old, Moderna can be considered one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moderna shares are currently trading at $246.66 – up 4.8% in daily trading as of 15th July 2021.

While this is all amazing in the short term, what about the longer view? Moderna product-generated revenues were small to low at the beginning of the pandemic. While it was able to create a product in huge demand quickly and effectively, there are concerns that revenue growth, flagged at a $21bn top end for 2021, could not be sustainable.

However, Moderna’s executives are hopeful its technologies and research can help provide solutions for other diseases in the future. The company is looking to leverage its Covid expertise into other respiratory disease vaccines such as Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Betting on other pandemics, however, is possibly not a smart bet. While Moderna is pushing ahead with trials on some vaccinations that could prove effective should we see other wide-scale breakouts, a lot of its experimental products are still in the early stage.

Comparing Moderna shares & GSK

What can we glean from the above?

A couple of things. Moderna’s ability to capitalise quickly on the Covid-19 situation, helped by emergency authorisation of its vaccine, has led to huge yearly and 6-month gains. The company is close to reaching a new all-time high market cap and will probably remain so.

It’s during the transition out of the pandemic and if Moderna can swing into sustainable revenue generation from its product side to bolster regular operations that will be really telling here.

Switching to GSK, it has come out with a fairly radical plan of action. It has set itself goals that, while ambitious, are fairly achievable for the company’s size and scope. Crucially, in the long term, GlaxoSmithKline doesn’t seem as tied in with the pandemic and its progression as Moderna.

If you are looking into trading or investing in Moderna or GSK stock, then be aware of the current market conditions, share price, and other variables. Only invest if you can potentially afford to take any losses as trading and investing both present risk of capital loss.

US agency questions AstraZeneca vaccine, GameStop earnings on tap

Morning Note

You could be forgiven if you suffer value fatigue; it can be a long slog, all this ‘vaccine optimism’ and ‘reopening hopes’, for the beleaguered value investor. You’d also be forgiven for Covid fatigue; I think we have all done more than our bit to ‘protect the NHS’ over the last 12 months. And on this sorry topic there’s another headache this morning for AstraZeneca bosses as a US health agency questioned the Oxford vaccine with the ink barely dry on the company’s press release announcing the very high safety and efficacy of the jab in long-awaited US phase 3 trials. Shares fell 1% in early trade.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) said late Monday it was notified about concerns about initial data from the trials. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) ‘expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data’. I may have left the toilet seat up, I may not have. It didn’t say much else, except urging AstraZeneca to work with the DSMB to ‘review the efficacy data and ensure the most accurate, up-to-date efficacy data be made public as quickly as possible’. More doubts won’t do the vaccine any favour – another PR problem that will cost lives. This will not do any favours for getting this shot into people’s arms – it’s not just the rollout by government, it’s people’s willingness to get it. And on that note Europe sits on large stockpiles of the Astra vaccine as countries cannot get the jab into arms.

European shares are lower this morning after a muted Asian session with the major bourses off about half a percent in the opening minutes. Travel & leisure stocks were near the bottom of the Stoxx 600 as the UK extended a foreign holiday ban until the end of June. IAG, TUI and Carnival fell about 3-4%. WH Smith – dependent on travel earnings more than the high street these days – also declined more than 3%. US markets closed higher on Monday, led by the Nasdaq gaining 1.2% and the S&P 500 up 0.7%. Futures point to a weaker open later. Powell and Yellen are in front of the House Financial Services Committee to talk about stimulus. FOMC member Lael Brainard also talks later today.

MOAR: Joe Biden’s team is looking a $3 trillion plan for the US economy that will feature massive investment in infrastructure, green energy and education, as well as tax hikes. This fits in with his manifesto pledge, but I thought he may have taken longer to get to this point given the $1.9tn stimulus package for Covid relief has just been launched. This package would be another enormous injection of stimulus to the economy.

Tesla rose 2%, but at one point traded about 10% higher, after a bullish report from ARK Invest. Tesla is a 10% holding in the Innovation ETF (ARKK). ARK says Tesla will reach $3000 by 2025. That is not even the bull cash ($4,000), whilst the ‘bear’ case implies a mere doubling or more to $1,500. ARK uses a Monte Carlo simulation to get there, which is aptly named since it is basically a case of spinning the wheel and see what number you land on. Actually it’s more like keep spinning until you get the number you want. Investing should not be a game of roulette. You can read the full report here. If you like this I have a bridge to sell you.

GameStop reports earnings tonight. Analysts expect revenues to rise 2% year-on-year to $2.2bn, with earnings per share seen up 15% at $1.46. Dry earnings figures don’t really do it justice; these are the first earnings since the Reddit-inspired trading frenzy sent the stock skywards, sank Melvin Capital, put RobinHood in the dock and made Roaring Kitty famous well beyond the /wallstreetbets crowd. No one really cares about these earnings; they do care about what resource will be required for turning GameStop into the ‘Amazon of gaming’ – the more the board seeks to raise the better in many ways. Traders will be wanting to hear about any plans for capital raising, and more about the new ecommerce strategy.

Meanwhile, the FT reports WeWork announced losses of $3.2bn last year as it pitched for a SPAC listing and $1bn investment. Get this though: WeWork’s losses narrowed from $3.5bn burnt in 2019 because it slashed capex to the bone because of the pandemic. Investors who might have got swept up in a WeWork IPO in 2019 will be grateful the listing got pulled. Now SPACs mean it’s even easier to go public and I’m sure they will find some willing backers for this serviced office provider tech platform. Barge pole springs to mind.

Bitcoin is lower, testing the bottom of the recent range around the 23.6% retracement level after Federal Reserve chair Jay Powell warned that the asset is not a good store of value. “They’re highly volatile and therefore not really useful stores of value and they’re not backed by anything,” Powell said at a digital banking panel. “It’s more a speculative asset that’s essentially a substitute for gold rather than for the dollar.” ‘More a substitute for gold’ supports a certain bullish thesis we’ve been noting for some time, albeit the only reason you own Bitcoin is in the hope it will rise in value.

Bitcoin is lower, testing the bottom of the recent range.

Gold is trading sideways as yields are not doing an awful lot so far this week.

Gold is trading sideways as yields are not doing an awful lot so far this week.

Soft start for stocks, Deliveroo sets price for IPO, Turkish lira falls

Morning Note

European stocks stumbled out of bed this morning after a weak close on Wall Street on Friday and mixed picture in Asia, whilst rising coronavirus cases and fresh lockdown measures are sapping confidence. Germany is considering extending lockdown as the number of new cases exceed the rate at which ICU bed start to run out, whilst France has already reimposed restrictions. But after an hour of trade the DAX traded about 100pts off its lows, just in positive territory, whilst the FTSE 100 also recovered some poise over the first hour of trade but remains negative. On Friday, the Dow closed more than 234pts lower as JPMorgan and Visa weighed. The Nasdaq rose 0.8% as investors chose to buy the dip in tech stocks. US 10-year Treasury yields rose to 1.72% after the Federal Reserve said it would not extend SLR exemption but are a tad under 1.69% this morning. 

 

The US trial of AstraZeneca’s vaccine shows the jab is both safe and very effective. Astra reports this morning that the phase 3 trial showed 79% efficacy at preventing symptomatic COVID-19, and importantly delivered 100% efficacy against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation. This ought to help the rollout in Europe, but you can take a horse to water and all that…a survey from YouGov shows that the constant undermining of the vaccine has hurt confidence in the jab among people in Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. Hopefully, this puts to bed any doubts, but I suspect it won’t. Shares rose about 1% in early trade.  

 

Airlines and travel stocks fell as it becomes increasingly likely that the travel season will be impaired by the pandemic as cases in Europe stubbornly rise and the UK could extend its international travel ban. Government aides have suggested that summer holidays this year will be ‘extremely unlikely’ because of the risk of bringing variants home. The current roadmap for exiting restrictions has May 17th as the earliest start date for foreign travel to resume, however it looks as though this may be pushed back by some weeks and may well depend on the vaccination progress in Europe above all. IAG –6%, EasyJet –6%, TUI –7%, Ryanair –6% in early trade. A lot of these travel stocks have had a healthy run up in recent months due to hopes that the summer season would be fine – increasingly it seems international travel is going to be badly affected this year despite the vaccine success.  

 

At the other end of the FTSE 100 this morning, Kingfisher rose over 3% following another strong set of results as consumers continue to focus on DIY during lockdown. Sales rose 7% in the year to January, while adjusted profits were +44% higher. This was a very strong performance across both the UK & Ireland and France. However, management warn that sales growth will slow this year. 

 

Deliveroo set the price range for its initial public offering in a range of £3.90 to £4.60 per share, implying an estimated market capitalisation of between £7.6 billion and £8.8 billion. This is higher than previously expected and makes it the biggest IPO in London for some time. The prospectus will be released later today. Accompanying this update, Deliveroo said the total value of transactions (GTV) were up 121% year on year in January and February. This marks a significant acceleration from the +64% growth run rate through 2020 and indicates that the £5bn estimated GTV in 2021 could be easily exceeded. (GTV is one of those new metrics that tech firms like that you will need to get used to for Deliveroo – it is defined as the total value paid by consumers, excluding any discretionary tips. GTV comprises the total food basket, net of any discounts and consumer fees. 

 

Trouble in Turkey: the Turkish lira tumbled after president Erdogan removed the country’s hawkish central bank chief. USDTRY rose to a high of 8.20, up 14% from Friday’s close around 7.20. The sacking of Naci Agbal raises fears about the path economic and monetary policy, with market participants prepared for rates to be cut and for the re-emergence of ‘Erdonomics’. It raises all sorts of questions about the government’s ability and competence to handle the economic issues facing Turkey. Agbal’s efforts to raise rates to counter inflation, which is still running at above 15%, helped to boost confidence more generally in the country’s assets. The Turkish central bank raised rates by 2% last week on top of 675bps of hikes last year. Shares in some banks with big Turkey exposure like UniCredit, BBVA and ING fell. 

 

Looking ahead to this week, the focus will remain on bond yields and inflation. In the wake of the FOMC last week the market is toying with just how far rates can go and how fast. This week we have Jay Powell’s testimony on the CAREs Act with Janet Yellen, as well as speeches from Fed members Lael Brainard and Richard Clarida, both of which deal with the “Economic Outlook and Monetary Policy”. They will reiterate how the Fed plans to stay in full accommodation mode until its employment goal is achieved. 

Rotation trade unwinds on new Covid fears, Sterling gaps lower on lack of Brexit progress

Morning Note
  • Pound gaps lower on lack of Brexit deal, border closures
  • US Congress set to pass $900bn stimulus package
  • Rotation trade reverses on new Covid fears

No Brexit deal, a new strain of the coronavirus, stricter lockdowns and the closure of key trade routes to the EU: Merry Christmas everyone. First up sterling and it’s been a very rough start to the Christmas week for the pound, as the lack of a Brexit deal and the closure of key freight routes to Europe knocked sentiment. Brexit talks continue today but key sticking points remain, whilst several European countries have blocked travel from the UK due to a mutant strain of the coronavirus rife in the southeast of England. GBPUSD gapped down from the 1.35 close on Friday to trade under 1.33 again but near-term support emerged at 1.32650. The pound remains on the hook for a severe downside shock if there is no deal by Christmas.

Worries about Brexit and the emergence of a more transmissible new strain which has led to tighter lockdowns unnerved investors as the start of the European session saw heavy selling in cyclical names and a broad 1-2% decline for the main bourses. British banks and others with the most exposure to the UK fell the most on the lack of a Brexit deal and the uncertainty over the UK economy, whilst travel stocks were whacked by the new restrictions on movement. A tougher lockdown in the southeast is also a nightmare for retailers, though those listed entities with a decent online platform will do much better than the family-run shops forced to close. The rotation trade unwound – Ocado and Fresnillo jumped while the likes of Lloyds and IAG fell sharply. Shell shares fell over 3% as it announced it would write down $3.5bn-$4.5bn in oil and gas assets next year, dragging BP lower by 5%.

This is the kind of near-term volatility we can expect until the full force of vaccines is felt. There has been a lot of hope already priced in with the vaccine-inspired November rally so we cannot expect a straight line higher for stocks. Unfortunately, tougher Tier 4 restrictions may be in place until the spring, so corrections of this nature are to be expected. The cavalry may be coming but the homesteaders need to batten down the hatches and face another onslaught before they arrive.

The risk-off tone emerged despite US Congressional leaders achieving a breakthrough on a Covid relief package. The $900bn, which lawmakers think has enough support to pass today, includes $600 stimulus cheques for every individual and enhanced unemployment benefits. US futures traded lower despite the news. Meanwhile, the FDA approved the use of Moderna’s vaccine in the US. Watch for US banks after the Fed said they could resume share buybacks.

Big falls for reopening stocks in the early part of the session.

Big falls for reopening stocks in the early part of the session.

Stocks shrug as Brexit, US stimulus deals remain elusive

Morning Note
  • European stock markets higher after Wall Street sets new record high
  • German business confidence, UK consumer sentiment recovering
  • Brexit and US stimulus deals remain elusive

The two big pre-Christmas deals remain elusive. Brexit talks have hit a roadblock with only a handful of days until the deadline. The European Parliament set a Sunday deadline to see the text in order to ratify it in time. Meanwhile, Congressional leaders say they will work into the weekend to hammer out a Covid relief deal for the US. Rising optimism on both fronts has had to be tempered by the fact there is still nothing on paper.

On the Brexit front, Boris Johnson told European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen that a deal is “drifting away from us” but one could be done if the EU gives ground of fisheries and state aid. Sterling made fresh two-and-a-half year highs against the broadly weaker USD yesterday but has lost steam and pulled back a touch since. The spot market still believes a deal is coming although odds on a no-deal have shortened in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, it’s a similar story across the pond as the fiscal stimulus package remains slippery. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said he is no stranger “to December funding deadlines or the occasional pre-Christmas cliff-hanger”. Sentiment remains positive though. US markets set fresh record highs again and European markets turned higher again this morning. The German Ifo business climate exceeded expectations at 92.1, while the expectations index also improved to 92.8 vs 92.5 expected. The Ifo noted that the confidence goes beyond manufacturers with even services and wholesalers doing well.

UK consumer sentiment rebounded the most in 8 years according to a survey this morning, indicating how vaccines are already acting to support confidence in getting things back to normal. The GfK consumer confidence rose to –26 from –33 in November. Yet retail sales fell in November as the effects of lockdowns on the economy were felt. Retail sales volumes decreased by 3.8% when compared with October as many shops were forced to close. Despite the monthly fall, overall sales remain above their pre-pandemic levels, the ONS said.

Data was soft yesterday: US unemployment claims exceeded expectations again. Initial claims rose to 885,00 for the week ended Dec 12th, up from 862k in the previous week and ahead of the roughly 800k expected by economists. Claims remain above the level seen in 2008/09 but are down from the >6m or so we saw at the peak of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the Bank of England left rates on hold and delivered no surprises for the market. The MPC voted unanimously to keep the main lending rate at 0.1% and the stock of asset purchases at £895 billion. There was not a lot in this meeting for the market, though there was a clear signal the Bank would ease policy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Chart: GBPUSD off its highs struck yesterday but remains well supported as long as a deal is still possible. Asymmetric downside risks in event of no-deal.

GBPUSD off its highs struck yesterday but remains well supported as long as a Brexit deal is still possible.

Chart: EURUSD tests top of the channel, path to 1.25 remains open.

EURUSD tests top of the channel, path to 1.25 remains open.

Week ahead: UK leads vaccine charge, Salesforce picks up (the) Slack

Week Ahead

The big news this week is the UK’s rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. Could normality be coming finally after a topsy turvy year? Also, Salesforce buys Slack Tech, and the ECB holds its latest press conference to detail the EU’s financial outlook. 

UK Vaccine Rollout 

The UK approved the Pfizer-BioNTech two-dose vaccine as safe last week – and this week it begins and ambitious roll out programme designed to get the most vulnerable immunized as quickly as possible. 

Starting with care home residents and their carers, down nine steps to over 50s, a host of priority groups have been identified. No such luck for those under 50, who will have to wait, but once the priority groups have been jabbed, younger generations will get their shot. 

800,000 doses will have been delivered in the first vaccine wave. 

A vaccine that works will be essential for returning to normalcy in all walks of life, including trading. The UK is something of a guinea pig here, being the first developed nation to a) approve one of the myriad vaccines under development and b) tackling a mass vaccination programme. 

PM Boris Johnson has said the UK now faces a “massive logistical challenge” to get the vaccine where it’s needed, perhaps ignoring the fact the NHS rolls out immunization programmes to millions of vulnerable people every year. Still, this is an extraordinary event for an extraordinary twelve months, so we’ll have to wait and see how the roll out is managed.  

Economic implications of a vaccine are broadly very positive. For instance, it should support cyclical parts of the market forecast to struggle. It could provide the basis for a broader rally in equities too, and spur on rotation from big tech stocks that have been real pandemic winners. 

The FTSE 100 started December in the same vein as November’s big rally. Could UK equities start to shine again? A vaccine may be the shot in the arm they need to start performing once more. 

Still, it’s early days. The important thing is the vaccine has been approved and beginning to circulate. All eyes will be on the UK and its (hopefully) immunized population.  

Slack announces Q3 earnings as Salesforce prepares to buy company 

Work communications software provider Slack announces its Q3 2021 earnings this week just days after Salesforce announced its attentions to buy the company last week. 

Q2 2021 earnings for Slack showed a 49% year-on-year revenue increase, reaching a total $215.9m. Customer growth also accelerated in 30% y/y, with over 130,000 customers utilising Slack software. 

Will its Q3 earnings reflect further growth and pay off for Salesforce? 

At $27.7bn, Slack will be the biggest acquisition that Marc Benioff-owned Salesforce has made to date. It’s hoped that with the deal, the distance between it and Microsoft will become somewhat shorter in the corporate communications race. 

Slack’s software offer is similar to Microsoft teams. No doubt readers, very likely working from home for the past several long months, will now be intimate with Teams – the de facto choice of work communications software for businesses globally. 

Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock under the deal. Salesforce agreed to pay a 55% premium to Slack stock’s November 24th 2020 closing price. 

ECB press conference 

The ECB will reveal its latest policy decisions at its December press conference this week. 

Stimulus is grabbing all the headlines. The Bank’s chief economist, Philip Lane, has said “worrying signals” that financial conditions for banks and small businesses are getting tighter.  

The minutes from the ECB’s last set of meetings are not painting a glowing picture of economic stability within the EU. The bloc’s economy, like pretty much everyone’s, has taking a hefty hit from a one-two combo of Covid-19 and lockdown. 

“It could not be excluded that the euro area, or at least some countries, would experience a double-dip recession,” they warned. 

According to comments made in October, the ECB is “recalibrating” its monetary instruments and will announce the outcomes at its December 10th press conference. Analysts expect it to expand both its bond-buying programme and ultra-cheap loans to banks. 

Essentially, investors have interpreted this that another substantial package of monetary easing measures is on the way. It should be pointed out that not all EU member states are particularly happy with this, expressing concern over “possible non-linearities, side effects and ‘diminishing returns’ in an environment of high uncertainty and very favourable financial conditions”, per October’s meeting minutes. 

Market participants will also be watching for any comments about the single currency’s appreciation. The euro jumped to multi-year highs against the dollar last week, breaking the psychologically important 1.20 level, which has in the past triggered attempts by policymakers to jawbone the currency lower. 

Webinars to watch 

Trading pro Mark Leigh is once again holding a suite of educational trading-focussed webinars this week to help you get further insights into the nitty gritty of trading. Highlights include: 

Mark Leigh’s Trader Clinic 

Monday 7th December – 2.00pm GMT 

See how a professional uses the ups and downs of trading to hone their strategy and improve their returns with our Trader Clinic. 

Sign up 

Technical Indicators to Understand and Apply to your Trading Strategy 

Monday 7th December – 5.00pm GMT 

Although there are hundreds of different technical indicators, this can often lead to confusion and contradictory signals. Learn Mark Leigh’s indicators of choice and how to use them together with your trading strategy. 

Sign up 

How to use Japanese Candlesticks to Recognise Trade Setups 

Tuesday 8th December – 6.00pm GMT 

Candlestick charts are the accepted industry standard for technical traders. Learn how to read and understand Japanese candlesticks and how to use this information in your trade making decisions. 

Sign up 

FXtrademark has a Proprietary Scorecard System for every Trade Setup 

Wednesday 9th December – 5.00pm GMT 

Learn to use the FXtrademark scorecard where you will score each trade set-up on a scale from 0 to 10 based on predetermined criterion. This system will allow you to trade with a system and a plan as opposed to making arbitrary decisions based on emotions. 

Sign up 

Putting it All Together with Money Management, Psychology and Analysis 

Thursday 10th December – 6.00pm GMT 

No strategy, signal or trading plan can succeed without proper calculated money management. Risk/reward practices and position sizing is paramount in developing your trading plan. Although new traders only want strategies and signals to start their trading careers, all experienced and successful traders understand and know that it’s all about the psychology of trading that separates successful from unsuccessful traders. 

Sign up 

Major Economic Data

Date  Time (GMT)  Currency  Event 
Sun Dec 6  9.30pm  AUD  AIG Services Index 
       
Mon Dec 7  3.00pm  CAD  Ivey PMI 
       
  Tentative  CAD  Annual Budget Release 
       
  11.50pm  JPY  Final GDP q/q 
       
Tue Dec 8  12.01am  GBP  BRC Retail Monitors y/y 
       
  6.45am  CHF  Unemployment Rate 
       
  Tentative  GBP  FPC Meeting Minutes 
       
  Tentative  GBP  FPC Statement 
       
Wed Dec 9  1.30am  CNH  PPI y/y 
       
  3.00pm  CAD  BOC Rate Statement 
       
  3.00pm  CAD  Overnight Rate 
       
  3.30pm  USD  Crude Oil Inventories 
       
Thu Dec 10  7.00am  GBP  GDP m/m 
       
  12.45pm  EUR  Main Referencing Rate 
       
  12.45pm  EUR  Monetary Policy Statement 
       
  1.30pm  EUR  ECB Press Conference 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Core CPI m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  CPI m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  Unemployment Claims 
       
Fri Dec 11  1.30pm  USD  Core PPI m/m 
       
  1.30pm  USD  PPI m/m 

 

Key earnings data

Date  Company  Event 
Mon Dec 7  Coupa Software Inc.  Q3 2021 Earnings 
     
Tue Dec 8  Brown-Forman Corp.  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  AutoZone Inc.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Ashtead plc.  Q3 2021 Earnings 
  MongoDB  Q3 2021 Earnings 
  Guidewire Software Inc.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Wed Dec 9  Adobe Inc.  Q4 2020 Earnings 
  Campbell Soup Co.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Thu Dec 10  Oracle Corp.  Q2 2021 Earnings 
  Costco Wholesale Corp.  Q1 2021 Earnings 
  Broadcom  Q24 2020 Earnings 
  Lululemon   Q3 2020 Earnings 
  Vail Resorts   Q1 2021 Earnings 
     
Fri Dec 11  Carl Zeiss Meditec AG  Q4 2020 Earnings 

Another Monday morning, another positive vaccine update for markets, Cineworld jumps

Morning Note

Another Monday morning and another positive vaccine update: AstraZeneca reports its Covid-19 vaccine is 70% effective, helping put a bid under risk assets in early trading on Monday. Astra said this morning that one dosing regimen showed vaccine efficacy of 90% when the AZD1222 vaccine was given as a half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. Another dosing regimen showed 62% efficacy when given as two full doses at least one month apart.

The combined analysis produced in an average efficacy of 70%. What’s going to be interesting is whether the 90% efficacy with a half dose can be repeated as this would bring it line with the Pfizer and Moderna efficacy rates whilst being significantly easier to rollout at scale.

Indeed, whilst not as headline-grabbing as a 95% efficacy rate, 70% is by all accounts still very significant and Astra’s vaccine is cheaper, easier to deliver around the world and much easier to produce in large quantities than the Pfizer or Moderna versions, so it will likely play a big role global immunisation. However, the market is not getting the boost as it did from the Pfizer or Moderna updates.

To a degree that’s because a large amount of market rotation has been priced with November’s gains, and a decent success rate was expected from the Astra/Oxford trials (shares in Astra fell over 1% on the news), but also because in the meantime we have seem soaring case numbers that means the economic recovery will struggle before vaccines take effect.

European services PMIs for November are weaker due to the lockdowns, whilst manufacturing activity is broadly holding up and the US data due later today probably will just show expansion. But the outlook for 2021 is surely improving the more good vaccine news emerges – the key is how quickly the mass vaccination can occur and how quickly we are ‘back to normal’.

On that front, there have been reports Britain could give approval to Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week, whilst Americans are due to start receiving vaccines next month. Dr Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, said the FDA will likely approve the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine by mid-December and inoculations would start immediately thereafter.

The market is dealing with a familiar theme in terms of the return-to-normal trade. Do bulls bid this up on the reopening trade, or are there greater risks under the bonnet? European markets took a positive view and moved higher, with the FTSE 100 edging up to last week’s highs at 6,400 in early trade. Positive vaccine developments should start to create a much more upbeat picture for the UK market.

The DAX popped after the manufacturing PMI was stronger than expected at 57.9 and the services survey at 46.2 was much better than France’s rather soft 38.0.

Cineworld shares leapt 19% after the company bought itself a few more months survival. The company secured a new debt facility of $450m and issued equity warrants representing over 11% of share capital. It also managed to get banks to waive debt covenants until June 2022 and further reduced costs. It’s heavily laden with debt after two leveraged acquisitions but this new facility should act as a bridge to get to a point where it can reopen screens in the UK and US and get the cash flow moving in the right direction again.

However, the company is working on the assumption that can reopen in May. Under this base case scenario, Cineworld has sufficient headroom for 2021 and beyond. But in the event of a further delay to cinema reopening, whilst it has sufficient liquidity ‘for a number of additional months’, it ‘may require lender support in order to deploy that liquidity’, management said today. Bums on seats by May is dependent entirely on a vaccine – if there is a stock trading on this vaccine roll-out it’s Cineworld.

WTI crude oil leapt to its highest level since the start of September after Yemen’s Houthis attacked a Saudi Aramco facility in Jeddah. Whilst there is no confirmation of any damage, the reports seem to have put a bid under oil, whilst the positive vaccine news is another support.

Sterling also rose to its strongest since the start of September amid reports the Brexit deal is 95% agreed. As ever chatter around UK-EU trade talks will drive the price action for sterling crosses.

Whilst we have many deadlines come and go, several false dawns and lots of disappointment, this really is make-or-break time.

GBPUSD may be moving in anticipation of a deal – could be a day or two too soon but we shall see. In addition, positive vaccine news would tend to support the pound as the UK economy is more services-driven and more exposed to lockdowns and restrictions on travel, social distancing and consumer confidence.

GBP performance against USD.

What to do during a pandemic: DIY, order stuff online and drink?

Morning Note

B&Q owner Kingfisher has done well out of the pandemic as consumers have found reasons and savings to tart up their homes and gardens. Q3 numbers suggest the trend has not waned, but it may not persist at these levels for much longer.

Total group sales rose 17.6% to £3.5bn, with like-for-like sales +12.6%. Home doer-uppers were the driver with B&Q LFLs +24% on constant currency basis, whilst trade desks at Screwfix saw sales at +12.8% on the same basis. Total UK & Ireland sales +19.9% compared with +19.2% in France, +7.5% in Poland, +10.6% in Romania and +18.1% in Iberia.

Whilst uncertainty over Covid-19 and the impact of temporary lockdown restrictions in most of its markets continue to limit the near-term visibility, management feel that consumers’ “renewed focus on homes” is supportive for sales.

Whilst this may be true in the near-term, shares have already handsomely since the March lows and sales momentum is unlikely to continue through 2021 as vaccines enable a return to more normal activities. KGF may have experienced a significant pull-forward in demand that won’t continue. Shares declined almost 4% in early trade before paring losses to track –2% as of send time.

Meanwhile, it’s well understood that kicking our heels at home has boosted online purchases and Royal Mail has achieved a milestone in its history as a result of the pandemic, though the trend has been going in this direction for many years. For the first time, parcels revenue at Royal Mail exceeds letters revenue, representing 60% of total revenue, compared with 47% in the prior period.

Parcel volumes rose 31% as letter vols declined 33%. Revenues at the GLS rose 21.7%, with an operating margin of +8.9% and profits +84.4% to £166m. Royal Mail revenues are now projected to be £380 to £580 million higher year on year, but the mix change costs are increasing to £210 million.

The results indicate Royal Mail is moving in the right direction in terms of the shift to parcels, and point to the large opportunity in this space that the company has been a bit slow to adapt hitherto. But it also points to some near-term cost implications from the mix change. Shares rose over 6% in early trade.

Finally, the demon drink has been an important salve and Naked Wines has prospered from its direct to consumer model. First half revenues surged 80% year-on-year to £157.1m.

New customers strong, with active ‘Angels’ base +37% to 757k. The company is now the largest direct to consumer wine merchant in the USA and it is doing a good job of scaling up the operations to respond to the demand in its core markets with warehouse capacity +104%. Fixed costs as percentage of revenues –5 percentage points is another positive. Outlook upgraded for sales growth to achieve 55-65% this year. Shares rose 7% in early trade.

Stocks opened lower in Europe this morning after a soft session on Wall Street despite positive vaccine updates. Yesterday, stocks on Wall Street fell, whilst European stocks rose after Pfizer and Biontech said their vaccine is 95% effective after completing the final phase three trial analysis. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 declined over 1%, and the Dow Transports index dropped 0.7% after hitting a record high.

The small cap Russell 2000 also dropped over 1% after achieving a fresh intra-day record high. There are definitely some fears that the lack of progress on a new stimulus aid package in the US is going to put pressure on corporates and earnings before the vaccines do their stuff. Meanwhile the virus is showing no signs of slowing down in its spread – New York now closing schools.

The initial reaction in the market to the Pfizer/Biontech news was positive but muted – after last Monday a result in this area had been almost fully priced in, especially since the Moderna news this week. What it does is underscore the fact that we are heading into a much brighter 2021, and whilst temporary lockdowns need to be endured, the back-to-normal trade is still ‘on’.

And there was more good health news this morning as the coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University was shown to be safe and produces an immune response in all adults, according to a Lancet report covering mid-stage trials. Phase three efficacy results will follow soon enough, with hopes high for a vaccine to be ready this year.

Sterling went on a bit of a random walk yesterday afternoon, pushing up to week highs against the euro and dollar. GBPUSD tested 1.33, close at last week’s two-month high, while EURGBP dipped to 0.89150 before the pound pared gains. Are traders sniffing around for a Brexit deal?

EIA inventories showed a rise in US crude and gasoline stocks last week. Crude inventories rose by 768k barrels in the week to Nov 13th, lower than the expected build but this seems to be down to a rise in production to 10.9m bd from 10.5m bpd in the previous week. Crude stocks at Cushing, Oklahoma rose 1.2m barrels to 61.6m barrels, the highest level since May.

With vaccines not immediately on the horizon and the virus ripping through the US, inventories should only continue to build over the winter, and this could heap pressure on pricing. WTI (Jan) tested the $41.50 again before bouncing back to $42 but has peeled off this level in early trade this morning.

Elsewhere, watch for the EU leaders meeting online to try and agree the budget after Poland and Hungary vetoed the package. US jobless claims also on tap later seen at +700k. Bitcoin has pared gains to around $17,500 with the near-term support around $17,200-300 at yesterday’s lows. Below this calls for $16,600.

Stocks ease after Moderna rally, Tesla leaps on S&P500 inclusion, OPEC eyes extending cuts

Morning Note

More good news on the vaccine front has delivered another confidence boost to global markets with Wall Street building on Friday’s record highs and European markets nearing breakout from the post-trough bottom-to-top range.

Moderna’s positive vaccine news came exactly one week after Pfizer’s with much the same impact on the market. It may not quite be the game-changer of a week ago, but it adds further support to some of the back-to-normal, value type rotation which has been the outstanding impact on markets so far and had reasserted itself by last Friday after a mid-week pause.

The vaccine news sent the FTSE 100 to close to its best level since the pandemic-induced sell-off.

The early June intra-day high at 6,511 is now only a few points above, whilst the record close at 6,484 is near. News that Moderna’s vaccine is almost 95% effective was not a huge surprise to the markets but underscores the faith being shown in the rotational trade out of growth and into value areas of the market.

This would tend to favour the FTSE vs say the DAX.

Again, as we saw with the Pfizer news, the Nasdaq lagged the Russell 2000, but all boats were lifted by the vaccine update. Among the biggest risers yesterday dwell in the airline/travel arena Rolls-Royce, Whitbread, IAG and Melrose, whilst Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and United Airlines led the way on the S&P 500 and Boeing notched big gains at the top of the Dow. Ocado and JustEat declined

In the meantime, we may need to endure more hardships – imminent vaccines are the perfect cover for maintaining lockdowns for longer. The economic recovery is going to be patchy and uneven across sectors as lockdowns and other restrictions – not least the fear factor remaining a strong driver of consumer habits – but the vaccine-led ‘back to normal’ direction is now at last clear.

Poor old AstraZeneca shares fell as Moderna (+9% on the day) made the announcement – there is a risk that the high efficacy of the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna trials kills off some competing candidates in development.

Pfizer shares also fell 4% as its vaccine is not the only show in town. Biontech says its vaccine will be ready for delivery in early January.

The IATA warned that travel restrictions would curtail the rollout of vaccines – perhaps talking its book a bit but it’s got a point when it calls for the reopening of key passenger routes.

Today, European markets were flat to a little negative as investors looked to take stock of the pre-vaccine, post-pandemic outlook. Asian shares were mixed but of note the Nikkei 225 in Japan trades at its highest in almost 30 years.

Tesla shares in Frankfurt rose over 10% after gaining 13% in US after-hours trade following news that the car maker will be admitted to the S&P 500 in December. It’s now less than 10% off its all-time high. Talk of possible inclusion in the S&P 500 was a big factor in driving the stock higher earlier this year and the disappointment of being initially snubbed left the shares down. Inclusion in the index will require funds to buy the stock.

Airbnb announced plans to press on with its stock market listing this year despite the obvious hit to the travel sector from the pandemic.

In a filing on Monday the company reported it had made a profit of $219 million in the third quarter, on $1.34 billion in revenue. This was down on a small amount from the $227 million in profit during the same quarter last year – its only profitable quarter in 2019 – which was on $1.65 billion in revenue.

However, the first half of the year was exceptionally tough for Airbnb as it chalked up net losses of $916 million on revenue of $1.18 billion. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker ABNB.

The Asian recovery story has been helping to lift the mood – China industrial production up 6.9% in the 12 months to October and Japan’s 5% Q3 GDP rebound are encouraging, whilst a mega trade pact involving 15 key Asian economies is fuelling optimism. Greater Chinese influence in the region is assured – good for GDP but not so good for many other aspects of free society.

The euro shrugged off fears of a full-blown crisis within the EU after Hungary and Poland vetoed the €1.8tn budget and the €750 pandemic recovery fund. As ever with the EU, a way will be found to get around the problem. But it does raise a risk that the ultimate fund is punier than it might have been and arrives far too late. EURUSD trades at week highs above 1.1870 at send time.

Brexit – the endgame approaches. We are in the final few days of talks if, realistically, both sides want to get the treaty ratified at home.

The departure of Dominic Cummings is a problem for the UK government as it seems to strengthen the ‘deal at any cost’ voices within, which weakens the British position and likely as not has only led to the EU hardening its stance.

Expect lots of sources comments on the wires reflecting the posturing that is still going on, but the real work is taking place out of the public gaze. David Frost, the UK’s top negotiator, is reported to have said a deal could be done by next Tuesday.

Cable is steady at 1.32.

Rear-view economic data is meaningless right now due to the combination of near-term lockdowns scrubbing a few percentage points off activity and growth, and the prospect of vaccines seeing everything back to normal next year.

Nevertheless, US retail sales on tap later seen at +0.5% (+0.6% core).

Retailers have done well during the pandemic as consumers have spent less on experiences like holidays and dining out and more on stuff from gadgets to groceries.

But how have consumers in the US fared since the end of $600-a-week stimulus cheques? September saw a blow-out for the sector as retail sales grew at the fastest pace in three months, rising 1.9% after a +0.6% move in August.

Consumers have built up a lot of savings and are ready to deploy these in the economy – October may see another strong month though the election may be a factor.

In September department stores sales rose 9.7%, whilst clothing sales were up 11%, but are still down 7.3% and 12.5% respectively on last year. Meanwhile, Fed chair Jay Powell is to deliver a keynote speech at the 25th Bay Area Business Hall of Fame event, where Nancy Pelosi will be attending.

Oil prices were supported as the JMMC meetings continue with a clear indication that OPEC and allies are looking to postpone the planned increase in production in January by several months.

As part of the deal struck back in April between OPEC and allies led by Russia, daily production cuts would be reduced by 2 million barrels per day from January.

However, with demand slowing amid fresh lockdowns and stifled consumer confidence, it’s thought that OPEC+ will maintain cuts of 7.7 million bpd for a further three to six months, instead of tapering the cut to 5.7 million bpd in January. Forecasts for weaker demand in 2021, with the surplus seen at a max of 1.5m bpd vs 0.2bpd under previous forecast, indicate that OPEC+ will need to act.

Stocks mixed after vaccine melt-up, watch for ongoing rotation

Morning Note

First the relief, now for a wee dose of reality. Stock markets are looking a little more cautious after yesterday’s massive surge on news that Pfizer and Biontech have a vaccine that is 90% effective – investors will now show a tad more caution that the kneejerk rally is out of the way.

Markets have a habit of overshooting on the way down, and on the way back up. Nevertheless, an effective vaccine changes the game for investors, at the very least in terms of relative valuations and the premium we are willing to pay for growth.

We have a lot more clarity now than a week ago for two big reasons. Joe Biden is all but certain to become the next president of the United States. More importantly, a vaccine is coming.

The worst fears – of enduring year after year of masks, of having semi-permanent lockdowns and restrictions on our liberties lasting for ever – should not come to pass.

All we need now is a Brexit deal this week as the cherry on the cake. What we in Britain and Europe need more than anything is a confidence injection – and a working vaccine does that. A comprehensive FTA with the EU would help, too.

The FTSE 100 rose over 4.6%, settling just under 6,200. The DAX rose almost 5% and the CAC in Paris was up almost 8%. US stocks opened considerably higher as they took the cue from Europe, but closed less in the green.

The Dow rallied 800 points but that was about half the gains at the high of the day, which was a new intra-day peak. The S&P 500 finished up over 1% but also at the lows of the day.

In a clear signal of a major rotation from growth to value, the Nasdaq 100 fell over 2%, while the Russell 2000 climbed over 4%.

This is a trade that seems to have legs. Due to the makeup of indices and heavy reliance on the big tech names (5 big tech names make up about a quarter of the S&P 500), rotation of this nature may act as a headwind and means it’s not a straight line up.

It will be messy as portfolios rebalance and we can expect more outsize moves in some of the most exposed stocks to the vaccine. But, overall, the landscape for equity markets is favourable.

Yesterday we saw some very high volumes in some of the stocks worst affected by the pandemic on the platform.

S&P 500 volume leaders included American Airlines (+15%), Pfizer (+7.7%) and Carnival (+39%).

Netflix (-9%) and Zoom (-17%) indicated the degree to which the stay-at-home trade was unwound.

On the UK market, there was big volume in Cineworld (+40%), IAG (+25%) Rolls-Royce (+44%), whilst Ocado (-12%) and JustEat (-9%) were offered as part of the rotation.

We do have some uncomfortable questions to answer – does a vaccine on the near horizon preclude more stimulus? Perhaps, a lot depends on the Senate runoffs in Georgia, but the US economy needs a bridge to get to the sunlit uplands of vaccine country.

Europe can’t even get its stimulus delivered, whilst in the UK the government continues to offer support to business but does not seem willing to acknowledge the other problems created by lockdowns – a vaccine may give them further excuse to restrict liberties as ‘it will only be for a little longer’.

The vaccine won’t stop this from being a very tough winter in Britain, Europe, and elsewhere. Data this morning showed the UK unemployment rate in the three months to September rose to 4.8% as the number of people out of work rose by 243,000.

Does a vaccine change the game for the Fed? It ought to, but if experience is anything to go by, the Fed won’t want to rock the boat anytime soon. Several Fed speakers on tap this week will give a clue – expect them to stress the need for fiscal support now as a vaccine won’t available en masse for some months. Overall, the outlook for markets is a lot more positive.

European markets are trading a bit mixed this morning. The FTSE 100 rose above 6,200 while the DAX faded 0.5% to 13,000.

Travel stocks rose again on Tuesday, building on some very big gains notched in the previous session. So too did banks – a vaccine will steepen the yield curve which will make a significant difference to banks’ net interest margins. It should also help limit credit impairments.

Treasury yields rose – the US 10-year yield leapt to 0.94%, the highest since March, which sent the 2yr/10yr spread to its widest in almost three years.

Gold sank to the bottom of the recent range, testing the Sep lows at $1,850 before catching some bid to recover to around $1,887 this morning. UK 10 year gilt yields also jumped to its highest level in some months at 0.377%.

In FX, the vaccine could help risk-on currencies like sterling and the Aussie. GBPUSD advanced to 1.32 and trades with upside momentum in play.

Brexit talks this week threaten headline risk but increasingly the market believes that the posturing over fishing rights and level playing fields will give way to the cold, hard reality of securing a deal in time for Christmas.

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