The Future’s Looking Bright

The Future’s Looking Bright

over 3 years ago3 mins

Mentioned in story

Financial markets are notoriously forward-looking, and no sooner was there encouraging news about coronavirus vaccines than analysts started to think about 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism.

🕰 Recap

  • In March, investors’ best-laid plans for 2020 were dashed as US stocks entered a pandemic-induced “bear market”. Read our story
  • And by the summer, they were already placing their bets on November’s US election outcome. Read our story
  • This month, Pfizer and BioNTech released an encouraging update on their shared vaccine, and so Moderna announced promising data too. Read our story
  • And at almost the very same time, investment bank Goldman Sachs outlined its investing themes for 2021. Read our story

✍️ Connecting The Dots

At the start of 2020, only one analyst predicted the key US stock market index – the S&P 500 – would rise 7% from the end of last year to hit 3,500, let alone exceed that level as it’s since done. And when coronavirus spread around the world like wildfire – not to mention the actual wildfires that spread like wildfires – that bold shout looked more and more farfetched.

But stock markets rebounded almost as quickly as they’d collapsed. That was mostly down to Big Tech, which benefited from the pandemic thanks to the demand for remote-working tools, video-streaming services, and social media platforms. But it was also because investors’ had adjusted to the disruptive effects of coronavirus, and started to picture a time when the global economy was growing again. And as time rolled on, investors who bought stocks in anticipation of a time when everything would be okay more than offset any pandemic-related setbacks, like new waves and a lack of government support.

And things started to look even more okay this month, with news of vaccine progress from both Moderna and the partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech helping send stock markets to record highs. Looking ahead, Goldman Sachs thinks a recovery in global growth will be particularly good news for economically-sensitive areas: think energy, financials, and emerging markets. Commodities should also benefit from an uptick in the economy, which is why the bank’s recommending investors buy gold, silver, and oil – whose price it’s expecting to rise 50% from this year’s doldrums.

🥡 Takeaways

A company’s stock is theoretically worth precisely as much as its future cashflows, discounted back to today. But that’s the problem: calculating those cashflows and how much to discount them by isn’t precise. One thing’s for certain, though: companies’ stock prices will keep rising in the long run if, in aggregate, they continue to grow their earnings. That can only be good news for long-term investors, even if they’re understandably worried by short-term drops.

Some things never change: the debate over cheap-looking value stocks versus fast-climbing growth stocks has continued to rage throughout all this. While growth stocks are theoretically less appealing in times of improving economic growth – and value stocks more so – analysts aren’t confident things will play out that way. One reason is that there may be even more stay-at-home orders before there are enough vaccinations to end self-isolation once and for all, and that’ll benefit fast-growing tech companies all over again.

🎯 Also On Our Radar

S&P Dow Jones confirmed early last week that Tesla would finally be added to its US S&P 500 stock market index. Starting next month, investment funds that track the index will be forced to own the electric carmaker’s shares, which might’ve encouraged investors to buy in ahead of that fresh demand (perhaps hoping to sell at a profit next week). That might be why the company’s stock price had climbed almost 20% by the end of the week.

Back To The Future gif


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