The soft-landing and inflation easing narrative is thriving
Head of Equity Strategy
Summary: The easing inflation narrative has been building strength for six weeks now and the short-term vindication in the US CPI release on Wednesday has bolstered the bulls. However, the structural issues in the supply-side of the economy have been resolved and wages combined with rents will add more pressure on inflation going forward. We also highlight the unfolding scandal around the heartburn drug Zantac as it has erased $40bn in market value from Sanofi and GSK. Finally, we take a look at next week's earnings.
It is too early to call inflation is tamed
The US July CPI release on Wednesday has bolstered the soft-landing and easing inflation trade catapulting high duration assets higher. S&P 500 futures are attempting to push higher and the 200-day moving average sitting around the 4,325 level is suddenly not an outrageous gravitational point for US equities in the near-term.
While the equity market is buying the all good scenario on inflation we would emphasise that it is too early to call. The Fed will like to see the 6-month average on the US CPI core m/m to go back to 0.2% before easing policy and that is simply not possible until at least the end of Q1 next year. Many of the structural issues except maybe for logistics, and this pain could come back again this winter if China gets another big Covid outbreak, are still not solved as capital expenditures in real terms are still not coming up in the global mining and energy industry. Labour markets remain tight with especially the US being the worst hit having lost around 1.5%-point of its labour force due to the pandemic and these people are likely never coming back.
Rent dynamics are also heating up in both the US and Europe, and this winter will test the strength of the European population as the energy crisis could get much worse. We encourage investors to watch the US 10-year yield as a break above 3% again should cause a negative reaction in global equities.
Potential gigantic Zantac liabilities hit Sanofi, GSK, and Pfizer
Health care is typically associated with stability, high valuations, and high predictability in the underlying cash flows, but the industry is being rocked by increasing concerns over the heartburn drug Zantac. Sanofi, GSK, and Pfizer have lost combined market value of $40bn and analysts are estimating that damage liabilities could reach $10-45bn. Zantac was removed from the market in 2019 by the FDA as the drug appears to be producing unacceptably high levels of a cancer-causing chemical. There is case coming up in Illinois on 22 August which will give the first indications of where this is going. There will continue to be short-term headwinds for both Sanofi and GSK where Pfizer seems to have been selling the drug for a much more reduced period than the two others.
Earnings to watch next week
The Q2 earnings season is slowly coming to end and what a quarter it has been with earnings jumping to a new all-time high (see chart) driven by a significant increase in profits in the energy sector. The technology sector measure by the Nasdaq 100 had another bad quarter with earnings declining reinforcing the need to cut costs of many of these previously fast growing technology companies.
Next week’s most important earnings are highlighted below with the names in bold being those that can move market or industry sentiment. Meituan on Monday is important for gauging consumer spending and behaviour in China. BHP Group is must watch on Monday as the Australian miner is tapped into China’s growth and demand for iron ore. On Tuesday, earnings from Walmart and Home Depot can provide an updated picture on global supply chains and price pressures across a wide range of consumer products. Tencent reports on Wednesday and is an important earnings release for investors watching Chinese technology stocks as the recent amendment to China’s anti-monopoly laws is adding more pressure on the big technology platform companies. In the payments industry, Adyen’s result on Thursday will be highly watched as Adyen is really challenging PayPal on growth and dominance in the industry.
- Monday: China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Meituan, China Life Insurance, China Shenhua Energy, China Petroleum & Chemical, BHP Group, COSCO Shipping, Li Auto, Trip.com Group, DiDi Global
- Tuesday: China Telecom, Walmart, Agilent Technologies, Home Depot, Sea Ltd
- Wednesday: Tencent, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, Analog Devices, Cisco Systems, Synopsys, Lowe’s, CSL, Target, TJX, Coloplast, Carlsberg, Wolfspeed
- Thursday: Applied Materials, Estee Lauder, NetEase, Adyen, Nibe Industrier, Geberit
- Friday: China Merchants Bank, CNOOC, Shenzhen Mindray, Xiaomi, Deere
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