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ASX stocks down 0.2%


ASX stocks down 0.2%, ‘Go long’ says star investor Bill Ackman, Ramsay Healthcare (ASX:RHC) reports, positive open ahead

The ASX200 (ASX:XJO) fell for the second straight day finishing down 0.2% but managed to add 3.2% for the week. 

The reasons were clear, positive news on a COVID-19 vaccine coming from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) sent beaten down cyclicals into a three day bull market. 

  • After an initial bounce in the energy, travel and property sectors it was back to reality as the week went on. 

    Friday saw the long awaited Sohn Hearts & Minds Conference, during which the country’s leading stock pickers put forward the best picks for the year ahead. 

    To lead off, star fund manager Bill Ackman who headlined the show suggested that 2021 stands out as a potentially strong year for the US stock market, advising listeners to ‘go long’ despite concerns of another economic shutdown. 

    The top ASX stocks tipped including CSL (ASX:CSL) described as an ‘undiscovered gem’, meal kit delivery service Hello Fresh (ETR:HFG) and Fisher & Paykal Healthcare (ASX:FPH).

    Ramsay Healthcare (ASX:RHC) updated the market on performed for the first quarter, with the Victorian lockdowns hurting the Australian business in the short term. 

    That said, the results were quite resilient, Australian revenue increased 1.5% but 6.6% when Victoria was excluded, on the back of a 1.7% increase in admissions (8.0% ex Victoria), suggesting the ‘snapback’ has been incredibly quick after restrictions are lifted. 

    Recent restrictions in the UK and France, where revenue fell 9.9% and increased 5.4% respectively, are offset by continued Government support until 31 December. 

    All in all, a solid result in the circumstances with the company set to benefit from a backlog of surgery and longer public waiting times. 

    Turning to US markets it was decidedly strong finish to the week, with every sector in the S&P500 finishing higher, pushing the index up 1.4%, whilst the underperformance of technology shares continued, the Nasdaq finishing just 1.0% higher; the full week result was a gain of 2.2% and a loss of 0.6% respectively. 

    Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) rallied after a strong quarterly earnings result with the US$700 million quarterly loss on its theme park and cruise divisions offset by the 73 million paid subscribers on its Disney+ streaming service and offers a high quality recovery opportunity.

    Look beyond the index, vaccine won’t cure all ills, political action will be key

    My first takeaway this week is the importance of looking beyond the headline index figures plastered over news headlines every day. 

    ‘Vaccine week’ offered an insight into issues faced by passive investors with the market increasing 3.5% but a number of companies either falling or rising by more than 15% as investors rotating from winning sectors to losers. 

    With such divergence, active management is likely to grow in importance particularly in highly concentrated markets. 

    The second is that despite positive news on the vaccine, we aren’t out of the woods, a message reiterated by the Bank of England, Federal Reserve and European Central Bank

    All three leaders highlighted the medium-term benefit of the vaccine, but warned that it will do little to solve the short-term impacts of economic shutdowns and spiralling deaths. 

    Which leads to the final thought, in the importance of now reassessing everything we had been expecting just last week. 

    How long will the recovery now take? Will Government’s reduce stimulus too early? Is inflation now a threat? All important questions I will be considering in the months ahead.

    Drew Meredith

    Drew is publisher of the Inside Network's mastheads and a principal adviser at Wattle Partners.

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