Energy and industrials companies struggled last year as global lockdowns halted international travel and forced people to stay at home. Corporate demand fell and the oil price swiftly collapsed. But fast forward a year and Fidelity analysts expect revenue growth over the next 12 months will be highest in these two sectors.
All energy analysts think revenue will rise at their companies over the next year, albeit from a low base. This is a stark contrast with last March, when 92 per cent of analysts reported that sales would fall over the subsequent 12 months. The recent “big uptick in the oil price … is driving more positivity in the sector”, reports one analyst covering China.
Consumer discretionary analysts also report a dramatic change in outlook from a year ago, with the sector’s fortunes closely linked to a successful vaccine rollout. “Pent up demand for dining out or travel is likely to be larger than anticipated”, says an analyst covering North America. Just over 80 per cent of consumer discretionary analysts expect sales will rise over the next 12 months.
Although many healthcare companies benefited from higher demand for diagnostics tests over the past year, others struggled as elective procedures were cancelled. More than three quarters of all healthcare analysts now expect revenue will increase over the next 12 months, with one reporting a positive outlook for elective surgeries, hearing aids, dental work and ophthalmology.
Mixed outlook for pandemic winners
The technology sector had a bumper 2020 overall, as many more people worked from home and more transactions moved online. This could continue for a while longer, with one analyst based in China reporting that “working from home demand still remains robust and is expected to remain strong well into the second half of the year.”
The picture is more mixed for consumer staples companies. Although sales growth does tend to be more muted in this defensive sector, grocery and alcohol sales direct to consumers could falter as restaurants reopen, causing spending to be diverted to the consumer discretionary sector instead.
But alcohol and soft drinks companies tend to generate higher revenue and profit margins from out-of-home sales. “A very fast vaccine rollout in the UK will benefit mostly out-of-home food consumption names”, points out one consumer staples analyst covering Europe. This means that some consumer staples companies could still reap rewards as activity returns to normal.