If you’re an investor wondering which sectors may do well in 2021, keep an eye on those that would benefit from a dose of pre-Covid normalcy.
With Monday’s news that results from a coronavirus vaccine trial were better than expected, the major stock indexes jumped. By mid-day, both the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were trading at record highs of more than 3,600 and 29,600, respectively.
“I’d say this is very good news for leisure and hospitality, oil and gas, travel, airlines — all these businesses where activity has not returned because of the pandemic,” said certified financial planner Blair duQuesnay, an investment advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management in New York.
Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech announced in the morning that their Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective, based on data from their drug trials. A vaccine that is 50% to 60% effective would be considered acceptable, according to past comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
While it’s uncertain exactly when the Pfizer vaccine — or one from another pharmaceutical company — will be made broadly available, the news was viewed as a positive for companies and sectors that have taken a beating during the pandemic. For example, airline stocks were higher in morning trading, as were some restaurants, including Cheesecake Factory and Texas Roadhouse.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand in some sectors,” said CFP Doug Boneparth, president of Bone Fide Wealth in New York. “Think about what people might be able to do in 2021 that they haven’t been able to do in 2020.”
At the same time, some stocks that have outperformed in a Covid world have taken hits — i.e., fast-food or delivery restaurants like Domino’s Pizza, as well as companies that benefited from the work-from-home trend such as exercise-equipment provider Peloton.
“The winners so far this year may not do as well as cruise lines, airlines or others coming off depressed levels,” duQuesnay said.
The vaccine development also comes as President-elect Joe Biden begins working on his transition to power. While some investors may try to bet on stocks that could do well under his presidency — i.e., those related to alternative energy or infrastructure — financial advisors place less importance on who is in the White House than on a Covid vaccine.
“The Covid trade will be more significant than the Biden trade,” said CFP Barry Glassman, founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services in Vienna, Virginia. “What he could do will not have as much impact as an effective vaccine.”
I think that working from home or from anywhere is probably here to stay even if we get back to normal life.
Investment advisor at Ritholtz Wealth Management
Glassman and other advisors say that in addition to the airline and cruise line industries, sit-down restaurants, movie theaters, hotels, sporting events and concerts — anything involving people being in close proximity to one another — could do well once a vaccine is broadly distributed.
This means suppliers for those companies or those that otherwise serve them may benefit. Commercial real estate, which also has suffered during the pandemic, could also have more upside potential in a post-vaccine economy.
As for the stocks that did well this year due to the work-from-home trend: Advisors caution dismissing them altogether despite their Monday dips.
“I think that working from home or from anywhere is probably here to stay even if we get back to normal life,” duQuesnay said.
She also said Monday’s surge in stock prices is a good example of why investors should never try to time the market.
“There have been people sitting on the sidelines with cash, waiting for a market drop after the election,” said duQuesnay, who pointed out that Monday’s jump in stocks came on the heels of rising prices last week.
“The market does not do what you expect it to do,” she said.