Thematic investing in the time of Coronavirus

The Coronavirus pandemic has ushered countless changes in the way we live our daily lives. We seek to generate performance for our clients by gaining targeted exposure to these changes by constructing “baskets” of securities which we have selected to benefit from a particular theme.

Our process

We as multi-asset investors see opportunities to capitalise on macroeconomic and microeconomic dislocations through thematic investing over both tactical and strategic time horizons.

The back-and-forth between lockdown measures taken by governments to reduce the spread of the virus and the easing of those restrictions have been qualified as waves. Such ...
We note that there are longer-term impacts associated with the pandemic, and posit that key trends exacerbated by the pandemic are here to stay. As such, we point to a grow...

Tactical targets

The global threat posed by Covid-19 and government policies enacted to control the spread of the virus have had immediate impacts on observed behaviors. While damaging economies, lockdowns and social distancing measures also created pockets of tactical investment opportunities as individuals and businesses have had to quickly adjust to new safety measures. As part of the new behaviors basket, we have seen consumption habits gradually and partially revert to more normal levels, as illustrated in the chart below. The temporary outperformance of this basket exemplifies the more tactical nature of market opportunities that the Covid crisis has presented for investors.

Google trends scores by activity types

Google trends by activity types

Source: BlackRock and Google, as of July 2020. Big ticket items include high-priced items such as automobile purchases and repairs. Social consumption includes activities such as dining out. 

Trends with staying power

The pandemic accelerated pre-existing trends by strengthening awareness around health and the environment, reinforcing a desire for flexibility, and reemphasizing the fragility of global supply chains. We see these as drivers of a more persistent evolution in behaviours across governments, businesses, and people.

Quotation start

Among the drivers of outperformance, we see businesses’ sensitivity to vaccine developments, the continuing fiscal policy support from governments aimed at consumers and specific industries, and the yield curve dynamics resulting from the interaction of fiscal and monetary policy actions.

Quotation end

Digital payments and cybersecurity

The restrictions imposed on in-person interactions as a result of coronavirus has made online activity more widespread than ever before. In this “new normal” of working, shopping, and socializing from home, the digital infrastructure undergirding online workstreams, video conferencing, and cloud-based platforms has created a significant opportunity for the technology sector to continue its decades-long outperformance over broad global equity markets.

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The Coronavirus crisis has forced people and businesses around the world to adjust to the closing and reopening of their economies and has accelerated pre-existing themes. We draw from a wide variety of inputs and techniques to express thematic ideas, incorporating both systematic sources and qualitative insights to drive security selection.
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Adam Ryan
Portfolio Manager and Head of Diversified Strategies, Multi Asset Strategies & Solutions
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Yasmin Meissner
Co-Head of Sustainable Investing, Multi Asset Strategies & Solutions
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Arjun Kapur
Investment Strategist, BlackRock Investment Institute
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Helene Procoudine-Gorsky
Researcher, Multi Asset Strategies & Solutions
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