A Viral Market Update XI: The Flexibility Premium
I must confess that when I started these updates in February, I did not expect to be doing them in July, but a crisis is as good a time as any, to learn new lessons and relearn old ones. As the virus makes a comeback, particularly in the United States, it is not surprising that markets reflect the uncertainty that we all feel about how the rest of the year will play out in both our personal and business lives, with mood rising and falling on positive and negative news stories. In this post, I will begin by updating the numbers for markets overall, and within the equity market, across regions, sectors and industries. I will then use the differences I see across companies to highlight flexibility in investing, operating, financing and cash return policies as the one quality that seems to be separating the winners from the losers in these last few months, and argue that this represents an acceleration of a longer term shift towards more nimble and adaptable business models.
If you have been reading all of my viral market updates during this crisis, I admire your fortitude, and I know that you will get a sense of deja vu, as you read this section, since I follow the same road map on each of them. I start, as always, by looking at US dollar returns on selected equity indices around the world: