Podcast: Does COVID-19 just delay spending?

Simon BrownJSE Direct, Latest

Simon Shares

  • I bought Sibanye Stillwater* (new JSE code: SSW) last week, average price 3950c. You want to own single commodity miners when price has already boomed and underlying commodities are flying. We have both here and if prices hold they’ll print money for the rest of this financial year ending June. I’ll add on the fifteen day EMA and hold for as long as it runs.
  • Metrofile* (JSE code: MFL) got nailed on Monday down at 230c while there’s still a delisting on the table at 330c plus mid year dividend (likely to be at least 5c judging from last trading update). So is the deal off? Officially it is not and it seemed to me to be a fairly low risk deal. So a panicked seller who needed cash? No idea. But current offer is 280c and assuming the deal happens that’s a potential 55c profit by mid year when I would expect the deal to conclude.
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread with over 75,000 confirmed cases and over 2,000 dead. But it still remains very much contained to China with 750million people on some sort of travel restriction. Apple has also announced production issues out of China albeit the rumoured low cost iPhone is apparently still on track for March.
  • More reports coming about a good maize crop locally this year, even after late rains and hence planting. But prices not as low as one would expect, seemingly Zimbabwe shortage is seeing them buying our maize and keeping it higher. That said, Astral (JSE code: ARL) still looks very cheap to me with better maize prices compared to previous years.
  • Upcoming events;

* I hold ungeared positions.

Does COVID-19 just delay spending?

One of the issues surrounding the Coronavirus is lost revenue and hence lower profits. Apple is reporting supply constraints, Starbucks has closed the majority of their Chinese stores and so the list goes on.

But here’s the question. Which purchases are simple deferred and which never happen?

Supposedly large ticket items such as an iPhone or white appliance will simple be bought later. So lost sales now come up later. But this is 100% true. Say your phone was lost. You need a new one now, not in a month so maybe instead of Apple you get a Samsung, or a cheaper Apple that is in stock.

With consumables the story is very different. If I don’t have that coffee or lunch today, it doesn’t get held over till tomorrow. That sale is lost. So Starbucks suffers more than Apple.

Another point is for example the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona has been cancelled and this is not deferred. The event supposedly brings in some Euro500million in spending over the three days. That money is gone, it’ll be spent at home, so the city loses out.

But if you don’t buy your consumable today and have left over lunch at home, where does the ‘saved’ money go? Do we still see a surge later, but maybe in big ticket items if we’ve saved enough from deferred lunch dates an coffees? Or does it get properly saved into a bank account?

What about hourly paid workers? No work = no pay. They will be hurt, albeit company will benefit as lower expenses while closed.

Point is, the money to be spent will surely be spent.

Maybe different timing and maybe different product or location. But that money doesn’t disappear. So absent of the Coronavirus becoming a lot lot worse, any hit is merely short term and could be followed by an equally short burst of spending? Sure some spending will be lost, but not much?

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JSE Direct is an independent broadcast and is not endorsed or affiliated with, nor has it been authorised, or otherwise approved by JSE Limited. The views expressed in this programme are solely those of the presenter, and do not necessarily reflect the views of JSE Limited.

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