FIRMS THAT HAVE UNEXPECTEDLY DEFIED GRAVITY (SO FAR)

Stocks with positive share price momentum are few and far between as we point out on a weekly basis using the following chart. They account (green line below) for say c.10% of the coverage universe currently and this proportion has been slipping as the year has unfolded.

The components of the above green line change on a daily basis. As a proxy to identify performers, we looked at the top decile of the firms close to their 12-month highs (to 25-10) to get a sense of which profile has navigated these last 12 months. Once the few acquisitions targets (say Swedish Match and Boskalis  etc) are excluded as well as the odd few energy stocks pulled up by energy prices, there are some interesting observations to be made. The ‘winners to date’ are listed below and ranked according to their upside potential as, despite their strong performances, upside potential of 10% effectively remains.

– Amongst the striking findings is the fact that, of the remaining 49 stocks, 8 are regional banks from various geographies. This comes as a real surprise as few investors would have put a Bankinter next to Handelsbanken as a nice-to-have play.

– Defensives are absent. Only one Big Pharma makes it to the list of solid performers: Novo Nordisk , which is consistent with our earlier observation that Pharmas have not been a default port of call. As with Telcos with only one representative, Deutsche Telekom, the most American of the European Telcos. Safety in Households was a vain strategy too with only Unilever keeping its chin up. On the Food side, only Ebro (Pastas & Rice) has managed to defend its turf.

– The defensive side of Media, i.e. Publishers, is making a splash with 3 stocks showing up. This is a statement about the confidence in repeat business models where the end client is not a (fragile) consumer but a deep pocketed corporate.

– Three Wire & Cable companies pop up. We understand that expanding power transmission in all sorts of aspects (starting with new greener sources) is part and parcel of a quickly-adjusting power supply but had never expected these firms to post such a brilliant relative performance.

– Finally 3 ‘couples’ are worth mentioning. Compass and Sodexo presumably on staff returning to offices and canteens, 2 grocers operating in strong markets (US for Ahold ; Poland for Jeronimo  and the 2 forever defensives Tobacco companies (IMB  and BAT)