Reporting Season Preview: July 2020

About the author:

Andrew Tang
Author name:
By Andrew Tang
Job title:
Analyst - Equity Strategy
Date posted:
21 July 2020, 3:20 PM
Sectors Covered:
Equity Strategy and Quant

Messy FY20 financials will hold far less meaning this August, with management outlook commentary instead likely to draw intense focus.

We see the provision of formal FY21 guidance as far less likely this year due to economic/consumer spending uncertainty related to COVID-19 and the possible phase out of fiscal stimulus during 1H21.

We flag caution overall, but volatility does continue to create tactical money-making opportunities for nimble investors, which is the focus of our previews reports below.

Listen

We preview the coverage contained in our Reporting Season Preview report, including these six burning questions:

  1. Can higher prices continue to look through the earnings dip?
  2. Where’s the best source of secure yield?
  3. What could prompt a change of leadership in 2H 2020?
  4. How important is guidance during the pandemic?
  5. Do recovery expectations match reality and is there risk of upside surprise?
  6. Has equity raising/dilution risk diminished?

Put aside the near-term volatility – it's about the long game

ASX 200 companies won't have much pressure to beat gloomy FY20 EPS forecasts, but may need to balance out their outlooks or face investor pressure in coming weeks. Reporting season will be nasty, with EPS expected to drop ~15% vs FY19, but represent a turning point in the cycle.

Opportunities to beat forecasts may exist for domestic cyclicals, where expectations are the lowest, or small caps despite some revenue risk.

Capital expenditure and dividend cuts have been widespread, fuelling expectations for margins to drive a recovery in FY21. It also provides an opening for companies that address uncertainty by speaking to the longer term.

We think guidance will be rewarded.

Sectors to watch in August

Domestic cyclical sectors need better-than-expected results and confirmation of an improving outlook to break the ASX 200 out of its range.

  • Financials may be hindered by the risk that the government rolls back its fiscal arsenal (JobKeeper).
  • Lack of travel and recreation spending hamper the travel sector but provide opportunities for retailers.
  • Tech is less likely to move the bar for stocks, with expectations tough to beat.
  • Resources (iron ore and copper) is a rare bright spot for the market which could lead to earnings and dividend surprise.

Identifying the tactical opportunities

At the aggregate level for the market overall, we do question whether potential equity returns adequately compensate investors for the risks they are currently being asked to bear. External factors (vaccine and recovery trajectory, stimulus, rates and low inflation expectations) remain the critical broader drivers in the months ahead.

However several market segments were belted by 40% or more through the escalation of the pandemic from late February, and we've always flagged that volatility unearths opportunities in oversold stocks and segments.

Very strong price responses to the 'better than feared' updates delivered by retailers through May-June is testament to this. Catalysts in oversold segments and stocks is the focus of this preview. Login to view our Reporting Season Preview report.

Best tactical calls heading into results

Top ASX100 playbook

Our Top 100 playbook contains research coverage on 72 of the stocks in the S&P/ASX 100 Index, which represent ~88% of the index weight.

In this report, we preview our expectations for 56 stocks that will report their results in August (Morgans clients only).

The quality of performance this period will likely be distorted by COVID-19 impacts and new accounting standards (ie. AASB16).

We identify 12 that we believe will likely have positive share price reactions to their results, nine that will have negative reactions, and the remainder neutral.

Ex-100 playbook

In our Ex-100 playbook, we preview our expectations for the 103 stocks in our ex-100 coverage that will report their results in August (Morgans clients only).

The quality of performance this period will likely be distorted by COVID-19 impacts and new accounting standards (ie. AASB16). We identify 20 stocks that we believe will likely have positive share price reactions to their results, six that will have negative reactions, and the remainder neutral.

Over 65% of the stocks in this report have provided a comprehensive trading update and/or FY20 guidance in May/June, perhaps dampening short-term earnings risk this reporting season.

Liquidity positions will be closely scrutinised and likely a focal point for management commentary.

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Morgans clients can access further analysis by browsing the latest research on our client website. If you would like access or more information, please contact your adviser or nearest Morgans office.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this report is provided to you by Morgans Financial Limited as general advice only, and is made without consideration of an individual's relevant personal circumstances. Morgans Financial Limited ABN 49 010 669 726, its related bodies corporate, directors and officers, employees, authorised representatives and agents (“Morgans”) do not accept any liability for any loss or damage arising from or in connection with any action taken or not taken on the basis of information contained in this report, or for any errors or omissions contained within. It is recommended that any persons who wish to act upon this report consult with their Morgans investment adviser before doing so.

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