H&M Struggles With Russian Closures, Surging Costs and New Covid-19 Disruptions
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H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB said store closures in Russia, surging expenses and new Covid-19 disruptions were all hurting its business, posing a challenge to the fashion retailer's expansion plans. The Swedish company on Thursday reported weaker-than-expected first-quarter earnings and warned that sales growth had slowed in recent weeks. H&M said new waves of Covid-19 had resulted in store closures in China and hurt footfall in Germany and Austria, while its decision to stop sales in Russia after the invasion of Ukraine had wiped out a further chunk of revenue. H&M said closing its 185 stores -- and halting online sales -- in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, resulted in sales growth slowing to 6% in March from 18% in the first quarter ended Feb. 28. Stripping out the impact of those three countries, sales growth in March was 11%, which analysts said was disappointing.
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The Swiss stock market went down on Thursday. The Ukraine war, in which no easing of tensions is in sight despite the talks on Tuesday, continued to weigh on the market. The SMI lost 0.7 per cent to 12,162 points. Among the 20 SMI stocks, there were 15 losers and four winners, and one share closed unchanged. 44.92 (previously: 36.89) million shares were traded. The biggest loser was visually SGS, which fell by 4.7 per cent or 128 francs. However, a large part of the discount was due to the dividend payment of 80 francs. The shares of the two SMI banking stocks moved in different directions. UBS rose by 0.7 per cent, Credit Suisse fell by 2.4 per cent. Goldman Sachs recommends UBS as a buy, while Credit Suisse only has a "neutral" weighting. Among the weakest stocks was Richemont (-2.6 per cent). The stock suffered from Beijing's strict lockdown policy to curb recurring waves of Corona infections. Swatch reduced by 2.3 per cent.
European equity markets fell on Thursday as investors digested several announcements on oil supply, including the US decision to tap into its strategic reserves. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.9% to 455.9 points. The CAC 40 and SBF 120 lost 1.2% each. The DAX 40 in Frankfurt dropped 1.3%, while the FTSE 100 in London fell 0.8%. Brewin Dolphin Holdings PLC said Thursday that it has agreed to a 1.6 billion-pound ($2.10 billion) takeover by Royal Bank of Canada after being hit by the effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The wealth-management firm has suffered a financial hit from the geopolitical situation. According to Brewin Dolphin, for the two-month period ended Feb. 28, assets under management declined to GBP55 billion, with discretionary funds falling to GBP48.3 billion due to market performance. This compares with the fact that assets under management grew by 3.7% to GBP59 billion and discretionary assets under management increased by 4.4% to GBP52 billion as at Dec. 31 when compared with Sept. 30. German pharmaceutical company BioNTech's current valuation doesn't have much upside unless a significant portion of people aged 12 to 64 receive booster shots annually, and for now there isn't enough evidence to support that upside case, Jefferies says. Covid-19 is likely to become endemic next year given the high percentage of the U.S. population which has been vaccinated or infected, according to Jefferies.
Stocks and oil prices dropped Thursday as President Biden prepares a substantial release of oil reserves to staunch soaring energy prices and inflation. The S&P 500 fell 72.04 points, or 1.6%, to 4530.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 221.76 points, or 1.5%, to 14220.52. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 550.46 points, or 1.6%, to 34678.35. Losses accelerated late in the trading session and major indexes recorded their worst performance since the first quarter of 2020, at the onset of the pandemic. President Biden is expected to tap up to 180 million barrels of government oil reserves over the next six months to address the rise in energy prices in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the White House said Thursday. The U.S. and allies have sought to bring down prices with strategic reserves previously, but effects have typically been short-lived. Members of the International Energy Agency agreed to release 60 million barrels on March 1, but Brent crude rose more than 7% that day. GameStop said it would seek a stock split Thursday afternoon, sending its shares up about 18% after-hours and continuing a run for the meme stocks. Tesla recently announced a similar move, sending its shares higher by 8% in just one session. The moves highlight a divergence in the market that has formed recently, with some corners of the bond market flashing a warning sign and other areas, like some speculative corners of the equity markets, showing more exuberance. Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. posted higher sales for the most recent quarter as demand for Covid-19 tests and vaccines continued to drive growth. Executives said Thursday they are strategizing how the company’s drugstores can continue playing a key role in providing diagnostic and other health services beyond the current pandemic.
The mood on the East Asian stock markets on Friday is again dominated by the war in Ukraine and its consequences for energy prices and the global economy, as well as inflation concerns. It is not surprising that China's Purchasing Managers' Index, calculated privately by Caixin, also fell into contraction territory in March. This had already been expected due to the tough lockdown measures in China, for example the closure of the whole of Shanghai in two phases. Overall, the trend in this mixed situation is mixed. The leading index on the Sydney stock exchange is slightly up, Shanghai is trending friendly - trading there will be paused on Monday and Tuesday of next week due to public holidays.
The yield on the US-benchmark 10-year Treasury note ticked down to 2.324% but rose for the quarter, recording the biggest gain since March 2021. Yields fall when prices rise.
CS lowers the Mercedes-Benz target to EUR 83 (90) – Outperform
Citi lowers the Jungheinrich target to EUR 27 (28.50) – Neutral
JPM raises the Signify target to EUR 56 (55) – Neutral
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