On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the coronavirus epidemic as a pandemic. Following this announcement, countries around the world have taken specific measures to slow down the spread of the virus. Despite efforts to address Covid-19, the pandemic has had a significant impact on our health, our society and our economy in general.
Eight months later, we are able to assess the situation and provide a financial analysis of the sectors most affected by the coronavirus.
Analysis of the European sector indices performance
The table below describes the performance (excluding dividends) of the European sector indices based on the STOXX Europe 600 index between 3rd February and 15th October 2020.
|Health Care||-5,0 %|
|Consumer Staples||-8,3 %|
|Consumer Discretionary||-8,4 %|
|Communication Services||-19,2 %|
|Real Estate||-20,4 %|
Source: Refinity Eikon, based on the STOXX Europe 600 sector indices between 03-02-20 and 15-10-20.
Overall, a downward trend can be observed for most sector indices, with some industries being impacted harder than others.
The indices related to the energy, financial and real estate sectors were the most affected with a decrease of respectively -38.7%, -29.6% and -20.4%. It is mainly explained by the lockdown measures that have been taken around the world.
The restrictive measures in force during the first and second quarters of 2020 have significantly reduced the activity level in the energy sector. The introduction of teleworking on a large scale and the airline industry weakness heavily weighed on oil demand, leading to a collapse in price. As a result, the Brent fell below the symbolic limit of $20 per barrel on April 21, for the first time in almost 20 years.
Despite the massive influx of new investors looking for interesting deals during the lockdown, the financial sector has particularly suffered over the past eight months. On the one hand, the low interest rates environment, supported by accommodative monetary policies of central banks, exerted considerable pressure on commercial banks margins (see also our article in La Libre on this subject). On the other hand, the banks made provisions for doubtful debts in order to account for the increased risk of bankruptcy resulting from the pandemic. For example, the four major banks operating in Belgium (KBC, ING, Belfius and BNP) recorded provisions of more than 2 billion euros during the first half of the year.
Real Estate sector
The real estate sector is closing the gloomy podium of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. Although the logistics real estate market has shown some resilience, particularly through the development of e-commerce, the health crisis has had a significant impact on the office and commercial real estate markets. The introduction of teleworking and social distancing measures in the workplace have prompted companies to rethink the organisation of their offices, causing a significant slowdown in office property activity. The closure and conditional reopening of shops, the decline in tourism and the acceleration of e-commerce have put the commercial property segment under pressure.
For its part, the technology sector has been able to take full advantage of the opportunities arising from the health crisis, which has acted as a catalyst for change. In the professional world, teleworking and the switch to virtual meetings have increased the use of videoconferencing applications. In the private sphere, “Stay at Home” values ‑ such as the Netflix streaming platform – were particularly popular during lockdown.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the global economy over the past eight months. However, the effects of the crisis have spread heterogeneously across the different sectors. Some industries, such as energy, financials and real estate, have been hit hard, while others, such as the technology sector, have taken full advantage of the crisis potential. It remains to be seen whether the consequences of the second lockdown will be just as dramatic for our economy.