Five sectors where Covid-19 buried bad news

It can be easy to look at stock markets right now and despair. However, in times like these it’s important for long-term investors to think objectively. In particular, some sectors were already struggling with the coronavirus simply being the global pandemic that broke the camel’s back.

With the UK under lockdown, nearly all restaurants have shut their doors. Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito, has already issued a profit warning, confirming several of its outlets will not reopen even after we can all go out. The UK restaurant industry was already struggling with rising costs, over-supply and weakened demand. For perspective, Restaurant Group’s earnings per share was down 19% in 2019.

The lockdown means huge pressure on even the most established high street retailers. Dixons Carphone (which owns the likes of PC World Currys) saw its share price plummet from 116p to 60p after the lockdown was announced. This isn’t new though, as bricks and mortar retailers have struggled to compete with their online peers for some time. For context, Dixons Carphone’s full year profits for 2019 were 22% less than the year before.

Not only is tobacco not an essential, but smokers are particularly at risk due to coronavirus being a respiratory disease. This has hit manufacturers hard, with Imperial Brands’ stock price falling from £20 in January to a low of £13 in March. However, tobacco firms have been up against it for some time due to the long-running trend of falling smoker numbers, which has meant they’ve had to do a lot of aggressive cost cutting.

Even though the road haulage sector is keeping supermarkets and hospitals stocked, many companies will suffer as the industries they support shut down. But haulage was already facing a lot of challenges before this crisis due to lack of drivers, rising fuel costs and more red tape. For instance, Eddie Stobart Logistic’s share price has been trending steadily downwards since 2018 and required an emergency cash injection in 2019 to keep afloat.

No one is going on holiday for a while, causing shares in airlines, hotels and travel agents to fall off a cliff during this crisis. But, like with the other sectors, the writing was on the wall for some companies. Take TUI Group, one of the biggest travel agents in the UK with established market share. Even they were not immune, with their share price falling since 2018 and 2019 profits down by 31%.

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