10 stocks to win or lose from a Brexit
Perhaps the move for a rapid exit by Britain from the European Union (or Brexit) may have been interrupted due to a political murder of MP Jo Cox last week. As she was a member of parliament, perhaps this should be considered an assassination.
Shortly after this horrific act took place, stocks recovered as the shift went to what may be a more thought-out process rather than the constant close polls of whether the United Kingdom will remain in the EU.
There is no way to cover every single company with big exposure to a “stay” or “leave” vote. Most of the competitors of each of these nations would also fall under the same argument. Either way, we have shown why the ten companies included here would or would not have exposure to the Brexit vote outcome.
24/7 Wall St. has tracked multiple Brexit forecasts in recent days and weeks. We wanted to focus on might happen to certain sectors if the vote to leave succeeds. There could be some losers here, but interestingly enough a vote to stay might not actually create a massive rally. A lot remains up in the air, and the formal vote might not be the end of this matter as the U.K. likely will be changing how it views its inclusion in the EU regardless of the vote outcome.
A Keefe Bruyette & Woods report shows that the largest so-called universal banks would have the greatest exposure. This puts JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., both of which are Dow Jones Industrial Average components, in focus. KBW’s research team warned that these and other universal banks could face a 1% to 6% earnings loss in 2016 and a loss of 2% to 9% to 2017 earnings if the vote is to leave. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan already has warned that he would have to reevaluate how the company’s exposure and business is conducted in the U.K. and the rest of Europe. Other banks, like Bank of America Corp., were also singled out banks with big trading and exposure to the Brexit outcome.
24/7 Wall St. earlier identified two potential Brexit winners. One was a move out of financials and into materials via Freeport-McMoRan Inc. Its shares were already up 60% year to date, but the shedding of other assets and cost cuts may lead to handily trimming of losses. HSBC Holdings Plc was another pick, which is rather contrarian and counterintuitive, when you think that financials have the most risk. The rub here is that HSBC has been such a poor performer in recent years and is so close to its post-2008 financial crisis lows that perhaps the Bank of England would have to pump in more liquidity to calm markets. Freeport-McMoRan and HSBC: two opposite sides of the spectrum.
Southwest Airlines Co. is one of the few airlines not challenging 52-week lows. While this might not rally or tank based on the outcome of a Brexit vote, the reality is that Southwest is viewed as a U.S.-focused operation. Could it be that most of Southwest’s efforts are U.S.-focused, and those outside the U.S. markets are in Latin America and the Caribbean? Southwest shares were last seen at $40.00, more or less close to the mid-point of its $31.36 to $51.34 range over the past 52 weeks. United Continental and American are both dangerously close to 52-week lows, and they are much more tied to international operations in Europe. as universal
AstraZeneca Plc, one of the largest pharmaceutical and biologics companies in the world, is an amalgamated company that has been merged and merged in the past 20 years or so. Its London headquarters comes with operations in over 100 nations. A lot of those sales of course come from the European Union and the United States, so it would be easy to assume that the drug giant could face some serious lumpiness when you consider that the British pound has so much potential fluctuation.
Another facing the most exposure to a Brexit turmoil is Barclays Plc. At least that is according to a Jefferies analyst who said that a leave vote in Brexit would hurt the stock the most, with its ties to the currency moves of the pound. Investors need to keep in mind that Barclays’ American depositary shares (ADS) are already down 50% from the 52week high, and the $9.50 share price compares to what has been an $8.00 to $9.00 floor over the past five years.
Walgreens could have inverted when it merged with Boots Alliance to form Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., but it did not. This also has a lot of potential “if this, then that” exposure, with Walgreens trying to acquire Rite Aid Corp. in the United States to increase its U.S. retail pharmacy operations. While these are all involved in pharmaceutical wholesale operations, the Boots stores and international operations have an extensive presence in the U.K. and in Europe, with over half of the international retail stores being in Britain. If a Brexit takes place, Walgreens may want Rite Aid that much more and may even make more concessions to acquire the company.
That makes Rite Aid and Walgreens Boots Alliance a two-in-one with exposure in the U.S. Just remember that at the end of the day, this is perhaps more of a currency issue than anything else. People who need consumer products and drugs are going to need them no matter which way the vote goes.
As far as other impacts, there are too many to discuss in a short piece like this. The reality is that if the strength of Europe leaves the Union, then the peripheral at-risk nations will not see their cost of borrowing go down like you have seen in France and Germany. Nations like Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy have all seen at least some disruption because there would be fewer nations to help support their demands European Union.
From an outsider’s view, one who has little to no direct involvement or dependence on how this vote turns out, this is just one take on both sides of the Brexit vote:
- The people in favour of the U.K. leaving the EU think that the nation is being bogged down with excessive business regulations out of Brussels and that Britain has to pay to keep bailing out weak EU nation states. Their view is that resuming control over their own borders will help to curb the influx of unwanted immigrants, migrants and refugees. They also see the exit as a way to free up future and current financial resources that would receive benefits now or ahead without having contributed fully themselves.
- The people in favour of staying believe that it will cause the least disruption to the economy and to the status quo. The pro-EU crowd argues that the ease of trade and free trade with the EU helps the United Kingdom more than it hurts. In some manners, the pro-EU group also sees i mmigration as helping to offset its own aging demographics. Another issue is of course defense, and the pro-EU group feels that their national security is stronger being part of the EU rather than not.
It is hard to cover such a large event without wanting to voice a personal view or predict an outcome. That being said, polls in the United Kingdom have proven to be as unreliable as polls in the United States. This is also a U.K. matter with and also against the EU.
Financial markets almost always would prefer to see the status quo upheld, but sometimes things are far more complicated than just what the direction of the stock and bond markets tries to tell you.
No matter what the outcome of the vote, the stay or leave issue remains. And you have to know one thing by now: if there is anything that financial markets hate having to interpret, uncertainty is at the top of the list.