Insights

July 2020 Market Recap

The month of July included longer travel recovery forecasts and second quarter earnings for many companies. Many airlines fared poorly amid the ongoing global crisis, while gold miners posted strong results on the back of higher metal prices.

Click the buttons below to read our recap of the airline sector and gold market for July 2020.

Strengths

  • Chinese airlines were the winners among the Bloomberg World Airlines Index in the month of July. China Southern Airlines was up 5.28 percent while Air China was up 4.75 percent. China has seen a rebound in domestic travel as the world’s most populous country contained the outbreak of Covid-19.
  • United announced it will boost flights in September as it resumes service on 25 international routes. Although the September schedule will amount to just 37 percent of that in 2019, it is a modest increase from the August schedule, representing an increase in leisure travel.
  • Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said in a Bloomberg TV interview that it is safe to travel on commercial airlines now and that passengers should not worry about air quality. Airlines are taking extensive measures to protect travelers, including mandatory face masks, thorough cabin cleaning and middle seat booking bans.

Weaknesses

  • Airlines began reporting second quarter earnings in July. Singapore Airlines reported its biggest quarterly loss ever, with a loss of $815 million. Cathway Pacific Airways warns of a $1.3 billion first half loss.
  • Collapsed travel demand has hurt the already-troubled Boeing. Customers have cancelled 373 orders for the Boeing Max so far in 2020, with 60 in the month of June. Airlines are cutting back on new orders as demand shows no sign of a speedy recovery.
  • Travel restrictions and strict quarantine rules remain in place globally. Many countries require that travelers from other countries quarantine for 14 days. In the U.S., New York State is mandating that travelers from a growing list of other states quarantine for two weeks. These restrictions are believed to hamper global travel and deter visitors.

Opportunities

  • Richard Branson helped save his own Virgin Atlantic. The company announced a 1.2 billion pound ($1.5 billion) package that includes 170 million pounds from U.S. hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management and 200 million pounds that Branson raised from diluting his stake in Virgin Galactic. Back in March, the U.K. government rejected an airline industry bailout. The carrier will adapt to the post-pandemic world by cutting more than 3,000 employees and focusing on long haul routes such as Europe to Israel and Europe to the Caribbean, reports Bloomberg.
  • The pandemic woes for Airbus and Boeing could present an opportunity for state-owned Chinese aerospace company Comac. On July 10, an Air China flight used a Comac plane – the first time a major carrier has used one of its jets. As tensions rise between China and the West, Comac can supply jets to national airlines and reduce dependence on majors Airbus and Boeing. Comac delivered its ARJ21 jet to Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern airlines in June and will deliver a total of 105 by 2024.
  • Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary is hopeful that the reopening of school in Europe in September will boost business travel. “To the extent they successfully manage the return to schools, we think there will be some return to some level of normality of business travel.”

Threats

  • Moody’s Investors Service estimates that global airline passenger demand won’t recover to pre-coronavirus levels until the end of 2023, and only if an effective vaccine is available, reports Bloomberg. Air travel demand plummeted by more than 90 percent just weeks into the pandemic. A vaccine will likely not be available before mid-2021. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) updated its forecast and said the industry is unlikely to fully recover before 2024.

  • What was once a dire pilot shortage has turned rapidly into a pilot surplus. Thousands of pilot jobs are at risk as airlines offer far fewer flights. United’s outlook said a third of pilot jobs are threatened. Delta has cut pilot hours by 15 percent to try and avoid layoffs, but that might not last long. Asiana Airlines is even flying empty Airbus A380s just to keep pilots certified by having enough fly time.
  • Airline carrier jobs are at risk in the U.S. when restrictions tied to payroll aid expire at the end of September, reports Bloomberg. American Airlines said it will notify 25,000 employees, or about 29 percent of its U.S. workforce, that they are at risk of losing employment when the aid expires.

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Revenue passenger miles (RPMs) and revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) are measures of traffic for an airline flight, bus, or train calculated by multiplying the number of revenue-paying passengers aboard the vehicle by the distance traveled.

The Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index is a capitalization-weighted index comprised of the airlines in the Americas that have a market capitalization greater than $250 million. IPOs that meet the minimum market capitalization are included in the index after the first day of trading.

The NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index is a modified equal dollar weighted index of companies involved in gold mining. BUGS stands for Basket of Unhedged Gold Stocks. It is also referred to by its ticker symbol “HUI”.

 The Solactive Global Silver Miners Index includes international companies active in exploration, mining and/or refining of silver. The index includes a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 members which are weighted according to freefloat market capitalization.

The S&P 500 Stock Index is a widely recognized capitalization-weighted index of 500 common stock prices in U.S. companies.