Fink Warns of ‘Bipolar Economy’ With Small Business Hurting

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BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink warned of an uneven recovery even as resurgent investor confidence buoyed second-quarter results.

With states reopening after months of pandemic-induced lockdowns, small and mid-size businesses in the U.S. are facing a steeper climb as larger firms benefit from government stimulus and rising markets, Fink said in an interview Friday.

Fink Warns of ‘Bipolar Economy’ With Small Business Hurting

“For our economy to be fully operational again it can’t be this bipolar economy,” he said. “There’s been a lot of healing, and that’s what the market is reflecting, but there’s still a great component of our economy that hasn’t healed and is still struggling.”

The world’s largest asset manager recorded a rebound in flows to products such as mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, powered by retail investors and a recovery in fixed income products.

Shares of the New York-based company advanced 3.6% to $587.41 at 12:45 p.m. in New York, lifting their gain for the year to 17%.

Long-term funds took in a net $62.2 billion in the quarter, BlackRock said. That marked a reversal from the prior quarter, when BlackRock had its first net outflows from those products in five years.

Retail investors added a net $16 billion to BlackRock funds, or more than eight times their contribution in the same period a year earlier. Fixed income led all other types of product segments with $60 billion in inflows.

ETF Bulls

BlackRock management has been bullish on the growth of bond exchange-traded funds in particular. The firm forecasts that assets in fixed income ETFs will expand to $2 trillion globally by 2024, from about $1.3 trillion at the end of June.

“Investors are really coming around to some of the future opportunities and how powerful they might be,” Edward Jones analyst Kyle Sanders said in an interview. “There was always some skepticism about fixed-income ETFs and now people have more confidence.”

The S&P 500 Index roared back in the second quarter, rallying 20% after March declines that broke history’s longest bull market. Bond markets also seized up, making it harder to buy and sell debt as volatility spiked. Swift stimulus measures from the Federal Reserve helped restore calm for fixed-income investors.

Stocks pared gains Friday after the University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index showed a sharp decline in July, reversing most of the previous month’s advance.

BlackRock, like other asset managers, benefits when investors put money to work in funds rather than than holding cash.

Adjusted earnings per share were $7.85, beating the average estimate of $6.97 by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Revenue was $3.65 billion, topping Wall Street’s $3.5 billion estimate.

Fink Warns of ‘Bipolar Economy’ With Small Business Hurting

Other highlights:

  • Assets under management rose to $7.3 trillion, a 7% increase from a year earlier.
  • Active funds brought in about $18.6 billion. That compares with net withdrawals of $8.9 billion in the first quarter, and net inflows of about $75 billion a year earlier. BlackRock changed the leadership of its active products, announcing the promotion of Rich Kushel to oversee a reorganized division called the Portfolio Management Group, including active stock and bond investing and quantitative strategies.
  • Institutional investors contributed $5 billion in net outflows.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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