European Stocks Rise to Third Straight Record on Profit Rebound
(Bloomberg) -- European equities climbed, marking their longest streak of record highs since June, as a rebound in corporate profit continued to buoy investor sentiment.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.6%, closing at a historic high for the third day. Technology and financial services industries posted the biggest gains. Infineon Technologies AG climbed as some analysts said the fundamentals remain strong for the chipmaker. Novo Nordisk A/S advanced to a record high after raising its sales forecast for the year again. Energy sector underperformed as oil futures dropped.
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Europe’s stocks have marched higher despite lingering worries about the spread of the delta coronavirus variant, price pressures and concern that China’s crackdown on sectors like technology and education could make the world’s second-largest economy more isolated.
That’s because investors are drawing confidence from a stellar earnings season in Europe. Aggregate earnings have topped expectations by 10%, which is high compared with recent history, according to Sanford C. Bernstein strategists. Profit margins have also beaten expectations, as noted by UBS, fueling hopes that companies will be able to absorb rising input prices as the economic rebound accelerates.
“Positive earnings updates are outweighing risks from the spread of the delta variant and China’s regulatory crackdown,” Madison Faller, global strategist at JPMorgan Private Bank, said by phone. “Earnings growth looks set to continue. Returns might moderate from here, the pace might be slower, but I still think we’ll see strong earnings beats and strong stock market returns.”
Among individual movers, satellite company SES SA and chemicals group IMCD NV both rallied about 10% each on profit updates. Homebuilder Taylor Wimpey Plc, meanwhile, rose 1.9% as buoyant U.K. house prices aided its report.
Entain Plc added 6.1% to a record high following a real estate investment trust sale in the U.S. that Bernstein analysts say will give MGM Resorts International more “dry powder” for a potential bid for the U.K. bookmaker.
German lender Commerzbank AG was one of Europe’s worst performers, sliding 5.8% as it announced fresh provisions for potential claims relating to a controversial tax practice. Bootmaker Dr. Martens Ltd. lost 4.4% as its former chief executive officer sold shares.
According to Jamie Mills O’Brien, an investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments, cyclical parts of the market are increasingly looking fully valued. “The risk of peak earnings growth alongside rich valuations may well hold back returns,” he said by email.
Joao Toniato, European equity portfolio strategist at UBS, is on the same page, seeing cyclical outperformance waning. Still, he cautions against “an excessively defensive position” amid upside in some cyclicals like construction, luxury goods and chemicals.
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