Today we are exactly one third of the way through the year. As years go, I have far fewer holiday snaps than I’d like to have had by this stage – and yet the year has actually been rather too remarkable so far. May 1st has connotations of socialist celebration, or Morris Men, depending on I-know-not-what influences your first thoughts. This May 1st will mostly just pass us by, and I’m sure the Europeans enjoying a “day off” will barely notice it either.

May 1st also marks the day the polio vaccine was released to the public in 1956, which still did not prevent outbreaks. My Dad, in Maidstone where a serious outbreak happened over summer 1957, remembers well that large gatherings were frowned upon, while going to the public swimming baths or cinemas simply stopped. The disease’s victims were visibly and terrifyingly affected, and the public response therefore more voluntary. In the four months of the summer, out of a local Maidstone population of 120,000, ignoring the asymptomatic, 116 adults and children caught it and suffered varying degrees of consequent permanent disability at a higher rate than deaths per population for COVID-19, most damagingly to the under 3s. 6 died. The Ministry of Health sent vaccine (sourced in Canada) sufficient for 5,000 children, for those in the immediate Maidstone population deemed to be at risk, although there remained 100,000 unvaccinated kids in Kent.

Voluntary measures and social distancing meant kids were kept at home, while the world got on with life – and perhaps that is where we will end up, where those at risk have to take responsibility for themselves, once we know the NHS has the capacity to cope. We shall reach a new normal.

What is the new normal for valuations? Have a look at the indices charts, for the finnCap Tech40 and finnCap Next50 indices which we have been running since 2014. The finnCap 40 consists of the top 40 UK tech stocks by market cap, sub £1.5bn (reviewed quarterly last 1st March), and finnCap Next50 is as it sounds – the next 50 stocks, with market caps of £14m to £106m at 1st March. We shall be elaborating on this in a longer note, but the stats are interesting when applied to the restoration of the normal: we compare current, average and range, over 5 years:

Crisis, what crisis?! Multiples are generally higher than the averages for the last 5 years! While certain factors – such as the withdrawal of many forecasts – will show more positive figures for the current index multiples than expected, those with forecasts (which are typically better quality anyway), have returned to glory – and 19th March itself was not, in all but the Next50’s P/E, the worst in the last half-decade.

The polio vaccine for my generation was taken with a sugar cube, the spoonful helping the medicine go down – the modern remedies for a post COVID-19 world will certainly include tech at their heart. It seems like the market agrees, and with the accelerated adoption of multiple technological solutions we’ve discussed in the last few weeks, the future may be better, and quicker than expected, for many stocks.

Happy Friday