Shopping Trolley | finnCap Consumer quarterly sector note

Multiple unexpected surprises across the Consumer Sector. We retain our unchanged overall view that “a highly challenging and uncomfortable period lies ahead for most of the consumer sub-sectors”, with uncertainty weighing heavily. What confounds us, however, is the nature and scope of the surprises, both positive and negative, that have characterised the past three months. In this edition, we highlight five significant ‘surprises’. (1) There have already been several probably industry-changing events in the first few months of 2019 that will likely define the global video games sector for the next 5-10 years. In short, we are on the cusp of a potential distribution revolution, with the emergence of a number of new distribution platforms from several tech giants (Google Stadia, Apple Arcade, and likely others) which could materially expand the audience for video games. This ‘more content in more ways’ development is especially promising for content providers and technical partners/‘work-for-hire’/co-developers. (2) In UK grocery, there were high expectations that 2019 was shaping up to be the most important year for the UK grocery sector in possibly 20 years; however, 2019 has so far not proved to be such a pivotal year. (3) We had thought that the outlook had stabilised for FMCG operators, who had broadly navigated the turbulent backdrop over the past two years. Notable unexpected profit warnings from several small/mid cap FMCG operators reminded us this was not the case and the backdrop remains highly volatile. (4) We had assumed that corporate activity in the Consumer sector would continue to be dominated by the pub sub-sector. We were surprised therefore by some notable deal activity in the Retail and FMCG sub-sectors. (5) We had thought that the IPO market was shut for Consumer companies; however, one new listing (Loungers) and an Intention to Float (Watches of Switzerland) over the past month suggest an improved listing environment.

Authors: Peter Smedley 

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