It didn’t take long for US stock indexes to shake off the losses that stemmed from the coronavirus outbreak. But its economic effects could last much longer.
David Kostin, chief US equity strategist at Goldman Sachs, says there are signs investors are running away from companies that do a lot of business in China.
“Barring a significant change in circumstances, the impact of coronavirus on US equities will likely be focused on select firms with the most exposure to China,” he wrote in a note to clients.
As of Tuesday, the virus has infected more than 43,000 people and killed more than 1,000, with large majorities of both numbers in China. Even if the spreading outbreak is contained soon and China’s economy begins to recover, Kostin says, those few stocks won’t make up all of the sales they’ve lost, and investors are going to discount that in their prices.
“The coronavirus’s main impact on the US equity market will come through valuation changes rather than earnings,” he wrote.
That’s already happening, as Kostin illustrates in the chart below, which shows how poorly companies with high sales exposure to China — and in some cases, Hong Kong and Taiwan — are performing compared to companies with big proportions of international sales.
The most vulnerable stocks, in his view, are companies that make the biggest portion of their sales in China. The combination of store and factory closures, business and travel restrictions, and supply chain interruptions could have major effects on those sales and knock their prices down.
These are the stocks Kostin says are most vulnerable. They’re ranked from lowest to highest based on the percentage of their 2018 revenues that came from Greater China, because that percentage shows the size of the risk they’re facing.