By Steve Goldstein
Shares of U.K.-listed airlines skidded on Monday on worries a potential third wave of COVID-19 cases will derail summer holidays.
International Airlines Group /zigman2/quotes/208070069/delayed UK:IAG -1.13% , easyJet /zigman2/quotes/202825892/delayed UK:EZJ +0.39% , TUI /zigman2/quotes/207049334/delayed UK:TUI -1.07% , Wizz Air /zigman2/quotes/210449062/delayed UK:WIZZ +1.56% , and Ryanair /zigman2/quotes/202851567/delayed UK:RYA -0.57% declined between 3% and 6% after scientific advisers were reportedly urging U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to lift a ban on foreign holidays. That comes as Germany was poised to extend a lockdown and as the European Union has struggled in its vaccination campaign and now is considering blocking exports of AstraZeneca vaccines to the U.K.
In a note specific to Wizz Air, Citi analyst Mark Manduca laid out the challenges facing the sector.
“Specifically concerns on the following are beginning to augment in the minds of investors in our view: 1. Third waves on the continent leading to increased lockdowns, 2. August short-haul leisure destinations in Europe being barely 10% booked in our view at most airlines (despite many airline PR machines choosing to focus on YoY growth rates rather than absolutes), 3. Close to no visibility in the booking curve, 4. Governments unlikely to want to see COVID savings of the last 12 months of their respective populations spent abroad this summer (despite optically “opening” borders), 5. Many millennials (the lifeblood of short-haul leisure travel) not likely to see their booster jab until post summer (meaning expensive PCR tests and quarantines as the only option), 6. Confusion about how vaccine passports will be rolled out over the multiple borders of Europe, 7. Problematic relative vaccination rates on continental Europe,” he wrote.
Separately, Deutsche Bank cut its rating on International Airlines Group to hold from buy, saying it is unclear when the long-haul leisure recovery will come for the British Airways owner.
Other reopening plays including shopping-center owner Hammerson /zigman2/quotes/206876822/delayed UK:HMSO +2.12% and movie-theater operator Cineworld /zigman2/quotes/206525056/delayed UK:CINE -1.80% also fell.
Shares of drug company AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.25% , which separately reported that the vaccine it has made with the University of Oxford was 79% effective in preventing COVID-19 and 100% effective in preventing severe disease in a U.S. trial, rose over 2%.
In afternoon trade, the FTSE 100 /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.85% edged up 0.1%. Besides AstraZeneca, another gainer was Kingfisher /zigman2/quotes/200571451/delayed UK:KGF +0.16% . The home-improvement chain rose 3%, as it reported a 44% surge in fiscal year to Jan. 31 adjusted pretax profit, and said fiscal first-quarter to Mar. 18 like-for-like sales jumped 24%.