Although optimism is usually a desirable trait to have, unfettered positivity can risk leaving you blind to basic realities. As an investor, you’ve got to read the room and respond appropriately, whether to advantage upside opportunities or to cut losses while you can. For European stocks, those exposed to certain names should consider the latter tactic.
Assessing the damage down to the major indices across the Atlantic, the circumstances don’t provide much encouragement. Most notably, the German DAX Composite index is down nearly 20% on a year-to-date basis through the close of March 8. But really, most of the pain started since the second half of February, with the index going into freefall, boding poorly for European stocks.
Of course, the catalyst for the destruction is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. By taking an action, which allegedly shocked Kremlin insiders, Putin singlehandedly disrupted the modern global order for developed nations. Now that peace seems to have gone out the window, European stocks are suffering from a loss of stability and confidence.
What’s worse, the various bloody battles show no sign of slowing. For one thing, Europe is dependent on Russian energy. While plans are underway to reduce this dependency, the geopolitical flashpoint may bear an unfortunate relevance. According to a New York Times article, Ukraine may have sizable lithium reserves — the metal critical to electric vehicles — thus presenting fresh context to the crisis and for European stocks.
Essentially, Russia through its belligerence may end up cornering the past, present and future of transportation. And it’s the Russians — not the Europeans — that are demonstrating deadly resolve in asserting their interests. With the west generally suffering from feckless leadership, it may be time to consider jettisoning these European stocks to sell.
- Adidas (OTCMKTS:ADDYY)
- Airbus (OTCMKTS:EADSY)
- JD Sports (OTCMKTS:JDSPY)
- Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (OTCMKTS:STMZF)
- L’Oreal (OTCMKTS:LRLCF)
- Renault (OTCMKTS:RNLSY)
- Melia Hotels (OTCMKTS:SMIZF)
As with anything, you might not want to go full bore regarding European stocks to sell. As you conduct due diligence going in, you’ll want to do the same going out. That said, in a panicked environment, you might not be able to exit in an orderly fashion. Therefore, make your well-researched decision and then commit to it.
European Stocks to Sell: Adidas (ADDYY)
I’m a big fan of the Adidas brand so I’m not trying to hate on the company by any means. However, it’s just time to call a spade a spade. European stocks have not looked encouraging since the conflict in Ukraine is occurring in their backyard. But Adidas is especially problematic because it’s tied to the consumer discretionary sector.
For starters, the loss of purchasing power — unnecessarily, I might add — of Russian consumers is a massive blow to Adidas stock. According to data from Statista.com, the athletic apparel manufacturer gets 27% of its sales in Europe and 5% of its sales in emerging markets.
In addition, the euro currency is also experiencing war-fueled inflation, per a Reuters report. That’s contributing to a cost-of-living crisis that has afflicted many European stocks. But a consumer discretionary name like Adidas is easy to dump for everyday shoppers, meaning you should be careful about ADDYY.
Those who have significant exposure to European stocks were begging for Putin to change his mind. But as the military exercises surrounding Ukraine’s border intensified, it became all too clear that the Russian leader wasn’t bluffing. Now, we all find ourselves in a crisis that has no discernible offramp.
This description also goes for Airbus, which is due for a hard landing and may stay grounded for a while. With an increasing number of international businesses pulling out of Russia and its toxic market, few wanted to have the ignominy of being on the wrong side of history. That went for Airbus, which joined rival Boeing (NYSE:BA) in walking toward the exits.
Now, it’s true that the budding Russian commercial aviation industry will suffer tremendously from Putin’s insane decision. However, Airbus isn’t going to walk away unscathed. EADSY is down 12% year-to-date. That’s basically correction territory and among the worst performances of major European stocks.
Further, the company faces a double whammy: It’s going to lose Russia’s civil aviation business and tensions in the region — including retaliatory air space closures — may negatively impact travel, thus hurting demand.
European Stocks to Sell: JD Sports (JDSPY)
A sports-fashion retail company based in the U.K. — Bury, Greater Manchester to be exact — JD Sports is quite the popular attraction among its youth-oriented consumer base. However, circumstances are not looking bright for the business. Again, being levered to the consumer discretionary space like Adidas, abstaining from JD Sports is an easy action to take when households have other pressing concerns to worry about.
And they are worried to be sure. According to a recent BBC.com report, the U.K. is also suffering from a steep rise in inflation. By its estimate, “prices are rising so quickly that average pay is not keeping up.” Specifically, prices are rising at their fastest rate for 30 years, which is a similar conundrum that we in the U.S. are facing.
Under such circumstances, it would be irresponsible for households to pour their money — which is steadily losing purchasing power — into frivolous goods when it could be put to better use, such as putting food on the table. Therefore, JDSPY is easily one of the European stocks to sell.
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (STMZF)
Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust is probably a name that very few if any InvestorPlace readers own. But just in case, I’m going to stick STMZF into this list of European stocks to sell.
First, let’s just face some realities. On a YTD basis, shares of Scottish Mortgage are down 36%, one of the worst performances among European stocks. Actually, it’s just one of the worst performances period. And while it’s significantly higher from the doldrums of 2020, STMZF is rapidly careening toward an ugly train wreck.
What’s the reason for the fallout? According to a Yahoo Finance report:
“Experts think one of the reason for the decline is higher interest rates after the Bank of England raised rates for a second time in three months, to 0.5%, after they were slashed to near 0% at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This coupled with rising inflation has impacted Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (SMT) thanks to its heavy exposure to unlisted and growth stocks.”
Factor in the possibly lingering tensions associated with the Ukraine crisis and Scottish Mortgage becomes a name you probably should just run away from.
European Stocks to Sell: L’Oreal (LRLCF)
In the paradigm before the Russian invasion, L’Oreal would have been a risky but somewhat credible wager on the coronavirus pandemic recovery thesis. As people acclimate to the new normal, they’re losing their fear of infection. Instead, they’re eager to get back in the swing of things, having been cooped up at home for so long.
Whether that involves a return to the office or making time for a night out in town, consumers are going to want to look their best. That’s why I had my eyes on L’Oreal and other European stocks in the beauty industry. As society normalizes, so too will fashion and accessory trends.
But now amid the Russian-Ukraine conflict the case for LRLCF has changed significantly.
Because of rising inflation — and therefore costs of living — in Europe and across the world, L’Oreal faces tough times ahead. Sure, the beauty industry is important when society is reopening. However, it’s not as important as critical commodities like food and water. Thus, it’s probably time to keep back from LRLCF stock.
Automaker Renault is in a tough spot when it comes to European stocks. On one hand, its pivot toward EVs should be celebrated. It’s the kind of forward thinking that gets you places in the long run. Unfortunately, that forward thinking needed to have happened sooner to avoid the recoil effect of the Russian invasion.
While the pivot is awesome, Renault is still very much tied to combustion cars — as are other legacy automakers. Compounding this dynamic are economic realities. Yes, over time, EVs start to pay for themselves in terms of cost of charging relative to filling up at the gas station (I mean, petrol station since we’re talking about European stocks).
But pound for pound, the upfront costs for EVs are still steeper than their combustion counterpart and herein lies the problem. As consumers lose their purchasing power, the cheaper combustion cars may be the only feasible option.
Then again, since many European cities feature excellent public transportation, why bother with cars at all? It’s no wonder why RNLSY is sinking so rapidly.
European Stocks to Sell: Melia Hotels (SMIZF)
A Spanish hotel chain founded in 1956, Melia Hotels commands a rich heritage that has witnessed and endured many traumatic events. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine could be its biggest challenge yet. Not since World War II has fighting this intense broke out in the heart of Europe. And because the world economy is so interconnected these days, nothing occurs in a vacuum.
To be fair, Melia is one of the least-impacted European stocks on this list although the pain is still sizable. On a YTD basis, SMIZF has dropped almost 16% — getting dangerously close to correction territory. And it could easily get there if circumstances don’t improve.
True, Spain and western Europe are geographically insulated from Ukrainian cities turned into battlefields. However, companies like Melia cannot escape the economic consequences that have filtered everywhere. That’s all the more true for the underlying country as Spain’s economy is highly dependent on tourism.
Considering that 1.3 million Russian tourists visited Spain in 2019, this loss of outside spending is nothing to scoff at.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.