In a double-barrel bounce, the FTSE 100 and other financial markets skyrocketed yesterday. First thing, the markets rallied in response to a Biden presidency confirmed over the weekend. This was later followed by an announcement that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine shows 90% effectiveness in a large-scale trial. While it will still be some time before the vaccine is in widespread use, it puts a long overdue but positive slant on the future. Hopes are high that a vaccine rollout will begin before the year end.
No quick fix
While this news is exciting and makes a nice change, I expect market volatility will continue for some time. The Pfizer and BioNTech trial data involved around 40K participants with only 94 showing symptoms. It’s not yet been peer-reviewed, which makes the integrity of the results questionable in the interim. Nevertheless, an independent board, hired by Pfizer, did look over the results.
Biden has named Michael Osterholm to his Covid-19 Advisory Board. Mr Osterholm is a well-known figure in the epidemiology arena and has warned the US is “about to enter Covid hell” over the next three to four months. This is a reminder that until a vaccine is widely distributed, the virus is very much here and spreading like wildfire. Europe and the UK are also seeing positive cases and deaths rising. This does not bode well for a continuous rise in the FTSE 100 and other stock markets.
What shares to buy now?
Even if it’s short-lived, what the Biden bounce has done is give us a glimpse into the stocks that will thrive when normality resumes. I was surprised to see B&M and Reckitt Benckiser fall. On the flip side, oil stocks were flying, and Saga soared over 25%. Aston Martin rose over 12% and Smith & Nephew over 17% but Rolls-Royce took the prize for the FTSE 100’s biggest riser at nearly 75% up at one point.
As I don’t think we’re on the home straight just yet, I think it’s a bit premature to be buying travel stocks such as Saga. I’d be more tempted by Aston Martin as a contrarian buy, but it’s still very risky. Profitability is at least two years away, but if it can make it through the bad times, then its growth trajectory could be massive.
A FTSE 100 stock I like
I like Smith & Nephew because it makes sense to me as a long-term growth stock. The company makes replacement knees and hips and specialises in surgical robotics. While the pandemic is causing a backlog in operations to build up, this is a temporary pause. Once regular operating conditions resume, demand should rise. Also, the rollout of 5G around the world (and eventually 6G) is projected to revolutionise robotic surgery. I think this is a good long-term buy because it has the potential to grow for many years to come.
Widespread vaccine use is the magic bullet the world is waiting for, but it’s going to take time to get there. In the meantime, I expect the markets to continue their 2020 trend of volatility. I’ll be taking a cautious approach to investing with the distant future in mind.
Kirsteen has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended B&M European Value. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.