BNN Bloomberg's mid-morning market update: September 12, 2019
As momentum trades unravel in major stock markets across the world, investors in Canada have another rotation to watch.
Tech stocks, which had been the top performing sector on the S&P/TSX Composite Index until last month, are now among the worst. Taking the No. 1 spot in September is the health-care gauge. Before you deem this a flight to safety, consider that volatile pot stocks make up more than half of the S&P/TSX Composite Health Care Index.
“Things got a little bit overextended in the realm of safety,” said Hans Albrecht, fund manager at Toronto-based Horizons ETFs Management Canada Inc. “Come early September that unwound a little bit.”
Part of it can be blamed on the move that investors are making from growth stocks to value as they sell out of tech and into sectors like energy and financials. But there’s also been a rebound in the shares of weed companies.
It may be a technical bounce after cannabis stocks underperformed since April. “They’ve been suffering all year,” Albrecht said. “Whether there’s some sort of underlying story that will give them a big push, I’m not sure.”
Pot stocks have had a rough year as leaders in the industry reported disappointing results, regulatory breaches and as acquisitions languished amid U.S. antitrust reviews. Canopy Growth Corp., up about 15 per cent this month, was in oversold territory in August. Aurora Cannabis Inc. was flirting with that technical level for most of last month.
Others point to a short squeeze. “A lot of people were shorting the companies for fundamental reasons and also quantitative reasons,” said Greg Taylor, chief investment officer at Purpose Investments.
And that may be unwinding. Some U.S.-based companies have posted good earnings, like Curaleaf Holdings Inc., and that might be boosting sentiment, he said. Bank of Montreal is no longer allowing retail investors to short cannabis stocks, according to a media report. But the pot stock bounce does feel like a technical move, Taylor added.
Canada’s tech stocks have added $49 billion in value through the end of August. Since then, they have erased about $7 billion as investors reassessed expectations for global economic growth. On the flipside, among the top companies on the health-care gauge this month are weed stocks: Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Hexo Corp., Aphria Inc. and Cronos Group Inc.
“It almost feels like a change in sentiment,” Taylor said. “A lot of people have been hiding in momentum names. Some people have reversed those trades.”