Investors this week are gearing up to hear from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell in his semiannual monetary policy testimony before Congress and to receive a set of corporate earnings results from Airbnb and DoorDash —two newly public companies.
Powell’s testimony will take place Tuesday before the Senate Banking Committee and on Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee.
In recent public appearances, Powell has reiterated that the central bank would maintain an easy monetary policy posturing in order to support the economy as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, labor market data — including a host of disappointing weekly jobless claims reports and weak January and December monthly jobs reports — have pointed to a job market still under considerable strain due to the pandemic, making the case that aggressive policy responses should remain in place as a lifeline.
“[Powell] will likely note recent progress in the data but reiterate that the economy is far from fully recovered, thereby defending accommodative monetary policy,” Bank of America economist Michelle Meyer said in a note Friday.
The Fed’s ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic has involved a massive asset purchase program totaling $120 billion per month, alongside ultra-low interest rates. Officials have suggested benchmark rates will remain near zero until at least 2023.
But one of the side effects of a strong, policy-supported recovery, however, has been higher rates, as well as the specter of rising inflation. Powell and other Fed officials have suggested they would seek inflation that averages 2% over time, implying they would allow for some overshoot to offset what has been persistently low inflationary trends. However, Fed officials have also been increasingly queried on how much inflation they might tolerate coming out of the pandemic, given that while higher rates and rising prices are natural byproducts of an economy on the rebound, they can also become a hindrance to the pace of recovery if they occur too quickly.
“There is a delicate balance: strong growth could prompt a faster rise in rates, driving up borrowing costs and weighing on risky assets, limiting upside economic growth,” Meyer added.
However, Powell has suggested that any jump in inflation in the coming months will be transitory. As March approaches, inflation may appear to spike on a year-over-year basis, given that 2020’s data was so heavily depressed by the onset of the pandemic. But these effects will likely dissipate later in 2021, and will not reflect overheating in underlying inflationary trends, Powell has maintained.
“We believe [Powell] will reiterate that now is not the time to be discussing an exit strategy for monetary accommodation considering significant uncertainty,” Nomura economist Lewis Alexander wrote in a note Friday. “Moreover, he will likely seek to downplay any concerns over inflation given upcoming base effects in Q2. the relatively weak December and January employment reports will offer Powell an opportunity to highlight the significant progress the labor market still needs to make before approaching ‘full employment.'”
Powell may also use his testimony to reiterate his call for additional fiscal support from Congress to augment the support offered through the Fed’s policies. During Powell’s last FOMC press conference in late January, he characterized fiscal support as “absolutely essential” to the economic recovery, while declining to offer an assessment of how much additional aid might be appropriate out of Congress.
Other Fed officials have recently suggested a large fiscal package, such as the $1.9 trillion proposal under debate in Congress, would be warranted by the current economic situation. Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren told Reuters on Friday that the “big fiscal package that is being considered right now” was “appropriately big,” while New York Fed President John Williams told CNBC he was “not really concerned about fiscal support right now being excessive.”
Airbnb, DoorDash earnings
Newly public companies Airbnb (ABNB) and DoorDash (DASH) are poised to report their first-ever quarterly results as public companies on Thursday, offering a fresh look at the businesses following their massive public debuts.
Since going public, Airbnb’s stock has enjoyed a run-up of nearly 200%, fueled by optimism over the business’s long-term growth potential in a post-pandemic world. Though Airbnb saw gross booking value (GBV) decline by 39% in the first nine months of 2020, the company had been growing more strongly leading up to the pandemic, with bookings surging by 29% during its full fiscal 2019.
However, Airbnb’s fourth quarter report will still show negative impacts from the virus, the company warned in its prospectus late last year.
“During the fourth quarter of 2020, another wave of COVID-19 infections emerged. As a result, countries imposed strict lockdowns, in particular in Europe. Similar to the impact of the initial COVID-19 wave in March 2020, we are seeing a decrease in bookings in the most affected regions,” according to the filing. “As a result, we expect significantly greater year-over-year decline in Nights and Experiences Booked and GBV in the fourth quarter of 2020 than in the third quarter of 2020 and greater year-over-year increases in cancellations and alterations in the fourth quarter of 2020 than in the third quarter of 2020.”
That said, Airbnb has been touted by some analysts as a better alternative to traditional hotels during and after the pandemic, given that users can book entire, socially distant homes and other alternative accommodations rather than lodges with communal lobbies. Still, the valuation of the stock has left others on the sidelines, given the firm’s $120 billion market capitalization — or nearly three times Marriott’s (MAR) $44 billion market cap, for comparison – and persistent losses. Airbnb’s stock has 12 Buy ratings or equivalents, 21 Hold ratings and 3 Sell ratings by analysts on Wall Street, according to Bloomberg data.
All told, Airbnb is expected to report an adjusted EBITDA loss of $132.86 million in the fourth quarter on revenue of $739.37 million, according to Bloomberg consensus data. That would compare to an adjusted EBITDA loss of $276.39 million in the same period of 2019, on revenue of $1.1 billion.
Meanwhile, DoorDash is set to report fourth-quarter results following a similarly strong run-up since its December public debut. DoorDash shares have more than doubled since its initial public offering in early December.
DoorDash has been an unequivocal beneficiary during the pandemic period, as consumers sheltering in place increasingly ordered food for delivery rather than going out to restaurants.
Though DoorDash has largely been a money-losing business, the company briefly posted net income in the second quarter of 2020, aided by an influx of demand during the height of stay-in-place orders last spring. The company’s revenue also swelled, ballooning by more than 200% in the nine months ending in September over the same period in 2019.
However, DoorDash has also had to contend with an inundation of competition in the food delivery space, which has impacted the companies’ pricing power and profit-making potential.
UberEats, for instance, has also grown significantly over the course of the pandemic. In results reported earlier this month, Uber revealed that its food delivery business grew gross bookings by 130%, suggesting still-elevated food delivery trends in the final three months of last year. Whether this demand will remain in place once more vaccines roll out and in-person dining reopenings more extensively, however, remains to be seen.
Consensus analysts expect DoorDash to post an adjusted EBITDA profit of $95.64 million in the fourth quarter on revenue of $926.41 million, according to Bloomberg data. That would compare to an adjusted EBITDA loss of $103 million on revenue of $298 million in the same period in 2019.
Monday: Dish Network (DISH), Royal Caribbean Group (RCL), Discovery Inc. (DISCA) before market open; Diamondback Energy (FANG), ZoomInfo Technologies (ZI), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), The RealReal (REAL), Occidental Petroleum (OXY), Marathon Oil (MRO) after market close
Tuesday: Home Depot (HD), Macy’s (M) before market open; Intuit (INTU), Square (SQ) after market close
Wednesday: Viacom (VIAC), Six Flags Entertainment (SIX), Overstock.com (OSTK), Lowe’s (LOW), TJX Companies (TJX) before market open; Apache (APA), Nvidia (NVDA), Teladoc (TDOC), L Brands (LB), Booking Holdings (BKNG)
Thursday: Airbnb (ABNB), PG&E (PCG), Domino’s Pizza (DPZ), Wayfair (W), Best Buy (BBY), Moderna (MRNA), Plug Power (PLUG), Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) before market open; Dell Technologies (DELL), Caesars Entertainment (CZR), Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE), DoorDash (DASH), Nikola (NKLA), Rocket Cos. (RKT), HP Inc (HPQ), Zscaler (ZS), Salesforce.com (CRM), Workday (WDAY), Autodesk (ADSK), Shake Shack (SHAK), Airbnb (ABNB), WW International (WW), Beyond Meat (BYND), VMWare (VMW), Etsy (ETSY), Live Nation Entertainment (LYV) after market close
Friday: DraftKings (DKNG), Cinemark Holdings (CNK) before market open
Monday: Chicago Fed National Activity Index, January (0.50 expected, 0.52 in December); Leading Index, January (0.3% expected, 0.3% in December); Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity, February (5.0 expected, 7.0 in January)
Tuesday: FHFA House Price Index, month-over-month, December (1.0% in November); S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, month-over-month, December (1.42% in November); S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index, year-over-year, December (9.08% in November); Conference Board Consumer Confidence, February (90.0 expected, 89.3 in January); Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, February (14 in January)
Wednesday: MBA Mortgage Applications, week ended February 19 (-5.1% during prior week); New home sales, January (859,000 expected, 842,000 in December)
Thursday: Durable Goods Orders, January preliminary (1.2% expected, 0.5% in December); Durable Goods excluding transportation, January preliminary (0.7% expected, 1.1% in December); Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, January preliminary (0.6% expected, 0.7% in December); Non-defense capital shipments excluding aircraft, January preliminary (0.7% in December); Initial jobless claims, week ended February 20 (840,000 expected, 861,000 during prior week); Continuing claims, week ended February 13 (4.413 million expected, 4.494 million during prior week); GDP annualized quarter-over-quarter, 4Q second estimate (4.1% expected, 4.0% in prior print); GDP Price Index, 4Q second estimate (2.0% expected, 2.0% in prior print); Core personal consumption expenditures, 4Q second estimate (1.4% expected, 1.4% in prior print); Pending home sales, month-over-month, January (-0.3% in December); Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity, February (17 in January)
Friday: Advanced goods trade balance, January (-$83.0 billion expected, -$82.5 billion in December); Wholesale inventories, month-over-month, January preliminary (0.3% in December); Retail inventories, month-over-month, January (1.0% in December) Personal income, January (10.0% expected, 0.6% in December); PCE Deflator, month-over-month, January (0.2% expected, 0.4% in December); PCE Deflator, year-over-year, January (1.4% expected, 1.5% in December); PCE Core Deflator, month-over-month, January (0.1% expected, 0.3% in December); PCE Core Deflator, year-over-year, January (1.4% expected, 1.5% in December); MNI Chicago PMI, February (61.0 expected, 63.8 in January); University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment, February final (76.4 expected, 76.2 in prior print)
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck
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