Nordea On Your Mind
Capex – a once in a decade opportunity

Nordea On Your Mind

Article by: Nordea Markets

Underinvestment could drive a capex rally by 2020-25

We see a risk that corporate capex spending is becoming too low to secure future earnings power. The current 25-year-low global capex/sales ratio near a cyclical demand peak is unprecedented, especially when paired with record-high share buybacks; funds are going back to shareholders instead of into projects. For companies with a mandate to take a long-term view, we argue there is a potential opportunity to invest in sufficient capacity to meet greater demand in a few years’ time, when the digitalisation of supply chains cannot generate enough additional output on its own.

Capex and performance: Asset-heavy versus asset-light companies
Our analysis of asset-heavy versus asset-light companies reveals the long-term trend of asset-lights outperforming their counterparts. Investors seem to be extrapolating this trend into the future and are seemingly wary of the prospects for asset-heavy companies. We highlight potential structural drivers for capex, such as technology and the environment. Coupled with persistent underinvestment, these drivers could trigger a capex surge in a few years.

Ultra-low interest rate support for capex – what about when QE ends?
Interest rates impact the funding of capex projects, so should we expect today’s ultra-low rates to rise? And what is this QE we keep hearing about? To clear the mist and understand what is going on, we talk to Nordea Chief FX Strategist Martin Enlund. He describes how QE is believed to have lowered long bond yields by a percentage point or so and helped the global financial system weather the crisis of 2008-09, and goes on to explain how there are risks associated with central banks’ unwinding QE programmes in the next few years.

Introducing the capex heat map
In this report, we present our global capex heat map, which shows absolute capex spend and growth, by region and by industry sector for a universe of ~2,400 global companies. Capex momentum is sluggish, with forecast global growth of -5% in 2017 turning into a projected -1% over the 2017-19 period. The bright spots that are big enough to matter are US energy and IT, and European manufacturing and materials.

View from the top: Interviews with industrial leaders
We take the pulse on Nordic blue-chip manufacturers’ attitudes to capex spending and its drivers, in interviews with Ronnie Leten (chairman of the board of directors of Electrolux, board member of SKF, and proposed chairman of Ericsson and Epiroc), Panu Routila (CEO of Konecranes) and Tomas Eliasson (CFO of Sandvik).

Click to download the report

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