If you expect to settle down in winter with no commuting, you’re not alone. Despite Boris Johnson’s call for the country to return to the office, figures show that only six in ten employees traveled to work last week – and slogged around the kitchen table the rest of the time.
In addition, increasing coronavirus cases, testing issues and fears of a second wave of infections seem to be keeping many of us out of the train and the office for the foreseeable future. While many high-rise offices, such as the Canary Wharf towers in London, make it nearly impossible to get anyone to their desks in a socially remote way.
So after a staycation summer, how can you benefit from a work-from-home winter?
Staying True: If you expect to settle in winter with no commuting, you’re not alone
SELL FUN … BUT BUY GREGGS
We don’t go to the office and buy lunch there, but we still go to the local shopping street and manufacturing companies still work on industrial sites.
Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Interactive Investor, says this means less morning coffee and lunch sushi and more sausage rolls and cheaper bites – bad news for Pret a Manger but good news for Greggs.
“A diverse location of shops, some close to business parks and less affected than offices, works to his advantage,” he says of the baker. Greggs’ shares are still languishing at £ 12.63 after starting the year at £ 23.76.
Jean Roche, manager of the Schroder UK Mid Cap Fund, agrees – adding that she prefers stocks in companies such as Next, whose stores you’ll find in retail park malls.
When winter comes, we don’t want to queue in shopping streets, she explains. Last Thursday, Next said trading had held up better than expected and the stock price rose 4 percent to £ 64.26.
Roche’s other shopping tips include the Dunelm homeware store – ‘because we’ve all been at our homes long enough to find ourselves in desperate need of a makeover’ – and Pets At Home, which we can take advantage of the more time, energy and money on our animals. Dunelm’s share price more than halved in March from its February high, but has since regained almost all lost ground and stands at £ 13.40.
GET GAMING – AND GO BOWLING
Once you’re on Netflix, you might crave something a little more interactive, and Roche, over at Schroders, recommends Games Workshop, whose orch-killing table games were “ previously associated with pre-teen boys. ”
With little to do at home and abundant disposable income, there is some evidence that adults are returning to the hobby and buying more video games. Shares in Games Workshop have outpaced the rest of the market over the past three months, up 27 percent to £ 100.40.
Darius McDermott, general manager at Chelsea Financial, says it is wise to issue stocks that make a home winter more attractive, or the technology to get those products to us.
‘We have more free time at home, because we don’t commute. This was great for gaming, reading and TV streaming, ”he says.
He recommends both AXA Framlington Global Technology and Smith & Williamson Artificial Intelligence as funds for those who want to take advantage of this.
On the gaming side, Amanda Yeaman, investment manager at the Standard Life UK Smaller Companies Investment Trust, likes Team 17, which older gamers may remember from the popular Worms game, but also makes Overcooked and The Survivalist. Sumo Digital, the Sheffield-based developer of Team Sonic Racing, is also a hit. Shares are trading at £ 7.28, up from £ 4.70 when the lockdown started in March.
Oddly, Yeaman also recommends Hollywood Bowl – despite the impact of lockdown.
After a long period of entertaining kids at home through lockdown, Hollywood Bowl is well positioned as a family-friendly leisure activity now that people are mobile. It offers good value for money and an indoor activity that is popular on cold winter days and nights. ‘
The Hollywood Bowl stock price has fallen to £ 1.45 after it briefly rose above £ 3 in January.
LOOK AT OFFICES CLOSER TO HOME
While Canary Wharf may not be an attractive prospect right now, there are companies out there that will benefit from new ways of working.
Roche recommends Computacenter. It provides online support to technologically ignorant office workers. Its shares are up 78.3 percent this year. Richard Williams, real estate analyst at Quoted Data, says Standard Life Investments Property Income is well-placed to handle a surge in commuter-belt demand for hub and speak offices.
This is where a company has a presence in the city, but has smaller workspace – perhaps shared with other employers – closer to where the staff live.
Many of us will crave some sort of office life as winter progresses, while companies will want to meet face-to-face in a flexible way. Both Williams of QuotedData and equity analyst Keith Bowman of Interactive Investor cite IWG as potential beneficiaries of this trend.
IWG manages a global portfolio of more than 3,300 workplace centers in a range of countries and a diverse selection of cities and towns, and owns the Regus brand. The stock is £ 2.80, down from nearly £ 5 at the start of the year.
DO NOT DELETE SKYSCRAPERS YET
Warren Buffett famously said investors should be greedy when others are scared … and fearful when others are greedy – and there are few things that inspire fear like commercial property right now.
This winter is too early to fully restore office life in the city center – but Mark Callender, head of real estate research at Schroders, reminds us that these things can change when you least expect it.
He says: “In the 1960s and 1970s, the population of London fell by about 25 percent when production ceased. There was some debate at the time whether it was the end of the big cities, but London just reinvented itself. IBM was an early fan of working from home, but brought staff back to the office in 2017 to improve morale.
‘We expect office rents to recover from 2022. Less flexible older buildings are likely to be losers. Looking ahead, office designs are likely to think more about spaces for collaboration and teamwork – things that are difficult to do at home. ‘
For those wanting a real estate bet, Dzmitry Lipski, head of fund research at Interactive Investor, recommends TR Property Investment Trust.
This is an unusual investment fund as it invests primarily in the shares of real estate companies, and not physical properties themselves.
Almost three-quarters of the trust is invested outside the UK, spread across the continent, which may appeal to those looking to diversify outside the UK.
Shares in the trust are down 11 percent in one year and 6.2 percent in three years.
British Land shares are currently £ 3.54 – down from over £ 6 in January, while Land Securities, which owns both shopping centers and offices, is down £ 5.39 from over £ 9 at the start of the year . Yet these stocks are really only for the brave.
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