Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index cleans up in 3Q 2019

Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index cleans up in 3Q 2019

 

Last week we closed out the month of September, shutting the books on the third quarter and began the final quarter’s march toward the end of 2019. While US stocks rebounded in September, the quarter in full was still a mixed one, as evidenced by a 1.2% rise in both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, versus the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Russell 2000 index that each finished the third quarter in the red. By comparison, the Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index (CLRN) soared 5.1% during the September quarter following its 4.0% move higher just in the month of September.

 

 

The Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index focuses on those companies poised to benefit from the growing demand for items that are better for you and the planet. The outperformance of the index during the last month of the quarter was led by double-digit moves in eight of the index’s 48 active constituents, including the more than 40% rebound in both Fresh Del Monte Produce (FDP) and Tenneco (TEN) shares, and the more than 24% climb in WW (WW) shares. The move in WW shares finished off a September quarter climb that totaled 95.5% in total, leaving them as the best performing constituent during the quarter. Rounding out the top three performers for the September quarter were Fresh Del Monte Produce, and SolarEdge Technologies (RUN), both of which climbed more than 30% during that 90-day period.

It will come as no surprise when we say the September quarter was filled with a lot of drama. It began with signs of the global economy slowing further, continued with more “two steps forward and one step back” on US-China trade talks, and ended with the impeachment inquiry winding through Washington that could stall any legislative efforts to be had by the current administration. More recently, September data published by ISM and IHS Markit have reignited global growth concerns, and the continued protests in Hong Kong have raised doubts over luxury good sales during the quarter.

All of this sets the stage for what is likely to be a tenuous, if not volatile, September quarter earnings season. Adding wood to that fire are recent earnings reports from FedEx (FDX), US Steel (X), HB Fuller (FUL), Actuant Corp. (ATU), and Landec (LNDC) that included weaker than expected guidance and we are also starting to see negative earnings pre-announcements like those from AXT Inc. (AXTI) and GoPro (GPRO) rear their head.

Taking all of those factors in full, we’ve seen year over year 2019 EPS expectations for the S&P 500 group of companies fall to just 1.8% currently, down from roughly 10% this time last year per data from FactSet. By comparison, the constituents for the Cleaner Living Index are expected to deliver EPS growth of 3.7% in 2019, led by Fresh Del Monte Produce, Brookfield Renewable Partners (BEP)Atlantica Yield (AY)Sanderson Farms (SAFM) and TerraForm Power (TERP).

We’ll also be watching with an eye toward 2020 as investors begin to focus on earnings growth prospects for the coming year and companies begin to gingerly share initial expectations that will shape 2020 forecasts. Based on current 2020 EPS expectations for the Cleaner Living Index constituents, in aggregate, the group is projected to deliver year over year EPS growth of 36.0%, far and above the 10.3% growth forecast for the S&P 500, again per FactSet data. Of the 48 Cleaner Living constituents, 2020 EPS expectations that are likely to have the greatest influence on year over year growth are Tesla (TSLA) and Freshpet (FRPT) as they go from generating bottom line losses to positive EPS as well as TPI Composites (TPIC) and NextEra Energy Partners (NEP).

Cleaner Living cleans up in July

Cleaner Living cleans up in July

July was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the domestic stock market, as it grappled with the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, economic data that points to a slowing global economy and the expected interest-rate cut by the Federal Reserve at the end of the month. For the month in full, each of the major stock market indexes finished higher month-over-month, adding to their gains for the year, but exited the month below their July highs. The same was true for the Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index, which rose 1.2% in July, continuing its sharp June rebound. 

Driving the July performance for the Cleaner Living Index were shares of Beyond Meat (BYND) and Primo Water Corp. (PRMW), both of which climbed more than 20% during the month. Those moves reflect the continued expansion of Beyond Meat’s meatless protein products, a growing number of partnerships and expanding consumer awareness of water quality. That last topic was a key conversation point in our recent Thematic Signals podcast conversation with Dr. Roy Speiser. The index’s July performance also benefitted from double-digit gains at Simply Good Foods (SMPL), the company that leverages the Atkins brand in the healthy snack market, Trex (TREX) and Fresh del Monte Produce (FDP). 

Offsetting those gains were continued declines at Tenneco Inc. (TEN). The company’s clean air solutions have been impacted by the combination of a slowing global economy, a weakening of the auto market and on-going US-China trade concerns. Other notable decliners with the index for the month of July included Sprouts Farmers Markets (SAFM) and Renewable Energy Group (REGI). Sprouts continues to confront the traditional grocery chains expanding their natural, organic and healthier for you product offerings. Cleaner fuel company Renewable Energy Group on the other hand is facing falling oil prices, making competing solutions increasingly affordable. 

As we are starting to wind down the 2019 June-quarter earnings season, coming into this week more than three-quarters of the S&P 500 group of companies had reported those quarterly figures. Tallying those results, we’ve seen earnings-per-share expectations for the current quarter fall. The result is that full year 2019 earnings per share expectations for that cohort of 500 companies has risen just 2.7%, compared to 2018. Before too long, investors will begin to focus on 2020 growth prospects, and current expectations have the S&P 500 group of companies growing their collective earnings by 10.8% year over year in 2020. 

By comparison, the Cleaner Living index constituent base is slated to grow its collective earnings by nearly 30% in 2020. That’s significantly faster than the expected year over year EPS growth of 6%-12% in 2020 for the consumer discretionary, consumer staple and utility segments tallied by FactSet. Arguably the difference in those EPS growth rates reflects the accelerating shift by consumers toward natural, organic and healthier for you solutions that speaks to the structural shift captured by Tematica’s Cleaner Living investment theme and index. 

While we very much like the overall vector and velocity of the Cleaner Living constituent base and the collective earnings-per-share growth to be had in the coming quarters, we recognize at least in the near-term the overall market and subsequently the Cleaner Living index will likely be impacted by U.S.-China trade developments, the speed of the global economy and changes in monetary policy from the world’s major central banks.

Signals for Tematica’s Cleaner Living investment theme & the Cleaner Living Index


Performance for the Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index (CLNR) is available through Bloomberg, Reuters, FactSet, and other data aggregators, as well as the Tematica Research website. The index is currenty available for licensing for the use in a variety of exchange traded products or as a data overlay in portfolio screening and management. The Tematica Research Cleaner Living Index is being calculated by Indxx.