Home improvement companies could see increased sales after Hurricane Ian, Wells Fargo says
Hurricane Ian is barreling toward Florida after strengthening to a Category 4 storm, and analysts are forecasting billions of dollars in damages. Beyond the impact to human lives, storms of this nature also turn into economic events as people, towns and cities rebuild after extensive damage. Wells Fargo said Wednesday that retail names exposed to the housing theme could see a “possible uptick in 2H Home Improvement demand.” Analysts led by Zachary Fadem said that these companies, including those in the flooring and auto part industries, tend to benefit from hurricane preparation and clean-up activity. Fadem pointed specifically to Home Depot , Lowe’s , O’Reilly Automotive and Floor & Decor Holdings as being among the possible beneficiaries. He has an overweight rating on all four stocks. Fadem added that even beyond the possible uptick in sales from the storm, defensive positioning is warranted across hardline retailers. Wells Fargo said that the storm could contribute between 30 and 80 basis points of incremental quarterly comparisons across its home improvement coverage in Florida alone. When including neighboring states such as Georgia and the Carolinas, the firm said total uplift could be between 90 and 130 basis points. Of course, much depends on the scale and scope of the storm. Wells Fargo noted that the benefits to Floor & Decor Holdings, for example, depends on the extent of water damages. When it comes to auto companies, Fadem said any potential benefits will likely be seen after the storm as consumers repair and replace damaged vehicles. Uptick in sales around storms also come with headwinds, however. Wells Fargo said that while comparisons can be attractive quarter over quarter or year over year, it doesn’t necessarily mean higher margins. That’s partly due to storm-related items such as lumber and generators carrying lower product margins. Additionally, store closures and elevated transportation costs can offset some of the benefits of a sales spike. “For broader Home Improvement, we caution that Ian (and other storms) could also disrupt the supply chain, driving more inflation for building material products (which would be disappointing considering recent moderation in supply chain/domestic freight pressures),” the firm said. Reinsurers Reinsurance companies are another area of the market that comes into focus amid catastrophic weather events, with names like Arch Capital , Axis Capital , Everest Re and RenaissanceRe attracting attention. Still, Bank of America noted Tuesday that it’s premature to estimate losses from Hurricane Ian and the ultimate impact on the reinsurance market. The firm said that storms can become “sell the rumor, buy the news” events since short investors can suddenly reverse trades. “Additionally, some investors short these offshore stocks at the beginning of hurricane season, hoping to be able to buy them back cheaper on the other side of it, which often creates a surge in buyers over sellers through the month of October,” Bank of America analysts led by Joshua Shanker said in a note. – CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed reporting.