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Travel Firms Hold Value for Those Looking Beyond Coronavirus

Travel Firms Hold Value for Those Looking Beyond Coronavirus

Editor’s note: Read the latest on how the coronavirus is rattling the markets and what investors can do to navigate it.

Dan Wasiolek: Since late February, the global pandemic, a coronavirus, has spread to areas outside of China and is now set to materially impact travel companies in 2020. For our hotel and online travel companies, we currently model that global travel demand is down around midteens in 2020 before seeing a near full rebound in 2021. This forecast is really driven by what we saw in 2003 with SARS, where global travel demand in the first half of 2003 was down anywhere between 10% and 15% before stabilizing in the second half of the year, and then the following year--in 2004--seeing a good rebounding growth. Now geographically it's tough to handicap what regions are expected to see stronger declines and traffic demand. Currently, we expect that North America sees declines of mid to high single digit and total travel demand in 2020, whereas Europe sees around 10% declines, and the rest of the world, such as Asia Pacific, sees the most severe declines of 25%.

That being said, I think there's an opportunity for long-term-oriented investors, as there's a lot of value in the companies that we follow. For example, in online travel, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Booking hold strong network advantages. And within the hotel area, companies like Marriott and Hilton have brand-intangible asset advantages, all of which we think are going to stay well intact once we do reach some containment and stabilization in the environment.

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