Largely unnoticed, Italy’s stock market is currently changing from an ugly duckling to a proud swan, or rather to a hidden champion in international comparison. Or is this just a flash in the pan, like the one that the President of the European Central Bank has already kindled for all of Europe?
This change is primarily attributed to Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who launched structural reforms to help re-energize the recently sluggish and stagnant Italian economy. Francesco De Astis, Head of Italian Equity at Eurizon sees a first sign since the EU Commission recently raised its growth forecast for Italy for 2021 from 4.2 percent to 5.0 percent.
“The inauguration of Mario Draghi is a key factor in shaping the future of the country: For Italy it is an opportunity to demonstrate credibility and stability and thus to achieve greater and lasting visibility in the international environment,” says Francesco De Astis. Since 1982, structural economic growth has slowed after every economic setback and has never fully recovered. In addition, the economic divergence within the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) has increased since the global financial crisis of 2008, whereby the cumulative gap between Italy and the other EMU countries is now very large.
In order to counteract this, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi is currently preparing government reforms, which will not least be necessary in order to receive the economic stimulus funds awarded as part of the 200 billion euro “NextGenerationEU” economic stimulus program. These include an anti-corruption campaign and streamlining of public procurement, tax reform, rules for foreign investment, more cybersecurity and streamlining measures for the Italian banking sector.
This has already led to reactions on the Italian stock market, says Francesco De Astis: “Those who closely follow the Italian stock market find that the market is gaining momentum and credibility every day; a credibility that is felt by domestic investors immediately after the new government took office, but recently also by foreign investors,.”
In a number of research papers, the Italian stock market is now seen as a favorite among the major European markets, he said.
Francesco De Astis sees the numerous IPOs – 15 since the beginning of the year – and the recent concentration of share buybacks as another strong signal. “This is a sign that entrepreneurs are again investing in Italy, in the Italian real economy, which promises structural and long-term growth.”
In addition to the banking sector, which has already recovered significantly in recent months, Francesco De Astis believes that “all those sectors which correspond to the main trends of the coming years and which are also the focus of attention when investing the resources of the Next Generation Fund are particularly promising”. He includes, for example, “the circular economy sector, which is likely to play an increasingly important role in the portfolios of institutional investors who are increasingly focusing on ESG issues”. He also favors the new tech sector, with its sub-sectors ranging from cloud computing, 5G, Internet of Things, big data to cybersecurity.
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Note: The picture does not show Mario Draghi.