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Written by: Sam Slator
20/03/2020
As stock markets plunge and schools are forced to close to stop the spread of the virus, there will be some businesses to benefit from lockdown while parents juggle work and childcare.

I don’t know about you, but I’m dreading the thought of having to try to work at home, whilst simultaneously home-teach my children/keep them entertained for an indefinite period of time.

I’m used to juggling work and parenting, but this takes it to a whole other level. Forget loo rolls – it’s time to start panic-buying craft kits.

As stock market plunges make the headlines on a daily basis, we are – quite naturally  –  hearing about the companies that are struggling in this climate, and what the government will be doing to help them, and their employees, through a recession. From the world’s largest airlines to the very smallest family-run restaurants, many are feeling the full force of COVID-19.

Amidst all the doom and gloom there will be some companies that benefit from this self-isolation. So, for anyone still thinking about investing their ISA before the end of this tax year, here is a light-hearted, whistle-stop tour of some of the businesses that could benefit from lockdown, and the funds investing in them.

For the desperate parent…

Netflix, Disney and Comcast

Desperate times call for desperate measures – and perhaps more screen-time than we would usually allow. Netflix, a holding in Baillie Gifford High Yield Bond, is a popular choice, as is Sky – who’s owner Comcast is a top ten holding in Artemis US Extended Alpha. And then of course there’s Amazon, a holding in Rathbone Global Opportunities fund. For those who don’t already have the service, now might be the perfect time for a free trial of Prime Video.

Microsoft, Games Workshop

Having got used to hearing the one-sided conversations of my son playing Fortnite with his mates, if nothing else, it allows them to stay in contact with their friends and have a conversation – of sorts. Microsoft, the top holding in Brown Advisory Global Leaders fund, will almost certainly benefit from the possibility of quite a few weeks trying out some new games.

My friend, on the other hand, has a son and husband more into the fantasy realm of Warhammer from Games Workshop, a holding in Marlborough UK Micro-Cap Growth fund. Importantly, for today’s situation, it has a lean workforce with one shop assistant only in most of its stores, as well as an online shop.

For the home-worker…

Microsoft, Canon, Google and Zoom

With its Office 365 Home subscriptions, Microsoft fits the bill for the new office too, as people start to work from home. And I’m going through ink cartridges faster than toilet paper. Canon, my supplier of choice, is a holding in Man GLG Japan Core Alpha.

And Alphabet, a top holding in Fidelity Global Special Situations, is the company that owns Google – not only home to email, but also Google Classrooms, where I hope to find plenty of proper ‘learning’ from my children’s teachers.

Zoom Video Communications is another company that has no doubt seen a spike in use. It provides software for video conferencing, online meetings, etc. and I’ve used it more than a few times this week, to record podcasts and attend seminars.

For other practicalities…

Hello Fresh and Ocado

Supermarkets are obviously dealing with increased buying. I use Ocado myself and delivery spots are now like gold dust. A holding in Smith & Williamson Artificial Intelligence fund seems very well suited to this situation though. It has whole warehouses where robots do all the grocery packing, so very little human contact.

An alternative is meal-kit delivery services. Subscriptions such as Hello Fresh, the largest holding in RWC Continental European Equity, take not only the stress of planning out of the equation, but it also ensures you’ll have meals at the end of a long work from home day.

Facebook and Apple

Facebook and Apple – both holdings in AXA Framlington Global Technology fund –  are going to be great for staying in touch with friends, families and neighbours. Whether via Facebook itself, or What’s App groups or Facetime, it will help us ‘socialise’ and keep each other company.

Teladoc

Finally, Teladoc Health, an American company, is a video-conferencing facility that can be used by doctors to ‘see’ patients without them going to a doctor’s surgery. The team managing Polar Capital Global Healthcare Trust, told me it has seen a huge spike in use in recent days.

Stay safe and keep washing those hands.

Sam Slator is director of FundCalibre

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