Bet on companies that have fewer humans to pay: Strategist

on Aug12

As the unemployment rate tumbled to its lowest level since 2001, Fundstrat’s Tom Lee found the market is already discounting future rising employee paychecks in stock prices.

The firm shared with its clients which stocks will likely benefit most if wages inflation rises.

“The labor market is set to tighten more dramatically than consensus realizes, a function of a demographics,” strategist Lee wrote in a note to clients Friday. “Profit margins for most corporations will see a squeeze as tight labor markets lead to wage inflation … This squeeze will create winners and losers.”

The strategist cited how Fundstrat’s list of high market cap per employee stocks or companies it deems have “low wage inflation risk” has outperformed the S&P 500 by 5.7 percentage points this year.

On the flip side, the firms with low market cap per employee or “high wage inflation risk” underperformed the market by 7.7 percentage points.

Lee predicts the U.S. will have a labor shortage of 8.2 million workers in the age range of 16 to 64 during the next decade, which will be the “largest ever gap.” He noted how the tech sector outperformed during historical periods of labor shortage such as 1950 to 1958 and 1992 to 1999.

“The outperformance of technology is logical, reflecting the need to replace workers with automation. The losers, in our view, are those companies/sectors which are heavily reliant on labor for value-added,” he wrote.

Here are six technology stocks with low sensitivity to wage inflation that Fundstrat recommends to take advantage of the trend.

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