Wall Street’s confusion about Airbnb is a sign of the times

Wall Street’s confusion about Airbnb is a sign of the times
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It’s a tough moment to predict the future of the travel industry. Just look at Airbnb’s stock.

What’s happening: The company had a huge second quarter, with revenue soaring nearly 300% as spring and summer bookings jumped. But shares remain almost 30% below the all-time high they hit in February.

Some of the apprehension may come from Airbnb’s rich valuation. The home-sharing startup is now worth $96 billion, which Bank of America points out is 13 times the bank’s estimates for 2022 revenues.

But the company is also in limbo due to uncertainty about the outlook, a problem made worse by the spreading Delta variant.

Deutsche Bank noted Monday that cases have now been rising globally for eight consecutive weeks, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Australia and China are among countries that have recently tightened restrictions to try to stem a rise in infections.

Airbnb explicitly outlined its concerns in a letter to shareholders that accompanied its latest results.

“In the near term, we anticipate that the impact of Covid-19 and the introduction and spread of new variants of the virus, including the Delta variant, will continue to affect overall travel behavior, including how often and when guests book and cancel,” the company said. As a result, it continued, future bookings “will continue to be more volatile and non-linear.”

Another warning: The University of Michigan said Friday that its influential consumer sentiment index plunged 13.5% from July to August, hitting a level of 70.2. That’s the most bearish reading for the measure since December 2011.

“There is little doubt that the pandemic’s resurgence due to the Delta variant has been met with a mixture of reason and emotion,” said Richard Curtin, the survey’s chief economist.

Step back: The travel industry is still doing its best to plan for the future. Hyatt announced Sunday that it’s buying Apple Leisure for $2.7 billion.

The move is a bet on the future of luxury travel, which has been recovering more rapidly. It will double Hyatt’s global resort footprint, and expand the company’s presence in Europe by 60%.

Airbnb, meanwhile, is still projecting that third-quarter revenue will be its strongest on record. Long-term stays at its properties by remote workers as the Delta variant delays the return to the office are poised to help its business.

“The company noted several positive trends that could continue post Covid, including longer stays and a growing percentage of bookings for non-traditional travel,” Bank of America’s analysts wrote in a research note.

Yet the advent of highly infectious coronavirus variants makes it hard to say with confidence whether a strong summer season will continue into the fall — dampening investors’ enthusiasm.

China’s economic recovery is slowing down

China’s economic recovery is losing steam — and it’s not just the spread of the Delta variant that has economists and government officials on alert, my CNN Business colleague Laura He reports.

The latest: Chinese officials on Monday released new data on industrial production, investment and retail sales for July showing signs of weakness in the economy.

Growth in industrial production was the slowest it’s been in 11 months, rising by 6.4% from a year ago. Car production was slammed by the global shortage of semiconductors.

Growth in retail sales in July was the weakest it’s been all year, while investment in fixed assets also missed economists’ expectations.

“The spread of the virus and natural disasters have affected the economy in some regions, and the economic recovery is still unstable and uneven,” National Bureau of Statistics spokesperson Fu Linghui said at a press conference in Beijing on Monday.

Remember: Along with the latest coronavirus outbreak, catastrophic flooding swept through central China last month, killing more than 300 people. Widespread damage and disruption has also caused direct economic losses totaling nearly $21 billion, according to government statistics released this month.

Investor insight: The data triggered a fallback in global stocks Monday, ending a 10-day winning streak for shares in Europe. Big global banks have already slashed growth forecasts for the third quarter in China and revised down full-year estimates.

The Chinese company putting H&M on notice

Every night before bed, Anushka Sachan whips out her phone to log into an app.

“It kind of becomes a habit,” the 20-year-old Hong Kong University student told my CNN Business colleague Michelle Toh.

The platform Sachan is using belongs to a Chinese brand called Shein — pronounced “She In” — which has rapidly attracted a global army of teen fans on TikTok.

The mysterious online shopping upstart has made headlines recently for surpassing Amazon in app downloads in the United States. It’s created a cult following for its fast fashion apparel sold all over the world.

Some experts even say it’s beating stalwarts like Zara and H&M at their own game, by making items more quickly and demonstrating digital savvy. Users check the app regularly so they can earn points to save on purchases.

“They’re making fast fashion look slow,” said Erin Schmidt, a senior analyst at Coresight Research, a global advisory and research firm specializing in retail and technology. “They’ve changed the model.”

Up next

Oatly reports earnings before US markets open. Roblox follows after the close.

Also today: The Empire State Manufacturing Survey from the New York Fed arrives at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Coming tomorrow: Home Depot and Walmart report results.

The-CNN-Wire
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