May your life be boring! Many German companies are also hoping for this old African proverb in the New Year. They want to calmly implement their plans and tick off their quarterly targets, increase their sales and profits, solve old problems and push new investments. The less chaos, the better. After all, there was plenty of it in the Corona crisis last year. Everyone is hoping for a bit of boring normalcy, at the latest in the second half of the year.
The shareholders of some German corporations can already prepare for many new headlines in 2021 – and thus also for wild price movements up or down. A short capital forecast for six companies from B for Bayer to V for VW:
Bayer AG is still waiting in the USA for a court-proof settlement for tens of thousands of glyphosate cases. Everything is dragging on much longer than the company prophesied a few months ago. Above all, the solution for future cancer cases is a major headache for lawyers – because Bayer’s Roundup is to remain on the market. Something like that has to happen in 2021. If the comparison comes up and turns out to be not too expensive, the stock will in all probability go down steeply. If the comparison fails, not only does the course fall like a chunk of concrete, but in all likelihood also the head of CEO Werner Baumann. Headlines guaranteed!
With the world’s first corona vaccine, Biontech is one of the great winners of 2020. At least in terms of global reputation and sales. The share price is much higher than when it opened in New York, but at the same time it is also well below the previous high. In the new year, it remains to be seen whether Biontech will be able to turn the corner towards Big Pharma – or whether the many other competitors will buy it off. Will others soon follow the first product, especially in oncology? Then anything is possible. Headlines likely, but not guaranteed.
BioNTech SE ADR share
Commerzbank is finally rebuilding what it takes. And save and save and save. The new chairman of the supervisory board, Hans-Jörg Vetter, seems determined not to accept any more excuses. And the new CEO, Manfred Knof, as an outsider, no longer wants to show any consideration for the old ropes. The “Frankfurter Allgemeine” is already talking about the “fateful year for Commerzbank”. If the open heart operation succeeds, the troubled shareholders – especially the federal government – can finally hope for a reward. And a completely renovated institute also attracts those interested in taking over. Maybe the French make some headlines.
Is everything okay again at Grenke AG? 2020 was a terrible year for the leasing company. Most of the allegations by a British shortseller were able to refute the board and owner – but by no means all of them. At least one central question remains: Wasn’t company founder Wolfgang Grenke behind an extremely mysterious financial company that played an important role in the international expansion? Until everything is cleared up, the share price remains somehow in the balance: a good bit higher than immediately after the attack in London, but still well below its old level. In 2021 it will be seen whether the Grenke critics can top it off – or if everything quiets down. Maybe the “Financial Times” will make the headlines?
Is Thyssenkrupp finally getting rid of its steel? And if so, does it all go to the controversial Briton Sanjeev Gupta, whose previous business practices have to be decorated with a lot of question marks? Either way: The traditional Essen company will remain a case for the press in 2021 as well. However, you shouldn’t believe everything that the board of directors gives the newspapers. Wasn’t there a long talk of all possible “options” for steel in 2020? Gupta stayed. And a CEO who has so far lacked any fortune in the most difficult job in German industry. Good for a lot of headlines in 2021.
And last but not least VW: The first important processes in the diesel fraud affair will start in 2021. A total of 26 judges are now dealing with the matter in four chambers. That alone makes for many, many headlines. And the struggle for power continues in Wolfsburg. Works council chief Bernd Osterloh does not belong to the people who give calm. And certainly not CEO Herbert Diess either. And there are enough problems for the two to quarrel over again. This guarantees not only headlines in 2021, but also good entertainment! Just not necessarily for the small shareholders.
Bernd Ziesemer is a capital columnist. The business journalist was editor-in-chief of the Handelsblatt from 2002 to 2010. He was then managing director of the corporate publishing division of the Hoffmann und Campe publishing house until 2014. Ziesemer’s column appears regularly on Personal-Financial.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.