The multinationals that win and lose with the world living a pandemic | Economy

The epidemic of coronavirus, which causes a global recession this year, affects multinationals in various ways, with a share of losers but also big winners, according to a study by the research center of the Italian bank Mediobanca.

The analysis, released this Thursday, is based on the economic results of the first nine months of 2020 of more than 160 companies with revenues of more than three billion euros (3.55 billion dollars).

These are multinationals that saw their turnover decrease by 4.3% on average.



Multinational Internet companies (the “WebSoft”) have been “the absolute winners” of the pandemic. The volume of business in the sector, including online commerce led by Amazon, which weighs a third, increased 18.4% and its net profit was 21.8%.

“The web giants have confirmed their ability to adapt and flexibility during this crisis”, as they have known “to take advantage of the containment measures adopted by governments” to try to stop the epidemic of covid-19, as well as “the change in consumption habits ”, emphasizes the Mediobanca study center.

The food delivery services have experienced a boom (+ 47%), as have the video game (+ 40%) and the electronic commerce (+ 33%).

On the other hand, online travel sales collapsed, with a drop of 52%.

Large distribution

The turnover of the large distribution (Carrefour, Woolworths) increased by 8.8% and its net profit was 19.2%. Online commerce registered a good increase, with an acceleration in the third quarter (increased by more than 80%).

“The large food distribution, which was not affected by the containment measures, took advantage of the restrictions imposed on the catering sector and the phenomenon of teleworking as well as the tendency to accumulation (creation of stocks) by consumers, especially in the first quarter, ”Mediobanca explained.

Consumption habits constantly changed, according to experts, who recorded an increase in average consumption, a reduction in the frequency of purchases and a preference for small convenience stores, for discounts and supermarkets over hypermarkets.

At the same time, the multiplication of platforms for online shopping (Click & Collect and home delivery) and the development of innovative payment methods (via smartphones, for example).


Another big winner is the electronics sector, which has benefited from the “global digital acceleration in response to the pandemic”, thanks to the development of “cloud computing” (dematerialized computing), artificial intelligence and 5G, highlights Mediobanca.

Its revenues increased by 5.7% and net profit was 11.6%, also due to increased demand from data centers, computer networks and information systems.


The pharmaceutical sector

Although the net profit of this sector is at half-mast (-10.1%), the large firms (Bayer, Roche) have seen their sales increase by 3.1% in nine months, with an increase in the first quarter, a decrease of 2.3% in the second and a new increase in the third, depending on the evolution of the pandemic.

For the whole of 2020, Mediobanca expects sales to increase by around 3%, and considers that vaccine discovery could lead to strong revenue growth for the companies involved.


Oil and energy

The sector of oil and energy is the big loser, with a notable drop of 32.3% in turnover for major firms (BP, PetroChina, etc.) and net losses, due to the collapse, although an improvement was recorded in the third quarter.


The year “2020 promises to be the most difficult the fashion industry has faced” (LVMH, Adidas), due to the closure of stores and the cessation of tourism, highlights Mediobanca.

During the first nine months, the drop in sales was evident (-21.3%), despite the double-digit increase in online commerce, and was accompanied by net losses. Most of the multinationals improved in the third quarter, with the recovery of the sector especially in China.

According to Mediobanca, “2021 is likely to be a year of growth, even if the return to the level of invoicing of before the crisis will not take place until 2022 for many companies ”, he warned.

The transports

The epidemic has hit the sector hard.

The car industry (Fiat Chrysler, PSA, Volkswagen) recorded a drop in sales of 17.4% and net profit of 66%.

For manufacturers of planes, strongly affected by the cessation of the tourist flow, the pandemic is synonymous with net losses and income below 30.6%.

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