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Sector Risks: What to watch this year

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Despite geopolitical and economic uncertainties, risk ratings are fairly stable across sectors, according to the Euler Hermes Global Sector Reports.

Allianz SE
Munich, Feb 15, 2017

2016 was a year of uncertainties. Political surprises and rising protectionism kept the world guessing. And yet, the turbulence did not extend to most sectors, with risk ratings indicating more stability, according to the Global Sector report released by Euler Hermes. Here’s a rundown on some of the top sectors...



Last year was more challenging than expected for this sector. In most cases, textile and clothing output sales fell (or at best remained stable) due to weak demand.

International trade – which accounts for a third of total output of the sector - was down.

The good news is that the outlook for 2017 is less grim. Price increases have resumed due to firmer demand prospects. Textile and clothing producer prices are forecast to rise this year, both in the United States and China.

As a result, exports should also increase, should no major event upend international trade. Of course, a rise in protectionist mood and the termination of Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal talks could hurt the sector. Tariffs and regulations are already high and could impede sector growth.

  What to watch

• Fast fashion and e-habits are rising exponentially, emphasizing the importance of the right distribution channel
• To combat a rise in commodity prices and limit the erosion in margins, the ability to pass on price increases to customers is important
• The United States withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks is likely a shortfall for textile and clothing producers
• Value-added specialties, such as technical textile, is likely to prove the most resilient segment



Low commodity and consumer prices last year weakened retailers’ pricing power. Due to this, the sector’s profitability hit its lowest level in six years in 2016. Indebtedness also skyrocketed, particularly in electronics (including e-retailers). This combination of weakening profits and rising debts will be a key concern for the sector in the light of rising interest rates.

However, consumer spending is expected to recover, which could raise retailers’ margins. The key here will be retailers’ distribution format - e-commerce and omni-channels are crucial: by 2020 e-commerce could represent 15 percent of worldwide retail sales.

Also, the lines between grocery (food, beverages, and home appliances) and non-grocery retailers (furniture, sporting goods, office supplies, etc) will continue to blur, resulting in relentless product range diversification.

   What to watch

• Recovering prices should lead to better pricing power for retailers
• Data management and user experience will become increasingly important parts of the business model
• Merger and acquisition activity was up in 2016, a trend that is expected to continue this year. Often, it is aimed at acquiring new technological capabilities
• ‘Grow global, think local’ is the dominant theme for future growth



The car industry is facing challenging times – the rise of the sharing economy, new partnerships with disruptive tech companies, the race to launch autonomous vehicles as well as diesel scandals. Yet, a global presence remains a must for carmakers to benefit from global growth.

The three key markets for sales are China, the United States, and Europe. Brazil and Russia continue to suffer from the economic crisis and high volatility, but a subtle recovery is expected in 2017. Needless to say, car manufacturers need to adapt their offerings to stay competitive.

Low-cost models should be rolled out for India, larger sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for the United States, and medium and premium models across all markets.

   What to watch

• Investment in research and development is crucial for emissions reduction technology and self-driving vehicles
• Lack of geographical diversification puts turnovers and margins at risk. Global presence is a must for suppliers, as is collaboration with car manufacturers for higher pricing power and a level of profitability
• Development of premium offers (brands) is key to a rise in profits



Growth in the construction sector will remain slow. Production is rebounding in advanced economies but slowing in emerging countries. Strong cyclicality and cross-country differences make for an even more complex picture. In particular, the sector faces headwinds in oil-exporting countries as oil prices are decisive for infrastructure investments.

In the United States, the sector will be influenced by the decisions of the new government. Other countries, such as China, will continue to face difficulties related to the inflation in residential property prices.

This sector is one of the riskiest, with several countries facing a negative outlook. It comprises mainly small firms with very high leverage ratios, contributing to its structural weakness and price pressures. In general, the sector remains quite sensitive to changes in interest rates and public stimulus plans.

   What to watch

• Long-term stabilization of production in the construction sector worldwide, with a slow recovery in advanced markets
• Increasing interest rates and prices could limit household purchasing decisions and firms’ capacity to invest
• The sector is on a downturn in emerging countries, but is experiencing a rebound in the residential market in advanced countries



The prescription drug market is expected to grow in 2017. This is especially the case for cheap generic and biosimilar drugs due to patent expirations.

Big drugmakers will continue to struggle with governments’ tightening of cost controls and growing criticism about soaring prices of new medicines.

But as long as they continue to cash in on their strong ‘pricing power’ of bringing innovative drugs to market, they will secure pharmaceuticals bullish market position.

We will continue to see political rhetoric on drug price gouging throughout 2017, particularly in the United States.

  What to watch

• Recurring high level of merger and acquisition activity as an alternative to internal research and development investments
• Competition from generic and biosimilar drugs eating away at patented drug market share
• Number of new drug launches in the United States over 2017 (following an unexpected drop in 2016)
• Growing grievances over drug ‘price gouging’ across the world, especially in the United States

  Further Information

  Forward Looking Statement disclaimer

As with all content published on this site, these statements are subject to our Forward Looking Statement disclaimer:


  Press contact

Dr Lorenz Weimann
Allianz SE
Phone +49 893800 16891

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