Covid-19 vaccines will end pandemic in U.S. by early summer, Federated Hermes’ chief equity market strategist predicts

Finance

One of Wall Street’s biggest bulls sees the stars lining up for the economy.

Federated Hermes’ Phil Orlando predicts coronavirus vaccine distribution will rev up within weeks and set the stage for a monster market year.

“Our view is by summer — by Independence Day — we will be free of the coronavirus. We’ll reach critical mass, herd immunity in terms of the American population,” the firm’s chief equity market strategist told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Wednesday. “That will allow the economy to start to do a lot better.”

Orlando, who oversees almost $615 billion in assets under management, has an S&P 500 year-end price target of 4,500. That implies a 20% increase from 2020’s close.

“The reality is you’ve got two companies — Moderna and Pfizer — that have already had their drugs approved,” he said. “AstraZeneca has been approved in the UK. Johnson & Johnson will likely get approved in the first quarter.”

Orlando estimates the backdrop will generate vaccines that will flood the marketplace.

“Each of those four companies have said over the course of this year they will be able to ramp production, and we’ll be able to get a billion to a billion and a half doses out of each company,” he said. “That’s a total of like five billion doses.”

Orlando isn’t a medical doctor. However, he’s using a mosaic of experts and data to help him determine the pandemic’s path and build his investment forecast. It includes colleague Tom Brakel, a senior portfolio manager with an MD who heavily invests in the biotech and pharmaceuticals. Orlando also relies on expert sources in the medical field.

Orlando’s bottom line: There’s a lot of optimism on the vaccine front, and the challenging rollout is temporary. He expects the Biden administration will normalize activity by significantly improving distribution.

“As the vaccine rollout accelerates and additional fiscal stimulus courses its way through the veins of the economy, many lower-skilled unemployed persons likely will find work, boosting economic growth,” Orlando wrote in this week’s note.

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