Global Market Comments
May 22, 2020
SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY ISSUE
(A TRIBUTE TO A TRUE VETERAN)
Global Market Comments
May 22, 2020
SPECIAL MEMORIAL DAY ISSUE
(A TRIBUTE TO A TRUE VETERAN)
What does it mean for companies to apply data to gain an edge?
Let me explain.
Data is best described as the oxygen that is provided to the lungs.
Competition is based on the business intelligence excavated from vast troves of data.
These insights enable companies to target proper growth drivers, migrate to revenue hotspots and add appropriate employee talent.
The data also delves into how to create product stickiness, customer loyalty, promote up-selling, and optimize operations.
It’s not me just saying this to hype up the phenomenon, and I can vouch that data-driven decisions have worked wonders for the Mad Hedge Technology Letter.
Other companies have reported robust performance in productivity and profitability margins up to 10% higher than analog companies.
A recent report showed that margins would expand wider after the first year to 10% and hit a roaring 15% after operations are further refined.
It’s a world of data supremacy; it doubles in size every two years and will reach 70 zettabytes by next year.
Data is connected to every part of the model from marketing campaigns, to website traffic flow and activity engagement, to operational procedures.
Can you believe that only 10% of global data is currently being acted on?
It’s hard to digest that most companies are winging it without any rhyme or reason.
The world is way too complex to bring a knife to a gunfight.
Predictive insights used to be only reserved for Fortune 500 companies who could afford the high expense of applying these high-powered tools.
But after the recent wave of automation and cloud software, even individual proprietors can participate in this once-taboo management exercise because the costs have come down.
Going on gut instinct and best estimates can only get you so far in a rapidly digitizing world and the coronavirus has only made the volume of data explode and required insights into business that are much more important.
I would also say that companies must be vigilant in harnessing the data because the skyrocketing number of nefarious elements out there have corrupted many data forms.
Just recently, the Mad Hedge website was overpowered by a tsunami of bots scouring our website for data.
The bots overloaded our email distributer service with new subscriptions by registering 1000s of emails into our database which muddied our underlying data and our ability to glean salient insights into it.
Bots find the data needed to answer a question or solve a problem and the Mad Hedge Fund Trader website has been a target to find the best financial content in the English-speaking world.
Once the requisite data is in hand, bots identify what toolsets are needed to organize the data and produce predictive and prescriptive business insights.
Many of these bots use content to create trading algorithms based on stand-alone content from the Mad Hedge Fund Trader that acts as a direct input into the database.
This new form of business intelligence deploys machine learning software as a question or problem and generate actionable solutions.
They can categorize base cases, outliers, marginal cases, and errors that require further data cleaning, additional reporting, and queries.
Ultimately, these bots are the vehicles in which a final answer is populated such as whether or not to buy Amazon stock today or tomorrow and so on.
As we push into the 5G era, this same technology will be repurposed for the internet of things (IoT) translating into another wave of products being groomed and fine-tuned by machine learning.
Internet of Things (IoT) is the fastest-growing segment of data and already comprises 15% of total global data.
Physical products will need embedded sensors that will monitor the performance and send terabytes of data back to the data servers for data analysts to pick apart.
One example is a Geared Turbo Fan engine which requires 5,000 sensors that generate up to 10 GB of data per second.
Now you can understand why the volume of data is literally about to mushroom as 5G takes hold and why Amazon has been so hellbent in penetrating the smart home market.
Bots facilitate conversations between systems and data silos and allow your decision-makers to have the keys to the Ferrari.
Bots enable an easy view of displaying key performance indicators (KPIs) and alerts on the run with simple charts and graphs.
As the coronavirus offers us glimpses into the world tomorrow, data analysts embedded all over the world will be harnessing bots to maintain your home thermostat or upgrade software in the rear of your smart microwave.
As we speak, the Mad Hedge Fund Trader website is gearing up for the next wave of data supremacy and I advise everyone else to get with the program.
This is the world of the future and for companies who don’t adapt, they will be swept into the dustbin of history.
Global Market Comments
May 21, 2020
(MAY 20 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(GLD), (SDS), (TSLA), (VIX), (ROM), (SPY),
(TLT), (TBT), (DRI), (CCI), (BOTZ)
Below please find subscribers’ Q&A for the Mad Hedge Fund Trader May 20 Global Strategy Webinar broadcast from Silicon Valley, CA with my guest and co-host Bill Davis of the Mad Day Trader. Keep those questions coming!
Q: Do you believe chairman Powell when he says no negative rates?
A: I do believe that he does not want negative rates—that would be hugely detrimental to the economy. Europe and Japan have been trying them for the last ten years and they absolutely do not work. When it costs something to deposit money in the bank, people take it out of the financial system and hide it under their mattresses or buy gold (GLD). Although Powell doesn’t want negative rates, he may not have a choice; the market’s already taking them there in the futures market one year out. If we do get a big second wave of corona in the fall, and we do go to new lows in the stock market, and unemployment goes to new highs, negative rates will happen on their own whether Powell wants them or not.
Q: What is your best metric for determining when this bounce is over?
A: We passed those metrics on when a normal bounce is over weeks and weeks ago, and it just keeps going up. If you’ll notice, I have no stocks right now. I have some balanced long and short stock indexes but that’s it. My big trade is short bonds. When an asset class is no longer attractive, avoid it like Covid-19.
Q: What range should I wait for to buy the Proshares Ultra Short S&P 500 ETF (SDS)?
A: I’m really only using (SDS) as a hedge to limit the risk on much bigger long positions that I may have. (SDS) doesn’t lend itself to normal technical analysis because it is an artificial construct.
Q: What price to get into Tesla (TSLA)?
A: If you look at the Tesla chart, it’s almost exactly the same as all of the other FANGS, as it’s essentially becoming the next FANG. So, they will trade with the FANGS for that reason, at least in the short term. Don’t buy it here, wait for the next major selloff to $600 or so. We actually had a bunch of concierge customers to buy long term leaps under $500 dollars in March, and they got 500% returns in 3 weeks.
Q: Why didn’t we just buy the ProShares Ultra Technology ETF (ROM) and go to sleep for five years?
A: If you recall, I was actually recommending just that in March when (ROM) was trading in the $80s, and we actually had a (ROM) position that we got stopped out of. The (ROM) is the 2x long technology ETF that’s gone from $80 to $160 since the market bottomed almost 2 months ago.
Q: Why do you keep using deep in the money put spreads and call spreads?
A: You use them when volatility is very high like it is now—right now the Volatility Index (VIX) is at $28. The normal price is at $14 or $15, and we’ve just come down from $80. Even in the high $20s, you still get huge payoffs (like 10% a month) per call and put spread. As long as (VIX) is that high, we’ll keep doing them. They are also the perfect trade to have in range trading markets like we’ve had for the past month. They give you a nice extra kicker on your P&L.
Q: What is the worst-case scenario?
A: We get a second wave of the virus, another couple hundred thousand Americans die, the stock market goes to new lows, and we have a presidential election. How’s that for a worst-case scenario? Other than that, how is your day going?
Q: Do you trade pre and post market?
A: No; I used to when I ran my hedge fund, but I don’t do anything now if it’s beyond the capability of most individuals. I only want to put out trade alerts that people can get done. So, I’m only trading US hours. The reason you trade overseas is that you always get the highest highs and lowest lows in the Asian markets. During the late 1990s, I was the number one or two volume trader in the Singapore futures market.
Q: Do you think the 200-day moving average will be substantial resistance to the market?
A: I think absolutely yes, and I also believe that the only downside trigger for a major breakdown in the market is a second corona wave.
Q: If we get negative interest rates, would (SDS) fall?
A: No, (SDS) is a 2X bear (SPY) ETF that would go through the roof because negative rates would only happen if the stock market was collapsing. You might get a double on (SDS) on a second corona wave and negative interest rates. That’s why I’m keeping my position.
Q: Could the market just keep going up with no major pullbacks if the Fed keeps stimulating the economy?
A: Yes, and that’s what has been happening. Jerome Powell has said that the Fed’s ability to borrow is unlimited, therefore the amount of stimulus they can keep throwing is also unlimited, and if that’s what happens, all of that money will go into financial assets, even if the real economy is in utter freefall (which it has been). You can’t rule out anything these days. You always have to trade with the belief that anything can happen at any time.
Q: I need help setting up Long term Equity Participation Securities (LEAPS). Is there a video on that?
A: You can take all the educational videos we have on call spreads and put spreads, and everything applies exactly the same, except that instead of doing a one-month maturity, you do a two-year maturity. If you play around with the maturity tab on your platform, you can find the longest dated maturity on each option series. Sometimes, it’s only a year, sometimes all the way up to 2.5 years.
Q: Are there any other options besides the United States Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) to short the bond market?
A: Yes, there’s the ProShares Ultra Short 20 Year Treasury ETF (TBT); that’s a 2x short bond market ETF. But you don’t get anywhere near the leverage that we have in the (TLT) put options spreads.
Q: Do you expect a return in inflation with all the stimulus going on?
A: Absolutely yes; food prices have already increased 20%—that will be a big inflationary push. Another $14 trillion in government QE and spending hitting the economy is also highly inflationary. And a lot of the price cuts which fueled deflation are ending as global supply chains are cut and the US food distribution system breaks down.
Q: Is the Great Depression on the table?
A: We are in a Great Depression now that is already far worse than the last one, except that this one will be shorter than the decade seen in the 1930s.
Q: How long will it take for unemployment to recover to the December 2019 3.5% unemployment lows?
A: We will never get back to those lows. A lot of that was over employment (artificial employment), with a lot of temporary marginal workers being picked up. And the net effect of the epidemic will be to make businesses forcibly more efficient; that means getting a lot more done with a lot fewer workers. So, I don’t think we’ll ever see that 3.5% rate again. Economists are predicting that the next new low in unemployment may be 5% or 6%, and even that could take 2 or 3 years to get there.
Q: Will the market soar on vaccine news?
A: Well probably not; I would bet that two-thirds of any real vaccines are already in the price. We are getting vaccine announcements every day and the market is immediately discounting it, so when we actually do get the real thing, we may get a rally of only a few days and that’s it. We also won’t know for many months if it is real and is moved to mass production.
Q: If you would buy one restaurant, what would it be?
A: None; I would not touch the restaurants here with a 10-foot pole. None of the restaurant chains have any prospect of making a profit, except for maybe the ones that already had takeout models like Subway or Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG). Some hedge funds are buying Darden (DRI), but with their money, not mine.
Q: Should I double my short position in volatility (VIX)?
A: No, not down here, especially after a huge run in the stock market like we had—a 40% rise off the bottom. If we do get above $50 though, I will be shorting volatility then.
Q: I bought the (BOTZ) AI and robotics ETF, on your recommendation—it’s now almost double off the lows. What should I do with it now?
A: Short term, take profits, long term keep it. I think the (BOTZ) doubles again from these levels, and I know some of you out there bought LEAPS on the (BOTZ) at the lows and you’re up 1,000% on those. If you have a 1,000% profit take it, you probably won’t get another one in your lifetime.
Q: Time to refi the house?
A: No, I think refi rates are artificially high now (and totally out of line with the bond market) because the default rate is so high—8%. Once that default rate starts to drop, the interest rate on mortgages should also fall, and I think you could see 2.5% on the 30-year fixed rate mortgage. Europe has had 0% rates for almost 10 years, and their home mortgages are at 2%, so that’s ultimately how low we could go.
Q: Are you worried about the debt related to Crown Castle International (CCI)?
A: No because they’re putting all the debt to good use and they can always refi at lower rates. There is no question that the demand for cell phone towers is going to be enormous—epidemic or not, because of the roll-out of 5G phones.
Good Luck and Stay Healthy.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
The x-factor for the last tech generation has been none other than – the cloud.
Any portfolio manager that hasn’t aligned performance with this transformational phenomenon is most likely not a portfolio manager anymore.
Now, as we enter into an unknown world, if you thought the cloud was the x-factor of the tech in the last generation, then the 2020s will make the cloud contributions to growth in the last generation appear meek.
About 1/3 of small businesses recently surveyed admitted there is really no path back to reopening. Who would really want to shoulder financial risk in an economic environment that outwardly punishes businesses that operate around anonymous customers in close proximity?
Many of these owners, even with generous government funding, have chosen not to fight against the path of strongest resistance.
When the dust settles, even if a vaccine arrives out of thin air tomorrow, the work at home thing, or should I say the work from anywhere but the office phenomenon will persist like a bad flu, no pun intended.
The Cloud is the winner, and everything associated with it will drive the economy forward.
It has emerged as the cog in the works, that no company can live without.
Not only is the cloud highly effective but it’s also cheaper than traditional systems.
It also provides nimbleness in scaling up or down computing capacity according to business requirements.
Search for growth companies that do not deploy the cloud as a critical pillar of operational execution.
They hardly exist now.
Whether it’s the vanguard of the cloud plays such as Amazon (AMZN), the second in show nipping at Amazon’s heels, Microsoft’s (MSFT), or any other small cloud play, they are all profiting off the monstrous pivot to digital commerce and cord-cutting.
In China, Tencent, Alibaba, and Huawei are cloud companies doing so well that the U.S. government has tried to shut them down to allow a wider moat around U.S. companies.
What’s the simplest way to carve out significant exposure to cloud equities?
A barrage of ETFs (exchange-traded funds) has come online to serve your needs.
They are also durable enough to endure stormy and uncertain times.
Here are three that should whet your appetite.
The First Trust Cloud Computing ETF (SKYY) tracks a modified equal-weighted index of infrastructure, platform, and software cloud companies. Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet are its secret sauce.
The Global X Cloud Computing ETF (CLOU) consists of companies that are positioned to benefit from the increased usage of cloud computing. While Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet are included in the portfolio, the fund’s top holdings are pure-play cloud companies like Zscaler (ZS) and Shopify (SHOP).
The WisdomTree Cloud Computing ETF (WCLD) tracks an equal-weighted index of emerging companies with DocuSign (DOCU) and RingCentral (RNG) among the largest holdings.
What’s more, let’s remember that every cloud company is about to embark on a massive round of expense cuts by getting rid of the physical office.
Twitter (TWTR) even has allowed workers to work from home on a permanent basis.
Yes, this means San Francisco commercial real estate prices are about to nosedive, but as it relates to the tech industry, operation costs will benefit in one fell swoop boosting earnings.
This also paves the way for many tech companies to re-establish tax headquarters in Nevada, Texas, or Florida which will act as another supercharger to growth.
Elon Musk has called out the Bay Area politicians in Alameda County, California because of a convoluted response and conflicting rules with regards to restarting the Fremont, California factory.
Covid-19 is most likely the straw that breaks the camel’s back as many Bay Area tech workers start to question what on earth they are doing paying $4,000 per month to rent a “cozy” 400 square foot apartment in Cupertino or San Francisco.
The mass exodus from high tax states to low tax states is just another supercharger out of many cloud superchargers on top of growth.
What more can I say?
Global Market Comments
May 20, 2020
(THE HYPER-ACCELERATION OF 5G)
(AMZN), (5G), (CCI), (MSFT), (NFLX), (APPL)
I will explain to everyone why a wonky side effect of coronavirus is supercharging the 5G revolution.
Market valuations reflect the state of expected future cash flows in a company.
Under this assumption, some could argue that most tech companies with staying power are almost a good buy at any price.
No-brainers would include a list of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Netflix.
The health scare and the carnage associated with it has brought forward the tech industry as a whole to the forefront of the global economy.
When you mix that with the Fed hellbent on saving everything that has a heartbeat, it sets up conditions for heavy buying in an industry that is going to be king of the global economy anyway.
It is not a question of if, but when and the health phenomenon has accelerated the dramatic migration to tech by showing how business will be conducted in about 15 years.
The change took place in a blistering 4 weeks.
The clearest signal of who is really calling the shots in the equity market is looking at which companies are dragging it up.
Technology is shouldering the responsibility of the equity market by outperforming the broader market with many software companies’ share price higher than before the crisis.
For every Amazon or Microsoft, there is also a Macy’s or JC Penny showing that this is really a stock pickers market.
We have not only learned that tech companies are critical to our functioning as a society, but that large tech companies will be even more central than before even if they are currently losing gross revenue.
The relative gains to tech stemming from the coronavirus are equal or greater than an innovation of a game-changing product and will double the effect of 5G.
We are setting up for the Golden Age of 5G with tech poised to invade even more of the broader equity market.
One rough estimate notes that the 5G industry is expected to add about $40bn in incremental revenue to the semiconductor industry, add 5X growth in mobile data monthly traffic by 2024, and a $4.2tn boost to global economies from revenue streams connected to 5G in the next ten years.
I do agree that currently, the network effect is working in reverse order, but the positive force multiplier, when the economy is riding high again cannot be emphasized enough.
Digital revenue streams will effectively be pumped into every nook and crevice of the digital economy because of current modifications to the business environment.
When business does come back online, investors of physical assets will sell what they can at discounted prices to get into the digital ecosystem causing asset prices to explode as investors chase prices to the sky.
Do you remember commercial real estate guru and Colony Capital’s CEO Tom Barrack?
The company hoped to sell as much as 90% of its $20 billion property portfolio of hotels, warehouses, and other commercial real estate by the end of 2021.
They are also another big investor in nursing homes.
A real-estate pioneer who founded Colony in the early 1990s and is the firm’s chief executive and executive chairman, Barrack said he wanted to go “all digital.”
Rejigging the 29-year-old investment company represented an extreme response to the way technologies have been dismantling cash flow for almost every type of commercial real estate, and Barrack was met with fierce backlash from entrenched stakeholders regarding the new direction.
Commercial real estate and hotel operators have had to fight against the triple whammy of office sharing WeWork, short-term hotel platform Airbnb, and the coronavirus – a lethal three-part cocktail of malicious forces to the “traditional” model.
The coronavirus has proven Barrack was spot on with his synopsis, but he wasn’t able to get rid of Colony’s inventory of commercial real estate in the expeditious way he desired.
Other companies have taken a direct hit like 24 Hour Fitness who is pondering filing for bankruptcy, but I could say the same for a slew of companies like Colony Capital.
Another key manifestation of the current economic malaise is that regulators, antitrust, tax, foreign, and all of the above are less likely to disrupt big tech companies moving forward considering they may be the only ones able to get us out of a similar crisis in the future.
Government officials will be under rapid pressure to boost GDP levels and crimping big tech is counterintuitive to this overall goal.
I don’t agree with the glass half empty crowd who believe Amazon needs to be clamped down because of dominating retail during the time of the virus – if Amazon didn’t exist, the panic could have accelerated to an uncontrollable level creating anarchy in the streets.
The big boys have pushed soft power as a legitimate policy tool with Apple sourcing over 20 million face masks and is now building and shipping face shields.
Big tech is becoming like a mini-government in its own right.
Granted that thousands of bankruptcies from restaurants, nail salons, and yoga studio will be swept into the dust bin of economic history, but once the next iteration of the economic cycle turns up, tech is about to go gangbusters in a way many never thought imaginable.
Then if you bake a little 5G into the pecan pie, investors are justified to be salivating about the tech industry’s prospects.
Any deep-pocketed investors should be cherry-picking every quality 5G tech play possible because they will be the most supercharged sub-sector of tech once the economy is reset.
Any long-term investor with a pulse should buy Crown Castle International Corp. (REIT) (CCI) on any and all dips.
They are the largest owner of cell towers owning over 40,000 in the U.S.
Global Market Comments
May 19, 2020
(THE 2020 DARK HORSES OF BIOTECH)
(AMRN), (THOR), (SAN), (NBSE), (OHRP),
(MRNA), (MRK), (AZN), (VRTX), (RGLS), (ARWR)
One of our dark horses came in a big winner this morning.
No, I did not go to the Golden Gate Fields race track on San Francisco Bay and win big on a horse with 5:1 odds, although I might as well have.
Moderna (MRNA) soared to $85 this morning on news of a successful trial of a new Covid-19 vaccine. We recommended it on January 19 at $17.78 for precisely this reason.
Never mind that the trial only involved a mere eight patients, involved RNA, and won’t be available in bulk for two years. That’s all the market wants to hear today.
So, if you are interested in playing the long shot game, I am re-running my January 9 research piece, which was sent out to paid subscribers of the Mad Hedge Biotech & Healthcare Letter. If you want to subscribe to the letter, which has been pulling in long shots on a weekly bases recently, please click here.
For all the flak the healthcare sector has received for the exorbitant prices of its products and services, there’s no denying the fact that this industry had an incredibly remarkable decade — and biotechnology proved to be one of the most lucrative markets when it comes to stocks that actually double or triple in value, sometimes even overnight.
The primary reason for this is that no one could predict the success or failure of clinical trials with any degree of accuracy, forcing investors to take into account elements of surprise in the valuation process in biotech.
Companies that analysts believe to be prime candidates for acquisition early on in their life cycle would end up repeatedly failing to lure viable tender offers for years. Meanwhile, dark horses emerge from the leftfield and snap up the best deals.
A good case in point would be how experts and investors alike missed the mark on Amarin Pharmaceutical’s (AMRN) cardiovascular treatment Vascepa. On the outset, analysts pegged the new prescription omega-3 treatment as a failure and a money sinkhole.
Instead, Vascepa surpassed all expectations and is now hailed as the fish oil supplement to demonstrate clear-cut cardiovascular benefits to high-risk heart attack patients.
In 2019 alone, Vascepa grew by 85% compared to its 2018 report, coming in between $410 million and $425 million in sales — and 2020 is expected to be an even better year for this drug as sales are estimated to reach between $650 million and $700 million.
Another example is synthetic protein maker Synthorx (THOR), which was initially tagged as an ominous stock.
The company proved detractors wrong when it went on to fetch huge offers from giant biotech firms, with Sanofi SA (SAN) winning the bidding war over Synthorx to the tune of $2.5 billion.
This new year, though, promises to offer more predictability, especially on the merger and acquisition front.
Several blue-chip biotechs are on the verge of key patent expirations in the next decade. On top of that, these companies are facing tremendous pressure from US politicians to cut down on the prices of their brand name drugs. Today, the State of California announced that it was going into the generic drug industry to undercut the majors.
These dual headwinds are expected to fuel an uptick in the demand for bolt-on acquisitions, which can provide the giant biotechs with healthy levels of profit via large sales volumes as they attempt to slash their slashes to acceptable levels.
With this in mind, big biopharmas will be willing to shell out top dollar to acquire promising companies this 2020.
Which biotechs have the goods to take full advantage of this acquisition demand?
One up and coming company tagged as a red-hot acquisition candidate is NeuBase Therapeutics (NBSE).
Founded in 2018, this Pittsburgh company has raked in $9 million in funding so far to develop treatments that target rare, genetic neurological disorders. Neubase’s platform called peptide-nucleic acid antisense oligonucleotide or PATrOL technology was developed at Carnegie Melon University.
Basically, this technology offers gene-silencing therapies for its patients suffering from rare genetic disorders.
In July 2019, NeuBase engaged in a reverse merger with fellow biotech innovator Ohr Pharmaceuticals (OHRP). This partnership is expected to rake in massive rewards since both companies greatly complement each other’s work.
NeuBase’s work zeroes in on curing rare genetic diseases via gene-silencing treatments while Ohr’s research is geared towards helping patients suffering from cancer cachexia and macular degeneration.
The combined efforts of these two should result in a wider reach as they offer cutting edge treatments to highly lucrative and specialized markets.
As of December 2019, NeuBase has a recorded market cap of $114.38 million. Considering all its assets and the way its pipeline is shaping up, NeuBase could easily be your best sleeper stock in 2020.
Another biotech company to watch out for this year is Moderna Inc (MRNA), which has raised a whopping $1.8 billion in funding over 10 rounds.
So far, this company has attracted blue-chip companies in the form of Merck and Co (MRK), which invested $125 million, and AstraZeneca (AZN) with $474 million so far.
In terms of stability, Moderna has been doing quite well for itself with $68.2 million in estimated annual revenue.
In 2019, Moderna shared that it has at least 11 programs set for clinical trials along with 20 development candidates. Its research leans towards producing cancer vaccines and localized regenerative therapeutics.
Its strategic alliances not only with AstraZeneca and Merck but also with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and even the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation equip Moderna with a remarkable competitive edge against rivals Regulus Therapeutics (RGLS), Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals (ARWR), and CureVac.
I’m expecting huge movements in the biotech market in 2020 as the curtain rises on all these promising technologies and the rise of this industry becomes impossible to ignore.
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