Global Market Comments
May 14, 2021
(MAY 12 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(FCX), (QQQ), (JWN), (DAL), (MSFT), (PLTR), (V), (MA), (AXP), (UUP), (FXA), (SPWR), (FSLR), (TSLA), (ARKK), (CLX), (NIO), (EPEV), (SOX), (VIX), (USO), (XLE)
Global Market Comments
October 12, 2020
(MARKET OUTLOOK FOR THE WEEK AHEAD, or BACK TO THE NIFTY FIFTY),
(CAT), (JPM), (BAC), (NSC), (UNP), (V),
(MA), (FDX), (UPS), (IP), (AAPL), (TSLA)
My daughter needed a desk so she could go to high school from her bedroom. So, I drove around Northern Nevada to get the perfect piece, visiting Reno, Sparks, Carson City, and Minden. It is one of the most conservative parts of the country, probably 90% republican.
What I saw was amazing.
There were Biden/Harris signs everywhere. Yes, there will still some Trump signs, but they were in a definite minority. Four years ago, you only saw Trump signs. The rare Clinton/Kaine sign was full of bullet holes, torn down, or copiously marked with offensive graffiti.
I thought, hmm, there must be a trade here.
We seem to be on the verge of massive changes in the US economy. Get in front of them and you’ll make a fortune. Lag behind, and you’ll be seen driving an Uber cab.
Technology undoubtedly led the decade, bringing in a 30% annual return since 2009. Industrial and other domestic stocks brought in no more than 12%. The “Roaring Twenties” could bring the reverse.
Technology will continue to do OK. Ever falling prices and greater service is a tough business model to beat. But let’s face it, none of these things are cheap. Apple (AAPL) going from a 9X multiple to 45X?
Industrials could be playing a massive catch up game initiating a new supercycle as they did from 2000-2010 when tech lagged in the wake of the Dotcom Bust.
This switch is made easier by the fact that most big industrial companies are now de facto technology ones. They all now use advanced cloud software, sophisticated robots, and state of the art distribution systems. Caterpillar (CAT) even has a 290-ton dump truck that drives itself like a giant Tesla (TSLA)!
Many of these companies I have covered for nearly 50 years, when they last belonged to the Nifty Fifty. So, for me, it’s a matter of dusting off my old research, seeing who is left, and giving them a modern spin. The great thing about these stocks is that many pay decent dividends.
I’ll give you a short list of where to buy the dips.
Banks – JP Morgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC)
Railroads – Norfolk Southern (NSC), Union Pacific (UNP)
Credit Cards – Visa (V), Master Card (MA)
Couriers – FedEx (FDX), UPS (UPS)
Consumer Discretionary – International Paper (IP)
Hmm, a market where everything goes up. I like it! Dow 120,000 here we come!
Trump ordered all Stimulus Negotiations to cease, and then changed his mind six hours later. Clearly, the president has given up on the election and wants the next administration to inherit a Great Depression. Or is this Covid-19 talking? It’s the perfect scorched earth strategy. Write off another 2 million small businesses. Down ticket republican candidates will be beaten like a red-headed stepchild. Stocks plunged 600, with airlines in free fall, then bounced 700.
Jay Powell REALLY wants a stimulus package, claiming the economy desperately needs fiscal help to maintain a recovery or face a prolonged depression. “The risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be small,” the central bank chief told the National Association for Business Economics. Are his pleas falling on deaf ears in Washington? Trump just gave our Fed governor the middle finger salute.
Share Buybacks vaporized T\this year and will be miniscule next year, with companies whose earnings have been crushed by the pandemic not participating. The ban on bank share buybacks imposed by the Fed continues. This has been the largest portion of net stock buying for the past decade. The good news is that foreign investors stepped in as big buyers in 2020, taking the indexes to new highs.
Apple to announce new 5G iPhone this week. The release came a month late, thanks to the pandemic. Scheduled for October 13, the event is called “High Speed”. Apple’s biggest sales quarter in history has just begun. Buy dips in (AAPL).
The Election is Noise and its best to focus on the bull market that has just begun, says JP Morgan. Record fiscal stimulus and quantitative easing in the face of near-zero interest rates create a perfect storm in favor of equities. The best stock to own going into the October 13 Prime Day?
Weekly Jobless Claims edged down to 840,000, still missing 200,000 from California, due to an upgrading computer system. California stopped reporting data so they can rebuild the antiquated computer system of the Employment Development Department, which has been breaking down due to overwhelming demand. Some 26.5 million workers are now claiming unemployment benefits.
Banks are making record trading profits on the back of the US Treasury market where volume has exploded. Even though there has been little net movement in prices in six months, the two-way bets have been enormous. It helps to have a massive home refi boom, incredible QE, and a government that is printing new debt like there’s no tomorrow.
When we come out the other side of this, we will be perfectly poised to launch into my new American Golden Age, or the next Roaring Twenties. With interest rates still at zero, oil cheap, there will be no reason not to. The Dow Average will rise by 400% or more in the coming decade. The American coming out the other side of the pandemic will be far more efficient and profitable than the old.
My Global Trading Dispatch maintained a new all-time high last week by staying 100% in cash. I was just as grateful for having no positions on the up 600-point days as I was on the down 600-point days. Safe to say that I will be an increasingly more aggressive buyer on ever smaller dips.
That keeps our 2020 year-to-date performance at a blistering +35.46%, versus a gain of 0.5% for the Dow Average. That takes my eleven-year average annualized performance back to +36.14%. My 11-year total return stood at new all-time high of +391.37%. My trailing one-year return dropped to +44.26%.
The coming week will be a dull one on the data front. The only numbers that really count for the market are the number of US Coronavirus cases and deaths, now at 210,000, which you can find here.
On Monday, October 12 at 8:30 AM EST, the government is closed for Columbus Day so there will be no data releases, even though the stock market is open.
On Tuesday, October 13 at 9:00 AM EST, the US Inflation Rate for September is out.
On Wednesday, October 14, at 8:30 AM EST, The Producer Price Index for September is released. At 10:30 AM EST, the EIA Cushing Crude Oil Stocks are out.
On Thursday, October 15 at 8:30 AM EST, the Weekly Jobless Claims are announced. We also get the Empire State Manufacturing Index.
On Friday, October 16, at 8:30 AM EST, US Retail Sales are printed. At 2:00 PM we learn the Baker-Hughes Rig Count.
As for me, I eventually found the perfect desk on Craigslist Reno. It was from the 1930s and had once occupied the office of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company of New York, complete with two inkwells.
The company logo was prominently displayed in its wrought iron legs. When the Metropolitan modernized its offices in the 1950s, it sold off its furniture, which has been in circulation in the antique market ever since.
I told the seller, who had just moved from the east coast, of my amazing connection with the company. My Uncle Ed spent three years on a Navy destroyer in the Pacific during WWII. Enlistees in the 1940s were required to take out life insurance policies before they went off to war.
When Ed passed away a few years ago, I went through his papers and what did I find but a life policy from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company for $1,000.
Ever the history buff, I called the company to find out if the policy was worth anything 70 years later. It turned out to have a cash value of $100,000, which they paid out immediately. I divided the money among my mom’s 20 grandchildren to pay for their college educations. Several now have PhDs. Got to love that compounding of interest.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Bring on the Roaring Twenties
Global Market Comments
June 23, 2020
(HERE ARE THE FOUR BEST PANDEMIC-INSPIRED TECHNOLOGY TRENDS),
(AMZN), (CHWY), (EBAY), NFLX), (SPOT), (TMUS), (ATVI), (V), (PYPL), (AAPL), (MA), (TDOC), (ISRG), (TMDI)
Last year was the year of Fintech and 2020 is the year when this industry goes into overdrive.
Let’s take a look at one of my top choices, PayPal (PYPL).
Millennials are the primary customer demographics to the main platform, but the attractiveness of peer-to-peer payment system Venmo is gaining momentum.
PayPal should be on a short list of fintech stocks for investors and there is certainly more room to run for the share price.
Last quarter’s numbers of 9.8 million net new actives mean that PayPal now has 295 million active accounts across all platforms.
Engagement continues to be a bright spot growing by 9% to almost 40 transactions per active account.
Mobile is a major contributor to success with 172 million consumers and 13.8 million merchants.
Venmo processed more than $27 billion in volume for the quarter, growing 64%.
They are doing $300 million in payments per day and an annual run rate that now exceeds $100 billion.
The Venmo team recently inked a deal with Synchrony to provide a Venmo credit card.
Credit products continue to be another gateway to more success with new consumer installment plans in the United States and Germany which allow PayPal customers to pay with streamlined monthly payments.
This capability is already leading to incremental sales and led to signing a long-term strategic partnership agreement with Citi Australia to develop consumer credit products for PayPal’s customers in Australia.
Additional relationships were further expanded with Walmart launching PayPal Checkout as the sole payment instrument for its online grocery business in Mexico.
In Japan, PayPal is one of the official partners for the Japanese government’s plan to promote cashless payments throughout the country.
PayPal now offers account linking through mobile devices with Capital One and PNC Bank in the United States.
If you thought their international strategy stopped there, there are other irons in the fire.
PayPal became the first non-Chinese payments company to be licensed to provide online payment services in China.
They announced in September that the People’s Bank of China has approved a 70% equity interest in GoPay, a license provider of online payment services.
China is a tricky revenue proposition and it’s not guaranteed to flourish on the mainland, but this shows the pro-active way that PayPal seeks to expand its total addressable market and long-term growth prospects.
The license enables PayPal to expand upon relationships with existing partners like China Union Pay and AliExpress and forge fresh partnerships with China’s financial institutions and technology platforms.
PayPal’s success has so far depended on innovation and acquisitions – I fully expect this trend to continue in 2020.
PayPal announced it was buying shopping and rewards platform Honey Science Corporation for $4 billion.
This year is the beginning of another compelling one-year bull case aided in part by higher expectations from those diverse set of partnerships, such as with MercadoLibre Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc., along with PayPal’s pricing, Honey online coupon transaction, and Venmo monetization.
I anticipate further sustained overperformance in margin expansion as well.
I expect an overall payments industry-wide volume growth of 11% in 2020 and PayPal will grow into its position in a still healthy broader economy.
Payment sector operating metrics, from credit card volume growth, to enterprise IT budget growth, to U.S. employment growth, are robust supporting the bull case for PayPal in 2020.
Aside from PayPal, my alternative favorites in the payments space that could see anywhere from 7%-20% share appreciation in 2020 are Square (SQ), Mastercard Inc. (MA), and Visa Inc. (V)
It is likely that 2020 will signal a new decade of super growth for the digital payments market.
And I expect PayPal to increase its solid footprint in web, in mobile app platforms, and in retail stores globally through organic growth, acquisitions, and partnerships.
PayPal’s profitable business model and pro-active management will help the share price reach new highs.
However, not only for fintech stocks, but the overall market is ripe for some profit-taking in the short-term because of the recent melt-up.
First, Apple (APPL) collaborates with Goldman Sachs’ (GS) offering of a credit card even giving credit access to subprime borrowers.
And now Google (GOOGL) has its eyes on the banking industry — specifically, it’ll soon offer checking accounts.
In a copycat league where anything and everything is fair game, we are seeing a huge influx of big tech companies vie for the digital wallets of Americans.
The project is aptly named Cache and accounts will be handled by Citibank (C) and a credit union at Stanford.
Google’s spokesman shared with us admitting that Google hopes to “partner deeply with banks and the financial system,” and further added, “If we can help more people do more stuff in a digital way online, it’s good for the internet and good for us.”
I would disagree with the marginal statement that it would be good for us.
Facebook (FB) is now offering a Pay option and how long will it be until Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), and others throw their name into the banking mix.
I believe there will be some monumental failures because it appears that these tech companies won’t offer anything that current bank intuitions aren’t offering already.
Moving forward, the odd that digital banking products will become saturated quickly is high.
Let’s cut to the chase, this is a pure data grab, and not in the vein of offering innovative services that force the consumer down a revolutionary product experience.
As the consumer starts to smarten up, will they happily reveal every single data point possible to these tech companies?
Big tech continues to be adamant that personal data is secure with them, but their track records are pitiful.
Even if Google doesn’t sell “individual data”, there are easy workarounds by just slapping number tags on aggregated data, then aggregated data can be reverse-engineered by extracting specific data with number tags.
The cracks have already started to surface, Co-Founder of Apple Steve Wozniak has already claimed that the credit algorithm for Apple’s Goldman Sach’s credit card is sexist and flawed.
Time is ticking until the first mass data theft as well and let me add that the result of this is usually a slap on the wrist incentivizing bad behavior.
I believe big tech companies should be banned from issuing banking products.
Only 4% of consumers switched banks last year, and a 2017 survey by Bankrate shows that the average American adult keeps the same checking account for around 16 years.
As anti-trust regulation starts to gather more steam, I envision lawmakers snuffing out any and every attempt for big tech to diversify into fintech.
It’s fair to say that Google should have done this 10 years ago when the regulatory issues were nonexistent.
Now they have regulators breathing down their necks.
Let me remind readers that the reason why Facebook abandoned their digital currency Libra was because of the pressure lawmakers applied to every company interesting in working with Facebook’s Libra.
Lawmakers threatened Visa and Mastercard that they would investigate every part of their business, including the parts that have nothing to do with Facebook’s Libra, if they went ahead with the Libra project.
The most telling insight comes from the best tech company Microsoft who has raised the bar in terms of protecting their reputation on data and trust.
They decided to stay away from financial products like the black plague.
Better to stay in their lane than take wild shots that incur unneeded high risks.
When U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat on the Senate panel that oversees banking, was asked about Google and banking, he quipped, “There ought to be very strict scrutiny.”
Big tech is now on the verge of getting ferociously regulated and that could turn out positive for the big American banks, PayPal (PYPL), Visa (V), Mastercard (MA) and Square (SQ).
I heavily doubt that Google will turn Cache into a meaningful business unless Google offers some jaw-dropping interest rates or elevated points to move the needle.
Google has canceled weekly all-hands meetings because of the tension between staff members and Facebook is also just as dysfunctional at the employee level.
Whoever said it’s easy to manage a high-stake, too-big-to-fail tech firm?
Even with all the negativity, Google is still a cash cow and if regulatory headwinds are 2-3 years off, they are a buy and hold until they are not.
The recent tech rally, after the rotation to value, has seen investors flood into Apple, Microsoft, and Google as de-facto safe haven tech plays.
Mad Hedge Technology Letter
January 2, 2019
(THE FANGS‘ PATH TO ONLINE BANKING),
(SQ), (V), (MA), (AXP), (JPM)
Yu’e Bao or “leftover treasure” in English has caught the attention of more than 400 million Chinese investors.
This money market fund has exponentially grown into a $250 billion fund by the end of 2017, and is now the largest money market fund in the world!
This product isn’t offered by Bank of China or another giant state-owned bank or financial enterprise, but Alibaba’s (BABA) Ant Financial (gotta love those Chinese names).
Assets under management are up 100% YOY and it now accounts for a quarter of China’s money-market mutual fund industry in just one fund.
These inflows coincide with the sudden migration into mobile payments. Common folks are comfortable with investing their life savings in these short-term instruments with a too-big-to-fail, larger-than-life firm such as Alibaba.
Yu’e Bao derives its funds from Alipay users, Alibaba’s digital third-party platform, that allows consumers to pay for everything in life from theater tickets to utility bills.
Service is unified on a holistic graphic interface. Users can easily divert cash into this fund with a few screen taps on their app. Yu’e Bao’s ROI offers a seven-day annualized yield of 4.02%, down from the introductory annualized rate of 6.9% around the launch in 2013.
Yu’e Bao‘s short-term yield outmuscles the 1.5% interest rate on one-year Chinese bank deposits and the 3.6% yield on 10-year Chinese government debt.
Weak banking regulation has spawned a mammoth FinTech (financial technology) industry in the Middle Kingdom. Only one yuan (16 cents) is enough to create an account and considerable retail flow has rushed in.
China has catapulted ahead of the rest of the world emerging as the leader of global FinTech innovation. The pace, sophistication, and scale of development of China’s FinTech have surpassed the level in any other of the developed countries.
The country’s digital metamorphosis has enhanced e-commerce, payment systems, and connected logistical services. The Chinese discretionary spender for the past decade has been the deepest and most reliable lever of global growth.
Mobile third-party payments in China, 90% cornered by Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay, are estimated to reach a lofty $6 trillion in revenue by 2019, more than 50 times that of the U.S.
These omnipresent payment systems are now deeply embedded into the fabric of Chinese society. It’s common to witness homeless people on Shanghai subways waving around a scannable image for WeChat or Alipay money transfers instead of asking for physical cash.
Even in rural farmlands, shabby convenience stores prioritize digital currency and sometimes don’t accept paper currency at all. Yes, China is beating the U.S. to a cashless society.
Digitization is changing the competitive balance, and global banks must embrace large-scale disruption caused by big tech platforms.
Banks in China regard these companies as potential collaborators resulting in a net positive long-term infusion of enhanced products and services.
Agreements have been forged between the Bank of China and Tencent, and the China Construction Bank has linked up with Alibaba.
China has incorporated the technical power of A.I. (artificial intelligence) and machine learning into its FinTech platforms at every opportunity. Robo-advisors are also making inroads creating a bespoke financial program for the individual.
This trend has so far failed to go viral in America where individuals still prefer plastic cards or even paper cash. E-commerce clocked in a paltry 9.1% of total U.S. retail sales in the third quarter of 2017.
Even though most of us have our heads buried deep in our smartphone virtual world, Americans are still programmed to whip out debit or credit cards at every opportunity.
Chinese who visit America carp endlessly about America’s archaic payment system.
Ultimately, American payment systems are ripe for digital disruption.
The American consumer will ultimately cause severe damage to MasterCard (MA), Visa (V), and American Express (AXP) which are happy with the current status quo.
The lack of innovation in the US FinTech sector is a failure in the otherwise fabulous technological leadership of the US. American smartphones should already be a fertile digital wallet, not just a niche market.
Savvy Jack Dorsey even invented a firm based on this inefficiency exploiting the lack of proficiency in domestic FinTech with Square (SQ).
And a vital reason the stock has gone parabolic this year is because of the brisk execution and the long runway ahead in this industry.
American big tech will gradually utilize China’s FinTech model and extrapolate it with “American personality.” It is much more of a two-way street now than before with cutting-edge ideas flowing both ways.
The next leg up after digital wallet penetration of FinTech is money market funds on tech platforms. In effect, the Chinese innovation of this industry has allowed more variations of potential financing for the ambitious Chinese, and the same trends will gradually appear on Yankee shores.
Ironically enough, Amazon’s (AMZN) land grab strategy is more prevalent in China as artificially low financing and juicier scale justify this strategy.
The scaling premium also explains why corporate China’s early adopter advantage is so effective because not many countries boast a 1.3-billion-person consumer market.
Soon, Americans will wake up to the reality that American FinTech must advance or foreign firms will rush in.
Mediocrity is not good enough.
iPhones and Android consumers could direct savings into tech money market funds with compounding yield all on a single digital platform.
Tech companies could deploy some of the repatriated cash to invest in some fledgling FinTech expertise to smoothly execute this new endeavor.
Consequently, a successfully created money market fund on a tech platform would enlarge the already substantial cash hoard these firms possess. Not only will the large tech companies flourish, but the big will get absolutely massive.
The determining factor is financial regulation. Capitol Hill has drawn a large swath of mighty Silicon Valley tech titans to testify because they are stepping on too many toes lately.
A scheme to hijack the digital payments market and dominate the mutual fund industry will cause unyielding push back in Washington especially when the Amazon death star continues pillaging select industries of their choosing and eliminating brick-and-mortar jobs by the millions.
J.P. Morgan (JPM) which has the largest institutional money market fund in the country and retail stalwarts such as BlackRock and Vanguard will be sweating profusely too if mega tech starts probing around its turf.
Alibaba is also coming for its bacon with the failed purchase of payment transfer service MoneyGram International (MGI) temporarily shutting out Jack Ma from a foothold in the American payment system industry.
And if the Chinese aren’t let in, there will be others sniffing around for the bacon, too.
The momentum for these financial instruments is robust as FinTech integrates deeper into consumer life. The global cash glut from a decade of cheap financing is causing profit-hungry investors to starve for high-yield vehicles.
The stability and clean balance sheets of tech giants give them ample chance to successfully execute. So, why can’t they also become banks? Would you buy an Apple, Amazon, or Google money market fund if they offered a 4% to 7% annualized yield?
I believe most Americans would.