Global Market Comments
September 18, 2020
(SEPTEMBER 16 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(INDU), (TSLA), (DIS), (NKLA),
(GM), (PYPL), (FXI), (XOM), (KCAC),
Global Market Comments
September 18, 2020
(SEPTEMBER 16 BIWEEKLY STRATEGY WEBINAR Q&A),
(INDU), (TSLA), (DIS), (NKLA),
(GM), (PYPL), (FXI), (XOM), (KCAC),
Global Market Comments
July 22, 2020
(MY NEWLY UPDATED LONG-TERM PORTFOLIO),
(PFE), (BMY), (AMGN), (CELG), (CRSP), (FB), (PYPL), (GOOGL), (AAPL), (AMZN), (SQ), (JPM), (BAC), (BABA), (EEM), (FXA), (FCX), (GLD)
I am really happy with the performance of the Mad Hedge Long Term Portfolio since the last update on October 17, 2019. In fact, not only did we nail the best sectors to go heavily overweight, we completely dodged the bullets in the worst-performing ones, especially in energy.
For new subscribers, the Mad Hedge Long Term Portfolio is a “buy and forget” portfolio of stocks and ETFs. If trading is not your thing, these are the investments you can make, and then not touch until you start drawing down your retirement funds at age 70 ½.
For some of you, that is not for another 50 years. For others, it was yesterday.
There is only one thing you need to do now and that is to rebalance. Buy or sell what you need to reweight every position to its appropriate 5% or 10% weighting. Rebalancing is one of the only free lunches out there and always adds performance over time. You should follow the rules assiduously.
Despite the seismic changes that have taken place in the global economy over the past nine months, I only need to make minor changes to the portfolio, which I have highlighted in red.
To download the entire portfolio in an excel spreadsheet, please go to www.madhedgefundtrader.com , log in, go to “My Account”, then “Global Trading Dispatch”, then click on the “Long Term Portfolio” button.
My 5% holding in Biogen (BIIB) was taken over by Bristol Myers (BMY) at a hefty premium at an all-time high, so I’ll take the win. I am replacing it with Covid-19 vaccine frontrunner Bristol Myers (BMY) itself.
I am also taking out healthcare provider Cigna (CI), whose profits have been hammered by the pandemic. A future Biden administration might also move to a national healthcare system that will cap profits. I am replacing it with another Covid-19 vaccine leader Pfizer (PFE).
My 30% weighting in technology remains the same. Even though these stocks are 30% more expensive than they were three years ago, I believe they will lead the charge into the 2020s. It’s where the big growth is. These have doubled or more over the past nine months.
I am sticking with a 10% weighting in banking. Thanks to trillions in stimulus loans, they are now the most government-subsidized sector of the economy. I also believe that massive bond issuance by the US Treasury will deliver a sharply steepening yield curve, another pro bank development.
With my 10% international exposure, I am taking out a 5% weight in slow-growth Japan and replacing it with Chinese Internet giant Alibaba (BABA). The US will most likely dial back its vociferous anti-Chinese stance next year and (BABA) will soar.
I am executing another switch in my foreign currency exposure, taking out a long in the Japanese yen (FXY) and a short in the Euro (EUO) and substituting in a double long in the Australian dollar (FXA).
Australia will be a leveraged beneficiary of a recovery in the global economy, both through a recovery on commodity prices and gold which has already started, and the post-pandemic return of Chinese tourism and investment. I argue that the Aussie will eventually make it to parity with the US dollar, or 1:1.
I’m quite happy with my 10% holding in gold (GLD), which should move to new all-time highs imminently….and then go ballistic.
As for energy, I will keep my weighting at zero, no matter how cheap it has gotten. Never confuse “gone down a lot” with “cheap”. I think the bankruptcies have only just started and will stretch on for a decade. Thanks to hyper-accelerating technology, the adoption of electric cars, and less movement overall in the new economy, energy is about to become free.
My ten-year assumption for the US and the global economy remains the same.
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.
I hope you find this useful and I’ll be sending out another update in six months so you can rebalance once again.
CEO & Publisher
The Diary of a Mad Hedge Fund Trader
Global Market Comments
July 8, 2020
(TRADING THE BLUE WAVE STOCK MARKET),
(FB), (AAPL), (MSFT), (AMZN), (ADBE), (SQ), (PYPL), (CRM), (SGEN), (REGN), (ILMN) (FEYE), (PANW), (AMD), (MU), (NVDA), (TSLA), (LEN), (PHM), (KBH), (XOM), (CVX), (XOM), (RTN), (NOC), (LMT), (KOL), (X), (GE)
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)
Global Market Comments
April 15, 2020
(GOODBYE TO THE OLD WORLD, HELLO TO THE NEW)
(TGT), (WMT), (ZM), (NFLX), (PYPL), (SQ), (AMZN), (MSFT)
With the ongoing impacts of coronavirus, our world is suddenly changing beyond all recognition.
The WWII comparisons here are valid. Just as technological innovation accelerated tenfold from 1941-1945, bringing us computers, penicillin, jet engines, and the atomic bomb, the same kind of great leaps forward are happening now.
The end result will be a faster rate of innovation and economic growth, greater corporate profits in the right industries, and a hugely performing stock market. It perfectly sets up my coming Golden Age and the next Roaring Twenties.
Living in Silicon Valley for the last 25 years, I have gotten pretty used to change. But what is happening now is mind-boggling.
The bottom line for the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has been to greatly accelerate all existing trends. The biggest one of these has been the movement of the economy online, which has been taking place since the eighties. Except that it is now happening lightning fast. Business models are hyper-evolving.
Legacy brick and mortar companies must move online or perish, as much of the restaurant business is now doing. Target (TGT) and Walmart (WMT) have accomplished this. Those with feet in both worlds are closing down their physical presence and going entirely digital. Pure digital companies, like Zoom (ZM), Netflix (NFLX), PayPal (PYPL), and Square (SQ) are booming.
The side effect of the virus may be to move an even greater share of America’s business activity to the San Francisco Bay area and Seattle. Almost all tech companies here are hiring like crazy. Amazon has announced plans for hiring a staggering 175,000 since the epidemic started, as millions shift to home delivery of everything.
The productivity of tech is also growing by leaps and bounds. Since everyone is working at home, no one wastes two hours a day commuting. Meetings in person are a thing of the past. Everything now happens on Zoom.
The whole mental health industry is now conducted on Zoom. So is much of non-Corona related medicine. And I haven’t seen my accountant in years. I think he died, replaced by a younger, cheaper clone.
Even my own Boy Scout troop has gone virtual. The National Council is offering 58 online merit badges, including Railroading, Stamp Collecting, and Genealogy (click here for the full list).
The stock market has noticed and several tech companies like Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon are showing positive gains for 2020. Many legacy companies see share prices still down 80% or more. Sector selection for portfolio mangers has essentially shrunk from 100 to only 2: tech/biotech and healthcare.
Business models are evolving at an astonishing rate. Who knew the yoga instructor in Chicago was much better than the one down the street, thanks to Skype.
Education is now entirely online and much of it may never go back to school. My kids are totally comfortable in this new world. They have been social distancing since I bought them their own iPhones five years ago.
Now, if I can only figure out how to do my own haircut, the third most searched term on Google. It’s longer than at any time since the summer of love in 1967.
These are just a few of the practical impacts of coronavirus. The social changes are equally eye-popping.
While death rates are soaring, crime has fallen by up to 75%. So have deaths from car accidents. Alcohol and domestic abuse have gone through the roof. Drug addiction is plummeting because dealers are afraid to go out on the street.
There are many lessons to be learned from this crash. Too many companies drank the Kool-Aid and assumed business conditions would remain perfect forever.
Let’s call a spade a spade. The year 2019 and the first two months of 2020 were the bubble top. All the growth in stock prices then were pure fluff.
That means you didn’t need costly reserves ran on thin margins, borrowed like crazy at artificially low-interest rates, and kept endlessly buying back your own stock and paying generous dividends.
Manufacturers didn’t need inventories, counting on a seamless, global supply chain to keep assembly lines running. “Just in time” has switched to “just-in-case.” Companies are going to have to keep enough inventories in the warehouse to guard against future disease-driven disruptions. This will raise costs and shrink profits.
It’s really hard to see how entire industries are going to come back. Cruise ships were packing guests onboard like sardines in a can to make money. I bet it will be a while before you sit at a crowded casino blackjack table. Want to stand in line at a popular chain restaurant?
Airlines have become the poster boy for the evils of bubblicious management. They flew full most of the time, seating their customers shoulder to shoulder, yet their net profit per fight depended on selling that last economy class seat.
The industry spent $50 billion in dividends and the buyback of shares that are now largely worthless, while senior management laughed all the way to the bank. They were the only industry to actually list a global pandemic as a major risk to their business in their SEC filings.
Now they want a government bailout at your expense.
As for me, I am looking forward to this brave new world. Until then, I’ll be spending my afternoons getting in shape hiking in the High Sierras, long hair and all. I’m the only one up here. Maybe it will scare the mountain lions away.
Tech shares are hoping to stage a rebound after the coronavirus-fueled rout that saw the Nasdaq’s 2-day drop by 6.38%, which is its worst since June 2016.
Readers can now pencil in a fresh readjustment to growth expectations of zero to low single digits in tech shares for fiscal year of 2020.
That is why Thursday morning was greeted by another 3% drop at the open – proceed with caution to not get trapped in the proverbial dead cat bounce vortex in the short-term.
A major tech consolidation could take place because let’s get real, the unpredictability is having a major impact on technology companies and uncertainty is a substantial input in heightened risk.
What are the realistic scenarios that are still left on the table?
Firms trading on the Nasdaq will slash price targets and profit estimates that could uncoil another leg down in the Nasdaq index.
In fact, it has already happened as PayPal (PYPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Apple (AAPL) issued revenue warnings saying they do not expect to meet their revenue goals because of the coronavirus.
On an operational level, softness is what I see when delving into the semantics of Amazon (AMZN) whose ranking algorithm demotes product sellers who go out of stock.
The coronavirus has crippled supply chains, and to avoid a lack of stock, sellers are raising prices to slow sales, while planning to move production to other countries.
This is on top of the backbreaking supply problems that companies face because of the ill-effects of the trade war.
If the Amazon algorithm punishes the seller, once stock is replenished, they must overspend on advertising to climb back to the top of product searches.
The surveys I have taken out with Amazon sellers in the last few days show a precarious situation where sellers are stretched to the limit relying on numerous uncertain variables that are completely out of their control,
Even if the local government allows Chinese factories to restart, it will be understaffed while workers from other provinces self-quarantine.
The third-party marketplace accounts for more than half of Amazon’s retail sales with a robust base of manufacturers and sellers in China.
Google (GOOGL) and Microsoft are accelerating efforts to shift hardware production to Southeast Asia amid the worsening coronavirus outbreak, opening factories in Vietnam and Thailand as well.
Google is set to begin production of the Pixel 4A smartphone and also plans to manufacture its next-generation flagship smartphone called the Pixel 5 in Vietnam.
Google is also on the verge of building factories in Thailand for “smart home” related products, including voice-activated smart speakers like the Nest Mini.
Google and Microsoft’s plans are a giant shift away from their prior generation-long China manufacturing strategy and the coronavirus has only supported a strategy to remove China as a core manufacturing hub.
It is getting so bad in China that they are evaluating the feasibility and cost implications to uninstall some production equipment and ship it from China to Vietnam, literally packing up and taking their show on the road.
The have already initiated the process by asking a key sourcing contact to convert an old Nokia factory in the northern Vietnamese province of Bac Ninh to handle the production of Pixel phones.
Data center server production was also rerouted to Taiwan last year.
The coronavirus threat is only speeding up the move into South East Asia and Google and Microsoft hope to avoid the geopolitical risk in the region.
Remember that all of this rejigging of production will add costs and only the biggest can absorb mega hits to the balance sheets.
As for the coronavirus, business is becoming more complicated as the ban on Chinese nationals and flights from China could build barriers to business, and now South Korea has joined the list.
Korea’s Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker, has operated a smartphone supply chain in northern Vietnam for years but still relies on some components made in China.
While there are many moving parts, the average investor needs to wait on optimal entry points.
Japan announced school shutdowns for a month and tech shares have only priced in the coronavirus eventually entering the U.S., but if there are mass shutdowns of American cities and schools, then tech shares will see another stinging sell-off.
The contagion could eventually lead to the Olympics in Tokyo being canceled, high-profile corporate management getting infected, and the Chinese economy being sidelined for most of 2020.
All of these events are highly negative to the global economy which is why potential risks have exploded through the roof in such a short time.
Slinging mud at the wall will not work in times like this, but this does have the makings of a once-in-a-year entry point into tech shares.
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.