David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Everybody Wants to Take a Bite Out of Big Tech

    This article by Shira Ovide for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    There are also signs that political backlash is contributing to shifting consumer sentiment about at least some of the U.S. internet powers. Pew Research Center in June said the vast majority of survey respondents who identify as Republicans or right-leaning independents believe social networks censor political speech that the companies find objectionable. (A majority of Democrats and left-leaning independents believed this, too.) The dominant belief that the internet powers are politically motivated censors is a dangerous phenomenon for tech companies.

    In another worrisome sign, Pew this week released a survey of U.S. Facebook users that found 42 percent had taken a break from the social network for several weeks or more during the last year. Pew said that Republicans and Democrats were equally likely to have restricted their Facebook activity in some fashion. It’s one thing on which a divided nation can agree: Americans want to pull back from Facebook. 

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    China's $29 Trillion Ball of Money Rolls to a Long-Ignored Haven

    This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest. Here is a section:

    Bank deposits, shunned for years by the nation’s return-hungry masses, are suddenly looking attractive again as higher-yielding investments prove riskier than many had anticipated. China’s household deposits rose in July at the fastest annual rate in a year -- an influx that analysts say may accelerate after the nation’s stock market sank at the quickest pace worldwide, hundreds of peer-to-peer lending platforms shuttered and companies defaulted on their debt at an unprecedented rate.

    “People around me are all asking the same question: Where is the safe place to put our hard-earned savings?’’ said Anna Teng, a 30-year-old marketing manager in Shanghai who’s been shifting her assets into deposits after losing about 20 percent on her equity investments since May and falling victim to a fraudulent P2P lending platform.

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    Honey, I shrunk the stock market

    This report from Navallier Calculated Investing is a promotional piece but it contains a number of interesting charts and statistics relating to share buybacks. Here is a section:  

    Apple had completed $200 billion in share buy-backs since 2012. Apple’s cash hoard is so monstrous that six out of the 10 biggest share buy-backs in U.S. history were done by Apple. The $200 billion they’ve bought since 2012 is enough cash to buy all of Verizon, Coca-Cola, or Boeing. Chew on that for a minute.

    Now, contemplate this: U.S. companies announced $201.3 billion in stock buybacks and cash takeovers in May 2018 alone. That’s a record monthly amount. Apple represents nearly half of that! Apple recently said it would buy back $100 billion more of its own stock. They didn’t specify when or how long that would take, but that’s about 10% of the market cap, currently at $1 trillion, the first trillion-dollar stock.

    The buy-back announcements keep coming:
    Broadcom (AVGO) pledged a $12 billion buy-back.
    Micron (MU) pledged a $10 billion buy-back.
    Facebook (FB) pledged a $9 billion buy-back.
    T-Mobile (TMUS) pledged a $7.5 billion buy-back.
    Qualcomm (QCOM) just upped the ante on their previous announcement to buy back $8.8 billion. On July 25th, 2018 QCOM said they would buy back $30 billion, more than 30% of the float!

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    JPMorgan, BlackRock Warn of Contagion Pummeling Emerging Markets

    This article by Ben Bartenstein for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

    Some investors have seen the selloff as an opportunity to buy on the basis of stronger fundamentals, such as easing inflation, trade surpluses and widening growth differentials between emerging and developed markets.

    "One of the interesting things contagion sets up is a selloff in the weak and the strong," said Arjun Jayaraman, who helps oversee $4.8 billion at Causeway Capital Management LLC in Los Angeles. "That’s when you have to step up and buy the strong currencies, the exporting, current-account surplus countries."

    Stocks from India, South Korea and Taiwan look attractive in this environment, according to Jayaraman. Amoroso said investors will eventually want to step into local debt, while Goldberg said he would prefer hard-currency sovereign debt if trade concerns ease.

    That may not be on the horizon yet. Pressure on emerging markets will probably persist for now, with Turkey, Argentina, South Africa, Pakistan, Brazil and India among the weakest links, Wolfe Research strategists including Chris Senyek wrote in a note to clients. The New York-based firm said default probabilities in Asia, interbank lending markets in Europe and credit-default swap spreads from individual banks show some similarities with the 1997 emerging-market crisis, suggesting broader fragility in the asset class.

    "Our EM ‘blow-up’ monitor suggests that weakness is spreading across the most vulnerable EM countries," Senyek said.

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    UN holds emergency meeting as swine fever spreads in China

    This article by Hudson Lockett for the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    While ASF is not a direct threat to human health it is a highly contagious viral disease that can devastate pig populations in regions where it has never before spread, including Asia. 

    China has seen six outbreaks of the disease stretching from the first discovered in the country’s northeast at the beginning of August down to the province of Zhejiang, just south of Shanghai. The FAO said officials in China, which produces half the world’s pigs annually, had culled as many as 40,000 pigs so far in an attempt to control the disease.

    “It’s critical that this region be ready for the very real possibility that ASF could jump the border into other countries,” said Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager in Asia for the FAO Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases. “That’s why this emergency meeting has been convened – to assess where we are now – and to determine how we can work together in a coordinated, regional response”.

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    Musings From The Oil Patch September 4th 2018

    We listened to Catherine Wood, founder and CEO of ARK Investment Management, LLC, expound to CNBC anchors why her firm was adamantly opposed to Elon Musk’s proposal to take Tesla, Inc. (TSLA-Nasdaq) private.  Her argument was that ARK’s research showed that by 2023 annual electric vehicle (EV) sales would be 17 million units per year worldwide.  Tesla, because of its focus on software, its ability to collect the driving mileage of its vehicle purchasers, and its vision about Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), coupled with its ability to create a fleet of four million EV taxis, would be worth nearly $1 trillion, in less than five years, earning shareholders a 17-fold return from the current share price.  

    The day following this interview, Mr. Musk announced he was dropping the idea of taking Tesla private.  He stated that he changed his mind because his shareholders told him that they didn’t want him to make such a move.  Was Ms. Wood one of those shareholders Mr. Musk decided to listen to?  He had spent an incredible amount of time and energy since his tweet about privatizing Tesla in preparing for the move, as well as defending himself from a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation about possible investment fraud.  That inquiry will not go away as easily as merely changing his mind, and we have yet to hear from the plaintiffs’ attorneys.  

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    Soon, the most beautiful people in the world may no longer be human

    This article by Peter Holley for the Washington Post may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    But a British company that launched in April is already marketing itself as an alternative to human models. Irmaz Models calls itself an “Imagined Reality Modeling Agency.” The company’s website says its designers can “make faces to fit” any marketing campaign. Another advantage: Digital models “never argue, need to eat, throw tantrums or get tired,” the company notes.

    “Brands can specify the look they’re exactly after, down to the race, gender and hairstyle,” Philip Jay, a former Playboy photographer who founded Irmaz Models with Irma Zucker, told CNN.

    Kelvin Boon, the owner of Boon Models, an agency with branches in New York and the District, said he sifts through a daily stream of modeling portfolios in search of “quality models.” Aspiring models don’t always resemble their photos, he said, and those that do often require training before they’re ready for professional work.

    If credible-looking digital models emerge, he said, “it’s going to affect the industry a lot.” Why, he asked, would a brand spend thousand of dollars to hire models and photographers for a single photo shoot when you can hire an artist to create images for far less?

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    Email of the day on chasing momentum:

    “I am following your comments every day with great pleasure, your summaries give me an excellent picture what is going on, thanks. Question: I missed completely all the new technology shares - google, apple etc. frustrating. you highlighted “momentum shares” - would it be too aggressive to start to invest in these tech shares NOW? please advise without responsibility on your side, off course, or what are you doing now with liquidity - I sold real estate here in Switzerland and enjoy liquidity on the account. all the best”

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