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September 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Apple's ability to outperform

Many thanks for the latest weekly video, which sets out the bearish case for investment at the moment. In today's FT there is an article about Apple's latest iPhone. The author claims that sales projections for the latest Pro version of the iPhone suggest that the company will earn record -breaking revenues from its sales , which account for 50% of its business. In addition, it suggests that there might be a future monthly package that combines the iPhone, Apple Music and iCloud. Could Apple stand out against the overall bear market?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this topical question which may also be of interest to other subscribers. Just ask yourself how often you change your phone? For me at least, it is when the battery starts losing charging capacity. That’s usually every 3 years.

The new iPhone 14 costs $999 and the Pro version costs $1099. If amortised over 2 years, it works out at around $45 a month which can be lowered further if you have an old phone to trade in. So, for many people it will be a question of whether the new phone has sufficiently enhanced features to justify the added monthly expense.



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September 23 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brookfield plans 12-16 gigawatts of India renewables over next decade

This article from the Economic Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Brookfield is looking to multiply its current 4 GW renewable portfolio by 3 to four times in India within the next decade in generation as well as help corporates make the transition to decarbonise and invest in building large scale supply chain in the country, said a top executive.

The renewables current assets under management is approximately $1 billion.

Earlier this year, Brookfield Asset Management announced that it raised a record $15 billion for its inaugural Global Transition Fund. This marks the world's largest private fund dedicated to the net zero transition, signaling that investors are still committed to establishing cleaner portfolios. Brookfield is the single largest sponsor of the fund having deployed $2 billion itself.

Brookfield deals with state utilities but sees incremental green power demand coming from corporates who are increasingly becoming bulk consumers. For example, as part of its road map to achieve 100 per cent dependence on renewable energy by 2025. Amazon on Wednesday announced its first utility-scale projects in India — three solar farms located in Rajasthan. These include a 210-megawatt (Mw) project to be developed by India-based developer ReNew Power, a 100 Mw project to be developed by local  developer Amp Energy India, and a 110 Mw project to be developed by Brookfield Renewable Partners.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brookfield is the name that comes up in almost every conversation I have with investors. The name is treated reverentially because the team so artfully plotted a route through the Global Financial Crisis and the subsequent boom.



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September 01 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Entering The Superbubble's Final Act

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Jeremy Grantham. Here is a section:

My theory is that the breaking of these superbubbles takes multiple stages. First, the bubble forms; second, a setback occurs, as it just did in the first half of this year, when some wrinkle in the economic or political environment causes investors to realize that perfection will, after all, not last forever, and valuations take a half-step back. Then there is what we have just seen – the bear market rally. Fourth and finally, fundamentals deteriorate and the market declines to a low.

Let’s return to where we are in this process today. Bear market rallies in superbubbles are easier and faster than any other rallies. Investors surmise, this stock sold for $100 6 months ago, so now at $50, or $60, or $70, it must be cheap. Outside of the late stage of a superbubble, new highs are slow and nervous as investors realize that no one has ever bought this stock at this price before: so it is four steps forward, three steps back, gingerly exploring terra incognita. Bear market rallies are the opposite: it sold at $100 before, maybe it could sell at $100 again.

The proof of the pudding is the speed and scale of these bear market rallies.
1. From the November low in 1929 to the April 1930 high, the market rallied 46% – a 55% recovery of the loss from the peak.
2. In 1973, the summer rally after the initial decline recovered 59% of the S&P 500's total loss from the high.
3. In 2000, the NASDAQ (which had been the main event of the tech bubble) recovered 60% of its initial losses in just 2 months.
4. In 2022, at the intraday peak on August 16th, the S&P had made back 58% of its losses since its June low. Thus we could say the current event, so far, is looking eerily similar to these other historic superbubbles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Have we seen the secular peak in this market? That’s the only real question investors need to concern themselves with. The above statistics are certainly compelling, but the size of the rebounds should also be considered relative to the size of the initial declines from the peaks. Let’s round out that data.

1. The Dow Jones Industrials Average accelerated to the peak on September 3rd 1929. It fell 47.87% to the initial low on November 13th
2. The peak in 1973 was a failed upside break from a range that had been forming since 1966; with the Dow failing at the psychological 1000 on several occasions. That failed upside break resulted in a deeper pullback than any (25% & 36%) posted during the ranging phase. The failed downside break in 1974 resulted in a 75% rebound. It was another six years before a breakout to new highs was sustained.
3. Between March 10th and May 26th 2000 the Nasdaq Composite fell 40.72%.
4. Between January 7th and the low on June 17th the S&P500 declined 24.52%.



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August 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Talks Tough, Says Rates Likely to Stay High for Some Time

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

“Restoring price stability will likely require maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time,” Powell said Friday in remarks at the Kansas City Fed’s annual policy forum in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy.”

He said restoring inflation to the 2% target is the central bank’s “overarching focus right now” even though consumers and businesses will feel economic pain. He reiterated that another “unusually large” increase in the benchmark lending rate could be appropriate when officials gather next month, though he stopped short of committing to one.

“Our decision at the September meeting will depend on the totality of the incoming data and the evolving outlook,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In very simple terms, the Fed has two mandates, price stability and full employment. Right now, they have full employment and robust business capital investments. They don’t have price stability or anything approaching it. That’s a recipe for tighter monetary conditions and higher rates until downward pressure on employment becomes problematic. 



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August 25 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

War and Industrial Policy

This report from Zoltan Pozsar at Credit Suisse may be of interest. Here is a section:

More broadly, the three “moments” of reckoning we discussed above mean that global supply chains, whether they produce military or civilian goods, are facing a Minsky Moment – a Real Minsky Moment. Paul McCulley’s term referred to the implosion of the long -intermediation chains of the shadow banking system that marked the onset of the Great Financial Crisis. Today, we are witnessing the implosion of the long -intermediation chains of the globalized world order: masks, baby formula, chips, missiles, and artillery shells, for now. The triggers aren’t a lack of liquidity and capital in the banking and shadow banking systems, but a lack of inventory and protection in the globalized production system, in which we design at home and manage from home, but source, produce, and ship everything from abroad, where commodities, factories, and fleets of ships are dominated by states – Russia and China – that are in conflict with the West.

Inventory for supply chains is what liquidity is for banks. In 2007 -08, big banks ran on “just -in -time” liquidity: the dominant form of liquidity was market liquidity, for which you could always sell assets into a deep market without moving prices, so you did not have to have liquidity reserves at the central bank. Similarly, big corporations today run “just -in -time” supply chains for which they assume that they can always source what they need without moving the price. But not really: the U.S. military has to wait a little bit as Raytheon “will take a little while”; Taiwan and Saudi Arabia have to wait as well until the conflict in Ukraine is over; and if your washing machine broke recently, you’ll have to wait a bit too until defense contractors are done buying them up to rip chips out to make missiles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In propagating the Belt and Road Initiative, China has long complained that the USA’s policy towards it is one of containment. That has become more much overt since 2016. Sanctions on chip manufacturing capacity are an escalation. The rationale for such moves is obvious. The USA and Europe need time to rebuild domestic manufacturing capacity.



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August 24 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rechargeable aluminum: The cheap solution to seasonal energy storage?

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

Researchers from Switzerland's SPF Institute for Solar Technology have been studying aluminum redox cycles for many years now, and with funding from the EU's Horizon Europe program and the Swiss government, they've just kicked off a research project called Reveal, drawing in nine different partners from seven European countries, to develop what looks like a very promising idea.

As a 2020 report from the SPF team states, a single, one cubic meter (35.3 cu ft) block of aluminum can chemically store a remarkable amount of energy – some 23.5 megawatt-hours, more than 50 times what a good lithium-ion setup can do, or roughly enough to power the average US home for 2.2 years, on 2020 figures. That's by volume – going by weight, aluminum holds a specific energy of 8.7 kWh per kilogram, or about 33 times more than the batteries Tesla uses in its Model 3.

Big fat blocks like that aren't exactly practical to work with, though, so the Reveal team proposes using 1-mm (0.04 in)-diameter balls of aluminum instead. Naturally, you lose some volumetric density here, but you're still coming out over 15 MWh per cubic meter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Redox flow batteries where the electrolyte transports free electrons during the reduction and oxidation reactions have been in the works for years without gaining critical mass.



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August 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the big question

Q: Are we in a bear or a bull?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for voicing the question I believe everyone is asking. The short answer is yes, the long answer is more nuanced. Let’s frame this discussion in terms of the yield curve spread. The 10-year – 2-year is sharply negative. The 10-year – 3-month and the 10-year – Fed Funds Rate have both accelerated lower but are not yet negative. All three point toward significant monetary tightening. That is before the impending acceleration in the contraction of the Fed’s balance sheet is 



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June 27 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Return of Industrial Warfare

Thanks to a subscriber for this informative article by Alex Vershinin for RUSI (Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies). Here is a section:

Presently, the US is decreasing its artillery ammunition stockpiles. In 2020, artillery ammunition purchases decreased by 36% to $425 million. In 2022, the plan is to reduce expenditure on 155mm artillery rounds to $174 million. This is equivalent to 75,357 M795 basic ‘dumb’ rounds for regular artillery, 1,400 XM1113 rounds for the M777, and 1,046 XM1113 rounds for Extended Round Artillery Cannons. Finally, there are $75 million dedicated for Excalibur precision-guided munitions that costs $176K per round, thus totaling 426 rounds. In short, US annual artillery production would at best only last for 10 days to two weeks of combat in Ukraine. If the initial estimate of Russian shells fired is over by 50%, it would only extend the artillery supplied for three weeks.

And

The war in Ukraine demonstrates that war between peer or near-peer adversaries demands the existence of a technically advanced, mass scale, industrial-age production capability. The Russian onslaught consumes ammunition at rates that massively exceed US forecasts and ammunition production. For the US to act as the arsenal of democracy in defence of Ukraine, there must be a major look at the manner and the scale at which the US organises its industrial base. This situation is especially critical because behind the Russian invasion stands the world’s manufacturing capital – China. As the US begins to expend more and more of its stockpiles to keep Ukraine in the war, China has yet to provide any meaningful military assistance to Russia. The West must assume that China will not allow Russia to be defeated, especially due to a lack of ammunition. If competition between autocracies and democracies has really entered a military phase, then the arsenal of democracy must first radically improve its approach to the production of materiel in wartime.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s stated aim is to “reunite” with Taiwan politically by whatever means are necessary. This article from Taiwan News, focusing on the Koumintang’s (pro-unity party) recent stated pro-US stance may be of interest. 



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April 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on investing in autocracies

Which firms have monopoly - pricing power?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. David and I pondered this same issue a decade ago. Globalisation was flourishing, the shale revolution promised US energy independence and companies were expanding enthusiastically to capture market share among the new vibrant emerging market middle classes. We also worried about inflation because central bank money printing money was so prolific.



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shein's $100 Billion Value Would Top H&M and Zara Combined

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

A Chinese fast-fashion company without a global network of physical stores of its own is seeking a valuation that could be more than the combined worth of high-street staples Hennes & Mauritz AB and Inditex SA’s Zara.

Shein, an online-only retailer of inexpensive clothes, beauty and lifestyle products that pumps out over 6,000 new items daily, is in talks with potential investors including General Atlantic for a funding round that could value the company at about $100 billion, Bloomberg News reported Sunday.

Should Shein succeed with the round, it would make the decade-old brand about twice as valuable as Tokyo-based Fast Retailing Co. -- the owner of Uniqlo -- which last year had more than 2,300 outlets in 25 countries and regions. It would also make Shein the world’s most-valuable startup after ByteDance Ltd. and SpaceX, according to data provider CB Insights.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I wrote about the success of direct-to-consumer Chinese fashion brands in my 2015 China trip report. Back then I was impressed by the speed with which new SKUs were churned out. The injection of capital and internet marketing savvy has grown that business model to the point where every other fast fashion brand is struggling to compete.



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April 12 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DALL-E 2 is a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language

This website may be of interest to subscribers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of natural language programming is a significant trend. It holds out the promise of broadening the spectrum of people who can use innovative tools to create useful products and services. At present this is still in relative infancy, but the pace of development is sufficiently fast to suggest real world applications within the next couple of years. It might be while (decades?) before we get to Star Trek levels of voice commands but it’s not impossible.



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April 05 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on gold, gold shares and Rolls Royce

Today, there is an unusual discrepancy between GDX (-1.43%) and GDXJ (-0.27%), usually it is the other way around. Gold futures are up 0.64%.

Is there something the "big money" (presumably in GDX) knows about upcoming developments in Gold or miners?

You have not talked about your position in RR? Just keeping indefinitely?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to subscribers. Gold continues to pause around the psychological $1900 level. In any range the bullish and bearish arguments return to equilibrium.

At present the competing arguments are that gold should do well because central banks have been backed into a corner by rampant money printing and will be unable to raise rates enough to fix the inflation issue. The competing negative view is gold faces an increasing headwind for rising yields.



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April 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday or Monday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

“Play along to get along” has been the default strategy for global peace over the past thirty years. The default proposition was that if we concentrate on commerce, and all grow wealthy together, there was no real need to focus on our political differences. Under that system globalization flourished.

A just in time global supply chain allowed components to be made in a host of different countries, assembled in China and exported to the world. The demise of subsidy regimes allowed commodities, particularly agriculture products, to be produced in the lowest cost regions and exported to the globe. The internet has allowed the dissemination of know-how and services like never before.

In attacking Ukraine, Russia expressed a willingness to risk being cut off from much of the global economy. Regardless, of any other motive, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a gamechanger for the global order. With evidence of war crimes emerging, the chances of Russia being welcomed back into the global trading community are growing progressively more distant. We are back in an “Us versus them” global environment.



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March 22 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Now That Powell's Convinced Markets He Means It

This article from John Authers at Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Market-based expectations for how the Fed moves its target fed funds rate have also broken out. The shift in expectations has come with breathtaking swiftness. The following chart shows implicit expectations for rates after each of the next seven meetings as they stood on Dec. 31, where they had moved by the day the tanks entered Ukraine, and where they are now:

Bear in mind that as the year began, CPI had already topped 7% for the first time in four decades. It’s remarkable both how long it took for investors to come around to expecting a sharp monetary tightening, and how swiftly that realization has now taken root.

What does this imply for asset allocation? Higher bond yields tend to be bad news for stocks if they are part of a Fed tightening, and make high stock valuations harder to justify. However, expectations of a more aggressive Fed are even worse for bonds. The mathematics of the bond market on this point is
inexorable. If rates and yields are going up, then bond prices have to come down.

And, indeed, just as those who’ve been saying There Is No Alternative (to stocks) would have predicted, this news has been far worse for bonds than stocks, meaning that the returns for those who are long in stocks relative to bonds have surged to yet another new high:
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a significant anomaly developing in the bond markets. 2-year and 10-year yields are ramping higher on the expectation of future inflation and much higher rates. 3-month bills are also rising but at a much more sedate pace. The rate is currently at 0.5% which approximates the Fed Funds rate. That’s an oddity because investors are increasingly convinced a 50-basis point in May is a certainty.



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March 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wait Times for Chip Deliveries Grow Again as Shortages Persist

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

Lead times -- the lag between when a chip is ordered and delivered -- increased by three days to 26.2 weeks last month, according to research by Susquehanna Financial Group. In January, the group reported that delays were getting shorter, the first sign of improvement since 2019.

Though the lag times have now increased again, they aren’t growing quite as quickly as during much of 2021. But certain sectors were hit worse than others. Delivery times for microcontrollers reached a high of 35.7 weeks in February, according to Susquehanna’s research. Lead times also increased by a week and a half for power-management components. Both are essential parts of many electronics, including car components.

The global shortage of semiconductors began in the first half of 2020, driven by pandemic-fueled demand for consumer technology and vehicles. The scarcity of chips has held back production of everything from smartphones to pickup trucks, leading to billions in lost revenue and contributing to inflation by raising costs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ukraine is a major supplier of neon gas. It’s an essential component for the production of semiconductors. The war in Ukraine is therefore contributing to the shortfall in supply. At the same time, the increased demand for all sources, including military are inhibiting the balancing out of the market.



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March 14 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

ESG in practice: assessing Food and Beverage companies' externalities

This report from the Candriam Academy may be of interest. Here is a section:

The market of protein foods is witnessing two key developments. The first is the efficiency drive, through new technology, among existing producers of animal protein food, such as milk, meat, fish or eggs. Better efficiency comes with smaller carbon footprint; indeed, the top 10% best performing farming businesses reduce theirs by double digits by adopting new innovative solutions.

Even more good news for companies: because most of the innovations work alongside existing production systems, their implementation will not require additional capital expenditure. There are also some products that target specific issues, such as cows belching methane – a greenhouse gas more potent in causing global warming than carbon dioxide. We now have a remarkable innovative food supplement that can suppress the production of methane by 30% in dairy cattle, and up to 90% in beef.

The second type of innovations is about finding new sources of non-animal proteins. Everything from using canola to single cell proteins. Recent study reported that “considerable progress has been made towards the development and production of meat alternatives, including cultured meat, plant-based meat alternatives, microbial protein, edible fungi, microalgae, and insect protein.”

We expect a combination of advanced scientific expertise and investment will be required in the years to come not only to develop new sources of proteins but also test how safe they are for human health and well-being. In the meantime, the diet is not the only factor that impacts our climate and other sustainability factors, it is also the operation of the supply chains themselves.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Arguably, the ESG movement found its first target in Nestle. For years activists lobbied the public to stop consuming Nestle products because of labour and business practices they found distasteful and often with good reason. Today’s the carbon footprint of the food sector is under scrutiny and the ESG model is part of every corporate communication.



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March 10 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Volatility Grips Chinese Tech Shares Again as Traders On Edde

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

Chinese tech giants like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. in the past year. Beijing’s clampdown on private enterprise appeared to intensify in recent weeks after authorities required food delivery platforms to cut fees they charge restaurants and warned of risks in investing in products
linked to the metaverse.

Since its February 2021 peak, the China tech gauge has slumped nearly 60%. Adding to the fragile sentiment are concerns about a potential interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve next week and elevated commodity prices fueled by the war in Ukraine.
 
“Investors may be looking to sell growth names into the brief rallies to reduce their risk exposure, given multiple headwinds including Russia and the upcoming rate hikes,” said Vey-Sern Ling, a senior analyst at Union Bancaire Privee.

Eoin Treacy's view -

JD.com reported strong 2021 earnings but guidance was the share’s downfall today. This is a trend which troubled many US growth companies during earnings season as well. Keeping up pandemic era growth when liquidity is less available, and the real world is competing for attention versus screens, is a tall order. JD.com broke lower on the news.



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March 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review March 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

When Wall Street indices were breaking out to new highs in 2012/13 the world looked to be on the cusp of a golden era of globalisation, co-operation, and the inevitable rise of the middle class. Higher living standards would breed a more tolerant society with greater respect for the environment and for our fellow global citizens.

In predicting a secular bull market, we were correct about the market call. Wall Street and the FANGMANT stocks have outperformed global indices by a wide margin over the last decade. It was also correct to expect oil to underperform because of the bounty arising from shale oil and gas. Predicting a decade ago that the USA would become energy independent was seen as maverick. Today it’s a fact.

The social upheaval that began with the monetary and regulatory response to the credit crisis represents a significant threat to the utopian ideal of the everyman. Exporting job security in return for cheap products has hollowed out the middle class in most developed countries. The evolution of the subscription business model has also reduced individuals to cash flows; where ownership of hard assets is marketed as an outdated concept. This has contributed to significant social upheaval and the response to the coronavirus pandemic amplified it.  

At the same time, the trend of geopolitical tension continues to rise. The concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of people, companies and countries is creating greater competition. China is much more active in staking its claim to global trade than in the past and Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine is reflective of a desperate need for both security and relevance in a world that is actively working to use less of its primary export; oil.



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February 21 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Google Search Is Dying

This article from dkb.io may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Appendix 3: Seriously, what are you talking about? My search results are perfect.

If you think your search results are perfect (without appending reddit), then you're probably right. If every single person agreed that Google search results were trash, then Google would already be bankrupt.

Perhaps it is more likely that 80% of people think Google is good enough, and 20% think Google sucks.

I do suspect that the 20% will be growing in number though.

Appendix 4: *Yawn*, this is the 87th time someone has claimed that Google search is dying in the last 20 years. This is a big meme in the SEO world.

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" - Google, probably

You're right, there's been a new article bashing Google every few months for the last 20 years straight. It's probably nothing.

Still, it is a bit interesting that this short and simple post is now one of the most upvoted things of all time on Hacker News. There must be a lot of people who resonate with it this time around.

Hard to tell if something significant has changed.

Appendix 5: Random redditor explains it succinctly

u/a_latvian_potato:

I think I understand what this article is trying to say. It's not saying that Google's search technology is worse or that people don't use Google to search. It's saying that people trust less of the results Google shows compared to seeing discussions of it on Reddit.

For instance, if I'm looking to see reviews of the Honda Civic 2022 or whatever, I do find myself typing "Honda Civic review reddit" instead of "Honda Civic review". This is because I want to see what real people and enthusiasts (on r/cars or whatever) are talking about the car, rather than the top results at Google which are basically just paid reviews advertising the car anyway.

Even though I kinda know people in Reddit are just as capable of spouting BS that are completely wrong, I find the discussions more authentic anyway than the corporate speak the "big websites" have on their articles that Google shows me.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have also noticed the quality of search results on Google has deteriorated. A great deal of scrolling is required to get past ads. That’s particularly true for commercial search terms.



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February 07 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on gold, governance, trading, and uncertainty

A bad back currently prevents me golfing, walking the dog, or driving the car and, in my opinion justifiably, I am feeling a grumpy.

So here are a few gripes for you:

First gold:
For several years you taught us that the gold price follows an approximate 35-year cycle between highs, although the gold price could outpace stock indexes for short periods in between those highs. We’ve not heard too much about the 35-year cycle for a while, the message now being that it is not unusual for gold to trade in a boring range for up to 18 months or so before breaking out conclusively up or down. You believe it will break to the upside taking out previous highs (which runs contrary to your 35-year cycle theory). I hold a fair chunk of gold and silver miners in ETFs but regard the holding as a hedge rather than representing a belief that gold will imminently break to the upside. It might and it would be nice if it did but I doubt it. As David said, investment options are similar to a beauty parade and for the foreseeable future, many options are likely to look superior to gold.

Second India v China:
You are very hard on China and its political system. Having lived most of my life in Asia I take a less severe view. Like most observers I was disappointed to see that XI, the reformer, had no intention of political reform but on reflection, I think he’s probably right to opt for political stability at a time when China is still struggling to bring modernity to all its people and regions; when lightening-speed technological change is taking place across the globe and when it finds itself in an inevitable struggle to assert what it regards as its rightful influence on global institutions and practices. On a smaller scale in Singapore Lee Kuan Yew did much the same thing and while there is now a little more political tolerance in Singapore than there was, the Government – and most of its people – believe that full-throated democracy would lead to economic and societal break-down. That would be Xi’s worst nightmare.

My grouse is not so much with your view on China but with your uncritical view of India. I agree with you that India should do well given its demographic advantage and talents of its people. However, I think the Modi government is quite repugnant in its covert – and not so covert – support of extremist Hindu nationalism represented by terrorisation of the Muslim and Christian communities, and by its appalling failure to do much about the abuse of women, also fuelled by Hindu extremists. In the medium term, I fear this, together with over-dependence on coal, will limit India’s investment appeal and therefore its economic potential.

To declare my investment positions, I have reduced my exposure to India and wait for an opportunity to reinvest in China. My favourite Asian market currently is Vietnam.

Third, the purpose of your ‘service’:
Under David’s direction, Fuller Money provided objective macro oversights together with some trading suggestions/recommendations and some investment suggestions/recommendations. He often put his money where his mouth was and invested in his recommendations. Towards the end of his career, he stopped publishing his investment portfolio which I regarded as a pity. Under your direction, Fuller-Treacy Money continues to provide objective (if sometimes convoluted and long-winded) macro oversights, but I find it difficult to work out whether beyond that you are offering trading hints or investment hints. I use the word ‘hints’ rather than ‘suggestions’ because in this aspect you are far more non-committal on specifics than was David. The details you provide of your own investment activities suggest that you are a trader with long(ish) term investments in gold bullion, gold miners and Rolls Royce. I made several profitable purchases based on David’s recommendations but so far have identified none under your watch.

Fourth Daily Audio and Video:
From emails you have referred to from other subscribers, I am confident that I am not alone in being irritated by several of your constant refrains. Three which particularly annoy me are ‘The big question is ….’ (to which we never get an answer); ‘[Gold (for example) has a lot of work to do’ (which is a nonsense, better to identify factors which might influence buying/selling decisions) and; ‘I can’t talk and chew gum at the same time’ (which sounds quite catchy heard for the first time, but grates increasingly after many repetitions).

So, getting that off my chest makes me feel slightly less out of sorts. I shall be renewing my subscription in March. It’s been part of my routine for too long.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email, your long-term support and I hope you back feels better soon. If it is muscular, rather than a herniation, I strongly recommend Yunnan Baiyao. I’ve pulled muscles in my lower back on several occasions either playing tennis or lifting. If it is taken quickly after injury, it provides a powerful, quick solution with no side effects I have experienced. 

I began questioning the wisdom of relying on the Dow/Gold ratio during the early stages of the pandemic. Here is a link to Comment of the Day on April 24th 2020. It includes a large number of long-term ratios and concluded that the Dow Jones Industrials Average is no longer the best way to look at the long-term ratio, confirmed concentration of attention in the growth sector, predicted the recovery in oil prices, higher wages, and the return of inflation.



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February 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review February 4th 2022

Eoin Treacy's view -

In 2020 I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Friday of every month. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The biggest trend in the world isn’t bitcoin or the FANGMAN stocks. It’s bonds. Yields peaked in 1980 and the cost of borrowing has done nothing but decline since.

That’s enabled the steady rise of leverage, debt accumulation, asset price appreciation, speculation in all manner of public and private assets and every other bull market too.

The exact mix of where the debts have accumulated most is different in each country. For the USA, fiscal excess and unfunded liabilities are the biggest debt issue. The large number of companies surviving with no profits is the second biggest debt issue.

In Australia, Canada and the UK, consumer debt ratios, household debt and property debt are the pain points. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s reluctance to raise rates, despite inflation, is a symptom of the economy’s reliance on property prices.

For China, the accumulation of debt in the property sector has been epic. The sector represents 30% of GDP. At least in Japan, the massive quantity of debt is held domestically but it is a significant hurdle to raising rates.



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February 03 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Meta Faces Historic Stock Rout After Facebook Growth Stalled

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-02/facebook-shares-plunge-as-users-stall-forecast-falls-short?sref=g4EhC0E7

This quarter’s sales forecast also disappointed Wall Street and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his personal wealth potentially plummet about $24 billion, acknowledged that Meta is facing serious competition for user time and attention, particularly from viral video-sharing app TikTok.
 
The dour outlook and stalled user momentum mark a dramatic turnaround for a company that has posted share gains in every year but one since its 2012 IPO, stoking concern that Meta Platforms flagship product and core advertising moneymaker has plateaued after years of consistent gains. 

“These cuts run deep,” wrote Michael Nathanson, an analyst at brokerage Moffett Nathanson, who titled his note “Facebook: The Beginning of the End?” The results were “a headline grabber
and not in a good way.”  Zuckerberg said Meta’s rival to TikTok, Reels, is growing quickly, but monetization has been slow. He asked investors for patience as the product ramps up.

“Over time we think that there is potential for a tremendous amount of overall engagement growth” with Reels, he said on a conference call Wednesday. “We think it’s definitely the right thing to lean into this and push as hard to grow Reels as quickly as possible and not hold on the brakes at all, even though it may create some near-term slower growth than we would have wanted.”

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Does anyone remember Vine? It was the big short form video app of the early social media age and folded because it could not think of a way to make money. Musical.ly and later TikTok slid into that niche and effectively captured the generation Z demographic.



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January 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The New Agri-Giant Invading the U.S. Heartland

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

Viterra is already the world’s largest wheat trader, thanks to its investments in major exporting regions including Canada, Australia, Argentina, and the former Soviet Union. If Gavilon in the U.S. is added to that impressive portfolio, it will be the kind of concentration — and power — that governments worry about. Indeed, Beijing may be even more concerned about the deal than Washington. China, which is spending billions of dollars to build its own state-owned agricultural trading house, is unlikely to welcome further consolidation in an industry it relies on to feed more than one billion people.

Regulatory concerns aside, the deal is a steal. Glencore, founded by the late U.S. fugitive Marc Rich in the 1970s, built its agribusiness through acquisitions. In 2012, it beat out ADM and purchased Canadian grain trader Viterra Inc. for 6.1 billion Canadian Dollars ($4.8 billion). Today, Glencore controls just under 50% of the enlarged Viterra business, with 49% owned by two Canadian pension funds and a residual percentage controlled by the staff.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Most investment banks closed their commodity trading desks during the 2011-2016 bear market. They sold their ships and warehouses too so getting back to dominant positions is not going to be easy or cheap. That handed control of market making to private trading houses which now control the market regardless of whether Glencore’s bit for Gavilon is successful.



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January 26 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Microsoft's Shares Gain on Forecast For Azure Cloud Growth

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

Microsoft Corp. shares rose in early trading on Wednesday after the software giant gave a forecast that reassured investors the company’s Azure cloud-computing business still has potential to drive growth.  The company predicted Azure’s revenue growth rate would pick up in the fiscal third quarter from the second, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations. The stock gained about 5% in premarket trading in New York. “This will help calm Street tech growth worries,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush. 

Microsoft’s fiscal second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday showed sales that topped $50 billion for the first time and profit that exceeded analysts’ estimates, fueled by cloud, gaming and Windows software. But Azure revenue, up 46% in the period, decelerated from recent quarters and missed analysts’ rosiest estimates, sending the stock tumbling before executives issued a more optimistic forecast for the business later in the afternoon.

Eoin Treacy's view -

When I was recording the audio last night Microsoft was down in after hours trading. Shortly afterwards, the company released a more upbeat opinion of what they think the next quarters will look like so the share rebounded. Nevertheless, growth in demand for cloud services is moderating which is to be expected following the mass adoption event that accompanied the pandemic.



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January 20 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Logical inconsistencies

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are times in the market when a comparison between two assets classes serves to highlight a disparity that has become so wide that it inspires a sense of wonder, confusion and questioning

In December 2020 there was a news headline to the effect that Tesla’s market cap was greater than that of the next 9 largest car companies combined. There are two ways of thinking about that statistic. The first is enthusiasm for Tesla shares was running at fever pitch. The second was that the other auto companies were cheap by comparison.



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January 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. Five-Year Yield Highest Since February 2020 in Bond Selloff

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

Treasury yields rose a second day, with five-year rates hitting the highest since before the pandemic took hold in the U.S., amid increasing conviction that the Federal Reserve will raise rates at least three times beginning in May.

The five-year Treasury note’s yield climbed as much as 3.8 basis points to 1.392%, the highest since Feb. 20, 2020, while 30-year yields bumped up toward their 200-day moving average.

Yields across the curve are rising for a second straight day, after Monday’s selloff lifted the 10-year note’s yield by nearly 12 basis points in its worst start to a year since 2009. The two-year yield topped 0.80% for the first time since March 2020.

That move rippled through markets from Australia to the U.K., where bond trading resumed after a holiday on Monday. Australian 10-year yields jumped as much as 15 basis points to 1.82%, the highest since Nov. 26. Yields on the same U.K. tenor surged as much as 10 basis points to 1.07%, the highest since Nov. 3.

Eoin Treacy's view -

At 1.38% the 5-year yield has fully unwound the pandemic panic compression of early 2020.  In that time total debt outstanding has increased by $5.7 trillion or 24.6%. That’s an eyewatering figure.  Why the market did not flip out about it is a question which flummoxed investors in 2021.



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January 04 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin: All the Volatility But Less Upside Than Ether

This note from Bloomberg’s macro blog may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Yesterday, Apple became the first $3 trillion company after rising some 40% in the past year. Meanwhile Bitcoin rose just 38% in that same time frame, but with a lot more volatility. That puts Bitcoin -- the granddaddy of the crypto market -- in an uncomfortable position. It offers all the volatility downside risks of cryptocurrencies but smaller returns than its peers.

Gains in this latest Bitcoin halving cycle have been much reduced. The pace of Bitcoin issuance declines by half every four years in what is known as a “halving”. And that increased scarcity is a large part of the cryptocurrency’s appeal. But, as my colleague Joe Weisenthal just pointed out, Bitcoin has appreciated about 250% in this past cycle, whereas in the 2013 to 2017 halving the gains were 1600% and a gargantuan 2,000,000% in the first halving cycle from 2009 to 2003. And in 2021, the rise in Ether, the second most-valuable cryptocurrency, far outpaced Bitcoin, buoyed by its use in decentralized finance and the NFT market.

So Bitcoin is a very volatile asset, with two drawdowns over 30% in 2021 alone, while still underperforming even Apple, the world’s largest company and one of the most liquid equity securities.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for big returns, you’re not looking at Bitcoin either. Not only did Ether outperform Bitcoin by a large margin but the ‘altcoin’ Binance Coin, the next largest cryptocurrency, outperformed both with a 1300% gain.

And now Ether is worth $455 million to Bitcoin’s market cap just shy of $900 million. Maybe 2022 will be the year Bitcoin loses its crown as the largest cryptocurrency.

Eoin Treacy's view -

$3 trillion is a still a lot of money, even in today’s world where that number is thrown around with abandon. A few years ago, it was possible to make the argument Apple was a value stock. That’s harder to say today with a price to sales ratio of 8, up from 3 in early 2019.



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December 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe's Power Crunch Shuts Down Factories as Prices Hit Record

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

Electricite de France SA said last week it will halt four reactors accounting for 10% of the nation’s nuclear capacity, straining power grids already faced with the prospect of a spell of cold weather. At the beginning of January, almost 30% of France’s nuclear capacity will be offline, increasing the country’s reliance on gas, coal and even oil.

“If we have a very, very cold day, it could be problematic, especially if we have to import and our neighbors have problems as well,” said Paris-based Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a research scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “This is the domino effect we need to fear. But electricity will be expensive, there’s going to be a cost to pay.”

German power for next year jumped to a high of 335 euros a megawatt-hour, following a 25% rally on Tuesday, before slipping back. The French equivalent rose as much as 2.5% to record of 408 euros. Prices gained amid thin holiday trading even as gas declines. There was also speculation some traders may be closing short positions due to rising capital requirements from exchanges.

“The strength in the French market has been the main engine -- aside from gas prices -- of strength in neighboring markets, including Germany, in recent days,” said Glenn Rickson, head of European power analysis at S&P Global Platts.

“I also suspect that any big moves ahead of the run-up to Christmas have as much to do with the thinness of the market and traders needing to close short positions ahead of shutting down for the holidays as anything else.”

Soaring gas and power prices have already forced European utility giants from RWE AG to Uniper SE to boost liquidity requirements. Many smaller suppliers didn’t have the same option, with more than 20 going out of business in the U.K. alone.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Half of the UK’s energy traders/providers have gone out of business since the spike in natural gas prices began. The survivors will be the best capitalised companies that can ride out this volatility. They will also benefit in future from capturing market share during this tumultuous period. 



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December 22 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musk Says He Has Sold Enough Stock to Unwind 10% of His Stake

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

Elon Musk has disposed of enough shares to reach a target of reducing his stake in Tesla Inc. by 10%, the head of the electric-car leader said in an interview. 

“I sold stock that should roughly make my total Tesla share sale roughly 10%,” he told satirical website Babylon Bee. 

Musk has been offloading Tesla stock since asking his Twitter followers in November whether he should sell some of his stake. The move is part of a plan to generate cash to cover an estimated tax bill of more than $10 billion on stock options Musk is due to exercise.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Elon Musk’s personal holding of Tesla shares represents a significant source of supply. His sales soaked up a lot of demand over the last six weeks and contributed to an almost complete unwinding of the overbought condition relative to the trend mean.



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December 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cultivated meat: Out of the lab, into the frying pan

This article from McKinsey may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Cultivated meat has the potential to not just match but surpass the taste and texture of conventional meat, as well as to introduce novel products. If consumers take to these products, the market for cultivated meat could reach $25 billion by 2030 (Exhibit 3). Currently, the world primarily eats the meat of animals that are the easiest to farm industrially, but cultivated meat won’t face those constraints. Instead, the industry could select cell lines from specific animals with the best traits, such as Wagyu beef or wild salmon, and replicate them at the same cost as, say, beef patties or tilapia.

Cultivated meat can also go one step further and select cell lines from animals that are not widely eaten because of their low meat content, long growing time, or lack of availability. For example, ostrich meat, a product that has challenged many ranchers, could be cultivated and become a trendy low-fat, red-meat alternative. There could even be room for highly creative product innovation: the industry’s imaginative take on dodo poultry could make a better nugget than chicken, or a burger made of what research chefs think mammoth might have tasted like could be a mouthwatering new concept.

While most start-ups are focusing first on more popular species and breeds, Eat Just’s GOOD Meat and the company Orbillion Bio are exploring Wagyu, and the company Vow is working to explore more exotic options, such as kangaroo and alpaca.

In the nearer term, companies may choose to focus on a single area and mix plant protein and other flavors into their products to achieve the desired taste and texture. Eat Just’s chicken product sold in Singapore, for example, is more than 70 percent cultivated cells, with a small amount of plant protein added in for structure, while Future Meat in Israel mixes cultivated fat with plant protein. It’s too early to tell if blended options are merely an interim fix or if they present a sufficiently compelling option for long-term adoption.

Eoin Treacy's view -

At a dinner party a few years ago a successful restauranteur held forth on what was required to be successful in the business. She said one had to realise there are only three products groups; Fat, sugar, and salt. You need the correct blend of each to ensure consumers keep coming back. At the same time, if you want to make money, the food had better be salty because then people drink more alcohol which is where margins are widest. That basic rationale is why fast-food outlets focus on all three groups. They keep people coming back for more.



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December 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stocks Under Pressure as Megacap Tech Sells Off

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

A rout in some of the world’s biggest technology companies dragged down the broader equity market, outweighing gains in companies that stand to benefit the most from an economic rebound.

The S&P 500 fell after earlier climbing on bets that central banks can move toward tighter policies to fight inflation without derailing the economy. The Nasdaq 100 tumbled, led by losses in giants like Apple Inc. and Tesla Inc. Commodity, financial and industrial shares rose. European equities jumped as the region’s policy makers unveiled a gradual pullback of pandemic stimulus, while the pound gained as the Bank of England unexpectedly raised rates. Bitcoin slumped.

Central banks are weighing measures to fight price pressures while balancing risks to growth amid coronavirus challenges. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde unveiled forecasts showing a strong economic rebound along with an outlook for faster inflation. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it will accelerate the pace at which it tapers bond purchases, and projected rate hikes through 2024.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a very whippy environment for trading. No sooner do we see a rebound than most of its is given up. This is attributable to the divergence between central bank pronouncements about their expected rate hikes and what the market believes is possible. Short-dated bond yields contracted today to reflect the expectation that if the Fed were in fact to raise rates three times, there will be economic consequences.



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December 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review December 3rd 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

A year ago, I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated going forward on the first Monday every month. The last was on October 1st. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

One of the most basic truisms in the financial markets is it is easier to make money in a bull market. The bull market that began in late 2008 and early 2009 has been liquidity fuelled. That was not obvious to everyone a decade ago but now everyone gets the message. Money printing inflates asset prices. As long as central banks are printing, we will have bull markets and the most speculative assets will perform best.



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December 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple Falls on iPhone Demand Report, Weighing on Suppliers

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

Apple Inc. shares dropped after the iPhone maker was said to tell suppliers that demand for its flagship product has slowed, taking the shine off their recent record high.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple announced last month that it was having difficulty sourcing sufficient chips to meet demand. Today’s announcement suggests they may be under less pressure going forward as supply and demand come back into balance.



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November 24 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jamie Dimon Jokes, but Will China's Leadership Laugh?

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

“The Communist Party is celebrating its 100th year — so is JPMorgan,” the bank’s chief executive officer, Jamie Dimon, said Tuesday at a panel discussion at the Boston College Chief Executives Club. “I’d make a bet we last longer,” reported Bloomberg News. 

And

In China, business dealings often come down to narrative. One day, a foreign bank is welcome, and its presence is seen as helping China improve its financial industry. The next day, the same enterprise could be painted as a predatory vulture. Words matter, and harmless intent or humor can be misconstrued in translation. Jamie Dimon has every right to tell a joke, but it always helps to know your audience.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The longevity and persistence of the Party are not topics of conversation in China. Jamie Dimon may as well have been using cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in his PowerPoint. That’s the closest parallel for the gaffe committed yesterday. It is reasonable to expect JPMorgan’s prospective Chinese private banking clients to think twice before the starting a relationship. Retribution may not happen immediately but it will come.



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November 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on short-term trading versus the big picture long-term outlook

Eoin, on the weekend big picture you were talking up the prospects of the Fangman, sounding more positive on the names then I can recall. One trading day later, you have shorted the Nasdaq. The message is mixed at best. Please can you help me/us understand this

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to the Collective. The Big Picture Long-Term video was conceived as a way of talking about how the events of the week fit into the broader tapestry of the global macro environment. Therefore, what I try to talk about is what would need to happen for the big trends to be reversed or for new ones to begin. 



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November 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Staples Center to become Crypto.com Arena in reported $700 million naming rights deal

This article from the ESPN may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Staples Center is getting a new name. Starting Christmas Day, it will be Crypto.com Arena.

The downtown Los Angeles home of the NBA's Lakers and Clippers, the NHL's Kings and the WNBA's Sparks will change its name after 22 years of operation, arena owner AEG announced Tuesday night.

Crypto.com is paying $700 million, according to multiple reports, over 20 years to rename the building. The parties aren't publicly announcing the financial terms of what's believed to be the richest naming rights deal in sports history.

The 20,000-seat arena has been Staples Center since it opened in October 1999, with the naming rights owned by the American office-supplies retail company under a 20-year agreement. The name will change when the Lakers host the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA's annual Christmas showcase.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Staples was an enormous 1990s success story. The share opened at $0.89 in the 1989 IPO and peaked in 1999 at $23.95. It briefly regained that peak in 2006 and was taken private in 2017. Back in 1999 it must have felt like the world was the company’s oyster. Today it represents a diminishing position in the office supplies and services market.



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November 10 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Inflation in U.S. Builds With Biggest Gain in Prices Since 1990

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

“We haven’t seen, I’ll say, any more resistance to our price increases than we’ve seen historically.” -- McDonald’s Corp. CFO Kevin Ozan, Oct. 27 earnings call

“Looking at Q4, we expect our selling price actions to continue to gain traction, as we work to mitigate the raw material and logistics inflationary pressures we have experienced throughout the year.” -- 3M Co. CFO Monish Patolawala, Oct. 26 earnings call

“We feel very comfortable that any inflation that is affecting our margin today, we have the ability to offset it.” - Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CFO John Hartung, Oct. 21 earnings
call

“We have now announced pricing in nine out of ten categories, so very broad based.” -- Procter & Gamble Co. CFO Andre Schulten, Oct. 19 earnings call

While most CPI categories rose, the cost of airfares declined for a fourth month and apparel prices were unchanged. Wages have strengthened markedly in recent months -- with some measures rising by the most on record -- but higher consumer prices are eroding Americans’ buying power. 

Inflation-adjusted average hourly earnings fell 1.2% in October from a year earlier, separate data showed Wednesday.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ability of companies to pass on inflation is a good reason why the stock market generally does well in the early portion of an inflationary cycle. The big question therefore is not whether they can successfully pass on one price increase but whether they can continue to pass on price increases should inflationary pressures trend higher.



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November 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is the Metaverse Really Going to Happen? Nvidia Is Betting Yes

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

The company, now called Meta Platforms Inc., argues that millions of users are ready to adopt virtual reality technology — like its own headset — and live their lives in immersive online environments. That could mean attending a work meeting in a virtual boardroom, touring a digital factory or hanging out with far-flung friends in a simulated saloon. “The metaverse is the next frontier,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg declared.

For now, few people even have VR gear, and the metaverse concept would have to overcome concerns about privacy and — for some — a certain creepiness. But it has a big believer in one key corner: the largest maker of video-game chips, which says the metaverse is closer than we think and potentially the next gold mine for technology. 

The video-game boom set Nvidia Corp. on a path to become the world’s most richly valued chip company — overtaking the likes of Intel Corp. — and now it’s ready to remake the internet as a three-dimensional place. Rather than using the web to look at electronic pages, there will be a set of connected virtual worlds, according to Richard Kerris, an executive at the chipmaker whose career has included stints at Apple Inc. and Lucasfilm.

“You might not think you’ll be in the metaverse, but I promise in the next five years all of us will be in one way or another,” he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The metaverse has captured the imagination of the mob over the last week. The fact it twins with the evolving trend of recreating the supply inelasticity of land in the virtual world through the issuance of non-fungible tokens and crypto tokens has helped fuel enthusiasm. 



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November 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

America's Plunging Barley Crop Means Cheap Beer No More

This note from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers.

It’s last call for cheap beer. Rising input costs are soaring across the globe, fueled by withering barley supplies and surging aluminum costs, plus the same labor and transport bottlenecks plaguing every other industry. In North America, dry weather scorched fields, which typically produce enough barley to account for about 20% of global commercial beer production. In the U.S., American farmers reaped the smallest crop since 1934, just after Prohibition ended, while in Canada - - the fifth-largest producer -- barley output shrunk 34% to the second-smallest harvest since 1968

Eoin Treacy's view -

The cost of both barley and aluminium might be rising but there is increasing evidence that brewers are using this as an opportunity to raise prices. Many consumers have been couped up at home for more than a year and they are probably more willing to accept a price increase now than before the pandemic if they can get some semblance of their normal social life back.



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October 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

October 25 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Hertz Orders 100,000 Teslas in Rental-Market Shake-Up

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

The cars will be delivered over the next 14 months, and Tesla’s Model 3 sedans will be available to rent at Hertz locations in major U.S. markets and parts of Europe starting in early November, the rental company said in a statement. Customers will have access to Tesla’s network of superchargers, and Hertz is also building its own charging infrastructure.

It’s the single-largest purchase ever for electric vehicles, or EVs, and represents about $4.2 billion of revenue for Tesla, according to people familiar with the matter who declined to be identified because the information is private. While car-rental companies typically demand big discounts from automakers, the size of the order implies that Hertz is paying close to list prices.

“How do we democratize access to electric vehicles? That’s a very important part of our strategy,” Mark Fields, who joined Hertz as interim chief executive officer earlier this month, said in an interview. “Tesla is the only manufacturer that can produce EVs at scale.”

The electrification plan, which eventually will encompass almost all of Hertz’s half-million cars and trucks worldwide, is the company’s first big initiative since emerging from bankruptcy in June. And it signals that Hertz’s new owners, Knighthead Capital Management and Certares Management, are intent on shaking up an industry dominated by a handful of large players who are typically slow to change.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a win/win situation for Hertz and Tesla. Anyone wishing to rent a vehicle will take a look at Hertz if only for novelty value. For Tesla, it represents a strong try before you buy marketing campaign, they don’t have to pay for. I had both Toyota and Hyundai SUVs when I was house-hunting in Dallas earlier this year and my opinion of both brands was much improved following the experience. For many consumers looking at a minimum of five months wait time for a new Tesla, the chance to drive one on a temporary basis will be a tempting prospect.



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October 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

West Coast ports to stay open 24/7 under U.S. plan to relieve supply chain issues

This article from Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The White House plan has the cooperation of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose leaders and port officials were expected to meet with Biden's top officials on Wednesday. The ILWU says its members are willing to work extra shifts to ease the crisis.

Six companies are part of the plan -- Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Target, Home Depot and Samsung.

"Across these six companies over 3,500 additional containers per week will move at night through the end of the year," the White House said in a statement.

The administration said it's also trying to assist in a truck driver shortage by supporting state motor vehicle departments.

"In 2021, an average of 50,000 commercial drivers licenses and learner's permits have been issued each month, 60% higher than the 2020 numbers," a senior administration official said. "The supply chain is essentially in the hands of the private sector, so we need the private sector to up to help solve problems."

Eoin Treacy's view -

To say that the supply chain is in the hands of the private sector is a gross misrepresentation of the power unions hold over how speedily goods move through the most significant ports in the USA.



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October 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple's iPhone Partner Foxconn Unveils First Electric Vehicles

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

Foxconn is among the technology companies targeting EVs as a source of growth beyond low-margin electronics assembly. The Ohio deal is a boon for Foxconn, giving it assembly capacity, equipment and talent, Citigroup analyst Carrie Liu wrote in a recent note. The company is close to deciding the location for a car plant in Europe, Liu said.

The Apple car would be the ultimate prize for every aspiring EV manufacturer. Working in Foxconn’s favor is its strong relationship with the U.S. consumer-electronics giant. The years-long partnership has expanded as Apple has added product categories, and the company now accounts for about 50% of Foxconn’s annual sales.

Any Apple automobile is still years away and the company has suffered setbacks including the recent departure of the head of its car project to Ford Motor Co. An Apple car has for years been somewhat of a paradox -- it’s one of its most hotly anticipated products yet the company has publicly said almost nothing about it.

Foxconn has yet to start sales of any vehicle following the debut of its EV platform last year. It plans to start mass production of Lordstown’s Endurance electric pickup in Ohio in April, according to a person familiar with its schedule.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Even if Apple is not going to produce a car, we are in a new era for the automotive sector. The evolution of the battery drive fuel cycle has lowered the barrier to entry and enables third manufacturing business models.



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October 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

This Company is Reinventing the Wheel and Ditching the Rubber Tire

This press release may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

While GACW is initially targeting the OTR sector, which includes mining, the global tire market is much bigger, and the company has plans to enter that too. That said, the initial focus on mining could raise in excess of $20 million in revenue per mine site given the significant numbers of vehicles involved in each mining project.

And while the company may have competitors in the mid-sized market, it does not have any competitors in the global OTR sector.

In addition to this market, the ASW technology can be applied to all vehicles currently using traditional rubber tires, a $322 billion estimated value in 2022.

So far, the company has raised $3 million and has 4 patents with 13 others pending. It is also currently testing its ASW products with mining partners with an evaluation period of between 6 and 12 months. From 2022, it intends to ramp up its production of the ASW product with full commercialization expected in 2023.

“At this point, our plan is to expand our distribution network and really start taking the tire industry by storm,” the company said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Mining costs are heavily dependent on energy and transportation prices and the cost of complying with increasingly stringent environmental regulations. As those costs rise, the incentive for companies to find alternatives where possible becomes progressively more urgent. Finding a cheaper alternative for a major cost centre, while also mitigating environmental liability represents an attractive sales pitch; if it works. Here is a link to Global Air Cylinder Wheels’ website. 



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October 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lordstown to Sell Ohio Plant to Foxconn in $280 Million Deal

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

Under terms of the transaction, Lordstown Motors will sell the Lordstown factory to Foxconn for about $230 million after buying it from GM for just $20 million two years ago. The maker of Apple Inc.’s iPhone will buy $50 million worth of common stock in its new partner and will assemble the Lordstown Endurance electric pickup truck. The deal is contingent on the two sides reaching an agreement on manufacturing the vehicle. Foxconn plans to start mass production in April, according to a person familiar with its schedule. 

Lordstown shares jumped as much as 12% in late New York trading Thursday. During regular trading hours, the stock rose 8.4%, closing at $7.98 after Bloomberg had earlier reported a deal was in the works. It’s still down 60% for the year.

The accord gives both companies something they badly need. Lordstown Motors gets a partner that will hasten the startup’s move into large-scale production, which will help lower the high costs required to make EVs. Foxconn gets a plant in North America where it can build its open-source electric vehicle platform and do contract manufacturing for partners like Fisker Inc.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Perhaps another way of thinking about this deal is Foxconn will get some valuable experience in building electric vehicles. It will have time to work through the kinks of producing large products at scale.



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October 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review October 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”

Supply Inelasticity Meets Rising Demand was the phrase David coined to explain the last commodity-led bull market. After decades of underinvestment in commodity supply infrastructure, the market was not prepared for the massive swell of new demand from China; as it leaped from economic obscurity into one of the largest economies in the world. A decade of investment in new production was needed to supply China and that crested ahead of the credit crisis in 2008.

Today, we also have extreme example of supply inelasticity, and demand is breaking records for all manner of goods and services. The factors contributing to these trends are quite different from a decade though. Some will be resolved relatively quickly. Others will take years.



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September 28 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Rolls Royce

Dear Eoin, could you kindly update us on Rolls Royce, e.g.: Worth buying more on this surge? Sell and buy back on inevitable dip after rumours regarding nuclear reactor subside? Thank you very much, very best, 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. Rolls Royce is a potential beneficiary from the UK’s decision to exclude Chinese companies from its nuclear sector. That’s been a bullish factor for the share recently, not least as uranium investments have broken out. The additional news that it has sold ITP Aero unit for £1.5 billion also helped to support the share.



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September 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Microsoft

would be interested in your views of Microsoft's price chart at present. I know you have been cautious over the past few years, and have even questioned the presence of a catalyst as a reason to expect limited upside going forward. Yet, a reasonably consistent upward pattern continues to play out. As always, your insights and perspectives are genuinely appreciated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to subscribers. I was indeed cautious about the prospects for mega-caps in 2019 because we had an inverted yield curve, tightening liquidity and it was not apparent where the next big growth bump would come from.



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September 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Does Tax Efficiency Just Delay the Tax Burden?

This article from AQR may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Over a horizon of 40 to 50 years, the value generated by hypothetical tax-efficient investments can be more than twice as high as that generated by hypothetical tax-inefficient investments, and—again—that is after the higher liquidation taxes are fully accounted for. Due to compounding, paying liquidation tax once can be much less punitive than foregoing part of capital appreciation to taxes each year, especially at long investment horizons

Eoin Treacy's view -

The logic supporting long-term investment is one of the primary reasons many investors prefer companies to buy back shares rather than pay dividends. The speed with which companies have returned to accelerating their pace of buybacks following the pandemic has been a significant support for the total market over the last year. Microsoft’s announcement this week they will spend $60 billion on buybacks is a notable example.



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September 13 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Apple v. Epic Decision

This article by Ben Thompson for his Stratechery service may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

This isn’t the only duopoly: Google and Facebook jointly dominate digital advertising, Microsoft and Google jointly dominate productivity applications, Microsoft and Amazon jointly dominate the public cloud, and Amazon and Google jointly dominate shopping searches. And, while all of these companies compete, those competitive forces have set nearly all of these duopolies into fairly stable positions that justify cooperation of the sort documented between Apple and Google, even as any one company alone is able to use its rival as justification for avoiding antitrust scrutiny.

Judge Gonzales Rogers does note that it is unclear whether Google “could increase output in the short run in order to erode Apple’s market share”, but the real problem is that Google is content to simply share the market with Apple and earn their own supracompetitive commission rate.

Eoin Treacy's view -

As a child I enjoyed going to the horse races with my uncles during the summer. With the limited resources of my pocket money, I figured I could come out ahead by betting the 2nd favourite would place in the top three. Place bets are conservative but all I was interested in was walking away with more than I entered. It didn’t work every time but it worked enough for me to buy what I wanted with the profits.



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September 03 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review September 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Wall Street is behaving like it is in a bubble. The most important thing is the bubble is still inflating.



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August 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on bitcoin's reliability as an investment:

An interesting way to look at the Bitcoin price.

https://clockworkpartners.com/price/

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this insightful graphic which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section from the commentary:

The left chart displays the relationship between bitcoin's price on a given day (vertical axis) and four years before that day (horizontal axis). The right chart displays the trajectory of bitcoin's price vs. time. The radial axis (logarithmic) represents price in dollars per coin. The angle represents time (four years per cycle).

In both charts, each day is represented by a pink dot and the most recent day's dot is displayed within a blue circle. Price data are from Bevand and Coin Metrics.

Has anyone ever suffered a loss by purchasing bitcoin with dollars and holding it for four or more years? Will anyone?



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August 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chip Crisis Shows Signs of Easing, But There's a Catch

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

Still, it’s probably too soon to declare an end to the shortage. Outbreaks of the delta variant of Covid-19 and the long-term efficacy of vaccines make predictions even harder than usual. Some chip analysts have said that reports of weakness are primarily seasonal and that sales will pick up through next year.

Shortages also vary by part. So even if you can walk into a store and find plenty of laptops, you’ll still struggle to get a new car or a video game console. In some cases, chip delivery times are longer than 20 weeks, the longest wait in at least four years.

But as I wrote last month, the pandemic rush to computers and printers won’t repeat itself. Once a worker or student buys a laptop, they don’t need another one for several years. Retailers are offering extensive discounts on nearly every PC-related category, with the exception of graphics cards. (It’s still a good time to be in the games business.)

Eoin Treacy's view -

Semiconductors have an outsized impact on inflationary measures these days because of the reliance of the automotive sector on microcontrollers. Transportation represents 15.7% of the CPI figure and 9.8% of the PCE figure.



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August 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review August 6th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

We are 17 months on from the panic low in 2020. At this stage it is quite normal to marvel at the speed of the advance and worry that the pace can’t possibly be sustained. The abiding sentiment is something like “surely, the world is not nearly as good as it was before the pandemic and therefore how on earth can prices be so high?”.

The world is not as good as it was before, millions of people have been deeply inconvenienced and many are traumatized by the events of the last 17 months. The counter argument is the quantity of money in circulation has only been matched during wartime and that has helped to inflate the price of everything. That’s the key to the argument. Having spent so much to achieve this recovery does anyone really believe central banks are going to endanger it? So where do we go from here?



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July 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why COVID cases are now falling in the UK - and what could happen next

This article from the Conversation.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

This lack of long-term protection against infection means that herd immunity is probably impossible and that the virus will become endemic and continue to circulate in human populations. If this happens and the disease then stabilises, such that case numbers are constant across the population, neither increasing nor decreasing, it will have reached what’s called an “endemic equilibrium”.

So is this what we’re now witnessing? Possibly. One of the basic models of how infectious disease cases change over time is called an SIR model, which looks at how many people are susceptible to a disease, infectious with it or have recovered from it (and so are immune) at any one time.

With this model, cases increase rapidly at the start of an epidemic as lots of people are susceptible, become infected, and go on to infect other susceptible people. But as infections mount, over time fewer people are susceptible and more have recovered. The rate of growth therefore decelerates, the epidemic reaches its peak, and then case numbers decline to an endemic equilibrium point, where they remain roughly stable.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A leaked CDC document has been circulating today with a claim that the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox. That news is enough to make anyone worried. The fact that this variant is also more likely to result in acute sickness is doubly worrying. With 110,000 confirmed breakthrough cases in the USA there is a palpable sense of worry that news is about to get worse. Meanwhile, the UK’s number of cases has peaked and is falling quickly. That should act as at least a partial salve to those worries.



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July 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple Warns That Growth Will Slow After Record-Setting Sales

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

Apple Inc. slipped as much as 2.9% in late trading after warning that sales growth may be slowing and supplies are getting tight, putting a damper on investor excitement following a record-setting third quarter.

The company said on a conference call Tuesday that supply constraints will affect the iPhone and iPad in the current quarter. Decelerating demand for services also will drive the slowdown. Apple declined to provide specific revenue forecasts, a practice it adopted during the pandemic.

The cautious remarks followed a sales gain of 36% in the third quarter, with revenue of $81.4 billion shattering Wall Street’s $73.8 billion estimate. But investors are sticking to a wait-and-see attitude. The parts shortages and a patchwork of Covid restrictions will continue to weigh on Apple’s business this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s not that surprising that companies are coming through with lower sales forecasts. It was never going to be possible to sustain the pace of sales growth in non-single use items. People do not buy new phones or computers every quarter. The question for investors is at what level sales will settle as we come out of the worst of the pandemic.



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July 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on deep learning

This week the British company Deep Minds, owned by Google, announced an important breakthrough on the knowledge of proteins. The company's CEO said that they are working on various projects including nuclear fusion. If they are successful in this venture, it will transform the demand for uranium and lithium.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and this article from the MIT Technology Review may also be of interest. Here is a section:

In the new version of AlphaFold, predictions come with a confidence score that the tool uses to flag how close it thinks each predicted shape is to the real thing. Using this measure, DeepMind found that AlphaFold predicted shapes for 36% of human proteins with an accuracy that is correct down to the level of individual atoms. This is good enough for drug development, says Hassabis.   

Previously, after decades of work, only 17% of the proteins in the human body have had their structures identified in the lab. If AlphaFold’s predictions are as accurate as DeepMind says, the tool has more than doubled this number in just a few weeks.

Even predictions that are not fully accurate at the atomic level are still useful. For more than half of the proteins in the human body, AlphaFold has predicted a shape that should be good enough for researchers to figure out the protein’s function. The rest of AlphaFold’s current predictions are either incorrect, or are for the third of proteins in the human body that don’t have a structure at all until they bind with others. “They’re floppy,” says Hassabis.

“The fact that it can be applied at this level of quality is an impressive thing,” says Mohammed AlQuraish, a systems biologist at Columbia University who has developed his own software for predicting protein structure. He also points out that having structures for most of the proteins in an organism will make it possible to study how these proteins work as a system, not just in isolation. “That’s what I think is most exciting,” he says.

How much of medicine discovery is about trial and error and how much is about tailored solutions? That’s the delineation between the new era of genetics and everything that came before. With knowledge of how proteins interact and how they are made, it is increasingly possible to design targeted solutions to everything in the materials sciences.



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July 23 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nike, Adidas Output Snarled as Covid Wave Shuts Asian Factories

This article by Michelle Jamrisko for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

“It’s going to be worse before it gets better,” with shutdowns and staff disruptions increasing in Asia, said Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre. “Places like Vietnam that largely avoided locking down cannot maintain an open posture. With vaccinations painfully slow, I assume more shutdowns in factories, with the ripple effects felt elsewhere.”

Trade in goods has been a rare buffer for the Covid-ravaged global economy -- especially for export-heavy Asian countries -- but the latest reports show cracks in this growth pillar. The delta variant-driven surge has hit Southeast Asia especially hard, underscoring the delicate choices for policy makers who are balancing vaccination drives and mobility restrictions while trying to keep their economies afloat.

The manufacturing pain is especially acute in Vietnam, where officials have taken drastic steps to ensure factories can continue operating. In some instances, electronics and tech companies have had workers sleep overnight on-site.

The garment industry, with lower profits and more workers, hasn’t been able to replicate that effort. Feng Tay Enterprise Co., Pou Chen Corp. and Sports Gear Co. are among manufacturers that have suspended some operations in Vietnam.

Eoin Treacy's view -

My 13-year-old informed Mrs. Treacy yesterday last night that they had to go to the Nike store because the shoes she wants for school were sold out online. Her rationale was most people begin shopping for school in August so now was the time to make the purchase. They dutifully made the journey and secured the shoes while witnessing numerous kids making Snapchat videos with their purchases.



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July 20 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stock Traders Buy the Dip as Cyclicals Drive Rally

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

“We have a ways to go on the cyclical recovery here,” Levine, head of equities at the firm, said on Bloomberg TV and Radio. The U.S. has exhibited “an exceptionalism in the amount of fiscal policy, the amount of monetary stimulus and also in the way we vaccinated the population. And because of that I actually am very bullish,” she added.

For Bill Callahan, an investment strategist at Schroders, “equities just make sense right now,” and dip buyers will be rewarded as the market continues to grind higher.

On the economic front, data showed U.S. housing starts increased in June by more than forecast, suggesting residential construction is stabilizing despite lingering supply-chain constraints and labor shortages.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The compression in yields makes the argument for investing equities more compelling because it reduces speculation that monetary accommodation is about to be removed.



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July 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Branson's Space Jaunt Worth $841 Million for Virgin Galactic

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

The suborbital journey kicks off a landmark month for the future of space tourism, with Branson demonstrating Virgin Galactic’s capabilities nine days before Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos plans to fly on a rocket made by Blue Origin, his space venture. Both companies envision businesses catering to wealthy tourists willing to pay top dollar for a short period of weightlessness and an unforgettable view of the Earth and heavens.

Virgin Galactic’s test flight demonstrated that such trips -- once the stuff of science fiction -- are becoming increasingly realistic.

While mostly accessible only to a tiny number of super- wealthy customers, they would add a new dimension to a burgeoning industry of private-sector space companies with plans for voyages to the International Space Station and new human outposts.

Branson and his fellow crew members experienced a few minutes of weightlessness as the Unity reached its peak altitude.

“So I looked out the window and the view is just stunning,” operations engineer Colin Bennett said afterward. “It’s very Zen; it’s very kind of peaceful up there as well.” Branson, who founded Virgin Galactic in 2004, said the memories of seeing the Earth from space will stay with him. “I’m never going to be able to do it justice,” he said. “It’s indescribably beautiful.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Yuri Gargarin was shot into space in 1961, so it has taken sixty years to commercialise the technology to the point where commercial jaunts are possible. Reusable rockets are a big part of that. Virgin Galactic is not going as high as rockets. That implies if weightlessness is the end point of consumer demand, then rockets are not required. The variety of solutions, based on just how high a vehicle aims to go is also a reflection of how much technology has progressed over the last sixty years.



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July 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review July 2nd 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “secular themes review”.

News today that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is effective against the delta variant should help to allay fears that the world is about to experience a round of upheaval similar to early 2020.

There is no question that the pandemic has acted as an accelerant. It forced migration and adaption to new conditions in a manner that might otherwise never have happened. Some of those changes will stick, others will fade away.

Everyone seems to think that the pandemic has to mean something and that we will never again get back to normal life. I don’t believe it. The surges back into social activity whenever restrictions are lifted is confirmation that humans are social beings. We crave physical contact and fellow feeling. That’s not going to change, even if we have a better appreciation for it today than since the demise of organised religion.  

As with every other crisis, the liquidity created to deal with the shock will remain in the system for much longer than it is strictly required. Central banks cannot afford to jeopardise the recovery they worked so hard to create. Meanwhile, populations everywhere are impatient for better conditions.



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June 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review June 4th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on May 7th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The pandemic panic is now one year in the rear-view mirror. It seems to have lost its ability to scare us so that begs the question what happens next? That’s the big conundrum

Some still believe that technology will solve all our problems and that the largest companies in the world will continue get even larger. Others believe that the inflation genie has been releases so it is inevitable that bonds will collapse in value. Others believe that we are in for a long grind of subpar growth because the debt is so large, it will sap the will to live out of every speculative asset. Others believe we are in a stock, commodity and property market bubble that could pop at any moment. Still other believe that cryptocurrencies are the solution, though no one is exactly sure what the problem is. So how do we make sense of these divergent views?

Personally, I have a strong feeling of déjà vu. In late 1999 and early 2000 I was selling Optus cable connections door to door in Melbourne. When I tired of backpacking, I went to London and within three weeks had started at Bloomberg. I was amazed at the speed of the Royal Mail. I saw an ad in The Times on a Wednesday for European sales people. I posted my CV that afternoon and had a reply back from Bloomberg delivered the next day. I had an interview on Monday and started on Tuesday. To say they were desperate for sales people is a gross understatement. I was in Belgium, visiting private banks, 10 days later. That was the top of the market and it was evidence of a true mania in the TMT (Telecoms, Media and Technology) sectors.

By the end of the Nasdaq bear market in 2003 the number of Bloomberg terminals being sold to mortgage bankers was surging. I was even offered a job by one. The Dollar was pulling back, there were fears about financial repression, China’s demand for commodities was only beginning, emerging markets were breaking out and gold was completing its base formation. A year later oil broke out.



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May 27 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Advance your thinking on 10 critical themes

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from UBS which may be of interest. Here is a section on new materials:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Biodegradable plastic is a major growth theme if costs can be brought in line with existing manufacturing techniques. The modern world is built on hydrocarbons because the chemical sector has been so versatile in developing products from them. The challenge is these types of products last for seemingly interminable lengths of time and find their way into every facet of the global ecosystem. As awareness of the dangers of microplastics increases, demand for degradable alternatives will increase.



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May 14 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

McDonald's, Amazon Accelerate Push Toward Higher Minimum Wage

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

McDonald’s Corp. announced Thursday it will raise hourly wages by about 10%, bringing the average wage at its restaurants to more than $13 an hour. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said earlier this week it will set hourly starting wages at $11 to $18. Target Corp. and Costco Wholesale Corp. have increased theirs to $15 and $16, respectively.

McDonald’s is hiring 10,000 new employees at its company-owned stores over the next three months alone, and Walmart Inc. brought half a million people on board last year. Chipotle is hiring 20,000 workers across the U.S., and Target needs workers for the 30 to 40 stores it will open this year.

Amazon.com Inc. also upped the labor market ante Thursday by announcing plans to hire 75,000 people in the U.S. and Canada at starting pay that will average more than $17 an hour. New employees will get hiring bonuses of $1,000 and those fully vaccinated for Covid-19 will get additional $100.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The year over year change in average hourly wage growth has been massively distorted by the pandemic. It surged in 2020 because fewer people were working, and those that were got pay rises. It then plummeted to historic lows because the current growth is on par with what was witnessed a year ago.



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May 07 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review May 7th 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on March 5th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

After a crash everyone is wary. We all seek to learn lessons from our most recent experience because it is the only way to help us emotionally move past the trauma. Coming out of the pandemic most investors wished they had sold everything at the first sight of virus news in early 2020 and bought everything back again following the crash. Today they are worried that there is another big shock waiting around the corner that will cause a repeat of pandemic panic.

The challenge for investors is less to learn from the most recent mistake but rather to know when to deploy the lessons learned. The best time to be wary about a massive decline is when no one is worried about it. The time to take precautionary action is when it seems like a waste of time and when you are most afraid of giving up on the potential for even better gains. That’s the best time to remember the experience of the crash but the interval of time and the positive reinforcement of experience in an uptrend make it difficult.



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May 06 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kellogg Gains Amid Unexpected Organic Sales Growth in 1Q

Kellogg shares rose as much as 3.9% to $65.50 premarket, which would be the highest intraday level since November, after the packaged food company surprised analysts with positive organic sales growth in the first quarter, vs expectations for a decline.

“K impressed this morning, as another large-cap food name tops revenue and profit expectations, partially driven by positive shipment timing and emerging market strength,” Jefferies analyst Rob Dickerson writes

Eoin Treacy's view -

Commodities prices are running higher and that raises the question of how you can pass on higher costs to consumers. It’s the same old corn flakes or shredded wheat so you need to do something. Organics are a great way to do that. Fair trade is another rationale to charge more. Reusable packaging, different shaped packaging and substitution with additional ingredients all allow food producers to protect margins. During this bull market I fully except to see carbon footprint credentials printed on each individual box of food and that will be used as the rationale for price increases.



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May 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Yellen Says Spending May Spur 'Modest' Interest-Rate Increases

This article may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“It may be that interest rates will have to rise somewhat to make sure our economy doesn’t overheat,” Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair, said in an interview with the Atlantic recorded Monday that was broadcast on the web on Tuesday. “It could cause some very modest increases in interest rates.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors relying on momentum want to hear that the money will keep flowing and there is no risk the punchbowl will be taken away. Whenever that desire is fulfilled, we see the stock market climb to new highs. However, when it is even modestly questioned it is cause for profit taking.



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April 26 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Container Shipping Insights The 'mega' trend to continue

Here is a section from a JPMorgan report focusing on shipping costs.

Global liners are stepping up de-carbonization efforts and experimenting with alternative fuels
To achieve the industry target, many global liners such as A.P. Moller Maersk (viewed an industry bellwether) are stepping up de-carbonization efforts, recently unveiled plans to fast-track its de-carbonization efforts, with a target to put the world’s first vessel powered by carbon-neutral fuel into operation in 2023, seven years ahead of its original schedule. Specifically, Maersk will install its smaller feeder vessels (capacity of around 2,000 TEUs) with dual fuel technology, power them using alternative fuels including methanol (produced from plant waste) while retaining the option to use VLSFO if necessary. Maersk is also currently experimenting with other alternative fuels including ammonia. Looking ahead, Maersk targets to operate more methanol-fueled vessels in the future and expects methanol and ammonia to emerge as more viable future fuel options.

Adoption of new technology and alternative fuels will take time to achieve commercial feasibility. There are inherent limitations towards adopting alternative fuels. Referencing remarks made by Mr. Morten Bo Christiansen (Maersk head of de-carbonization), methanol has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 15% vs conventional marine fuels while enjoying other advantages including having well-established infrastructure and manageable vessel retrofitting cost. Having said that, methanol has inherent limitations including low energy density and certain safety-related challenges. With respect to ammonia, Maersk expects ammonia to be an ideal replacement from a net zero carbon perspective, but overall technology capability remains at a nascent stage and no vessels today are equipped to utilize this fuel type. Maersk also takes a contrarian view compared to its peers and does not view Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a viable alternative, given its upstream and onboard emissions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The IMO 2020 regulations on emissions for the global shipping sector took more than a decade to agree and finally to implement. That was emblematic of an era when there was some commitment to reducing emissions but no real sense of urgency and where industry lobby groups were given priority. Today, the situation could not be more different. Shipping companies see the future of regulation and taxation and expect to be able to pass on green premiums to customers. That will put an additional cost on everything and represents an even bigger tax on global activity than an oil price spike because it is permanent in nature.



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April 21 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Netflix Falls After Pandemic Boom Reverses to Rare Weakness

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

Netflix has been warning for months that growth would slow after customers emerged from their Covid-19 hibernation, but few expected the company to stall so dramatically. The first quarter of 2020 was the strongest in its history, reeling in 15.8 million new customers, and Netflix’s pace was still brisk in the fourth quarter.

“We had those 10 years where we were growing smooth as silk,” Executive Chairman and co-Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said on a webcast for investors. “It’s a little wobbly right now.”

Netflix added 3.98 million subscribers in the first quarter, compared with an average analyst estimate of 6.29 million and its own forecast of 6 million. That marked the weakest start of a year since 2013, when Netflix added about 3 million customers. If the company’s forecast for the current quarter holds, it will be the worst three-month stretch for Netflix since the early days of its streaming service.

Netflix blamed a “Covid-19 pull-forward” effect, meaning the pandemic accelerated its growth in 2020 while everyone was stuck at home and needed something to watch. Now that surge is taking a toll on the company’s 2021 results.

“It really boils down to Covid,” Spencer Neumann, the company’s chief financial officer, said on the webcast.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Veteran subscribers will be aware I am not a fan of Netflix. It pioneered streaming but its content is a triumph of quantity over quality. That latter point matters as competition increases and that is particularly true as the established content creators enter the fray.



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April 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Impatience

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is one theme that seems to be running through every asset class at present. Perhaps it is because we have been locked up for a year, and literally can’t wait until it is all over, but there is a distinct air of impatience in every circle of life. The pandemic has accelerated the decision-making process for everyone in every facet of our lives.

Mrs. Treacy and I have been discussing moving from Los Angeles for two years but there was never a push big enough to stir us into action. We looked at Las Vegas suburbs in 2019 and toured schools but my eldest daughter was accepted into one of the most prestigious high schools in Los Angeles, so we decided to linger.

The experience of living in Los Angeles during the lockdowns, from schooling to public safety, made us impatient for a change. Like many others we decided to move and have only been delayed by reapplying to schools for our daughters and finding a suitable home.



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April 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Themes Review April 1st 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on March 5th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The pandemic has been an accelerant. The full ramifications of what that means are becoming increasingly clear.

The pandemic took trends that have been in evidence for a while and exaggerated them. At the same time, it introduced new challenges which require new solutions.

Corporations operating without the safety net of cash on the balance sheet has been a feature of the markets for decades too. They continue to be bailed out when they get into trouble. There is no evidence that the trend of using all available means to buy back shares has ended. In fact, buybacks are back at pre-pandemic levels. Companies were touting “resiliency” last summer. It appears to have been just talk. Buybacks represent a powerful tailwind for stock markets that were absent for much of 2020 but are now back in force. 



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March 31 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Voltswagen Is the Perfect Example of German Humor

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

This week Volkswagen AG provided a lesson in just how difficult it is to “be Elon.” VW’s U.S. arm claimed it was changing its corporate name to “Voltswagen,” denied it was an April Fools’ Day joke, then admitted that, um, it was in fact an April Fools’ Day joke gone wrong.  

The German giant has been riding a wave of investor excitement about its electric-car strategy. Thanks in part to some clever social media and marketing, VW seemed to have cracked Musk’s knack for share-price boosting publicity. The more frequently traded VW preference shares are close to a six-year high.

News of the purported name change helped VW’s American depositary receipts — the ones favored by U.S. retail investors — to climb as much as 12.5% on Tuesday. Which is where this cringeworthy incident goes from being a disastrous attempt at humor to something potentially more serious.

I’m not suggesting VW’s gaffe was an attempt to manipulate the stock market and I doubt the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission would view it like that. It’s a reminder, however, that we now live in the meme-stock age where even bad jokes can add or subtract billions of dollars in market value. It’s a minefield for corporate executives to navigate.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The market liked the Voltswagen idea. That’s going to give Volkswagen’s board something to think about. Tesla prospered because it gained a near monopoly on California’s carbon credits when Karma went bust. That allowed it fund loss making operations and meet payment deadlines while it was building its first battery factory. Many people wonder at Tesla’s business model. Is it a car company, a solar company or a battery company? The most accurate description is it is a regulatory arbitrage company. That’s a consideration every company board should be discussing.



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March 30 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elliott Management Sends Letter to Board of Directors of AT&T

This letter may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The purpose of today’s letter is to share our thoughts on how AT&T can improve its business and realize a historic increase in value for its shareholders. Elliott believes that through readily achievable initiatives – increased strategic focus, improved operational efficiency, a formal capital allocation framework, and enhanced leadership and oversight – AT&T can achieve $60+ per share of value by the end of 2021. This represents 65%+ upside to today’s share price – a rare opportunity for any company, let alone one of the world’s largest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is increasing appetite for the companies that were left behind in the big 2020 surge. That’s being driven by the expectation for economic revival which will help to repair earnings potential and also by the rotation away from the stocks leveraged investors have been active in.



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March 17 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tinuiti Acquires Amazon Specialist Ortega Group, Adds Kevin Mayer to Board

This article from the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Ortega will likely be the first in a string of purchases by Tinuiti, which in December became part of private-equity giant New Mountain Capital and is hungry to broaden its capabilities. Tinuiti is in talks to acquire two other companies, said Zach Morrison, its chief executive.

“We set out at the end of last year to find a partner that could take this from a hundred-and-some-million-dollar company to a billion-dollar company,” he said.

Future deals will focus on resources related to working with the “triopoly,” he said, referring to Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as marketing services around video, digital advertising and first-party data, he said. New board members, like Mr. Mayer, will also bring expertise in those areas, Mr. Morrison said.

Mr. Mayer recently joined sports-streaming company DAZN Group as chairman. He served briefly as chief executive of TikTok and in senior roles at Walt Disney Co. Tinuiti also added Anneka Gupta, president and head of products and platforms at data company LiveRamp, to its board.

Tinuiti, with about 750 staffers, had its strongest growth last year, as businesses sped up their investments in e-commerce and digital marketing to reach consumers in the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr. Atkinson.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tinuiti is one of the most successful ad agencies for ecommerce companies. They offer an end-to-end marketing and advertising service with a solid track record of boosting sales right across the Amazon/Shopify/Wal-Mart universe.

They generally require a minimum advertising spend of $25,000 a month to even consider taking on a new client. That suggests a revenue base of at least $1 million in turnover and solid margins to absorb the cost.



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March 16 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Big Market Delusion: Electric Vehicles

This article by Rob Arnott for Research Affiliates may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

From the beginning, the air travel business has been capital intensive and highly competitive. During good times, new airlines emerged and drove down profits. During bad times, many less well-capitalized companies folded. Over the course of the last century, virtually every company in the business either failed or merged into a larger airline, most of which also collapsed.

The simple fact, as Warren Buffett so cleverly stated, is that technology does not translate into great fortunes for investors unless it is associated with barriers to entry that allow a company to earn returns significantly in excess of the cost of capital for an extended period. Of course, Apple, Google, and Facebook are well-known examples of such technological success, but they are the exception rather than the rule. For a host of complicated reasons, these companies have been able to build moats, or barriers to entry, around their businesses. They also benefit from the fact their products can be produced with limited capital investment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Not every electric vehicle upstart is going to survive but they are currently priced as if they will be the ultimate successors to the global automotive industry. That’s the kind of contradiction bubbles are made of.



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March 12 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Treasury Yields Surge to Test Key Level in Sudden Selling Bout

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

The move started in Australia, where bond futures fell heading into the market’s close to put modest pressure on Treasuries. At around the same time, there was a block sale of 10-year ultra bond futures, followed by a buyer of downside put options -- the hedging of which tends to weigh on the market. The three combined to tip 10-year Treasury futures through Thursday’s session low, which unleashed the wave of selling.

As many as 20,000 contracts changed hands in the next five minutes, the largest activity of the day. The speed and severity of the move left many traders perplexed, with volumes in the cash market comparatively modest.

The moves there were most pronounced in the benchmark 10-year tenor, with the yield curve steepening as two-year rates only rose as much as two basis points. European bonds followed Treasuries, with U.K. 10-year yields up five basis points to 0.79%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Macro traders make money by sniffing out logical inconsistencies and pushing them until they break. George Soros and his ilk pressuring the Pound’s ERM fix is one such notable example so are the small number of traders that correctly called the demise of the subprime markets.

These kinds of contrarian bets are aided by the fact that crowds thrive on contradiction. The biggest bull markets inevitably breed the biggest contradictions because outlandish forecasts are required to justify buying at extraordinary highs.



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March 08 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

From Spotify to Hello Fresh: lockdown Brits give subscription economy an adrenaline boost

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from The Times which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Hamish Grierson, chief executive of Thriva, a home blood-testing company that helps users monitor their health, said founders were now eyeing subscription models instead of the Facebook approach of chasing huge growth with no immediate revenue stream. He said the “growth at all costs” model worked for only a handful of companies and meant that most failed.

“As a consequence of that, there is a little bit more sympathy for more pragmatic, more resilient business models — and subscription tends to be a good version of that story,” Grierson added.

Investors want a piece of the action, too. Last week, Deliveroo, which charges £11.49 a month for free deliveries of restaurant meals, confirmed plans to float in London.

Thematics Asset Management launched its Subscription Economy Fund in 2019 to let investors cash in on the trend. The first of its kind, the $230 million (£165 million) fund is invested in about 50 companies with subscription models. It is up 50 per cent already.

Nolan Hoffmeyer, who runs the fund, said: “Last spring, when many companies didn’t have visibility over the next 30 days, subscription-based companies still had a lot of visibility over the next 12 months [because of recurring revenues]. They’ve been able to continue to invest and innovate. It’s a competitive advantage.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Having the ability to predict revenue growth over a 12-month horizon is a particular benefit where interest rates are low and asset prices are high. That visibility commands a higher valuation because cashflows are so easily modellable. In other words, these kinds of companies can carry more leverage because they have less risk on the revenue side.



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March 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review March 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on January 8th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “Secular Themes Review”.

The rollout of vaccines to COVID-19 continues to accelerate and that will continue through the balance of the year and 2022. There is encouraging news about the number of different vaccines which have been approved and their success against variants. By the end of the year, the world will be inundated with doses which will provide at least some protection from the virus for anyone who wants it. That’s all the rationale any government needs for reopening the economy.

On Valentine’s Day 2020 Mrs Treacy and I went out for dinner with another couple. We talked about the news of a virus threat from China and how it could potentially cause ructions further afield. We told them we had stocked up on rice, meat, protein bars and batteries just in case. They thought we were crazy crackpots jumping at shadows.

It was hard to imagine then just how disruptive the decision to lockdown was going to be. A similar condition exists today. After a year of being confined to our immediate vicinity it is tempting to think this is how it will always be. The reality, however, is we are going to see a surge back to normalcy much quicker than most believe possible.

Humans are social animals and we yearn for social contact. We’ve been starved of that basic need for a year and we’ll overdose on it when we are able. That suggests we are looking at a boom in consumer activity over the coming couple of years.



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February 05 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review February 2021

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I began a series of reviews of longer-term themes which will be updated on the first Friday of every month going forward. The last was on January 8th. These reviews can be found via the search bar using the term “secular themes review”. 

Highlighting secular themes has been a hallmark of this service for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met David Fuller in Amsterdam in 2003. He was giving a talk to Bloomberg’s clients and we went out for dinner that evening. His way of looking at markets, with a focus on suspending ego to see what the market tapestry is telling us, answered all of the questions I had about how to interpret
markets. I felt honoured when he asked me to come work with him a few months later.

The easy way to find secular themes to is to look at long-term ranges. Prices can so sideways for a long time, sometimes decades, and the whole asset class can be forgotten by investors. These kinds of markets need a catalyst to reignite demand. Once that new theme gathers enough pace, prices break on the upside because the supply side is not capable to responding in a timely manner to the new phenomenon. Sometimes that’s because they don’t believe in the new trend, or it may be because they simply do not have the financial wherewithal to expand. As the power of the new catalyst gathers, it takes time for supply to respond and the market will proceed higher until there is a robust supply response. That can take a long time because demand continues to grow as the new theme increases its dominance of investor attention.



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February 02 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Why Amazon May Fill Its Own Shopping Cart With Buybacks

This note from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Amazon.com Inc.’s equity performance has far exceeded the S&P 500 Index over the past five years, yet buybacks may be the best use of capital in the near term as financial flexibility grows and excess cash builds, according to Bloomberg Intelligence’s Robert Schiffman. With consensus free cash of almost $42 billion in 2021 and $58 billion in 2022 -- the e-commerce giant’s share-repurchase authority has gone unused since 2016 -- cash could exceed $100 billion over the next two years. The company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings after the close of trading Tuesday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Some of the largest tech companies like Alphabet and Amazon do not buy back many of their shares. That hasn’t impeded investor enthusiasm because they have been able to continue to deliver on growth and new product offerings.



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February 01 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

DoubleLine Round Table 2021

Section 1 Global Macroeconomy: State of Play and Outlook Part 1 and Part 2

Section 2: Financial Markets Part 1 and Part 2

Section 3: Best Ideas

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I enjoyed this series of roundtables last year and this year did not disappoint. The points made are all relevant to the market environment as we see it today. Ther participants expressed a great deal of fear that we are dangerously close to a bubble peak. There is a lot of worry about valuations, social unrest and the effects on the credit worthiness of the corporate bond market, when the Fed is backstopping it.



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January 18 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the early stages of a secular bull market.

Until the beginning of last year you often spoke on the theme of the early stages of a secular bull market. David had begun speaking about it as long as 4 years ago. But with the onset of the pandemic, you have been largely silent about it. Has it stalled or, in your view, already peaked?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this important question. In October 2008, I remember sitting at my desk and looking at the calculation that the S&P500 was sitting on the widest overextension relative to the 200-day ever. Acceleration is always a trend ending and the crash signalled the beginning of the bottoming process. By the time Wall Street reached its nadir in March 2009 many instruments were well off their lows and by the end of the year the leaders were making new highs.

Gold, commodities, ASEAN and technology took off. Of these, technology is the only one which had uninterrupted staying power all the way through the bull market to date.  

I started writing Crowd Money in 2011. At the time a host of big international companies, with global franchises, that dominate their niches were breaking out of long-term ranges. It was a clear signal that a new secular bull market was underway. By the time the book was published in 2013, it was still a minority view that a new bull market was underway.



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January 04 2021

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rolls-Royce to Shelf Next-Generation Propulsion Engine After Testing Ends in 2022

This note from the Financial Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC will shelf its next-generation UltraFan engine program and halt investment until a new aircraft is launched as the industry grapples with low demand for new airplanes, the Financial Times reports.

--The British engineering giant will finish testing the new engine in 2022 but will then put the program "on ice," including postponing the search for an industrial partner for the new propulsion system, according to the FT.

--Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Warren East said he expects a significant delay until the new aircraft appear as the industry reels from the acute shock of the coronavirus pandemic, the FT reports.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The challenge for many industrial companies is that their growth prospects are dependent on economic growth and the ability of their customers to boost capital expenditure. At present the enthusiasm which greeted vaccine approvals is being tested by the evolution of new strains of the COVID-19 virus. That suggests capex decisions will likely be delayed until customers have visibility on what their post pandemic businesses will look like.



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December 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lidar Makers Jump After Report on Apple's Autonomous Car Plans

This article by Divya Balji and Crystal Kim for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Some lidar suppliers gained Tuesday after Reuters reported that Apple Inc. plans to build a self-driving car for consumers and is tapping outside partners for elements of the system as it develops its own battery technology.

Apple is approaching companies for some parts, including lidar sensors that provide autonomous cars with a real-time, 3-D view of the world, the report said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Lidar supplier Luminar Technologies Inc. rose as much as 12% on Tuesday, while Velodyne Lidar Inc. surged 16%. Blank-check firms that are bringing more lidar players to the market also advanced: InterPrivate Acquisition Corp. climbed 17%, while Collective Growth Corp. jumped as much as 24%.

Apple has been working on driverless car technology since 2014, but pared back its ambitions from a full-fledged vehicle in 2017, Bloomberg News has reported. Since then, Apple has been working on the underlying autonomous system. The company has been deciding whether to attach this system to its own car, or existing vehicles, or to partner with an established carmaker, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple enjoys an almost 40% gross margin on its iPhones and tablets. Porsche has about a 47% gross margin on the 911 and Ferrari has a more than 50% gross margin on its cars. Tesla’s is 16.5%. Toyota’s is 18% and Volkswagen’s is 19.5%. No mass market producer has been able to achieve margins on the scale technology companies are accustomed to.



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December 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese EV Makers Trade at High Valuations, Helped by Tesla and National EV Targets

This note from Dow Jones may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

NIO, BYD and Xpeng are examples of Chinese electric-vehicle makers that have surged in value, buttressed by national targets regarding electric vehicles on the road and investors' search for the next EV titans. The American depositary receipts in these companies have surged this year and the meteoric rises put their valuations in line with large traditional car makers, such as General Motors and Ford Motor. To help cut carbon emissions, China aims for EVs to make up 20% of car sales by 2025, and 50% by 2035. Tesla's success this year has also fueled investor appetite for the technology. Investors should be aware though that most Chinese upstarts are unprofitable, The Wall Street Journal reported, and they are also selling far fewer vehicles than major automobile groups.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla’s success in attracting capital has set off a global gold rush in copycats seeking to cash in on investor demand for renewable investments. Anything that has a battery in the description is doing well and a lack of income was not seen as a barrier to entry when discount rates are zero and the world is swimming in cash.

The evolution of the SPAC market has been a gateway for a pace of IPOs to rival that of the late 1990s. The number in 2020 alone has exceeded the total for all other years combined. The result is new companies have been popping up on the stock market at a dizzying pace. Advice to pursue growth at all costs, capture market share and not to worry about profits carry heavy reminiscences of the tech bubble in the late 1990s.



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December 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Disney Shares Hit Record on Forecast of Streaming Surge

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

In a presentation to investors Thursday, the world’s largest entertainment company outlined plans for dozens of new movies and TV shows from those major brands, with an eye toward becoming a streaming behemoth in four years. The company expects its program spending to reach $14 billion to $16 billion annually by then.

Disney+, the entertainment giant’s flagship streaming platform, also is getting a price hike. The U.S. monthly rate will climb $1 to $8 in a move that executives telegraphed earlier this year. In Europe, the price will rise 29% to 9 euros ($11) a month, although there it is getting additional content aimed at adults.

Shares of Disney rose as much as 11% to a record $171 in New York trading Friday. The stock has about doubled since March on the strength of the streaming business.

“The enormous success of Disney+ inspired us to be even more ambitious,” Executive Chairman Bob Iger said at the event. “Our pipeline is much more robust than we initially anticipated,” he said, adding that the Disney+ cadence should soon hit 100 new titles per year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Disney+ ESPN and Hulu round out Disney’s streaming portfolio. The transmission medium is no longer dependent on cable TV and or satellite connection which affords streaming companies an opportunity to retain more of their earnings. So far, this saving has been passed on to consumers in the form of low subscription fees. However, the route to profitability lies in price rises despite the highly competitive environment.



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December 04 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Secular Bull Market Investment Candidates Review

Eoin Treacy's view -

On November 24th I posted a review of candidates I believe likely to prosper in the emerging post-pandemic market. It was well received by subscribers so I will post an update on my views on the first Friday of the month going forward. That way subscribers can have an expectation that long-term themes will be covered in a systematic manner and will have a point of reference to look back on.

Media hysteria about the 2nd or 3rd waves has not led to new highs in the number of deaths. The success of biotech companies in deploying vaccines means there is going to be a substantial recovery in the economic activity in 2021 and going forward.

The stay-at-home champions saw their sales growth surge in 2020. It will be impossible to sustain that growth rate in 2021. That’s particularly true for mega-caps. One-way bets on the sector are likely to work less well in the FAANGs going forward.



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December 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on inflation

With the growing expectation of rising inflation in 2021 what areas of the world markets would you choose to be positioned in if this proves to be the case? I note you only have a few trades on at present. Ae you likely to broaden these in the future?

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-12-03/five-reasons-to-worry-about-faster-u-s-inflation

https://twitter.com/Ole_S_Hansen/status/1334476194218205186

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question. Governments are going all in on reflation and they are unlikely to stop until they get the inflationary outcome their desire. When above trend inflation is policy rather than a “nice to have” is has to be a more credible option.



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December 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on what's priced in

Sorry, but what does this mean? "As a result, the share offers a lot of optionality on future innovation."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question and I apologise for being less than clear. Options allow one to gain outsized exposure to an opportunity without having to pay for it upfront. The risk is that the opportunity fails to pan out.



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December 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

It will change everything: "DeepMind's AI makes gigantic leap in solving protein structures

This article by Ewen Callaway for Nature may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“It’s a game changer,” says Andrei Lupas, an evolutionary biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Germany, who assessed the performance of different teams in CASP. AlphaFold has already helped him find the structure of a protein that has vexed his lab for a decade, and he expects it will alter how he works and the questions he tackles. “This will change medicine. It will change research. It will change bioengineering. It will change everything,” Lupas adds.

In some cases, AlphaFold’s structure predictions were indistinguishable from those determined using ‘gold standard’ experimental methods such as X-ray crystallography and, in recent years, cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). AlphaFold might not obviate the need for these laborious and expensive methods — yet — say scientists, but the AI will make it possible to study living things in new ways.

And

The first iteration of AlphaFold applied the AI method known as deep learning to structural and genetic data to predict the distance between pairs of amino acids in a protein. In a second step that does not invoke AI, AlphaFold uses this information to come up with a ‘consensus’ model of what the protein should look like, says John Jumper at DeepMind, who is leading the project.

The team tried to build on that approach but eventually hit the wall. So, it changed tack, says Jumper, and developed an AI network that incorporated additional information about the physical and geometric constraints that determine how a protein folds. They also set it a more difficult, task: instead of predicting relationships between amino acids, the network predicts the final structure of a target protein sequence. “It’s a more complex system by quite a bit,” Jumper says.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The sheer breadth of what we do not yet know about biology is becoming more apparent all the time. That’s the greatest benefit of advances in technology, it makes answers possible where questions were never considered.



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November 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Service

I have been a subscriber for just over 30 years, and in that time, I can't recall many times when a clear and concise analysis of economic and political conditions was as important as it is today. You are doing a wonderful job at keeping the collective informed, allowing us to see a broader picture than our individual biases might otherwise give us. Thanks so much!

And

Congratulations our last subscriber commentary was exceptional. You have done wonders for my confidence and ability to help my clients. Keep up the good work. Best wishes

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both for your kind words and it is enormously gratifying that subscribers find value in the Service. That’s particularly true for veterans who have been with us for decades. Given both the demand and positive response for a reasonably succinct list of thematic investments that cover the prevailing market outlook, I’ll review the list on at least a monthly basis. The first Friday of the month which would coincide with the Big Picture Long-Term audio/video makes sense to me.



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November 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the politicisation of monetary policy

I hope life for you in California is more fun than it is here in England. But let's hope we really are past the low point as far as the virus is concerned. I had thought that would be true for economies too, but this latest move by President Trump (summarised in the article by Ambrose Evans Pritchard) does raise questions. With this move, which asset classes do you think will benefit and which will lose on a 3-6 month timescale?

Best wishes to you and family. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for the well wishes and this article which may be of interest to the Collective. All is well with us since the streets were blessedly free of protestors following the election. I guess they got the result they wished for. Here is a section from the article:

He instructed Fed chairman Jerome Powell to return the unused portion of a $454bn (£342bn) account approved by Congress during the market meltdown in March. This seed money gave the Fed $4.5 trillion extra lending power under a policy of 10:1 leverage and had an electrifying effect on market confidence, helping avoid the errors made in 2008.

Krishna Guha from Evercore ISI said the Fed’s market stabilisation policy had been politicised. Congressman Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the House oversight committee on stimulus, called Mr Mnuchin’s move an unjustified and ideological decision by the treasury department.

The Fed retains its monetary policy powers and can purchase further US treasury bonds but that is a blunt tool at this juncture unless it is married to aggressive fiscal expansion, which the Republican Senate has vowed to block.

The Fed is concerned that more QE will chiefly inflate asset prices without doing much to help the real economy, exacerbating social inequality.

Congress stripped the Fed of its discretionary powers under Article 13 after the Lehman crisis. The Fed now needs permission from the treasury to go beyond its normal mandate. This was granted immediately during the panic in late March.



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November 18 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Top Ten Market Themes for 2021: A Shot in the Arm

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Goldman Sachs which may be of interest. Here is a section:

1.Vaccine-led Recovery to Lift Cyclical Assets
2. Navigating the Path
3. A Steeper Real Yield Curve
4. Europe: Two Steps forward, One Step Back
5. China: Forging Ahead, with Assets in Tow
6. A New Commodity Bull Cycle
7. EM Outperformance: More than Before, Less than Sometimes
8. Rotations: Cyclical, North Asia in Focus but Vaccine News Key to Near Term
9. In Search of New (and Old) Safe Havens, Hedges and Diversifiers
10. Risks from Corona and Beyond

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

If we had to distill the priorities of governments next year there is only one word captures their intentions. Reflation. With millions of unemployed people, defaults only kept at bay by massive intervention and rising public discontent economic revival is the only possible solution. That’s true of every country. No one has been left unscathed by the pandemic. Whether the challenge has been domestic or from a loss of export markets, the solution is the same. Reflation.



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November 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon Expands Push Into Health Care With Online Pharmacy

This article by Angelica LaVito and Matt Day for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Analysts have long expected Amazon to dive deeper into health care in a bet the company can bring its digital real estate and logistical prowess to bear on a roughly $4 trillion industry in the U.S. with a reputation for inefficiency. The company rattled drug retailers with its PillPack acquisition, but Amazon has been slow to integrate the online pharmacy startup into its offerings.

The announcement Tuesday marks the first time that shoppers can order prescription drugs directly on Amazon. Previously, they were redirected to PillPack’s website. An integrated pharmacy removes one of the few gaps in Amazon’s offerings compared with major big box and grocery rivals, some of whom have long filled shoppers’ prescriptions in the same stores where they sold flat-screen televisions or cans of soup.

The discounts are a clear play for people who pay for their medications with cash, whether they are uninsured or are looking to save money. Strong demand for transparency and better deals have helped fuel the rise of discount card programs like GoodRx Holdings Inc. Amazon will display both the price when using insurance and the price without. Infusing transparency into a system that has been frustratingly opaque for consumers could alter the supply chain.

“We designed Amazon Pharmacy to put customers first – bringing Amazon’s customer obsession to an industry that can be inconvenient and confusing,” said TJ Parker, vice president of Amazon Pharmacy and co-founder of PillPack.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Waiting for 15 or 20 minutes while a prescription is filled must be one of the biggest nuisances of the retail experience. Being forced to walk around aisles of products one has no interest in begs the question, “how long does it take to select a product from a shelf and put it in a bag?

The challenge for pharmacists is they spend much more time ensuring the veracity of a doctor’s instructions than they do filling them out. Yet, that is only small part of their business. The bulk of volume is focused on repeat custom and it is this business Amazon is targeting. Chronic conditions are where the money is in selling pharmaceuticals, Renewable prescriptions do not need to be verified all that often and cashflows are received on a subscription basis. That’s the kind of service Amazon excels at.



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November 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on recovery candidates versus stay at home champions

Thank you for bringing Rolls Royce to our attention recently. Thanks to you I was able to open a position which looks excellent now. Do you think the volatility in the share will continue for much longer? And what are your views about this share now? Thanks again very much.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and congratulations on taking opportunities in the market. The big question at present is about the trajectory or interest rates and bond yields. It will shape where risk appetite focuses. Investors will either favour recovery candidates on the basis that survivors will have more market share to expand into or they will continue to favour high growth/high leverage plays as they continue to disrupt incumbents.



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November 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Welcome back America!

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by James Breiding. Here is a section:

Resolution requires concerted and consistent effort over a long period of time. It took 25 years to reform Finland’s primary education system before it topped the league in PISA scores. Singapore achieves superior health care outcomes at 25% of the cost of the US and 40% of Europe thanks to a system which gives consumers “skin in the game”.  It’s now thirty years in the making. Denmark’s commitment to wind power dates back to the 1970’s when the benefits were egregiously uneconomic. More than half of its energy is now from renewable sources. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has evolved over thirty years since Lamoureux convinced Canada’s labor unions that the fund needs to attract and pay the best people from Goldman Sachs and Blackrock to work for them, rather than paying them fees.  Ontario Teachers’ has had an annualized total-return of 10% since reforms were made in 1990, and retirees’ pensions are fully funded with 100% inflation protection provided on all pensions.

It may be far-fetched to think that small, successful, experimental nations can fill this vacuum of leadership, but the world is begging for consistent leadership and a positive example, so an opportunity presents itself to step up.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a good reason small countries tend to succeed in niche areas, and are often more successful than larger countries on specific metrics. They have to. Israel, South Korea or Switzerland have spent lifetimes grappling with the uncertainty of geopolitics. They understand the reality that if they don’t succeed on their own no one is going to help them.

Ireland is small rainy island on the tip of Europe, without a commitment to education and active courting of FDI, coupled with low corporate taxes and light regulation it would be a very dreary place indeed.



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October 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day the on Rolls Royce rights issue

RR shares finished the day at 84.54p whilst the newly issued rights finished at 51p.

When adding back the 10/3 of 51p to the share price of 84.54p, the result is 254p which is a very nice gain from the news of your first purchase at 154.75 p you gave the collective early October (your second purchase being adroitly at 105p). Thank you for advising us!

BUT:

Yesterday you wrote regarding RR  "...The knock-on effect of the rights issue could result in the share falling between 25% and 33% which may be priced into shares over the coming two weeks..."

Three interrelated questions:

1. Do you mean by this that the share price of 84.75 could go down to 57p (-33%) to 64p (-25%) which would be equivalent to the "old share price" coming down from today's 254p to 170p?

2. What would be the reason for this heavy decline - all endogenous factors should already be priced assuming a efficient pricing...

3. If such a decline is probable would it not make more sense to take good profits and then, if the share really comes down or stays where it is, and the turn-around story still seems valid, buy again a lower or more or less unchanged price?

It seems to me that from a risk-adjusted perspective, this would be the better action.

And

Dear Mr. Tracey,
Rolls Royce web site states for shareholder living in USA:
" Due to local regulations the rights issue cannot be offered in your country. We will arrange to try and sell your rights to new ordinary shares for you, and you will be sent the profit (after expenses) if it is £5 or more."
would elaborate on this process for those of us who are not familiar with it.
Many thanks for your great service.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you both for these questions. The share was rebased yesterday and halved as a result of the rights issue. It subsequently rebounded from its lows because many investors were waiting for the uncertainty of the rebasing to pass before initiating long positions. The question now is what happens next.



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October 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GE "Tough to Argue With" Results Win Over Wall Street Critics

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

General Electric shares jumped as much as 10% on Wednesday after the company’s third-quarter results
topped projections, earning the company plaudits from even the most bearish Wall Street analysts.

* Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch (hold) said GE’s EPS beat follows the pattern of mostly all other industrial companies that have beat bottom-line forecasts this earnings season

** Said overall, stronger healthcare and better free cash flow, despite still tough aviation business, “are likely to reinforce the messaging that GE has fundamentally bottomed – although the company will likely continue to face years ahead of difficult climb-back,” while Covid resurgence could arrest aviation fundamentals and future improvement in healthcare business

* JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa (neutral) said the across-the-board nature of the beat “is what it is, positive”

** The 4Q guide for free cash flow of over $2.5 billion suggests cash will be well ahead of JPM’s below-consensus expectations, and a “headline like that is tough to argue with”

* RBC analyst Deane Dray (outperform) said GE is still battling through a multiyear turnaround, worsened by the Covid-pandemic, but “there were encouraging signs” in the company’s EPS beat

** As is typical with a GE earnings, there are a number of moving parts involving charges/reserves, the analyst noted

** Said the most notable of those is the $100 million reserve taken for a potential settlement with the SEC for legacy accounting issues; however, since these issues date back to two CEOs ago, Dray expects investors would view it as a positive to see this issue resolved via a settlement

* GE 14 buys, 8 holds, 1 sell; avg PT $8.07: Bloomberg data

* NOTE: Earlier, GE Jumps on Surprise Profit as Culp Sees Faster Turnaround

Eoin Treacy's view -

The global economy is in a state of flux because no one can have an accurate reading what the future patterns of activity will be following the pandemic. The travel/hospitality sector obviously has a place in the economy but at what scale? The stay-at-home champions have seen a step change in demand growth for their products but how sustainable is that growth trajectory? For industrials is the economy going to bounce back on infrastructure development or be mired in political infighting?



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October 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rolls-Royce Gets Investor Nod for $2.6 Billion Equity Sale

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

The package is aimed at seeing Rolls-Royce through to 2022, when the company expects to resume sufficient cash generation alongside a gradual recovery in demand for air travel. Chief Executive Officer Warren East has also said the company could sell assets as it repositions for the future.

“We didn’t want to put the business and our shareholders’ interests at risk by gambling on the situation next year so that’s why we chose to go with this package now,” the CEO said at an investor meeting.

Even with funding secured, Rolls-Royce still faces an uphill road to recovery. The twin-aisle planes the company supplies are predicted to take until at least 2025 to recover to pre-pandemic levels and the group has announced plans to cut 9,000 jobs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The 10 per 3 rights issue is due to close at November 11th and will ensure Rolls Royce has sufficient capital to see it through the next couple of years come what may. It’s a worst-case scenario funding raise and will take place against a background of low interest rates and high liquidity.



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October 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Jack Ma's Ant Seeks to Raise $35 Billion in Biggest-Ever IPO

This article by Lulu Yilun Chen for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The company will issue no more than 1.67 billion shares in China, equivalent to 5.5% of the total outstanding before the greenshoe, according to its prospectus on the Shanghai stock exchange. It will issue the same amount for the Hong Kong offering, or about 3.3 billion shares in total.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which was co-founded by Ma and currently owns about a third of Ant, has agreed to subscribe for 730 million of the Shanghai shares, which will be listed in Shanghai under the ticker “688688,” according to the prospectus. Alibaba will hold about 32% of Ant shares after the IPO.

Eoin Treacy's view -

AliPay prospered by offering a higher interest rate than banks which was earned daily. That sensation of seeing one’s balance increasing by the day, even if only by a small amount, drove massive consumer adoption. The reason it was able to circumvent strict banking regulation on how much interest can be paid was because the government was willing to look the other way by not insisting on a banking license.



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