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June 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sector Cross-Currents: How to Surf the Swirl of Trump & Tech Disruption

This report by Maneesh Deshpande for Barclays may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Moore’s Law basically ended in 2016 and we can already see that the speeds of computer chips have remained stagnant for the last few years. Enhancements have been delivered through longer battery life, more memory and separate drives for booting and storage but the speed of the chips has not moved much.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Moore’s Law basically ended in 2016 and we can already see that the speeds of computer chips have remained stagnant for the last few years. Enhancements have been delivered through longer battery life, more memory and separate drives for booting and storage but the speed of the chips has not moved much.



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June 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review May 16th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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June 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Fitbit is trying to transform healthcare, and itself

This article by Mark Sullivan for Fastcompany.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In the future, Fitbit hopes to leverage Google’s machine learning capabilities to draw even deeper insights from the combined data sets. For instance, machine learning algorithms might be able to see indications in the data that a user is at high risk for a certain disease, then proactively treat them for it.

The Google machine learning is just one of the deliverables in Fitbit’s recently-announced partnership with Google Cloud. The combined Fitbit and Twine Health services and data will be served up to healthcare providers via Google’s cloud and healthcare API. Google could also give Fitbit the scale it needs to integrate with large hospitals and insurers. It’ll also give Fitbit a HIPAA-compliant data repository that can connect with the electronic medical records (EMR) systems used by health providers.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Fitbit did not only fail to pick up on the evolution of smart watches but compromised on the quality of its products when it sought to reduce prices. That is why I personally dumped our family’s Fitbits and decamped for Garmin and Apple.



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June 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biggest Electric-Vehicle Battery Maker Soars 44% on Debut

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

Shares of the world’s biggest maker of electric-vehicle batteries jumped on their trading debut as investors bet on rising demand for new-energy cars worldwide.

Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. rose by the maximum 44 percent to 36.20 yuan at 10:17 a.m. in Shenzhen, China, valuing the company at about $12.3 billion. The manufacturer sold a 10 percent stake at 25.14 yuan a share in its initial public offering on May 30.

Investors are confident that CATL, as the company is known, can fend off rivals including Panasonic Corp. and continue to win orders as automakers move toward electric vehicles. CATL, whose customers include Volkswagen AG, had reduced the size of its IPO by more than half compared with its original ambitions because of declining margins and a cap imposed by Chinese authorities on price-earnings ratios in IPOs.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

CATL produces more batteries than Tesla and is likely to continue to do so well into the future considering the pace of factory building it has planned. China has every intention of dominating the battery sector both because it is the largest auto market but also because it has a clear aim to become globally competitive in auto exporting. Additionally, as an energy importer it has a clear reason to reduce imports of oil if at all possible. That suggests China will be investing heavily in batteries for the foreseeable future.



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June 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Regulatory Concerns Dampen Bitcoin Volatility

This article by Charles Bovaird for Forbes.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 "It seems that a lot of activity has been suppressed," said Marshall Swatt, founder & president of Swatt Exchange, emphasizing that digital token sales are having the same experience. 

Leveraged trading appears to have declined lately, emphasized Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst for social trading platform eToro.

Marius Rupsys, a digital currency trader and investor, offered a slightly different take on the situation.

"Some traders and investors are waiting for clarity from regulators," he asserted.

However, Rupsys described both the statement made by U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton that bitcoin is not a security and the government agency's decision to appoint a crypto czar as "very positive" developments.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The last week has seen volatility in the cryptocurrency markets disappear. The last time the bitcoin market, for example, has been this inert was back in June and July of last year when the price was a third of what it is today; even after the crash from the December peak.



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June 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Inmarsat Spurns EchoStar Takeover, Calling It Lowball Offer

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

Inmarsat Plc rebuffed a takeover proposal from EchoStar Corp., saying the bid undervalued the British satellite company and its outlook as an independent business.

The “highly preliminary” offer was turned down by the board after discussions with its advisers, Inmarsat said in a statement on Friday. “It very significantly undervalued Inmarsat and its stand-alone prospects. The board remains highly confident in the independent strategy and prospects of Inmarsat.”

EchoStar, founded by billionaire Charlie Ergen, has long been seen as a potential bidder for Inmarsat, along with SoftBank Group Corp.’s OneWeb. A stock slump at the London-based company has put it at the top of analysts’ lists of potential targets for consolidation in the satellite industry, which is becoming increasingly crowded with a rising number of rigs going up to support new services such as in-flight Wi-Fi and transmission of digital photos.

A representative for EchoStar didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The statement from Inmarsat followed a 13 percent surge in its shares on Friday, the most in a decade. The stock is still down by more than half over the past two years and has declined 3.4 percent so far in 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The legacy satellite sector has collapsed over the last 18 months. There are two primary reasons for the decline. The first is the success of SpaceX and Blue Origin in deploying resuable rockets to increase the number of satellite launches. The second is the advent of nanosatellites which cost a fraction of what conventional satellites do and fly at much lower orbits.



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June 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Milestone claimed as experimental nuclear reactor reaches temperature of the Sun

This article by Nick Lavars for NewAtlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The pursuit of nuclear fusion is inspired by the collision of atomic nuclei in stars, which fuse together to form helium atoms and release huge amounts of energy in the process. If we can recreate this process we could have an inexhaustible supply of energy on our hands that brings no harmful by-products, such as carbon dioxide emissions or the radioactive waste generated at nuclear fission-based power plants like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

But to do that we need to create Sun-like conditions here on Earth, which calls to mind one requirement first and foremost – incredible amounts of heat. Tokamak Energy hopes to achieve this through what's known as merging compression, where running high currents through two symmetrical magnet coils generates two rings of plasma, or electrically charged gas, around them.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The ITER tokomak being constructed in the south of France is based on technology from the 1970s. It is coming at the problem of containing plasma by building a big containment unit which is costing upwards of $30 billion. Today, much stronger magnetic fields can be attained through the use of superconductors. That means experiments can be much smaller and cost a fraction of the ITER model.



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June 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon vs. Alibaba: The Next Decade of Disruption

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The footprint of ecommerce is only likely to expand if for no other reason than it is easy to shop and browse online. That doesn’t mean people will stop going to malls. We are after all a social species but the nature of shopping with definitely change.

The new Westfield mall that opened up the street from me a couple of months ago is focusing on food offerings with Eataly, Ding Tai Fung and Meizhou DongPo as well as upper middle class/luxury brands. That might be a function of its location sandwiched between the affluent neighbourhoods of Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills but equally speaks to the spending habits of Chinese shoppers.  



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June 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Milestone immunotherapy treatment cures terminal breast cancer patient

This article by Rich Haridy for NewAtlas.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Despite this extraordinary case study it is still very early days for the treatment, with the current clinical trial due to run until at least 2023. After that, a Phase 3 trial will need to broaden the volume of patients treated to verify any positive results,. So, realistically a broad clinical application could be up to a decade away ... And that's assuming everything goes right.

An early form of adoptive immunotherapy, called CAR-T therapy, exhibited severe side effects across many of its clinical trials, including some deaths. The therapy also displayed some impressively positive response rates, promising at the very least an extra possibility for patients where pre-existing treatments have failed.

Last year, the first immunotherapy of this kind was approved for use by the FDA. The treatment's approval was undeniably a milestone for this new kind of therapy, but alongside the approval came a striking price tag. Kymriah, for young patients with a type of blood and bone marrow cancer, was initially costed at nearly half a million US dollars per treatment.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The progress of immuno-oncology research has resulted in a rapid pace of M&A activity within the biotechnology sector over the last 18 months and nothing has yet happened to change that trajectory.



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June 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt price: Congo production surges

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Supply risks for cobalt are centred on the Democratic Republic of the Congo which is responsible for two-thirds of world output. And the country’s share will only increase over the next five years as Chinese investment in new mines come on stream.

The central African nation's output of cobalt – as a byproduct of copper production – is already soaring as top producer Glencore's operations in the country ramps up again after a refurbishment period.

The DRC produced 296,717 tonnes of copper in the first quarter of 2018, up 8.2% over the same period last year, the central bank said in a report on Thursday. Cobalt production in the first quarter of 2018 rose 34.4% to 23,921 tonnes. Global production last year was around 117,000 tonnes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The oldest adage from the commodity markets is the cure for high prices is high prices. Cobalt is up 400% already so on the supply side there is real pressure to increase supply. On the demand side consumers are investing heavily in coming up with new chemistries to reduce cobalt intensity.



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May 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Salesforce Jumps on Rosy Revenue Forecast After Acquisitions

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

Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff has expanded Salesforce’s ambitions beyond software for managing customer relationships, the business that made it an early leader in corporate cloud computing. The company bought MuleSoft Inc. for $6.5 billion -- its largest-ever purchase -- in May to chip away at Oracle Corp. in integration software that connects various systems. That deal, following forays into marketing and e- commerce products, is aimed at turning Salesforce into the top source of internet-based software for companies looking to replace all kinds of traditional programs once hosted in on-site servers.

The acquisitions have bolstered revenue, which Salesforce said climbed 25 percent to $3.01 billion in the fiscal first quarter. The company has promoted its expanding product portfolio to a bevy of new large and foreign clients in a bid to rival Oracle and Microsoft Corp. The result is Salesforce will reach its $20 billion sales goal “faster than imagined,” Benioff said on a conference call. The company has also spent rapidly on its international expansion, pledging to invest $2.2 billion in its French business and $2 billion in its Canadian operations over the next five years.

“We signed several deals, including the largest transaction in the history of the company, and the biggest public-sector deal,” Chief Operating Officer Keith Block said in an interview.

“The revenue for the quarter was over $3 billion. That’s twice the rate of the market. We’re obviously gaining share.” The public-sector customer is the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which uses the company’s Service Cloud to communicate with constituents, Block said on the call.

Eoin Treacy's view -

 I included Salesforce in the original cast of Autonomies because it had the potential to develop as a leader in the cloud computing sector. It was a leap of faith at the time because it did not meet the clear characteristics of an established global leader within its sector. Nevertheless, it was obvious in 2013 when I was writing Crowd Money that cloud computing was going to be a big sector and it was necessary to have some representation. 



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May 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Renewable energy: A green light to Copper Demand

Thanks to a subscriber for this report for BMO which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

There is always a new demand led story in any bull market and renewables do represent such an opportunity. However, the success of that new idea is dependent on the conventional sources of demand remaining on a steady trajectory and it is in that regard that doubts tend to be raised about copper.



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May 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China to use cornerstones to help Alibaba, Xiaomi list in mainland: sources

This article by Julie Zhu and Shu Zhang for Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Beijing could also rip up its unwritten rules on pricing caps to make way for these blockbuster deals, said the sources who have direct knowledge of the matter, adding that Alibaba and Xiaomi were furthest along the CDR planning path.

Selling CDRs equivalent to say about 1 percent of Alibaba’s market capitalization would mean raising $5 billion in Shanghai or Shenzhen, marking what would be China’s largest share sale on the open market since 2009, according to Thomson Reuters data.

While such deals would allow mainland investors to benefit from any further share price rally, the securities regulator is worried they “will take up too much liquidity in the secondary market, which may lead to a drop in the main indices”, one of the sources told Reuters.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Chinese mainland market is underperforming at present amid concerns about deteriorating standards of governance, trade wars and debt. However, the introduction of new sources of supply is a more pressing issue in the short-term.

Many mainland investors have felt left out by the success of domestic companies on overseas bourses without being given the opportunity to participate. If they get the chance to investor via the mainland market they are likely to take it in preference to other domestic shares.

The Shanghai A-Share Index pulled back from the region of the trend mean today to confirm this year’s downward bias.

Meanwhile Alibaba is testing the upper side of its six-month range.



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May 24 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

In India, Facebook's WhatsApp Plays Central Role in Elections

This article by Vindu Goel for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

WhatsApp has largely escaped that notice because it is used more heavily outside the United States, with people in countries like India, Brazil and Indonesia sending a total of 60 billion messages a day. And unlike Facebook and Instagram, where much of the activity is publicly visible online, WhatsApp’s messages are generally hidden because it began as a person-to-person communication tool.

Yet WhatsApp has several features that make it a potential tinderbox for misinformation and misuse. Users can remain anonymous, identified only by a phone number. Groups, which are capped at 256 members, are easy to set up by adding the phone numbers of contacts. People tend to belong to multiple groups, so they often get exposed to the same messages repeatedly. When messages are forwarded, there is no hint of where they originated. And everything is encrypted, making it impossible for law enforcement officials or even WhatsApp to view what’s being said without looking at the phone’s screen.

Govindraj Ethiraj, the founder of Boom and IndiaSpend, two sites that fact-check Indian political and governmental claims, called WhatsApp “insidious” for its role in spreading false information.

“You’re dealing with ghosts,” he said. Boom worked with Facebook during the Karnataka elections to flag fake news appearing on the social network.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is no getting around the fact that social media is now part of the fabric of everyday life. It is the medium through which many people stay in contact with family, friends and acquaintances. It is also how companies, marketing firms and political parties maintain constant contact and attempt to influence our decisions.



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May 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on valuations, Dow/Gold and anti-trust:

Thanks for your comments which are very interesting, especially your focus on technology and its potential to alter radically the investment landscape.

I have 2 points of my own to make. Using gold as the standard of value for stocks is interesting but I would think valuation metrics are more useful. As you know the Shiller PE, derived by comparing the S&P to the 10-year moving average of real corporate earnings- GAAP (not adjusted)- is at the highest level since the TMT bubble popped in 2000. The ratio of market value (the Wilshire 5000+) to GDP was at all-time highs in January. We have lived through a decade of extraordinary monetary policy (almost zero interest rates and QE), which is now being reversed. I think S&P market value to S&P sales may also be at all-time highs, but I may be wrong about that.

So the starting point is pretty rich. The PE is at 25 times 4 quarter GAAP earnings, implying a 4% earnings yield. The Moody's Baa 20-year bond yield is around 4.6% so the equity premium has been negative the last 5-6 years for the first time since 1961 when the Bloomberg series started. On average equity holders over this period have earned a premium of 1.62% to reward them for investing in the riskier part of the capital structure, but now they must pay for the privilege.

However, this does not address your major point about the enormous earning potential of companies involved in future technology. Now a standard criticism of your point is that competition between businesses will reduce the excess profits to "normal profits". What economists call "consumer surplus" consists of the extra value that is transferred from businesses to consumers for free due to the operation of the competitive market which eliminates excess profits.

This flows from the ideal world of independent competitive enterprises. Anti-trust laws in the USA have been around since 1890 (Sherman Anti-Trust Act) and were designed to cause real world behaviour to better approximate the theoretical. 

What I have found interesting is that Anti-Trust is no longer as big a deal as it was when I was a student. In fact, when Mark Zuckerberg testified he named 5 or 6 tech companies that are competitors of Facebook's. In this list he mentioned WhatsApp and another company (Telegram?) that he has already bought and perhaps one or two others. He also mentioned Skype, which Microsoft has bought. The big tech companies have the where with all to buy smaller rapidly growing companies and maintain tight oligopolies and thus earn outsize profits. I doubt whether many of these purchases would have passed muster from the Department of Justice's Anti-Trust division one or two generations ago.

So the key may be to watch politics and see whether the populists at some point turn their attention to Anti-Trust.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this detailed email which has given me much food for thought. As you point out there is a tendency among the producers of widgets to encounter competition which reduces the price to often unprofitable levels. At that point some of the weaker producers go out of business and a process of consolidation unfolds. The competitive Amazon marketplaces is a good example of this where producers of widgets compete on price to gain market share only for many to disappear after a relatively short time to be replaced by lower cost producers.



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May 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amgen's Just-Approved Migraine Drug Will Cost $6,900 a Year

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

“The payers recognize that there is a clear and longstanding unmet need in migraine,” said Tony Hooper, executive vice president of global commercial operations at Amgen, on a call with analysts Friday. Hooper said the company is in talks with pharmacy-benefit managers and insurers and “by and large, they are supportive of our price.”

Amgen and partner Novartis AG said that they will launch the drug within one week in the U.S. Hooper said that the company expects patients will take the drug if they have tried and failed on other migraine treatments.

The drug’s lower-than-expected price was met positively by analysts who said they expect it will win broad reimbursement from insurers.

“Overall, we think their pricing strategy fits well into the current reimbursement environment,” said Michael Yee, an analyst with Jefferies wrote in a note. Yee, who has a “buy”

rating on Amgen shares, said the lower price “sends a good message.”

But Baird analyst Brian Skorney said once rival treatments come to market, insurers and drug middlemen may pit drugs against each other to get the lowest possible price.

“If anything it just makes the eventual lowest net price that much lower once there are several on the market,” wrote Skorney, who rates Amgen shares “neutral.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Drug pricing is now as much a political calculation as it is a business decision. Historically drug companies opened with a high price to try and recoup as much of the cost of development as possible in as short a period of time as possible. This was viable because they believed unmet need represented a potent source of capital that could be unlocked before competition resulted in price drops.



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May 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the high cost of electric vehicle subsidies

I just returned from a very eye-opening trip to Arizona, visiting Scottsdale (in the Sonoran desert) and the mountains of Northwestern Arizona. We flew into Phoenix and drove a lot. We saw zero Teslas. I'm told there are a few around Phoenix. But with the poor performance of electric vehicles in both cold and hot environments, it probably should not be shocking.

Going to Arizona from California is like going from lala land, where the majority of people are drinking weird kool-aid, to the real world, where people work for a living, dislike taxes, and are really concerned about the massive influx of Californians who are oddly leaving their dream state.

Electric car enthusiasts here in CA get the pleasure of paying $0.38/kwh for their electricity, FAR above the advertised $0.12/kwh, thanks to tiered billing and some of the highest real electric rates in the nation. When an electric car is parked in every driveway, neighborhood power distribution systems will be grossly overloaded (recharging typically starts after 6pm and finishes before 8am, compressing the "average" load on power networks). So, these systems will have to be replaced at taxpayer or ratepayer expense, with lower income people getting no benefits but definitely sharing substantially in the costs.

All this means that one of the highest tax states in the Union will become far higher taxed, both in direct taxes and indirect taxes like state mandated burdens on electricity ratepayers. Meanwhile gas taxes remain some of the highest in the nation, and will only go higher, putting yet more burden on the lower income folks. 

Meanwhile, the exodus of retirees naturally accelerates.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this illuminated article. Filling up in California right now is definitely resulting in sticker shock with premium at $3.67 at Costco and testing $4 on the westside of LA. Electric vehicles have come a long way in terms of both efficiency and range but still have a long way to go in order to fully displace the internal combustion engine. Thanks also for the educative report from Continental Economics which I’m sure will be appreciated by subscribers. Here is a section:



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May 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tencent Gains $18 Billion as Record Profit Eases Margin Fear

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

Revenue from Value Added Services, which includes online games and messaging, rose 34 percent to 46.9 billion yuan. The company has however been leery of barraging its users with ads - on Wednesday, it declared it had raised the maximum number of ads that customers see on WeChat Moments, a function similar to Facebook’s newsfeed, to just two a day from one previously.

“The results were good even without the one-time gains, but the gains made it even better,” said Bhavtosh Vajpayee, a Hong Kong-based research analyst at Bernstein.

But overall costs surged 51 percent. Tencent executives have signaled a willingness to sacrifice margins in favor of longer term growth in new businesses, though that would depend on growing and engaging a massive user base now primarily confined to China.

Profit was also helped by one-time gains of almost 7.6 billion yuan from its investments in arenas like video and news.

“The reason why analysts had been modeling down was because they did mention about subsidies on payments and also continued investments in content costs,” Citigroup Global Markets’s Head of Pan-Asia Internet Research Alicia Yap told Bloomberg Television. “All these years of investments in digital content, for example music and video, actually started to show some leverage” this quarter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tencent is a heavy weight in the Hong Kong, any Chinese equity index as well as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. It needed a good earnings report to signal to investors that the company’s best growth days are not already behind it.
 



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

"Random Gleanings on a Trip to Traverse City"

Thanks to a subscriber for this note from Jeffrey Saut at Raymond James. Here is a section:

The rude crude rally has not gone unnoticed by the gasoline market where there is the potential for gasoline prices to spike this summer with prices at a four-year high amid record demand (prices).  So far such price increases have not bled into the inflation figures, but the truckers are seeing the pinch.  To wit (as reprised by David Lutz): Trucking companies increased leverage is applying added pressure to cargo costs as accelerating economic growth bolsters transportation demand and exacerbates driver scarcity.  With first-quarter trucking spot rates up 27 percent from a year earlier, according to Bloomberg Intelligence, freight expenses are crimping profits at companies.

To us, the creeping inflation, and marginally higher interest rates, suggests the economy is going to strengthen in the back half of 2018.  Certainly that is what the stock market is telegraphing as earnings continue to ramp-up.  As we write, the D-J Industrial Average has made it eight consecutive winning sessions, leaving the equity market very overbought in the short term.  Also worth consideration is that the Industrials rarely make it more than nine straight sessions in any one direction.  Consequently, there could be a pause in the upward onslaught or even an attempt to pull stocks back.  However, we think the S&P 500 (SPX/2730.13) should be well supported at the 2670-2685 level and that should contain any decline barring unexpected news.  Also waxing bullishly is the TD Ameritrade Investors Movement Index, which is back down to its 2015-2016 levels.  That means investors are not very optimistic currently and, therefore, not buying stocks.  Further, there was over $8 billion of money flows into prime money market funds last week.  These are not the kind of metrics one sees at stock market tops.  However, it’s May option expiration week, which has been bearish for the last nine years, and with stocks stretched for the aforementioned reason, look for some kind of pause/pullback that does not get very far.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

As I spoke about in last night’s video/audio there is a risk of some consolidation following the impressive rally over the last couple of weeks.



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May 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review April 10th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a summary of my view at present:



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May 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

RBC Electric Vehicle Forecast Through 2050 & Primer

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

The outlook for electric car adoption is a central theme in the outlook for lithium miners and other suppliers of the growing battery market. Going from 0.8% in 2017 to 7.5% in 2025 is not far of a 10X growth rate and while ambitious is realizable. There are massive construction projects underway, particularly in Asia to build out production capacity of batteries.



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May 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How the World's Biggest Companies Are Fine-Tuning the Robot Revolution

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

The big question surrounding automation has long been whether robots would compete with workers or help them. Initially, workers feared robots would destroy jobs across the economy. Scholarly research and real-life experience has eased that concern, although some types of workers and industries are ending up on the losing side.

Today, the question is more precise: In which industries does automation help both employer and employee?

The companies that may have cracked the code are those that can assign repetitive, precise tasks to robots, freeing human workers to undertake creative, problem-solving duties that machines aren’t very good at. That’s particularly relevant for manufacturing, the food sector and service sectors such as billing, where timetable spreadsheets can be automated, freeing up workers to do higher-value tasks.

With demand for Bosch-built steering controls high, the company has used automation to increase its output, leading it to hire more people to perform the type of checks Mr. Rösch conducts.

“We looked for 20,000 new hires last year,” a mix of new positions and replacement staff, said Stefan Assmann, one of the company’s chief engineers, to join Bosch’s total 400,000 employees. Bosch factories world-wide now make use of 140 robotic arms, up from zero in 2011. “We can’t see robots having a negative impact on our workforce,” Mr. Assmann said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If robotics and automation are helping to improve productivity and leading to expanded employment then there must be another reason why factories have been closing and people losing their jobs. The answer is pretty simple when we hear of workers having to train their replacements from overseas before they are fired.



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May 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot can now chase you through the woods

This article by Rick Haridy for Gizmag may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A six-minute walk through an office and lab facility is chronicled in the video, and Boston Dynamics reports that before this recorded autonomous run, the robot was guided along the route manually by a human so a map of the space could be constructed. The video highlights SpotMini's obstacle avoidance systems and navigation map as it moves through the space, so it’s not entirely clear how much autonomy the robot has regarding its overall route, but it can clearly dynamically respond to obstacles in the space.

As with other subdued Boston Dynamics video reveals, not much more detail is offered outside of the actual footage. The company was acquired by Japanese company SoftBank from Google parent company Alphabet for an undisclosed sum in 2017.

Eoin Treacy's view -

These videos of Boston Dynamics impressive robots are always visually astounding but they seldom show the human operator with the remote control running around behind the robot. The big success for Boston Dynamics is that it has demonstrated that it is possible to develop a robot that can navigate the human environment with relative ease and grace. That is already a huge achievement.



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May 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elysis: A New Era for the Aluminum Industry

This press release today announcing a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Alcoa, with technical input from Apple, may be of interest to subscribers. Here is the key point apart from being carbon free:

A NEW ERA FOR THE ALUMINUM INDUSTRY

There’s a new, revolutionary way to make aluminum. It eliminates all direct greenhouse gases. And it produces pure oxygen.

 The technology can create more aluminum in the same size smelting cell as the traditional process. And it can be installed in new facilities or retrofitted for existing ones.

Eoin Treacy's view -

What I think will surprise many people is that a test facility has been running at Alcoa’s Pittsburgh test facility since 2009 so this is not some far-off pipe dream but it already has a proof of concept and is primed for commercialization. The first commercially oriented industrial project is expected to begin producing aluminium in 2024.



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May 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The epic mistake about manufacturing that's cost Americans millions of jobs

This article by Gwynn Guilford for Quartz may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Why did China have such a big impact? In their 2016 study, economists Justin Pierce and Peter Schott argue that China’s accession to the WTO in 2001—set in motion by president Bill Clinton—sparked a sharp drop in US manufacturing employment. That’s because when China joined the WTO, it extinguished the risk that the US might retaliate against the Chinese government’s mercantilist currency and protectionist industrial policies by raising tariffs. International companies that set up shop in China therefore enjoyed the benefits of cheap labor, as well as a huge competitive edge from the Chinese government’s artificial cheapening of the yuan.

The resulting appreciation of the dollar hurt US exporters—in particular, manufacturers. A 2017 study on the dollar’s appreciation in the early 2000s by economist Douglas Campbell found that the dollar strengthened sharply, in real terms, compared to low-wage trading partners including China. The subsequent increase in foreign imports and diminished demand for American exports resulted in a loss of around 1.5 million manufacturing jobs between 1995 and 2008.

There are also observable signs that automation wasn’t to blame. Consider the shuttering of some 78,000 manufacturing plants between 2000 and 2014, a 22% drop. This is odd given that robots, like humans, have to work somewhere. Then there’s the fact that there simply aren’t that many robots in US factories, compared with other advanced economies.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I recommend taking the time to read this article. It represents the best elucidation of the growing skepticism towards the benefits of globalization I have read yet and I suspect we are going to hear a lot more about what developed countries have lost from globalization going forward.



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May 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

5G Race Pits Ford, BMW Against GM, Toyota

This article by Chester Dawson for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“You will have, for the first time, cars speaking together and it’s important for them to speak the same language,” said Christoph Voigt, head of R&D connectivity for Audi. As chairman of 5GAA, a trade group supporting automotive 5G, Mr. Voigt petitioned federal regulators to avoid “directly or indirectly pick[ing] technology winners and losers” because he is confident 5G will become the de facto standard on its own merits.

Even as Volkswagen AG is aligning its premium Audi brand with 5G in the U.S. and China, it is hedging its bets by deploying a version of DSRC on VW branded vehicles in Europe starting next year. A representative for VW said the German auto maker currently has no plans to introduce that technology to its lineup in the U.S. market.

The Trump administration, pointing to the expected proliferation of 5G, this year blocked the takeover of U.S. chip maker Qualcomm Inc. by Singapore-based Broadcom Ltd. on national-security grounds. Qualcomm is negotiating chip supply contracts with at least half a dozen auto makers for coming models.

Industry experts say 5G smartphones will debut next year and the first cars with 5G modems will appear as soon as 2020. That is about twice as fast as the transition for current 4G technology, which was introduced for smartphones in 2011 but didn’t show up in cars until GM integrated it into its latest version of OnStar remote communications in 2014.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is an active discussion going on now between the car companies that wish to pioneer 5G connectivity and those which are putting short-range communications chips in cars. In essence it is a war between a chip led technological revolution or a router led evolution.



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May 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Own an Android? You Might Not Get That Loan

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

Here are some of the other important variables mentioned in the Berg paper, based on the analysis of data collected by a German e-commerce company that sells furniture as it processed 270,399 purchases. (It ships the furniture first and gets paid later, so defaults are observable;  the annualized default rate is around 3 percent, roughly in line with the statistics for consumer loans issued by German banks and comparable with U.S. rates).

Those who order from mobile phones are three times as likely to default as those who order from desktops.  A customer who arrives at a shopping site from a comparison engine is twice as likely to default as one who clicks on a search engine ad.

A customer who uses her name in her email address is 30 percent less likely to default than one who doesn’t. But it’s better if the email address is linked to a paid internet or cable package than if it’s from a free service, especially an outdated one like hotmail.com or yahoo.com. And it’s better if the address contains no numbers.

Those who shop between noon and 6 p.m. are half as likely to default as midnight to 6 a.m. buyers. Businesses can also expect more trouble from those who make an error when typing in their email address or put in their name and address in all lowercase letters.

These findings seem intuitive. People with regular habits and better self-control are relatively more reliable than those who lack those qualities. People who pay for services (and expensive devices) are likely more affluent than people who don’t. According to the Berg paper, the model based on these parameters -- the most rudimentary data we provide to any site on which we have to register -- is slightly more predictive of default than the German equivalent of a FICO score. A model that uses both the digital footprint and the credit score is even more predictive.

There are, however, multiple problems with this kind of modeling, even apart from the widespread worry that black-box scoring algorithms could end up making decisions on the basis of race, gender or other equally sensitive variables.

Consider this hypothetical case: I’ve paid out two mortgages and never defaulted on a loan. But not only do I own a cheap Android device, I also give e- commerce sites a free email address with numbers in it, so they don’t spam my main address. Making matters worse, I often make purchases late at night because I’m too busy to surf shopping sites during the working day. I’m a fat-fingered typist. And I use shopping comparison sites to find the best price. This pretty much rings all the default bells in the Berg model; I’m clearly not the only person with a high credit rating who does: The Berg paper says the model’s results are weakly correlated with credit scores.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Big Data is going to be used to make decisions on our credit scores. I think it is a given considering the pace with which artificial intelligence systems are being implemented in large data sets. It doesn’t have to be an either/or situation particularly because there is a statistical difference between loose correlations and hard correlations.



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May 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Supercharging Its Model 3 Means Less Cobalt, More Nickel

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

Tesla Inc. may have some bad news for those betting on cobalt to continue its record-breaking rally, and good news for nickel bulls.

While the weight of its Model 3 is on par with gasoline- powered counterparts, its battery cells are of the highest energy density used in any electric vehicle, the Palo Alto, California-based company said Wednesday in a letter to shareholders.

“We have achieved this by significantly reducing cobalt content per battery pack while increasing nickel content and still maintaining superior thermal stability,” Tesla said.

Cobalt prices have more than tripled in the past couple of years as companies like Tesla strive to bring electric vehicles into the mainstream car market, and with supply largely dependent on a few mines in the politically volatile Democratic Republic of Congo. Nickel, which has gained about 50 percent in the same span, is far more widely available.

Tesla says the cobalt content in its nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a nickel- manganese-cobalt ratio of 8:1:1.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In the last six months I have seen estimates for when the 8:1:1 ratios of nickel : manganese : cobalt would be achieved in commercial batteries that ranged from 5 to 10 years from now. Tesla has these batteries in the limited number of Model 3 cars it is putting out today. That is a testament to exponential pace of technological innovation because it represents another powerful enhancement to energy density.



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May 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Think innovation will save the economy? That's probably an illusion.

Thanks to a subscriber for a link to this Washington Post article which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Not so fast, say critics. The negative trends affecting the economy reflect deep social problems that resist change. “Rising educational attainment during the 20th century was an important source of productivity growth,” writes Gordon, “but the pace of that increase slowed markedly after 1980.” The truth is that we’ve been trying to improve schools for decades with, at best, modest success.

Or take the drain of prime-age men from the job market. The main problem, argues Gordon, “reflects in large part the loss of stable middle-income employment opportunities.” The result has been fewer marriages, more drug use and more suicides, writes Gordon. None of this is easily altered. Among 20 advanced countries, the United States has the second-lowest labor-force participation rate of prime-age men. Only Italy is lower.

We seem to have entered a new economic era — one defined more by the limits on our economic power than by its promises. The explosion of new technologies seems to have fooled us into thinking that a burst of innovation will magically restore our economic vitality. On the evidence, this is a mirage.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I use YouTube when I want a refresher on how to wire a plug or replace a bulb in my car’s headlight. Unfortunately, my children live on YouTube, it’s a substitute for TV but they also post videos of their own. However, it is hard to justify endless videos of cats or people falling over as being beneficial to the economy beyond being a distraction. If that is your measure of technological innovation then you really should get out more.

Cancer costs the global economy about $1 trillion a year. Even today that is still a lot of money. By comparison the global economy spends about $6 trillion on energy a year.



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May 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chinese Surveillance Is Literally Getting in Workers' Heads

This article by Kristin Houser for futurism may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Here’s how it works. Lightweight sensors embedded in workers’ hats or helmets wirelessly transmit the wearer’s brainwave data to a computer — it probably works a bit like an electroencephalogram (EEG), as MIT Tech Review notes. Then, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms scan the data, looking for outliers that could indicate anxiety or rage.

Some organizations use the sensors during routine work, while others embed them in virtual reality (VR) headsets to monitor workers’ emotions during training exercises.

We don’t know exactly how many workers have been subjected to this surveillance system, but the SCMP article does say the technology is being deployed “on an unprecedented scale” in China.

At least a dozen Chinese factories and businesses are using the emotional surveillance system to monitor workers, according to the SCMP report. Manufacturing company Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric uses it to keep tabs on production line workers, while State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power monitors workers as they help the company provide power to the Zhejiang province. The nation’s military, public transportation companies, and various state-owned businesses use it, too.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It turns out George Orwell was not imaginative enough when he came up with the premise for 1984. I have to admit my favourite book of all time is the Master and Margarita because it so expertly challenges the mores of one society with what are held out to the reader as objective facts quite beyond the lexicon of many of the characters. 



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May 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Race for 5G Speeds Up, Lifting West's Top Suppliers

This article by Stu Woo for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Partly because of the stepped-up pace, Nokia said Thursday it now expects industrywide declines in equipment sales to carriers to come in less than feared. Nokia said those sales should fall just 1% to 3% in 2018. In February, Nokia predicted a 2% to 4% drop.

Meanwhile, Ericsson shares have risen 20% since it reported last week that its losses narrowed sharply. Investors see a turnaround effort—involving cutting jobs and divesting itself of businesses that aren’t related to selling telecom equipment—taking hold. Ericsson also sees 5G momentum rising in the U.S.

Chief Executive Borje Ekholm said carriers in North America are “investing heavily…in order to be early on 5G.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In much the same way that batteries, gene editing and the microchip are enabling technologies, 5G has the potential to deliver the connectivity speeds that will power the next wave of connected devices. Everything from the billions of sensors predicted by the Internet of Things to autonomous vehicles will depend on fast, seamless internet connectivity while mobile. That is going to require a completely new infrastructure development push to get the networks built before the reality of these expected innovations can be realised.



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April 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the long-term outlook and potential for inflation

In your 10/April long-term themes review, you said: "So, the big question many people have is if we accept the bullish hypothesis how do we justify the second half of this bull market based on valuations where they are today? ..... However, the answer is also going to have to include inflation. "

My thoughts, not in any particular order:

If we look at Robert Shiller's research ~1870-now, on the US share market, his studies show that historically, extreme valuations in the US share market (as assessed by cyclically adjusted P/E ratio) have always been followed by poor average real return over the following 10-20 years."
You point to inflation as to how a secular bull market (in nominal terms implied) can now occur for the US share market (by implications I think you are reflecting on the US share market) over say the next 10-15 years (say).  You use the experience of Argentina and Venezuela as justification for your argument - where from memory, there was hyperinflation in the periods to which you refer.

First, I do not think you are suggesting hyperinflation for the USA .... mismatch 1.
For Argentina and Venezuela, I think their currencies also crashed. I do not think you are suggesting the US dollar is going to crash. Possible mismatch 2.
Rather than a comparison with Venezuela and Argentina, perhaps a better analogy is to the period in the USA following the late 1960s, when US share markets where at quite high valuations (though not nearly as expensive as now on a CAPE basis). Following the peak valuations of the late 1960s, the US share market went sideways (with some large dips) over the next 16 years or so.

In summary, I am not sure that your argument is particularly robust.  Yes, the technological revolution is a critically important new phase which will have a huge impact over the next 10 and 20 years..... and there may well be a secular bull market in that sector ... but does that really mean that the technology sector by itself will take the whole S&P500 with it in a secular bull market for the next 10 or 20 years?

Your thoughts?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which gave me plenty of room for thought. My first reflection is that one of the benefits of this service is the Socratic dialectical method unfolds in real time as these big topics offer endless room for discussion and revision. I spent a good deal of time talking about long-term cycles in the Big Picture Video on the 27th which you may find of interest. 



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April 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump Tax Windfall Going to Capex Way Faster Than Stock Buybacks

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

The data is a fresh rebuttal to those who warned that hundreds of billions of dollars of tax relief will head directly to the stock market and be harvested by shareholders already fattened by a nine-year bull market. While buybacks indeed got a boost from the windfall, companies increased the rate at which they unleash cash for building factories and upgrading equipment, a strategy that’s preferred by investors for the benefit of future growth.

Corporate buybacks, while increasingly a key pillar of the second-longest bull market on record, are constantly drawing criticism from politicians and money managers as being short-sighted. By their line of logic, companies take advantage of low interest rates to borrow money and buy back shares as a quick way to boost per-share earnings. In doing so, they’re forgoing investment opportunities that may benefit long-term growth.

In the past year, shares of companies with the highest layouts on repurchases and dividends relative to market value are trailing those that spend most on capital expense by almost 5 percentage points, according to data compiled by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bloomberg.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Capital expenditure is an interesting topic considering how much the complexion of industrial base has changed over the last decade. Warehouses have replaced retail space, robots are replacing workers and the cloud is replacing office space. Therefore, when we think about what companies are going to be spending their tax windfall on it is probably going to be on warehouses, robots and servers.



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April 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

World's lithium king is ready to unleash a flood of new supply

This article from Bloomberg appeared in Mining.com and may be of interest. Here is a section:

“There is a legitimate concern on the side of battery manufacturers about long-term availability of supply,” said Daniel Jimenez, an SQM vice president who recently estimated that the industry will require a capital investment of $10 billion to $12 billion in the next decade to meet demand.

The green light to mine vastly more lithium, combined with pending changes in its ownership structure, has suddenly put SQM in the sights of several global mining companies, including London-based giant Rio Tinto Group. Among the most aggressive bidders is China’s Tianqi Lithium Corp., which has offered to buy SQM shares at a 20 percent premium, Eduardo Bitran, the former head of government development agency Corfo, said earlier this year.

“Tianqi owning the stake would be another step towards overall Chinese consolidation of the lithium industry,” Chris Berry, a New York-based energy-metals analyst and founder of House Mountain Partners LLC., said in an email.

Eoin Treacy's view -

SQM’s growth projections have been among the chief catalysts in the decline of lithium miners over the last few months. The big question is how quickly demand picks up over the next decade to absorb additional supply. Lithium was a supply inelasticity meets rising demand market from 2013 but really only garnered interest in the last couple of years as the shares turned to outperformance. Supply is now increasing so we are likely to see more volatility in the respective shares. This story further highlights China's intention to be the dominant force in the electric car sector. 

 

 



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April 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer dramatically improves survival, researchers report

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

An immunotherapy treatment — one that boosts the immune system — has improved survival in people newly diagnosed with the most common form of lung cancer (advanced non–small-cell lung cancer), according to an open-access study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study results were presented last Monday, April 16, at the annual American Association for Cancer Research conference in Chicago.

Cutting the risk of dying in half. The new study, led by thoracic medical oncologist Leena Gandhi, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine and director of the thoracic medical oncology program at NYU’s Perlmutter Cancer Center, shows that treating lung cancer by a combination of immunotherapy with Merck’s Keytruda (aka pembrolizumab) and chemotherapy is more effective than chemotherapy alone, according to a statement by NYU Langone Health.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is easy to forget during a period of market turbulence that the capital markets cycle and the technology cycle are not the same thing. The former affects the price of securities but the latter represents the basis for long-term value.



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April 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Across the Valley

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Pantera Capital focusing on cryptocurrencies which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Bitcoin crashed in no uncertain terms in the first quarter of this year; losing about 70% of its value. As the first and largest of the cryptocurrencies it represented the epicentre of risk during the crash and therefore is also likely to be the most likely to form a lengthy base formation.



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April 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on what to own in the latter stages of a bull market

Hello Eoin, Whatever age you happen to be, it is always salutary to lose a parent. A constant pillar in one's life has gone and no more questions can be asked. It brings into relief one's own fragility and mortality in a way that few, if any, other deaths will do. I hope your mother's passing was a comfortable one. My condolences to you and your family.

While it is probably improper to revert immediately to business, I am sure you will want to re-immerse yourself in the observation and interpretation of markets without delay. On this basis, I have a question:

Given that we believe we are heading for monetary contraction, a rise in interest rates and accelerating inflation how should we be positioning portfolios? Banks and resources should be well bid for the time being and Japan should benefit from inflation.

But how about India, China and the other economies of North and South East Asia? What sectors and markets are best avoided? At what point does one accumulate cash? Gold is much talked about as an inflation hedge but that will be a shooting star - it might soar in the near future but it will then weaken once more. It is to be regarded as a hedge or a trade, not as an investment - at least that's my view.

In my own portfolio, I've trimmed China and India, reduced or eliminated high flying 'big-tech' stocks (but not touched PCT), increased my Japan weighting and increased cash. I'm probably underweight gold. I plan to accumulate more cash but at this stage, I've no idea what holdings I shall reduce or sell over the coming months. Providing one is not losing money, investment is fun but over the next two or three years, I suspect there will be plenty of opportunities to lose money which we should try to avoid. It's a tough time for you and you have plenty on your plate but if you care to comment on these musings it would be much appreciated. All best.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your condolences. The outpouring of warmth and compassion from subscribers has been enormously gratifying for my whole family and I. My mother’s passing leaves a hole in the wider family, since she was the matriarch in no uncertain terms, but it has also encouraged us all to work harder at communicating.

This is a detailed question and there is no one simple answer. I’ll attempt to more fully explore these issues over the course of the next few days and weeks but here are some of my current thoughts.



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April 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on guest publications and lithium miners

What are your current views on lithium and lithium miners?

I continue to enjoy your tour de force reporting and analysis. Nothing stops you, not even airline travel. Amazing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this question which I’m sure will be of interest to other subscribers. It’s been a busy few weeks, what with an enjoyable and educative trip to Japan last week and the upcoming flight to Melbourne for The Chart Seminar and another conference next week, where I’m looking forward to chatting with Marc Faber.

Sometimes I look back with a sense of yearning on the days when David could still take a month off in August to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats and back again. In fact, part of the reason he brought me onboard in 2003 was to ensure the service could move to a seamless daily publication schedule.

I’m beginning to think about how to arrange taking a holiday over the summer. David used to invite guest writers to contribute copy to the site when he was away and I would like to do the same thing while I am away for perhaps two weeks in July or August. If any subscribers are interested in submitting an article during that time please let me know and I would be happy to discuss the conditions under which that might be appropriate.

Now let’s turn to lithium miners.



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April 11 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

High-Flying Tiny Satellites Could Get Boost From FCC

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

New FCC rules could entice small satellite operators, such as Planet Labs Inc. and Pumpkin Inc., to expand the use of their devices and attract more customers and investors. They could also prompt other industries to consider using less-expensive satellites to comb the planet for profit-boosting opportunities—from insurers busting fraudsters to farmers tracking crop changes.

The interest in small satellites—which can range in size from postage stamp to small refrigerator—has grown rapidly in recent years. There were 335 small satellites launched in 2017, six times the total in 2012, according to a 2018 report from consultancy Bryce Space and Technology. Small satellites typically hitch a ride on rockets with other items, and their stints in space are short.

“More satellites mean more regulatory reviews. Hence the problem: our current regulations weren’t designed with these smaller satellites in mind,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wrote in a March 26 blog post.

The agency’s proposal also raises the question of space junk, a term that refers to millions of used fragments of rockets and satellites that crowd earth orbits. Loosening rules to allow more satellites, even small ones, could heighten such concerns.

The FCC, in its deliberations, will address “limiting orbital debris,” Pai said in the blog.

The measure is “reflecting the state of the industry—it’s changing,” Lisa Ruth Rand, a technology historian who researches space debris, told Bloomberg Law.

Regulators should keep in mind that extremely small satellites—too small for tracking technology to detect—can endanger other satellites and cause crashes, Rand said. “Hopefully these regulations will acknowledge the fact that, very literally, the landscape of outer space is changing,” she said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of nanosatellite technology represents a significant enabler for data accumulation, monitoring, under developed countries to skip whole stages of development and for global technology companies to gain access to markets they are currently blocked from.

 



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April 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Xi Warns Against Returning to a 'Cold War Mentality'

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

“Human society is facing a major choice to open or close, to go forward or backward,” Xi told hundreds of investors gathered on the resort island of Hainan, in a speech that didn’t mention Trump’s name. “In today’s world, the trend of peace and cooperation is moving forward and the Cold War mentality and zero-sum-game thinking are outdated.”

Trade talks between the world’s biggest economies broke down last week after the Trump administration demanded that China take steps to curtail support for high-technology industries, a person familiar with the situation said. The conciliatory tone of Xi’s speech helped bring risk appetite back to Asian markets as shares from Sydney to Hong Kong rose alongside oil and metals and Treasuries extended declines with gold and the yen.

Eoin Treacy's view -

As soon as Mrs. Treacy’s old school friends have children she gets a friends request on WeChat. They begin planning at birth to send their child abroad to be educated. Only last week she was approached to be a guardian for one child about to enter high school and to help arrange a scouting trip for another family whose son is now five.



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April 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on programming errors in autonomous vehicles

Now here's a thought from your friendly local software expert: Microsoft Windows has approximately 50 million lines of code and 1 defect per 2,000 lines of production code (as reported by Sogeti Labs). Industry production code is often reported to have 15-50 defects per 1,000 lines of code (Kloc). My head says Windows therefore has 25,000 defects. Not all defects can be tested out. Not all defects get "seen", because they are in rarely-executed code. Not all "seen" defects cause the blue screen of death, of course. But some do. ("The blue screen of death" is when a computer freezes up completely - on Windows machines, a blue screen is displayed with basic information intended to help an expert determine what went wrong.)

According to The Visual Capitalist, the autonomous control software in a self-driving car has about 100 million lines of code (and growing), so if a self-driving car has the same software quality as Windows, it should only have about 50,000 defects. Not all defects get "seen", because they are in rarely-executed code. Not all "seen" defects cause the blue screen of death, of course. But some do.

Oh, but but but the pointy-hair guy (the non software engineer) proclaims loudly, surely Tesla does a much better job of testing than Microsoft (with a LOT less engineers than Microsoft, maybe just to mention). And of course the other companies building similar software will also do a much better job of testing. Wow, maybe 10x better. So that self-driving car which will be hurtling you down the crowded freeway at 75 mph should only have 5,000 defects. (If you believe you can get 10x better testing results without spending a lot more than 10x the $, I have a really cool virtual bridge to sell you.) Not all defects get "seen", because they are in rarely-executed code. Not all "seen" defects cause the blue screen of death, of course. But some do...

Microsoft actually does a good job of testing. 10x better quality is really hard, and doing it with less resources, maybe not so doable. The space shuttle is the only large piece of production code that I know of where defect density was driven to near-zero - it cost many thousands of dollars per line to get that result, and the system was only 400,000 lines of code.

Hop in, let's let the car take us for a spin.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this account which highlights the enormity of the challenge in getting self- driving cars on the road. There appears to be a “you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs” attitude surrounding the sector right now. However, with the number of fatalities mounting from both Tesla’s semi-autonomous features and now Uber’s killing of a pedestrian the focus of attention is likely to be turned towards the safety of these products.



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March 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Amazon in Trump's Crosshairs: Here's What the President Could Do

This article by Ben Brody, Todd Shields and David McLaughlin for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

President Donald Trump renewed his long- running assault on Amazon.com Inc. with an early morning tweet Thursday. But what measures can he actually take against the online retail giant?

He could push for probes of consumer protection, privacy and antitrust issues. He could also step up his support for allowing states to collect sales tax on third-party purchases from Amazon, or seek to have the Postal Service charge more to deliver packages. And he could thwart Amazon’s aspirations to win a multibillion dollar Pentagon contract for cloud services.

Even with those powers, Trump’s ability to act has limits. Inquiries by the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission could take years and bear a high burden of proof. The FTC and other enforcement agencies guard their independence, as does the board of governors of the Postal Service. Changes to the tax law would require cooperation from Congress, which just passed a tax overhaul and may have limited appetite to reopen negotiations.

The feud pits the world’s most powerful man against one of the world’s biggest corporations -- a global titan with $684 billion in market capitalization and more than half a million employees. At stake is its reputation, revenue and, potentially, ability to continue to disrupt markets as it reshapes retailing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Capitalism trends towards consolidation, as the strong eventually consume the weak and further dominate their respective sectors. That has created a comparatively small number of companies that we refer to as Autonomies which are truly global in scale and exert considerable sway both over their national indices but the global sectors in which they reside.



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March 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Bad Could It Get, Counting the Cost of a Global Trade War

This report from Bloomberg Economics may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section on the factors that led to the current tensions on trade and tariffs:

There were also losers:

U.S. labor groups, it turns out, were right to be suspicious of China’s arrival in the global market. Taken together with a shift toward more capital—intensive production, the result was stagnant wage growth. Between 2001 and 2016, real income for the bottom 20% of U.S. households didn’t rise at all, and wages for the middle 20% managed only a 4% increase.

Mercantilist policies in China (combined with an irresponsible approach to financial regulation and mortgage lending in the U.S.) resulted in a buildup of major global imbalances. China’s current account surplus ballooned to 9.9% of GDP in 2007 from 1.3% in 2001. U.S. current account deficit peaked at 5.8% of GDP in 2006. The recycling of China’s surplus back into U.S. Treasuries kept U.S. borrowing costs too low for too long, an important background condition for the real estate bubble and financial crisis.

For foreign policy hawks, the strategic benefits were outweighed by the costs. China didn’t democratize, in fact it doubled down on its single—party model. Worse still from Washington’s point of view, China’s rise means it now jostles with the U.S. for global influence, and on straight—line projections may overtake in terms of economic size in the next decade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Taken in the context of the total trade between China and the USA and indeed the USA and everywhere else, the total amount announced as tariffs is comparatively small but the knock-on effect to sentiment has been severe and quick.



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March 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric Cars May Be Cheaper Than Gas Guzzlers in Seven Years

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

Electric cars may be cheaper than their petroleum counterparts by 2025 if the cost of lithium-ion batteries continues to fall.

Some models will cost the same as combustion engines as soon as 2024 and become cheaper the following year, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. For that to happen, battery pack prices need to fall even as demand for the metals that go into the units continues to rise, the London-based researcher said on Thursday.

The clamor to roll out electric vehicles has grown louder as countries and companies race to clean up smog in their cities and hit ambitious climate goals set by the Paris Agreement. U.K. lawmakers started an inquiry into the market in September, probing the necessary infrastructure and trying to determine whether to bring forward the 2040 deadline to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla has one major undeniable achievement to its name. It made electric cars sexy. Before Elon Musk delivered his roadster, electric vehicles were a hard sell, plagued by perceptions of inconvenience. However, in little more than a decade, they have become so desirable that just about every car company is planning on investing billions in manufacturing capacity.



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March 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As Trump Takes On China, Another Trade Challenge Looms in Asia

This article by Connor Cislo and Jiyeun Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But at the same time, there’s been a spike in sales to China of precision metal working machines and equipment for making chips from firms like Japan’s Yaskawa Electric Corp. With a Chinese state-backed fund gearing up to pour as much as $31.5 billion into homegrown semiconductor manufacturing, there’s potential for trade flows to start to shift.

China’s ambitions, set out in its sweeping Made in China 2025 plan, go much further than semiconductors and would see its technical prowess advance in a host of areas, ranging from bio- medicine and artificial intelligence to new-energy vehicles and aircraft. The challenge to Japan, Korea and Taiwan also applies to European exporters like Germany, and comes on top of the risks to global trade from the Trump administration’s embrace of tariffs.

"The bits of the global supply chain that are currently the preserve of Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., and Germany, are the bits of the supply chain that China has a decade-long industrial strategy to move into," said Tom Orlik, Bloomberg’s chief Asia economist. He said it’s only a matter of time before many components for electronic products are made domestically and the country is on track to become a car exporter. Eventually, it will be selling airplanes, said Orlik.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is moving up the value chain in just about all industries. It’s policies in achieving that goal are openly mercantilist. It has unabashedly supported domestic industry by whatever means necessary, closed off the mainland market to global competitors, engaged in industrial espionage on a grand scale and none of these actions are without precedent.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Protectionism Risks? What's Next?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley which may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report and section from it are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

This is a very measured report which I think is underplaying the short-term volatility tariffs are likely to provoke. Bilateral trade between the USA and China is substantial and US companies have invested considerable resources in developing customer bases in China. They are far from immune from Chinese retaliatory measures which over the course of the medium-term will likely be ironed out but probably not before there is some pain felt on both sides.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tencent Drops After Warning Spending to Weigh on Profit Margins

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

Tencent’s business revolves largely around its vast social networks WeChat and QQ, the twin platforms through which more than a billion people consume games, news and online entertainment while paying for a plethora of real-world services. Chief Executive Officer Ma Huateng is now angling to grab a larger slice of an advertising pie dominated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., while investing in new areas such as financial, retail and computing services.

“Tencent needs to invest in new business, it would help the company build a better ecosystem infrastructure to support growth, but it will hurt margins in the short term,” said Benjamin Wu, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy Pacific Epoch.

Analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG and Citigroup Inc. lowered their earnings estimates for Tencent after the results.

Tencent’s quarterly profit included gains in the quarter of 7.9 billion-yuan thanks mainly to the initial public offerings of Sea Ltd., Sogou Inc. and Yixin Group Ltd. Those are just three of the 600 companies the company has invested in.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I don’t know a Chinese person, either by birth or heritage, that does not use WeChat. That fact alone means it is going to be more expensive to gain new customers.



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March 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review March 7th 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

FullerTreacyMoney has a very varied group of people as subscribers. Some of you like to receive our views in written form, while others prefer the first-person experience of listening to the audio or watching daily videos.

The Big Picture Long-Term video, posted every Friday, is aimed squarely at anyone who does not have the time to read the daily commentary but wishes to gain some perspective on what we think the long-term outlook holds. However, I think it is also important to have a clear written record for where we lie in terms of the long-term themes we have identified, particularly as short-term market machinations influence perceptions.

Here is a brief summary of my view at present.



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March 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality

This report from Bain & Co. by Karen Harris, Austin Kimson and Andrew Schwedel may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

We expect the magnitude of workforce change in the 2020s to match that of the automation of agriculture from 1900 to 1940. However, the transition of farm workers into the industrial sector was spread out over four decades. In the case of the automation of manufacturing, the impact was over a shorter time period (roughly 20 years), but the share of labor force in manufacturing jobs was relatively small in the US. Investment in automation is likely to proceed moderately faster than agricultural automation or manufacturing automation unless other forces act to impede its progress, and it will affect a larger percentage of the total workforce.

The tension between the push to offset slowing labor force growth with automation and the pull to slow automation's rollout to prevent massive disruption will play out over the next 10 to 20 years. But once the first companies begin deploying new forms of automation, others are likely to follow suit rapidly to stay competitive.

The base-case scenario
Based on the magnitude and speed of change, our base-case scenario could result in about 2.5 million jobs per year lost or not created because of automation. Previous transformations provide an interesting comparison. The automation of agriculture transformed national economies and disrupted labor markets, culminating in the Great Depression. But if that event occurred today, scaled to the current population and labor force, it would displace 1.2 million workers per year. The rate of reabsorption from the automation of agriculture was about 700,000 workers a year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Technology is disruptive and inherently deflationary. The rise of the robot represents a significant secular theme and for the millions of workers who are going to be affected their only resource is likely to be at the ballot box.



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March 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook Plunges as Pressure Mounts on Zuckerberg Over Data

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

Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are calling on Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to appear before lawmakers to explain how U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica, the data-analysis firm that helped Donald Trump win the U.S. presidency, was able to harvest the personal information.

Facebook has already testified about how its platform was used by Russian propagandists ahead of the 2016 election, but the company never put Zuckerberg himself in the spotlight with government leaders. The pressure may also foreshadow tougher regulation for the social network.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota and John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, have called on the chairman of the Judiciary Committee to bring in technology company CEOs, including from Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, for public questioning.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The status quo was shaken by the election of Donald Trump and the rise of populist causes right across Europe and parts of Asia. Whether this is as a result of Russian propaganda or demographic/personality profiling is missing the point. A deep vein of discontent has been tapped by emotional rhetoric which is a symptom of political change regardless of the avenue through which it is delivered. That is contributing to polarity in political views which is likely to intensify until a new reform agenda has been implemented and it could take a decade of political disfunction to achieve it.



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March 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New study rips into cobalt, lithium price bulls

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Prominent commodities research house Wood Mackenzie this week released a report on battery materials that forecasts a decline in the price of cobalt and lithium this year which would turn into a rout from 2019 onwards.

Woodmac is not lowballing demand growth for lithium and the authors expect demand to grow from 233 kilotonnes (kt) in 2017 to 330kt of lithium carbonate equivalent in 2020 and 405kt in 2022, but:

… the supply response is under way. Yet it will take some time for this new capacity to materialise as battery-grade chemicals. As such, we expect relatively high price levels to be maintained over 2018. However, for 2019 and beyond, supply will start to outpace demand more aggressively and price levels will decline in turn.

According to Woodmac data, spot lithium carbonate prices on the domestic market in China are already down 6% from December levels to around $24,500 a tonne while international market prices have remained robust rising to $16,000 at the end of February.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Lithium and cobalt represent the freshest iterations of the supply inelasticity meets rising demand condition that contributes to the cyclicality of mining ventures. Batteries are now big business and with Volkswagen saying this week that it is willing to outspend Tesla on batteries by the early 2020s the demand portion of the market is well affirmed.



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March 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Volkswagen Steps Up Tesla Rivalry in $25 Billion Battery Buy

This article by Chris Reiter and Christoph Rauwald for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

Volkswagen AG secured 20 billion euros ($25 billion) in battery supplies to underpin an aggressive push into electric cars in the coming years, ramping up pressure on Tesla Inc. as it struggles with production issues for the mainstream Model 3.

The world’s largest carmaker will equip 16 factories to produce electric vehicles by the end of 2022, compared with three currently, Volkswagen said Tuesday in Berlin. The German manufacturer’s plans to build as many as 3 million of the cars a year by 2025 is backstopped by deals with suppliers including Samsung SDI Co., LG Chem Ltd. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. for batteries in Europe and China.

With the powerpack deliveries secured for its two biggest markets, a deal for North America will follow shortly, Volkswagen said. In total, the Wolfsburg-based automaker has said it plans to purchase about 50 billion euros in batteries as part of its electric-car push, which includes three new models in 2018 with dozens more following. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Volkswagen needs a new strategy if it is going to get past the diesel scandal, so embracing batteries whether for all-electric or hybrid vehicles is a solution. By committing to such a large purchase of batteries it will overtake Tesla as the largest consumer and this announcement helps to backstop demand for the world’s largest battery producers as well as the miners that produce the requisite metals.



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March 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's investments in research and innovation

This is a hot topic with two subscribers sending through articles from different authors covering the same topic for newspaper columns.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Links to both articles are posted in the Subscriber's Area.

China was making headlines today because Xi Jinping’s bid to remain in power following the end of his official term was rubber stamped by the People’s Congress today. It has been a key object of Xi’s to do everything possible to ensure China sits on a level playing field with the USA on the international stage. Modernisation of the military, greater surveillance of the domestic population, strengthening the nation’s censorship of the internet, the Belt and Road infrastructure program, dominating international engagement with African countries, spending on research and development and infiltration of university campuses in the OECD are all part of that plan.



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March 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bigger U.S. Auctions in Shorter Time Seen Boosting Yields

This note by Brian Chappatta for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bond traders have to contend with both larger auction sizes and a condensed schedule when the U.S. Treasury sells $28 billion of three-year notes and $21 billion of 10-year notes on March 12. To JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists, that combination signals a weak reception. Last month’s offerings, the first since 2009 to increase in size, priced at yields higher than the market was indicating heading into the sales. The 3- and 10-year auctions are usually spaced out over two days, but when they came on the same day in December, yields also missed higher.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bull markets don’t often end because demand evaporates. They usually end because the surge in prices encourages supply into the market and that eventually overwhelms demand. There is no shortage of new supply, in fact the USA’s decision to double its deficit is the latest in a long line of issuers who have been locking in low rates. The fact that one of the biggest buyers, the Fed, is now a net seller, should be giving investors pause when thinking about the value represented by bonds at close to 3%.



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March 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Autodesk's results

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

Autodesk continues to show steady progress in shifting to a subscription model, which has boosted its recurring sales. Subscriber additions continued to be aided by its discounting and other promotions for converting legacy license users to subscription offerings. The company has bundled its products to boost annual recurring revenue (ARR) and average revenue per subscriber (ARPS). While upsell of subscription products to its maintenance subscribers is aiding sales momentum, new cloud products are unlikely to be a growth driver in the near term.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Subscription business models have been growing in popularity among technology companies since Adobe first explored the concept about five years ago. Historically technology has been a highly cyclical business with each new iteration of the product or software resulting in a surge in sales which subsequently led to declines as sales growth tapered off while support costs rose. The cycle would be repeated with each new product offering and this also put a lot of pressure on companies to come up with a new iteration that was measurably better than the last to justify the additional outlay.



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February 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

February 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Naspers CEO Exploring Amsterdam IPO for Some Units, FD Says

This article by Wout Vergauwen and Loni Prinsloo for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Van Dijk sees investment in e-commerce businesses as helping to reduce a valuation gap with Naspers’s stake in Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., which is worth more than the company as a whole. E-commerce units, which include online food delivery in India and educational software in the U.S., have the highest potential for an initial public offering, Het Financieele Dagblad cited the CEO as saying. He didn’t set a timeline.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If Naspers decides to list its ecommerce ventures in Amsterdam the question of whether that will include its 30% stake in Tencent is going to have a major influence on the market since it almost certainly represent a powerful new high growth addition to the Euro STOXX 50. 



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February 20 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Walmart Tumbles After Slowing Online Growth Jolts Investors

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


At the same time, Walmart Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon is trying to convert the company’s brick-and-mortar shoppers into online customers, who spend almost twice as much overall and seek out higher-priced items.

At Walmart’s e-commerce unit, sales rose 23 percent last quarter. That’s less than half the pace of previous periods. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company had been getting a tailwind from its acquisition of Jet.com, an online upstart that it bought in 2016. Still, the company maintained its full-year forecast for online sales growth of about 40 percent.

The company needs to widen its e-commerce base, especially among younger and professional demographics, said Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Wal-Mart is spending a lot of money on its ecommerce platform but the cold reality is that its backend is antiquated compared to that offered by Amazon, eBay or Etsy. Maybe it is focusing on selling its own products over those of third party sellers but if that is the case one has to question why it has been marketing to Amazon sellers so aggressively. 
 



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February 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Low Will Retail Go? Look at the Railroad

This article by Stephen Mihm for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers

And that is the likely fate of conventional retail. Like the railroad, there’s an extraordinarily surfeit of retail space built with little consideration of what the market will actually sustain; recent declines in the retail revenue per square foot in brick-and-mortar stores suggests that things are getting worse, fast. And like the railroad, there’s a new way of doing business on the block, except that instead of changing how we move people and goods, online retailing promises a new way of delivering them to the end consumer. 

If the per capita retail footprint declined as much as the railroads did, it would fall all the way down to 2.82 square feet per capita. That’s a lot of empty malls and defunct big box stores, but retail won’t disappear any more than the railroads have gone extinct.

In fact, in 2014, the inflation-adjusted revenue that railroads earn per mile of track is 2.7 times what it was a century ago. More startling still, the so-called “ton miles” of freight carried on the nation’s railroads (a ton mile is one ton of freight carried one mile) has tripled since 1960, even as the total size of the operational railroad system has declined dramatically.

That points to the likely future of conventional retail: a drastic reduction in the per capita footprint, with the remaining stores capable of earning far more money per square foot. It’s not the brightest of futures. But it’s also not the end of the world.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Near where I live in Los Angeles, a large mall is close to shutting since it’s primary tenants, Macys and Nordstrom, have decamped to the newly refurbished Westfield mall in Century City near Beverly Hills. The two malls are about a mile apart but until a couple of years ago Macys seems to have been comfortable with the idea of having two large stores within close proximity of one another. In between the two malls the only businesses that have survived are universally service oriented. So, what is going to be done with all the empty commercial space sitting on valuable pieces of real estate?



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February 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Robots Are Coming for Garment Workers. That's Good for the U.S., Bad for Poor Countries

This article by Jon Emont for the Wall Street Journal covers a theme I have been highlighting for years. Here is a section: 

The apparel industry—unlike cars or electronics—seemed protected. Fabrics are notoriously difficult to work with, meaning nimble human hands are often better than machines. There was plenty of labor in Bangladesh, Cambodia and China, reducing the urgency to automate.

But labor costs have been climbing, even in developing countries. And technology is becoming so advanced that machines can increasingly handle difficult tasks such as manipulating pliable fabrics, stitching pockets and attaching belt loops to pants.

All that is upending the economics of the apparel industry, which long served as the first rung on the economic ladder for poorer countries, especially in Asia. A 2016 International Labor Organization study predicted some Asian nations could lose more than 80% of their garment, textile and apparel manufacturing jobs as automation spreads.

“I worry about developing countries—they are in the bull's-eye of this automation revolution” as robots master repetitive tasks once dominated by poor nations, said Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy. Most jobs of the future require significant skills training—and that is where more-developed nations thrive, he said. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The textile sector has for generations represented the first rung on the road to economic development. That is probably still the case since there are still plenty of low cost, high population areas, not least in Africa.

However, while in previous generations a country could rely on the textile sector for job growth for decades, technological innovation now demands much faster progression up the value chain as well as the fostering of a domestic market. 



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February 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cisco Surges to Highest in 17 Years on Bullish Earnings Outlook

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

Cisco is one of the richest companies in the technology industry. It has more than $70 billion in cash, most of which was earned overseas and parked there. The company will now bring back some of that money and devote an additional $25 billion to buying back stock. Cisco took a charge of $11.1 billion related to new tax laws, leading to a net loss of $1.78 a share in the second quarter. Excluding some items, it reported a profit of 63 cents a share, beating analysts’ estimates for 59 cents.

Sales rose for the first time in eight quarters to $11.9 billion in the three months ended Jan. 27, also coming in ahead of estimates.

Robbins is seeking to restore the growth that once made Cisco the biggest company in technology. It’s a challenge amid a fundamental change in the networking industry that’s forcing Cisco to acquire new skills and adapt its business model. The technology of networks is increasingly shifting to software control and security of data flow and away from fixed-purpose hardware. At the same time, some of the largest buyers of gear -- owners of data centers such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Corp.’s Azure -- are increasingly designing their own hardware forcing Cisco to come up with new, cheaper and more flexible products that might interest them.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A $25 billion buyback program is enough to move the needle for the majority of shares and Cisco extended the breakout from its more than decade long base formation. 



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February 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Silicon Valley's Tax-Avoiding, Job Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by Scott Galloway for Esquire which may be of interest. Here is a section:

content machine, dominating the majority of phones worldwide. Now “what’s on your mind?”

Four hundred hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, which means that Google has more video content than any other entity on earth. It also controls the operating system on two billion Android devices. But AT&T needs to divest Adult Swim?

Perhaps Trump is right that the merger of AT&T and Time Warner is unreasonable, but if so, then we should have broken up the Four ten years ago. Each of the Four, after all, wields a harmful monopolistic power that leverages market dominance to restrain trade. But where is the Department of Justice? Where are the furious Trump tweets? Convinced that the guys on the other side of the door are Christlike innovators, come to save humanity with technology, we’ve allowed our government to fall asleep at the wheel.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Capitalism trends towards concentration as the large and strong consume the weak. Despite claims to the contrary, it in the interests of company executives to ensure the company they work for comes out on top by whatever means necessary. It is rare in the extreme that fines levied, after the fact, match the benefit from ensuring a competitor’s demise. Therefore, large companies, that dominate their respective niches, tend to persist for as long as they retain the hunger to dominate. 



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February 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on selling down to the sleep level

Your continuing analyses are invaluable.  A week ago, on 6 Feb 2018 when the Dow had its 1175-point fall, the report hit the news headlines in Western Australia at 5.30 am.  My wife woke me to say, “Sorry for waking you but I’ve just heard on the news that the Dow Index has collapsed by more than 1,100 points; I thought that you may want to do something”.  I calmly advised her that I had already sold all our US shares. I pulled the blanket over my head and went back to sleep.  That peace of mind came from implementing your guidance.

Today I read an optimistic forecast which may be worth sharing with readers. The analysis said:

“While those all-time-low fixed income yields are rising thanks to forthcoming inflation, S&P 500 earnings are also rising, thanks to robust economic strength and tax reform. That means valuations no longer need to be sky-high to support higher stock prices.

The analysis then referred to the “Equity Risk Premium (ERP)”and argues that because equity earnings are expected to rise, the premium will rise more rapidly than the 10-year bond yield and support higher prices.

The full article is at: 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this heart-warming account and interesting article which lays out what I consider to be the most common argument on Wall Street for why stocks should continue higher. This is based on outsized earnings growth projections and the assumption 3% is an important floor for Treasury prices. 



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February 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Faces Several 'Irreversible Negative Catalysts

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

Tesla now faces a steady stream of severe and largely irreversible negative catalysts, including tax- credit expiration, broad competitive entry and platform quality issues, Hedgeye writes in a note.

Says TSLA’s demand is at risk; while the bull story is that "people want these cars," delays, competition and reliability are likely to jeopardize this assumption

Notes battery degradation, quality issues; says aging platforms are likely to become an increasing issue for would-be buyers

TSLA shares have dropped 11% since reporting 4Q results on Feb. 7 post-market vs the S&P 500 Index (SPX) falling 2.9% over the same period.

TSLA short interest 21.6% of free float vs year-low of 18.8% in Oct., high of 29.2% in April: Markit data

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla doesn’t make money so every source of fresh capital is important to the company. Having tapped the bond and equity markets the company began taking deposits for its Model 3 which the company counts as revenue. One might rightfully question the accounting integrity of that decision since these are deposits based on the assumption a car will be delivered. 



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February 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cancer 'vaccine' eliminates tumors in mice

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

Injecting minute amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in mice can eliminate all traces of cancer in the animals, including distant, untreated metastases, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The approach works for many different types of cancers, including those that arise spontaneously, the study found.

The researchers believe the local application of very small amounts of the agents could serve as a rapid and relatively inexpensive cancer therapy that is unlikely to cause the adverse side effects often seen with bodywide immune stimulation.

“When we use these two agents together, we see the elimination of tumors all over the body,” said Ronald Levy, MD, professor of oncology. “This approach bypasses the need to identify tumor-specific immune targets and doesn’t require wholesale activation of the immune system or customization of a patient’s immune cells.”

One agent is currently already approved for use in humans; the other has been tested for human use in several unrelated clinical trials. A clinical trial was launched in January to test the effect of the treatment in patients with lymphoma.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Immuno-oncology is a rapidly evolving field in its own right but has significant tailwinds behind in the form of the falling cost of genetic sequencing and the gene editing using CRISPR-Cas9. Together with decades of progressive research in the oncology field the prospect of a cure for cancers of many different hues is within reach. 



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February 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on volatility and bitcoin

If one was long XIV, you just could be screwed...

"Investors" who buy long vol ETN's should be really concerned - VXX completely failed to track the VIX today, going up only 33% as VIX slammed up 115.5%. Now of course they'll say that they squared up after hours, but still achieved maybe 60% or roughly a 50% tracking error. As you and I have discussed multiple times, the vol ETNs were just growing nightmare seeds waiting to be exploded upon the market. Now we may get to see just how good the counterparties are for those ETN's (as we whistle past the graveyard). The press continues to mistake the vol ETN's for ETF's - a serious mistake in thinking.

My rule: never buy a loan based on shaky (or no) collateral that represents a derivative of a derivative of a derivative of a set of derivatives.

I was and am long vol through simple puts and a straddle on SPY. Tomorrow my cash management rule will likely require rolling the puts down. Of course, it is another day, and we could see a super-fast reversal as always...

Tonight, Bitcoin is slipping away towards 6,000. A distant cousin of mine, a late-50's woman whose life was spent (honorably) raising children while her hubby worked as a blue-collar guy in the nearby nuclear weapons manufacturing facility, called me to ask if she should invest in bitcoin. I tried my best to explain to her that she should only invest money she could afford to lose, and should only gamble away money she could afford to burn. I also explained that bitcoin was not a currency, but rather a commodity, and had no intrinsic value whatsoever. 45 minutes of pushback from her was my limit. I'm sure she is busily trying to figure out how to put that 8-year-old PC in her closet together so she can trade those golden promises of untold wealth. 

I'm sure you're VERY busy these days :)

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for the insight into your options trading which I’m sure will be of interest to the Collective. I can identify with the story of the person whose money is burning a hold their pocket to invest in Bitcoin. My mother is in hospital at the moment after a scare with pneumonia but is happily well on the road to recovery although it appears she is going to need a heart valve replacement. On the phone this morning she recounted how due to overcrowding at her local hospital she spent two days in the male ward where a fortysomething year old had been admitted following a stroke. However, all he wanted to do was proselytise about the wonders of bitcoin and nothing more than to convert everyone he met into a speculator. 



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January 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How have traditional safe haven assets been performing?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Three points agitated investors on the 30th and contributed the largest decline on the stock market seen in months. Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway announcing a plan to reduce healthcare costs for their employees hit the healthcare sector, there were fears that President Trump’s State of the Union address would focus on trade, the Dollar and China but the speech was noticeably light on these topics. Meanwhile any investment manager looking to sustain a 60/40 split in bonds to equities had until today’s close rebalance some of their overweight equities into bonds. 



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January 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on why I don't own individual positions in the FAANGs

January 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on longevity

I hope you may comment and add the longevity ETF to the chart library 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for bringing this instrument to my attention. The narrative around longevity and quality of life is being transformed as society ages. Everyone wants to live a long life and the medical profession has become highly successful at keeping us alive. However, with the rising prevalence of Alzheimer’s, chronic pain and the associated loss of quality of life, the narrative is changing to support a more vital and active life rather than simply length of years. 



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January 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Axolotl genome sequenced, revealing regeneration genes

This article by Michael Irving for Gizmag may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

To help potentially unlock the axolotl's regeneration secrets, an international team of scientists has now mapped the animal's genome. And that was no easy feat: The axolotl genome contains a staggering 32 billion base pairs of DNA, meaning it's more than 10 times bigger than that of humans and is currently the largest genome ever sequenced.

This enormous undertaking was completed using the PacBio platform, which can sequence more regions of the genome in each individual "read". Since there's far too much information in the entire genome, these tools divide the work up into smaller chunks at a time, called reads. Even though PacBio can perform longer reads than other systems, it still took more than 72 million reads, and other software can then stitch together the full genome from all these pieces.

On analysis of the genome, the researchers found several genes unique to axolotls and other amphibians that are expressed during regeneration. Interestingly, a gene called PAX3, which was previously considered vital to the development of an organism, was completely missing from the genome. Instead, the related gene PAX7 appears to have taken over those critical functions.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The first promise of biotechnology evolved during the boom of the 1990s with enthusiasm for innovation running well ahead of the time it takes to bring therapies to commercialization. In the 18 years since then, the pace of innovation in biotechnology has been on an exponential growth trajectory with the result that gene therapies are now at the point of being introduced to patients. The first genetically engineered therapy was permissioned by the FDA last year and it is likely to be the first of many. 



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January 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cobalt Market report

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

A section from this report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The argument about whether electric cars are less polluting on an all-in basis is likely to continue to rage, with the crux of the argument focusing on what kind of generating capacity is used to produce electricity in any given country. However, the fact electric cars contribute to a country being less dependent on imported oil represents a powerful argument for adoption. 



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January 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China, Unhampered by Rules, Races Ahead in Gene-Editing Trials

This article by Preetika Rana, Amy Dockser Marcus and Wenxin Fan for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In a quirk of the globalized technology arena, Dr. Wu can forge ahead with the tool because he faces few regulatory hurdles to testing it on humans. His hospital’s review board took just an afternoon to sign off on his trial. He didn’t need national regulators’ approval and has few reporting requirements.

Dr. Wu’s team at Hangzhou Cancer Hospital has been drawing blood from esophageal-cancer patients, shipping it by high-speed rail to a lab that modifies disease-fighting cells using Crispr-Cas9 by deleting a gene that interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. His team then infuses the cells back into the patients, hoping the reprogrammed DNA will destroy the disease.

In contrast, what’s expected to be the first human Crispr trial outside China has yet to begin. The University of Pennsylvania has spent nearly two years addressing federal and other requirements, including numerous safety checks designed to minimize risks to patients. While Penn hasn’t received final federal clearance to proceed, “we hope to get clearance soon,” a Penn spokeswoman said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Let’s for a moment consider that different countries have different ethical priorities. After all, we come from highly varied cultural and religious backgrounds. However, the cold reality is China is the wild west of biomedical experimentation. That virtually ensures there will be a human cost. These might be brushed off, by claiming the patient would have died anyway, but there is no doubt the standard of care and Hippocratic oath do not mean the same in China as it does elsewhere. 



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January 10 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Intel Unveils 'Breakthrough' Quantum Computer

This article by Joel Hruska for Extreme Tech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The new system is codenamed Tangle Lake, a reference to an Alaskan lake chain and the tangled state of the electrons themselves. Quantum computers are extremely different from standard (classical) computers, and can tackle problems modern classical machines can’t handle. The reason increasing the number of qubits in the system is important is because it also allows for a significant amount of additional work to be done and for more complex problems to be considered. And according to Intel, the gap between where we are today and where the company thinks we need to be for commercialization of quantum computing is enormous.

“In the quest to deliver a commercially viable quantum computing system, it’s anyone’s game,” said Mike Mayberry, corporate vice president and managing director of Intel Labs. “We expect it will be five to seven years before the industry gets to tackling engineering-scale problems, and it will likely require 1 million or more qubits to achieve commercial relevance.”

Intel is also investigating another type of qubit, spin qubits, to see if they can be implemented in silicon. Spin qubits are much smaller and can potentially be implemented in CMOS and Intel has invented a spin qubit fabrication flow on “300mm process technology.” This is oddly phrased, but seems to indicate Intel is building these chips on its 300mm wafers as opposed to some new process node.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The fallout from the exposure of vulnerabilities in the vast majority of chips currently in computers all over the world is going to necessitate a rethink of how to deliver the best possible processing speeds at an attractive price. For too long the semiconductor business has paid scant attention to the threat of hacking but with the increasing digitization of the global economy it is an issue that can no longer be simply ignored. 



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January 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla shares jump after Morgan Stanley raises price forecast

This article by Thomas Franck for CNBC may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Shares of Tesla jumped Tuesday after Morgan Stanley's Adam Jonas, a widely-followed analyst on Wall Street, raised his 12-month price forecast on the electric vehicle maker.

General Motors recently announced plans to roll out a line of 20 all-electric vehicles over the next six years. Ambitious plans like these from traditional automakers have raised fears about more competition ahead for Elon Musk's company, but Jonas said Tesla's existing infrastructure "footprint" will be a "key differentiator" over the coming years, further boosting the stock.

"Infrastructure (of lack thereof) is the 'elephant in the room' of the EV revolution," wrote Jonas in a note late Monday. "Compared to other OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer), Tesla has made the biggest proprietary investment in superchargers and destination chargers globally. In most communities, we believe this infrastructure is larger than it needs to be in preparation for the expansion of the serviceable and charge-thirsty fleet. Other OEMs will closely watch how consumers react to this infrastructure."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Hardware is hard. GoPro is in search of a savior and Fitbit is languishing. Both rely on OEM manufacturers to produce their products while Tesla has broken the mold for new hardware companies by building manufacturing capacity from scratch. It helps that the company is building big ticket items like cars instead of trinkets but still manufacturing is fraught with complexity. 



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January 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Intel, Microsoft Deal With Widespread Computer-Chip Weakness

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

News of the weakness, found last year and reported Tuesday by The Register technology blog, weighed on shares of Intel, the biggest semiconductor maker, while boosting rivals including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. Intel’s silence for most of Wednesday added to investors’ unease.

Late in the day, Intel, Microsoft, Google and other tech bellwethers issued statements aimed at reassuring customers and shareholders. Intel said its chips weren’t the only ones affected and predicted no material effect on its business, while Microsoft, the largest software maker, said it released a security update to protect users of devices running Intel and other chips. Google, which said the issue affects Intel, AMD and ARM Holdings Plc chips, noted that it updated most of its systems and products with protections from attack. Amazon.com Inc., whose AWS is No. 1 in cloud computing, said most of its affected servers have already been secured.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every other month we have news of just how porous the devices we rely on for just about everything are to exposing our personal information. This is a significant challenge for the IT sector in all its forms. The argument for increasing reliance on the internet, cloud and Internet of Everything is completely dependent on security, lest the devices we employ be used against us. This represents a cost which both in terms of speed and convenience but potentially also money for consumers and represents a challenge for corporations to keep under control.



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January 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Supersonic. Hypersonic Is the U.S. Military's New Speed

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


 

Boeing Co.’s XS-1 (Experimental Spaceplane), which the company dubs “Phantom Express,” got a green light this week by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. The XS-1 is designed to quickly lift satellites as heavy as 3,000 pounds into orbit for $5 million or less, launching from the ground, deploying a small upper-stage module, and then landing like a traditional airplane—the key to reuse and lower operating expense. Darpa also has a separate program aimed at launching 100-pound satellites for less than $1 million per launch, using conventional aircraft.

“The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand,” Jess Spoonable, a Darpa program manager, said in a May 24 statement.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It has long occurred to me that the stealth bomber had its maiden flight in the late 1980s, but only entered service years later. Then I think about how different the original iPhone is from what I carry around. 



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January 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on investing in emerging technology themes for a UK investor:

New Year greetings to you and David and all FT members. About a year ago on the site there was a presentation on the new technological revolution, given by Mr. David Brown. It covered AI, robotics, cyber security, biotechnology, healthcare and the like. It was all wonderful stuff, but how do I deal in the shares and ETF's mentioned? I'm with Barclays - an ISA and spread betting account - and they have little coverage of these areas.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Happy New Year to you and to everyone in the Collective of subscribers Thanks for this question which is sure to be of interest to other subscribers. This article from the Telegraph dated 2014 explains how to invest in overseas shares through your ISA. Here is a section:

A crucial question: can you put your overseas stocks in your Isa or pension? HM Revenue & Customs' rules forbid foreign currency in an Isa, so you have to use the costlier, sterling conversion approach to buy foreign shares in your Isa, converting back to pounds when you sell. The Isa accounts operated by Hargreaves and TD allow foreign stocks to be held in this way.

Disappointingly, Barclays' systems do not allow any overseas stocks to be held within an Isa.

With self-invested pensions, or Sipps, you can hold and trade in foreign currencies. So you can have part of your Sipp denominated in dollars if your broker (such as TD) offers the facility. Hargreaves Lansdown doesn't offer the service and Barclays, again poor in this respect, doesn't allow any overseas stocks within its pension accounts.



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December 22 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Tumbles More than 25% as Sharks "Beginning to Circle"

This article by Samuel Potter and Eddie van der Walt for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bitcoin dropped to as low as $10,776. It last traded below $10, 000 on Dec. 1, when the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission agreed to allow trading in bitcoin futures. For the week, the decline is as much as 39 percent. That follows gains of 13 percent, 44 percent and 32 percent in the prior three weeks.

The losses represent a major test for the cryptocurrency industry and the blockchain technology that underpins it, which have rapidly entered the mainstream in recent weeks. Bears cast doubt on the value of the virtual assets, with UBS Group AG this week calling bitcoin the “biggest speculative bubble in history.” Bulls argue the technology is a game changer for the world of investment and finance. Both will be closely watching the outcome of the current selloff.

Eoin Treacy's view -

If the history of bubbles tells us anything it is that the pace of innovation occurs largely independently of the price action. Crowds tend to overshoot in both directions and the merits or otherwise of blockchain technology, as a way of streamlining transactions and verifying contracts, are separate from the vicissitudes of token price action.



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December 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Semiconductors: Technology and Market Primer 10.0

Thanks to a subscriber for this educational 253-page report from Oppenheimer which may be of interest. Here is a section:

A section from the report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The most ambitious forecasts for technological innovation which tend to focus on the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, drone deliveries, smart speakers that act more like butlers/lifestyle managers than search engines, smart clothing, smart glasses, smart metering, not to mention artificial intelligence, big data as a service and even intelligent prosthetics all depend heavily on broadband access. 



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December 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on why bitcoin can only go up

I think it's easy to lose sight that Bitcoin was never intended as an investment vehicle but rather a digital currency. Hard money advocates should appreciate the cap on the total number. Certainly, until there is a much wider acceptance as a currency and more people own it, there will continue to be extremely high volatility. However, since there is a limit on the total number of bitcoin and more people will want to own some, isn't it natural for it to rise in price? The pace has been astonishing but maybe we are really only in the early stages. By nature, it must go higher IF it is to be an alternative currency whose supply can't be increased (like fiat currencies are)

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which I suspect will be of interest to many subscribers. Once upon a time a unicorn was a fabled animal with quasi-magical properties, today it is a fast-growing company with valuation of $1 billion. Friends used to be people you shared time and experience with, today they are people you show photos of yourself to. A snowflake used to be something that fell from the sky, now it is a pejorative term for sensitive people. A trigger used to be associated with guns, now it is an excuse for histrionics. Miners used to be hardy souls who engaged in back breaking work to extract ore from the earth, today they dust-off and fix computers solving puzzles. There was a time a currency was something you could rely on as a medium of exchange and my how that definition has been stretched. 



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December 15 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

This is how much copper, nickel, cobalt an electric vehicle world needs

This article by Frik Els for Mining.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The London-based research company modelled metal requirements across the supply chain – from generation and grid infrastructure through to storage, charging and vehicles – based on relatively modest penetration of EVs in the total global vehicle market out to 2030.

According to the study as early as 2020, when EVs would still make up only 2% of new vehicle sales, related metal demand already becomes significant, requiring an additional 390,000 tonnes of copper, 85,000 tonnes of nickel and 24,000 tonnes of cobalt.

Based on an EV market share of less than 32% in 2030, forecast metal requirements are roughly 4.1m tonnes of additional copper (18% of 2016 supply). The move away from gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles would need 56% more nickel production or 1.1m tonnes compared to 2016 and 314,000 tonnes of cobalt, a fourfold increase from 2016 supply.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Miners went through a decade of investing in supply and then prices collapsed. They were forced to cancel exploration and to focus on free cash flow. Appetite for investing in additional new supply is low but there are obvious demand drivers coming from the electric car market. 



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December 14 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Electric Car Range May Soon Triple, Thanks to New Research

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

The paper, published in the journal Joule, details how scientists added a compound made up of phosphorus and sulfur elements to the electrolyte liquid, which carries charge within batteries. The team claims that this compound reacts with the lithium metal electrode in a battery to “spontaneously coat it with an extremely thin protective layer.” This protection, supposedly, allows for the use of lithium metal electrodes within batteries, which adds greater storage capacity, without risks or degradation. This improvement could triple the range of these nascent vehicles.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The prize of achieving greater efficiency for batteries can’t be overstated so there is a flood of capital pouring into R&D. At the same time, large factories are being built to achieve economies of scale with current technology. This two-pronged approach is likely to deliver both quantity and quality to the electric car sector over the coming decade. The additional factor of more stringent environment standards for emissions is a third important consideration for major automotive companies. 



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December 07 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin's Future Is All Mapped Out

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

And, in fairness, there's a game attempt to stop this being completely off-the-scale Wild West stuff. It's a cash-settled futures contract in U.S. dollars, with no actual delivery of Bitcoin required. The exchange will impose a minimum initial margin -- the deposit required to trade a specified amount of futures contracts -- of 35 percent. That's seven times more than for trading oil or mini-S&P equity futures. There will be a twice-daily requirement to make sure the 35 percent buffer is intact, given Bitcoin's constant swings. Clearing members can impose a higher limit if they want. Two-minute trading breaks will kick in if the daily price moves 7 percent away from the previous day's settlement price, then again at 13 percent and a hard limit at 20 percent when all trading will cease unless trading can restart within that band. There are no stated plans to offer options on the futures, until the contract is fully established. That would be too much rocket fuel.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Anticipation about the wall of money that could hit the bitcoin market with the introduction of futures is propelling speculation in the original cryptocurrency. This is an acceleration which is close to the ferocity of the move in 2013 when the price first managed to reach $1000 despite the fact it is multiples that level today.  



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December 06 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elon Musk's Boring Company shares potential map of LA tunnel network

This article by Nick Lavars for Newatlas many be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

These tunnels would essentially function as fast freeways, where vehicles and passenger pods latch onto electric skates and get shuttled along at up to 150 mph (241 km/h). There would on and off ramps every mile or so, each with a dedicated side tunnel to avoid logjams. These tunnels could also form part of a Hyperloop system over larger distances between cities.

While all of that remains a ways off, the company is making progress on its proof-of-concept tunnel. Photos shared by Musk in October showed a fully concreted tunnel complete with tracks and cables that he said at the time measured 500 ft (152.4 m) and within three of four months would stretch to around 2 mi (3.2 km).

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

I have to admit that my first reaction to the Boring Company’s announcement of tunnels for the LA area was something to akin “Has anyone told Elon Musk that Los Angeles is prone to earthquakes?” After all the idea of tunnels is all well and good until they turn into coffins. 

The rejoinder today would be that tunnels are immune to wildfires. Less that 8 miles from where I live the mountain between here and the Valley is on fire, which makes me glad I work from home and on flat ground. A lot of the people who pay city taxes in Los Angeles live in the areas currently burning, suggesting the Boring Company may get a leg up from the fires regardless of the safety concerns inherent in its plan. 

 



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December 05 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin: UK and EU plan crackdown amid crime and tax evasion fears

The UK and other EU governments are planning a crackdown on bitcoin amid growing concerns that the digital currency is being used for money laundering and tax evasion.

The Treasury plans to regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to bring them in line with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financial legislation. Traders will be forced to disclose their identities, ending the anonymity that has made the currency attractive for drug dealing and other illegal activities.

Under the EU-wide plan, online platforms where bitcoins are traded will be required to carry out due diligence on customers and report suspicious transactions. The UK government is negotiating amendments to the anti-money-laundering directive to ensure firms’ activities are overseen by national authorities.

The Treasury said: “We are working to address concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies by negotiating to bring virtual currency exchange platforms and some wallet providers within anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

This article from TheStreet concerning the USA’s IRS tax treatment of bitcoin profits may also be of interest. 



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December 01 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. regulator says it will allow CME Group, CBOE to list bitcoin futures

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

The announcement by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) paves the way for CME and CBOE to become the first traditional U.S. regulated exchanges to launch trading in bitcoin-related financial contracts, in a watershed moment for the cryptocurrency that should lead to greater regulatory scrutiny.

Trading in the CME and CBOE bitcoin futures contracts, which will be priced against and settled in the cash bitcoin market, should begin by year end, a CFTC official said.

Bitcoin soared above $11,000 for the first time this week, up 10-fold year-to-date and prompting multiple warnings of a bubble.

To guard against volatility, CME and CBOE will put in place stricter than usual risk-management safeguards, including initial margin requirements of between 35 percent and 40 percent.

The exchanges have also agreed to enter into information sharing agreements and to send the CFTC data on the settlement process so the regulator can conduct its own surveillance.    

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

When I have traded bitcoin via spread-bets over the last year the minimum margin requirement has been somewhere in the region of 20% and increases to over 30% depending on the size of the position. For futures contracts where the positions are generally larger, the margin requirement of 35-40% is in line with bitcoin’s volatility since 30% drawdowns are not at all uncommon. What that also means is that the ROI of trading bitcoin is quite high, in other words the quantity required in the pay to play environment is quite high relative to other assets. 



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November 30 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Inside Adidas' Robot-Powered, On-Demand Sneaker Factory

This article by for Wired.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is as section: 

Some economists are bullish on ideas like Speedfactory and see it as the start of a much larger trend. “We are finally escaping from the manufacturing trap that we’ve been in for the last 20 years,” says Michael Mandel, chief economic strategist at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, DC, referring to the mass offshoring of production to Asia.

Improvements in automation can now finally substitute for cheap foreign labor, which will naturally push factories closer to where the consumers are. As manufacturing shifts from offshore mass production to customized, local fabrication, new jobs will open up for human workers, some of which have yet to reveal themselves. “We used to have distribution built around manufacturing,” Mandel says, referencing the centrality of offshore factories, “and now I think that manufacturing is going to be built around distribution.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The growing role of automation in the garment and shoe sector has been a topic I’ve written about extensively over the last few years. Textiles remain one of the most labour intensive of all industries and has also played a pivotal role as a first step on the road to development for many developing countries. 



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November 29 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Surges Past $11,000 as Bubble Warnings Can't Cool Market

This article by Julie Verhage  and Eric Lam for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bitcoin is on a tear in 2017, a 10-fold surge that took off even more after CME Chief Executive Officer Terrence Duffy announced in October that the company would offer futures trading by the end of the year. The move is considered key to Wall Street’s broader embrace of the crypotcurrency, likely enabling increased speculation and -- perhaps some day -- products such as exchange-traded funds.

Still, bitcoin’s jump has been met with caution in some circles, and outright dismissal in others. Vanguard Group Inc. founder John Bogle advised investors on Tuesday to avoid the virtual currency “like the plague,” while JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon has called it an asset bubble and a fraud.

Under U.S. law, exchanges like CME, which profit from increased trading volumes, can approve new futures contracts themselves. The process, which is used in most cases, is known as self-certification and involves sending a written confirmation to the CFTC that the contract complies with relevant rules. Often, agency officials will engage in a back-and-forth with a company.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bitcoin has doubled since November 12th and the pace of the advance has definitely picked up since the introduction of futures and options became more likely in August.  



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November 29 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China racing for AI military edge over U.S.: report

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

The competition was one of many examples cited in a report by a U.S.-based think tank about how China’s military might leverage its country’s rapid advances in artificial intelligence to modernize its armed forces and, potentially, seek advantages against the United States.

“China is no longer in a position of technological inferiority relative to the United States but rather has become a true peer (competitor) that may have the capability to overtake the United States in AI,” said the report, written by Elsa Kania at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and due to be released on Tuesday.

Future U.S.-China competition in AI, Kania wrote, “could alter future economic and military balances of power.”

Alphabet Inc’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who heads a Pentagon advisory board, delivered a similar warning about China’s potential at a recent gathering in Washington.

Schmidt noted that China’s national plan for the future of artificial intelligence, announced in July, calls for catching up to the United States in the coming years and eventually becoming the world’s primary AI innovation center.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Developing hardware is technically difficult and requires highly specialized machinery which a relatively small number of countries control the manufacture of. That has precluded China from developing a domestic semiconductor business despite the fact it is a major assembler of computing products. Software is not subject to those kinds of limitations.



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November 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Guns for $10,000 as Cryptocurrency Mania Defies Skeptics

This article by Julie Verhage, Eric Lam and Todd White for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Bitcoin blew past $9,700 just a week after topping $8,000 and approached its closest ever to five figures, gaining mainstream market attention as it defies bubble warnings.

The biggest price jump since August consolidated during Japanese trading hours and vaulted the largest cryptocurrency’s value in circulation above the market caps of all but about 30 of the S&P 500 index members. The increase also buoyed its 10-day volatility to more than 15 times the level of the euro-dollar, the most traded currency pair.

Eoin Treacy's view -

What I find interesting about the bitcoin market is how fervent the bulls are and how skeptical the bears are. It represents a perfect example of the sharp discrimination evident in a crowd as the polarization in performance between the winners and losers grows progressively wider. 



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November 27 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the digital economy:

Another dynamite audio last weekend - much appreciated, and thank you.

I came across this report from Huawei and Oxford Economics the other day. I'm still reading but it really ups the argument about the effect of digital technology using what it calls the spill-over effect within and across industries.

Some of the report’s key findings are:

The true size of the 2016 digital economy is US $11.5 trillion globally, or 15.5% of global GDP. This is roughly 3 times larger than traditional measurements. The base digital assets comprise 1/3 or $3.8 trillion, while digital spillover effects account for the remaining 2/3 or $7.5 trillion

The digital economy is 18.4% of GDP in advanced economies, ranging in size from 35% to 10%. The US has the largest digital economy at 35% of GDP.

The global digital economy has almost doubled between 2000 and 2016, growing 2.5 times faster than global GDP over this period. China’s share has tripled from 4% of GDP in 2000 to 13% in 2016.

Over the past three decades, every dollar invested in digital technologies added $20 to GDP on average, 6.7 times higher than non-digital investments which added $3 for every dollar invested.

Assuming current growth rates of digital investments over the next 10 years, the report estimates that by 2025 the digital economy will be US $23 trillion globally, or 24.3% of global GDP, up from 15.5% in 2016.

 If you download, I found the graph on 9.17, Fig 3 particularly interesting and unexpected.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and I’m delighted you are enjoying the big picture long-term videos. If the viewer numbers on Vimeo are anything to go by they are the most popular feature on the site apart from the Chart Library.

This is a very welcome contribution to the debate on how much the digital economy contributes to productivity growth. Some are still arguing that the productivity gains from the internet peaked more than a decade ago and use that to explain why growth has been less than impressive since. However, as the complementary evolution of artificial intelligence, automation, cloud computing, social media, 4G connectivity and Internet of Things advance they all contribute to productivity gains when viewed from a wider digitisation theme. 



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November 23 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

If you invested $1,000 in stocks like Amazon and Netflix 10 years ago, here's what you'd have now

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from CNBC. Here is a section:

But there are cautionary tales to be seen in the chart, too, since any individual stock can either over- or under-perform. That's why so many experts suggest that, to get started in the stock market, you consider index funds, which hold every stock in an index such as the S&P 500, including big-name companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Google, and offer low turnover rates, so the attendant fees and tax bills tend to be low as well. Warren Buffett, Mark Cuban and Tony Robbins all agree index funds are a safe bet, especially for new investors, since they fluctuate with the market, stay pretty constant and eliminate the risk of picking individual stocks.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The subtext of this statement, quoting some of the most venerable investors in the business, is that owning Index trackers is risk free. I’m sure that is not what the likes of Warren Buffett and Mark Cuban mean but both are on the record as saying that ordinary investors have no hope of achieved the same results they have. The article implies you need to own the Index because you have no hope of picking the big winners. 



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November 23 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tech Rally Goes Global, Powering Major Stock Indexes to Fresh Records

This article by Riva Gold for FoxBusiness is an example of common theme in the media to highlight tech’s outperformance. Here is a section: 

Just eight companies -- Facebook Inc., Apple, Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc., Alphabet Inc., Baidu Inc., Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent -- have increased by $1.4 trillion in market cap in 2017, a sum roughly equivalent to the combined annual GDP of Spain and Portugal.

Tech giants' powerful user networks, large cash piles and access to consumer data have led many investors to expect the big will only get bigger.

"You need critical mass to support continuing innovation," said Christopher Dyer, director of global equity at Eaton Vance. While there are exceptions, "China and the U.S. would be natural destinations for incremental dollar investment within tech," he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The return to outperformance of emerging markets has been a major topic of conversation for investors this year but it is worth highlighting that Tencent Holdings, Alibaba, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor represent 17% of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.



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November 22 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

One in three Chinese children faces an education apocalypse. An ambitious experiment hopes to save them

This article by Dennis Normile for Sciencemag.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

One in three Chinese children faces an education apocalypse. An ambitious experiment hopes to save them – This article by Dennis Normile for Sciencemag.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The result is a widening gap between urban and rural educational achievement in China, Rozelle says. Many urbanites fit the stereotype of "tiger" parents, pushing kids to excel in school. After hours, their schedules are packed with music and English lessons and sessions at cram schools, which prepare them for notoriously competitive university entrance exams. More than 90% of urban students finish high school.

But only one-quarter of China's children grow up in the relatively prosperous cities. Rural moms have high hopes for their children; Rozelle's surveys have found that 75% say they want their newborns to go to college, and 17% hope their child gets a Ph.D. The statistics belie those hopes: Just 24% of China's working population completes high school.

Rozelle believes such numbers bode ill for China's hopes of joining the ranks of high-income countries. Over the past 70 years, he explains, only 15 countries have managed to climb from middle- to high-income status, among them South Korea and Taiwan. In all those success stories, three-quarters or more of the working population had completed high school while the country was still in the middle-income bracket. These workforces "had the skills to support a high-income economy," Rozelle says. In contrast, in the 79 current middle-income countries, only a third or less of the workforce has finished high school. And China is at the bottom of the pack. School dropouts don't have the skills needed to thrive in a high-income economy, Rozelle says. And, worryingly, the factory jobs that now provide a decent living for those with minimal training are moving from China to lower-wage countries.

Rozelle thinks a lack of opportunity isn't the only factor holding back China's rural children. Physically and mentally, they are also at an increasing disadvantage, hampering their performance in school and their prospects in life.

Eoin Treacy's view -

You might remember last year the OECD’s Pisa rankings of schools was released and China featured particularly highly. That is because the data only looked at Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Jiangsu where the best of the country’s education resources are concentrated. As the above article highlights the real story is of a country that still has a long way to go in equipping its population with the tools necessary to succeed in the 21st century. 



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November 20 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Chart Seminar

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is always a pleasure to meet subscribers but doubly so when we get to spend two days together discussing the outlook for psychological makeup of the market, where we are in the big cycles and which sectors are leading and which are showing relative strength. I had three big takeaways from last week’s seminar in London.

As anyone who has attended the seminar will know, I do not have examples but offer delegates the opportunity to dictate the direction of the conversation. That ensures the subject matter is relevant to what they are interested in and also highlights the fact that subject matter is applicable to all markets where an imbalance between supply and demand exists. The second benefit of allowing delegates to pick the subject matter is that it is offers a window into what is popular in markets right now and what might be getting overlooked. 



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November 13 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ubisoft's Microtransaction Revenue Just Beat Digital Sales for the First Time

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

Microtransactions have been hotly debated since they began debuting in mobile games almost ten years ago. While they’d been used sporadically in various games for years, the rise of mobile games and their extremely low-to-free pricing made them a functional necessity for developers working in Android or iOS. The AAA PC gaming industry quickly took notice of this, and began offering games with microtransaction options. There’s been a great deal of pushback from the community at various points (Dead Space 3 got hosed for it, as did Bethesda and its horse armor), but microtransactions are clearly here to say. Ubisoft just reported that it took in more money in microtransaction sales than it did in game sales for the first time ever.

Over the past few years, Ubisoft has seen a notable shift in its earnings for various titles, SeekingAlpha reports. Game sales were buoyed this year by South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, but microtransactions shot up even further, growing 1.83x in 12 months compared to 1.57x for game sales. Ubisoft also got a boost from the Switch, but even with Nintendo’s new platform, microtransactions brought home the bacon.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Once upon a time you bought a computer game and it included everything you would ever need to play that game. I started playing Diablo 2 as a teenager and the game is still available online with access to the Battlenet server, so players can join and play with or against others. It’s still free after more than 20 years. The updated version of the game, Diablo 3, has downloadable content (DLC as my daughters refer to it), and additional characters you can pay for. Overwatch, Activision Blizzard’s newest hit game releases animated shorts to build interest in characters, has built in loot boxes for extra gear and additional outfits for your favourite characters all of which represent additional revenue streams. 



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November 10 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Therapeutic Categories Outlook: Comprehensive Study

Thanks to a subscriber for this encyclopedic 2534-page (95.7mb) report focusing on evolving trends in the biotech sector. This is a very detailed report which I recommend downloading and saving because I anticipate it being a reference guide for me over the next year and possibly longer. Here is a section on pain medication: 

There are so many lawsuits against opioid manufacturers that it is hard to keep track of all of them. These suits stem from all levels of government (cities, counties, states), as well as private parties and organizations (e.g. NFL). Opioid manufacturers today are viewed similarly in public opinion to cigarette manufacturers in the 1990s. 

In October 2015 for the first time a doctor was convicted of murder for patient opioid overdose and was sentenced to 30 years. Other similar suits are in progress.

Insys’s Subsys (sublingual fentanyl spray) began to decline after experiencing strong sales growth over the first few years since launch. In December 2016 several senior executives were indicted over fraudulent sales practice.

The FDA has already approved one immediate release and nine extended-release opioids with abuse deterrent claims; with more likely on the horizon. As such, the field is becoming very competitive.

Market leader OxyContin has been in decline for the last two years, from ~450k scripts/month to ~260k scripts/month currently.

Newly launched abuse deterrent opioids are priced at 2-4x that of OxyContin before adjusting for discounting.
In a July 2017 report, ICER found abuse deterrent opioids to not be cost effective.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The USA’s opium epidemic has received a lot headlines, not least because on a per capita basis the USA consumes three time more opiates than Europe and six times more than Asia. This is not an issue specific to opiates but to prescription drugs in general. I remember arguing with pharmacists in Ireland about needing to buy 12 ibuprofen tablets instead of 6, whereas in the USA they are truly an over the counter drug and packages of 1000 are the norm. 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on feudalism in the modern era

I was thinking back to our dinner at the club in LA, and remembering that you stated that the Princes of the Sauds owed allegiance to their King, comparing them to the Barons of Europe in the middle ages. You said that sooner or later, the finances of the Kingdom would have to be enhanced, and that the Princes would be called upon to do so, just as the Barons of long ago were required to collect taxes and give treasure to the Crown. The parallels between today in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and those days so long ago are amazing!

We have now seen the first round of the tax collection begin, and those who were arrested were quite likely opposing the new "taxes", if not plotting actual rebellion (in which case they will almost certainly be executed). There is a clear message here for the rest of the Princes...

Now this is the stuff that historians truly love. 

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Saudi Arabia has been held together by a series of transfers and concessions to families and tribes that agreed to set aside their enmity in return for a share in the nation’s oil wealth. That worked well as long as the population was small and oil revenues trended higher amid a century of oil’s dominance of the global economy. 



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November 09 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Britain risks a nuclear dead end by spurning global technology leap

Thanks to a David for this article from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph. Here is a section: 

A few million will be put aside for ‘blue sky’ research but the real money will go to a consortium led by Rolls-Royce to develop a series of 440 megawatt SMRs for £2.5bn each, drawing on Rolls’ experience building PWR3 reactors for nuclear submarines. The company bills it as part of a “national endeavour’ that will create 40,000 skilled jobs. It requires matching start-up funds of £500m from the state. 

I find myself torn since these ambitions are commendable. They revive a homegrown British sector, akin to the success in aerospace. It is exactly what Theresa May’s industrial strategy should be. Rolls-Royce is a superb company with layers of depth and a global brand. It could genuinely hope to capture an export bonanza.  

Yet the venture looks all too like a scaled-down version of Sizewell, plagued by the same defects as the old reactors, less flexible than advertised, and likely to spew yet more plutonium waste.  

Rolls Royce insists that the design is novel and can slash costs by relying on components small enough to be manufactured in factories. “Everything can be cut down to size and put on a lorry,” said a spokesman.  

Rolls-Royce has said the design can slash costs by relying on components small enough to be manufactured in factories It aims for £65 MWh by the fifth plant, dropping to £60 once the scale is ramped up to seven gigawatts (GW), with exports targeting a putative £400bn global market.  

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

A decade ago the UK went from being an oil and gas exporter to an importer, as the North Sea oil fields hit peak production, and the cost of production began to rise. That represents a considerable headwind to growth from a sector which had been a tailwind for decades previously. When people bemoan declining living standards and the rising cost of living, one of the first places to look has to be the energy sector and absence of a clear strategy to promote energy independence. 



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November 08 2017

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ride is not over after Uber catalyst

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Deutsche Bank focusing on ride sharing investments. It’s dated July 14th, but the points made are equally relevant today. Here is a section:

Specific financial disclosures around the new JV are limited, but management did note that NewCo will 1) be able to enter new markets outside of the current six country region, 2) the new entity has a current gross bookings run rate of $1.578B and a 5-6% penetration rate of the taxi market across the six markets and 3) that UberEATS and other logistical opportunities will be a part of this new operation. Assuming no unforeseen regulatory hang-ups, management anticipates they will have regulatory approval for the deal in 4Q17 and commence operations as planned shortly thereafter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Ride sharing is one of the largest emerging new sectors but has so far been difficult for regular investors to participate in. Low interest rates, abundant liquidity and a dearth of yield have resulted in private companies managing to stay private much longer than anyone would have expected a decade ago. The result is that when they do eventually seek a listing what is being sold to investors is a much more mature company with less potential upside from growth. 



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