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March 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mental compass: New evidence suggests humans can sense Earth's magnetic field

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

Alpha-ERD is a strong neural signature of sensory detection and the resulting attention shift," says Shin Shimojo, co-lead author of the study. "The fact that we see it in response to simple magnetic rotations like we experience when turning or shaking our head is powerful evidence for human magnetoreception. The large individual differences we found are also intriguing with regard to human evolution and the influences of modern life. As for the next step, we ought to try bringing this into conscious awareness."

The team took plenty of steps to ensure that participants weren't sensing other things. The test chambers were shielded from outside electromagnetic signals, and the copper wires that generated the magnetic field were wrapped so they wouldn't produce an audible hum.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Dousing or witching for water and electrical wires has been something people have been doing for generations. The practice offers empirical, though not especially reliable, evidence that humanity has the ability to sense electromagnetic signals. However, it has until now been largely beyond the ability of science to test with any kind of reliability. The clear result of this confirmation is there is scope for a broader range of understanding into what drives human activity or how we are influenced by our environment.



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March 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wireless Set to Transform Communications/Cloud

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Oppenheimer, dated June 2018, which is one of the best primers on the evolution of 5G I have seen. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

5G is what I regard as an enabling technology. It is an investment theme in its own right because it will displace the legacy infrastructure we use today. but it also acts as the framework upon which additional services can be built. Telecom companies are selling the first 5G plans at present and Samsung and others are in the process of rolling out the first dedicated 5G handsets. Additionally, the roll out of products like smart speakers, digital assistants, web-connected doorbell cameras, etc, give us a clue to how the initial phase of the Internet of Things is going to progress.



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March 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A quantum experiment suggests there's no such thing as objective reality

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

They use these six entangled photons to create two alternate realities—one representing Wigner and one representing Wigner’s friend. Wigner’s friend measures the polarization of a photon and stores the result. Wigner then performs an interference measurement to determine if the measurement and the photon are in a superposition.

The experiment produces an unambiguous result. It turns out that both realities can coexist even though they produce irreconcilable outcomes, just as Wigner predicted.  

That raises some fascinating questions that are forcing physicists to reconsider the nature of reality.

The idea that observers can ultimately reconcile their measurements of some kind of fundamental reality is based on several assumptions. The first is that universal facts actually exist and that observers can agree on them.

But there are other assumptions too. One is that observers have the freedom to make whatever observations they want. And another is that the choices one observer makes do not influence the choices other observers make—an assumption that physicists call locality.

If there is an objective reality that everyone can agree on, then these assumptions all hold.

But Proietti and co’s result suggests that objective reality does not exist. In other words, the experiment suggests that one or more of the assumptions—the idea that there is a reality we can agree on, the idea that we have freedom of choice, or the idea of locality—must be wrong.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I apologise if this going to sound a little wonkish but there are important considerations raised that have a direct impact on the nature of markets and crowd psychology.

Every electrical engineer is taught that you change a system by measuring it. The change is obviously very small but there are phase modulations that occur when you interfere with the system to measure it. That is a clear fact.

At The Chart Seminar, I often talk a little about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle which is that the more you know about the position of the particle the less you know about its velocity.

Then we have the above piece citing the assumption that the choices people make do not have an influence on the choices other make. In the markets we absolutely know that the choices other people make have a definite impact on the decisions of everyone who has yet to make a decision. We also know that the more a winning strategy is seen to work the greater the reliance investors place on it.



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March 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Sharing Economy Was Always a Scam

This article by Susie Cagle for Medium.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In some instances, the sharing economy appeared to inflame the very problems it purported to solve. The supposed activation of underutilized resources actually led to more, if slightly different, patterns of resource consumption. A number of studies have shown that the ease and subsidized low cost of Uber and Lyft rides are increasing traffic in cities and apparently pulls passengers away from an actual form of sharing: public transportation. Students at UCLA are reportedly taking roughly 11,000 rides each week that never even leave campus. In putting more cars on the road, ride-hail companies have encouraged would-be drivers to consume more by buying cars with subprime loans or renting directly from the platforms themselves.

Alongside making it easy to rent out spare rooms, vacation rental platforms encouraged speculative real estate investment. Whole homes and apartment buildings are taken off the rental market to act as hotels, further squeezing housing markets in already unaffordable cities.

Early sharing champions were ultimately correct about technology enabling a shift away from an ownership society, but what came next wasn’t sharing. The rise of streaming services, subscription systems, and short-term rentals eclipsed the promise of nonmonetary resource sharing. The power and control wasn’t decentralized; it was even more concentrated in the hands of large and valuable platforms.

Why go through the trouble of swapping your own DVDs for a copy of Friends With Benefits, after all, when you can stream it through Amazon Prime Video for $2.99? The idea of paying for temporary access to albums rather than outright owning them may have been galling at first, but we’re increasingly comfortable with renting all our music, along with our software, and our books. Downloading and sharing the materials that live on these streamed resources is impossible, illegal, or both.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The evolution of the subscription business model has helped to streamline balance sheets and has essentially turned the lumpy cashflows of technology companies into the equivalent of consumer staples. That is one of the primary reasons they have continued to be able to command such high valuations.



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March 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple Upgraded at BofAML as Pullback Presents Opportunity

This article by Ryan Vlastelica for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here ii is in full:

Apple Inc. was upgraded to buy from neutral at BofAML, which wrote that it saw “ten reasons to be bullish” on the iPhone maker. It also raised its price target to $210 from $180.

Shares rose 2.1 percent, taking the stock to its highest level since December.

The firm’s 10 reasons touched on a number of factors, including valuation, an “overshoot in negative estimate revisions,” a reacceleration in the company’s services division and a growing base of users. The company has a “highly loyal user base,” with “low churn where demographic changes are in Apple’s favor,” analyst Wamsi Mohan wrote.

The firm was also positive on the company’s critical iPhone line, which has been the subject of investor anxiety given demand issues, particularly in China. BofAML now forecasts “stability of supply chain order cuts,” as well as a “large reversal of inventory overhang in iPhones.”

The lower inventory is “a net positive, which after [the first quarter of 2019] could start to drive some stability in supply chain orders with new builds picking up after the next few months.”

Shares of Apple have gained more than 20 percent from a January low, though they remain more than 25 percent below a record hit in October, a pullback that BofAML wrote “presents opportunity.”

According to Bloomberg data, BofAML’s call marks the first Apple upgrade since New Street Research raised its view on the stock in early January.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Few companies are as exposed to China’s economy as Apple. It both depends on China for manufacturing and as a major demand growth market for its products. Therefore, it was only a matter of time before the share declined in line with pessimism about a trade accord. As perceptions have improved the outlook for the status quo persisting has lifted the share.



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March 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Next Industrial Revolution: Computational Biology & Bioplatforms

Thanks to a subscriber for this article by James Currier at NFX, a private equity company focusing on biotech. Here is a section:

It bears mentioning that computational biology is objectively important. We’re talking about life itself: human DNA; the food we eat; infectious diseases; the evolution of species, and so on. "Biology is the only technology that can directly address fundamental problems facing the world like planetary and human health," says Arvind Gupta, Managing director & Founder of IndieBio and partner at SOSV. "These are world scale problems looking for technological solutions that will be developed in the next 20 years and those that do stand to create trillions of dollars of value". Rather than manufacturing tools for us to use, like cars or software, we’re now beginning to manufacture life itself.

Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of CRISPR and co-Founder of Mammoth Biosciences(an NFX portfolio company) told us, "Scientists have spent centuries carefully studying how living things work. We have now entered into a new era of biology where it is possible to move beyond observation and towards rewriting the underlying code of living things, creating countless opportunities to improve the world we live in, from diagnosing and treating human disease to restoring the environment around us."

Further, something that has become clearer to us at NFX in the last three years: computational biology touches every industry. There are at least 90 companies worth over $20BN that are eyeing the CompBio space: agriculture; industrial; pharma; energy companies; plus all the big tech companies, like AWS, Google, and Microsoft. (Microsoft, for example, DNA that it hopes can replace cumbersome tape drives).

All of these industries are looking deeper at computational biology, trying to see how it is going to impact them.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Healthcare represents virgin territory for big data because it throws off so much data. The human brain has yet to be mapped, and one of the primary reasons is because the quantity of data required to be processed is in the order of petaflops. Colloquially, that is the computing capacity of all of Google’s programming power.



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March 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

March 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Cloud-Software Stocks Tumble From Highs With Salesforce on Deck

This article by Jeran Wittenstein for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The week got off to a rough start for cloud-software companies as some of the highest-profile stocks tumbled from records.

Salesforce.com Inc. fell as much as 5.5 percent on Monday after ending last week at a record $126 billion market valuation. The software maker reports fiscal fourth-quarter earnings this afternoon. Twilio Inc., Splunk Inc. and Zendesk Inc. tumbled more than 7 percent, while ServiceNow Inc. and Workday Inc. both fell more than 5 percent. Atlassian Corp., which also closed at a record Friday, slid as much as 10 percent.

Cloud-software stocks have been among the best performing groups in the post-Christmas rally as investors in search of revenue growth bet that businesses will continue to spend on software services. The S&P 500 software and services group has outperformed the broader index since Dec. 2

Eoin Treacy's view -

Cloud computing, and the savings companies get by outsourcing to remote servers rather than trying to keep their in-house kit up to speed, has been one of the primary drivers of the expansion in technology shares over the last few years. Software as a service is a complimentary theme and has allowed companies to offer all manner of intelligence and analytics on customer and employee action from the data collected from cloud servers.



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February 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla Owner Takes Delivery, Heads for Autobahn Experience

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

Tesla Owner Takes Delivery, Heads for Autobahn Experience – This article by Bill Howard for Extreme Tech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

If this were a pickup truck video, one of the tags would be “hold-my-beer-and-watch-this,” and in the final frames, the video might appear to be upside down. Now that the European deliveries of the Tesla Model 3 have begun (Feb. 6), we’ll be seeing all manner of Model-3-in-Europe videos.

Here’s YouTuber “Dan’s Tesla,” who apparently took delivery of a Model 3 in mid-February in the Netherlands, then proceeded 80 km (50 miles) to Germany’s Autobahn for a satisfying high-speed Fahrt lasting 213 seconds. Dan does note he’s “not used to driving on the autobahn” and backed off after a bit. Survive to live another day and all.

And

Dan described his trip thusly:

I took my brand new Model 3 to the german highway, just 80KM away from the Tilburg delivery center. 209KM/h while wifey [“wifey”?] is holding her laptop [and phone], no problem. I was too afraid to keep pushing as I’m not used to driving on the autobahn and it was difficult to judge when to apply brakes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The most rational people will contend that it is pointless having a fast car when there is nowhere to take it up to speeds that would allow you to experience its full potential. That’s particularly true when you are stuck in traffic on the morning commute. Nevertheless, it is nice to have a burst of speed when you want to overtake or change lanes. Even more relevant is no ever said the choice of what car to own is a rational decision. For many people it’s as much about prestige and one-up-man-ship as it is about utility.



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February 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Novartis Therapy Seen as Cost-Effective at Up to $1.5 Million

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

The experimental treatment, which could be launched in the first half of 2019, would be an alternative to Biogen Inc.’s Spinraza, a treatment given in regular doses that patients must take for the rest of their lives. Spinraza costs $750,000 in the U.S. for the first year and $375,000 a year thereafter.

Switzerland-based Novartis is now wrestling with the question of how to price a potential cure. As a number of drugmakers advance into gene therapy in a bid to fix potentially lethal DNA flaws, governments, insurers and other payers are trying to figure out how to pay for the revolutionary treatments meant to be given to patients a single time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Genetic sequencing, editing and synthetic biology represent some of the most profound innovations for the healthcare sector in generations because they hold out the increasingly likely possibility of delivering cures. That’s terrible news for the conventional pharmaceutical industry which has historically depended on treating the symptoms of chronic conditions.



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February 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Facebook's AI Chief Researching New Breed of Semiconductor

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

"We don’t want to leave any stone unturned, particularly if no one else is turning them over," he said in an interview ahead of the release Monday of a research paper he authored on the history and future of computer hardware designed to handle artificial intelligence.

Intel Corp. and Facebook have previously said they are working together on a new class of chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence applications. In January, Intel said it planned to have the new chip ready by the second half of this year.

Facebook is part of an increasingly heated race to create semiconductors better suited to the most promising forms of machine learning. Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which has created a chip called a Tensor Processing Unit that helps power AI applications in its cloud-computing datacenters. In 2016, Intel bought San Diego-based startup Nervana Systems, which was working on an AI specific chip.

In April, Bloomberg reported that Facebook was hiring a hardware team to build its own chips for a variety of applications, including artificial intelligence as well as managing the complex workloads of the company’s vast datacenters.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is a growing understanding that deep learning and artificial intelligence are developing to such an extent that the future of computing is not going to be based on programming and programming languages.



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February 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Swiss Franc Slumps in Mini 'Flash Crash' as Japan Curse Strikes

This article by Michael G. Wilson and Ruth Carson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The Swiss franc swooned almost 1 percent at the start of Asian trade Monday as thin liquidity caused by a Japan holiday led to a mini recurrence of the “flash crash” that roiled FX markets early last month.

The Swissie slid from 1.0004 per dollar around 7 a.m. in Tokyo to as weak as 1.0096, the lowest since November, within a matter of minutes before almost as suddenly reversing the move to trade 0.2% stronger on the day. The round trip created a trading range for Monday of almost 110 pips, about double this year’s daily average of 56.

The move was a smaller cousin of the whiplash that saw the yen jump almost 8 percent against the Australian dollar early on Jan. 3, when Japanese markets were nearing the end of a week-long New Year holiday break. A spokesman at the Swiss National Bank declined to comment on the franc’s drop on Monday.

“Lack of liquidity is a common factor in these events,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “Traders and strategists now have Japan holiday calendars printed in a big font at their desk!"

Eoin Treacy's view -

Currency markets are generally very liquid so when we witness two major moves in the space of a month, both tied to illiquidity around Asian trading that tells us there is a lot of money chasing a very specific type of trade. Generally speaking it is only through the use of algorithms that these inefficiencies can be spotted and by now everyone knows to watch Yen crosses during Japanese holidays.



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February 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fear of Filing? Some Taxpayers Finding Tax Bills, Not Refunds

This article by Ben Steverman and Laura Davison for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

“Most people don’t know how much they pay in taxes,” said Bob Kerr, who leads the National Association of Enrolled Agents, a trade group for tax preparers. “But the refund is the wrong
metric to measure it.”

Right or wrong, the drop in expected refunds is creating fear and anger in accountants’ waiting rooms. “Every single person” who walks in is dreading how much they’re going to owe the IRS, said CPA Gail Rosen, who heads the Martinsville, New Jersey, office of WilkinGuttenplan. “They come in and they worry.”

But telling people they paid fewer taxes throughout the year doesn’t help the sticker shock felt by filers who’ve become accustomed to getting a check, not writing one. Only about 5 percent of taxpayers -- about 7.8 million people -- are expected to pay more under the new law. But about 5 million, according to the Government Accountability Office, will find their typical tax refund replaced by a tax liability. “A lot of people are going to be surprised,” Rosen said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every politician knows that when it comes to policy, perception is often much more important than substance. If people had been asked whether they would prefer more money every month in lieu of receiving a chunky refund cheque they might not be nursing a surprise now. The reality is many people are likely coming out better off. However, if they had been using the refund as a saving mechanism, instead of saving monthly from their paycheques, this situation is going to feel like a tax hike.



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February 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Announcing: Sewbots as a Service

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

SEWBOTS-as-a-Service creates immediate ROI benefits while enabling scale across retailer, brand, and manufacturer.  For a monthly fee starting at $5,000 per month per robot, a factory can add annual production capacity of up to 1M units (product dependent). This enables a manufacturer to bring on a Sewbot for just over $55/shift (based on 7 days a week and 3 shifts a day).

SEWBOTS-as-a-Service is focused on bringing scale to basic sewn good production within the country of destination (a local supply chain).  This focus allows manufacturers to move current seamstresses to premium products while creating a more reactive, reliable and sustainable textile ecosystem.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One million units probably refers to the production of pillow cases rather than t-shirts so let’s estimate that a machine can produce a garment one can actually wear at a rate of 300,000 units per year. That’s 20 cents per garment, which is still high compared to what be achieved internationally. However, it is ideal for short runs and on demand applications. It also reduces the time to customer and the requirement for a global logistics network.  



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February 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Morning Tack February 5th 2019

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Since the dawn of the first industrial revolution 250 years ago there has been a clear correlation between the energy intensity of economies and economic growth. That is certainly still true in many emerging markets. However, when we look at highly developed economies like the USA and parts of Europe the energy intensity of the economy is declining, but data intensity is rising.



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February 01 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wirecard Shares Drop After New Report on Law Firm's Findings

This note by Stefan Nicola for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Wirecard AG shares fell as much as 16 percent Friday after a report that a law firm found evidence
indicating alleged forgery at the German payment company’s Singapore office.

An external law firm commissioned by Wirecard found evidence indicating “serious offenses of forgery and/or of falsification of accounts,” the Financial Times wrote Friday, citing the law firm’s report. The Rajah & Tann lawyers identified potential civil and criminal violations in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, and Germany, the newspaper said.

A Wirecard spokesman denied the report in an emailed statement. Wirecard earlier this week denied claims made in a story by the Financial Times that alleged executive fraud originating at the Singapore office, fueling concerns about the fast-growing company’s business practices that knocked as much as 25 percent off its value on Wednesday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Wirecard has been one of Europe’s few true technology success stories over the last few years so it is quite disappointing that it has succumbed to a worrying trend of German corporate malfeasance. This is the latest in a long line of governance problems at some of Germany’s largest companies and puts another dent in the country’s façade of corporate excellence.



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January 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mnuchin Signals Chance to End China Tariff War Ahead of Talks

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

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that if China presents enough trade concessions to President Donald Trump, there is a chance that the administration may seek to lift all tariffs. “Everything is on the table,” Mnuchin said early Tuesday during an interview on Fox Business News “Mornings With Maria” program. The Treasury chief is set to meet with top Chinese officials in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday alongside U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about a month before the U.S. is set to escalate the trade war with China with fresh tariffs.

Trump and China’s Xi Jinping gave their officials until March 1 to work out a deal on “structural changes” to China’s economic model. If they fail, Trump has promised to raise the tariff rate on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent. The collapse of talks would dash hopes of a lasting truce that would remove one of the darkest clouds hanging over the world economy.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Considering what is at stake in terms of economic growth for both China and the USA and the impact a deterioration in relations would have on an already edgy stock market, at least a commitment to continue talking is likely. It would be unreasonable to raise tariffs further while that is ongoing.



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January 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ericsson Mobility Report

Thanks to a subscriber for this report which reflects on the growth of the global telecommunications sector. Here is a section on India:  

In India, GSM/EDGE-only has remained the dominant technology during 2018, accounting for around 56 percent of total mobile subscriptions at the end of this year. However, the country has experienced strong growth in the number of LTE subscriptions over the last couple of years, and at the end of 2018 LTE will account for close to 30 percent of all mobile subscriptions. As the transformation toward more advanced technologies continues in India, LTE is forecast to represent 81 percent of all mobile subscriptions at the end of 2024. 5G subscriptions are expected to become available in 2022. The Middle East and Africa comprises over 70 countries and is a diverse region.  It varies from advanced markets which have mobile broadband subscription penetration of 100 percent, and emerging markets where around 40 percent of mobile subscriptions are for mobile broadband. At the end of 2018, more than 20 percent of all mobile subscriptions will be for LTE in the Middle East and North Africa, while in Sub-Saharan Africa, LTE will account for just over 7 percent of subscriptions. The region is anticipated to evolve over the forecast period and, by 2024, 90 percent of subscriptions are expected to be for mobile broadband. Driving factors behind this shift include a young and growing population with increasing digital skills, as well as more affordable smartphones. In the Middle East and North Africa, we anticipate commercial 5G deployments with leading communications service providers by 2019, and significant volumes in 2021. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 5G subscriptions in discernible volumes are expected from 2022.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

India and Africa are the only regions in the world with less than 100% mobile phone penetration. The rollout of 4G in India two years ago is a major evolution for the economy but also represents a major opportunity for international companies seeking a direct route to the nation’s consumers. 4G is the gateway to mobile banking, internet access, online shopping, education and entertainment.



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January 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Outlook for 2019: The Game Has Changed

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The broad global adoption of fiscally stimulative policies is unlikely to be as coordinated as the monetary response to the credit crisis was. The big arbiters of how much liquidity is provided to the global economy and eventually the markets will be in which large countries adopt fiscal stimulus. Germany, China and Brazil are the big additional potential sources of stimulus so it is their political machinations that are most worth watching.



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January 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is an 'Apple Prime' the Answer to iPhone Troubles?

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

Since then, the hypothetical of a monthly subscription to All Things Apple has assumed an extremely unofficial name—Apple Prime—based on Amazon’s bundle of free shipping, movies, music, photos and various other services. Last week, the notion took on sudden urgency, as Cook sliced Apple’s sales outlook, sending the company’s stock plunging 8 percent for the week and nearly taking the rest of the stock market down with it.

Proponents of Apple Prime are now reading tea leaves and seeing puzzle pieces moving into place. In his note to shareholders last week, Apple’s chief executive officer wrote under the heading of “other initiatives to improve our results” that Apple was working on “making it simple to trade in a phone in our stores, finance the purchase over time, and get help transferring data from the current to the new phone.”

The idea is that instead of paying a cool grand for a new iPhone every year, devotees might pay Apple a monthly stipend for automatic access to the latest device. Apple already has an iPhone upgrade program that costs $37 a month, administered by Rhode Island-based Citizens One. Presumably Apple could then bundle this with access to music, storage, the AppleCare warranty program, and the much ballyhooed but still largely invisible stable of Apple-financed TV shows and films, like an upcoming animated movie. “This is Apple Prime. And it is coming,” tweeted investor and Apple watcher MG Siegler, after reading Cook’s letter.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The subscription business model is the tech industry’s answer to the cyclicality which has plagued it since its dawn. By creating products that are essential to modern living they have turned a boom to bust pattern into an easily modellable stream of cashflows that any fundamental value-oriented investor can justify having a position in.
 



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January 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Quality Equities: The Solution to Today's Equity Conundrum

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Tom Hancock for GMO. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

When David and I came up with the idea of the Autonomies back in 2010 we were thinking of companies that could perform come hail or shine in the evolving secular bull market. There are three fundamental strands to that belief and one technical.

The rise of the global consumer is a euphemism for the spread of capitalism and improving standards of governance which have historically delivered improving standards of living and higher consumption of goods and services. As long as capitalism continues to spread and governance improves millions of people are likely to be lifted out of poverty and into the middle classes. Asia and Africa are ground zero for that trend to persist in the coming decades



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December 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Best and Worst of 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

The big drawdown that began in January represented a major inconsistency for what had previously been an impressively consistent trend. The subsequent ranging belied the churning that was taking place inside the major Wall Street indices as leadership narrowed to focus on the mega-cap technology companies.  Facebook peaked in the summer and Apple in October and that was one of the causal factors in the ensuing sell-off as large cap underperformance weighed on ETFs.



The fact that Advanced Micro Devices was the best performing share on the S&P500 this year is a testament to the extraordinary volatility we have seen in single stock names. The share opened in January at $10.42, peaked in September at $34.14 and closed today close to $18.32.



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December 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Here is the text of a bulletin from Bloomberg on today's Fed Meeting.

Here are the Key Takeaways from today's FOMC events:

The FOMC hiked rates a fourth time this year to a decade high, ignoring President Trump’s criticism, and lowered its outlook to two hikes from three next year.

Powell specifically endorsed the dots, citing them in his press conference as a guideline for the committee and a useful tool.

The committee tweaked its guidance to ``some further gradual increases’’ -- a more hawkish development compared with the alternative of dropping the guidance.

Powell said all meetings are live for possible moves next year, but gave no strong hints as to when the Fed would raise next.

There was unanimous support for the hike.

Powell said that Trump's comments had no impact on policy and that the Fed is committed to doing what it thinks is best.

Powell said financial conditions caused a slight downgrade in 2019 forecasts but no real change in the outlook.

Markets took FOMC and Powell as hawkish, with the yield curve flattening and stocks falling.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The dot plots suggest two interest rate hikes next year but Jay Powell basically said they are going to be data dependent next year. The one thing that stood out to me from the press conference was that no one asked questions about the pace of balance sheet run off. That says a lot.



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December 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape

This article by Joe Ciolli and Jack Houston for Business Insider may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Moore: We think we're in the later stage of the cycle. So, let's be clear, our barbell approach doesn't mean just hold an anchor in high quality, which we think you should, and then just swing for the fences and lower quality assets that seem to be de-rated.

That would be great if we didn't have any worries about policy — both the monetary side as well as the trade policy to consider. But what we think people should be focused on are companies that have excellent balance sheets, that have business models, that are sustainable through all parts of the cycle.

That's where we're not expecting to see huge amounts of earnings volatility, even if we continue to have a sequential economic growth slowdown. Although again, still above-trend, so still pretty good.

But also think about what areas of the market, whether it's industries or assets, have really fallen out of favor, like emerging markets this year. Places where the fundamentals haven't deteriorated, and be willing to take a bet on some higher-volatility, slightly riskier assets as well. So, this barbelled approach, don't take risk entirely off. But if you need to sleep at night a little bit better, make sure that there's big quality nut to rest on.

Ciolli: We keep talking about the possibility of an economic recession, but it does not seem like it's in your base case for 2019. However, you do mention that the table may be set for something in 2020. Can you outline your recession view and what, if anything, people can do next year to prepare for that if it does transpire in 2020?

Moore: I think actually it's consensus at this point that 2019 is not the year that we have the US-led recession.

I also just want to note something here. A lot of times when we talk about recession in our outlook, and then also talk about recession in the market, it does tend to be a little US-focused. And that we need to recognize that different regions and countries and markets are at different points in their cycle. I think about this a lot as an equity person. The profit cycle is really different, region from region. And we had seen some profits recessions in non-US markets, even while the US continued to make new highs.

So, that aside, in 2020 and onwards, we think that recession probability increases for the US. Part of that is because we are just at the later stage of the cycle. We also know that it takes some time for tighter monetary policy to really play out in the economy and have an impact. It's possible that we'll see a slowdown in activity at that point, or greater inflationary pressure, frankly, from higher wages feeding through. It's not our base case at this moment, but it's a non-zero probability.

We recognize that investors need to be positioned for that eventual slowdown, well in advance. As you know, equity markets tend to price in these changes in economic growth far before we would actually get the data. We just want to have quality portfolio construction and make that a significant thing that we're focused on in 2019. So that we don't get to 2020, when the economic data starts to soften a little bit, and find ourselves flat-footed.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There has been a clear rotation out of the most aggressively priced portion of the market and into clearly defensive sectors. Talking about the clear benefits of investing in high quality balance sheets is a hard sell when growth stocks are powering ahead. However, when the lustre comes off the shiniest new economy names investors rediscover cashflows and dividend discounting.



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December 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe's Retail Apocalypse Spreads to Online From Stores

This article by William Mathis and Katie Linsell for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Europe’s retail crisis is spreading from bricks-and-mortar stores to e-commerce as Asos Plc plunged the
most in 4 1/2 years after warning that Christmas shopping got off to a disastrous start.

The gloomy update from a U.K. online retailer that competes with Amazon.com Inc. and has furnished fashions to the likes of Meghan Markle shows that retail weakness is widespread in the runup to the holidays.

Asos fell as much as 43 percent Monday in London, wiping more than 1.4 billion pounds ($1.8 billion) off the market value. The news dragged down other online retailers like Boohoo Group Plc and Zalando SE, as well as store operators like Marks & Spencer Group Plc and Next Plc.

“This goes against the script,” said Stephen Lienert, a credit analyst at Jefferies. “It was supposed to be bricks and mortar that’s dying and online is the future, but that headline gets ripped up today.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brick and mortar and online retailers share one common factor. They both rely on consumers to be ready to buy what they are selling. That works well when the economy is doing well but Europe’s economies are under pressure at just the same time the ECB has ended its quantitative easing program.



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December 07 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

One Fed official suggested on Friday delaying a December rate hike, the first to do so

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

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard reportedly said on Friday that the central bank could consider postponing its widely anticipated December rate hike because of an inverted yield curve.

“The current level of the policy rate is about right,” Bullard said in a prepared presentation to the Indiana Banker’s Association, according to Reuters.

Bullard is the first member of the Fed to speak publicly about a delay in December. The Fed president — while not a Federal Open Market Committee voter in 2018 — will be able to participate in rate hike decisions in 2019.

Eoin Treacy's view -

10-year Treasury yields dropped below the trend mean this week and despite a short-term overbought condition on the futures, a meaningful catalyst is now likely required to check the rally.



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December 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Riding in Waymo One, The Google Spinoff's First Self-Driving Taxi Service

This article by Andrew Hawkins for the Verge may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Over the course of three separate trips in Chandler, the trained drivers in my Waymo vehicles never take control. I’ve ridden in a Waymo vehicle without a human being in the driver’s seat once before, but it was not on public roads. I was fully prepared to experience a fully driverless ride while in Chandler, but, alas, Waymo rejected my request.

The rides are uneventful, but it is exciting to experience the little flourishes that have been added for ride-hailing customers. The minivans still smell new, or at least recently cleaned. The screen on the back of the driver’s headrest features a large blue “start” button that I could press to initiate the ride. (There’s also a physical button in the headliner of the vehicle that performs the same task.) After pressing the button, a musical chime sounds and a robotic-sounding woman’s voice says, “Here we go.”

As I said, I’m an experienced Waymo rider — three trips and counting — but this one feels more mature. Before, it felt like you were being driven by your half-blind grandmother, but now, riding feels… mostly normal. The car slows down for speed bumps, accelerates for lane changes, and handles a number of difficult maneuvers like unprotected left turns. And it even surprises me a couple of times, like when it ended up braking too far into the crosswalk at an intersection, and then reversed back a few inches to make room for pedestrians. Of course, it probably shouldn’t have stopped so abruptly in the first place, but it is still comforting to see the car correct its mistakes in real time.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is perhaps the biggest news this week, even though the arrest of Huawei’s CFO and the tightening of liquidity are what are making global headlines.

Waymo are going slow on rolling out autonomy because they are very aware of the damage road deaths by semiautonomous vehicles have caused to companies like Uber and Tesla. However, the important point is riders are reporting the cars are delivering smoother rides and fewer unexpected stops where the car has to pause and figure out what to do next.



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December 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on my central bank total assets chart:

You have mentioned that the graph showing central bank assets is one of the most important. Consequently, I wondered how the fact that they are reducing this tied in with your moderately optimistic views on the stock market. Do you think the US Fed Reserve will continue to reduce its balance sheet given recent market turmoil?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which I believe is of general interest and is something I have also been pondering. There are two reasons the chart has been contracting since March. The first is because the Federal Reserve is reducing the size of its balance sheet and other central banks are reducing infusions. The second is the strength of the Dollar has flattered the contraction by reducing the relative value of other currencies held on global central bank balance sheets.



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November 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review October 29th 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.

Let me first set up the background; I believe we are in a secular bull market that will not peak for at least another decade and potentially twice that. However, it also worth considering that secular bull markets are occasionally punctuated by recessions and medium-term corrections which generally represent buying opportunities.

2018 has represented a loss of uptrend consistency for the S&P500 following a particularly impressive and persistent advance in 2016 and 2017. Many people are therefore asking whether this is a medium-term correction or a top. There is perhaps no more important question so let’s just focus on that for the moment.



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November 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Sees Solid Economic Outlook as Rates 'Just Below' Neutral

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

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said interest rates are “just below” the so-called neutral range, softening previous comments that seemed to suggest a greater distance and spurring speculation central bankers are increasingly open to pausing their series of hikes next year.

Treasuries and stocks rose, as Powell’s “just below” comment tempered remarks he made last month that markets had interpreted to mean that a larger amount of tightening was likely. Speaking at an event on Oct. 3, Powell said that “we may go past neutral. But we’re a long way from neutral at this point, probably.”

In his speech Wednesday to the Economic Club of New York, Powell said the Fed’s benchmark interest rate was “just below the broad range of estimates of the level that would be neutral for the economy -- that is, neither speeding up nor slowing down growth.”

If rates are closer to what policy makers ultimately judge is the neutral level, that could signal the Fed will tighten monetary policy less than previously projected. Eurodollar futures pricing reacted to Powell’s comments, reflecting even firmer expectations that the Fed will hike only once next year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Investors are on tenterhooks at the prospect of central bank balance sheet unwinding persisting indefinitely. Therefore, they are highly alert to any sign the Fed’s appetite for additional tightening is waning.



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November 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Money in a digital age: 10 thoughts

Thanks to a subscriber for this interesting transcript of a speech delivered by Agustin Carstens from the Bank of International Settlements. Here is a section:

Another problem is that even those transactions that have seemingly entered the ledger can be retroactively voided. In technical terms, cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin cannot guarantee the finality of individual payments. Although a user can verify that her transaction has been included in the ledger, unbeknownst to her an adversary trying to double-spend coins can create rival versions of that ledger. Since which one of the two ultimately survives is uncertain, the finality of payments is never assured. And because mining, contrary to the decentralised idea, has become an oligopolistic industry, this is a likely threat.

Transaction rollbacks can also occur due to so-called “forking”, when cryptocurrencies split into subnetworks of users, as has happened several thousand times in the course of the last 12 months (Graph 4). Again, this means that finality will forever remain uncertain.

2. Cryptocurrencies are unstable, including so-called “stable coins”
Remember that money is supposed to act as a unit of account, a means of payment and a store of value. I have just explained how cryptocurrencies fall short of the first two of those goals, and they are just as weak regarding the third.

Generating any confidence in a cryptocurrency’s value requires that its supply is predetermined by a protocol. Otherwise, it would be supplied elastically and debase quickly. Therefore, any fluctuation in demand translates into changes in valuation. The valuations of cryptocurrencies are subject to extreme volatility, as shown in Graph 5. This inherent instability is unlikely to be fully overcome by better protocols or financial engineering, as exemplified by many failed so-called “stable coins” – including, most recently, Tether, which saw a marked loss of confidence and substantial deviations from its targeted one-to-one peg to the US dollar. 

This outcome is not coincidental. Keeping the supply of the means of payment in line with transaction demand requires a central authority, typically the central bank, which can expand or contract its balance sheet. The authority needs to be willing at times to trade against the market, even if this means taking risk on its balance sheet and absorbing a loss. In a decentralised network of cryptocurrency users, there is no central agent with either the obligation or the incentive to stabilise the value: whenever demand for the cryptocurrency decreases, so does its price.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The scaling issues with bitcoin are well known and represent the foundation of the many hard forks which have taken place. The simple fact is that the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, is unwieldy and was never truly designed to an alternative to the global monetary system. That is a major argument for why bitcoin will not survive over the long term as the preeminent vehicle for speculation on the blockchain sector. I have been comparing Bitcoin to Netscape for the last year and I continue to think that is the most appropriate historical comparison.



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November 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Salesforce Helps Drive Software Index on Revenue Forecast

This article by Nancy Moran and Nico Grant for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Salesforce.com Inc. climbed as much as 9.5 percent on an intraday basis Wednesday, helping to drive a third session of gains in the S&P 500 Software & Services Index, after
issuing a revenue forecast that topped analysts’ estimates.

Sales may reach as much as $3.56 billion in the fiscal fourth quarter, the San Francisco-based maker of cloud-based applications software said in a statement Tuesday. Analysts on average estimated $3.53 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I chose Salesforce as one of the original cast of Autonomies back in 2012 when I was writing Crowd Money because it was a leader in the cloud computing sector. In doing so I was betting that it would grow its international revenues to become a truly global company. In the last decade revenues have grown 10-fold but the international spread has remained above the same with about 70% of revenue from the USA.



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November 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Chinese scientist who claims he made CRISPR babies is under investigation

This article by Antonio Regalado for the MIT Technology Review may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

He said the girls had been conceived using IVF but that his team had added “a little protein and some information” to the fertilized eggs. That was a reference to the ingredients of CRISPR, the gene-editing technology he apparently employed to delete a gene called CCR5.

The claim set off a wave of criticism in China and abroad from experts who said the experiment created unacceptable risks for a questionable medical purpose. Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of CRISPR, called for a moratorium on its use in editing embryos for IVF procedures.

Documents connected to the trial named the study’s sponsors as He along with Jinzhou Qin and said it was approved by the ethics committee of HarMoniCare Shenzhen Women and Children’s Hospital.

On Sunday, the Shenzhen City Medical Ethics Expert Board said it would begin an investigation of He’s research and released a statement saying that HarMoniCare “according to our findings … never conducted the appropriate reporting according to requirements.” The former medical director of the private hospital, Jiang Su-Qi,  told Southern Capital News he had no recollection of approving He’s research while he was on its ethics committee.

“These two children are the guinea pigs. They will go through their whole maturing process having not understood the risks ahead of time,” said Liu Ying of Peking University’s Institute of Molecular Medicine.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Has He been suspended because he went ahead with live human experiments of CRISPR gene editing or because he went public with the news? I have never doubted that China would be the first country to embrace a no-holes-barred approach to genetic editing, including in humans.



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November 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

2019 US Equity Outlook: The Return of Risk

Thanks to a subscriber for this report for Goldman Sachs 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.

At The Chart Seminar we talk about how the majority of people predict markets. The simple answer is we tend to predict what we see. Over the course of the last eight weeks a very notable rotation into higher quality companies has been underway. Interest rate sensitive businesses have been the big decliners while those angled towards the consumer, with long records of dividend increases have been the clearest outperformers. Since that is what has been working it is the easiest prognostication to think it will persist.



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November 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Don't Trade a Bear Like a Bull; Reality Check for Earnings is Good

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Micheal Wilson for 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. 

​Leverage is quickly being squeezed out of the “new economy” shares which were among the best performers over the last 18 months. That is certainly going to lead to earnings revisions for the companies like Nvidia, Align Technologies and Netflix.

It also holds out the prospect of a lengthier period of underperformance for the segment of the technology sector which has been most aggressively bought by investors over the last few years.



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November 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Technology Megatrends Leading to the Disruption of Transportation 2020-2030

Thanks to a subscriber for this presentation by Tony Seba which may be of interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Perhaps the most interesting part of the discussion focuses on the rate at which the cost of producing batteries is accelerating to almost 20% per annum.
 
That holds out the prospect of batteries becoming commoditised in the same way as solar cells when production comes on lines. For the shares of battery producers that is likely to represent a challenge but not quite yet considering the supply inelasticity argument that still prevails within the market.



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November 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Is Giving the World's Carmakers an Electric Ultimatum

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

The world’s biggest market for electric vehicles wants to get even bigger, so it’s giving automakers what amounts to an ultimatum. Starting in January, all major manufacturers operating in China—from global giants Toyota Motor and General Motors to domestic players BYD and BAIC Motor—have to meet minimum requirements there for producing new-energy vehicles, or NEVs (plug-in hybrids, pure-battery electrics, and fuel-cell autos). A complex government equation requires that a sizable portion of their production or imports must be green in 2019, with escalating goals thereafter.

The regime resembles the cap-and-trade systems being deployed worldwide for carbon emissions: Carmakers that don’t meet the quota themselves can purchase credits from rivals that exceed it. But if they can’t buy enough credits, they face government fines or, in a worst-case scenario, having their assembly lines shut down.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is the world’s largest market for automobiles so what they decide is permissible within their market is likely to shape the plans of manufacturers for the globe. One of the primary reasons companies have been announcing plans for lots more electric and hybrid vehicles over the coming years is because of the Chinese mandates. That is the primary driver behind the capacity build in the battery sector which needs to ramp up substantially if the demand growth profile is to be reached.



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November 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

November 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taimide Tech Jumps on Expectations of Foldable Phones Boost

This note by Cindy Wang may be of interest to subscribers.

Taimide Tech jumps as much as 9.9% on market expectations that company may benefit from trend of foldable phones after Samsung Electronics showed off a new model, according to Concord Securities.
Market speculates that the polyimide film maker could supply its products to manufacturers of foldable phones, Concord Securities assistant vice president Allan Lin says, adding that polyimide film is a key component for such phones

Eoin Treacy's view -

Phones are getting bigger because so much of what we use them for has northing to do with speaking to another person. The problem today is that phones are becoming so large that they are becoming unwieldy to put in one’s pocket. Samsung’s solution is to design folding phone.



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November 06 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Esports vs. pro sports: Jeremy Lin is betting on both

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

The barrier to entry for esports is also so much lower than pro sports. You don’t need to wait for open-hours at your YMCA gym and hope that enough people show up and pay their membership to shoot some hoops. You don’t need another nine people in the same place at the same time with the same skillset—you don’t even have to wait until the sun’s up at the local park or stop playing when it goes down.

Esports is therefore democratizing entertainment. It’s free, and all you need is a good internet connection to play. Mobile gaming was a game changer for this accessibility: You don’t need an expensive console to play anymore, and some of the best games are literally in your hand.

Because of its truly global nature, you’re also being exposed to people who come from different cultures and countries and religions than your neighborhood ball court. It gets you out of your bubble. The tournaments bring people from all over the world together—professional sports only do that during the Olympics or events like the World Cup. Teams are often made up of players from all around the world who have to learn how to work together and get along; there were 24 countries represented at The Dota 2 International last year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Gaming companies control the games and therefore own the intellectual property on which eSports are based on. They have the scope to control the evolution of the esports sector in a way that was never open to conventional sports. That represents two important revenue vectors. The first is that the shelf-life of games is extended. Historically games have been discounted within about 12 months of release and once a player gets about 40 hours of game time they set the title aside. However, with an eSport constantly boosting visibility the legacy game has the potential to continue to attract new players well after its release date.



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November 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on balancing a portfolio

Yesterday’s article in The Wall Street Journal raises an interesting issue that may be interesting for discussion (see attached and the link - https://www.wsj.com/articles/octobers-market-rout-leaves-investors-with-no-place-to-hide-1540978259 ).

“Adding to the stock market’s anxieties has been a rare simultaneous drop in bond prices that has pushed yields near their highest levels in years. The dual breakdown in stock and bond prices has upended investors’ traditional safety tool kit of buying Treasurys during periods of volatility, leaving many with losses.”

Traditional investment portfolios of 60% equities and 40% bonds lost more than 3% in October and are down 1.2% this year, on pace for a rare annual loss that was last seen in 2008, as well as during volatile periods in 1990, 2001 and 2002, said Luca Paolini, chief strategist at Pictet Asset Management, which manages $191 billion. Even investors who are heavier on fixed income would still be in the red, with allocations of 75% bonds and 25% equities falling more than 2% this month to drag their performance down 1.1% for the year… Declines in bond prices, meanwhile, have exacerbated investors’ pain. Annualized losses among U.S. Treasurys and investment-grade bonds are at 9.7% and 4%, respectively, the third-steepest declines since 1970, according to a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch report.”

Portfolio with 60% equities and 40% bonds allocation has been the most traditional advice for individual investors for decades. But I just thought, those were decades of the secular, almost 40-year bull trend in the bond market. If, as you and David often say, we are now witnessing the beginning of the secular bear market in bonds, then this 60-40 allocation represents troubles ahead. Bonds will probably stop being the same safe haven they were in the past. Yes, they will continue to provide some stability to a portfolio in a sense that they won’t fall 10% as equities but instead of rising in times of turmoil, they will also slump.

If this is the case, how allocation can be changed and where investors will look for safe heavens?

As always, it would be interesting to know your view.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In a period of disinflation or deflation fixing the interest rate you receive works wonderfully because its value increases over time. That has been one of the primary tailwinds for fixed income portfolios for decades. If on the other hand you are looking at a time of rising interest rates and rising yields then floating rate instruments become more attractive.



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October 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Equity and Quant Hedge Funds Hit Hardest by Stock Market Rout

This article by Saijel Kishan and Suzy Waite for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The selloff underscores the perils that funds face when they pile into the same stocks. Equity funds suffered after the top 10 stocks they’re most “crowded” in underperformed the S&P 500 Index by almost 3 percent on Oct. 29, the worst day since 2010, Morgan Stanley said. In addition, the top 10 stocks that funds bet against outperformed the index by more than 1 percent.

Funds that use computer-driven models to follow big market trends were whiplashed as price volatility spiked. Among the casualties: Leda Braga’s BlueTrend hedge fund, GAM Holding AG’s Cantab unit and Man Group Plc’s AHL unit. Other quant models that lost money include Renaissance Technologies’ U.S. equity fund.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Never mistake a bull market for brains is one of the most important pieces of advice anyone can receive when momentum strategies in all their forms are the most fashionable investment vehicles. If all algorithms are taught to do is remember the trend is your friend then automatic sell signals go in at the first failure of the price at the moving average. Meanwhile indices are generally market cap weighted so that ETF passive investing is essentially a momentum strategy biased towards mega-caps. Nevertheless, a crisis has to be seen to be getting worse in order to continue have a deleterious effect on markets and there is increasing evidence of volatility abating. 



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October 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Opportunity in Criss-Border E-Commerce

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

Cross-border e-commerce1 has developed into a large, quickly growing ecosystem – and has become a great success story for many e-tailers, meaning retailers and manufacturers selling their products over the Internet directly to end consumers.

This success can be shown in real numbers: in 2015, the cross-border e-commerce market accounted for USD 300 billion GMV2, about 15% of e-commerce overall. This rapid growth, however, has just begun and will continue: the cross-border market is expected to grow by about 25% annually until 2020 – nearly twice the rate of domestic e-commerce and a growth rate that most traditional retail markets would dream of achieving. In 2020, it is expected to account for about USD 900 billion GMV, translating into a roughly 22% share of the global e-commerce market. This growth momentum yields unrivaled opportunity for retailers and manufacturers. As this report will show, crossborder e-commerce is not an e-commerce giant story – all types of manufacturers and retailers will be able to successfully go global.

Even beyond 2020, all evidence shows that demand for products from abroad is not going to recede. That said, considering the patterns according to which e-commerce companies expand their regional footprint today, one could assume that every e-commerce purchase will eventually become a local purchase. This is mainly due to the higher cost efficiencies that localized fulfilment and the quicker shipments that shorter distances naturally promise at first glance. However, even e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Zalando, which already operate local distribution centers in several countries, ship a significant part of their sales cross-border. This is driven by, for instance, the enormous number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) offered by some of these players. But having slow-turning SKUs sitting in inventory everywhere – a prerequisite for pure local fulfilment – is much more costly than shipping a certain share of orders cross-border. And in order to fulfill consumers’ wishes for faster delivery, many e-tailers offer premium international shipping options to their customers, e.g., for a surcharge. This is testimony that cross-border is not a passing phase or trend, but rather a significant staple in the e-commerce market that requires premium shipping.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The global postage and shipping industry represents a number of competing trends right now. On the one hand you have companies like Amazon which is prevailing on its largest sellers to expand internationally by making their products available in countries like Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, France and Spain. That requires bulk shipping of inventory to its international fulfilment centres and often requires an increased compliance cost to manage multiple sales tax regimes.



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October 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Update on Positioning

Thanks to a subscriber for this snippet of a report from JPMorgan. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The VIX Index has not spiked on this occasion by nearly as much as the move we saw in February because the market fell more slowly this time than last. That also highlights the fact that the bulk of selling pressure has taken place in the highly leveraged part of the technology sector.



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October 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review October 4th 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.



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October 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Howard Marks: Why the Word "When" Is Dangerous

This interview from the Motley Fool may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

3. The words you should never say

Bill Mann: Do you think that there are opinions or beliefs in the market that you find to be particularly unhealthy for investors?

Howard Marks: The first thing (and I try to make this clear in the book, and it's essential if people are going to be able to deal with cycles) is everybody wants an easy answer. Everyone wants to know how long an upswing lasts. And the first step is you must dispense with any concept of regularity.

The whole book is based around Mark Twain's statement that history does not repeat but it does rhyme. When he says it doesn't repeat, in our case he wasn't talking about the market. He was talking about history. But the truth is market cycles vary one to the next in terms of their amplitude, their speed, their violence, their duration. It's all different. And so people want to know how long an upswing is and the answer is we absolutely can't tell them. So expecting regularity and, thus, predictability is wrong.

And then you can go from there to the whole concept of predictions. What makes the market go up and down? To a small extent it is what I call fundamental developments in the economy and the companies. But to a large extent it's psychology or, let's say, popularity. And it should be clear by now to everyone that the swings in popularity are unpredictable. And if they are, then most forecasts are not going to work.

So the next concept is that people say to me, "OK, when will the market turn down?" And I never answer a question that starts with the word "when." In the investment business, sometimes we know what's going to happen. We never know when. So I would dispense with that immediately.

You must accept the ambiguity in the situation and accept the need to live with uncertainty. And that's why in the book I say there are certain words that every good investor should drive out of his vocabulary. Things like never, always, must, can't, has to. These words are out. We can talk about likely events. We can talk about probabilities. More and less likely. But we can never say has to or won't.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the biggest lessons from The Chart Seminar in my view is that it is senseless to tell the market what to do. It doesn’t listen. We need to foster the humility to allow the price action to unfold as it will and tailor our tactics accordingly. To do other than react to reality is to engage in fantasy.

At The Chart Seminar, we talk about distilling everything in the market down to two things. Money flows and crowd psychology. We use charts to monitor both. It is impossible to predict exactly where a top might appear but we can narrow the range down to when monetary policy is restrictive and investors are overenthusiastic.

The three primary trends are acceleration, a massive reaction against the prevailing trend and ranging, time and size. Let’s look at some examples.

Amazon has a history of accelerating. It’s half the reason people want to own the share. Every time it accelerates it has reverted to the mean so each of the accelerations is a minor trend ending. The primary consistency of the trend is it finds support in the region of the trend mean, consolidates for a while and rebounds. It has paused at big round numbers like $1000, $1500 and $2000 so the current pullback falls into the ‘normal’ category provided it finds support in the region of the trend mean.

Microchip Devices has posted a massive reaction against the prevailing trend over the last few weeks. Prior to that it exhibited a loss of momentum, greater volatility and failed upside breaks which all constituted a lengthier range. The clear downward dynamic is a trend ending characteristic.

It is quite normal that after a Type-2 topping characteristic we see a range develop below the peak, which can be considered a period of right-hand extension or a first step below the top.

Oil ranged mostly between $100 and $120 between 2011 and the middle of 2014. That lengthy range corresponded with a high degree of confidence the $100 level would hold so when it declined below that level it triggered a lot stop and the price collapsed. The prior to formation was represented by ranging, time and size.

Meanwhile, Microsoft remains in a reasonably consistent medium-term uptrend, characterised by a succession of short-term ranges one above another. Provided the $100 level holds as an area of support during this reaction the trend can be considered consistent.

The next venue for The Chart Seminar will be in London on November 12th and 13th. Please contact Sarah at sarah@fullertreacymoney.com to secure your place.



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October 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Robot ETF Leaves Pros in Dust, Scoring Wins on Small-Cap Fliers

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

So AEIQ is taking fliers on tiny companies and riding the wave in small caps to beat the S&P, right? But it outdoes small-cap indexes, too. Since inception, the ETF is beating the Russell 2000 with noticeable help from the “selection effect,’’ meaning picking particularly good securities, Bloomberg data show. AIEQ’s active return over the small-cap gauge is 6.03 percent, all of which can be explained by individual stock
selection.

To true believers, nothing random is happening. “It’s not serendipity or luck. Rather, it is grunt work analysis of computational analysis of data and looking at your blogs and social media and press releases, and a conglomerate of all that,’’ Rick Roche, managing director at Little Harbor

Advisors, a boutique investment firm focused on quantitative strategies, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “Machine learning’s power in terms of getting data and uncovering potential alpha is much better in the small cap and the mid cap space than it is large cap.”

It’s easy to be impressed by the way AIEQ’s seems to adapt over time, adding large caps to its portfolio and dialing down smaller companies right as they fell out of favor. In truth, though, other things may be going on. Sure, the machine might’ve sussed out an unwinding of the small-cap trade in the wake of rising rates and less trade bluster. Less amazingly, the ETF may have just needed to buy larger stocks as it got bigger and swelled toward $200 million.

Either way, it helped. Since the start of August, AIEQ’s greater allocation to larger companies has juiced its performance, a Bloomberg analysis shows. “That’s the benefit of our strategy, right? It is very flexible and dynamic,’’ said Art Amador, COO and co-founder of Equbot, the company behind the ETF’s software. “The idea of, ‘Hey, it’s small caps today,’ doesn’t mean tomorrow we’re going to keep playing in the small-cap universe. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.’’

Eoin Treacy's view -

When you buy an ETF you are buying all the shares in the index with a market cap bias. Logically some will do better than others but there is an implied momentum trade because of the focus on the best performing the large companies.



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October 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on timelines to implementing new technologies

About the development of technologies in Batteries and EV, I think a great standpoint is that of Umicore (UMI BB), which is one of the main producers of cathodes. They had their Capital Market Day in June, and with a bit of patience one can follow the webcast on their site here:  , and specifically the part presented by Mr Vandeputte 

One of the points made is that manufacturing autos is complex to the point no one takes on technological risk with a light heart, so the technology currently in use will probably stay around for a years before we get some leap forward into something different such as solid-state batteries.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this informative email as well as the reports from Umicore which I’m sure will be of interest to the Collective. Much of the investment focus for batteries has been on lithium but as you say other battery components also offer investment avenues for the sector.



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October 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ericsson profit smashes forecasts as 5G buzz grows

This article by Dominic Chopping for MarketWatch may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Ericsson AB's ERIC, +5.15% third-quarter net profit exceeded estimates by a significant margin as the telecommunications equipment company continued to keep a tight rein on costs while seeing strong demand from operators racing to launch new fifth-generation networks.
 

Ericsson's quarterly net profit ballooned to 2.75 billion Swedish kronor ($307.7 million) from a loss of SEK3.56 billion as sales rose 8.9% to SEK53.81 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet had expected a net profit of SEK630 million on sales of SEK50.28 billion.

The gross margin rose to 36.5% from 26.9% while the operating margin grew to 6.0% from a negative margin of 7.4%.

"We continue to invest in our competitive 5G-ready portfolio to enable our customers to efficiently migrate to 5G," said Chief Executive Borje Ekholm. "Strong sales were mainly driven by a continued high activity level primarily in North America."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Amid the furore about new technology there are some that we should pay particular attention to because of their enabling characteristics which can boost personal productivity. These are 5G, batteries, cancer therapy, automation and artificial intelligence.  



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October 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on technological innovation

I continue to be amazed at the tremendous pace of technological advances in the EV and EV battery sector, including critical improvements in the time required to recharge, the longevity of the charge and the methods available to charge.  You may have already seen the following announcement as it is a few months old, and may well be aware of these developments. However, I have personally only just seen this article today, stating that China is in the process of building sections of a motorway that is electrically conductive and can recharge vehicles whilst continuing to drive at speeds up to 120km/hr (75mph). 

http://smarthighways.net/china-to-build-a-motorway-that-charges-electric-cars-as-they-drive/

Looking further into the process that enables such a development, apparently adding graphene to the concrete renders the road surface electrically conductive and enables it to recharge vehicles.  

https://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/electric-cars-charge-driving/

There is also a pilot road currently being tested in Sweden that charges specially designed vehicles from an electrified track in the surface of the road.  I dare to venture that the latest technology being utilised in China would already render obsolete the cumbersome Swedish system!  

https://www.energymatters.com.au/renewable-news/electric-cars-charge-driving/

You often mention how the pace of technological developments influences markets and economies, however I am struggling to keep up with so many new developments in the various sectors. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and the attached links. I certainly sympathise with the feeling of occasionally being overwhelmed by the pace of innovation but if we focus on enabling technologies as a first principle exercise I don’t think we will go far wrong.



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October 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chew on This. Cheap China Food Deliveries Won't Last

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

Underpinning Meituan’s success is what the company calls “abundant labor supply.” The cost of paying workers for each food order is about $1, or 20 percent of the expense incurred by delivery services in the U.S. An average order takes about 35 minutes, versus more than an hour in America.

For that, China’s urban consumers can thank the army of rural migrants who have crowded into cities in search of work. A deep pool of more than 280 million such workers exists to service the needs of middle-class city dwellers, enabling fast e-commerce and offline-to-online businesses.

But don’t take them for granted. Soon, there may be no cheap labor left in China’s large cities. 

To fight pollution and traffic jams, mega-cities have started to restrict and even kick out migrant workers. Beijing plans to cap its population at 23 million in 2020, only 1.3 million more than its current size. Meanwhile, Shanghai has a target of 25 million by 2035, leaving room for only 800,000 newcomers. Meituan, which is battling Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. for food delivery customers, alone deploys more than half a million of delivery riders daily, over half of whom are based in the four tier-1 cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Eoin Treacy's view -

As the author above states it can be pretty cozy to live in China’s major cities. The quality of restaurant food is excellent and deliveries, which are essentially free, means you do not have to wait in line. However, this situation is predicated on cheap labour and even in China that is an exhaustible resource. 



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October 15 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the sustainability of electric vehicle batteries

I find little information published about the lifespan of a battery pack. Today’s IC engines easily last for 10 years or 150,000 mi., frequently longer. I've seen no comparable information for battery packs or what the rate of decline in charge acceptance is over time. If that lifespan is considerably less than that of an IC engine, that price difference would have to be significant to be economic.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. The cost of electric vehicle batteries has been trending lower and is likely to continue to do so as global manufacturing capacity scales up. However, as you highlight lithium batteries suffer from losing degradation over time and with repeated recharging and that represents an issue for consumers. Here is a section from ez-ev.com:

Electric cars run on lithium-ion batteries that are drained and recharged repeatedly, which causes natural degradation of the battery, leading to range loss over time. Most estimates have projected that a typical lithium-ion electric battery car can be driven about 100,000 and maintain a good driving range. But if you realize you are needing to recharge your battery too often, you may want to take it in and see whether it needs to be replaced.

Electric Car Battery Warranties
All of the top-selling electric vehicles come with battery warranties. While electric car batteries do lose capacity over time, it does not happen as fast as the average electric consumer device, which has a 1-4 year expected battery life. Most car companies will offer a warranty based on a number of years from purchase, or the number of miles driven, whichever is reached first. If within the warranty period, the car’s battery is unable to charge above a certain capacity, the battery can be replaced. Here are a few examples of today’s popular EV battery warranties:

That suggests to me that if one is thinking about buying an electric vehicle it is much smarter to lease since one can avoid the cost of replacing batteries while availing of new technology as it becomes available. That point is also highlighted by the fact that electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt have among the steepest depreciation profiles.

One of the primary business models being explored by car manufacturers, is to redeploy older batteries that are no longer fit for transportation, into household and industrial use. Nissan in particular has been actively pursuing this route.



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October 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

New Evidence of Hacked Supermicro Hardware Found in U.S. Telecom

This article by Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The more recent manipulation is different from the one described in the Bloomberg Businessweek report last week, but it shares key characteristics: They’re both designed to give attackers invisible access to data on a computer network in which the server is installed; and the alterations were found to have been made at the factory as the motherboard was being produced by a Supermicro subcontractor in China. 

Based on his inspection of the device, Appleboum determined that the telecom company's server was modified at the factory where it was manufactured. He said that he was told by Western intelligence contacts that the device was made at a Supermicro subcontractor factory in Guangzhou, a port city in southeastern China. Guangzhou is 90 miles upstream from Shenzhen, dubbed the `Silicon Valley of Hardware,’ and home to giants such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

The tampered hardware was found in a facility that had large numbers of Supermicro servers, and the telecommunication company's technicians couldn’t answer what kind of data was pulsing through the infected one, said Appleboum, who accompanied them for a visual inspection of the machine. It's not clear if the telecommunications company contacted the FBI about the discovery. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment on whether it was aware of the finding.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There is an air of “shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted” to this reporting since the revelations date from earlier this year and whatever data was available has likely already been stolen. It is reasonable to assume that China has as much data about everyone in the West as it could want and that cyberwarfare is certainly going to be a part of any future conflagration.



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October 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Used Tiny Chip in Hack That Infiltrated U.S. Companies

This article by Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A notable exception was AWS’s data centers inside China, which were filled with Supermicro-built servers, according to two people with knowledge of AWS’s operations there. Mindful of the Elemental findings, Amazon’s security team conducted its own investigation into AWS’s Beijing facilities and found altered motherboards there as well, including more sophisticated designs than they’d previously encountered. In one case, the malicious chips were thin enough that they’d been embedded between the layers of fiberglass onto which the other components were attached, according to one person who saw pictures of the chips. That generation of chips was smaller than a sharpened pencil tip, the person says. (Amazon denies that AWS knew of servers found in China containing malicious chips.)

And

One Friday in late September 2015, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared together at the White House for an hourlong press conference headlined by a landmark deal on cybersecurity. After months of negotiations, the U.S. had extracted from China a grand promise: It would no longer support the theft by hackers of U.S. intellectual property to benefit Chinese companies. Left out of those pronouncements, according to a person familiar with discussions among senior officials across the U.S. government, was the White House’s deep concern that China was willing to offer this concession because it was already developing far more advanced and surreptitious forms of hacking founded on its near monopoly of the technology supply chain.

In the weeks after the agreement was announced, the U.S. government quietly raised the alarm with several dozen tech executives and investors at a small, invite-only meeting in McLean, Va., organized by the Pentagon. According to someone who was present, Defense Department officials briefed the technologists on a recent attack and asked them to think about creating commercial products that could detect hardware implants. Attendees weren’t told the name of the hardware maker involved, but it was clear to at least some in the room that it was Supermicro, the person says.

The problem under discussion wasn’t just technological. It spoke to decisions made decades ago to send advanced production work to Southeast Asia. In the intervening years, low-cost Chinese manufacturing had come to underpin the business models of many of America’s largest technology companies. Early on, Apple, for instance, made many of its most sophisticated electronics domestically. Then in 1992, it closed a state-of-the-art plant for motherboard and computer assembly in Fremont, Calif., and sent much of that work overseas.

Over the decades, the security of the supply chain became an article of faith despite repeated warnings by Western officials. A belief formed that China was unlikely to jeopardize its position as workshop to the world by letting its spies meddle in its factories. That left the decision about where to build commercial systems resting largely on where capacity was greatest and cheapest. “You end up with a classic Satan’s bargain,” one former U.S. official says. “You can have less supply than you want and guarantee it’s secure, or you can have the supply you need, but there will be risk. Every organization has accepted the second proposition.”
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

China aspires to global domination and the Communist Party is willing to deal, cajole, bribe, beg, borrow and steal to get what it wants. The Belt and Road Initiative is a big part of that. Whereas attempting to create a domestic semiconductor sector is major part of the Made In China 2025. The interruption of the supply chain for the global chip manufacturing sector has been underway for years and is only now becoming public. It represents further evidence that there is no lower limit to what China is willing to do to achieve its goals.



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October 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Einhorn Assails Tesla, Saying Carmaker's Woes Resemble Lehman's

This article by Simone Foxman for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full: 

David Einhorn, a prominent critic of Tesla Inc., bashed the carmaker, saying its woes resemble that of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. before the bank failed.

“Like Lehman, we think the deception is about to catch up to TSLA,” Greenlight Capital said in a quarterly letter Friday seen by Bloomberg. “Elon Musk’s erratic behavior suggests that he sees it the same way.”

Einhorn pointed to parallels by saying “Lehman threatened short sellers, refused to raise capital (it even bought back stock), and management publicly suggested it would go private” in the months leading up to the bank’s collapse.

Einhorn said in the letter his short position on Tesla was his second biggest winner in the third quarter. Greenlight’s main fund has lost 26 percent this year.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla is a CCC+ rated credit and trades at an eyewatering valuation. It is now one of the top sellers of sedans in the USA but that is likely only because many companies are no longer selling sedans. The biggest redeeming quality the company has is that the battery factory is built and production is underway but that does not surmount the fact the company loses money on every vehicle.



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October 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review August 15th 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.

Let me first set up the background; I believe we are in a secular bull market that will not peak for at least another decade and potentially twice that. However, it also worth considering that secular bull markets are occasionally punctuated by recessions and medium-term corrections which generally represent buying opportunities. 



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September 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biotech returning to outperformance

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Nasdaq-Biotechnology Index broke out of a long base in 2011 and hit a medium-term peak in 2015. It found a medium-term low in 2016 and has held a choppy uptrend since; with two yearlong ranges one above another. The Index rallied this week to test its recovery high and a clear downward dynamic would be required to check the upward bias.



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September 26 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sony finally gives into 'Fortnite' PS4 cross-play demands

This article by Swapna Krishna for engadget.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

PlayStation gamers have been frustrated by the lack of cross-platform support for the popular game Fortnite. But now Sony has some good news. Today, the company announced an open beta that will allow for Fortnitecross-platform play between the PlayStation 4 and iOS, Android, the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows and Mac.

The aim of the beta is to test the user experience on this kind of cross-platform play, which is the first time Sony Interactive Entertainment has experimented with this feature. The release makes clear that, if this test goes well, the company may be open to cross-platform play on other games in the future.

Part of the appeal of Fortnite has been the ability to play with other gamers, regardless of the platform you are on. PlayStation users were unable to partake in that aspect of the game. To make matters worse, SIE's restrictive policies ensured that players weren't able to sign into an Epic Games account linked to PSN from their Nintendo Switch.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a watershed moment for the computer gaming sector because it highlights that games are more important than platforms. For years consumers have had to choose between Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PS4, Nintendo’s Switch, PC or now mobile with each representing a significant outlay in terms of capital investment.

However, if you only had one of these platforms you were restricted in what games you could play. Even when the games had online group-play features participants had to all have the same hardware and software. Fortnite changed that. It has been such a wildly successful game, built exclusively on a Battle Royale/Lord of Flies group play model that companies have been forced to cave to consumer demand for cross platform solutions.



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September 19 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bezos Unbound: Exclusive Interview With The Amazon Founder On What He Plans To Conquer Next

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

Nevertheless, during the morning he spent with Forbes outlining how he channels innovation and chooses where to expand, a road map for Amazon's future emerged. Given Amazon's size, it moves both vertically and horizontally, each direction portending a lot more disruption. Even five years ago, Bezos seemed content merely to try to sell everything to everybody, becoming the bane mostly of retailers and wholesalers. But this master innovation artist now has the ultimate palette: any industry he chooses.

For this unconstrained era, the most important word at Amazon is yes. Bezos explains, correctly, the traditional corporate hierarchy: "Let's say a junior executive comes up with a new idea that they want to try. They have to convince their boss, their boss's boss, their boss's boss's boss and so on—any 'no' in that chain can kill the whole idea." That's why nimble startups so easily slaughter hidebound dinosaurs: Even if 19 venture capitalists say no, it just takes a 20th to say yes to get a disruptive idea into business.

Accordingly, Bezos has structured Amazon around what he calls "multiple paths to yes," particularly regarding "two-way doors": decisions that are often based on incremental improvements and can be reversed if they prove unwise. Hundreds of executives can green-light an idea, which employees can shop around internally. "He knows and we know that you can't invent or experiment without some failure," says Jeff Wilke, the long-time Bezos lieutenant who runs Amazon's consumer and retail operations. "Those we sort of celebrate. In fact, we want them to occur all over the place. Jeff doesn't need to review those. I don't need to review those."

Eoin Treacy's view -

The bigger Amazon gets and the more industries it disrupts the greater the potential there is for antitrust advocates to gain traction. Amazon currently accounts for about half of all ecommerce traffic in the USA so it is no exaggeration to state that if you are not selling on Amazon you are leaving half the population untapped. That position lends the company enormous power and the EU is currently investigating how much advantage it gets from knowing product segments its third-party sellers are succeeding in. 



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September 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

See Food: Why Robots Are Producing More of What You Eat

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

Food manufacturers have been early adopters of new technologies from canning to bread slicers, and vision automation has been used for many years for tasks such as reading bar codes and sorting packaged products. Leaders now are finding the technology valuable because robot eyes outpace the human eye at certain tasks.

For years, Tyson Foods Inc. used sensors to map chicken fillets so they could be cut to the precise specifications required by restaurant customers that need them to cook uniformly. But exposure to the high pressure, high temperature water there kept causing equipment failures.

Now technical improvements, tougher materials and declining prices mean the company can integrate vision technology in facilities including the new $300 million chicken-processing plant in Humboldt, Tenn., said Doug Foreman, who works in technology development at the Springdale, Ark.-based food company. The technology could help optimize the use of each part of the bird, he added.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Robotics, artificial intelligence and computer vision all need to work seamlessly together in order for computers to fulfil the same tasks as humans. Creating systems that work together in such a manner is a time-consuming process but progress has been underway for decades and the breadth of what is now possible has improved considerably.



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September 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How an Aussie miner and American tech company plan to extract lithium quickly in Argentina

This article by Valentina Ruiz Leotaud may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

What sets this partnership apart is that both the miner and the techie claim they can produce lithium carbonate or lithium chloride more rapidly and at a lower cost than others. According to Lilac, this is possible because its system eliminates the need for sprawling evaporation ponds, which are expensive to build, slow to ramp up, and vulnerable to weather fluctuations.

“Even for the world's best lithium reserves in the Atacama desert, conventional evaporation ponds take many years to ramp up and remain vulnerable to weather volatility. Lilac's projects will run at full capacity from year one of commissioning and maintain that output regardless of weather or brine chemistry. We have done benchtop testing in other brines and we saw recoveries over 95% in less than 2 hours versus 9-24 months in evaporation ponds,” the company’s CEO, Dave Snydacker, told MINING.com.

Snydacker explained that the reason why the processes run by his company are so fast is that his engineers have developed ion exchange beads that absorb lithium directly from the brine. Once they do that, the beads are then loaded into ion exchange columns and brine is flowed through such columns. As the brine contacts the beads, the beads absorb the lithium out of the brine. Once the beads are saturated with lithium, the alkali metal is recovered from them as a lithium solution, which is later on processed into battery-grade lithium carbonate or lithium hydroxide using streamlined plant designs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I described the lithium market as an example of supply inelasticity meets rising demand as early as 2013. What is apparent today, following massive investment in additional supply, is that is no longer true. In fact, as demand for the commodity ramps up technological innovation is contributing to the ability suppliers to more than keep pace.



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September 14 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

More and More, New Drugs Clear the FDA With 'Accelerated Approval'

This article by Abigail Fagan & Mark Kaufman for Undark may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Today, the FDA is increasingly proactive in bringing drugs to market short of full approval and uses accelerated approval to get new drugs to people suffering from devastating diseases. Since 2003, more than 16 percent (66 of 404) of all new drugs were approved through the Accelerated Approval Program, and it seems to be a more popular option. Between 2003 and 2013, about three drugs were approved each year through this expedited route. But during each of the last three years (through 2016), that number has increased to more than seven drugs per year.

The FDA is candid about its commitment to expedited approval programs — in part to speed up what is often characterized as a notoriously drawn-out and bureaucratic approval process. The agency’s former head, Hamburg, wrote about the FDA’s intention of getting new drugs to people as “quickly” as possible, and the FDA’s new leader, doctor and cancer survivor Scott Gottlieb, bemoans the FDA’s slow-moving approval process. While a fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in 2012, Gottlieb lamented the “increasingly unreasonable hunger for statistical certainty on the part of the FDA.” And at Gottlieb’s confirmation hearing last May, he rejected the idea that speeding up drug approvals would compromise their safety, calling it a “false dichotomy that it all boils down to a choice between speed and safety.”

But the increasing reliance on accelerated approval and other means of expediting drug approval have many critics worried — particularly given that the interests most readily served by fast-track approvals are those of the pharmaceutical industry. David Gortler, an associate professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University and a former FDA medical officer, is one such critic. He fears that the drive to get drugs out faster with weaker scientific evidence is already taking a toll — not just on consumers who are taking drugs that should never have been approved, but also on the agency’s credibility.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Pharmaceutical companies benefitted from the declining burden of proof required before a drug can be marketed as well as the reduction in political scrutiny under the Trump administration.



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September 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Amazon Plans To Use Its E-Commerce Dominance To Transform Healthcare

This report from CBInsights may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

The pharmaceutical supply chain in the US is convoluted, filled with middlemen and confusing business models. For example, more than three entities are involved in bringing a drug from manufacturer to patient, and each party takes a percentage of 2 the profit along the way.

Amazon has the opportunity to simplify the supply chain and improve the experience/cost matters for patients, payers, and manufacturers. The company has made significant headway into the pharmaceutical distribution space with its ~$1B acquisition of mail-order pharmacy PillPack. With this purchase, Amazon gained a $100M revenue runrate business, a built-out pharmacy supply, and pharmacy licenses in all 50 states.

PillPack is a good fit for Amazon. The company is loved by its customers, claiming an NPS score of 80 compared to the pharmacy average of 26. Customer demand also helped the company re-establish its partnership with pharmacy benefits giant Express Scripts after a public falling out.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Amazon’s march through previously ringfenced sectors remains a powerful disruptive influence that has the potential to streamline supply chains and deliver better value to end customers. At the same time this is going to represent a significant challenge for the middlemen that characterise the healthcare, commercial and industrial sectors today.  



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September 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The 5G Race: China and U.S. Battle to Control World's Fastest Wireless Internet

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

The new networks are expected to enable the steering of driverless cars and doctors to perform complex surgeries remotely. They could power connected appliances in the so-called Internet of Things, and virtual and augmented reality. Towers would beam high-speed internet to devices, reducing reliance on cables and Wi-Fi.

At the Shenzhen headquarters of Huawei Technologies Co., executives and researchers gathered in July to celebrate one of its technologies being named a critical part of 5G. The man who invented it, Turkish scientist Erdal Arikan, was greeted with thunderous applause. The win meant a stream of future royalties and leverage for the company—and it marked a milestone in China’s quest to dominate the technology.

At a Verizon Communications Inc. lab in Bedminster, N.J., recently, computer screens showed engineers how glare-resistant window coatings can interfere with delivering 5G’s superfast internet into homes. A model of a head known as Mrs. Head tested the audio quality of new wireless devices. Verizon began experimenting with 5G in 11 markets last year.

Nearby, in Murray Hill, N.J., Nokia Corp. engineers are testing a 5G-compatible sleeve that factory workers could wear like an arm brace during their shifts to steer drones or monitor their vital signs. The company began its 5G-related research in 2007.

Eoin Treacy's view -

You might remember a great deal of enthusiasm about the internet of things or the internet of everything a few years ago. Everything has gone quiet on that front of late not least because in order to reach commercial utility the billions of connected devices planned to enter service are going to need to be able to connect to the internet on a constant basis and current networks are incapable of handling the load. That means a whole new architecture is required to enable the next iteration of connected devices and 5G is the answer. 



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September 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Asian Stocks Are Caught in the Longest Sell-off in 16 Years

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

“We see that light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still kind of in the darkness ourselves,” Citi’s Peng said. Investors need more concrete catalysts before they step in to buy stocks. “So that’s the challenge for money managers.”

“We are looking to be more constructive on Asian equities in the next quarter, if the current correction continues. Valuations will be more attractive and worth a look then,” said Jason Low, senior investment strategist at DBS Bank Holdings Ltd.

“The good news is that valuations are looking more attractive now and technicals are oversold, which suggest that Asian stocks could be poised for a rebound in the next few months,” Jasslyn Yeo global market strategist as JPMorgan Asset Management.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Among the top 18 holdings in the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF, 9 are from China. The addition, first of overseas Chinese companies and Hong Kong listed companies followed by mainland listed shares has represented a significant reweighting of the basket over the last decade. Since so many commodity producers rely on Chinese demand growth for exports the country’s influence is even greater than might initially be apparent.



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September 05 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Honey, I shrunk the stock market

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

Social media companies led an early pullback on the Nasdaq today as Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet were grilled in Washington. The questions being asked of these companies with regard to how they police their forums and the nature of the advertising being served to consumers/voters is understandably weighing on their performance. It is also leading to headlines along the lines of “technology stocks collapse” which if we look at the Nasdaq is clearly a case of hyperbole.



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September 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From The Oil Patch September 4th 2018

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

The emissions cheating scandal and the increasing utility of electric vehicles means established auto manufacturers have to spend very large sums to retool and get electric vehicles to market. Audi announced yesterday it has started production of its electric SUV and Daimler said today that it is going to spend more than €10 billion to develop its electric vehicle fleet.



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September 04 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is a very emotive topic and the headline above is what my daughters refer to as clickbait. People love their heroes so brands will always be on the lookout for someone they think can epitomise their image. However, there is a lot of work that is oriented towards the online market where photos are routinely doctored anyway that is ripe for digitisation. 



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August 31 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Can China's Government Really Limit How Long Kids Play Games?

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

Now the government wants to break up the party. The Ministry of Education is leading a plan to curtail the number of online games in the country and limit the amount of time children play games. Parents are supposed to stop their kids from spending more than an hour a day on their electronics for non-educational purposes.

But how? That’s the question for parents everywhere there are game-addicted children. The Education Ministry doesn’t offer specific ideas about techniques for stopping kids from hopping onto a computer or smartphone. Chinese parents seem likely to be just as incapable of regulating game use as parents in other countries.

“Gamers always find a way to spend more time or money than allowed,” says Serkan Toto, founder of Tokyo-based game consultancy Kantan Games Inc.

The ministry offered the game guidelines as part of a broad plan to address the growing incidence of myopia among children.

The push, personally championed by Xi, is aimed primarily at reducing nearsightedness in children and teenagers by at least 0.5 percentage point a year till 2023, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Still, the move seemed as much an admission of widespread game addiction as an assertion of policy goals. The ministry encouraged parents to send their children outside to play -- without electronics.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Some people will always worry about how much time we spend in front of devices. Whether it is watching TV or listening to music via headphones. Netflix will now ask you after a few hours if you are still watching or have fallen into a catatonic state from binge watching.



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August 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's biotech revolution

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report as well as a section from it are posted in the Subscriber's Area 

China’s toxic air and rapidly aging population mean it has a higher incidence of cancer than most other countries. At the same time the country has an underdeveloped medical infrastructure, particularly beyond the tier-1 cities. There is every reason to believe China will approach the challenges of its healthcare system by co-opting the success it has had with its digitalisation so telemedicine and artificial intelligence will form part of the diagnostic process. Meanwhile the streamlining of the clinical trial system will ensure a lot more drugs make it to market. The big question for innovative teams will be how they can protect their intellectual property.



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August 30 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Nestle Wants Your DNA and Foodie Pics to Sell You Supplements

This article by Lisa Du, Corinne Gretler and Maiko Takahashi for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Health problems associated with food and nutrition have become a big issue,” said Kozo Takaoka, head of the company’s business in Japan, in an interview in Tokyo. “Nestle must address that on a global basis and make it our mission for the 21st century.” He said the wellness segment could eventually account for half of Nestle’s sales in Japan.

The investments come with the burgeoning interest in so- called nutraceuticals -- food-derived ingredients that are processed and packaged as medicine or wellness aids -- among consumers that are increasingly skeptical about mass products.

Nestle employs more than a hundred scientists in areas including cell biology, gastrointestinal medicine and genomics at the Nestle Institute of Health Sciences and has been developing tools to analyze and measure people’s nutrient levels.

“Decades in the future, all companies will probably have to be doing it,” said Jon Cox, an analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux. “The industry has probably had a setback as consumers also want natural and less processed products while adding supplements is seen as artificial or creating Frankenstein food.”

Some nutritionists are skeptical that tailored diet plans based around supplements are useful and that they may have more of a psychological effect than a medical one.

“Nestle’s program is designed to personalize diets in ways unlikely to be necessary,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University who isn’t linked to the KitKat maker. “If we think something will make us healthier, we are likely to feel healthier.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

I had my 23andMe results analysed by DNAFit and their conclusion was that I process carbohydrates rather efficiently so I should eat less of them. They also pointed out something I have noticed myself which is that when I commit to a training regime I progress quickly, but when I stop I go backwards faster than most people.

I also tend to accumulate cholesterol, so I have to be very careful with what kinds of fats I consume if I want to maintain healthy levels i.e. more nuts and avocados with fewer shrimps and chicken thighs.

I have been particularly interested in the range of new products offering genetic profiling of our individual microbiomes but my conclusion is these are still very developmental in the range of insights they can offer. With that as a background I expect I am exactly who Nestle will be targeting their products at when they expand beyond Japan.



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August 27 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Battle for Azeroth Smashes Launch Records as Players Return to the World of Warcraft

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

There’s one substantial difference between Battle for Azeroth and the trajectory previous expansions have followed, however. In the past, getting into World of Warcraft meant buying the base game and paying a monthly fee. The monthly fee is still in place — WoW hasn’t gone F2P — but the only expansion you need to pay for is the latest one. If you want to play through the base game, up to and through the Legion expansion, it’s just $15 per month.

One possible reason for the change is that Blizzard might be trying to woo players into coming back and trying content they missed without requiring them to pony up a lot of cash up front. Two players recently returned to my guild for this reason — once Battle for Azeroth went live and Legion became free, they signed up to play through the expansions they’d missed and experience the content. Granted, it’s not exactly the same content as it used to be — repeated “stat squishes” to keep player HP and damage under control, combined with repeated tweaks to accelerate the leveling experience, give areas a different feel than they had the first time around, even when you’re ostensibly playing through the same content. In some ways, it’s a much better game — World of Warcraft today is far more respectful of your time than it was 10 years ago — but now that I’m leveling an alt for the first time in many years, there are moments when I miss the older game and its slower but more dangerous pacing. The lack of difficulty spikes makes for fewer teeth-clenching rage spasms, but it also makes the game easier to predict.

The 3.4M sales that Blizzard is claiming set a launch record for BfA were impressive, but not much larger than previous cycles. Both Legion and Warlords of Draenor reportedly sold 3.3 million copies in their first 24 hours. This suggests initial launch sales don’t have much prediction power when it comes to how much of the player base will stick around and for how long — Legion, which was easily WoW’s strongest expansion in years, seemed to do a good job retaining players based on how many old friends I saw show back up and stick around for years, if not the entire expansion. We’ll see if the Battle for Azeroth holds players’ interest the same way.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The free to play model for computer games is challenging legacy subscription model games like World of Warcraft where you paid a steady monthly rate for hours of running around with friends completing various tasks.



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August 23 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba's Sales Surge as Jack Ma's Free Spending Bears Fruit

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

Alibaba’s been busy expanding its Hema supermarket chain and now operates 35 of those stores -- a mix of sit-down dining and groceries plus delivery hub. Much cash also is flowing into China’s $1.3 trillion food retail and services industry, where it’s trying to hold its own against delivery giant and super-app Meituan. Alibaba said Thursday it’s teaming with SoftBank to put more than $3 billion into Ele.me. Alibaba now intends to merge Ele.me with Koubei, another unit focused on connecting restaurants to the internet.

Ma is also spearheading an expensive foray into the $4 trillion retail sector. Alibaba acquired a department store chain with 29 stores and 17 shopping malls last year and also bought a slice of China’s largest hypermarket chain. It’s been shelling out on content for its Youku video-streaming service to stay abreast of Tencent and Baidu Inc. And heavy investment in datacenters for its cloud computing arm helped almost double revenue in that division to 4.7 billion yuan.

However, those burgeoning businesses may be helping mask a slowdown in Alibaba’s bread-and-butter business, said Steven Zhu, an analyst with Pacific Epoch.

Customer management revenue -- the lucrative fees it charges for helping merchants with marketing -- grew just 26 percent in the quarter, from 35 percent in the previous three months. That reflects how rivals such as JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc. are siphoning off Alibaba’s merchants and may affect the bottom line in coming quarters, Zhu said.

“This is probably the slowest growth ever,” he said. “They are swapping high-quality revenue with low-quality revenue.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Amazon bought a supermarket chain so Alibaba bought a supermarket chain. The USA has Grubhub so Alibaba bought ele.me and is also getting into the broader retail sector through the purchase of a department store chain. There is no denying that these are more conventional businesses than the high growth online expansion that fuelled Alibaba’s initial growth spurt. The fact the company is also talking about primarily focusing on the Chinese domestic market raises questions about its commitment to overseas expansion.



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August 22 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Major lithium-ion battery manufacturer planning output that may rival entire 2015 LIB market: analysts

This article by Michael Allan McCrae for Mining,com may be of interest to subscribers.

LG Chem, a major South Korean lithium-ion battery manufacturer, is increasing its cell manufacturing capacity to such an extent that it may surpass the entire LIB market in both output and raw material consumption from just three years ago.

Roskill, industry analysts that ran the numbers on LG Chem's planned output, says that South Korean manufacturer plans to increase capacity to 90GWh in 2020 from a previous forecast of 70GWh.

"Assuming 100% of output was to be NMC532, 90GWh would require around 100kt of cathode, containing 40kt nickel, 22kt cobalt, 16kt manganese and 50kt lithium (carbonate equivalent), and 90kt of anode materials which could be 100% graphite," writes Roskill.

"If producing at capacity, LG Chem’s LIB output and raw material consumption would be greater than the entire LIB market in 2015."

LG Chem, South Korea's largest chemical company, is one of the top five LIB manufacturers. It makes batteries for the Ford Focus, Chevrolet Volt and Renault ZOE.

LG Chem has been making deals to ensure it has raw material. This past spring Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and LG Chem announced they are planning a cathode material facilities with capacity of 40,000tpy and 100,000tpy capacity planned for future. It also signed deals other raw material deals with Nemaska Lithium and Ganfeng Lithium.

While cobalt and lithium prices are currently falling, Roskills says cell manufacturers are locking in supply and ". . . that activity in the sector continues at a rapid pace."

Eoin Treacy's view -

The auto-manufacturers sector remains under stress because of continued issues with revelations about emissions cheating; most recently in Japan. The cost of meeting current emissions standards not to mention the tightening of regulations slated for the next few years represents a significant cost for just about all conventional car manufacturers. The fact the majority of manufacturers are planning on releasing electric vehicles is as much about responding to Tesla’s success as it is about the challenge of meeting regulations that are now going to be enforced.



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August 21 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings from the Oil Patch August 21st 2018

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever interesting report for PPHB. Here is a section:

August 09 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Some Mutual Funds Have Avoided the Recent Tech Pain

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

The average large-cap mutual fund holds 1.3% of its portfolio in Facebook, 0.2 percentage points less than its benchmark; 2% in Amazon, compared with the benchmark’s 2.4%; and 0.3% in Netflix, versus the benchmark’s 0.5%. The funds are overweight only in Alphabet, by 0.19 percentage points.

Those slim allocations helped shield the funds from the recent losses suffered by Facebook and Netflix that bled over into the broader tech sector and S&P 500. Large-cap growth funds have outperformed the broad stock market index over the past month and year to date, rising 3.9% and 11% over those periods, according to Morningstar. That’s versus gains of 3.3% and 6.6%, respectively, for the S&P 500.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I get the sensation that there is a lot of schadenfreude in the actively managed segment of the market because they sidestepped the recent setbacks in Facebook and Netflix. No mention is being made of how much they underperformed over the last three years because they were so underweight the so-called FANGs.



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August 08 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Investment Strategy: "Charts of the Week"

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

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Value strategies work best in distressed situations when solid cash generative assets are sold off because of contagion from a market dislocation. That affords patient investors the opportunity to pick up assets at very attractive levels with a view to holding them for the lengthy medium-term. Outside of those periods of market stress it can be slim pickings for value investors.



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August 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bitcoin Whale's Bad Trade Leaves Counterparties Holding the Bag

This article by Benjamin Robertson, Andrea Tan and Yuji Nakamura for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

A massive wrong-way bet on Bitcoin left an unidentified futures trader unable to cover losses, burning counterparties and threatening to dent confidence in one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency venues.

The long position in Bitcoin futures listed on OKEx, a Hong Kong-based exchange, had a notional value of about $416 million, according to an OKEx statement on Friday and data compiled by Bloomberg. OKEx moved to liquidate the position on Tuesday, but the exchange was unable to cover the trader’s shortfall as Bitcoin’s price slumped. Because OKEx has a “socialized clawback” policy for such instances, it will force futures traders with unrealized gains this week to give up about 18 percent of their profits.

While clawbacks are not unprecedented at OKEx, the size of this week’s trading debacle has attracted lots of attention in crypto circles. The episode underscores the risks of operating on lightly regulated virtual currency venues, which often allow high levels of leverage and lack the protections investors have come to expect from traditional stock and bond markets. Crypto platforms have been dogged by everything from outages to hacks to market manipulation over the past few years, a period when spectacular swings in Bitcoin and its ilk attracted hordes of new traders from all over the world.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Margin requirements are an exchanges primary tool in ensuring they are not left making up the shortfall when traders’ positions go awry. These kinds of events mean that the margin requirements for trading cryptocurrency futures are only going to get more onerous. Just as with every other futures traded market that is going to put a dampener on speculation.



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August 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Facebook and FAANG

Many people are worried that Facebook collapse may have wider implications for not only the tech sector but also by contagion the broader market. What do you make of FB and its future and effect on tech / broader market? This is an important question as you know.,,,tech has been a cycle leader many thanks for your continuing good service

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which as you say is something a lot of people are ruminating on. Leaders tend to lead in both directions has been an adage at this service for decades so Facebook’s large downside weekly key reversal is a significant development. Equally Apple reaching a $1 trillion market cap today is an important development not least because it closed on the high of the day.



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August 01 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China trip report July 2018

Eoin Treacy's view -

This was another highly enjoyable and educative trip to China for the Treacy family. One of the reasons we love visiting Guangzhou is because it is close to the factories Mrs. Treacy deals with but is also the gastronomic capital of China. The city is replete with wonderful dining options and the quality of food on offer is of a high standard. I’ll write a separate review of restaurants on another occasion.

This poster is in just about every public space from railway stations to the tube, to the barriers around building sites in Guangzhou. The first question I asked myself is why it needs to be in English as well as Chinese. Internet searches using English language terms do not return results even if one is using Baidu or other Chinese search engines and the vast majority of the domestic population does not read English. Therefore, the message is meant for a wider audience or the use of English is intended as a form of legitimisation of the ideals expressed.



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July 18 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is Netflix the chink in the Armour of the FAANGs?

Thanks to Niru Devani for this article, which I’m sure will be of interest to the Collective.

A long term subscriber to FullerTreacyMoney, Niru began her career in the financial markets 30 years ago as a trainee fund manager. After spending 14 years in the fixed income sector, she moved to managing commodities and global macro funds. Niru now manages both hers and her families' pension funds and other savings. She also likes to trade. She says, ‘My enthusiasm for my profession is even stronger now and I enjoy the fact that I am constantly learning new things.’

Netflix fell by 14% in after-hours trading yesterday following their results announcement which were below expectations. The company reported subscriber growth of over 5.1 million, one million below market forecast although the headline earnings per share at 7% beat consensus forecasts. Netflix also warned that it was seeing stiff competition. The Nasdaq 100 index also lost 125 points from the highs made just a couple of days ago.

Of all the FAANG stocks which comprise Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, Netflix has always looked very similar to the dotcom stocks from the 1998/2000 period. As Eoin has commented on before, it relies on junk-rated debt for funding and the barriers to entry in its market are low. In the last five years, it has been enormously successful and this year alone, it had more than doubled before yesterday’s fall. However, it is burning a lot of cash and Amazon is also trying to steal its market share.  

The FAANGs have dominated the market since the presidential election and the technology sector now forms 25% of the S&P 500 index. Momentum investors and passive funds have significant allocation to the FAANG stocks. For example, there are 145 ETFs that are long of Amazon and 450 ETFs long of this group.

The group has wobbled before and has been on the verge of a correction, the most recent episode being during Facebook’s data privacy problems earlier this earlier. Sceptics have tried to call the end to the ascent of these stocks and of the technology sector in general. But they have defied the bears. We know that the technology sector per se has huge growth potential in the medium and long term. However, Netflix looks very extended relative to the trend mean even after this reaction post its results. More broadly, it has certainly focussed even more attention on the members of this select group.

Eoin Treacy's view -

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July 17 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review July 17th 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.



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July 16 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Long-term themes review June 22nd 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.

I realise this summary at 4600 words is getting rather lengthy which is why I decided to right another book to more fully explore the issues represented by the rise of populism and what that means for markets and the global economic order. I’ve agreed an August/September deadline so hopefully it will be available this year.



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July 13 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The "Big Bang" of Alzheimer's: Breakthrough study uncovers genesis of the disease

This article by Rich hardy for New Atlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Much modern Alzheimer's research concentrates on a specific protein called amyloid beta, and the clumping of that protein is suspected as being the primary pathological cause of the disease's symptoms. But, after a long series of clinical trial failures in drugs designed to target those amyloid beta plaques, some scientists are turning their research attentions elsewhere.

This new research focuses on a different protein, called tau. These tau proteins have been found to form abnormal clumps in the brain, called neurofibrillary tangles, which can accumulate and kill neurons. Some researchers hypothesize that this is actually the primary causative source of Alzheimer's disease.

Until now it was not known how, or when, these tau proteins began to accumulate into tangles in the brain. It was previously believed that isolated tau proteins didn't have a distinctly harmful shape until they began to aggregate with other tau proteins. But the new research has revealed that a toxic tau protein actually presents itself as misfolded, exposing parts that are usually folded inside, before it begins to aggregate. It is these exposed parts of the protein that enable aggregation, forming the larger toxic tangles.

"We think of this as the 'Big Bang' of tau pathology," says Diamond. "This is a way of peering to the very beginning of the disease process. It moves us backward to a very discreet point where we see the appearance of the first molecular change that leads to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Alzheimer’s is one of the only major killers that has no form of treatment. It represents a massive tax on the productive capacity of every family afflicted since the burden for care usually falls on the spouse and children before expensive care is called for. The slow but inevitable decline the disease entails means the cost of care rises inexorably often for more than a decade before fatality.



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July 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

MercadoLibre Shrugs Off Amazon With Brick and Mortar Focus

This article by Carolina Millan and Ed Hammond for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"Our way of competing successfully is to look at all the players, see what they have that we think is great, and if we can incorporate that into our model, we will, but mostly play our game," Galperin said while speaking from Allen & Co.’s Sun Valley conference, and musing about this year’s global soccer championship. "As you know, we’re looking at the World Cup -- we try to play our game and use our advantages and our strengths. We have a great network of sellers, a great brand, we’re investing very heavily, we already have scale."

Shares of MercadoLibre gained as much as 2.2 percent in New York, the most intraday in almost a week.

It’s also betting on brick and mortar investments to improve service. Earlier this year, MercadoLibre announced a partnership for a 38,000-square meter distribution center in the greater Buenos Aires area. In addition, the company, which is providing loans to merchants and payment processing platforms, is working on a digital wallet that offers returns on whatever money is left, Galperin said. Infrastructure -- notoriously poor in Latin America -- is also a priority.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Many commentators have made the point that social media companies require broadband by either mobile or fixed line access to generate income from a market and therefore have an interest in promoting internet access. However, that is equally true of online retail. Wherever ubiquitous internet access is available online retail flourishes, along with its disruptive influence on the conventional retail sector. These maps of the internet’s pervasiveness may be of interest. 



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July 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Netflix Crowned New King of TV, Toppling HBO in Emmy Nominations

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

Netflix’s accolades follow a rapid ascent in the television world. After its start two decades ago as a DVD-by-mail operation, the company has become a Hollywood powerhouse, signing popular producers, comedians and actors for original content. The company spends about $8 billion a year on new shows and films, far exceeding HBO and other competitors.

“Netflix has proven to be a welcoming home to A-list talent,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Paul Sweeney. “And they have the checkbook to back it up.”

Other streaming services are getting more Emmy recognition, includingAmazon.com Inc. and Hulu. “The Handmaid’s Tale” contributed to 27 nominations for Hulu, while “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” helped Amazon collect 22.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Netflix is another company that has gone for scale ahead of profitability in the hope that it will be able to garner critical mass and market share before its competitors in the legacy sector of cable and theatres sector have time to catch up. So far, the strategy has worked and many people, myself included, have traded their cable/satellite TV for the convenience of Netflix.



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July 12 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings from the Oil Patch July 10th 2018

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever interesting report for PPHB. This week it contains some interesting commentary on estimates of sea level rises but here is a section on electric vehicle demand:  

There are many reasons why EVs are popular in California.  Continuing to lead national social trends, the large population of wealthy entertainment and technology people love to show off their social awareness credentials, while taking advantage of lucrative financial and other driving benefits by purchasing EVs.  Those benefits are being reduced as EV car manufacturers reach the limits at which federal tax subsidies for EVs are eliminated.  The state has recently decided to double down and boost spending to subsidize EV sales.  What is interesting, however, has been the elimination of the right to drive EVs in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in Southern California with one person, as too many vehicles have slowed lane speed and increased accident risk when EVs are entering and exiting HOV lanes.  When the Toyota Prius lost use of HOV lanes, sales fell the following year.  Prepare for similar shocks.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

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

Tesla will soon or potentially already has achieved 200,000 vehicles in sales which will mean that the $7500 subsidy buyers receive when taking delivery of cars will disappear. That’s a headache for the hundreds of thousands of people waiting to get their model 3s.



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July 03 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taiwan's Technology Secrets Come Under Assault From China

This article by Chuin-Wei Yap for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

Taiwanese government officials and company executives say China is deliberately targeting Taiwan, whose manufacturers make chips for the biggest American companies, including Apple Inc., Nvidia Corp.and Qualcomm Inc. They say China aims both to pressure what it considers a breakaway province and to pursue its goal of reducing its reliance on foreign suppliers.

Technology-theft cases more than doubled to 21 last year from eight in 2013, according to official data. Taiwanese authorities and attorneys say they mostly haven’t indicted Chinese entities believed to be the ultimate beneficiaries, often for political reasons and because they don’t believe they would be able to enforce court judgments on the mainland.

While China manufactures most of the world’s smartphones and computers, it imports almost all the semiconductors needed to provide the logic and memory that run the gadgets. Last year, China paid $260 billion importing chips—60% more than it spent on oil. Chinese leaders want homemade chips to account for 40% of locally produced smartphones by 2025, more than quadruple current levels.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s Achille’s heel in a trade war is that it depends on imports of semiconductors to fuel the continued evolution of its higher value-added manufacturing sector. It can put tariffs on soybeans but it still has to import semiconductors and that is not only a business weakness but a geopolitical issue for the country.



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July 02 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

How Tesla is doing everything to get Model 3 cars out the door

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

In an effort to drastically ramp up production, Tesla employees are now tinkering with the core designs of the Model 3 car and the production process, detailed by a New York Times report (paywall), something that experts say is unprecedented. Executives at Tesla decided that the car didn’t need so many spot welds holding the underbody together, so engineers found 300 “unnecessary” welds and reprogrammed the welding robots cut them from the production process.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla made its 5000 cars a week target but if the company is cutting corners in manufacturing what are the safety implications of that decision going to be for the thousands of people waiting in line for the Model3?



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June 29 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on Amazon's impact on pharmacies

Thank you for your superb service. Can you please advise your views on how vulnerable do you think the pharmacy shares are in the US after Amazon's entry to the field? Thank you in advance.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are obvious fears that the introduction of Amazon’s business model to the pharmacy sector will have the same effect it had on the big retailers. However, I suspect the most profound effect will be felt among the smaller independent pharmacies that command about half the total US market. Here is a section from an article by bizjournals.com that may be of interest:

There are currently about 22,500 independent pharmacies in the United States, and these pharmacies dispense nearly half of the nation's retail prescription medicines, Norton says.

All told, independent pharmacies are an $81.4 billion marketplace annually. They fill 1.38 billion prescriptions a year — about 201 a day, per pharmacy — and employ 314,000 people on a full- or part-time basis.



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June 28 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China's Baidu Approves a Share Buyback of Up To $1 Billion

This note by Edwin Chan may be of interest.

Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. has approved a plan to buy back as much as $1 billion of its own shares over the next 12 months, a move that may help prop up its stock as global market volatility grows.

Its board has green-lit a program to use existing cash to buy shares in the open market at prevailing prices, the Beijing- based company said in a statement Wednesday. It will review that program periodically and may adjust its terms and size.

Baidu’s shares are up more than 7 percent this year, just underperforming the Nasdaq Composite’s gain but outstripping larger rival Tencent Holdings Ltd., which is down 7 percent in 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Baidu has a market cap of almost $84 billion with free cash flow last year of $28 billion. A $1 billion buy back program might be a new departure for the company but it is unlikely to be large enough to influence investor interest beyond the sensational headline.



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June 25 2018

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Supreme Court Rules States Can Collect Sales Tax on Web Purchases

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

“Many states will pick up on those details and incorporate them into their own regulatory regimes,” said Eric Citron, an attorney who represented South Dakota. He said he expected nearly every state with a sales tax to move legislation or regulations to enforce collections. “Complete compliance will become the norm within the next year or two,” he said.

Amazon originally set up its business model to avoid state sales taxes, limiting its physical presence to a handful of warehouses. But it changed strategy to build more warehouses closer to consumers as it has relied more on its Prime two-day shipping offer—and started charging sales tax on items it sells directly.

Amazon hasn’t collected the taxes for most independent merchants who sell on its platform. About $200 billion in sales originated with independent merchants selling on Amazon world-wide last year, according to Factset analyst estimates, compared with about $116 billion in direct sales by Amazon. The company declined to comment on the ruling.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The cost of compliance is rising in just about every sector. Since the credit crisis the burden of regulatory compliance has been a significant headwind for the banking sector and it has changed the nature of how they do business. The UK’s Retail Distribution Initiative resulted in the cost of doing business rising for financial advisors. The EU’s drive to introduce GDPR has seen some company email lists drop from hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. Asking online retailers to monitor how much and how often they sell into each state will increase compliance costs regardless of whether tax is then due.



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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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