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May 17 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on instruments referred to in trading reports

Eoin mentions buying Ethereum in this report but I cannot make out which vehicle he used. Can you help please?

PS:  I am enjoying my one month’s free trial and will definitely sign up.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question and welcome to the Collective of subscribers. As a new subscriber you might not be aware that the vast majority of what I trade is via spread-betting which is tax advantageous for UK investors because of the absence of capital gains tax. If I take an investment position it will stated as such and would refer to a share or fund.



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May 15 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alibaba Defies China Slowdown; Sales, Earnings Top Estimates

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

Revenue climbed to 93.5 billion yuan ($13.6 billion) in the three months ended in March, about 1.8% above estimates as adjusted earnings-per-share of 8.57 yuan topped projections for 6.5 yuan. Alibaba expects sales in the current year to jump at least 33% to more than 500 billion yuan.

As Alibaba pushes deeper into businesses like cloud computing, it’s getting better at understanding e-commerce customers and making money from recommendations based on their preferences. The move is driving more sales than traditional search and boosting its ability to sell targeted advertising to merchants on its main Taobao platform. That is bolstering revenue growth even as escalating U.S.-Chinese tensions threaten to further dampen the world’s No. 2 economy.

“The results were really good, especially given how the macro economy hasn’t been that great," said Steven Zhu, an analyst with Pacific Epoch in Shanghai. “It’s a great sign that core e-commerce was growing strong.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Ecommerce has more penetration among consumers in China than in the USA or Europe not least because consumer attitudes towards consumption are not as embedded with brick and mortar as they are elsewhere. That is driving consumption, particularly among the high spending millennial generation towards online shopping and following brand representatives on social media.



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May 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Hikes Tariffs on U.S. Products as Trade-War Divide Deepens

This article by Shawn Donnan and Miao Han for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

China announced plans to raise duties on some American imports starting June 1, defying a call from President Donald Trump to resist escalating a trade war that is sending stocks tumbling and clouding the outlook for the global economy.

Less than two hours after Trump tweeted a warning that “China should not retaliate -- will only get worse!” the Ministry of Finance in Beijing unveiled the measures on its website. The new rate of 25% will apply to 2,493 U.S. products, with other goods subject to duties ranging from 5% to 20%, it
said.

The next salvo was poised to come later Monday, when the Trump administration is expected to provide details of its plans to impose a 25% additional tariff on all remaining imports from China -- some $300 billion in trade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are a large number of companies that both manufacture in China but also rely on Chinese orders to support growth. There has been some speculation in the media about China’s desire to sell its holdings of US Treasuries but that would do as much damage to themselves as to the USA. Meanwhile making life difficult for the USA’s largest companies is an obvious strategy to exert the maximum possible shock on the US administration.



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May 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Trump, China Signal Harder Stands Ahead of High-Stakes Talks

This article by Shawn Donnan, Jenny Leonard and Miao Han for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But the mood on both sides going into the talks appears to be hardening with Lighthizer calling members of Congress ahead of the discussions to warn that a deal this week is unlikely, according to people familiar with the conversations. While Trump on Wednesday insisted that Liu was coming to make a deal and dubbed him a "good man," he later told a rally of supporters that China "broke the deal" by backsliding on prior commitments, leading him to order higher tariffs.

China has disputed Trump’s characterization that the country reneged. But it has also sent its own signals that a deal could take time.

Unlike in some of his previous visits to Washington, Liu is not traveling with the designation "special envoy" of Xi Jinping, according to people briefed on his trip. Chinese officials’ public statements have also hardened in recent days with Beijing vowing to retaliate against Trump’s tariff increase and rejecting the idea that it has reneged on any commitments made during the months of tough negotiations that have led to this week’s showdown.

“China is credible and honors its word and that has never changed,” Commerce Ministry Spokesman Gao Feng told reporters on Thursday.

The Ministry of Commerce also announced it would soon publish details of new retaliatory tariffs.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Haggling is a part of Chinese culture and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed is a common tactic. Fawning over one item to distract attention from the real intent of the negotiation, only to introduce that object later in a backhanded manner, in order to get a better price is also common. Why would trade negotiations be any different. Reintroducing points already considered settled appears to be a central tactic in Chinese negotiating style but that is normal in all Chinese dealings rather than being an individual tactic to the trade negotiations. 



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May 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Match Group Beats Estimates as Tinder Popularity Grows Abroad

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

Match, which is owned by billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, runs dozens of dating sites like Tinder, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Hinge. But the bulk of the company’s earnings gains were fueled by Tinder, which lured in more than 384,000 new subscribers in the quarter, boosting direct revenue 38 percent from the year earlier period.

The online dating app, where users swipe right to indicate interest in a potential date, now boasts 4.7 million global subscribers. Overall, Match’s average subscribers increased 16 percent with most of the new users flowing in from outside North America.

“The world is changing," said Mandy Ginsberg, chief executive officer of Match. “I’ve been here a long time and 100 percent of the revenue used to be in the U.S. and now the growth and more revenue is outside of the U.S."

With arranged marriages on the decline in India and the stigma towards online dating eroding in Japan, Ginsberg is concentrating on international expansion. There are more than 400 million single people living outside North America and Europe, two-thirds of whom have not yet tried a dating product, according to Match. Ginsberg recently revamped the company’s leadership team in Asia -- appointing general managers in Tokyo, Seoul and Delhi -- to try and grow Match’s footprint across the continent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Economic growth in India and the subtle shift towards female empowerment represent major growth opportunities for social media and online dating companies. Narendra Modi’s election five years ago as the first low caste Prime Minister represented a signal that social striation enshrined by the caste system and sustained by the system of arranged marriages may be changing. A more open society would represent a significant change for India which has historically been socially conservative.



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May 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Wall Street Asks Whether Trump's Tariff Is a Tactic. Or Not

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

Goldman believes a tariff increase may be “narrowly avoided,” putting odds that tariffs rise on Friday at 40 percent, Phillips wrote in a note.

Will be watching whether a large delegation of Chinese officials comes to Washington on May 8, as scheduled; canceling would mean an agreement in the coming week would “seem very unlikely,” and would make an increase in the tariff rate to 25 percent “the base case.”

China trade issues have “negative implications for the outlook for auto tariffs and passage of the USMCA [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement].” Trump’s “willingness to risk a market disruption by threatening an unexpected tariff hike suggests that he might also be willing to risk the disruption that formally proposing auto tariffs or announcing the intent to withdraw from NAFTA might cause.” Phillips raised the probability that auto tariffs will be implemented later this year to 20 percent from 10 percent, and lowered the probability that USMCA will pass to 60 percent from 70 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

How much of this is brinksmanship ahead of a crucial point in the negotiations or should we take the gambit seriously. That’s the big question everyone is asking today and it suggests there is likely to be a pause in buying at the very minimum, at least until we know more at the end of the week. Meanwhile it appears Liu He is travelling to the USA this week afterall. 



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April 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Alphabet Tumbles Most Since 2012 After Sales Growth Disappoints

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

Another concern is whether competition is starting to limit growth. Google’s search engine is usually the first place consumers go when looking for products, letting the internet giant charge premium prices to retailers and other advertisers looking to reach customers online. But people have been increasingly going straight to Amazon.com Inc. to hunt for products and the e-commerce giant has been grabbing a larger share of the digital ad market, chipping away at Google’s lead.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, Porat shrugged off Amazon’s foray into advertising and said there’s still lots of room for growth for all digital ad companies because so much marketing money is still spent offline.

"Nearly half of ad budgets in the U.S. are still spent offline," Porat said. "Ninety percent of commerce in the U.S. is offline and we are focused on digital playing a big role in that."

The number of clicks on Google ads rose just 39 percent, the lowest year-over-year growth since 2016. The price, or cost per click, fell 19 percent.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This figure about 90% of commerce being offline is a standard fallback that claims ecommerce is still in its infancy. However, it glosses over the fact that homebuying, healthcare and automotive sales are included in this figure and none are about to readily transition to a handy ecommerce advertising platform.



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April 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Microsoft, Slack, Zoom, and the SaaS Opportunity

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

The challenge for incumbents, including Microsoft and also other competitors like Citrix, Cisco, etc., is that years of building their business on leveraging their existing relationships with enterprises left them vulnerable to a company like Zoom singularly focused on delivering a superior product, at least once a SaaS architecture made distribution so much easier. Make no mistake, enterprise software still requires a sales force, but it is far easier to start with customers that have already discovered and tried the product on their own than it is to sell something without any sort of pre-existing relationship.

Slack and New Use Cases
There remains, though, one final implication of a new paradigm, and this one is the most profound: completely new use cases. This was something Slack sought to highlight in their S-1, which was made public last week.

First, the company argued that Slack transforms internal communications:

The most helpful explanation of Slack is often that it replaces the use of email inside the organization. Like email (or the Internet or electricity), Slack has very general and broad applicability. It is not aimed at any one specific purpose, but nearly anything that people do together at work.

Unlike email, however, most of this activity happens in team-based channels, rather than in individual inboxes. Channels offer a persistent record of the conversations, data, documents, and application workflows relevant to a project or a topic. Membership of a channel can change over time as people join or leave a project or organization, and users benefit from the accumulated historical information in a way an employee never could when starting with an empty email inbox. Depending on the size of the organization, this might provide tens, hundreds or even thousands of times more access to information than is available to individuals working in environments where email is the primary means of communication.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The number of IPOs of companies many people would have been eager to buy a few years ago but were given no opportunity to participate in is accelerating. The primary reason they are all coming to market at the same time is because the private equity backers that ploughed billions into these companies want to get their money out before the next recession.



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April 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Perspectives for the Clean Energy Transition

This report from the International Energy Agency may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In contrast to current trends, the Faster Transition Scenario sets out a vision for an extremely ambitious transformation of the energy sector. Energy-related emissions peak around 2020 and drop 75% to around 10 gigatonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) per year by 2050. The carbon intensity of the power sector falls by more than 90% and the end-use sectors see a 65% drop, thanks to energy efficiency, uptake of renewable energy technologies and shifts to low-carbon electricity.

Electrification plays a major role in the transition, combined with clean power generation. Electricity’s share in final energy reaches about 35% by 2050, compared to less than 20% today. That growth is mainly due to adoption of heat pumps in buildings and industry, as well as a swift evolution in transport. Efficiency improvements keep electricity demand for other end uses, such as lighting and cooling, relatively stable, while access to electricity improves worldwide.

Eoin Treacy's view -

One of the biggest challenges facing the environment is the emotionality of the debate. It is almost impossible to discuss objective facts versus subjective opinion. Until this century there was no record of a hurricane in the South Atlantic, but now there have been three. Baobab trees that stood for thousands of years in Africa are dying and coral bleaching is taking over an increasingly large percentage of the world’s reefs. These are facts that point toward a changing climate.



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April 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

April 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The World's Biggest Electric Vehicle Company Looks Nothing Like Tesla

This article by Matthew Campbell and Ying Tian for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In automotive circles, Wang’s predictions of the combustion engine’s imminent demise often meet profound skepticism. Chinese sales of new-energy vehicles, a category comprising plug-in hybrids, pure EVs, and fuel-cell cars, more than tripled from 2015 to 2018, but they still account for only 4.5 percent of the total. The doubters, he argues, underestimate the country’s capacity for reinvention. “The Chinese way is to replace everything at once,” Wang says. “When we switched from black-and-white to color TVs, it took three years. In the West it was 10. Going from feature phones to smartphones took about one year. In Europe it was three. Cars will be the same. It will go very fast.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

China is a massive oil and gas importer but has abundant coal reserves. It therefore has a clear incentive to use less gasoline and natural gas and more coal. Electric vehicles fit squarely into that equation. Since coal is massively polluting nuclear energy is another growth industry in China.




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April 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Big Companies Thought Insurance Covered a Cyberattack. They May Be Wrong

This article by Adam Satariano and Nicole Perlroth for the New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Even with teams working around the clock, it was weeks before Mondelez recovered. Once the lost orders were tallied and the computer equipment was replaced, its financial hit was more than $100 million, according to court documents.

After the ordeal, executives at the company took some solace in knowing that insurance would help cover the costs. Or so they thought.

Mondelez’s insurer, Zurich Insurance, said it would not be sending a reimbursement check. It cited a common, but rarely used, clause in insurance contracts: the “war exclusion,” which protects insurers from being saddled with costs related to damage from war.

Mondelez was deemed collateral damage in a cyberwar.

The 2017 attack was a watershed moment for the insurance industry. Since then, insurers have been applying the war exemption to avoid claims related to digital attacks. In addition to Mondelez, the pharmaceutical giant Merck said insurers had denied claims after the NotPetya attack hit its sales research, sales and manufacturing operations, causing nearly $700 million in damage.

When the United States government assigned responsibility for NotPetya to Russia in 2018, insurers were provided with a justification for refusing to cover the damage. Just as they wouldn’t be liable if a bomb blew up a corporate building during an armed conflict, they claim not to be responsible when a state-backed hack strikes a computer network.

The disputes are playing out in court. In a closely watched legal battle, Mondelez sued Zurich Insurance last year for a breach of contract in an Illinois court, and Merck filed a similar suit in New Jersey in August. Merck sued more than 20 insurers that rejected claims related to the NotPetya attack, including several that cited the war exemption. The two cases could take years to resolve.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The threat from cyber crime is both real and obvious but many investors have been disappointed by the performance of the cybersecurity sector. It makes intuitive sense that with so many hacks, ransomware events and industrial espionage that the sector should be among the best performers internationally.



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April 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Disney Leaps to Record as Investors Cheer Streaming Service

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

For Iger, Disney+ is a bit of a swan song. The company’s longtime steward reiterated Thursday that he expects to step down as CEO at the end of 2021, when his contract expires. During the presentation to investors, Disney gave a peek at how the service will work. It features five tiles devoted to key Disney brands, including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic. The 4K-resolution content will be available on internet-connected TVs, smartphones, tablets and other devices. The look and feel of Disney+ isn’t radically different from Netflix’s design. But Disney is betting that its devoted fan base will find reason to add another streaming service.

DC Edge
At $6.99, Disney+ also is beating a comic-book rival: AT&T Inc.’s DC Comics introduced a service at $7.99 a month that includes material from characters like Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman.

The new product isn’t Disney’s only streaming platform. It acquired majority control of the Hulu TV service with the $71 billion Fox deal, and it’s now considering whether to expand
that product overseas.

A Hulu price cut, which lowered its entry-level, ad- supported version by 25 percent to $6 a month, helped bring a surge of customers, Disney said. Hulu expects to double its ad
revenue over the next few years.

“Hulu is doing just great,” said Kevin Mayer, chairman of Disney’s direct-to-consumer and international operations. “We are really pleased.”
 
And

“You can figure that we will bundle ESPN+ and Disney+ fairly soon,’’ Iger said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Netflix demonstrated that it is possible for a content provider to prosper out the umbrella of the distribution networks by availing of the market access provided by broadband, mobile devices and smart TVs. That first mover advantage has allowed it to build the company into a $155 billion market cap but the allure of global market access without having to pay distribution companies ensures competition for viewers is going to be pick up quickly.



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April 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Made-in-India iPhone X from July 2019

This article by Bharani Vaitheesvaran for ETtech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Sustained increase in manufacturing will depend on, among other factors, the continuation of a favourable incentive regime into the next government, the official said. Mails sent to Foxconn and Apple seeking comment remained unanswered.

The company began its India manufacturing journey through another Taiwanese company Wistron, which had started with the iPhone SE from its factory near Bengaluru two years ago and later advanced to iPhone 6S model. Wistron now makes iPhone 7, a sign analysts foresee as a bump-up in local manufacture of multinational technology companies keen on the Indian market. Around 290 million smartphones were assembled in India in 2018 up from 58 million in 2014, according to data from the Indian Cellular and Electronics Association.

"In the short-term, the Differential Duty and the Phased Manufacturing Programme worked as far as import substitution is concerned. Now the challenge is to move from 290 million to 500 million phones and then to one billion by 2025," Pankaj Mohindroo, National president for ICEA, said.

"The National Policy on Electronics, 2019, gives a broad framework, but we will have to put a robust action plan behind it, which will enable exports..."

The ICEA has as its members brands such as Apple, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo, and manufacturers such as Flex and Foxconn.

Eoin Treacy's view -

India has the twin advantages of a massive young population and low costs. If we think about how manufacturing generally evolves, it is usually attracted by the presence of a low cost base and regulatory change which incentivises growth. Infrastructure usually comes later but it does need to be built. That is potentially where India is today. It is successfully attracting manufacturers but will need to do what is necessary to ensure they stay.



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April 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bezos Just Confirmed Amazon's Growth Is Slowing

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

But there’s a dark cloud in Amazon’s figure. The growth of Amazon’s total merchandise sales slowed considerably last year, according to Bloomberg Opinion calculations based on Bezos’s disclosures. This figure is not the first sign than Amazon’s retail juggernaut may have slipped a bit. 

In 2018, Amazon’s nearly $300 billion in GMV was about a 19 percent jump from the prior year. That was notably slower than the rates of increase of 24 percent and 27 percent, respectively, in 2017 and 2016. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Elizabeth Warren is campaigning on the platform of splitting up Amazon and the more sectors it competes in the louder that call will be. However, while a populist assumption, it is not accurate to state Amazon is going to completely control retail. The shop online and pick-up market for goods is thriving and conventional retailers are outperforming Amazon. 



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April 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Kids Love These YouTube Channels. Who Creates Them Is a Mystery

This article by Yoree Koh and Betsy Morris for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Some parents say they find certain YouTube content disturbingly effective in enrapturing young children.

Johanna Peyton, an Austin, Texas, mother of three, said she initially welcomed YouTube as a distraction for her children—until her daughter, then nearly 2 years old, became fascinated with videos of adults and children opening eggs with surprises inside.

“It was disturbing to me that somebody was working so hard on the videos—intricately editing them and using so many eggs. I remember thinking, ‘What was their agenda?’ ” Ms. Peyton said. “It just felt odd that somebody would be doing this.” She no longer allows her kids to watch YouTube.

The CoCoMelon channel joined YouTube on Sept. 1, 2006, according to its “about” page, which says its goal is “to make learning a fun and enjoyable experience for kids by creating beautiful 3D animation, educational lyrics, and infectious, toe-tapping music.”

The business took off last year, when its view count jumped to 1.96 billion views in October 2018 compared with 123 million views a year earlier. It now has 43 million subscribers, according to Social Blade.

Eoin Treacy's view -

My brother and sister have pretty much banned their young children from using YouTube and their smart phones because the content accessible is clearly designed to be addictive. When conventional tv channels dominated programming the advertising aimed at children was regulated and we still yearned for the toys.

In Ireland, the Late Late Toy Show was the highlight the Christmas season when we were growing up but for marketers it was an opportunity to showcase toys and kids outside of the regimented advertising structure. In many ways it represents the forerunner of the boom in dedicated content appealing to babies and young children that pervades YouTube.



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April 04 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fastest Electric Car Chargers Waiting for Batteries to Catch Up

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

“The charging capacities of electric vehicles have doubled in the space of a few years,’’ Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen said in an email. “We expect that fast-charging in public spaces will become the norm.’’

Tesla, which has more than 12,000 chargers globally, is boosting the speed of its own refueling units to cut time at the pump by as much as half. The upgrade promises to add as much as 75 miles of charge in five minutes -- still lagging the ultra-fast models.

The speed at which current EVs can recharge is limited by such factors as the size of their battery, the voltage the pack can accept and the charger’s current.

While it may be years before battery packs able to handle the power surge from ultra-fast chargers go mainstream, some new EVs -- including Hyundai Motor Co.’s Kona Electric and Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc’s I-Pace -- already can recharge faster than previous generations.

Volkswagen’s Porsche brand will introduce its electric Taycan sports car later this year. It’s the first vehicle capable of taking full advantage of the fastest chargers, with a larger battery and the ability to operate at a higher voltage.

“The cars are coming,” said Marty Andrews, CEO of Chargefox Pty, which installed ABB’s fastest units at some Australia charging stations. “The carmakers want ultra-rapid chargers because they want this to be future-proof. This is not a six-month plan, it’s a 10-year plan.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Refueling infrastructure during the era of internal combustion engines was built out by the oil companies and they still own large parts of the filling station market. What was particularly interesting about Royal Dutch Shell’s announcement last month that it aims to become the world’s largest power producer by 2030, is that this dovetails with the proposed increase in demand from electric vehicles. 
That has little to do with the environmental impact of the move and more to do with protecting a significant portion of its business from terminal decline.



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April 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

It Takes Just 3 Stickers to Make a Tesla Drive Into Oncoming Traffic

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

Tesla’s Autopilot is a level two system that’s leaning into level three, but it might not have the necessary hardware to make it work. These vehicles use cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors to detect lanes and nearby vehicles. The Keen Security researchers reverse-engineered the software Tesla uses to see how easy it would be to fool those sensors. They didn’t need to make any changes to the car’s software — this is not a hack. They simply used three small reflective stickers on the roadway to trick Autopilot into thinking the lane had merged when it hadn’t.

According to the report, Tesla uses a feature called “detect_and_track” to identify lane markers. It uses several factors to avoid incorrect decisions like road shoulder location, lane history, and the distance to various objects. However, the reflective stickers appear to the car like lane markers, directing it to merge. These stickers are almost invisible to drivers, and it would be trivially easy to place them on roadways.

Tesla’s Autopilot system does include emergency braking. So, it’s possible the car could stop itself in the event it swerved into oncoming traffic. However, there’s no guarantee the other cars would stop. Tesla says it is evaluating the report but notes that drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the wheel while Autopilot is engaged.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Here is a link to the original research conducted by Keen Security. Teaching a computer to see, in the way we understand that statement as humans, is an enormously difficult task which is why they route to success has been through teaching computers to react to cues. By fiddling with the cues, the computer can be fooled. That suggests a major rewrite of code for autonomous systems but if the clear fix is to simply tell the computer to take more notice of its environment and the direction of the cars travelling on its periphery.



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April 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

CBOE Trashing Bitcoin Futures Signals Crypto Market Bottom

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

Speaking on the “Fast Money” panel, Kelly explained that a unique mixture of factors including shifting fundamentals make it likely that bitcoin is poised to break out of its prolonged bear phase which has lasted more than a year now.

In his words: “I think we could look back on this and say that was the bottom…There’s a couple of things that have gone on since the low in December. We’ve seen the underlying fundamentals improve…I think retail is exhausted. You’re starting to see sellers being exhausted and institutions come in. Fidelity is a catalyst coming up in Q2. I think with all those things combined, we might look back and say ‘You know what, in the $3000’s is a great place to buy bitcoin.’”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The CBoE is removing its bitcoin contract from trading. The introduction of the futures contract introduced leveraged to what was previously an unleveraged market. The price rallied in anticipation of the introduction, but futures were used as a way of hedging exposure and most of the positions taken out were on the short side, which contributed to the crash in classic 1987 crash fashion.



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April 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Taipei blasts 'provocative' Chinese fighter jet incursion across Taiwan Strait line

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

However, Glaser said that the Chinese “haven’t done so for at least a decade, likely longer.”

“I’ve been told that Chinese jets approach the midline, but then veer off,” she said.

The flight came just after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen capped off a tour of several Pacific nations with a visit last week to Hawaii, where she said she had formally submitted new requests to the United States for F-16B fighter jets.

The U.S. has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help it defend itself and is the island’s main source of arms. The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taipei more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China is suspicious of Tsai and her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and any push for the island’s formal independence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in January that Beijing reserves the right to use force to bring Taiwan under its control, but would strive to achieve peaceful “reunification.”

Beijing has called Taiwan “the most important and sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations” and has bolstered its military presence near the island, sailing its sole operating aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait in January and March of last year and holding large-scale “encirclement” exercises and bomber training throughout 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Anything that promotes the notion of Taiwan declaring statehood is being met with progressively more strident efforts by China to stamp it out. Xi Jinping has succeeded in having his doctrine written into the constitution and he is economic plan is to make China the preeminent global economy. However, the crown jewel for any Communist Party leader, something that would ensure he is remembered forever in the annals of history would be to reacquire Taiwan.



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March 29 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Zombie Crypto Stocks Resurface as Bitcoin Extends Recent Gains

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

Crypto-tied stocks, the former market darlings that quickly languished when the Bitcoin bubble burst, are showing signs of reawakening.

Small firms linked to blockchain and cryptocurrencies are following Bitcoin higher as it extended gains for a second month. The top digital token rose for the fourth consecutive session on Friday, reaching its highest level since late December. The price broke above its 100-day moving average for the first time since August 2018 this week, extending this quarter’s gain to 11 percent after tumbling 45 percent in the previous quarter.

Shares of Marathon Patent Group Inc. and Social Reality Inc. each rose about 6 percent in early trading, while Grayscale Bitcoin Trust BTC and Riot Blockchain Inc. gained about 4 percent.

Other tokens such as Ether and Litecoin also rose on Friday, helping push the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index up as much as 2.1 percent. Despite recent gains, the gauge remains down more than 80 percent from its highs in early 2018.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Most assets get interesting again after an 80-90% decline and so it is with Bitcoin. The price has held a progression higher reaction lows since December and closed above the psychological $4000 level today for the first time since November. As long as the sequence of higher lows is intact, we can conclude a low of medium-term significance has been found.



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March 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Indian anti-satellite missile test meets with success

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

Anti-satellite weapons aren't new. Systems capable of destroying orbital spacecraft have been around since the 1960s and include everything from specialized anti-satellite satellites packed with explosives, to repurposed shipborne anti-missile missile systems that can take out space targets without any special modifications.

However, for various technological and diplomatic reasons, very few spacefaring nations have actually developed anti-satellite weapons. Today's test makes India the fourth to do so after the United States, Russia, and China.

The Indian government says that the test was conducted by India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and was fully successful, demonstrating the country's ability to knock out a satellite with a high degree of precision using indigenous technology. The missile was a DRDO Ballistic Missile Defence interceptor developed as part of India's general missile defence program. It operated as expected, but carried no explosive warhead. Instead, it was what is known as a "kinetic kill," where the hypersonic velocity of the interceptor is enough to destroy the target.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The proximity of an Indian general election is a good explanation for the timing of this demonstration as well as the sorties over the Pakistani border. By pandering to the Hindu nationalist wing of the BJP, Modi needs to appear strong and is eager to demonstrate India’s technological prowess as a way of doing that.



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March 26 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Apple goes all-in on services, with new video, games and news subscription packages

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

Last and definitely not least, Apple unveiled a serious move into video content production, called Apple TV Plus. Dedicated to "the best stories ever told," the service will feature high-profile content from a variety of big names – Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Jason Momoa were some of the stars who appeared on stage.

Again, we don't know how much it's going to cost, but it will involve a monthly fee and it will work across all Apple devices. It's coming to more than 100 countries later this year, and will use downloads rather than streaming. You can think of it as Apple trying to be HBO as well as Apple.

Apple is adding some improvements to the existing TV app as well as launching its own programs, including iTunes movie integration and easier navigation, and it's introducing a separate service called Apple TV Channels at the same time.

The idea is you only pay for the channels you need, and access them all through the one TV app on your Apple devices. HBO, Showtime, and Starz are three of the channels that are going to be available, and live sports and movies get pulled in too (assuming you've subscribed to the necessary channels).

Eoin Treacy's view -

Apple has come up with something to do with its cash and it is going to have to outbid Netflix in order to get the best shows. In the near term it is going to be selling those shows to a smaller audience of Apple product users than the vast number of Android, Microsoft and smart tv users that will be outside its ecosystem. 



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March 21 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

America's Best Weapon in the Opioid Epidemic Just Got Cheaper

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

It’s potentially a really big deal,” said Brendan Saloner, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who has studied the opioid addiction crisis. Suboxone Film has “a really important role in the overall strategy of combating the overdose crisis,” he said, adding that placing patients on the drug cuts their risk of overdose in half.

For now, the U.S. opioid epidemic shows few signs of abating: annual opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. are expected to climb to 81,700 in 2025, a 147 percent increase from 2015, according to a study last month by the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Technology Assessment. The human and financial costs have led states, counties and cities to sue drugmakers and distributors, seeking billions of dollars.

Opioid Crisis
Suboxone Film allows the opioid-based drug buprenorphine to be absorbed through the mouth to help control cravings and stave off withdrawal. When combined with counseling and support services, that type of medically assisted therapy is considered one of the most effective ways to treat opioid addiction. It’s also expensive, especially for uninsured patients.
 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trend of opioid use remains a worrying development in the USA, where heroin, prescription drugs and fentanyl all represent avenues through which addiction is expanding. The availability of these drugs is an obvious problem which has been exacerbated by over prescribing medications, the war against the Taliban which has boosted heroin production and cheap fentanyl exports via regular mail from China.



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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: