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TILT"s New Partnership: This Time With the Shinnecock Indian Nation To Establish Vertical Cannabis Operations

TILT Holdings Inc. (NEO: TILT) (OTCQX: TLLTF), a global provider of cannabis business solutions including inhalation technologies, cultivation, manufacturing, processing, brand development and retail, has formed a new partnership with Little Beach Harvest, a brand-new cannabis business entirely read more.....»»

Category: blogSource: benzingaOct 13th, 2021

BlackBerry (BB) Boosts Fleet Automation With Ridecell Tie-Up

BlackBerry (BB) teams up with Ridecell to unveil AI-Powered Fleet Automation and Nemo ADAS Data Platform for improved automotive mobility. BlackBerry Limited BB collaborated with software company RideCell to unveil next-gen Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), while bolstering the development and adoption of Smart Mobility and Fleet Automation Solutions on the back of BlackBerry IVY intelligent vehicle data platform integration.The innovative platform will streamline next-gen fleet operations by empowering automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to seamlessly integrate Ridecell solutions directly to the vehicle on a real-time basis. This helps in saving on data connectivity and cloud costs, while creating significant revenue-generating streams for automakers.BlackBerry IVY is scalable, cloud-connected software platform, which has been co-created with Amazon.com, Inc.’s AMZN subsidiary, Amazon Web Services (“AWS”). The platform enables automakers to enhance operations of connected vehicles with BlackBerry QNX and AWS technology, thereby, creating customized driver and passenger experiences.It reads vehicle sensor data and captures actionable insights with support for multi-cloud deployments. The solution facilitates automotive suppliers and automakers to minimize costs by shifting processing to the edge and reducing raw data transmission. Further, it boosts innovation in the automotive industry, while unleashing new business models and revenue streams.Meanwhile, Ridecell’s Fleet IoT Automation Platform automates fleet optimization. It turns manual tasks into automated workflows, which resolve issues. It has been specifically designed to change the state of any vehicle and program the automatic distribution of digital keys with greater security. The partnership also involves Ridecell’s NEMO Data Platform. This AI-powered offering analyzes data from driving history to understand critical events.The combination of Ridecell’s automotive mobility solutions integrated with BlackBerry IVY will allow OEMs to provide first-hand access of advanced tools to fleet operators. The future-proof tools convert fleet-management insights into automated actions and robotize vehicle access control, while complying with the recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruling on crash analytics for utmost safety.Thanks to BlackBerry-IVY-led fleet insights, OEMs can boost assisted driving systems with unparalleled visibility into their vehicle assets, while providing customers with an intuitive platform that will holistically manage the overall health of vehicles. Driven by such robust characteristics, the latest product-development move is likely to be a game-changer for both entities, in turn, propelling the adoption of BlackBerry IVY among global automakers.Moving forward, BlackBerry intends to drive healthy revenue growth and increase market share in the industry vertical. With a holistic growth model, focusing on organic and inorganic initiatives, the company continues to invest in product development and go-to-market strategy. Riding on such dynamic business fundamentals, BlackBerry appears well prepared to drive long-term sustainable growth, thereby, instilling optimism among investors.Zacks Rank & Stocks to ConsiderBlackBerry has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s shares have rallied 115.6% compared with the industry’s growth of 31.1% in the past year. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Some better-ranked stocks in the industry are salesforce.com, inc. CRM and Aspen Technology, Inc. AZPN. While salesforce.com currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Aspen Technology carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.salesforce.com pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 68.5%.Aspen Technology pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 19.9%. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report Aspen Technology, Inc. (AZPN): Free Stock Analysis Report BlackBerry Limited (BB): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 4th, 2021

Veeva Systems" (VEEV) Deal to Enhance Digital Clinical Trials

Veeva Systems' (VEEV) partnership with Leo Pharma to significantly boost the clinical trial process for patients, sites and sponsors. Veeva Systems Inc. VEEV recently entered into a strategic technology deal with Leo Pharma to facilitate scalable digital trials that are paperless and focused on patients. It is worth mentioning that Leo Pharma — a global leader in medical dermatology — will leverage the success achieved with the Veeva Clinical Operations portfolio and complete its standardization on existing Veeva clinical technology. Apart from this, Leo Pharma will become an early adopter of future Veeva solutions and help in shaping the Veeva digital trials roadmap.Interestingly, Leo Pharma will utilize the integrated suite of Veeva clinical products that include eTMF (electronic trial master file), Virtual Visits, Site Connect, CDMS (clinical data management suite) CTMS (clinical trial management system) and eSource.This collaboration is likely to provide a boost to Veeva Systems’ solutions portfolio.More on the PartnershipPer management, the extension of its well established partnership with Leo Pharma is likely to enable Veeva Systems in advancing the industry with a flexible digital trials platform that can substantially enhance the clinical trial process for patients, sites and sponsors.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchAccording to management at Leo Pharma, the partnership with Veeva systems lends support to Leo Pharma’s 2030 strategy, which will aid in providing innovative treatments to patients quicker and simultaneously support a more sustainable business.Industry ProspectsPer a report by Grand View Research, the global virtual clinical trials market was worth $7.4 billion in 2020 and is projected to witness a CAGR of 5.7% from 2021 to 2028. Adoption of telehealth, growing healthcare digitization and increase in research and development activities are the primary factors driving this market’s growth. Hence, this collaboration comes at an opportune time for Veeva Systems.Recent DevelopmentsIn September, the company announced a new cloud application — Veeva Vault LIMS — with an aim of modernizing quality control lab operations. Vault LIMS, which is expected to be available in the second half of 2022, is part of the Vault Quality Suite that includes Vault QMS, Vault QualityDocs and Vault Training.In the same month, Veeva Systems announced that the global medical products company, ConvaTec, has adopted Veeva Vault CDMS to provide electronic data capture, coding and data cleaning for their upcoming study on the detection of wound infections.Also in September, the company announced that Emmes is standardizing on Veeva Development Cloud applications across functional areas to enable greater speed and compliance. The company will use applications in Vault Clinical, Vault Quality, and Vault Safety suites to establish a technology foundation for delivering clinical research and pharmacovigilance services to its global customers.Price PerformanceShares of the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 5.6% on a year-to-date basis compared with the industry’s growth of 8.5%.Stocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks from the broader medical space are Henry Schein, Inc. HSIC, Envista Holdings Corporation NVST and Patterson Companies, Inc. PDCO, each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Henry Schein’s long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 13.9%.Envista Holdings’ long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 27.4%.Patterson Companies’ long-term earnings growth rate is projected at 9.6%. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Henry Schein, Inc. (HSIC): Free Stock Analysis Report Patterson Companies, Inc. (PDCO): Free Stock Analysis Report Veeva Systems Inc. (VEEV): Free Stock Analysis Report Envista Holdings Corporation (NVST): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 4th, 2021

In Deep Ship: What"s Really Driving The Supply-Chain Crisis

In Deep Ship: What's Really Driving The Supply-Chain Crisis By Michael Every and Matteo Iagatti of Rabobank Summary It is impossible to ignore the current shipping crisis and its impact on global supply chains  A common view is that this is all the result of Covid-19. Yet while Covid has played a key role, it is only part of a far larger interconnected set of problems This report examines current shipping market dynamics; overlooked “Too Big to Sail” structural issues; a brewing political tsunami as a backlash; possible Cold War icebergs ahead; and the ‘ship of things to come’ if maritime past is a guide to maritime future  The central argument is that while central banks and governments both insist inflation is transitory and will fall once supply-chain bottlenecks are resolved, shipping dynamics suggest they are closer to becoming systemically entrenched Moreover, both historical and current trends towards addressing such problems suggest potential global market disruptions at least equal to the shocks we have already experienced. Many ports will get caught in this storm, if so Ready to ship off? It is impossible to ignore the current shipping crisis and its impact on global supply chains and economies. Businesses face huge headaches as supply dries up. Consumers see bare shelves and rising prices. Governments have no concrete solutions – save the army? Economists have to discuss the physical economy rather than a model. Central banks still assume this will all resolve itself. And shippers make massive profits. The giant Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March 2021, is emblematic of these problems, but they run far deeper. This report will explore the shipping issue coast-to-coast, and past-to-present in six ‘containers’: “Are you shipping me?”, a deep-dive into market dynamics and supply-demand causes of soaring shipping prices; “To Big to Sail”, a key structural issue driving things; “Tsunami of politics” of the looming backlash to what is happening; “Cold War icebergs” of fat geopolitical tail risks; “Ship of things to come?”, asking if the maritime past is a potential guide to maritime future; and “Wait and sea?”, a strategic overview and conclusion. Are You Shipping Me? Since 2020, global shipping has been frenetic, with equally frenetic shipping rates (figure 2); difficulties for both businesses and consumers; and container-carrier profits. Is Covid-19 driving these developments, or are there other structural and cyclical factors at play? Let’s take stock. One root of the problem… In 2020, COVID-19 become a global pandemic, and lockdowns ensued: factories, restaurants, and shops all closed, bringing global supply chain almost to a halt. In this context, container carriers had no visibility on future demand and did the only reasonable thing: cut capacity. There is no economic sense in moving half-empty ships across the globe; it is costly, especially for a sector operated on tiny margins for a very long time. The consequence was widespread vessel cancellations, which soared in the first months of 2020 (figure 3). Progressively, more trade lines and ports were involved as containment measures were enacted globally. By H2-2020, virus containment measures were over in China, and many other nations eased them too. Shipping cancellations did not stop, however, just continuing at a slower pace. Indeed, capacity cuts have plagued supply-chains in 2021. Excluding the January-February peaks, from March to September 2021, an average of 9.2 vessels per week were cancelled, four vessels per week more than the previous off-peak period of July to December 2020 (figure 3). Cumulative cancellations (figure 4) underline the problems. Transpacific (e.g., China-US) and Asia-Northern Europe lines saw the largest capacity cuts, but Transatlantic and Mediterranean-North America vessels also reached historic levels of cancellations. Transpacific and Asia-Europe lines are the backbone of global trade, each representing 40% of the total container trade. More than 3 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, a standard cargo measure) are moved on Transpacific and Asia-Europe lines in total per month. Due to cancellations, more than 10% of that capacity was lost in early 2020. In such a context, it was only normal to expect a rise in container rates. Over January-December 2020 the Global Baltic index (the world reference for box prices) increased by 115% from $1,460 to $3,140/TEU. However, as figure 2 shows, things then changed dramatically in 2021 for a variety of reasons. As can be seen (figure 5), cancellations alone cannot explain the price surge seen in the Baltic Dry Index -- the leading international Freight Rate Index, providing market rates for 12 global trade lines-- and on key global shipping routes (figure 6). So what did? We have instead identified five key themes that have pushed up shipping costs, which we will explore in turn: Suez – and what happened there; Sickness – or Covid-19 (again); Structure – of the shipping market; Stimulus – most so in the US; and “Stuck” – as in logistical congestion. Suez On March 23rd 2021, a 20,000TEU giant vessel, the Ever Given, owned by the Taiwanese carrier Evergreen, was forced by strong winds to park sideways in the Suez Canal, ultimately obstructing it. For the following six days, one of the fundamental arteries of trade between Europe, the Gulf, East Africa, the Indian Ocean, and South East Asia was closed for business. While the world realized how fragile globalized supply chains are, carriers and shippers were counting the costs. 370 ships could not pass the Canal, with cargoes worth around $9.5bn. Every conceivable good was on those ships. The result was more unforeseen delays, more congestions and, of course, more upward pressure on container rates. Sickness New COVID-19 Delta variant outbreaks in 20201 forced the closure of major Chinese ports such as Ningbo and Yantian causing delays and congestion that reverberated both in the region and globally. Vietnamese ports also suffered similar incidents. These closures, while not decisive blows, contributed to taking shipping capacity off the global grid, hindering the recovery trend. They were also signals of how thin the ice is that global supply chain are walking on. Indeed, Chinese and South-east Asian ports are still suffering the consequences of those earlier closures, with record queues of ships waiting to unload. Structure When external shocks cause price spikes it is always wise to look at structure of the sector in which disruption caused the price spike. This exercise provides precious hints on what the “descent” from the spike might look like. Crucially, in the shipping sector, consolidation and concentration has achieved levels that few other sectors of the economy reach. In the last five years, carriers controlling 80% of global capacity became more concentrated, with fewer operators of even larger size (figure 7). However, this is just the most obvious piece of the puzzle. In our opinion, the real change started in 2017, when the three main container alliances (2M, THE, and Ocean) were born. This changed horizontal cooperation between market leaders in shipping. The three do not fix prices, but via their networks capacity is shared and planned jointly, fully exploiting economies of scale that are decisive to making a capital-intensive business profitable and efficient. Unit margins can stay low as long as you move huge volume with high precision, and at the lowest cost possible. To be able to move the huge volumes required by a globalized and increasingly e-commerce economy at the levels of efficiency and speed demanded by operators up and down supply chains, there was little other options than to cooperate and keep goods flowing for the lowest cost possible at the highest speed possible. A tight discipline of cost was imposed on carriers, who also had to get bigger. This strategy more than paid off in the Covid crisis, when shippers demonstrated clear minds, efficiency in implementing capacity control, and a key understanding of the elements they could use to their advantage: in other words – how capitalism actually works. Carriers did not decide on the lockdowns or port closures; but they exploited their position in the global market when the pandemic erupted. In a recent report, Peter Sands from BIMCO (the Baltic and International Maritime Council) put it as follows: “Years of low freight rates resulting in rigorous cost-cutting by carriers have left them in a great position to maximise profits now that the market has turned.” Crucially, this market structure is here to stay - for now. It is a component of the global system. Carriers will continue to exert pressure and find ways to make profit but, most importantly, they will make more than sure that, this time, it is not only them that end up paying the costs of rebalancing within the global system. In short, the current market allows carriers to make historic levels of profits. However, in our view this is not the end of the story – as shall be shown later. Stimulus 2020 and 2021 saw unprecedented economic shocks from Covid-19, as well as unprecedented economic stimulus from some governments. In particular, the US government sent out direct stimulus cheques to taxpayers. With few services to spend the money on, it was instead centred on goods. Hence, consumer demand for some items is red-hot (figures 8-10). The consequences of this surge in buying on top of a workforce still partly in rolling lockdowns, and against a backlog of infrastructure decades in the making, was obvious: logistical gridlock. Moreover, with the US importing high volumes, and not exporting to match, and its own internal logistics log-jammed, there has been a build-up of shipping containers inside the US, and a shortage elsewhere. Shippers are, in some cases, even dropping their cargo and returning to Asia empty: the same has been reported in Australia. Against this backdrop, the US is perhaps close to introducing further major fiscal stimulus, with little of this able to address near-term infrastructure/logistical shortfalls. Needless to say, the impact on shipping, if such stimulus is passed, could be enormous. As such, while central banks and governments still insist that inflation is transitory, supply-chain dynamics suggest it is in fact closer to becoming systemically entrenched. Stuck In normal times, a surge in consumer spending would be a bonanza for everyone: raw material producers, manufacturers, carriers, shippers, and retailers alike. In Covid times, this is all a death-blow to global supply chains. Due to misplaced global capacity, high export volumes cannot be moved fast enough, intermediate goods cannot reach processors in time, and everybody is fighting to get a container spot on the ships available. Ports cannot handle the throughput given the backlog of containers that are still waiting to be shipped inland or loaded on a delayed boat. It is not by chance that congestion hit record peaks at the same time in Los Angeles – Long beach (LALB), and in the main ports in China, the two main poles of transpacific trade. Clearly, LALB cannot handle the surge in imports, the arrival queue keeps on growing by the day (figure 11). There are now plans to shift to working 24/7. However, critics note that all this would do is to shift containers from ships to clog other already backlogged areas of the port, potentially reducing efficiency even further. Meanwhile, in Shanghai and Ningbo there were also 154 ships waiting to unload at time of writing. The power-cuts seeing Chinese factories only operating 3-4 day weeks in many locations suggest a slow-down in the pace of goods accumulating at ports, but also imply disruption, shortages, and delays in loading, still making problems worse overall. Imagine large-scale US stimulus on top of a drop in supply! Overall, “endemic congestion” is the perfect definition for the state of the global shipping market. It is the results of many factors: vessels cancellations and capacity control; Covid; bursts of demand in some trade lines; imbalances in container distribution; regular disruption in key arteries and ports; a backlog and increasing volumes cannot be dealt with at the same time, all creating an exponentially amplifying effect. The epicenter is in the Pacific, but the problem is global. At present 10% of global container capacity is waiting to be unloaded on ship at the anchor outside some port. Solutions need to be found quickly – but can they be? The Transpacific situation is particularly delicate, stemming from a high number of cancellations, ongoing disruption, and the highest demand surge in the global economy. However, this perfect recipe for a disaster is also affecting Asia–Europe lines where shipping rates hikes also do not show any signs of slowing down. …and unstuck? The shipping business would logically seem best-placed to get out of this situation by increasing vessel capacity. Indeed, orders of new ships spiked in 2021, and in coming years 2.5m TEUs will come on stream (figure 12). However, this will not arrive for some time, and may not sharply reduce shipping prices when it does. Indeed, the industry --which historically operates on thin margins, and has seen many boom and bust cycles—knows all too well the old Greek phrase: “98 ships, 101 cargoes, profit; 101 ships, 98 cargoes, disaster”. They will want to preserve as much of the current profitability as possible, which a concentrated ‘Big 3’ makes easier. Tellingly, a recent article stressed: “Ship-owners and financiers should avoid sinking money into new container vessels despite a global crunch because record orders have driven up prices, according to industry insiders.” True, CMA CGM just froze shipping spot rates until February 2022, joining Hapag-Lloyd. Yet in both cases the new implied benchmark is of price freezes at what were once unthinkable levels – not price falls. To conclude, shipping prices are arguably very high for structural reasons, and are likely to stay high ahead – if those structures do not change. On which, we even need to look at the structure of ships themselves. Too Big to Sail Shipping, like much else, has become much larger over the years. Small feeder ships of up to 1,000TEU are dwarfed by the largest Ultra-Large Container Vessels (ULCVs), which start from 14,501 TEUS up, and are larger than the US Navy’s aircraft carriers. Of course, there is a reason for this gigantism: economy of scale. It is a sound argument. However, the same was said in other industries where painful experience, after the fact, has shown such commercial logic is not the best template for systemic stability. In banking we are aware of the phenomenon, and danger, of “Too Big to Fail”. In shipping, ULCVs and their associated industry patterns could perhaps be seen as representing “Too Big to Sail”. After all, there are downsides to so much topside beyond the obvious incident with the Ever Given earlier in the year: ULVCs cannot fit through the Panama Canal; Not all ports can handle ULCVs; They are slow at sea; They are slow to load and unload; They require more complex cargo placement / handling; They force carriers to maximize efficiency to cover costs; They force all in-land logistics to adapt to their scale; They force a hub-and-spokes global trade model; and They are vulnerable to accident or disruption, i.e., they were designed for an entirely peaceful shipping environment at a time of rising geopolitical tensions (which we will return to later). In short, current ULCV hub-and-spokes trade models are the antithesis of a nimble, distributed, flexible, resilient system, and actually help create and exacerbate the cascading supply-chain failures we are currently experiencing. However, we do not have a global shipping regulator to order shippers to change their commercial practices! Specifically, building ULVCs takes time, and shipyard capacity is more limited. As shown, the issue is not so much a lack of ULCVs, but limited capacity from ports onwards. That means we need to expand ports, which is a far slower and more difficult process than adding new containers or ships, given the constraints of geography, and the layers of local and international planning and politics involved in such developments. There is also then a need for matching warehousing, roads, trucks, truckers, rail, and retailer warehousing, etc. As we already see today, just finding truckers is already a huge issue in many  economies. Meanwhile, any incident that impacts on a ULCV port --a Covid lockdown, a weather event, power-cuts, or a physical action-- exacerbates feedback loops of supply-chain disruption more than any one, or several, smaller ports servicing smaller feeder ships would do. So why are we not adapting? Economic thinking, partly dictated by the need to survive in a tough industry; massive sunk costs; and equally massive vested interests – which we can collectively call “Too Big to Sail”. Naturally, some parties do not wish to move to a nimbler, less concentrated, more widely-distributed, locally-produced, more resilient supply-chain system --with lower economies of scale-- while some do: and this is ultimately a political stand-off. Crucially, nobody is going to make much-needed new investments in maritime logistics until they know what the future map of global production looks like. Post-Covid, do we still make most things in China, or will it be back in the US, EU, and Japan – or India, etc.? Are we Building Back Better? Where? Resolving that will help resolve our shipping problems: but it will of course create lots of new ones while doing so. Tidal Wave of Politics Against this backdrop, is it any surprise that a tsunami of politics could soon sweep over global shipping? In July, US President Biden introduced Executive Order 14036, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy”. This puts forward initiatives for federal agencies to establish policies to address corporate consolidation and decreased competition - which will include shipping. Ironically, the US encouraged “Too Big to Sail” for decades, but real and political tides both turn. Indeed, in August a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress --“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021”-- which proposes radical changes to: Establish reciprocal trade to promote US exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission; Require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry; Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees --known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges-- comply with federal regulations or face penalties; Potentially eliminate “demurrage” charges for importers; Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for US exports unreasonably, as determined by the FMC in new required rulemaking; Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and TEUs (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the US; and Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate. Promoting reciprocal US trade would either slow global trade flows dramatically and/or force more US goods production. While that would help address the global container imbalance, it would also unbalance our economic and financial architecture. Fining carriers who refuse to pick up US exports would also rock many boats. Moreover, forcing carriers to carry the cost of demurrage would change shipping market dynamics hugely. At the moment, the profits of the shipping snarl sit with carriers and ports, and the rising costs with importers: the US wants to reverse that status quo. While global carriers and US ports obviously say this bill is “doomed to fail”, and will promote a “protectionist race to the bottom”, it is bipartisan, and has been endorsed by a large number of US organisations, agricultural producers and retailers. Even smaller global players are responding similarly. For example, Thailand is considering re-launching a national shipping carrier to help support its economic growth: will others follow suite ahead? Meanwhile, shipping will also be impacted by another political decision - the planned green energy transition. The EU will tax carbon in shipping from 2023, and new vessels will need to be built. For what presumed global trade map, as we just asked? The green transition will also see a huge increase in the demand for resources such as cobalt, lithium, and rare earths. Economies that lack these, e.g., Japan and the EU, will need to import them from locations such as Africa and Australia. That will require new infrastructure, new ports, and new shipping routes – which is also geopolitical. Indeed, the US, China, the EU, UK, and Japan have all made clear that they wish to hold commanding positions in new green value chains - yet not all will be able to do so if resources are limited. Therefore, green shipping threatens to be a zero-sum game akin to the 19th century scramble for resources. As Foreign Affairs noted back in July: “Electricity is the new oil” – meant in terms of ugly power politics, not more beautiful power production. Before the green transition, energy prices are soaring (see our “Gasflation” report). On one hand, this may lift bulk shipping rates; on another, we again see the need for resilient supply chains, in which shipping plays a key role. In short, current zero-sum supply-chains snarls, already seeing a growing backlash, are soon likely to be matched by a zero-sum shift to new green industrial technologies and related raw materials. In both dimensions, shipping will become as (geo)political as it is logistical. Notably, while tides may be turning, we can’t ‘just’ reshape the global shipping system, or get from “just in time” to “just in case”, or to a more localized “just for me” just like that: it will just get messy in the process. Cold War Icebergs The US is now pushing “extreme competition” between “liberal democracy and autocracy”; China counters that US hegemony is over. For both, part of this will run through global shipping. Both giants are happy to decouple supply chains from the other where it benefits them. However, the larger geostrategic implications are even more significant. Piracy and national/imperial exclusion zones used to be maritime problems, but post-WW2, the US Navy has kept the seas safe and open to trade for all carriers equally. This duty is extremely expensive, and will get more so as new ships have to be built to replace an ageing fleet. Meanwhile, China is building its own navy at breath-taking speed, and a maritime Belt and Road (BRI). As a result, a clear shift has occurred in US maritime strategy: 2007’s “A Co-operative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power”, stressed: “We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.” 2015’s update argued: “Our responsibility to the American people dictates an efficient use of our fiscal resources.” 2020’s title was changed to “Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power”, and stressed: “...the rules-based international order is once again under assault. We must prepare as a unified Naval Service to ensure that we are equal to the challenge.” The US is also pressing ahead with the AUKUS defence alliance and the ‘Quad’ of Japan, India, and Australia to maintain naval superiority in the Indo-Pacific. This is generating geopolitical frictions, and fears of further escalation of maritime clashes in the region. The Quad has also agreed to key tech and supply-chain cooperation, with Australia a key part of a new green minerals strategy – a race in which China is still well ahead, and the EU lags. Should any kind of major incident occur, shipping costs would escalate enormously, as can easily be seen in the case of US-UK shipping from 1887-1939: this leaped 1,600% during WW1, and these shipping data stopped entirely in September 1939 due to WW2. Crucially, US naval strategy is rooted in the post-WW2 power structure in which it benefitted from such control commercially. That architecture is crumbling - and there is a matching US consensus to shift towards “America First”, or “Made in America”. The thought progression from here is surely: “Why are we paying to protect shipping from China, or economies that do not support us against China?” In short, the strategic and financial logic is: surrender control of the seas, or ensure commercial gains from it. There are enormous implications for shipping if such a shift in thinking were to occur - and such discussions are already taking place. July 2020’s “Hidden Harbours: China’s State-backed Shipping Industry” from the Center for Strategic and International Studies argued: “The time is long overdue for the US to reinvigorate its maritime industries and challenge the Chinese in the same game by using the very same techniques the Chinese have used to gain dominance in the global maritime industry. The private-sector maritime industry cannot do this alone—the US maritime industry simply cannot compete against the power of the Chinese state. The US and allied governments must bring to bear substantial and sustained political action, policies, and financial support. To do anything less is to cede control of the world’s maritime industry and global supply chains to China, and perhaps to force the US and its allies to enter their own ‘century of shame.’” Meanwhile, stories link ports and shipping to national security (see here and here), underlining logistics are no longer seen as purely commercial areas, but rather fall within the “grey zone” between war and peace – as was the case pre-WW2. This again has major implications for the shipping business. Expect that trend to continue ahead if the maritime past as guide, as we shall now explore. The Ship of Things to Come? US maritime history in particular holds some clear lessons for today’s shipping world if looked at carefully. First, the importance of the sea to what we now think of as a land-based US: the US merchant marine helped it win independence from the powerful naval forces of the British, and the first piece of legislation Congress passed in 1789 was a 10% tariff on British imports, both to build US industry and merchant shipping. Indeed, the underlying message of US maritime history is that the US is a major commercial force at sea – but only when it sees this as a national-security goal. Following independence, US commercial shipping and industry surged in tandem, with an understandable dip only due to war with the British in 1812. The gradual normalisation of maritime trade with the UK after that saw a gradual decline in the share of trade US shipping carried, which accelerated with the end of steamship subsidies --which the British maintained-- and the US Civil War. By the start of the 20th century, W. L. Marvin was arguing: “A nation which is reaching out for the commercial mastery of the world cannot long suffer nine-tenths of its ocean-carrying to be monopolized by its foreign rivals.” Yet 1915 saw the welfare-focused US Seaman’s Act passed and US flags move to Panama, where costs were lower. However, WW1 saw US shipping surge, and the Jones Act in 1920 reaffirmed ‘cabotage’ – only US flagged and crewed vessels can trade cargo between US ports. The 1930s saw global trade and the US maritime marine dwindle again – until 1936, when the Federal Maritime Commission was set up "to promote the commerce of the US, and to aid in the national defense." WW2 then saw US mass production of Liberty Ships account for over a third of global merchant shipping – and then post-1945, this lead slipped away again, and the US merchant marine now stands at around just 0.4% of the world fleet. Indeed, in 2020, US sealift capability was reported short on personnel, hulls, and strategy such that the commercial fleet would be unlikely to meet the Pentagon’s needs for a large-scale troop build-up overseas. As we see, the US has been here several times before. If the past is any guide for the future response, this suggests the following US actions could be seen ahead: Use its market size to force shippers to change pricing – which may already be happening; Raise tariffs again (on green grounds?); Refuse to take goods from some foreign ships or ports; Force vessels to re-flag in the US, at higher cost; Build a rival to China’s marine BRI with allies; Massive ship-building, for the 3rd time in the last century; Charter US private firms to bring in green materials; or The US Navy stops protecting some sea lanes/carriers, or forces the costs of their patrols onto others. It goes without saying that any of these steps would have enormous implications for global shipping and the global economy – and yet most of them are compatible with both the strategic military/commercial logic previously underlined, as well as the lessons of history. Wait and Sea? We summarize what we have shown in the key points below: Markets For markets, there are obvious implications for inflation. How can it stay low if imported prices stay high? How will central banks respond? Rate hikes won’t help. Neither will loose monetary policy – and less it is directed to a directly-related government response on supply chains and logistics. This suggests greater impetus for a shift to more localised production on cost grounds, at least at the lower end of the value chain, if not the more-desirable higher end. Yet once this wave starts to build, it may be hard to stop. Look at EU plans for strategic autonomy in semiconductors, for example, which are echoed in the US, China, and Japan. For FX, the countries that ride that wave best will float; the ones that don’t will sink. Helicopter view of ships Clearly, shipping will continue to boom. There are huge opportunities in capex on ships, ports, logistics, and infrastructure ahead – as well as in new production and supply chains. Yet one first needs to be sure what, or whose, map of production will be used for them! As the industry sits and waits for the wind and tide to change, logically one wants to position oneself best for what may be coming next. That implies global consolidation and/or vertical integration: Large shippers looking at smaller shippers to snuff out alternative routes and capacity; shippers looking at ports; ports looking at shippers; giant retailers/producers looking at shippers; importers banding together for negotiating power in ultra-tight markets. Of course, nationally, governments are looking at shippers, or at starting new carriers. If this is to be a realpolitik power struggle for who rules the waves --“Too Big to Sail”, or a new more national/resilient map of production-- then having greater scale now increases your fire-power. Of course, it also makes you a larger target for others. Let’s presume current trends continue. Could we even end up with a return to older patterns of production, e.g., where oil used to be produced by company X, refined in its facilities, shipped on its vessels, to its de facto ports, and on to its retail distribution network. Might we even see the same for consumer goods? That is the logic of globalisation and geopolitics, as well as the accumulation of capital. However, if history is a guide, and (geo)politics is a tsunami, things will look very different on both the surface and at the deepest depths of the shipping industry and the global economy. Much we take as normal today could become flotsam and jetsam. To conclude, who benefits from the huge profits of the current shipping snarl, and who will pay the costs, is ultimately a (geo)political issue, not a market one. Many ports are likely going to be caught up in that storm. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/03/2021 - 12:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 3rd, 2021

PPL to Join Electric Highway Coalition, Expand in EV Market

PPL's units are going to join the Electric Highway Coalition to further accelerate its efforts to meet its clean energy plans. PPL Corporation PPL recently pledged to join the Electric Highway Coalition, a partnership of 17 U.S. utilities. Three of its units, namely Louisville Gas and Electric Company, Kentucky Utilities Company and PPL Electric Utilities Corporation will collaborate with other coalition utilities.The company’s current decision will help it establish efficient, fast electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to broaden the charging infrastructure network. This shall surely expand its footprint in the rapidly-expanding EV market.Details of the PartnershipFollowing the closure of the utility’s pending deal to acquire The Narragansett Electric Company, operations of the newly formed company will also be included in this coalition membership.The above-mentioned subsidiaries of PPL Corp. already deployed nearly two dozen charging stations and launched a related program to provide business customers with an affordable option. Further, the utility plans to add fast-charging stations along the major Kentucky highway corridors. PPL Electric Utilities is using data analytics for expanding EV’s fast charging in Pennsylvania and locating the most advantageous locations.About the Electric Highway CoalitionThe partnership was forged in March 2021 to create a network of effective electric vehicle charging stations along the highways stretching from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest and South and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions. Its work includes the placement of infrastructure and complementing existing travel corridor fast-charging sites.PPL Corp.’s Other Clean Energy EffortsThe company consistently makes investments to expand its renewable generation capacity as well as deepen its focus on new technology to serve customers more efficiently. It is taking initiatives to electrify its fleet of vehicles along with seeking opportunities to reduce carbon footprint. Moreover, the utility’s carbon emission reduction target is set to touch the below two-degree Celsius scenario.PPL Corp. updated its mission to curb carbon emission by 70% within 2035 instead of 2040 and 80% by 2040 instead of 2050 through the introduction of carbon capture technology and addition of renewable sources to its generation portfolio. It also aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. As of 2020, it achieved nearly 60% emission reduction from the 2010 levels. We believe, the company’s latest strategy to join the Electric Highway Coalition took it a step closer to its long-term carbon reduction target.Peer MovesPer the Edison Electric Institute, 18.7 million EVs will run on the U.S. roads by 2030, indicating 7% growth from the 2018 levels, and to realize this objective, 9.6 million charge ports will be required. Within the same time frame, annual sales of EVs are expected to exceed $3.5 million.To reap benefits from the expanding EV market opportunities, other utilities including FirstEnergy FE, Xcel Energy XEL and Duke Energy DUK are also making efforts to electrify their vehicle fleets.Price MovementIn the past three months, shares of PPL Corp. have gained 2.2% compared with the industry’s growth of 0.3%.Three Months Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment ResearchZacks RankPPL Corp. currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report PPL Corporation (PPL): Free Stock Analysis Report Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL): Free Stock Analysis Report FirstEnergy Corporation (FE): Free Stock Analysis Report Duke Energy Corporation (DUK): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 29th, 2021

4 Buy-Ranked Stocks that Soared Over 20% in the Past Week

The market remains on its toes as investors digest the ton of information hitting us about now. The market remains on its toes as investors digest the ton of information hitting us about now.Perhaps the most significant in all that is the rising bond yield. Rising yields are negative for stocks because they’re considered risk-free investments. So when yields rise, it makes more sense for investors to get into safe bonds rather than risky stocks. So stocks need to generate well above those yields to continue attracting investors.But yields rise both on account of growth and inflation. When they’re rising on account of growth, cyclicals (sectors that rise and fall with the business cycle) usually do well. That’s because in a growth environment, they generate stronger cash flows and are able to pay more dividend, which provides some buffer to these stocks, i.e. makes them less risky. Restaurants, hotels, consumer discretionary, furniture, premium/specialty retailers, auto, etc fall in this group.Also, in inflationary conditions, investors need higher returns to offset the impact of inflation, so they would pull money out of bonds, which would drive yields. Rising energy prices are a major cause of inflation. Oil is hitting $75 a barrel (WTI) or $79 (Brent) and natural gas prices are also on the rise. We’re looking at much costlier heating this winter, for both commercial operations and individuals. This situation isn’t changing soon. In fact, Goldman Sachs sees Brent oil hitting $90 by year-end because of production disruption from hurricane Ida.   So deciding the correct strategy is trickier now because we’re having a little bit of both. And especially when you consider that rising fuel costs are going to add to the rising input costs, making everything that much more expensive for the consumer (when companies are able to transfer the excess, as they have been doing so far). There’s also the concern that we’re headed for higher taxes, but maybe that will hold for some time.More immediate is the conversation around the debt ceiling and what could happen if it isn’t raised (it has always been raised in the past and will in all probability be raised again) and the chances of a government shutdown. It is ultimately likely to have no material impact on stocks, but could increase volatility in the near term.So there’s too much going on right now. And it’s probably a good idea to look for safer bets with more or less steady earnings growth trends and some dividend to boot.But in case you’re still looking for market outperformers, here are a few that have really picked up in the past week. Take a look here-Condor Hospitality Trust, Inc. CDORNorfolk, VA-based based Condor Hospitality Trust is a self-administered real estate investment trust specializing in the investment and ownership of upper midscale and upscale, premium-branded select-service, extended-stay and limited-service hotels in the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, particularly the top 20. Condor's hotels are franchised by a number of the industry's most well-regarded brand families including Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental Hotels. It currently owns 15 hotels in 8 states.On Thursday, the company entered into a deal with affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Partners to sell its entire portfolio of hotels for $305 million. Since 60% of shareholders have already agreed to back the deal, there’s no chance of a reversal.  Blackstone is also not assuming any debt, so the amount to be paid to shareholders will be after meeting legal obligations and paying related costs and expenses. The Board has also approved the liquidation of the company pending shareholders’ approval.The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The company had reported very strong results as a reopening play with the lone analyst covering the name also enthusiastically raising estimates. And the double-digit projected revenue and earnings likely helped the company to clinch the deal. The shares are up 25.9% over the past week.Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. CRVSBurlingame, CA-based Corvus Pharmaceuticals is involved in the development and commercialization of immuno-oncology therapies that harness the immune system to attack cancer cells. Its products include CPI-444, Adenosine production inhibitor, Adenosine A2B antagonist and Interleukin-2 (IL-2)-inducible T cell kinase (ITK) inhibitors.Corvus is developing mupadolimab as a therapeutic for oncology indications as well as infectious disease, including COVID-19. On Wednesday, the company released the results of a phase 3 clinical trial of the candidate on COVID 19. A group of 40 patients were administered mupadolimab at doses of 2mg/kg and 1mg/kg and compared to placebo. The test was able to establish a dose response relationship on the endpoint of time to respiratory failure or death, with no reported adverse events. The 2mg/kg cohort was also shown to elicit antiviral response in all variants tested, including delta.Richard A. Miller, M.D., co-founder, president and CEO of Corvus said, “Combined with the findings in our previous Phase 1 trial in 29 patients, we believe there is mounting evidence that mupadolimab could become a universal treatment for viral diseases, with the ability to address immune escape from variants. We plan to evaluate our next steps with mupadolimab for COVID-19 as we continue to analyze the trial data and explore partnership opportunities to continue its development as a therapeutic."After three quarters of earnings misses, the #2 ranked company finally beat estimates in the last quarter. Analysts expect the loss per share to come down significantly in 2021 and again in 2022. The shares jumped 27.8% in the past week.Covenant Logistics Group, Inc. CVLGChattanooga, TN-based Covenant Logistics Group offers a portfolio of transportation and logistics services through its subsidiaries. The company’s services include asset-based expedited, dedicated and irregular route truckload capacity, as well as asset-light warehousing, transportation management and freight brokerage. It also has a used equipment selling and leasing business. Its customers include transportation companies, such as parcel freight forwarders, less-than-truckload carriers and third-party logistics providers, as well as traditional truckload customers like manufacturers, retailers, and food and beverage shippers. As of December 31, 2020, it operated 2,461 tractors and 5,647 trailers.Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) ranked CVLG shares have been rising consistently over the past year and are up 97.1% year to date. Last week’s appreciation of 21.7% was a continuation of this trend and may have been spurred by a Cowen analyst raising the estimated price target on the basis of CVLG’s pricing power.The trucking industry is seeing tremendous demand around now as manufacturers and traditional retailers respond to the reopening even as ecommerce related last-mile demand remains high. With drivers being in short supply, trucking companies are also capacity constrained. A combination of these factors is responsible for the pricing power.And so we see that CVLG topped estimates at strong double-digit rates in each of the last two quarters. It is expected to grow revenue by 18.2% and earnings by 217.6% this year and there’s more growth slated for next year. Its estimates are also on an upward trajectory.Herc Holdings Inc. HRIBonita Springs, FL-based Herc Holdings, through its subsidiary Herc Rentals, is a full-line equipment-rental supplier in commercial and residential construction, industrial and manufacturing, refineries and petrochemicals, civil infrastructure, automotive, government and municipalities, energy, remediation, emergency response, facilities, entertainment and agriculture. It operates primarily in North America.Last week, at its analyst day, the #1 ranked company raised its 2021 adjusted EBITDA expectations from $840 million-$870 million to $870 million to $890 million. The adjusted EBITDA guidance for 2022 of $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion was even more encouraging.Naturally, this led to estimate revisions for both years. And so, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 jumped 54 cents (7.6%) while the 2022 estimate jumped by $3.26 (37.6%).The economic recovery we are seeing has clearly been positive for the company going by the positive surprises it has been recording in each of the last four quarters, averaging 120.4%.The shares jumped 24.1% over the past week.One-Month Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment Research 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Condor Hospitality Trust, Inc. (CDOR): Free Stock Analysis Report Herc Holdings Inc. (HRI): Free Stock Analysis Report Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CRVS): Free Stock Analysis Report Covenant Logistics Group, Inc. (CVLG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 29th, 2021

Aurora Cannabis Announces Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Results

NASDAQ | TSX: ACB #1 Canadian LP in Global Medical Cannabis; Total Medical Cannabis Net Revenue Rose 9% Compared to Prior Year; Strong Adjusted Gross Margin before FVA of 68% Business Transformation Plan on Track; Reiterates Annual Cost Savings of $60 Million to $80 Million, Providing Clear Pathway to Adjusted EBITDA Profitability Balance Sheet Remains Strong with $440.9 Million of Cash at June 30, 2021; Working Capital Improves by $404.3 Million Compared to Prior Year Adjusted EBITDA Loss, Excluding Restructuring Costs, Narrows to $13.9 Million, a $17.6 Million Improvement Compared to Prior Year Total Cannabis Net Revenue, Net of Provisions, of $54.8 Million Compared to $55.2 Million in the Prior Quarter, and $67.5 Million in the Year-Ago Period EDMONTON, AB, Sept. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ - Aurora Cannabis Inc. (the "Company" or "Aurora") (NASDAQ:ACB) (TSX:ACB), the Canadian company defining the future of cannabinoids worldwide, today announced its financial and operational results for the fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2021 ended June 30, 2021. "We are very pleased with our strategic and financial progress in growing our high-margin medical revenue, rationalizing expenses, strengthening our balance sheet, and reducing our cash burn during fiscal year 2021. Given ongoing challenges in the Canadian adult recreational market, our broad diversification across domestic medical, international medical, and adult recreational segments provides us with underlying strength, stability, and growth opportunities in an evolving industry for global cannabinoids. Additionally, our enviable leadership position as the #1 Canadian LP in global medical cannabis by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, supported by regulatory and compliance expertise, is a tailwind that we expect to enable us to ultimately expand into global adult recreational as medical regimes evolve" stated Miguel Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Aurora Cannabis. "During the quarter, we delivered another strong yet steady performance in domestic medical, the largest federally regulated medical market globally, exceptional year-over-year growth in our high-margin international medical segment, where we remain the #2 Canadian LP by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, and quarterly sequential growth in adult recreational which included higher sales of premium cultivars. We are now delighted to announce a long-term supply agreement with Cantek in Israel that we expect to provide us with a steady stream of high-margin revenue that could also evolve into a larger partnership over time. We further believe our Canadian adult recreational segment is poised for recovery due to our product portfolio enhancements coupled with an acceleration of new store openings and rising consumer demand," he continued. "We have positioned ourselves for long-term success by delivering further improvement in our industry-leading Adjusted gross margin and substantially narrowing our Adjusted EBITDA loss compared to the year-ago period. With annual cost savings of approximately $60 to $80 million across selling, general and administrative ("SG&A"), production cost, facility and logistic expenses, we have a clear pathway to achieve Adjusted EBITDA profitability. Importantly, our considerable cash balance of $440.9 million, substantial improvement in working capital, and strong balance sheet support our organic growth and can be utilized for opportunistic M&A, particularly in the U.S," he concluded. Fourth Quarter 2021 Highlights (Unless otherwise stated, comparisons are made between fiscal Q4 2021 and Q4 2020 results and are in Canadian dollars) Medical cannabis: Medical cannabis net revenue1 was $35.0 million, a 9% increase from the prior year period. The increase was primarily attributable to continued growth in the international medical business, 88% over the prior year comparative period, as the Company continued to grow new, high margin medical markets. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue1 was 68% versus 64% in the prior year, as a result of overall reduction in production costs due to the closure of non-core facilities as part of our business transformation plan and higher sales coming from our international sales, which yield higher margins. Consumer cannabis: Consumer cannabis net revenue1 was $19.5 million ($20.2 million excluding provisions), a 45% decrease from $35.3 million ($37.1 million excluding provisions) in the prior year. This was due primarily to a reduction in orders from Provinces in response to slower consumer demand, reflecting the impact of lockdown restrictions related to COVID-19. Sequentially, consumer cannabis net revenue increased 8% over the prior quarter mainly due to completion of the transition of our fixed sales force to Great North and a $2.5 million reduction in actual net returns, price adjustments and provisions as the company completed its product swap initiative to replace low quality product with higher potency product at the provinces. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue[1] was 31% vs 36% in the prior year period. This was primarily driven by an increase in cost of sales due to under-utilized capacity at Aurora Sky as a result of the scaling back production (expected to partially reverse in future quarters), offset by an increase in the consumer cannabis sales mix attributed to our core and premium brands, contributing to an increase in our average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis. Consolidated: Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on cannabis net revenue1 was 54% in Q4 2021 versus 49% in the prior year period and 44% in Q3 2021. The increase in Adjusted gross margin compared to Q4 2020 is due primarily to a shift in sales mix towards the medical market which commands higher average net selling prices and margins. Adjusted EBITDA1 loss improved to $19.3 million in Q4 2021 ($13.9 million loss excluding restructuring charges) compared to the prior year Adjusted EBITDA loss1 of $33.3 million ($31.5 million loss excluding restructuring charges) primarily driven by the substantial decrease in SG&A and R&D expenses and an increase in gross margins. Q4 2021 total cannabis net revenue1 was $54.8 million, essentially flat sequentially, and a 19% decrease in over fiscal Q4 of the prior year. Reflecting the shift in mix toward our medical businesses, the Q4 2021 average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis1 increased to $5.11 per gram from $3.60 in Q4 2020 and $5.00 in Q3 2021. This excludes the impact of bulk wholesale of excess mid-potency cannabis flower at clear-out pricing. Selling, General and Administrative ("SG&A"): SG&A, including Research and Development ("R&D"), was $44.8 million, excluding $5.2 million in severance and restructuring costs ($49.9 million reported), down $19.1 million or 30% from the prior year as a result of our business transformation plan. Operational Efficiency Plan, Balance Sheet Strength, & Working Capital Improvement Aurora has identified cash savings of $60 million to $80 million. We expect to deliver $30 million to $40 million of annualized cash savings within the next year, and the remainder by the end of Q2 fiscal 2023. ___________________________________ 1 These terms are non-GAAP measures, see "Non-GAAP Measures" below. Approximately 60% of the savings are expected to be driven out of our network through asset consolidation, and operational and supply chain efficiencies. In fact, last week we announced the centralization of much of our Canadian manufacturing processes to our River facility in Bradford, Ontario and the resultant closure of our western Canada manufacturing facility. The remaining 40% of savings are intended to be sourced through SG&A; a portion of those savings will be via insurance structures that are already partially executed.   These cash savings will be reflected in our P&L either as they occur for SG&A savings, or as inventory is drawn down for production-related savings.  These efficiencies are incremental to the approximately $300 million of total cost reductions achieved since the announcement of the Company's business transformation plan in February 2020. Aurora materially improved its balance sheet during fiscal year 2021 through a number of purposeful actions including repaying the credit facility in full in June 2021, which resulted in interest and principal repayment reductions of approximately $25 million annually. The Company views a strong balance sheet as critical to operating the business, executing its strategic plans, and pursuing growth opportunities in an unconstrained manner, including within the U.S. At June 30, 2021 Aurora has a cash balance of approximately $440.9 million, comprised of $421.5 million of cash and cash equivalents and $19.4 million in restricted cash, no secured term debt, and access to US$1 billion of capital under its shelf prospectus. The Company's focus on realizing operational efficiencies and ability to manage cash has greatly improved operating cash flow; reducing the need for incremental capital. In Q4 2021, Aurora managed cash flow tightly using $7.8 million in cash to fund operations, including working capital investments and restructuring and severance payments of $5.1 million. Cash inflow from capital expenditures, net of $17.5 million disposals and government grant income, in Q4 2021 was $6.2 million versus $32.8 million of cash used in Q4 2020 and $12.2 million of cash used in Q3 2021. Cash used in operations and for capital expenditures are crucial metrics in Aurora's drive toward generating sustainable positive free cash flow, and both have improved significantly over the past year. The Company's ongoing business transformation, with the additional cost efficiency savings described earlier, is expected to move the operating cash flow metric in a positive direction over the coming quarters. Fiscal Q4 2021 Cash Use The main components of cash source and use in Q4 2021 were as follows: ($ thousands) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(4) Q3 2021(4) Cash Flow Cash, Opening $520,238 $230,208 $434,386 Cash used in operations including working capital ($7,840) ($64,199) ($66,215) Capital expenditures, net of disposals and government grant income $6,230 ($32,789) ($12,320) Debt and interest payments ($90,141)(3) ($52,979) ($7,766) Cash use ($91,751) ($149,967) ($86,301) Proceeds raised from sale of marketable securities and investments in associates 11,929 33,673 $- Proceeds raised through debt - - - Proceeds raised through equity financing $435 $48,265 $172,153(1) Cash raised $12,364 $81,938 $172,153 Cash, Ending $440,851 $162,179 $520,238(2) (1) Includes impact of foreign exchange rates on USD cash raised from financing (2) Includes restricted cash of $50.0M for Q3 2021 held as cash collateral under the BMO Credit Facility. (3) Includes $88.7 million full principal repayment on the BMO Credit Facility. As of June 30, 2021, the BMO Credit Facility has been fully settled and discharged. (4) Previously reported amounts have been retroactively recast for the biological assets and inventory non-material prior period error. Refer to the "Significant Accounting Policies and Judgments" section in Note 2(h) of the Financial Statements. Refer to the "Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows" in the "Consolidated Financial Statements" for our cash flow statements prepared in accordance with IAS 7 – Statement of Cash Flows. ($ thousands, except Operational Results) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(5)(6) $ Change % Change Q3 2021 (5)(6) $ Change % Change Financial Results Total net revenue (1) $54,825 $68,426 ($13,601) (20) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $54,825 $67,492 ($12,667) (19) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Medical cannabis net revenue (2a) $35,022 $32,226 $2,796 9 % $36,378 ($1,356) (4) % Consumer cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $19,514 $35,266 ($15,752) (45) % $18,023 $1,491 8 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on cannabis net revenue (2b) 54 % 49 % N/A 5 % 44 % N/A 10 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue (2b) 68 % 64 % N/A 4 % 53 % N/A 15 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue (2b) 31 % 36 % N/A (5) % 33 % N/A (2) % SG&A expense $46,902 $57,969 ($11,067) (19) % $41,684 $5,218 13 % R&D expense $3,034 $7,645 ($4,611) (60) % $3,398 ($364) (11) % Adjusted EBITDA (2c) ($19,256) ($33,349) $14,093.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 27th, 2021

Aurora Cannabis Announces Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Results

NASDAQ | TSX: ACB #1 Canadian LP in Global Medical Cannabis; Total Medical Cannabis Net Revenue Rose 9% Compared to Prior Year; Strong Adjusted Gross Margin before FVA of 68% Business Transformation Plan on Track; Reiterates Annual Cost Savings of $60 Million to $80 Million, Providing Clear Pathway to Adjusted EBITDA Profitability Balance Sheet Remains Strong with $440.9 Million of Cash at June 30, 2021; Working Capital Improves by $404.3 Million Compared to Prior Year Adjusted EBITDA Loss, Excluding Restructuring Costs, Narrows to $13.9 Million, a $17.6 Million Improvement Compared to Prior Year Total Cannabis Net Revenue, Net of Provisions, of $54.8 Million Compared to $55.2 Million in the Prior Quarter, and $67.5 Million in the Year-Ago Period EDMONTON, AB, Sept. 27, 2021 /CNW/ - Aurora Cannabis Inc. (the "Company" or "Aurora") (NASDAQ:ACB) (TSX:ACB), the Canadian company defining the future of cannabinoids worldwide, today announced its financial and operational results for the fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2021 ended June 30, 2021. "We are very pleased with our strategic and financial progress in growing our high-margin medical revenue, rationalizing expenses, strengthening our balance sheet, and reducing our cash burn during fiscal year 2021. Given ongoing challenges in the Canadian adult recreational market, our broad diversification across domestic medical, international medical, and adult recreational segments provides us with underlying strength, stability, and growth opportunities in an evolving industry for global cannabinoids. Additionally, our enviable leadership position as the #1 Canadian LP in global medical cannabis by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, supported by regulatory and compliance expertise, is a tailwind that we expect to enable us to ultimately expand into global adult recreational as medical regimes evolve" stated Miguel Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Aurora Cannabis. "During the quarter, we delivered another strong yet steady performance in domestic medical, the largest federally regulated medical market globally, exceptional year-over-year growth in our high-margin international medical segment, where we remain the #2 Canadian LP by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, and quarterly sequential growth in adult recreational which included higher sales of premium cultivars. We are now delighted to announce a long-term supply agreement with Cantek in Israel that we expect to provide us with a steady stream of high-margin revenue that could also evolve into a larger partnership over time. We further believe our Canadian adult recreational segment is poised for recovery due to our product portfolio enhancements coupled with an acceleration of new store openings and rising consumer demand," he continued. "We have positioned ourselves for long-term success by delivering further improvement in our industry-leading Adjusted gross margin and substantially narrowing our Adjusted EBITDA loss compared to the year-ago period. With annual cost savings of approximately $60 to $80 million across selling, general and administrative ("SG&A"), production cost, facility and logistic expenses, we have a clear pathway to achieve Adjusted EBITDA profitability. Importantly, our considerable cash balance of $440.9 million, substantial improvement in working capital, and strong balance sheet support our organic growth and can be utilized for opportunistic M&A, particularly in the U.S," he concluded. Fourth Quarter 2021 Highlights (Unless otherwise stated, comparisons are made between fiscal Q4 2021 and Q4 2020 results and are in Canadian dollars) Medical cannabis: Medical cannabis net revenue1 was $35.0 million, a 9% increase from the prior year period. The increase was primarily attributable to continued growth in the international medical business, 88% over the prior year comparative period, as the Company continued to grow new, high margin medical markets. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue1 was 68% versus 64% in the prior year, as a result of overall reduction in production costs due to the closure of non-core facilities as part of our business transformation plan and higher sales coming from our international sales, which yield higher margins. Consumer cannabis: Consumer cannabis net revenue1 was $19.5 million ($20.2 million excluding provisions), a 45% decrease from $35.3 million ($37.1 million excluding provisions) in the prior year. This was due primarily to a reduction in orders from Provinces in response to slower consumer demand, reflecting the impact of lockdown restrictions related to COVID-19. Sequentially, consumer cannabis net revenue increased 8% over the prior quarter mainly due to completion of the transition of our fixed sales force to Great North and a $2.5 million reduction in actual net returns, price adjustments and provisions as the company completed its product swap initiative to replace low quality product with higher potency product at the provinces. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue[1] was 31% vs 36% in the prior year period. This was primarily driven by an increase in cost of sales due to under-utilized capacity at Aurora Sky as a result of the scaling back production (expected to partially reverse in future quarters), offset by an increase in the consumer cannabis sales mix attributed to our core and premium brands, contributing to an increase in our average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis. Consolidated: Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on cannabis net revenue1 was 54% in Q4 2021 versus 49% in the prior year period and 44% in Q3 2021. The increase in Adjusted gross margin compared to Q4 2020 is due primarily to a shift in sales mix towards the medical market which commands higher average net selling prices and margins. Adjusted EBITDA1 loss improved to $19.3 million in Q4 2021 ($13.9 million loss excluding restructuring charges) compared to the prior year Adjusted EBITDA loss1 of $33.3 million ($31.5 million loss excluding restructuring charges) primarily driven by the substantial decrease in SG&A and R&D expenses and an increase in gross margins. Q4 2021 total cannabis net revenue1 was $54.8 million, essentially flat sequentially, and a 19% decrease in over fiscal Q4 of the prior year. Reflecting the shift in mix toward our medical businesses, the Q4 2021 average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis1 increased to $5.11 per gram from $3.60 in Q4 2020 and $5.00 in Q3 2021. This excludes the impact of bulk wholesale of excess mid-potency cannabis flower at clear-out pricing. Selling, General and Administrative ("SG&A"): SG&A, including Research and Development ("R&D"), was $44.8 million, excluding $5.2 million in severance and restructuring costs ($49.9 million reported), down $19.1 million or 30% from the prior year as a result of our business transformation plan. Operational Efficiency Plan, Balance Sheet Strength, & Working Capital Improvement Aurora has identified cash savings of $60 million to $80 million. We expect to deliver $30 million to $40 million of annualized cash savings within the next year, and the remainder by the end of Q2 fiscal 2023. ___________________________________ 1 These terms are non-GAAP measures, see "Non-GAAP Measures" below. Approximately 60% of the savings are expected to be driven out of our network through asset consolidation, and operational and supply chain efficiencies. In fact, last week we announced the centralization of much of our Canadian manufacturing processes to our River facility in Bradford, Ontario and the resultant closure of our western Canada manufacturing facility. The remaining 40% of savings are intended to be sourced through SG&A; a portion of those savings will be via insurance structures that are already partially executed.   These cash savings will be reflected in our P&L either as they occur for SG&A savings, or as inventory is drawn down for production-related savings.  These efficiencies are incremental to the approximately $300 million of total cost reductions achieved since the announcement of the Company's business transformation plan in February 2020. Aurora materially improved its balance sheet during fiscal year 2021 through a number of purposeful actions including repaying the credit facility in full in June 2021, which resulted in interest and principal repayment reductions of approximately $25 million annually. The Company views a strong balance sheet as critical to operating the business, executing its strategic plans, and pursuing growth opportunities in an unconstrained manner, including within the U.S. At June 30, 2021 Aurora has a cash balance of approximately $440.9 million, comprised of $421.5 million of cash and cash equivalents and $19.4 million in restricted cash, no secured term debt, and access to US$1 billion of capital under its shelf prospectus. The Company's focus on realizing operational efficiencies and ability to manage cash has greatly improved operating cash flow; reducing the need for incremental capital. In Q4 2021, Aurora managed cash flow tightly using $7.8 million in cash to fund operations, including working capital investments and restructuring and severance payments of $5.1 million. Cash inflow from capital expenditures, net of $17.5 million disposals and government grant income, in Q4 2021 was $6.2 million versus $32.8 million of cash used in Q4 2020 and $12.2 million of cash used in Q3 2021. Cash used in operations and for capital expenditures are crucial metrics in Aurora's drive toward generating sustainable positive free cash flow, and both have improved significantly over the past year. The Company's ongoing business transformation, with the additional cost efficiency savings described earlier, is expected to move the operating cash flow metric in a positive direction over the coming quarters. Fiscal Q4 2021 Cash Use The main components of cash source and use in Q4 2021 were as follows: ($ thousands) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(4) Q3 2021(4) Cash Flow Cash, Opening $520,238 $230,208 $434,386 Cash used in operations including working capital ($7,840) ($64,199) ($66,215) Capital expenditures, net of disposals and government grant income $6,230 ($32,789) ($12,320) Debt and interest payments ($90,141)(3) ($52,979) ($7,766) Cash use ($91,751) ($149,967) ($86,301) Proceeds raised from sale of marketable securities and investments in associates 11,929 33,673 $- Proceeds raised through debt - - - Proceeds raised through equity financing $435 $48,265 $172,153(1) Cash raised $12,364 $81,938 $172,153 Cash, Ending $440,851 $162,179 $520,238(2) (1) Includes impact of foreign exchange rates on USD cash raised from financing (2) Includes restricted cash of $50.0M for Q3 2021 held as cash collateral under the BMO Credit Facility. (3) Includes $88.7 million full principal repayment on the BMO Credit Facility. As of June 30, 2021, the BMO Credit Facility has been fully settled and discharged. (4) Previously reported amounts have been retroactively recast for the biological assets and inventory non-material prior period error. Refer to the "Significant Accounting Policies and Judgments" section in Note 2(h) of the Financial Statements. Refer to the "Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows" in the "Consolidated Financial Statements" for our cash flow statements prepared in accordance with IAS 7 – Statement of Cash Flows. ($ thousands, except Operational Results) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(5)(6) $ Change % Change Q3 2021 (5)(6) $ Change % Change Financial Results Total net revenue (1) $54,825 $68,426 ($13,601) (20) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $54,825 $67,492 ($12,667) (19) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Medical cannabis net revenue (2a) $35,022 $32,226 $2,796 9 % $36,378 ($1,356) (4) % Consumer cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $19,514 $35,266 ($15,752) (45) % $18,023 $1,491 8 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on cannabis net revenue (2b) 54 % 49 % N/A 5 % 44 % N/A 10 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue (2b) 68 % 64 % N/A 4 % 53 % N/A 15 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue (2b) 31 % 36 % N/A (5) % 33 % N/A (2) % SG&A expense $46,902 $57,969 ($11,067) (19) % $41,684 $5,218 13 % R&D expense $3,034 $7,645 ($4,611) (60) % $3,398 ($364) (11) % Adjusted EBITDA (2c) ($19,256) ($33,349) $14,093 42.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 27th, 2021

Fighter pilot from the Marine Corps" first F-35C squadron says the stealth jet is making US aircraft carriers more lethal

"The jet brings a lot of capability to the Marine Corps and to the Navy," Maj. Mark Dion told Insider. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct a new expeditionary landing demonstration on Dec. 3rd, 2020 US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cervantes, Leilani The US Navy's first F-35C fighter jet squadron deployed on an aircraft carrier early last month. The first Marine Corps F-35C squadron is working up to its first carrier deployment, expected early next year. A Marine pilot in this squadron talked to Insider about what the stealth jet means for US carriers. See more stories on Insider's business page. US Navy aircraft carriers have started deploying with F-35C stealth fighter jets, aircraft that one fighter pilot called "a game changer" and said are making US carriers even more lethal.The first US Navy aircraft carrier to deploy with F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the variant engineered for carrier operations, was USS Carl Vinson, which departed San Diego last month and sailed through the South China Sea recently with the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, the Navy's first F-35C squadron, on board.The Marines are in the game as well. The "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, the Corps' first F-35C squadron, achieved full operational capability in July and are now preparing for their first carrier deployment.This squadron is working long hours training as part of Carrier Air Wing 9 aboard USS Abraham Lincoln and at Naval Air Station Fallon, home of TOPGUN, the Navy's elite air combat school, to get ready for the deployment expected to start early next year.The F-35, the most expensive weapon program in US military history, has had its share of setbacks in development. But pilots are still excited about what the aircraft can do, one of the "Black Knights" told Insider. Maj. Mark Dion in an F-35 Courtesy photo 'This is where I want to be'Maj. Mark Dion, an operations officer and VMFA 314 pilot, transitioned to the F-35 from the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and he told Insider recently that the fifth-generation fighter is definitely what he wants to be flying. He said that "the F-35C is far and away more capable than the F/A-18" Hornet."This jet gives you so much more situational awareness," he explained. "The fusion of all these sensors the jet has just gives the pilots so much more information to make decisions, make better decisions, make them quicker, and just be more lethal.""If we are doing an intercept out there, the F-35 is what you want to be in," he said."It gives me that ability to kind of remain undetected or at least, the ability to remain where the enemy cannot necessarily employ their weapons against me, which we didn't really have back in the F/A-18s, those fourth-gen aircraft," Dion said. "That's a massive advantage of this jet."He added that "if we find ourselves going to a merge with an enemy fighter, it does well in that close combat ACM [air combat maneuvering]. It does very well. I would rather be in the F-35. I have flown both, and this is where I want to be." Maj. Mark Dion Courtesy photo 'It just makes the carrier much more lethal'Dion has also flown the F-35B, a short takeoff and vertical landing variant for the Marine Corps that can fight from airstrips and amphibious assault ships. He was actually part of the first US F-35 combat deployment, which saw Marine pilots flying F-35Bs off the USS Essex and conducting strikes in Afghanistan."That was amazing," he told Insider, saying that it is something he'll always remember."That was huge, just being kind of the first ones out there, leading the way with the Marine Corps and really the [Department of Defense] in general," said Dion, who is now out front on the Corps' efforts to field an F-35C squadron.Asked if he preferred the Hornet, the F-35B, or the F-35C, Dion said that his favorite aircraft was the C.The major said the F-35C "brings a lot more capability" than the B. It has more fuel, allowing for more time on station, and the ability to carry different weapons."The jet brings a lot of capability to the Marine Corps and to the Navy," he said, "and to have an F-35 squadron on a carrier integrated with F/A-18s and the tactics we have with those F/A-18s, it just makes the carrier much more lethal."For example, data links allow the carrier air wing to fight as a single force. In combat, the F-35 can get a better read on the battlefield and then relay targeting information to the F/A-18s, which have a more robust missile loadout than their fifth-gen counterparts. Each aircraft enhances the combat power of the other.Dion described the F-35's ability to enhance the carrier air wing, project power, evade higher-end threats, and mitigate near-peer assets as "a game changer." Three U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepare for take off in support of tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, June 30, 2021 US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya 'A lot of hard work and sacrifice'VMFA 314 received its first F-35C on January 21, 2020, achieved initial operational capability in December 2020, and was fully operational by this past summer."The Marines of VMFA 314 have worked their tails off for the past two years to build a squadron of the best DoD air asset that we have, to build the squadron up with that jet, to be ready to go to combat if necessary within a very short period of time," Dion said.The major said it's been "a lot of hard work and sacrifice," but "the hard work that they put into the last two years has really allowed us to be here where we are at right now and continue to be successful and to eventually, early next year, deploy and be ready to defend the nation.""It's been amazing," he said. "It's pretty awesome to be a part of that and see that."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 27th, 2021

Calix (CALX) Solutions Revamp CTC Telecom"s Network Operations

Calix (CALX) partners CTC Telecom to transform the latter's network operations and slash expensive customer support calls on the back of state-of-the-art solutions. Calix, Inc. CALX has joined forces with CTC Telecom to upgrade the latter’s network and customer experience with avant-garde solutions. Per the collaboration, the telco deployed GigaSpire BLAST u6 systems, Calix Support Cloud, and full Revenue EDGE portfolio to capture valuable subscriber data and performance insights, thereby providing a personalized and secure Wi-Fi experience to its customers.CTC Telecom also capitalized on Calix Customer Success Services to revamp installation and support processes for a streamlined network infrastructure. Post its deployment, the telco witnessed a 37% reduction in support call volumes with more than 34% fall in truck rolls. By capturing critical insights, CTC Telecom eradicated consumer-grade gateways issues by replacing them with GigaSpire BLAST systems. This helped in minimizing its day-to-day operational overheads.At a time when the telecom industry is facing record demand for high-bandwidth services, service providers are managing the deployment of advanced network platforms. Against this backdrop, Calix’s solutions have supported service providers over the years with the introduction of new services and models, thereby accelerating its business roadmap.One such service is the GigaSpire BLAST systems. The GigaSpire BLAST u6, which is an integral part of Calix’s Revenue EDGE solution, is equipped with Wi-Fi 6 technology. The BLAST platform deploys a powerful EDGE system that offers cutting-edge applications for the ultimate Wi-Fi experience and paves the path for revenue generation on the back of accretive broadband investments.Calix Customer Success Services offers a plethora of value-added capabilities and provides ongoing guidance that aids users to exceed their business objectives while improving marketing return on investment with reduced customer support expenses. Within four months of this partnership, CTC Telecom has been able to focus on growing its value for the community and has cut down related expenditures to transform the way it conducts its operations.The amalgamation of these trailblazing solutions enabled the telco to enhance subscriber experience across West Central Idaho while boosting broadband businesses with recurring revenue streams. The latest move highlights Calix’s efforts to establish a robust network infrastructure while offering customers the latest technology available in the market.Calix is well-positioned to benefit from customer base expansion amid the coronavirus-induced disruptions. The San Jose, CA-based company is committed to aligning investments with its strategy and maintaining strong discipline over operating expenses, along with a favorable product and customer mix. Moreover, the transition of Calix into a communications cloud and software platform business will manifest in improved financial performance over the long term.Shares of the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have surged 204.2% compared with the industry’s growth of 13.4% in the past year.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchSome better-ranked stocks in the industry are Jiayin Group Inc. JFIN, Paycom Software, Inc. PAYC, and Bentley Systems, Incorporated BSY. While Jiayin Group and Paycom Software sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Bentley Systems carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Jiayin Group delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 89%, on average.Paycom Software delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 12.3%, on average.Bentley Systems delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 32.5%, on average. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Calix, Inc (CALX): Free Stock Analysis Report Paycom Software, Inc. (PAYC): Free Stock Analysis Report Jiayin Group Inc. Sponsored ADR (JFIN): Free Stock Analysis Report Bentley Systems, Incorporated (BSY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Euronet"s (EEFT) Ria Money, Nobel Financial Form Partnership

Euronet's (EEFT) arm Ria Money strengthens its position and boosts portfolio by establishing its relationship with Nobel Financial. Euronet Worldwide, Inc.’s EEFT subsidiary Ria Money Transfer forged an alliance with Nobel Financial Inc., part of Nobel Ltd for transitioning 117 Nobel agents to the Ria Money brand, platform and network in the United States. Nobel is a leading company in the global telecommunications industry.With this partnership, Noble customers can now send funds from various locations that consist of the 4,600+ Walmart and 2,100+ Kroger stores across the United States. They can even make the transactions from home with the help of the Ria Money Transfer application.Customers now have access to Ria Money’s 490,000 payout locations in more than 165 countries and can complete transactions in as less as 10 minutes. Nobel customers in the United States can now use Ria Money’s Bill Pay service and network of more than 8,000 billers.Ria Money will also be able to leverage Nobel Financial’s 20 plus years of expertise in the Liberian market and solidify its position in the region.The unit runs the second biggest payments network and is constantly taking initiatives to boost its portfolio and expand its capabilities. It strives hard to ensure that customers can send funds wherever needed across the world in a safe and effective manner.In 2019, this subsidiary of Euronet joined Ripple’s blockchain-based payments network seeking faster cross-border payments.In June, Ria Money launched instant payments in Brazil. This was done through the nation’s new PIX real-time payments network. In May, it extended its distribution network through an alliance with Mooney to further establish its dominance by providing services to the latter’s 45,000 points of sale and 20 million customers in Italy. Euronet also expanded its network with the launch of the Ria Money Transfer app in Chile.Kroger selected Ria Money as its second money transfer service provider in the United States at all its approximately 2,000 locations.Ria Money’s international fund transfer grew 16% year over year in 2020, which is pretty impressive. The business showed its effectiveness in bridging the gap between digital and physical transactions. Its omnichannel products and services along with Euronet’s global payout capabilities bode well for the segment.The business is massively contributing to the parent company’s Money Transfer segment, which is well-poised for growth on the back of physical and digital distribution channels, acquisitions, etc.Zacks Rank & Price Performance of PeersShares of this presently Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) company have gained 40.9% in the past year, outperforming the  industry’s growth of 16.6%. The stock should continue its rally on the back of its solid EFT, epay and Money Transfer segments as well as increased digital transactions.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchStocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks in the same space are CIT Group Inc. CIT, XP Inc. XP and HoulihanLokey, Inc. HLI, earnings of which managed to deliver a trailing four-quarter surprise of 224.59%, 24.44% and 38.33%, respectively, on average. All the companies presently hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report CIT Group Inc. (CIT): Free Stock Analysis Report Euronet Worldwide, Inc. (EEFT): Free Stock Analysis Report Houlihan Lokey, Inc. (HLI): Free Stock Analysis Report XP Inc. (XP): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 22nd, 2021

HCA Healthcare (HCA) to Build New Hospitals in Florida

HCA Healthcare (HCA) to establish further dominance in the Florida region with new acute care facilities. HCA Healthcare, Inc. HCA recently announced its plans to penetrate deeper in Florida by building three new acute care hospitals. The construction is anticipated to begin next year. However, further details of the move were kept under wraps.Rationale Behind the DealThis move was taken by the leading hospital player to meet the evolving need for medical services in the region. The new hospitals consist of a 90-bed acute care facility in Gainesville, a 60-bed hospital near The Villages and a 100-bed acute care hospital in Fort Myers.The recent growth in population in the state is another reason for this major move. This strategy is part of HCA’s commitment to expanding its reach in Florida with a $3-billion investment. The plan includes the recently opened $360-million worth HCA Florida University Hospital.HCA already has a significant presence in the state, evident from its network of 47 hospitals and 400 affiliated sites, which includes physician practices and freestanding emergency rooms.Patients will be able to gain from HCA’s expertise in providing enriched healthcare services.The leading hospital industry player has been making efforts to extend its reach of late. In September, HCA forged an alliance with Steward Health Care whereby the former will acquire the operations of the latter’s five Utah hospitals. HCA also closed the Brookdale Home Health and Hospice transaction. In the second quarter, HCA completed the Meadows Regional Hospital buyout in Vidalia, GA.All these initiatives have helped HCA enhance its capabilities over the years and create a solid portfolio.HCA currently comprises 183 hospitals and around 2000 ambulatory sites of care, including surgery centers, freestanding ERs, urgent care centers and physician clinics in 20 states and the United Kingdom.Shares of the currently Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) player have gained 47.2% in a year’s time, outperforming its industry’s increase of 29.4%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOther hospital companies taking several measures to boost their presence are Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc. ACHC, Tenet Healthcare Corporation THC and Universal Health Services, Inc. UHS.Acadia Healthcare provides behavioral health care services in the United States and the United Kingdom. The hospital player remains actively engaged with its acquisition pipeline and expects the buyout and joint venture activity to be heavily aligned with acute facilities in the United States.  ACHC plans to add 11 CTCs this year and six to 10 CTCs each year from 2022 to 2025.Tenet Healthcare is an investor-owned health care services company, which owns and operates general hospitals and related health care facilities for urban and rural communities in numerous states. THC closed its buyout of a portfolio of 45 ambulatory surgical centers from SurgCenter Development for a value of $1.1 billion in December 2020. THC also entered into an agreement with Compass Surgical Partners to acquire their interest and management responsibilities in nine ASCs. THC is penetrating further in North Carolina.Universal Health Services owns and operates (through its subsidiaries) acute care hospitals, behavioral health centers, surgical hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and radiation oncology centers. UHS instated 439 beds at its acute care and behavioral health hospitals. Also, over the years, acquisitions have played a key role in building UHS’s growth trajectory.In the last three years, Universal Health spent more than $170 million on acquiring businesses and properties. This year, UHS acquired 88 beds through the acquisition of the Las Vegas specialty hospital and a LEED Medical Center micro-hospital.In the past year, shares of both Acadia Healthcare and Tenet Healthcare have gained 35.4% and 126.9% each while the stock of Universal Health Services has lost 7.9%. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Universal Health Services, Inc. (UHS): Free Stock Analysis Report Tenet Healthcare Corporation (THC): Free Stock Analysis Report HCA Healthcare, Inc. (HCA): Free Stock Analysis Report Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc. (ACHC): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 3rd, 2021

MoneyGram (MGI) Boosts Middle East Network With urpay Deal

MoneyGram's (MGI) partnership with urpay is expected to come online in the beginning of the next year. MoneyGram International, Inc. MGI recently announced that it is expanding its cross-border money transfer business by joining forces with Saudi Arabia's urpay. The move is expected to boost MoneyGram’s presence in the Middle East region.Users of urpay, a digital wallet from financial global digital solutions company neoleap, based in Saudi Arabia, will be able to utilize MoneyGram’s massive network to send money. The deal brings in millions of urpay users under MoneyGram’s radar, thus boosting its international exposure. The partnership is anticipated to come online in the beginning of the next year.The latest deal marks another win for MoneyGram’s API-driven infrastructure and worldwide network. Through this partnership, MGI, a leader in digital peer-to-peer payment evolution, is expected to capitalize on a massive remittance services market in the Middle East. More new deals in neighbouring countries can be expected from the company in the near future, further boosting its footprint in Asia. This positions the company for long-term growth.MoneyGram’s total received digital transactions though the MoneyGram platform hit an all-time high in third quarter 2021, reflecting growth of 63% from the prior-year period. The latest deal with urpay is likely to stimulate the growth momentum. Given the stiff competition prevalent in the U.S market, the company’s focus on diversifying its revenue mix geographically to align with the global remittance market growth rate bodes well. Last month, it announced that it is expanding its mobile wallet network in Asia by joining forces with Bangladesh's mobile financial service provider, bKash. The deal was expected to bring in more than 55 million bKash users under MoneyGram’s radar.CompetitionMoneyGram is facing steep competition from peers like The Western Union Company WU, which joined forces with Cebuana Lhuillier in a bid to expand digital money transfer services across the Philippines, early-September. Western Union is rapidly investing in its digital platform to stay ahead in the fast-changing remittance market. The company anticipates constant currency revenue growth of around 3-4% for 2021 against a 3% decline in 2020. WU expects the operating margin to remain at 21.5% for this year, compared with 20.8% in 2020.The remittance space is witnessing movements from fintech players like PayPal Holdings, Inc. PYPL. PayPal offers domestic and international person-to-person payment facilities with the help of PayPal and Xoom products. The company continues to gain solid traction in the global online payment market. In the Asia-Pacific region, PYPL is expanding its presence via its growing operations in Australia, Philippines and other countries. It enables customers to send payments in more than 200 markets globally. For 2021, PayPal anticipates revenues between $25.3 billion and $25.4 billion, indicating growth of 18% at current spot rates and 17% on a currency-neutral basis. Net new active accounts are expected to be 55 million in 2021.Price PerformanceMoneyGram’s shares have risen 17.7% in the past month against the 7.5% decline of the industry.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchZacks Rank & Another Key PickMoneyGram currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). Another top-ranked player in the Finance space include Alerus Financial Corporation ALRS, which sports a Zacks Rank #1. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Based in Grand Forks, ND, Alerus Financial provides numerous financial services to clients. Its financial strength is reflected by massive total assets of $3.2 billion at the third quarter-end, which increased 5.4% for the first nine months of 2021. Rising investment securities are likely to keep boosting the company’s asset position in the coming quarters.Alerus Financial’s bottom line for 2021 is expected to jump 11.5% year over year to $2.81 per share. It has witnessed three upward estimate revisions in the past 60 days and no movement in the opposite direction. ALRS beat earnings estimates thrice in the past four quarters and missed once, the average surprise being 23.6%. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report MoneyGram International Inc. (MGI): Free Stock Analysis Report The Western Union Company (WU): Free Stock Analysis Report PayPal Holdings, Inc. (PYPL): Free Stock Analysis Report Alerus Financial (ALRS): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 3rd, 2021

Scotts (SMG) Down 14.8% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Rebound?

Scotts (SMG) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues. It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG). Shares have lost about 14.8% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Scotts due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts. Scotts Miracle-Gro Beats Q4 Earnings & Sales EstimatesScotts Miracle-Gro reported loss from continuing operations of $48.7 million or 87 cents per share in fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 (ended Sep 30, 2021) compared with a profit of $4.2 million or 7 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.Barring one-time items, adjusted loss was 82 cents per share against an earnings of 6 cents a year ago. The figure was narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 85 cents.Net sales went down 17.1% year over year to $737.8 million and beat the consensus mark of $673.8 million.Company-wide gross margin rate (as adjusted) was 17.4% compared with 24.3% in the year-ago quarter.Segment DetailsIn the fourth quarter, net sales in the U.S. Consumer division declined 28% year over year to $369.4 million. The segment reported a loss of $18.9 million against a profit of $46 million in the prior-year quarter. Net sales in the Hawthorne segment declined 2% year over year to $329.1 million in the reported quarter. The segment’s profits declined 20% year over year to $30.1 million.Net sales in the Other segment fell 5% year over year to $39.3 million. The segment reported a loss of $2.4 million, narrower than a loss of $3.2 million a year ago in the year-ago quarter.FY21 ResultsEarnings (as reported) for fiscal 2021 were $9.03 per share compared with $6.78 per share a year ago. Net sales increased around 19% to roughly $4.93 billion.Balance SheetAt the end of the fourth quarter, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $244.1 million, up nearly 15-fold year over year. Long-term debt was $2,236.7 million, up 53.7% year over year.OutlookThe company expects sales in the Hawthorne segment for fiscal 2022 to rise 8-12%. U.S. Consumer sales growth guidance is expected to be 0 to -4%. It expects company-wide sales growth of 0-3%.The gross margin rate is projected to decline 100-150 basis points (bps) year over year. The company also expects adjusted earnings per share in the range of $8.50-$8.90 for the full year.The company noted that the current oversupply of cannabis is expected to put negative pressure on its growth rate through the rest of the calendar year and into the second quarter at Hawthorne, at which point it expects a more normal growth rate.How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in estimates review. The consensus estimate has shifted -20% due to these changes.VGM ScoresAt this time, Scotts has a great Growth Score of A, a grade with the same score on the momentum front. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of A on the value side, putting it in the top 20% for this investment strategy.Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of A. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.OutlookEstimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions indicates a downward shift. Notably, Scotts has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months. Zacks' Top Picks to Cash in on Artificial Intelligence In 2021, this world-changing technology is projected to generate $327.5 billion in revenue. Now Shark Tank star and billionaire investor Mark Cuban says AI will create "the world's first trillionaires." Zacks' urgent special report reveals 3 AI picks investors need to know about today.See 3 Artificial Intelligence Stocks With Extreme Upside Potential>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report The Scotts MiracleGro Company (SMG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 3rd, 2021

China Creates New State-Owned Mining Giant To Tighten Control Of Rare Earth Supplies

China Creates New State-Owned Mining Giant To Tighten Control Of Rare Earth Supplies Now that aggressive foreign policy toward China has attracted bipartisan consensus, evidenced by the fact that President Biden has opted to keep certain tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration in place, Beijing is looking for new ways to squeeze Washington. For years now, we have been warning about the risk of China cutting off supplies of 17 rare earth metals critical for the production of tech gadgets. Earlier this year, we reported that Beijing was keeping a rare-earth export ban in its "back pocket". Now, it appears the CCP is moving to tighten state control over rare earth production so that they might more easily control who gets the metals. Whereas rare earth metals were previously mined by six major Chinese firms, the CCP is merging assets from several state-owned firms to create China Rare Earth Group. The new mining giant will be based in resource-rich Jiangxi Province; it's expected to allow Beijing more leverage over the supply, and by extension, the price, of these incredibly valuable commodities that are essential for the production of chips and other components used in high-tech products from computers to weapons systems. China is believed to control up to 90% of global supplies of rare earth metals. Only a small number of rare earth mining operations exist outside China. As for where the rest are mined, the chart below offers some insight. Some say China's control over the global market for rare earths is diminishing, but the truth is this is only slightly true. You will find more infographics at Statista Washington has long worried that Beijing might use its control over rare earth supplies toward "strategic ends", and WSJ reports that the this latest push to consolidate the industry comes at a time of "increased sensitivity" toward the West. Beijing has also cited environmental concerns, since opening new mines can irradiate entire neighborhoods. The US has taken some steps to encourage more rare earth production in Australia, a staunch ally that has also recently curried Beijing's wrath. Back in February, the US Defense Department signed a technology investment agreement with Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths which the Pentagon called "the largest rare earth element mining and processing company outside of China." According to the terms of the deal, Lynas will establish a light rare-earth processing facility in Texas. President Biden has also issued an executive order naming rare-earth minerals as one of four key areas in need of more robust policy options to reduce supply-chain risks. A visit in 2019 to a rare earth refinery by President Xi was seen by many as a sign that rare earth miners had finally "arrived", to use vague economic parlance. Beijing has been coy about its plans. 'China has no intention to use rare earths as a countermeasure against any country,' the state-run Global Times wrote earlier this year, However, it added that this remains an option when "foreign companies hurt China’s interests." Tyler Durden Fri, 12/03/2021 - 12:16.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 3rd, 2021

Biden"s top diplomat says Russia is trying to "destabilize Ukraine from within" as Ukraine"s president warns of an impending coup

"We've seen this playbook before, in 2014 when Russia last invaded Ukraine," Blinken warned, as Russia ramps up its troop presence along Ukraine's borders. Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir SmirnovbackslashTASS via Getty Images Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Russia is trying to "destabilize Ukraine from within." Russia has amassed thousands of troops along Ukraine's border, prompting fears of an invasion. Blinken said it's unclear if Putin will invade, but Russia could do so in "short order" if it wants to. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday warned that there's "evidence" Russia is moving to "destabilize Ukraine from within."The statement came days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr said authorities had uncovered a coup plot involving Russians who were reportedly recorded discussing how to get a Ukrainian tycoon to back the coup."I received information that a coup d'etat will take place in our country on Dec. 1-2," Zelensky said, adding that Russia was projecting "very dangerous" signals with its military operations along the Russia-Ukraine border."There is a threat today that there will be war tomorrow," Zelensky said. "We are entirely prepared for an escalation."Blinken on Wednesday said the US is "deeply concerned by evidence that Russia has made plans for significant, aggressive moves against Ukraine.""The plans include efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within, as well as large-scale military operations," he added at the press conference in Latvia, where NATO foreign ministers met this week to discuss security concerns, with Russia topping the list."We've seen this playbook before — in 2014 when Russia last invaded Ukraine. Then, as now, they significantly increased combat forces near the border," Blinken said. "Then, as now, they intensified disinformation to paint Ukraine as the aggressor to justified preplanned military action."Blinken said in recent weeks there's also been a "massive spike ... in social media activity pushing anti-Ukrainian propaganda, approaching levels last seen in the lead-up to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014."The top US diplomat's comments came as Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops along Ukraine's border, sparking fears of an invasion. Ukraine has said there are roughly 90,000 Russian troops on its border. It's not the first time this year that Russia has gathered a sizeable force on the border with its next-door neighbor, and Blinken said it's unclear what Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to do next. "We don't know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade," Blinken said, adding, "We do know that he's putting in place the capacity to do so on short order, should he so decide."Blinken said the West needs to plan for all contingencies, and the US and NATO have warned Russia that there will be severe consequences if Russia takes any military actions against Ukraine.Putin, meanwhile, has blamed NATO for rising tensions and warned the alliance against crossing his "red lines" in Ukraine.The Kremlin views NATO's increasing influence in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, as a major security threat. And Russia has complained about NATO and US military activities in the Black Sea and broader region. Putin also said on Tuesday that if NATO moves troops or advanced weapons into Ukraine, Russia will respond."If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be seven to 10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed," Putin said.His comments are the latest provocation following years of aggressive posturing over Ukraine. The conflict escalated to new heights in 2014, when Russia annexed the territory of Crimea in southern Ukraine.Following the ouster that year of Ukraine's pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, amid widespread protests, Moscow waged an all-out hybrid war in Ukraine from 2014 to 2016 that consisted of increased military action, proxy warfare, and disinformation campaigns aimed at destabilizing Ukraine's fledgling democratic government.Since 2014, Ukrainian troops have also been fighting against Kremlin-backed rebels in eastern Donbass. Russia has denied any involvement in the conflict, which has claimed over 13,000 lives. Over the course of the war, the US has provided more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.Russia has stepped up its disinformation campaigns in Ukraine in recent years as well, portraying the country as a "fascist junta" overrun by anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and racism."What we know about the Russians is that it's part of their M.O. and they sow chaos wherever they can," one cybersecurity expert previously told Insider.Putin has also sought to weaken Ukraine's standing on the international stage by, among other things, blaming it for interfering in the 2016 and 2020 US elections — an effort that the US concluded was ordered and carried out by the Kremlin and Russian intelligence agencies in order to propel Donald Trump to the Oval Office.Ukraine is not a NATO member, though it does maintain a strong partnership with the alliance and its members have provided security resources to the country. NATO does not have any troops permanently based in Ukraine, and has not moved any advanced missiles into its territory. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 1st, 2021

Futures Surge After Powell-Driven Rout Proves To Be "Transitory"

Futures Surge After Powell-Driven Rout Proves To Be "Transitory" Heading into yesterday's painful close to one of the ugliest months since March 2020, which saw a huge forced liquidation rebalance with more than $8 billion in Market on Close orders, we said that while we are seeing "forced selling dump into the close today" this would be followed by "forced Dec 1 buying frontrunning after the close." Forced selling dump into the close today. Forced Dec 1 buying frontrunning after the close — zerohedge (@zerohedge) November 30, 2021 And just as expected, despite yesterday's dramatic hawkish pivot by Powell, who said it was time to retire the word transitory in describing the inflation outlook (the same word the Fed used hundreds of times earlier in 2021 sparking relentless mockery from this website for being clueless as usual) while also saying the U.S. central bank would consider bringing forward plans for tapering its bond buying program at its next meeting in two weeks, the frontrunning of new monthly inflows is in full force with S&P futures rising over 1.2%, Nasdaq futures up 1.3%, and Dow futures up 0.9%, recovering almost all of Tuesday’s decline. The seemingly 'hawkish' comments served as a double whammy for markets, which were already nervous about the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and its potential to hinder a global economic recovery. "At this point, COVID does not appear to be the biggest long-term Street fear, although it could have the largest impact if the new (or next) variant turns out to be worse than expected," Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst for S&P and Dow Jones indices, said in a note. "That honor goes to inflation, which continues to be fed by supply shortages, labor costs, worker shortages, as well as consumers, who have not pulled back." However, new month fund flows proved too powerful to sustain yesterday's month-end dump and with futures rising - and panic receding - safe havens were sold and the 10-year Treasury yield jumped almost 6bps, approaching 1.50%. The gap between yields on 5-year and 30-year Treasuries was around the narrowest since March last year. Crude oil and commodity-linked currencies rebounded. Gold remained just under $1,800 and bitcoin traded just over $57,000. There was more good news on the covid front with a WHO official saying some of the early indications are that most Omicron cases are mild with no severe cases. Separately Merck gained 3.8% in premarket trade after a panel of advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration narrowly voted to recommend the agency authorize the drugmaker's antiviral pill to treat COVID-19. Travel and leisure stocks also rebounded, with cruiseliners Norwegian, Carnival, Royal Caribbean rising more than 2.5% each. Easing of covid fears also pushed airlines and travel stocks higher in premarket trading: Southwest +2.9%, Delta +2.5%, Spirit +2.3%, American +2.2%, United +1.9%, JetBlue +1.3%. Vaccine makers traded modestly lower in pre-market trading after soaring in recent days as Wall Street weighs the widening spread of the omicron variant. Merck & Co. bucked the trend after its Covid-19 pill narrowly gained a key recommendation from advisers to U.S. regulators. Moderna slips 2.1%, BioNTech dips 1.3% and Pfizer is down 0.2%. Elsewhere, Occidental Petroleum led gains among the energy stocks, up 3.2% as oil prices climbed over 4% ahead of OPEC's meeting. Shares of major Wall Street lenders also moved higher after steep falls on Tuesday. Here are some of the other biggest U.S. movers today: Salesforce (CRM US) drops 5.9% in premarket trading after results and guidance missed estimates, with analysts highlighting currency-related headwinds and plateauing growth at the MuleSoft integration software business. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE US) falls 1.3% in premarket after the computer equipment maker’s quarterly results showed the impact of the global supply chain crunch. Analysts noted solid order trends. Merck (MRK US) shares rise 5.8% in premarket after the company’s Covid-19 pill narrowly wins backing from FDA advisers, which analysts say is a sign of progress despite lingering challenges. Chinese electric vehicle makers were higher in premarket, leading U.S. peers up, after Nio, Li and XPeng reported strong deliveries for November; Nio (NIO US) +4%, Li (LI US ) +6%, XPeng (XPEV US) +4.3%. Ardelyx (ARDX US) shares gain as much as 34% in premarket, extending the biotech’s bounce after announcing plans to launch its irritable bowel syndrome treatment Ibsrela in the second quarter. CTI BioPharma (CTIC US) shares sink 18% in premarket after the company said the FDA extended the review period for a new drug application for pacritinib. Allbirds (BIRD US) fell 7.5% postmarket after the low end of the shoe retailer’s 2021 revenue forecast missed the average analyst estimate. Zscaler (ZS US) posted “yet another impressive quarter,” according to BMO. Several analysts increased their price targets for the security software company. Shares rose 4.6% in postmarket. Ambarella (AMBA US) rose 14% in postmarket after forecasting revenue for the fourth quarter that beat the average analyst estimate. Emcore (EMKR US) fell 9% postmarket after the aerospace and communications supplier reported fiscal fourth-quarter Ebitda that missed the average analyst estimate. Box (BOX US) shares gained as much as 10% in postmarket trading after the cloud company raised its revenue forecast for the full year. Meanwhile, the omicron variant continues to spread around the globe, though symptoms so far appear to be relatively mild. The Biden administration plans to tighten rules on travel to the U.S., and Japan said it would bar foreign residents returning from 10 southern African nations. As Bloomberg notes, volatility is buffeting markets as investors scrutinize whether the pandemic recovery can weather diminishing monetary policy support and potential risks from the omicron virus variant. Global manufacturing activity stabilized last month, purchasing managers’ gauges showed Wednesday, and while central banks are scaling back ultra-loose settings, financial conditions remain favorable in key economies. “The reality is hotter inflation coupled with a strong economic backdrop could end the Fed’s bond buying program as early as the first quarter of next year,” Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management, said in emailed comments. “With potential changes in policy on the horizon, market participants should expect additional market volatility in this uncharted territory.” Looking ahead, Powell is back on the Hill for day 2, and is due to testify before a House Financial Services Committee hybrid hearing at 10 a.m. ET. On the economic data front, November readings on U.S. private payrolls and manufacturing activity will be closely watched later in the day to gauge the health of the American economy. Investors are also awaiting the Fed's latest "Beige Book" due at 2:00 p.m. ET. On the economic data front, November readings on U.S. private payrolls and manufacturing activity will be closely watched later in the day to gauge the health of the American economy. European equities soared more than 1.2%, with travel stocks and carmakers leading broad-based gain in the Stoxx Europe 600 index, all but wiping out Tuesday’s decline that capped only the third monthly loss for the benchmark this year.  Travel, miners and autos are the strongest sectors. Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Proximus shares rise as much as 6.5% after the company said it’s started preliminary talks regarding a potential deal involving TeleSign, with a SPAC merger among options under consideration. Dr. Martens gains as much as 4.6% to the highest since Sept. 8 after being upgraded to overweight from equal- weight at Barclays, which says the stock’s de-rating is overdone. Husqvarna advances as much as 5.3% after the company upgraded financial targets ahead of its capital markets day, including raising the profit margin target to 13% from 10%. Wizz Air, Lufthansa and other travel shares were among the biggest gainers as the sector rebounded after Tuesday’s losses; at a conference Wizz Air’s CEO reiterated expansion plans. Wizz Air gains as much as 7.5%, Lufthansa as much as 6.8% Elis, Accor and other stocks in the French travel and hospitality sector also rise after the country’s government pledged to support an industry that’s starting to get hit by the latest Covid-19 wave. Pendragon climbs as much as 6.5% after the car dealer boosted its outlook after the company said a supply crunch in the new vehicle market wasn’t as bad as it had anticipated. UniCredit rises as much as 3.6%, outperforming the Stoxx 600 Banks Index, after Deutsche Bank added the stock to its “top picks” list alongside UBS, and Bank of Ireland, Erste, Lloyds and Societe Generale. Earlier in the session, Asian stocks also soared, snapping a three-day losing streak, led by energy and technology shares, as traders assessed the potential impact from the omicron coronavirus variant and U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish pivot. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose as much as 1.3% Wednesday. South Korea led regional gains after reporting strong export figures, which bolsters growth prospects despite record domestic Covid-19 cases. Hong Kong stocks also bounced back after falling Tuesday to their lowest level since September 2020. Asia’s stock benchmark rebounded from a one-year low, though sentiment remained clouded by lingering concerns on the omicron strain and Fed’s potentially faster tapering pace. Powell earlier hinted that the U.S. central bank will accelerate its asset purchases at its meeting later this month.  “A faster taper in the U.S. is still dependent on omicron not causing a big setback to the outlook in the next few weeks,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital, adding that he expects the Fed’s policy rate “will still be low through next year, which should still enable good global growth which will benefit Asia.” Chinese equities edged up after the latest economic data showed manufacturing activity remained at relatively weak levels in November, missing economists’ expectations. Earlier, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said he’s fully confident in the nation’s economic growth in 2022 Japanese stocks rose, overcoming early volatility as traders parsed hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Electronics and auto makers were the biggest boosts to the Topix, which closed 0.4% higher after swinging between a gain of 0.9% and loss of 0.7% in the morning session. Daikin and Fanuc were the largest contributors to a 0.4% rise in the Nikkei 225, which similarly fluctuated. The Topix had dropped 4.8% over the previous three sessions due to concerns over the omicron virus variant. The benchmark fell 3.6% in November, its worst month since July 2020. “The market’s tolerance to risk is quite low at the moment, with people responding in a big way to the smallest bit of negative news,” said Tomo Kinoshita, a global market strategist at Invesco Asset Management in Tokyo. “But the decline in Japanese equities was far worse than those of other developed markets, so today’s market may find a bit of calm.” U.S. shares tumbled Tuesday after Powell said officials should weigh removing pandemic support at a faster pace and retired the word “transitory” to describe stubbornly high inflation In rates, bonds trade heavy, as yield curves bear-flatten. Treasuries extended declines with belly of the curve cheapening vs wings as traders continue to price in additional rate-hike premium over the next two years. Treasury yields were cheaper by up to 5bp across belly of the curve, cheapening 2s5s30s spread by ~5.5bp on the day; 10-year yields around 1.48%, cheaper by ~4bp, while gilts lag by additional 2bp in the sector. The short-end of the gilt curve markedly underperforms bunds and Treasuries with 2y yields rising ~11bps near 0.568%. Peripheral spreads widen with belly of the Italian curve lagging. The flattening Treasury yield curve “doesn’t suggest imminent doom for the equity market in and of itself,” Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab & Co., said on Bloomberg Television. “Alarm bells go off in terms of recession” when the curve gets closer to inverting, she said. In FX, the Turkish lira had a wild session, offered in early London trade before fading. USD/TRY dropped sharply to lows of 12.4267 on reports of central bank FX intervention due to “unhealthy price formations” before, once again, fading TRY strength after comments from Erdogan. The rest of G-10 FX is choppy; commodity currencies retain Asia’s bid tone, havens are sold: the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index inched lower, as the greenback traded mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers. The euro moved in a narrow range and Bund yields followed U.S. yields higher. The pound advanced as risk sentiment stabilized with focus still on news about the omicron variant. The U.K. 10-, 30-year curve flirted with inversion as gilts flattened, with money markets betting on 10bps of BOE tightening this month for the first time since Friday. The Australian and New Zealand dollars advanced as rising commodity prices fuel demand from exporters and leveraged funds. Better-than-expected growth data also aided the Aussie, with GDP expanding by 3.9% in the third quarter from a year earlier, beating the 3% estimated by economists. Austrian lawmakers extended a nationwide lockdown for a second 10-day period to suppress the latest wave of coronavirus infections before the Christmas holiday period.  The yen declined by the most among the Group-of-10 currencies as Powell’s comments renewed focus on yield differentials. 10-year yields rose ahead of Thursday’s debt auction In commodities, crude futures rally. WTI adds over 4% to trade on a $69-handle, Brent recovers near $72.40 after Goldman said overnight that oil had gotten extremely oversold. Spot gold fades a pop higher to trade near $1,785/oz. Base metals trade well with LME copper and nickel outperforming. Looking at the day ahead, once again we’ll have Fed Chair Powell and Treasury Secretary Yellen appearing, this time before the House Financial Services Committee. In addition to that, the Fed will be releasing their Beige Book, and BoE Governor Bailey is also speaking. On the data front, the main release will be the manufacturing PMIs from around the world, but there’s also the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November in the US, the ISM manufacturing reading in the US as well for November, and German retail sales for October. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 1.2% to 4,620.75 STOXX Europe 600 up 1.0% to 467.58 MXAP up 0.9% to 191.52 MXAPJ up 1.1% to 626.09 Nikkei up 0.4% to 27,935.62 Topix up 0.4% to 1,936.74 Hang Seng Index up 0.8% to 23,658.92 Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 3,576.89 Sensex up 1.0% to 57,656.51 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.3% to 7,235.85 Kospi up 2.1% to 2,899.72 Brent Futures up 4.2% to $72.15/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $1,778.93 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 95.98 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro down 0.1% to $1.1326 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday, the first direct contact between officials of the two countries in weeks as tensions grow amid western fears Russia may be planning to invade Ukraine Oil rebounded from a sharp drop on speculation that recent deep losses were excessive and OPEC+ may on Thursday decide to pause hikes in production, with the abrupt reversal fanning already- elevated volatility The EU is set to recommend that member states review essential travel restrictions on a daily basis in the wake of the omicron variant, according to a draft EU document seen by Bloomberg China is planning to ban companies from going public on foreign stock markets through variable interest entities, according to people familiar with the matter, closing a loophole long used by the country’s technology industry to raise capital from overseas investors Manufacturing activity in Asia outside China stabilized last month amid easing lockdown and border restrictions, setting the sector on course to face a possible new challenge from the omicron variant of the coronavirus Germany urgently needs stricter measures to check a surge in Covid-19 infections and protect hospitals from a “particularly dangerous situation,” according to the head of the country’s DIVI intensive-care medicine lobby. A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets traded mostly positive as regional bourses atoned for the prior day’s losses that were triggered by Omicron concerns, but with some of the momentum tempered by recent comments from Fed Chair Powell and mixed data releases including the miss on Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI. ASX 200 (-0.3%) was led lower by underperformance in consumer stocks and with utilities also pressured as reports noted that Shell and Telstra’s entrance in the domestic electricity market is set to ignite fierce competition and force existing players to overhaul their operations, although the losses in the index were cushioned following the latest GDP data which showed a narrower than feared quarterly contraction in Australia’s economy. Nikkei 225 (+0.4%) was on the mend after yesterday’s sell-off with the index helped by favourable currency flows and following a jump in company profits for Q3, while the KOSPI (+2.1%) was also boosted by strong trade data. Hang Seng (+0.8%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) were somewhat varied as a tech resurgence in Hong Kong overcompensated for the continued weakness in casinos stocks amid ongoing SunCity woes which closed all VIP gaming rooms in Macau after its Chairman's recent arrest, while the mood in the mainland was more reserved after a PBoC liquidity drain and disappointing Chinese Caixin Manufacturing PMI data which fell short of estimates and slipped back into contraction territory. Finally, 10yr JGBs were lower amid the gains in Japanese stocks and after the pullback in global fixed income peers in the aftermath of Fed Chair Powell’s hawkish comments, while a lack of BoJ purchases further contributed to the subdued demand for JGBs. Top Asian News Asia Stocks Bounce Back from One-Year Low Despite Looming Risks Gold Swings on Omicron’s Widening Spread, Inflation Worries Shell Sees Hedge Funds Moving to LNG, Supporting Higher Prices Abe Warns China Invading Taiwan Would Be ‘Economic Suicide’ Bourses in Europe are firmer across the board (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.6%; Stoxx 600 +1.1%) as the positive APAC sentiment reverberated into European markets. US equity futures are also on the front foot with the cyclical RTY (+2.0%) outpacing its peers: ES (+1.2%), NQ (+1.5%), YM (+0.8%). COVID remains a central theme for the time being as the Omicron variant is observed for any effects of concern – which thus far have not been reported. Analysts at UBS expect market focus to shift away from the variant and more towards growth and earnings. The analysts expect Omicron to fuse into the ongoing Delta outbreak that economies have already been tackling. Under this scenario, the desk expects some of the more cyclical markets and sectors to outperform. The desk also flags two tails risks, including an evasive variant and central bank tightening – particularly after Fed chair Powell’s commentary yesterday. Meanwhile, BofA looks for an over-10% fall in European stocks next year. Sticking with macro updates, the OECD, in their latest economic outlook, cut US, China, Eurozone growth forecasts for 2021 and 2022, with Omicron cited as a factor. Back to trade, broad-based gains are seen across European cash markets. Sectors hold a clear cyclical bias which consists of Travel & Leisure, Basic Resources, Autos, Retail and Oil & Gas as the top performers – with the former bolstered by the seemingly low appetite for coordination on restrictions and measures at an EU level – Deutsche Lufthansa (+6%) and IAG (+5.1%) now reside at the top of the Stoxx 600. The other side of the spectrum sees the defensive sectors – with Healthcare, Household Goods, Food & Beverages as the straddlers. In terms of induvial movers, German-listed Adler Group (+22%) following a divestment, whilst Blue Prism (+1.7%) is firmer after SS&C raised its offer for the Co. Top European News Wizz Says Travelers Are Booking at Shorter and Shorter Notice Turkey Central Bank Intervenes in FX Markets to Stabilize Lira Gold Swings on Omicron’s Widening Spread, Inflation Worries Former ABG Sundal Collier Partner Starts Advisory Firm In FX, the Dollar remains mixed against majors, but well off highs prompted by Fed chair Powell ditching transitory from the list of adjectives used to describe inflation and flagging that a faster pace of tapering will be on the agenda at December’s FOMC. However, the index is keeping tabs on the 96.000 handle and has retrenched into a tighter 95.774-96.138 range, for the time being, as trade remains very choppy and volatility elevated awaiting clearer medical data and analysis on Omicron to gauge its impact compared to the Delta strain and earlier COVID-19 variants. In the interim, US macro fundamentals might have some bearing, but the bar is high before NFP on Friday unless ADP or ISM really deviate from consensus or outside the forecast range. Instead, Fed chair Powell part II may be more pivotal if he opts to manage hawkish market expectations, while the Beige Book prepared for next month’s policy meeting could also add some additional insight. NZD/AUD/CAD/GBP - Broad risk sentiment continues to swing from side to side, and currently back in favour of the high beta, commodity and cyclical types, so the Kiwi has bounced firmly from worst levels on Tuesday ahead of NZ terms of trade, the Aussie has pared a chunk of its declines with some assistance from a smaller than anticipated GDP contraction and the Loonie is licking wounds alongside WTI in advance of Canadian building permits and Markit’s manufacturing PMI. Similarly, Sterling has regained some poise irrespective of relatively dovish remarks from BoE’s Mann and a slender downward revision to the final UK manufacturing PMI. Nzd/Usd is firmly back above 0.6800, Aud/Usd close to 0.7150 again, Usd/Cad straddling 1.2750 and Cable hovering on the 1.3300 handle compared to circa 0.6772, 0.7063, 1.2837 and 1.3195 respectively at various fairly adjacent stages yesterday. JPY/EUR/CHF - All undermined by the aforementioned latest upturn in risk appetite or less angst about coronavirus contagion, albeit to varying degrees, as the Yen retreats to retest support sub-113.50, Euro treads water above 1.1300 and Franc straddles 0.9200 after firmer than forecast Swiss CPI data vs a dip in the manufacturing PMI. In commodities, WTI and Brent front month futures are recovering following yesterday’s COVID and Powell-induced declines in the run-up to the OPEC meetings later today. The complex has also been underpinned by the reduced prospects of coordinated EU-wide restrictions, as per the abandonment of the COVID video conference between EU leaders. However, OPEC+ will take centre stage over the next couple of days, with a deluge of source reports likely as OPEC tests the waters. The case for OPEC+ to pause the planned monthly relaxation of output curbs by 400k BPD has been strengthening. There have been major supply and demand developments since the prior meeting. The recent emergence of the Omicron COVID variant and coordinated release of oil reserves have shifted the balance of expectations relative to earlier in the month (full Newsquawk preview available in the Research Suite). In terms of the schedule, the OPEC meeting is slated for 13:00GMT/08:00EST followed by the JTC meeting at 15:00GMT/10:00EST, whilst tomorrow sees the JMMC meeting at 12:00GMT/07:00EST; OPEC+ meeting at 13:00GMT/08:00EST. WTI Jan has reclaimed a USD 69/bbl handle (vs USD 66.20/bbl low) while Brent Feb hovers around USD 72.50/bbl (vs low USD 69.38/bbl) at the time of writing. Elsewhere, spot gold and silver trade with modest gains and largely in tandem with the Buck. Spot gold failed to sustain gains above the cluster of DMAs under USD 1,800/oz (100 DMA at USD 1,792/oz, 200 DMA at USD 1,791/oz, and 50 DMA at USD 1,790/oz) – trader should be aware of the potential for a technical Golden Cross (50 DMA > 200 DMA). Turning to base metals, copper is supported by the overall risk appetite, with the LME contract back above USD 9,500/t. Overnight, Chinese coking coal and coke futures rose over 5% apiece, with traders citing disrupted supply from Mongolia amid the COVID outbreak in the region. US Event Calendar 7am: Nov. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior 1.8% 8:15am: Nov. ADP Employment Change, est. 525,000, prior 571,000 9:45am: Nov. Markit US Manufacturing PMI, est. 59.1, prior 59.1 10am: Oct. Construction Spending MoM, est. 0.4%, prior -0.5% 10am: Nov. ISM Manufacturing, est. 61.2, prior 60.8 2pm: U.S. Federal Reserve Releases Beige Book Nov. Wards Total Vehicle Sales, est. 13.4m, prior 13m Central Banks 10am: Powell, Yellen Testify Before House Panel on CARES Act Relief DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap If you’re under 10 and reading this there’s a spoiler alert today in this first para so please skip beyond and onto the second. Yes my heart broke a little last night as my little 6-year old Maisie said to me at bedtime that “Santa isn’t real is he Daddy?”. I lied (I think it’s a lie) and said yes he was. I made up an elaborate story about how when we renovated our 100 year old house we deliberately kept the chimney purely to let Santa come down it once a year. Otherwise why would we have kept it? She then asked what about her friend who lives in a flat? I tried to bluff my way through it but maybe my answer sounded a bit like my answers as to what will happen with Omicron. I’ll test both out on clients later to see which is more convincing. Before we get to the latest on the virus, given it’s the start of the month, we’ll shortly be publishing our November performance review looking at how different assets fared over the month just gone and YTD. It arrived late on but Omicron was obviously the dominant story and led to some of the biggest swings of the year so far. It meant that oil (which is still the top performer on a YTD basis) was the worst performer in our monthly sample, with WTI and Brent seeing their worst monthly performances since the initial wave of market turmoil over Covid back in March 2020. And at the other end, sovereign bonds outperformed in November as Omicron’s emergence saw investors push back the likelihood of imminent rate hikes from central banks. So what was shaping up to be a good month for risk and a bad one for bonds flipped around in injury time. Watch out for the report soon from Henry. Back to yesterday now, and frankly the main takeaway was that markets were desperate for any piece of news they could get their hands on about the Omicron variant, particularly given the lack of proper hard data at the moment. The morning started with a sharp selloff as we discussed at the top yesterday, as some of the more optimistic noises from Monday were outweighed by that FT interview, whereby Moderna’s chief executive had said that the existing vaccines wouldn’t be as effective against the new variant. Then we had some further negative news from Regeneron, who said that analysis and modelling of the Omicron mutations indicated that its antibody drug may not be as effective, but that they were doing further analysis to confirm this. However, we later got some comments from a University of Oxford spokesperson, who said that there wasn’t any evidence so far that vaccinations wouldn’t provide high levels of protection against severe disease, which coincided with a shift in sentiment early in the European afternoon as equities begun to pare back their losses. The CEO of BioNTech and the Israeli health minister expressed similar sentiments, noting that vaccines were still likely to protect against severe disease even among those infected by Omicron, joining other officials encouraging people to get vaccinated or get booster shots. Another reassuring sign came in an update from the EU’s ECDC yesterday, who said that all of the 44 confirmed cases where information was available on severity “were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.” After the close, the FDA endorsed Merck’s antiviral Covid pill. While it’s not clear how the pill interacts with Omicron, the proliferation of more Covid treatments is still good news as we head into another winter. The other big piece of news came from Fed Chair Powell’s testimony to the Senate Banking Committee, where the main headline was his tapering comment that “It is appropriate to consider wrapping up a few months sooner.” So that would indicate an acceleration in the pace, which would be consistent with the view from our US economists that we’ll see a doubling in the pace of reductions at the December meeting that’s only two weeks from today. The Fed Chair made a forceful case for a faster taper despite lingering Omicron uncertainties, noting inflation is likely to stay elevated, the labour market has improved without a commensurate increase in labour supply (those sidelined because of Covid are likely to stay there), spending has remained strong, and that tapering was a removal of accommodation (which the economy doesn’t need more of given the first three points). Powell took pains to stress the risk of higher inflation, going so far as to ‘retire’ the use of the term ‘transitory’ when describing the current inflation outlook. So team transitory have seemingly had the pitch taken away from them mid match. The Chair left an exit clause that this outlook would be informed by incoming inflation, employment, and Omicron data before the December FOMC meeting. A faster taper ostensibly opens the door to earlier rate hikes and Powell’s comment led to a sharp move higher in shorter-dated Treasury yields, with the 2yr yield up +8.1bps on the day, having actually been more than -4bps lower when Powell began speaking. They were as low as 0.44% then and got as high as 0.57% before closing at 0.56%. 2yr yields have taken another leg higher overnight, increasing +2.5bps to 0.592%. Long-end yields moved lower though and failed to back up the early day moves even after Powell, leading to a major flattening in the yield curve on the back of those remarks, with the 2s10s down -13.7bps to 87.3bps, which is its flattest level since early January. Overnight 10yr yields are back up +3bps but the curve is only a touch steeper. My 2 cents on the yield curve are that the 2s10s continues to be my favourite US recession indicator. It’s worked over more cycles through history than any other. No recession since the early 1950s has occurred without the 2s10s inverting. But it takes on average 12-18 months from inversion to recession. The shortest was the covid recession at around 7 months which clearly doesn’t count but I think we were very late cycle in early 2020 and the probability of recession in the not too distant future was quite high but we will never know.The shortest outside of that was around 9 months. So with the curve still at c.+90bps we are moving in a more worrying direction but I would still say 2023-24 is the very earliest a recession is likely to occur (outside of a unexpected shock) and we’ll need a rapid flattening in 22 to encourage that. History also suggests markets tend to ignore the YC until it’s too late. So I wouldn’t base my market views in 22 on the yield curve and recession signal yet. However its something to look at as the Fed seemingly embarks on a tightening cycle in the months ahead. Onto markets and those remarks from Powell (along with the additional earlier pessimism about Omicron) proved incredibly unhelpful for equities yesterday, with the S&P 500 (-1.90%) giving up the previous day’s gains to close at its lowest level in over a month. It’s hard to overstate how broad-based this decline was, as just 7 companies in the entire S&P moved higher yesterday, which is the lowest number of the entire year so far and the lowest since June 11th, 2020, when 1 company ended in the green. Over in Europe it was much the same story, although they were relatively less affected by Powell’s remarks, and the STOXX 600 (-0.92%) moved lower on the day as well. Overnight in Asia, stocks are trading higher though with the KOSPI (+2.02%), Hang Seng (+1.40%), the Nikkei (+0.37%), Shanghai Composite (+0.11%) and CSI (+0.09%) all in the green. Australia’s Q3 GDP contracted (-1.9% qoq) less than -2.7% consensus while India’s Q3 GDP grew at a firm +8.4% year-on-year beating the +8.3% consensus. In China the Caixin Manufacturing PMI for November came in at 49.9 against a 50.6 consensus. Futures markets are indicating a positive start to markets in US & Europe with the S&P 500 (+0.73%) and DAX (+0.44%) trading higher again. Back in Europe, there was a significant inflation story amidst the other headlines above, since Euro Area inflation rose to its highest level since the creation of the single currency, with the flash estimate for November up to +4.9% (vs. +4.5% expected). That exceeded every economist’s estimate on Bloomberg, and core inflation also surpassed expectations at +2.6% (vs. +2.3% expected), again surpassing the all-time high since the single currency began. That’s only going to add to the pressure on the ECB, and yesterday saw Germany’s incoming Chancellor Scholz say that “we have to do something” if inflation doesn’t ease. European sovereign bonds rallied in spite of the inflation reading, with those on 10yr bunds (-3.1bps), OATs (-3.5bps) and BTPs (-0.9bps) all moving lower. Peripheral spreads widened once again though, and the gap between Italian and German 10yr yields closed at its highest level in just over a year. Meanwhile governments continued to move towards further action as the Omicron variant spreads, and Greece said that vaccinations would be mandatory for everyone over 60 soon, with those refusing having to pay a monthly €100 fine. Separately in Germany, incoming Chancellor Scholz said that there would be a parliamentary vote on the question of compulsory vaccinations, saying to the Bild newspaper in an interview that “My recommendation is that we don’t do this as a government, because it’s an issue of conscience”. In terms of other data yesterday, German unemployment fell by -34k in November (vs. -25k expected). Separately, the November CPI readings from France at +3.4% (vs. +3.2% expected) and Italy at +4.0% (vs. +3.3% expected) surprised to the upside as well. In the US, however, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence measure in November fell to its lowest since February at 109.5 (vs. 110.9 expected), and the MNI Chicago PMI for November fell to 61.8 9vs. 67.0 expected). To the day ahead now, and once again we’ll have Fed Chair Powell and Treasury Secretary Yellen appearing, this time before the House Financial Services Committee. In addition to that, the Fed will be releasing their Beige Book, and BoE Governor Bailey is also speaking. On the data front, the main release will be the manufacturing PMIs from around the world, but there’s also the ADP’s report of private payrolls for November in the US, the ISM manufacturing reading in the US as well for November, and German retail sales for October. Tyler Durden Wed, 12/01/2021 - 07:47.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2021

Escobar: Fauci As Darth Vader Of The COVID Wars

Escobar: Fauci As Darth Vader Of The COVID Wars Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times, Robert F Kennedy Jr’s The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health should be front-page news in all the news media in the US. Instead, it has been met with the proverbial thundering silence. Critics seeking to have Kennedy dismissed as a kook trading on a famous name had scored a hit in February, when Instagram permanently deleted his account, allegedly for making false claims about coronavirus and vaccines. Nevertheless, the book, published only a few days ago, is already a certified pop hit on Amazon. RFK Jr., chairman of the board of and chief legal counsel for Children’s Health Defense, sets out to deconstruct a New Normal, encroaching upon all of us since early 2020. In my early 2021 book Raging Twenties I have termed this force techno-feudalism. Kennedy describes it as “rising totalitarianism,” complete with “mass propaganda and censorship, the orchestrated promotion of terror, the manipulation of science, the suppression of debate, the vilification of dissent and use of force to prevent protest.” Focusing on Dr Anthony Fauci as the fulcrum of the biggest story of the 21st century allows RFK Jr to paint a complex canvas of planned militarization and, especially, monetization of medicine, a toxic process managed by Big Pharma, Big Tech and the military/intel complex – and dutifully promoted by mainstream media. By now everyone knows that the big winners have been Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Tech and Big Data, with a special niche for Silicon Valley behemoths. Why Fauci? RFK Jr. argues that for five decades, he has been essentially a Big Pharma agent, nurturing “a complex web of financial entanglements among pharmaceutical companies and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and its employees that has transformed NIAID into a seamless subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry. Fauci unabashedly promotes his sweetheart relationship with Pharma as a ‘public-private partnership.’” Arguably the full contours of this very convoluted story have never before been examined along these lines, extensively documented and with a wealth of links. Fauci may not be a household name outside of the US and especially across the Global South. And yet it’s this global audience that should be particularly interested in his story. RFK Jr accuses Fauci of having pursued nefarious strategies since the onset of Covid-19 – from falsifying science to suppressing and sabotaging competitive products that bring lower profit margins. Kennedy’s verdict is stark: “Tony Fauci does not do public health; he is a businessman, who has used his office to enrich his pharmaceutical partners and expand the reach of influence that has made him the most powerful – and despotic – doctor in human history.” This is a very serious accusation. It’s up to readers to examine the facts of the case and decide whether Fauci is some kind of medical Dr Strangelove. No Vitamin D? Pride of place goes to the Fauci-privileged modeling that overestimated Covid deaths by 525%, cooked up by fabricator Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College in London, duly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is the model, later debunked, that justified lockdown hysteria all across the planet. Kennedy attributes to Canadian vaccine researcher Dr Jessica Rose the charge that Fauci was at the frontline of erasing the notion of natural immunity even as throughout 2020 the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) admitted that people with healthy immune systems bear minimal risk of dying from Covid. Dr Pierre Kory, president of Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance, was among those who denounced Fauci’s modus operandi of privileging the development of tech vaccines while allowing no space for repurposed medications effective against Covid: “It is absolutely shocking that he recommended no outpatient care, not even Vitamin D.” Clinical cardiologist Peter McCullough and his team of frontline doctors tested prophylactic protocols using, for instance, ivermectin – “we had terrific data from medical teams in Bangladesh” – and added other medications such as azithromycin, zinc, Vitamin D and IV Vitamin C. And all this while across Asia there was widespread use of saline nasal lavages. By July 1, 2020, McCullough and his team submitted their first, ground-breaking protocol to the American Journal of Medicine. It became the most-downloaded paper in the world helping doctors to treat Covid-19. McCullough complained last year that Fauci has never, to date, published anything on how to treat a Covid patient.” He additionally alleged: “Anyone who tries to publish a new treatment protocol will find themselves airtight blocked by the journals that are all under Fauci’s control.” It got much worse. McCullough: “The whole medical establishment was trying to shut down early treatment and silence all the doctors who talked about success. A whole generation of doctors just stopped practicing medicine.” (A contrarian view would argue that McCullough got carried away: A million US doctors – the approximate number practicing at any given time – could not all have been in on it.) The book argues that the reasons there was a lack of original research on how to fight Covid were the dependence of much-vaunted American academics on the billions of dollars granted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the fact they were terrified of contradicting Fauci. Frontline Covid specialists Kory and McCullough are quoted as charging that Fauci’s suppression of early treatment and off-patent medication was responsible for up to 80% of deaths attributed to Covid in the US. How to kill the competition The book offers a detailed outline of an alleged offensive by Big Pharma to kill hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) – with research mercenaries funded by the Gates-Fauci axis allegedly misinterpreting and misreporting negative results by employing faulty protocols. Kennedy says that Bill Gates by 2020 virtually controlled the whole WHO apparatus, as the largest funder after the US government (before Trump pulled the US out of the WHO) and used the agency to fully discredit HCQ. The book also addresses Lancetgate – when the world’s top two scientific journals, The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine published fraudulent studies from a nonexistent database owned by a previously unknown company. Only a few weeks later both journals – deeply embarrassed and with their hard-earned credibility challenged – withdrew the studies. There was never any explanation as to why they got involved in what could be interpreted as one of the most serious frauds in the history of scientific publishing. But it all served a purpose. For Big Pharma, says Kennedy, killing HCQ and, later, Ivermectin (IVM) were top priorities. Ivermectin happens to be a low-profit competitor to a Merck product, molnupiravir, which is essentially a copycat but capable of retailing at a profitable $700 per course. Fauci was quite excited by a promising study of Gilead’s remdesivir – which not only is not effective against Covid but is a de facto deadly poison, at $3,000 for each treatment. The book suggests that Fauci might have wanted to kill HCQ and IVM because under federal US rules, the FDA’s recognition of both HCQ and IVM would automatically kill remdesivir. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation happens to have a large equity stake in Gilead. A key point for Kennedy is that vaccines were Big Pharma’s Holy Grail. He details how what could be construed as a Fauci-Gates alliance put “billions of taxpayer and tax-deducted dollars into developing” an mRNA “platform for vaccines that, in theory, would allow them to quickly produce new ‘boosters’ to combat each ‘escape variant.'” Vaccines, he writes, “are one of the rare commercial products that multiply profits by failing.… The good news for Pharma was that all of humanity would be permanently dependent on biannual or even triannual booster shots.” Any similarities with our current “booster” reality are not mere coincidence. The final summary of Pfizer’s clinical trial data will raise countless eyebrows. The whole process lasted a mere six months. This is the document that Pfizer submitted to the FDA to win approval for its vaccine. It beggars belief that Pfizer won the FDA’s emergency approval despite showing that the vaccine might prevent one (italics mine) Covid death in every 22,000 vaccine recipients. Peter McCullough: “Because the clinical trial showed that vaccines reduce absolute risk less than 1 percent, those vaccines can’t possibly influence epidemic curves. It’s mathematically impossible.” The Gates matrix Bill Gates – Teflon-protected by virtually all Western mainstream media – describes the operational philosophy of his foundation as “philantrocapitalism.” It’s more like strategic self-philantropy, as both the foundation’s capital and his net worth have been ballooning in style ($23 billion just during the 2020 lockdowns). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – “a nonprofit fighting poverty, disease and inequity around the world” – invests in multinational pharma, food, agriculture, energy, telecom and global tech companies. It exercises considerable de facto control over international health and agricultural agencies as well as mainstream media – as the Columbia Journalism Review showed in August 2020. Gates, without a graduate degree, not to mention medical school degree (like author Kennedy, it must be noted, whose training was as a lawyer), dispenses wisdom around the world as a health expert. The foundation holds corporate stocks and bonds in Pfizer, Merck, GSK, Novartis and Sanofi, among other giants, and substantial positions in Gilead, AstraZeneca and Moderna. The book delves in minute detail into how Gates controls the WHO (the largest direct donor: $604.2 million in 2018-2019, the latest available numbers). Already in 2011 Gates ordered: “All 183 member states, you must make vaccines a central focus of your health systems.” The next year, the World Health Assembly, which sets the WHO agenda, adopted a Global Vaccine Plan designed by – who else? – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation also controls the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), the top advisory group to the WHO on vaccines, as well as the crucial GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), which is the second-largest donor to the WHO. GAVI is a Gates “public-private partnership” that essentially corrals bulk sales of vaccines from Big Pharma to poor nations. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, only three month ago, proclaimed that “GAVI is the new NATO”. GAVI’s global HQ is in Geneva. Switzerland has given Gates full diplomatic immunity. Few in East and West know that it was Gates who in 2017 handpicked the WHO’s director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – who brought no medical degree and a quite dodgy background. Dr Vandana Shiva, India’s leading human rights activist (routinely accused of being merely anti-vax), sums up: “Gates has hijacked the WHO and transformed it into an instrument of personal power that he wields for the cynical purpose of increasing pharmaceutical profits. He has single-handedly destroyed the infrastructure of public health globally. He has privatized our health systems and our food systems to serve his own purposes.” Gaming pandemics The book’s Chapter 12, Germ Games, may be arguably its most explosive, as it focuses on the US bioweapons and biosecurity apparatus, with a special mention to Robert Kadlec, who might claim leadership of the – contagious – logic according to which infectious disease poses a national security threat to the US, thus requiring a militarized response. The book argues that Kadlec, closely linked to spy agencies, Big Pharma, the Pentagon and assorted military contractors, is also linked to Fauci investments in “gain of function” experiments capable of engineering pandemic superbugs. Fauci strongly denies he’s promoted such experiments. Already in 1998 Kadlec had written an internal strategy paper for the Pentagon – though not for Fauci – promoting the role of pandemic pathogens as stealth weapons leaving no fingerprints. Since 2005 DARPA, which invented the internet by building the ARPANET in 1969, has funded biological weapons research. DARPA – call it the Pentagon’s angel investor – also developed the GPS, stealth bombers, weather satellites, pilotless drones, and that prodigy of combat, the M16 rifle. It’s important to remember that in 2017 DARPA funneled $6.5 million through Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance to fund “gain of function” work at the Wuhan lab, on top of gain of function experiments at Fort Detrick. EcoHealth Alliance was the organization through which Kadlec, Fauci and DARPA financed these gain of function experiments. DARPA also developed the GPS, stealth bombers, weather satellites, pilotless drones, and that prodigy of combat, the M16 rifle. In 2017 DARPA funneled $6.5 million through Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance to fund “gain of function” work at the Wuhan lab, on top of gain of function experiments at Fort Detrick. EcoHealth Alliance was the organization through which Kadlec, Fauci and DARPA financed these gain of function experiments, Few people know that DARPA also financed the key tech for the Moderna vaccine, starting way back in 2013. RFK Jr dutifully connects the Germ Games progress, starting with Dark Winter in 2001, which emphasized the Pentagon’s drive towards bioweapon vaccines (the code name was coined by Kadlec); the anthrax attack three weeks after 9/11; Atlantic Storm in 2003 and 2005, focused on the response to a terrorist attack unleashing smallpox; Global Mercury 2003; and Lockstep in 2010, which developed a scenario funded by the Rockefeller Foundation where we find this pearl: During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly global problems – from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty – leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power. RFK Jr paints a picture in which, by mid-2017, the Rockefeller Foundation and US intel agencies had all but crowned Bill Gates as the top financier for the intel/military pandemic simulation business. Enter the MARS (Mountain Associated Respiratory Virus) simulation during the G20 in Germany in 2017. MARS was about a novel respiratory virus that spread out of busy markets in a mountainous border of an unnamed nation that looked very much like China. It gets curiouser and curiouser when one learns that MARS’s two moderators were very close to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and one of them, David Heymann, sat with the Moderna CEO on the Merieux Foundation USA Board. BioMerieux happens to be the French company that built the Wuhan lab. Big Pharma kisses Western intel Afterward came SPARS 2017 at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation happen to be major funders of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. SPARS 2017 gamed a coronavirus pandemic running from 2025 to 2028. As RFK Jr. notes, “the exercise turned out to be an eerily precise predictor of the Covid-19 pandemic.” By 2018 bioweapons expert Peter Daszak was enthroned as the key connector through whom Fauci, Kadlec, DARPA and USAID – which used to be a CIA cover and now reports to the National Security Council – moved grants to fund gain-of-function research, including at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Biosafety Lab. Crimson Contagion, overseen by Kadlec after eight months of planning, came in August 2019. Fauci was on board the self-described “functional exercise,” representing the NIH, alongside the CDC’s Robert Redfield and several members of the National Security Council. The war game was held in secret, nationwide. The After-Action Crimson Contagion Report only came out via a FOIA request. The star of the Gates pandemic show was undoubtedly Event 201 in October 2019, held only 3 weeks before US intel may – or may not – have suspected that Covid-19 was circulating in Wuhan. Event 201 was about a global coronavirus pandemic. RFK Jr. persuasively argues that Event 201 was as close as possible to a “real-time” simulation. The book’s Germ Games chapter leads the reader to acknowledge what mainstream media have simply refused to report: how the pervasive involvement of US (and UK) intel has a secretive – yet dominating – presence in the whole response to Covid-19. A very good example is the Wellcome Trust – the UK version of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – which is a spin-off of Big Pharma’s GlaxoSmith Kline. This epitomizes the marriage between Big Pharma and Western intel. The Wellcome Trust chair, from 2015 to 2020, used to be a former director general of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller. She was also chair of the Imperial College since 2001. The “English Dr. Fauci,” Neil Ferguson, of the infamous, deadly wrong models that led to all lockdowns, was an epidemiologist working for the Wellcome Trust. These are only a few of the insights and connections woven through RFK Jr’s book. As a matter of public service, the whole lot should be available for popular scrutiny worldwide. These matters concern the whole planet, especially the Global South. Nobel laureate Luc Montaigner has noted how, “tragically for humanity, there are many, many untruths emanating from Fauci and his minions.” Even more tragic is what emanates from his masters. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 23:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 1st, 2021

Retailers Open Pop-Up Container Yards To Bypass Savannah Port Jams

Retailers Open Pop-Up Container Yards To Bypass Savannah Port Jams By Eric Kulisch of American Shipper, Overflow lots set up by large retailers this month as temporary staging areas for imported containers have helped bring down congestion levels at the Port of Savannah, and Georgia officials expect further efficiency gains with this week’s opening of two more port-sponsored pop-up sites. The Georgia Ports Authority, in partnership with the Norfolk Southern, will start accepting loaded containers on Monday at the freight railroad’s nearby Dillon Yard and later this week will begin routing shipping units to a general aviation airport in Statesboro, located about 60 miles west of Savannah, Chief Operating Officer Ed McCarthy told FreightWaves. Moving containers to off-port properties is part of the recently announced South Atlantic Supply Chain Relief Program designed to reclaim space at the Garden City Terminal, where container crowding is making it difficult for vessels to unload and for stacking equipment and trucks to maneuver. In October, Savannah handled an all-time record of 504,350 twenty-foot equivalent units for a single month, an increase of 8.7% over October 2020. The volume surpassed the GPA’s previous record of 498,000 TEUs set in March. Port officials began testing the Dillon Yard and Statesboro locations last week after renting top loaders for stacking and truck transfers, installing computer lines in order to track containers entering the gate with radio frequency identification, and laying extra pavement at the rail facility, McCarthy said.  Four or five more pop-up container facilities are scheduled to open around Georgia by mid-December and the port authority is talking with freight railroad CSX about an auxiliary storage site in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the COO said in an interview.  The sites are mini-versions of inland ports where containers are brought to strategically located sites by intermodal rail, shortening the distance trucks have to travel to collect imports or drop off exports and reducing traffic in and around busy seaports. The concept essentially brings the seaport closer to manufacturing, agriculture and population centers.  The GPA currently operates a large inland intermodal rail terminal in Murray County, Georgia, as well as an inland dry bulk facility. Construction on a second inland rail link for containerized cargo in northeast Georgia is scheduled to begin in April and be completed by mid- to late 2024, spokesman Robert Morris said. South Carolina also operates two inland ports, Virginia has one in the northwestern part of the state and the Port of Long Beach in California recently launched an effort to quickly flow cargo to Utah for distribution by converting truck traffic to rail. Several users of the Port of Savannah this month have opened pop-up yards of their own where they can directly flow import containers to avoid waiting for longshoremen to sort through shipping units for their cargo and then retrieve them when space opens at one of their distribution centers. Each of the private spillover yards can accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 containers.  “We’re starting to see some of our customer base do their own pop-ups. They’re contracting with some folks who have capabilities in the Savannah region and … taking their long-term destiny in their own hands,” McCarthy said in an interview. The Rocky Mount intermodal facility being discussed with CSX will probably be used as an alternative storage location for empty containers. It could be running by early December, the COO said. Whether containers are diverted from other locations or whether empties are loaded up in Savannah and sent there remains to be determined.  The Biden administration, which is focused on alleviating a nationwide supply chain crisis that is creating product shortages and contributing to inflation, helped fund the GPA’s emergency storage yards by reallocating $8 million in federal funds. Additional flexibility recently granted by the Department of Transportation allows port authorities to redirect cost savings from previous projects funded by port infrastructure grants toward mitigating truck, rail and terminal delays that are preventing the swift evacuation of containers from ports. White House port envoy John Porcari, the liaison between industry and the White House Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, said the government is looking to create more inland ports.  “We’re encouraging other ports to do the same [thing as Savannah.] I think you’ll see a generation of projects in the short term around the country that will help maximize the existing on-dock capacity through interior pop-up sites,” Porcari said on Bloomberg’s “Odd Lots” podcast last week.  “The fundamental issue is that the docks themselves are such valuable pieces of real estate that you don’t want the containers dwelling there a second longer than you have to. You want to get them to the interior or back on ships to their target markets overseas,” he said. Better Fluidity Improvements in rail handling, a dip in import volumes in line with seasonal patterns and the customer pop-up yards have combined to improve cargo flow and reduce the number of ships waiting for a berth at the Port of Savannah, McCarthy said.  The port authority released an operations update last week showing the average dwell time for a container moving by rail after vessel unloading is two days, and that the average resting time within the terminal for import and export containers is about eight days, down from 11 and 10 days, respectively. The backlog of empty containers remains a problem, with boxes lingering an average of 17.8 days. The improved performance is helping personnel work vessels faster and reduce Savannah’s cargo backlog. The number of ships at anchor in the Atlantic Ocean declined to 15 as of Monday morning from 22 two weeks ago, Morris said. There were 24 container vessels at anchor in mid-October. Total containers on the terminal also declined 13% and are down 16% from the peak of 85,000, according to the update. McCarthy said there are about 225,000 TEUs currently on the water, a 10% to 12% reduction from early November that indicates “we are over the hump of the peak season.” Last week, ocean carrier CMA CGM said its Liberty Bridge service from northern Europe to the U.S. East Coast would temporarily skip Savannah due to the congestion. According to the revised schedule, seven stops between late December and early February will be omitted. Shippers can send Savannah cargo to the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, until then, it said. The GPA also noted that providers have increased the supply of chassis, the wheeled frames on which containers rest when pulled by truck, and are increasingly able to repair more chassis to help meet demand for cargo deliveries. Mason Rail Terminal expansion. (Source: Georgia Ports Authority) The Port of Savannah increased its near-dock rail capacity by 30% with the commissioning two weeks ago of a second set of nine tracks at the Mason Mega Rail Terminal. The port moved 550,000 containers by rail last year and now has more than 2 million TEUs of capacity with an eye toward future growth. The ability to discharge cargo from a vessel and ship it out by train in less than two days is best in class for the U.S., McCarthy noted. A huge new container yard will come online in phases starting in December and culminate with about 820,000 TEUs of additional capacity by March. The project includes rubber-tired gantry cranes for sorting, stacking and transferring containers. Construction of another berth is underway and scheduled to be complete in 2023. Meanwhile, the federal dredging project to deepen the Savannah River to 47 feet (54 feet at high tide) is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022. It has already allowed vessels with deeper drafts to enter the port, McCarthy said. The deepening translates to about 200 extra loaded containers per foot and a total of 1,000 per vessel when the project is finished. Tyler Durden Tue, 11/30/2021 - 19:45.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 30th, 2021

Allstate (ALL) on Track to Sell Property to Reduce Expenses

Allstate (ALL) to divest part of its Northbrook, IL property to warehouse builder Dermody Properties to cut down on expenses. The Allstate Corporation ALL recently entered into an agreement to divest the property that constitutes the majority of its Northbrook, IL for around $232 million. This deal is expected to close next year.The insurance giant took this step as part of its changing work patterns and cost-reducing measures.Dermody Properties, a Nevada-based industrial developer, has agreed to buy the property.Rationale Behind the DealEver since the pandemic has hit the nation, companies are witnessing alterations in working patterns. Many employees are still choosing to work from home because of the flexibility. This divestiture will help Allstate lower its real-estate costs and boost its multi-year Transformative Growth measure. This deal is expected to expand ALL’s personal property-liability market share.Allstate continues to make several cost-cutting efforts and the latest move is a part of the same strategy. These measures are likely to drive ALL’s margins in the days ahead.The insurer moved to the Northbrook site in 1967. The campus right now consists of a 2-million square feet office space on Sanders Road in Northbrook. Allstate looks forward to transforming it into a low-cost insurer with broad distribution with the closure of the deal.Nevertheless, ALL intends to maintain a significant presence in the Chicago area. However, the portion of the property to be excluded through the deal remains undisclosed.Allstate completed the sale of Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York last month. The move was in line with the insurer's long-term growth strategy to deploy capital out of lower-growth and return businesses and instead, focus on growing its market share in personal property-liability and expand protection solutions for customers.Price PerformanceShares of Allstate have gained 8.5% in the past year, outperforming its industry’s growth of 8.2%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchALL currently holds a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).Some better-ranked stocks in the insurance space are Aflac Incorporated AFL, RLI Corp. RLI and ProAssurance Corporation PRA, each stock currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).Aflac is a general business holding company and oversees the operations of its subsidiaries by providing management services and making capital available. AFL managed to deliver a trailing four-quarter surprise of 18.32%. The stock has rallied 24.6% in the past year.RLI Corp. is a specialty property-casualty (P&C) underwriter that caters primarily to the niche markets through its main operating subsidiary RLI Insurance Company. Shares of RLI have gained 6.4% in the past year. RLI’s earnings managed to surpass estimates in all the trailing four quarters, the average being 39.84%.ProAssurance operates as a holding company for many property and casualty insurance companies. PRA came up with a trailing four-quarter average of 233.34%. The stock has surged 43.5% in a year’s time. Tech IPOs With Massive Profit Potential: Last years top IPOs surged as much as 299% within the first two months. With record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs and a record-setting stock market, this year could be even more lucrative. See Zacks’ Hottest Tech IPOs Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report RLI Corp. (RLI): Free Stock Analysis Report Aflac Incorporated (AFL): Free Stock Analysis Report The Allstate Corporation (ALL): Free Stock Analysis Report ProAssurance Corporation (PRA): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksNov 30th, 2021

Putin warns NATO of Russia"s unstoppable missiles if his "red line" in Ukraine is crossed

Putin warned NATO that deploying troops or advanced missiles to Ukraine would cross a "red line" for Moscow, and boasted of Russia's hypersonic missiles. Russian President Vladimir Putin looks over a mockup of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov while at a military exposition in Sevastopol, Crimea, January 9, 2020.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images Putin warned NATO that deploying troops or advanced missiles to Ukraine would cross a "red line." The Russian leader said Moscow would be forced to take action while boasting about Russia's hypersonic missiles.  Hypersonic missiles are designed to be virtually unstoppable, and can fly at least five times the speed of sound. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned NATO against crossing a "red line" in Ukraine, underscoring that Moscow would have no choice but to respond while boasting about Russia's hypersonic missile development. Putin said that the deployment of NATO troops or advanced missile systems on Ukrainian soil that could strike Moscow within minutes would be a step too far for Russia. NATO has not taken any steps along these lines."If some kind of strike systems appear on the territory of Ukraine, the flight time to Moscow will be seven to 10 minutes, and five minutes in the case of a hypersonic weapon being deployed. Just imagine," Putin said. "What are we to do in such a scenario? We will have to then create something similar in relation to those who threaten us in that way. And we can do that now," Putin added, referencing Russia's recent tests of a hypersonic missile.Putin has said the Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, which is poised to enter service with the Russian Navy in 2022, is capable of flying nine times the speed of sound and has a range of roughly 620 miles, according to the Associated Press. On Tuesday, Putin emphasized that the missile could reach some targets within "just five minutes." Hypersonic missiles are designed to be virtually unstoppable and are capable of flying at least five times the speed of sound. The US, Russia, and China are locked in a global arms race to develop hypersonic weapons. A top Space Force official earlier this month said that the US is "not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs." Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a concert marking the seventh anniversary of the Crimea annexation on March 18, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty ImagesPutin's warning to NATO on Tuesday came amid fears that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine.For the second time this year, tens of thousands of Russian troops have amassed along Ukraine's border.The Kremlin denies any plans to invade, while blaming NATO for the tensions. Ukraine has said that more than 90,000 Russian troops have gathered on its border, and Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky last week warned that he'd uncovered a coup plot involving Russians. It's unclear what Putin will do next, but he has the region on edge.Ivo Daalder, the US ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013, recently told Insider, "There is a major risk of Russian military activity in Ukraine in the next few months. All the signs point to a major build up of military capability."The Russian president views the increased influence of the US and NATO in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic and Russia's nextdoor neighbor, as a major security threat. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but maintains a robust partnership with the alliance. Ukraine lies at the center of the contentious dynamic between Moscow and the West. In 2014, Russian forces entered Crimea and it was unilaterally annexed by Putin, prompting outcry around the world. And since that year, Kremlin-backed rebels have been fighting a war against Ukrainian troops in the eastern Donbass region. The conflict has claimed over 13,000 lives. The US has provided over $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, and there's bipartisan support in Congress for increasing that aid. Putin on Tuesday suggested that Russia and the West need to reach new security agreements in order to avoid further conflict, the Associated Press reported."The matter is not whether to send troops or not, go to war or not, but to establish a more fair and stable development and taking into account security interests of all international players," Putin said. "If we sincerely strive for that, no one will fear any threats."Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday warned Russia that "renewed aggression" to Ukraine "can trigger serious consequences."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 30th, 2021