Stocks woke up to a volatility explosion this morning. President Trump made a surprise announcement that he was considering boosting tariffs on China. Specifically, the president threatened to raise tariffs to 25%. Beijing is reportedly infuriated. The comments come towards the end of what seemed to be a smooth negotiation with Beijing about a new trade package. Therefore, they riled markets to a major extent. Headline indexes shed a couple percent at peak (so far) and sectors like technology and industrials sold off sharply. The trade delegation from Beijing is still expected to attended a planned tariff meeting this week.
FINSUM: It is very hard to know how significant this is (whether Trump actually wants to do this), or whether this is just a negotiating tactic.
In what comes as a really eye-opening turn of events even for someone as outlandish as Masayoshi Son, SoftBank has announced a plan to IPO its $100 bn Vision Fund. The fund is already legendary, having invested $100bn in just two years in some of the world’s biggest startups. It currently holds positions in WeWork and Uber, for instance. Masayoshi Son is now raising for capital for another fund, so wants to access some liquidity from this first one, thus the plan to IPO.
FINSUM: This is a bonkers plan, but honestly, and interesting opportunity for investors to own pieces of some very exclusive private companies. This is like an early stage Berkshire Hathaway.
There has been a lot of anger (and even legal action) about the big declines Lyft has seen since its IPO. The questions around publicly traded companies worth tens of billions of Dollars with annual losses of billions of Dollars are only growing more intense as Uber readies for its IPO. The big question is what investors should do about the stocks—stay away or buy in? TrimTabs Asset Management has some very salient thoughts on the issue. TrimTabs specializes in free cash flow oriented products and lent their expertise to this question. They conducted an in-depth study of how post-IPO companies with negative free cash flow, and negatively trending free cash flow, perform versus those with positive FCF. The results were stark, and in all instances showed major outperformance of FCF positive companies. For instance, over a 12-month horizon following IPO, $1 bn+ companies with positive FCF outperformed those with negative FCF by almost 16%, with the latter averaging losses of 6.41%.
FINSUM: This analysis from TrimTabs could not be more timely or insightful. We think it might be smart to stay away from Uber and Lyft until they at least have a clear path to profitability.
Want to forecast at where Apple’s stock price is headed? There is a good trick for doing so. The method is to look at the earnings and share price moves of Apple’s suppliers. About a third of suppliers report earnings before Apple does, and many of them derive a high portion of their sales from the company. Therefore, one can fairly well predict Apple’s earnings and likely moves. For instance, Apple has been on a tear since its earnings on Tuesday, and it would have been easy to see from the previously released supplier earnings.
FINSUM: This will not always work and some of the value is probably eaten up by algorithmic traders, but still, it seems a good predictive indicator.
Love Tesla cars but scared of their company’s cash burn and Elon Musk-related antics? There is a way to invest in the company without buying the stock. Tesla has issued automobile asset-backed securities, or bonds with coupon payments backed by lease payments from Tesla customers. Last year, the carmaker sold $1.5bn of such bonds, which are not backed by the company’s cash flow, but directly by lessee’s payments. One portfolio manager put it this way, “Oftentimes, investors get Tesla the company and Tesla the car confused, but in this case, you really get to separate the two out”. The bonds issued have various tranches divided up by credit quality.
FINSUM: This seems like a smart way to invest in Tesla without all the volatility related to Elon Musk and the company’s cash flow struggles.
It has been several years in the making, but drone delivery appears as though it is about to become a reality. Google has just had its drone delivery project approved by the FAA, the first such approval. The caveat is that the approval is only for an area in rural Virginia. But still, it is a breakthrough for the growing and fiercely competitive drone industry. Amazon and others are vying for FAA approval as companies want to be the go-to provider of nation-wide drone delivery. The division of Alphabet running the drone program is called Wing Aviation.
FINSUM: UPS, FedEx, and USPS drivers should be nervous about this, but it is a major breakthrough that has been a long-time coming.