After rumors circulating for weeks, Ladenburg and Advisor Group have jointly announced that they plan to merge. The new company will operate under the Advisor Group name and have over 11,000 advisors. None of the two companies nine broker-dealer subsidiaries will be merged, and advisors will continue their multi-party custody and clearing set up. The deal valued Ladenburg at $1.3 bn. One senior industry commentator said “It’s a very bold transaction that could create a major new player overnight that can go toe to toe with the other biggest firms in the independent space in terms of scale and resources”.
FINSUM: With margins so low across the IBD industry, scale is the only way to improve profitability. We expect the wave of deals to continue.
Hong Kong police have warned that the city is on the brink of collapse. A police shooting of a protester on Monday has sparked a huge wave of renewed protests that have blocked roadways and caused chaos. “Over the past two days, our society has been pushed to the brink of a total breakdown as rioters went on a rampage”. The protests have turned increasingly violent in recent days as 128 were hospitalized with injuries on Monday.
FINSUM: This has no end in sight, and with tension increasing, so too are the odds that it somehow becomes wrapped up in the US-China trade war.
Goodbye bearishness, hello risk-on. JP Morgan took a pivot from the rest of the Wall Street research machine today and took some bold steps in its allocation recommendations. The bank said that investors should take money out of gold and other risk averse assets, like government bonds, and put it into risk assets like stocks. The bank’s strategy team said “We maintain a significant and incrementally larger tilt in our model portfolio towards risky assets, based on signs of a cyclical recovery, easing geopolitical tensions, synchronized monetary easing, and defensive investor positioning across asset classes”.
FINSUM: The clouds do seem to be parting a bit, but there are still a lot of x factors—which is exactly the reason this could turn out to be a very good call.
Apple has been on an absolute tear lately. All the bearishness which preceded the newest iPhone launch set the company up for a great run. The stock is up a mind boggling 65% this year. To put that $450 bn of value appreciation in perspective, it is equivalent to adding the market caps of SalesForce, IBM, and SAP on top of what Apple already was at the end of 2018. So where does it go from here? The thing is, Apple usually continues a big upswing after an iPhone launch, so history is on its side right now.
FINSUM: iPhone sales may continue to surprise to the upside but the medium- to long-term question is whether investors will buy into Apple’s pivot into credit cards, gaming, and streaming.
Any small cap investor can tell you that the end of the year is not usually a good time. Small caps historically suffer in November and December compared to the rest of the year. However, 2019 looks to be shaping up differently according to the Wall Street Journal. The reason small caps are usually weak at the end of the year is that managers sell off their holdings and mirror the market at the year-end as a way of insulating their annual bonus (which is based on outperformance). However, in years where overall stock performance has been strong, this pattern is less obvious. So, given 2019’s strong gains, it seems like small caps probably won’t suffer so much.
FINSUM: This is by no means a guarantee, but it certainly seems like a more positive structural consideration.