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Now Is The Time To Buy The 2 Best Dividend-Paying Pharma Stocks
March 28, 2018 6:05 pm|Comments (0)

(Source: imgflip)

My dividend growth retirement portfolio has an ambitious goal of generating 12% total returns over time. The cornerstone of my strategy is a highly diversified portfolio of quality dividend companies bought at fair price or better.

That means I use a lot of watchlists and patiently wait to buy the right company at the right price. Well, the market correction, plus a disappointing drug trial result, mean that two of my favorite blue-chip drug makers, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), have finally fallen to levels at which I can recommend them.

Let’s take a look at why these two industry leaders likely have what it takes to continue generating years, if not decades, of generous, safe, and steadily rising income. Traits that history indicates will lead to market-beating total returns, especially from their currently attractive valuations.

Johnson & Johnson: The Most Trusted Name In Pharma Continues Firing On All Cylinders

The pharmaceutical industry is both wide-moat and defensive (recession-resistant). That can make it a potentially attractive industry for low-risk income investors. And when it comes to big drug makers, none are lower-risk than Johnson & Johnson, which was founded in 1885 and is the world’s largest medical conglomerate. The company has over 250 subsidiaries operating in over 60 countries, making it the most diversified drug stock you can own.

(Source: JNJ Earnings Presentation)

All three of its business segments posted strong growth in 2017, resulting in company-wide operational revenue growth of 6.3%.

Metric

2017 Results

Revenue Growth

6.3%

Free Cash Flow Growth

14.4%

Shares Outstanding

-1.6%

Adjusted EPS Growth

8.5%

FCF/Share Growth

16.2%

Dividend Growth

5.4%

Dividend FCF Payout Ratio

51.3%

FCF Margin

23.3%

(Source: JNJ Earnings Release, Morningstar)

Excluding major acquisitions, such as the $ 4.3 billion purchase of Abbott Medical Optics and the $ 30 billion purchase of Actelion, operating revenue was up 2.4%. However, what ultimately matters to dividend growth investors is the company’s free cash flow, or FCF. That’s what’s left over after running the business and investing in future growth, and it grew by an impressive 16.2% last year. And despite the lower-margin medical products and consumer goods segment, JNJ still managed to convert 23.2% of its revenue into free cash flow in 2017.

FCF is what funds the dividend, and with an FCF payout ratio of 51.3% JNJ’s track record of 54 straight years of rising dividends is all but assured. In fact, the company will raise it again next quarter, with the analyst consensus being for about an 8% hike for 2018. That’s thanks to highly positive management guidance, including:

Metric

Mid-Range 2018 Growth

Operational sales

4%

Operational sales ex acquisition

3%

Total sales

6%

Operational EPS

8.20%

Adjusted EPS

11%

(Source: JNJ Earnings Presentation)

This is largely thanks to the strength of its pharmaceutical segment, particularly the oncology division, which saw worldwide sales growth of 25% and generated $ 7.3 billion in sales for the company. The strength of JNJ’s cancer drug business was largely fueled by such drugs as:

  • Darzalex (multiple myeloma): Worldwide sales up 117%
  • Imbruvica (lymphoma, Leukemia): Worldwide sales up 51%

These offset the small (9.3%) decline in global Remicade sales, which is the company’s blockbuster immunosuppressant that treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, plaque psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis. This decline was caused by the loss of patent exclusivity.

The good news is that while Remicade is in decline, other immunology drugs like Stelara (psoriasis and arthritis) are quickly stepping up to fill the gap. For example, in 2017, Stelara’s worldwide sales grew 24% to $ 4 billion, nearly matching Remicade’s $ 6.3 billion revenue.

In addition, JNJ is partnering with Theravance Biopharma (NASDAQ:TBPH) in a $ 100 million deal to develop its potentially far superior immunology drug to replace falling Remicade sales. That drug, TD-1473, is highly effective in very small doses. Early trials indicate it shows no significant broadscale immunosuppression, which has been the main side effect of all previous drugs in this category.

If future trials go well, then JNJ will likely pick up the tab for the drug’s registration costs, and its giant sales force will be responsible for marketing the drug. That’s in return for 2/3rd of US profits, as well as all global profits minus a double-digit royalty to Theravance.

This is great example of smart capital allocation, which reduces development risk immensely. JNJ has done this kind of co-development/co-marketing deal before. In 2011, it paid Pharmacyclics (now owned by AbbVie) $ 150 million to help it develop Imbruvica. Today, that cancer drug is one of Johnson & Johnson’s top sellers with nearly $ 2 billion in sales.

Pharmaceutical market analysis firm EvaluatePharma expects that figure to hit $ 7.5 billion by 2022, which is projected to make it the 4th-best selling cancer drug in the world. JNJ and AbbVie each have about 50% rights to Imbruvica, though AbbVie also enjoys royalty rights that it acquired when it bought Pharmacyclics.

Edurant, an HIV drug, also saw strong sales growth of 24.6%. This shows the major strength of JNJ. Which is that while most of its profits come from volatile, patented pharmaceuticals, it remains highly diversified, with even its largest medication representing only 8.2% of companywide revenue in 2017.

Best of all, JNJ’s drug development pipeline is deep, with 19 drugs in late-stage clinical trials for 85 indications in the US and the EU. And those are just late-stage phase three trials. In total, the company’s pipeline has 34 drugs, including 10 potential blockbusters that it expects to receive approval for by 2021. These are drugs the company thinks could generate over $ 1 billion in sales each.

This includes prostate cancer drug Erleada, which EvaluatePharma thinks could generate $ 1.6 billion in annual sales by 2022. Meanwhile, JNJ has Imbruvica in trials for seven more indications, four of which are expected to boost annual sales by at least $ 500 million each. All told, EvaluatePharma expects JNJ’s new drug/indication expansions over the next five years to drive $ 14.9 billion in additional sales, or nearly $ 3 billion per year.

And while it’s the least sexy part of the company, I like the consumer goods segment for its strong record of innovation.

(Source: JNJ Investor Presentation)

Consumer products has numerous highly trusted brands that have given the company a strong, non-patent reliant source of global revenue, including 55% from outside the US. In 2017, this segment’s sales grew 2.2%.

(Source: JNJ Investor Presentation)

In the last three years, JNJ has managed to use its enormous economies of scale to cut $ 1.7 billion in annual operating costs, resulting in operating margins rising by 4.5%. Going forward, the company expects to be able to achieve 1-2% above industry average growth, while achieving 20.3% operating margins.

Meanwhile, medical devices give the company much-needed diversification. It also provides a long growth runway given that in the future, global demand for surgical, orthopedic, cardiovascular, vascular, and vision devices is set to grow strongly.

Medical devices is a wide-moat industry, with JNJ controlling dominant positions in both orthopedics and endo-surgical devices (minimally invasive surgical tools). Surgeons are generally loath to switch suppliers, since they train and gain expertise using particular medical devices. This creates a stickier ecosystem and stronger pricing power.

The segment generated 5.9% growth in 2017. This was led by 46% growth in vision care (Abbott Medical Optics acquisition) and cardiovascular’s 13.4% growth in global sales.

The bottom line is that JNJ is a world-class drug maker, but also so much more. It has a strong track record of innovation and medical product invention in drugs, consumer products, and medical devices. Combined, these create a relatively steady river of free cash flow that has resulted in the industry’s best dividend growth track record – one that is likely to continue for many years and even decades to come.

AbbVie: Despite Recent Trial Failure, The Best Name In Biotech Still Has Plenty Of Growth In The Tank

Chart

ABBV Price data by YCharts

It’s been a rough few days for AbbVie, with shares plunging on news of disappointing phase two results for its Rova-T lung cancer therapy. Lung cancer, due to the large number of smokers in the world, is the most profitable sub-segment of the already very lucrative oncology market.

AbbVie paid $ 9.8 billion for Stemcentrx in 2016, including $ 5.8 billion up-front ($ 2 billion cash and $ 3 billion stock). The deal also included potentially $ 4 billion in cash earnout payments if the drugs developed from Rova-T hit certain milestones.

The reason that investors are reacting so negatively is that the results showed only 16% of cancer patients responded to the treatment, instead of the expected 40% response rate. So, AbbVie is abandoning plans to file for an early approval with the FDA.

This poor trial means higher risks of failure for the drug’s other trials, including much more important first- and second-line treatment indications. It also calls into question the Rova-T/Opdivo combination trial that AbbVie is partnering with Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) on, and for which results should be in by 2019.

The biggest reason this freaked out investors so much is because AbbVie was spun off from Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) in 2013 with all of that company’s pharmaceutical assets. By far the most valuable has been the immunology drug Humira, which is used to treat arthritis, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. For several years now, Humira has been the best-selling drug in the world.

(Source: Statista)

This is why AbbVie has continued to put up incredible growth. In fact, in 2017, it had the best sales growth in the industry and came in number two in terms of adjusted EPS growth.

Metric

2017 Results

Revenue Growth

10.1%

Free Cash Flow Growth

43.7%

Shares Outstanding

-1.7%

Adjusted EPS Growth

16.2%

FCF/Share Growth

46.2%

Dividend Growth

5.4%

Dividend FCF Payout Ratio

44.1%

FCF Margin

33.4%

(Source: ABBV Earnings Release, Morningstar)

More importantly for income investors, AbbVie’s free cash flow exploded, thanks to the incredible margins it’s earning on its patented drugs.

Better yet? Thanks to tax reform, the company raised its 2018 Adjusted EPS guidance from about 17% to 32%, which is why management decided to hike the dividend for this year by 35%. However, the FCF payout ratio should still remain about 50%, due to the company’s strong growth in sales and free cash flow.

But if AbbVie is booming, then why is the market freaking out so much over Rova-T? Because AbbVie’s success with Humira is a double-edged sword. The drug was responsible for 65% of the company’s sales in 2017. This means that its prodigious profits and cash flow have a lot of concentration risk.

Investors are worried that AbbVie might end up going the way of Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), where a single (in GILD’s case, two) blockbuster drug ends up seeing sharp sales declines that drag on earnings growth for years. That’s because in 2017, Humira lost EU patent protection. In addition, every major drug maker has a biosimilar rival in development.

The biggest risk was Amgen’s (NASDAQ:AMGN) Amjevita, which won approval in 2016. AbbVie has been battling in the courts to keep that rival off the market. In 2017, AbbVie and Amgen agreed that Amjevita would remain off the US market until 2023. That’s because while the FDA approved the rival drug, it didn’t take into account the 61 patents that AbbVie still has in effect.

Rather than proceed with a costly trial scheduled to begin in 2019, Amgen has backed down. This is why AbbVie CFO Bill Chase says that management has “come to the conclusion that this product [Humira] is durable.” And that investors are “not going to see anything catastrophic,” such as Humira sales falling off a cliff anytime soon.

In fact, AbbVie expects that with no biosimilar competition until 2023, it has a clear runway to keep steadily growing the drug’s sales.

(Source: AbbVie Investor Presentation)

But the point is that even if AbbVie’s rosy forecasts of Humira sales do come true, the company still needs to diversify if it’s going to avoid a major future decline in profits and cash flow.

After all, by 2023, the drug is going to face an onslaught of biosimilar rivals that will likely steal a lot of market share, or at the very least force AbbVie to reduce its prices significantly. In fact, by 2025, three years into competition with biosimilars, AbbVie expects Humira sales to fall to just $ 12 billion a year.

Which is why Rova-T was so important. Management believed that if approved for all indications, it could be a $ 5 billion blockbuster by 2025.

(Source: AbbVie Investor Presentation)

That was about 14% of the $ 35 billion in risk-adjusted (expected sales adjusted for probability of drug approval), non-Humira sales the company was forecasting for 2025.

In other words, Rova-T was such a big deal that the company spent a lot of money in order to try to reduce its Humira revenue concentration from 65% in 2017 to just 26% in 2025. However, the fact is that even if you assume a total failure on Rova-T, AbbVie’s sales should still come in at $ 42 billion by 2025, with Humira representing about 29% of revenue.

AbbVie: Lots Of Potential Growth Catalysts Ahead

Right now, AbbVie is all about Humira, the world’s most popular immunology drug and top-selling pharmaceutical period. But while immunology is indeed a booming industry, it’s far from the only growth avenue for this company.

(Source: AbbVie Investor Presentation)

In total, AbbVie thinks there is about a $ 200 billion market for the four key segments it’s targeting.

And the company has one of the deepest and most potentially profitable drug pipelines in the industry. In fact, in 2017, EvaluatePharma estimated that AbbVie’s new drugs in development could generate $ 20.4 billion between 2018 and 2022. That meant it had the third-strongest development pipeline in the world. Even if you assume a total failure of Rova-T, the new drug sales projection drops to $ 15.4 billion, which means that AbbVie’s pipeline drops to number four, just above Johnson & Johnson’s $ 14.9 billion. That’s because it still includes drugs like:

  • Risankizumab (psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease): $ 5 billion in projected 2025 sales off at least four indications
  • Upadacitinib (rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, Crohn’s disease): $ 6.5 billion in projected 2025 sales off at least six indications

And that’s just immunology. We can’t forget that oncology is going to become a major growth market in a fast-aging world where cancer becomes more common.

The leukemia drug Venclexta won approval in 2016, and is expected to generate peak sales of up to $ 2 billion. And of course, there’s Imbruvica, co-marketed with JNJ, which continues to put up massive growth as its number of approved indications increases. That drug’s peak $ 7.5 billion in annual sales potential would mean about $ 4 billion per year for AbbVie’s top line. Meanwhile, the drug maker has 23 drugs in development for solid tumors, with over 10 more expected to enter trials within a year.

Other opportunities to profit from demographics include Elagolix, an endometriosis drug. This is expected to generate up to $ 1.2 billion in annual sales by 2022.

And keep in mind that Rova-T’s results, while disappointing, were not necessarily a disaster. That’s because the results showed that Rova-T increased one-year survival probability from 12% with current treatments to 17.5%. That is why Morningstar’s pharmaceutical analyst Damien Conover thinks it might still obtain approval for most of its first and second line indications. That could mean total peak sales come in at $ 1 billion, down from Morningstar’s $ 3 billion projection before the trial results came in.

The point is that even if you assume the worst-case scenario – i.e., zero revenue from Rova-T – AbbVie is still looking at potential sales growth of 5.2% CAGR through 2025. And if Rova-T manages to get approved, then that figure could rise to 5.3%. And with strong operating leverage from economies of scale (cost savings driving EPS growth faster than revenue growth), that means that AbbVie’s long-term EPS and FCF/share should still come in between 10% and 15%.

Which, in turn, means that AbbVie investors can likely expect some of the best dividend growth from any drug maker in the coming years. Combined with its mouthwatering yield, that makes it a very attractive income investment right now.

Dividend Profiles: Safe And Growing Dividends Likely To Result In Market-Beating Total Returns

Stock

Yield

2017 FCF Payout Ratio

Projected 10-Year Dividend Growth

Potential 10-Year Annual Total Return

Johnson & Johnson

2.60%

51.30%

7% to 8%

9.6% to 10.6%

AbbVie

4.00%

44.10%

10% to 14.2%

14% to 18.2%

S&P 500

1.80%

32%

6.20%

8.00%

(Sources: Company Earnings Releases, Morningstar, F.A.S.T. Graphs, Multpl.com, CSImarketing)

The most important part of any dividend investment is the payout profile, which consists of three parts: yield, dividend safety, and long-term growth potential. This determines how likely it is to generate strong total returns and whether or not I can recommend it or buy it for my own portfolio.

Both Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie offer far superior yields to the market’s paltry payout. More importantly, both dividends are very well-covered by free cash flow.

However, dividend safety isn’t just about a reasonable payout ratio. It also means checking to see whether a company’s balance sheet is strong enough to support continued investment in future growth as well as a rising dividend.

Company

Debt/EBITDA

Interest Coverage

Debt/Capital

S&P Credit Rating

Average Interest Cost

Johnson & Johnson

1.4

26.0

32%

AAA

2.7%

AbbVie

3.6

9.0

72%

A-

3.1%

Industry Average

1.8

12.5

41%

NA

NA

(Sources: Morningstar, GuruFocus, F.A.S.T. Graphs, CSImarketing)

Here is where JNJ takes a clear lead over AbbVie. Johnson & Johnson’s leverage ratio is below the industry average, and its sky-high interest coverage ratio indicates that the company has no trouble servicing its super cheap debt.

In fact, JNJ is just one of two companies (the other being Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)) with a AAA credit rating, which is one notch higher than the US Treasury’s. That’s why it is able to borrow at such attractive rates.

AbbVie, thanks to a slew of acquisitions in recent years, has a much-higher-than-average leverage ratio. In addition, its interest coverage is below that of most of its peers. However, while this high debt load is something I plan to watch carefully going forward, it isn’t yet a danger to the dividend. After all, AbbVie still has an A- credit rating and is able to borrow at very cheap rates as well. But in a rising interest rate environment, that might change. So it’s good that management plans to hold off on more acquisitions for now, while it uses the company’s enormous and fast-growing river of FCF to pay down debt.

As for dividend growth potential, this is of key importance, because studies indicate that a good rule of thumb for future total returns is yield + dividend growth. This is because, assuming a stable payout ratio, the dividend growth rate must track earnings and cash flow growth. And since yields tend to be mean-reverting over time, this combines both income and capital gains into one formula.

JNJ’s dividend growth rate potential is smaller than AbbVie’s, due mainly to its larger size. This makes it harder to grow quickly. However, analysts still expect about 7-8% earnings growth from this Dividend King. That should allow for similar payout growth and result in market-beating total returns.

AbbVie’s dividend growth outlook is more uncertain, though larger, thanks to its strong development pipeline. Unlike JNJ, AbbVie has no diversification into non-drug businesses, and so, its growth is more unpredictable and volatile.

However, I conservatively estimate that AbbVie should be able to achieve 10% dividend growth, while analysts expect about 14%. When combined with today’s attractive yield, that should be good for about 14% total returns. That’s far above what the S&P 500 is likely to provide off its historically overvalued levels.

Valuation: JNJ Is Finally Fair Value, While AbbVie Is On Sale

Chart

JNJ Total Return Price data by YCharts

Up until a few months ago, both JNJ and AbbVie investors were enjoying a very solid year. JNJ was tracking the market during a freakishly low-volatility 20% run in 2017. AbbVie was booming thanks to strong growth in Humira and the news that its cash cow wouldn’t get any competition until 2023. However, in recent weeks, JNJ and ABBV have suffered major losses that make them both potentially attractive investments.

Company

Forward P/E

Historical P/E

Yield

Historical Yield

Percentage Of Time Yield Has Been Higher

Johnson & Johnson

15.5

22.4

2.60%

2.90%

40%/30%

AbbVie

13.0

21.5

4.00%

3.00%

11%

(Sources: GuruFocus, F.A.S.T. Graphs, YieldChart)

JNJ and AbbVie are now trading at lower forward P/E ratios than their historical norms. More importantly, AbbVie’s yield is much higher than it’s been since the company’s 2013 spin-off. JNJ’s yield is not, but keep in mind that the company’s about to announce its 55th straight annual dividend bump. This should raise the forward yield to about 2.8%.

And even at a 2.6% dividend yield, JNJ’s payout has only been higher 40% of the time. And going off the likely 2.8% forward yield in a few months, 30%. Meanwhile, AbbVie’s yield has only been higher 11% of the time, indicating that it’s likely highly undervalued.

(Source: Simply Safe Dividends)

A rule of thumb I like to use for determining fair value is that I want to buy a stock when the yield is at least at the 5-year average. Taking into account the upcoming JNJ dividend hike, I now estimate that it is fairly valued. And under the Buffett principle that “It’s better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price”, I have no issue recommending JNJ today. After all, it’s the ultimate pharma blue chip, with the best dividend growth record in the industry.

Meanwhile, AbbVie is about 17% undervalued, which is why I consider it a more attractive investment today. That’s why I added it to my own portfolio during the recent correction and during the Rova-T freakout.

Note that if I had the cash, I’d have bought JNJ as well, and I highly recommend owning both blue chips in your diversified income portfolio. That’s assuming, of course, that you are comfortable with the complex risk profile of any pharma/biotech company.

Risks To Consider

When it comes to complexity and uncertainty, few industries are as challenging as pharma/biotech. That’s because of numerous risk factors that make it very challenging for companies to consistently grow safe dividends.

For one thing, the same regulatory hurdles that provide a wide moat and windfall profits for a time also make new drug development incredibly tricky and time-consuming.

(Source: Douglas Goodman)

For example, fat profit margins are created by patent protection, which usually lasts for 20 years. However, drug makers need to file for a patent at the start of the development process, which usually takes 10-15 years to complete. That means drug companies only enjoy patent-protected margins for a relatively short time before patent cliffs kick in and generic competition can steal market share.

And we can’t forget that the process itself is highly unpredictable, monstrously expensive, and only getting more so over time.

(Source: Tufts Center For The Study Of Drug Development, Scientific American)

When factoring in all the preclinical, clinical, and follow-up studies, it can cost as much as $ 2.6 billion to develop a new drug. And as we just saw with Rova-T, a promising drug can fail at any time. That can potentially result in a total write-off and gut-wrenching short-term price volatility.

Worse yet, because only about 1 in 10,000 compounds/treatments ends up making it through the FDA regulatory gauntlet, drug makers often have to acquire rivals to obtain promising pipeline candidates in late-stage development. All major M&A activity is inherently packed with risk.

For example, if a company overpays, then even a successful blockbuster drug can end up not contributing much to EPS or FCF growth. Meanwhile, synergistic cost savings, which are often counted on to make deals profitable, might not be fully realized. And what if a key drug that was a major reason for a large acquisition fails in trials? Then large write-offs can result, as may happen with Stemcentrx and Rova-T. And don’t forget that a failed acquisition can lead to a costly break-up fee. For example, in 2014, AbbVie abandoned the $ 55 billion attempt to buy Shire (NASDAQ:SHPG), resulting in a $ 1.6 billion break-up cost to shareholders.

The good news is that according to AbbVie’s CFO, when it comes to additional short-term acquisitions, investors shouldn’t “expect anything major.” That’s because, he said, “Running out and buying something of size doesn’t make sense.” Holding off on more acquisitions for a few years means that the company will have time to deleverage its balance sheet while it brings its strong development pipeline to market.

In addition, AbbVie does have a pretty good track record on acquisitions, since the $ 21 billion purchase of Pharmacyclics in 2015 was reasonably priced. It gave the company the blockbuster Imbruvica, which is its second-largest but fastest-growing seller.

But even if everything goes right, a company makes a smart acquisition at the right price, and the potential blockbusters in the pipeline are approved, there’s the issue of massive competition to contend with. For instance, patents on drugs are highly specific. Competitors are free to create alternate versions, including of highly profitable biological drugs. That’s why every pharma/biotech and their mother is constantly racing to develop biosimilars to the hottest blockbusters on the market.

In this case, Remicade faces competition from over 20 potential rivals, including Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) Inflectra, which is selling at a 10% discount to Remicade. And without patent protection, analysts expect Remicade sales to continue to deteriorate at an accelerating pace. Meanwhile, JNJ prostate drug Zytiga is also expected to see generic competition this year, due to patent expirations.

In order to keep their pricing power, pharma companies are also fighting constant legal battles. That’s to protect patents and also to try to block generic and biosimilar competition for as long as possible. All legal challenges are themselves highly uncertain, and a negative outcome can have a large impact on both the share price and future cash flow growth.

And we can’t forget about the other kind of legal uncertainty: class action lawsuits in case an approved drug ends up being harmful to consumers. For example, Merck (NYSE:MRK) had to pull popular pain drug Vioxx from the market in 2004 when post-clinical studies showed it significantly increased the risk of heart attack and stroke. The company has spent over 12 years in and out of courts, as a plethora of class action suits have continually pushed up the final settlement costs. In 2007, Merck settled most of the cases for $ 4.9 billion. But individual holdouts have continued suing the company, and the total cost is now at $ 6 billion, with several cases left to be settled.

And that is just one extreme case of what can go wrong. Often, legal liability is a death from a thousand cuts. For example, AbbVie recently lost a case in Chicago where a man successfully sued over AndroGel, a testosterone replacement cream. The plaintiff claims that AbbVie’s cream caused him to have a heart attack. While the jury did not find the company strictly liable, it still awarded him $ 3 million. The company faces about 4,000 more such cases over AndroGel. Each case is likely to have a different outcome, and some of them might be thrown out or be reduced on appeal. But the point is that even non-blockbuster products can end up as a major financial liability.

Meanwhile, in the past, JNJ has faced its own legal hassles, including numerous consumer product recalls, defective knee, hip implants, surgical mess, and a $ 2.2 billion settlement over antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Finally, we can’t forget the other major legal risk: government regulations and healthcare policy, both in the US and abroad.

(Source: HCP)

In the US alone, the rapidly aging population means that healthcare spending is expected to increase by about $ 2 trillion per year by 2025 and consume 20% of GDP. This means that the US government as well as private payers will be desperate to bend the cost curve lower. Blockbuster drugs and their high profit margins are an easy target for populist politicians to go after in this country and around the world.

For example, President Trump announced that:

“One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.”

The president has also said in the past that drug makers were “getting away with murder”, a sentiment many Americans share. And it is true that foreign countries do enjoy lower drug prices, largely because government involvement in healthcare is far more common. Of course, that is why most R&D recoupment is generated in the US.

But that’s not guaranteed to continue. Because even if Congress doesn’t enact outright price controls on drugs, it can easily lift the current ban on Medicare/Medicaid negotiating bulk drug purchases at a discount. That’s a far less controversial proposal that represents low-hanging, cost-saving fruit – one that could potentially hit margins across the entire industry.

In the meantime, Joaquin Duato, JNJ’s executive vice president and worldwide chairman of its pharmaceuticals segment, has said that insurers and pharmacy benefit managers are putting on extra pressure to lower drug prices. This is why the company’s pharma growth plans are focused on volume and not price. It wants to grow profits by expanding indications and launch new medications to treat more conditions, specifically in immunology and oncology.

The bottom line is that pharma is a wide-moat industry with huge potential for future growth. However, it’s also fraught with peril and risk. Drug makers face a never-ending hamster wheel of uncertain, time-consuming, and costly drug development. This means steady growth in sales, earnings, and cash flow is very challenging.

Only enormous economies of scale, highly skilled capital allocation by management, and safe and growing dividends make it worth considering the industry at all. Which is why I avoid all but the most proven blue chips in the industry, and recommend most investors do the same.

Bottom Line: These 2 Industry-Leading Blue Chips Are Likely To Make For Strong Long-Term Income Investments At Current Prices

The drug industry has a lot of favorable characteristics. It’s recession-resistant, wide-moat, and is potentially poised to enjoy a major secular global demographic growth catalyst in the coming years and decades.

That being said, it’s also one of the most complex, cyclical, and competitive industries in which you can participate. That means the best course of action for most investors is to stick with industry-leading, blue-chip dividend stocks – those with shareholder-friendly corporate cultures and proven management teams.

Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie represent the top names in pharma and biotech, respectively. And at current valuations, I am able to recommend both for anyone looking for low-risk exposure to this defensive industry. That being said, AbbVie has better total return potential, and its recent disappointing drug trial results mean that the company is far more undervalued. That’s why I bought it over JNJ for my own portfolio during the correction.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ABBV.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Stocks To Watch: Back To School For Apple
March 24, 2018 6:17 pm|Comments (0)

Welcome to Seeking Alpha’s Stocks to Watch – a preview of key events scheduled for the next week. Follow this account and turn the e-mail alert on to receive this article in your inbox every Saturday morning.

Investors are looking for a swing back in momentum next week after the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 recorded their biggest one-week slide since early in 2016, led by weakness in the technology and financial sectors amid trade concerns and Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) data privacy scandal. On the political calendar, Congress will be out on a two-week Easter break, giving President Trump plenty of room to talk up his tariff strategy and outline infrastructure plans during a trip to Ohio scheduled for March 29. There’s also a lull with corporate news a few weeks ahead of what could be a huge Q1 earnings season, leaving those feisty animal spirits to fend for themselves.


Notable earnings reports: Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) and Paychex (NASDAQ:PAYX) on March 26; Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) on March 27; Blackberry (NYSE:BB), GameStop (NYSE:GME), Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ:WBA), PVH (NYSE:PVH) and JA Solar (NASDAQ:JASO) on March 28; Constellations Brands (NYSE:STZ) on March 29. See Seeking Alpha’s Earnings Calendar for the complete list.

Apple Special Event: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is scheduled to hold an event at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago on March 27. The company is looking to win back market share in the education market after watching Chromebooks soar in popularity. Hardware updates from the tech company could include an updated iPad Pro with Face ID technology, a new entry-level 9.7-inch iPad and an updated iPhone SE. Could an Apple office in the Midwest be part of the plan?

IPOs expected to price: GreenTree Hospitality (Pending:GHG) on March 26; Bilibili (Pending:BILI), Onesmart International Education (NYSE:ONE) and OB Bancorp (OTCQB:OPBK) on March 27; Ibex (Pending:IBEX), Iqiyi (Pending:IQ), Unum Technologies (Pending:UNUM) and Homology Medicines (Pending:FIXX) on March 28.

IPO lockup expirations: RYB Education (NYSE:RYB) on March 26; Nightstar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NITE), NuCana (NASDAQ:NCNA), Deciphera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:DCPH) and Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) on March 27; PQ Group (NYSE:PQG) on March 28.

More tariff talk: The U.S. could issue some details next week on $ 60B worth of tariffs covering a wide variety of products. Analysts sizing up the situation still see a strong chance that the Trump Administration and counterparts in Beijing will work out deals covering intellectual property and technology transfers before launching an all-out trade war, but global markets have priced in some disruption. A list compiled by UBS of companies with a high mix of revenue out of China includes Skyworks Solutions (NASDAQ:SWKS), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), Qorvo (NASDAQ:QRVO), Broadcom (NASDAQ:AVGO), Micron (NASDAQ:MU), A.O. Smith (NYSE:AOS), Corning (NYSE:GLW) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC).

Extraordinary shareholder meetings for M&A vote: Old Line Bancshares (NASDAQ:OLBK) on March 28; Kindred Healthcare (NYSE:KND) in March 29.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch New York Auto Summit: Automobile industry companies set to present at the event in the Big Apple include Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors (NYSE:GM), Shiloh Inudstries (NASDAQ:SHLO), Group 1 Automotive (NYSE:GPI), Dana (NYSE:DAN), KAR Auction Services (NYSE:KAR) and American Axle & Manufacturing (NYSE:AXL).

Healthcare presentations: Companies due to update at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology Annual Meeting in New Orleans include Tesaro (NASDAQ:TSRO) on Zejula, Merck (NYSE:MRK)-AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) on Imfinzi/Lynparza and ImmunoGen(NASDAQ:IMGN) on mirvetuximab-Keyruda.

Analyst/investor day meetings: NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG) on March 27; Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK), Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA), Arris International (NASDAQ:ARRS) and GoDaddy (NYSE:GDDY) on March 28.

Business update call: Synchronoss Technologies (NASDAQ:SNCR) on March 28.

New York International Auto Show: Significant updates to older models will be a major focus of this year’s edition of the New York International Auto Show. Old standbys getting a refresh include the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima (OTCPK:NSANY) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) RAV4. There’s also a comeback for the Lincoln Aviator nameplate and Cadillac’s XT4 SUV introduction to keep an eye on. The public part of NYIAS begins on March 30.

Electric van event: Workhorse Group (NASDAQ:WKHS) and Ryder (NYSE:R) are holding an event in San Francisco to welcome the nation’s first all-electric, zero emission delivery van. The next-gen EV van fleet will be used in the San Francisco area beginning next month under a pilot program. FedEx (NYSE:FDX), Daimler (OTCPK:DDAIF), UPS (NYSE:UPS) are also active in testing electric delivery trucks.

Under Armour: Third Bridge Forum has a conference call set for March 27 to delve into Under Armour’s (UA, UAA) position in the athletic marketplace. The call follows a strong FQ3 earnings report from Nike (NYSE:NKE) on the back of new product momentum and continued market share gains from Adidas (OTCQX:ADDYY). Over the last 52 weeks, shares of Under Armour are down 19% to lag way behind the 26% rally for Adidas and 14% gain for Nike.

Barron’s mentions: Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) shareholders face a win-win situation with the DOJ lawsuit, reasons Andrew Bary. La-Z-Boy (NYSE:LZB) is tapped as a stock with upside potential, while the list of cloud software takeover targets includes Box (NYSE:BOX), Veeva Systems (NYSE:VEEV) and Atlassian (NASDAQ:TEAM). The verdict on Facebook is that a falling price-to-earnings ration and shrinking premium to the market make shares tempting for investors looking for the new “sin” stock.

Sources: EDGAR, Bloomberg, CNBC, Estimize.com and Nasdaq.com.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Sentiment Speaks: Mining Stocks Have Been The Most Frustrating Trade For The Last Year
February 11, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

For those that follow me regularly, you will know that I have been tracking a set up for the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEARCA:GDX), which I analyze as a proxy for the metals mining market. I believe that the GDX can outperform the general equity market once we confirm a long term break out has begun, and I still think we can see it in occur in 2018. But, after last week’s break down below the December 2017 low, the set up will have to be resurrected first in the coming months.

I am not sure what more there is to say. We have had several break-out set ups break down in the GDX over the last year. Yet, all the market has done is consolidate sideways for an entire year. Clearly, this is not something I would have or could have expected. Moreover, we still have a 5-wave structure off the 2015 lows, which still keeps us in a longer term bullish perspective.

Since the GDX is a composition of a whole host of mining stocks, I think I have to resolve myself to understanding that the weaker stocks have certainly been a strong drag on the overall fund. So, until the weaker stocks prove they have a bottom in place, it seems quite clear that the GDX will continue to frustrate us.

With that being said, the miners we are holding in our EWT Miners Portfolio are presenting as exceptionally strong, especially relative to the GDX as a whole. Many of them seem as ready to break out similarly to the manner in which GLD seems poised to break out. Yet, when I go back to look at stocks like ABX, it seems quite clear why the GDX has been underperforming.

As you can see from the attached ABX chart, it has followed through down to lower lows in this current pullback. When I highlighted this chart a few months ago to our members of my The Market Pinball Service, I noted this lower low potential, and the ABX is now fulfilling that potential. But, as I also noted in those updates, the long-term potential being presented by this chart is quite strong. As you can see, the positive divergences evident on this chart as the market has dropped down to just below its .618 retracement of its 2016 rally is quite stark. This is often a precursor to a strong reversal which will likely kick off the larger degree 3rd wave which has failed to take hold over the last year.

Within the micro count of ABX, it would seem we are completing the wave v of (C) of y of ii. But, within wave v, we may still see another 4-5 structure before this completes its downside. That means that the 14 region is going to be the resistance over which it will have to rally in impulsive fashion to begin to signal that this wave ii has finally completed. Should that occur, we may see the ABX catch up quite quickly to the rest of the complex behind which it has been lagging.

So, in order to align the GDX chart with the ABX chart, I have to consider any bounce below the 22-22.66 region as being a 4th wave bounce, similar to the potential we see in the ABX. It will take an impulsive rally through the 22.66 region to suggest that the lows have been struck in the GDX, assuming the ABX is also impulsively rallying through its 14 region. Again, we will have to start seeing the laggards in this complex catch up and potentially even outperform to signal that a true low has been struck.

But, in conclusion, even though the GDX technically broke its recent (1)(2) structure, the metals charts still give me reason to remain bullish in the larger degree. As I noted to my subscribers, the short-term indications in my 144-minute silver chart suggest it is trying to bottom out, while the longer-term structure in ABX suggests it should also catch up to the rest of the market, which would allow the GDX to finally break out when the ABX is finally able to complete its longer-term pullback. Until such time, it seems the market is trying to teach us a lesson in patience, such as that exhibited by the biblical figure Job.

Housekeeping Matters

Lastly, it seems that Seeking Alpha has changed the way they tag articles. So, while my articles used to be sent out as an email to those that follow the metals complex, they are now only being sent out to those that have chosen to “follow” me. So, if you would like notification as to when my articles are published, please hit the button at the top to “follow” me. Thank you.

Disclosure: I am/we are long PHYSICAL METALS AND VARIOUS MINING STOCKS.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I significantly reduced my hedges, and only hold an appropriate amount for portfolio insurance at this time.

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Stocks To Watch: Digging For Gems In The Shakeout
February 10, 2018 6:07 pm|Comments (0)

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Spillover Risk: Cryptocurrencies May Pose A Very Real Threat To Stocks And The Economy
January 29, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

Last month in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World“, I took a stab at explaining how and why cryptocurrencies represent a systemic risk.

Over the last year, I’ve developed a pretty solid understanding of Bitcoin, blockchain, and the cryptosphere in general. But if you’re a regular Heisenberg reader, you know that my definition of “solid understanding” is a bit different from most people’s definition.

Being able to talk intelligently about something isn’t even close to what I would consider sufficient when it comes to putting digital pen to digital paper. That’s why everything I’ve written about cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin over at Heisenberg Report revolves around price action, psychology, the reasons why cryptocurrencies aren’t viable as “money” and the possible knock-on effects for other assets and/or the broader economy (i.e. systemic risk).

I feel comfortable discussing those aspects of the cryptocurrency phenomenon because those discussions lean heavily on things I am extremely qualified to talk about. That is, when it comes to price action, investor psychology, what it means for something to be a currency (or to be “money”, so to speak) and systemic risk, I have much more than a “solid understanding”. In those matters, I’m a walking encyclopedia. What I do not posses encyclopedic knowledge of are the technological underpinnings of digital currencies. Again, I have a solid understanding of the technological points, but you’re not going to see me penning manifestos about why blockchain is or isn’t going to change the world or why Ripple can or can’t upend SWIFT.

Just to be clear, I don’t think developing that depth of understanding when it comes to the technology is important right now for anyone other than the people who are behind this movement and maybe a handful of academics who can perhaps help discern how the technology can actually be applied in a way that has some utility outside of speculation and/or outside of providing what Nassim Taleb has called “an insurance policy that will remind governments that the last object establishment could control, namely, the currency, is no longer their monopoly.”

The reason I don’t think it’s necessary for the rest of us to get too bogged down in it is precisely because by the time it matters, something bad will have happened that will ultimately force governments to regulate cryptocurrencies so heavily that they will cease to be objects of public fascination and thus vehicles for speculation.

There are a number of things that can go wrong here, some of which obviously have to do with the potential for cryptocurrencies to serve ostensibly nefarious purposes, but what I try to zoom in on are the possible knock-on effects for traditional markets and also for the economy more generally.

One particularly disconcerting development is that according to a LendEDU poll published the day after Bitcoin peaked in December, nearly 20% of people were using a credit card to get in on the craze:

(LendEDU)

Hilariously (or not, depending on your penchant for dark humor), that actually coincided with a spike in Google searches for “can you buy Bitcoin with a credit card?”:

(Google Trends)

Correlation doesn’t equal causation, but it seems like some coincidence that the publication of the poll cited above, the peak in that Google Trends chart, and Bitcoin’s high at roughly $ 20,000 all came within the same 48-hour window.

The risk there is clear. That effectively represents a high interest loan collateralized by an “asset” that’s depreciated by roughly 50% over the ensuing month. The chances that ends up showing up in, for instance, banks’ losses on credit cards are probably low, but you can’t rule it out.

On top of that, at least one bank recently “went there” by trying to estimate what the “wealth effect” (i.e. an increase in consumers’ propensity to spend based on unrealized gains in financial assets) might be from Bitcoin trading in Japan. The fact that anyone is even talking about that is unnerving. If, for instance, consumers did in fact end up spending more based on gains in their cryptocurrency accounts and that was reflected in high level economic data, the sugar high from that could evaporate in the event those unrealized crypto gains disappear. That could create noise in the data and make q/q and m/m compares more difficult, complicating policymaker reaction functions.

But beyond all of that, it’s becoming increasingly likely that traditional risk assets will begin to take their cues from the crypto market. Deutsche Bank was out with a great note this week describing how, far from the “safe haven” status crypto proponents often ascribe to Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies in fact represent exactly the opposite. That is, they represent the new frontier in risk-taking, replacing short vol. as the proxy for risk sentiment. Here’s the bank’s Masao Muraki:

The current ‘triple-low environment’ of low interest rates, low spreads, and low volatility has given birth to new asset classes like implied volatility (ETFs selling volatility), and cryptocurrencies. The prices of both asset classes have plummeted and rebounded simultaneously and in 2018, correlation between Bitcoin and VIX has increased dramatically.

The problem here is that just as the proliferation of strategies that explicitly or implicitly rely on the low-volatility environment continuing has the potential to create a “tail wagging the dog” dynamic whereby vol. spikes force selling in the underlying, if cryptocurrencies are increasingly viewed by larger investors as a proxy for risk sentiment, sharp moves have the potential to spill over. Here’s Deutsche again:

Cryptocurrencies are closely watched by retail investors, affecting their risk preferences for stocks and other risk assets. Although institutional investors recognize that stocks and other asset valuations may have entered bubble territory (US equities’ average P/E is around 20x), they cannot help but continue their risk-taking. Now, a growing number of institutional investors are watching cryptocurrencies as the frontier of risk-taking to evaluate the sustainability of asset prices. The result is that institutional investors, who are supposed to value assets using their sophisticated financial literacy, analysis, and information-gathering strengths, are actually seeking feedback about the market from cryptocurrency prices (which are mainly formed by retail investors). We believe the correlation between Bitcoin and VIX can increase as more institutional investors begin trading Bitcoin futures.

Underscoring that is a new piece out in the Wall Street Journal that documents the extent to which retail brokerages are seeing an avalanche of inflows from what they say are first-time investors (millennials are specifically named) attempting to capitalize off the gains in crypto-related stocks and, when they’re allowed to trade them, Bitcoin futures. Here’s the Journal:

Discount brokerages TD Ameritrade Holdings Corp., E*Trade Financial Corp. and Charles Schwab Corp. reported surges in client activity at the end of 2017 that have accelerated in January. The firms attributed much of the activity to retail, or individual, investors who are opening brokerage accounts for the first time, some of them lured by the boom in cryptocurrency and cannabis investments.

[…]

“Crypto and cannabis…volumes have been up big,” E*Trade Chief Executive Karl Roessner said Friday on the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts and investors. Despite the bitcoin-futures offering not being “a material offering,” Mr. Roessner said about a 10th of daily average revenue trades—a key metric for brokerages—has so far this month been blockchain- or pot-related.

Keep in mind that the obvious risks in inherent in all of that come on top of the risk associated with clearing crypto derivatives with other assets. Those risks were laid out in an open letter to the CFTC penned by Thomas Peterffy, the billionaire founder and chairman of Interactive Brokers, back in November.

Earlier this month, the Cboe’s suggested that futures on other cryptocurrencies could eventually be in the cards. To wit, from comments Chris Concannon, Cboe’s president and chief operating officer, made at a press briefing in New York:

You look at the entire crypto space and you look at what other products have the liquidity and the notional size, a derivative makes sense.

I guess that depends on your definition of “makes sense”. For now, crypto ETFs are still getting quite a bit of pushback from the SEC, but it’s probably just a matter of time before we cross that bridge as well.

But irrespective of how this develops, crypto risk is already embedded in markets and to a lesser extent in the broader economy as detailed above. And I could give you a long list of other arguments to support the same contention.

To be clear, more and more people are starting to voice concerns about spillover effects. For instance, Wells Fargo’s Chris Harvey has been very vocal about the risk to stocks over the past couple of months. Here’s what he told CNBC in his latest appearance on the network:

We see a lot of froth in that market. If and when it comes out, it will spill over to equities. I don’t think people are really ready for that.

No, people are probably not “ready for that”. And part of the reason no one is ready is because it’s not clear that everyone understands the points Deutsche Bank made in the note cited and excerpted above.

What all of this suggests for investors is that you’re going to have to start watching cryptocurrencies the same way you might watch the VIX. If it’s true that larger investors are going to start using cryptocurrencies as a proxy for risk sentiment, well then you might want to start asking yourself what that might mean in terms of the potential for a large drawdown in the space to impact what you previously assumed were unrelated assets.

I’m not saying you should obsess over every tick in Ripple, but when you see things like that $ 400 million theft from Coincheck on Friday, you should consider that fair warning about how unstable that market really is.

One last thing: I’m not sure the flipside of everything said above is ever going to be true. That is, even if Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have another year like 2017, you’re never going to be able to reliably extrapolate anything from that about a positive wealth effect for the economy or for increased risk appetite in equities. Why? Simple: because cryptocurrencies are so volatile that any of the positive externalities from a sharp rally have to be discounted because they can all be negated virtually overnight. You cannot extrapolate anything on the positive side from appreciation in an asset that, like Bitcoin, is 15-25x as volatile as the S&P, 20x-40x as volatile as gold, and 5x-11x as volatile as oil (according to Barclays and as measured by the coefficient of variation):

(Barclays)

Nothing further. For now.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $ 1 per share and/or with less than a $ 100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Stocks To Watch: Earnings Season Hits Higher Gear
January 20, 2018 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

Welcome to Seeking Alpha’s Stocks to Watch – a preview of key events scheduled for the next week. Follow this account and turn the e-mail alert on to receive this article in your inbox every Saturday morning.

By all appearances it’s going to take a lot to knock the stock market off its 2018 upward drive as potential landmines such as North Korea, political chaos and looming government shutdowns continue to be sidestepped with animal spirits stirred up. On that note, Bespoke Investment Group added up the cumulative declines on the S&P 500 on a rolling six-month basis to find that it’s been over 50 years since so little downward pressure has been applied to stocks. Looking ahead to next week, some heavy hitters are expected to post tax benefit-adjusted guidance in what could be another driver for investor enthusiasm.


Expected IPO filings Pagseguro Digital (Pending:PAGS) and Entera Bio (OTC:ENTZ) on Jan. 23; Solid Biosciences (Pending:SLDB), Gates Industrial (Pending:GTES) and Menlo Therapeutics on Jan. 24; Adial Pharmaceuticals (Pending:ADIL), PlayAGS (Pending:AGS) and Armo Biosciences (Pending:ARMO) on Jan. 25.

FDA watch: GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), Innovia (NASDAQ:INVA) and Theravance Biopharma (NASDAQ:TBPH) are expected to find out if the supplemental new drug application for triple therapy inhaler Trelegy Ellipta has been accepted for review by the regulator. The FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee is also meeting on Jan. 24-25 to review Philip Morris International’s (NYSE:PM) iQOS. Feedback from the committee on the alternative tobacco product could also impact British American Tobacco (NYSEMKT:BTI), Altria (NYSE:MO), Vector Group (NYSE:VGR) and Turning Point Brands (NYSE:TPB).

IPO/secondary share lockup period expirations: Bill Barrett (NYSE:BBG), RBB Bancorp (NASDAQ:RBB), First Republic (NYSE:FRC) and Corbus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CRBP) on Jan. 22; Sienna Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SNNA), Ablynx (NASDAQ:ABLX), Immune Design (NASDAQ:IMDZ), Savara (NASDAQ:SVRA) and UniQure (NASDAQ:QURE) on Jan. 23; Newater Technology (NASDAQ:NEWA), Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN), Idera Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IDRA), Atossa Genetics (NASDAQ:ATOS) and Hutchison China MediTech (NASDAQ:HCM) on Jan. 24; First Bancshares (NASDAQ:FBMS), VBI Vaccines (NASDAQ:VBIV) , Celsion (NASDAQ:CLSN) on Jan. 25.

Notable earnings reports: Earnings season really heats up this week with major reports out of every sector. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) on January 22; Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Texas Instruments (NYSE:TXN), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), United Continental (NYSE:UAL), Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF) and Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB) on Jan 23.; Ford (NYSE:F), General Electric (NYSE:GE), Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) on Jan. 24; Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), (NYSE:VMW), Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) and Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) on Jan. 25; Honeywell (NYSE:HON), AbbieVie (NYSE:ABBV) and Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL) on Jan. 26. See Seeking Alpha’s Earnings Calendar for the complete list.

M&A watch:There are potential deals brewing with Juno Therapeutics (NASDAQ:JUNO), Acorda Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ACOR), Kroger (NYSE:KR)-Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK), CBS (NYSE:CBS), Fossil (NASDAQ:FOSL), Bloomin’ Brands (NASDAQ:BLMN) and in REIT world with Vici Properties (OTCPK:VICI)-MGM Growth Properties (NYSE:MGP).

Detroit Auto Show: With the dreamy talk about next-gen electrification and mobility goals out of the way, the second week of the Detroit Auto Show is all about letting the public see new models. Front and center in Detroit will be the Ford (F) Ranger, Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Silverado and Ram (NYSE:FCAU) 1500. BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY) is looking to gain traction in a new sub-segment with the sporty X2 SUV, while Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY) is showcasing the new sub-$ 20K Jetta as it looks to rebuild U.S. sales. On the exotic side, Steve McQueen fans might want to take a look at the special edition Ford Mustang Bullitt. Although Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) is skipping the Detroit Auto Show for the third year in a row, the Model 3 will be in the spotlight this week as it makes its way into more showroom. Early test drive reviews (Los Angeles Times, Edmunds (video), USA Today) are already starting to roll in.

Crypto: A couple of mainstream events are on the calendar this week with the Blockchain Davos Conference 2018 and Cannaccord Blockchain Investor Day scheduled for Jan. 23. The blockchain-focused Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (NYSEARCA:BLOK) and Reality Shares Nasdaq NexGen Economy ETF (NASDAQ:BLCN) will also catch the spotlight as they close out their first week of trading. As always, expect volatility in the sector. 7-day crypto scorecard: Bitcoin -14%, Ripple -25%, Ethereum -18%, Bitcoin Cash -31%, Litecoin -19%, Cardano -24%, NEM -25%, NEO +5%, TRON -25%, Stellar -10% and IOTA -26%.

Investor/Analyst Days: The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO) on Jan 23.

Sales/business updates: HP (NYSE:HPQ) on Jan. 22; Workhorse Group (NASDAQ:WKHS) on Jan. 23; Progressive on (NYSE:PGR) on Jan. 24.

Extraordinary shareholder meetings: CTI Biopharma on (NASDAQ:CTIC) on Jan. 24; Broadsoft (NASDAQ:BSFT) on Jan. 25.

Americas Lodging Investment Summit: Just days after a big industry-rattling deal between Wyndham Worldwide (NYSE:WYN) and La Quinta (NYSE:LQ), hotel management execs meet in L.A. on Jan 22-25. Presenters include Hyatt (NYSE:H), Choice Hotels (NYSE:CHH), Park Hotels & Resorts (NYSE:PK), Marriott International (NYSE:MAR), Red Lion Hotels (NYSE:RLH) and Ashford (NYSEMKT:AINC).

Barron’s mentions: In part 2 of its Roundtable, the panel discusses potential bargains including Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), Starbucks, GrubHub (NYSE:GRUB) and MetLife (NYSE:MET), among others. A set of picks for top stocks in emerging markets include Sberbank (OTCPK:SBRCY), Posco (NYSE:PKX), China Construction Bank (OTCPK:CICHY) and Hollysys Automation Technologies (NASDAQ:HOLI). And retailer H&M (OTCPK:HNNMY) isn’t a bargain yet despite a recent 20% decline.

Sources: CNBC, EDGAR, Bloomberg and Nasdaq.com.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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4 Best Tech Stocks to Buy for 2018—Instead of Buying Bitcoin
December 7, 2017 12:30 pm|Comments (0)

Whereas railroads and Detroit automakers used to be the nuts and bolts of a well-rounded portfolio, today’s world runs on silicon chips and bits. There’s a reason Nvidia (nvda) has been one of the S&P 500’s best stocks two years in a row. The largest semiconductor maker by market capitalization is benefiting from virtually every tech trend—with its chips powering everything from Tesla’s self-driving cars, to Amazon’s and Microsoft’s cloud services, to the machines that mine the digital currency Bitcoin. Though Nvidia stock, at 47 times next year’s earnings, isn’t cheap, analysts expect revenue to soar 37% in the next fiscal year, justifying that price tag.

Ian Mortimer, comanager of the top-­performing Guinness Atkinson Global Innovators Fund, is bullish on Nvidia. Further down the supply chain, he also likes Applied Materials (amat), which manufactures the equipment to make the chips, and trades at just 14 times 2018 earnings. In the past, such stocks have traded at a discount because they tended to have long down-cycles—slow periods between, say, the new iPhone or PlayStation launch. But the boom in A.I.-driven technology means semiconductors are far less cyclical, if not entirely recession-proof. “The demand is coming from other places that didn’t use to exist—smart homes, smart cars, etcetera,” Mortimer says.

While Nvidia’s chips are used in “the brain of the car,” Mortimer says, he also owns German chipmaker Infineon, whose sensors facilitate a host of more practical functions—from automatically opening and locking doors to detecting obstacles—that are nevertheless increasingly essential to electric and modern vehicles from Tesla, BMW, and many others. Infineon trades at 25 times earnings.

For income-conscious investors, tech also has more dividend-paying stocks than ever. In 2000, when Microsoft and Cisco (csco) were the two most valuable companies in the S&P 500, neither paid a dividend. Now, Cisco, which paid its first dividend in 2011, yields more than 3%; the S&P 500 average is around 2%. What’s more, after being nearly written off as a washed-up “cash cow,” Mortimer says, Cisco expects revenue to grow this quarter for the first time in two years. Pushing into cybersecurity and cloud services has put Cisco on the precipice of a comeback—reminiscent, in a way, of where Microsoft (whose dividend yields about 2%) was a few years ago, when its transition to cloud computing was just beginning to revive its growth. “There’s also some reassurance in the staying power of the older stalwarts, Mortimer adds: “It gives you a little bit more of that diversification, without having all your eggs in very high-growth companies that may or may not come through.”

Here are more of our picks for 2018:

A version of this article appears in the Dec. 15, 2017 issue of Fortune, as part of the article “Investor’s Guide 2018 — Stocks and Funds: The All-Tech Portfolio.

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Top Three Cloud Computing Stocks to Watch
May 6, 2017 10:45 am|Comments (0)

And that’s what makes cloud computing stocks so intriguing. Alongside Big Data, the Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, the cloud …


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Cloud computing stocks
January 29, 2017 10:30 pm|Comments (0)

Cloud computing stocks fwb iran khaimah us investor twitter peterborough cleaner d kuala. Mncs nam engineers eeoc investigation cgi smart …
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The 5 Most-Sold Stocks Of All US Investment Funds
October 14, 2016 10:45 pm|Comments (0)

Hedge funds have struggled to outperform the market in 2016. According to the Barclay Hedge Fund Index, the average net return for hedge funds year to date is 3.43%, compared to 6.1% for the S&P 500. Throughout the second quarter and third quarter, the market has continued its heated pace of growth, even as several worrying trends signal a disconnect from economic reality. For one, nonfinancial-corporate profits from current production (operating income) declined from a 7.6% increase in the year ended June 2015 to a 9.3% contraction for the year ended June 2016. At the same time, nonfinancial corporate debt rose from 601% in the second quarter 2015 to 697% in the recent second quarter, the highest since 717% reached in second quarter 2010, according to Moody’s Analytics.


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