Booking - Hotels Are Too Full

05-AUG-19

We consider online travel agencies to be an exciting investment opportunity. Thanks mostly to cheaper flights, making both local and international travel more popular and affordable. Culturally, it is becoming normal for both young and older people to visit other countries. We own shares of the largest listed online travel company, Booking.com but there are others like Expedia, Tripadvisor, Ctrip and Trivago. Airbnb is not listed yet.


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Spotify, Singing To The Bank

05-AUG-19

Market Scorecard Global markets are rather ugly at the moment, which is not a great way to start the week. Chinese stocks are down over 3% this Monday morning, with Tencent down around 4%. Predictably, the JSE All-share has opened lower today. The one buffer that our local market will have is a weaker Rand, which is almost trading above $/R15.00 again. Over the weekend, China announced that their State Owned Enterprises would stop buying US agricultural products, which is a direct shot at Trump. Farming areas of the US are mainly full of Republican/Trump supporters. By making them feel the impact of his trade war aggressions, the hope is that makes the White House think twice.


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Apple - Wearables is a Huge Market

02-AUG-19

Apple reported earnings of which my colleague Paul covered in detail here. The stock closed up over 4.5% on the following trading day, adding the market value of Dell in just one trading session. Why Dell? Well according to Prof. Scott Galloway, my hero, 15 years ago at Davos, Michael Dell (basically a father figure to me) said that Apple should be sold for scrap, oops!


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EssilorLuxottica's Grand Vision

02-AUG-19

Market Scorecard Yesterday the US market opened in the green, putting the disappointment with the Fed behind it. The positivity pulled our market out of the red and gave us a green close. Then at about 19:40 our time, Trump hit Twitter to inform the world that more tariffs will be slapped on China on the 1 September. Within minutes the US market went from being up around 1%, to being red. More severe was the drop in the oil price; Brent crude was down 8% at one stage and WTI was down 7%! If Trump can do all of that with a simple tweet, does that make Twitter the most powerful company in the world?


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EssilorLuxottica To Buy GrandVision

02-AUG-19

One of the European stocks that I like is EssilorLuxottica, the dominant global manufacturer and retailer of eye and sunglasses. This group resulted from the merger in October 2018 of the French lens-manufacturer Essilor and the Italian luxury frame maker Luxottica (it owns the Ray-Ban, Oakley Oliver Peoples and Persol brands, and manufactures most luxury brand sunglasses).


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The Pale Chanting Fed Hawk

01-AUG-19

Market Scorecard There we have it, the US Fed cuts rates for the first time in a decade. Reading the headlines this morning, it seems that no one is happy though. On the one hand, some people say the cut was unnecessary and only done due to political pressure. You can read Barry Ritholtz' rant here - Today's Reckless, Irresponsible, Politically-Motivated FOMC Rate Cut. On the other hand, people are saying the Fed should have done more. As it stands, the Fed's position is that they will lower rates again when the data confirms it is necessary, implying that many cuts may not be on the cards.


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Amgen Q2 - Beats Expectations

01-AUG-19

What's going on at Amgen? This biotech company is also widely held in our client base, and its share price has underperformed a bit lately. The stock price reached $210 late last year, but has since drifted lower to around $180 per share.


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WhatsApp Has 400 Million Users in India

31-JUL-19

A big part of the Facebook stable is WhatsApp, where the company has yet to unlock the applications full potential. Getting the user base was the first challenge, now they need to figure out a way to monetise without reducing user experience. The huge potential for growth from WhatsApp is one of the reasons why we own Facebook shares.


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Apple Q3 - Still Cash Heavy

31-JUL-19

Apple released its quarterly profit date update last night, after the market close. This was the one that I had been waiting for, as I explained earlier this month. I was eager to see how Apple's lower number of shares in issue (as a result of aggressive share buybacks) would affect earnings per share and the company rating. I was not disappointed!


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Tim is Cooking

31-JUL-19

Market Scorecard The days that StatsSA releases South African employment data are always a bit bleak. It is never nice being reminded about how many South Africans can't find a job. Yesterday was worse than normal. Our unemployment rate jumped 1.4 percentage points, to now sit at 29%. Roughly speaking, for every two people who have a job, there is one person who can't find employment. In the second quarter of 2019, the number of employed people increased by 21 000, but the number of unemployed people increased by 455 000! How long will that be sustainable?


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Illumina Q2 - Slower Growth

31-JUL-19

Gene sequencing giant Illumina reported its not so good second-quarter numbers. As we already new from a recent update, revenues fell short of management expectations as the company missed timelines for certain population genomic initiatives due to logistical issues. Leading to lower-than-expected direct-to-consumer sales.


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OpenTable is Printing Money

30-JUL-19

Did you know that OpenTable belongs to Booking.com? The online travel service giant is another Vestact recommended stock in New York. It is owned by 172 clients, and the aggregate holding is worth $5,8 million.


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Open for Delivery

30-JUL-19

Market Scorecard An FT article from last night pointed out that the technology part of the S&P 500 index is up 40% since the Christmas Eve bounce! Apple for example is up around 60% since then. It just shows you how far things fell in the last few weeks of 2018. Looking back, it was probably a good thing that the majority of our client base was on holiday and not paying attention to their accounts. By the time people came back from the beach or skiing in Europe, the market had already staged a proper come back, meaning there was no longer a need for panic selling.


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The Coffee Beanstalk

29-JUL-19

Market Scorecard Unfortunately, the Rand took another knock on Friday as another rating agency warned about the level of South African national debt. If we don't see growth from the economy soon, it is almost certain that we get downgraded to junk status. There are two silver linings for us. The first is that the globe is moving back to a low interest rate environment. Meaning that even as our bonds (debt) become poorer quality, we probably won't pay higher interest than we are paying at the moment. The second positive, and this is a big one, is that most of South African debt is Rand based. Many developing nations have debt dominated in Euro's and Dollars, so when their currency weakens their debt burden increases, which makes the currency weaken further. Then the cycle repeats itself.


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Starbucks Q3 - Soaring Higher

29-JUL-19

Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks is another core recommended stock in Vestact New York portfolios. On Thursday night last week they published their second quarter numbers. They were very good, lifting the outlook for annual revenues and profits. Starbucks stock rose 9% on Friday, coming to within a whisker of $100 a share. Wow!


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