Sunday, December 30, 2018

Barrons weekend summary

Barrons weekend summary: Positive cover story on DIS; cautious on medical device makers ABT, BSX, MDT 
Cover story: After 20 years of focus on television, DIS is returning to its roots in films and theme parks, part of a transformation that includes a bold move into streaming that could help pull the company’s stock out of a three-year slump. 

Features: 1) The streaming landscape is beginning to resemble cable, with a handful of major “networks” such as AMZN, Hulu, and NFLX dominating as players such as DIS prepare to enter the fray; 2) Investors think index funds are a great way to capture market returns, but many funds that do no more than track broad market benchmarks charge fees on a par with actively managed funds; 3) Cautious on ABT, BSX, MDT: Recent research that found evidence doctors misdiagnose patients to justify useless but lucrative procedures could curb the inappropriate use of stents, trimming revenue from medical device companies. 

Tech Trader: “With consumers, legislators, and investors more skeptical of tech than they’ve been in years, trust could be an an intangible factor next year in how companies compete, recruit new customers, and retain talent.” 

Trader: Three months ago, the market appeared to be pricing in a strong economy and solid earnings in 2019, but that changed in September, and stocks are now pricing in a possible recession; Positive on CGNX: Company’s gross margins of more than 75% are more comparable to a software company than its industrial peers, and it’s always on the hunt for new industries for expansion. 

Profile: Bob Doll, chief equity strategist and senior portfolio manager at Nuveen, applies quantitative and qualitative analysis to the Large Cap Core fund, a strategy known as "quantamental" (top 10 holdings: AAPL, MSFT, UNH, MA, Comcast, GOOGL, AMZN, CSCO, CELG, CI); Winton Capital founder David Harding, who deploys high-powered computers to crunch data, pick up potential trading signals, and ascertain market patterns, talks about artificial intelligence and statistical fallacies. 

Interview: BX chief executive Stephen Schwarzman talks about whether the firm has grown too big, whether it should convert from a partnership to a regular C corporation, and about succession planning. 

Up and Down Wall Street: Now could be the time to look at preferred shares, whose relative stability and higher dividend yields are attractive to some investors; Positive on G4S: Shares of the company, which are down from their 2018 high, are cheap and set for a rebound, says Alexander Roepers of Atlantic Investment Management. 

European Trader: Positive on Aegon, Prudential, ING: “After a broad selloff in preferred stocks during the first half of the year, several U.S. exchange-traded preferreds from European issuers have become attractive income plays.” 

Emerging Markets: Emerging markets fund mangers followed two lines of thought in 2019: a belief that fundamentals remained sound, and that many excellent companies would thrive despite political or economic volatility—but investors didn’t buy either argument. 

Commodities: Prices for platinum, which is used primarily in automobile catalytic converters, look ready to bounce more than 40% in the next few weeks, according to analysts. 

Streetwise: Banks have squandered the public’s trust over the past decade, but fintechs—which stepped in with offers of better technology and stronger ethics—have also stumbled, raising questions about whether the new guard is any better than the old guard.