IPO watch: Volvo Cars seeks $23bn valuation on public launch

In one of the largest IPOs of 2021, Volvo Cars is going public. Here’s what you need to know about the Gothenburg carmaker’s stock market debut.

Volvo IPO

Volvo Cars hopes to raise $2.9bn in initial public offering

Chinese-owned Volvo Cars will make its public stock market debut on October 28th, 2021.

The company has set its sights on a $23bn valuation when it debuts on the Nasdaq Stockholm stock exchange in ten days.

In its prospectus, Volvo said it would be offering shares priced between 53-68 krona ($6.12-7.86) per share, initially offering $2.9bn worth to investors. Volvo Cars’ offering is made up of 367,647,058–471,698,113 newly issued common class B shares.

The transaction, including expected converted investments by investors AMF and Folksam, was seen resulting in a free float of about 19.5% to 24.0%, Volvo said.

That would give its owners, Geely Motors, a substantial ROI. The Chinese firm picked up Volvo from the ailing Ford back in 2010 for a cool $1.8bn.

Part of Volvo’s potential valuation is the fact it owns 50% of EV spinoff Polestar. Polestar is preparing its own IPO, which is expected to place a $20bn valuation on the premium electric car brand, due to launch in 2022.

Geely and Volvo also jointly own 8.2% of Volvo Trucks.

Volvo enjoys strong brand recognition and sales in key markets, such as China, mainland Europe, the UK, and the US.

The Swedish carmaker sold 770,000 vehicles last year, spearheaded by the popular XC family of SUVs. If it can pull of that $23bn target, Volvo would sit firmly alongside premium contemporaries like Daimler and BMW in terms of market cap, if not cars sold.

BMW shipped 2.3m cars worldwide in 2020. Mercedes-Benz shipped 2.2m.

Volvo’s electric outlook

Raising capital to develop its EV product offer and production capabilities is one of the key reasons behind this IPO. Volvo is aiming for annual car sales of 1.2m per year – an increase of 56% against 2021’s numbers.

“Volvo Cars believes that its unique structure and focused strategy makes it one of the fastest transformers in the global automotive industry, with mid-decade ambitions dedicated to electrification, sustainability and digitisation.” the Swedish company said in a statement.

As with pretty much all legacy car manufacturers, Volvo is looking to electrify its line up away from the Polestar brand. New electric models from Volve Cars will be badged as such. Think of Polestar as the premium of the premium. Volvo Cars are more in line with midrange BMW models, like the 1, 2 and 3 series, although it does offer models that can compete in the saloon and SUV/Crossover classes.

Could Volvo become one of the top EV stocks to watch?

The float, if successful, will help fund Volvo’s electric ambitions.

By 2030, Volvo aims to have removed internal combustion engines from its range. It expects 50% of total sales to come from electric-powered vehicles by 2025. In an interesting move, the auto manufacturer also expects 50% of its sales to come from online via the Volvo website by this time too rather than bricks-and-mortar dealerships.

“There is no long-term future for cars with an internal combustion engine,” Henrik Green, Volvo Cars’ Chief Technology Officer, said earlier in the year. “We are firmly committed to becoming an electric-only car maker and the transition should happen by 2030.”

September saw global Volvo sales fall 30% year-on-year. Supply chain chaos, chipset shortages, and worker COVID-19 breakouts all impacted manufacturing and delivery at this time. Volvo has said all workers have been given vaccines in its Southeast Asia factories, but it will still be hampered by semiconductor supply constraints.

Cryptocurrency update: Bitcoin eyes new all-time high on ETF boost

Bitcoin sets its sights on fresh all-time highs after getting ETF-shaped support this morning.

Cryptocurrency update

Bitcoin bounces as SEC gives crypto ETFs the green light

We spoke on Friday about the US Securities and Exchange Commission not being opposed to the idea of crypto ETFs.

Well, the SEC lived up to its word by okaying the introduction of cryptocurrency exchange traded funds on Friday.

Initially, BTC retreated to about $59,000 on the news, but Monday morning bought better price action. Bitcoin reached over $62,600 – its highest level for over 6 months – before finding a home more around the $61,100 mark.

Bitcoin has had a torrid time since peaking in April 2021. The volatility rollercoaster keeps on rollin’. But with the introduction of ETFs to the digital token trading sphere, the sector has been opened up wider. Can this stabilise prices? Maybe. It’s certainly possible that we’ll see a new all-time for Bitcoin as soon as the first exchange traded fund goes live.

Proponents of digital token ETFs reckon this is a good chance for traders and investors looking to enter crypto land to do so without needing to own any underlying assets. Plus, exchange traded funds by their very nature have to be regulated. That might attract those who are put off by crypto’s almost Wild West vibes.

ProShares Bitcoin ETF to start trading in 3,2,1…

It’s thought that ProShares’ Bitcoin ETF will be the first fund to start trading.

ProShares has said its newest fund will be available for trading on Tuesday.

The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF, which will give exposure to bitcoin futures contracts but not the spot market, will trade under the BITO ticker.

NYSE Arca certified the fund’s approval for listing on Friday afternoon, around the time the SEC was mulling over approving such funds.

Let’s be clear: the SEC hasn’t actually given an explicit, formal declaration of crypto ETF approval. It may never give one. However, it’s clear to see that, with the upcoming launch of ProShares’ fund, that they’re fine.

So, brace for a bit of a deluge of digital token-tracking futures funds soon. Roughly 40 are alleged to be in the approval process.

Why the futures focus? According to SEC Chair Gary Gensler, futures-based products may be able to offer stronger investor and trader protections under current legislation.

As we know, there is little to no regulation in pure token trading right now. It is on the US’ agenda. For now, however, exchange traded funds may present a potentially “safer” option to traders. They are still pegged to crypto token prices though. I would expect to see some of that volatility spill into ETF performance.

Grayscale close to Bitcoin exchange traded fund filing

This week may see another big hitter punching its way into the new Bitcoin ETF frontier.

Reports suggest Greyscale is planning to convert its $38.7bn Bitcoin Trust (GCBT) into an ETF. It could make its application early this week.

This would be an interesting move. Greyscale is the world’s largest digital asset manager and the GCBT is also the largest trust of its kind in the world.

Where Greyscale’s plans differ to, say, ProShares is that the Trust is not linked to derivatives. It is composed of digital BTC tokens. Its ETF would do the same. That might throw up regulatory roadblocks during the approval process.

Based on the fact Greyscale’s proposed ETF would NOT be futures or derivatives based, some analysts believe there’s little chance of it gaining approval.

Once Greyscale makes its filing, authorities have 75-days to review it.

Stocks weaker, THG strives for credibility

Stock markets looking a tad heavy in early trade Monday with all the major bourses tracking lower amid the customary cluster of inflation and slowing growth ‘fears’. The FTSE 100 eased back 0.2% from Friday’s 18-month high, losses for the CAC and DAX were larger. It’s been a mixed bag for Asia with Japan and Australia higher and Hong Kong and mainland China lower. US futures are a shade lower after a strong finish on Friday took the S&&P 500 back to within just 2% of its all-time high. Strong bank earnings buoyed sentiment – this week sees Netflix and Tesla among the big hitters and the first of the megacap momentum type names to report. Retail sales rose 0.7% in September, beating expectations in the process to show US consumers in fine health still. Chinese growth has slowed to 4.9% in the third quarter amid a crackdown on a broad range of business sectors, an energy crisis and a property market teetering under the weight of Evergrande. On a quarterly basis, the economy grew just 0.2%. Commodities are firmer, with copper re-approaching its May peak again and oil at over $82 for WTI and $85 for Brent. Nat gas is weaker though. Benchmark 10yr Treasury yields are at 1.6%. US industrial production numbers are on the taper later today.

THG’s Matt Moulding will forego his ‘golden share’ in a bid to restore confidence in the business among City investors. The plan will enable the company to apply for a premium listing on the LSE, likely in 2022, and on the face of things should go a long way to fixing a key grievance that investors have had about the company. But we should note that this dual-class structure was only ever going to last 3 years. Bringing forward the move by a year is not exactly sweeping reform. Nor is it a magic wand. Clearly, governance concerns run much deeper than a quick bit of airbrushing can cope with. And following the disastrous capital markets day last week, there are obviously far deeper concerns about the state of the business and a lack of visibility over how different parts fit together. Shares rallied 7% before paring gains – a drop in the ocean compared with the gigantic falls in recent weeks.

Sterling remains supported following hawkish comments from the Bank of England’s governor, Andrew Bailey, who said the central bank would act to curb inflation. He said that “we, at the Bank of England, have signalled, and this is another such signal, that we will have to act [on inflation].” It’s another firm signal that the BoE will act to get ahead of the curve by going early on rate hikes, with one increasingly likely this year. Markets have already braced for a swifter tightening of monetary policy, so sterling may not get much more from the BoE now.  Still momentum sides with the bulls for the time being. GBPUSD trades above 1.37 still, but has pulled back from Friday’s month high around 1.3770 with the dollar holding slightly higher at the start of the session. Meanwhile the pound has made a fresh 18-month high versus the euro.

GBPUSD Chart 18.10.2021

Bitcoin trades higher, moving closer to its all-time again as the first Bitcoin ETFs prepare to launch. The ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF, which will offer exposure to Bitcoin futures, could begin trading as early as today. It will trade under the ticker “BITO.” Unless there is a last-ditch intervention from the SEC, the ETF seems set to begin trading this week. Bitcoin rallied above $62k, moving ever closer to a fresh all-time high.

Bitcoin Chart 18.10.2021

ETF hopes power Bitcoin over $59,000

With the news Bitcoin exchange traded funds could be about to land in the US, BTC intensifies its upswing.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin bounces on positive SEC noise

Reports from Bloomberg indicate that the SEC would be in favour of approving at least some Bitcoin ETFs.

The SEC is reviewing 40 Bitcoin exchange traded funds right now. It is believed that the commission will approve at least some of these. That would make any new ETFs the first of their kind in the United States.

The news filled crypto traders with renewed confidence this morning, sending BTC prices soaring. Prices nudged the $60,000 mark with highs of $59,931 registered on Thursday. At the time of writing, BTC was trading for $59,395.

Bitcoin Futures passed $60,000 this morning before falling back to around $59,650. Both BTC and futures are up over 3% on the day.

If the SEC approves a Bitcoin ETF it will be the first of its kind in the US. Previously, commissions in places like Brazil, Canada, and Europe had given the green light to crypto exchange traded funds.

So, who is making the applications? Bloomberg mentioned ProShares and Invesco and two frontrunners who may see their applications approved next week.

Valkyrie, VanEck and Galaxy Digital Funds have all made ETF applications this year too.

The Bloomberg report said that ProShares and Invesco’s proposals are based on futures contracts. They were reportedly filed under mutual fund rules that SEC Chair Gary Gensler has said provide “significant investor protections”.

Gensler helped boost Bitcoin prices last week when it was reported that he said the SEC had no plans to launch a crypto ban. His comments came in the wake of a move by the People’s Bank of China that made digital token transactions illegal in China.

That said, Gensler had previously stated he believes that the crypto market could encourage price manipulation and expose millions of investors to significant risk.

However, this time Gensler and the SEC’s actions appear to have instilled high confidence in crypto traders.

Other tokens have been brought up by the Bitcoin surge. This is a regular occurrence. When Bitcoin is up, certain coins tend to perform well, and vice versa. Ethereum, for example, reached $3,855 after Bloomberg’s report was published.

Eight consecutive weeks of inflows for the crypto market

Data from digital asset managers CoinShare said cryptocurrency products attracted $226.2m in investments for the week ending October 8th. Fittingly, that marked the eighth consecutive week for inflows across the digital token sector.

Across that eight weeks, the total invested came to $638m. The overall figure for the year-to-date is $6.3bn.

Big business, but, with the global digital currency sector worth over $2 trillion, we knew that already.

No prizes for guessing which coin attracted the most attention. Yep, it was bitcoin. CoinShare says the world’s most popular token attracted $225m during the review period. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has only had four consecutive weeks of sustained inbound investment.

Ethereum saw minor outflows totalling $14 million. While still the world’s second most valuable token by capex, ETH continues to lose ground to the Bitcoin behemoth. Altcoins such as Solana and Cardano posted inflows of $12.5 million and $3 million.

Litecoin, Ripple and Polkadot all posted outflows.

FTSE makes new post-pandemic high, Bitcoin up on ETF hopes

GPs will be paid more to do what they used to do before the pandemic, like see patients face to face. This is what dislocation and the ‘new normal’ looks like: same service, costs more. That’s one of the reasons why inflation is not going to be as transitory as central bankers have been telling us.

Markets are not that concerned by this, so it seems. The FTSE 100 has broken out to a new post-pandemic high, stretching its recent range by a few more points on the upside to hit a high of 7,242 this morning. This marks a roughly 400pt reversal from the Sep 20th intraday low. It’s been a very tight range of that size since April but there are encouraging signs the FTSE can yet end the year at its pre-pandemic level of 7,700.

Why the rally? Key is energy – BP and Shell among the top performers of the last month and have a big index weighting. That’s BP and Shell, which are both up more than 20% in the last month as oil and natural gas prices have soared. WTI is back above $82 this morning. Next is the two big reopening stories – IAG and Rolls Royce, they are the best performers of the last month among the blue chips. Reopening of travel has been a major factor and we see more good news today with the move to lateral flow tests for international arrivals. Then third we have the big banks – HSBC, Lloyds, StanChart and NatWest have all rallied over 10% in the last month as rates have risen and the macro environment has held up pretty well. Bets the Bank of England is far closer to raising rates have helped, but global bond yields have also been moving higher. The FTSE is exposed to the winds of the global economy and trade, which despite it all are holding up well, and UK shares remain heavily discounted to peers. The FTSE 250, a better gauge of the UK economy, has ticked higher in the last few sessions but is down by around 5% from its Sep high.

Wall Street closed firmly higher yesterday amid a rush of positive earnings reports from the big banks. Walgreens and UnitedHealth also delivered positive results that indicate the large corporations are still able to deliver earnings growth and higher profits despite the rising costs. Supply chain problems will become more obvious when some more consumer discretionary names report, but so far the storm is being weathered. Meanwhile lower rates lifted the big tech boats. The 1.7% rally for the S&P 500 was its best day since March.

On the data front, US initial jobless claims fell below 300,000 for the first time since the pandemic, but inflation is not going away. US PPI was a tad cooler than expected but still running hot at 8.6% year-on-year, however core PPI ticked up to 6.8% from 6.7%. The headline 8.6% was the largest advance since 12-month data were first calculated in November 2010. Today – US retail sales, Empire State mfg index.

Bitcoin eyes $60,000 as traders bet the SEC is poised to allow the first exchange-traded fund based on BTC futures. The SEC is reviewing around 40 Bitcoin-linked ETFs and a report from Bloomberg suggests the regulator will approve some of these. Bitcoin spiked on the report, which indicated that Invesco and ProShares could be among the providers cleared to start trading on Bitcoin ETFs. With the kick on to the $60k level it may be a matter of time before we see a fresh all-time high.

Gold – pulling back to the 23.6% retracement as it pares gains in the face of the $1,800 test.

GBPUSD: Nudging up to the trend line again at yesterday’s 3-week high.

US pre-mkts: Bank earnings strong, Cat upgrade

Very strong bank earnings coming through this morning – JPM led the way yesterday and the latest numbers from peers also look strong. Real good signs of improving loan growth in particular is a positive for BAC.

US pre-market key pointers

Bank of America (BAC)

Strong performance from Bank of America.

  • Net income of $7.7bn, EPS of $0.85 vs $0.71 expected
  • Revenues up 12% year-on-year – JPM was just up 2.2%
  • Net interest income up 10% to $11.1bn – most rate-sensitive of the big banks
  • Record M&A activity – Noninterest income up 14% to $11.7bn, driven by record asset management fees, strong investment banking revenue and higher sales and trading revenues
  • Expenses down on the quarter, flat on the year
  • $624m clawback from bad loan provisions – bottom line flattered less than the JPM numbers.
  • Stock up pre-mkt to tune of 2.5%, having fallen 0.92% yesterday in sympathy with JPM, which is trading mildly higher in pre-mkt.

Wells Fargo (WFC)

Wells Fargo results showed:

  • Net income of $5.1bn, EPS $1.17 vs $0.98 expected
  • Net interest income was down 5%, due to lower loan balances that reflect soft demand, also higher prepayments, lower yields
  • Results include $1.7bn decrease in credit loss provisions – equivalent to $0.30 per share.
  • Pre-mkt trades +1%, having slipped 1.3% yesterday.

Meanwhile, ahead of the cash open on Wall Street, US futures indicate all the major averages will open higher. SPX seen opening up 30+pts at just under 4,400, Dow Jones +200pts at 34,610, NDX at 14,900. Risk looking solid.

  • Walgreens Boots Alliance reported earnings $1.17, vs $1.02 expected, revenues $1bn ahead of expectations, cost-cutting programme a year ahead of schedule. US comparable sales up 8.1% from a year before.
  • UnitedHealth shares +2% pre-mkt after reporting earnings beat and raised guidance.
  • Caterpillar +1% pre-mkt, bouncing of its weakest level since Jan, as Cowen advises clients to buy ahead of the first ‘megacycle’ in 14 years, initiates with ‘Outperform’ rating and PT of $241.
  • Tesla shares are up pre-mkt to their best level in 7 months.
  • Boeing down 1% pre-mkt after report says co. dealing with new Dreamliner defect, production problems
  • FTSE 100 at HOD just a whisker under 7,200
  • Dollar continues to struggle. GBPUSD making a fresh 3-week high at 1.37334.
  • Gold also trades at HOD at $1,800, sitting on its 100-day SMA.
  • Treasury yields lower, 10s at 1.532%

Earnings season: five stocks on Goldman’s radar

Earnings season is underway. Now’s the time to take a look at some stocks that could provide investors with more than the Wall Street consensus would tell you.

US earnings season Q3 2021

Goldman reviews earnings season stocks

Sometimes investors like to break away from the pack. To dare is to do.

It’s all about spotting opportunities from stocks that may be overlooked by Wall Street.

As reported by CNBC, Goldman Sachs has been scanning Wall Street for stocks it believes hold promise for investors looking for something different this earnings season.

Earnings season began in earnest this week with major US banks leading the charge as always. You can use our earnings season calendar to see which megacaps are reporting this quarter and when.

In a note to investors published on Wednesday, Goldman said it expects stocks to rise 6% this quarter. Its spotlighted stocks, however, could offer upsides of 14%.

The investment bank deployed a fairly complex methodology when analysing Q3 2021 earnings season stocks. 1,000 companies in Goldman Sachs’ coverage universe were scanned at the 25 best opportunities were selected when considering EPS of $5 per share over the next four quarters.

After this, the results were filtered through analysts which were above or below Thomson Reuters’ consensus for the upcoming quarter, and the year ahead, “on a key financial metric.”

“Single stock put-call skew is at its highest level in over a year,” Goldman said, encouraging investors to make out-of-money calls on its out-of-consensus stock picks. “Given investors are well hedged, even modest earnings beats are likely to drive a relief rally in specific stocks (on earnings day) and the broad index (over the next three months).”

The out-of-consensus stocks to pick

Please note these are only Goldman Sachs’ recommendations – not hard and fast must-buys. Only invest if you are comfortable with the risk of potential capital loss.

The top five stocks Goldman has selected to watch this earnings season are:

  • Uber
  • Signature Bank
  • Yeti
  • Bank of America Corp
  • Lowe’s

Let’s start with Uber. The ride-hailing service burst onto the scene several years ago as a taxi industry disruptor. Goldman’s Eric Sheridan thinks the app can deliver a 37% upside over the coming year. Sheridan’s earnings estimates put Uber 20% higher than Wall Street consensus right now too.

The idea is that if Uber can close the supply/demand gap, then this should lead to normalised ride pricing, higher demand in general, and thus pre-pandemic profits.

Outdoor retailers Yeti could offer even better upsides than Uber. Goldman considers Yeti a “growth compounder with best in class authentic brand positioning.” It could deliver upsides of 44% if Goldman is on the money. In terms of EPS, Yeti’s could be 8% higher than analysts think in the third quarter and 3% higher in the next.

Investment banks are usually amongst the first to start reporting on Wall Street come earnings season. It’s certainly true this year. Of these, Goldman flags Bank of America as the one to keep an eye on. Goldman’s analysis puts BoA’s upside at 7% – some 10% higher than consensus.

Bank of America’s potential has been pegged to “significant remixing of cash into securities” by Goldman.

Smaller banks are represented by Signature Bank. Ryan Nash, a Goldman stock analyst, forecasts earnings-per-shares to come it at 7% higher than Wall Street forecasts this quarter and 5% for the next four. Signature is on course for a revenue-beating Q3, driven by an acceleration in loan growth.

Rounding off Goldman’s section of potentially consensus-beating stocks is Lowe’s. The DIY probably benefitted more than most from the pandemic last year, but this quarter it could offer investors an upside of 12%.

Goldman’s Kate McShane said Lowe’s position is stronger now than in the last 6-12 months, thanks to bringing forward its seasonal inventory purchases.

Stocks rally, inflation sticks, earnings on tap

Stock markets rose in early trade as investors parsed the latest signs of inflation and the central bank reaction function, whilst earnings season has got underway across the pond with some decent numbers from JPMorgan. Wall Street rose mildly, snapping a three-day losing streak. VIXX is off sharply, which maybe reflects increasing comfort that the market has stabilised, if not able to make new highs just yet.

Earnings season gives investors a chance to ignore some of the noise and market narratives and get into actual numbers. Only this time we expect the corporate reporting season to underline the inflation narrative – the question is whether it’s just inflation or stagflation. Probably we get a bit of both – watch for sandbagging. JPMorgan numbers were positive, but as ever the stock fell despite beating on the top and bottom line. Profits were boosted by better-than-expected loan losses. Trading revenues were robust, asset and wealth management strong, loan growth improving and likely to pick up in 2022. Delta Air Lines also posted numbers that topped expectations including a first quarterly profit ex-state aid since the pandemic. But higher fuel costs and other expenses will hit the fourth-quarter profit – shares fell over 5%. Today sees Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo report.

Chinese producer price inflation rose 10.7% in September, the highest level since 1996. The China PPI number is an important leading indicator for global consumer inflation. On that front, US consumer price inflation accelerated in September to 5.4%, with prices up 0.4% month-on-month. Core rose 0.2% from August, leaving prices ex-volatile items like energy and food at 4%. US PPI inflation today is seen at +0.6%, +0.5% for the core reading.

Minutes from the Fed’s last meeting indicated the US central bank is likely to commence tapering asset purchases next month. “Participants generally assessed that, provided that the economic recovery remained broadly on track, a gradual tapering process that concluded around the middle of next year would likely be appropriate,” the minutes said.

Post the CPI and FOMC minutes we see Treasury yields lower, the dollar lower, gold firmer. Lower bond yields lifted megacap growth, or at least provided some marginal buying excuse to do so. Inflation is still hot but not getting much hotter. Narrative has clearly exited team transitory to support team sticky. The question now is whether we are at peak in/stagflation fears and this allows the market to move on to start pricing for 12-18 months hence, by which time you’d feel a lot of the post-pandemic bottlenecks and pressures will have eased. The problem for this – still team transitory if you like – is that anything that raises the costs of getting goods from source to consumer is inflationary and the pandemic has certainly been that. But so too is the shift in globalisation trends, eg Brexit.

Sterling is firmer as the dollar weakened in the wake of the CPI report. GBPUSD has broken free of the trend resistance and with bullish MACD crossover in play. Bulls would like to see the previous two highs on the MACD cleared (red line) to confirm reversal of the downtrend since May.

GBPUSD Chart 14.10.2021

Chart: Dollar index easing back to the middle of the channel, but faces pressure from bearish MACD crossover.

Dollar Index 14.10.2021

Yesterday I noted that gold was likely to face some volatility and break free from its recent consolidation. CPI numbers were indeed the catalyst and we saw gold prices hit the highest in a month, approaching $1,800 before pausing. Near-term, consolidation again with the 1hr chart showing a clear flag pattern with the lower end capped by the 23.6% line.

Gold Chart 14.10.2021

Chart showing gold price movements on 14.10.2021

Oil has firmed, with WTI recovering the $81 handle, though price action remains sluggish and sideways for the time being. OPEC yesterday cut its global oil demand growth forecast for 2021 but maintained its 2022 view and cautioned that soaring natural gas prices could boost demand for oil products.

OPEC cuts its demand growth forecast for 2021 to 5.82 million barrels per day, down from 5.96 million bpd. As we noted some months ago, it was always likely that OPEC would need to trim its 2021 forecast since it had always backdated so much of that extra demand to come in H2. The original 6m bpd forecast implied 1m bpd in H1, 5m bpd in H2, which always seemed optimistic. Critically, though, it was not wildly optimistic – demand has come back strongly after shrugging off the summer Delta blues. The cartel maintained its 4.2m bpd growth forecast for next year. EIA inventories today – a day late due to the Columbus Day holiday – forecast 1.1m build.

Crude Oil Futures Chart 14.10.2021

Nat gas – holding the trend support and 20-day SMA, bearish MACD crossover still in force.

Natural Gas Chart 14.10.2021

Hays shares +4% as fees rose 41% from a year ago. Strong leveraged play on record numbers of job vacancies and staff shortages. Shares have been flat the last 6 months, though +17% YTD, +45% the last 12 months leaves not a lot of room left on the table.

Dunelm still performing strongly against tough comparisons. Total sales in the first quarter increased by 8.3% against a very strong comparative period in FY21, when sales grew by 36.7%. Gross margins were down 10bps and expected to be 50-75bps lower than last year for the full year. Management warned on supply chain problems and inflation but stressed that good stock levels should provide them some cover. Some way to go to for the shares to recover recent highs but encouraging signs.

Markets primed for US inflation, FOMC minutes, JPM kick off earnings season proper

European stocks were off half a percent this morning in early trade after another fragile day on Wall Street saw selling into the close and another weaker finish. All eyes today on the US CPI inflation number, minutes from the FOMC’s last meeting and the start of earnings season with numbers due out from JPMorgan. Asian equities mixed after Chinese trade data was better than expected.

Markets in Europe turned more positive after the first half-hour but it’s clear sentiment is anaemic The FTSE 100 is chopping around its well-worn range, the DAX is holding on to its 200-day moving average just about. Possible bullish crossover on the MACD needs confirming – big finish required.

Dax Chart 13.10.2021

JOLTS: We saw a marked jump in the “quits rate” with 4.3m workers leaving their jobs, with the quits rate increasing to a series high of 2.9%. Tighter labour market, workers gaining bargaining power = higher wages, more persistent inflation pressures.

But… 38% of households across the US report facing serious financial problems in the past few months, a poll from NPR found. Which begs the question – why and how people are not getting back into work and quitting. One will be down to massive asset inflation due to central bank and fiscal policy that has enabled large numbers of particularly older workers to step back sooner than they would have down otherwise. Couple of years left to retire – house now worth an extra 20% and paid off, 401k looking fatter than ever, etc, etc. Number two is something more sinister and damaging – people just do nothing, if they can. Working day in, day out is like hitting your head against a brick wall – you get a headache, you die sooner, and you don’t go back to it once you’ve stopped doing it. Animal spirits – people’s fight to get up and do things they’d prefer not to do – have been squashed by lockdowns.

More signs of inflation: NY Fed said short and medium-term inflation expectations rose to their highest levels since survey began in 2013.

NY Fed inflation expextations 13.10.2021

UoM preliminary report on Friday – will give us the latest inflation expectation figures. This is where expectations stand now. Today’s CPI print is expected to show prices rose 0.4% on the month to maintain the annual rate at 5.4%.

University of Michigan inflation expectations 13.10.2021

The Fed’s Clarida said the bar for tapering was more than met on inflation and all but met on employment. FOMC minutes will tell us more about how much inflation is a worry – we know the taper is coming, the question is how quickly the Fed moves to tame inflation by raising rates.

Watch for a move in gold – it’s been a fairly tight consolidation phase even as rates and the USD have been on the move – the inflation print and FOMC minutes could spur a bigger move. Indicators still favour bulls.

Gold Chart 13.10.2021

US earnings preview: banks kick off the season

Wall Street rolls into earnings season in a bit of funk. The S&P 500 is about 4% off its recent all-time high, whilst the Nasdaq 100 has declined about 6%, as the megacap growth stocks were hit by rising bond yields. S&P 500 companies are expected to deliver earnings growth of 30%, on revenue growth of 14%.

JPMorgan Chase gets earnings season underway with its Q3 numbers scheduled for Oct 13th before the market open. Then on Thursday we hear from Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, before Goldman Sachs rounds out the week on Friday. JPMorgan is expected to deliver earnings per share of $3, on revenues of $29.8bn. Note JPM tends to trade lower on the day of earnings even when it beats expectations for revenues and earnings.

Outlook: Nike and FedEx are among a number of companies that have already issued pretty downcast outlook. Supply chain problems are the biggest worry with a majority of companies releasing updates mentioning this. Growth in the US is decelerating – the Atlanta Fed GDPNow model estimates Q3 real GDP growth of just 1.3%. Higher energy costs, rising producer and consumer inflation, supply bottlenecks, labour shortages and rising wages all conspiring to pull the brake on the recovery somewhat. Still, economic growth has not yet given way to contraction and after a global pandemic it will take time to recovery fully.

Trading: Normalisation of financial markets in the wake of the pandemic – ie substantially less volatility than in 2020 – is likely to weigh somewhat on trading revenues, albeit there was some heightened volatility in equity markets towards the end of September as the stock market retreated. Dealmaking remains positive as the recovery from the pandemic and large amounts of excess cash drove business activity.

Costs: The biggest concern right now for stocks is rising costs. Supply-side worries, specifically rising input and labour costs, pose the single largest headline risk for earnings surprises to fall on the downside. The big banks have already raised their forecasts for expenses this year on a number of occasions. It’s not just some of the well-publicized salary hikes for junior bankers that are a concern – tech costs are also soaring.

Interest rates: Low rates remain a headwind but the recent spike in rates on inflation/tapering/tightening expectations may create conditions for a more positive outlook. The 10s2s spread has pushed out to its widest since June. Rising yields in the quarter may have supported some modest sequential net interest income improvement from Q2.

Chart: After flattening from March through to July, the yield curve is steepening once more.

Yield Curve 13.10.2021

Loan demand: Post-pandemic, banks have been struggling to find people to lend to. Commercial/industria loans remain subdued versus a year ago, but there are signs that consumer loan growth is picking up. Fed data shows consumer loan growth has picked up as the economy recovers. However, UBS showed banks were lowering lending requirements in a bid to improve activity, which could impact on the quality, though this is likely a marginal concern given the broad macro tailwinds for growth. Mortgage activity is expected to be substantially down on last year after the 2020 surge in demand for new mortgages and refinancing.

Chart: Consumer loan growth improving

Consumer Loan chart 13.10.2021

Other stocks we are watching

The Hut Group (THG) – tanked 30% yesterday as its capital markets day seems to have been a total bust. Efforts to outline why the stock deserves a high tech multiple and what it’s doing with Ingenuity and provide more clarity over the business seemingly failed in spectacular fashion. The City has totally lost confidence in this company and its founder. No signs of relief for the company as investors give it the cold shoulder. Shares are off another 5% this morning.

Diversified Energy – the latest to get caught in the ESG net – shares plunged 19%, as much as 25% at one point after a Bloomberg report said oil wells were leaking methane. Rebuttal from company seemed to fall on deaf ears. Shares recovering modestly, +3% today.

Analysts are lifting their Netflix price targets, partly on the popular “Squid Game.” Netflix will report its third-quarter earnings next week.

These stocks could help you ride the next crypto surge

Bank of America has picked out a number of stocks that could help investors get a slice of the cryptocurrency pie. Here they are.

Cryptocurrency stocks

Digital tokens on the rise?

Despite what some objectors and sceptics might say, it looks like cryptocurrency is here to stay.

Bitcoin has recently started heading upwards again. The token, which is the most popular in the world, recently passed the key $57,000 level – the highest levels since May. April’s $65,000 all-time high is still the target for BTC, but the industry is not just Bitcoin.

There are hundreds, thousands, of other digital tokens available. The industry’s collective valuation is currently north of $2 trillion – higher than the GDP of Canada with its bountiful natural resources.

Coins like Ether, Ripple, Cardano and even meme-based internet favourite Dogecoin, all have their own fans, representing billions in capital.

Cryptocurrencies seem like they’re becoming more resilient to outside pressures too. For example, Bitcoin’s current high performance flies in the face of China’s recent crypto ban. Before, such a measure would have sent the token spiralling downward. Now, even a flat out ban from one of the world’s foremost crypto markets isn’t enough to slow it down.

That being said, digital token prices can still show high volatility. Many investors and traders are still unsure if it’s a smart investment. Others prefer to stick with old school wealth stores like gold. But many are finding crypto a worthwhile pursuit. It’s basically down to how much volatility you can stomach.

But coins do not just generate themselves. To operate, the crypto industry requires an extensive ecosystem. It incorporates everything from technology providers, blockchain developers, payment platforms and plenty in between.

For investors to get involved in the next crypto gold rush without committing to coins, there are ways they can get involved. Of course, it goes without saying that any investments carry risk of capital loss. Investing should only be undertaken if you are comfortable taking any losses.

With that in mind, Bank of America analysts have selected several stocks they believe could offer investors value as the crypto industry grows.

Bank of America’s crypto stocks to watch

“A new generation of companies for digital assets trading, offerings and new applications across industries, including finance, supply chain, gaming and social media has been created. And yet we’re still in the early innings,” Bank of America said in a note, as reported by CNBC.

The bank’s digital finance stock selections look at the wider cryptocurrency sector.

Let’s start with power. Cryptocurrency mining, the process of minting fresh coins, is power intensive. Very power intensive. In fact, in 2020, Bitcoin mining alone used as much energy as Sweden.

According to Bank of America, nuclear power firms could be ready to pounce on the crypto sector. Environmental concerns around token mining’s emissions could push miners to look for low-carbon alternatives to their current options. With low emissions and round-the-clock reliability, nuclear could be the ideal fuel source for crypto mining.

With that in mind, BoA suggests Exelon, NRG Energy and Vistra could be energy companies to watch if they move into the crypto space.

Let’s talk data centres. Since China prohibited crypto mining in its territories, there’s been a mass exodus of mining operations. It looks like North America might become mining next hotspot.

“As digital asset mining migrates to North America due to China’s near complete ban of mining activities, public data-centre companies could view this niche market as an opportunity,” BoA analysts said.

A data centre boom may be on the way. To capitalise on this, Bank of America analysts recommend two stocks: Digital Reality and Equinix.

“Greater focus on the energy consumption of digital asset mining could increase demand for data centre operators with greater renewable energy sources,” the analysts said. “Equinix data centres are powered with 37% renewable energy with a target of 100% over the next decade.”

Payment platforms and banks should also be considered.

PayPal in particular is a “must own” for Bank of America.

“We view [Paypal] as a scarce asset with accelerating structural tailwinds, while the company is well on its way to transforming its digital wallet/app into a financial ‘Super App’ for its massive global consumer base,” the bank said.

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