INVESTMENT ADVICE TODAY (WED NOV 11 2015) WHICH YOU CAN USE TOMORROW (NOVEMBER 12 2015)
By Murray Soupcoff
Well, well … generally, North American stock indices have been hemorrhaging red recently, reflecting (1) increased instability in the Middle East & Asia — can you say “Russian Cuban & Iranian troops in Syria”, boys & girls … or an American destroyer threatening Chinese island-based military installations in the South China sea, and Chinese fighter jets retaliating?
And (2) what about plunging oil prices, shuttered drilling & mining sites, and/or growing bankruptcy notices issued by junior energy companies?
Or (3) how about the declining earnings of many transportation & industrial stocks?
Not to mention (4) the slowdown in Chinese growth & imports, and related recessionary conditions afflicting most developed and emerging economies world-wide?
SO WHAT, YOU COUNTER
Some consequences, reflected in last Monday’s U.S. “market moments” (Monday November 9 2015)?
European equities traded lower on weak Chinese export data.
L Brands was downgraded to “neutral” from “overweight” at JPMorgan Chase, based in part on unfavorable apparel industry trends.
The Dow Jones industrial average traded down 208 points, or 1.16 percent, at 17,700, led lower by IBM
The S&P 500 traded 25 points lower, or 1.2 percent, at 2,074, with consumer discretionary spending leading all sectors lower.
The Nasdaq traded down 61 points ( 1.2 % lower), at 5,085, with Apple Computer continuing its slow but steady metaphorical descent into market hell.
Yes, folks, bad economic times have arrived, and it isn’t a pretty (economic) picture.
Want more proof?
Just read today’s newspaper(s), to get an update on economic reality in your neighborhood and national environs:
First, how about a look at real estate – whether in your neighborhood or nationally [not including high-price luxury ocean-front homes/condos in Florida or Malibu].
Until recently, purported rising housing starts & national property values was one slice of the allegedly surging American economy that had been fueling unjustified optimism (after all, who else but the Obama White House could celebrate -0.1% GDP growth as a sign of impending good times).
Not to mention the rapid escalation in the price of U.S. home-builder stocks, as well as in the American stock market itself.
Wishful thinking breeds blind optimism, escalating losses, and maybe even bankruptcy court.
IS THE PROSPERITY PARTY OVER?
Yes guys & gals (and the transgendered too), it looks like the party is over.
For example, on October 29th, we were informed that American new home sales dropped 11.5% — the lowest level in 10 months.
Is the U.S. real-estate bubble about to pop? I certainly think so, as does the IMF.
Second, talk to average consumers like your relatives, friends and neighbors (so long as they’re not a member of the much-discussed wealthy 1% crony capitalist elite).
Is it possible, that they’re getting worried, cutting back on all non-essential purchases, as well as fearing that — for the first time in American history — the lives of their kids will be worse than their own?
And how can we know? Well nation-wide retail sales are dropping as fast as Hillary Clinton’s “trust” numbers. And on October 30th, we received confirmation that — during that month — the most followed consumer confidence index (the Consumer Conference Board Index) plunged from last month’s 102.6 “score”, down to 97.6 in October (despite the more optimistic predictions of the “experts”).
Now even for the month, in which Halloween occurs, that’s pretty SCARY economic numbers!
Third, if you know anyone (but your stock broker) knowledgeable about what’s happening in the U.S. economy, you’ll probably be inundated with complaints that (1) exports are almost as big a disaster as was hurricane Patricia; and (2) the energy sector is currently on the wane (thanks to plunging oil prices, as well as unprecedented – unconstitutional — EPA regulations impeding growth in energy production & in the refining industry)
Can you say “more lost jobs & rising unemployment are on their way in these economic sectors”, boys & girls?
Not to mention the recent negative news about U.S. durable goods orders. They dropped 1.2% in September; and August’s decline was revised negatively downwards (down 3%, instead of the previously reported 2.3%).
And what do economists mean when they talk about durable goods orders?
Well how about big-ticket items like cars, airplanes, and business computers — not exactly the playthings of the peasantry in “flyover country”, the politically neglected regions of America: located between Obama’s booming crony-capitalist Washington fiefdom & America’s prosperous “left” coasts.
And what do unbiased economists make of such negative ‘stats’?
They see them as an advance warning of even more factory slowdowns and lay-offs in the economic wasteland that co-presidents Barack Obama & Valerie Jarret have created in America since they took office in 2008.
So what can “know-nothing” market interpreters like myself make of all the above bad economic news (versus the self-labelled economic “experts” on impartial cable channels MS-NBC & CNN)?
Well, for one thing, it looks like the professional class of American stock-market investors (e.g. hedge-fund & mutual-fund managers) are calculating in fear of some unanticipated economic failure in their investment decisions – a possible economic setback occurring pretty well anywhere on our increasingly financially-interconnected planet.
And what does that mean?
They are buying stock options which will make a profit for them, only if the stock market drops a whole, whole lot (and maybe even more that)!
And what is one sign, of current potential economic risk factors, taken very seriously by the investment pros?
Well, the folks at CNBC point to the “CBOE Skew Index”, tallied since 1990.
This measure is up at least 30 percent since the end of September (September 2015).
And that Skew Index reading was higher (at 148.92) than the level it hit last year when stock markets imploded (temporarily anyway) on fears that the Ebola breakout was spreading.
“So (it’s a) yellow flag for sure. Stay alert, stay alive!” wrote Roberto Friedlander — head of equity trading at Brean Capital — in a note to clients recently about the escalating Skew Index.
In other words, be afraid, very afraid, of what economic calamities may beset us yet!
And what current or recent economic news is underlying these fears?
Well, it could be Monday’s report of declining exports from China — potentially leading to a drop in that nation’s economic growth and then a decline in its purchases of consumer goods (as well as commodities) from Europe & North America.
And of course, there’s still the lingering worry that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month, beginning a further decline in the American economy.
And for good reason, the investment pros are becoming increasingly worried about the emergence of the new “Axis of Evil” (Russia, Iran & Cuba) in Syria, as well as the “peace-at-any-price” foreign policy of Neville Obama & John Heinz Kerry.
Indeed, the final “legacy” of one of the worst presidents in American history may indeed be what I have previously labelled “global economic & political Armageddon”.
So my own current investment advice (whatever its worth) is still to:
(1) SELL all the stocks you can (without taking unreasonable losses) and immediately convert the proceeds into cash.
(2) If you’re the adventurous type — and willing to wait at least four years for global stock markets to right themselves again (as they inevitably will) — invest in the kind of low-risk, cash-rich dividend stocks (paying a sustainable yield) which I’ve recommended in the past.
A RANDOMLY SELECTION OF MY PAST CHOICES
And what were some of those past investment recommendations?
(1) BUY SCANDIUM INTERNATIONAL MINING CORP. ($SCYYF.CA) – NO yield yet, but expected in the future
And please note that this is an Over The Counter (OTC) stock for Americans, usually requiring the service of a licensed broker.
So what the heck is scandium, and why buy a mining company that specializes in extracting this metal from its plentiful land holdings?
Well, in fact, scandium (Sc) is element 21 in the periodic table, a silvery-white metallic transition metal, often classified as a rare earth element (REE), together with yttrium and the 15 lanthanides. Its positive effects on strengthening aluminum alloys was discovered in the 1970’s, and its use in such alloys remains its main application.
Additionally scandium is a key ingredient in the new solid oxide fuel cell market, and in lighting and aerospace components.
But the main application of scandium, by weight, is in aluminum-scandium alloys for select aerospace industry components. These alloys contain between 0.1% and 0.5% of scandium. And they were once were used in Soviet military aircraft (during the “Cold War”), specifically the MiG-21 and MiG-29 and missiles.
Current global usage is small, at around 5tpa.
But despite this low level of use, scandium offers significant benefits:
Particularly promising is the strengthening of aluminum alloys and welded frames with this “alloy, using as little as 0.5% scandium.
And as already mentioned, scandium-stabilized zirconia (SSZ) is highly prized – and priced — for use as a high-efficiency electrolyte in solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC).
Some items of sports equipment, which rely on high performance materials, have been made with scandium-aluminum alloys, including baseball bats and bicycle frames. And lacrosse sticks are also made with scandium-titanium alloys to take advantage of the strength of titanium.
Most important, Smith & Wesson produces revolvers with frames composed of scandium alloy and cylinders of titanium or carbon steel. Yes, the wonders of entrepreneurial capitalism at work, deriving scandalous profits from America’s much-discussed constitutional “Second Amendment”.
But the real future, for scandium, may be: in wide-screen home TVs.
According to Wikipedia, scandium iodide — along with sodium iodide –produces a form of metal halide lamp, when added to a modified form of mercury-vapor lamp.
This lamp, in turn, is a white light source with a high-color rendering index that sufficiently resembles sunlight – perfect for use in LCD TVs to provide the most realistic color rendering and near 3-D “affect” available today.
And demand for scandium is expected to grow dramatically along with the development of a reliable supply (provided by, for example, SCANDIUM INTERNATIONAL MINING CORP).
After all, scandium is one of the more valuable of the 17 Rare Earth Elements (REEs), with scandium oxide priced over US$1,500/kg (99.9% purity).
Rare profits for such a rarely-discussed metal!
(2) BUY LABRADOR IRON MINES HOLDINGS LIMITED ($T.LIM ), yielding 5% or more.
Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Limited engages in the exploration, development, and mining of iron ore projects in Canada. The company focuses on the development and production of its 20 direct shipping iron ore projects, known as the Schefferville Projects (located in the Schefferville area of the Canadian province of Labrador).
The corporation holds interests in the Schefferville projects that include 4 mining leases covering approximately 510 hectares; 11 surface leases consisting of approximately 2,008 hectares; and 25 mineral rights licenses covering approximately 15,650 hectares in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The company also has interests in 447 mining claims, which comprise approximately 14,342 hectares, as well as an operating license over 142 mining claims covering approximately 2,050 hectares in the Canadian province of Quebec.
As far as I know, this is a company that has never failed to pay its annual divided. And considering today’s beaten-down metal prices, it’s also an appealing purchase for future capital gains — considering the excellent prospects for the price of iron ore once the Chinese economy makes a comeback (as early as 2017).
(3) BUY PEYTO EXPLORATION & DEVELOPMENT CORP ($PEY), yielding over 4%.
Peyto Exploration and Development Corp is a Canadian-based energy company. And it is, according to the latest annual shareholder report, engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and production of oil & natural gas in Western Canada.
Peyto’s wells, gas plants, gathering and sales pipelines exist in a corridor about 200 kilometers long, and 30 kilometers wide, contiguous to the foothills of the Canadian Rockies — halfway between the Northwest Territories and the United States.
Peyto operates in three core areas, namely the Greater Sundance, Smoky/Kakwa and Cutbank areas of Alberta, Canada.
Thanks to beaten down energy prices, this company’s shares are currently selling at bargain-basement prices – as compared to a mere two years ago.
If you’re willing to be patient, and hang on for the long-term, try it — you’ll probably really like it three to four years from now (considering the cumulative dividend payments & potential capital gains you’ve likely collected by then)!
(4) BUY BORALEX INC. ($BLX.T), yielding over 3.5%
Boralex Inc. is a Canada-based power producer whose core business is dedicated to the development and operation of renewable energy power stations.
It operates business in four segments: wind, hydroelectric, thermal & solar.
These operating assets, located in France and Canada, are unique because their profitability (and viability) is buttressed by long-term energy sales contracts.
The Hydroelectric segment consists of hydroelectric assets totaling an installed capacity of approximately 100 MegaWatts.
Additionally, Boralex recently entered the solar-power market with the commissioning of its first solar-power farm (located in Southwestern France) with an installed capacity of 5 megawatts.
And, finally, Boralex owns three thermal power stations with a total installed capacity of 80 megawatts.
Of course, everyone needs electricity, meaning that power utilities — like this one — usually prosper.
And the utility sector is the one North American market segment that is least impacted by frequent but range-bound market crashes (which are now rapidly occurring)
So if you invest in this electric company now, you’ll probably get a “charge” out of the annual sustainable dividend – along with some tasty capital gains when the market ultimately recovers.
And that’s it for today. Nuff said, for now, I would guess.