Monday, March 31, 2014

Bombardier Flight Test Delay Ok With Customers, BlackBerry (BBRY) Developing New Sources of Revenue Infotainment

Bombardier (BBD.B) cseries delay not a problem for customers
Airlines Lufthansa (fra:LHA) and Odysey have firm orders for 30 and 10 cseries aircraft, respectively;  Lufthansa also has an option for 30 more; that represents 23% of all orders.  First flight was suppose to have occurred back in June 2014 but software upgrades pushed the date back to September 16, 2014.  That date was eventually scrapped in favor of one 15 months later- December 2015.  Engineering is not the problem (already done / confirmed by key customers) rather, the certification process overseen by Transport Canada is to blame as it is time consuming especially since it involves a new United Technologies Pratt & Whitney engine.  The flight test program is scheduled to be 2400 hours long with only 159 logged thus far.  According to Odyssey Airlines, when ready the Bombardier cseries plane will have a flawless entry into service with airlines, making long delays justifiable.

The c100 will cost 15% less to operate versus similarly sized planes (110, 130 seater).  The c300 will seat 20 more passengers than the c100.

Russia crisis affects $3.4 billion Q400 turboprop contract between Bombardier and state owned Rostekhnologii. - Sanctions tabled by the US and Canada prevent Bombardier from moving forward with the contract.  In 2013 Russia accounted for only 1.4% of company revenue ($250m), this deal is pivotal for boosting sales to the region.  Russia is an expanding market and key member of the BRIC group of nations.  In my opinion this is a deal the company must hang onto.

BlackBerry's QNX platform superior to Apple IOS ?

Last month Apple revealed something somewhat surprising:  Apple's new in car operating system Carplay- which enables iPhone to power the infotainment, is actually built on BlackBerry's qnx platform.

"Connectivity to smartphones and other mobile devices is a key strength of qnx Software Systems’ platform", "We have a long-standing partnership with Apple to ensure high-quality connectivity with their devices, and this partnership extends to support for Apple CarPlay".
with automakers Toyota (TM), BMW, GM and Ford (F) already designing their vehicles to be compatible with qnx software it seems inevitable that, as the technology increases in popularity BlackBerry is going to develop a significant new source of revenue.
Also in March:  US department of defense approves BlackBerry Full Operational Capability software to run on government networks.

The week prior to this, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) approved BlackBerry's iOS and Android Secure Work Space mobile service for use by the US and Canadian governments- allows IT managers to create a separate area on any iOS or Android device that's managed by Blackberry Enterprise Service 10.  The partnership with Android is another way BlackBerry is increasing revenue stream and future cash flow.

Blackberry About To Make Up More Ground In Smartphone Battle

The new BlackBerry Z3 is a low cost device (under $200;  Samsung and LG rely on low end devices for their sales growth).
Indonesia will be the first country in Asia to get it / Z3 is the first phone manufactured by contract partner Foxconn.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Oil Companies 2013 Results Impacted By Oil Sands Production, Lower Refinery Margins, Kearl Project Christina Lake

2013 was a great year for three of my favorite oil companies - Suncor Energy (nyse:SU), Cenovus Energy (nyse:CVE) and Imperial Oil (nyse:IMO).  For the most part, production, revenue, earnings and dividends were up, however plummeting refining margins coupled with a stronger US dollar negatively affected an otherwise solid financial statement from Cenovus Energy.  I have read through the SEC filings from these companies and will give a brief synopsis of the results.

America Choosing Not To Renew Licenses For Coal Fired Power Plants Gives China, India Economies Competitive Advantage

Nearly 1200 coal fired power plants will be coming online around the world in 2014 ; a cost-benefit-efficiency analysis shows that coal fired power plants produce energy at a very low cost and that's giving US competitors China, India and other emerging markets a strategic advantage.  Another interesting thing to note is this - after a string of attacks on nuclear power plants, their vulnerability has been called into question.

Despite what the nay sayers are saying, US carbon emissions are at their lowest levels since 1994; the reason for this is simple - the so-called 'dirty energy' sources are producing at a very high level of efficiency (power plants fitted with sulfur and carbon scrubbers).

2013 Highlights From Suncor Energy, Cenovus Energy, Imperial Oil

Suncor Energy (SU) 2013 Highlights

Net earnings up significantly thanks in part to a strong fourth quarter; last year, 4Q loss was $574 million due to Voyageur incident / writedown on assets in Libya.  12-month net income: $3,911 million up from $2,740 million.  Hindering earnings is the strong US dollar:  fx loss of $157 million in 2013 vs fx gain of $521 million in 2012.
Capex of $6.380 billion is up marginally from $6.370 billion last year: capex on oil sands down 13% -> $4.311 billion; capex on refining and marketing up 38% -> $890 million.  Planned capital and exploration budget of $7.8 billion for 2014.

Concluded 2013 with record quarterly net production from the oil sands (409,600 bpd) up from 342,800 bpd in 4Q2012.

For the year, production was up at oil sands operations (+33,300 or 9.3% -> 392,500 bpd) but down in the exploration and production segment (189,900 -> 169,900).  Production mix is moving away from natural gas (only 6% from natural gas, down from 9%). Refinery utilization down in Western North America (100% -> 96%).  Price per barrel realized up:  oil sands: $84.22 (vs $82.75);  exploration and production: $91.44 (vs $84.05).

Operating Netback:  increases came from North America Onshore (+33.5% -> $2.51 / mcfe), Other International (+14.5% -> $47.85 / bbl), East Coast Canada (+12.0% -> $73.02 / bbl).  Strongest netback results from North Sea Buzzard where the company pays no royalties (netback @$101.50 (vs $99.74) on avg price realized of $109.95 (up from $108.46).  15% increase in quarterly dividend up to 23 cents.  Net earnings up significantly in the final quarter:  $443 million profit, up from $557 million loss.

Cenovus Energy 2013 Highlights 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gold Looks Good In 2014 Despite Fed Tapering, Canadian Oil Price Differential Under $20 Into 2016 pipelines

Key things to note this first month of 2014:  From December 31, 2013 to January 29, 2014 spot gold gained US$85 to close at just under $1270 but keep in mind that if your currency isn't the US dollar then gold got even more expensive thanks to i) ongoing currency crises in emerging markets ii) Canadian dollar drops to 4-year low versus the greenback; country decides not to raise interest rates. iii) fiscal liquidity problem developing in China.  But don't get too excited just yet - At $1255 the April futures gold price remains lower than spot.  Osisko is suing Goldcorp - alleges misuse of confidential information.  I guess that puts an end to Goldcorp's $2.6 billion hostile bid for Osisko.

Canadian WCS oil price:  Canadian oil price differential expected to remain under $20 for the foreseeable future, well into 2016.  A couple reasons for this

  • Enbridge is expanding the capacity of a key pipeline in Wisconsin:  from 400,000 bpd to 1.2 million bpd.  That will have a positive effect on the oil and gas industry in the US NW (three-fifths of oil output in ND is shipped by rail).  Enbridge has also proposed the Sandpiper Pipeline which will add 225,000 bpd to Minnesotia plus another 375,000 bpd to Wisconsin.
  • BP and Marathon refineries in the US are being upgraded to handle more heavy crude from Alberta.
  •  Glut of supply in Wisconsin may be relieved when portions of the Keystone pipeline come online (southern leg of Keystone running through Cushing, Oklahoma became operational January 22).
  • Trans Mountain pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby tripled capacity from 300th to 890th barrels per day.

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Despite several factors working in its favor, over the last few weeks the price of gold hasn't really moved in either direction, as investors were anticipating a tapering to the Fed's $80 billion monthly bond buying program (put downward pressure on commodity prices).  When it finally happened on January 29 ($10b/mo) gold went up as is to be expected (no more tapering in the short term).  I have some concerns about Fed tapering.. The Fed claims that economic activity picked up in recent months -> this should cause money to flow out of commodities and into equities... however that doesn't appear to be happening (soft jobs growth in December).  If you're concerned about interest rates rising in response to Fed tapering don't be:  The Fed has explicitly stated that it will maintain a policy of record low interest rates (gold does well when interest rates go down).

Counteracting this and lifting the price of gold is

  • Currency crisis in emerging markets specifically Turkey, South Africa, Argentina - safe haven investing favors gold, US security notes
  • Financial liquidity problem developing in China; banks aren't lending and that's making it worse
  • Less US monetary stimulus is wreaking havoc on currencies in South Africa and Turkey where account deficit problems are forcing interest rate hikes.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bitcoin Accepted By More Retailers, 3d Sensor Technology; BlackBerry's Turnaround & Bombardier BBD.B More Orders Planes, Trains

          You know things are crazy when the most solid investment right now may not even be tangible !  Bitcoin, the most widely used virtual currency gained 5% in trading the Thursday following Christmas day.  This, on news that major online retailer will begin accepting Bitcoin as payment early next year.  Bitcoin prices ranged wildly over the past couple months.. all time high is $1241 (November 29) up from just $100 in October... Bitcoin currently trades at ~$1240 USD.

Canadian Real Estate Investors Have Deep Pockets.. Makes Canadian Real Estate Market Less Risky

I'm optimistic about the Canadian real estate market, specifically commercial properties. Only 1.5 years ago, in May of 2012 Scotiabank sold Canada's second tallest building, Scotiaplaza to H&R Reit/Dundee Reit for an impressive $1.266 billion.  Then, last month we learn that Canadian real estate investors have been a major driving force behind the resurgent US real estate market;  between the years 2009 and 2013, Canadians outspent Americans by about $27 billion !

This year (ended August 2013) the biggest Canadian spenders south of the border were publicly traded companies ($4.6b), institutional investors ($2.3b), and private companies (1.3b).. they invested in office space ($4.2b), apartment buildings ($2.8b), and industrial complexes ($2.1b) among others.  You can be sure that these companies are eyeing the Canadian market and plan to step right in if and when Canadian prices start to decline.

Bad News at BlackBerry Being Overblown Again (surprise ?)

What hurts Microsoft won't hurt BlackBerry:  Unlike Microsoft, BlackBerry offers a robust operating system with the best reputation for security. What worked against MSFT won't work against BBRY. The last quarter was seriously hurt by Thorsten's for sale tag. People were confused about the future of the company, but now the situation is different the future is clear, BlackBerry is here to stay.
The media chooses to focus on only the worst news in the worst possible way !

  • Either say that the company sold 1.9 million handsets or say that it lost $4.4b;  The $4.4b loss takes into account 4 million devices sold.
  • The adjusted loss of under $400m compares favorably to the quarterly losses Microsoft's handset business has been racking up.
  • Without its cheap devices Samsung would be doing bad too (sales of high end devices plummeted at Samsung).  BlackBerry just released Q5 and other low end devices which will appeal to users of the BB7 phones in developing countries.
  • During this quarter (2q2014), BlackBerry had the worst kind of media attention possible, talk of the company collapsing which we now know to be false after revelations that the Chinese government was lobbying hard for Canada to permit a Lenovo takeover.  Now we are seeing a turnaround with Germany, and even the US Government favoring BlackBerry over iPhone.  As long as security remains a priority, BlackBerry will be a player.
  • Cash equivalents up to $3.7 billion.  Even without the $1 billion share issue cash down by less than half a billion.  A true $4.4 billion loss would've plunged the company into bankruptcy.
  • $4 billion of the $4.4 billion loss stems from structural changes + end of licensing deals made when the company was much larger + things that will not happen next year thanks to the foxconn deal.  
  • Under construction is a new security technology center in Washington DC.  This will give BlackBerry a cosier relationship with its biggest clients - government and security agencies.
  • New CEO John Chen is hiring a rebuilt sales force designed to target regulated industries, including government clients.
  • Last quarter BB sold roughly half a million BB10 phones.  That number can only go up since new CEO John Chen has made it his goal of lowering the price of the phones.
  • Market share remains strong in the middle east.  Service revenue remains strong being down by only -13% even though the number of devices sold fell at 3-4X that rate.

Thanks To Aldi, Supermarket Competition In the United States Will Intensify In 2014

Saturday, November 30, 2013

German Government Relies On BlackBerry, Pretium Resources Proves Seabridge Gold Underpriced, Oil Stocks (CPE)

         BlackBerry (bbry) gains on rumours that German government and possibly others remain more committed than ever to BlackBerry devices - a few months ago they ordered 40,000 q10/z10 units.  Apparently NSA snooping isn't being tolerated at all in Germany, and that has led to a government-wide ban on the iPhone.  Two reasons for this 1) Germany-based firm secusmart has created a micro sd card that, when used on a BlackBerry device, renders the phone impenetrable (enhances BlackBerry security via encryption technology) .. would take a minimum of 149 years to hack.  2) Apple's iPhone servers are located in the US where NSA has governmental authority .. unrestricted access to private information  3) Germany's federation office for information security (BSI) has developed software that must be used in government employee phones.  Apple's devices aren't compatable with secusmart software.
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on the flipside
Could the NSA access BlackBerry servers via relationship with government ? The Canadian government helped the NSA collect information during the 2010 Toronto G8 summit.  This leads to other concerns:  Does the Canadian government have unrestricted access to BlackBerry servers in Ontario ? We know that a big reason BlackBerry is off the market is because the government won't ok such a deal if it involves a foreign company such as Lenovo, this leads us to believe that the government of Canada does have a certain level of influence over BlackBerry.

Gold Silver stock doubles on news of higher than expected pre-production

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Nov 21-22 Pretium Resources (tsx|pvg) stock climbs 80% on news that initial ore samples taken from the area known as 'Valley of the Kings' within the company's flagship Brucejack gold mine in British Columbia, yielded higher than expected gold grades:  19% higher to be exact (16g vs expected 13g per ton).  That translated into 4200 ounces of gold, 3500 ounces of silver.  The mine won't begin commercial production until 2016.  Reserves estimated at 7 million ounces of gold, 35 million ounces of silver.
That makes my favorite gold mining stock Seabridge Gold (SEA) even more enticing.  You see, Seabridge has 5X as much gold and silver at neighbouring mine Kerr-Sulphurates-Mitchell.  Higher gold grades at Brucejack probably means higher gold grades at KSM !  Either way, Seabridge Gold has to be on your stock radar .. has much more gold than Pretium Resources at a property that is only miles away .. any company looking to develop Brucejack is going to take an interest in KSM.  Future news regarding development at KSM will have a huge impact on Seabridge stock.  With Brucejack prepping for 2016, it's only a matter of time until the focus shifts to KSM.

Watch Out: New tax on gold in India will affect gold demand

Two months ago, in September India raised the duty tax on imports of gold jewelry from 10% to 15%.   Unsurprisingly Thailand, a major source of India's gold (3% of Thailand -India trade) initially objected to the tax hike however by the end of October, Thailand agreed to abide by the new rules after India threatened to suspend imports of gold jewelry from the country.  India also introduced a tax of 10% on gold bullion.
The new tax on Indian gold imports will eventually have a significant affect on world gold consumption:  Last year, India was the primary driver of gold demand - the country accounted for a fifth of gold consumption worldwide (864 tonnes out of 4405 tonnes total; 11% more than China).

Sears Canada being run into the ground by parent Sears Holdings ? (owns 51%; Sears Canada closes)

Over the last five weeks, Sears Canada raised $695 million in two seperate deals that saw the 61 year-old retailer sell a number of its core, revenue generating stores.  In the $380 million October 29 deal, Sears gave up its most profitable location in Toronto's Eaton Centre (335 employees there alone, store is so big mall gets its name from previous tenant Eatons) and one of its biggest stores in Western Canada (Richmond BC).  What's most alarming about the deal is this:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Air Canada (AC.B) Profitable ? Revenue Up At Chinese Banks, Earnings Dividends At Citigroup, HSBC

Air Canada (AC.B) is making more revenue per passenger and that's one of the reasons investors continue to reward this airline stock with record growth (+52% last month, +150% last 3-months).  In fact just yesterday, the stock touched a five year high of $5.80 up from $1.80 exactly one year ago (Oct. 30).  The company has had success charging passengers additional fees for meals, pillows, earphones and other conveniences previously taken for granted.  Also giving the company lift is its own new discount carrier Air Canada Rouge launched in July 2013.
For the first time in a long time, earnings are showing signs of breaking into positive territory !  Quarterly net loss now at $(23) million, down considerably from $(160) million last year.  Passenger revenue is up (+$86m for 2q13, +$89m 1h13),  First half operating profit was $174m up 176% from last year's $63m.
Lower fuel costs (-$57m quarter, -$76m half) not the main reason quarterly operating expenses are down (1.4)% (total increase in salaries + currency effects were +$60m)  : this proves that the company is getting its act together ! 
Despite currency effects weighing on results [1h13 $(114m) vs +$26m] and wages/salaries up bigtime (+9% quarter, +7% half), overall operating expenses declined (-1.4% quarter, -0.6% half).  Also a positive sign: cash equivalents up 4.8% to $790m after declining (6.6)% in the second half of last year.  Long term debt was lowered by $315m (half) vs $238m last year. 
Airline Stock October 30 2013 1-year 3-months 1-month
Air Canada (AC.B) 209% 150% 52%
Westjet (WGA) 54% 34% 8%

Air Canada benefits from more international travel particularly to and from China;  The last two census results show Canada's Chinese population is up 141,070 or +10.5% in five years; in 2010 Canada acquired Approved Destination Status which is key since it was one of the last major countries not to have it.  At the time, it was estimated that by 2014 Chinese travel to Canada would increase 50%.  Direct competitor Westjet (WGA) has also been reaping the benefits of increased air travel within Canada and to and from the country.  First half revenue up +6.5% ($1,810.93 million), earnings up +22.6% ($135.8m).

Among The World's Largest Banks China's Phenomenal Revenue Growth;  Earnings Dividends At Citigroup, HSBC Remain Healthy

  • TD Bank reported 18% growth in average loans (3q2013). 
  • JPMorgan Chase - 3rd quarter earnings take a hit :  down -$380m due to - $9.15 billion pretax expense; $7.20 billion after-tax (eps down 185c) for legal expense in Corporate, including reserves for litigation and regulatory proceeding. - $1.60 billion pretax benefit; $992 million after-tax (eps up 26c) from lower reserves in Consumer & Community. 
  • China Construction Bank - lending fee incomes climbed contributing to increased revenue.  earnings increases lagged analyst expectations of CNY57.69 billion.


Canadian Retailer Hudson's Bay Becomes Major Player In North America's Fashion Retail Industry

Just yesterday HBC's $2.9 billion takeover deal for Saks Inc received Saks shareholder approval.  The Toronto-based company will operate 320 stores in prime retail locations throughout North America.  After the merger, Hudson's Bay Company will have annual sales in excess of $7 billion.  Investors take note:  HBC growth plans for the company are synonymous with increasing shareholder value.