Global Investing: Friday File

Why is gold failing to rise as stocks around the world fall? I think it may be because there are too many alternatives which are more fun than boring heavy metal: cryptocurrencies, cannabis shares, and even oil stocks. They are roller coaster performers, which is exciting and appeals to lazy people hoping to get rich quick.

Today we have two reports, two court decisions, two second thoughts, and two fund items to cover so I will be brief.


*The report was from Autoliv of Sweden which reported sales in Q3 rose 6.4%, but that every other metric was down. Gross profits came in at 19% vs prior year's 20.2%. Adjusted operating margins fell to 9.5% from 10.5%. CEO Mikael Bratt blamed a drop in demand because of tougher auto emissions standards in Europe and economic woes in other car markets. He reiterated the 2020 targets for sales but hinted that it may be later in the year rather than in Jan. For the current year the target was frankly cut because of higher costs for raw materials, to 6% growth from an earlier estimate of 8%. The ALV stock rose 2.1% in Europe but naturally fell here.

*The other reporter was Royal Bank of Scotland, whose non-cumulative preferred shares we own. That means we love the common hitting speed bumps. This time it took another huge impairment charge and revenues and profits both came in below expectations, at pounds 10.34bn and at British pence 11 per share, but up from lasst year. This delays the possibility of cashing out our high-yield prefs. In addition RBS said it would set aside cash to cover uncertainties related to British exit from the European Union.


*Nokia won a reprise after analysts at Canaccord and Danske Bank penciled in upbeat interpretations of its results, and the stock rose as much as 4% in today's trading. They upgraded it to buy also.

*Mexichem in its Spanish conference call revealed that it was cutting its prices for polyvinyl chloride because of the US-China trade war, reported by Eduardo Garcia of with which we trade news. MXCHF fell by 5.5% in Mexico trading today.

*Grupo Bimbo however gained 5.3%.

*In Hong Kong, Guangshen Railway, which we used to own, sank to HK$18.20, a new low. It is not an appealing speculation like our biggest holding there, Tencent, which rises and falls bigly every day. The gambling instinct leads locals to try TCEHY and disdain stocks which just roll along.


*The Chilean Supremes turned down the attempt by SoQuiMich to overturn the sale of 24% of its shares to China's Tianqi Lithium, which means that Canada's Nutrien will get the cash and meet international rules for permitting its creation by merger.

*The other court case was in Canada, where the Revenue Service appealed to the Tax Court of Canada against a ruling favoring Cameco over huge taxes applied for alleged price distortions using its subs in Europe. CCJ can use the money but now it will take as much as two years to get the court to rule. CCJ stock fell 5.5% (!) on the news.


*In the court of public opinion, President Trump hit what I think is a winner, tackling high prices. He wants Medicare to use average European prices to benchmark what it is being charged in the USA. Obviously if the drugmakers can afford to sell at lower prices in Europe then US patients should not have to overpay. Even more egregious are price cuts for major emerging markets like China where the chance to sell more meds leads to even bigger bargain prices. But in the USA too if drug prices were lower demand would pick up. Even people with insurance blanch at drugs costs 4 of 5 figures per dose.


*Fibra Uno of Mexico issued 9.8 bn pesos in bonds locally to try to balance its heavy dollar debts. It also reported revenues in Q3 rose 21.5% from prior Q3 to pesos 4.345 bn. The oldest Mexican REIT says funds from operations rose 41% y/y to pesos 3.44 bn. It also boasted an impressive 95.4% occupancy rate on its available properties, mostly in commercial, factory, educational, and hotel sectors, and with mostly foreign tenants. It gained from the NAFTA revival of course, but what will happen now that the Rio Grande border is becoming a political focus is anybody's guess.

*Members of the Herzfeld family have been heavy buyers of Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund (ticker symbol: CUBA) which they manage. It has fallen like a stone so it's nice that they remain believers.

*Templeton Emerging Markets Income Fund declared a 68 cent dividend today and the TEI stock fell. It now yields nearly 18.5% which must be something of a record.

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