E Powell Failure

TCOM closed the year with $9.1 bn in cash and near cash, down from $9.7 bn at the end of Q3, a slow burn. CEO Jane Sun reiterated the 20-30% margin level but there was little else told us. TCOM has 400 mn users and lists 1.4 mn travel ads on its site. It partners with Etihad, Thai Air, China Air, and others but it also faces comeptition from google. Stick with Trip.com because it has managed to keep Beijing on its side, in contrast to TripAdvisor, TRIP, which we used to won, which was blocked for violating Chinese cyber laws. It could be a target for Q sanctions like the Chinese telcos, but it doesn't possess the ability to cause problems to customers from the West.

*Irish CRH plc beat and boosted its divvie 25% to 115 cents with a final divvie of 93 cents, and rose 0.55% to $47.47. There is little like it today. The stock is now recommended by Citi. It also forecast a strong finish to 2020 thanks to resilient demand and cost cuts despite challenges. It cut its debt to cash flow to 1.3%, the lowest in over a decade, and is hunting for more acquisitions. It plans a $300 mn new buybacks of shares. Revenues in 2020 did fall but only by 2% to $27.6 bn, while cash flow (earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation, and amortization) was up 5% to $4.6 bn, and the EBITDA margin hit 16.8% or 120 bps. Cash flow from operations was up 1% to $39 bn. Pre-tax profits from continuing operations came in at $1.66 bn, down from $2.18 bn in 2019. Unfortunately, the full release was unreachable from the USA despite the fact that CRH has a full ADR because of a British ban on insider info. Hence I used the Citi summary. My broker, Schwab-TD Ameritrade was useless. CRH is only 4.25% below its US high of the last year. It did not announce its earnings call which took place at 9 am before issuing its data which was not made public. It is unclear if the data in dollars above was correctly converted from euros. This is the last time CRH will report in London. I hope we can get data in the next quarter from Amsterdam.

Drug dealers

*Five Korean men died within two days after they received the Oxford Covid-19 jab from Astra-Zeneca and Seoul is going to fund an investigation. This is the first time hard evidence has come on the risks of the AZN jab which is already under a cloud in many countries. Italy meanwhile blocked a shipment of 250,000 doses of the AZN inoculation to Australia to keep them in the EU where many are refusing to accept the AZ jab. Meanwhile, Germany has okayed the use of the AZ vaccine in over 65s. AZN shares are down 7% and they are the subject of a US fraud class action lawsuit covering May 21 to Nov. 20, 2020, over the mishandled COVID-19 trials in Britain and Brazil.

*Teva fell 2.8% today after the European Union began an investigation of its blocking access to generics of its Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) drug to treat multiple sclerosis. If the investigation finds evidence, TEVA may have to pay as much as 10% of its Copaxone turnover in fines. The Israeli firm violated competition laws by dissing rival makers of MS drugs in meetings with medicos under former management. But this may have merely been free speech.

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Vivian Lewis 2 months ago Author's comment

dear William K, I think that your theory about wage levels assumes that the workers have the ability to get what they deserve from their bosses. But in my lifetime as theie unions were enfeebled, this is no longer true most of the time. Only teachers still can get the pay and conditions they demand, not factory workers, Amazon pickers, drivers, etc.

As for vaccine reactions by Japanese men, it may be a coincidence but it probably was not. The fault may not have been in the AZ jab but in something else about the administration of the vaccine. When we got ours (me and my husband) we had to stay at the hospital for a half hour after the injection to make sure everything was ok. I may not have been the same procedure in Japan. We got the Moderna not the AZ jab but they all do have risks. A vaccine is potent.

William K. 2 months ago Member's comment

There is an intrinsic flaw in the whole concept of a minimum wage, which is that the amount is linked to the recipients needs. The pay amount is normally linked to the value delivered, just like purchasing products at a store, at least, at some stores. Employment is not a charity operation, usually. Folks are mostly paid based on the value they can provide to the employer. The exception is primarily CEOs and boards of directors, who seem to be paid based on their ability to "speak sunshine" to investors, both current and potential.

The A-Z vaccine scare is unusual because ao much is unknown about the details. Consider how many folks have had the stuff and not had any problems at all is my point. If a million used the vaccine with no problems and then two did have problems, the evidence points far more at the two, as I see it.