September 25, 2018

I believe the catalyst driving the 10-year Treasury bond yield back above 3% was the fact that China threatened to continue to sell Treasury securities as their trade spat with the U.S. escalates. Last week the U.S. announced a new round of 10% tariffs that will be imposed this week on $200 billion in Chinese imports and, if China does not negotiate in good faith, the rate will reportedly be raised to a whopping 25% later this year. Clearly the Trump administration is striving to get China to negotiate in good faith.

Interestingly, popular consumer electronic items, like smart watches and Bluetooth devices, were exempted from these tariffs, so Apple and FitBit’s operating margins are not expected to be adversely impacted. Since both Apple and FitBit are open to moving some of their manufacturing to the U.S., it appears that the Trump administration is not intending to punish U.S. companies that manufacture in China, provided that they plan to divert some of their manufacturing facilities back to the U.S.

President Trump also made it crystal clear that he does not want to impose the 25% tariffs on China later this year, but he will keep ratcheting up the tariffs until China negotiates in good faith. Wall Street liked President Trump’s comments and now seems to fully comprehend that his ultimate objective is free trade with no tariffs. We are well on the way down that road with Europe and some other trading partners, but China is the only one that has purposely devalued its currency to maintain a competitive trade advantage.

The trading math is in America’s favor. For every $1 of products the U.S. exports to China, the U.S. imports $4 of products from China, so the U.S. leverage over China is essentially 4-to-1. China can’t raise tariff’s “tit for tat” beyond a certain point, since there are comparatively much smaller total U.S. exports to China.

In my opinion, Trump’s economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, is still the best spokesman for the President’s domestic objective of sustainable 4% GDP growth. Since there is no way of boosting 4% long-term growth rates without boosting U.S. exports, Trump’s push to narrow the trade deficit will soon shift to more domestic manufacturing like the recent NAFTA agreement with Mexico to raise U.S. content in vehicles.

Speaking of GDP growth, the Conference Board on Thursday said that its Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) rose 0.4% in August, following a 0.7% increase in July and a 0.5% increase in June. As an example of just how strong some of the leading economic components are now, the Labor Department announced on Thursday that new claims for unemployment benefits declined to a 49-year low for the third consecutive week, despite a major disruption from Hurricane Florence. Overall, an acute labor shortage persists and after the mid-term elections, the U.S. may boost its VISA program to attract more qualified foreign workers, which many companies currently need to fill the many job openings going begging.

Stay Away from Speculative Canadian “Pot” Stocks

The big financial gossip last week was the wild ride of Tilray Inc. (TLRY), a Canadian cannabis stock that went public in July. Initially, Tilray was up more than 400% in a month before falling over 50% in the last half of last week. Tilray briefly hit an intraday market capitalization in excess of $20 billion (with a “b”), even though its annual estimated sales are expected at less than $40 million (with an “m”)!

I must add that I haven’t seen any stock trade at 500 times annual sales since the old “dot-bomb” days.

There are a couple of major details that you need to know about cannabis stocks, namely that Canada is really the primary investment option, since U.S. tax rules prohibit expensing normal business costs (like wages, electricity, rent, etc.), which is why many of the U.S. cannabis businesses are non-profit enterprises. The other thing you need to know is that Pot ETFs, like ETFMG Alternative Harvest (MJ), are pouring money into thinly-traded Canadian cannabis-related stocks in an essentially “pump and dump” manner.

Furthermore, after it leaked out that MJ was trading at approximately a 30% premium to its Intraday Indicative Value (essentially, its net asset value), Morningstar stopped publishing an Intraday Indicative Value for MJ, which showed that investors were getting fleeced 30% per trade, which may also be related to the fact that it is very difficult to price thinly-traded Canadian cannabis-related companies. (I highly recommend you read the following article I wrote about getting fleeced in Pot ETFs like MJ. Click here.)

Every weekend when we run our weekly quantitative research, I typically find about 15 Canadian cannabis-related stocks, but I have yet to find any Canadian cannabis-related stock that regularly files quarterly reports, so I can’t analyze sales, earnings, operating margins, etc. For example, just go to Yahoo! Finance and look up a stock like Canopy Growth (CGC), and then click on “Analysis” to access all its financial and analyst data. You’ll probably find, as I did: “Analysts data is not available.”  Oops!

I have to tell you that I have never come across an industry where virtually all companies within a sector largely refuse to file quarterly financial statements! In conclusion, I expect the current bubble in pot stocks to end badly, since some unscrupulous ETFs are fleecing naïve investors by 30% per trade and are in the midst of a massive “pump and dump” campaign of thinly-traded Canadian cannabis-related stocks.

(Please note: Louie Navellier does not currently hold a position in APPL, FitBit, CGC or TLRY in Mutual Funds and Navellier & Associates does not currently own a position in APPL, FitBit, CGC or TLRY for client portfolios).

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Louis Navellier
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Louis Navellier is Founder, Chairman of the Board, Chief Investment Officer and Chief Compliance Officer of Navellier & Associates, Inc., located in Reno, Nevada. With decades of experience translating what had been purely academic techniques into real market applications, he believes that disciplined, quantitative analysis can select stocks that will significantly outperform the overall market. *All content in this “A Look Ahead” section of Market Mail represents the opinion of Louis Navellier of Navellier & Associates, Inc.*

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