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China plans major infrastructure investments in 2020: state media – The Journal Pioneer

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans 800 billion yuan ($114.38 billion) in railway investment, 1.8 trillion yuan in highway and waterway investment and 90 billion yuan in civil aviation investment in 2020, state radio said on Thursday citing Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng as saying.

($1 = 6.9940 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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Crypto Is Everywhere, But Should You Invest? – Forbes

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Ten years ago, most people would have laughed if you said you hold part of your investment portfolio in cryptocurrency — a type of virtual currency that is secured through various cryptographic and computer-generated means. But these days, you might be seen as behind on the times if you don’t currently invest, or if you have never traded a single Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Litecoin in your life.

Like it or not, cryptocurrency is practically everywhere these days and no longer just for day traders and nerds. In fact, many traditional businesses are integrating cryptocurrency into their platforms in some form, or using it as a means to launch other types of products.

Cryptocurrency Continues Gaining Steam

Case in point: In October of 2020, PayPal launched a new service that made it possible for their account holders to buy, sell, or hold cryptocurrency, or to use it to buy stuff at 26 million different merchants.

According to the payment platform, mainstream use of cryptocurrencies has largely been “hindered by their limited utility as an instrument of exchange due to volatility, cost and speed to transact.” 

However, they believe their platform could provide a means to make cryptocurrency more useful as a payment method. 

“The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable, bringing with it clear advantages in terms of financial inclusion and access; efficiency, speed and resilience of the payments system; and the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly,” said Dan Schulman, president and CEO of PayPal in a press release.

Edmund McCormack, founder of crypto investment platform DChained, says this move on behalf of Paypal

PYPL
was expected but also needed to usher cryptocurrency into the mainstream.

“This decision directly addresses three of the most common objections that cryptocurrency has faced in the last 10 years, including practicality for day-to-day purchases, a clearly defined and easy to use marketplace, and legitimacy,” he says.

McCormack also points to the payment platform Square

SQ
, which reportedly invested $50 million into Bitcoin in October of last year. 

At the moment, you can choose from a nice selection of cryptocurrency savings accounts. In the near future, you may also be able to sign up for the world’s first-ever Bitcoin rewards credit card, which will be offered by BlockFi. The BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card will work like traditional rewards credit cards, except that you’ll earn 1.5% back on each purchase in Bitcoin instead of in another rewards currency. Currently, this card is on a waitlist. 

What does all of this mean? As more and more businesses and platforms find ways to utilize cryptocurrency — or let their customers use it — it will become even more mainstream than it already is. But, should you invest in cryptocurrency? 

The answer depends on who you ask.

Why You Should Consider Investing In Crypto

According to Claire Lovell, Associate Director of Product Management at Gemini (a cryptocurrency investment platform), Bitcoin reaching all-time highs and legacy financial institutions adopting cryptocurrency means that digital currencies have finally become an important part of finance and FinTech. 

In terms of advantages, Lovell says cryptocurrency gives consumers greater choice, independence, and opportunity in their finances. Further, cryptocurrency’s decentralized, open-source nature helps “eliminate the weak points of the modern banking system by bringing access directly to consumers,” she says. This makes it easier to buy, sell, store, and trade the best performing assets of the last decade. 

Not only that, but Drew Hamilton, CEO of Rubix.io (a cryptocurrency platform) says cryptocurrency is in its infancy. This means that, if you invest now, you could be getting in on the ground floor “even though the prices seem high.” 

After all, some experts have suggested that Bitcoin could be worth as much as $100,000 one day. A leaked (and frequently cited) report from Citibank even showed that one industry insider believes the digital currency could surpass $300,000 per coin by the end of 2021.

Attorney Len Garza, Esq. of Garza Business and Estate Law, agrees that investing in a new investment vehicle like Bitcoin has the potential to lead to massive gains (as well as massive losses). Further, cryptocurrency is easily one of the most liquid investment assets since trading platforms have been established across the globe.

The Case Against Cryptocurrency

But, not everyone thinks investing in cryptocurrency is a good idea — at least not for the average investor. 

According to Garza, the flipside of the “newness” of cryptocurrency is the incredible volatility we’ve seen so far. Simply put, investing in cryptocurrency isn’t for the faint of heart.

For example, one Litecoin would have set you back more than $300 at the end of 2017 ($306.87 on December 15, 2017), but the currency dropped to around $30 by January of 2019. At the time of this writing, one Litcoin is worth $140.96. 

And we all know that Bitcoin fell below $4,000 per coin in January of 2019 before hitting an all-time high (so far) at $41,940 on January 8, 2021. While it’s always fun to win, that’s a wild ride many people would never want to be on.

Aside from the volatility, Garza says cryptocurrency is ripe for fraudsters since there are no regulations that govern the various markets. 

“Buyer beware,” he says. 

Finally, hacking is a big threat if you’re a crypto investor. Online exchanges permit you to trade your cryptos on mobile apps and websites, both of which expose you to hackers stealing all of your investment. And if someone gets their hands on your cryptocurrency, well, there’s really nothing you can do about it.

Ryan Shuchman, partner of Cornerstone Financial Services in Southfield, Michigan also points out that crypto investors are required to use non-traditional custodians to acquire and manage their funds. Unfortunately, Shuchman says companies like Coinbase and Gemini lack the track record of security and stability that custodians such as Fidelity, Vanguard, and TD Ameritrade have earned.

For these reasons and others, Robert R. Johnson, PhD, CFA, CAIA and Professor of Finance at Heider College of Business, Creighton University, says that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “the purview of speculators.” No one should consider buying Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as an investment, he says.

Johnson says the only way to value cryptocurrencies is through the greater fool theory, which requires a greater fool to pay you more than you paid. 

But, he says you don’t have to listen to him. Instead, Johnson says to listen to Berkshire Hathaway

BRK.B
Vice Chairman Charlie Munger who is famous for sharing his thoughts on investing in cryptocurrency:

“It’s like somebody else is trading turds and you decide you can’t be left out.”

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France remains open to foreign investment – Le Maire – Yahoo Finance

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TipRanks

These 3 “Strong Buy” Stocks Are Top Picks for 2021, Say Analysts

Some traditions are too time-honored to shirk, and on Wall Street, the annual ‘top picks’ are one. Usually made at the very end or very beginning of a year, the Street’s analysts publish reviews on the stocks they believe will show the best performance in coming months – their top picks. The analysts have been analyzing each stock carefully, looking at its past and current performance, its trends on a variety of time frames, management’s plans – they take everything into account. Their recommendations provide valuable direction for building a resilient portfolio in the new year. With this in mind, we used TipRanks’ database to identify three stocks which the analysts describe as their ‘top picks’ for 2021. Talos Energy (TALO) The Gulf of Mexico has long been known as one of the world’s great hydrocarbon production regions, and Talos Energy, which produces some 48,000 barrel of oil equivalent per day from offshore operations in the Gulf, is an important player in the area. Talos finished the third quarter of 2020 running a net loss, but revenues, at $135 million, were up 53% sequentially. The company reported over $353 million in accessible liquidity to end the quarter, including $32 million in cash on hand and $321 million in available credit. In December of last year, and continuing into this January, Talos has firmed up its liquidity situation through issues of senior secured notes. The December issue, of $500 million at 12%, will be used mainly to pay down a previous note issue which comes due next year. The January issue, an additional $100 million, will be used to cover outstanding debt on the reserves-based lending facility. Both note issues are due in 2026. Highlighting TALO as his top E&P pick for 2021, Northland analyst Subash Chandra wrote, “TALO is one of the few companies that we are aware of trading at trailing PDP values without a good reason, in our view. The company has addressed the maturity wall and credit facility stresses with a December equity offering and refi. They enter 2021 with breathing room to cross the finish line with Zama and look for scaling opportunities in GoM.” To this end, Chandra rates TALO an Outperform (i.e. Buy), and puts a $19 price target, indicating the potential for 91% growth in the coming months. (To watch Chandra’s track record, click here) Overall, with five analyst reviews on file, including 4 Buys and a single Hold, Talos gets a Strong Buy rating from the analyst consensus. Shares are priced at $9.96, and their $14.33 average target gives ~44% upside on the one-year horizon. (See TALO stock analysis on TipRanks) Twilio (TWLO) Next up is Twilio, a Silicon Valley cloud communications company. Twilio’s software services allow customers to run their telecom service through their office computer servers, making available not just phone calls but chats, texts, and video conversations. The service includes security features such as user verification. The COVID pandemic, and the shift to remote work that was enforced on the economy, has been a boon to Twilio. The shift put a premium on stable and reliable remote connections and telecommuting, and the company’s revenues, which were already strong and showing sequential gains in every quarter, rose to $447 million in 3Q20. Subsequently, Twilio’s shares have skyrocketed 225% over the past 52 weeks. Oppenheimer analyst Ittai Kiddron sees the company on a solid foundation for continued growth, writing, “While some puts and takes are in place in 1Q21, Twilio’s long-term opportunity remains underappreciated by investors. We believe the company’s differentiated product portfolio (communications/data) and evolving GTM approach (hiring/GSI) can drive G2K/int’l adoption/expansion and enable >30% rev. growth at scale (>$4B/$6B) through CY23/24.” The 5-star analyst chooses TWLO as a ‘top pick,’ based on his upbeat analysis of Twilio. That comes with an Outperform (i.e. Buy) rating and a $550 price target implying one-year growth of 41%. (To watch Kiddron’s track record, click here) How does Kiddron’s bullish bet weigh in against the Street? Overall, Wall Street likes Twilio, a fact clear from the 21 analyst reviews on record. No fewer than 18 of those are Buys, against just 3 Holds. However, the stock’s recent share gains have pushed the price up to $388.65, leaving room for just 2% upside before hitting the $396.88 average price target. (See TWLO stock analysis on TipRanks) SI-Bone (SIBN) Medical tech is a field of near-endless possibility, and SI-Bone has found a niche. The company specializes in the diagnosis sand treatment of pain and dysfunction in the sacroiliac joint between the lower back and pelvis. The company’s revenues dropped off between 4Q19 and 2Q20, as the corona crisis put a damper on elective medical procedures. That turned around in Q3, when the economy began to open up; many industries, including the medical field, saw a burst of pent-up demand that has not yet dissipated. In raw numbers, SIBN reported a 42% sequential revenue increase for Q3, with the top line at $20.3 million. Year-over-year, revenues were up 26%. During the quarter, the company passed 50,000 iFuse procedures, handled by 2,200 surgeons around the world. The company had $132 million in liquid assets available at the end of the quarter, against $39.4 million in long-term debt. Looking forward, the company guides toward an 8% to 10% yoy gain in full-year revenue for 2020, expecting that top line at $73 million to $74 million. Analyst David Saxon, covering the stock for Needham, says, “SIBN has shown resiliency during the pandemic, and we believe its growth drivers can allow it to beat consensus revenue throughout 2021. Further, we expect SIBN’s 2021 sales force expansion, building momentum in surgeon training, upcoming product launches, and direct-to-patient marketing will all contribute to strong revenue over the next few years.” Saxon uses these points to support his ‘top pick’ status for SIBN. His average price target is $35, suggesting an upside of 23%, and fitting nicely with his Buy rating. (To watch Saxon’s track record, click here) All in all, SI-Bone gets a Strong Buy from Wall Street, and it is unanimous – based on 5 positive reviews. The shares are selling for $28.48, and their $33.80 average target implies room for ~19% growth over the course of 2021. (See SIBN stock analysis on TipRanks) To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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iA Financial launches iA Private Wealth brand – Investment Executive

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The new iA Private Wealth name “better represents where we’re going,” said Sean O’Brien, executive vice-president of iA Wealth, in an interview. “We’re much more of a planning shop [today], helping Canadian [clients] look to the future.”

iA Wealth is the wealth management division of Quebec City–based insurer iA Financial Group, which  acquired HollisWealth from Bank of Nova Scotia in 2017. iA Securities is the firm’s legacy IIROC dealer.

iA Wealth has been integrating the two platforms over the last three years, O’Brien said, building them out organically and through recruiting.

However, “the two brands together weren’t seen as one group,” O’Brien said. “Pulling [them] together under one name recognizes the strength of the platform we’ve built and will be an important part of us trying to attract the right advisor.”

Indeed, iA Wealth intends to step up its recruiting efforts this year for “entrepreneurial-minded” advisors who are “still looking for the stability of a good, strong company behind them,” O’Brien said. “We’re seeing quite a nice surge of interest on the independent side.”

In addition to iA Private Wealth, iA Wealth has two MFDA platforms, Investia Financial Services Inc. and FundEX Investments Inc., and an asset management firm, iA Clarington Investments Inc., which offers mutual funds, managed portfolio solutions, ETFs and SRI products.

Also announced on Monday, iA Wealth’s capital markets division, which had operated under the iA Securities brand, will now be known as iA Capital Markets.

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