Take a deep breath, get ready, the New Year is just around the corner, and while we’re all ready to celebrate – just on principle, because getting out of 2020 is reason enough for joy – let’s also take stock of where we are and where we’re headed.There’s a growing sense of optimism, engendered by the availability of COVID vaccines and the potential they give for a return to normal on Main Streets around the country. Finally, a chance that the lockdown and social distancing regimes truly are going to end, and in the near-term. There is a real chance that, by the end of a 2021, John Q. Public may be getting back on his feet.Combine that with Wall Street’s current ebullience, as stock markets trade at or near their all-time high levels, and we are looking at the prospect of a banner year. A return to grass roots normalcy will be great – but we also have the prospect of an overall rising market. Writing from JPMorgan, chief US equity strategist Dubravko Lakos-Bujas writes, “Equities are facing one of the best backdrops in years. Risks relating to global trade tensions, political uncertainty, and the pandemic, will be going away. At the same time, liquidity conditions remain extremely supportive, and there’s an extremely favorable interest-rate environment. That’s a Goldilocks environment for risky assets.”Lakos-Bujas doesn’t shy away from quantifying his optimism. He is predicting as much as 19% gains for the S&P 500, saying that the index will hit 4,000 in the early part of 2021 and reach as high as 4,400 in the later part of the year. Turning Lakos-Bujas’ outlook into concrete recommendations, JPM’s cadre of stock analysts are pounding the table on three stocks that look especially compelling. We ran the trio through TipRanks database to see what other Wall Street’s analysts have to say about.Sotera Health (SHC)Sotera Health occupies a unique niche in the healthcare industry, offering, through its subsidiaries, a range of safety-oriented support businesses for healthcare providers. These services include sterilization procedures, lab testing, and advisory services – and their importance is immediately clear. Sotera boasts over 5,800 healthcare provider customers in more than 50 countries around the world.While not a new company – two of its branches have been in business since the 1930s and 40s – Sotera is new to the stock markets, having held its IPO just this past November. The initial offering was considered successful, raising $1.2 billion on a sale of 53.6 million shares. Earlier this month, Sotera announced that it used much of the IPO capital to pay down $1.1 billion in existing debt. This included $341 million in a first lien term loan, plus the $770 million in aggregated principal on an issue of senior secured notes. The move allowed Sotera to increase its revolving credit facility to $347.5 million. That facility is currently undrawn.Among the bulls is JPM analyst Tycho Peterson who rates SHC an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a one-year price target of $35. This figure suggests a 31% upside from current levels. (To watch Peterson’s track record, click here)”SHC is uniquely positioned to benefit from healthy end-market growth and favorable pricing dynamics,” Peterson noted. “Given a diversified operating platform, sticky multi-year contracts, an efficient pricing strategy, significant barriers to entry and high regulatory oversight, we project ~9% sales growth, with higher utilization driving continued expansion [and] robust FCF supports ongoing de-leveraging, leaving us positive on both the near- and longer-term outlook.” The Wall Street analyst corps is firmly behind Peterson on this one – in fact, the 7 recent reviews are unanimous Buys, making the analyst consensus a Strong Buy. SHC is currently trading for $26.75, and its $32.50 average price target implies an upside of 21.5% by the end of 2021. (See SHC stock analysis on TipRanks)Myovant Sciences (MYOV)Let’s stick with the health care industry, and look at Myovant Sciences. This clinical research biopharma company focuses on major issues of reproductive system disease in both men and women. Specifically, Myovant is working to develop treatments for uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and prostate cancer.Myovant’s pipeline currently features Relugolix as a treatment for fibroids and endometriosis. The drug is in Phase 3 trial for the latter, and has had its NDA submitted for the former. Also in the pipeline, and related to reproductive health, is MVT-602, a new drug designed to enhance egg maturation and aid in vitro fertilization.In addition, Myovant has announced this month that Relugolix has been FDA approved – under the brand name Orgovyx – as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer. The drug is the first, and currently only, Oral Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone (GnRH) Receptor Antagonist for the disease. Orgovyx is expected to enter the market in January 2021.Analyst Eric Joseph, in his note on this stock for JPM, describes how he is impressed by Relugolix “based on the clinical and commercial potential of lead asset relugolix for the treatment of endometriosis and uterine fibroids, as well as in men for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.”The analyst added, “In women’s health, we believe the totality of phase 3 data to date de-risks the likelihood of relugolix approval in the US for uterine fibroids and endometriosis – commercial opportunities that are underreflected at current levels. Further, we see an attractive commercial setup for relugolix in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer as an oral LHRH alternative with a differentiated CV risk profile.”These comments support Joseph’s Overweight (i.e. Buy) rating on MYOV, and his $30 price target implies a 31% upside for the next 12 months. (To watch Joseph’s track record, click here)Overall, the Strong Buy analyst consensus rating on Myovant comes from 5 reviews, and the breakdown is clearly for the bulls: 4 to 1 in favor Buy versus Hold. The stock’s $22.80 share price and $36.40 average price target give a robust upside potential of ~59%. (See MYOV stock analysis on TipRanks)Metropolitan Bank Holding (MCB)For the third stock, we’ll change lanes from health care to finance, where Metropolitan Bank Holding operates – through its subsidiary, Metropolitan Commercial Bank – as a full-service bank for business, entrepreneurial, and personal customers in the mid-market segment. The bank’s services include business lending, cash management, deposits, electronic banking, personal checking, and prepaid cards. In a year that has been difficult for most of us, MCB has managed to post steadily increasing revenues and solid earnings. The bank’s top line has increased from $33 million in Q1 to $36 million in Q3. EPS was stronger, at $1.27 per share, up 30% year-over-year. The gains come as the bank gives forward guidance of $153.9 million in total revenues for next year, which – if met – will reflect a 22% gain over 2020.While MCB’s financial performance has shown steady gains, the share appreciation has not followed suit. The stock has only partially recouped losses taken last winter at the height of the corona crisis, and is currently down 26% this year.Watching the New York banking scene from JPM, analyst Steven Alexopoulos notes general difficulties in the commercial real estate loan sector – an important part of MCB’s portfolio – due to the ongoing pandemic issues. In this environment, he sees Metropolitan Bank as the right choice.“We’re not as bearish as most on the outlook for New York real estate. Having witnessed many cycles in NYC, the time to buy has been when the herd is running in the other direction. In past cycles, MCB has been an outperformer on credit metrics in regards to its loan portfolio relative to our coverage group,” Alexopoulos noted.Alexopoulos goes on to explain another key strength in MCB’s loan portfolio: “In a low interest rate environment, MCB stands better positioned than peers to withstand NIM headwinds with 59% of MCB’s loans being fixed rate and 67% of the remaining floating rate loans have floors to protect from lower short-term rates…” To this end, Alexopoulos rates MCB an Overweight (i.e. Buy) along with a $50 price target. Should the target be met, investors could pocket gains of 43% over the next year. (To watch Alexopoulos’ track record, click here)Some stocks fly under the radar, and MCB is one of those. Alexopoulos’ is the only recent analyst review of this company, and it is decidedly positive. (See MCB 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 analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.
Canadian regulator lifts banks’ capital buffer to record, priming for post-pandemic world
Canada‘s financial regulator raised the amount of capital the country’s biggest lenders must hold to guard against risks to a record 2.5% of risk-weighted assets, from 1% currently, in a surprise move that could pave the way for them to resume dividend increases and share buybacks.
The new measures, which take effect on Oct. 31, is a sign that the economic and market disruptions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic have abated and banks’ capital levels have been resilient, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) said in a statement.
But the regulator acknowledged that key vulnerabilities, including household and corporate debt levels, as well as asset imbalances caused by steep increase in home prices over the past year, remain.
In a sign of concern about the housing market, OSFI and the Canadian government raised the benchmark to determine the minimum qualifying rate for mortgages, starting June 1.
The increase in the Domestic Stability Buffer (DSB) to the highest possible level raises the Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital – the core bank capital measure – to 10.5% of risk-weighted assets; a 4.5% base level, a “capital conservation buffer” of 2.5%, and a 1% surcharge for systemically important banks, plus the DSB.
The change “gives OSFI more leeway to loosen a restriction down the road, namely the freeze on buybacks and dividend increases,” National Bank Financial Analyst Gabriel Dechaine said.
OSFI felt it was “useful for the banks to understand what our minimal capital expectations are and to give them time to adjust to that… ahead of any lifting of the temporary capital distribution restrictions,” Assistant Superintendent Jamey Hubbs said on a media call.
Even with the higher requirement, Canada‘s six biggest banks would have excess capital of about C$51 billion, dropping from C$82 billion as of April 30, according to Reuters calculations.
That was driven in part by a moratorium on dividend increases and share buybacks imposed by OSFI in March 2020, although a pandemic-driven surge in loan losses has so far failed to materialize.
The Canadian banks index slipped 0.25% in morning trading in Toronto, while the Toronto stock benchmark fell 0.1%.
The increase is the first since the last one announced in December 2019, which did not come into effect as planned in April 2020, as OSFI made an out-of-schedule change https://www.reuters.com/article/canada-mortgages-regulation-idUSL1N2B636J that dropped the rate to 1% in March. It has maintained that level at its twice yearly reviews.
Prior to that, OSFI had raised the required level by 25 basis points at every twice yearly review since it was introduced at 1.5% in June 2018.
($1 = 1.2326 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)
Canada Economic Indicators
The economic indicators used to gauge the performance of an economy and its outlook are the same across most nations. What differs is the relative importance of certain indicators to a specific economy at various points in time (for instance, housing indicators are closely watched when the housing market is booming or slumping), and the bodies or organizations compiling and disseminating these indicators in each nation.
Here are the 12 key economic indicators for Canada, the world’s 10th-largest economy:1
Statistics Canada, a national agency, publishes growth statistics on the Canadian economy on monthly and quarterly bases. The report shows the real gross domestic product (GDP) for the overall economy and broken down by industry. It is an accurate monthly/quarterly status report on the Canadian economy and each industry within it.2
Employment Change and Unemployment
Key data on the Canadian employment market, such as the net change in employment, the unemployment rate, and participation rate, is contained in the monthly Labour Force Survey, released by Statistics Canada. The report contains a wealth of information about the Canadian job market, categorized by the demographic, class of worker (private sector employee, public sector employee, self-employed), industry, and province.3
Consumer Price Index
Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on the consumer price index (CPI) that measures inflation at the consumer level. The index is constructed by comparing changes over time in a fixed basket of goods and services purchased by consumers. The report shows the change in CPI monthly and over the past 12 months, on an overall and core (excluding food and energy prices) basis.4
International Merchandise Trade
This monthly report from Statistics Canada shows the nation’s imports and exports, as well as the net merchandise trade surplus or deficit. The report also compares the most current data with that for the preceding month. Exports and imports are shown by product category, and also for Canada’s top ten trading partners.5
Teranet – National Bank House Price Index
This composite index of house prices across Canada was developed by Teranet and the National Bank of Canada and represents average home prices in Canada’s six largest metropolitan areas. A monthly report shows the change in the index monthly and over the past 12 months, as well as monthly and 12-month changes in Canada’s six and 11 largest metropolitan areas.6
RBC Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index – PMI
Released on the first business day of each month, this indicator of trends in the Canadian manufacturing sector was launched in June 2011 by Royal Bank of Canada, in association with Markit and the Purchasing Management Association of Canada. RBC PMI readings above 50 signal expansion as compared to the previous month, while readings below 50 signal contraction. The monthly survey also tracks other information pertinent to the manufacturing sector, such as changes in output, new orders, employment, inventories, prices, and supplier delivery times.7
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index
The Conference Board of Canada’s Index of Consumer Confidence measures consumers’ levels of optimism in the state of the economy. It is a crucial indicator of near-term sales for consumer product companies in Canada, as well as an indicator of the outlook for the broad economy since consumer demand comprises such a significant part of it. The index is constructed on the basis of responses to four questions by a random sampling of Canadian households. Survey participants are asked how they view their households’ current and expected financial positions, their short-term employment outlook, and whether now is a good time to make a major purchase.8
Ivey Purchasing Managers Index – PMI
An index prepared by the Ivey Business School at Western University, the Ivey PMI measures the monthly variation in economic activity, as indicated by a panel of purchasing managers across Canada. It is based on responses by these purchasing managers to a single question: “Were your purchases last month in dollars higher, the same, or lower than in the previous month?” An index reading below 50 shows a decrease; a reading above 50 shows an increase. Panel members indicate changes in their organization’s activity over five broad categories: purchases, employment, inventories, supplier deliveries, and prices.9
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) issues a monthly report on the sixth working day of every month, showing the previous month’s new residential construction activity. The data is presented by region, province, census metropolitan area, and dwelling type (single-detached or multiple-unit). The indicator is an important gauge of the state of the Canadian housing market.10
This key indicator of housing activity is compiled by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and is based on the number of home sales processed through the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Systems of real estate boards and associations in Canada. The monthly report from the CREA shows the change in home sales across Canada, as well as for major markets, from month to month. The report also includes other important housing-related information, such as the change (as a percentage) in newly listed homes, the national sales-to-new listings ratio, months of housing inventory, the change in the MLS Home Price Index, and the national average price for homes sold within the month.11
Statistics Canada releases a monthly report on retail sales activity across Canada, with changes shown on month-over-month and year-over-year bases. The headline number shows the percentage change in national retail sales on a dollar basis; the percentage change in volume terms is also shown. The retail sales figures are shown by industry and for each province or territory, and provide insights into Canadian consumer spending.12
The building permits survey conducted monthly by Statistics Canada collects data on the value of permits issued by Canadian municipalities for residential and non-residential buildings, as well as the number of residential dwellings authorized. Since building permit issuance is one of the very first steps in the process of construction, the aggregate building permits data are very useful as a leading indicator for assessing the state of the construction industry.13
The Bottom Line
The 12 economic indicators briefly described above show the health of key aspects of Canada’s economy: consumer spending, housing, manufacturing, employment, inflation, external trade, and economic growth. Taken together, they provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the Canadian economy.
Canada adds jobs for fourth straight month in May
Canada added 101,600 jobs in May, the fourth consecutive month of gains, led by hiring in the education and health services sector as well as in professional and business services, a report from payroll services provider ADP showed on Thursday.
The April data was revised to show 101,300 jobs were gained, rather than an increase of 351,300. The report, which is derived from ADP’s payrolls data, measures the change in total nonfarm payroll employment each month on a seasonally-adjusted basis.
(Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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