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Despite a tanking stock, Air Canada may just bounce back – The Globe and Mail

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The tails of two Air Canada aircraft sitting by gates at Toronto Pearson International Aiport, on Oct. 27, 2019. The airline’s share price has tumbled 33 per cent from its recent high on Jan. 13.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Among the stock market wreckage of the past week, Air Canada has been downright steamrolled. But the beaten-up stock may hold special appeal as a rebound candidate.

The airline’s share price has tumbled 33 per cent from its recent high on Jan. 13. Most of the damage has occurred over the past week, though, as concerns over the global spread of the new coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) and its impact on global economic activity grip investors.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index has fallen about 5 per cent since Feb. 19, but Air Canada has slumped 23 per cent. That makes it one of the worst-performing stocks in the index during the current sell-off. It has also fallen harder than its U.S. peers in the S&P 500 Airline Index during this period.

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The prospect of unsold seats and cancelled flights amid the spread of COVID-19 is clearly one of the key reasons for the airline sector’s sharp decline.

It’s a real fear. Late last month, Air Canada announced that it was suspending select flights to China – the hardest hit country by far – for the month of February. It extended the cancellations to April 10 in an announcement on Tuesday. COVID-19 breakouts in Italy and South Korea, both major economies, are no doubt raising concerns about additional suspensions and declining airline traffic.

To make matters worse, Air Canada had been a particularly hot stock within the airline sector before the downturn because of its rising profit margins and strong balance sheet. That made it vulnerable to a selloff.

The share price surged about 280 per cent from the start of 2017 to its high in January, even as regulators grounded its fleet of Boeing 737 Max planes over safety concerns, driving the stock’s valuation to a premium relative to other airlines.

Analysts have been overwhelmingly bullish on Air Canada, with 14 buy recommendations, just two holds and no sell recommendations, according to Bloomberg, leaving little room for error – or a pandemic. Swirling uncertainly over air traffic is now hitting sentiment toward Air Canada particularly hard.

But the stock is loaded with rebound potential.

CIBC analyst Kevin Chiang put some numbers on Air Canada’s worst-case exposure to COVID-19 by comparing the airline with Cathay Pacific during the 2003 SARS outbreak. China was the epicenter of that outbreak, which hit the Hong Kong-based airline particularly hard: Capacity fell 6 per cent, year over year, and passenger revenue fell nearly 17 per cent.

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If Air Canada’s fate is similar, Mr. Chiang estimates its 2020 revenue will fall to $16.5-billion from $19.1-billion in 2019. EBITDA (or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) would fall to $2.6-billion, which is $1-billion below the analyst’s current 2020 estimate.

It sounds grim. But here’s the opportunity: Mr. Chiang believes that the downside scenario is already reflected in Air Canada’s share price, which leaves a lot of upside opportunity if the crisis abates and sentiment improves. He expects that the stock can rise to $57 within 12 months.

The analyst pegs the downside at about $35 a share, slightly above Wednesday’s closing price of $34.92, after the stock fell another 6.6 per cent. That marks the lowest price since May, 2019, and down from a high of $52.09 on Jan. 13.

There are risks, of course, that the downside scenario gets worse. Apart from the volatile stock market, declining yields on U.S. government bonds are telegraphing slower economic growth, as factories close and trade networks grind to a halt in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak.

What’s more, the inverted yield curve – three-month U.S. Treasury bills are yielding more than 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds – may signal an oncoming recession. That could weigh further on the stock market, and especially economically sensitive stocks such as airlines.

But if you’re looking for opportunities amid the stock market selloff and you believe that the COVID-19 outbreak will pass without long-lasting economic damage, Air Canada looks like a compelling bet.

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RBC warns house price correction could be deepest in decades | CTV News – CTV News Toronto

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A housing correction, which has already led to four consecutive months of price declines in the previously overheated Greater Toronto Area market, could end up becoming “one of the deepest of the past half a century,” a new report from RBC warns.

New data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) last week revealed that the average benchmark price for a home in the GTA fell six per cent month-over-month in July to $1,074,754.

Sales were also down a staggering 47 per cent from July, 2021.

In a report published on Aug. 4, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue said recent data from real estate boards underlines that higher interest rates are beginning to take a “huge toll” on the market.

Hogue said that with further hikes to come, prices will likely continue to slide in the coming months.

That prediction, it should be noted, goes against a report from Royal LePage last month which painted a rosier forecast for sellers in which values would more or less holding for the rest of the year following some declines in the second quarter.

“Our expectations for further hikes by the Bank of Canada—another 75 basis points to go in the overnight rate by the fall— will keep chilling the market in the months ahead,” Hogue said. “We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates. Canada’s least affordable markets Vancouver and Toronto, and their surrounding regions, are most at risk in light of their excessively stretched affordability and outsized price gains during the pandemic.”

The Bank of Canada has hiked the overnight lending rate by 225 basis points since March and has warned that further hikes will be necessary given that inflation remains at a near 40-year high.

In his report, Hogue pointed out that the housing correction “now runs far and wide across Canada” but he said that it is particularly pronounced in the costlier markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

In fact, Hogue said that housing resale activity in Toronto is at its slowest pace in 13 years, outside of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stockpile of available homes is also up 58 per cent from a year ago, he noted.

“With more options to choose from and higher interest rates shrinking their purchasing budgets, buyers are able to extract meaningful price concessions from sellers,” he said, pointing out that the average price of a home in the GTA is down 13 per cent from March. “We expect buyers to remain on the defensive in the months ahead as they deal with rising interest rates and poor affordability.”

While Hogue did say that condos in the City of Toronto are likely to remain “relatively more resilient” he said that prices elsewhere will continue to fall for the time being, especially in the 905 belt “where property values soared during the pandemic.”

The July data from TRREB suggested that the average price of a home in the GTA was still up one per cent from July, 2021.

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Commuters face GO transit cancellations, possible strike – CityNews

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Canada Revenue Agency plans email blitz to get Canadians to cash outstanding cheques worth $1.4-billion – The Globe and Mail

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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is planning a massive e-mail notification campaign to reach Canadians across the country who have uncashed cheques worth a net $1.4-billion.

The e-mail notifications will target recipients of the Canada child benefit and related provincial and territorial programs, as well as recipients of the GST/HST credits and the Alberta Energy Tax Refund.

The CRA said it plans to send approximately 25,000 e-mails in August, another 25,000 in November and a further 25,000 e-mails by May, 2023.

However, even without receiving an e-mail notification, the agency said a taxpayer can check if they have a cheque by logging into My Account, a secure portal on its website to check if they have an uncashed cheque over a period of six months. It added that representatives can also view uncashed cheques of their clients.

Each year, the CRA said it issues millions of payments to Canadian taxpayers in the form of refund benefits. These payments are issued by either direct deposit or by cheque.

“Over time, payments can remain uncashed for various reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing the cheque or even a change of address which did not allow for delivery,” the agency said in a statement.

The CRA said since the e-mail notification initiative was first launched in February, 2020, about two million uncashed cheques valued at $802-million were redeemed by May 31, 2022.

The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158 with some of them dating as far back as 1998, the agency said.

As of May, 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA. In May, 2019, about five million Canadians had an estimated 7.6 million uncashed cheques.

“As government cheques never expire or stale date, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and re-issue a new one unless requested by the taxpayer,” the statement read. “These upcoming e-notifications are to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they have in their possession.”

The agency said taxpayers can register for the direct deposit option on its website to receive payments directly into their bank accounts.

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