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Hoffman: Keeping students safe at re-opened schools requires government investment – Edmonton Journal

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And it will cost about a billion dollars.

That’s a lot, I know. But let’s put that into perspective: The UCP government spent $7.5 billion on the Keystone XL pipeline, the future of which depends entirely on the outcome of the U.S. election. By cutting the corporate tax rate, this UCP government has given up at least $4.7 billion in foregone revenue. Now, you may agree or disagree with the value of these decisions but, surely we can all agree that the question of whether or not we can afford to fund public-health measures in schools is a question of priorities.

Minister Adriana LaGrange and Premier Jason Kenney have said our plan is not feasible because there is no time to hire the staff and secure the space required to cap class sizes. But here’s the thing. If reopening schools safely, and in line with the direction we’ve received from Dr. Deena Hinshaw was a priority for this government, they would have started planning for this the day after classrooms were closed in March. Albertans cannot be expected to accept a lack of time as a reasonable excuse for not doing the right thing, particularly because it was the government that ran out the clock and laid off more than 20,000 educational workers at the onset of the pandemic.

Local theatres, community centres, recreation facilities, and even university lecture halls remain closed and empty across Alberta. With a little planning, there are numerous options for additional classroom space. In fact, Scotland has done an impressive job of using libraries, community halls, leisure centres, conference venues, and vacant businesses to accommodate distancing requirements.

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Got $3000? These TSX Stocks Can Triple Your Investment! – The Motley Fool Canada

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Canadian investors who have some extra cash to spend in their portfolios right now have some decisions to make. Valuations are high on the S&P/TSX Composite Index in early August. However, there are still some very attractive long-term options to consider. Today, I want to look at three TSX stocks that could triple in value in the first half of this decade. Let’s jump in.

This top TSX stock is on the rebound

Back in the spring of 2019, I’d suggested that investors should take profits in Badger Daylighting (TSX:BAD). Shares of Badger have dropped 19% year-over-year as of close on August 7. However, this TSX stock has gained some momentum in 2020. Badger provides non-destructive excavating and related services in Canada and the United States.

The company released its second quarter 2020 results on August 5. Badger’s earnings were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still looks strong heading into the second half of the current fiscal year. In the years ahead, Badger still projects the doubling of U.S. revenue from fiscal 2019 levels over the next three to five years. It is targeting adjusted EBITDA growth of 15% over this same period.

Shares of Badger last possessed a price-to-earnings ratio of 26, which puts it in solid territory relative to industry peers.

Spin Master has surged after earnings

Spin Master (TSX:TOY) is a children’s entertainment company that creates, designs, manufactures, and markets products and entertainment products to its global client base. Its shares have dropped 31% in 2020 so far. However, the TSX stock has surged 50% in the last three months. The company released its second quarter 2020 results on August 5.

Despite the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spin Master exceeded expectations in Q2 2020. Still, adjusted EBITDA dropped to $21.5 million compared to $55.1 million in the prior year. In the year-to-date period, Spin Master reported revenue of $508.4 million – down 9.2% from the first six months of 2019.

The company possesses a fantastic balance sheet and has achieved strong earnings growth in recent years. Shares are trading in the middle of its 52-week range. This TSX stock has room to run as the reopening should boost its business in the second half of 2020.

One more exciting TSX stock to snag in August

Goodfood Market is an online grocery company that delivers fresh meals and grocery products across Canada. Interest in the company has erupted since the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the retail world. I’d suggested that investors should continue to stack this TSX stock in July.

The company achieved its first quarter of net income on July 8. Its business received a big boost from the pandemic, jumpstarting a shift to e-commerce grocery shopping. However, there is still significant competition from other top grocers in Canada.

Revenue at Goodfood climbed 74% year-over-year to $86.6 million. Online grocery is a fast-growing industry. Canadians who want to get in on this emerging space should consider Goodfood right now.

On the topic of growth stocks in the summer . . .

This Tiny TSX Stock Could Be the Next Shopify

One little-known Canadian IPO has doubled in value in a matter of months, and renowned Canadian stock picker Iain Butler sees a potential millionaire-maker in waiting…
Because he thinks this fast-growing company looks a lot like Shopify, a stock Iain officially recommended 3 years ago – before it skyrocketed by 1,211%!
Iain and his team just published a detailed report on this tiny TSX stock. Find out how you can access the NEXT Shopify today!

Click here to discover how!


Fool contributor Ambrose O’Callaghan has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Spin Master. The Motley Fool recommends Goodfood Market.

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Caisse de dépôt sees more economic pain ahead as it reports first investment loss in more than decade – The Globe and Mail

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Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec president and CEO Charles Emond comments the pension fund’s annual results in Montreal on Feb. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Canadian pension fund giant Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has seen a loss on its investments for the first time since the financial crisis more than a decade ago, hit largely by its exposure to shopping centres amid the coronavirus crisis. Its chief executive sees more pain ahead.

The Montreal-based institution, Canada’s second-biggest pension fund, on Friday disclosed a negative return of 2.3 per cent for the first half of the year – its first decline since the $40-billion, 26-per-cent loss of 2008. Net assets fell to $333-billion at the end of June from $340-billion at the end of December.

In the months to come, the Caisse said it would speed up a pivot to more promising real estate holdings and boost investments in technology companies, in which the pension fund has been underinvested of late. It is also writing down to zero the US$170-million invested in Cirque du Soleil since 2015, but declined to say whether it could come back with partners and make an offer for the insolvent company.

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“This is a historic crisis that is not done yet,” Caisse CEO Charles Emond told reporters on a conference call. “We have difficult months ahead of us. We are hoping for the best but we are ready for the worst and for any situation.

“The markets will remain difficult to predict. We will have to be prudent, rigorous, selective because the next year will be difficult given this economic crisis that is going on and we are not immune to it. If it lasts, good companies could go under.”

The results highlight the scope of the challenge ahead for Mr. Emond, a former Bank of Nova Scotia executive who took over as CEO of the pension-fund manager in early February as global stock markets were climbing to record highs. The coronavirus pandemic has altered the picture completely since, creating deep problems in many sectors of the global economy even as it opens up private-equity buying opportunities.

Exceptional central-bank monetary policies coupled with historic government assistance programs have prevented the recession from becoming a depression, but there is a growing dichotomy between the real economy and financial markets, Mr. Emond said. The pandemic has accelerated certain trends that were already under way, particularly in technology and retail, he said.

Trouble in the Caisse’s shopping-centre investments, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic as many malls were shut down, contributed to an 11.7-per-cent loss for the real estate portfolio, the pension fund said in a statement Friday. The Caisse said it would speed up plans for each of those assets and shift resources to other market segments, such as warehousing and logistics. The bulk of its shopping centres are in Canada, including Vaughan Mills in the Toronto region and Market Mall in Calgary.

Like other major real estate players, the Caisse’s Ivanhoé Cambridge property arm is facing an extraordinary economic crisis, with malls suffering and the future of office towers coming into question as tech giants such as Shopify and Twitter embrace permanent work-from-home arrangements. Ivanhoé head Nathalie Palladitcheff is trying to whittle down the company’s stake in malls, but she told The Globe and Mail in June that she still has faith in office buildings and wants to increase investments in residential and industrial real estate.

Infrastructure, private equity and credit investments were all bright spots for the Caisse in the quarter. The pension fund has sufficient liquidity to meet the needs of its depositors while supporting Quebec companies and investing opportunistically, Mr. Emond said. He said the pension fund came into the coronavirus crisis with a “defensive position.”

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It might have been too defensive. The Caisse took a major hit in the first half of the year from a loss of 5 per cent in equities, which it pinned on its limited exposure to technology stocks that punched to record highs.

To illustrate the dynamic, shares of the world’s five tech giants – namely Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft – soared 31.4 per cent during the first half of the year while some 3,000 other stocks tracked by the MSCI All Country World Index fell by a combined 4.8 per cent, the Caisse said. The five companies together now make up about 20 per cent of the S&P 500 index, a concentration not seen since the 1990s, it said.

“Caisse analysts are used to evaluating companies based on historical modelling, weighing things like past cash flow,” said Michel Nadeau, a former vice-president at the pension fund who now works for Montreal’s Institute for Governance. “Now they’re going to have to make a leap of faith. When these companies are such huge fixtures in the index, it’s hard to say ‘I won’t [own them].’ “

Given the tech sector’s increasing economic importance, the Caisse has to “look at it through a new lens, open our minds,” Mr. Emond said.

The Caisse, which operates under a dual mandate to generate returns and contribute to Quebec’s economic development, in March created a $4-billion fund to help Quebec businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid includes loans and lines of credit. About 45 per cent of the funds have already been allocated, the pension fund said Friday.

The pension fund was a 20-per-cent owner in Cirque du Soleil, which filed for bankruptcy protection in late June. A court-supervised process to sell Cirque is now under way, with a credit bid worth about US$1.2-billion from the company’s lenders approved by the court as the offer to beat.

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To succeed in the future, Cirque needs “a strategic operator” among its owners in order to reinvent itself as well as a reasonable level of debt, Mr. Emond said. Whether the Caisse puts more money in play and makes a bid for the company will depend on how things unfold, he said.

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Caisse CEO not ruling out further investment in Cirque du Soleil – Montreal Gazette

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Emond identified two conditions as an “absolute necessity” for the Cirque to succeed — a “strategic operator” with a deep knowledge of the industry, and a smaller debt load.

“It needs a strategic operator to allow the Cirque to reinvent itself, a Cirque 2.0,” Emond said. “It also needs a reasonable debt level. It’s not the best company for high leverage.”

The offer by a group of Cirque debt holders led by Toronto firm Catalyst Capital Group is valued at approximately US$1.2 billion, according to court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young.

Up to US$375 million will be made available to the Cirque, while two funds totalling US$20 million will be set up to pay money owed to former employees and artisans. The agreement also commits to maintain Cirque’s head office in Montreal for at least five years.

“No matter what happens, there’s a minimum value out there which the debt holders have actually agreed to pay, and conditions for maintaining the Cirque here and taking care of various stakeholders,” Emond said. “That’s something you’d never see in a process like that. So there’s a minimum outcome that’s already been achieved.”

Other bidders have until Aug. 18 to submit a fully funded offer that is at least US$1.5 million higher than the creditor bid.

Canadian Press contributed to this report

ftomesco@postmedia.com

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