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Looking to invest amid coronavirus? Many Canadian options exist, biotech CEO says – Global News

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Canadians looking for profitable stocks related to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic have plenty of homegrown options, but investing in small domestic firms carries elevated risks as well as rewards.

BetterLife Pharmaceuticals Inc. is one such company. The Vancouver firm is in final testing on a treatment for cases in which a vaccine doesn’t work or patients refuse to be inoculated.

“We have a Made-in-Canada solution,” says founder and CEO Dr. Ahmad Doroudian. His company has worked with the National Research Council and Toronto immunologist Dr. Eleanor Fish.

Read more:
How COVID-19 is luring Canadians into the stock market

The company has developed an inhalable method to treat COVID-19 patients by helping the immune system to defeat the virus.

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“We think we can make an impact. We absolutely think we’re going to be part of a treatment cocktail that’s going to be needed to contain this infection in years to come.”

Other names include Algernon Pharmaceuticals Inc., IMV — which is working on a vaccine — and WELL Health Technologies Corp., which offers antibody tests.

Investing in biotechnology is by nature risky, Doroudian concedes, but the rewards are much larger than investing in a global vaccine developer like Pfizer, whose shares are more stable.

While shares of small biotech firms can surge or plunge based on clinical results, their trading prices are much lower.






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6 ways to think about investing during the COVID-19 outbreak – May 2, 2020

BetterLife’s shares have traded between 40 cents and $3 over the last 52 weeks with its market capitalization currently standing at $28.5 million. Pfizer’s value is US$227 billion based on a US$40.84 share price.

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Other Canadian biotech firms are private but have partnered with large multinationals that are available for investment. For example, Medicago is working with GSK.

Vancouver’s AbCellera Biologics Inc. and Eli Lilly and Company have co-developed the anti COVID drug bamlanivimab to treat patients with mild or moderate symptoms that has received emergency use approval in Canada and the United States.

Approval comes as AbCellera seeks to raise US$200 million through an IPO on the Nasdaq Global Market.

Read more:
6 reasons you may want to change your investment strategy amid COVID-19

The hype over the biotech company has grown with the announcement that Facebook early investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel has joined its board of directors.

Yet, buying into a company that’s launching an initial public offering because they have a promising COVID treatment or vaccine can be risky, warns Les Stelmach, portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton Canada.

“Definitely, buyer beware,” he said from Calgary.

For the most part, Canadian investors have to turn to the U.S. to get direct access to pharmaceutical efforts to combat COVID, especially for vaccines.

Even before the virus, investors needed to look outside Canada to build a reasonable position in health care because the sector is dramatically under-represented in the TSX, said Craig Fehr, investment strategist at Edward Jones.

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Click to play video 'Canadians increasingly worried about retirement savings as COVID-19 drags on'



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Canadians increasingly worried about retirement savings as COVID-19 drags on


Canadians increasingly worried about retirement savings as COVID-19 drags on – May 13, 2020

“We’re not necessarily advising our clients to look at specific investments that are the vaccine play per se. But we do think health care should be a meaningful part of any well-diversified equity portfolio because the secular and the cyclical opportunities that exist in that space are compelling to us,” he said in an interview.

Relatively few Canadians do invest in U.S. biopharma, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

Just 1.4 per cent of Pfizer’s shareholders are Canadians. They hold 78.1 million shares valued at US$2.86 billion. The ratio for GSK is 1.42 per cent, 1.16 per cent for Eli Lilly, 1.36 per cent for Gilead and 0.58 per cent for Moderna.

Still, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are attracting heightened investment interest after each announced COVID vaccines.

“I think you buy Pfizer because it’s a good drug company. They make money, and they have a good drug pipeline of new and promising products. It’s not just a play on COVID,” said Stelmach.

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Read more:
Dividend stocks have stumbled amid COVID-19: What does that mean for investors?

Investing in small- and mid-cap biotech companies is difficult because they generally rely heavily on a single source of revenues, said Mike Archibald, vice-president and portfolio manager with AGF Investments Inc.

As a generalist investor Archibald said he doesn’t want to focus a lot of his portfolio that can surge on regulatory approval but collapse on negative news.

“When I’m putting together a portfolio, those are bets that I generally don’t make. And if I’m gonna make them, I usually make them in very, very small percentage increments and would require a large amount of due diligence to ensure that I understand exactly what the potential outcomes are.”

A good strategy for most Canadian retail investors is instead to focus on the positive impact of vaccines on the general economy, said Anish Chopra, managing director with Portfolio Management Corp.

“If you’re looking at reopening trades you’re starting to see them in the marketplace which would be old economy types of industries such as financial services, energy, hospitality.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Empire Life unveils new investment options – Wealth Professional

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“We are excited to offer investors two new Multi-Strategy GIFs, focused on growth, to help them achieve their financial goals,” said Ian Hardacre, senior vice president and chief investment officer at Empire Life. “Through passive and active strategies, the Empire Life Multi-Strategy GIFs provide exposure across investment styles, geographies, and industry sectors to increase diversification.”

Hardacre said the new seg funds provide a complement to Empire Life’s existing GIFs, which offer a value-oriented investment approach.

Meanwhile, the Empire Life Global Sustainable Equity GIF invests in global stocks with superior environmental, social, and governance (ESG) characteristics. The fund will be managed by Ashley Misquitta, CFA and senior portfolio manager, U.S. Equities; and David Mann, CFA and portfolio manager, Global Equities.

“This new fund gives investors more choice and opportunity to diversify their holdings and align their investment goals with their personal preferences and social objectives,” Hardacre said.

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Exclusive: India plans foreign investment rule changes that could hit Amazon – Cape Breton Post

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By Aditya Kalra and Krishna N. Das

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is considering revising its foreign investment rules for e-commerce, three sources and a government spokesman told Reuters, a move that could compel players, including Amazon.com Inc, to restructure their ties with some major sellers.

The government discussions coincide with a growing number of complaints from India’s brick-and-mortar retailers, which have for years accused Amazon and Walmart Inc-controlled Flipkart of creating complex structures to bypass federal rules, allegations the U.S. companies deny.

India only allows foreign e-commerce players to operate as a marketplace to connect buyers and sellers. It prohibits them from holding inventories of goods and directly selling them on their platforms.

Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart were last hit in Dec. 2018 by investment rule changes that barred foreign e-commerce players from offering products from sellers in which they have an equity stake.

Now, the government is considering adjusting some provisions to prevent those arrangements, even if the e-commerce firm holds an indirect stake in a seller through its parent, three sources said. The sources asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The changes could hurt Amazon as it holds indirect equity stakes in two of its biggest online sellers in India.

Amazon, Walmart and Flipkart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Yogesh Baweja, the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, which is working on the issue, confirmed to Reuters any changes will be announced through a so-called “press note,” which contains foreign direct investment rules. He did not give any details.

“It’s a work in progress,” Baweja said, adding an internal meeting on the subject last took place about a month ago.

“Of course Amazon’s a big player so whatever advice, whatever suggestions, whatever recommendations they make, they are also given due consideration.”

FRAYED TIES

The 2018 rules forced Amazon and Flipkart to rework their business structures and soured relations between India and the United States, as Washington said the policy change favoured local e-tailers over U.S. ones.

India’s e-commerce retail market is seen growing to $200 billion a year by 2026, from $30 billion in 2019, the country’s investment promotion agency Invest India estimates.

Domestic traders have been unhappy about the growth. They see foreign e-commerce businesses as a threat to their livelihoods and accuse them of unfair business practices that use steep discounts to target rapid growth. The companies deny they are acting unfairly.

“The way the government is thinking is that marketplaces are not doing what they are supposed to do. The government wants to tinker with the nuts and bolts of the policy,” said one of the sources who is familiar with the talks on the policy changes.

LIMITING WHOLESALE TIES

India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal has been critical of e-commerce companies in private meetings and told them to follow all laws in letter and spirit, Reuters has previously reported.

In the face of growing trader complaints and an antitrust investigation, Goyal last year said Amazon was not doing “a great favour to India” by making fresh investments.

Among other changes, the government is considering changes that would effectively prohibit online sales by a seller who purchases goods from the e-commerce entity or its group firm, and then sells them on the entity’s websites, two of the sources said.

Under existing rules, a seller is free to buy up to 25% of its inventory from the e-commerce entity’s wholesale or another unit and then sell them on the e-commerce website.

A boom in e-commerce in India accelerated last year when the COVID-19 pandemic drove more shoppers online. Flipkart, in which Walmart invested $16 billion in 2018, and Amazon are among the top two players.

“Ecommerce has already made its mark for itself in the country, particularly during COVID-19,” Commerce Ministry’s Baweja said. “They are bound to grow and a conducive environment should be there, which is good for the brick-and-mortar as well as e-commerce.”

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Krishna Das in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Euan Rocha and Barbara Lewis)

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Exclusive: India plans foreign investment rule changes that could hit Amazon – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Aditya Kalra and Krishna N. Das

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India is considering revising its foreign investment rules for e-commerce, three sources and a government spokesman told Reuters, a move that could compel players, including Amazon.com Inc, to restructure their ties with some major sellers.

The government discussions coincide with a growing number of complaints from India’s brick-and-mortar retailers, which have for years accused Amazon and Walmart Inc-controlled Flipkart of creating complex structures to bypass federal rules, allegations the U.S. companies deny.

India only allows foreign e-commerce players to operate as a marketplace to connect buyers and sellers. It prohibits them from holding inventories of goods and directly selling them on their platforms.

Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart were last hit in Dec. 2018 by investment rule changes that barred foreign e-commerce players from offering products from sellers in which they have an equity stake.

Now, the government is considering adjusting some provisions to prevent those arrangements, even if the e-commerce firm holds an indirect stake in a seller through its parent, three sources said. The sources asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

The changes could hurt Amazon as it holds indirect equity stakes in two of its biggest online sellers in India.

Amazon, Walmart and Flipkart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Yogesh Baweja, the spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, which is working on the issue, confirmed to Reuters any changes will be announced through a so-called “press note,” which contains foreign direct investment rules. He did not give any details.

“It’s a work in progress,” Baweja said, adding an internal meeting on the subject last took place about a month ago.

“Of course Amazon’s a big player so whatever advice, whatever suggestions, whatever recommendations they make, they are also given due consideration.”

FRAYED TIES

The 2018 rules forced Amazon and Flipkart to rework their business structures and soured relations between India and the United States, as Washington said the policy change favoured local e-tailers over U.S. ones.

India’s e-commerce retail market is seen growing to $200 billion a year by 2026, from $30 billion in 2019, the country’s investment promotion agency Invest India estimates.

Domestic traders have been unhappy about the growth. They see foreign e-commerce businesses as a threat to their livelihoods and accuse them of unfair business practices that use steep discounts to target rapid growth. The companies deny they are acting unfairly.

“The way the government is thinking is that marketplaces are not doing what they are supposed to do. The government wants to tinker with the nuts and bolts of the policy,” said one of the sources who is familiar with the talks on the policy changes.

LIMITING WHOLESALE TIES

India’s trade minister Piyush Goyal has been critical of e-commerce companies in private meetings and told them to follow all laws in letter and spirit, Reuters has previously reported.

In the face of growing trader complaints and an antitrust investigation, Goyal last year said Amazon was not doing “a great favour to India” by making fresh investments.

Among other changes, the government is considering changes that would effectively prohibit online sales by a seller who purchases goods from the e-commerce entity or its group firm, and then sells them on the entity’s websites, two of the sources said.

Under existing rules, a seller is free to buy up to 25% of its inventory from the e-commerce entity’s wholesale or another unit and then sell them on the e-commerce website.

A boom in e-commerce in India accelerated last year when the COVID-19 pandemic drove more shoppers online. Flipkart, in which Walmart invested $16 billion in 2018, and Amazon are among the top two players.

“Ecommerce has already made its mark for itself in the country, particularly during COVID-19,” Commerce Ministry’s Baweja said. “They are bound to grow and a conducive environment should be there, which is good for the brick-and-mortar as well as e-commerce.”

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Krishna Das in New Delhi; Additional reporting by Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Euan Rocha and Barbara Lewis)

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