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'Worst scenario I've seen in decades' for Manitoba producers as demand disappears: Pork Council GM –



Manitoba hog producers are reeling from closed slaughterhouses and empty restaurants, and losing money on every animal they sell, says a spokesperson for the province’s industry association.

“This is the worst scenario I’ve seen since probably 1998,” said Andrew Dickson, general manager with the Manitoba Pork Council.

Cases of COVID-19 at American pork-processing plants, including in South Dakota and Iowa, have temporarily closed facilities and slashed the number of hogs being processed every day by an estimated 60,000, Dickson said.

The growing backlog has a rippling effect across the industry.

Although there are more pigs, the remaining slaughterhouses face stunted demand because sales from restaurants and hotels are drying up — which, in turn, lowers the price on every hog.

A finishing pig that commanded $180 in January is now worth around $130, Dickson said.

It’s even worse for the weanling pigs sold to producers in the United States.

“Today, we’ve got producers in Manitoba getting zero for the price of those pigs going into the United States.”

Selling opportunities drying up

Dickson said some hog producers may pull back on production going forward, but that doesn’t help them make money today. 

“They’re going to be losing significant amounts of money for every hog they sell.”

Steinbach-area hog farmer Rick Bergmann told a national news conference Thursday the stories from individual producers are bleak.

A grocer sorts his Canadian pork products at a grocery store in Cremona, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

And so is his own. It costs Bergmann $40 to feed each of the 800 piglets he sells to the United States weekly, but those hogs are suddenly worthless to the supply chain.

“This week, we had somebody call and say, ‘Well, if you give them to us for nothing, we’ll take them,'” he said in an interview.

Bergmann loses $32,000 on the transaction. He cannot sustain blows like that for much longer, likening the situation to calling for help while his boat takes on water.

The Canadian Pork Council, which he chairs, is pushing for an immediate stimulus for producers of $20 per pig. He said existing federal aid programs are inadequate.

In Manitoba, fully grown hogs are sold locally to HyLife Foods and Maple Leaf Foods, two processing companies still running, but adhering to physical-distancing protocols.

The union that represents more than 4,000 employees at the two companies is impressed by their response to COVID-19.

“There are temperature checks, masks for each employee, expanded lunchroom spaces and staggered breaks at each facility,” said Jeff Traeger, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, noting neither company has reported a case of COVID-19 in Manitoba.

“They have been very proactive. As soon as there is an idea out there about ways that they can protect their workers, our members, they’ve been very, very keen to implement those whenever they can.”

Plexiglas dividers needed: UFCW

He said the companies are considering Plexiglas dividers, which Traeger explained are difficult to install on the processing lines. They’re needed, though, because workers are no more than a foot apart on the killing floor.

In the long run, a processing backlog in North America may result in less pork on store shelves, which may spike prices, he said.

The Retail Council of Canada said existing shortages of any meats are because of changing buying patterns, not supply problems.

“Grocery stores are dealing with all of the business that used to, in part, go to restaurants and hotels,” said spokesperson John Graham.

“Individual stores are sometimes challenged to have the right amount of product on the shelves at the right time.”

Beef producers are also in trouble. The closure of the Cargill plant in Alberta — which processes roughly 40 per cent of Canada’s beef — due to a COVID-19 outbreak has had a chilling effect on livestock producers.

“If they can’t market their animals, they need to hold on to them, and that’s an added cost to have to feed that animal on a daily basis,” said Carson Callum, general manager with the Manitoba Beef Producers.

The closure of slaughterhouses has disrupted the supply chain for beef producers and it’s brought prices downward, says Birtle, Man., producer Tyler Fulton. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Manitoba Beef Producers is asking the federal government to reinstate the set-aside program, which compensates producers for feeding the cattle they hold back a maintenance diet. The program was first implemented during the BSE crisis.

The group says that would help people like Tyler Fulton, who raises cattle in Birtle, Man.

He recently sold heifers for 20 per cent less than the price he would have got a month earlier.

“That has direct impact on the cash flow,” he said. 

“It’s going to impact the decisions we make on the farm.”

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3 Canadian Dividend Stocks that Haven’t Missed a Payout for 100+ Years



Local dividend investors are lucky. They have a good selection of Canada’s finest companies to choose from – stocks that haven’t missed a dividend payment in decades. In fact, a small number of companies have paid uninterrupted dividends for a century or longer.

That’s a pretty impressive track record.

There’s just one problem. Instead of sticking with these excellent long-term dividend kings, investors get a little cute. They load up on lesser stocks, enticed by a succulent yield, deep value opportunity, or better growth potential. Sometimes these investments work out, but often they don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with that approach. After all, diversification is a good thing. But I still think the bedrock of the average Canadian investment portfolio should consist of these dividend kings, the kinds of companies you can count on no matter what.

This is doubly important in a COVID-19 world.

Let’s take a closer look at three of Canada’s top dividend kings, shares that have paid investors consistently for at least the past 100 years.

Bank of Montreal

We might as well start at the top. Bank of Montreal (TSX:BMO)(NYSE:BMO) has the longest dividend streak in Canada. It started paying a dividend back in 1829 and hasn’t missed a payment since. That’s a remarkable record.

BMO is hardly the largest bank in Canada. It’s only the fourth-largest. But it’s still a formidable company with a market cap exceeding $45 billion. The company has retail, commercial, and capital markets operations across both Canada and the United States. It’s also a big wealth manager on both sides of the border and is a major player in the exchange-traded fund market. In fact, BMO was the first major Canadian bank to expand into the United States.

Today is an excellent opportunity to pick up BMO shares on the cheap. Despite rallying significantly earlier in the week, this dividend king trades at just 8 times trailing earnings and slightly below book value. That’s the cheapest shares have been since 2009. BMO also pays a succulent 6% dividend yield, which is about 50% higher than normal.

Imperial Oil

Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO)(NYSEMKT:IMO) has been a stalwart in the Canadian energy sector for more than a century with history dating back to John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil. The company has paid consistent dividends for virtually its entire history, since the 1880s.

This dividend king has been undoubtedly hurt by the recent collapse in oil prices, but it easily has the balance sheet strength to survive. Its oil sands operations are among the best in the business, producing some 400,000 barrels of bitumen each day. Long-term reserves are also excellent, exceeding 6 billion barrels. And investors have to like the company’s downstream operations, which include several refineries and an fleet of Esso gas stations. It also provides fuel for Mobil branded stations in Canada.

Imperial Oil hasn’t just paid consistent dividends lately. It has increased its payout for 25 consecutive years. That’s an excellent record. Combine that with the current 3.9% yield and it’s an interesting opportunity.


BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE)(NYSE:BCE) was founded in 1880, just a few years after Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. It paid its first dividend to investors the next year and hasn’t looked back since. That’s a dividend streak of nearly 140 consecutive years for this dividend king.

BCE today looks stronger than ever. The company is the leading telecom provider in Canada, connecting more than 13 million customers to wireless data, cable television, internet, and home phone services. It has customers from coast to coast, too. It also owns a smattering of interesting media assets including top television stations, a collection of radio stations, video streaming service Crave, and pieces of several top sports franchises.

This dividend king also offers an excellent payout today. The current yield is 5.9%, a payout that is supported by earnings. BCE is a mature company today, meaning it can easily afford to pay out most of its cash flow back to investors.

The bottom line on these dividend kings

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. The smart move is to load up on dividend kings like Bank of Montreal, Imperial Oil, and BCE for your income needs. It’s worked for the last century, and it sure looks good for the next century too.

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Source: – The Motley Fool Canada

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Edited By Harry Miller

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The close: TSX ends lower, crude has best month on record – The Globe and Mail



Canada’s main stock index ended a strong May a little weaker while crude oil prices enjoyed their best ever month, surging 88 per cent.

The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 69.90 points at 15,192.83. Sectors were mixed, with financials leading decliners with a 2% drop, as investors absorbed a week of earnings reports that featured massive loan loss provisions. Laurentian Bank lost 9.1% after cutting its dividend – the first such move by a major lender in almost three decades.

U.S. stocks finished mostly higher after President Donald Trump announced measures against China in response to new security legislation that were less threatening to the U.S. economy than investors had feared.

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The Dow ended the session slightly lower, but all three indexes registered gains for the month and the week.

The S&P 500 initially extended losses after Trump said he was directing his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong in response to China’s plans to impose new security legislation in the semi-autonomous territory.

But Trump made no mention of any action that could undermine the Phase One trade deal that Washington and Beijing struck early this year, a concern that had cast a cloud over the market throughout the week.

“He began speaking in a very tough tone,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina. “The market was worried he was going to announce something substantial, something detrimental to the U.S. economy. Then, as he spoke, it became clear the actions being taken were not going to be as dramatic as originally feared.”

Trump also said the United States is terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization, something he had threatened to do earlier this month.

S&P 500 technology shares gave the index its biggest boost, while financials were the biggest drag.

The latest confrontation between the U.S. and China has fueled concern that worsening tensions between the two world’s largest economies could derail the recent sharp gains in the stock market.

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Expectations of a quick economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic have driven the S&P 500 up more than 30% from its March lows.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 17.53 points, or 0.07%, to 25,383.11, the S&P 500 gained 14.58 points, or 0.48%, to 3,044.31, and the Nasdaq Composite added 120.88 points, or 1.29%, to 9,489.87.

For the month, the Dow added 3.9%, the S&P 500 gained 4.5%, and the Nasdaq rose 6.8%. For the week, the Dow and S&P 500 each rose more than 3%, and the Nasdaq gained 1.8%.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday that New York City is “on track” to enter phase one of reopening on June 8, and he said five upstate regions will now transition to phase two.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, speaking in a webcast organized by Princeton University Friday, reiterated the U.S. central bank’s promise to use its tools to shore up the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Twitter was down 2% and Facebook Inc shares slipped 0.2%, a day after Trump signed an order threatening social media firms with new regulations over free speech.

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Upscale department store chain Nordstrom Inc slumped 11% after it reported a near 40% fall in quarterly sales due to pandemic-led store closures. Inc slipped 3.5% as the cloud-based business software maker cut its annual revenue and profit forecasts.

The July crude contract was up US$1.78 at US$35.49 per barrel and the July natural gas contract was up 2.2 cents at nearly US$1.85 per mmBTU. Futures closed out May with record monthly gains, on hopes that the U.S.-China trade deal would remain intact and on falling crude production.

The August gold contract was up US$23.40 at US$1,751.70 an ounce and the July copper contract was up 1.2 cents at nearly US$2.43 a pound.

Read more: Stocks seeing action Friday – and why

Reuters, The Canadian Press, Globe staff

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Laurentian Bank cuts dividend by 40%




Laurentian Bank slashed its dividend by 40 per cent on Friday, the first such move by a major Canadian lender in almost three decades.

The Montreal-based lender said Friday its profit fell by 79 per cent to $8.9 million, and its provisions for credit losses — the amount of money the bank is setting aside to cover loans that may go bad — soared to $54.9 million. That’s up from $9 million in the same period a year ago.

COVID-19 is throwing uncertainty to the bank’s outlook, so it cut its dividend to 40 cents a share as a precaution. Previously it was 67 cents a share.

“We have a strong capital and liquidity position, and disciplined risk management, but it is a time for prudence,” CEO François Desjardins said. “Although we believe that current earnings are not reflective of the future earnings power of the organisation, we have reduced the dividend to $0.40 per share which improves operational flexibility until we reap the anticipated benefits of our strategic plan.”

The last time a major Canadian bank slashed its dividend was 1992, when National Bank cut the payout to its shareholders.


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Published By Magen Johnson

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