Top Picks & Outlook – Michael Sprung on BNN’s Market Call Tonight

Outlook:

Global stock markets generally continued their upward bias in  the third quarter of 2017. This bias was supported by strengthening economic growth in both the developed and emerging economies although at subpar levels compared with traditional recoveries. As central banks have cautiously raised interest rates, bond prices have come under pressure. Wage demands in the developed countries have not accelerated as inflationary expectations have remained low and productivity improvements have been driven by technology. In this environment, central banks may temper their enthusiasm to normalize interest rates and reduce their bloated balance sheets.

Michael Sprung Top Picks Sun Life Financial, SLF, Suncor, SU, Aecon Group, AR

Michael Sprung’s Top Picks: Sun Life Financial, SLF, Suncor, SU, Aecon Group, ARE

Against this backdrop, stock markets have continued to advance. The S&P 500 in the US has hit new highs surpassing levels from before the financial crisis. Valuations have also hit high levels making the search for new investment ideas challenging.

A number of factors could come into play that would precipitate a more meaningful market correction than we have seen in the last ten years. In Canada, concerns are centered around the NAFTA negotiations. Since the Brexit vote and the start of the Trump presidency, a backlash against global free trade has been evident, causing uncertainty in the business community, thus dampening the appetite for capital investment. Other geopolitical factors are also of concern. North Korea’s nuclear threat and heightened discord with the US has been very prominent in the headlines as have tensions in the Middle East, Venezuela, Spain, Russia and the Ukraine. Monetary concerns in Greece,Italy, Spain and Portugal have not gone away.

All of these factors lead us to exercise caution and prudence in our investment stance. Investors have to look hard to find well financed, well managed and reasonably priced companies.

Top Picks:

Sun Life Financial Inc., SLF-T, Owned personally and by clients, Last Purchase February 2016 at $37.20

Sun Life Financial operates in Canada, the US, UK and Asia. Insurance companies will benefit from a rising interest rate environment. We anticipate reasonable growth in earnings over the next few years that should result in expanding dividends. The stock currently yields 3.5% and represents good value in the current environment.

Suncor, SU-T, Owned by clients, Last Purchase March 2016 at $32.94

Suncor is Canada’s largest integrated oil and gas company. Suncor has a strong production base with quality long-term assets, a strong balance sheet, and an integrated business model that smooths to some extent the cash flow from the various business segments. Management has been focused on increasing efficiencies and positioning the company for future growth. Over the remainder of the year, Fort Hills and Hebron will be coming online. Suncor has a strong balance sheet to support and expand operations. At current levels, the stock yields 3.1%.

Aecon Group Inc., ARE-T, Owned by clients, Last Purchase March 2016 at $16.00

Founded in 1910, Aecon Group is one of Canada’s largest construction companies.   Aecon’s backlog in other infrastructure, transportation and nuclear projects has been growing. The more sophisticated projects should result in higher profitability. The environment for increased public spending in Canada is robust. The company has announced that is considering a possible sale that caused an initial bounce in the share price. Since then, the price has receded somewhat giving a current yield of 3.0%. If a sale occurs, we anticipate that it would happen at higher prices.

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The opinions expressed here are ours alone. They are provided for information purposes only and are not tailored to the needs of any particular individual or company, are not an endorsement, recommendation, or sponsorship of any entity or security, and do not constitute investment advice. We strongly recommend that you seek advice from a qualified investment advisor before making any investment decision.

 

Top Stock Picks – Michael Sprung on BNN Market Call Tonight

Top Stock Picks

Manulife Financial Corporation, MFC-T, Owned personally and by clients

Manulife is a leading Canadian-based financial services group with operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Over the past five years, the company has made tremendous strides in de-risking the balance sheet and improving profitability through increasing wealth management operations as well as redirecting the mix of products sold. Recent quarter results disappointed as negative policyholder experience in the firm’s US Long Term Care(LTC) Business overshadowed positive developments elsewhere. Excluding the LTC hit, results from the US divisione were inline with expectations. Canada and Asia reported favourable trends in earnings. The market reacted negatively to these results. MFC has the strongest capital base of the insurers. Going forward, we expect the problems within LTC will be dealt with and at current levels, the shares represent good value and yield 4.2%

Top Stock Picks Michael SprungManulife, MFC, Suncor, SU, HudBay, HBM

Top Stock Picks from Michael Sprung: Manulife, MFC, Suncor, SU, HudBay, HBM

Suncor Energy, SU-T, Owned by clients

Suncor is Canada’s largest integrated oil and gas company. Suncor has a strong production base with quality long-term assets, a strong balance sheet, and an integrated business model smoothing to some extent the cash flow from the various business segments. The latest quarter exhibited mixed results, partially as a result of the wildfires in Northern Alberta that affected both production and operating expenses. We anticipate that production will increase both organically and perhaps through acquisition. Suncor has a strong balance sheet to support and expand operations. At current levels, the stock yields 3.2%.

HudBay Minerals, HBM-T, Owned personally and by clients

HudBay Minerals is one of Canada’s leading producers of zinc, copper and precious metals with operations in Canada, Peru and the US. While the share price has appreciated significantly in the past few months, positive developments are still on the horizon that will enhance the underlying value of the company. Delayed shipments impaired sales in the latest quarter that should be made up going forward. Liquidity has been improved as the large Constancia mine is now commissioned and additional credit facilities have been of this site is possible obtained. Mill throughput in Constancia was constrained by liner wear in the mill that has now been repaired. Further development in Peru is a possibility. Improvements in Manitoba at Lalor and Reed are also noted.

Outlook:

North American markets have continued their upward trajectory despite a growing list of negative geopolitical and business risks, particularly those stemming from the surprising vote in the UK to “Brexit“. At the same time, the global bond markets appear to be signalling an expected decline in economic activity. Governments out side of North America continue to attempt to stimulate economies through quantitative easing and proposed infrastructure spending. Over US$13 Trillion of sovereign debt is now at negative interest rates and the total continues to grow.

Politicians in North America and Europe are exploiting the public’s unrest through fear-mongering on the issues of globalization and free trade as was most evident in the Brexit vote and continues in the US presidential race. As the US election draws nearer, more noise from the political pundits will distract attention from the longer term fundamentals.

After a number of years of expansion fueled by debt, we could be entering a period of deleveraging that will stall global economic growth for a period and potentially cause markets to decline and volatility to increase. Investors should concentrate on the longer term issues and be prepared to take advantage of current circumstances to invest in well financed, well managed companies.

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We believe that investment management is about managing risk, not chasing speculative returns. Like to learn more? Please contact us here>>

The opinions expressed here are ours alone. They are provided for information purposes only and are not tailored to the needs of any particular individual or company, are not an endorsement, recommendation, or sponsorship of any entity or security, and do not constitute investment advice. We strongly recommend that you seek advice from a qualified investment advisor before making any investment decision.