Michael Sprung’s Top Stock Picks on BNN Bloomberg Market Call, July 16, 2018


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MARKET CALL: Michael Sprung’s Top Picks: July 16, 2018

Until recently, markets shrugged off political and geopolitical developments. However, investors were shaken in the latter part of the second quarter as tensions intensified regarding global trade in reaction to a series of tariffs and counter tariffs that were enacted. Global stock market volatility increased as investors exited positions in June and markets lost some of the gains that had been achieved earlier. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the US is no longer going to accept what it views as asymmetrical trade and military alliances as the status quo. This state of affairs has enormous implications for the US and its trading partners. Corporate profits would be severely impacted by a prolonged trade war.

In this environment, We would advise caution. Value rather than momentum will become more important in stock selection as investors seek to minimize risk on the downside. Investors should continue to seek well financed, well managed companies that are selling at attractive price levels.

Top Picks:

Manulife Financial Corporation, MFC-T, Owned personally and by clients, Last Purchase May 2, 2018 $23.47
Manulife is a leading Canadian-based financial services group with operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. The company is well positioned in Asia where they are experiencing high growth and profitability; 50% of Manulife’s core earnings stem from Asia. Under Roy Gori’s leadership, a new round of balance sheet optimization is underway emphasizing a more agressive approach to dealing with less profitable legacy businesses. Manulife has been lagging its peers recently, likely a result of some anticipated charges during this restructuring period. However, we anticipate that Manulife will benefit from rising rates, a flattening of the yeild curve and stronger results from Asia and Wealth Management. A renewed emphasis of cost efficiencies will improve margins over the next few years. The current yield of 3.7% is attractive.

ARC Resouces Ltd., ARX-T, owned by clients, Last Purchase March 9, 2016 $18.72
ARC in one of Canada’s leading conventional oil and gas companies with operations in Western Canada. Management is focused on the development of ARC’s high-quality long-life assets. Liquids rich opportunities in the Montney offer the prospect of higher margins. The expansion at Dawson Phase III was completed in mid-2017. Future growth in production will arise from completion of projects in Sunrise (mid-2019) and Dawson Phase IV in 2020. Arc has one of the strongest balance sheets amonst its peers with net debt to cash flow below 1.5X. The stock currently yields 4.1%.

Fortis Inc., FTS-T, Owned by clients, Last Purchase May 2, 2018 $42.45
Fortis is the largest investor owned gas and electric distribution utility in Canada with operations in the US and Belize. Over the next few years, Fortis is expected to significantly increase its rate base. Over the next five years, management anticipates capital expenditures in the order of $12.9 billion. The company is extremely well diversified by asset type, geographic location and regulatory regimes. Going forward, management’s focus is anticipated to be more on organic growth within its exisiting markets as opposed to M&A. Fortis has a history of dividend increases that are expected to continue. The stock currently yields 4.0%.

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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.


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