Category Archives: News

Announcing the Guilty Pleasure Thematic Dividend Leader…

Announcing the Guilty Pleasure Thematic Dividend Leader…

Occasionally, when I’ve had the privilege of sitting in for Doug Kass’s  Doug Kass’s Daily Diary at TheStreet, I’ve shared with readers updates for Tematica’s Thematic Leaders model portfolio. The Thematic Leaders model portfolio is set at the start of each year and reflects the crème of the crop, best thematically positioned companies for the coming year for each of our thematic investing themes at Tematica Research. After much thought and more than a few requests, we’re going to share some of the leaders for another Tematica portfolio — Thematic Dividend Leaders.

Thematic Dividend Leaders is a very different model portfolio than Thematic Leaders. The starting universe for Dividend Leaders begins with companies that have increased their annual dividends for at least 10 years. And to be crystal clear, that means no skipped dividends. From there we then use our investment themes as an overlay, to identify the best thematically positioned and the intersection of those criteria leads us to each Thematic Dividend Leader.

When done right thematic investing identifies structural changes in the marketplace, including those across the shifting landscapes of economics, demographics, psychographics, technology, government mandates and other areas. Companies positioned to capitalize on these structural shifts see a pronounced revenue, earnings and cash flow tailwind. That tailwind tends to produce a powerful combination of EPS generation and stock valuation multiple expansion thereby driving what many investors are searching for — alpha. And from a dividend investors’ perspective, those thematic tailwinds bode rather well that companies that have a track record for increasing their payouts will continue to do so.

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Right to Repair – Your Car? This is an issue?

Right to Repair – Your Car? This is an issue?

Right to repair laws have long been targeted at consumer electronics. It turns out that knowing where to mark top-dead-center on a car engine’s flywheel just doesn’t get the job done anymore.

The vehicular data question was one of statewide two ballot measures Nov. 3.

Source: Massachusetts votes yes on Question 1, ‘right to repair’ ballot question

Thematics outperform the broader equity markets in October

Thematics outperform the broader equity markets in October

A confluence of factors weighed on equities in October including the resurgence of the coronavirus that resulted in fresh restrictions late in the month, scuttled fiscal stimulus talks in Washington, renewed US-China trade tensions, the continuation of Brexit talks, and the lead up to the final innings of the contentious 2020 US presidential election. The end result saw the major market indices record their worst month in several with the S&P 500 shedding 2.8%, which added to its September losses and left it up 1.2% through the first 10 months of 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.6% in October, leaving it down 7.1% with two months left to go in 2020. In comparison, all six of Tematica Research’s thematic indices outperformed both of those major market barometers in October, once again confirming that only by thinking differently can investors hope to outperform.

With Election Day 2020 having finally arrived, investors are anxiously waiting for the presidential results and those for the U.S. Senate, which will determine its political composition for the next few years. There is chatter of a potential Blue Wave, but we are likely in for a nail biter of an evening.

Barring a landslide victory by either Trump or Biden, which, depending on your view of potential swing states is either highly probable or wishful thinking, the probability is high the next president will not be declared quickly. Indeed, we would not be surprised if a contested election emerges. When that happened in 2000, it took five weeks, complete with recounts and court rulings, to know the outcome of the presidential race, and in that time volatility was a recurring factor for U.S. equity markets.

If we get a split decision — a president from one party with the other party a majority in the Senate — odds are we are in for four years where little will get done in Washington. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Stepping back we have to ask: will a changing of the guard have a demonstrative impact on our investment themes and indices?

Will the shift to digital shopping slow in the near-term? Probably not, especially given what is unfolding with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will people stop streaming video content? Not likely. Even Walt Disney (DIS) now refers to its box office facing business as a legacy one as it focuses on its Disney+ streaming service.

Are people going to stop looking for food and other products that have cleaner ingredients and environmentally friendly packaging? Will farmers stop buying agricultural equipment that will help drive crop yields and productivity? Doubtful on both counts.

Will the deployment of 5G networks and 5G smartphones come to a grinding halt? Again not likely.

And so on…

Yes, the players in Washington may change and during that process, there will be some immediate to short-term volatility but the structural changes that power Tematica’ investment themes will continue on. That said, we’ll be sure to watch policy changes and regulatory mandates in the coming quarters to identify any potential headwinds as well as new tailwinds that could further entrench the structural changes that underpin our investment themes and indices.

How The Pandemic Has Increased The Need for Cybersecurity

How The Pandemic Has Increased The Need for Cybersecurity

The first known cyberattack hit in 1988, when what became known as the Morris Worm installed itself on a computer every one out of seven times, even if the computer claimed it already had the program. With each installation, the infected computers would become further debilitated until they finally crashed. The worm damaged approximately 6,000 computers, which represented 10% of the entire internet at the time, and we have never looked back.

Over the ensuing three decades, computing and connectivity would become increasingly ubiquitous as more of how we work, play, and live becomes digital, and the combination of chips and sensors have become the fabric of our lives.

The dark side of this increasingly digital lifestyle is the voluminous growth in the number of attack vectors by cybercriminals and other bad actors. While driven primarily by financial motives, one of the more lucrative areas for cybercriminals today is data theft. Early in 2020, the Department of Homeland Security warned of an increase in cyber threats due to heightened tensions with Iran. Later in 2020, a little thing known as the coronavirus accelerated the adoption of digital technologies and solutions, leaving us and our data increasingly vulnerable as companies were forced to go virtual nearly overnight.

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World Reimagined: A Reckoning for Companies

World Reimagined: A Reckoning for Companies

In 2010, corporate citizenship took a major step forward when the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), an international nongovernmental organization made up of national standards bodies, released ISO 26000, a set of voluntary standards meant to help companies implement corporate social responsibility.

While the notion of corporate citizenship dates back to the 1950s, the challenges presented by both the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement ushered in a new era of corporate citizenship in 2020 that went far beyond the realm of philanthropy. Companies rallied to do good in the face of the coronavirus and stepped up efforts for diversity, inclusion, and belonging. In many respects, 2020 will be a year worth forgetting, but for corporate citizenship, it will be a year to remember.

In early March, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) estimated 89 million medical masks would be required for the Covid-19 response each month, along with 76 million examination gloves and 1.6 million goggles. To help fend off the coronavirus and protect medical workers treating those infected as well as address potential shortages of key products, companies altered their production lines to help how they could. Here are just a few examples:

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How the Pandemic Irreversibly Forced Digital Acceleration

How the Pandemic Irreversibly Forced Digital Acceleration

When we look back on 2020, there will be several notable items that jump out from the record books. The COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global economy will likely be at the top of the list, as will the pull-forward in digital transformation that ensued as people adjusted how they worked, lived, and played.

Pain points tend to give way to solutions, and given the number of pain points that emerged as a result of the pandemic, we have seen digital solutions come about in part to solve consumers’ needs.

With the deployment of new connective technologies such as 5G and gigabit fiber bringing greater data speeds and network capacity as well as lower latency compared to existing networks, there will be no putting the digital genie back in the bottle.

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Qualcomm targets 5G infrastructure market with base station chips

Qualcomm targets 5G infrastructure market with base station chips

Long time communication chip maker looks to move upstream in digital infrastructure push.

Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday said it will produce chips for 5G telecommunications networking gear, marking the first entry by a major American technology company into a market dominated by European and Chinese firms.

Source: Qualcomm jumps into 5G infrastructure market with base station chips

Impossible Foods Seeking World’s Best Scientists

Impossible Foods Seeking World’s Best Scientists

Not content to simply offer alternatives to beef production and consumption, Impossible Foods announces goal to “Eliminate Animal Agriculture”

With a mission to reverse global warming and halt catastrophic biodiversity collapse, Impossible Foods is replacing the world’s most destructive technology – the use of animals to transform plants into meat, fish and dairy foods.

Source: Impossible Foods Is Doubling Its R&D Team and Seeking World’s Best Scientists To Help Eliminate Animal Agriculture

Hackers use web-based project management BaseCamp to attack networks

Hackers use web-based project management BaseCamp to attack networks

It’s never a dull moment when it comes to our Cybersecurity and Digital Privacy investing theme and the corresponding index given that hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities and other gaps to exploit. According to a new report, phishing campaigns that distribute malware or steal your login credentials have started to use Basecamp, a web-based project management solution that allows people to collaborate, chat with each other, create documents, and share files. It appears once again the ongoing game of one upmanship between cyber attackers and cyber defenders is poised to continue as the way we live, work and play become increasingly digital.

Security researchers MalwareHunterTeam and James have found that threat actors are distributing BazarLoader executables using public Basecamp download links.

BazarLoader is a stealthy backdoor Trojan from the TrickBot gang used against high-value targets to compromise their networks. Once installed, BazarLoader will deploy Cobalt Strike beacons that allow threat actors to access the network and ultimately deploy the Ryuk ransomware.

By abusing safe services such as Basecamp to host malicious files and phishing pages, users can be lulled into a false sense of trust and open files that they normally would not.

Furthermore, by using Basecamp URLs, threat actors can create carefully constructed and targeted campaigns to infiltrate a network as users may feel that the file is from their Basecamp project.

Source: Hackers now abuse BaseCamp for free malware hosting