U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner (SEC) Hester Peirce, well known for her pro-cryptocurrencies views, said increased interest in the space will necessarily force the regulatory body to shift toward a more accommodating stance, according to a recent interview with Cointelegraph.

  • “While we’ve been very slow in giving guidance, there is more and more interest from a wide spectrum of people, both inside the crypto space as well as inside the traditional financial institutions who are asking us for guidance,” Peirce said.
  • “So I think we’re going to be forced to confront that more and more in the coming years.”
  • Peirce also said that pro-crypto moves in the U.S. by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as well as actions by regulators in other countries are also slowly prodding the SEC into action.
  • While there are a lot of people at the SEC who want the body to become more innovation-friendly, the regulator’s bureaucracy acts as an impediment to change and discourages risk-taking, Peirce said. The number of people interested in innovation and in crypto at the SEC is “growing,” she said.
  • The commissioner also said Congress needs to be thinking about smart contracts and decentralized finance so it can give the SEC directives on how it wants the regulator to handle them.
  • Peirce said that while she hopes the SEC will revisit its decisions to reject BTC Exchange-Traded Funds, she declined to predict whether the regulator will ever approve them, saying the SEC seems to have made up its own standards just for BTC.
  • Though the commissioner called the prospect of a digital dollar “likely,” that’s not where she says the real action is.
  • “I think a lot of the really interesting innovation is happening outside sort of the central bank digital

(Bloomberg) — Trading in Pandora A/S shares gave the jewelry maker its highest valuation since May 2018, after it raised its guidance for the year citing a spike in online demand.



a close up of a table: Silver and white gold rings sit on display in the window of a Pandora A/S jewelry store in Copenhagen, Denmark.


© Photographer: Freya Ingrid Morales
Silver and white gold rings sit on display in the window of a Pandora A/S jewelry store in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Copenhagen-based Pandora rose more than 10% after the market opened on Friday. Denmark’s index of benchmark shares was up about 0.9%.

Management opted to publish preliminary third-quarter results late on Thursday, after a “strong” performance improved its prospects for the year. It now expects 2020 Ebit margin to reach at least 17.5%, compared with 16% previously. That’s after online organic growth of 89% in the quarter.



a close up of a table: Silver and white gold rings sit on display in the window of a Pandora A/S jewelry store in Copenhagen, Denmark.


© Photographer: Freya Ingrid Morales
Silver and white gold rings sit on display in the window of a Pandora A/S jewelry store in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Click here for more details of Pandora’s preliminary results

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Pandora seems to be getting “more bang for the buck” from its advertising, and is “catching consumer attention as peers hold back” on spending, Frans Hoyer, an analyst at Handelsbanken, said in a note.

“At a time when peers generally have a firm grip of the purse strings, Pandora says that continued advertising spend has enabled it to better catch consumer attention,” Hoyer said.

Pandora’s share price has soared 85% so far in 2020, as CEO Alexander Lacik succeeded in turning around the company’s fortunes after years of disappointing results. Pandora managed to improve its results despite the ongoing pandemic. On average, about 90% of its stores were open last quarter. By the end of the period, that number had risen to 95%, it said.

“Pandora continues to consider the macroeconomic environment and future Covid-19 development as uncertain and unpredictable,” it said.

Investment Thesis

Fueled by chronic undervaluation despite the solid financials and a rich pipeline, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN) has frequently been the subject of acquisition rumors as investors demand a sale of the company. Management has revised up the 2020 revenue guidance twice over the past three months, but the shares have underperformed the broader market in the year so far. The top line growth continued unabated even through a raging pandemic, and margins have also held up. The rivals are challenging the prospects, but proactive measures are in place to neutralize the threat.

The current NTM EV/EBITDA multiple stands at a sharp discount to the historical average, which, along with our conservative EBITDA forecast, based on revenue assumptions in line with the past, indicates an undervalued stock. Meanwhile, the strong cash flows and net cash position have attracted acquirers looking for growth at a cheap valuation. Amid acquisition rumors, we therefore turn “Bullish” on the stock as management’s renewed commitment to buybacks supports the shares.

Alexion_Drug Portfolio

Source: Company website

Long-term Undervaluation

Persistent undervaluation and investor demands for a sale have once again seen Alexion becoming the subject of a possible acquisition. A potential target of Amgen (AMGN) in 2019, the company has triggered interest from Biogen (BIIB) last month as the activist investor, Elliott Management, calls for a sale of the company questioning its strategic direction. Their logic is not without merit. Targeting ten product launches by 2023, the company is currently advancing twenty development programs, up from only four at the end of 2017. Since 2017, the top line has jumped ~55.9% through the LTM (last twelve-month) period, while the net income nearly doubled. Yet, the stock has dropped ~6.0% over the period, underperforming the 58.2% gain in the NBI (NASDAQ Biotechnology Index).

Alexion_Share Performance since 2017

Source: Koyfin

Underwhelming Revenue Guidance

Over

The results are in for FY20 for United Natural Foods (NYSE:UNFI), and the highlights are pretty amazing (from press release):

  • Reduced outstanding debt, net of cash, by $388 million; year-end adjusted EBITDA leverage ratio of 4.0x
  • Net sales increased to $26.5 billion
  • Adjusted EBITDA increased to $673 million
  • Adjusted EPS increased to $2.72

Despite beating earnings and revenue estimates, and raising FY21 guidance, the stock has sold off over 20%. Some are attributing this to the CEO’s retirement announcement, but given the nine-month timetable on that decision, the explanation leaves investors wanting more. No UNFI thesis on Seeking Alpha has referenced the management team as a company strength, and if anything, the mistakes and debt burden from the Supervalu acquisition are a reminder of the team’s missteps.

Possible other explanations:

  • Q4 cash generation fell short of investor expectations
  • Relatively significant number of shares (~2m) granted to management, diluting investors
  • Lack of CEO successor
  • Lack of Whole Foods contract extension
  • Margin pressure on FY21 revenue

While all of these could be part of the story, I still don’t see it. It is true that management expects Q3/Q4 21 to be tough comps Y/Y, but the fact it continues to guide above expectations for revenue and EBITDA after a blowout year shouldn’t be taken for granted. It has a good track record of setting reasonable guidance it can beat, which is even more encouraging.

Regarding the Whole Foods contract, the last extension was announced Nov 2nd, 2015. I expect a similar announcement in the coming couple quarters, removing a significant overhang from the stock.

Valuation

Updating the valuation waterfall, I’ve included company guidance for FY21, assuming cash balance and market cap at current levels, and showing debt paydown of $310 which reflects EBITDA midpoint of $710m, less $225m for CapEx and

PepsiCo PEP posted stronger-than-expected third quarter earnings Thursday, and forecast solid full-year profits, as pandemic snack sales continued to pace top line growth. 

PepsiCo said earnings for the three months ending in August were pegged at $1.65 per share, up 5.8% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of $1.49 per share. Group revenues, PepsiCo said, rose 5.3% to $18.1 billion, again topping analysts forecasts of a $17.3 billion tally.

Looking into the final months of the year, PepsiCo said it sees core earnings of $5.50 per share, jumping ahead of the Refinitiv forecast of $5.36 per share.

“Despite the ongoing volatility and complexity in our operating environment, I believe our third quarter performance reinforces the diversification of our portfolio, the resilience and agility of our teams across every continent and demonstrates our ability to support our customers and communities during their time of need while also delivering good results for our shareholders,” said CEO Ramon Laguarta.“

“Our reported revenue increased 5.3%, while our reported earnings per share increased 10%,” he added. “Organic revenue increased 4.2% and core constant currency earnings per share increased 9%. These results reflect the continued strength of our global snacks and food business and a significant improvement in our global beverage business”

PepsiCo shares were marked 2.2% higher in pre-market trading immediately following the earnings release to indicate an opening bell price of $141.65 each.

PepsiCo said revenues at its Frito Lay division rose 7% from last year, while the topline at Quaker Foods jumped 6%. Beverages said were 6% higher, the company said.

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