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r/pharmacy 2020 demographics survey results!
The pharmacy 2020 demographics survey results are here! There were 258 respondents this year. Please note that the numbers will not necessarily add up to 100%, since all questions were optional. Sorry in advance for the crappy Excel graphs. Location Most respondents hailed from the US (233; 90.3%), followed by Canada (10; 3.9%), United Kingdom (8; 3.1%), New Zealand (2; 0.8%), and 1 respondent each from Australia, Indonesia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Taiwan. Of the 233 Americans, the top 3 states were California (20; 8.6%), Pennsylvania (18; 7.7%), and Texas (18; 7.7%). The 10 Canadians were from Ontario (5; 50%), British Columbia (2; 20%), Alberta (1; 10%), Nova Scotia (1; 10%), and Quebec (1; 10%). Demographics Of the 258 respondents, 130 (50.4%) identified as female, 123 (47.7%) as male, and 3 (1.2%) as non-binary. Age distribution is shown in the below table. A few statistics: minimum 19, maximum 68, mean 29.0, median 28, mode 26. https://preview.redd.it/qxyxs2sj09c51.png?width=554&format=png&auto=webp&s=202bef88a53fa8596182435590ba9de8eb3646c9 In terms of race/ethnicity, the categories from most to least common were as follows: white (156; 60.5%), Asian (55; 21.3%), 2 or more races (11; 4.3%), black (9; 3.5%), Hispanic or Latino (8; 3.1%), Indian subcontinent (6; 2.3%), Arab (4; 1.6%), Native American or American Indian (2; 0.8%), and Armenian (1; 0.4%). General employment questions Of the 258 respondents, 169 (65.5%) were pharmacists, 55 (21.3%) were pharmacy students, 22 (8.5%) were non-pharmacist staff, and 8 (3.1%) were pre-pharmacy students. There were also 1 each of the following: corporate pharmacy compliance, pharmacy wholesaler, pharmacology student, and other healthcare professional. Most respondents (169; 65.5%) were employed full time (defined as > 30 hours/week), while 19 (7.4%) were employed part time. 49 respondents (19.0%) were full time students (not necessarily in pharmacy), 13 (5.0%) were unemployed, 4 (1.6%) worked outside of the field of pharmacy, 2 (0.8%) were self-employed, 1 (0.4%) was retired, and 1 (0.4%) was consulting/contracting. There was a nearly equal split between respondents working in suburban (99; 38.4%) vs. urban (97; 37.6%) locations, followed by 21 (8.1%) in rural locations and 15 (5.8%) working remotely (apologies - I should have made this question/response more clear, but based on a jump compared to last year's survey, I think people working from home temporarily due to COVID-19 may have chosen this option). A pie chart of primary place of employment is shown below, with the top 7 responses shown in the legend: community/retail (136; 52.7%), hospital including outpatient (48; 18.6%), pharmaceutical industry including CROs (11; 4.3%), mail ordespecialty/home infusion (9; 3.5%), unemployed (8; 3.1%), long-term care/hospice (8; 3.1%), and ambulatory care (5; 1.9%). Please note that the unemployed category includes non-working full time students. https://preview.redd.it/csyipt0hs9c51.png?width=297&format=png&auto=webp&s=3b91337feb634a61730ccfbdd09aa8a0fdda6d7a A small proportion (42; 16.3%) of respondents reported having a second job. Of these, the most common fields of employment were: hospital including outpatient (10; 23.8%), community/retail (8; 19.0%), and self employment/side hustle (7; 16.7%). Salary For the following charts, I only included those working full time. Below is a histogram for full time pharmacist salary worldwide, as well as a table showing some stats for global, US, and ex-US salaries. https://preview.redd.it/n16j31x1v9c51.png?width=447&format=png&auto=webp&s=624581f5b94c917c417ac39da92cf9eb4c77130c
Clinical Research & Development (including Clinical Operations)
Medical Science Liaison
The breakdown by level was as follows: PharmD Fellow (3; 27.3%), Associate/Specialist (6; 54.5%), ManageSupervisor (1; 9.1%), Director (1; 9.1%). Five respondents had completed or were currently completing a fellowship. Four of these 5 provided their salaries during their fellowships, with an average of $50,000. Pharmacy and pre-pharmacy students There were 63 respondents (24.4%) who reported being pharmacy or pre-pharmacy students. Of these, the top 3 desired fields upon graduation were: hospital including residencies (16; 25.4%), undecided (13; 20.6%), and community/retail (11; 17.5%). These 63 students attended (or planned to attend) 45 different schools worldwide. The 5 most common schools reported were as follows: University of Toronto (3; 4.8%), Feik School of Pharmacy (2; 3.2%), Ohio State University (2; 3.2%), Temple University (2; 3.2%), and University of Colorado (2; 3.2%). The breakdown by year was as follows: undergraduate/pre-pharmacy (8; 12.7%), PY1 (4; 6.3%), PY2 (18; 28.6%), PY3 (16; 25.4%), and PY4 (13; 20.6%). Of the 13 PY4 students, 2 reported having a job lined up after graduation, both in community/retail. Most students (45; 71.4%) were working in a pharmacy setting while in school. Stats for the number of hours worked weekly were as follows: minimum 3; maximum 34; mean 15.8; median 15. The most common duties interns were authorized to perform at their jobs were counseling patients (38; 84.4%), administering immunizations (24; 53.3%), and product verification (17; 37.8%). Note that interns could choose more than 1 option. Of the 63 students, 36 (57.1%) reported that they would choose to attend pharmacy school again if they could go back in time, knowing what they know now. Sixteen students (25.4%) reported that they would decide on a different career path, and 5 (7.9%) were unsure. Following pharmacy school, some students were considering pursuing the following degrees (top 3 listed): MPH (6; 9.5%), MD (4; 6.3%), and MBA (3; 4.8%). Results from additional questions are shown in chart form below. https://preview.redd.it/mls7e2139ac51.png?width=480&format=png&auto=webp&s=5db3ec80fd6e1934c787941278b7b755ad802a45 https://preview.redd.it/p9p44ifm9ac51.png?width=480&format=png&auto=webp&s=faf04b54ed228cc0cf110d06ed27bfd524ba894f https://preview.redd.it/8p7qq205aac51.png?width=464&format=png&auto=webp&s=ae5d53c284cd86ff787498dad58c4d625ae2afb1 Pharmacists There were 169 pharmacists, from 91 different pharmacy schools. The most common alma maters were Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy (RU RAH RAH!!) with 6 respondents (3.6%), University of Pittsburgh with 5 respondents (3.0%), and the following 5 schools with 4 respondents each: Northeastern University, Ohio Northern University, University of Colorado, University of Georgia, and University of Kansas. Most pharmacists (152; 89.9%) were currently practicing pharmacy. Five (3.0%) had practiced in the past but were no longer practicing, and 10 (5.9%) had never practiced after graduating. Of those currently practicing pharmacy, the statistics on the number of years in practice were as follows: minimum 0.1; maximum 35; mean 4.8; and median 3. Nearly half of pharmacists (75; 49.3%) said they would choose a different career path if they could go back in time, knowing what they know now, while 71 pharmacists (46.7%) said they would still choose to pursue pharmacy. Local practice standards About half of pharmacists (84; 55.3%) reported administering (or being allowed to administer) many types of immunizations, while 3 (2.0%) reported that pharmacists were not allowed in their location. A further 63 pharmacists (41.4%) did not administer immunizations simply because it was not part of their job description (eg, hospital inpatient). Regarding therapeutic interchange for non-controlled prescriptions, 63 pharmacists (41.4%) reporting being authorized to update a prescription only after consulting the prescriber. An additional 43 pharmacists (28.3%) were allowed to update a prescription as long as the prescriber was notified afterwards (ie, without prior permission), and 8 pharmacists (5.3%) were allowed per institutional protocol or collaborative practice agreement. Twenty-four pharmacists (15.8%) reported that a new prescription would be required and that no updates by the pharmacist were allowed. For controlled prescriptions, 24 pharmacists (15.8%) reported being allowed to change any/all elements of the prescription following consultation with the prescriber, and 4 pharmacists (2.6%) were allowed per institutional protocol or collaborative practice agreement. Sixty-six pharmacists (43.4%) were allowed to change certain (but not all) elements, while 40 (26.3%) could not change any part of a controlled prescription and required the prescriber to issue a new one. Regarding pharmacist prescribing, most pharmacists (110; 72.4%) were not allowed to prescribe medications. Nineteen pharmacists (12.5%) could prescribe for certain health conditions, 3 (2.0%) could prescribe for any health condition, and 2 (1.3%) could prescribe per institutional protocol or collaborative practice agreement. Results from additional questions are shown in chart form below. https://preview.redd.it/9q4wjmmg3bc51.png?width=281&format=png&auto=webp&s=cf2ec43db13f3fcbe4cb398b1c39808389f54572 https://preview.redd.it/945u7beklac51.png?width=480&format=png&auto=webp&s=e74267ca8c2d56dd0c7fc42497df2f0d42f14a3a https://preview.redd.it/yyd7su4tlac51.png?width=480&format=png&auto=webp&s=86e12e31c5de3b91a615add5dd28055f881beddc https://preview.redd.it/tk2msh41mac51.png?width=480&format=png&auto=webp&s=c091747118370117d3ecf35a8e9bffd54ac02805 https://preview.redd.it/9njkd9vemac51.png?width=346&format=png&auto=webp&s=ffe54bfc9ae206295f7e81685a361357c14a625a https://preview.redd.it/mywjx5nwmac51.png?width=444&format=png&auto=webp&s=1eb695e764c2bf7c1ffbfddd947fc297eed4f8ea Pharmacy residents Of the 169 pharmacists, 31 (18.3%) had completed or were currently completing a pharmacy residency. Of those, there were 6 current PGY-1 residents and 1 current PGY-2 resident. Of the 24 pharmacists who had completed their PGY-1 residencies, most (18; 75%) did rotational programs without a specific focus. The remaining 6 pharmacists specialized in the following areas during their PGY-1: ambulatory care (2; 8.3%), community pharmacy (1; 4.2%), managed care (1; 4.2%), pediatrics (1; 4.2%), and pharmacotherapy (1; 4.2%). Stats on their PGY-1 salaries were as follows: minimum $33,000; maximum $60,000; mean $44,325; median $45,000. These PGY-1 residencies were done primarily in an urban setting (18; 75%), followed by suburban (3; 12.5%) and rural (2; 8.3%). Of the 11 pharmacists who had completed their PGY-2 residencies, the specialties included: ambulatory care (3; 27.3%), psychiatry (2; 18.2%), and 1 each of administration, critical care, emergency medicine, infectious disease, oncology, and pharmacotherapy (9.1% each). Stats on their PGY-2 salaries were as follows: minimum $35,000; maximum $51,000; mean $45,625; median $46,500. These PGY-2 residencies were done almost equally in urban (6; 54.5%) and suburban (5; 45.5%) settings. The 6 current PGY-1 residents had the following plans immediately following their PGY-1: inpatient staff pharmacist (2; 33.3%), PGY-2 residency (2; 33.3%), inpatient clinical specialty pharmacist (1; 16.7%), and non-practicing pharmacist (1; 16.7%). Of those who had completed their residencies, their roles immediately afterward are listed in the table below.
Number of Respondents
Inpatient staff pharmacist
Inpatient clinical specialty pharmacist
Ambulatory care pharmacist
Outpatient pharmacist (eg, retail, mail order, long term care)
Stopped practicing but remained in the field of pharmacy (eg, industry)
Drug information pharmacist
Pharmacy organizations This question was directed toward American respondents. There were 96 respondents who reported being currently active members of an association, the most common of which were ASHP (39; 40.6%), APhA (38; 39.6%), and a local/state pharmacy association (29; 30.2%). There were 35 respondents who reported previously being members of an association, the most common of which were APhA (25; 71.4%), ASHP (15; 42.9%), and a local/state pharmacy association (13; 37.1%). Final comments Thanks again to everyone who took the survey, and especially those who provided feedback! I totally acknowledge that the survey is very US-centric, and for that I apologize. I did take some feedback from some people in this subreddit, but if anyone ex-US wants to provide feedback for any future surveys, I'm happy to speak with you offline about it. The same also goes for anyone in a "niche" field such as long-term care, ambulatory care, managed care, etc. I'm happy to add in new sections or questions for those fields - it's just that I have no idea what to ask, having no experience in those areas. There are probably a few questions whose answers aren't reflected here mainly because this is long enough already, but if you have any questions (eg, what's the average salary for a hospital pharmacist in a suburban area?), please feel free to ask! Thanks again!
Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning June 29th, 2020
Good Saturday afternoon to all of you here on StockMarket. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week ahead. Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning June 29th, 2020.
Fragile economic recovery faces first big test with June jobs report in the week ahead - (Source)
The second half of 2020 is nearly here, and now it’s up to the economy to prove that the stock market was right about a sharp comeback in growth. The first big test will be the June jobs report, out on Thursday instead of its usual Friday release due to the July 4 holiday. According to Refinitiv, economists expect 3 million jobs were created, after May’s surprise gain of 2.5 million payrolls beat forecasts by a whopping 10 million jobs. “If it’s stronger, it will suggest that the improvement is quicker, and that’s kind of what we saw in May with better retail sales, confidence was coming back a little and auto sales were better,” said Kevin Cummins, chief U.S. economist at NatWest Markets. The second quarter winds down in the week ahead as investors are hopeful about the recovery but warily eyeing rising cases of Covid-19 in a number of states. Stocks were lower for the week, as markets reacted to rising cases in Texas, Florida and other states. Investors worry about the threat to the economic rebound as those states move to curb some activities. The S&P 500 is up more than 16% so far for the second quarter, and it is down nearly 7% for the year. Friday’s losses wiped out the last of the index’s June gains. “I think the stock market is looking beyond the valley. It is expecting a V-shaped economic recovery and a solid 2021 earnings picture,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. He expects large-cap company earnings to be up 30% next year, and small-cap profits to bounce back by 140%. “I think the second half needs to be a ‘show me’ period, proving that our optimism was justified, and we’ll need to see continued improvement in the economic data, and I think we need to see upward revisions to earnings estimates,” Stovall said. Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, said she expects the recovery will not be as smooth as some expect, particularly considering the resurgence of virus outbreaks in sunbelt states and California. “Now as I watch what’s happening I think it’s more likely to be rolling Ws,” rather than a V, she said. “It’s not just predicated on a second wave. I’m not sure we ever exited the first wave.” Even without actual state shutdowns, the virus could slow economic activity. “That doesn’t mean businesses won’t shut themselves down, or consumers won’t back down more,” she said.
In the second half of the year, the market should turn its attention to the election, but Sonders does not expect much reaction to it until after Labor Day. RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Democrat Joe Biden leading President Donald Trump by 10 percentage points, and the odds of a Democratic sweep have been rising. Biden has said he would raise corporate taxes, and some strategists say a sweep would be bad for business, due to increased regulation and higher taxes. Trump is expected to continue using tariffs, which unsettles the market, though both candidates are expected to take a tough stance on China. “If it looks like the Senate stays Republican than there’s less to worry about in terms of policy changes,” Sonders said. “I don’t think it’s ever as binary as some people think.” Stovall said a quick study shows that in the four presidential election years back to 1960, where the first quarter was negative, and the second quarter positive, stocks made gains in the second half. Those were 1960 when John Kennedy took office, 1968, when Richard Nixon won; 1980 when Ronald Reagan’s was elected to his first term; and 1992, the first win by Bill Clinton. Coincidentally, in all of those years, the opposing party gained control of the White House.
The stocks market’s strong second-quarter showing came after the Fed and Congress moved quickly to inject the economy with trillions in stimulus. That unlocked credit markets and triggered a stampede by companies to restructure or issue debt. About $2 trillion in fiscal spending was aimed at consumers and businesses, who were in sudden need of cash after the abrupt shutdown of the economy. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both testify before the House Financial Services Committee Tuesday on the response to the virus. That will be important as markets look ahead to another fiscal package from Congress this summer, which is expected to provide aid to states and local governments; extend some enhanced benefits for unemployment, and provide more support for businesses. “So much of it is still so fluid. There are a bunch of fiscal items that are rolling off. There’s talk about another fiscal stimulus payment like they did last time with a $1,200 check,” said Cummins. Strategists expect Congress to bicker about the size and content of the stimulus package but ultimately come to an agreement before enhanced unemployment benefits run out at the end of July. Cummins said state budgets begin a new year July 1, and states with a critical need for funds may have to start letting workers go, as they cut expenses. The Trump administration has indicated the jobs report Thursday could help shape the fiscal package, depending on what it shows. The federal supplement to state unemployment benefits has been $600 a week, but there is opposition to extending that, and strategists expect it to be at least cut in half. The unemployment rate is expected to fall to 12.2% from 13.3% in May. Cummins said he had expected 7.2 million jobs, well above the consensus, and an unemployment rate of 11.8%. As of last week, nearly 20 million people were collecting state unemployment benefits, and millions more were collecting under a federal pandemic aid program. “The magnitude here and whether it’s 3 million or 7 million is kind of hard to handicap to begin with,” Cummins said. Economists have preferred to look at unemployment claims as a better real time read of employment, but they now say those numbers could be impacted by slow reporting or double filing. “There’s no clarity on how you define the unemployed in the Covid 19 environment,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. “If there’s 30 million people receiving insurance, unemployment should be above 20%.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
The economy is moving in the right direction, as many economic data points are coming in substantially better than what the economists expected. From May job gains coming in more than 10 million higher than expected and retail sales soaring a record 18%, how quickly the economy is bouncing back has surprised nearly everyone. “As good as the recent economic data has been, we want to make it clear, it could still take years for the economy to fully come back,” explained LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “Think of it like building a house. You get all the big stuff done early, then some of the small things take so much longer to finish; I’m looking at you crown molding.” Here’s the hard truth; it might take years for all of the jobs that were lost to fully recover. In fact, during the 10 recessions since 1950, it took an average of 30 months for lost jobs to finally come back. As the LPL Chart of the Day shows, recoveries have taken much longer lately. In fact, it took four years for the jobs lost during the tech bubble recession of the early 2000s to come back and more than six years for all the jobs lost to come back after the Great Recession. Given many more jobs were lost during this recession, it could takes many years before all of them indeed come back.
The economy is going the right direction, and if there is no major second wave outbreak it could surprise to the upside. Importantly, this economic recovery will still be a long and bumpy road.
Nasdaq - Russell Spread Pulling the Rubber Band Tight
The Nasdaq has been outperforming every other US-based equity index over the last year, and nowhere has the disparity been wider than with small caps. The chart below compares the performance of the Nasdaq and Russell 2000 over the last 12 months. While the performance disparity is wide now, through last summer, the two indices were tracking each other nearly step for step. Then last fall, the Nasdaq started to steadily pull ahead before really separating itself in the bounce off the March lows. Just to illustrate how wide the gap between the two indices has become, over the last six months, the Nasdaq is up 11.9% compared to a decline of 15.8% for the Russell 2000. That's wide!
In order to put the recent performance disparity between the two indices into perspective, the chart below shows the rolling six-month performance spread between the two indices going back to 1980. With a current spread of 27.7 percentage points, the gap between the two indices hasn't been this wide since the days of the dot-com boom. Back in February 2000, the spread between the two indices widened out to more than 50 percentage points. Not only was that period extreme, but ten months before that extreme reading, the spread also widened out to more than 51 percentage points. The current spread is wide, but with two separate periods in 1999 and 2000 where the performance gap between the two indices was nearly double the current level, that was a period where the Nasdaq REALLY outperformed small caps.
To illustrate the magnitude of the Nasdaq's outperformance over the Russell 2000 from late 1998 through early 2000, the chart below shows the performance of the two indices beginning in October 1998. From that point right on through March of 2000 when the Nasdaq peaked, the Nasdaq rallied more than 200% compared to the Russell 2000 which was up a relatively meager 64%. In any other environment, a 64% gain in less than a year and a half would be excellent, but when it was under the shadow of the surging Nasdaq, it seemed like a pittance.
The US equity market made its most recent peak on June 8th. From the March 23rd low through June 8th, the average stock in the large-cap Russell 1,000 was up more than 65%! Since June 8th, the average stock in the index is down more than 11%. Below we have broken the index into deciles (10 groups of 100 stocks each) based on simple share price as of June 8th. Decile 1 (marked "Highest" in the chart) contains the 10% of stocks with the highest share prices. Decile 10 (marked "Lowest" in the chart) contains the 10% of stocks with the lowest share prices. As shown, the highest priced decile of stocks are down an average of just 4.8% since June 8th, while the lowest priced decile of stocks are down an average of 21.5%. It's pretty remarkable how performance gets weaker and weaker the lower the share price gets.
It's hard to believe that sentiment can change so fast in the market that one day investors and traders are bidding up stocks to record highs, but then the next day sell them so much that it takes the market down over 2%. That's exactly what happened not only in the last two days but also two weeks ago. While the 5% pullback from a record high back on June 10th took the Nasdaq back below its February high, this time around, the Nasdaq has been able to hold above those February highs.
In the entire history of the Nasdaq, there have only been 12 periods prior to this week where the Nasdaq closed at an all-time high on one day but dropped more than 2% the next day. Those occurrences are highlighted in the table below along with the index's performance over the following week, month, three months, six months, and one year. We have also highlighted each occurrence that followed a prior one by less than three months in gray. What immediately stands out in the table is how much gray shading there is. In other words, these types of events tend to happen in bunches, and if you count the original occurrence in each of the bunches, the only two occurrences that didn't come within three months of another occurrence (either before or after) were July 1986 and May 2017. In terms of market performance following prior occurrences, the Nasdaq's average and median returns were generally below average, but there is a pretty big caveat. While the average one-year performance was a gain of 1.0% and a decline of 23.6% on a median basis, the six occurrences that came between December 1999 and March 2000 all essentially cover the same period (which was very bad) and skew the results. Likewise, the three occurrences in the two-month stretch from late November 1998 through January 1999 where the Nasdaq saw strong gains also involves a degree of double-counting. As a result of these performances at either end of the extreme, it's hard to draw any trends from the prior occurrences except to say that they are typically followed by big moves in either direction. The only time the Nasdaq wasn't either 20% higher or lower one year later was in 1986.
In the mid-1980s the market began to evolve into a tech-driven market and the market’s focus in early summer shifted to the outlook for second quarter earnings of technology companies. Over the last three trading days of June and the first nine trading days in July, NASDAQ typically enjoys a rally. This 12-day run has been up 27 of the past 35 years with an average historical gain of 2.5%. This year the rally may have begun a day early, today and could last until on or around July 14. After the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, NASDAQ’s mid-year rally had a spotty track record from 2002 until 2009 with three appearances and five no-shows in those years. However, it has been quite solid over the last ten years, up nine times with a single mild 0.1% loss in 2015. Last year, NASDAQ advanced a solid 4.6% during the 12-day span.
Tech Historically Leads Market Higher Until Q3 of Election Years
As of yesterday’s close DJIA was down 8.8% year-to-date. S&P 500 was down 3.5% and NASDAQ was up 12.1%. Compared to the typical election year, DJIA and S&P 500 are below historical average performance while NASDAQ is above average. However this year has not been a typical election year. Due to the covid-19, the market suffered the damage of the shortest bear market on record and a new bull market all before the first half of the year has come to an end. In the surrounding Seasonal Patten Charts of DJIA, S&P 500 and NASDAQ, we compare 2020 (as of yesterday’s close) to All Years and Election Years. This year’s performance has been plotted on the right vertical axis in each chart. This year certainly has been unlike any other however some notable observations can be made. For DJIA and S&P 500, January, February and approximately half of March have historically been weak, on average, in election years. This year the bear market ended on March 23. Following those past weak starts, DJIA and S&P 500 historically enjoyed strength lasting into September before experiencing any significant pullback followed by a nice yearend rally. NASDAQ’s election year pattern differs somewhat with six fewer years of data, but it does hint to a possible late Q3 peak.
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Micron Technology, Inc. $48.49
Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Monday, June 29, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.71 per share on revenue of $5.27 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.70 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 71% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.40 to $0.70 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 29.00% with revenue increasing by 10.07%. Short interest has increased by 7.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 8.0% from its open following the earnings release to be 0.9% below its 200 day moving average of $48.94. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 11, 2020 there was some notable buying of 46,037 contracts of the $60.00 call expiring on Friday, July 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 4.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.4% move in recent quarters.
General Mills, Inc. (GIS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.04 per share on revenue of $4.89 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 69% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 25.30% with revenue increasing by 17.50%. Short interest has decreased by 9.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 2.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.8% above its 200 day moving average of $54.91. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, June 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 8,573 contracts of the $60.00 call expiring on Friday, July 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 6.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 3.0% move in recent quarters.
FedEx Corp. (FDX) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.42 per share on revenue of $16.31 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.65 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 61% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 71.66% with revenue decreasing by 8.41%. Short interest has increased by 10.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 43.9% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.6% below its 200 day moving average of $140.75. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 25, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,768 contracts of the $145.00 call expiring on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 4.6% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.7% move in recent quarters.
Conagra Brands, Inc. (CAG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.66 per share on revenue of $3.24 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.69 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 66% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 83.33% with revenue increasing by 23.99%. Short interest has decreased by 38.3% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 6.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 6.4% above its 200 day moving average of $30.68. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 11, 2020 there was some notable buying of 3,239 contracts of the $29.00 put expiring on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 4.7% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 10.8% move in recent quarters.
Constellation Brands, Inc. (STZ) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.91 per share on revenue of $1.97 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.12 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 53% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 13.57% with revenue decreasing by 13.69%. Short interest has increased by 20.8% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 25.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.2% below its 200 day moving average of $178.34. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Tuesday, June 9, 2020 there was some notable buying of 888 contracts of the $195.00 call expiring on Friday, October 16, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 3.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.
Capri Holdings Limited (CPRI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:30 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.32 per share on revenue of $1.18 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.34 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 39% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of $0.68 to $0.73 per share. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 49.21% with revenue decreasing by 12.20%. Short interest has increased by 35.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 56.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 44.0% below its 200 day moving average of $25.67. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Thursday, June 4, 2020 there was some notable buying of 11,042 contracts of the $17.50 put expiring on Friday, August 21, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 10.8% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 6.7% move in recent quarters.
X Financial (XYF) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 5:00 PM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 25% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 55.00% with revenue increasing by 763.52%. Short interest has increased by 1.0% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 1.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 37.7% below its 200 day moving average of $1.47. Overall earnings estimates have been unchanged since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 4.9% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Acuity Brands, Inc. (AYI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:40 AM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.14 per share on revenue of $809.25 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 42% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 51.90% with revenue decreasing by 14.60%. Short interest has increased by 48.5% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 2.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 23.4% below its 200 day moving average of $110.25. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 9.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.2% move in recent quarters.
Methode Electronics, Inc. (MEI) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:00 AM ET on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.77 per share on revenue of $211.39 million. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 45% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 24.19% with revenue decreasing by 20.53%. Short interest has increased by 6.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 1.7% from its open following the earnings release to be 9.0% below its 200 day moving average of $32.97. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 18.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.1% move in recent quarters.
UniFirst Corporation (UNF) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 8:00 AM ET on Wednesday, July 1, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.17 per share on revenue of $378.28 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.25 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 44% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 52.44% with revenue decreasing by 16.63%. Short interest has decreased by 2.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 14.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 8.4% below its 200 day moving average of $186.14. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 7.0% move on earnings in recent quarters.
What are SPACs? A special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is a company formed solely to raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) for the purpose of acquiring an existing company. SPACs are also called “blank check companies” because they IPO without having any actual business operations. SPACs are generally formed by investors, or sponsors, with expertise in a particular business sector, with the intention of pursuing deals in that area. The founders generally have at least one acquisition target in mind, but they don't identify that target to avoid extensive disclosures during the IPO process. A SPAC generally has two years to complete a deal (by a “reverse merger”) or face liquidation. Companies aiming to go public with this route are typically 1x-5x larger in terms of market cap than the SPAC itself. The SPAC Process The money SPACs raise in an IPO is placed in an interest-bearing trust account. These funds can’t be used except to complete an acquisition or to return the money to investors if the SPAC is liquidated. So, in practice, these companies will typically have a $10 floor on their share price, as that is what must be paid out to holders of shares if the company does not successfully reach a deal. If the deal is not completed in time, the warrants expire worthless and the remaining funds are distributed back to the shareholders. After a SPAC has completed an acquisition the SPAC then trades as any other company listed on an exchange. If you came across a SPAC stock several years after the acquisition, you would likely have no idea it ever started as a SPAC unless you did some research into the company’s history. Finally, the SPAC symbol and name will change to reflect the company that has been purchased. Often the SPAC takes on the name of the new company, but that is not always the case. If you own either common shares or warrants in your brokerage account, those shares will automatically be converted to the new name/symbol. The SPAC is Back SPACs were popular before the financial crisis, but use of SPACs declined following the market meltdown. Recently, though, an excess of capital has led investors to seek out merger and acquisition opportunities more aggressively, and that's led to the return of SPACs. More SPACs went public in 2018 than in any year since 2007, raising more than $10 billion in capital for use in searching for investment opportunities. In 2019, the figure was even higher $13.6 billion —more than four times the $3.2 billion they raised in 2016. SPACs have also now also attracted big-name underwriters such as Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank, as well as retired or semi-retired senior executives looking for a shorter-term opportunity. Through May 2020, $9.8 billion has been raised in 21 SPAC IPOs. Recent High Profile SPACs Example 1: SPCE. Before it was Virgin Galactic, it was a SPAC trading under the ticker IPOA. Social Capital Hedosophia raised over $650 million in 2017. Example 2: DKNG. Before it was Draft Kings, it was Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp. The SPAC originally raised $350 million in May 2019, listing its units under the symbol DEACU, which comprised common shares and 1/3 warrants. When the investors approved the merger, the SPAC's common shares traded at $17.53, a 75% return from the $10 offer price. Example 3: NKLA. Before it was Tesla-killer Nikola, it was VTIQ. VectoIQ Acquisition raised $200 million in a May 2018 IPO. In March 2020, the SPAC agreed to merge with Nikola Corp at an implied enterprise value of about $3.3 billion. The rest is history. Units, Shares and Warrants Units When the IPO occurs, a SPAC generally offers Units – generally at $10 per Unit. These Units are comprised of one share of common stock (Share) and a Warrant (or portion of a warrant) to purchase common stock (generally exercisable at $11.50). Depending on size, prominence/track record of sponsors, and investment bank leading IPO, Units may consist of one Share of common stock plus one full Warrant, ½ of one warrant or ⅓ of one warrant. Shortly after the IPO, the common stock (Shares) and Warrants included in SPAC Units become separable. At that point, the Warrants and Shares trade separately alongside the unseparated Units. Shares SPAC common stock is linked to the SPAC’s secure trust account. SPACs are structured such that the trust account contains at least $10.00 per public share. Liquidity may be limited in the open market for Shares but the defined liquidation term of SPAC common equity can provide for a relatively attractive yield with an option to own a SPAC's future acquisition target. If the SPAC fails to complete a business combination in the required timeframe, all public shares are redeemed for a pro rata portion of the cash held in the trust account. Companies will typically have a $10 floor on their share price, as that is what must be paid out to holders of shares if the company does not successfully reach a deal. Warrants A warrant is like an option but traded like a stock. Warrants provide the owner the right (but not the obligation) to purchase one share of the underlying company at a predetermined price per warrant – typically at $11.50. Almost all SPAC Warrants have a five-year term after any merger has been consummated. However, SPAC warrants, expire worthless if the SPAC can't close a business combination, are thus a binary bet on a five-year warrant on a hypothetical future company. Warrants become exercisable only if the SPAC completes a business combination transaction before the specified outside date. The speculative nature of this Warrants tends to lead to wild price swings. SPAC Tickers SPAC Shares typically trade with a four-character ticker – eg. MNCL The SPAC Units are identified as the Share ticker plus “U” at the end – eg MNCLU Finally, the Warrants are the Share ticker plus “W” at the end – eg MNCLW.
The Sun Rises as Usual: My thoughts on the enactment of the national security law in Hong Kong
July 1st, 2020 shall be remembered as the day Hong Kong completed its second Handover to China. A strong sense of despair clouds over the city as Beijing nuked us with the National Security Law (NSL). The thought of losing the authenticity of Hong Kong forever is ingrained in many of us. The same day, the sun rises in the east as usual.The rule of thumb to survive this era of turmoil is to maintain control of your mental state. Remain unflappable by the ongoing absurdity. You live your life at your own pace with no restrictions. And that is how you win in society, at the workplace, on campus, and in marriage. As to how we could achieve that, I hope my two-cents would give you some ideas. The officials expected us to be overwhelmed, terrified, and occupied by NSL. Nevertheless, the clauses of the law have never been the main course of this extravagant meal. What truly awaits for us is the complete makeover of the Hong Kong ruling. Abolishing the standard procedure inherited from British Hong Kong, rationality and logical decision-making are soon replaced by the ambiguity of the authoritarian “rule of law” of China. Hong Kong has lost its place in the globe at the mercy of NSL; that is, to show a lucid message: Beijing could withdraw the “One Country, Two Systems” principle however it sees fit. Moreover, it is the re-education training CCP set up for Hongkongers to make them know their place and accept the “Mainland ideology,” which includes tolerating laws and regulations that are more “lenient” to serve the Chinese political agenda. Placing the national interests in heart, it is farewell to “Rule of Law,” and the common understanding of right and wrong and dos and don’ts. This is the textbook example of authoritarian ruling. Perhaps people would be seeing some form of democracy and freedom; however, those were merely decoys in which the supreme power vested afar. 23 years after the Handover, pro-Beijing population remains small by default. The young generation rebukes Chinese identity even more than before. The enactment of NSL indicates the failure of CCP’s strategic approaches to entice Hongkongers. If the regular and United Front approaches failed through, they might as well execute eradication instead. It may appear as China is calling for enticement, but the underlying measures/gimmicks are showing something else. The grand Unity of Mainland and Hong Kong is nothing more than a hoax. In this new Hong Kong, measurements taken to appease public backlash or allow people to express their frustration toward politicians or policies are stored in the past. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government has adopted more extreme approaches—severing Hong Kong into the pro-democracy camp and the pro-Beijing camp; bringing back Cultural Revolution tactics to effectively counteract dissentance; and activating 24/7 monitorization of the population. The propaganda of the CCP regime is to increasingly disintegrate the mutual trust between people by ratting and spying. Building the new norm where the civil society crumbles and espionage is normalized. People with malicious intent may find this new world rather exciting. Without the checks and balances or supervision in the system, the escalating waves of purging the “impure” in the next 2 years are anticipated. The hostile public opinion of Hong Kong toward Beijing’s decisions have always been a throne in the flesh for the ruling party which led to it prioritizing the disunification of the Hong Kong civil society in the following 2 years—gathering the elites from all professions, alternating the policies of media regulations, reforming education to be more CCP-interests-oriented, and emphasizing the governmental compliance of all departments for effective executions of the new laws. The small population that is most affected by NSL would be those who are in the “Four Black Categories,” including the influencers and KOLs. The two major key points for Hong Kong government’s guidelines are “rule by law” and “always have the national interests at heart.” Regardless of NSL, Public Order Ordinance(POO) per se or any other laws could be used to incriminate the dissidents. Even a world-renowned Chinese artist such as Ai Weiwei was accused of Tax Evasion. Apolitical celebrities with millions of fans and could also be targeted; e.g. Fan Bingbing. Over time, people would adapt to self-censorship. As their minds slowly die of a thousand cuts to circumvent trespassing the political “bottom-line”, it includes avoiding dissenting the propaganda and minimizing exposure that may attract unwanted attention. Oddly enough, if you were to be a tourist, you probably would not be able to capture the post-NSL nuances of this hollow Hong Kong. You would see all business continue, stock market arises, and the real estate market thrives as usual. It is as if the script written for the second Handover would play out successfully, as long as the basic needs of Hongkongers are satisfied. Amidst of this turmoil, Hongkongers wouldn’t need me to elaborate more; however, we should ask ourselves if there is something else that we could do. Do you still remember how we were like before all of these occur? What are the options we have aside from obeying to the laws, immigrating out of our homeland, or starting riots? How should we live in the middle of this mess? From the anti-extradition law protest to the ongoing movement we have today—disregarding the variations in the slogans—we are a part of the global transformation which is beyond politics and may very well be a segment of the fourth industrial revolution. Moving forward from now, with AI replacing brain-power taxing positions, it would be unlikely for anyone to have a stable job and their retirement secured. With that being said, we are facing a tomorrow where people could no longer rely on a singular path for career planning. The younglings are determined and flexible about making chances. They are independent individuals who seek for autonomy in life without relying on governmental entities, pro-establishment units, and consortiums, for their survival which tie into a global trend. The “ultrastable system” of the good old times Hong Kong is in the past. The young generation is calling for “Laam Chau.” (self-destruction to counterbalance Hong Kong government) Acknowledging the fact that enduring injustice would not secure any job positions, the young generation tends to take on entrepreneurship and minimizing their political dependency. Many friends started talking about immigration. A decade ago, the media were hyping the topic regarding whether or not I would be immigrating to Singapore. I have been repeating myself—the concept of immigration is obsolete. Over the past year, would you say that the overseas Hongkongers contributed more to the movement or the apolitical Hongkongers? Even if we hold multiple citizenships, travel around the world, send our children to study abroad, or hold investments in another country, what would it matter? Any of those would not affect our Hongkonger identity. When online classes are given remotely on Zoom, would it matter if you are in Hong Kong or in Congo? The physical location of Hong Kong shouldn’t tie us down. We should sever ourselves from the idea of leaving or staying and make the world our home. By stitching the virtual world to the real world, we are undefeated by constant change. To me, that is what Hong Kong really is. All censorship from the authoritarian regime have one in common; that is, the oppressions could never be reasoned with the Common Law. If the pro-democracy anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong,” is prohibited to be sung on campuses, what about the 80’s Cantopop hit, “Boundless Oceans, Vast Skies” or “Blowing in the Wind” which both hint liberation in the lyrics? As the movement slogan, “Five Demands, Not One Less,” was banned, could the protesters express their dissent by raising their hands to point out 5 and 1 or having the number 5 and 1 written over their tops? Does everything related to the number 5 and 1 need to be a politically sensitive topic? Could we still talk about the Labor Day that falls on May 1st? The rebellious ideology is embedded in the mind of Hong Kong protesters, as people have witnessed the incompetence of our government on a daily basis. This movement has been embodying innovation in various ways. No extra commentaries are needed. This is the true essence of “be water.” Similarly, Poland and the Czech Republic in the 60s were under greater oppression than what we have been seeing in recent Hong Kong; however, “life always finds a way.” We now live in a globalized world where “colluding foreign forces” is unnecessary, with the help of our overseas brothers and sisters to amplify the pro-democracy messages to the international community. We shall acknowledge the fact that dwelling on the past does no one any good for sustaining this movement. You could be someone who lacks the courage to venture out of the comfort zone, refuses to adapt to having multiple careers, resists leaving the physical location of Hong Kong, fears to put on a yellow helmet (a pro-democracy symbol), and chooses to be enslaved by the ruling party. Even if you are a Blue Ribbon ( pro-established or pro-Beijing person), as long as you are not a part of the most extreme 20% of the deep Blue Ribbon community, I say you are still a very valuable asset to Hong Kong. In this NSL-enacted Hong Kong, you should give it some thoughts about what advantages you hold that the “new Hongkongers” cannot offer. If you cannot answer this question, then no matter how patriotic you are, you will be eliminated in the next wave of selection. “Survival the fittest.” Even in Chinese companies, they still need Hongkongers to do the due diligence for them. In bureaucratic institutions, the Chinese would still need someone with a creative spirit and an international perspective while putting on a nationalist front. Many have expressed their concerns toward the implementation of “Indoctrination” in Hong Kong, including some of the pro-Beijing parents. By sending their children to non-state-owned schools, their actions speak louder than their words. The new trend of education has confirmed that the traditional classroom model inherited from the 19th century Prussian teaching is outdated. Through big data, the teaching materials are personalized for individuals; moreover, students may build up their unique libraries of knowledge via their personal experience and curiosity. Regretfully, the new Hong Kong under authoritarian ruling embraces a rigid education system where syllabi and marking scheme is key to grooming the next generation of nationalists. The instructors would be under surveillance, school principals would bend to state-interests policies, and households would monitor each other for anti-government speeches or actions. Apparently, CCP would not succeed in brainwashing anyone with these educational reformations. Perhaps, Tik Tok may be more effective. Personalized education is an irreversible global trend. The authoritarian Hong Kong could butcher education but it could not prevent people from adapting to other alternatives. I would like to believe that the younger generations would harness the power of the internet and seize the opportunities given by an international community that has become more amiable to Hong Kong. NSL’s main target is those who are “in collusion with foreign forces. How ironic is it to see how the strong connections between Hong Kong and the global community came back to bite per se? I recall reading from a research report, stating that on average every 1 out of 3 to 4 Hongkongers have connections overseas—overseas relatives, holding foreign qualifications or degrees, overseas working experience, having international investments, or having work contacts with foreign employees. Hongkongers have been colluding with the foreign forces before NSL made it a crime. The 2020 Hong Kong is suffering from cultural discontinuity created by the conflicts between the Chinese authoritarian system and the Western democracy system. Soon enough, “mass surveillance enabled by Big Data” vs. “A.I. regulated by privacy concerns” could be a multiple choice question for all Hongkongers. As long as Hongkongers are connected to the global network, we shall not lose our resilience against oppression. To sum it up, Hongkongers have incorporated the world into “the revolution of our time.” March on and be water. The world we are facing is no longer black and white or binary of any sort. We may not reap what we sow. This is a long-term fight that requires us to be resourceful, as well as being mentally and physically prepared. You may ask if I have ever wanted to leave Hong Kong. Ironically, since my 18th birthday, I have never stayed in Hong Kong for so long. The past 6 months, aside from pandemic, I have been sentimental toward this land. My profession and residences require me to travel a lot of places. I hardly stayed in Hong Kong for long as I made that decision deliberately 10 years ago. Now you may understand where I am coming from. Thus, I would not change for this NSL-enacted Hong Kong. I would not stay to make a statement, nor would I leave this land to make a stance. To my dear friends out there, my piece of advice has been the same—live like a digital nomad and have your footstep stamped locally and globally. No need to start from scratch. You may join a community that is well-established. Should I self-censor for my safety? I’ve never been an editorial writer. My rationally words and videos are merely personal expressions of a Hongkonger. I honestly can’t get any more cautious. I am the same Simon Shen, now and always. We should not take any form of harassment or attacks personally. Before the extradition law and the NSL, CCP had been effectively silencing dissents by sending them on one-way trips to Mainland China (i.e. Causeway Bay Books disappearances). The regime needed no bills to aid its attempt of kidnapping those who dare to voice up. Hong Kong has fallen too fast that no one bothers to attack or criticize the kidnaps. There is no such thing as making something less absurd by talking about it more. The systematic oppression of Hong Kong’s civil freedom does not only come from the without but also the within; especially when nowadays all we could talk about is “safety” and “survival.” It is exactly what CCP wanted for us to believe—we are trapped and our lives depends on our compliance. Hongkongers are being tested for our resilience. If we couldn’t pass this challenge together, how could we stand up tall as proud Hongkongers? As to making ends meet, I’ve always believed that the global Hongkonger network is a large enough of encomany to support, expand, and give back to Hong Kong. We are all at its mercy, including me becoming a KOL. Within the Hongkonger community, I wish to be more practical and strategic; especially, in terms of elevating our quality of living. CCP is extremely calculative and different from us. It is my deepest belief that when the world sees how irreplaceable Hongkongers are that is the day when we can anticipate change. Before then, we will keep a low profile and prepare for this long battle. Do expect the next two years to be a long rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. Hongkongers will only thrive through the hardships. Buckle up, winter is coming.
I heard that on the radio this morning while I was out and went, "Huh." There are various forms of this saying, but the general meaning is that, no matter how beneficial the policies or structures you put into place, the organizational culture will determine whether they will be successful or not. And culture is why SGI will never change. Within just the last 24 hours, we've seen several situations that illustrate this:
Members with Special Needs needing assistance to attend 50K There was a handful of youth division who wanted to go to 50K who had special needs and requested that their parent/family member accompany them to 50K. Special needs included anything from anxiety disorders, to members with schizophrenia, to members with varying levels of autism. Their parents/guardians were always over 39 years old and every time a special needs member wanted their 39+ parent/guardian/caretaker to attend, we had to send a letter to our Zone office requesting to do so. Wouldn't you know, every time we submitted such an application, they were all REJECTED! I actually don't recall a single application for one of my region's special needs requests being approved. The Zone office would say something along the lines of, "The parent over 39 can drive/transport the member to the venue, but they CANNOT go into the actual 50K venue." If that was the case, why not just say that in the memo you sent out? Source In my region (we all took the same bus) we had a girl in a wheelchair who usually is fine on her own but really needed extra assistance due to the crowds. She ended up pushing herself because we all got separated. We were all so hussled by the door people (Soka Group maybe) to get in and it was a huge problem for them that she had to go around to a different accessible door. Then we were in trouble with the Byakuren for not being all together. Then in trouble for not all sitting together because we had one fewer people than expected since she could not fit with her chair where they led us. The whole thing was a mess and there was apparently no planning for accommodating people with disabilities. Source My experience of the day was one of long line outside, rushed activity to get us in and seated (single file line please, full groups only please, follow this geisha in a pink t-shirt, yes she's very charming, why was your group let through if you are missing one? oh dear you have a member in a wheel chair? you've messed up our seating count). Source I'm so glad you brought this up, although I'm so sadly not surprised that this sort of thing is STILL a huge deal-breaker problem. WAY BACK IN 1987, I'd only been a member of SGI (then known as NSA) less than 5 months when I was chosen to go on the big bus trip to march in the New Freedom Bell parade over July 4 or thereabouts. There was this young woman I knew; her boyfriend was in the group just like mine was, and she and I had gotten to know each other somewhat through practices and meetings. She had some anxiety issues. When we got there, she realized that they were assigning people randomly to rooms and started to panic. She begged me to room with her instead! I said I'd see what I could do. When we got to the desk where we got our room assignments, I explained (using small words) that my friend had an anxiety disorder and could they please put us in the same room? They refused. How hard could it have been? If I was assigned to room with Stranger Beth and she was assigned to room with Stranger Karen, why not just move either Beth into her place (or Karen into mine) so she could be in my room with me?? It's not rocket surgery! They were both strangers to us, after all. But no. Rulez is rulez and that was the end of it. It turned out okay, but c'mon. It could have been MUCH better and MUCH more compassionate toward someone who clearly needed it, with no effort on their part - I offered to escort my roommate (if she was already in the room) to her new room (my friend's former room) if need be so no one else needed to do anything. All the performers were staying in the same building, after all; it was just more of SGI's rigid stupidity (the best kind!). Source
The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. 30 years ago. That prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several spheres (employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services) and requires that buildings, facilites, and transit vehicles are accessible to people with disabilities. But guess what? Churches are exempt! Yet one more shitty strike against religion. What can we conclude from the perennial, unchanging nature of the SGI's lack of sensible accommodation of people with disabilities? Why such a rigid fixation on the "rulez is rulez" mentality? It's because SGI doesn't really give a shit about disabled people. SGI only cares about who will be most useful to SGI, and if a given person is perceived as less useful, then SGI doesn't give a shit about that person. And this is absolutely endemic, BAKED INTO SGI's organizational culture.
They just don't wanna.
It is so fundamental to SGI's organizational culture that the SGI leaders organizing the crowd control for these activities still don't seem aware that disabled people even exist! Thus, the requests of the disabled for inclusion on their own terms are routinely rejected by SGI, which believes that everybody needs to fit SGI and not the other way around. People who are different are icky and annoying. They always want something that isn't on the menu; they always expect everyone to bend over backwards for them; they think they're so special. THEY expect everybody to change everything for THEM. Well, in the Ikeda cult, everybody's the same Shin'ichi Yamamoto clone, so they need to fit the hell in and stop expecting special treatment all the time! SGI is a deeply selfish organization. The members exist to serve SGI and that should satisfy them! Moreover, they should all feel deeply GRATEFUL for any and every opportunity to give more to SGI, do more for SGI, and promote SGI in whatever way they can. THAT should be their mission in life and they should be happy with that! SGI doesn't care about LGBTQIANB people, either. Oh, it will accept their money, count them as members, use them however appears expedient, but THEY need to accommodate themselves to SGI-USA, NOT the other way around! Take a look:
Non-Binary Support As SGI-USA strives to be the model of worldwide kosen-rufu, we will be introducing a non-binary category for members and guests that don't identify as male or female. The Gohonzon application and MIS database will be updated with a new non-binary category. For non-binary members that don't feel comfortable being supported by a specific division, they will be encouraged to participate in 4-divisional activities. For non-binary members that are comfortable being supported by a specific division, they will be invited to participate in those divisional activities. SGI-USA official policy
How suckadelic is THAT?? SGI-USA is adamant about its "IRONCLAD four divisional system"! Those people who don't want to conform and fit in, well, we'll just expect them to do their best, given the way things are. They'll fit in, one way or another. The way things are is not going to change! Certainly not for THEM!
Many SGI members tout the apparent acceptance of gays and lesbians — and the active recruitment of new members at Gay Pride celebrations — as a jaw-dropping miracle of positive change in SGI. For decades, gay SGI members remonstrated with SGI leaders about organizational hostility toward gays. Did these sincere efforts finally bring about a major change in SGI? I think not. After all, this “change” benefits the organization by opening up a new constituency of eager recruits, many of whom are idealistic and have felt alienated from traditional religion and are seeking a spiritual “home.” Many have significant disposable income and often fewer family obligations. Plus, gays are a demographic group renowned for loyalty to organizations and advertisers who reach out to them (as many marketers have learned so lucratively over the past decade.) In my opinion, informed by the fact that I'm a lesbian: “Acceptance” of gays is not a fundamental change in the SGI. Rather, it’s a sign that SGI recognizes a cult-recruitment jackpot when they see one. So don’t hold your breath waiting for the SGI to take a stand against the Federal Marriage Amendment. (SGI claims to be apolitical, despite their history of hiring lobbyists in the U.S.) Besides, discrimination against gays has always been and always will be indefensible in light of Nichiren Buddhist teachings. So with social attitudes toward gays becoming more accepting, SGI had no doctrinal leg to stand on, and was quickly losing it's social excuse for discrimination. Welcome to SGI, homos! When I worked for SGI-USA in 1998, I requested that they expand their health insurance policy to cover the same-sex domestic partners of their gay and lesbian employees. The proposal was rejected by the SGI- USA Board of Directors. Gays and lesbians can get "married" in SGI, sure. But the SGI doesn't put its money where its mouth is and actually recognize these relationships as equal to heterosexual marriage. So. Read newspaper reports about Soka Gakkai going back more than forty years. You'll see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Source While the American Soka Gakkan admits same-sex marriage, the Japanese Komeito can not yet say yes. [I am] [Komeito is] following the LDP against the same sex marriage. https://t.co/QgrgwUMqti — Tomohiro Machyama (@TomoMachi) July 6, 2019 Source
That guy can't scratch his balls without the Soka Gakkai's permission.
SGI LGBT is now Courageous Freedom, this new name is more inclusive and includes all the new sexual designations. Source First of all, "Courageous Freedom" is meaningless word salad gibberish. No person who sees "Courageous Freedom" is going to think, "Aha! That means LGBTQ friendly!" Secondly, the whole problem with SGI is the categorizing of people, the way SGI assigns everyone to a box and there you are - that's your box. MD/WD, YMD/YWD. And the males are always more influential/powerful... Source
WHY is SGI this way? WHY is it so hidebound, backwards, parochial, and provincial in its attitudes? Because that's how all those old men in Japan insist it be, and how it's going to remain. The ideal timeframe is 1930s-1950s Japan, and that zeitgeist is the defining element of SGI culture. SGI will never change. NEVER. This is a serious problem in Japanese culture, which means that all the SGI colonies inherit it as their own problem, too.
Bullying of LGBT students at ‘epidemic’ levels in Japan: Human Rights Watch Titled “The Nail That Sticks Out Gets Hammered Down: LGBT Bullying and Exclusion in Japanese Schools,” the 84-page report said LGBT students routinely suffer harassment, threats and violence in a nation where prejudices against sexual minorities remain alive in the school yard. HRW said the government is largely to blame for this, turning a blind eye to the root cause of bullying and blandly pushing instead for an ill-defined “climate of harmony” in schools in which everyone lives by the rules. Source
How very SGI... At that link, you can see SIX instances of "harmonious/harmoniously" that I found in a SINGLE SGI article!
When you are a general member, the “inside baseball” of the organization is kept from your view. Discrimination of all kinds is practiced behind closed doors, or in Japanese, or by inference among older members who are very much rooted in the conservative social norms of Japan. This is a Japanese organization, based in Japan, run exclusively by Japanese people in the senior leadership positions. If you are LGTBQ, it’s clear why you would be a prime target for recruitment (marginalized member of society), but it’s also very likely that you would never be offered leadership opportunities. And in the SGI, there’s a huge difference between members and leaders - and that’s where the hurt/pain of exclusion really comes into play. If you’re not a leader, you’ll never be invited to the best/most interesting/most important meetings. You won’t be chosen for the plum assignments. You won’t get face time with the national leaders. There will be a thousand and one distinctions drawn between your status (low) and leadership status (high). So...despite what ND [Nichiren Daishonin] says about all people being potential Buddhas, your role in the organization would be severely limited. And if you ever expressed frustration over this, you would be told you aren’t practicing correctly, and that it’s your karma that has caused this suffering. This is gaslighting and it’s incredibly destructive. Source
No matter what policies are suggested or even adopted, the SGI will never change, because its fundamental culture is inimical to the changes people want. People can want change all they want, but the Japanese religion for Japanese people that is the Society for Glorifying Ikeda will not. All that focus on studying those execrable "The New Human Revolution" novels with all their made up shit and lies is to drive home how everything in the SGI organization is supposed to be. THAT is the lesson! "The New Human Revolution" has become the new Gosho-equivalent for SGI, a holy scripture that all are required to adore and obey. The lessons of the Internal Reassessment Group (IRG), that grassroots group of SGI members and leaders who suggested changes that would improve SGI-USA, remain as relevant and valid today as they did over 20 years ago:
If by that you mean efforts to bring about the kind of reforms that the IRG attempted, then yes, I do think that's a futile effort. The organization is what it is. Accept that and work within it, or if you can't stand it, leave. Changing it is not, in my opinion, an option.
You will never be permitted to "be the change" because no change is permitted.
So how’s your quarantine going? I’ve been playing a fair amount of C:S lately and thought I might speculate on what could be improved in Cities: Skylines 2. Besides, it’s not like I have anything better to do. What C:S gets right and wrong Besides great modability and post-release support, C:S combines an agent based economy with a sense of scale. It also has the kind of road design tools that SC4 veterans would have killed for. District based city planning for things like universities was one of the best innovations in the genre in years, and the introduction of industry supply chains, while clunky and tacked on, brought much needed depth to the game. C:S suffers most notably from a lack of revisit rate to previously constructed things. Build a power plant: forget about it. Build a port: forget about it. Build a downtown: forget about it. The player isn’t incentivized to revisit old parts of the city to upgrade and improve them. The district system for universities and industry was a fantastic innovation that demonstrated how to do this concept well, and consequently they are some of the most fun and engaging parts of the game. The biggest criticism of C:S, despite its powerful design tools, is that it feels like a city painter. The systems feel rich at first, but become very formulaic after a few hours. There are no hard trade-offs. Providing every inch of your city with maximum services will not bankrupt you, nor will an economy of nothing but the rich and well-educated collapse from a lack of unskilled labor. In the end, every city dies of boredom once the player exhausts the game’s relatively shallow well of novelty. The biggest areas for Improvement
Balancing Competing Interests
A real city has not only doctors and engineers, but clerks and factory workers. Consider a system that requires balancing the needs of different economic strata to make a thriving city. Here's one example:
Poverty - Working Class - Middle Class - Professional - Elite
Working class are the backbone of the economy, but they need affordable housing and good public transit. Without adequate care though, they slide into poverty causing spikes in crime and declining health. Middle class and professional workers bring in higher taxes and work in better quality jobs, but if property values go too high, your city can attract too many elites--which consume prime real estate, have excessive demands, and are needed in scant few industries.
Providing good services for all citizens should be a real challenge, requiring thoughtful choices on how to provide them efficiently. Balancing for different economic strata also incentivizes building areas with different character. City’s need low-income tenements, middle class suburbs, and high-income downtowns.
C:S was meant to be played on an 81-tile map. It is a drastic improvement over the cramped origami-like vanilla experience. Small towns start to make sense to support farming and mining communities and the urban core acts as a natural hub for manufacturing and logistics. In short, the city begins to look and feel much more natural.
Systems have gotten a lot more powerful since C:S was first released, and a redesign with better multi-core support and a larger map should be a priority. A larger region map recontextualizes the experience from city-builder to region builder. A four-times larger map could fit several urban cores, expansive farmlands, quaint mining towns, and national parks. Most importantly, it provides the appropriate scale to implement a more complex economy.
The industries DLC, despite being simple and clunky, did a lot of things right in improving economic complexity. CIties aren’t just where people live; they make stuff. A key decision for the player as they design their city should be “what does my city do?” A region with plentiful iron could make for a thriving mining town, and a city with steel and auto industries. Beaches and national parks could make for a tourism industry. A well-educated population could attract a banking and finance industry, or maybe make for a national capital with legions of bureaucrats.
The government systems could also use a bit more depth. Where is the city hall? How does a law enforcement system work without a courthouse or an education system without a board of education? These should have some role to play. City halls could define the various municipalities of a region (growing more grandiose as the city grows) while other government buildings could define the police/fire/school districts of a region.
One of my biggest gripes with C:S is the repeat frequency of tall buildings. While each asset is creatively designed, the effect is ruined by seeing two of the same assets in close proximity. This can be addressed one of a few ways besides simply making more. First, tall buildings should be very few in number, difficult to achieve, and a reward for good stewardship. SC4 doesn't suffer from this problem as much mainly because getting more than a handful of skyscrapers is quite an achievement. Additionally, procedural generation is a clear next-gen feature for city-builders. Some seriously impressive work has been done in this area.
Architecture is also an extremely important element in the aesthetic of a city and should be a key tool available to the player. C:S has a modern style, which tends to feel sterile and lacks a sense of place. Paris without Parisian architecture doesn’t feel like Paris. Ideally, the player should be given the option to select architectural standards to apply to growables and city buildings within a given district. There’s endless fodder for DLC. 1930s New York City, DC Neoclassical, 1900s San Francisco, Parisian, Victorian, East Asian Traditional, Neo-futurism, etc.
The square based zoning system is obsolete and does not take advantage of the free-form road design tool. Imagine instead a zoning system that, coupled with procedural building generation, could produce results like this.
Also, the spectrum between rural farmhouses and high-rise apartments doesn’t fit well into the current low/high density binary, making the lack of medium density zoning kind of an odd choice that should be remedied.
Utilities should be an opportunity for creativity and problem solving. C:S utilities are just drudgery. Power and water distribution is a rote task that isn't interesting or challenging. Power systems are complex, with boilers, turbine halls, switchyards, transformers, and substations. Even a light implementation of this would improve upon the old two step formula of:
1) see low power notification 2) place a new power plant.
Instead a “power plant district” could be defined where turbines, water intakes, and resource depots are placed. More turbines could be added or upgraded to alternate energy sources (coal > gas > nuclear) as the city expands. The plant itself becomes an opportunity for creative expression that grows as the city grows.
Power distribution could be made more interesting by adding two elements: switchyards and substations. Switchyards distribute high voltage lines to substations and substations service local areas. The city-builder Workers and Resources has an interesting, if overcomplicated implementation of this concept. Designing a renewable energy grid to deal with cyclical power generation would also make for an interesting challenge.
Water grids could follow a similar formula, with a water extraction/treatment “district” and a network of reservoirs (water towers, underground cisterns, etc.) and pumping stations to maintain pressure. The combination of both these systems would also make for a more interesting underground as sustaining large urban areas would require a fair amount of planning and space management.
Each transit station should have a “configure” option. This could include aesthetic options such as choosing architectural styles (modern, traditional, neoclassical, etc.) and more practical options such as fitting a station along a curved road, adding new platforms, or connections to other transit types. Ideally a single “transit station” option could be turned into everything from a rural railroad platform to a grand central station with bus, tram, and metro connections. Transport Fever 2 has a great implementation of this concept.
Keeping with the philosophy of drawing the player’s attention back to developed areas of the city, logistic hubs (ports, railyards, and airports) should be highly configurable as well and be shaped over time by growing demand. For instance, a regional airport should be accessible early on, but gradually turn into an international hub. The same should apply to ports and railyards that expand in realistic ways due to the practical need for expanded capacity.
Planning tools (place stuff down in “ghost” form and tweak it before actually paying for it)
More powerful tools to build/tweak junctions and intersections (move-it, NEXT, CSUR, etc.)
Vehicle choices for mass transit lines
Bridge stacking / customization
Paintable town squares/parks/markets (good luck fitting anything into a triangular city block currently)
More interesting terrain (marsh, forest, jungle, mountains, etc.)
Wall Street Week Ahead for the trading week beginning March 9th, 2020
Good Saturday morning to all of you here on wallstreetbets. I hope everyone on this sub made out pretty nicely in the market this past week, and is ready for the new trading week and month ahead. Here is everything you need to know to get you ready for the trading week beginning March 9th, 2020.
Wall Street braces for more market volatility as wild swings become the ‘new normal’ amid coronavirus - (Source)
The S&P 500 has never behaved like this, but Wall Street strategists say get used to it. Investors just witnessed the equity benchmark swinging up or down 2% for four days straight in the face of the coronavirus panic. In the index’s history dating back to 1927, this is the first time the S&P 500 had a week of alternating gains and losses of more than 2% from Monday through Thursday, according to Bespoke Investment Group. Daily swings like this over a two-week period were only seen at the peak of the financial crisis and in 2011 when U.S. sovereign debt got its first-ever downgrade, the firm said. “The message to all investors is that they should expect this volatility to continue. This should be considered the new normal going forward,” said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped north of 1,000 points twice in the past week, only to erase the quadruple-digit gains in the subsequent sessions. The coronavirus outbreak kept investors on edge as global cases of the infections surpassed 100,000. It’s also spreading rapidly in the U.S. California has declared a state of emergency, while the number of cases in New York reached 33. “Uncertainty breeds greater market volatility,” Keith Lerner, SunTrust’s chief market strategist, said in a note. “Much is still unknown about how severe and widespread the coronavirus will become. From a market perspective, what we are seeing is uncomfortable but somewhat typical after shock periods.”
So far, the actions from global central banks and governments in response to the outbreak haven’t triggered a sustainable rebound. The Federal Reserve’s first emergency rate cut since the financial crisis did little to calm investor anxiety. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a sweeping spending bill with an$8.3 billion packageto aid prevention efforts to produce a vaccine for the deadly disease, but stocks extended their heavy rout that day. “The market is recognizing the global authorities are responding to this,” said Tom Essaye, founder of the Sevens Report. “If the market begins to worry they are not doing that sufficiently, then I think we are going to go down ugly. It is helping stocks hold up.” Essaye said any further stimulus from China and a decent-sized fiscal package from Germany would be positive to the market, but he doesn’t expect the moves to create a huge rebound. The fed funds future market is now pricing in the possibility of the U.S. central bank cutting by 75 basis points at its March 17-18 meeting.
Where is the bottom?
Many on Wall Street expect the market to fall further before recovering as the health crisis unfolds. Binky Chadha, Deutsche Bank’s chief equity strategist, sees a bottom for the S&P 500 in the second quarter after stocks falling as much as 20% from their recent peak. “The magnitude of the selloff in the S&P 500 so far has further to go; and in terms of duration, just two weeks in, it is much too early to declare this episode as being done,” Chadha said in a note. “We do view the impacts on macro and earnings growth as being relatively short-lived and the market eventually looking through them.” Deutsche Bank maintained its year-end target of 3,250 for the S&P 500, which would represent a 10% gain from here and a flat return for 2020. Strategists are also urging patience during this heightened volatility, cautioning against panic selling. “It is during times like these that investors need to maintain a longer-term perspective and stick to their investment process rather than making knee-jerk, binary decisions,” Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, said in a note.
This past week saw the following moves in the S&P:
If you're like us, you've heard a lot of people reference the recent equity declines as a sign that the market is pricing in some sort of Armageddon in the US economy. While comments like that make for great soundbites, a little perspective is in order. Since the S&P 500's high on February 19th, the S&P 500 is down 12.8%. In the chart below, we show the S&P 500's annual maximum drawdown by year going back to 1928. In the entire history of the index, the median maximum drawdown from a YTD high is 13.05%. In other words, this year's decline is actually less than normal. Perhaps due to the fact that we have only seen one larger-than-average drawdown in the last eight years is why this one feels so bad. The fact that the current decline has only been inline with the historical norm raises a number of questions. For example, if the market has already priced in the worst-case scenario, going out and adding some equity exposure would be a no brainer. However, if we're only in the midst of a 'normal' drawdown in the equity market as the coronavirus outbreak threatens to put the economy into a recession, one could argue that things for the stock market could get worse before they get better, especially when we know that the market can be prone to over-reaction in both directions. The fact is that nobody knows right now how this entire outbreak will play out. If it really is a black swan, the market definitely has further to fall and now would present a great opportunity to sell more equities. However, if it proves to be temporary and after a quarter or two resolves itself and the economy gets back on the path it was on at the start of the year, then the magnitude of the current decline is probably appropriate. As they say, that's what makes a market!
Take a good luck at today's moves in long-term US Treasury yields, because chances are you won't see moves of this magnitude again soon. Let's start with the yield on the 30-year US Treasury. Today's decline of 29 basis points in the yield will go down as the largest one-day decline in the yield on the 30-year since 2009. For some perspective, there have only been 25 other days since 1977 where the yield saw a larger one day decline.
That doesn't even tell the whole story, though. As shown in the chart below, every other time the yield saw a sharper one-day decline, the actual yield of the 30-year was much higher, and in most other cases it was much, much higher.
To show this another way, the percentage change in the yield on the 30-year has never been seen before, and it's not even close. Now, before the chart crime police come calling, we realize showing a percentage change of a percentage is not the most accurate representation, but we wanted to show this for illustrative purposes only.
Finally, with long-term interest rates plummetting we wanted to provide an update on the performance of the Austrian 100-year bond. That's now back at record highs, begging the question, why is the US not flooding the market with long-term debt?
Today's decline is pretty much a continuation of what has been a one-way trade for the commodity ever since the US drone strike on Iranian general Soleimani. The last time prices were this low was around Christmas 2018.
With today's decline, crude oil is now off to its worst start to a year in a generation falling 32%. Since 1984, the only other year that was worse was 1986 when the year started out with a decline of 50% through March 6th. If you're looking for a bright spot, in 1986, prices rose 36% over the remainder of the year. The only other year where crude oil kicked off the year with a 30% decline was in 1991 after the first Iraq war. Over the remainder of that year, prices rose a more modest 5%.
Despite strong market gains on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, the on-the-run 10-year Treasury yield ended the day below 1% for the first time ever and has posted additional declines in real time, sitting at 0.92% intraday as this blog is being written. “The decline in yields has been remarkable,” said LPL Research Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “The 10-year Treasury yield has dipped below 1%, and today’s declines are likely to make the recent run lower the largest decline of the cycle.” As shown in LPL Research’s chart of the day, the current decline in the 10-year Treasury yield without a meaningful reversal (defined as at least 0.75%) is approaching the decline seen in 2011 and 2012 and would need about another two months to be the longest decline in length of time. At the same time, no prior decline has lasted forever and a pattern of declines and increases has been normal.
What are some things that can push the 10-year Treasury yield lower?
A shrinking but still sizable yield advantage over other developed market sovereign debt
Added stock volatility if downside risks to economic growth from the coronavirus increase
A larger potential premium over shorter-term yields if the Federal Reserve aggressively cuts interest rates
What are some things that can push the 10-year Treasury yield higher?
A second half economic rebound acting a catalyst for a Treasury sell-off
As yields move lower, investors may increasingly seek more attractive sources of income
Any dollar weakness could lead to some selling by international investors
Longer maturity Treasuries are looking like an increasingly crowded trade, potentially adding energy to any sell-off
On balance, our view remains that the prospect of an economic rebound over the second half points to the potential for interest rates moving higher. At the same time, we still see some advantage in the potential diversification benefits of intermediate maturity high-quality bonds, especially during periods of market stress. We continue to recommend that suitable investors consider keeping a bond portfolio’s sensitivity to changes in interest rates below that of the benchmark Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index by emphasizing short to intermediate maturity bonds, but do not believe it’s time to pile into very short maturities despite the 10-year Treasury yield sitting at historically low levels.
U.S. Jobs Growth Marches On
While stock markets continue to be extremely volatile as they come to terms with how the coronavirus may affect global growth, the U.S. job market has remained remarkably robust. Continued U.S. jobs data resilience in the face of headwinds from the coronavirus outbreak may be a key factor in prolonging the expansion, given how important the strength of the U.S. consumer has been late into this expansion. The U.S. Department of Labor today reported that U.S. nonfarm payroll data had a strong showing of 273,000 jobs added in February, topping the expectation of every Bloomberg-surveyed economist, with an additional upward revision of 85,000 additional jobs for December 2019 and January 2020. This has brought the current unemployment rate back to its 50-year low of 3.5%. So far, it appears it’s too soon for any effects of the coronavirus to have been felt in the jobs numbers. (Note: The survey takes place in the middle of each month.) On Wednesday, ADP released its private payroll data (excluding government jobs), which increased by 183,000 in February, also handily beating market expectations. Most of these jobs were added in the service sector, with 44,000 added in the leisure and hospitality sector, and another 31,000 in trade/transportation/utilities. Both of these areas could be at risk of potential cutbacks if consumers start to avoid eating out or other leisure pursuits due to coronavirus fears. As shown in the LPL Chart of the Day, payrolls remain strong, and any effects of the virus outbreaks most likely would be felt in coming months.
“February’s jobs report shows the 113th straight month that the U.S. jobs market has grown,” said LPL Financial Senior Market Strategist Ryan Detrick. “That’s an incredible run and highlights how the U.S. consumer has become key to extending the expansion, especially given setbacks to global growth from the coronavirus outbreak.” While there is bound to be some drag on future jobs data from the coronavirus-related slowdown, we would anticipate that the effects of this may be transitory. We believe economic fundamentals continue to suggest the possibility of a second-half-of-the–year economic rebound.
Down January & Down February: S&P 500 Posts Full-Year Gain Just 43.75% of Time
The combination of a down January and a down February has come about 17 times, including this year, going back to 1950. Rest of the year and full-year performance has taken a rather sizable hit following the previous 16 occurrences. March through December S&P 500 average performance drops to 2.32% compared to 7.69% in all years. Full-year performance is even worse with S&P 500 average turning to a loss of 4.91% compared to an average gain of 9.14% in all years. All hope for 2020 is not lost as seven of the 16 past down January and down February years did go on to log gains over the last 10 months and full year while six enjoyed double-digit gains from March to December.
Today’s big rally was an encouraging sign that the markets are becoming more comfortable with the public health, monetary and political handling of the situation. But the history of these “emergency” or “surprise” rate cuts by the Fed between meetings suggest some caution remains in order. The table here shows that these surprise cuts between meetings have really only “worked” once in the past 20+ years. In 1998 when the Fed and the plunge protection team acted swiftly and in a coordinated manner to stave off the fallout from the financial crisis caused by the collapse of the Russian ruble and the highly leveraged Long Term Capital Management hedge fund markets responded well. This was not the case during the extended bear markets of 2001-2002 and 2007-2009. Bottom line: if this is a short-term impact like the 1998 financial crisis the market should recover sooner rather than later. But if the economic impact of coronavirus virus is prolonged, the market is more likely to languish.
([CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY'S AFTER-MARKET EARNINGS TIME & ESTIMATES!]())
Adobe Inc. $336.77
Adobe Inc. (ADBE) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.23 per share on revenue of $3.04 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.29 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 81% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for earnings of approximately $2.23 per share. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 29.65% with revenue increasing by 16.88%. Short interest has decreased by 38.4% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 7.2% from its open following the earnings release to be 10.9% above its 200 day moving average of $303.70. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Monday, February 24, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,109 contracts of the $400.00 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.1% move in recent quarters.
DICK'S Sporting Goods, Inc. (DKS) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 7:30 AM ET on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $1.23 per share on revenue of $2.56 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $1.28 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 57% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 14.95% with revenue increasing by 2.73%. Short interest has decreased by 29.1% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 20.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 12.0% below its 200 day moving average of $39.75. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 26, 2020 there was some notable buying of 848 contracts of the $39.00 put expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 14.4% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 7.3% move in recent quarters.
Broadcom Limited (AVGO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $5.34 per share on revenue of $5.93 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $5.45 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 83% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 5.65% with revenue increasing by 2.44%. Short interest has decreased by 15.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 15.3% from its open following the earnings release to be 7.7% below its 200 day moving average of $291.95. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. On Tuesday, February 25, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,197 contracts of the $260.00 put expiring on Friday, April 17, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 11.1% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 4.9% move in recent quarters.
Thor Industries, Inc. (THO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:45 AM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.76 per share on revenue of $1.79 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.84 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 62% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 16.92% with revenue increasing by 38.70%. Short interest has decreased by 12.9% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 5.4% from its open following the earnings release to be 12.0% above its 200 day moving average of $62.53. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 6.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 8.1% move in recent quarters.
ULTA Beauty (ULTA) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $3.71 per share on revenue of $2.29 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $3.75 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 73% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 2.77% with revenue increasing by 7.78%. Short interest has increased by 8.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 0.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 9.5% below its 200 day moving average of $283.43. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. Option traders are pricing in a 15.3% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 11.7% move in recent quarters.
Slack Technologies, Inc. (WORK) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:15 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus estimate is for a loss of $0.06 per share on revenue of $173.06 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is ($0.04) per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 67% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for a loss of $0.07 to $0.06 per share on revenue of $172.00 million to $174.00 million. Short interest has increased by 1.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 19.0% from its open following the earnings release. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 4.3% move on earnings in recent quarters.
Dollar General Corporation (DG) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 6:55 AM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $2.02 per share on revenue of $7.15 billion and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $2.05 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 76% expecting an earnings beat. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 9.78% with revenue increasing by 7.52%. Short interest has increased by 16.2% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 1.8% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.7% above its 200 day moving average of $149.88. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Friday, February 28, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,013 contracts of the $182.50 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 9.2% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 5.7% move in recent quarters.
Stitch Fix, Inc. (SFIX) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.06 per share on revenue of $452.96 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.09 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 83% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $447.00 million to $455.00 million. Consensus estimates are for earnings to decline year-over-year by 50.00% with revenue increasing by 22.33%. Short interest has decreased by 4.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 16.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 5.1% below its 200 day moving average of $24.01. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, February 19, 2020 there was some notable buying of 4,026 contracts of the $35.00 call expiring on Friday, June 19, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 28.0% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 15.2% move in recent quarters.
Sogou Inc. (SOGO) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:00 AM ET on Monday, March 9, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.09 per share on revenue of $303.08 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.10 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 58% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $290.00 million to $310.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 28.57% with revenue increasing by 1.78%. Short interest has increased by 6.6% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted lower by 27.8% from its open following the earnings release to be 15.7% below its 200 day moving average of $4.57. Overall earnings estimates have been revised lower since the company's last earnings release. The stock has averaged a 3.8% move on earnings in recent quarters.
DocuSign (DOCU) is confirmed to report earnings at approximately 4:05 PM ET on Thursday, March 12, 2020. The consensus earnings estimate is $0.05 per share on revenue of $267.44 million and the Earnings Whisper ® number is $0.08 per share. Investor sentiment going into the company's earnings release has 81% expecting an earnings beat The company's guidance was for revenue of $263.00 million to $267.00 million. Consensus estimates are for year-over-year earnings growth of 600.00% with revenue increasing by 33.90%. Short interest has decreased by 37.7% since the company's last earnings release while the stock has drifted higher by 12.1% from its open following the earnings release to be 31.9% above its 200 day moving average of $63.71. Overall earnings estimates have been revised higher since the company's last earnings release. On Wednesday, March 4, 2020 there was some notable buying of 1,698 contracts of the $87.50 call expiring on Friday, March 20, 2020. Option traders are pricing in a 8.5% move on earnings and the stock has averaged a 10.0% move in recent quarters.
Classified: Compiled Intelligence On the Lost Dolls Reclaimer Faction (OC Reclaimer Faction)
Condensed intelligence overview detailing currently known information on the Reclaimer faction known as ‘Lost Dolls.’ Information contained therein has been compiled by Sky Union Intelligence Officer ‘MB.’ Sources consist largely of Sky Union’s own records, as well as shared intelligence reports on the matter, compiled battle data, and found footage shared by Orbital. MB was also able to covertly interview the pilot ‘Port’ directly, though it’s believed that she understood the general purpose of MB’s questioning, and so her testimony must be accepted with a degree of scrutiny. OVERVIEW Unit Name: Lost Dolls
“Bringing you the bleeding edge of technology from thirty years ago, today. Let’s get started.”
-MB, initial debriefing. Time of Operation: Officially, only four hundred and seventy three days. Compiled intelligence suggests that the group has been active in the Oval Link for far longer, with upward estimates reaching as high as twenty years. At the very least, all members were alive at the time of the Moonfall. Pilots: Five Affiliations: No known Consortium ties. Joint operations alongside other Reclaimer factions are uncommon, though Steel Knights show up most often with Bullet Works and Immortal Innocence tied for a distant second. Preferred Mission Profile: Lost Dolls’ mission profile trends toward humanitarian missions. Primarily defensive or retributive actions against Corrupted A.I. incursions, particularly those concerning civilian populations within the Oval Link. It’s generally accepted that this is one of the primary factors contributing to their work alongside Steel Knights. They are less likely than average to pursue high-risk, high-payout missions such as deep-dives into A.I. territory or the escort of VIPs, such as political or military personnel, out of high risk areas. Conversely, they are more likely to take on high-risk missions with lower pay, such as escorting civilian evacuation caravans in the event of a Corrupted A.I. incursion. This behavior matches with the Dolls’ preference for humanitarian work, as missions fitting these criteria tend to be posted by lower level governmental officials, or even civilians with pooled resources, who have come under sudden attack. Quirks: All five pilots typically show to missions, in violation of the four-per-squad standard. Normally this would be in violation of the Consortium Treaty, but so far Orbital has refused to take action. It is theorized that this is due to the Dolls’ reluctance to hit military targets, and that Orbital may be letting the behavior slide in the interest of protecting civilian lives. The Dolls have no known home base. Port has made reference to a ‘bus’ in interviews that she says they use for field repair and transportation; it’s possible she’s referring to an old rapid deployment Arsenal carrier like the ones that were used before the Consortiums established proper infrastructure in the Oval Link, but it’s hard to say where a group like the Dolls could have found an operational one, much less one capable of fielding five arsenals. It’s almost more likely that they actually have two, puttering somewhere around the Neutral Zone. Even that’s a hard pill to swallow, since the old carriers have been out of production for almost thirty years now. Very little of the Dolls’ equipment is up-to-date. Their plugsuits are all defunct prototype models and in varying states of disrepair; most of their pilots don’t even use the actual connections in the suits themselves, opting instead for permanent ports connecting directly to their nervous systems. I’ve never seen any of them sporting a Blitz, either. At least one, Port, has been observed with what appears to be a traditional slug-throwing sidearm. The Lost Dolls claim to be a family unit of five sisters. The physical differences between them would imply that this is in a purely symbolic manner (excepting Protoca and Hope. Possibly Port if our facial analysis data is reliable), but the effect is the same. Their loyalty to each other is hard to call into question. Every one of their pilots has had their age frozen by Outer Syndrome. It should be noted that all pilots, excepting Earwax, have pilot rankings that do not properly reflect their overall level of competency. The Dolls’ propensity for low-sensitivity missions and unwillingness to work closely to further any Consortium goals aside from preservation of human life has left them low on the leaderboard. In cases where this information is used for planning operations against or alongside the Lost Dolls, assume all pilots are at the level of A rank or higher. PILOTS/MECHS
“I’ll start off with saying that the Dolls have the most ‘ware I’ve ever seen packed into a unit of this size. Two pilots are almost entirely cybernetic. And I do mean entirely.”
-MB Callsign: Tachi Real Name: Tachi Hanamura Age: Unknown. Appears to be in her late teens. Height: 197cm outside of Arsenal, 76cm while embarked, 167cm when utilizing her ‘emergency legs.’ Rank: C Handed: Both Family: Four sisters Outer Ability: Unknown. Though she is remarkably receptive to cybernetic augmentations and displays an unusual level of synchronicity with her Arsenal, hovering at anywhere between 91% and 95% at any time. Piloting Tendences: Aggressive. Highly aggressive. Tachi’s typical M.O. involves charging directly into an enemy formation and smashing the thing to bits before moving onto the next cluster. She often acts as the Dolls’ line breaker and attack dog, flushing high priority targets out of the press or just bowling down the chaff so that the other pilots can focus on more important things.
“The armor is 600mm of over a dozen different laminates and they didn’t include a single thermal dispersion layer for laser fire...”
-Tachi, picking over the husk of a disabled Genbu Physical Description: Where to start? First, brown hair, cropped into a messy bowl cut. Wide build for a girl. Her entire right arm is cybernetic. Her torso ends above her hips, which have been replaced by a massive version of the nerve-interface hubs found on standard plugsuits. Outside of her Arsenal this is plugged into the top of a massive set of ‘spider legs,’ complete with abdomen, which she uses as her normal mode of transport. When embarked on a mission, she’s lifted off her leg hub and simply plugged into a custom seat in her Arsenal, with a secondary connection at the base of her neck; the normal shoulder connections aren’t used. The arm and leg hub don’t match any known manufacturer of prosthetics, and the connection format at her hip is dated by at least a full twenty years. A pair of more modern legs are integrated into her piloting seat and act as part of her ejection system should her Arsenal be put out of commission in the middle of combat. She has a set of rocket thrusters implanted into her back. Actual rocket thrusters; the vents are mostly flush with her shoulder blades, protruding perhaps 5-6cm. Footage loaned from Orbital demonstrates her leaping almost one hundred meters utilizing them while under full load (read: attached to the massive spider leg assembly). Using her Arsenal ejection system, combined with the lighter weight of her backup legs, it’s estimated she could travel as far as three hundred meters on a burst from the thrusters. Arsenal: Arachne Weapon Compliment:
HAW-M05L Silver Raven II
HAW-C16 Ogre Break II
HAW-GR01 Hand Grenade
SAW-L22 Agni Flame
HAW-R02 Grim Reaper II
Arsenal Characteristics: Beat half to death and heavy. Arachne’s one of the two Arsenals in the Dolls’ employ that we have a decent technical read on, mostly because Tachi’s a shameless showboat and likes to show off all the tinkering she’s done on the thing. A decent example of the Dolls’ construction strategy, no two armor components on Arachne are from the same model. The left arm is optimized for melee strikes (both the base model, and the aftermarket modifications that have been made by the pilot) while the right is oriented for handling firearms. The unit is sluggish in the air and has middling mobility on foot for it’s durability; fine enough for Tachi’s preferred method of brawling. Combat footage shows she’s the type of pilot that tries to stay grounded anyway. Tachi’s normal plan of attack is to get in close and personal with the Raven II and Ohabari and shred whatever’s in front of her. The Reaper II is typically reserved for plinking Strais or aerial targets that have gotten spread out. The Agni Flame appears to be used purely as backup. Frankly, the Reaper II and Ogre Break II are squandered here. With a maximum lock range of only two hundred and one meters, Arachne is right on the edge of it’s rangeband with the Reaper and hopelessly short of the Ogre. That hasn’t stopped the pilot from eyeballing slower moving AI from farther out, but the Arsenal really shows the slapdash nature of the pilot.
“She doesn’t stop. Not for anything. While pouring over the combat footage I actually stumbled onto a sequence where she took a Failnaught round right through the cockpit and all it did was make her angry.”
-MB. Callsign: Protoca Real Name: Protoca [no known surname] Age: Unknown. Appears to be in her late teens. Height: 182cm Rank: B Handed: Left Family: Four sisters Outer Ability: Rapid regeneration from injuries, as well as being prone to physical mutation. She can apparently recover from injuries that even most Outers would find lethal; we have combat footage of an ejected Protoca taking a cannon round to the legs, obliterating everything from her hips downward. I met her face-to-face in my interview with Port and she had made a full recovery, complete with a set of genuine flesh and blood legs. You wouldn’t even know it’d happened. Her mutations appear to be a side-effect of her regeneration, and do not directly benefit her while piloting outside of her absurd physical strength and enhanced reflexes. Piloting Tendencies: Measured and deliberate, but outrageously dogged. She keeps a wide engagement profile and usually plays mop-up alongside Port when dealing with traditional corrupted AI forces, otherwise she’s running interference when facing off against Arsenals. She’s particularly skilled at close urban combat and swaps between playing rifleman and melee roles fluidly. She also rarely retreats from engagement, regardless of the tactical situation. On at least one occasion, her Arsenal was reduced down to it’s torso, head, and one leg in an engagement with a hostile Arsenal pilot. Instead of withdrawing, Protoca engaged afterburners and tackled her opponent, which bought enough time for Lost Dolls’ other pilots to reach her position and disable the enemy. Generally speaking, it seems she simply will not withdraw from an engagement unless one of the other pilots is under direct threat or Port herself calls for an immediate withdrawal.
“You don’t take one step further. Not one.”
-Protoca, staring down three fresh Strais after dispatching their forward wing. Physical Description: A real mess. For the basics; brown hair, trimmed into an angled bob cut. She’s wide shouldered, but nowhere near as broad as Tachi. Her torso and leg profiles are slim, arguably emaciated. Musculature is extremely visible, as if she’s constantly tensing her entire body with every movement. It’s possible that’s the case, as her movement patterns have a habit of being twitchy and erratic. As for the aforementioned mutations: her right leg is covered in dark, hard scales. An atrophied wing, like that of a bat, shares a dual joint at the shoulder with her right arm. Numerous scars, some clearly surgical in nature. There’s a kind of plant-like symbiont that wraps around her left arm, up her neck, and ends in her hair, sprouting into a pair of green, bioluminescent flowers; it’s unclear if this is a mutation to her person or if it’s a separate entity. A note about the wing and scales: they’re proofed against small arms. How Protoca’s body is able to produce organic compounds capable of standing up to Femto weaponry is currently a subject of heated debate in R&D’s breakroom. I’m sure more than a few whiteboards have been broken over it, considering how loud they get. Arsenal: One More Weapon Compliment:
OAW-BL74 Cronus Break
HAW-CF22 Chaff Flare
HAW-R26F Guilty Throne
Arsenal Characteristics:One More is the type of Arsenal you could smack upside the head with a Buster Doom and it would ask for seconds. True, it doesn’t have the bulk of a true heavy-weight, but the chassis itself is strong enough to take a hit and keep on coming and the Splendor repair system means the Arsenal has fantastic staying power over the course of an extended engagement. And the Aegis shield in the off-hand gifts the pilot considerable bulk in the context of a contained duel. Like Arachne, One More has a lopsided chassis with a horrendously overengineered sword arm while the other is optimized for handling firearms. Unlike Arachne, One More has access to a far more advanced set of weaponry. Between the Guilty Throne, Aegis, Cronus Break, and Stargazer, Protoca is running a veritable buffet of high performance, low availability equipment. The manufacturers of the Cronus Break and Aegis models aren’t even public knowledge, so it’s an open question where the Dolls could have procured such serious tech with their relatively bare income and (reportedly) spartan operational facilities. Operationally, One More often acts as the anvil to Port and Tachi’s hammer; a hard to remove obstacle for any conventional AI force and a dogged pursuer for most arsenal-based forces.
“The team’s tactical leader and designated marksman. Methodical, cordial, and a complete horror show like all the others.”
-MB Callsign: Port Real Name: Samantha Thampson Age: Unknown. Appears to be in her late teens. Height: 167cm Rank: B Handed: Left Family: Four sisters. Outer Ability: Port’s brain is innately capable of understanding binary code which allows her unparalleled levels of synchronicity with her Arsenal, fluctuating between 99%-100%. It also allows her to eschew the traditional connecting ports in her plug suit (which is good, because they’re all visibly broken) and instead opt for a surgically installed plug that connects directly to her brain stem. Connected this way, her Arsenal effectively becomes an extension of her physical body. This ability also extends to binary converted into other formats other than a direct electrical feed; Port has often been caught having verbal, and apparently quite in-depth, conversations with the AI unit of her Arsenal via the unit’s external audio systems, with bursts of static standing in for the unit's speech. How coherent/intelligent this ‘dialogue’ from the unit is still up in the air, but analysis of the few samples we do have shows definite patterns in the unit’s ‘speech’ and in how it reacts to Port herself. Piloting Tendencies: Port’s preferred method of engagement appears to be skirmishing at distance; she fits the rifleman archetype to a T. Unlike Protoca, Tachi, and Lily, Port has no measures for melee combat installed on her Arsenal aside from its fists, and even the one shotgun she keeps on the rear pylons is a choked down, longer range model. Her usual M.O. when deployed amongst her sisters is to hang back behind Tachi or Protoca and plink. Well, ‘plink.’ The DMR and high performance assault rifle she’s managed to scrounge out of the Neutral Zone could blow through a Rebellion’s kneecap with sustained fire, and her sisters are good at giving her the required openings. While going over the combat footage, I saw her put a round down the barrel of a Slay Dog more than once.
“Oh, we’re just a merry little band of misfits, Sergeant. Looking out for each other, trying to make the world a better place. I’m sure you’ve heard the old song and dance.”
-Port, early in her interview with Intelligence Officer MB. Physical Description: The most immediately striking thing about Port is arguably her albinism; snow white from head to toe except for her eyes, which are pink from lack of pigment. After that might be the fact that she’s a quadruple amputee with a full suite of military grade replacement limbs (or rather, Port claims that they’re military grade). The hardware itself appears very dated, to the point where our intelligence teams have not actually been able to pinpoint a make or model. Aside from being old, they’re clearly several sizes too large for her. Approximating by their overall scale, we estimate they’re intended for an 180cm adult male. The size difference is exaggerated somewhat by the fact that her legs have actually been installed too low, connecting part way down her thighs rather than at the hip. The limbs themselves don’t appear to be anything special; the arms are conventional replacement limbs with a fully articulated wrist, hand, and fingers while the legs are set up for sprinting, the feet having been replaced with a flexible running fin. The legs also boast a pneumatic jumping apparatus on par with modern Outer modifications. Port has also undergone extensive cranial modifications, some of which she claims she’s performed herself. These include a large radio antenna mounted behind her right ear and connected via ribbon cable to the base of her skull, a set of four high definition cameras implanted into the ridges of her cheekbones, a manually operated combat stimulant pump on the bottom left portion of her skull, and two white ‘dog ears’ surgically implanted over her ear canals (breed and origin undetermined; possibly vat grown and purchased off the black market). Moving on from augmentations; Port herself is slightly built. Thin frame, long face, little visible muscle to speak of. Her torso is thin enough that it almost appears emaciated, though there’s some contention on whether this is actually due to nutritional deficit or rather a result of further augmentation or Outer Syndrome. She’s covered in scars and has permanent iris damage in her left eye. Arsenal: B3-206 (though Port often shortens this to ‘Bee’) Weapon Compliment:
SAW-SR53 Beluga Beam
Agni Flame M
HAW-R26F Guilty Throne
HAW-SH35 Hoggish Spriggan
HAW-AM01L Scarlet Star
And a reserve magazine for an expanded ammunition compliment. Arsenal Characteristics: A solid, all around trooper unit. B3-206 excels in the roles of medium range fire support and skirmisher. Between the Beluga Beam and Scarlet Star, B3-206 has excellent firepower at range to harass hostile targets while the Guilty Throne and M model Agni Flame offer solid mid-range options for when the fighting gets in a little closer. Port appears to keep the Spriggan on hand as a sidearm more than anything else, usually only resorting to it once her other weapons have depleted their ammunition stores. As for the Arsenal itself, B3-206 is very much a jack of all trades. Construction focuses on striking a balance between durability, maneuverability, and memory capacity with some minor sacrifices to overall firepower. Of particular note are the Arsenal’s arms, the make of which don’t appear in any of our internal records. Construction closely resembles the make of an old, defunct Zen prototype from over twenty years ago but declassified documents suggest that those never made it past the drawing board before the project was canceled; we’re currently doing some more thorough digging to try and figure out where Port may have picked them up but the current theory is that she found a fabricator on the black market who developed the design independently. As mentioned previously, B3-206 is on recording having apparently complex conversations with Port via audibly broadcast binary noise. We don’t have enough data to synthesize a translation at this time, but the patterns are definite and subtle variations in the machine’s tone do closely mirror subtleties in human speech resulting from shifts in mood. Port herself has been cryptic on the subject but the implications of a sapient AI operating directly under Orbital authority are something the intelligence community is still exploring.
“Arguably the team’s ace pilot, she ties Port and Protoca combined for Arsenal downs. She lags behind in Corrupted AI kills but then, that isn’t her job.”
-MB Callsign: Lily Real Name: Liliana [no known surname] Age: Unknown. Appears to be in her early teens. Height: 160cm Rank: A Handed: Right Family: Four sisters Outer Ability: Instantaneous reaction time. She has a true reaction time of 0.00000000 seconds, meaning she is only limited by the inertia of her own body or Arsenal when maneuvering in combat. This has given rise to some truly hair-raising maneuvering from Lily, as she can change her plan of attack at any point for any reason as long as her Arsenal is capable of putting up with the mechanical stress. Piloting Tendencies: Highly aggressive, arguably moreso than Tachi. Her ability to outthink and out-react even her own teammates mean that Lily is often extending far beyond them before they can even realize it. The good news for her is that the enemy won't realize it either; not until she's put two full magazines from her Silver Raven IIs right into their back, anyway.
“A real firecracker, this one. You wouldn’t guess by how quiet she is off the field.”
-MB Physical Description: Short, slightly built (though not so much as Port), with the physicality one might expect of a professional dancer. Her hair is sandy brown and kept braided. Like Port, Lily is highly augmented. Both her legs have been replaced with prosthetics and, like Port, the make and model are unknown. Visually, they resemble Outer-issue dedicated leaping prosthetics in that they taper sharply down to the feet which appear to be a pair of springloaded fins, not dissimilar to Port’s running fins. Her left arm has also been replaced with an arm of a similar make to Port’s, though it’s not identical. It’s detachable, with the shoulder socket doubling as Lily’s primary connection port while embarked in the Rabbit. Also like Port, she has a pair of animal ears implanted into her head, though in this case they are in addition to her normal ones as opposed to replacing them; they’re a pair of large rabbit ears matching her hair color. Some miscellaneous notes: Lily is completely mute. She communicates primarily through a form of one-handed sign language, heavily favoring her right hand. Per Port, all pilots in the unit are fluent enough to understand the broad strokes of whatever it is Lily is signing but only Tachi has put in the time to learn the language properly. Her and Lily will sometimes utilize it to have private conversations. In the field she gets by with a limited set of synthesized voice commands that Port has uploaded into a soundboard in her cockpit. Lily is also quite near-sighted. A rare condition for an Outer, let alone an Arsenal pilot. She can commonly be found sporting a pair of cokebottle glasses when not in her Arsenal. Arsenal: Red Rabbit Weapon Compliment:
HAW-M05 Silver Raven II x 2
HAW-CS09 Cooling System
Arsenal Characteristics:Red Rabbit is what most experienced Arsenal pilots would describe as ‘selfish.’ Even as part of a cohesive unit, Red Rabbit’s role typically involves acting alone, striking forward ahead of the advancing unit or around the opposition’s flank to pick out high priority targets before the enemy can properly react. Where Arachne’s application is as a blunt instrument, Red Rabbit is a dagger sinking into the enemy’s unguarded flank. Hot shots flock to these sorts of machines because it means they get to wrack up the killmarks, though Lily doesn't seem the type to keep score. About every aspect of Red Rabbit’s handling characteristics have been redlined for the sake of keeping up with its daring pilot. It’s bleeding fast, turns on a dime, and is practically air-weight as far as Arsenals are concerned. This also means it’s exceptionally fragile but, with Lily at the helm, it’s rare for the Rabbit to incur significant battle damage at all. A minor note: Red Rabbit is the only Arsenal in the unit to use an after-market body kit. This has made visually identifying the make and model essentially impossible. Femto expulsion readings and in-depth handling analyses have been carried out by our boys in the Intelligence office but I can only speculate as to their conclusion, as the particular details haven’t been cleared for my viewing. I hear it made some of the higher ups break into a cold sweat, for whatever that’s worth.
“Cute kid. Not really sure what she’s doing hanging out in a Reclaimer unit, shy as she is.”
-MB Callsign: Earwax Real Name: Hope [no known surname] Age: Unknown. Her age was frozen while quite young; appears to be about nine or ten. Height: 121cm Rank: E Handed: Right Family: Four sisters Outer Ability: Currently unknown. Port has hinted that she might have empathic capabilities. Piloting Tendencies: Earwax is the team’s high altitude reconnaissance and communications expert. She spends every moment of flight time high over the battlefield, coordinating the other pilots and keeping a bird’s eye view of the battle. There is no known record of Earwax engaging in combat directly.
“Don’t call me that! Ugh. I asked Port not to make that my nickname . . .”
-Earwax apparently doesn’t like her callsign. Physical Description: The spitting image of Protoca, if Protca were seven years younger and lacking mutations. Going theory in the intelligence circuit is that Earwax and Protoca are twins, with Earwax contracting Outer Syndrome at an earlier date than her sister. Sadly, at this stage all we have is conjecture. Notable visual distinctions between the two, aside from height, mostly come down to personal style. Earwax wears her hair longer and is more likely to wear ornaments such as hair clips or bands. She is also the team’s only member to be commonly found in civilian clothing, with a penchant for ribbons and frilly dresses. All told, Earwax is almost aggressively ‘normal’ in contrast with the rest of her team, wholly lacking her sister’s enhanced musculature as well as any cybernetic augmentation. Arsenal: Eden Weapon Compliment: A single HAW-H05L Trickster and all the sensor equipment you can reasonably jam into the torso chassis. Arsenal Characteristics: Eden is the Dolls’ high altitude recon and overwatch unit. Just about every spare or redundant part has been pulled off the frame in favor of saving weight and increasing the maximum operational ceiling of the unit well beyond standard combat load parameters. As a result, Eden is capable of operating above an AO almost indefinitely, feeding the team’s other pilots a steady stream of intel while high and away from any real danger. Frankly, there isn’t much more to say on the subject. Eden is so pared down that it’s barely more than a trainer unit with a bunch of sensors strapped to the hood. Which is good, because Hope has none of the typical neural implants that normally facilitate handling Arsenal movement, nor any secondary method of connection like most of her sisters. She flies almost purely by instruments. There isn’t even much evidence to suggest she’s ever fired her Trickster, which is meant as a last resort defensive measure in case something gets by the defensive screen formed by the rest of the unit. There have been all of five occasions where her Arsenal was purposefully pursued by enemy contacts and, the three times they got away from Lily, said contacts burned their own engines out while trying to exceed their operational ceiling. Closing Statement: The Lost Dolls represent a valuable asset in the fight against the Corrupted AI in that they are a reliable and high-uptime asset dedicated to safeguarding vulnerable towns and cities across the Oval Link. That said, they show no interest in working closely with any Consortium; at this time it is my estimation that we would only ever look to the Lost Dolls as a stabilizing measure in the event of a crisis, rather than a resource to exploit proactively. If you made it this far, thanks for reading over my post. And thanks to u/Muteki_____ for translating DxM's supplementary materials and ultimately giving me the idea for this writeup. I sure hope the formatting doesn't break.
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