Retail Sales Plunged in December

U.S. retail sales dropped 1.2% in December with ex-autos plunging 1.8%.

Retail sales plunge in December, Stockwinners
Retail sales plunge in December, Stockwinners

November’s 0.2% headline gain was revised down to 0.1%, while the 0.2% ex-auto figure was unrevised after strong gains in October of 1.0% (revised from 1.1%) and 0.8% (revised from 1.0%), respectively.

Sales excluding autos, gas, and building materials tumbled 1.6% versus the prior 0.7% jump (revised from 0.6%). Motor vehicle sales climbed 1.0% after a 0.7% prior gain (revised from 0.2%).

Gas station sales declined 5.1% from -4.4% (revised from -2.3%). Food, beverage prices were down 0.4% compared to 0.1% previously (revised from 0.4%).

Building materials edged up 0.3% from -1.5% (revised from -0.3%). Furniture sales dropped 1.3% from 0.5% (revised from 1.2%).

Clothing sales fell 0.7% from 0.4% (revised from -0.2%). Nonstore retailers were down 3.9% from 2.8% (revised from 2.3%).

Miscellaneous sales crashed down 4.1% from 4.0% (revised from 0.4%). This is a very disappointing result and should knock yields and equities lower.

Some analysts blame the drop on the government shutdown while others are seeing a worrying consumers above the situation in Washington as the main reason.

Retailer Stocks to Watch: FIVE, OLLI, ULTA, and BOOT.

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JetPay sold for $184 million

NCR Corp. to acquire JetPay for $5.05 per share

JetPay sold for $184 million, Stockwinners
JetPay sold for $184 million, Stockwinners

NCR Corporation (NCR) announced a definitive agreement to acquire Allentown, PA-based JetPay (JTPY).

The transaction will be a cash tender offer of $5.05 per JetPay share, which represents a multiple of 2.9 times 2018 consensus revenue forecast of $63.4 million.

The purchase price is approximately $184 million and will be financed with a combination of cash on hand and existing capacity under NCR’s revolving credit facility.

The offer has been approved by each company’s board of directors.

This acquisition will enable NCR to integrate a cloud-based payments platform into its enterprise point-of-sale solutions for retail and hospitality industries.

It also accelerates NCR’s strategy of increasing recurring revenue growth and expanding margins by enhancing its mix of software and services.

The transaction is anticipated to close by year-end, subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions. The two companies anticipate a smooth transition for customers, channel partners and employees.

Two of JetPay’s major stockholders, Flexpoint Ford, a private equity investment firm that specializes in the financial services and healthcare industries, and Larry Stone, a longstanding executive in the payment processing industry, have agreed to tender their shares in support of the transaction.


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Shopify little changed after Q2 results

Analysts diverge on Shopify after quarterly results

Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners
Shopify little changed after Q2 results, Stockwinners

Following the company’s second quarter results, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson downgraded Shopify (SHOP) to Neutral saying the quarter was “not good enough” and the stock’s valuation fairly reflects current business trends.

Meanwhile, his peers at Baird and Canaccord both reiterated buy-equivalent ratings and raised their price targets on the shares following what they view as a “solid” quarter.

RESULTS

Shopify reported second quarter adjusted earnings per share of 2c and revenue of $245M, above consensus of (3c) and $234.64M, respectively.

GMV for the second quarter was $9.1B, an increase of 56% over the second quarter of 2017, and Gross Payments Volume, or “GPV,” grew to $3.6B.

The company said it sees third quarter revenues between $253M-$257M, third quarter GAAP operating loss in the range of $40M-$42M and adjusted operating loss in the range of $9M-$11M.

Additionally, Shopify said it expects FY18 revenues between $1.015B-$1.025B, FY18 GAAP operating loss in the range of $105M-$110M and adjusted operating profit in the range of $0-$5M.

PIPER MOVING TO THE SIDELINES

In a research note to investors, Piper Jaffray’s Olson downgraded Shopify to Neutral from Overweight and lowered his price target to $145 from $155 as he believes the stock’s current valuation adequately reflects the long-term growth story.

The analyst argued that the company’s second quarter was “good, but not good enough,” with monthly recurring revenue below investor expectations with a deceleration from 57% to 49% year-over-year growth between Q1 and Q2.

While Olson acknowledged that Shopify is performing well, the analyst told investors he believes this performance is mostly reflected in the shares’ valuation.

‘SOLID  QUARTER’

Still bullish on the name, Canaccord Genuity analyst David Hynes told investors to not let yesterday’s post-earnings selloff in shares of Shopify confuse them on the fundamentals.

The analyst believes this was another “solid” quarter for Shopify as the company grew its nearly $1B revenue run-rate at 62% in the quarter.

Further, Hynes pointed out that he does not believe Shopify’s growth is decelerating faster than expected or that merchant churn is “going to sneak up and bite” the company.

He continues to believe that Shopify is one of the best-positioned growth stories in application software, and is confident that this business will ultimately scale to material profits. Hynes reiterated a Buy rating on the shares, while raising his price target on the stock to $165 from $160.

Meanwhile, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian also raised his price target for Shopify to $165 from $150 and reiterated an Outperform rating on the shares. While acknowledging that slowing monthly recurring revenue growth, a new shelf filing and its third quarter loss guidance weighed on the shares, the analyst said that this was another “solid” quarter for the company.

Ramping Plus adoption, international expansion, and new Merchant Solutions features should continue to drive significant growth, he contended. Sebastian told investors that he continues to like Shopify based on the significant e-commerce growth opportunity and defensible market leadership position he sees being demonstrated in the second quarter results.

PRICE ACTION

In Wednesday morning trading, shares of Shopify were fractionally down to $137.60.


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Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge 

Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge 

Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners
Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners

Veritex Holdings (VBTX) and Green Bancorp (GNBC) jointly announced the entry into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Green and Green Bank, N.A. will merge with and into Veritex and Veritex Community Bank, respectively.

Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners
Veritex, Green Bancorp to merge, Stockwinners

The transaction will create a leading Texas community bank, with 43 branches across Texas, ranking as the tenth largest Texas-based banking institution by deposit market share.

The combined franchise would have approximately $7.5B in assets, $5.6B in loans and $5.9B in deposits, based on the companies’ balance sheets as of June 30, 2018.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, upon completion of the merger, shareholders of Green will receive 0.79 shares of Veritex common stock for each share of Green common stock, valuing the transaction at approximately $1B, or $25.89 per Green share, based on the closing share price of Veritex of $32.77 on July 23, 2018.

Legacy Veritex and Green shareholders will collectively own approximately 45% and 55% of the combined company, respectively.

Upon completion of the merger, C. Malcolm Holland, current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Veritex, will continue to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company.

Terry Earley, current Chief Financial Officer of Green, will serve as Chief Financial Officer of the combined company, and Geoffrey Greenwade, current President of Green, will serve as the Houston President of the combined company.

The board of directors of the combined company will consist of nine members, six from Veritex’s current board of directors and three from Green’s current board of directors.

Veritex expects this acquisition to be approximately 25% accretive to earnings per common share, excluding one-time charges.

The transaction is expected to produce approximately 12.0% tangible book value per share dilution at closing with an earnback period of approximately 2.8 years.

The merger agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both Veritex and Green.

The merger agreement contains customary representations and warranties and covenants by Veritex and Green. Closing is subject to customary approvals by regulatory authorities and the shareholders of both Veritex and Green, and is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2019.


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Verifone sold for $3.4 billion

Verifone to be acquired by Francisco Partners for $23.04/share

Verifone sold for $3.4 billion. Stockwinners
Verifone sold for $3.4 billion

Verifone Systems (PAY) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which an investor group led by Francisco Partners and including British Columbia Investment Management Corporation will acquire Verifone for $23.04 per share in cash, representing a total consideration of approximately $3.4 billion, which includes Verifone’s net debt.

Under the terms of the agreement, Verifone stockholders will receive $23.04 in cash for each share of Verifone common stock held, representing a premium of approximately 54% to the company’s closing share price of $15.00 on April 9, 2018.

The Verifone Board of Directors has unanimously approved the definitive agreement and recommends that Verifone stockholders vote in favor of the transaction.

Upon completion of the transaction, Verifone will become a privately held company. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close during the third calendar quarter of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of stockholder and regulatory approvals.

The merger agreement includes a “go-shop” period, which permits Verifone’s Board and advisors to actively initiate, solicit, encourage, and potentially enter into negotiations with parties that make alternative acquisition proposals through May 24, 2018.

There can be no assurance that this process will result in a superior proposal, and Verifone does not intend to disclose developments with respect to the solicitation process unless and until the Board makes a determination requiring further disclosure.

PAY closed at $15.00.


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Barron’s is bearish on Fitbit, L Brand and Nokia

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names:

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin
Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy

BULLISH   MENTIONS:

Invesco stock weakness a buying opportunity – U.S. stocks are down 5% from their January 26 peak, while shares of Invesco (IVZ) have fallen much more, which gives investors a buying opportunity, Jack Hough writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Driven by strong exchange-traded fund lows, BlackRock’s (BLK) shares have skyrocketed in recent years while Invesco’s have lagged behind, he notes, adding that the latter’s forward price-earnings multiple now represents a bargain-basement 44% discount to BlackRock’s.

Nordstrom, TJX appear to have most staying power– Department store stocks have rebounded in recent months, but they are not all likely to emerge as winners, Avi Salzman writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Nordstrom (JWN) and TJX (TJX) appear to have the most staying power, with the former the more attractive choice in terms of valuation, he notes. Kohl’s (KSS) and Macy’s (M) are showing new life but need to prove they can repeat their fourth quarter performances, Salzman says, adding that JCPenney (JCP) and Dillard’s (DDS) remain “tricky.”

BEARISH  MENTIONS:

L Brands shares may still go lower given multiple problems – Shares of L Brands  (LB) tumble after quarterly results, with the stock trading at just 13.5 times 12-month earnings forecasts, Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition. While it may look tempting, Levisohn cannot help think that the multiple problems facing the company could send them lower still.

Not much time left for Fitbit – In a follow-up story, Barron’s notes that plenty of people still use fitness trackers and Fitbit (FIT) still sells millions of them, but the company has acknowledged that the market is “rapidly changing.” Fitbit CEO James Park has pledged to expand the company’s line of watches, putting it in direct competition with Apple (AAPL), but there is no indication that Fitbit knows how to nurture an “ecosystem” of software developers.

VMware investors not happy with possible Dell deal – VMWare (VMW) fell on Thursday and Friday in the wake of a CNBC report that Dell and VMware are considering a reverse merger in which the latter would issue shares to Dell Technologies and allow it to go public without doing an IPO, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. A Dell/VMware combination could benefit Dell’s tracking stock for VMware, he notes, while adding that VMware investors are not happy about a possible transaction as it would link a thriving, cash-rich company with a highly leveraged Dell.

5G cannot deploy fast enough for Ericsson/Nokia – While the battle to dominate the future of wireless networks would be a boon for any wireless arms merchant such as Nokia (NOK) or Ericsson (ERIC), the race to build the new technology dubbed 5G is not going to produce a boom in revenue overnight, and both companies are struggling to get back on their feet, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. If they stabilize this year, and sentiment starts to warm about 5G, it could boost their stock prices even if 5G takes a while to pay off, he adds.


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WMIH and Nationstar to merge

WMIH, Nationstar enter definitive merger agreement

Nationstar and WMIH to merge. Stockwinners.com
Nationstar and WMIH to merge.

WMIH Corp. (WMIH) and Nationstar Mortgage Holdings (NSM) with its flagship brand Mr. Cooper announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Nationstar shareholders may elect to receive $18.00 in cash or 12.7793 shares of WMIH common stock for each share of Nationstar common stock they own, subject to an overall proration to ensure that 32% of the total outstanding Nationstar shares are exchanged for the stock consideration.

Upon completion of the transaction, Nationstar shareholders will own approximately 36% of the combined company and WMIH shareholders will own approximately 64%.

The aggregate consideration payable to Nationstar shareholders will consist of $1.2 billion in cash and WMIH shares currently anticipated to be valued at approximately $702 million.

In addition, approximately $1.9 billion of Nationstar’s existing senior unsecured notes will be refinanced at closing.

WMIH has secured $2.75 billion of financing commitments in connection with the transaction. Upon closing the Transaction, all outstanding WMIH Series B Preferred Stock and all outstanding warrants to purchase shares of WMIH common stock will be converted into common stock of WMIH.

The shares issued pursuant to these conversions are included in the pro forma ownership percentages referenced above. Holders of WMIH’s Series B 5% Convertible Preferred Stock (the “Series B Stock”) will receive approximately 444 million shares of common stock following the mandatory conversion of the Series B Stock at a fixed conversion price of $1.35 per share.

Between signing and closing of the transaction, we expect that holders of the Series B Stock will receive approximately 21 million shares of common stock in accordance with the terms of the Series B Stock.

Finally, upon closing of the transaction, holders of the Series B Stock also will receive a special distribution of approximately 11 million shares of common stock.

As a result, upon consummating the transaction, and on a pro forma basis, holders of the Series B Stock will be expected to own approximately 477 million shares of common stock or approximately 43% of the combined company.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies and is subject to approval by the shareholders of both companies, as well as regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

An entity owned by investment funds managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC, holding approximately 68% of Nationstar’s voting shares, has contractually agreed to support the transaction and elect cash consideration for approximately 34 million shares, subject to proration.

KKR, which owns 24% of WMIH’s voting shares, has also agreed to support the transaction.

The transaction is anticipated to close in the second half of 2018.

WMIH Corp. engages in reinsurance business with respect to mortgage insurance in runoff mode.

Nationstar Mortgage Holdings Inc. provides servicing, origination, and transaction based services primarily to single-family residences in the United States.

Jay Bray, CEO and Chairman of Nationstar, said, “We expect this merger to create value for our shareholders in both the near and long-term, including immediate accretion on a cash EPS basis and a cash premium for those of our stockholders who elect to receive the cash merger consideration.

I am passionately committed to continuing and accelerating our growth and investment as a leader in our industry, leveraging our best-in-class integrated servicing and originations platform.

The Nationstar Board and management team have taken considerable steps to make homeownership simpler and more rewarding for our three million customers and we look forward to identifying additional opportunities to enhance value for the combined company’s shareholders.” The operating business will retain the Nationstar Mortgage name and Dallas Headquarters and, at least initially, be traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol “WMIH”.


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Barron’s is bullish on Pfizer, Amgen and FAANG stocks

Barron’s, the weekly publication owned by the Wall Street Journal, in its latest issue mentions several names: 

 

Stockwinners offers Barron's review of Stockwinners offers stocks to buy, stocks to watch, upgrades, downgrades, earnings, Stocks to Buy On Margin
Stockwinners offers Barron’s review of stocks to buy, stocks to watch

BULLISH    MENTIONS:

FAANG stocks still have room to run – The FAANGs – Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) and Google’s parent Alphabet (GOOG; GOOGL) – “took it on the chin” from critics and investors this past week but despite any woes, it is not time to dump them just yet, Ben Levisohn writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. While concerns could limit gains in the short term, other factors suggest they have more room to run, he adds.

 Franklin may be ‘a bargain’ given potential return of cash – With the new tax law, Franklin Resources is likely to repatriate a significant amount of that cash and may distribute a chunk of it to shareholders, Andrew Bary writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Cash represents some 42% of Franklin’s current share price of $44, and its real estate could be worth another $2-$3 a share, he adds.

 Pfizer, Amgen among ‘good bets’ in pharma/biotech – Pfizer (PFE), Amgen (AMGN), AbbVie (ABBV), Elli Lilly (LLY), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) have strong prospects, promising product pipelines, and good dividends that should keep growing, Lawrence Strauss writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s.

Under hostile takeover, Qualcomm tries offense – Qualcomm (QCOM), which is under a hostile takeover by Broadcom (AVGO), announced new radio frequency business, signaling a greater will to fight back and even go to the offense, Tiernan Ray writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. Qualcomm’s new business could put pressure on Broadcom and, at the very least, may suggest the latter will have to raise its bid if it hopes to succeed, he adds.

Vivendi music holdings could be worth over $40B – The music business is headed for a growth spurt, as more listeners sign up subscription services such as Spotify, Jack Hough writes in this weekend’s edition of Barron’s. That is good news for rights owners like Vivendi, he adds. With a hand in music, TV and video games, Vivendi (VIVHY) is valued at $37B, but its music holdings alone could be worth more than $40B, thanks to streaming, the report notes.

BEARISH  MENTIONS

Still a long road ahead for self-driving vehicles – Dozens of companies presented driverless technology at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, Jon Swartz writes in this week’s edition of Barron’s. But while optimism about the growth of the market comes as consumers appear to become more comfortable with self-driving “robo-taxis,” the technology has not quite arrived, he notes, adding that autonomous cars are pricey and with drivers ready to take the wheel as a safety buffer. Among the players of the crowded road to the self-driving future are Alphabet (GOOG; GOOGL), Tesla (TSLA), BMW (BMWYY), Ford (F), Toyota Motor (TM), General Motors (GM), and Volkswagen (VLKAY), the report notes.


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Alliance Data to launch credit cards for IKEA Group 

Alliance Data to launch co-brand, private label credit cards for IKEA Group 

Alliance Data to launch credit cards for IKEA. Stockwinners
Alliance Data to launch credit cards for IKEA

Alliance Data Systems  (ADS) announced its Columbus, Ohio-based card services business, a premier provider of branded private label, co-brand and business credit card programs, has signed a new agreement to provide branded credit card services in the United States for IKEA Group, the world’s largest furniture retailer.

The IKEA Group operates 47 stores in the U.S. and a total of 362 in 29 countries around the world.

IKEA aims to offer consumers home furnishing solutions of good design and function at affordable prices.

Alliance Data will create a loyalty-driven credit card program that combines customer insights and industry benchmarking to develop a customized rewards and benefits package tailored for the unique IKEA customer base.

The co-branded rewards card can be used for both IKEA purchases and for everyday spending needs such as gas, groceries and utilities. The card will incorporate custom program perks designed to recognize customers for their loyalty.

In order to make the card as affordable and rewarding as possible, IKEA Group in the U.S. has designed the card without an annual fee, and will reinvest resources from the card to offer customers more generous rewards.

Alliance Data will leverage its digital and mobile expertise throughout the customer’s shopping journey, including its Frictionless Mobile CreditSM, which provides a seamless application experience-throughout the store or online-and puts customers in control of how and where they want to initiate the experience.


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Overstock rises on plans for new blockchain venture

Overstock rises after reporting plans for new blockchain venture 

Overstock rises on plans for new blockchain venture. Stockwinners.com
Overstock rises on plans for new blockchain venture

In a regulatory filing last night, Overstock.com (OSTK) disclosed that on December 27 the company, its wholly owned subsidiary Medici Ventures, Patrick Byrne and Hernando de Soto entered into a Memorandum of Understanding that provides that the parties will form a company, “Desoto,” that will be owned 50% by Medici, 33% by Hernando de Soto and 17% by Patrick Byrne, who is the CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of Overstock, and also serves on the board of directors of Medici.

The goal of the new company is to develop a blockchain-based system to develop a global property registry system focused on the property rights of people in the developing world.

Overstock and/or Medici will pay or contribute $14M to help launch the project, $8M of which will be used to fund DeSoto, and Medici will receive a 50% ownership interest in DeSoto.

Patrick Byrne personally will contribute $14M to help launch the project, and will receive a 17% ownership interest in DeSoto.

Hernando de Soto will serve as Chairman of DeSoto and as a director of Medici. Patrick Byrne will serve as Co-Chairman and CEO of DeSoto, in addition to his positions with Overstock and Medici.

“The MOU contemplates a more detailed future agreement, and provides that the parties will cooperate in good faith to reach more detailed agreements in the future,” the filing added.

In pre-market trading, Overstock has risen $1.95, or 2.7%, to $73.50 per share.


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Bitcoin drops after S. Korea requires real name in crypto trading

S. Korea to require real-name accounts in crypto trading

Bitcoin hits $8000. See Stockwinners.com for details
Bitcoin lower after S. Korea requires real name for crypto trading

Hong Nam-ki, South Korean minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, announced the country would ban the use of anonymous virtual accounts in cryptocurrency transactions as the government “can’t let this abnormal situation of speculation go on any longer,” the Korea Herald reports, citing the announcement.

Under the ban only real-name back accounts and matching virtual accounts can be used for deposits and withdrawals, while exchanges will be banned from issuing new virtual accounts to clients.

Bitcoin-related names Overstock (OSTK), Digital Power (DPW), Long Blockchain (LTEA), Seven Stars Cloud Group (SSC), Riot Blockchain (RIOT), Longfin (LFIN), Social Reality (SRAX) and Parateum (TEUM) are all trading lower in the pre-market and heading for a second straight big down day as Bitcoin extends its slide overnight below $14,000.

Speculation over South Korea regulators considering options that could include a shutdown of some cryptocurrency exchanges is fueling today’s decline. The cryptocurrency is now down over 25% from last week’s record high.

Riot Blockchain (RIOT) drops, levels to watch.  The stock was last down over 6% to $28 in pre-market trading following news that the South Korean government may seek to regulate cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin fell sharply in the wake of that news, last down over 7.2%, which is off the earlier drop of more than 10%. At the current price of $28, next support is at $26.12.

After forming a high of $16,416 this week, the cryptocurrency came under a selling pressure as traders showed their reaction to South Korea’s news. The country is determined to curb the speculative market and it would take measures to stop and review various crypto-exchanges.


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Nova Lifestyle enters blockchain frenzy

Nova Lifestyle to launch blockchain-based digital community

Nova Lifestyle enters blockchain frenzy. Stockwinners.com
Nova Lifestyle enters blockchain frenzy

Nova LifeStyle (NVFY) announced that the company has initiated design of a digital community that brings together designers and customers to deliver real time product and user experience built on Blockchain-empowered technology platform named The iDesign Blockchain Platform, which it believes to be a first in the furniture industry.

“iDesign Blockchain Technology Inc.,” a Nova LifeStyle subsidiary intends to establish a trusted digital ecosystem that links the experiences of independent product designers, customers and manufacturers with Nova-branded products on a creative global digital platform powered by Blockchain technology.

The iDesign Blockchain Technology Platform plans to target various artistic creator or designer as an innovation center, focusing on their ideation process to deliver enhanced user experience.

The company will implement these new initiatives with cash flow from existing operations.

Nova LifeStyle, Inc.  designs, manufactures, markets, and sells residential furniture for middle and upper middle-income consumers worldwide. The company develops upholstered, wood, and metal-based residential furniture for the living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, and home offices. It also offers sofas, chairs, dining tables, beds, entertainment consoles, cabinets, and cupboards.

CRYPTO TREND

Cryptocurrency revenues have been pointed to as reasons to be bullish on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia (NVDA) in select research. Overstock (OSTK), Digital Power (DPW), Long Blockchain (LTEA), Seven Stars Cloud Group (SSC), Riot Blockchain (RIOT), Longfin (LFIN) and Social Reality (SRAX) are other stocks that have been touted, or promoted themselves, as a way to play the crypto theme.

NVFY closed at $2.51. It last traded at $2.95 in pre-market trading.


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Pareteum soars on cryptocurrency billing

Pareteum adds Blockchain settlement for cryptocurrency to platform

Cryptocurrency mania continues as the bitcoin bubble expands

Pareteum-Corp soars on cryptocurrency billing - Stockwinners.com
Pareteum soars on cryptocurrency billing

Pareteum Corp. (TEUM) announced that it has completed development enabling it to add support of Blockchain technology to its billing and settlement services.

“This newest service capability enables Pareteum customers to participate in the transformational ‘Digital Economy Monetization to the Cloud’ and now accept and process Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Airtokens and other forms of cryptocurrencies,” said the company, whose share were halted pending the news release.

Hal Turner, Executive Chairman and Principal Executive Officer of Pareteum, added:

“We envision a time in the not too distant future when Pareteum could create its own currency payments and settlements among the millions of subscribers on its platform globally.

As we consider the new global mobile landscape, and Pareteum’s service and capabilities developments in 2017, which have opened doors for us in the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, and use of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning creating predictive analytics for the vast amounts of digital data we are capable of securely processing, we maintain an optimistic view towards 2018 and beyond.”

CRYPTO TREND

Cryptocurrency revenues have been pointed to as reasons to be bullish on Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Nvidia (NVDA) in select research. Overstock (OSTK), Digital Power (DPW), Long Blockchain (LTEA), Seven Stars Cloud Group (SSC), Riot Blockchain (RIOT), Longfin (LFIN) and Social Reality (SRAX) are other stocks that have been touted, or promoted themselves, as a way to play the crypto theme.

Pareteum (TEUM) jumps 99% to $2.54 after adding blockchain technology.


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Metropolitan Bank invests in bitcoin

Metropolitan Bank discloses $110M in bitcoin deposits

Metropolitan Bank converts deposits into bitcoin. Stockwinners.com
Metropolitan Bank converts deposits into bitcoin.

Metropolitan Bank (MCB) said in its quarterly regulatory filing yesterday, “In response to the recent articles published in certain investor websites regarding the impact of cryptocurrencies on our financial statements, we are providing further details regarding our involvement in this area.

Metropolitan Commercial Bank maintains a diversified approach to generating deposits through a number of verticals including borrowing relationships, retail relationships and debit card issuing relationships.

As a part of this strategy, we also have a relationship with a cryptocurrency exchange.

This customer maintains two different types of accounts with us. One account is for its general corporate purposes and the other account is for settlement activities for the benefit of its customers.

The funds deposited by this customer consist of U.S. dollars, not cryptocurrency.

During the three months ended September 30, 2017, this customer maintained an average balance of $108 million in its corporate non-interest bearing account with us. We use these funds in the normal course of business and realize a net interest margin on them.

During the three months ended September 30, 2017, the customer maintained an average balance of approximately $137 million in its non-interest bearing settlement account with us.

We do not use funds in the settlement account for our general funding purposes. These balances are transactional in nature and are kept in the overnight funds with the Federal Reserve Bank. Income realization on these funds is limited to the overnight Fed Funds rate.

As of September 30, 2017, Metropolitan Commercial Bank had total deposits of $1.5 billion.

Deposit balances related to the cryptocurrency corporate account represents roughly 7% of our total deposit base while that of the settlement account represents 9% of our total deposit base.

Since the settlement account is not used for funding purposes, it does not constitute a material source of income or, we believe, liquidity risk for Metropolitan Commercial Bank.

In addition, in the normal course of its business, we provide cash management solutions to our customers including wire transfers, ACH and foreign exchange conversion which are also offered to the cryptocurrency exchange customer.

These solutions are provided at the normal fee that is charged to all other customers. An increase in transactions results in an increase in our non-interest income.”

ANALYST COMMENTS

Piper Jaffray analyst Matthew #Breese raised his earnings estimates for Metropolitan Bank by 6% after the company detailed its exposure to a cryptocurrency exchange.

Metropolitan’s exposure to a cryptocurrency exchange averaged $245M in Q3, or 16% of total deposits, Breese tells investors in a research note.

He estimate these items aggregate to 7% of net interest income and 9%-11% of earnings. Yesterday’s disclosure is important on both the impact of earnings, the percentage of deposits tied to one customer, and that the bank has exposure to a “controversial industry,” Breese tells investors in a research note.

The analyst, despite raising his earnings estimates, keeps a Neutral rating on Metropolitan Bank shares with a $46 price target. He views the company’s cryptocurrency exposure as a “double-edged sword for the stock.” On the one hand, cryptocurrencies represent a “unique source of potential earnings growth” for Metropolitan, Breese writes. On the other, the volatility and potential regulatory concerns surrounding cryptocurrencies may cause some trepidation for traditional depository investors, the analyst adds.

MCB closed at $44.50.


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CME and CBOE to offer Bitcoin options

CFTC to allow CME, CBOE to launch bitcoin products

Bitcoin hits $8000. See Stockwinners.com for details
CBOE and CME to offer Bitcoin Options

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission noted that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and the CBOE Futures Exchange (CBOE) self-certified new contracts for bitcoin futures products, and the Cantor Exchange self-certified a new contract for bitcoin binary options.

CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said regarding the news:

“Bitcoin, a virtual currency, is a commodity unlike any the Commission has dealt with in the past. As a result, we have had extensive discussions with the exchanges regarding the proposed contracts, and CME, CFE and Cantor have agreed to significant enhancements to protect customers and maintain orderly markets.

In working with the Commission, CME, CFE and Cantor have set an appropriate standard for oversight over these bitcoin contracts given the CFTC’s limited statutory ability to oversee the cash market for bitcoin.

Market participants should take note that the relatively nascent underlying cash markets and exchanges for bitcoin remain largely unregulated markets over which the CFTC has limited statutory authority.

There are concerns about the price volatility and trading practices of participants in these markets. We expect that the futures exchanges, through information sharing agreements, will be monitoring the trading activity on the relevant cash platforms for potential impacts on the futures contracts’ price discovery process, including potential market manipulation and market dislocations due to flash rallies and crashes and trading outages. Nevertheless, investors should be aware of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts.”

Once the contracts are launched, Commission staff will engage in a variety of risk-monitoring activities.

As trading on these DCMs evolves, the Commission will continue to assess whether further changes are required to the contract design and settlement processes and work with the DCMs to effect any changes, the CFTC added.

CME closed at $149.54.


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