Stockwinners Portfolio returns 22.8% in 2022

S&P 500 declined 19.6% during the same period

The bear market of 2022 cost most investors dearly whereas Stockwinners readers were able to register double digit returns. Our experience in the past 24 years has taught us how to avoid pitfall of following crowds and Wall Street gurus. In fact, we stayed away from story stocks such Tesla (TSLA), Paypal Holdings (PYPL) and Meta Platform (META). We concentrated on small to medium cap stocks. These stocks typically do not have any exposure to overseas markets and are traded on their own fundamentals.

Russian invasion of Ukraine created unique trading opportunities for investors. The vicious invasion of Ukraine caused energy and commodity prices skyrocket thus offering opportunities in that space. In fact, one of our better performers on the year was EPAM System (EPAM). This software company has about 25 percent of its workforce located in the eastern European country. Those who bought the stock based on our recommendations were rewarded with a 23% return in two days.

Energy stocks were awakened with the invasion. Crude oil shot up to $106.50 from $70 per barrel. This price increase buoyed energy stocks. Amongst our better performers were shares of Par Pacific Holdings (PARR). The refiner shares gained fifteen percent following our recommendations.

Other commodity stocks that were featured in our portfolio included those involved in precious and rare minerals mining. Livent Corporation (LTHM) was one such name. The lithium miner was featured several times with solid returns. The returns were 14%, 12% and 18%. Sigma Lithium Corporation (SGML) was another name in the sector. It gained 14% following our recommendations.

Sierra Wireless, Inc. (SWIR) was another stock that came to our attention. The company provides device-to-cloud Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Shares were featured in August with success. Stock gained 18 percents in two weeks.

We featured put options (shorting the stock) on several names. One of the names featured was Open Text Corporation (OTEX). Put option on the name returned 325% in 17 days. The put was featured at $1.50 and it was closed 17 days later at $6.40. Another name that was featured several times was Carvana (CVNA). Shares of the used car retailer have fallen from $300 to $3.55.

A strong employment market created opportunity in placement companies. Cross Country Healthcare, Inc. (CCRN) was such name. The company places medical staff. Shares were featured in August and gained 18% in less than two weeks.

Our portfolio can be downloaded here. Additionally, one may download our selections for the past 18 years in a spreadsheet format.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.

Economic Activities Slowed in December

U.S. flash Markit PMIs all slipped in December

U.S. flash Markit Purchasing Managers Index’s (PMI) all slipped in December as activity eased amid well known headwinds such as capacity constraints and Omicron variant spread.

Flash Manufacturing PMI is an estimate of manufacturing for a country, based on about 85% to 90% of total Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey responses each month.

Any reading of the Flash Manufacturing PMI above 50 indicates improving conditions, while readings below 50 indicate a deteriorating economic climate.

The manufacturing index fell another -0.5 ticks to 57.8 in December after dipping -0.1 ticks to 58.3 in November. It is the weakest since the 57.1 last December.

The index has been sliding from the record high of 63.4 in July, but it remains in expansion for an 18th straight month.

New orders declined to 56.3 from 56.9, while supplier delivers increased to their best reading since May.

The preliminary services index also fell -0.5 ticks to 57.5 on the month following the -0.7 point decline to 58.0. The reading is above the 54.8 from a year ago, however, and has been above 50 since July 2020.

The business expectations component improved to its highest reading since November 2020.

Input prices climbed to 77.4 versus 75.7 last month and is at an all-time peak (data goes back to 2009).

The composite reading dipped -0.3 ticks to 56.9 from November’s 57.2 and was at 55.3 last December. Input prices increased to a new record level at 78.1 from November’s 77.6.

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.

Microsoft buys Nuance

Microsoft to acquire Nuance for $56.00 per share in cash, or $19.7B

Microsoft (MSFT) and Nuance Communications (NUAN) announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft will acquire Nuance for $56.00 per share, implying a 23% premium to the closing price of Nuance on Friday, April 9, in an all-cash transaction valued at $19.7B, inclusive of Nuance’s net debt.

Nuance sold for $19.7B

Nuance is a trusted cloud and AI software leader representing decades of accumulated healthcare and enterprise AI experience.

Mark Benjamin will remain CEO of Nuance, reporting to Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud & AI at Microsoft.

The transaction is intended to close this calendar year.

Upon closing, Microsoft expects Nuance’s financials to be reported as part of Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud segment.

Microsoft expects the acquisition to be minimally dilutive (less than 1%) in fiscal year 2022 and to be accretive in fiscal year 2023 to non-GAAP earnings per share, based on the expected close timeframe.

Non-GAAP excludes expected impact of purchase accounting adjustments, as well as integration and transaction-related expenses.

The acquisition will not impact the completion of its existing share repurchase authorization.

Nuance Communications, Inc. provides conversational and cognitive artificial intelligence (AI) innovations that bring intelligence to everyday work and life. The company delivers solutions that understand, analyze, and respond to people – amplifying human intelligence to increase productivity and security.

B. Riley analyst Zach Cummins reiterates a Buy rating on LivePerson (LPSN) with a $77 price target after Microsoft (MSFT) acquired Nuance Communications (NUAN), a provider of conversational commerce solutions, with expertise geared toward the healthcare vertical.

The potential deal acquisition provides a “positive valuation data point” for LivePerson, a leading provider of conversational commerce solutions across the telecom, financial services, retail, and consumer verticals, Cummins tells investors in a research note.

LivePerson currently trades at an enterprise value to sales multiple of 6.5 times, below the comp group median of 9.5 times and Nuance’s implied takeout multiple of 12.5 times, says the analyst.

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TikTok suing Trump Administration

TikTok suing Trump Administration over efforts to ban TikTok in U.S.

TikTok stated in a post to its corporate website:

“Today we are filing a complaint in federal court challenging the Administration’s efforts to ban TikTok in the US…

TikTok sues Trump Administration

Today, 100 million Americans turn to TikTok for entertainment, inspiration, and connection; countless creators rely on our platform to express their creativity, reach broad audiences, and generate income; our more than 1,500 employees across the US pour their hearts into building this platform every day, with 10,000 more jobs planned in California, Texas, New York, Tennessee, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington State; and

On August 6th, Trump issued an executive order giving TikTok 90 days to sell

many of the country’s leading brands are on TikTok to connect with consumers more authentically and directly than they can elsewhere.

Put simply, we have a thriving community and we are grateful – and responsible – to them.

The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of that community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance

We strongly disagree with the Administration’s position that TikTok is a national security threat and we have articulated these objections previously.”

ByteDance has reportedly been making progress in talks with potential acquirers of the U.S. operations of the short video app, including Microsoft (MSFT) and Oracle (ORCL), media reports have indicated. Reports have also indicated that Twitter (TWTR) is exploring a bid for TikTok.

Other publicly traded companies in the social media space include Facebook (FB) and Snap (SNAP).

TikTok/Douyin is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based Internet technology company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. 

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This article does not constitute investment advice. Each reader is encouraged to consult with his or her individual financial professional and any action a reader takes as a result of information presented here is his or her own responsibility.

Department of Defense back’s Microsoft cloud contract

DOD issues report on JEDI contract, sees award to Microsoft as proper

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General has issued a report on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud Procurement.

“On June 11, 2019, the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General initiated a review of the DoD Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud procurement, and an investigation into allegations that former DoD officials engaged in ethical misconduct related to the JEDI Cloud procurement,” the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General said in a statement.

DOD OIG says JEDI contract was handled correctly

According to the report, the DoD OIG concluded that “the DoD’s decision to award the JEDI Cloud contract to a single contractor was consistent with applicable law and acquisition standards. […] We concluded that the procuring contracting officer’s determination to use a single-award contract was in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation and was reasonable.

Amazon sued to overturn the contract , Stockwinners

We also concluded that the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment’s authorization for a single-award contract was consistent with applicable law.

DOD awarded the contract to Microsoft, Stockwinners

In addition, we concluded that the JEDI Cloud requirements in the Request for Proposal were reasonable and based on approved requirements, essential cloud capabilities, DoD cloud security policy, and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program guidance.

In addition, we concluded that the DoD’s inclusion of gate requirements was reasonable and did not overly restrict competition. We also concluded that the DoD conducted the JEDI Cloud source selection in compliance with the FAR, the DoD Source Selection Procedures, the JEDI Cloud Source Selection Plan, and the Request for Proposals, Sections M1 – Basis for Award and M2 – Evaluation Process.

We concluded that the source selection team’s evaluation of the contractors’ proposals was consistent with established DoD and Federal source selection standards. We also note that on February 13, 2020, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued an opinion and order which granted Amazon’s request for a preliminary injunction and stopped the DoD from proceeding with JEDI Cloud contract activities until further order of the court.

The court concluded that Amazon is likely to demonstrate in the course of their bid protest that the DoD erred in its evaluation of a discrete portion of Microsoft’s proposal for the JEDI Cloud contract. The court’s decision was not inconsistent with our conclusion that the source selection process used by the DoD was in compliance with the FAR, the DoD Source Selection Procedures, the JEDI Cloud Source Selection Plan, and the Request for Proposals, Sections M1 – Basis for Award and M2 – Evaluation Process.

In this report, we do not draw a conclusion regarding whether the DoD appropriately awarded the JEDI Cloud contract to Microsoft rather than Amazon Web Services.

We did not assess the merits of the contractors’ proposals or DoD’s technical or price evaluations; rather we reviewed the source selection process and determined that it was in compliance with applicable statutes, policies, and the evaluation process described in the Request for Proposals. In addition, however, we concluded that after the JEDI Cloud Contract award, the DoD improperly disclosed source selection and proprietary Microsoft information to Amazon.

In addition, the DoD failed to properly redact names of DoD source selection team members in the source selection reports that were disclosed to Amazon and Microsoft. […] we believe the evidence we received showed that the DoD personnel who evaluated the contract proposals and awarded Microsoft the JEDI Cloud contract were not pressured regarding their decision on the award of the contract by any DoD leaders more senior to them, who may have communicated with the White House.”

AMZN last traded at $2308. MSFT last changed hands at $172.44.

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Microsoft acknowledges security flaw in its new Windows operating system

Microsoft says aware of new security flaw found in Microsoft Windows

Microsoft (MSFT) said it is aware of limited targeted attacks that could leverage un-patched vulnerabilities in the Adobe Type Manager Library, and is providing the following guidance to help reduce customer risk until the security update is released.

A security flaw is discovered in Windows, Stockwinners

Two remote code execution vulnerabilities exist in Microsoft Windows when the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library improperly handles a specially-crafted multi-master font – Adobe Type 1 PostScript format.

There are multiple ways an attacker could exploit the vulnerability, such as convincing a user to open a specially crafted document or viewing it in the Windows Preview pane.

Vulnerability exists on Adobe Type Manager, Stockwinners

Microsoft is aware of this vulnerability and working on a fix.

Updates that address security vulnerabilities in Microsoft software are typically released on Update Tuesday, the second Tuesday of each month.

This predictable schedule allows for partner quality assurance and IT planning, which helps maintain the Windows ecosystem as a reliable, secure choice for our customers.

The operating system versions that are affected by this vulnerability are listed below. Please see the mitigation and workarounds for guidance on how to reduce the risk.

Software patch is coming, Stockwinners

The security flaw, which Microsoft deems “critical” — its highest severity rating — is found in how Windows handles and renders fonts, according to the advisory posted.

Although Windows 7 is also affected, only enterprise users with extended security support will receive patches. In the meantime, the advisory offered a temporary workaround for affected Windows users to mitigate the flaw until a fix is available.

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