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Bridgewater Founder Ray Dalio’s Pandemic Purchase of These 3 “Strong Buy” Stocks

Billionaire Ray Dalio Snatches up These 3 “Strong Buy” Stocks

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This article was originally published by TipRanks.

COVID-19's impact has been crippling, but something positive may come from the pandemic. Billionaire Ray Dalio said in a live LinkedIn interview that in terms of the broader historical context, the recent economic downturn should be “relatively brief," and could spur significant societal progress. This would include a worldwide “restructuring” lasting approximately three to five years. “I know that’s a long time, but it’s not forever. The human capacity to adapt and invent and come out of this is much greater,” Dalio commented. He added, “I think we should be very excited about the new future. We’re now in a wonderful revolution in terms of the capacity to think and use that in a way. I would say that is absolutely the most treasured thing in the future.” Still making sure to account for the unknowns, Dalio has been diversifying his investments across geographic locations, asset class and currencies throughout the ongoing public health crisis. Looking to Dalio for investing inspiration, we used TipRanks’ database to find out if three stocks the billionaire recently added to the fund represent compelling plays. According to the platform, the analyst community believes they do, with all of the picks earning “Strong Buy” consensus ratings. Let’s jump right in. Philip Morris International (PM) Cigarette and tobacco manufacturing company Philip Morris has become known as a “sin stock." However, regardless of its product portfolio, Dalio sees plenty of upside in store. Recently, the billionaire’s fund acquired a new position in PM, snapping up 67,447 shares. The value of this new addition? More than $4.9 million. Turning now to the analysts, the stock boasts a strong fan base, which includes Piper Sandler’s Michael Lavery. He doesn’t dispute the fact that there are some headwinds facing the company. “PM expects near-term iQOS new user acquisition to be about 50% lower than it originally planned due to social distancing measures that have shut iQOS stores and made it harder to engage with consumers,” Lavery stated. That being said, the company has already surpassed Lavery’s expectations, which were cut to near-zero. The analyst even says that if PM can maintain the pace of its customer acquisition, there could be upside to his estimates. The analyst added, “We expect HeatStick volume growth of 20% in 2020E (1Q20: +45%) and believe 90-100 billion sticks in 2021 is still achievable.” While lower duty-free volumes and down-trading in Indonesia could take a toll on second quarter EPS, Lavery remains optimistic. “We remain bullish on PM's strong long-term outlook, and we expect nicotine demand to remain resilient near-term (particularly in times of personal stress),” he explained. It should also be noted that PM has had to grapple with patent infringement claims from British American Tobacco (BAT) and a transactional currency hit. Speaking to the first issue, Lavery said, “We reviewed BAT's six patents named in its U.S. complaint, and it is difficult to handicap an outcome, but a third-party reviewer of patents generally did not give BAT's relevant ones here very high marks.” As for the latter, Lavery points out that about $100 million of the currency hit in the first quarter of 2020 was driven by the revaluation of euro or dollar denominated payables in markets like Russia, but he doesn’t foresee another event of this magnitude happening again. Based on all of the above, Lavery kept an Overweight rating on the stock. He did reduce the price target from $98 to $95, but this still implies shares could climb 40% higher in the next year. (To watch Lavery’s track record, click here) Judging by the consensus breakdown, other analysts are in agreement. 7 Buys and 2 Holds add up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. In addition, the $83.56 average price target brings the upside potential to 23%. (See Philip Morris stock analysis on TipRanks)
UnitedHealth Group (UNH) Hoping to help people live healthier lives and make the healthcare system work more efficiently, UnitedHealth Group offers a wide range of healthcare products and insurance services. While the late-March acceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a somewhat lackluster quarter, Dalio believes the company’s future is bright. To this end, Bridgewater went in on UNH. In a purchase valued at $5,481,000, Dalio’s hedge fund scooped up 21,977 shares. Five-star analyst Michael Wiederhorn agrees that UNH is moving on to bigger and better things, noting that its Q1 performance was relatively solid. “Overall, UNH produced strong results and seems well-positioned to navigate the COVID pandemic due to a relatively stable top-line, a diversified business mix and a dominant position across its businesses.” Wiederhorn tells investors that management thinks the slowdown in non-COVID-irelated utilization, which was driven by highly constrained elective care and will be offset by the late-year pent-up utilization, will have a significant impact on MCR in the second quarter. As a result, despite some uncertainty surrounding COVID-19's impact, UNH maintained its full year 2020 EPS guidance of $16.25-$16.55. Adding to the good news, Wiederhorn argues that its Optum segment has a strong standing within the market. Expounding on this, he noted, “Trends at Optum remained solid, and management did note that even OptumHealth should be positioned to hold up relatively well due to its reliance on risk-based contracts, accounting for two thirds of revenues. Both OptumRx and OptumInsight have strong pipelines (though the timing of meetings was disrupted) with the latter of particular interest as companies look to improve the economics and delivery of healthcare.” Even though commercial enrollment could be hampered by elevated levels of unemployment, higher Medicaid should partially offset this. Additionally, UNH is in the early stages of pricing and benefit design for 2021, with its plans possibly including pricing for COVID-19 testing and a potential vaccine. Bearing this in mind, Wiederhorn maintained an Outperform call and $343 price target. Should this target be met, a twelve-month gain of 18% could be in the cards. (To watch Wiederhorn’s track record, click here) Turning now to the rest of the Street, other analysts also like what they’re seeing. With 12 Buys and 2 Holds, the word on the Street is that UNH is a Strong Buy. At $326.23, the average price target indicates 12% upside potential. (See UnitedHealth stock analysis on TipRanks)
Accenture PLC (ACN) Dalio’s third recent addition, Accenture, provides management and technology consulting services and solutions to help its clients, which inhabit almost every industry, create lasting value. With the company relying on a new strategy, Dalio thinks it has set itself up for success. Not wanting to miss out on a compelling opportunity, Bridgewater pulled the trigger on 27,763 shares, giving it a new position in ACN. Looking at the value of the new holding, it comes in at more than $4.5 million. When it comes to the analysts, they are also singing the company’s praises. Writing for BNP Paribas, analyst Ben Castillo-Bernaus argues that COVID-19's disruption has presented investors with an opportunity to buy a “high-quality” IT service company, with ACN trading well below historical five-year average EBIT multiples. “Accenture remains ‘best in class’ and the recent weakness is an opportunity to gain a position in this IT Services global leader delivering 40% returns on capital,” Castillo-Bernaus stated. He added, “Accenture has been a pioneer in developing ‘the New’ with 65% of revenues now coming from high growth Digital, Cloud and Security services.” As for what makes the company so successful and allows it to continuously take market share, Castillo-Bernaus points to its investments in new technologies and growth areas. To back up this conclusion, the analyst cites its EUR1 billion investment in training each year and EUR800 million investment in R&D all while delivering margin improvements every year. On top of this, ACN conducts smaller-scale M&A, with it working alongside the companies before an acquisition to limit any potential deal failures. Castillo-Bernaus also noted, “We believe Accenture has customers that spend more than $100 million annually, with 98% of Accenture’s top 100 clients having been clients for more than five years. These ‘sticky’ relationships help Accenture maintain high margins and high returns as Accenture has a high number of ‘sole source’ wins where it does not even see competition in RFPs.” That being said, the company has started using a new approach. It will now organize itself by Strategy & Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations instead of by verticals, and the results will be reported geographically for these segments. “We believe it is too early to tell what kind of impact these changes will have, but Accenture has a positive track record of occasionally tweaking its growth strategy in order to best deliver on the opportunities ahead,” Castillo-Bernaus commented. It should come as no surprise, then, that Castillo-Bernaus joined the bulls. Along with an Outperform rating, he initiated coverage by setting a $215 price target. This target conveys the analyst’s confidence in ACN's ability to surge 17% in the next twelve months. In general, other Wall Street analysts have also been impressed. ACN’s Strong Buy consensus rating breaks down into 13 Buys and 2 Holds assigned in the last three months. However, the $195.29 average price target suggests modest upside potential of 6%. (See Accenture stock analysis on TipRanks)
To find good ideas for stocks trading at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, a newly launched tool that unites all of TipRanks’ equity insights. The post Billionaire Ray Dalio Snatches up These 3 “Strong Buy” Stocks appeared first on TipRanks Financial Blog.

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Nonprofit Blood Donation Service Starts Matching Unvaccinated Patients With Donors

Nonprofit Blood Donation Service Starts Matching Unvaccinated Patients With Donors

Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Swiss…

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Nonprofit Blood Donation Service Starts Matching Unvaccinated Patients With Donors

Authored by Allan Stein via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Swiss naturopathic physician George Della Pietra believes people worldwide should be free to choose whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine injection or not.

He believes the same should hold for those receiving transfusions with “vaccinated” blood.

“The problem is right now we have no choice,” said Della Pietra, founder of the nonprofit Safe Blood Donation service in 2021, matching unvaccinated blood recipients with donors in 65 countries.

“It was very clear from the beginning that the COVID hype was way out of control,” Della Pietra said. “It was not as dangerous as they say it was.

“As a naturopath, I can make no sense of this pandemic, which was never really a pandemic. It leaves space for so many explanations.”

Della Pietra believes that an mRNA injection is more dangerous than the pharmaceutical companies are willing to admit. He said the growing numbers of adverse reactions are reason to question their safety and effectiveness.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that vaccinated and boosted people made up 58.6 percent (6,512) of the COVID-19 deaths in August—up from 41 percent in January.

We can no longer say this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Cynthia Cox, the Vice President of the Kaiser Family Foundation told The Washington Post in an article on Nov. 23.

Nearly 70 percent of the world’s 8 billion people have received at least one mRNA injection for COVID-19 since the vaccines began rolling out in 2021 at the height of the virus’s spread.

Each of the three primary mRNA COVID-19 vaccines contains COVID-19 “spike protein” fragments, which bind at the cellular level to stimulate an immune response to the virus.

Della Pietra believes these spike proteins produce “classic symptoms”—namely blood clots—that “horrified” him.

“I’ve never seen anything similar—and I’m not talking only about spike proteins,” Della Pietra told The Epoch Times in a phone interview.

It’s unbelievable because we never had this problem before. It’s been only two years. They want to keep the narrative [that an mRNA vaccine] is not dangerous.”

A man looks at his phone while donating blood at Vitalant blood donation center in San Francisco on Jan. 11, 2022. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Although donated blood and plasma must undergo a cleansing process before transfusion, Safe Blood Donation says this is not enough to remove all mRNA ingredients.

“I’m talking about graphene oxide and non-declared inorganic components in the vaccine, which we can see in the blood. When I see them, I have no idea how we can get rid of them again,” Della Pietra said.

Looking at the abnormalities in vaccinated blood, he said, “OK, we have a problem.” People are receiving the vaccine “more or less through the back door.”

“You can not avoid it anymore.”

In the United States alone, there are approximately 16 million units of donated blood annually. Of those units, about 643,000 are “autologous”—self-donated—and the number is increasing yearly, according to BloodBook.com.

Della Pietra said that, to his knowledge, Safe Blood Donation, based in Switzerland, is the first unvaccinated blood donation service of its kind.

“So, there is no blood bank with mRNA-free blood yet, not even with us,” Safe Blood Donation states on its website.

“And, although we have already asked hundreds of clinics, at the moment—at least in Europe—all of them still refuse to allow the human right of free blood choice with them—or at least do not want to be mentioned because otherwise, they fear reprisals.”

A nurse works as employees donate blood during a blood drive held in a bloodmobile in Los Angeles on March 19, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Della Pietra said the main goal of Safe Blood Donation is not to start an mRNA-free blood bank. Rather, it is to make it possible to match unvaccinated blood donors and unvaccinated recipients, “which we bring together in a clinic (medical partner) that allows the choice of blood donor.”

Medical website Seed Scientific said that blood banks and biotech companies will offer as much as $1,000 monthly for blood donations.

While Della Pietra said there are no unvaccinated blood banks, he sees the demand for unvaccinated blood rising.

This is why I decided to do [SafeBlood Donation]. I wanted to make a network for unvaccinated people looking for a blood donor because they need it—whether they have scheduled surgery or an emergency,” he said.

Safe Blood Donation began working in the United States about a month ago, building an infrastructure of medical partners.

However, in the current medical environment, central blood banks such as the Red Cross do not segregate their blood donations based on their vaccinated or unvaccinated status.

Rendering of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins binding to ACE2 receptors. (Shutterstock)

“The American Red Cross does not facilitate designated donations for standard blood needs, as this process often takes longer and is more resource intensive than obtaining a blood product through our normal process,” the Red Cross told The Epoch Times in an email.

In a small number of situations, there is an exception for rare blood types where compatible blood types are extremely difficult to find. A rare blood type is defined as one that is present in less than 1/1000 people.

“We want to emphasize that the Red Cross adheres to all donor and product requirements as determined by the FDA to ensure the safety of the blood supply and is committed to continuing to provide life-saving blood products for patients across the country.”

The National Library of Medicine said that “across study sites, the average hospital cost per unit transfused was $155 and the average charge per patient was $219.”

Still, the Red Cross, which provides 40 percent of the nation’s blood donations, said “no studies” demonstrate adverse outcomes from transfusions of blood products collected from vaccinated donors.

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Tyler Durden Sun, 12/04/2022 - 20:55

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Pedestrians choose healthy obstacles over boring pavements, study finds

Up to 78% of walkers would take a more challenging route featuring obstacles such as balancing beams, steppingstones and high steps, research has found….

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Up to 78% of walkers would take a more challenging route featuring obstacles such as balancing beams, steppingstones and high steps, research has found. The findings suggest that providing ‘Active Landscape’ routes in urban areas could help tackle an “inactivity pandemic” and improve health outcomes.

Credit: Anna Boldina

Up to 78% of walkers would take a more challenging route featuring obstacles such as balancing beams, steppingstones and high steps, research has found. The findings suggest that providing ‘Active Landscape’ routes in urban areas could help tackle an “inactivity pandemic” and improve health outcomes.

[A copy of the paper and images can be downloaded here]

Millions of people in the UK are failing to meet recommended targets for physical activity. Exercising “on the go” is key to changing this but while walking along a pavement is better than nothing it causes no significant increase in heart rate so only qualifies as mild exercise. Walking also fails to significantly improve balance or bone density, unless it includes jumping, balancing, and stepping down.

But would adults opt for such ‘fun’ routes if given the choice? A University of Cambridge-led study published today in the journal Landscape Research suggests that with the right design, most would.

Previous research on ‘healthy route choices’ has focused on people’s likelihood of walking instead of using transport. But this study examined how likely people are to pick a more challenging route over a conventional one and which design characteristics influenced their choices.

Lead author, Anna Boldina, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Architecture, said: “Even when the increase in level and extent of activity level is modest, when millions of people are using cityscapes every day, those differences can have a major positive impact on public health.”

“Our findings show that pedestrians can be nudged into a wider range of physical activities through minor changes to the urban landscape. We want to help policy makers and designers to make modifications that will improve physical health and wellbeing.”

Boldina began this research after moving from Coimbra in Portugal – where she found herself climbing hills and ancient walls – to London, which she found far less physically challenging.

Working with Dr Paul Hanel from the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex, and Prof. Koen Steemers from Cambridge, Boldina invited almost 600 UK residents to compare photorealistic images of challenging routes – variously incorporating steppingstones, balancing beams, and high steps – with conventional pavements.

Participants were shown images of challenging and conventional tarmac routes and asked which route they would choose. The researchers tested out a range of encouraging / discouraging parameters in different scenarios, including crossing water, shortcuts, unusual sculptures and the presence / absence of a handrail and other people. Participants were asked to score how challenging they thought the route would be from 1 (as easy as walking on level tarmac) to 7 (I would not be able to do it).

Eighty per cent of the study’s participants opted for a challenging route in at least one of the scenarios, depending on perceived level of difficulty and design characteristics. Where a challenging option was shorter than a conventional route, this increased the likelihood of being chosen by 10%. The presence of handrails achieved a 12% rise.

Importance for health

The WHO and NHS recommend at least 150 minutes of ‘moderate’ or 75 minutes of ‘vigorous’ activity spread over a week, including a variety of activities aimed at enhancing bones, muscles, and agility to stay healthy. In addition, adults over 65 are advised to perform strength, flexibility, and balance exercises.

Boldina said: “The human body is a very complex machine that needs a lot of things to keep working effectively. Cycling and swimming are great for your heart and for your leg muscles but do very little for your bone density.”

“To improve cardiovascular health, bone density and balance all at once, we need to add a wider range of exercises into our routine daily walks.”

Psychology of choice

Co-author Dr Paul Hanel said: “Children don’t need much encouragement to try out a balance beam but we wanted to see how adults would respond, and then identify design modifications which made them more likely to choose a challenging route.”

“We found that while embarrassment, anxiety, caution and peer pressure can put some adults off, the vast majority of people can be persuaded to take a more challenging route by paying careful attention to design, safety, difficulty level, location and signage.”

The proportion of participants who were willing to pick a more challenging route varied from 14% for a particular balance beam route to 78% for a route involving wide, low stepping stones and a log with a handrail. The least intimidating routes were found to be those with wide, steady-looking balancing beams and wide steppingstones, especially with the presence of handrails.

The researchers suggest that routes that incorporate more difficult challenges, such as obstacle courses and narrow balancing beams, should be placed in areas more likely to be frequented by younger users.

The participants expressed a range of reasons for picking challenging routes. Unsurprisingly, the study found that challenging routes which also acted as short cuts appealed. Up to 55% of participants chose such routes. The researchers also found that the design of pavements, lighting and flowerbeds, as well as signage helped to nudge participants to choose more challenging routes. Many participants (40%) said the sight of other people taking a challenging route encouraged them to do the same.

The participants who picked conventional routes often had concerns about safety but the introduction of safety measures, such as handrails, increased uptake of some routes. Handrails next to one steppingstones route increased uptake by 12%.

To test whether tendency to choose challenging routes was linked to demographic and personality factors, participants were asked to answer questions about their age, gender, habits, health, occupation, and personality traits (such as sensation seeking or general anxiety).

The researchers found that people of all levels of activity are equally likely to pick a challenging route. But for the most difficult routes, participants who regularly engaged in strength and balancing exercises were more likely to choose them.

Older participants were as supportive of the concept as younger ones but were less likely to opt for the more challenging routes for themselves. Nevertheless, across all age groups, only a small percentage of participants said they would avoid adventurous options completely.

The study applies the idea of “Choice Architecture” (making good choices easier and less beneficial choices harder) plus “Fun theory”, a strategy whereby physical activity is made more exciting; as well as some of the key principles of persuasion: social proof, liking, authority, and consistency.

Future work

The researchers hope to run experiments in physical test sites to see how intentions convert into behaviour, and to measure how changes in habits improve health. In the meantime, Dr Boldina continues to present her findings to policy makers.

Critics might question the affordability and cost effectiveness of introducing ‘Active landscape routes’ in the current economic environment.

In response, the researchers argue that installing stepping stones in a turfed area can be cheaper than laying and maintaining conventional tarmac pavements. They also point out that these measures could save governments far greater sums by reducing demand for health care related to lack of exercise.

Reference

A. Boldina et al., ‘Active Landscape and Choice Architecture: Encouraging the use of challenging city routes for fitness’, Landscape Research (2022). DOI: 10.1080/01426397.2022.2142204

Media contact

Tom Almeroth-Williams, Communications Manager (Research), University of Cambridge: researchcommunications@admin.cam.ac.uk / tel: +44 (0) 7540 139 444


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Apple Accelerates Plans To Shift Production Out Of China

Apple Accelerates Plans To Shift Production Out Of China

Apple has accelerated plans to shift some of its production outside of China, the…

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Apple Accelerates Plans To Shift Production Out Of China

Apple has accelerated plans to shift some of its production outside of China, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing insiders.

The company has been reportedly telling suppliers to 'actively' plan on assembling Apple products elsewhere in Asia - primarily India and Vietnam, as the company looks to reduce dependence on Taiwanese assemblers spearheaded by Foxconn.

The company's goal is to ship 40-45% of iPhones from India, vs the current single-digit percentage, according to TF International Securities analyst, Ming-chi Kuo. Vietnam is also expected to shoulder more of the manufacturing of other Apple products, such as AirPods, smartwatches and laptops.

A worker is shown disinfecting equipment.

The decision was sparked by turmoil at "iPhone City" inside Zhengzhou (a 'city-within-a-city'), where as many as 300,000 workers assemble iPhones and other Apple products as a Foxconn-run factory, which produces roughly 85% of the iPhone Pro lineup, according to Counterpoint Research.

In November, violent protests hit the Zhengzhou factory - as workers upset over wages and Covid-19 restrictions began rioting and throwing things at the police. All of this poses a risk to Apple, which has relied on the factory as a stable manufacturing center.

Zhengzhou is home to a giant Foxconn facility known as iPhone City, where a worker is shown at right disinfecting equipment. (Shang Ji/Future Publishing/Getty Images)

"Apple no longer feels comfortable having so much of its business tied up in one place," according to the report.

So no, Apple isn't moving production out of concerns over human rights abuses, censorship, or other types of oppression.

"In the past, people didn’t pay attention to concentration risks," said former US-based Foxconn executive, Alan Yeung. "Free trade was the norm and things were very predictable. Now we’ve entered a new world."

One response, say the people involved in Apple’s supply chain, is to draw from a bigger pool of assemblers—even if those companies are themselves based in China. Two Chinese companies that are in line to get more Apple business, they say, are Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and Wingtech Technology Co. 

On calls with investors earlier this year, Luxshare executives said some consumer-electronics clients, which they didn’t name, were worried about Chinese supply-chain snafus caused by Covid-19 prevention measures, power shortages and other issues. They said these clients wanted Luxshare to help them do more work outside China. -WSJ

The concerns over production revolve around new product introduction (NPI), which requires teams to work with contractors to translate blueprints and prototypes into a detailed manufacturing plan. According to the report, Apple has put its manufacturing partners on notice to start trying to do more of this outside of China.

That said, unless places like Vietnam and India can excel at NPI as well, they will 'remain stuck playing second fiddle' according to supply chain specialists.

For now, consumers doing Christmas shopping are stuck with some of the longest wait times for high-end iPhones in the product’s 15-year history, stretching until after Christmas. Apple issued a rare midquarter warning in November that shipments of the Pro models would be hurt by Covid-19 restrictions at the Zhengzhou facility. -WSJ

The shift marks a massive change in the relationship between Apple and China - which for decades have been engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship.

According to Kup, the supply-chain analyst, iPhone shipments in the fourth quarter of this year were likely to reach between 70 and 75 million units - around 10 million fewer than market projections before the Zhengzhou riots.

"Apple is going to have to find multiple places to replace iPhone City," said Dan Panzica, a former Foxconn executive who now advises companies on supply-chain issues. "They’re going to have to spread it around and make more villages instead of big cities."

Tyler Durden Sun, 12/04/2022 - 13:55

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