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Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy as Energy Prices Soar Amid War

Six natural gas investments to buy as energy prices soar during Russia’s war against neighboring Ukraine give investors a chance to profit as other stocks…

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Six natural gas investments to buy as energy prices soar during Russia’s war against neighboring Ukraine give investors a chance to profit as other stocks slide.

The six natural gas investments to buy as energy prices climb offer opportunities to tap into growing demand for alternatives to energy sources that previously had been provided by Russia before it incurred economic sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine. The United States is among many countries that have chosen to stop importing Russia’s oil and natural gas, while Germany and other nations that lack immediate access to substitute sources of energy are seeking to scale back those imports that are funding the war against Ukraine initiated by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. natural gas prices have rocketed higher since mid-March by rising more than $4/MMBtu to $8.80/MMBtu. The latter level of production is the highest since 2008, according to a recent report by BofA Global Research. MMBtu, a standard unit of measurement for natural gas financial contracts, equals one million British Thermal Units.

U.S. Drilling Restrictions Lift Existing U.S. Providers by Curbing Supply

President Joe Biden “aggravated the energy shortage” last week by canceling three oil & gas leasing sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska, removing millions of acres from possible drilling amid record-high gas prices, wrote Mark Skousen, PhD, to subscribers of his Forecasts & Strategies investment newsletter.

Not surprisingly, crude oil recovered after that move and is now back to $110 a barrel, boosting the share price for Houston-based pipeline and energy storage company Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD) to 52-week highs, wrote Skousen, a descendant of Benjamin Franklin. Aside from leading the Forecasts & Strategies newsletter, he also heads the Five Star Trader, Home Run Trader, TNT Trader and Fast Money Alert services.

EPD, offering a dividend yield of more than 7%, has been a stellar stock recommendation for Skousen during 2022 by rising more than 24% through Monday, May 16. In contrast, the S&P 500 has plunged 15.91% during that time. 

Mark Skousen, head of Forecasts & Strategies, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

EPD Is One of Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy Amid War

Enterprise Products Partners is one of the largest publicly traded partnerships and a key North American provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGLs), crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals. The company’s services include natural gas gathering, treating, processing, transportation and storage.

Plus, Enterprise Products Partners provides NGL transportation, fractionation, storage and import and export terminals. It further offers crude oil gathering, transportation, storage and terminals, along with petrochemical and refined products transportation, storage and terminals, as well as a marine transportation business.

I personally have owned Enterprise Products Partners since shortly after the 2020 stock market crash when I bought the stock as it began to rebound. At the market’s close on May 16, the stock had gained 1.46% for the past week, 0.69% for the last month, 12.23% for the past three months, 24.73% so far in 2022 and 18.42% for the last year.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

XOM Is Another of the Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy

Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) jumped during its time as a recommendation in the Cash Machine newsletter between July 2021 and May 17, 2022, providing investors with exposure to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and strong returns. The company ranks as the world’s second-largest supplier of natural gas and jumped about 55% since its addition to the newsletter’s Safe Haven Portfolio. 

Perry, head of the Cash Machine investment newsletter, also leads the Premium Income, Quick Income Trader, Hi-Tech Trader and Breakout Options Alert advisory services, and explained he recommended its sale when the company’s dividend yield dipped below his 4% limit. With limited energy supply, Perry predicted XOM’s share price would remain well fueled by investors seeking an alternative to the sagging stock market so far in 2022, even if the stock no longer fits his requirement for a high-dividend stock.

Paul Dykewicz interviews Bryan Perry, whose services include Quick Income Trader.

Exxon Mobil reported strong first-quarter adjusted earnings of $8.8 billion, up from $2.8 billion for the same period a year ago. Adjusted earnings excluded a $3.4 billion after-tax impairment charge stemming from ExxonMobil’s Russia Sakhalin-1 operation, which the company intends to exit. Its earnings just missed meeting analysts’ consensus estimates.

XOM has continued to shine amid the market’s retreat. The company’s share price has soared 8.73% during the past week, 4.55% in the last month, 17.20% in the past three months, 51.51% thus far in 2022 and 55.44% for the last year.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Pension Fund Leader Picks Two of the Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy

Bob Carlson, a pension fund chairman who also leads the Retirement Watch investment newsletter, added Cohen & Steers MLP & Energy Opportunity Fund (MLOAX) to all the portfolios in his latest issue. 

“Natural gas should continue to be a good investment, as long as Europe is looking for ways to reduce dependence on Russia,” Carlson told me. “In addition, the natural gas drillers in the U.S. are focused on increasing cash flow and earnings. They’re not inclined to maximize drilling expenses in the short run to increase output.”

Bob Carlson, who leads Retirement Watch, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

Good investment opportunities can be found with companies that provide the pipelines, storage facilities and other infrastructure needed to supply the world with natural gas and other energy sources, Carlson told me. 

“One of the attractive qualities of these investments is that their revenues are independent of the prices of the commodities,” Carlson counseled. “The firms charge fees for their services, and the fees often are adjusted for inflation. Their revenues and earnings depend on the volume of commodities passing through their facilities, not the price of the commodity.”

“Leading” energy service companies provide total returns, aided by current income and price appreciation, through investments in energy-related master limited partnerships (MLPs) and securities of industry companies, Carlson said. Those businesses are expected to derive at least 50% of their revenues or operating income from exploration, production, gathering, transportation, processing, storage, refining, distribution or marketing of natural gas, crude oil and other energy resources.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Cohen & Steers Fund Makes List of Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy

The Cohen & Steers MLP & Energy Opportunity Fund recently held 53 positions and had 50% of the fund in the 10 largest positions. Top holdings of the fund were Enbridge (NYSE: ENB), Cheniere Energy (NYSEAMERICAN: LNG), Williams Companies (NYSE: WMB), TC Energy (NYSE: TRP) and Energy Transfer (NYSE: ET).

The fund has notched strong returns since April 2020. It is up 3.70% in the last week after dipping 1.09% in the past month. It also rose 12.88% in the last three months, 21.78% so far in 2022 and 29.20% in the last year.

UNG Makes List of Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy

Carlson’s second LNG recommendation is the ETF United States Natural Gas (UNG). The fund invests in natural gas futures contracts and related contracts on natural gas prices. The contracts are collaterized with cash and treasury securities.

The fund has zoomed 12.71% in the past week, 7.03% in the last month, 73.20% during the previous three months, 119.38% for the year to date and 157.52% over the last year.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Connell Chooses Two of Six Natural Gas Investments Worth Buying

U.S. LNG inventory is currently below its five-year average for this time of year by double-digit percentages, said Michelle Connell, CFA, president and owner of Portia Capital Management, of Dallas, Texas. A key issue for the U.S. LNG industry is that production of the energy source has never been profitable on its own, but it is as a byproduct of oil production, she added.

“There isn’t enough oil being produced,” Connell said. “Currently, only 11.6 million barrels/day are being produced. Pre-pandemic, we produced 13 million barrels/day.”

Instead of investing to expand capacity, oil companies have been focusing on hiking their dividends, Connell continued. If they pivot, these companies face a backlash from investors who could sell their shares, Connell added.

“Their market value could get crushed,” Connell said.

Former portfolio manager Michelle Connell, CEO, Portia Capital Management

EOG Resources Lands on List of Six Natural Gas Investments to Buy

LNG companies cannot ramp up production quickly, Connell cautioned. It takes oil companies a minimum of six to eight months to increase their oil and LNG production, Connell counseled. 

Production of oil via shale recently created the largest share of the America’s natural gas reserves, Connell continued. Unfortunately for proponents of increasing output to meet soaring demand, shale production has “decreased exponentially” since the pandemic began and the buildup of LNG reserves has declined, Connell explained.

However, Houston-based EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE: EOG) is producing substantial amounts of oil via shale, and thus considerable LNG. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Ezra Yacob called its recent financial results “outstanding” and said 2021 was a “tremendous year” for EOG with record earnings, record free cash flow and return of cash that places it among industry leaders.

Income investors will appreciate that the company’s long-standing focus on free cash flow led to payment of another $1.00 per share special dividend while also strengthening its balance sheet.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Reasons why Connell likes EOG include: 

-Wall Street analysts from investment firms such as Wells Fargo and Raymond James continue to increase its future earnings estimates and target prices, despite its strong performance of rising more than 40% so far in 2022;

-Based on its fundamentals, the stock may have another 25% of 12-month upside;

-Its relatively new gas resource in the Gulf Coast could provide additional potential and cash flow for the company;

-Strong cash flow growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, powering annualized cash flow growth in excess of 25% per year.

EPD is up 7.14% in the past week, 2.78% in the last month, 14.62% during the past three months, 45.06% so far in 2022 and 60.64% in the past year.

Pioneer Natural Resources May Be Worth Watching for a Price Pullback 

Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (NYSE: PXD), a hydrocarbon exploration company headquartered in Irving, Texas, has zoomed in recent weeks as Connell has reconsidered her recommendation of the stock due to its increased share price. The company has a market capitalization of $61.72 billion, offers a dividend and has never missed paying a dividend, she added.

In addition, Pioneer Natural Resources has produced an earnings yield of 3.25%, an adjusted cash earnings yield of 7.48% and a five-year average return on equity of 6.61%, Connell said. At the end of 2021, Pioneer Natural Resources had compiled 2.22 billion barrels of oil equivalent, with 44% of its proved reserves from petroleum, 30% natural gas liquid and 16% natural gas. 

At PXD’s current share price, Connell is not advocating its purchase, but she still spoke positively about the company. The stock has jumped 10.27% in the past week alone, 54.12% so far this year and 77.97 in the past 12 months.

Chart courtesy of www.stockcharts.com

Supply Chains May Improve as China Starts to Lower COVID Curbs

China has begun to ease its COVID-19 restrictions during the past week, and that could indicate that goods produced in that country may start to flow normally again in the weeks ahead to smooth out supply chain snags. Lockdowns in China have affected at least 373 million people, including roughly 40% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Disruption of the world’s supply chain has affected products such as rice, oil and natural gas.

Shanghai, home to the world’s largest port and 25 million residents, has strained to unload cargo due to strict regulations that have caused shipping containers to stack up. Some Shanghai residents posted videos online to complain about needing food, despite government officials attempting to block dissemination of such expressions of frustration.

Chinese authorities also drew public criticism for forcibly separating young children with COVID-19 from their parents. Chinese leaders prioritized stopping the spread of a new, contagious subvariant of Omicron, BA.2. The variant also has been causing new infections in European nations such as Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

U.S. COVID Deaths Top 1-Million Milestone

U.S. COVID-19 deaths topped 1 million, with the number of lives claimed by the virus reaching 1,000,167 as of May 17, according to Johns Hopkins University. Cases in the United States, as of May 17, hit 82,720,354. America retains the dubious distinction as the nation with the most COVID-19 deaths and cases.

COVID-19 deaths worldwide totaled 6,280,921 on May 17, according to Johns Hopkins. Cases across the globe now number 524,539,523.

Roughly 77.7% of the U.S. population, or 257,942,199, have obtained at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, as of May 17, the CDC reported. Fully vaccinated people total 220,682,023 or 66.5% of the U.S. population, according to the CDC. America also has given at least one COVID-19 booster vaccine to 102.4 million people.

In another development on May 17, the Biden administration opened CovidTests.gov for a third round of orders. White House officials continue to call for Congress to approve additional Covid-response funding.

American households now can order an additional eight “free” COVID testing kits to use at home. COVIDTests.gov has increased the total number of free tests available to each household to 16 since the start of the program, White House officials reported.

The six natural gas investments to buy offer an opportunity to profit from rising energy prices. Investors need to pay attention to valuations before initiating new positions but the growing risks of inflation, the Fed’s plan for further interest rate hikes to curb rising prices and increased federal deficit spending are reasons to seek portfolio protection in the form of natural gas.

Paul Dykewicz, www.pauldykewicz.com, is an accomplished, award-winning journalist who has written for Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, the Journal of Commerce, Seeking Alpha, Guru Focus and other publications and websites. Paul, who can be followed on Twitter @PaulDykewicz, is the editor of StockInvestor.com and DividendInvestor.com, a writer for both websites and a columnist. He further is editorial director of Eagle Financial Publications in Washington, D.C., where he edits monthly investment newsletters, time-sensitive trading alerts, free e-letters and other investment reports. Paul previously served as business editor of Baltimore’s Daily Record newspaper. Paul also is the author of an inspirational book, “Holy Smokes! Golden Guidance from Notre Dame’s Championship Chaplain,” with a foreword by former national championship-winning football coach Lou Holtz. The book is great as a gift and is endorsed by Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Ara Parseghian, “Rocket” Ismail, Reggie Brooks, Dick Vitale and many others. Call 202-677-4457 for multiple-book pricing.

 

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The Jaws Of Trade Squeezing The Supply Chain

The Jaws Of Trade Squeezing The Supply Chain

By FreightWaves

The jaws of the supply chain vise are squeezing trade so tight that the headache…

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The Jaws Of Trade Squeezing The Supply Chain

By FreightWaves

The jaws of the supply chain vise are squeezing trade so tight that the headache it is creating will be a whopper for logistics managers this peak season. Port congestion is growing again as a result of labor and equipment inefficiencies. Trade requires people, and what we see in the CNBC Supply Chain Heat Maps is the people component in trade is behind this latest squeeze.

Shanghai is still in the process of reopening, and while there are more green lights on the screen, the supplying of drivers and people to move and make the product is slower than normal. This is affecting the delivery of critical medical devices. 

“The manufacturing plant in Shanghai was down for 75 days because of the ‘zero-COVID’ restrictions,” explained Gerry LoDuca, president of Dukal, which sells infection-control products and has manufacturing plants in Shanghai, Wuhan and Xingtai, China. “They are now operating 24/7 and they will be caught up by the end of July. Then the products will need to be packed up, shipped to Shanghai port and moved by vessel.”

Unfortunately, this delay is one of many being experienced by global importers.

Another vise squeezing trade is Europe.

Labor strife between the German trade union ver.di and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) is white-hot. Almost all ports in the German Northern Sea were impacted by a second warning strike last week that lasted 24 hours.  

According to sources, a final offer of a wage increase of up to 11% in 18 months was offered. Some hope for a conciliation procedure in which politicians or a neutral person become involved in mediation.

The delays created by the latest warning strike have added to the congestion already plaguing the German ports. Container ships are currently delayed by several weeks at some German ports. Logistics executives are concerned the congestion is going to get worse, as will the availability of empty containers to be filled with trade.

“The overall situation in North European ports is deteriorating,” warned Andreas Braun, EMEA ocean product director for Crane Worldwide Logistics. “Port congestion is on the increase as well as yard occupancy. The first shipping lines like MSC are reacting to the current scenario with emergency storage surcharges for both imports and exports. These surcharges will be applied after exceeding the standard storage free time and are in addition to the standard tariffs.  Although this surcharge is currently limited to Dutch ports only, and to date only MSC has circulated communication relating to the additional fees, we can assume that other ports and shipping lines will follow.”

Ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd issued a notice on the increased demand on trucks as a result of this labor slowdown. And Maersk reported it would “absorb” the stoppage at its German terminals, telling customers that “in the interest of minimizing any further disruption to your supply chain, we will be keeping a close eye on developments up to and during the next round of meetings between trade union ver.di and ZDS, acknowledging that further strike action is possible.”

The U.S. logistics system continues to have its own host of issues with the persistent rail problems, chassis shortages and warehouses at capacity.

“Consumer trends are changing,” explained Spencer Shute, senior consultant at Proxima. “Buying patterns have shifted from home, electronics, casual apparel to more services. We are seeing buying apparel for travel and cosmetics coming back to pre-pandemic levels. Luggage, sunscreen, bug spray, these are items in higher demand because consumers need them in their experience pursuits. Larger appliances are not being purchased anymore. It’s an interesting dynamic to see how quickly the consumer has flipped considering what is going on in the economy.”

Despite the historic volume of containers, a pullback is expected as future orders for Chinese manufacturing have dropped anywhere from 20% to 30%, according to shippers surveyed.  Lumber orders have been cut along with orders for furniture, appliances and DIY products.

“But for other sectors like garments, sporting goods and e-commerce, they are still seeing strong demands,” explained Akhil Nair, senior vice president of products for Asia-Pacific at Seko Logistics.

Steve Lamar, CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, explained the continued strength in orders is a result of consumers looking to outfit themselves for experiences like back to school, back to in-office work and travel. But despite this demand, the impact of inflation is a top worry.

“We remain deeply concerned that persistently high prices — in our sector and throughout the economy — will begin to dampen consumer spending and harm American families,” Lamar said. “That is why, with consumers still being a driver for economic growth in our economy, we continue to push for the [Biden] administration to avail itself of all its own inflation-cutting tools, including relief from the high and regressive tariffs that are currently being charged on products in our industry.”

Alan Baer, CEO of OL USA, tells American Shipper the decrease in container volume is being seen.

“We are seeing drops by some customers from 30-50 FEU per week down to 10 FEU per week,” Baer said. 

The squeeze is on. Time to pop that aspirin.

Tyler Durden Thu, 06/30/2022 - 15:45

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5 Top Biotech Stocks To Watch In July 2022

Amid choppy markets, could there be potential in these top biotech stocks?
The post 5 Top Biotech Stocks To Watch In July 2022 appeared first on Stock…

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Should Investors Be Watching These Top Biotech Stocks In The Stock Market Now?

Just as most people think that pandemic woes are behind us, we now have the emergence of the monkeypox. While this virus may not be as contagious as the coronavirus, there is still a real cause for concern. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the activation of an emergency operations unit for monkeypox. This signals the initial stages of a public health concern. Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding believes that the number of cases could reach 100,000 worldwide by August. In light of these circumstances, biotech stocks could be gaining more attention in the stock market. 

Furthermore, the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) voted that there is a need to modify the current strain composition of available COVID-19 vaccines to target the Omicron variant. If this is approved, vaccine makers such as Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) will need to provide modified boosters of their coronavirus vaccines. In fact, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) just announced a new vaccine supply agreement with the U.S. government. Under the agreement, the U.S. government will receive 105 million doses with an option of up to 195 million additional doses. With all this in mind, here are five of the top biotech stocks to note in the stock market today. 

Biotech Stocks For Your July 2022 Watchlist

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals 

biotech stocks to buy (regn stock)

First up, we have the integrated biotech company, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Essentially, the company discovers, invents, manufactures, and commercializes medicines for serious diseases. For the most part, its medicines and products aim to help patients with eye diseases, allergic and inflammatory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular, and metabolic diseases. REGN stock has been trading sideways over the past year. 

Having said that, the company received a boost on Wednesday as the U.S. FDA has accepted for review the EYLEA Injection supplemental Biologics License Application for every 16-week 2 mg dosing regimen. This specifically caters to patients with diabetic retinopathy. Should this go according to plan, the 16-week dosing regimen could offer patients a potentially longer treatment interval. Also, it will allow doctors to have greater flexibility to individualize treatment. Given such a positive development, should investors be paying more attention to REGN stock?

[Read More] Stock Market Today: Dow Jones, S&P 500 Falter; Walgreens Stock Slides Despite Strong Quarter

Sanofi

best health care stocks to buy now (SNY stock)

Another top biotech name making waves this week is Sanofi. The France-based company engages in the research, development, and marketing of therapeutic solutions. Over the past week, there have been several key developments that could potentially excite investors. For starters, the company and GSK (NYSE: GSK) announced positive data from their vaccine trial last Friday. The vaccine candidate is the first to ever demonstrate efficacy in a placebo-controlled trial in an environment of high Omicron variant circulation. 

Furthermore, Sanofi’s Nexviadyme (avalglucosidase alfa) has recently gained marketing authorization from the European Commission. For the uninitiated, this is an enzyme replacement therapy for long-term treatment of both late-onset and infantile-onset Pompe disease. This is a significant development because Nexviadyme is the first and only newly approved medicine for Pompe disease in Europe since 2006. On that note, would you say that SNY stock is a top biotech stock to watch?

Novavax

best biotech stocks (NVAX stock)

Following that, let us look at the biotech company, Novavax. In detail, it promotes improved health globally through the discovery, development, and commercialization of vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases. Its recombinant technology platform harnesses the power and speed of genetic engineering. As a result, the company produces immunogenic nanoparticles designed to address urgent global health needs. That said, NVAX stock has been struggling to find its footing since the start of the year. 

During the VRBPAC meeting, Novavax highlighted data showing that its protein-based coronavirus vaccine showed epitopes across both the original strain and emerging variants. Therefore, it will be able to contribute to the generation of broadly cross-reacting antibodies. The company also provided pre-clinical data that suggests boosting with Novavax’s Omicron or prototype vaccine will induce an immune response against Omicron variants. Overall, there are reasons to believe that Novavax will close the second half of the year on a better note. With that in mind, would you consider adding NVAX stock to the top of your watchlist?

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals 

ARWR stock

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals develops medicines that treat intractable diseases by silencing the genes that cause them. It uses a portfolio of ribonucleic acid (RNA) chemistries and modes of delivery. Most of its therapies trigger the RNA interference mechanism to induce rapid, deep, and durable knockdown of target genes. Those following the medical space would notice that gene therapies have been gaining popularity within the industry over the past few years. Hence, it would not be surprising if investors are taking note of Arrowhead. 

As a matter of fact, the company recently claimed that its experimental drug fazirsiran can reduce the accumulation of mutant protein known as Z-AAT by 83%. This result is based on an open-label phase 2 trial involving 16 volunteers with alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency disease. For now, there is still no approved treatment for such genetic liver disease. All in all, Arrowhead appears to be making strides in the right direction. Thus, should you be keeping a closer tab on ARWR stock?

[Read More] Best Long-Term Stocks To Buy Now? 5 Semiconductor Stocks To Know

Global Blood Therapeutics

gbt stock

To sum it all up, we have the biopharmaceutical company, Global Blood Therapeutics. As its name suggests, this is a company that specializes in blood-related treatments. The company is currently focused on Oxbryta, an FDA-approved medicine that inhibits sickle hemoglobin polymerization. In addition, it is also advancing its pipeline program in Sickle Cell Disease with inclacumab, and GBT021601. Impressively, GBT stock has been on bullish momentum lately, rising more than 28% within the past month.

Not to mention, the company announced on Thursday that it initiated the Phase 2 portion of its Phase 2/3 trial of GBT021601. The study aims to evaluate the safety, tolerability, efficacy, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of the drug. So far, the preclinical results and data have been encouraging. Smith-Whitley, the company’s head of research and development, believes the drug has “the potential to improve on the clinical results achieved with Oxbryta® at a lower daily dose.” If so, this would be a huge boost for the company as it continues to work towards its long-term goals. All things considered, is GBT stock a buy right now?

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The post 5 Top Biotech Stocks To Watch In July 2022 appeared first on Stock Market News, Quotes, Charts and Financial Information | StockMarket.com.

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Will Royal Caribbean Ban a Popular Bad Habit, Add Unpopular Fee?

The cruise line’s President Michael Bayley addressed two controversial topics while cruising to Alaska on the annual President’s Cruise.

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The cruise line's President Michael Bayley addressed two controversial topics while cruising to Alaska on the annual President's Cruise.

Cruise lines face a lot of challenges that traditional hotels don't deal with. A cruise ship is an enclosed space that's moving. This means that passengers impact each other more than they might in a traditional hotel, and the cruise line has to make decisions that some passengers may not like because they support the bottom line.

In addition, cruise lines face an age-old problem that every land-based casino operator has to deal with -- people like to smoke in casinos, but non-smokers hate smoky casinos. That creates a conundrum that's easier for a large land-based casino to solve than it is for a cruise line.

A land-based casino can have meaningful smoke-free areas. That can mean having a floor or a very distinct room designated smoke-free. It's possible to have meaningful separation because you have actual separate spaces.

That's much harder to do on a cruise. In most cases, there are smoking sections on a Royal Caribbean International (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report ship, but smoke travels and sensitive non-smokers can't avoid it. The Wonder of the Seas does have a separate smaller casino (originally meant for high-rollers when the ship was supposed to sail out of China, but that's the only ship in the fleet that has two truly separated casino areas.

It's a problem the Royal Caribbean President Michael Bayley addressed during his company's annual President's Cruise.

Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet

Will Royal Caribbean Ban Smoking in its Casinos?   

There was a period during the omicron variant section of the pandemic where Royal Caribbean tightened its mask rules and banned smoking in the casino. That was a practical concern because, at that time, the company was requiring customers to put their mask on between sips of a drink.

When that period ended, the cruise line reinstated smoking in its casinos. "It's a bit of a conundrum," Bayley said during a question and answer session on Ovation of the Seas during the President's Cruise, the Royal Caribbean Blog reported.

"The dilemma is that there are many people who do want to smoke in the casino. I know that's not a popular response, but it's it's the truth. I'm not judging anyone or anything, but there's a large group of people who do want to smoke in the casino," he said.

Banning smoking, which the company has tested, produces lower revenue in the casino.

"Every, I would say every couple of years, we do test this and we take one or two or three ships and we ban smoking in the casino. And the result is less people go in the casino and that's the reality of it," he explained.

Bayley does not expect a smoking ban to happen, but said the cruise line is looking at ways to make more area in the casino smoke free.

Will Royal Caribbean Add a Fuel Surcharge?

Rising gas and oil prices impact cruise lines as higher fuel costs make it more expensive to operate. In the past, when prices have surged, some cruise lines have added a fuel surcharge.

That's something Royal Caribbean has a legal right to do (it's in the long cruise contract you didn't read) but has held off so far on doing that. Bayley shut down fears of the cruise line adding one (at least right now), according to the Royal Caribbean Blog, which is not affiliated with the cruise line.

"The fuel fuel bill for Royal Caribbean is, as you can imagine, it's massive and it's gone up by I don't know what the percentages, but it's a huge chunk. It's hundreds of millions of dollars," he said. "But at the moment, we're not planning on putting a fuel surcharge on."

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