At press time, Bitcoin is up nearly 3 percent on the day, trading at around $4,100, according to CoinMarketCap data. Looking at its weekly chart, the current price is about 13 percent higher than $3,632, the price at which Bitcoin started the week.
Leading derivatives market CME Group tweeted on Feb. 21 that the recent surge in Bitcoin’s price lead to record Bitcoin futures volumes on Feb. 19, with over 18 thousand contracts traded.
Ethereum (ETH) is holding its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which by press time is over $16.3 billion. The second-largest altcoin, Ripple (XRP), has a market cap of about $13.5 billion.
ETH is up by a little under 5 percent over the last 24 hours, according to CoinMarketCap. At press time, ETH is trading around $155, after having started the day at $148. On its weekly chart, Ethereum has seen its value increase almost 23 percent from $126, the price at which the coin started the week.
Ripple has gained 4.42 percent in the 24 hours to press time and is currently trading at around $0.33. On its weekly chart, the coin gained almost 9 percent from $0.30, the price at which XRP started the week.
Total market cap of all cryptos 3-month chart. Source: CoinMarketCap
The team behind Ontology announced yesterday that the Ontology Development Platform was released on the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace. This, according to the announcement, makes Ontology “one of the first public blockchains to have a development platform on the leading cloud provider marketplaces: Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft Azure.”
As Cointelegraph reported today, Liechtenstein-based Bank Frick is launching an institutional cryptocurrency trading platform subsidiary, DLT Markets.
Earlier this week, news broke that the Russian State Duma (the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia) plans to review and adopt new cryptocurrency regulation in March and that the country’s former Energy Minister, Igor Yusufov, is also proposing an oil-backed cryptocurrency.
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Welcome to Seeking Alpha’s Stocks to Watch – a preview of key events scheduled for the next week. Follow this account and turn the e-mail alert on to receive this article in your inbox every Saturday morning.
Once again U.S.-China trade talks will be watched closely as reports filter in on a possible meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in late March. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell won’t be laying low next week, with appearances scheduled before the Senate Banking Committee on February 26 and the House committee on February 27 for semiannual testimony. Economic events to keep an eye on next week include housing starts and consumer confidence on February 26 to be followed by factory orders and international trade on February 27. The headliner of the week could be the GDP report due out on February 28. Due to the government shutdown, the report is a combination of the first and second GDP releases, with only one subsequent revision to trail behind. Economists expect Q4 GDP to come in at +2.4% in a deceleration from the +3.4% growth recorded in Q3. Finally, there is the question of what to expect out of Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ:KHC) and gang. Major food companies were supposed to be on the mend in 2019, with M&A potential running up and down the sector. Kraft’s 27% plunge and drops in Campbell Soup (NYSE:CPB), Mondelez International (NASDAQ:MDLZ), J.M. Smucker (NYSE:SJM), B&G Foods (NYSE:BGS), Kellogg (NYSE:K), ConAgra Brands (NYSE:CAG), Post Holdings (NYSE:POST) and Hostess Brands (NASDAQ:TWNK) have reset that thinking. What’s next?
IPO activity: The quiet period expiration on New Fortress Energy (NASDAQ:NFE) ends on February 25. Kaleido Biosciences (KLDO) and Super League Gaming (SLGG) are expected to price their IPOs on February 27.
Projected dividend changes (quarterly): Best Buy (BBY) to $0.51 from $0.45, Danaher (NYSE:DHR) to $0.18 from $0.16, Eaton Corp (NYSE:ETN) to $0.75 from $0.66, Home Depot (HD) to $1.13 from $1.03, Linde (NYSE:LIN) to $0.8625 from $0.825, Altria (NYSE:MO) to $0.85 from $0.80, TJX (NYSE:TJX) to $0.21 from $0.195, Willis Towers (NASDAQ:WLTW) to $0.67 from $0.60, Amerisafe (NASDAQ:AMSF) to $0.23 from $0.22, Chico’s FAS (NYSE:CHS) to $0.0875 from $0.085, Carter’s (NYSE:CRI) to $0.49 from $0.45, Dick’s Sporting (NYSE:DKS) to $0.2475 from $0.225, Havertys (NYSE:HVT) to $0.20 from $0.18, MGP Ingredients (NASDAQ:MGPI) to $0.09 from $0.08, Maiden Holdings (NASDAQ:MHLD) to $0.03 from $0.05, Nabors (NYSE:NBR) to $0.01 from $0.06, Old Republic (NYSE:ORI) to $0.1975 from $0.195, Silgan (NASDAQ:SLGN) to $0.11 from $0.10, EW Scripps (NASDAQ:SSP) to $0.55 from $0.05, Southwest Gas (NYSE:SWX) to $0.55 from $0.52, Taubman Centers (NYSE:TCO) to $0.685 from $0.655.
Oscars for Apple?: Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) looks to land a major win at the Academy Awards on Sunday night with Roma seen as a leading contender in the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress categories. While that would be a big development for the streamer, there is something even more intriguing going on in Hollywood. Media moguls like Barry Diller are calling the reign of the major studios over amid the Netflix crush just as Wall Street firms such as Wedbush are suggesting the time is right for a media acquisition by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). “We believe now it is crystal clear that to drive a successful content streaming service Apple needs to get aggressive on M&A and accelerate the company’s services push and ultimately enable the company to better monetize its installed base with a standalone video subscription service,” writes analyst Dan Ives. Wedbush sees studio/content plays such as A24 Studio, Lionsgate (NYSE:LGF.A), Viacom/CBS (NYSE:CBS), Sony Pictures (NYSE:SNE), MGM Studios and Netflix as the most logical acquisition candidates.
U.S. auto sales: Some automakers are scheduled to report February U.S. sales numbers on March 1. Edmunds expects sales to drop 2.2% Y/Y during the month to 1.271M units. Fleet transactions are anticipated to account for 20% of all sales. “Record-high interest rates and rising average transaction prices are what’s really putting pressure on the market and keeping car shoppers at bay so far in 2019,” according to analyst Jeremy Acevedo. Edmunds forecast by automaker – General Motors (NYSE:GM) -5.8% to 208K, Ford (NYSE:F) -0.8% to 192K, Toyota (NYSE:TM) -3.0% to 177K, Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) -1.9% to 163K, Honda (NYSE:HMC) -1.4% to 114K, Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) -12.9% to 113K, Hyundai/Kia (OTCPK:HYMLF) +0.6% to 87K, Volkswagen (OTCPK:VWAGY) -3.3% to 41K, Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) 19,644K units.
Analyst/investor meetings: JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) will hold an Investor Day event in New York City on February 26, with presentations given by CEO Jamie Dimon and members of the executive management team. Shares of JPM are up 8% YTD. Avandgrid (NYSE:AGR) also has an investor day on February 26, while Regions Financial (NYSE:RF) has an event scheduled for February 27.
M&A tidbits: Shareholders at Western Gas Partners (NYSE:WES) and Western Gas Equity Partners (NYSE:WGP) are due to vote on their planned merger on February 27. Sparton (NYSE:SPA) shareholders will vote on the takeover offer from Cerberus on March 1. Shares of Sparton closed at $18.45 on Friday vs. the $18.50 offer price from Cerberus.
FDA watch: A meeting of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee is set for February on Karyopharm Therapeutics’ (NASDAQ:KPTI) selinexor NDA. Karyopharm fell 40% on Friday after the Ad Com briefing docs were released. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb testifies before a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee hearing on February 27 in an appearance that could have some relevance for Juul (JUUL) and Altria (MO). Adamis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ADMP) is expected hear on March 1 if its naloxone pre-filled syringe NDA for opioid overdose has been accepted by FDA for review.
Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference: The huge TMT meeting runs in San Francisco from February 26 to March 1. Companies scheduled to present include Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU), Avalara (NYSE:AVLR), Cinemark Holdings (NYSE:CNK), Fitbit (FIT), Gopro (NASDAQ:GPRO), Garmin (NASDAQ:GRMN), Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP), Carbon Black (NASDAQ:CBLK), Snap (NYSE:SNAP), Viacom (NYSE:VIA), Nuance (NASDAQ:NUAN), MongoDB (NASDAQ:MDB), Five9 (NASDAQ:FIVN), Lamar Advertising (NASDAQ:LAMR), AT&T (NYSE:T), TripAdvisor (TRIP), Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), New York Times (NYSE:NYT), Cognizant (NASDAQ:CTSH), Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA), Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN), Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA), Crown Castle (NYSE:CCI), Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), Vonage (NYSE:VG), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO), Twilio (NYSE:TWLO), FireEye (NASDAQ:FEYE), Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Palo Alto Networks (PANW), Take-Two Interactive Software (NASDAQ:TTWO) and Western Digital (NYSE:WDC).
60 Minutes: The weekly news show is profiling the Chinese EV industry in a segment that includes Nio (NYSE:NIO). Shares of Nio raced 6.9% higher late on Friday on expectations that the EV automaker will be profiled favorably. Tesla (TSLA), which just delivered Model 3 in China, is also likely to be mentioned.
Drug data: Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRPT) hosts a conference call on February 27 to discuss results from the first 3-patient cohort of the phase I/IIa gene transfer clinical trial using MYO-101 to treat patients with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2E (beta-sarcoglycanopathy).
Drones: New U.S. drone regulations take effect next week. All civilian drones will have to be registered and marked with an external identifier assigned by the FAA. The new regs will be watched by GoPro (GPRO) and DJII Innovations (DJII).
Box office: Universal’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is expected to bring in $44M during its opening weekend. The film is the first DreamWorks Animation release since the animation studio was acquired in 2016 for $3.8B. The film is already off to a strong start internationally.
Barron’s mentions: Altria (MO) is identified as the most attractive of the sin stocks due to its strong dividend. Altria has generated a compounded return of 19% over the last 30 years to top the S&P 500 Index by a full eight points. WellCare Health Plans (NYSE:WCG) is seen as a long-term earnings story due to its impressive track record of growing organically and through M&A. There is also a case made for NextEra Energy [NEE] and Duke Energy [DUK], with both companies seen as well positioned to benefit from the shift toward renewable energy. What to do with Nvidia (NVDA)? “Nvidia’s fortunes are dependent on its PC-gaming graphic-card business, which has generated the vast majority of the company’s sales and profits over the years,” observes Tae Kim. “Nvidia’s growth is unlikely to markedly improve until it releases a new round of chips, which could be two years down the line,” he adds.
Four Venezuelan National Guard troops defected from President Nicolas Maduro’s regime as his political adversaries, with help from the U.S. and Colombia, attempt to deliver humanitarian aid through a Venezuela government blockade. Read More
Like President Trump, the Internet postage provider Stamps.com has some doubts about the future of the U.S. Postal Service.
Unlike the chief executive, however, the El Segundo, Calif.-based company believes the solution lies in Amazon, the tech giant founded and run by Trump nemesis Jeff Bezos that has transformed the package-shipping industry with a two-day delivery guarantee.
It’s one the money-losing Postal Service, hamstrung by congressional requirements that it pre-funded worker pensions, can’t match, and it’s one of the key reasons Stamps.com decided this week to ditch a revenue sharing agreement that made the Postal Service the exclusive shipper for customers using both the signature Stamps.com service and the Endecia brand that caters to businesses.
The announcement hammered the company’s stock on Friday, with shares tumbling 57 percent to $85.25 in New York trading, and it will cost customers significantly. Many who had service agreements that allowed it to use Stamps.com postage printing software for free, since the expense was picked up by the Postal Service under the agreement, will now have to pay a 3 percent surcharge based on package volume.
“Amazon’s track record of disrupting an industry is well-established, so their threat should be taken very seriously by every player in the shipping industry,” said CEO Ken McBride. “We’re setting our corporate strategy assuming Amazon will be a big corporate player in global shipping.”
Ending the Postal Service deal will free Stamps.com to connect its customers with not only Amazon, but shipping giants like Atlanta-based United Parcel Service and Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx.
It’s likely to hurt sales in the near future, however. Zach Cummins, an analyst with B. Riley FBR, slashed his 2019 revenue projection for the company 17 percent to $570 million.
“While it is surprising, to say the least, that Stamps.com would sacrifice such a lucrative revenue stream with the U.S. Postal Service,” company management believes more varied service options will be the key to long-term success over the next five years, he explained. The strategy will cause immediate pain, but ultimately, the firm will be able to strike revenue sharing agreements with Amazon, UPS, and others that will pay off in the long term.
“What is best for our customers today will not likely be what is best for them five years from now,” McBride said. “If they don’t succeed in shipping their products to their customers, then their businesses won’t succeed, and we won’t succeed, because we’ll lose the customer.”
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