Gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in the city of Karachi on Monday killing two guards and a policeman before security forces killed all four of the attackers, police said. Separatist insurgents from Balochistan province – the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) – claimed responsibility in Marseille’s club president praised playmaker Dimitri Payet for accepting a significant pay cut when signing a new two-year deal until 2024. Several local students have been singled out for their college achievements. America faces a serious, pervasive and anonymous threat to national security. A top Pentagon official recently called it the “biggest concern [and] weakest link” in U.S. defense procurement. In this article you are going to find out whether hedge funds think Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) is a good investment right now. We like to check what the smart money thinks first before doing extensive research on a given stock. Although there have been several high profile failed hedge fund Hint: It’s one of the biggest cannabis winners of the first half of the year.
Ambulances are seen parked outside Pakistan Stock Exchange building after an attack in Karachi
By Syed Raza Hassan
KARACHI, Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked the Pakistan Stock Exchange building in the city of Karachi on Monday killing two guards and a policeman before security forces killed all four of the attackers, police said.
Separatist insurgents from Balochistan province – the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) – claimed responsibility in a post on Twitter but Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the claim and spokesmen for the group were not available for comment.
“We locked ourselves in our offices,” Asad Javed, who works at a brokerage in the stock exchange building, which is in a high security zone that also houses the head offices of several banks, told Reuters.
Javed said he was on the ground floor when he heard gunfire and an explosion and people scattered for safety.
The police chief in Pakistan’s biggest city and financial hub, Ghulam Nabi Memon, told Reuters the gunmen attacked with grenades and guns after pulling up in a silver Corolla car.
They threw a grenade at security men posted outside the compound then opened fire on a security post. The four were killed when security forces posted there responded.
Their car was abandoned where they left it.
Two guards and a policeman were killed and seven people were wounded, Deputy Inspector General of Police Sharjil Kharal told media.
A counter-terrorism official told Reuters the attackers were carrying significant quantities of ammunition and grenades in backpacks.
The BLA claimed responsibility in a brief message on a Twitter account set up shortly before the raid, describing it as a “self-sacrificing” attack carried out by its Majeed brigade.
The account was suspended a short time after the attack.
Separatists have been fighting for years in resource-rich Balochistan, complaining the southwestern province’s gas and mineral wealth is unfairly exploited by Pakistan’s richer, more powerful provinces.
The BLA’s Majeed brigade also took responsibility for an attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi in 2018. Several projects linked to China’s Belt and Road initiative are in Balochistan.
This month, three explosions on the same day claimed by a little-known separatist group killed four people including two soldiers in the southern province of Sindh, of which Karachi is capital.
The Pakistan Stock Exchange <PAKS.PSX> did not suspend trading during the attack. Its main KSE-100 index dropped 220 points but it later recovered and was 200 points higher at 0830 GMT.
Islamist militants have also launched attacks in Karachi and elsewhere in Pakistan over the years but their violence has become less frequent after military operations against various factions in strongholds on the Afghan border.
(Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan in Karachi; Additional reporting by Umar Farooq in Istanbul; Writing by Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Robert Birsel)
Author: Syed Raza Hassan
Payet praised by Marseille president for taking big pay cut
PARIS (AP) – Marseille’s club president praised playmaker Dimitri Payet for accepting a significant pay cut when signing a new two-year deal until 2024.
Jacques-Henri Eyraud said Payet will slash his reported monthly salary of 500 000 euros ($561, 000) in half next season, then by 30% the following season and 40-60% for the two extra years on his new contract.
In addition, the 33-year-old former France international agreed to waive any bonuses linked to qualifying for European competition and to lower his salary even further between 2022-24 if he is not a regular starter in games.
“Dimitri came to see me to tell me that he wants to be ‘Marseille for life.’ I really liked hearing these words,” Eyraud said. “He explained to me that he wants to finish his career here and then start a new career plan working inside the club he loves so much.”
It represents a considerable change in position from Payet, who initially said that he was opposed to lowering his salary. Back in April, cash-strapped Marseille asked key players to help the club cope with the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic which brought an early end to the season.
“Who better than me to set the example?” Payet said at a news conference alongside Eyraud and coach André Villas-Boas. “Saying you love the club is all well and good, showing it is better. I really want to be a part of Marseille and help it grow.”
Payet was Marseille’s best player in a shortened season, scoring 12 goals in 27 games overall and helping it finish in second place in the league to qualify automatically for next season’s Champions League – a massive boost for the heavily indebted club amid its financial difficulties.
Payet’s decision to stay is good news for Marseille, amid financial fair play problems which could yet force it to sell other key players like winger Florian Thauvin and veteran goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Earlier this month, the 1993 Champions League winner was ordered by UEFA to pay 2 million euros ($2.24 million) for breaking FFP rules monitoring spending on player transfers and wages.
UEFA’s club finance panel reached agreement with Marseille to also withhold a further 4 million euros ($4.48 million) in prize money if financial targets are missed through June 2023.
Villas-Boas will remain in charge next season, which may have influenced Payet’s decision.
“We’re fairly close to each other,” said Payet, who has netted 49 goals overall for Marseille. “We’re similar, both emotional.”
The new season begins on Aug. 22.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.
Author: The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com
Life Briefs: Honors for local students, financial representative
BEREA – Brianna Sayre of LaRue, a graduate of Elgin High School, was one of 648 students who recently graduated from Baldwin Wallace University in Berea with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance.
OXFORD – Riley Grills of Waldo and Alex Foltz of Marengo have made the second semester 2019-2020 Dean’s List at Miami University. Students who are ranked in the top twenty percent of undergraduate students within each division made the Dean’s List recognizing academic excellence.
CLEMSON, SC – Ellie M. Campbell of Marion has been named to the Dean’s List at Clemson University.
Campbell, whose major is Food Science and Human Nutrition, made the Dean’s List for the spring 2020 semester. To be named to the Dean’s List, a student achieved a grade-point average between 3.50 and 3.99 on a 4.0 scale.
CHARLESTON, SC – Claire Huntt of Marion was named to the College of Charleston Spring 2020 Dean’s List. Huntt is majoring in Public Health.
To quality for Dean’s List (Distinguished), students must earn a GPA of 3.600 or higher and complete a minimum of 14 semester hours.
CEDARVILLE – Cedarville University student Arielle Wenig of Marion, who is majoring in social work, was named to the Dean’s Honor List for Spring 2020.
This recognition required Wenig to maintain a 3.75 GPA and carry a minimum of 12 credit hours.
DURHAM, NH – Madison Linstedt of Marion has been named to the Dean’s List at the University of New Hampshire for earning High Honors for the spring 2020 semester.
Students named to the Dean’s List have earned recognition through their superior scholastic performance during a semester enrolled in a full-time course load (12 or more graded credits). Students with a 3.65 to 3.84 average are awarded high honors.
MARION – Roger L. Ruth of Marion, a representative for Modern Woodmen of America, is one of a small percentage of financial representatives worldwide to achieve membership in the prestigious Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) this year.
Founded in 1927, MDRT, The Premier Association of Financial Professionals®, is a global, independent association of more than 49,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 500 companies in 70 countries. MDRT members demonstrate exceptional professional knowledge, strict ethical conduct and outstanding client service. MDRT membership is recognized internationally as the standard of excellence in the life insurance and financial services business.
The local Modern Woodmen office is located at 137 Sargent Street, Ste. 100. Contact Ruth at 740-387-7770 for more information about Modern Woodmen’s financial services and fraternal programs.
Founded in 1883, Modern Woodmen of America is a fraternal financial services organization offering financial products and fraternal member benefits to individuals and families throughout the United States.
Read or Share this story: https://www.marionstar.com/story/news/2020/06/28/life-briefs-honors-local-students-financial-representative/3236061001/
Author: Marion Star
Published 1:45 p.m. ET June 28, 2020
Money laundering loophole allows China’s shell companies to attack and steal from U.S.
America faces a serious, pervasive and anonymous threat to national security. A top Pentagon official recently called it the “biggest concern [and] weakest link” in U.S. defense procurement. U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies are routinely stumped by it.
And in the Treasury Department’s most recent strategy for combating terrorist and other illicit financing, it is identified as the top vulnerability in the U.S. financial system and an immediate priority for action.
What is this mysterious new threat? In fact, it is a basic money laundering loophole that we have known about for decades: The ability to own and control U.S. shell companies without having to disclose their true ownership.
Drug cartels, terrorists, kleptocrats and everyday fraudsters have long exploited this loophole to facilitate activities that undermine America’s security and prosperity. For example, U.S. shell companies are used for money laundering in transnational corruption cases more often than those of any other country — including notorious tax havens such as Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.
Indeed, experts have sandwiched the United States between those two countries as one of the worst financial secrecy jurisdictions in the world. Yet, in all 50 U.S. states, more personal information is required to obtain a library card than to create a shell company.
But the problem assumes a new urgency as U.S. policymakers contemplate a protracted struggle with China. Indeed, it is astonishing that this vulnerability has yet to be addressed in that context, as shell companies routinely play a key role in facilitating espionage, intellectual property theft, cyberattacks, and sanctions evasion by CCP officials and their proxies.
Opaque corporate networks also propel the broader wave of crime and corruption emanating from China as a byproduct of Communist misrule, including the illegal opioid trade, human trafficking and counterfeit goods. And China’s most prominent political families hypocritically rely on shell companies to conceal their vast private wealth overseas.
This is clearly a global problem with strategic implications, but the first step is a modest domestic technocratic reform. The introduction of a U.S. directory of corporate “beneficial ownership” would simply require the owners of U.S. shell companies to disclose who really controls the legal entities being used to move billions of dollars through and within America’s borders each year.
It goes without saying that, without robust verification procedures — which run the risk of burdening innocent business owners — criminals will simply submit false or misleading information. But this forces a choice on the lawyers and incorporation agents they use to set up opaque corporate networks, who are currently not required to ask any awkward questions about their clients’ identities.
And as any law enforcement agent will tell you, the presence of inaccurate information can itself be a powerful clue in the context of broader investigations.
Yet, the benefits to domestic law enforcement are barely half the story. By joining democratic allies such as the United Kingdom, European Union and New Zealand in tackling shell company abuse, the United States would assume international leadership on setting a new global standard that undermines the CCP’s worldwide assault on the rule of law.
This matters because the United States is the overseer of the global reserve currency: If you want to be able to access U.S. dollars, you have to play by its rules. Even an imperfect gesture towards tackling shell company abuse would empower officials from the State, Justice and Treasury Departments to pressure and, if necessary, shut down the unscrupulous jurisdictions that act as conduits for illicit financial flows from China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and other authoritarian adversaries.
This includes the Belt and Road Initiative, which became a conduit for kleptocracy across Eurasia as local elites were seduced by bribes and unprecedented opportunities to embezzle funds intended for public works. Unless America acts to roll back the opaque corporate networks underpinning this kind of transnational corruption, the situation will only worsen as the CCP exploits new opportunities to expand its influence throughout the developing world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though Congress is currently considering bipartisan, widely-supported legislation (the magnificently named “ILLICIT CASH” Act) to set this process in motion, time is now running very short. And failure to act means yet another year in which America’s adversaries are free to abuse the U.S. financial system and spread corruption worldwide in total anonymity.
The annual National Defense Authorization Act — currently on the floor of the Senate — offers perhaps the best opportunity to address this critical national security threat before the end of the year.
It seems ridiculous, at first glance, to compare this minor technocratic reform to the military posturing, technology races and trade wars that characterize the U.S.-China rivalry. And yet, as the CCP seeks to erode rule of law and remake global institutions amenable to its own interests, it is financial transparency that can become the most powerful weapon in the economic arsenal of democratic, capitalist societies worldwide.
• Jared Whitley has worked in the White House, the Senate and in the defense industry.
Author: The Washington Times http://www.washingtontimes.com
Marten Transport, Ltd (MRTN): Are Hedge Funds Right About This Stock?
In this article you are going to find out whether hedge funds think Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) is a good investment right now. We like to check what the smart money thinks first before doing extensive research on a given stock. Although there have been several high profile failed hedge fund picks, the consensus picks among hedge fund investors have historically outperformed the market after adjusting for known risk attributes. It’s not surprising given that hedge funds have access to better information and more resources to predict the winners in the stock market.
Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) was in 16 hedge funds’ portfolios at the end of the first quarter of 2020. MRTN investors should pay attention to a decrease in support from the world’s most elite money managers lately. There were 17 hedge funds in our database with MRTN holdings at the end of the previous quarter. Our calculations also showed that MRTN isn’t among the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds (click for Q1 rankings and see the video for a quick look at the top 5 stocks). Video: Watch our video about the top 5 most popular hedge fund stocks.
In the financial world there are a large number of tools investors have at their disposal to grade stocks. A pair of the most under-the-radar tools are hedge fund and insider trading indicators. We have shown that, historically, those who follow the top picks of the best fund managers can outperform the broader indices by a solid amount. Insider Monkey’s monthly stock picks returned 101% since March 2017 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by more than 58 percentage points. Our short strategy outperformed the S&P 500 short ETFs by 20 percentage points annually (see the details here). That’s why we believe hedge fund sentiment is a useful indicator that investors should pay attention to.
Dmitry Balyasny of Balyasny Asset Management
Dmitry Balyasny of Balyasny Asset Managemnet
At Insider Monkey we scour multiple sources to uncover the next great investment idea. For example, blockchain technology’s influence will go beyond online payments. So, we are checking out this futurist’s moonshot opportunities in tech stocks. We interview hedge fund managers and ask them about their best ideas. We read hedge fund investor letters and listen to stock pitches at hedge fund conferences. For example we are checking out stocks recommended/scorned by legendary Bill Miller. Our best call in 2020 was shorting the market when the S&P 500 was trading at 3150 in February after realizing the coronavirus pandemic’s significance before most investors. Keeping this in mind we’re going to review the new hedge fund action encompassing Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN).
At the end of the first quarter, a total of 16 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were bullish on this stock, a change of -6% from one quarter earlier. By comparison, 17 hedge funds held shares or bullish call options in MRTN a year ago. So, let’s see which hedge funds were among the top holders of the stock and which hedge funds were making big moves.
Is MRTN A Good Stock To Buy?
Of the funds tracked by Insider Monkey, Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke and John Campbell’s Arrowstreet Capital has the largest position in Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN), worth close to $10.9 million, comprising less than 0.1%% of its total 13F portfolio. The second most bullish fund manager is 12th Street Asset Management, managed by Michael O’Keefe, which holds a $8.3 million position; the fund has 3.1% of its 13F portfolio invested in the stock. Some other hedge funds and institutional investors with similar optimism include Cristan Blackman’s Empirical Capital Partners, Dmitry Balyasny’s Balyasny Asset Management and Alexander Mitchell’s Scopus Asset Management. In terms of the portfolio weights assigned to each position Empirical Capital Partners allocated the biggest weight to Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN), around 13.23% of its 13F portfolio. 12th Street Asset Management is also relatively very bullish on the stock, dishing out 3.14 percent of its 13F equity portfolio to MRTN.
Since Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) has witnessed bearish sentiment from the aggregate hedge fund industry, it’s safe to say that there exists a select few hedgies that elected to cut their full holdings heading into Q4. Intriguingly, Joel Greenblatt’s Gotham Asset Management said goodbye to the largest stake of all the hedgies watched by Insider Monkey, comprising an estimated $0.4 million in stock. Paul Tudor Jones’s fund, Tudor Investment Corp, also said goodbye to its stock, about $0.4 million worth. These bearish behaviors are interesting, as total hedge fund interest fell by 1 funds heading into Q4.
Let’s also examine hedge fund activity in other stocks – not necessarily in the same industry as Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) but similarly valued. These stocks are GreenTree Hospitality Group Ltd. (NYSE:GHG), Weis Markets, Inc. (NYSE:WMK), Retail Properties of America Inc (NYSE:RPAI), and O-I Glass, Inc. (NYSE:OI). This group of stocks’ market values are similar to MRTN’s market value.
[table] Ticker, No of HFs with positions, Total Value of HF Positions (x1000), Change in HF Position GHG,4,25903,-4 WMK,12,30418,0 RPAI,20,74882,-1 OI,29,255135,9 Average,16.25,96585,1 [/table]
View table here if you experience formatting issues.
As you can see these stocks had an average of 16.25 hedge funds with bullish positions and the average amount invested in these stocks was $97 million. That figure was $47 million in MRTN’s case. O-I Glass, Inc. (NYSE:OI) is the most popular stock in this table. On the other hand GreenTree Hospitality Group Ltd. (NYSE:GHG) is the least popular one with only 4 bullish hedge fund positions. Marten Transport, Ltd (NASDAQ:MRTN) is not the least popular stock in this group but hedge fund interest is still below average. This is a slightly negative signal and we’d rather spend our time researching stocks that hedge funds are piling on. Our calculations showed that top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds returned 41.4% in 2019 and outperformed the S&P 500 ETF (SPY) by 10.1 percentage points. These stocks gained 13.3% in 2020 through June 25th and surpassed the market by 16.8 percentage points. Unfortunately MRTN wasn’t nearly as popular as these 10 stocks (hedge fund sentiment was quite bearish); MRTN investors were disappointed as the stock returned 19.7% during the second quarter and underperformed the market. If you are interested in investing in large cap stocks with huge upside potential, you should check out the top 10 most popular stocks among hedge funds as most of these stocks already outperformed the market in 2020.
Disclosure: None. This article was originally published at Insider Monkey.
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The Top Marijuana Stock to Buy for the Second Half of 2020
Believe it or not, we’re nearly halfway through 2020. It’s been a rough year so far for many marijuana stocks, although a few have fared much better than others.
I expect that the overall cannabis industry will gain some momentum over the next six months. If I’m right, that should be good news for the stocks of leading cannabis companies. But what’s the top marijuana stock to buy for the second half of 2020? My view is that there’s a really strong argument for Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR).
Image source: Getty Images.
Innovative Industrial Properties is running neck-and-neck with Scotts Miracle-Gro as the best-performing cannabis stock in the first half of the year. But while Scotts has benefited from its consumer lawn and garden business as well as its cannabis-focused Hawthorne subsidiary, all of IIP’s success has resulted from its focus on the U.S. medical cannabis industry.
It’s no secret that U.S. marijuana stocks tend to trade at a discount to their Canadian peers. The reason why that’s the case isn’t a secret, either: Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level in the United States.
However, I think that the prospects of U.S. marijuana legalization are now better than they’ve been in a long time — and perhaps better than they’ve ever been. The primary obstacle to legalization in the U.S. hasn’t been the lack of public support or even congressional support. Instead, it’s been Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition.
Polls are now showing, though, that the GOP majority in the Senate could be in jeopardy. If Democrats retake the Senate and hold onto the House as expected, I think that a marijuana legalization bill is likely to be passed by both chambers in 2021. And I predict that it will be signed into law, regardless of who wins the presidency.
If the chances for this scenario unfolding increase in the coming months, it will provide a catalyst to many marijuana stocks. But I think that U.S. marijuana stocks will especially benefit. As one of the strongest companies in the U.S. cannabis industry, Innovative Industrial Properties will see more of its value unlocked as the prospects of federal marijuana legalization grow.
I could be wrong, though. The political winds could shift back into the GOP’s favor, with Sen. McConnell retaining his firm grip on which bills can be brought before the Senate for a vote. The good news is that Innovative Industrial Properties is well-positioned to win even if legalization isn’t on the way.
IIP specializes in providing real estate capital to U.S. medical cannabis operators. It typically buys properties from these companies then leases the properties back to them. The medical cannabis operators receive cash to fund their business and expansion plans. IIP receives a steady, long-term revenue stream.
The growth strategy for IIP is simple. First, the company needs its tenants to keep paying their rent. Second, it has to use its cash to fund more sale-leaseback deals. So far, this strategy is working splendidly. IIP’s revenue more than tripled year over year in the first quarter of 2020 with its earnings per share jumping 118%.
Sure, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a handful of tenants to miss rent payments. But the tenants should resume paying rent next month. They also plan to repay the deferred rent in full over an 18-month period. Most important is that the total amount that IIP didn’t receive in May and June is only 3% of its total annualized revenue.
I don’t think achieving the first part of IIP’s growth strategy will be a problem. The second part shouldn’t be either. IIP has already closed 11 sale-leaseback deals this year.
There’s one other nice benefit that Innovative Industrial Properties offers that we can’t overlook — its dividend. IIP’s dividend yield currently stands at close to 4.6%. The company doesn’t have to generate a whole lot of earnings growth to deliver a market-beating total return as long as the dividend stays at that level.
But IIP’s earnings will almost certainly continue to grow, which means the dividend won’t stay at the current level. As a real estate investment trust (REIT), IIP must return at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders as dividends. As its earnings grow, its dividend will grow too.
It’s possible that another marijuana stock will outperform IIP in the second half of 2020. However, my view is that you won’t find a pot stock that’s more of a sure thing than this cannabis-focused REIT.
Author: Keith Speights