CVS: Amazon Capitulates - Too Cheap To Ignore?

Noah Kiedrowski - Contributor - Biotech - CVS


CVS Health Corporation (NYSE:CVS) recently touched down to a 52-week low of ~$60 per share which is a drastic decline from its all-time high of $112 in 2015 translating into a nearly 50% slide in its shape price. Its P/E ratio is in sub-10 territory against an S&P 500 average of 24, suggesting CVS is roughly 60% cheaper than the average stock. Its decline has unfolded in the face several headwinds that have negatively impacted its growth, and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued the stock. Starting in the latter half of 2015 and still unfortunately persisting, the political backdrop was a significant headwind for the entire pharmaceutical supply chain from drug manufacturers to pharmacies/pharmacy benefit managers (i.e. CVS and Walgreens (WBA)) and the drug wholesalers in-between (i.e. McKesson (MCK), Cardinal Health (CAH) and AmerisourceBergen (ABC)). As an extension of the political climate, the drug pricing debate has not subsided and continues to be a hot-button issue weighing on the overarching sector. In an effort to address these headwinds and restore growth CVS has made a bold $69 billion acquisition of Aetna (AET) to form a colossus bumper-to-bumper healthcare company. This new CVS will combine its existing pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and retail pharmacies with the second largest diversified healthcare company. This is a bold and hefty price tag to pay yet may be necessary to compete in the increasingly competitive healthcare space in the face of drug pricing pressures. CVS is making a defensive yet essential acquisition moving into the future. As CVS transitions and realigns its business to adapt to the changing healthcare space along with Amazon’s (AMZN) competitive threat diminishing, I feel the stock is too cheap to ignore at these levels. Initiating a position near ~$60-$65 may be a substantial long-term investment for long-term value and appreciation.

Amazon’s Healthcare Capitulation

Amazon has officially entered the retail space via the Whole Foods acquisition. It had been rumored for months that Amazon was gearing up to gain entry in the potentially lucrative $560 billion prescription drug space by leveraging the Whole Foods storefronts. The speculation was rooted in Amazon’s ramped up hiring and talent acquisition to build an internal pharmacy benefits manager for its own employees. This internal effort was viewed as a proof-of-concept for the broader drug supply chain effort. Amazon has a health team that’s focused on both hardware and software projects, like developing health applications for the Echo and Dash Wand. Its cloud service, Amazon Web Services, continues to dominate the health, life sciences, and technology market as well. Amazon still has the potential with its technology and reach to disrupt the current marketplace however as of now Amazon has decided to not pursue this business in the near future. Continue reading "CVS: Amazon Capitulates - Too Cheap To Ignore?"

Visa - Heed Slowing Growth and Lofty Valuation

Noah Kiedrowski - Contributor - Biotech - Visa

Heed Slowing Growth

Visa Inc. (NYSE:V) shareholders have witnessed a meteoric rise in share price since the post-Visa Europe integration which provided a double-digit annualized one-time boost to revenue growth and thus was being used as an incorrect growth comparator. Additionally, since Donald Trump was elected president, the vast majority of stocks have seen significant gains, and Visa is no exception, moving from $78 per share in December of 2016 to $126 in January of 2018 or a 60% appreciation. Now that Visa Europe has been fully reflected in its numbers, the double-digit revenue growth ceases to exist, and its lofty valuation is unjustified. Visa’s management has now forecasted revenue growth in the high single-digits for the foreseeable future with EPS growth in the mid-teens, artificially high due to share buybacks. With revenue growth rates slowing to single digits coupled with the past year appreciation and the stock boasting a P/E in excess of 40, I feel that further appreciation is unjustified and entering a position at these heightened levels is not prudent. Furthermore, Visa faces a rapidly changing landscape in the payments and peer-to-peer space with the likes of Pay Pal (PYPL), Square (SQ), Amazon (AMZN) and an emerging platform for bank transfers with Zelle. Blockchain technology also continues to gain ground in a variety of industries, and I feel that it will inevitably enter into the credit card transactions space. Continue reading "Visa - Heed Slowing Growth and Lofty Valuation"

Covered Puts: An Alternative To Buy and Hold

Noah Kiedrowski - Contributor - Biotech - Covered Puts


Options can provide an alternative approach to the traditional buy and hold for the long-term strategy. Options can add value to one’s portfolio in a variety of ways, specifically, maintaining liquidity via maintaining cash to engage in covered put options, initiating positions via being assigned shares strategically prior to or upon expiration of the option contract and capturing premium income via closing out the contract prior to expiration as the shares move in your favor to realize income. Here, I’ll discuss these three different scenarios and strategies behind each one with real life examples.

Maintaining Liquidity and Capturing Premium Income

Maintaining liquidity is integral to any portfolio as cash can be deployed in opportunistic scenarios to capitalize on sell-offs or adding to a long position that has corrected to lower cost basis. Covered puts can be implemented as a means to leverage cash on hand to sell contracts that are covered by cash. This cash would be deployed in an effort to maintain this cash balance yet be put to work via an option contract. This cash reserve can be utilized for selling covered puts thus not purchasing the underlying security with the end goal of never being assigned shares and netting premium income in the process. Once the contract expires, the covered cash allocated to the contract will be freed in addition to the cash that was realized from the option premium at expiration. This scenario will allow cash reserves to be maintained while adding cash via covered put contracts. Continue reading "Covered Puts: An Alternative To Buy and Hold"

IBM - Blockchain Technology Driving Growth

Noah Kiedrowski - Contributor - Biotech - Blockchain

“What the internet did for communications, blockchain will do for trusted transactions.”
— Ginni Rometty, IBM Chief Executive Officer


International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) has struggled in recent years to transition away from its dependency on legacy businesses to the future of cloud, artificial intelligence, and analytics. Despite this long transition of posting 20+ consecutive quarters of declining revenue, IBM has finally posted its first revenue growth in nearly six years. Its long-term imperatives are beginning to bear fruit in emerging high-value segments that has fundamentally changed its business mix while evolving its offerings to align with new age information technology demands. New talent has driven these long-term business initiatives in these key areas as ~50% of its employee base has been added to the company within the last five years. A new frontier of growth lies in the nascent blockchain technology as IBM is a first mover in this promising, emerging technology. As IBM transitions to quarterly revenue growth, per the recent guidance of low single-digit growth, in the backdrop of its evolution to emerging high-value segments (i.e., blockchain) the company presents a compelling investment opportunity. In addition to the evolving business mix, IBM offers a great dividend, share buyback program while continuously acquiring companies to drive the business into the future.

Blockchain Technology and Applications

Blockchain technology is the architecture that underpins the volatile cryptocurrency markets. This technology applies to enterprise applications since it employs a decentralized database, open ledger, and incorruptible transactional capabilities. Blockchain applies to any transactional business model whether it’s financial or goods being transacted. The open ledger concept within the blockchain makes it incorruptible as any changes need confirmation from multiple parties and any changes can be seen at any time with a permission blockchain. As a function of the decentralization, there’s no central repository or clearinghouse to be hacked or accessed. The blockchain speeds up and by-passes these intermediaries (i.e., a clearinghouse of the bank) to achieve transactions within minutes and not days (Figures 1 and 2). Continue reading "IBM - Blockchain Technology Driving Growth"

Immunotherapy ETF Heats Up

Noah Kiedrowski - Contributor - Biotech - Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy Heats Up

The Immunotherapy space has ushered in a new class of therapies to combat a variety of diseases, most notably cancer. Immunotherapy has been emerging from the backdrop of oncology research for years most notably from smaller companies such as Dendreon, Kite Pharma and Juno Therapeutics as leaders in the space. Dendreon was first-to-market with its activated cellular therapy, Provenge® in 2010 followed by a 7-year gap until Novartis’ Kymriah® was approved in August of 2017 which was shortly followed up by the approval of Kite Pharma’s Yescata® in November of 2017.

Now, immunotherapy is at the forefront in oncology as a leading therapeutic which has been shown to cure cancer in previously untreatable patients. Immunotherapy ushers in a new class of promising therapies by harnessing the body’s immune system to recognize and eradicate debilitating diseases, specifically cancer. Immunotherapy has been shown to have a favorable side effect profile and best-in-class efficacy across many different disease states. These therapies may provide a powerful technology to contend with a host of diseases, and in a future state, may potentially serve as a preventative technology similar to a traditional vaccine. Immunotherapy has evolved into many different classifications with differing modalities over the past several years, which has given rise to a growing number mid and small-cap biotechnology companies. In late 2015, The Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (NASDAQ:CNCR) and provides investors with an opportunity to invest in this unique cohort.

Immunotherapy – The Science

Generally speaking, cancer is immuno-tolerant, meaning these cancerous cells evade the surveillance mechanisms of the immune system and thus persist, proliferate and manifest disease within the host. The immune system cannot distinguish cancerous cells from normal host cells thus giving rise to malignancy and metastasis. Continue reading "Immunotherapy ETF Heats Up"