Market Morning: Brexit Back’n’Forth, Carrie Lam Booed Off Stage, Buffett Wants BofA, Balkman Blunders

Stock Market Roundup

Brexit News Changing By the Hour As Clock Ticks Down, Again

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Brexit deal, or no Brexit deal, that is the question. Nobody knows the answer, but the news stories just keep coming, with every new one contradicting the last. The latest is that there is no deal, as assessments from unspecified political experts are “gloomy”. Leader of the king maker Democratic Unionist Party, Arlene Foster, is not happy with the prospect of a customs border down the Irish Sea. “Gaps remain and further work is required,” she said. Britain has already made concessions on the Irish border, concessions that not even former PM Theresa May had made in her day, to which she said that no British Prime Minister could ever agree to. Apparently she was wrong because Boris Johnson has already agreed to them. The House of Commons has until Saturday to vote on a deal or Johnson would be forced to seek an extension, unless he wants to be dead in a ditch, which he has previously mentioned was his preference. The pound, meanwhile, keeps getting whipsawed as the news turns.

SEE: Trulieve Cannabis Realign Management Team to Prepare for National Expansion

Carrie Lam Booed Out of Her Own Legislature

Carrie Lam is having a hard time pretending she leads Hong Kong. Protesters within the Hong Kong legislature were heckling her to the point where she could not deliver a speech. They were waving signs showing her waving – meta waving signs if you will – with her hands blood red. She left and then came back again for a second take, but was shouted down again. At this point it looks like a Chinese invasion may be inevitable, which would certainly exacerbate the trade situation between China and the United States. Meanwhile, the US Congress is considering passing legislation supporting the pro democracy protesters in the former British colony. China has threatened retaliation in the event that a bill is passed.

Berkshire Wants More BofA

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) wants more shares of Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), showing Warren Buffett’s high confidence in the US banking system, which may be being buoyed by the Federal Reserve’s commitment to print still more money at a rate of $60 billion a month, which for some reason is no quantitative easing, even though for all intents and purposes it’s the exact same thing. It’s just that we are all supposed to believe that it isn’t. Berkshire had to ask the Fed special permission though, because the firm already owns a 10% stake in the bank, which is the maximum allowed by the central bank. To try to get permission, Berkshire has promised that it would not be an activist investor by trying to influence policy or a change in strategy or corporate structure. However, just by owning so much of the bank, Berkshire is de facto just that, whether it exercises it influence publicly and head on, or in back alley negotiations.

Aphria Profits, Sort Of

Aphria (NYSE:APHA) has skyrocketed almost 25% on positive earnings, though the jump doesn’t mean that much in a broader sense because shares are pretty much back to where they were last week. Further, Aphria’s profits were mostly accounting gimmicks centered in divestments that padded their balance sheet temporarily, and the company actually didn’t make any profits on selling cannabis. C$16.4M in income was reported, on revenues of C$126.1M.

Aphria has convertible debt debentures which change value based on the company’s stock price, and value was booked at higher numbers based on an arbitrary calculation that also padded the figures. This is legal, just insubstantial. Plus, its partial divestment from Althea Group Holdings also helped inflate earnings temporarily. Conclusion – the cannabis space  #marketstill has plenty of dead weight to clear before it can healthfully grow.

Judge Balkman Makes Math Error on Johnson & Johnson

Judge Thad Balkman, who in August ordered Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) to pay $572 million to the State of Oklahoma to help mitigate the damage it caused in its role in the opioid addiction crisis in the state, has apparently used a bad calculator. More likely he pushed the zero button three times too many. As part of the award, Balkman awarded Oklahoma $107,000,000 for treating addicted babies, when the number should have been $107,000. Babies are not that expensive to treat, apparently. “That will be the last time I use that calculator,” the judge told lawyers. It was unclear if he was talking about a calculator or his own brain. Oklahoma attorneys want the judge to clarify whether the judgment is for one year only, or if he can order JNJ to pay even more afterwards.


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