The Mission Report

The MissionIR Report - May 2016

In-depth analysis, timely updates, latest market news


Market News

Company Updates


Commodities Show Weakness

This market is looking undecided at best. Stock futures have pulled back from big gains, and oil has also given up some ground.

Crude was rising partly on supply outages out of Canada and Nigeria. There was also been speculation that Iran could be ready to talk output freeze. But those gains didn't last, and it might be unwise to assume Monday's teardown for oil prices was a one-off.

One reason there is little faith in oil strength is because other big commodities have been breaking down.

The other big player this week is the dollar, which is still riding a nice boost after Japan's finance minister, Taro Aso, said "it will be natural for us to undertake intervention" if the yen keeps moving up. He's now on a second-day jawboning bent.

Let's not leave out some Fed hawks "trying to assure the markets that they should not feel so relaxed about the interest rate hike," which has "renewed interest for the dollar bulls," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets.

Bespoke Investment took an interesting look recently at how U.S. stocks respond to a strong/weak dollar. They noted that a weak greenback accompanied a rally by equities off February lows earlier this year. Crunching the numbers, Bespoke says in the vast majority of long-term periods, they find a stronger dollar has usually been better for stocks.

Someone who doesn't think a strong buck is doing the U.S. economy any favors is GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who said as much while backing off those default comments.

"If you think a strong dollar is a problem, you're a jackass," said Hedgeye CEO Keith McCullough, on his Macro Show on Monday. "Strengthening the purchasing power of the people is the answer. Getting people off the addiction of cheap credit and leverage is the problem."

Key market gauges

Stocks futures were barreling higher, but futures on the Dow and the S&P have pared back some gains. Crude is choppy after Monday's losses.

The API weekly crude stocks oil number is coming later. Europe stocks have pared some gains, too.

The dollar pushed past ¥109, as investors have clearly been paying heed to intervention threats out of Japan. Yen weakness helped the Nikkei rally 2.1% in Asia where markets were broadly higher.

The Call

Monday's selloff for oil is just a taste of things to come, warn analysts at JBC Energy Markets in Austria. They note some "bearish sentiment that is starting to creep into the market," as the general mood is turning sour.

"While you sometimes see analysts put a positive spin on data that surprised negatively, the research pieces and opinions being shared with us overwhelmingly paint a rather bearish sentiment picture," say the analysts. Examples of this include: huge losses for iron ore, a cautious tone out of the Fed and last Friday's U.S. jobs data that failed to convince on growth. Then China trade figures over the weekend weren't so hot.

Brent's dip on Monday to below $44 a barrel — a level that was support from April 20 — means investors should probably start switching from buying dips to selling rallies, say the JBC analysts. They see $40 a barrel for Brent looking "more and more feasible."

Source: Marketwatch

U.S. Dollar's Strength Isn't Crushing the Stock Market

A beefy, hulking dollar. That image has been a recent boogeyman for some market watchers.

A stronger greenback often has been cited as one of the big factors buffeting quarterly results at multinational companies like Apple Inc. and as a result dragging the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower. Dollar strength can mean reduced sales for companies when money is repatriated from a country with weaker currency.

But research firm Bespoke Investment Group, as highlighted in MarketWatch column Need to Know on Tuesday, makes the case that over the longer term, dollar strength is a boon not a bane to boosting value in the broader market.

Over the past six months the U.S. ICE Dollar Index —a gauge of the buck against six rival currencies—has maintained an inverse relationship with stocks. For example, while the dollar gained 2.7%, reaching a high of 100.51, from November 2015 through the end of January, the S&P 500 tumbled 6.7%.

And as the dollar declined 6.5% from February to May, the S&P 500 has climbed by about the same amount.

However, pulling back the lens to offer a two-year look at the dollar's moves compared with stocks reveals that the relationship is more positively correlated. In other words, dollar strength has coincided with a climb in stock values.

The research firm's chart shows that the dollar has advanced about 18% over the past two years, while the S&P 500 has gained nearly 10%.

Of course, correlations in assets are hardly ever clear-cut, but Bespoke goes on to say that in theory, long-term strength in the dollar typically implies that the U.S. economy is healthy, which fosters growth and demand for dollar-denominated assets.

Presently, the dollar has been on a weekly rise, gaining 1.2% in May, while the S&P 500 is down 0.3% and the Dow industrials are off 0.4% during the same period.

So, as market participants wait for the Federal Reserve to make a decision on benchmark interest rates this year amid worries about sluggish overseas growth, that correlation between the dollar and stocks is still looking pretty inverse.

Source: Marketwatch

Status of the Current Bull Run

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) touched 2100 for the first time since last December this week. The index (and the entire stock market) has been on a roll since mid February, and there really isn't any sign that it's going to stop soon. While there have been some half-hearted, occasional sell signals from our indicators along the way, there has never been a confluence of sells that would indicate that this bull run is ending.

Two weeks ago, the SPX had the only correction — if that's what you want to call it — during this two-month run. During that "correction," it closed below its 20-day moving average exactly once, the only time it's done so since Feb. 12. And that minor correction was followed by a strong breakout to new relative highs a week ago. That breakout leaves the 2070 area as near-term support.

Below that, there is more meaningful support at 2040, for that is where the bears really experienced their failure. In the first few trading days of April, the SPX probed down to that level on seven out of eight trading days. On one of those days, the SPX probed below 2040 but couldn't close there. In fact, there was never any downside follow-through during that period, and when the bears couldn't gain any traction, the bulls took over with that upside breakout over 2070.

There is multitudinous resistance between 2100 and the all-time highs at 2135, but this market hasn't had problems with resistance so far. In the accompanying graph, you can see that this rally has pushed through nearly all of the downtrend lines from last year.

What makes resistance is that traders who bought at a certain level – only to see the market fall from there – are so happy to be even again that they sell. In addition, there are certain to be traders who merely look at the chart and see that the SPX topped out at these same levels many times in 2015, so they figure they might as well give it a shot again now. But without confirmed sell signals, these sellers are likely to be proven wrong.

A graph of the SPX with "modified Bollinger Bands" (mBB) drawn on it will show an excellent sell signal back near the beginning of November. It is possible that this rally will continue until a similar mBB sell signal is generated again.

For that to happen, the SPX must first close above the highest Band, and the close below the next lower Band. It almost happened in mid-March, but the SPX never closed above that highest Band. Right now the highest mBB is at 2113 and rising. The speed of its rise depends on realized volatility levels and the placement of the 20-day moving average. A further contraction in volatility might slow its rise a little bit, but the SPX is having trouble catching up to it at the current time.

Equity-only put/call ratios are usually reliable intermediate-term indicators. They gave very timely buy signals this past February and have remained on those buy signals ever since. When the put/call ratio is declining, the stock market should be rising, and that's what has happened. Recently, the rate of decline of the put/call ratios has slowed down, but they have not rolled over to sell signals + a condition which would occur only if the ratios began to trend upward.

Another indicator that we use for broad market signals is breadth. There are two breadth oscillators that we use — one based on NYSE breadth and the other ("stocks only") based on the breadth figures of all optionable stocks. Both of these breadth oscillators are on buy signals, since breadth has been very strong following the recent SPX breakout over 2070.

It is beneficial to the bullish trend if these breadth oscillators quickly become overbought, and they have done so. One might worry that an overbought status would mean that the market is about to pull back, but that is not necessarily the case. A similar overbought reading was registered in mid-March, after the SPX broke through resistance at 2010. The "correction" that occurred — if one can even call it that — lasted about two days.

Volatility indices and derivatives are in a bullish mode as well. Yes, the VIX is in the lower regions of its chart, but as long as it bounces around at these low levels — in the 13 to 16 range — it is in a benign condition for stocks. That is, stocks can continue to rise.

But merely reaching these low levels is not a sell signal. The VIX spent a great deal of the time in the first eight months of 2015 at such low levels. Hence, it can remain at these low levels for relatively long periods of time. A move above 16 by the VIX would be negative, though, for that would indicate an uptrend in volatility, and it is a sell signal for stocks when volatility is trending higher.

The construct of the VIX futures and of the CBOE Volatility Indices remains bullish as well. The futures are trading at healthy premiums to the VIX, and the term structures of both entities continue to slope upward. Those are bullish signs. There was some flattening of the term structure this week, but it is not significant. Only if the term structure were to invert and begin to slope downward would it worrisome for stocks.

There is not a confirmed sell signal among our indicators at this time. Moreover, in a market this strong, one must make certain that the SPX price chart shows weakness, regardless of any other sell signals that might occur. That would mean breaking 2070 at a minimum and perhaps 2040 for certain. That doesn't seem likely soon. The bulls remain in charge.

Source: Marketwatch

Cord Cutting Trend Continues

Nearly every week is a good week if you are a cord cutter. That's because the pieces seem to keep falling together for a more robust video marketplace for those who shun traditional pay-TV service.

In recent days, there's been plenty of signs that cutting the cord will be easier and more satisfying.

Movie lovers are likely anxiously awaiting FilmStruck, a subscription service coming from Turner Classic Movies and The Criterion Collection this fall. Its planned emphasis is art house, independent, foreign and cult films. Expected at launch, TCM and Criterion said last week are more than 500 Warner Bros. movies and more than 1,000 Criterion films — with Seven Samurai, A Hard Day's Night, Mad Max and The Player among them.

Filmmakers and experts will be involved in special events and streaming premieres, too, said Criterion President Peter Becker in a blog post on "We'll bring you carefully selected contemporary films that you might not find anywhere else," he says. Filmmakers will be able to champion their favorite classics, "but now the movies will be available for subscribers to watch right on our channel."

Other providers are looking to provide subscription-based bundles of programming that will be palatable to cord cutters and cord nevers. AT&T is expected to launch three different DirecTV streaming packages — no satellite or set-top box needed — later this year. Hulu is planning to expand its current on-demand video offerings with live broadcast channels from ABC, Fox, Fox News, ESPN, Disney Channel and other Fox channels, including its sports channels.

And Amazon's move to make its Prime Video streaming service available as a stand-alone subscription has Netflix expanding its futuristic purview. Reed Hastings, CEO of the No. 1 online video provider, said last month Netflix might eventually consider allowing downloads of movies, in addition to streaming — something Amazon already allows. "It's something we should keep an open mind about," he said in a conference call after Netflix released its first-quarter earnings.

The future promises not only more streaming services to choose from but also better ways to find stuff to watch. That's the likely result of entertainment tech company Rovi acquiring digital video recorder maker TiVo in a $1.1 billion deal announced about a week ago.

Both companies provide technological solutions for pay-TV providers and online video services alike, with Rovi best known for programming guides and TiVo for its easy-to-use interface that uses "thumbs up" and "season pass" features to identify viewers' favorites.

But TiVo is also committed to cord cutters — case in point, its new 1 terabyte Roamio OTA DVR ($399.99) is aimed those who don't use pay TV but want to watch Netflix and over-the-air TV broadcasts via an antenna. So the likely outcome will be even smarter TiVo guides and products.

All these happenings — and scores more — will help broadband video like Amazon, Netflix, Sling TV to continually cut into the amount of time consumers spend watching "legacy TV" over the next decade, says research firm The Diffusion Group. Its recently released "Future of TV Viewing 2016-2025" report forecasts that the amount of time TV viewers spend, on average, watching broadband video will grow from about six hours per week in 2015 to 16 hours per week by 2025.

Meanwhile, legacy TV will decline from about 34 hours per week to 24 hours per week by 2025. "In other words ... another 10 hours per week of per-capita video viewing will migrate from Legacy TV to Broadband Video services," the researchers say.

Source: USA Today

Number of Job Openings Near Record Highs

America had around 5.75 million job openings in March. That's just shy of the all-time high, 5.78 million openings, set last July, according Labor Department data published Tuesday.

It's great that U.S. businesses are hiring. But these record number of openings are also a sign that business owners can't find the skilled workers qualified to fill the jobs they have.

"Employers are having a tougher time finding qualified workers," says Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.

Since November, the number of job openings has increased for five straight months. In 2007, before the Great Recession began, job openings averaged 4.5 million per month. Last year there were 5.3 million openings per month on average.

The job skills gap is a major reason why there are still high levels of part-time workers and underemployment in the U.S. economy today. It's why many Americans feel disgruntled about the economy.

With a historically high level of underemployment, where workers' skills don't match their jobs, their wages haven't increased much overall during the economic recovery since the recession.

U.S. officials are trying to address the jobs skills gap. President Obama pledged $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs last year, the highest federal commitment ever. Last week during a panel discussion at the Milken Global Conference in Los Angeles, four U.S. governors lamented how hard it is to find skilled workers.

"My number one problem in my state is workforce," Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said.

Small businesses are feeling this. In April, 29% of small businesses said they weren't able to fill open positions, matching the highest rate set over the last five years, according to a survey by NFIB, a small business trade group.

Bridging the skills gap is a mounting task: thousands of manufacturing and mining workers are also losing jobs, forcing them to try new skills. On top of that, many experts say that some employers' expectations of prospective job candidates have risen to levels that are too high.

"No wonder help-wanted signs are everywhere," says Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank.

Source: CNN

Concerns Grow Over Hedge Fund Bunching Effect

Investors are growing agitated at the change. As the hedge fund industry gets increasingly dominated by a small number of big managers, the managers are forced to place more money into the market's few fast-growing, most liquid stocks - in order to be able to sell easily should their fund suffer redemptions.

There is now more overlap between firms than investors would like.

Pete Wasko, head of US and global multi-manager research at Aberdeen Asset Management, which invests $11 billion in hedge funds, noticed that this overlap had increased significantly since the global financial crisis when talking to hedge fund managers ahead of committing to invest with them.

Wasko, whose team sometimes meets more than 20 hedge fund managers in a week, said: "We have been finding more and more that the same names are being pitched. We did not see that level of overlap in previous years."

Wasko said this was largely because most investors tended to be more comfortable investing in large, established hedge funds.

More than two-thirds of assets (68.3%) are invested with hedge fund managers that have more than $5 billion of assets under management, up from 60.4% in 2007, according to HFR data. Over the same period, the size of the industry has increased to $2.86 trillion of assets under management, up from $1.87 trillion in 2007.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs found that the average hedge fund held 68% of long assets in its top-10 positions at the end of 2015, making hedge funds their most concentrated on record. This compares to 33% for a traditional equity fund investing in large-cap stocks, and 22% for an equity fund investing in small caps.

Sinking teeth into tech

There is already a new buzz word – Fang – for the latest group of fast-growing technology stocks that includes Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google, which has since rebranded as Alphabet. Goldman Sachs found these stocks accounted for 1.5% of US equity assets owned by all hedge funds globally at the start of 2015, but that more than doubled to 3.5% over the year.

Facebook and Alphabet are the second and third most popular stock for hedge funds, according to the Goldman Sachs research, with more than 100 funds holding positions in each at the end of 2015.

Wasko said: "In an environment where it is getting harder and harder to find growth, managers gravitate towards the same names. Their investment universe got smaller as global growth slowed."

Wasko added that his team was spending a lot of time on managers that were different. "We want to make sure that any new manager we are adding is not creating an overlap or that we are doubling down on the same bet," he said. "Typically, we are looking for smaller, less-covered names."

Anthony Lawler, head of portfolio management at GAM Alternative Investment Solutions, which has Sfr5.3 billion ($5.5 billion) invested in alternatives, said: "The crowdedness has increased in the past few years as some leading hedge funds have grown larger, so they hold a larger number of shares in each position."


As hedge funds grow their assets under management, Lawler said, they would rather double their investment size in existing positions than double the number of positions they hold.

"Crowded trades can be difficult for investors in hedge funds because the end-investor may get a lot of overlapping exposure, so less diversification than hoped."

Philippe Ferreira, a senior cross-asset strategist at Lyxor Asset Management, which has $8.1 billion invested in hedge funds, said he had sometimes calculated the overlap between event-driven hedge fund returns to be as high as 90%.

Ferreira said hedge fund investors started to become more concerned about this overlap in autumn 2014, when the mega-deal between pharmaceutical companies AbbVie and Shire fell through.

The deal came under pressure when AbbVie announced that it had second thoughts about the $55 billion acquisition after new tax rules made it less economical, sending Shire's stock price down 28% between October 14 and 16.

Ferreira said many funds had been exposed to that trade. Lyxor data showed that event-driven hedge funds lost 5.5% between September 30 and October 14.

In September the following year, many hedge funds got caught out when US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted her disapproval of the decision by new owners of drug Daraprim to raise the price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. The tweet sent share prices of pharmaceutical companies tumbling because investors feared tighter regulation of the industry.

Pharmaceuticals giant Allergan, which was the most popular holding among hedge funds at the end of 2015, with 107 funds owning stock, according to the Goldman Sachs research, suffered alongside Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Baxter International, Depomed and Perrigo.

Lyxor data showed that event-driven hedge funds lost on average 4% in the week starting September 22 alone.

Crowding is usually more obvious when hedge funds are making losses, according to Keith Haydon, chief investment officer of Man FRM, which invests $12.1 billion in hedge funds. "It is always more obvious when the industry is doing badly as losses in one set of positions typically force risk reductions in other areas, and in the end expose the similarities in positioning, which may or may not have been the initial cause of the losses."

Haydon said while it was still possible to build a portfolio of 20 largely uncorrelated hedge funds, there was a large number of undifferentiated hedge funds.

"Investors learnt some painful lessons about the suitability of some of these things to hedge fund formats and are disinclined to repeat the mistake." He added that it was also becoming more difficult to launch niche strategies.

"The result is that hedge fund behaviour has become more crowded in some strategies. This has doubtless contributed to the violence of some market moves and, in turn, to some poor performance from hedge funds."

Source: eFinancialNews

ETF Created for Millennials

Apparently they are companies that will benefit from the rise of Millennials.

These three stocks are all part of a new exchange traded fund that's designed to cash in on the spending power of Millennials -- the Global X Millennials Thematic ETF.

The fund's holdings are based on an index that gets updated periodically. So there aren't fund managers actively picking stocks per se.

At first blush, the ETF doesn't look a lot different than a standard S&P 500 or tech fund. After all, Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and Disney (DIS) are all companies that are pretty popular with Gen X-ers and their Baby Boomer parents.

But if you dig deeper, there are some other holdings that make more sense from a demographic standpoint.

Two real estate investment trusts that own apartment buildings -- AvalonBay Communities (AVB) and Equity Residential (EQR) -- are top ten holdings in the ETF. That seems appropriate given that more younger Americans are delaying home purchases.

Jay Jacobs, Global X's director of research, said the Millennial index and ETF focus on big picture trends for this particular generation -- such as their tech savvy and willingness to move around from job to job more frequently.

With that in mind, online travel company Expedia (EXPE), PayPal (PYPL) and LinkedIn (LNKD) are also top 10 holdings in the fund. Interestingly, so is Home Depot (HD).

Still, should an entire generation be painted with such a broad brush? Especially one as large -- and with as wide an age gap -- as this one? The youngest Millennials were born in 2000. The oldest were born in 1980.

That means that the first Millennials may have more in common with me (born in 1973) while the newest members of this generation are apt to share more similar experiences with my oldest son, who was born in 2009.

Jacobs conceded that many older Millennials are now having kids of their own and moving to the suburbs.

But he noted that the index and ETF will evolve and that stocks will be added and removed based on whatever this generation is spending most on at any given time.

So at some point way down the road, this ETF could wind up looking a lot like another new generational fund that Global X just launched. It's called the Global X Longevity Thematic ETF.

And that fund's top holdings include several big drug companies, medical equipment makers and senior living centers.

Content Checked Holdings, Inc. (CNCK)

CNCK recently expanded its board of advisors, which it officially formed in the first quarter of 2016 to provide guidance to its board of directors and management team regarding the company's business development; marketing and operational matters; and opportunities within the food, health/wellness and nutrition industry. Dennis Fredricks, Esq., a Los Angeles-based attorney specializing in domestic and international business and entertainment law, became the second member of the newly-formed board, joining Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical professor of medicine and the medical director of Doctor Radio on SiriusXM Radio. Fredricks is the managing attorney of the Fredricks & von der Horst law firm, and he currently serves as the counsel and legal advisor to the Consulates General of 10 countries.

"Mr. Fredricks brings to us considerable practical experience having worked with U.S. and international companies in the tech sector and in traditional industries in many branches of commerce," Kris Finstad, president and chief executive officer of CNCK, stated in a news release. "Dennis' understanding and background will help us bring our mobile apps to foreign markets."

About Content Checked Holdings, Inc.

ContentChecked Holdings Inc. is the parent company of a family of mobile applications designed for individuals with specific dietary requirements. Since the official U.S. launch of its first app in early 2015, ContentChecked has continued to build its database of product information obtained from food manufacturers – the database now incorporates 70% of all conventional U.S. products, fully supporting the needs of ContentChecked customers.

Consumers register their food allergies or intolerances with ContentChecked, and simply scan the bar codes of whichever items they are considering purchasing. The app then provides users with information on what products fit their pre-set requirements. This connection between food producers and users is the basis of the ContentChecked business model – a highly engaged consumer, ready to buy, and in need of recommendations.

By initially focusing upon food allergies and intolerances, ContentChecked had access to a marketplace of more than 15 million people in the United States that suffer from food allergies, in addition to a demographic who develop stomach problems as a result of different foods. Though the overall market for food allergies and intolerances is valued at $13 billion in 2015, ContentChecked further expanded its market reach through the launch of MigraineChecked, SugarChecked and VeganChecked applications.

With these offerings, ContentChecked's market reach now extends to the roughly 38 million people in the United States currently diagnosed with migraines; as well as to the largest health-related cost in the country: the 97 million people at risk of developing, or have already developed, Type 2 diabetes. ContentChecked's growth is spearheaded by a talented team of professionals using their experience in entrepreneurial endeavors, sales, marketing and advisory services, nutrition, web design, social media and graphics and data management to help users better manage their food allergies, migraines, and overall health.

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eXp World Holdings, Inc. (EXPI)

EXPI recently announced the appointment of Jason Gesing to the position of chief executive officer of its real estate brokerage division and Vikki Bartholomae to the position of division president. Gesing originally joined EXPI in 2010 before becoming the company's president in October 2013. Under his guidance, EXPI's brokerage division has grown from approximately 300 real estate professionals to more than 1,200, and its revenues have increased by more than 110 percent. Bartholomae brings over 15 years of real estate industry experience to the EXPI team, including over six years as a team leader in the Keller Williams organization, during which time she achieved net agent gain of 192 percent alongside a 56 percent increase in total profits for her market centers.

"I am very excited about Jason and Vikki working together to steward the real estate division of eXp World Holdings," Glenn Sanford, founder and chief executive officer of EXPI, stated in a news release. "I believe, based on my observations over the last six months in particular, that Jason and Vikki working together to lead the real estate division will result in even greater differentiation of the agent ownership model relative to the rest of the industry. I fully expect that the culture of the company will continue to strengthen and that the growth of the company will continue to accelerate."

About eXp World Holdings, Inc.

eXp World Holdings, Inc. is the holding company for a number of businesses, most notably eXp Realty LLC, the Agent-Owned Cloud Brokerage™. eXp Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage offering 24/7 access to a suite of collaborative tools, training features and socialization channels designed to meet the unique needs of real estate brokers and agents. By creating a fully-immersive, cloud office environment for real estate professionals, eXp effectively reduces agents' overhead, increases their profits and provides greater service value to consumers.

Through eXp Realty's innovative platform, agents and brokers are afforded the opportunity to earn equity in exchange for production and contributions to company growth. Additionally, eXp features an aggressive revenue sharing program that pays agents a percentage of the gross commission income earned by fellow professionals they recruit into the company. The result is a shared ownership community featuring a synergistic and collaborative group of forward-thinking, entrepreneurial professionals. With the emergence of the internet as the most powerful property marketing and advertising medium, eXp's internet and cloud technologies have helped thousands of consumers find, buy or sell homes without the need for a brick and mortar real estate office.

Since its launch in October 2009, eXp Realty has experienced rapid growth, with brokerage service now offered in 35 U.S. states and Alberta, Canada. In February 2016, the company officially welcomed its 1,000th real estate professional into its family of agent-owners, up from just 467 agents at the end of 2014. Following this achievement, the Agent-Owned Cloud Brokerage claimed a spot among the top 50 real estate brokerages in the United States based on agent count, according to data from RISMEDIA's 2015 PowerBroker 500 Report.

Similarly, eXp Realty generated record financial results during 2015. Following the launch of two new initiatives – including an online lead generation program and a stock compensation plan – the company achieved a 71 percent year-over-year increase in net revenues, recording $22.87 million for the year. As it continues to expand its footprint across North America, eXp Realty will look to leverage its unique agent-owned business model to continue attracting driven, entrepreneurial agents and real estate industry leaders while promoting sustainable financial growth.

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International Stem Cell Corp. (ISCO)

ISCO recently released its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2015, as well as its year-end results. Through wholly-owned subsidiaries Lifeline Skin Care and Lifeline Cell Technology, the company increased its operating income by 65 percent from the previous year, recording $1.67 million in 2015. The company also made tremendous progress in the development of its core stem cell technology, receiving approval in Australia to start a clinical trial of human parthenogenetic stem cells-derived neural stem cells (ISC-hpNSC®) for the treatment of Parkinson's disease. Following this approval, ISCO entered into a clinical service agreement for a phase I clinical study with the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, one of the world's leading brain research centers.

"2015 was a milestone year for ISCO," Andrey Semechkin, Ph.D., chief executive officer and co-chairman of ISCO, stated in a news release. "In addition to Parkinson's, our scientists are currently evaluating other therapeutic indications based on our stem cell technology platform. We believe that we are on track to bring a stroke program into clinical trial using ISC-hpNSC® and develop a therapy for osteoarthritis using the patient's own cells. We anticipate continued momentum in 2016 and look forward to reporting on our progress."

About International Stem Cell Corp.

International Stem Cell Corp. (ISCO) specializes in the therapeutic applications of human stem cells and the development and commercialization of cell-based biomedical products. The company was the first to develop and perfect a new class of human stem cells called parthenogenetic stem cells, created from unfertilized human eggs. ISCO has a strong patent portfolio offering clean intellectual property and freedom to operate. The company's stem cells present superior immune matching capabilities and can be used in millions of people regardless of sex or racial background, with minimal expectation of immune rejection after transplantation.

The company's human stem cells have been shown to be as pluripotent as embryonic stem cells, however their creation does not involve the destruction of a viable human embryo, which effectively sidesteps the controversy and ethical dilemmas associated with the use of human embryonic stem cells. In contrast to induced pluripotent stem cells, ISCO's stem cells do not involve manipulation of cells' genome thereby avoiding potential safety and regulatory obstacles in clinical applications.

The company's scientists are currently focused on using its stem cells to treat severe unmet medical needs of the central nervous system (Parkinson's disease), the liver and the eye, where cell therapy has been clinically proven but is limited due to the unavailability of safe human cells. Once the technology has been clinically validated there are an essentially unlimited number of potential applications. Because of their immune-matching ability a relatively small number of these stem cell lines could offer the potential of producing the first true stem cell bank as a means of serving populations of different immune types across the globe.

In addition to its therapeutic focus, ISCO also provides a growing revenue stream through two wholly owned subsidiaries. Lifeline Cell Technology specializes in producing primary human cells and growth media for biological research, and Lifeline Skin Care, the company manufactures and markets advanced anti-aging skincare products utilizing the company's expertise in stem cell biology.

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Monaker Group, Inc. (MKGI)

MKGI recently announced a new partnership with, an online global recruiting and career services company, to develop a custom travel club solution for its members. When completed, the new platform will offer customized travel and lifestyle offerings to all of the recruitment company's three million members and followers. MKGI's high quality combination of innovative technology, domain expertise and sizable travel inventory are expected to play a key role in incentivizing the Travel Club, as well as serving as a cornerstone to the service's forthcoming Recruiter Rewards Program.

"We are pleased to be a trusted partner to and look forward to delivering their members a high quality platform and exceptional customer support," Bill Kerby, chairman and chief executive officer of MKGI, stated in a news release. "The partnership gives us another distribution outlet for our growing Alternative Lodging inventory and other travel products within our portfolio. Furthermore, the Travel Club validates Monaker Group's unique ability to build innovative products for both work and play."

About Monaker Group, Inc.

Monaker Group, Inc. (MKGI) is a technology driven travel company focused on leveraging resources to become a significant presence in the fastest growing sector of the $1.3 trillion travel and tourism market. The company's flagship brand,, is the industry's first and only real-time booking engine that features alternative lodging (vacation home rentals, resort residences and unused timeshare inventory), as well as a full selection of airlines, hotels, cruises, rental cars, tours and concierge services. These features are combined into a single, easy-to-use platform that gives travelers complete real-time control when planning and booking their vacations. takes an integrated approach to the needs of travelers by combining multiple booking solutions into a highly intuitive real-time booking platform. Since its launch in February 2016, NextTrip has already grown to more than 250,000 units of vacation rental inventory. Monaker currently has roughly 1 million additional alternative lodging units under contract that will soon be added to the platform. This will place NextTrip among the top three largest vacation rental inventories and rival industry peers, Airbnb and HomeAway, in the rapidly expanding alternative lodging market. Unlike the competition, which book by request which can take hours or days before a lodging owner confirms, NextTrip's platform books in real-time, similar to online hotel bookings.

Most NextTrip listings are in desirable locations in the U.S., the EU and the Caribbean with about 20% exclusive listings. Monaker expects rapid exclusive listing growth because, unlike the competition, Monaker doesn't charge a sign-up fee, just a commission upon booking. The competition charges both. Monaker even has a proprietary solution to unlock Timeshare and Fractional Share properties as rental inventory.

Through strategic partnerships and acquisitions Monaker is now positioned to be a major player in the travel and alternative lodging sector. In addition Monaker is also the parent to Maupintour and Voyage TV.

In business for 65 years, Maupintour still leads the tour industry in the creation of outstanding, unique itineraries and has the highest repeat rate in the tour industry. Maupintour's upscale luxury services create a unique blend with the various product offerings of NextTrip. Voyage TV has thousands of hours of travel footage shot in over 30 countries worldwide. These 15,000 video clips of hotels, resorts, cruise, and destination activities are a treasure trove for vacation travel marketing.

With an established portfolio of travel brands, and a proven record acquiring, consolidating and integrating companies, Monaker is building a diverse and exciting foundation to drive the company's future. According to data from the U.S. Travel Association, direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers topped $650 billion in 2015. When combined with the fact that roughly 64 percent of travel companies are still considered small businesses, Monaker's all-inclusive approach to vacation booking through NextTrip and Maupintour strategically positions it for sustainable growth moving forward.

Monaker is headquartered in South Florida with offices in California. The company is led by a seasoned management team with decades of applicable industry experience. Monaker's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Kerby has over 18 years of experience in the media and travel industries, as well as 10 years of experience in the financial industry.

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Moxian, Inc. (MOXC)

MOXC recently implemented a number of Oracle database solutions as the foundation for its latest payment and transaction platforms, as well as its big data analytics system. Leveraging Oracle's best-in-class performance, MOXC aims to create a clear-cut picture of its targeted customers, their demands and payment data, increasing the marketability of its payment and transaction platform while eliminating the performance bottlenecks commonly associated with the management of massive amounts of data. MOXC expects to lean on the storage space and cost savings provided by the implementation of Oracle's technology to maximize operational efficiency and optimize return on investment in the coming months.

"Moxian is committed to providing high quality services to end-users and the company's merchant clients," James Tan, chief executive officer of MOXC, stated in a news release. "Oracle's solutions meet Moxian's needs with their rich features and best-in-class performance, scalability, stability and reliability. As Moxian continues to expand in domestic and overseas markets, we look forward to furthering our successful relationship with Oracle."

About Moxian, Inc.

Moxian, Inc. engages in the business of providing social marketing and promotion platforms designed to help merchants accelerate and advertise their business growth through social media. These products and services enable merchants to run targeted advertising campaigns and promotions, and aim to enhance the interaction between users and merchant clients by using consumer behavior data compiled from the Moxian database of user activities. The company has two primary core products: Moxian+ User App and Moxian+ Business App.

Developed in Shenzhen, China, Moxian integrates social media, entertainment and business intelligence. The Multi-Channel Social Commerce Platform, which includes a variety of tools such as Moxian's proprietary Social Customer Relationship Management (SCRM) system, generates knowledgeable data for merchants. This way, consumers and businesses are able to connect and interact with one another to achieve the concept of "online lifestyle, offline fun."

Moxian+ User App serves as an App driven for consumer users to use the platform, consisting of our proprietary virtual currency (MO-Coin and MO-Points), social networking, redemption centre and game centre. Users can earn MO-Coins by playing games, and then use those coins to redeem prizes sponsored by Moxian and client merchants. This model not only drives registered consumers to Moxian and merchant, but also provides merchants the opportunity to advertise, run marketing campaigns, and learn about their customers through the Platform.

Moxian+ Business App is an independent App with built in Social Customer Relationship Management tool built for merchants. Merchants are able to set up a store on the Moxian platform through this business App, push promotions via a variety of methods offered on the platform and look at generated report customized to their own shop.

Moxian's management team has more than 100 years of combined experience in a variety of pertinent endeavors, including management of private and public enterprise, multi-national organizations, quality, engineering and procurement, finance, marketing, communication and more. Together, Moxian's management team is effecting the company's aim to create and lead a personalized social network platform that best fits users and businesses.

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Oakridge Global Energy Solutions, Inc. (OGES)

OGES recently released its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2015. Despite remaining in its pre-revenue phase, the company successfully paid off all of its outstanding debts and moved into its new manufacturing facility last year. Since commencing commercial shipments in the first quarter of 2016, OGES has amassed an existing pipeline of orders totaling roughly $24 million by leveraging its proprietary lithium-ion chemistry and technology, which have been shown to increase battery life cycle by as much as 30 percent. The company's year-end cash on hand was $13 million. OGES is benefitting from this cash position by continuing the expansion of its manufacturing facility in Palm Bay, Florida, in order to position itself as a global leader in the rechargeable battery space.

"In 2015 we significantly advanced our strategy to become a leading global rechargeable battery manufacturer focused on military, civilian and medical applications," Steve Barber, chief executive officer of OGES, stated in a news release. "Today, Oakridge is positioned for success with a lean cost structure and growing revenues--in addition, of course, to products and services that continue to make a meaningful impact on [the] lives of customers."

About Oakridge Global Energy Solutions, Inc.

Oakridge Global Energy Solutions, Inc. is an integrated energy storage solutions company focused on the design, development and manufacture of high-quality cells, batteries and power systems. The company's innovative 'Made in the U.S.A.' product line includes multiple lithium-ion technologies and form factors that are optimized to address three high-demand target markets – including stationary and grid storage; motive applications, such as electric and hybrid electric fleet vehicles; and specialty applications, such as military, aerospace, marine, medical and telecom backup.

Through a recent restructuring of its operations, Oakridge strategically positioned itself to expand its market reach moving forward. The company currently owns and operates two manufacturing facilities in Melbourne, Florida, which play an instrumental role in its efforts to meet the growing demand for its cutting-edge large format Pro Series golf car batteries and its small format Patriot Series RC batteries. These operations also allow Oakridge to bring stable employment opportunities back to the U.S., effectively highlighting its tireless commitment to the revitalization of the country's manufacturing industry.

The company also maintains a presence on the international stage through its recently formed subsidiary, Oakridge Global Energy Solutions Limited, Hong Kong. This subsidiary, which is expected to serve as the foundation for Oakridge's sales efforts throughout the Asia-Pacific region, was created primarily to address the tremendous international demand for its revolutionary stored energy solutions. The company also maintains a substantial interest in Leclanche S.A., a Swiss developer and manufacturer of large-sized lithium-ion batteries that was originally founded in 1909.

Oakridge has indicated plans to expand its presence in a collection of markets throughout Europe and Asia as it continues to build upon its established product development and manufacturing infrastructure. The company will lean on the expertise of its proven management team – which includes well over a century of combined industry experience – as it looks to increase its share of the $12 billion domestic battery manufacturing industry.

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OurPet's Company (OPCO)

OPCO recently announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2016. For the three month period ended March 31, the company recorded net revenues of $6.17 million, realizing a year-over-year increase of 10.3 percent. Net income was also up from the first quarter of 2015, with OPCO achieving a record $266,581 for the period. The company also set the stage for future growth in the first quarter when it presented its innovative Intelligent Pet Care™ product line at the Global Pet Expo international tradeshow in Orlando, Florida. This new line features Bluetooth technology and wireless connectivity in order to enhance the bond between pets and their owners while monitoring various activities that can be interpreted as indicators of pet health.

"These results reflect our continued ability to successfully execute our business strategy," Dr. Steven Tsengas, chairman and chief executive officer of OPCO, stated in a news release. "Our E-Commerce and Food, Drug, Mass retail channels led the way this quarter with year over year sales growth of 14% and 8% respectively… We are pleased that all major product categories showed a strong performance with Waste & Odor up 64%, Toys/Accessories up 10% and Bowls/Feeders up 9%."

About OurPet's Company

OurPet's Company develops, produces and markets various pet accessory and consumable products designed to awaken pets' natural instincts, be it in feeding, playing or waste management. Sold globally through pet specialty retailers, food, drug and mass chains, e-commerce and international channels, the company's products are marketed under a the OurPets®, Pet Zone® and PetTastic® brands with well-known sub-brands such as Play-N-Squeak™, Cosmic Catnip™, Durapet, SmartScoop and Flappy. In total, OurPet's has an intellectual property portfolio featuring more than 160 individual patents, giving the company sustainable access to the pet products industry for the foreseeable future.

In recent years, the U.S. pet products and services market has experienced strong growth, with total sales accounting for approximately $73 billion in 2014, according to a report by Packaged Facts. In 2015, this strong performance is expected to continue, building on the recent rise in related ecommerce purchases, as well as an uptick in dog and cat ownership throughout the country. In order to capitalize on this market performance, OurPet's maintains an ongoing new product development program to continually keep an evolutionary and revolutionary new product pipeline feeding its offerings. In July 2015, OurPet's introduced many new products at the national Super Zoo trade show in Las Vegas such as the Catty Whack®, Designer Diner™/Barking Bistro™ and the Zoom Plume™.

The company's capitalization strategy is guided by a management team of experienced industry professionals dedicated to further strengthening its product portfolio through aggressive development of innovative products. Management has a proven track-record of leveraging deep knowledge in the innovation, technology, distribution and pet markets to successfully push through adverse market conditions to achieve increases in revenue, margins and net income.

OurPet's, through its innovative and extensive line of popular pet products, is in a favorable strategic position to continue building upon its recent market growth. For prospective shareholders, this positioning makes the company an intriguing investment opportunity in the months to come. Look for OurPet's to capitalize on steady market performance moving forward, providing an opportunity for the company to realize strong investor returns in the future.

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