The Mission Report

The MissionIR Report - December 2016

In-depth analysis, timely updates, latest market news


Market News

Company Updates


Housing Market Foreclosures Measured at Bubble-Era Lows

Data provider CoreLogic released a report on Tuesday outlining the recent progress of the U.S. housing market. All told, the housing market is well on its way to recovering from the impact of the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago, though some measures of distress have yet to return to pre-recession levels.

CoreLogic reported that there were 30,000 completed foreclosures during the month of October, marking a year-over-year decrease of 25 percent. Even more impressive, the figure marks a whopping 75 percent decrease from the post-crisis peak of 118,287, which was recorded in September 2010.

Similarly, the number of mortgages in serious delinquency, or overdue by 90 days or more, has fallen sharply in recent months, dropping 25 percent from the October 2015 figure. Just 2.5 percent of all home loans were in serious delinquency in October 2016, the lowest reported total since August 2007.

Still, longer term averages have more work to do before normalizing completely. Between 2000 and 2006, foreclosures in the U.S. averaged just 22,000 per month, according to CoreLogic.

Of the 30,000 foreclosures completed in October, 36 percent were concentrated in just five states, including Florida, Michigan, Texas, Ohio and Georgia. From October 2015 to October 2016, the state of Florida, in particular, accounted for 51,256 of the nation's 411,144 foreclosures, maintaining a serious delinquency rate of 3.6 percent as of October 2016. For comparison, North Dakota reported just 278 foreclosures during the same period with a serious delinquency rate of just 1.0 percent.

Since the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, an estimated 6.5 million foreclosures have taken place across the nation.

Bill Gates Shows Optimism for Trump Leadership

It's not hard to find a skeptic of President-elect Donald Trump. Just turn on the TV, and you're almost certain to hear someone voicing his or her opposition to the incoming President. However, billionaire Bill Gates is approaching a Trump White House with an optimistic outlook.

After a sit-down with President-elect Trump on Tuesday, Gates made an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box," during which he stated that Trump has the opportunity to establish "American leadership through innovation."

Instead of focusing on his concerns from the Trump campaign, which has drawn the ire of pundits from both sides of the aisle, Gates focused on the underlying principles behind the President-elect's message. Gates stated that Trump's message typically focuses on "where he sees things not as good as he'd like."

Gates didn't stop there. In addition to focusing squarely on the potential for positive outcomes that could stem from a Trump administration, Gates compared the President-elect's opportunity for innovation to the situation that John F. Kennedy had when taking the oval office.

"I think whether it's education or stopping epidemics, other health breakthroughs, finishing polio, and in this energy space, there can be a very upbeat message that his administration is going to organize things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership through innovation be one of the things that he gets behind," Gates stated in the interview.

Gates concluded the interview by noting that Trump will have "a lot of flexibility" on the issues at which he chooses to take aim going forward, as he was elected for his leadership style more so than specific policies. Still, the billionaire cautioned that risking trade deals with countries like China would be harmful to the economy in the long term.

Trump's meeting with Gates comes during a week filled with tech talks for the next President. He also attended a roundtable discussion on Wednesday with leaders in the tech industry, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, among others.

International Energy Agency Increases 2017 Oil Demand Forecast

Investors in energy have a pivotal few weeks coming up, as proposed production cuts by both OPEC and non-OPEC countries are set to guide the short-term trajectory of oil prices, according to a new monthly report by the IEA.

"For contractual and logistical reasons, we might initially see that the output cuts do not fall neatly into place," the IEA stated in a report issued on Tuesday. "The deal is for six months and we should allow time for it to be implemented before re-assessing our market outlook. Success means the reinforcement of prices and revenue stability for producers after two difficult years; failure risks starting a fourth year of stock builds and a possible return to lower prices."

Beginning in January, OPEC countries are set to cut production by 1.2 million barrels a day. Non-OPEC members, such as Russia have also joined in on the efforts to send oil prices higher. Neil Atkinson, head of the IEA's oil industry and markets division, notes that it was in the "mutual interest" of OPEC and non-OPEC countries to reach this agreement.

"We know the financial situation of many of the producers is fairly challenging whether they are OPEC and non-OPEC," Atkinson told CNBC on Tuesday. "The main dynamic which is facing all of the producers, whether they are OPEC or non-OPEC, was that had the current market situation remained in place we would have gone into 2017 and probably through most of 2017 with the oil market still in considerably surplus supply over demand, and that would be the fourth year in a row where that situation prevailed."

It's worth noting that OPEC also announced a production cut for last month before producing 34.2 million barrels per day, which was 300,000 more than in October and a record high.

Pointing toward rising demand in Russia and China, the IEA has upped its forecast for global oil demand next year. The agency is now forecasting demand at 1.3 million barrels per day in 2017, an increase of 110,000 barrels per day over its previous estimate.

Oil Prices Rise After Agreement to Cut Production

Oil hit $54 a barrel, its highest price in nearly a year and a half, earlier this week after Russia and a number of other producers joined OPEC members in plans to cut production in January. Similarly, U.S. crude futures spiked by more than five percent on Monday upon news of the agreements.

"There is optimism in the market that finally the oil glut will soon dissipate," Ali Hamoudi, CEO of Adaa Financial Services in Dubai, told CNN earlier this week.

Russia is joined in the production cutbacks by a group of non-OPEC nations that includes Mexico, Kazakhstan and Oman. According to a statement, the group will aim to reduce production by 558,000 barrels a day next month. OPEC cut a deal last month to cut its overall production by 1.2 million barrels a day.

The OPEC agreement came after months of tense negotiations between de-facto leader Saudi Arabia and regional rival Iran. The goal is to eliminate the supply glut that has hampered oil prices for well over a year, and, in turn, boost crude prices. Prices have already doubled from a low of near $26 per barrel in February.

"Saudi Arabia was the main driver for this deal to come through," added Hamoudi.

A key contingency of the OPEC production reduction is a similar agreement to limit production from non-OPEC producers. While the agreement between Russia and its partner nations is a step in this direction, several major producers, including the U.S. and Canada, have made no commitments to limit production in early 2017.

"The question which troubles some investors is whether the higher oil price will give the U.S.'s shale oil production a new lease of life," Naeem Aslam, chief analyst at Think Markets in London, told CNN.

Dow Climbs to Record Highs with Major Milestone in Sight

For nearly 120 years, the Dow Jones industrial average has been on a collision course with 20,000 points, and that journey is rapidly nearing its destination. On Tuesday, the blue chip stock index, which got its start way back in 1896, climbed to within 47 points of the milestone.

The recent surge continues to build on the Election Day excitement. Over the past month, the index has charged ahead by roughly nine percent from about 18,300. For reference, the Dow crossed the 10,000 mark during the Internet stock boom in 1999.

"Dow 20,000 is in sight," Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, told USA Today. "If we get there, it should be exciting."

The Dow has suffered through a couple of brutal bear markets since its 1999 milestone, including the dot-com stock crash from 2000 to 2002 and the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009.

This week's push comes as the Federal Reserve discussed the latest interest rate hike in its December meeting. Despite the fact that low rates have been a major driver of stock prices for the past seven years, Wall Street is currently ignoring the threat of higher borrowing costs. Instead, traders are focusing on the potential economic benefits of lower tax rates, loosened regulation on business and a larger infrastructure budget under the incoming Trump administration.

On Wednesday, the Fed announced its intention to hike interest rates for just the second time in a decade. Officials also added another hike to its forecast for 2017. These hikes signal a new chapter, as the Fed has kept rates near zero since the 2008 global crisis. Wednesday's efforts are seen as a step toward normalizing policy.

Things to Consider as the Dow Approaches 20,000

Wall Street is betting on President-elect Donald Trump to strengthen the economy, and the Dow Jones industrial average is surging as a result. The 20,000-point milestone is within reach, with the surge marking a departure from market attitudes following the election of Barack Obama.

"Most investors think of round numbers as good," Robert Dowling, a certified financial planner with Modera Wealth Management in New Jersey, told USA Today. "I wouldn't say someone should make a specific move" based on the 20,000 milestone. Despite the excitement regarding 20,000, there are a number of things for investors to keep in mind in order to avoid getting swept up in the moment. Jude Boudreaux, a certified financial planner with Upperline Financial Planner in New Orleans, offered a few suggestions in an article that was originally published on

1. Asset Allocation
"We keep hitting new highs in U.S. markets, and valuations are at historical highs, especially compared to international equities, which are at historical averages," Boudreaux stated in the article. With this in mind, he suggests reviewing your portfolio to ensure that you don't have too much exposure in a particular area. "When the market hits new highs, we have to ask ourselves if it's time to sell even just part of our portfolio, but that's never the way our brains work."

2. Tax Implications
It's that time of year once again, and tax strategy is a major part of any successful investor's playbook. Boudreaux suggests considering gifting appreciated stock or mutual funds to a charity or working with your tax adviser to determine your percentage of capital gains. Remember, capital gains are capped at 15 percent.

3. Upcoming Expenses
Buy low, and sell high. With the Dow hovering at record highs, it could be a good time to consider any expenses you'll need to cover in the near-term. Paying off credit card debt, refinancing your mortgage or funding a home improvement project could be a great reason to sell off a few assets to build a cash cushion. While no one knows exactly what the markets will do months from now, proper planning can eliminate some of the guesswork.

4. The Number
Itself Boudreaux uses the article to remind investors that, despite the fantastic roundness of 20,000, it's ultimately just a number. Years from now, 20,000 will likely just be another milestone in the Dow's long history, so don't base trading decisions on it. "Don't say, 'OK, the market is going to crash, so I'm selling everything or buying more of whatever is doing well,'" Dowling added. Remember to plan based on what's best for your situation.

eXp World Holdings, Inc. (EXPI)

EXPI continues to expand both the presence of and the size of its The Agent-Owned Cloud Brokerage™. In Oklahoma City alone, the company has seen its number of agents and brokers more than triple since the start of the year. Based on surveys conducted by The Oklahoman Newspaper, and its partner, Workplace Dynamics, eXp Realty was recently named the 2016 Top Workplace in Oklahoma. In June of this year, eXp Realty was also recognized as a Top Workplace by both The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The company was also named a Top Workplace in Atlanta in 2015. EXPI currently has more than 2,100 agents and brokers in its network and is on course to top 2,200 by year-end.

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Monaker Group, Inc. (MKGI)

MKGI earlier this month partnered with to launch a travel service and loyalty program geared toward Recruiter's executive-level client base. The program gives members access to discounted travel and vacation packages, along with several additional special member benefits. "The demographics of our members suggest they have high demand for both business and leisure travel. As a known innovator in the employment arena, we saw the ability to be a first mover by delivering a specialized travel platform that offers value and convenience," says Miles Jennings, CEO of "Our partners at Monaker Group have helped develop an outstanding technology platform that bundles together an incredible array of travel services and products. We are excited to offer such a valuable program as a thank you to our members without cost."

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National Waste Management Holdings, Inc. (NWMH)

NWMH operates a licensed 54-acre landfill in Hernando, Florida, that disposes of roughly 240,000 cubic yards of construction waste each year. Its offerings include a transfer station, garbage collection, and container services for both commercial entities and residential customers in Central Florida and Upstate New York. Branching from this core operation, NWMH employs a strategic acquisition model aimed at saturating the East Coast solid waste management market. "Our goal is to do one acquisition a quarter, and we are going to meet that goal," Paveglio told host Stuart Smith in a recent NNW interview ( "We plan on finishing one up here in the fourth quarter and in 2017 we already have a couple acquisitions that we are doing due diligence on and we intend to roll those in on the first two quarters of 2017."

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VBI Vaccines Inc. (VBIV)

VBI Vaccines Inc. (NASDAQ:VBIV; TSX:VBV) kicked off the month of December by closing $23.6 million in concurrent equity and debt financing transactions with Perceptive Advisors. The transaction increased Perceptive Advisor's beneficial ownership of VBI to 15.8% of issued and outstanding common shares on an undiluted basis. VBIV said it will use the proceeds to advance its pipeline of vaccine candidates. "This financing provides VBI with sufficient resources to take us through key program milestones into 2018. We are honored and grateful for the continued support and confidence from Perceptive Advisors. Our strong and strategic relationship with the team at Perceptive Advisors is a tremendous asset for VBI," said VBIV president and CEO Jeff Baxter.

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Ballard Power Systems (BLDP)

As part of its vision to become the leading global provider of innovative clean energy solutions, Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ: BLDP; TSX: BLD) recently signed a long-term sales agreement with Poland-based Solaris Bus & Coach for the sale and supply of fuel cell modules to support deployment of Solaris fuel cell buses in Europe. The company in October reported Q3 revenue of $20.6 million, a YoY increase of 29%, as well as several operational achievements on par with its global mission. "On our China strategy, we announced and closed a manufacturing license and joint venture transaction valued at a minimum of $170 million over 5-years and entered into a strategic alliance framework agreement and MOU with Broad-Ocean. Audi AG accelerated certain development activities under our long-term Technology Solutions program. In addition, we signed an agreement with Toyota Tsusho for the distribution of Ballard products in Japan," said BLDP president and CEO Randy MacEwen.

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The Trendlines Group Ltd. (TRNLY)

The Trendlines Group Ltd.'s (OTCQX: TRNLY) medical portfolio company, Gordian Surgical Ltd., in early December completed a successful $25.5 million fund raising and announced FDA approval of its TroClose 1200™. TroClose1200 – which also carries CE Mark certification – offers surgeons a "two-in-one" functionality, activing as a trocar through which surgical instruments enter the abdomen, and a device to close internal incisions made during surgery. Gordian began human trials in 2016 to demonstrate safety and efficacy of TroClose1200, and has completed all 50 laparoscopic procedures in the clinical phase. Additionally, TRNLY performed the first seven cases (defined as post-marketing surveillance) in Europe, including at the IRCAD in Strasbourg, France, and during the live surgery in Germany.

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