$4k cashbacks: SA investors winners of new home loan war

Property investors are set to be the winners of a new home loan battleground, as buyer activity in South Australia surges.

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Tesla Model S Plaid Deliveries Start In First Gear; S&P 500 Hits High; Google, RH In Buy Zones| Investor’s Business Daily

Dow Jones futures rose slightly Friday morning, along with S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures. The stock market rally on Thursday shrugged off a hot inflation report, with the S&P 500 index hitting a record high and Treasury yields fresh lows.


A bipartisan group of senators announced an infrastructure deal late, but will party leaders back it? Tesla CEO Elon Musk held a low-key, no-surprise Model S Plaid event Thursday night, announcing that deliveries will start with a slow ramp up.  Tesla stock rose slightly early Friday after reclaiming a key level Thursday.

In Thursday’s session, several stocks broke out or flashed buy signals, including RH (RH), Signet Jewelers (SIG), Zscaler (ZS), CrowdStrike (CRWD), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) and Adobe (ADBE).

Meme stocks sold off Thursday, including GameStop (GME), AMC Entertainment (AMC), Clover Health (CLOV), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) and Workhorse Group (WKHS).

Some bounced back somewhat, including GME stock and AMC.

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Homebuilders fell sharply, including Century Communities (CCS), LGI Homes (LGIH) and D.R. Horton (DHI). That continues their weak performance despite sliding Treasury yields.

Several hot stocks sold off as share offerings priced, after the sale plans knocked them earlier this week. Those include Celsius (CELH), PLBY Group (PLBY) and Rev Group (REVG). All three lost 15% or more. CELH stock has a clearly failed breakout while PLBY stock wiped out an early entry. REVG stock broke below the low of a base.

Adobe and Google stock are on IBD Leaderboard and Long-Term Leaders. Google, CELH stock and CRWD stock are on IBD 50.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal?

A bipartisan group of 10 senators — five from each party — say they’ve reached a “tentative understanding” on an infrastructure spending deal without explicit tax increases. The package reportedly includes $579 billion in additional spending. Including baseline outlays, spending would be $974 billion over five years or $1.2 trillion over eight. The senators suggest indexing the gas tax to inflation, providing a de facto increase, and using unused Covid funds.

But it’s unclear if President Biden or congressional leaders from either party will go back it.

Dow Jones Futures Today

Dow Jones futures rose 0.25% vs. fair value. S&P 500 futures climbed 0.15% and Nasdaq 100 futures advanced 0.15%.

The 10-year Treasury yield kept sliding, dipping two basis points to 1.44% after hitting 1.43% overnight.

Copper futures rose 2%, a positive sign for various mining stocks.

Remember that overnight action in Dow futures and elsewhere doesn’t necessarily translate into actual trading in the next regular stock market session.

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Stock Market Rally

The stock market rally rallied at Thursday’s open but then pulled back in late morning, with the Nasdaq briefly turning negative. But the major indexes rebounded.

The 10-year Treasury yield initially rose modestly on the hot inflation report, but reversed lower to 1.46%, setting new three-month lows. Bond traders do not appear concerned with inflation or the Federal Reserve, which meets next week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1% in Thursday’s stock market trading, with Apple (AAPL) and Caterpillar (CAT) weighing on blue chips. The S&P 500 index climbed 0.5%. The Nasdaq composite advanced 0.8%. The small-cap Russell 2000 retreated 0.8%.

Among the best ETFs, the Innovator IBD 50 ETF (FFTY) retreated 1.7% due to some sharp individual losers. The Innovator IBD Breakout Opportunities ETF (BOUT) rose 0.5%. The iShares Expanded Tech-Software Sector ETF (IGV) gained 1.8%. ADBE stock is the No. 1 component in IGV, which also owns CRWD and ZS stock. The VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH) rose 1.3%.

SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF (XME) dipped 0.4% and Global X U.S. Infrastructure Development ETF (PAVE) slid 1%. U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS) also fell 1%. SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) retreated 1.1%, with the ETF losses minimized because RH stock is the No. 1 component.

Reflecting more-speculative story stocks, ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) popped 1.9% and ARK Genomics ETF (ARKG) 2.7%. ARKK closed just below its 50-day and 200-day lines, while ARKG reclaimed those levels on Wednesday. Tesla stock is the No. 1 holding for ARK Invest across its ETFs.

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Tesla Model S Plaid Event

Tesla (TSLA) finally held its Model S Plaid event Thursday night, touting the revamped luxury electric sedan.

The Model S Plaid can go from a rolling start to 60 miles per hour in just under two seconds. But Plaid deliveries will take a lot longer to pick up.

At the end of the brief event, Elon Musk said Tesla will begin deliveries of 25 Plaid sedans “now.” He said that’ll soon pick up to hundreds per week, reaching 1,000 per week in the third quarter.

The EV giant paused Tesla Model S and X production for months as it switched over to “Plaid” versions. Elon Musk originally said in late January that Model S Plaid deliveries would begin in February.

The Model S Plaid looks very similar to the decade-old Model S on the outside. But the interior has been refreshed somewhat. Elon Musk touted the new screens and sound system, as well as the Plaid’s video game capabilities.

On Wednesday, Tesla raised the price of its high-end Plaid by $10,000 to $129,990. But that top-of-the-line Plaid won’t hit 200 mph, as previously claimed, until the right tire and wheel mix is available in the fall.

On Sunday, Musk canceled the Plaid Plus, saying the Plaid is “so good.” The Plaid Plus, which was priced well above the Plaid, was supposed to have a range topping 500 miles.

The Model S Plaid Plus cancellation could reflect further trouble with mass producing 4680 battery cells. If so, that would be a bad sign for the Tesla Semi and Cybertruck, both of which are slated to use the 4680 cells.

The Plaid event had no surprises about batteries, the Cybertruck or any other Tesla vehicle or project.

Tesla stock climbed slightly in premarket trade.

On Thursday, Tesla stock popped 1.9% to 610.12, reclaiming its 200-day line. TSLA stock remains below its sliding 50-day line.

RH Stock

RH stock surged 16% to 707.14, rebounding from its 50-day line and breaking a trend line. The upscale furniture retailer reported booming earnings and revenue growth, guiding higher on sales and margins. RH stock is 8.1% above its 10-week line, so it’s actionable here. But investors could wait to see if it forms a handle. RH stock is on track to have a base with a 733.15 buy point after Friday.

Signet Stock

Signet stock vaulted from its 50-day line to a record high, clearing a flat base with a buy point of 68.39/68.46. Shares hit an intraday high of 74.80 but then slashed gains before rebounding somewhat. Signet stock closed up 14% to 69.58.

The relative strength line for SIG stock hit a new high. The RS line, the blue line in the charts provided, tracks a stock’s performance vs. the S&P 500 index.

Zscaler Stock

Zscaler stock popped 4.55% to 204.91, moving above a double-bottom buy point of 199.60, after hitting resistance multiple times at just below 200. The last time was on May 26, following strong Zscaler earnings. ZS stock broke a tiny trend line earlier in the week.

The RS line for Zscaler stock is off the February peak but is at a three-month high.

CrowdStrike Stock

CrowdStrike, another cybersecurity play with a similar chart to ZS, jumped 6.85% to 228.60, breaking past resistance right around 227. CRWD stock was actionable from a short trend line break; again, much like ZS stock. The official buy for CRWD stock is 251.38.

Adobe Stock

Adobe stock rose just over 4% to 535.52, a record close and clearing a 525.54 early entry in a nine-month consolidation. ADBE stock is 5.8% above its 10-week line, which can be an attractive buying area for Long-Term Leaders. But, Adobe earnings are due June 17, giving new investors little time build a cushion in ADBE stock.

The RS line for Adobe stock is trending higher again, but has fallen significantly since last September.

Google Stock

Google stock edged up 1.1% to 2,435.13, edging past a 2,431.48 buy point from a flat base. The RS line hit a record high along with GOOGL stock, giving the weekly MarketSmith chart a very bullish blue dot.

GME Stock

GME stock plunged 27% to 220.39. GameStop stock is now down 11% for the week despite rising in the prior three sessions.

Late Wednesday, GameStop topped earnings views and named two Amazon execs to be its CEO and CFO. But it also said it might sell 5 million shares of GME stock, at a time when investors are punishing stock offerings. GameStop also disclosed an SEC probe related to trading in the stock.

Executives also again didn’t take questions in a brief GameStop earnings call.

Other Meme Stocks

Clovis Health slumped 15% to 14.34 after reversing from record highs Wednesday to close down 24%. While CLOV stock hasn’t erased Tuesday’s 86% gap-up surge, it has fallen below that day’s low. So anyone who actually bought CLOV stock on Tuesday is now down.

AMC stock skidded 13% to 42.81. Since the wild June 2 gap up, AMC stock has remained within that day’s trading range.

WKHS stock slid 11%. BBBY stock fell 8%.

Most investors should avoid meme stocks. The wild moves offer the potential for huge gains but also massive losses. Given the weak fundamentals and often-poor company prospects, most of these stocks are likely to see huge declines over time.

But if you’re going to play meme stocks, buy them as they clear some plausible resistance on a chart. Do not chase them. Consider using options so you can size your potential loss up front. Consider at least partial profits quickly and be ready to cash out before seeing a massive gain turn into a loss.

Market Rally Analysis

The S&P 500 index finally moved above its early May peak to an all-time high, despite the late morning wobble. The Dow Jones and Nasdaq are closing in on record territory. The Russell 2000 is pulling back but after a strong run.

However, the S&P 500 has been nudging higher, not showing real power in the past couple of weeks. Tracking volume on the major indexes is tricky when meme stocks are in play, with CLOV stock trading more than 700 million shares on Tuesday.

But new buying opportunities continue to appear, as RH, Zscaler and even Adobe stock show. Some stocks rebounded bullishly from early losses, including Roblox (RBLX). Miners and many other stocks are quietly forming positive consolidations.

Chip-gear makers and many medicals had solid sessions.

But it’s still a tricky stock market rally.

Homebuilders are breaking down despite falling Treasury yields. Financials are struggling. After opening higher as the 10-year yield nudged up, they retreated once again as interest rates hit fresh lows.

The brutal sell-offs in CELH stock and others announcing and pricing share offerings is something to note. Sometimes, stocks quickly shake off share offering news, but not always. With a lot of new IPOs in recent months, investors have to be ready for share offerings and lock up expirations.

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What To Do Now

Buying as close to the buy point as possible, at least with your initial position, is crucial in the current market environment. As a stock gets extended, don’t chase it.

To avoid missing out, do your homework. Build up those watchlists, taking a closer look at a select handful of nearly actionable stocks. Stay engaged with the market, using alerts when possible to catch breakouts as they’re happening. That way, you can buy the right stocks at the right time.

Even if you do everything right, some of your buys are going to struggle or fail. The key is to keep those losses small.

Read The Big Picture every day to stay in sync with the market direction and leading stocks and sectors.

Please follow Ed Carson on Twitter at @IBD_ECarson for stock market updates and more.


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Eco investors turn up the heat on Shell over climate target

Voting at the oil giant’s annual meeting this week could see Follow This activists making trouble over emissions

Shell is braced for its largest climate rebellion this week as shareholders face the choice between backing the oil giant’s carbon-cutting plans or siding with an activist investor who is calling for tougher emissions targets.

With its annual meeting planned for Tuesday, the Anglo-Dutch company has called on its investors to vote against a shareholder resolution from campaign group Follow This in favour of its own plans to reduce its emissions to “net zero” by 2050.

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Victorian property investors hit with land tax, stamp duty increase in state budget

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas says next week’s state budget will include tax increases and public sector savings as the government takes the “hard and necessary actions” needed to rebalance the books.

Mr Pallas said $2.7 billion would be raised by a suite of measures including an increase to land tax for taxable properties worth more than $1.8 million.

The Treasurer said the “modest” increase would only affect a fraction of the 10 per cent of Victorians who pay land tax, which is not paid on owner-occupied homes.

“All up, we invested $49 billion in the last budget to support families and businesses through the pandemic using our balance sheet,” Mr Pallas said.

The changes will see the land tax increase by 0.25 per cent for taxable land holdings between $1.8 million and $3 million, and 0.30 per cent for taxable land holdings in excess of $3 million.

Fines set to rise again after pandemic freeze

A new windfall gains tax will be also introduced for properties whose value is boosted by a council rezoning.

The tax will only apply to properties where the value is boosted by more than $100,000, with a 50 per cent tax on windfalls above $500,000.

Mr Pallas said the move would claw back around $40 million a year from developers and speculators who made huge profits after a local council’s “stroke of a pen” to rezone industrial land for residential use.

“There needs to be a balance between those wanting to buy their first property and large property investors who continue to profit from soaring property values,” he said.

A premium stamp duty will also be introduced, with property transactions above $2 million attracting a $110,000 duty plus 6.5 per cent of the dutiable value in excess of $2 million.

After a freeze during the pandemic, fines and penalties will begin to rise once again.

Mr Pallas said the fine for using a mobile phone while driving would increase by $49 to $545, while the first level speeding fine will rise by $20 to $227.

Public sector facing an overhaul

The government will also revoke land tax concessions for private gender-exclusive clubs such as the Melbourne Club, which has all-male membership.

Mr Pallas said the concessions were intended for not-for-profit societies, rather than “increasingly anachronistic” elite clubs.

“We’re not saying that they’re illegal, we’re simply saying you shouldn’t get the gift of the taxpayer to conduct these bodies and certainly from our point of view the idea of male-only clubs, their time is well and truly passing,” he said.

He said there were not expected to be large savings made in that move, which was more about sending a message to the community.

Mr Pallas also flagged part of the budget would involve measures to cut back-office public sector costs as well as spending on consultants and contractors.

When asked if public sector workers would lose their jobs, he said there would be some “workforce transition” and the government would work closely with the public sector and unions.

“It doesn’t mean a smaller public service but it does mean we will be redirecting the effort of the public service to the areas and priorities that the government sets,” he said.

Government lays out private partnership to boost public housing

The government has also laid out how a private-public partnership will create hundreds of social housing units as part of its $5.3 billion public housing build.

Under the plan, 1,110 new homes will be built on government-owned land in Brighton, Flemington and Prahran — which the government said would replace 445 “outdated” social housing units at the sites which had already been demolished.

The homes will be a mix of 619 social housing dwellings, 126 affordable homes and 365 market rental homes, including 52 specialist disability accommodation dwellings.

The government will put in $50 million while a private consortium will provide $465 million upfront to construct the homes.

The consortium will have a lease on the sites for 40 years, collecting income from the rent and maintaining the properties.

An aerial view of public housing towers and a green highlighted zone of vacant land beside them where a build is planned.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne says he hopes to have construction at the sites underway before the end of the year.(

Supplied: Victorian government


The state government will repay the $465 million to the consortium during that 40-year period.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said after that time, all the property and homes would return to government hands to become social housing.

“This is the first time that a government has implemented what is called a ground-lease model,” he said.

“It’s a very innovative proposal and one that I think changes the way that we in fact deliver social and public housing.”

Mr Wynne said there would be “full consultation” with local communities on the design and he hoped to have construction underway before the end of the year.

Managing director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Michael Fotheringham, said the model was “international best practice for increasing supply of social and affordable housing”.

“This is a really good way to approach large-scale development, mixed-tenure development,” Dr Fotheringham said.

But he said it was important to note that there was still a substantial amount of work required to meet the national demand for social housing.

“We have enormous unmet demand for social housing in this country,” he said.

“Over the next 20 years we need hundreds of thousands of properties, social housing properties, so the Victorian government’s approach is leading the nation at the moment … it’s the sort of investment we need to see across the country, not just over the next four or five years, but for the next 20.”

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Warren Buffett’s warning to novice investors in wake of GameStop surge

“This economy right now — 85 per cent of it is running in a super high gear — and you’re seeing some inflation and all that. It has responded in an incredible way,” Buffett said.

Munger openly questioned the value of cryptocurrencies. “I don’t welcome a currency that is so useful to kidnappers and extortionists and so forth,” Munger said.

“Nor do I like shovelling out a few extra billions and billions and billions of dollars to somebody who just invented a new financial product out of thin air. I think I should say modestly that I think the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilisation.”

“The gambling impulse is very strong in people worldwide and occasionally it gets an enormous shove. It creates its own reality for a while, and nobody tells you when the clock is going to strike 12 and it all turns to pumpkins and mice,”

Warren Buffett

Buffett said he doesn’t regret selling off Berkshire’s $US6 billion stake in all the major airlines last year even though those stocks have grown significantly since he sold them. Buffett also said he thinks the airlines might not have been able to secure as much government aid as they have during the pandemic if they still had “a very rich major shareholder like us.”

Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire is sitting on $US145.4 billion ($188.4 billion) in cash and short-term investments because Buffett has struggled to find major acquisitions for the company for several years.

Investor Cole Smead said he would love to see the company get more active the next time the market swoons.

“We do not question whether Buffett and Munger have patience. That’s obvious. The question is do they have any aggression. That’s not obvious,” Smead said.

Buffett said he wants to invest more of Berkshire’s cash, but the current competition he faces from private equity and other investment funds has made it difficult for Berkshire to find reasonably priced acquisitions. And the 90-year-old said that a year ago, it was hard to predict how the economy would respond to the pandemic and all the government stimulus.

Buffett said the stock trading platforms that allow people to buy and sell stocks for free, such as Robinhood, are only encouraging inexperienced investors to gamble. Credit:Bloomberg

This was the second year in a row that the annual meeting was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s event was moved outside of Omaha for the first time — to Los Angeles to be near where the 97-year-old Munger lives.

The meeting usually draws 40,000 to Omaha, filling a 18,300-seat arena and every nearby overflow room. No other company matches those crowds.

“I don’t welcome a currency that is so useful to kidnappers and extortionists and so forth.”

Berkshire vice-chairman Charlie Munger kept up his criticism of cryptocurrencies

The fun of the meeting isn’t just for shareholders. Jim Weber, who runs Berkshire’s Brooks Running, said he longs for the chance to compare notes with fellow Berkshire managers at the one annual event that brings together the leaders of the decentralised conglomerate’s dozens of subsidiaries.

“We certainly miss that opportunity to connect with our peers,” said Weber.

Berkshire reported its first-quarter earnings and said it made $US11.7 billion as the paper value of its investment portfolio rebounded from the depths of the coronavirus pandemic. A year earlier, Berkshire reported losing $US49.7 billion.

The conglomerate said that besides the investment gains, profit also improved at all of its major divisions — including insurance, utility, railroad, manufacturing and retail companies — as the economy continued to recover.

CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert said she was surprised that Berkshire’s many economically sensitive businesses didn’t improve more given how much the economy has recovered, but the company controlled costs well.

Berkshire continued its streak of major stock repurchases by investing $US6.6 billion in its own stock during the quarter. The company spent $US25 billion on repurchases last year. Seifert said investors will applaud the significant buybacks.

Berkshire shareholders rejected proposals that would have required the company to publish annual reports on climate change and on the company’s efforts to improve diversity throughout Berkshire. Buffett, who controls nearly one-third of Berkshire’s stock, and the rest of the board opposed those measures largely because the company is decentralised and allows its subsidiaries to handle those issues themselves.


Abel said during the meeting that Berkshire’s largest contributors to carbon dioxide emissions — its utilities and BNSF railroad — already publish annual reports on their efforts to reduce climate change and reduce their emissions over time.

Berkshire Hathaway owns more than 90 companies, including the BNSF railroad and insurance, utility, furniture and jewellery businesses. The company also has major investments in such companies as Apple, American Express, Coca-Cola and Bank of America.


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Boohoo is ready to party but investors may not be as keen

Now the owner of many high street names, the group will have to work hard to live down last year’s factory conditions scandal

It speaks to the privations of the past year that Boohoo has a tab on its website called “plans”, where shoppers can filter its vampy outfits based on their suitability for a “picnic”, “beer garden” or even better, “21 June”, a red-letter day when it hopes the country will say: “See ya, lockdown.”

With social lives on hold for more than 12 months, there has been little call for the party dresses sold under its Boohoo and PrettyLittleThing (PLT) labels, sometimes for as little as a fiver. But that has not stopped sales at the Manchester-based group powering ahead as it quickly switched to selling joggers and hoodies emblazoned with slogans such as “staycation”, for lounging around at home.

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Spain’s hotel owners not ready to check out as investors circle

A view shows the facade of the closed hotel Don Carlos, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Marbella, southern Spain April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

April 22, 2021

By Clara-Laeila Laudette and Belén Carreño

MADRID (Reuters) – International real estate investors are flocking to Spain where they spy a chance to snap up hotel bargains in pandemic-hit resorts – but the hotel owners, supported by government aid schemes, are in no hurry to sell.

Having enjoyed several boom years before the pandemic, most hotels are well-capitalised, with state-backed funds providing the support they need to ride out the crisis – in stark contrast to Spain’s 2008-2013 downturn, which left deep economic scars and led to forced real estate sales.

Tourism in Spain – the world’s second-most visited country before the pandemic – fell 80% last year, forcing most hotels to shut in a sector dominated by domestic chains and family businesses, a feature which leaves plenty of scope for buyers.

To dozens of international real estate funds it seemed the perfect opportunity to swoop in, but investors are encountering resistance. For now, demand is outstripping supply.

“We’ve been approached by five or six funds since the pandemic started,” said Gonzalo Bone, general manager of Hotel Almirante, a renovated beachfront hotel on Spain’s eastern Alicante coast with around 70 rooms and a swimming pool.

Most of the prospective buyers were foreign – a mix of real estate intermediaries and investors – and Bone refused them all, even after having to slash room rates by some 30%. He said his hotel was not heavily in debt and a strong 2020 summer season had helped it to recover from the spring confinement.

Investors are angling for discounts of around 15% to market prices, said David Devesa, a real estate intermediary representing seven of Spain’s biggest hotel chains.

But state support for businesses, including an 11 billion-euro package for the tourism and hospitality sectors, is allowing hotels to resist low-ball offers.

Tourism industry companies have received the most state-backed loans, up to 17 billion euros ($20.5 billion), and 115,000 hotel workers are on a furlough scheme, official data shows.

“Spain’s tourism sector… can withstand a hibernation period,” said Laura Hernando, spokeswoman for the realtor Colliers. “With furlough programmes and state credit lines, hotel chains have gotten through (2020) without firesales, hence why there hasn’t been an avalanche of product in the market.”


But there will be some deals: Jorge Ruiz, head of Iberia hotels for the international realtor CBRE, estimated that sales volumes this year could reach 2.5-2.8 billion euros, up from just under 1 billion in 2020.

A dozen wealth managers and realtors told Reuters that they expected sales in Spain worth around 900 million euros within weeks.

Among these is Selenta Group, a well-known domestic hotel chain that includes prime assets like Marbella’s five-star Hotel Don Carlos, a favourite haunt of the global jet-set.

Valued at around 400 million euros, according to Ruiz, at least five international funds are vying for Selenta, which recently sold its luxury Nobu-brand hotel in Barcelona to the German fund ASG for 90 million euros.

“Like trying to fish in a turbulent river,” Francisco Lopez at BNP Paribas Real Estate consultants said of the funds – including new arrivals from Britain and North America – jostling over the small number of assets for sale.

A similar situation is unfolding in Italy, where investors are circling luxury hotels, hoping to refurbish them before mass tourism’s return, expected sometime in 2023.

Greece, where there have been major hotel openings such as the Four Seasons last year, is another market attracting investors, one executive involved in hotel finance told Reuters. He noted several dozen three- or four-star hotels, offered as collateral on unpaid loans, had recently changed hands.


In Spain, demand has zeroed in on four-star hotels with more than 100 rooms on the Catalan and Andalusian coasts, and in the Canary and Balearic Islands – “the sweet spot for European tourism,” said Javier Arus, head of hospitality for hotel investment fund Azora.

Azora has already deployed around 400 million euros of a 680 million-euro fund raised last June to invest in hotels across Southern Europe, banking on a return on equity of 14-15% over eight years.

Melia, one of Spain’s leading hotel brands, has been shifting towards a management contract model, putting around 45% of its rooms under such contracts, making it potentially a more attractive prospect for investors. CBRE’s Ruiz said Barcelona’s Apolo hotel, which already operates under this system, has been put up for sale by U.S. fund Varde for 90 million euros.

Spain expects foreign tourist arrivals to reach around 60% of 2019 levels this year, up from last year’s 20% – although some experts warn arrivals could fall well short, depending on the success of the global vaccination rollout.

“Things will really get moving by the end of this year, the start of next,” said Joaquin Morales, CEO of wealth management consultants Kinos Group.

But CBRE’s Ruiz said the tension between buyer and seller expectations will not be tenable for long: “This kind of liquidity isn’t eternal – if operations don’t materialise in coming months, the funds will focus on other sectors.”

(Reporting by Belen Carreno and Clara-Laeila Laudette; Additional reporting by Lefteris Papadimas and Karolina Tagaris; editing by Andrei Khalip and Jane Merriman)

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Four family-run orchards join with foreign investors in huge Goulburn Valley deal

Four family-owned orchard businesses in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley are merging into one company with the backing of foreign investment. 

A Canadian fund, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which manages more than $200 billion in assets around the world, has used its Australian subsidiary, AustOn Corporation, to invest in the merged entity — which will be called Pomona Valley.

The family-run orchard businesses involved are the Varapodio family’s Oakmoor Orchards, Turnbull Brothers Orchards, Pickworth Orchards and the Hall family’s Chatswood Farm.

All are located west of Shepparton at Ardmona, Tatura, Mooroopna and Toolamba and include more than 500 hectares of orchard, water rights, additional land and two packing-house operations. 

The size of AustOn’s investment has not been disclosed but the deal is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board approval. 

The new company will be massive. 

“It’s probably in the top 10 of horticultural fruit-growing businesses in Australia,” orchardist Peter Hall said.

He said exports would be at the heart of the Pomona Valley business. 

“We think it’s a great mix of high-quality, high-class orchards with some patient money from a co-investment with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.”

The four family businesses are famous names in Goulburn Valley fruit growing and have competed against each other for much of their history. 

“We’ve been working on this for about three years.”

The fruit deal is not the Canadian pension fund’s first foray into Australian agriculture. 

AustOn paid more than $100 million for two almond orchards in the Robinvale area last year and also owns part of avocado grower Jasper Farms in Western Australia. 

Chief executive officer Tim Lee said in a statement that AustOn was proud to be partnering with local farming families and supporting their shared vision for the future of the horticulture sector.

Mr Hall said he was proud to have helped bring the investment to the Shepparton region. 

“It’s also a signal to people that one of the most successful superannuation funds in the world has looked at the Goulburn Valley and said that is a great place to grow fruit.”  

The company will begin operation on July 1 with Rocky Varapodio as general manager. 

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New Zealand Rugby to consider selling stake in All Blacks to US investors

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) faces a momentous decision on the future of the All Blacks at its annual meeting tomorrow, when it will consider whether to sell a stake in the commercial value of the national team to US investors.

New Zealand’s 26 provincial unions will vote on a recommendation from NZR that it should bundle its commercial interests into a new entity and sell a 12.5 per cent stake of that to California-based Silver Lake Partners for $NZ387.5 million ($359 million).

If the recommendation is carried, it will mark the first time in more than 115 years that the All Blacks — the most successful team in world rugby — do not wholly belong to New Zealanders.

Rugby officials argue the sale is necessary to secure the future financial sustainability of NZR, which had its finances battered last year by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In documents to be presented to the annual meeting, NZR proposes transferring its commercial assets to a new company to be called Commercial LP and to transfer $NZ43.75 million from the sale price to that entity as operating capital.

A further $NZ39 million will be distributed to stakeholders, mainly the provincial unions, who are also cash-strapped after last year’s disrupted season.

NZR said it would also establish a legacy fund for “longer-term strategic initiatives to ensure the sustainability of all levels of rugby in New Zealand”.

Launched in 1999, Silver Lake Partners has focused mainly on investment in the technology sector, with holdings in companies such as Airbnb, Twitter and Dell Technologies.

It also holds a stake in City Football Group which owns, among others, Premier League giants Manchester City and the A-League’s Melbourne City.

NZR embarked on a nationwide tour to sell the Silver Lake deal to provincial unions.

But the concept has faced push-back from professional players who have sought assurances that important traditional and cultural symbols such as the silver fern and the All Blacks’ haka will not be sold and commercialised.


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Jobkeeper doubled return for investors compared with companies that did not have subsidy | Australian economy

An investor who put money into companies that received the Morrison government’s jobkeeper payment would have received almost twice the return as someone who invested in companies that did not receive the wages subsidy, new analysis shows.

The analysis, conducted for Labor frontbencher Andrew Leigh, shows that someone who invested a dollar in each of a basket of jobkeeper companies in March last year would have all but doubled their money, receiving a return of 99.2%.

An investor who invested in the same way in companies that did not get jobkeeper would have made a return of 57.3%.

The figures include increases in share prices and the payment of dividends, which has been controversial for companies that have been bolstered by the jobkeeper subsidy.

While companies including Super Retail Group, Toyota Australia, Domino’s and miner Iluka have promised to return jobkeeper money to the government, others including Gerry Harvey’s Harvey Norman and Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments have decided to keep the cash.

Almost the entire sharemarket has rebounded strongly over the past year after tumbling by 30% in March as coronavirus panic gripped traders.

However, some companies that received jobkeeper have massively outperformed the broader market, with Harvey Norman investors receiving a return of 112.7%, including dividends, since March last year and those who put money into Premier getting 117.8% over the same period.

Premier declared a dividend of $54m last month, of which Lew is entitled to $22.9m due to his 42.43% stake in the company.

In February, Harvey Norman said it would pay dividends totalling $249m, of which Harvey is to receive $78m due to his 31.4% shareholding in the company.

Leigh said the figures showed that too much jobkeeper money flowed to companies that did not need it, while at the same time areas such as the arts, tourism and education were struggling after the Morrison government shut down the program at the end of last month.

“Jobkeeper was meant to be a lifeline, not a boondoggle,” he said.

He said millions of dollars in jobkeeper money had been used to pay executive bonuses and dividends to billionaires.

“Companies such as Harvey Norman and Premier Investments got jobkeeper despite seeing their profits soar to record highs. Jobkeeper has even been paid to hedge funds.

“It’s just not fair that the Morrison government lavished taxpayer support on super-profitable firms, while ignoring the pleas of small businesses that now face insolvency.”

While other countries including the US and New Zealand have maintained public databases of companies that received jobkeeper-like funds, the Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has consistently ruled out the idea.

“Jobkeeper cost nearly $4,000 per Australian, and yet the program has been shrouded in secrecy,” Leigh said.

“It’s not Liberal party money, it’s taxpayer money, and the government must come clean on how it was spent.”

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