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Brian Brooks, Crypto-Friendly Bank Regulator, Expected to Step Down This Week: Report

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The acting head of the U.S.’s federal banking regulator is reportedly stepping down from his role this week.

Brian Brooks, who is currently leading the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will leave the federal agency within the next few days, Politico’s Victoria Guida reported Tuesday.

In an email, OCC Deputy Comptroller for Public Affairs Bryan Hubbard “refused to confirm such rumors.”

Brooks, the former general counsel at Coinbase, has had a major impact on the OCC’s crypto approach during his brief tenure. During his term, the OCC published several interpretive letters or made statements announcing that banks can provide services to issuers of stablecoins, partner with crypto custodians, conduct payments using stablecoins and operate nodes on blockchain networks. 

Possibly his most far-reaching impact came from his push for fintech startups – like crypto companies – to secure national banking charters, allowing them to operate throughout the country without needing to apply for each state’s money transmitters license. 

However, the crypto-friendly regulator drew backlash from members of Congress, six of whom wrote an open letter after the election asking Brooks to focus on economic relief during the COVID-19 pandemic rather than crypto regulations. 

Brooks has been an advocate for a digital dollar and the crypto space more broadly, and likened decentralized finance (DeFi) to self-driving cars in an opinion piece in the Financial Times Tuesday morning. 

These “self-driving banks,” as Brooks put it, could create money market interest rates algorithmically, replacing human committees, and enable broker-less trades. They could also increase liquidity risks or create asset volatility. 

He advocated for a national regulatory approach, rather than a patchwork state-by-state approach, though he noted that Congress might have to update legislation to fully allow for the OCC to oversee this sector’s growth.





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Intel, BioMarin, Avid Technology Stocks Chosen by Wall Street Analysts as Earnings Season Is Here

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As the earnings season has come, analysts have picked up three companies with renewed price targets over some fundamental and financial improvements taking place. Take a look at what has changed for Intel, BioMarin and Avid Technology.

Wall Street indices have rallied pretty well at the beginning of 2021. Over the last week, the US stock market remained under a bit of pressure as Wall Street awaits the approval of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package proposed by the Biden administration. Although there’s a bit of optimism around the new stimulus, the subdued jobs data has kept the market on the edge. While the Biden administration will take charge soon, market analysts are keeping a close eye on earnings season. Ignacio Cantos, investment director at ATL Capital in Madrid said the earnings season will provide markets the next catalyst. Analysts have given the top stocks to watch out for the earnings season. These stocks are Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC), BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc (NASDAQ: BMRN), Avid Technology Inc (NASDAQ: AVID).

Intel

After last week’s new management shake-up, analysts are positive about the INTC stock going forward. Last week, Intel revealed that VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and firmer Intel CTO shall be replacing current CEO Bob Swan. Intel stock has already surged 10% since then. However, JPMorgan analyst Harlan Sur believes that there’s more rally left ahead of INTC stock. Thus, the analyst has given a buy rating with a target price of $70.

Intel has already stated that its Q4 2020 revenue and EPS shall surpass its previous guidance. This comes on the backdrop of the strong progress of its 7nm process technology.

“Looking ahead, we anticipate better than seasonal demand for PCs and for cloud data center investments to inflect positively in 1H21, which bodes well for Intel. We also note that during the CES, Intel announced that Ice Lake (10nm) is in production… we believe Intel has a strong roadmap of future products and, assuming, they can execute on their roadmap without further delays, we think the company will stem share loss,” Sur commented.

BioMarin

Another company that is in the row with Intel is the biotech company BioMarin. It released its top-line Phase 3 results for the company’s gene therapy Roctavian (valrox). Roctavian has been designed to treat hemophilia and has delivered favorable results in the primary endpoint of a reduction in the mean annualized bleed rate (ABR). The ABR is down 84% against the standard of care.

JPMorgan analyst Cory Kasimov has given a buy rating for BioMarin stock with a target price of $131. “Roctavian demonstrated mean FVIII of 42.9 in the modified ITT population, which we believe is clearly better than prevailing assumptions (at least based on our conversations),” the analyst noted. Kasimov said that the outcome supports the “approvability of Roctavian”.

“Either way, however, we believe these results meaningfully de-risk the asset and add to the company’s overall strategic value. We underscore BioMarin’s attractive valuation (trading slightly above the base business) and expect the pipeline to have a meaningful contribution to share performance in 2021,” Kasimov opined.

Avid Technology

Avid Technology, the media company has recently announced its debt refinancing that has a $180 million in term loan and a $70 million unfunded revolving credit facility. Maxim Group’s Jack Vander Arde has given a buy rating for the stock bumping its target from $14 to $23.

The analyst notes that the debt refinancing cuts the company’s annual interest expense by roughly $10 million. Besides, it also adds an incremental $0.20 to non-GAAP EPS in 2021.

“While we hold a cautious view for non-recurring product sales in 2021, we continue to expect robust growth in services segment revenue as early-stage subscription revenues continue to ramp at an accelerated pace (up 74% year-over-year in 3Q20, representing ~20% of total 3Q20 revenue). We also remain highly confident in management’s ability to execute on margin expansion and free cash flow generation, even despite near-term top-line pressure from COVID-19 on some of AVID’s core verticals (live events, music festivals/ concerts), which we anticipate will gradually recover by 2H21,” Vander Aarde explained.

The analysts are quite optimistic about Avid, Intel and BioMarin. Let’s wait and see what will happen next. Other news from the stock markets can be found here.

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Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.



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CoinShares to Launch a Bitcoin ETP on SIX Swiss Exchange

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It joins several other ETP providers on the exchange, including ETC Group, with its own physically backed bitcoin product.



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Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust Is Boosted by SpaceX, Moderna and Tesla

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The British Trust has about 9.5% of its funds invested in Tesla. The EV company’s stock was the best performing on Wall Street last year after surging more than 700%.

Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust PLC (LON: USA) is a large British Investment Trust established in 2018, with the sole aim of tracking US-based investments has recorded a profitable last half of 2020, thanks to the trust’s bet on some strategic companies. As reported by Yahoo Finance, The Baillie Gifford US Growth Trust noted and attributed its impressive half-year performance to its bet on Elon Musk’s two companies including public-traded Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) as well as in the shares of Biotech company Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA)

Per the report, the Growth Trust note on Monday that the net asset value of its investments grew 53.8% in the six months to 30 November 2020 while it raked in a pre-tax net return of £266m ($359.9m), or 98p per share. With a total of 800 million pounds of investors’ money tied down in these outperforming stocks, further growth in the course of this year will also translate to boosted growths in the trust.

With about 12% of its position invested in SpaceX, the trust’s management justified its position in the space exploration company noting that:

“SpaceX has been innovating at a breathtaking pace. 2020 was the year that America sent astronauts to the space station again. SpaceX’s crewed mission was a first for a private company. Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite-based high-speed broadband service is up and running in beta, with over 900 satellites orbiting the earth delivering internet to users. And in Texas, SpaceX has been rapidly developing its Starship rocket, the vehicle it hopes will take people back to the Moon and then on to Mars.”

These highlighted roadmaps are set to position the company on a path of profitability in the near future as many have earmarked 2021 as the breakout year for space travel companies.

Baillie Gifford Trust Portfolio

The British Trust has about 9.5% of its funds invested in Tesla. The EV company’s stock was the best performing on Wall Street last year after surging more than 700%. With a sizeable position in COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Moderna, the Trust is reportedly impressed with its early bet in the company as of 2018 when it made its public debut. The mRNA-1273 vaccine will be the company’s flagship commercial product and Baillie Gifford believes the messenger RNA technology can be adopted in creating other drugs/vaccines.

Baillie Gifford also has about 6% of its liquidity pumped into Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ: ZM) and Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) respectively. Huge bets on Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), and Wayfair Inc (NYSE: W) also shows the company has significant holdings in the top American e-commerce ecosystem.

“It has been a year of great pain and loss,” Baillie Gifford management wrote in the US Growth Trust’s half-year report. “But there has also been some important progress. As we look forward, we are optimistic about what the future holds

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Benjamin Godfrey is a blockchain enthusiast and journalists who relish writing about the real life applications of blockchain technology and innovations to drive general acceptance and worldwide integration of the emerging technology. His desires to educate people about cryptocurrencies inspires his contributions to renowned blockchain based media and sites. Benjamin Godfrey is a lover of sports and agriculture.



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