TOPLEY’S TOP 10 – Feb 22, 2024

1. The Death of Stock Splits 

Barrons  Adjusted for inflation, that average 1983 price of $39.06 is worth $120.30 in today’s dollars. That doesn’t fully explain the increase in stock prices, but a precipitous decline in stock splits probably does. Silverblatt tells me that in 1983, 90 S&P 500 companies split their stock. Last year, only four did.
According to Josh Staiger of Multpl, the market’s price-to-book ratio is 4.61, not a record (that was 5.06 in March 2000), but well above the average of 3.01.  High stock prices aren’t just anecdotal—data bear it out, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. The average price of a stock in the S&P 500 is now $204.28, Silverblatt says, with some 73% of them (or 281 stocks) selling for more than $100 and nine trading for more than $1,000. Compare that with 40 years ago, when the average price was $39.06 and only about 4% (or nine) issues traded for more than $100, and zero over $1,000.

By Andy Serwer

2. Private Equity Payouts at Major Firms Plummet 49% in Two Years-Bloomberg 

Distributions to fund investors falling amid deal drought
Fund investors zeroing in on a new metric for PE investments
By Layan OdehMatthew Griffin, and Gillian Tan

3. 10 Companies Represent 25% of Euro Stoxx 600 Index


Euro News The rise of GRANOLAS By Piero Cingari-The GRANOLAS represent around a quarter of the STOXX 600’s market cap, and equate to the total market capitalisation of heavyweight sectors such as Energy, Basic Resources, Financials, and Automobiles.
Reflecting on the changing tides of the European market, Goldman Sachs noted a significant shift from traditional industry leaders like Telecoms and Oil two decades ago, to a diverse array of sectors today.
“Twenty years ago, at the start of 2000, the 10 biggest companies in Europe based on market cap were all Telecoms and Oil names, with the exception of HSBC. If we fast-forward to the Covid crisis, there were no Banks, Oil or Telecoms companies among the largest 10 in Europe,” Goldman Sachs’ analyst, Peter Oppenheimer, wrote in a note to clients on Monday.
In the past twelve months, the GRANOLAS have notched up over €500 billion of revenue, showcasing an 8% annual surge.
“They are a large part of the reason why European equities have performed well despite lacklustre domestic GDP,” Goldman Sachs noted.
They’ve delivered a 15% average gain over the past year, outstripping the STOXX 600’s 5% and contributing to 60% of the index’s overall growth.

4. One Stock Outperformed NVDA in One Year….ANF +300%

5. Two Charts I was Watching for New Highs…Buybacks and Spin-Offs…..

6. One More to Watch..IPO…Still Long Way to Go for New Highs.

7. Business Insider Russia has never been richer after selling $37 billion in oil to India last year

Jennifer Sor 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and President Vladimir Putin of Russia speaking at a conference in 2014. .

  • Russia’s record revenue in 2023 was partly attributable to India’s huge appetite for Russian crude.
  • India took in $37 billion of Russian oil last year, 13 times what it bought before the Ukraine war.
  • India, however, is under growing pressure to comply with Western sanctions.

Russia has never been this flush with cash — and it’s partly thanks to India, which snapped up a monster amount of Russian crude last year.
Russia’s federal revenue soared to a record $320 billion in 2023 — an amount partly attributable to India’s huge appetite for cheap Russian oil, according to a new report from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air shared with CNN
The nation bought $37 billion of crude from Russia last year, the report said, around 13 times what it purchased from Russia before the war in Ukraine.
India has been a huge customer of Russian crude since Moscow began its invasion of Ukraine. After being slammed by Western trade restrictions, Moscow has doled out hefty discounts to its allies, like India and China, who have since gobbled up huge amounts of oil from the nation.

8. Amazon Advertising

9. Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists Are Breaking Up With China-Dealbook

Under intensifying scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers, top firms have pulled back from investing in Chinese start-ups.
By Erin Griffith

DCM Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, began investing in China’s start-ups in 1999. The move reaped such blockbuster returns that in 2021, DCM said it planned to “double down” on its strategy of investing in China, the United States and Japan.
Yet when DCM set out to raise money last fall for a new fund focused on very young companies and promoted its “cross-Pacific” expertise, the firm described plans to invest in the United States, Japan and South Korea, according to a fund-raising memo that was viewed by The New York Times.
China was not mentioned.
DCM’s messaging is one example of an industrywide shift happening between Silicon Valley investors and Chinese start-ups. U.S. venture capital firms that once saw China as the next frontier for innovation and investment returns are backing away, with some separating their Chinese operations from their American business and others declining to make new investments there.
The about-face stems from the tense relationship between the United States and China as they jockey for geopolitical, economic and technological primacy. The countries have engaged in a trade war amid a diplomatic rift, enacting tit-for-tat restrictions including U.S. moves to curb future investments in China and to scrutinize past investments in sensitive sectors.

10. 5 Reasons People Get Laid Off-HBR

HBR by Marlo Lyons
Summary.   As companies continue to conduct layoffs, despite signs of economic recovery, it’s normal to feel powerless. Sometimes thwarting a layoff is impossible. For example, there’s not much you can do if your entire business unit is being cut because company goals have…more
Despite signs of economic recovery, including lower inflation rates and sustained low unemployment, the start of 2024 has already seen a surge in layoffs, surpassing 10,000 within the tech industry alone at the time of writing. Macy’s, Wayfair, Ford, and Citigroup are among the other companies who have already announced layoffs this year. This leaves many workers in a state of uncertainty, waiting to find out if they’re next to be cut.
It’s normal to feel powerless in this position. There’s not much you can do if your entire business unit is being cut because company goals have changed and your work is no longer relevant, or if the company over-hired and revenue has unexpectedly dropped. However, there are proactive measures you can take that will help you manage your stress. Here are five common reasons people are laid off — and strategies to help you assert some control over your professional destiny.
1. Lack of skills advancement
Employees are 100% responsible for continually upskilling and reskilling. While companies may offer resources to learn new skills, they tend to teach to the entire employee population, so most talent development programs focus on management skills such as giving feedback, leadership skills such as influencing without authority, and soft skills such as emotional intelligence. But employees need to continue to advance their hard skills, such as becoming technically proficient in AI applications or new programming languages. Those who don’t continue to evolve their skills to keep up with rapidly changing business needs may be targeted for layoffs.
Recent advancements in generative AI and large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT provide a timely example. While this technology has been predicted to replace human workers at a large scale, for now it may be replacing tech workers who don’t have AI skills. As companies update their core products with this new technology, they’ll be looking for talent who have LLM expertise. Even if you’re an expert in natural language processing, machine learning, or natural language understanding technologies, if you haven’t gained expertise in LLMs, which can generate contextually accurate text, answer queries, summarize text, and preform language translation, then your skills are already outdated.
Showing a dedication to reskilling yourself in a new space and demonstrating those skills during the transition to a new way of doing business could save your job. Therefore, employees should take a proactive approach to gaining skills and knowledge based on where the market and company are heading to ensure their skills remain relevant.
2. You’re an “overseer,” not a “doer”
When companies decide to implement budget cuts, the finance department typically allocates a specific percentage reduction to each department. The most straightforward method to meet the assigned cut percentage is to eliminate the positions of individuals with the highest salaries, particularly if they’re not actively involved in accomplishing the work. Managers who lack hands-on involvement may be seen as less valuable to the organization, as there is a perception that they’re not directly contributing to task and project execution. This perception could increase the likelihood of them being considered expendable during cost-cutting measures.
Managers who are invaluable to an organization find a balance between strategic leadership and hands-on involvement without micromanaging their teams. They’re perceived as more adaptable and capable of responding quickly to changes, making them more resilient in volatile business situations. Managers who have deep understanding of team dynamics, challenges, and goals and who can demonstrate their ability to speak to the details will make seem like they’re the glue holding the team together, which makes it harder to see their role as dispensable.
3. Lack of visibility
Being the quiet worker bee won’t protect you from being laid off. In fact, being invisible could be your downfall. When determining which roles to cut, if senior leadership doesn’t know who you are, what you do, or the impact you make, your job could be an easy choice for elimination. In times of organizational changes or restructuring, being visible can help mitigate the risk of being overlooked or underestimated.
Your visibility can act as a form of job security by ensuring decision makers are aware of your capabilities and impact. Having visibility at all levels in an organization can help you create a strong network of colleagues and senior leaders who can vouch for your contributions and accomplishments. It could also show leaders you can succeed if plugged into any position. If decision makers have a clear understanding of your skills, achievements, and contributions, they’re more likely to view your position as essential to the success of the company, or they may see you as the person to combine teams under when other roles are eliminated.
4. Lack of performance
When companies need to cut their budgets, they’ll likely try to eliminate those who are considered non-performers. Where more than one person is doing a particular job, layoffs provide managers a ripe opportunity to cut low performers without having to do the hard work of giving them more feedback or putting them on a performance improvement plan.
Employees must realize their manager’s perception means everything. So even if you think you’re doing a great job, if your manager doesn’t agree, you could be deemed a poor performer and be on the chopping block. Therefore, employees need to proactively request feedback from their managers more often than just during the performance-review period. Once you receive feedback, continually work on improving, and check back in with your manager to see whether they agree that your performance has improved.
5. Offshoring and automation
The automation or offshore relocation of specific jobs is determined based on strategic, economic, and operational costs as well as technological advancements. Companies may opt for offshoring to countries with lower labor costs where the talent pool is rich with expertise. They may also implement automation technologies that prove more efficient and accurate than human labor to cut expenses associated with salaries, benefits, and operational overhead. The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report delves into which jobs will likely shift toward automation, minimizing the need for human interaction.
To safeguard against a potential layoff, it’s critical to stay informed about market trends and assess whether your chosen career is prone to offshoring or automation in the future. In some cases, U.S.-based companies may have a U.S. manager overseeing offshored talent or automated processes. That may pose further challenges for early-career professionals who want to grow into management positions and are seeking experience through jobs that have been offshored or automated to get there. If you discover your job is one that’s likely to be automated in the future or you see trends moving toward offshoring your type of position, find ways to gain new skills that will help you transition to another field with less risk and will be just as (if not more) fulfilling. For example, you could take on a stretch project in another department at your company or form a side hustle consultancy.
. . .
Building a reputation for being a valuable team member through your work and relationships is key to minimizing your risk of being laid off. Ensure your leadership and cross-functional stakeholders know your contributions and the impact you bring to the organization as well as where you’ve upskilled to stay relevant, which will help position you as an indispensable asset. This proactive approach helps ensure that your value is recognized long before any decisions about layoffs are made.