Refinancing Student Loans Gets Mixed Report

More than 45 million Americans have borrowed $1.45 trillion in student loans to help pay for their post-secondary educations. Repaying those loans can be tough, especially if the loan amount is high and pay for the first job after graduation is low.

One option for recent graduates might be refinancing their student loans. This works much the same was a home mortgage, but there is no collateral requirement and qualifying for refinancing can be difficult.

Like all noncollateralized personal loans, interest rates are lowest for borrowers with the more income and high credit scores. Interest rates for the best credit risks begin below 3.5% and most lenders offer repayment periods that are longer than the terms of the original lender. Some even offer a cap on how high a variable interest rate can rise.

Student loan marketplace and refinancing website LendEDU has just released its second annual report on the state of the student loan refinancing market. Here are several highlights from the report:

Average credit score of an approved refinance applicant is 764.The 2017 score is seven points higher than in 2016.

Just over 58% of 2017 applications are denied.More Americans had their refinance applications denied in 2016 (43%) than were approved (42%) in 2017.

The average interest rate on a refinanced loan is 5.56%.The average rate rose 74 basis points year over year from 4.82% in 2016.

A third of approved loans required a co-signer.The percentage was roughly equal in both years. Co-signed loans offered a 0.54% lower interest rate than loans made without a co-signer, up from 0.15% in 2016.

The average size of a refinance loan was $66,453.The 2017 average was more than 23% higher year over year.

Average length of repayment period for a refinanced loan is 11.73 years.Compared with 2016, the repayment period rose by 1.3 years in 2017.

Less than half of approved applicants actually end up refinancing their loans.In 2016, just over 33% of all applicants completed the loan process. In 2017 that percentage rose to nearly 43%.

Visit the LendEDU website for more details and discussion.

ALSO READ: These Are Some Companies Offering Help Pay Off Student Loans

Dimon Says He Regrets Calling Bitcoin a Fraud

New Tax Law Could Change How Clients Invest: Andy Friedman

FINRA Releases Exam Priorities for 2018

How to Use RMDs to a Clients Advantage: Morningstars Benz

Jamie Dimon is having second thoughts about wading in to the Bitcoin controversy.

Dimon reiterated in the interview that he believes in blockchain, the technology used for verifying and recording transactions that’s at the heart of cryptocurrencies.

Experts have said blockchain technology could reshape the global financial system and JPMorgan is testing potential use cases of the technology.

Initial coin offerings, however, “you have to look at individually,” he said in the interview.

Copyright 2018 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

William Galvin, Massachusetts’ top securities regulator, shares some things to know before investing in digital currencies.

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Six Ways to Get Ready for the Next Crisis Before It Strikes

Global stock markets keep heading higher and higher… credit markets are increasingly overextended… and geopolitics are more harrowing than ever.
 
Meanwhile, the MSCI All Country World Index (which reflects the performance of global stock markets) was up around 24% in 2017.
 
That's great news… But sooner or later, "mean reversion" says the good times have to end.
 
Mean reversion is the idea that markets (along with pretty much anything else in life) tend to reverse extreme movements over time – and gravitate back to average. It's like a rubber band… Stretch it, and when you let go, it returns to its original shape.
 
I've been saying for a while that markets around the world are "stretched" and could snap back to their "original shape" at any moment.
 
That means now is the time to prepare for whatever might happen… whether it's a market correction, a currency collapse, or something far worse.
 
So here are six easy things you can do right now to prepare yourself for a crisis… whether it's next week or next year.
 

1. Stash away some cash.

No matter what – unless things turn really ugly – cash will get you what you need if your debit or credit cards don't work. But money in the bank won't do you any good if the banks go bust, or if the ATMs stop working.
 
Keep enough cash in a home safe to get you by for a few weeks – or a few months, preferably.
 
Besides, given negative interest rates in much of the world, you might be better off earning zero interest under your own roof than negative interest with your bank.
 

2. Keep some cash in U.S. dollars.

Despite the best efforts of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the U.S. dollar is still the default global currency. Almost anywhere in the developing world (and in much of the rest of it), a $20 bill can fix a lot of problems – and a Ben Franklin can fix the rest of them.
 
If you live outside the U.S. and your local currency is for some reason unavailable (like we've seen in many crises in emerging markets all around the world), or worthless (like we're seeing in Venezuela, today) – having greenbacks can be a lifesaver.
 

3. Diversify where you bank.

Diversifying where you bank is just as important as diversifying your portfolio. Keep some money in a "too big to fail" bank, which is safe – until it's allowed to fail, of course. Also keep some money in a conservative local lender where they know you by name.
 
And remember: Just because your bank is covered by a national banking insurance entity doesn't mean you'll get any money when you need it. So you'd do well to have at least one account in a different country.
 

4. Download now what you might need tomorrow.

Don't assume that personal data and records that are online today – starting with bank or brokerage statements, for example – will be there when you need them tomorrow.
 
Maybe it's a generational thing… but I trust the "cloud" to save my important stuff only if it's also saved on a hard drive tucked away somewhere. Important documents that are on someone else's website are available to you only as long as 1) that website is still up and running, and 2) the owner of the website gives you access to it.
 
So periodically download personal records… and store them someplace safe.
 

5. Follow your stop loss levels.

If you own stocks, you need to have a stop loss in mind for every stock you own (the lowest price at which you're willing to sell to limit your losses if a stock falls). Just as important, if a stock you hold hits your stop loss, sell. You can't make money by investing if you don't have money to invest.
 
A stock that's down 50% has to double before you get back to breakeven. How often have you invested in a stock that's doubled? Probably not often enough to count on it. It's much better to have a stop loss level that's (say) 25% below where you bought the stock than to be out of the game. Or, even better, to use a trailing stop that follows the stock up as the share price rises.
 

6. Own gold.

History has proven time and again that gold is one of the best ways to hedge your portfolio – that is, to protect it when stock markets everywhere fall. For one thing, gold and stocks are negatively correlated assets. They tend to move in opposite directions.
 
Second, people have used gold as a currency or medium of exchange for thousands of years. Meanwhile, other forms of money – livestock, shells, stones, and tulips – have come and gone.
 
Gold has withstood history and maintained its inherent value. It's durable, it's easy to transport, it looks the same everywhere, it's relatively easy to weigh and grade… It's the perfect store of value. In short, gold is insurance against financial calamity.
 
Even if you don't know what the next crisis is going to be, you can do your best to be ready for it. Get started with these six steps – today.
 
Good investing,
 
Kim Iskyan

Editor's note: Diversifying your portfolio is another key crisis-prevention tool… But if you're like most investors, you're probably leaving out one powerful asset. Kim's colleague Peter Churchouse believes it could be the No. 1 investment of the next decade – and with his five simple strategies, anyone can get in on the opportunity. Click here to learn more.

Millennials are getting older and thats good for stocks

Finallyafter years of horror stories about the economic impact of the growing number of retirees in the U.S.some good news.

After at least two decades in which more people were entering retirement than into the workforce, the tide is turning. For the next two decades, it will be just the reverse.

In other words, demographics in the U.S. are about to shift from being stiff headwinds to powerful tailwinds for the stock market.

For all this we can thank the millennial generation, which consists of those who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Though that generation isnt as big as the infamous baby boom generation that preceded them, it is still big enough to represent a powerful economic force.

To be sure, Im focusing on the economy as a whole, which doesnt mean that every individuals retirement prospects are brightening. In fact, as has been often noted in recent years, many have not saved and invested enough. A stronger long-term uptrend in the stock market is unable to bail out a retiree in that position.

But the upcoming shift in demographic trend is good news for those who have heavily invested their retirement portfolios in the stock market.

How good? For an answer I turn to a demographic indicator that researchers have found to be impressively correlated with the stock market: The ratio of the middle-aged population to those who are in the younger-aged cohortknown as the MY ratio. According to a number of academic studies, the stock market tends to perform better when the MY ratio is rising than when it is declining.

Notice from the accompanying chart that the MY ratio bottomed in 2016 and will be trending upward for two decades.

The chart also shows the MY ratio back to 1900 against the inflation-adjusted S&P 500
SPX, +0.70%
. Alejandra Grindal, Senior International Economist for Ned Davis Research, writes that the MY ratio has had a pretty good track record in the U.S., helping define the beginning and end of some secular bull and bear equity markets. The stock markets 1981 low and the 2000 high are some of the MY ratios most spectacular successes.

To quantify the MY ratios track record, Grindal measured the correlation between the MY ratio and the inflation-adjusted Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, +0.88%
She found a correlation coefficient of 0.71, which is impressively high. This coefficient would be 1.0 if the charts two data series were completely correlated, and 0 if there was no correlation whatsoever.

Read: This is how your finances should look in your 30s

The MY ratio isnt a perfect stock market forecaster, and the period since 2000 is a case in point. After all, since the ratio has steadily declined since then, the stock market should be a lot lower today than then.

But Grindal, in an interview, argued that we shouldnt be too quick to declare the MY ratio a failure. Without the Feds extraordinary policy of quantitative easing over the last decade, for example, its not unlikely that the stock market would be a lot lower today. In any case, the years since 2000 have included two of the worst bear markets in U.S. history.

Furthermore, its worth adding, even with the Feds boost the stock market this century has been a well-below-average performer. Consider the inflation-adjusted return of various stock market averages from their early-2000 highs to the end of 2016, which is when the MY ratio hit bottom: The S&P 500 produced just a 0.1% annualized real return over that period, while the Nasdaq
COMP, +0.83%
produced an annualized 0.7% loss. The two-century average inflation-adjusted return for equities, according to the Wharton Schools Jeremy Siegel, is between 6% and 7% annualized.

Note carefully that even if the MY ratios forecast turns out to be right, it applies to the longer-term: The stock market should be materially higher in 10 to 15 years time. The ratio doesnt have any ability to predict the stock markets shorter-term gyrations. So it would not be inconsistent with its forecast of a much higher stock market in the 2030s for equities to suffer a number of cyclical bear markets along the way.

Still, as Grindal points out, demographics are one of the few indicators one can accurately forecast in the long-term. And, for the first time in many years, the bulls can stop being in denial about demographic indicators and start trumpeting their message.

For more information, including descriptions of the Hulbert Sentiment Indices, go to The Hulbert Financial Digest or email mark@hulbertratings.com.

Petal Raises $13 Million To Give Starter Credit Cards To Millennials

&l;img class=&q; size-full wp-image-18737&q; src=&q;http://blogs-images.forbes.com/laurengensler/files/2018/01/petal.jpg?width=960&q; alt=&q;&q; data-height=&q;556&q; data-width=&q;869&q;&g;

Petal, a financial technology upstart that aims to provide credit cards to young people and others who lack a credit history, has raised $13 million, it said on Wednesday. &l;!–donotpaginate–&g;

The Series A round was led by billionaire Peter Thiel&s;s Valar Ventures. The funds will be used to roll out the credit card nationwide; it is currently available only via waitlist, where it has attracted some 40,000 people.

Petal is&a;nbsp;among a new crop of&a;nbsp;companies that are&a;nbsp;roping in&a;nbsp;nontraditional data in their underwriting to approve Millennials, immigrants and other consumers who are typically turned away from banks and lenders because of their limited credit histories.

Petal relies on a potential borrower&s;s cash flow: How much money they make, how much they spend on rent, bills, groceries and other things and how much they save.

The company gathers this information by&a;nbsp;requesting access to a person&s;s bank account. It also consider&s;s a person&s;s credit score and history when available.

The Petal Visa credit card offers interest rates between 13.99% on 24.99% on credit limits ranging from $500 to $10,000. It also touts zero fees.

&q;There&s;s a tremendous need for access to affordable credit if you&s;re brand new to credit,&q; says co-founder and CEO Jason Gross.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau &l;a href=&q;https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201612_cfpb_credit_invisible_policy_report.pdf&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;has estimated&l;/a&g; that 45 million Americans &a;mdash; one in five of the adult population &a;mdash; either lack a credit history altogether or have insufficient history to generate a credit score. A credit score, which is a three-digit figure calculated from the information on credit reports from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, measures a person&s;s borrowing history.

Petal could provide an&a;nbsp;alternative to secured credit cards, which are&a;nbsp;often recommended to consumers who are seeking to build credit and offer a minimal credit limit (say, $300) in exchange for a deposit of the same amount. It&a;nbsp;also seeks to replace&a;nbsp;payday loans, auto title loans and other expensive forms of debt.

Since it doesn&s;t charge fees, Petal makes money&a;nbsp;on the&a;nbsp;&l;span&g;interest that accumulates when a cardholder doesn&s;t pay their monthly balance in full and&a;nbsp;the card swipe fees&a;nbsp;borne&a;nbsp;by retailers.&l;/span&g;

There are no cash-back or travel rewards associated with the card, which suggests that as cardholders build and improve their credit, they will eventually switch to another card.&a;nbsp;Petal said it would introduce benefits and features for cardholders down the road, but declined to offer specifics.

The New York-based company was started in 2016 by Gross, a Harvard-trained lawyer, David Ehrich,&a;nbsp;a veteran of&a;nbsp;JPMorgan and American Express, Jack Arenas and Andrew Endicott.

Trump May Need A Government Shutdown This Week…And Other Shutdown News

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;dam-image ap size-large wp-image-3a1cd511b57f45569779227ad2a43e7e&q; src=&q;https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/dam/imageserve/3a1cd511b57f45569779227ad2a43e7e/960×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;640&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; AP Photo/Evan Vucci

If Congress and the White House &l;a href=&q;http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/21/politics/government-shutdown-latest/index.html&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;don&s;t come to some kind of agreement&l;/a&g; on fiscal 2018 funding by this Friday at midnight, the federal government will turn into a pumpkin and most services will immediately cease.

Here are the four things you need to keep in mind as events unfold over the next five days.

&l;strong&g;1. Trump May Need A Shutdown&l;/strong&g;. Technically, a shutdown will occur because the legal authority for the government to spend money will expire. In reality, however, the real reason will be that someone involved in the negotiations will view this as an opportunity to be seen as a political badass by his, her or their base.

This week, Donald Trump is most likely to be that person.

Given the various firestorms that have occured just this past week — the book, the remark about Haiti and African countries and the hush money paid to a porn star — Trump may want to reassure his base that he is still very much in charge by refusing to sign even a simple, clean and short-term extension of the current continuing resolution. Even if it doesn&s;t include anything about immigration, Trump could still demand funding for his wall and say he is more than willing to shut down the government until he gets it.

Trump would say this shows he is indeed the toughest of negotiators, that he&s;s still determined to protect the U.S. and that he&s;s keeping his campaign promises. All of these would be red meat for the Trump base and, in the White House&s;s mind, would move the narrative away from the book, the remark and the porn star to something politically positive.

&l;strong&g;2. This First Trump Shutdown Might Only Last Two Days&l;/strong&g;. Yes, most government services would stop Friday night at midnight. But unless Trump decided to do something extraordinary like shutting the air traffic control system, the only real direct impact over the weekend would be on the very few people trying to use the suddenly closed national parks.The positive political impact Trump would be seeking from the shutdown would be immediate, however.&l;!–donotpaginate–&g;For that reason, if there is a Trump-induced shutdown this week, it wouldn&s;t be at all surprising if it only lasted until next Monday. Trump would then tell Congress he will sign a short-term CR to reopen the government because (regardless of whether or not it was true) there was progress made over the weekend. He would also at least hint that he&s;ll shut the government again in the future if that&s;s what it will take to get what he wants.

&l;strong&g;3. The President Is The Only One Who Decides Whether The Military Works During A Shutdown&l;/strong&g;. Trump has been tweeting that the Democrats want to deny funding for the Pentagon during a shutdown. He&s;s wrong in a variety of ways.

&l;/p&g;&l;blockquote class=&q;twitter-tweet&q;&g;

&l;p dir=&q;ltr&q; lang=&q;en&q;&g;DACA is probably dead because the Democrats don&a;rsquo;t really want it, they just want to talk and take desperately needed money away from our Military.&l;/p&g;

&a;mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) &l;a href=&q;https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/952528011869478912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;January 14, 2018&l;/a&g;&l;/blockquote&g;

First, there is no funding for anyone during a government shutdown. Social Security and other mandatory program benefits are sent, but anything that requires an appropriation stops immediately. That includes pay for military and civilian workers. In other words, if the government shuts its doors because of a presidential veto, Trump will be the one that is preventing the military from being paid.

Second, the president and not Congress has the sole authority to determine which federal services are &q;essential&q; and will continue during a shutdown. Presumably that will include the Pentagon, air traffic controllers, the Transportation Security Agency, most of the Department of Homeland Security and even something as pedestrian as the people who feed the animals at the National Zoo. These functions will stop only if Trump decides they should.

&l;strong&g;4. Everyone And No One Will Get Blamed&l;/strong&g;. There will be no commonly accepted answer to the question of who will get blamed and suffer the most if there&s;s a shutdown this week. Trump will blame the Democrats in Congress, Democrats will blame Trump and the Republican House and Senate majorities and Republicans will blame the Democrats.

As much as they might like to do so, none of these groups will be trying to establish a universally accepted truth on this question. They will all just be talking to their own voters.

This will be the case even if there&s;s a simple and obvious reason — like a Trump veto — for the shutdown. Trump will still blame the Democrats in Congress for forcing his hand while Democrats will blame Trump for not signing a CR that had bipartisan support.

JPMorgans Quarterly Tax Pain Should Lead to 2018 Gains

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Taxpayer Advocate Blasts ‘Unreal’ IRS Audits

The U.S. tax overhaul cost JPMorgan Chase & Co. $2.4 billion last year. Consider it a down payment on a more profitable future.

The bank said that while it took accounting charges in the fourth quarter tied mostly to levies on foreign earnings required under the new law, its effective tax rate will drop this year to 19 percent from 32 percent. That means that if JPMorgan generates the same pretax profit this year as it did in 2017, earnings will balloon by more than $3.5 billion.

JPMorgan is the first big U.S. bank to detail the windfall the industry will receive under the new tax regime, which was signed into law last month. Discussion about the ramifications of the changes is likely to dominate earnings season over the firms’ quarterly results.

Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake has said that some of those gains will probably evaporate as banks compete with one another on pricing and services.

“The enactment of tax reform in the fourth quarter is a significant positive outcome for the country,” Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in a statement Friday. “U.S. companies will be more competitive globally, which will ultimately benefit all Americans.”

The bank is working on a long-term plan to use some of the windfall to benefit employees and customers, Dimon said on a call with analysts. Among potential changes could be improved pricing for low- and moderate-income borrowers in areas such as mortgages. The firm’s tax rate will likely rise above 20 percent within two years, Lake said.

JPMorgan’s fourth-quarter charge was largely driven by unremitted overseas earnings facing taxation under the Republican tax overhaul. 

Citigroup Inc. has said it will face a hit of as much as $20 billion, largely from a writedown of deferred tax assets, and other U.S. banks have  disclosed one-time charges in the billions.

The tax changes affected the firm’s trading results as revenue fell 26 percent to $3.37 billion from a year earlier.

Fixed-income revenue dropped 34 percent to $2.22 billion — more than $500 million lower than analysts’ estimates for that business — fueled by placid markets, tighter credit spreads and the tax charge.

Equity-trading revenue was little changed from a year earlier at $1.15 billion, affected by a $143 million loss on a margin loan. The loss was tied to South African retailer Steinhoff International Holdings NV, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction.

Excluding the one-time charges, the decline in overall trading revenue was 17 percent, slightly worse than Lake’s guidance from December. Lake said the trading environment at the beginning of 2018 is “consistent” with the end of last year.

JPMorgan’s shares rose 0.9 percent to $111.85 at 9:53 a.m. in New York. The stock climbed 29 percent in the past year through Thursday.

Here’s a summary of JPMorgan’s fourth-quarter results:

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The latest charge comes after a $1 billion expense in the third quarter; the bank is struggling to cut costs…

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Six Ways to Get Ready for the Next Crisis Before It Strikes

Global stock markets keep heading higher and higher… credit markets are increasingly overextended… and geopolitics are more harrowing than ever.
 
Meanwhile, the MSCI All Country World Index (which reflects the performance of global stock markets) was up around 24% in 2017.
 
That's great news… But sooner or later, "mean reversion" says the good times have to end.
 
Mean reversion is the idea that markets (along with pretty much anything else in life) tend to reverse extreme movements over time – and gravitate back to average. It's like a rubber band… Stretch it, and when you let go, it returns to its original shape.
 
I've been saying for a while that markets around the world are "stretched" and could snap back to their "original shape" at any moment.
 
That means now is the time to prepare for whatever might happen… whether it's a market correction, a currency collapse, or something far worse.
 
So here are six easy things you can do right now to prepare yourself for a crisis… whether it's next week or next year.
 

1. Stash away some cash.

No matter what – unless things turn really ugly – cash will get you what you need if your debit or credit cards don't work. But money in the bank won't do you any good if the banks go bust, or if the ATMs stop working.
 
Keep enough cash in a home safe to get you by for a few weeks – or a few months, preferably.
 
Besides, given negative interest rates in much of the world, you might be better off earning zero interest under your own roof than negative interest with your bank.
 

2. Keep some cash in U.S. dollars.

Despite the best efforts of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the U.S. dollar is still the default global currency. Almost anywhere in the developing world (and in much of the rest of it), a $20 bill can fix a lot of problems – and a Ben Franklin can fix the rest of them.
 
If you live outside the U.S. and your local currency is for some reason unavailable (like we've seen in many crises in emerging markets all around the world), or worthless (like we're seeing in Venezuela, today) – having greenbacks can be a lifesaver.
 

3. Diversify where you bank.

Diversifying where you bank is just as important as diversifying your portfolio. Keep some money in a "too big to fail" bank, which is safe – until it's allowed to fail, of course. Also keep some money in a conservative local lender where they know you by name.
 
And remember: Just because your bank is covered by a national banking insurance entity doesn't mean you'll get any money when you need it. So you'd do well to have at least one account in a different country.
 

4. Download now what you might need tomorrow.

Don't assume that personal data and records that are online today – starting with bank or brokerage statements, for example – will be there when you need them tomorrow.
 
Maybe it's a generational thing… but I trust the "cloud" to save my important stuff only if it's also saved on a hard drive tucked away somewhere. Important documents that are on someone else's website are available to you only as long as 1) that website is still up and running, and 2) the owner of the website gives you access to it.
 
So periodically download personal records… and store them someplace safe.
 

5. Follow your stop loss levels.

If you own stocks, you need to have a stop loss in mind for every stock you own (the lowest price at which you're willing to sell to limit your losses if a stock falls). Just as important, if a stock you hold hits your stop loss, sell. You can't make money by investing if you don't have money to invest.
 
A stock that's down 50% has to double before you get back to breakeven. How often have you invested in a stock that's doubled? Probably not often enough to count on it. It's much better to have a stop loss level that's (say) 25% below where you bought the stock than to be out of the game. Or, even better, to use a trailing stop that follows the stock up as the share price rises.
 

6. Own gold.

History has proven time and again that gold is one of the best ways to hedge your portfolio – that is, to protect it when stock markets everywhere fall. For one thing, gold and stocks are negatively correlated assets. They tend to move in opposite directions.
 
Second, people have used gold as a currency or medium of exchange for thousands of years. Meanwhile, other forms of money – livestock, shells, stones, and tulips – have come and gone.
 
Gold has withstood history and maintained its inherent value. It's durable, it's easy to transport, it looks the same everywhere, it's relatively easy to weigh and grade… It's the perfect store of value. In short, gold is insurance against financial calamity.
 
Even if you don't know what the next crisis is going to be, you can do your best to be ready for it. Get started with these six steps – today.
 
Good investing,
 
Kim Iskyan

Editor's note: Diversifying your portfolio is another key crisis-prevention tool… But if you're like most investors, you're probably leaving out one powerful asset. Kim's colleague Peter Churchouse believes it could be the No. 1 investment of the next decade – and with his five simple strategies, anyone can get in on the opportunity. Click here to learn more.

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Watch For 2018

On Tuesday, our Under the Radar Moversnewsletter suggested shorting small cap pharmaceutical stock Esperion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: ESPR):

Esperion’s been on our list for a while not, and we finally got the clue we’ve been waiting on for a while. That is, a doji bar that’s noticeably out of character…. higher than the recent bars, in this case. Today’s move should be the last hurrah, so to speak.

That being said, we’d be kidding ourselves if we said the waning bullish volume bars on the way up weren’t part of the rationale here. There aren’t nearly as many buyers as the chart of ESPR would have you believe given its run-up since the beginning of February. The bears were just biding their time to start taking profits, and today’s doji bar should be a pivot.

Our Under the Radar Moversnewsletter has a detailed discussion about small cap Esperion Therapeutics technical chart and a potential shorting strategy:

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Watch For 2018: Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc.(ACHN)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) dropped about 6.9% Friday to post a new 52-week low of $2.69 after closing at $2.89 on Thursday. The 52-week high is $5.66. Volume was around 6.2 million, more than three times the daily average of around 1.9 million. The company had no specific news.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    We updated our annual U.S. Hep C survey in early July, in order to gauge the future for Gilead, AbbVie/Enanta Pharmaceuticals (ENTA), Merck, and J&J/Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN). In conjunction with script trends, physicians indicate that the market for treatment-eligible, easily accessible Hep C patients is shrinking, but that Gilead’s share of the shrinking pie is continuing to grow. With no end to script declines in sight, we are left wondering where the Hep C will bottom…

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Watch For 2018: FuelCell Energy Inc.(FCEL)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap fuel cell stockFuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL) reportedQ2 2017 earnings before the market opened with shares up in premarket trading. Total revenueswere $20.4 million versus $28.6 million with the revenue components being:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    The Q1 2017 earnings report for small cap fuel cell stockFuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL) is scheduled forbefore the marketopens onThursday (March 9th). Last December,FuelCell Energy announced a business restructuring to reduce costs and align production levels with current levels of demand in a manner that is consistent with the Companys long-term strategic plan.The Company said it cut 96 jobs, or 17% of its workforce, and has halved production to 25 megawatts a year in order to position for delays in order flow.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The North American subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is teaming up with alternative energy supplier Fuel Cell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) to build a fuel cell power generation unit and hydrogen fueling station at Toyota’s facilities at the Port of Long Beach, California. The new plant, which is forecast to come online in 2020, was unveiled Friday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap fuel cell stockFuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL) reported Q4 and fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 earningswithQ4 total revenuesbeing $47.9 million versus $24.5 million:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) posted a new 52-week low of $1.00 on Friday, down 60% compared with Thursday’s closing price of $1.60. The stock’s 52-week high is $8.88. Volume of around 12.4 million shares was about 13 times the daily average of around 800,000 shares. The company priced a secondary stock offering of 12 million shares and additional warrants at $1.28 to raise $15.4 million.

  • [By Jim Robertson]

    Fuel cell power solutions stock FuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL)sank 28.13% after pricing an underwritten public offering of (i) 12,000,000 shares of its common stock, (ii) Series C warrants to purchase 12,000,000 shares of its common stock and (iii) Series D warrants to purchase 12,000,000 shares of its common stock, for gross proceeds of approximately $15.4 million at a public offering price of $1.28 per share and accompanying warrants.However, shares are rising by a double digit percentage in Monday premarket trading:

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Watch For 2018: Rackspace Hosting Inc(RAX)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE: RAX) reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter, but the company missed analysts’ sales estimates. Rackspace shares dropped 7.72 percent to $20.80 in the after-hours trading session.

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Watch For 2018: Panera Bread Company(PNRA)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Motley Fool Staff]

    In this segment fromMarket Foolery, host Chris Hill is joined by Motley Fool analystDavid Kretzmann as they break down how coffee-and-pastry focused JAB Holding Company will fit a fast casual brand into its privately held portfolio. With the acquisition, the JAB is expected to give thePanera Bread(NASDAQ:PNRA)team even more autonomy than usual.

  • [By WWW.THESTREET.COM]

    Then there’s Panera Bread (PNRA) , a company that had lost its way. But after interviewing Panera’s CEO Ron Shaich, Cramer learned that at its new, remodeled “Panera 2.0” stores, the lines were out the door. As the rollout continued, earnings only got stronger. Never underestimate the power of a restaurant redo, Cramer concluded.

  • [By Billy Duberstein]

    In late March, the company informed investors that after a two-year undertaking, it had finally removed all preservatives from its tortillas, making the Chipotle menu completely preservative-free. The company also called out competitors McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and Panera Bread (NASDAQ: PNRA) for marketing their menus as “natural,” as Chipotle insisted these other restaurants still use preservatives made in a lab.

  • [By Seth McNew]

    Other companies have followed suit with great success, including PaneraBread (NASDAQ:PNRA), which has focused on improving the customer experience, including via shorter wait times. Panera 2.0 was largely successful because of the company’s focus on its digital strategy and Chipotle looks to be doing the same thing.

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Own Right Now

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

On November 10th, we were excited to host Third Avenue’s 19th Annual Value Equity Conference. It was a pleasure to see and speak with all of you that attended. As we reflect on the quarter and the conference, we want to share some thoughts from the day for those of you who could not attend.

One question that we received, and indeed we hear a lot from clients, is on the topic of idea generation and whether it is getting harder to find compelling investment opportunities for small cap given the developments such as passive investing or rapidly changing investor sentiment.

In actuality, we think the reverse is true for several reasons. We believe that there is a higher level of investor neglect in the small cap space, and neglect, in an investment sense, creates valuation discounts from fair value. Small cap names are less well-known and understood. For example, most of you have never heard of Cubic Corporation (NYSE:CUB), but you have likely used the public transportation systems in New York, London, Sydney, etc. that rely on Cubic for fare collection services. Likewise, Multi-Color is a confusing name for the second largest label maker in the world. To understand these businesses, investors need to dig a little deeper with active fundamental research – a Third Avenue strength.

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Own Right Now: Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc.(ACHN)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ACHN) dropped about 6.9% Friday to post a new 52-week low of $2.69 after closing at $2.89 on Thursday. The 52-week high is $5.66. Volume was around 6.2 million, more than three times the daily average of around 1.9 million. The company had no specific news.

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    We updated our annual U.S. Hep C survey in early July, in order to gauge the future for Gilead, AbbVie/Enanta Pharmaceuticals (ENTA), Merck, and J&J/Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN). In conjunction with script trends, physicians indicate that the market for treatment-eligible, easily accessible Hep C patients is shrinking, but that Gilead’s share of the shrinking pie is continuing to grow. With no end to script declines in sight, we are left wondering where the Hep C will bottom…

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Own Right Now: Rackspace Hosting Inc(RAX)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Monica Gerson]

    Rackspace Hosting, Inc. (NYSE: RAX) reported better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter, but the company missed analysts’ sales estimates. Rackspace shares dropped 7.72 percent to $20.80 in the after-hours trading session.

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Own Right Now: Panera Bread Company(PNRA)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Ben Levisohn]

    Keurigs plight (actually, JABs) is worsening, with the K-cup market slowing to almost no growth now, and Keurig continuing to lose own brands share. Starbucks (SBUX) echoed the notion of a K-cup market slowdown at its seminar on Wednesday (and is guiding for its [consumer packaged goods, or CPG,] growth below recent trends), but it expects to increase its share of total CPG coffee to 20% from 15%. Come early February it will be a year since the closing of the Keurig deal for JAB Holdings. The pressure on JAB is more significant if we take into account the high leverage of the deal (JAB contributed one fourth of the $12Bn price tag). It is a tough predicament. On the one hand we argue that to make that deal work, they need to buy more (own) brands either from the retail channel (that can be extended to CPG: Dunkin (DNKN)? Panera (PNRA)?), or outright buy CPG brands (like the entire Kraft Heinz portfolio, and or Tata Groups Eight OClock brand). But can/how do they fund these deals? Maybe Mars and Warren Buffett (Mars is involved in office coffee with Starbucks), private equity, and or 3G can help? While this note is not about Positive-rated Mondelez, we have mentioned before a scenario where Kraft Heinz buys Mondelez and partly funds the deal by selling its own CPG coffee business (~$3Bn we say) to JAB as well as divests the Mondelez 20% plus stakes in Keurig (North America) and Jacobs Douwe Egberts (Western Europe), which together at this stage are worth ~$7-8Bn. But, yes, JAB will need deep-pocket partners and generous lenders. Net, JAB needs to do something soon.

  • [By Seth McNew]

    Other companies have followed suit with great success, including PaneraBread (NASDAQ:PNRA), which has focused on improving the customer experience, including via shorter wait times. Panera 2.0 was largely successful because of the company’s focus on its digital strategy and Chipotle looks to be doing the same thing.

  • [By WWW.THESTREET.COM]

    Then there’s Panera Bread (PNRA) , a company that had lost its way. But after interviewing Panera’s CEO Ron Shaich, Cramer learned that at its new, remodeled “Panera 2.0” stores, the lines were out the door. As the rollout continued, earnings only got stronger. Never underestimate the power of a restaurant redo, Cramer concluded.

  • [By WWW.THESTREET.COM]

    Cramer wanted to talk a little psychology. With its after-hours move Tuesday, Panera Bread (PNRA) is up more than 16% this week on takeover speculation. Panera is an old Action Alerts PLUS name, one the trust sold at a nice gain, too. 

  • [By Motley Fool Staff]

    In this segment fromMarket Foolery, host Chris Hill is joined by Motley Fool analystDavid Kretzmann as they break down how coffee-and-pastry focused JAB Holding Company will fit a fast casual brand into its privately held portfolio. With the acquisition, the JAB is expected to give thePanera Bread(NASDAQ:PNRA)team even more autonomy than usual.

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    Shares of Panera Bread Co (NASDAQ: PNRA) got a boost, shooting up 14 percent to $312.29 after the company agreed to be acquired by JAB for $7.5 billion.

Top 5 Small Cap Stocks To Own Right Now: FuelCell Energy Inc.(FCEL)

Advisors’ Opinion:

  • [By Lisa Levin]

    FuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL) shares dropped 33 percent to $1.08. FuelCell Energy priced its $15.4 million underwritten public offering of common stock and warrants.

  • [By Paul Ausick]

    The North American subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is teaming up with alternative energy supplier Fuel Cell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) to build a fuel cell power generation unit and hydrogen fueling station at Toyota’s facilities at the Port of Long Beach, California. The new plant, which is forecast to come online in 2020, was unveiled Friday at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap fuel cell stockFuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL) reported Q4 and fiscal year ended October 31, 2017 earningswithQ4 total revenuesbeing $47.9 million versus $24.5 million:

  • [By Peter Graham]

    Small cap fuel cell stockFuelCell Energy Inc (NASDAQ: FCEL) reportedQ2 2017 earnings before the market opened with shares up in premarket trading. Total revenueswere $20.4 million versus $28.6 million with the revenue components being: