SNAP vs. TWTR: In with the Old, Out with the New
SEE LAST PAGE OF THIS REPORT Paul Sagawa / Artur Pylak
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May 17, 2017
SNAP vs. TWTR: In with the Old, Out with the New
1Q17 reversed trend for SNAP and TWTR. SNAP’s big growth and the lock on millennials was the IPO roadshow story, but its first public quarter showed a frightening DAU deceleration and weak monetization. TWTR’s disappointing MAU narrative had begun to spook advertisers in 2016, but an unexpected bump in 1Q17 users intrigued investors. While both companies face significant risks, we believe TWTR is much better investment value in the long term for 6 reasons: 1. A mature business model, 2. Defensible leadership in a clear addressable market, 3. Better ad context, 4. Huge data assets, 5. Valuation, and 6. More likely M&A target. We recently removed TWTR from our model portfolio (horrible timing, in retrospect) due to its wrenching volatility, questionable management and the stubborn negative narrative around MAU growth. Still, our faith in the long-term value of its intrinsic business and the hopeful signs in 1Q17 renew our interest, particularly if it pulls back again from its recent gains. As for SNAP, we believe its early innovation and enviable demographics are unlikely to be enough to defend its notoriously fickle target market from AI powerhouse FB and future challengers peddling the next “cool” thing.
- Yes, SNAP is youthful and growing, and TWTR has been stagnant. SNAP’s IPO pitch boiled down to rapidly growing engagement with the young demographics most coveted by advertisers, and while 1Q17 results – deceleration to 36% YoY DAU growth and disappointing monetization – shook investor confidence, its narrative remains intact. TWTR’s narrative has suffered through 2 years of stagnant user counts, the negative sentiment bleeding from investors to advertisers to hit monetization as well. However, 1Q17 was a ray of sunshine, with 6% YoY MAU growth the highest since 2015, perhaps a harbinger that President Trump’s TWTR obsession could reenergize the platform. Still, skeptics considerably outnumber TWTR bulls.
- TWTR generates cash, SNAP is burning it. On a GAAP basis, both TWTR and SNAP lose money, but TWTR generates substantial free cash flow while SNAP burns more cash than it generates in revenue. Moreover, the trajectory of SNAP’s revenues and expenses suggests that cash positive operations may be 3-4 years away, assuming there is no further deterioration in its business model. Yes, TWTR sales were down double digits YoY in 1Q17, but the return to user growth and a raised business profile in the current political market could spark a reversal in the failure narrative that has dogged the stock, first with investors and then with advertisers.
- TWTR’s core franchise is unique, SNAP has no moat. TWTR’s global MAU count stagnated at just over 300M for nearly 2 years before a surprise upturn in 1Q17. Over that time, FB, GOOGL and AAPL have all taken shots at TWTR’s news distribution franchise, but failed to duplicate its critical mass of newsmakers across the full spectrum of interest categories delivering regular content delivered on an instantaneous basis. Meanwhile, SNAP’s own S-1 noted a lack of a competitive moat, promoting its pace of innovation as its differentiation. With FB relentlessly copying SNAP’s innovations, and other messaging and entertainment services vying for engagement with the fickle youth market, SNAP’s long-term positioning is much less certain.
- TWTR has a more effective ad context than SNAP. 41% of TWTR users who recall having seen ads on the platform indicate that they have purchased advertised products, in line with FB users and well ahead of the 30% purchase behavior reported on Instagram. For SNAP, 62% of its users report “always” or “often” skipping its advertising and just 12% say that they have ever purchased a product advertised on the platform. We believe that TWTR offers an unusually effective context for ads, with users visiting the platform to review news and responding favorably to the native formats and interest focused targeting. In contrast, SNAP’s dominant use case is interpersonal messaging, a context perhaps less conducive to driving purchase behavior.
- TWTR is a data gold mine, SNAP erases its data. TWTR’s 328M MAUs send more than 200B tweets per year, and in its 12-year life, it has archived nearly 1T tweets and a record of user interactions with them. These tweets – rich with images, videos and links and often viewed by thousands or even millions – are an archive of to the second global interests, cross referencing topics with the views, likes, retweets, and click-throughs of its users. SNAP has a similar number of MAUs, who collectively post roughly 2.5B snaps per day, almost 5 times the number of daily tweets. However, the ephemeral nature of SNAP means that almost all this content is lost 24 hours after posting and most are viewed by a very small set of recipients. In a big data, AI world, this is a substantial drawback, greatly limiting SNAP’s ability to draw insights for its own use or for its advertisers.
- TWTR’s valuation is more reasonable than SNAPs. SNAP’s $23.5B market cap is 47.4x ttm sales of $515M. Assuming it can hit the 95% YoY sales growth expected by consensus, it will generate ARPU of about $3.35 for each of its estimated 300M MAUs in 2017. In contrast, TWTR’s $13.3B market cap is 5.2x ttm sales of $2.5B. Assuming 2017 sales decline at the 7.8% consensus estimate, it will generate ARPU of $7 for its 328M MAU. In that light, recent trends – the 1Q17 user and engagement surprise from TWTR and the user and monetization disappointments from SNAP – suggest some convergence in expectations and valuation.
- TWTR would be a great fit for M&A, SNAP not so much. TWTR’s unique news distribution franchise, advertising platform, and data assets would match well for a broad range of potential acquirers – GOOGL, FB, AMZN, MSFT, BIDU, and others come to mind. We view TWTR’s failed deal making in 2016 as a product of unrealistic expectations fueled by CRM’s ultimately withdrawn bid, and expect that a return to growth could renew 3rd party interest at attractive premiums to the current valuation. In contrast, SNAP’s lack of competitive protection and weak data position lessen its value. The most synergistic possible buyers, FB (more interested in killing it), AAPL (famously against big M&A), and Tencent (unattractive to the controlling founders) seem unlikely suitors.
- Timing a TWTR/SNAP pair trade. TWTR (1 yr Beta of 1.9) and SNAP are volatile stocks, and both have traded up strongly since the initial reaction to their 1Q17 results. Yesterday’s sell off for TWTR is a case in point, and its sharp drop may represent a buying opportunity, although the next quarter or two still hold significant risks. For SNAP, we are uncomfortable with the current valuation and would reduce exposure or even short the name going forward.
The Story Changes
Since shortly after its 2013 IPO, the investment narrative for TWTR has been miasma of a product confusion, inept marketing, management shakeups, botched M&A negotiations, and stagnant user numbers, recently capped by waning advertiser enthusiasm for the platform. Then, 1Q17, after months of Trump tweetstorms and the resulting media obsession, TWTR showed surprising 6% QoQ MAU growth and sparked a nearly 40% rally. On the flip side, SNAP, hot off its February IPO, reported a bomb of a 1Q17, complete with serious user growth and ARPU disappointments. Shares fell almost 25%, but have clawed back almost half of that since.
We believe that TWTR is the much better play for 6 reasons: 1. Maturity – TWTR is already generating cash despite investing in its own infrastructure, while SNAP is burning substantial sums of cash without a clear trajectory to cash positive operations; 2. Competition – TWTR has a unique real-time news distribution franchise that has outlasted failed attacks by FB, GOOGL and AAPL, while SNAP admits to having no competitive barriers beyond innovation and faces a powerful rival (FB) that intends to kill it; 3. Ad Context – TWTR’s native ad format falls naturally into its user timelines and drives purchases, while SNAP users report actively avoiding its ads and rarely are inspired to buy; 4. Data – TWTR has a hugely valuable archive of nearly a trillion tweets, viewed thousands of times apiece on average and detailing the precise interests of its users, while SNAP erases its data 24 hours after it is posted; 5. Valuation – SNAP’s $24B market cap is more than 70% higher than TWTR’s, based on long term growth and profitability assumptions that we believe are wildly optimistic, particularly in the face of decelerating user growth and declining ARPU; and 6. M&A – TWTR’s unique real time news franchise and massive data assets give it strong possible synergies with a number of potential suitors (GOOGL, FB, AMZN, MSFT, BIDU, CRM, etc.), while the lack of competitive barriers have the obvious suspects (FB, Tencent, etc.) more inclined to kill SNAP than buy it.
We made the mistake of removing TWTR from our 15-stock model portfolio just ahead of the quarter – we wanted to make room for IBM (in retrospect, months too early) and were frustrated for the pain suffered through years of wrenching volatility along TWTR’s downward trajectory. This bad call leaves us looking for a re-entry point, but the long history of volatility makes us believe that we will get a buying opportunity along the way. Meanwhile, we were uncomfortable with SNAP’s long term business prospects at its $17 IPO, and its difficult 1Q17 and $20 share price leave us even more so. We see TWTR and SNAP as a logical pair trade, with their market capitalizations likely to converge over time.
Exh 1: SNAP versus TWTR Stock performance since SNAP IPO
What a Difference a Quarter Makes
Six months ago, the Twitter narrative was relentlessly negative. CEO Jack Dorsey had failed to reignite user growth, a potential deal with CRM fell apart in full view of the public, and advertisers began to shy away from launching new campaigns on the platform. Senior executives were jumping ship and the share price began what seemed an inexorable trajectory toward an all-time low, bouncing off $14 just before releasing 1Q17 results. Boom! Monthly active users were surprisingly up 6%, and the President’s controversial Twitter habit was drawing rapt attention from the “main stream media”. Analyst reports now offer a glimmer of hope, and the return of founder Biz Stone to the team gave the stock another bump to nearly $20, its best price in almost a year and a half (save for the moment that a CRM deal seemed possible last September) (Exhibit 1).
Also six months ago, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel was contemplating his impending IPO with a triumphant story of innovation and growth. 3Q16 user growth was more than 60% YoY with ARPUs more than trebling to drive more than 500% sales growth vs. 2015. The company’s messaging innovations – ephemeral messages, cool photo filters, fun video effects, and the like – was driving engagement with the advertiser favored young and wealthy demographics. Despite skepticism over the aggressive price, the IPO was a success – offering at $17/share, then rising steadily to more than $23 ahead of its first quarterly report as a public company. Boom! Snap’s user growth disappointed, up just 6% QoQ and 36% YoY. ARPU was down 8% QoQ. 170% YoY sales growth sounds great, but less so when it is compared with 406% growth in the prior quarter. The shares bottomed out at just over $18, but have bounced back to better than $20.
Which of the two consumer mobile franchises is the most attractive for investors now? We say Twitter.
In 2012, a year before its IPO, Twitter was burning cash – about $61M. It has generated free cash flow every year since (Exhibit 2). Sales more than doubled in 2013 and more than doubled again in 2014, before its user growth stagnated in 2015 and its ad revenue per user followed in 2016. Despite the disappointments and its sagging share price, Twitter generated cash. In the face of competitive initiatives by the likes of Facebook, Google and Apple, to displace it as the go to source for real time news, commentary and entertainment, Twitter’s engagement has remained stable and it has continued to generate cash (Exhibits 3-4). While it invested to build out its own cloud datacenter infrastructure to process, deliver and store those billions of tweets, it has still generated cash.
Exh 2: Twitter Pre-IPO Financial Metrics
Exh 3: Twitter MAUs by Region, 1Q10 – 1Q17
Exh 4: Twitter Unlevered FCF, 1Q13 – 1Q17
Ahead of its February IPO, Snap was also burning cash – $678M in 2016. It burnt another $215M in 1Q17, as its COGS, R&D and SG&A – excluding the nearly $2B in stock based compensation – were more than double its $149M in sales (Exhibit 5). With a minimum of $3B committed to its hosting partners over the next 5 years, 15% of sales due back to content partners, and with heavy spending on R&D (45% of sales) and SG&A (72%), positive EBITDA seems years away, even with aggressive sales projections (Exhibit 6). Curiously, Snap’s 2016 capex, at more than 13% of sales, was higher than Twitter’s at the same stage, despite foregoing investment in its own infrastructure. This cash conflagration should be troubling to investors, particularly in the face of the deceleration in users and monetization (Exhibits 7-8).
Exh 5: Snap Pre-IPO Financial Metrics
Exh 6: Snap OPEX Costs as % of Sales, 2016 and 1Q17
Exh 7: Snap Daily Active User Growth (YoY) by Region, 1Q15 – 4Q17
Exh 8: Snap ARPUs by Region, 1Q15 – 1Q17
Barriers to Competition
Twitter has a critical mass of newsmakers, reporters, celebrities, business leaders, academics, and experts in nearly any topic, all primed to tweet their thoughts frequently, often in response to breaking news, and link to interesting content. Twitter also has a distribution infrastructure designed specifically to assure fast and near simultaneous delivery of the tweets around the globe. It has the attention of traditional media, who support Twitter’s franchise by reporting on the news flow, attention that has grown ever larger with the role that the service has played in the Trump Presidency. Given this unique and clearly valuable platform, it is damning that Twitter management has struggled so famously in driving further penetration and thus, in sustaining advertiser momentum.
Still, its would-be rivals have not made a dent in this real time information distribution franchise, frustrated by the critical mass, network effects and specific investment that protect it. Facebook’s Twitter killer Notify App, launched in 2015, was a resounding dud. A year prior, it had whiffed with Storyful, a news content discovery tool. Apple launched its News app in 2017, but engagement has been tepid and the service makes no attempt to offer truly timely distribution. Google has offered a News tab in its powerful search application for more than a decade, but its timeliness is limited by natural delays in scrubbing the web for content.
In contrast, Snap called out its own lack of a competitive moat in its IPO S-1 filing. Its user base is young, tech savvy and profligate, typically using several other social platforms beyond Snap and able to shift engagement easily. Its content partners are purposely limited, to generate value in exclusivity, but all are active participants across multiple electronic distribution services and even exclusive content would be easily repurposed to other platforms. Against that picture, Snap makes the claim that its innovative culture is its sustainable advantage – that it is uniquely able to conceive and deliver new functionality to delight and drive engagement with its target young, western and rich demographic. So far, so good – Snap’s innovations, like ephemeral messaging, clever photo filters and video processing features, and story building tools, have been the key drivers of its obvious success in building penetration and attention.
Exh 9: Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma Framework
However, “cool” and “innovative” are difficult to sustain. Business history is littered with examples of companies that caught lightening in a bottle, only to suffer as their fad faded. In the tech world, there are no real examples of companies that triumphed over the longer term through an institutionalized capacity for sustaining innovation (Exhibit 9). Apple built its dominant position with truly disruptive innovation, delivering devastating paradigm shifts first to music labels and then to cell phone makers. Having established first the iPod and then the iPhone, Apple quickly established considerable switching barriers (e.g. proprietary file formats, the App Store, sunk app investment, stranded content, etc.) and then began levering the considerable benefits of scale. Yes, Apple has led the pack on sustaining innovation (e.g. TouchID, Siri, etc.) but “first to scale”, “competitive moats”, and “natural monopolies” were the key to turning disruptive innovation into a competitive juggernaut, keys that even Snap management denies are available to it.
Apple’s earlier history provides a more ominous example of innovation as competitive advantage. The MacIntosh offered significant innovations relative to the DOS PC – the graphical user interface and the mouse chief amongst them – and established important beachheads amongst early adopters in the education and design fields. Microsoft, an adept fast follower, delivered the best of the Mac shortly thereafter with Windows, and the rest is history.
Facebook wants to be Windows to Snap’s Mac. It has introduced shameless copies of Snap’s signature ephemeral messages, photo filters and video animations to its Instagram platform, a service with more than double the global users of Snapchat and growing quickly (Exhibit 10). Facebook is outspending Snap on R&D more than 20 to 1, with a profound advantage in the deep learning AI technology that has the potential to revolutionize the image processing at the core of Snap’s business model (Exhibit 11). Facebook has more than 50 AI scientists with at least 1,000 citations in academic literature, many with industry leading expertise in image processing. Snap has 3 (Exhibit 12). This vulnerability should be frightening to Snap investors.
Exh 10: History of Facebook Attempts to Clone Snapchat features
Exh 11: Forecast R&D Spending, 2017-2019
Exh 12: Top Tech Company AI Scientist Counts and Citations
Exh 13: Ad Recall and Effectiveness of Ads on Social Media, by Platform
According to a recent study by Fluent, 41% of Twitter users reported having purchased products or services after having seen them advertised on the platform, in line with Facebook (with Google considered the gold standard for digital advertising effectiveness). Impressively, this was substantially higher than Instagram (30%) and more than triple the number of Snap users that reported buying after seeing ads (12%). Along with the famous cynicism of the millennials that disproportionately make up Snap’s user base, we believe advertising context is the big difference between it and Twitter (Exhibit 13).
Twitter’s context advantage stems from three primary factors. First, Twitter users visit the platform to review news, largely from sources that are not personal acquaintances. Consumers are accustomed to seeing advertising while perusing this kind of content. Second, Twitter’s ads are structured as tweet-like cards and interleaved with content in its users’ timelines. This native format is unusually conducive to leaving ad impressions without disrupting the flow of the user experience. Third, Twitter’s ad targeting profiles have deep understanding of each user’s specific interests based on their long history of follows, clicks and likes that make it unusually adept at matching each message to an appropriate audience.
In contrast, Snap users primarily use the platform to adapt personal photographs and videos to send to friends on the service. Many messaging applications – iMessage, WhatsApp, and others – do not attach advertising, and consumers in this context may be resistant to absorbing commercial messages. Some of Snap’s most successful ad products – those attached to professionally produced content (with the sales split with the publishing partner), and sponsored photo and video effects – will depend on steering users to more ad-friendly use cases. Moreover, Snap’s ephemeral data policy will make it more difficult for it to build precise ad targeting platforms, particularly vs. data rich rivals like Facebook, Google and even Twitter.
Like Google and Facebook, Twitter saves its data, and its archive of to the minute tweets, links, follows, likes, clicks, and other interactions over its more than 10 years of life are a unique and immensely detailed atlas of human activity. Because each user’s actions are not subject to scrutiny by a community of acquaintances, as they are on Facebook and Snap, Twitter offers a more honest (and more commercially actionable) view of their interests. There have been nearly a trillion tweets, likely yielding hundreds of trillions of interactions over the years, all tied back to hundreds of millions of active and currently inactive users all over the world.
Already, this massive dataset informs Twitter’s advertising placement, drives content recommendations, and identifies changes to the cultural zeitgeist on a moment to moment basis. This is the value that fascinated Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, when he began his ill-fated pursuit of Twitter – the data could be used to give his enterprise customers actionable insight for focusing sales and marketing efforts. Arguably, LinkedIn’s usage and demographic data on its 400M users was its primary value to Microsoft in their $26B transaction (Exhibit 14). Importantly, Twitter’s dataset is updated to the second, making it the service of record for establishing what is happening right now. This urgency raises its value to a host of other possible partners with many interesting use cases.
Snapchat sees a LOT of engagement, particularly by those elusive millennials, but its ability to exploit the data is severely compromised by its unwillingness to keep it (Exhibit 15). Almost all those 2.5B snaps posted daily disappear within 24 hours, leaving Snap a very short window to gain insight. Moreover, as new questions rise, Snap cannot go back and review its non-existent archive to inform its answers.
Exh 14: Social Platform Use by Demographic, February 2017
Exh 15: Number of Monthly Active Users by Property
Twitter’s market capitalization is about $13.3B, a nice bounce off its recent $10.3B pre-earnings bottom, but still nearly a third below its valuation at the IPO price of $26/share. $13.3B is about 5 times Twitter’s 2016 sales and 24 times its free cash flows. Twitter is projected to generate an ARPU of $7.10 for its 328M MAUs, yielding a value of just over $40 per monthly active user. Analysts project a 2% sales CAGR through 2021, with a turn to GAAP profitability in 2018, as stock based compensation awards sift through the system. The questions are whether the burst of user growth delivered in 1Q17 means a lasting return to increasing global engagement, and, if so, how soon before Twitter will have regained the trust of the advertising community. We are bullish on the first point but still cautious on the second – ad buyers and their agencies are historically slow to act on change. Still, we see consensus sales and earnings expectations as a more than achievable bar in the short run and an overly pessimistic take for the longer term. Backing out the present value of the cash flows implied by consensus expectations, 79% of Twitter’s market value is contained in its 5th year terminal value – this is a low figure for TMT companies and implies that investors are concerned for the company’s long term prospects. In this we see real value (Exhibit 16).
Exh 16: TWTR Valuation and Key Financials Snapshot
Snap’s market capitalization is more than $23.5B, still more than 17% above its IPO price despite its recent fall. The market cap is more than 44 times Snap’s 2016 sales, and the cash flow yield is a negative 2.9%. Consensus expects Snap to deliver sales of $998M in 2017, with ARPU of $5.91 against its 169M daily average users and about $3.32 against its estimated 300M MAUs, less than half the level currently being generated by Twitter. We note that Snap’s ARPUs declined quarter over quarter in 1Q17. Analysts expect 100% annual growth out of Snap over the next four years – a torrid pace given the sharp deceleration seen in 1Q17 – with losses and negative cash flows through 2021. The serious question is whether Snap can double sales year on year moving ahead when current signs point to a slowdown in user growth and monetization, with Facebook holding its franchise squarely in its competitive crosshairs. We are very concerned, and see 2017 estimates and long term expectations as extremely aggressive. Backing the cash value of these estimated results from the market cap, leaves an 89% residual, well above the TMT average and suggestive that investors may be even more bullish than the consensus. In this, we see substantial risk.
Exh 17: SNAP Valuation and Key Financials Snapshot
For internet stocks not named Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, or Facebook, theoretical matchmaking is a popular parlor game. Who might buy Twitter to take its beleaguered investors out of their misery? Who might cash out Evan Spiegel and deliver a windfall to Snap’s public owners? We think it is easier to contemplate a Twitter takeout than a Snap deal.
Twitter thought it had a deal in September 2016. Strong rumors placed Salesforce with a $28 a share offer on the table, and the bankers gleefully shopped the company around to find a higher bid. When shareholder pressure spanked Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, he backed off the deal and Twitter was left without a partner. While this failure could be read as lack of interest, we see it as a case of investment banking malpractice. In September, at the depth of the negative narratives around Twitter’s stagnant user base and skittish advertising customers, $28 was too much. A revitalized platform might find more takers.
Twitter has a lot to offer would-be acquirers. Its unique real time news distribution platform would be an outstanding fit to either Google or Facebook, both of which would immediately juice the user growth and engagement by pushing the service to their core users, while adding Twitter to the options for ad buyers. Amazon, Google and Apple, in a battle to establish their AI assistants with consumers, could lever Twitter to add real time urgency to news updates. A variety of companies – Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, Adobe, and others – might view Twitter’s trove of data as immensely valuable, particularly when hitched to powerful AI capabilities. Most of these companies could count on operating synergies as well – combining infrastructures, streamlining R&D and ad sales, etc. – to improve upon the cash flow potential. Twitter is still nearly 30% below its IPO price – we believe that the company could be worth more than that to a potential buyer under the right conditions.
For Snap, a deal is more of a longshot. First, the voting structure leaves all the decision-making power in the hands of the company’s founders, and there is no reason to believe that either Evan Spiegel or Bobby Murphy are looking to cash out without an even better deal for themselves on the table. This alone likely puts the price of a successful offer far above anyone’s willingness to pay. The obvious match, Facebook, looks hellbent on beating Snap with copycat features for its rival Instagram service rather than ponying up $40B+ to buy it. Apple looks like an interesting strategic match – over 80% of Snap users are on iOS, and Apple shares its commitment to ephemeral data – but a huge deal for Snap would be hugely out of character for Tim Cook and company. The most likely suitor might by China’s Tencent, which owns messaging in much of Asia but not so much in the US and Europe markets where Snap has been successful. Still, it is not clear that there is interest in a match from either side. Ultimately, we think the $23.5B market cap and questionable fundamentals of the business do not leave enough room for a deal to be done.
Buy TWTR and Sell SNAP
Both Twitter and Snap are volatile stocks – Twitter has a 1.9 one year Beta, while Snap has established a 1.5 Beta in its few months of trading. Wednesday’s sell off is a case in point, with Snap off 4.23% and Twitter 6.21% vs. the 2.57% drop in the Nasdaq. With just one quarter of improving metrics and a history of disappointment, investors may be naturally reticent to pull the trigger on Twitter, but this sell off appears to be an excellent entry point, particularly if paired with a sale or short of Snap shares. 2Q17 may be friendlier to Snap on a purely seasonal basis, but the business model weakness and competitive threats leave us fearful of another significant miss within the next few quarters.
©2017, SSR LLC, 225 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT 06905. All rights reserved. The information contained in this report has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, and its accuracy and completeness is not guaranteed. No representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information and opinions contained herein. The views and other information provided are subject to change without notice. This report is issued without regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific recipient and is not construed as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any securities or related financial instruments. Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future results.