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Big Tech to the rescue




Week in Review

Stocks trended downwards early in the week despite positive earnings reports as rising COVID-19 cases, inflation and economic growth all weighed on investor sentiment.


Panic selling gripped Chinese stocks early in the week as fears over a regulatory crackdown by the Chinese Government continued to mount.

Although the sell-off centred around a new set of restrictions on Chinese for-profit tutoring companies, it's the latest example of the communist party's unwavering ability to destroying shareholder value with an unexpected decision.

China's largest tech names have all recorded significant losses in recent months. Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company, has now seen its market cap fall by over 300 billion dollars since its market highs set back in October.

Big tech

The mega-cap tech companies continued to produce mind-boggling revenue numbers this week. Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft all reported record quarters after the closing bell on Tuesday, with a combined profit of $57 billion in Q2, which equates to $626 million a day.

Google's parent company, Alphabet, was particularly noteworthy, with advertising revenue up 69% year over year. YouTube alone generated $7 billion in revenue for the quarter.

While it's easy to look at record high numbers in the stock market and assume a bubble, record earnings figures and improving fundamentals from the biggest hitters in the index will continue to act as a support, justifying further gains.

Bitcoin Bounce

The major crypto names experienced a late-night surge on Sunday, with bitcoin now sitting at a six-week high just below $40,000.

Bullish comments last week from the tech trio of Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, and Cathie Wood spurred the recent positive sentiment.

The outlook has been boosted further by the news that Amazon may accept cryptocurrency payments - by the end of the year. While early reports are vague and yet to be confirmed by Amazon, inclusion across the Amazon infrastructure would be a significant steppingstone in the cryptocurrency space.

Stock Watch:

Snap Inc jumped a colossal 24% last Thursday after reporting its biggest growth quarter in four years.

Snap's next significant growth opportunity appears to be in the AR space. The company has invested heavily in Augmented reality and is looking to change the e-commerce experience by allowing those shopping online to "try on" clothing using its AR technology. I’m listening.

While revenue more than doubled to $982 million in Q2 2021 and the AR tech offers significant growth opportunities, valuations appear stretched, to say the least.

For me, Snap Inc will need to show an ability to turn its lower-income younger users into paying customers and turn big revenue gains into realised profits before the current market cap is justified.


De facto Guardian of the retail investor in the fight against the Wall Street elite, Robinhood has fast become the poster child of retail investor revolution.

As such, its IPO this week was always guaranteed to generate a lot of interest.

With almost 18 million active users, $80 billion in AUM and revenue close to $1 billion last year's Robinhood makes for a compelling investment opportunity, but with a predicted valuation of $35 billion, much of the juice may have already been squeezed by the private market before it becomes available to the public.

While I'm skeptical in the long run, especially with the majority of earnings coming from the sale of order flows, this IPO will undoubtedly generate a lot of interest over the near term.

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Five questions to ask yourself before buying a stock

By Michael O’Connor, When it comes to investing, nothing is certain. There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy. […]




By Michael O’Connor,

When it comes to investing, nothing is certain.

There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy.

The truth is, investing is hard, and building a portfolio of top stocks that beat the market is something that even financial professionals have trouble doing consistently.

For most people, investing in index funds is the perfect hands-off approach, providing broad exposure to the stock market at a very low fee. Even my own personal portfolio is made up of roughly 70% ETFs despite the fact I invest in the market for a living.

But I believe some stock picking is a good strategy for many hands-on people.

Taking a small portion of your overall portfolio and diligently selecting a small number of companies to invest in gives you an opportunity to learn about the investing process and fully understand the businesses you are investing in, which helps to build conviction in your positions.

From a psychological standpoint “collector’s instinct” kicks in, enabling people to participate and invest more money over time.

Lastly, for Irish investors, there are tax benefits to consider. If you invest in individual stocks, you are taxed at the CGT rate of 33%, and the first €1,270 of your gains are exempt from CGT each year. When investing in index funds or ETFs, you are taxed at the exit tax rate of 41% with no annual exemption.

For those interested in picking individual stocks, here are five questions you should ask yourself before investing in any company.

Do I understand the business?

Too many people invest in businesses they don’t understand because it ‘sounds good’. If you have no idea how the company works, you won’t have the conviction needed to hold onto the stock when an inevitable downturn comes.

Can the balance sheet withstand severe, temporary adversity?

This seems obvious, but so many people invest in companies without understanding how much money a company holds and who they owe money to. Economic cycles are guaranteed. You must ensure that the company has enough cash-on-hand to avoid becoming obsolete when activity slows.

Will the company benefit from long-term trends?

Make sure the company will remain relevant into the future. If the stock is cheap now, it may be cheap for a reason.

Is the company enjoying profitable growth?

Not growth at all costs, but a combination of sustainable growth and value. All this information can be found online at sites like

What are the risk factors?

Is the company trying something new and untested? If yes, who are its competitors and how successful are they? If other players are more established, this company may have a tough time breaking into the market.


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Benefit-In-Kind tax rules overturned for company cars

By John Healy of Healy Insurances Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has announced a temporary change for company-owned vehicles following a backlash from drivers whose Benefit-In-Kind (BIK) taxes increased substantially […]




By John Healy of Healy Insurances

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath has announced a temporary change for company-owned vehicles following a backlash from drivers whose Benefit-In-Kind (BIK) taxes increased substantially in January.

While the move to a CO2 based Benefit-In-Kind system, which incentivises the use of Electric Vehicles and lower emission cars, a significant number of employees with vehicles in the typical emissions range experienced large increases in their income tax liabilities since the start of 2023.

To address the issue, the Finance Minister has introduced a relief of €10,000 to be applied to the Original Market Value (OMV) of cars in Category A-D in order to reduce the amount of Benefit-In-Kind payable (this is not applicable to cars in Category E).

In effect, this means that, for the purposes of calculating BIK liability, employers may reduce the OMV by €10,000. This treatment will also apply to all vans and electric vehicles. For electric vehicles, the OMV deduction of €10,000 will be in addition to the existing relief of €35,000 that is currently available for EVs, meaning that the total relief for 2023 will be €45,000.

The upper limit in the highest mileage band is amended by way of a 4,000km reduction, so that the highest mileage band is now entered into at 48,001km.

These temporary measures will be retrospectively applied from 1 January 2023 and will remain in place until 31 December 2023. It is proposed to introduce the measures at Committee Stage of the Finance Bill 2023.

From an insurance perspective, if a vehicle is owned by a company then the motor policy in place must be in the company name and have full business use cover known as Class 2 cover. It is customary that the policy is on an open driving basis, usually aged 25 to 70. The cost for a company owned car policy can be higher than privately owned vehicles.


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