With two months of 2019 in the books, I'm taking stock of my portfolio. Most of my cash is on the sidelines right now. Thankfully, I am doing OK on the plays I have in the market. Here are my winners and losers thus far in 2019 (percentage figures for gains and losses are at the time of this writing.):
Aphria Inc. (APHA)
Yes, it's the more dramatic name in the Canadian cannabis industry, but the drama created nice buying points. I'm up 12.65% on APHA after taking a position just a little earlier than I should have.
My adjusted cost per share was $9.29. Obviously it was a bit ahead of when most of the news and drama surrounding accusations of questionable acquisitions by short sellers occurred. But I didn't buy Aphria based on news headlines. I bought it for the potential of the company's scale within the recreational Canadian market.
Until the expensive ramp up to production that almost every cannabis producer experienced this fall, Aphria had been largely profitable. I like that the CEO at the heart of the controversy is stepping away, and I believe that as the noise dies down this stock will regain its footing. I plan on holding the stock into this fall, when I believe the benefits of production will begin to show more impact on earnings.
Encana Corp. (ECA)
I'm playing a 12-month game on this one. The Canadian oil-and-gas company suffered big-time in December. Well, the stock did anyway. The nosedive stemmed from the overall market conditions, the announcement that they'd be spending a lot of money on a big acquisition and the fallout in oil prices. I bought during the turmoil and am up 1.53% thanks in large part to the earnings beat announced Thursday.
Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG)
I like the way this British bank cleaned up the balance sheet over the past 10 years. Lloyds has returned to profitability, albeit if the earnings are small on a per-share basis.
Like many U.K. banks, Lloyds stock has been hit hard by the uncertainty over the Brexit debate. I bought this one pretty darn close to the bottom. I didn't hesitate as I believe in the long game here. The bank is consistently working to create income that produces more meaningful earnings for shareholders and its dividend yields more than 5% at the price I paid for its shares. I'm up 11.34%, but this one could easily become quite volatile in the short run as Brexit fears are ongoing.
UBS Group AG (UBS)
The Swiss investment bank has been one of my losers thus far. Once again, UBS is a stock where I'm playing the long game. The stock has been down thanks to a decrease in assets under management in the wake of the stock market's poor performance in December. In addition, fears about European growth seem to be weighing on stocks.
Long term, I think UBS will regain assets that have left the market. The bank is cheaply valued and carries a strong dividend that currently yields 5.5%. The bank was hit with a $5.1 billion fine related to aiding in tax evasion. The news has been a real hammer on the stock as it very likely will make 2019 earnings meaningless. I'm down 12.67%.
United States Oil Fund (USO)
I bought this oil ETF as my "pick for 2019." Oil prices obviously had a pretty poor December. Supply and constant attempts to understand production across the globe have weighed on oil prices. Couple that with President Trump's constant pressure on producers to keep oil prices low and there hasn't been a lot of upside for oil. Over the long term, oil is very clearly cyclical. We have seen wild swings through the years and I have no doubt that the commodity will find legs again at some point. I'm currently up 7.83%. It's a simple trade, but a common sense trade.
Verus International Inc. (VRUS)
Easily the dumbest stock one could possibly own, Verus is involved in trying to build an export business to overseas markets. The company has almost zero appealing financial factors. I own it because my blessed cousin has a knack for finding successful penny stocks.
I do not recommend Verus to anyone. It's a terrible investment, but in full disclosure I do own an absurdly small position on the off chance that my dear brother from another mother is right once again. Verus just announced a $10 million deal for supplying honey. I'm currently up 34.7%. Don't get too excited, folks. This is still a penny stock, and it is one of the smallest holdings in my portfolio.