Tuesday, March 22, 2011

We Love Silver But We Respect The Trends – Be Careful

We believe in investing in long term bull market trends. To illustrate this point consider the following. In theory, with only two trades and two and a half long term trends, an individual could have turned only $10,000 into more than $47.6 million dollars.

nasdaq monthly long term and silver price

The above chart helps illustrate the power of identifying a long term trend when it comes to building wealth. However, the following arguments could be made in regards to the above chart.

  1. The chart does not consider taxes paid or other investing fees.
  2. Hindsight is 20/20. We can't expect to pick the perfect day to trade.
  3. We don't all have 30 years to invest.

Let us address these comments individually:

1) The chart does not consider taxes paid or other investing fees

The simple illustration above does not consider some costs such as taxes paid or trading costs, but it also does not consider the benefits of dividends from stocks or mining equities within a mutual fund. To clearly illustrate our point we wanted to keep the math very simple and easy to understand so we left out external considerations that both increase and decrease the end number.

2) Hindsight is 20/20. We can't expect to pick the perfect day to trade

The above chart uses monthly price data and the profit would be larger if we had picked the perfect intra-month day to trade. Additionally we recognize that we cannot pick the ideal day, week or month to trade all of our capital from one investment to another. However, it may be reasonable to attempt to "dollar-cost-average" into positions over time near a perceived bottom, and "dollar-cost-average" out of a position near a perceived top. We do not expect perfect results but instead we try to locate multi decade bull markets and avoid multi decade bear markets.

3) We don't all have 30 years to invest

This is a valid statement as many individuals may not live long enough to invest for 30 years. However, the above chart was meant to illustrate the power of the mega trends so we only used a modest initial investment of $10,000. Over a lifetime, investors will most likely invest more capital than $10,000, and that would increase their profit potential within a shorter period of time. Additionally, we try to identify intermediate term moves within the long term trends to help us identify lower risk entry and exit points within the mega trend. Our goal here is to maximize our profit potential from the major trend.

Basically, in the above chart we are trying to illustrate the power of identifying long term trends, investing in the bull markets, and avoiding the bear markets. In our opinion short term trading is a very difficult and time consuming skill to master. At the same time the indefinite "buy and hold" strategy concerns us as investors ride multi decade long term bear markets.

Instead of trying to guess what will happen day to day and moment to moment, we want to identify the major bull market trend in the markets. When we backup and look at the large macro moves, the smaller fluctuations seem rather trivial. Imagine if you could build significant wealth and spend more time focusing on your career, relaxing and enjoying your family. Imagine if you simplified your investment decisions instead of spending many hours of your day in front of a computer screen making various short term decisions.

So how about now? Commodities are doing great! Silver is up to about $36 from a low of around $4 in the early 2000's. You can't lose by putting your money in commodities right? Wrong. Although we think precious metals are eventually going much higher we are careful not to forget about the intermediate down turns that all markets go through.

We get nervous when investing in one asset class or another gets "too easy." Silver, gold and commodities in general have been "spiking" in price. Most people would agree that government money printing can only cause precious metals to rise further. In our opinion, this seems too obvious to be right from an intermediate term perspective. Additionally, the media has been focusing ever more attention on precious metals as they climb to new highs. In recent months we have seen three different instances of characters on reality TV shows "hunting for precious metals". We are aware of at least one reality TV show solely based on gold mining. Where was the media attention on precious metals in the 90's or early 2000's, when they were hitting lows? In our opinion, the time to buy any investment is when it is out of the spotlight and on "sale".

We suggest that when the market appears to be too obvious and too easy to predict because it continues to advance in one direction, it often means that a turn in the opposite direction is nearing.

Are we long term bullish on precious metals and commodities? You bet. In fact, we are probably more bullish than most. However, in the excitement of the current bull market move we are preparing for the new trend that will arrive sooner or later.

3 Value Stocks under $10 (PDLI,SEAC,PWAV)

With the Bulls back in control and the DOW once again above 12,000, here are some potential value plays under $10 that still have some room to move north:

Pdl Biopharma Inc (PDLI)

Over the past 12 months Pdl Biopharma Inc (PDLI) shares have traded between $4.66 and its 52-week high of $6.75. Pdl Biopharma Inc shares are now trading with a P/E Ratio of 10.8 and EPS of 0.51.

SeaChange International (SEAC)

Over the past 12 months SeaChange International Inc (SEAC) shares have traded between $6.92 and its 52-week high of $9.65. SeaChange International Inc shares are now trading with a P/E Ratio of 9.5 and EPS of 0.92.

Powerwave Technologies (PWAV)

Over the past 12 months Powerwave Technologies Inc (PWAV) shares have traded between $1.21 and its 52-week high of $4.15. Powerwave Technologies Inc shares are now trading with a P/E Ratio of 1143.7 and EPS of 0. Forward P/E of 13.17.

Stock Energy, Materials, and Industrial Sectors Are Well Positioned

Since the markets have pulled back significantly from their recent highs, it is a good time to revisit our big picture investment strategy. Attractive sectors, based on fundamental and technical data, include energy (XLE) and industrial stocks (XLI). While a good case for stocks in the materials sector (XLB) also exists, we prefer the materials themselves (commodities) relative to stocks.

The fallout from the devastation in Japan may hamper the growth of nuclear power in the United States, which in turn could increase the demand for more traditional sources of energy including oil and coal (KOL). According to CBS News:

Right now, the South Texas Project, as this nuclear power plant southwest of Houston is called, produces nearly 8% of the electricity used in Texas. Until ten days ago, it looked as if NRG, the New Jersey company that owns it, was on track to start building two new reactors here, creating 8,000 jobs and enough power to light two million homes. “It’s not necessarily a fatal setback, but it’s a substantial setback,” said David Crane, the CEO of NRG. “If you ask me, can I give you assurance that this plant will be built, it very much depends on what’s going to happen [in Japan], what’s the reaction going to be once this event is over and people are assessing the implications.”

Energy stocks have maintained their leadership even through the market’s recent pullback, which is a good sign in terms of them remaining attractive in the coming weeks and months.

Barron’s looked at the need for Japan to increase energy imports to replace lost capacity:

S&P analysts are bullish on U.S. refiners with operations on the West Coast. Those refiners could be called on to supply refined products to Japan, whose refining capacity has diminished considerably. Among the refiners that could benefit are Tesoro (TSO), Valero (VLO) and Alon USA Energy (ALJ), says equity analyst Tanjila Shafi.

One of the top holdings in the industrials exchange-traded fund is Catepillar (CAT), which was also mentioned by Barron’s:

Of the stocks S&P equity research covers, Jaffe says Caterpillar (CAT) has the largest footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.

With the heavy damage to buildings, homes, and infrastructure in Japan, demand could increase for products, equipment, and services related to the rebuilding effort that will take years to complete. According to the Wall Street Journal:

The major rebuilding effort that will need to take place should eventually benefit companies that make building materials and construction equipment, Standard & Poor’s Equity Research Services analyst Michael Jaffe said in the strategy report. Construction giant Caterpillar Inc. (CAT, $105.09, +$1.97, +1.91%) in particular has a sizeable presence in Asia, Jaffe pointed out. Caterpillar said its facilities in Tokyo, Akashi and Sagami were not damaged by the earthquake and are on the outside of the current Japan-mandated evacuation zone. Separately, Caterpillar said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that its global dealer sales are up 59% for the three months ended February.. During the same period the company’s North American sales grew 55%.

Until the markets regain their footing, the nuclear situation in Japan becomes less dire, and the ongoing unrest in the Middle East subsides, we prefer physical commodities to the stocks of material producers. If the equity markets weaken further and/or the economic outlook deteriorates, the odds of the Fed moving toward QE3 increase. Under those circumstances, commodities become attractive as an alternative to paper currencies.

Dow Jones summed up the possible investment implications of recent events in Japan as follows:

The tragedy in Japan is still unfolding, and the extent of the devastation is uncertain, but there will come a time when the country will rebuild. When that happens, the reconstruction effort will be massive and lengthy, and will involve both Japanese and international companies. With that in mind, Standard & Poor’s highlighted some of the companies and industries that could see greater demand for their products and services as Japan recovers. The S&P selections aren’t so surprising — concentrated on building materials, engineering and construction firms that will be called to repair and rebuild Japan’s housing and infrastructure, and oil refiners that could meet the country’s energy needs now that its nuclear power industry is crippled.

We are open to adding to our positions in energy, including oil-related equipment makers (IEZ), industrials (XLI), and commodities (DBC, SLV). However, we still want to see some improvement in the markets as we outlined in Strategy and Outlook for a “Prove It to Me” Market.

By Chris Ciovacco

Gerald Celente: Special Trend Alert: The 1st Great War of 21st Century Has Begun!

It is a bad science fiction movie written by mad political scientists.

Exactly eight years to the day that President George W. Bush took America and his “Coalition of the Willing” to war with Iraq, President Barack Obama has taken America and his “Broad Coalition” to war with Libya.

And just as the world was sold a “coalition of the willing” that was predominantly a fleeting alliance of the cajoled and the arm-twisted, the putatively “broad” Obama coalition consists primarily of America’s two cronies-in-war, the UK and France.

Only in a mad political science fiction movie could a President engaged in perpetuating two unjust, immoral, interminable and expensive wars begun by his predecessor, take his nation into yet another unjust, immoral, expensive and, in all likelihood, interminable war … and expect a happy ending!

Eight years of war in Iraq and 11 in Afghanistan has resolved nothing and served only to inflame anti-American sentiment around the world, drain the US treasury, kill and wound hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of innocent people and destroy the lives, limbs and souls of thousands of American troops.

Batting zero on the battle field, the mad political scientists have stepped up to the plate again. Despite nothing but failure, President Obama has decided, unilaterally, to squander still more American men and money in a war on Libya, promising that this time he won’t strike out.

In what could be a casting call for a mad sci-fi movie starring the Three Stooges, America’s newest Decider-in-Chief fights from the safety of the Oval Office while his equally battle-unscarred and chicken-hearted French and British counterparts, Nicolas “Sarko the American” Sarkozy and David (Eton/Oxford, what else?) Cameron lead the charge from the plush distance of the Palais de l'Élysée and 10 Downing Street.

What’s Next? Having accurately predicted, at their onsets, that the Afghan and Iraq wars would be failures, we now predict that war with Libya will not only be equally unsuccessful, but could have even graver global implications.
Will Gaddafi fold without a fight? Or, faced by defeat and certain death, will he hit London, Paris, or New York with bio warfare, a dirty bomb or other tactic?

Absent a worst-case terror attack, even if the “broad coalition” overthrows and kills Qaddaifi, it will not amount to victory any more than executing Saddam Hussein and routing the Taliban has brought victory to Iraq and Afghanistan.

If it feels as though the world is spinning out of control, that’s because it is … and at breakneck speed! In just the past few months, revolution has engulfed the entire Middle East and North Africa. In just the past week a gigantic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown has crippled Japan. And war, (under whatever guise; e.g., “humanitarian crisis” or “answering the call of a threatened people”) has been declared on Libya.

The trend to the “1st Great War of the 21st Century
is accelerating. Events are happening so quickly that it is nearly impossible for us to compile, absorb, analyze and distill the voluminous information in our Trend Alerts before they are eclipsed by the cascade of new events.

To keep you abreast of the breaking news and ahead of the trends, we are upgrading our popular Trends in the News videos to a bi-weekly Tuesday and Thursday regular feature – which will be expanded on a need-to-know basis. (www.trendsjournal.com)

We urge subscribers to log in this Tuesday for a Trends in the News special devoted to the opening salvos of the “1st Great War of the 21st Century” ... the War that no one else to date is either recognizing or daring to talk about.

It is in our Spring Trends Journal, now scheduled for mid April publication, where we will compile, absorb, analyze and distill the voluminous information. This edition represents a crucial episode in the “History of the Future” – a blow-by-blow build-up to war, rather than the mainstream media’s blah-by-blah coverage. Busy cheerleading the home team they are, even at this late stage, incapable of recognizing that the game ends with the 1st Great War of the 21st Century.

What will the War mean to you personally? What can YOU do to prepare yourself for what’s to come? What can be done to individually and collectively halt the march to war – or at least divert and mitigate the damage. The Spring Trends Journal will be devoted to exploring these and other issues in depth.

The Five Stocks Most Overextended from 200d SMA March 21

I’ve written in the past about a simple screener tool that highlights the five most overextended stocks from their 200 day Simple Moving Average and how you can use the data in different ways.

Let’s start with the 5 top overextended stocks as of March 21st and then see what strategies may be used:

Courtesy the Screener Tool at FinViz, we see not only the top five ‘overextended’ stocks, but we see a cluster of these stocks in the same Sector: Basic Materials.

That alone gives us information that the Basic Materials sector is doing quite well, and in fact broader Sector Rotation Data show that currently. Savvy traders and investors may want to dig around more in stocks in this sector, particularly given the rises in commodity prices.

But that’s a different issue.

These are the top 5 stocks in the S&P 500 and the green percent number under the “SMA200″ column shows the percent the stock is extended above the 200d SMA.

For example, Tesoro Corp – TSO – is 63% extended from the average.

Let’s see that on the daily chart:

The GOAL with this type of screen is to find the most powerful (or uptrending) stock in the market based on difference from a known reference level – the 200d SMA.

You would look individually at the fundamentals (if investing) or technicals/charts (if trading) to get a better sense of what your next play might be.

For example, TSO has been strongly rising up off its 20 and 50 day EMAs consistently, and it may yet again continue to do this.

If it begins to breakdown, then we have an opposite “fade” play, particularly with a trigger on a breakdown under the $22 level.

That’s the main way to use this scan – or at least is my interest in doing so.

Running this quick scan allows for two separate strategies:

1. Find powerful, impulsive stocks in uptrend where you can buy them on breakouts to new highs or retracements into support.

2. Find overextended stocks late in an uptrend that break down, where you play “fade” or reversal strategies.

Personally, I’m more of the “Find strength and play strength” strategy but there are many traders who have built their trading business by playing “fade” strategies from overextended stocks.

It’s like the logic “What goes up, must come down” or “The higher they rise, the harder they fall” – and while this logic is applicable to many things in life, it doesn’t always work in leading stocks – think Apple (AAPL).

For reference, the stock MOST under-extended from its 200 day SMA is Tellabs – TLAB – a technology company that just retested a new 52-week low today (as of March 21).

The same logic – in reverse – goes for most under-extended (or ‘overextended to the downside’) stocks as well.

With these type of scans, be aware that small share prices – like $5.00 – will overemphasize the percentage difference.

Anyway, the benefit of this type of simple screen allows you to make your own decisions, and presents you with names of stocks you might not otherwise find.

Corey Rosenbloom, CMT

Sentiment, the Dollar and the Market

Last week technical analyst Chris Kimble shared his technical look at market volatility, which included an inset on the rise in bearish sentiment (first chart below). Today he expands on the topic with an added perspective on the market and the Dollar (second and third charts).

Chris comments: Last week we ran the 500/Sentiment chart, showing that a ton of investors had become bearish in a hurry.

At the close of last week the second chart reflects that the 500 index closed above support and created another "downside bullish" wick along key support.

With the Dollar breaking key support, the ingredients are in place for a surprise to the upside.

Home sales tumble, prices are near 9-year low

(Reuters) - Sales of previously owned U.S. homes plunged in February and prices hit their lowest level in nearly nine years, indicating a housing market recovery was still a long way off.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday sales fell 9.6 percent month over month to an annual rate of 4.88 million units, snapping three straight months of gains. The percentage decline was the largest since July.

The weak sales were the latest evidence of the malaise in the housing sector and confirmed it would remain outside the strengthening and broadening economic recovery.

"The housing market is still very depressed and a major drag on the economy, especially household net worth," said Chris Christopher, a senior economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Economists had expected a decline of only 4 percent to a 5.15 million-unit pace. The actual drop was greater than even the most pessimistic forecast in a Reuters survey of 53 economists.

Analysts said harsh winter weather in January could have curbed February sales. Existing home sales are measured when contracts are closed and last month's sales decline was telegraphed by a drop in January's pending contracts.

The Realtors' group also said tight credit conditions and home appraisals that fell short of agreed-upon selling prices weighed on sales.

A glut of homes on the market and a flood of foreclosures are holding back recovery in the housing sector, whose collapse helped to tip the U.S. economy into its worst recession since the 1930s.

In addition to the weak housing market, rising crude oil prices are a threat to the economy's recovery and a survey on Monday showed about three-quarters of Americans were scaling back spending because of high gasoline prices.


U.S. financial markets largely ignored the data, with stocks on Wall Street ending 1.5 percent higher. Prices for U.S. government debt fell and the dollar hit a fresh 4-1/2-month low against the euro but rose against the yen.

Though economists cautiously hope an improving labor market will lift home sales in the months ahead, plunging house prices could throw a spanner in the works.

NAR said the median home price dropped 5.2 percent in February from a year earlier to $156,100, the lowest since April 2002, in a sign of the relentless downward pressure on prices from a market flooded with foreclosure sales.

"If the price declines persist, even with the job market recovery, that could hamper recovery in the housing market," said Lawrence Yun, the trade group's chief economist.

Data last week showed a plunge in housing starts and the government on Wednesday is expected report a marginal rise in new single-family home sales in February. Home resales make up more than 90 percent of national sales and economists said they would continue to weigh on new home sales and building.

Foreclosures and short sales, which typically occur below market value, accounted for 39 percent of transactions in February, the highest since April 2009, up from 37 percent the prior month, the trade group said. All-cash purchases made up a record 33 percent of transactions in February.

According to the Realtors' group, new home prices have been running 45 percent higher than existing home prices, a premium that is historically about 15 percent, indicating previously owned homes are selling well below the cost of construction.

At February's sales pace, the supply of existing homes represented an 8.6 months' supply, up from 7.5 in January. A supply of between six and seven months is generally considered ideal, with higher readings pointing to lower house prices.

"Inventory is still high, about a third higher than it was pre-recession. We are not going to see any bounce back in new home sales until the inventory of existing home sales gets worked down," said Steve Blitz, a senior economist at ITG Investment Research in New York.

"We don't even know what the inventory is. We see a visible supply but then there is a shadow supply that comes on and off the market depending on the time of the year. It's still a morbid market on a national level."

Sales last month fell across the board, with multifamily dwellings declining 10 percent and single-family home units dropping 9.6 percent. Compared with February last year, overall sales were down 2.8 percent.

While sales plunged in all regions last month, economists said the pattern was likely to become less uniform in the months ahead, with regions where the labor market is fairly strong showing more life than others.

Buffett: I'm Wary of Apple, I Trust Coca-Cola Read more: Buffett: I'm Wary of Apple, I Trust Coca-Cola

Warren Buffett said he’ll probably prolong his aversion to electronics makers such as Apple Inc. because their business prospects are harder to predict than companies such as Coca-Cola Co.

“We held very few in the past and we’re likely to hold very few in the future,” the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. said in Daegu, South Korea, today, referring to electronics makers.

Coca-Cola, based in Atlanta, is “very easy for me to come to a conclusion as to what it will look like economically in five or 10 years, and it’s not easy for me to come to a conclusion about Apple,” he said.

The comments by the world’s third-richest man come as electronics makers worldwide scramble to assess damages from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that killed more than 8,000 people.

Japanese companies, including Toshiba Corp., supply 20 percent of the world’s technology products, including 40 percent of components and 19 percent of chips, according to CLSA Ltd. estimates.

Buffett, 80, arrived in Daegu yesterday to attend a ceremony for a new factory being built by TaeguTec Ltd., a South Korean company partly owned by his Iscar Metalworking Cos. unit that makes cutting tools. He canceled his scheduled trip to Japan this week after the earthquake.

Still, Buffett said the drop in Japanese stocks following the earthquake presents a buying opportunity.

Buying Opportunity

“If I owned Japanese stocks, I would certainly not be selling them because of the events of the past 10 days or so,” Buffett said.

“Something out of the blue like this, an extraordinary event, really creates a buying opportunity.”

Apple, the Cupertino, California-based maker of the iPhone and iPad, last year overtook Microsoft Corp. as the largest technology company by market value. The 8.6 percent stake in Coca-Cola is Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway’s biggest equity holding, followed by Wells Fargo & Co. and American Express Co., according to regulatory data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Even though Apple may have the most wonderful future in the world, I’m not capable of bringing any drink to that particular party and evaluating that future,” Buffett said. “I simply look at businesses where I think I have some understanding of what they might look like in five or 10 years.”

Why no Canadian, Australian housing busts?

Here’s a chart to ponder from the peer review of residential mortgage practices, just published by the internationally-coordinated Financial Stability Board:

Set aside Switzerland and the Netherlands. We’ve no idea (right now) what’s going on there, and we want to focus on two areas that have been in our thoughts lately.

Canada and Australia.

Both these countries have had rather high mortgage debt to GDP ratios and there have been some rumblings about frothiness in the two markets for a while now. There’s even a whole website dedicated to Canada’s (nascent?) housing bubble.

Should we be concerned? Some people — like Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Sheryl King and Ryan Bohren think not, at least when it comes to the Canadian market.

Here’s why, from a Monday note:

Although we believe Canadian housing is in bubble territory, and down-side risks remain despite an accelerating economy, we find that the structure of the Canadian mortgage market greatly reduces the probability of a US style housing melt-down. In the US excessive risky lending left financial institutions vulnerable, a housing market vastly over supplied and subsequently created a recordbreaking foreclosure crisis.

When we look at the four key features of the Canadian mortgage market:

  1. 1. We find government guaranteed mortgage insurance mitigates risk to financial institutions. Unlike the US where financial institutions were clearly over exposed and the solvency of insurance providers were questionable. 75% of mortgages in Canada are fully insured with Government guarantees and all mortgages with an LTV higher than 80% must be insured by regulated lenders.
  2. 2. Legal recourse laws reduce the risk of households walking away from their mortgage and implicitly improve lending quality, unlike the US where reports of abandoned vacant homes were and remain rampant. By our estimation around 90% of mortgages are full recourse in Canada, creating a more lender-friendly environment.
  3. 3. About 30% of the mortgage funding market has a federal government guarantee, which likely reduces the risk of a US style funding freeze. Indeed during the height of the credit crisis, the Government of Canada initiated a very effective Insured Mortgage Purchase Program which essentially kept the Canadian mortgage market functioning.
  4. 4. Canadian’s have historically held lower leverage ratios than their US counter parts and tend to gravitate to more conservative mortgage options. Canadian household balance sheets have deteriorated and have been treading into more risky areas like variable rate mortgages, but sub prime lending remains a virtually non-existent market in Canada.

Now mortgage insurance’s role in housing booms and busts is an interesting one, and there’s also a mention of the industry in its past and current form in that FSB review.

In some countries, like Canada and the US, mortgage insurance is legally required on mortgages with high loan-to-value ratios. In others, like Australia and also Canada, it’s incentivised through capital weightings. In Australia and Canada mortgage insurance also covers 100 per cent of the loan balance.

But is that a strength?

Call us crude perma-bears but we still remember what happened to US mortgage insurers during the subprime meltdown. Once housing losses went viral, losses at mortgage insurers mounted. Some of them went KABOOM!, pressuring the banks.

The FSB has a handy rundown:

The effectiveness of mortgage insurance depends on the financial strength of the provider. In particular, because default risk in mortgage portfolios is inherently correlated, the value of this risk mitigation can decline in times of crisis precisely when it is most needed. The mortgage insurance industry was severely affected by the recent global financial crisis. In Australia, only six mortgage insurers remain, down from 16 in 2004, but it should be noted that most of the exits occurred after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) significantly tightened capital requirements for mortgage insurers in 2005, and thus not as a direct consequence of the crisis … Canada has a well-regulated mortgage insurance industry, consisting of one public insurer (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) and a small number of private firms. The government of Canada back-stops mortgage insurers through guarantee agreements that protect lenders in the event of default by the insurer …

Canada and Australia’s mortgage safety blankets may be thicker than most but they won’t necessarily shield the financial system if a bust does come to pass. To quote the FSB, “the recent crisis has shown how deceptive risk transfer … can be.”

Now admittedly, there’s one big difference between Canada and Australia insurance — in Canada the government is already backstopping some mortgage losses.

In Australia it’s not. Yet.

Japanese stock valuations attractive: Marc Faber

"Doctor Doom" Marc Faber tells BNN whether he is still bullish on Japanese stocks. He also discusses how many more rounds of QE there could be in the U.S. and what asset classes will benefit.

click here for video

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