Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Small Cap Equity holding: SoFi Technologies, Inc. (SOFI, $16.39): “Another Palihapitiya-Backed Failure?” By: August Peterson, AIM Student at Marquette University

SoFi Technologies, Inc. (SOFI, $16.39): “Another Palihapitiya-Backed Failure?”

By: August Peterson, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


SoFi Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: SOFI) operates an online platform providing home loans, personal loans, private student loans and student loan refinancing, credit cards, investments, insurance products, and other financial services.

• Uncertainty remains persistent as SoFi has yet to acquire a bank charter and the firm’s largest division of revenue, personal loans, is heavily exposed to interest rate risk and disruption to the demand of new loans.

• A stronger balance sheet is evident—the use of SPAC proceeds to pay down its revolving credit line leaves the firm with just under $1 billion in cash and $3 billion in debt as of Q3 2021, leaving SoFi with ample resources to invest in itself.

• SoFi is desperately jumping on its first-mover advantage to build a financial services monopoly by introducing new product offerings and creating cross-platform incentives, but to no avail. The majority of SoFi’s clients still only use a single product or service within the firm.

Key points: Chamath Palihapitiya, CEO of Social Capital and the catalyst to SoFi’s SPAC in February of 2021, took an early interest in the company as a panacea to the problems of our current banking infrastructure has with meeting the needs of US consumers. These solutions, which Palihapitiya believes are addressed completely by SoFi, are low to no fees, fair and transparent lending, and a full suite of products that act as a one-stop-shop for all financial service needs. Twelve days ago, Palihapitiya sold 15% of his stake in the company.

Why? Initially pitched as the fast-growing, one-stop-shop FinTech platform seeking to benefit from powerful cross-selling advantages and strengthened customer retention through implicit switching costs, SoFi has yet to prove a sustainable competitive advantage in the financial services industry. The company’s current core business model is easily replicable; the majority of SoFi’s revenues are generated from its lending business (~52% Q3 ’21 revenue), which operates as a loan-to-distribution model where the company either sells or securitizes its loans for a gain. Personal loans were the largest driver of Q3 revenue, up 166% above last year’s total loan originations. SoFi is actively and aggressively expanding its breadth across new product offerings, but because the company has demonstrated these offerings can be brought to market quickly, a competitive advantage cannot be sustained until these offerings are mature and reward spending catalyzes high customer retention across all products. In short, SoFi needs to grab its first-mover advantage as a financial services monopoly.

Have they been? Q3 added 377,000 new members on the SoFi platform, the second-highest quarterly increase in company history (behind Q2 2021). Membership is primarily driven by a 178% YoY growth in SoFi Money accounts, which the company believes is its primary entry point for consumers. Revenue from the company’s financial services segment is up 290% from last year after introducing cryptocurrency accounts, credit cards, and other new products.

While these numbers sound bullish, it’s important to focus on what metrics point to an irreplicable business model, which SoFi outlines to be a one-stop-shop for all financial services. The key to building a sticky customer-relationship model is founded on reward spending and cross-platform incentives. SoFi has already been implementing incentive structures; credit cards only offer full reward points if the cardholder has a brokerage, crypto, or cash management account with the company, checking accounts only pay interest if $500+ is deposited monthly, and a .25% rate reduction on qualified loans are offered to existing SoFi clients. Despite these efforts, the majority of SoFi’s clients only use a single product or service with the firm.

What has the stock done lately?

Since being pitched into the AIM small-cap fund, SoFi is down ~13%. In the last six months, the stock has oscillated between $23.89 and $13.75 before settling at around $16 today. The sale of Chamath Palihapitiya’s shares led to a drop in the stock’s price to $17.87 from $20.87 on November 19th, 2021.

Past Year Performance: SoFi is up 56.13% in the last year, catalyzed by the acquisition of Galileo, which has seen accelerated growth since being acquired by the firm. Valuations of the company remain unreliable as the company isn’t expected to be profitable until 2023, according to some estimates, and free cash flow has yet to be positive.

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

SoFi needs to focus on aggressive marketing and reward spending to justify the high growth assumptions by 2023 when the street estimates the firm to reach profitability. Because the firms’ personal loans division operates on an originate-to-distribute model, meaning the loans made to the company are either securitized or sold for a gain, the majority of SoFi’s revenue is exposed to interest rate risk and disruption to the demand of new loans. With the Fed announcing an interest rate rise in the first half of 2022, fewer consumers and banks will be willing to demand the same quantity of loanable funds, adversely affecting SoFi’s revenue. Despite being a high-growth FinTech SPAC with high expectations for disruption, SoFi still has a lot to prove before it can gain a sustainable competitive advantage in this industry.

Source: FactSet

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

An International Equity holding: Euronet Worldwide Inc (EEFT, $118.10): “A Tough Year For Investors” By: Matt Schlom, AIM Student at Marquette University

 Euronet Worldwide Inc (EEFT, $118.10): “A Tough Year For Investors”

By: Matt Schlom, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Euronet Worldwide Incorporated (NASDAQ:EEFT) provides institutions, companies, and individuals with electronic payment and processing solutions. It operating segments include electronic payments (EPay), electronic funds transfer (EFT) processing, and money transfers.

• On March 16th, 2021, EEFT acquired the Piraeus Bank Merchant Acquiring business of the Greek bank Piraeus for a total of $360 million.

• On June 3rd, 2021, EEFT was cleared by the EU Commission to provide ATM outsourcing services to Latin America.

• Seasonality has influenced the company’s ability to generate revenues significantly.

• EEFT was founded in 1994 by its founders Daniel R. Henry and Micheal J. Brown.

Key points: Euronet Worldwide Incorporated has experienced a slow but steady rise in its net income between the years ended on December 31, 2011, to December 31, 2020. EEFT experienced its first decrease in sales growth within this period between 2019 and 2020 surprisingly considering the surge in electronic sales occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more shocking was that during the same period, EEFT also reported its first net loss in nine years, a decrease in profitability of approximately -100.98%.

Seasonality has played an important role in the segments of Euronet Worldwide Inc’s success.  The third quarter of the fiscal year is typically when EEFT electronic funds transfer segment is exposed to its heaviest demand for dynamic currency conversion. The money transfers market typically sees its highest levels of demands in May, continuing through the fourth quarter of the year. Holiday seasons greatly influence the electronic payment and electronic fund transfer processing segments, with a rise in exposure leading up to the holidays, and a fall in exposure following the holidays.

Regarding sales, Euronet Worldwide Inc has seen a 5-year CAGR in sale of 7.0%, which has shown great promise in the company’s profitability. EEFT has struggled with significant operating losses, which has greatly affected their abilities to run efficiently. Furthermore, EEFT has seen a 5-year CAGR in EBITDA of 0.4%, and even more concerning is their 5-year CAGR in EBIT of -5.6%.

What has the stock done lately?

Euronet Worldwide Inc’s share price performance has been volatile over this past year, in fact, the stock has seen as overall negative trend that began in June 2021 and has followed this trend up until the start of December. However, the potential for EEFT’s share price to rebound is promising with the prevalent use of their services during the holiday season.

Past Year Performance: After reaching a yearly high share price of $164.67 in early March, its price began to dwindle before reaching a dropping point in mid-June, followed by a negative trend in the share price. The lowest the price per share reached was $101.37 occuring at the end of November, which marked a YTD change of -18.51%. Fortunately, the incoming holiday season has shown promise of a rebound in the EEFT’s price per share.

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

EEFT is a pure growth stock with a dividend yield and payout ratio of 0%. Granted that the stock has been trending downwards since mid-June, which can be seen by its share price value dropping by approximately -19.59%, now would be a perfect time for investors to make an investment while the price is still low. An investment in EETF also shows high potential for growth in the future as our economy and our society has become more accustomed to and fond of the use of electronic payment strategies.

Source: FactSet

A Small Cap Equity holding: Customers Bancorp, Inc. (CUBI, $56.68): “CUBI, the company that operates in 2030” By: Matthew O’Brien, AIM Student at Marquette University

Customers Bancorp, Inc. (CUBI, $56.68): “CUBI, the company that operates in 2030”

By: Matthew O’Brien, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Customers Bancorp, INC. (NYSE:CUBI) provides financial products and services such as mortgage and SBA lending for commercial, institutional, and individual clients in the United States.

• CUBI has capitalized off SBA loans by being a top 15 lender of PPP loans

• CUBI has began using Customers Bank Instant Token (CBIT), which provides blockchain-based digital payments in real time, 24/7/365.

• Management has announced partnerships with premier cryptocurrency and digital asset institutions such as Genesis Global Trading and SFOX.

• CUBI is currently trading at $56.68 near all-time highs of $61.48 as they’ve adapted a digital approach faster than their peers and capitalized after COVID.

Key points: Customers Bancorp, Inc. is attempting to hop on the cryptocurrency trend by creating a proprietary digital payment system that operates on the blockchain. Doing so would allow clients to always send and receive USD payments, which would benefit the clients through improved speed and security and benefits the company through low-cost deposits which can increase their margin. If customers of CUBI were to adapt this payment system, it can possibly be used by other businesses in the future.

Prior to the pandemic, CUBI had operated digitally through online checking and savings accounts. They also operated in the mortgage and commercial lending space. After COVID’s relief allowed banks to disburse PPP loans, which are government-secured forgivable loans, in response to COVID, CUBI aggressively marketed their loan services which gained them a lot of new customers as the PPP was the first time many people experienced an emergency loan program. CUBI was top 15 in terms of the amount of loans disbursed among all banks.

Customers Bancorp announced their newly added institutional clients that specialize in digital asset classes and cryptocurrency investment. Customer Bancorp wants to specialize in business-to-business payment options for commercial real estate, healthcare, insurance, and more areas in which these clients part take in. Head of digital banking at CUBI believes the number of cryptocurrency clients will increase over the next few years and these clients are ready to embrace it. As we’ve seen this last year, cryptocurrencies are becoming more relevant, and companies are beginning to adopt them as payment methods and investments. By investing in the cryptocurrency space early, CUBI is able to get ahead of their customers as they are more poised for future growth.

CUBI has readily adapted to the environment that is being digitalized around us. Cryptocurrency is a trending topic and using a proprietary digital payment system using the blockchain will allow the company to expand their margins while benefiting their customers. For these reasons, CUBI has recently reached a new all time high of $61 before trading at $56.68 as of 12/1 close.

What has the stock done lately?

Since the March 2020 lows, CUBI has rallied from $8.90 to its current near all time high price of $56.68. This can be contributed to PPP loans along with providing digital services as people adapted to COVID. The government distributed nearly $1.8 trillion in PPP loans with CUBI taking advantage of the opportunity. Over the last year, CUBI has seen steady gains with a recent positive catalyst due to their third quarter earnings. Investors have recently let the stock consolidate in the range of $56-61 as there have been no new updates in operations. Because the stock is hovering near highs, it will take time for investors to decide whether the stock should go higher or not.

Past Year Performance: CUBI has increased 218.61% in value over the past year, however the stock is still under its relative value to competitors. While CUBI operates at a PE ratio of 7.42, its competitors are operating near a 10.46x price to earnings. CUBI has shown investors they are looking to improve their value through investment in the future. CUBI (blue line) has deservedly outperformed the Russell 2000 index (purple line) by a very fair amount. The past year has shown great strength in the direction CUBI is headed, and if they continue to invest in the future they will continue to outperform the broader market.

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

CUBI’s head of digital banking is willing to invest in growing spaces and take advantage of them as well. I think that the addition of their cryptocurrency clients show investors they ae not a traditional bank and are following the fast paced environment we’re in. While their stock has increased a great amount since its COVID lows of below $9, I think the fact that they still have a low relative PE ratio justifies a further increase in their stock price.

Source: FactSet

An International Equity holding: Macquarie Group Limited (MQG, $139): “Investment Banks and Taxes Loopholes” By: Nasser Hyat-Khan, AIM Student at Marquette University

Macquarie Group Limited (MQG, $139): “Investment Banks and Taxes Loopholes”

By: Nasser Hyat-Khan, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation, and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) engages in the provision of banking, financial, advisory, investment, and fund management services. $MQG operates globally with most of its revenue obtained from Asia/Pacific and North America.

• Australia’s largest investment bank is known for investing in energy and infrastructure technologies that empower innovation for a better future. The green investment team at MQG has paired up with France’s Engie and U.S. energy company Fluence to build an energy storage facility in Australia.

• MQG is under heavy pressure amid leaked emails surrounding an $80 billion German tax scandal.

• Share price for MQG has fallen 7% since the news leaked resulting in a drop from all-time highs. This price action presents a potential buying opportunity for investors.

Key points: Macquarie Group Ltd. Is in a predicament where once a company of stable growth now faces the difficulty of finding the next steps to fix a decade old problem. Australia’s largest investment bank is facing backlash over an $80 billion dividend scandal from a German tax scheme.

According to tax authorities it appeared as though there were two simultaneous owners of shares that did not have dividend rights. Even foreign investors were eligible to claim tax reimbursements on shares that they did not own. Macquarie’s involvement in the scheme in October 2010, included lending money to increase the volume of such trades. The proposal provided hundreds of millions to overseas funds and in return MQG would receive up to $30 million for each lending agreement. It is expected that MQG will take action to make these wrongs right and it is estimated that the investment bank has paid back $150 million to the German government since the loophole removal. However, this may pose a buying opportunity if Macquarie is able to address the situation effectively and in a swift manner.

In addition to the discounted stock price from legal issues, the battery storage project poses strong upside for Macquarie that might just cancel out the tax scandal. Macquarie is working with Engie, a commercial electricity provider, and Fluence, the global leading energy storage technology provider. This exciting venture known as the Hazelwood project will be able to store and deliver 150 megawatt-hours of energy with potential to expand to 1600 MW and supposedly costing less than $107 million. This project will assist in providing back-up power when needed during heatwaves and unexpected power outages. The project has an expected completion date of November 2022.

What has the stock done lately?

Since news of this scandal surfaced on November 23, 2021, Macquarie’s stock price has dropped over 7%. Prior to the news break, MQG was trading at all-time highs at around $150 per share and had a ~40% return since the beginning of the fiscal year.

Past Year Performance: MQG has increased over 40% in value over the past year, but since the scandal release the stock is a bargain for the near-term future. It’s times like these in a growth stock’s life that give the investor the opportunity to buy shares at a discount with the expectation that circumstances will return to normal.

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

The German tax scandal that Macquarie Group Limited has been a part of is a failure in management to foresee the consequences of their actions and a lack of concern from lawyers who consulted with MQG. Had the lawyers not brushed the tax loophole under the table Macquarie would have not been in the position that it is in. The negativity surrounding this will impact MQG’s future operations for several years to come. However, this can be a good thing, if Macquarie is more cautious and learns from its mistakes then the issue will not happen again. Presumably this will allow the stock price to return to its normal growth rates.

In addition, the green investment arm of Macquarie is making significant headway in making clean technology more feasible for consumers and promoting a greener future. If this project is completed by the expected date and operates to its potential, there is possibility for strong upside in stock price. Furthermore, Macquarie’s long-term vision and focusing on funding for high rated ESG company’s shows promise for future projects the bank may take on in the future. Based on the price drop from the incident Macquarie is priced at a discount and the environmentally beneficial projects that it is investing in I give MQG a buy rating. It is the perfect opportunity to purchase shares of a growing company at a discount.

Source: FactSet

An International Equity holding: Diageo plc Sponsored ADR (DEO, $201.81): “Raise a glass to Diageo” By: Harvey Read, AIM Student at Marquette University

 Diageo plc Sponsored ADR (DEO, $201.81): “Raise a glass to Diageo”

 By: Harvey Read, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


  • Diageo plc is a multinational producer and distributor of alcoholic beverages. With over 200 brands under ownership including Smirnoff, Captain Morgan and Guinness, Diageo’s products are consumed in over 180 countries.
  • The company is the second largest distiller in the world and still able to act swiftly and adapt to business interruptions, posting June ’20 Net Income of $1.774 billion during a global pandemic.  
  • Diageo owns a 34% stake in competitor LVMH Moët Hennessy's (OTCPK:LVMHF)
  • Large diversification of brands places Diageo in a strong position to adapt to secular trends and changing consumer needs, versus competitors who are highly dependent a singular alcohol type.
  • Highly adaptive business model allows Diageo to divest brands from their portfolio that fall outside of consumer favor.
  • The firm regularly purchases emerging brands with high consumer demand such as their recent acquisition of actor Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin.
  • Alcohol consumption globally continues to rise, increasing 70% from 20.9 billion liters in 1990 to 35.7 billion in 2017.
  • The global alcoholic beverages market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8% between 2021-2025 and reach $735.83 billion.

Key Points:

As alcohol consumption across the globe continues to rise, with the alcoholic beverages industry set to reach $735.83 billion by 2025, Diageo is poised to capitalize on a consistent increase in demand with its 200 plus brands that cover the full spectrum of alcoholic drinks from beer to whiskey, vodka to wine. With beverages on sale in over 180 countries, and distilleries in more than 140 sites tactically situated across the globe, Diageo can navigate its way past a maelstrom of supply chain issues that many other rival companies are plagued with. The company utilized the flexibility of such a diverse and sprawling network of distilleries during the Covid-19 pandemic, shifting resources to countries that were less affected by the virus to keep up with demand. Resultingly, the firm recorded a June ’20 net income of $1.774 billion, which is a stark contrast to close competitor Anheuser-Busch (BUD) who recorded a Dec ’20 Net Income of $-650 million.

With over 200 brands under ownership, Diageo is largely unaffected by shifting secular changes as consumer trends for certain types of alcohol change regularly. The company moves hastily when reacting to consumer preferences, selling 19 lower end spirit brands for $550 million as drinkers choose more premium alcohol. Furthermore, a recent acquisition of Aviation American Gin brand, Astral Tequila, and TKYU Sake for $335 million indicates the firm is constantly looking to expand and take over competitors that are performing strongly.

It should be noted that Diageo currently has a debt ratio of 70%. However, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic degraded the company’s ability to address this debt and the firm had no amortization power left for the most recent fiscal year. While Covid restrictions remain for many bars and establishments where Diageo’s alcohol is sold, profits will continue to lag behind pre pandemic figures, and the company’s inability to pay off debt will linger. With the emergence of the Omicron variant, many countries are again showing signs of shutting down, meaning pre pandemic financials are unlikely to be reached until the pandemic is over for good.

What has the stock done lately?

Jun ’21 sales figures of $17.13 billion are an all-time high for the company, up 15.7% YoY, while Net Income reached $3.579 billion, up 101% YoY. Net Income needs to increase just 14.3 percent to reach pre pandemic figures. The stock price climbed 5.2% this month to an all-time high of $210.15 thanks to strong financials and the promising global recovery from Covid-19. However, since recent talks of a new emerging Omicron strain, the price has since slipped back 3.9% to $201.81. developments of the emerging Covid strain will be the major driving factor behind and further changes in the stock’s price for the near future.

Past Year Performance:

Over the past 52 weeks, the price range for Diageo was $153.67 to $210.15. Diageo experience their 52-week and all-time high in mid-November after announcing a new $75 million malt whiskey distillery in the US and announcing plans to increase total beverage alcohol market share by 50% from 4% in 2020 to 6% by 2030. Diageo’s capital markets day on the 16th of November saw CEO Ivan Menezes announce expected organic growth of at least 16% in the first half of fiscal year 22.                  

My Takeaway:

I believe Diageo’s impressive ability to generate large net income even during the midst of a pandemic combined with its 200 plus brand portfolio and multinational presence puts it in a very favorable position against any competitor in the industry. I believe Diageo’s revenues have grown slowly in recent years, signs that the company operates with a stable business model as opposed to a growth stock. I believe this stock is a definite hold under current market conditions, with the street maintaining a target price of $222.68. It would be wise to pay attention to the growing concern over the omicron virus and the possibility of further major business interruptions that we saw back in March of 2020.

An International Equity holding: Silvergate Capital Corporation (NYSE:SI, $194.77): “Stable Growth” By: Ayden Domico, AIM Student at Marquette University

 Silvergate Capital Corporation (NYSE:SI, $194.77): “Stable Growth”

By: Ayden Domico, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Silvergate Capital Corp. (NYSE:SI) is the holding company for Silvergate Bank and is a leader in the FinTech and digital currency markets while also offering traditional banking services.

The company’s Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN) is an advanced payments platform that allows customers to exchange both fiat money and cryptocurrencies in real-time while also providing institutional-grade access to loans backed by Bitcoin.

• Adopting cryptocurrencies as early as 2013 has pushed Silvergate to become an experienced leader in digital currency transfers, which has allowed the firm to capitalize on new products such as Bitcoin and Ethereum derivates.

• Silvergate’s partnership with Meta (formerly known as Facebook) to become the sole minter and burner of the social media platform’s stablecoin, Diem, has been delayed by regulatory issues but may soon come to reality.

• The U.S. Treasury has recently urged Congress to pass legislation that would allow regulators to treat stablecoins and their issues like banks, putting Silvergate at an advantage as the firm is already a chartered bank in the State of California and is a Federal Reserve member bank.

• Silvergate Capital CEO Alan Lane embraces regulation and has recently reiterated that stablecoins are a “real big opportunity for the future.”

Key points: Silvergate has far outpaced expectations throughout this year and last on the heels of the Silvergate Exchange Network and its vast capabilities while remaining a ‘Hold.’ With a take rate of just about 0.0051% per transaction and near-immediate payment processing, the SEN boasts features that competitors simply cannot match. The network also now allows for access to institutional-level loans secured with Bitcoin as collateral, using internal controls to mitigate the risk of price volatility. This addition, called SEN Leverage, has quickly grown to already comprise over 16% of Silvergate’s overall loan portfolio.

CEO Alan Lane’s early emphasis on the adoption of digital currencies has begun to pay off for Silvergate, as the SEN’s ability to seamlessly transfer cryptocurrencies in real time has propelled it to become the transaction platform for a number of crypto platforms in common use today. With this experience, Silvergate again has a leg up on the competition when it comes to new products such as Bitcoin and Ethereum futures contracts offered by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. No other bank and few other transactional platforms offer this kind of access to their institutional clients.

While Silvergate is currently capitalizing on the multi-functionality of the SEN, the firm’s largest opportunity going forward may be the partnership with Meta to become the exclusive issuer of the social media giant’s stablecoin Diem. The coin will be used for transactions on Meta’s various platforms, such as FaceBook and Instagram, and Silvergate will be the sole minter, burner, and regulator of the digital currency. The coin’s transactions will occur on the SEN, increasing both transaction volume and the number of users utilizing the platform. The highly anticipated Metaverse will also likely feature Diem as its official currency, as Meta is the company behind both the stablecoin and the virtual reality world that is looked at as the future of human interaction.

The rollout of Diem has been delayed over this past year due to regulation issues, as stablecoins are very new investment vehicles and lawmakers and advocates want to prevent ‘runs’ on them. However, a new report issued by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets of the Treasury Department led by Janet Yellen recommended that stablecoins be required to be issued by federally chartered banks so that they may be properly regulated. This gives Silvergate an advantage and natural moat to deter competition, as Silvergate Bank has a charter and has been operating as a typical commercial bank aside from their cryptocurrency ventures since 2009.

Recently, Silvergate has begun to be covered by major Wall Street analysts as it has continued to grow exponentially, attracting investor attention around the world. After analyst Ken Zerbe of Morgan Stanley initiated coverage of Silvergate at “Overweight” in early, October, the firm’s stock price rose about 30% in the week that followed. With its recent meteoric rise, this stock will continue to garner more publicity and analysis, which should translate to increased trading volume as time goes on.

What has the stock done lately?

Silvergate has been the financial sector’s darling performer of the COVID-19 Pandemic, rising from an all-time-low price of $7.63/share on March 20, 2020, to a record high of $239.26/share on November 22, 2021, representing an increase of ~3,036% in just under two years. While much of this growth occurred between 3Q20 and 2Q21, Silvergate’s price is again rising at an increasing rate, climbing ~116% between today and September 21st of this year. Silvergate closed at $194.77 on November 22nd.

Past Year Performance: Silvergate has risen in price by a staggering 611.86% over the past 12 months, outperforming the market benchmark almost 19 times over. While much of the firm’s growth has been realized throughout the pandemic, a large opportunity remains for Silvergate as the sole issuer of Meta’s stablecoin Diem; I expect continued growth at a stable rate, especially as this coin is rolled out within the ‘Metaverse’ and analysts begin to look at this stock more closely.

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

Silvergate has been one of the top-performing stocks throughout the market since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and with its original investment thesis fully intact and more substantial growth opportunities such as the release of Meta’s stablecoin Diem on the horizon, Silvergate Capital Corporation remains a “hold” for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, increased analyst coverage will steadily increase investor confidence in this new, big player in the financial space. 

Source: FactSet

An International Equity holding: SSE PLC (SSEZY, $21.76): “SSE PLC’s COP26 Fix” By: Margaret Diedrich, AIM Student at Marquette University

 SSE PLC (SSEZY, $21.76): “SSE PLC’s COP26 Fix”

By: Margaret Diedrich, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


  • SSE Plc (NYSE: SSEZY) operates in three segments: Networks, Retail, and Wholesale. Through these operations they supply, distribute, and transmit electricity to customers in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  • Following the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), SSE announced an increase in of £1 billion in technology and infrastructure. This increases their investment in green technology to £12.5 billion for the next five years.
  • The company will fund this investment by selling 25% of their transmission and distribution grid assets as well as amending their dividend policy.
  • The company received pressure from activist investors to separate out a portion of their renewable business. However, management remains keen on keeping the business together.

Key points: Right on the heels to the UN Climate Change conference, SSE plc made major commitments to increase their spending on renewable investments. The company announced their Zero Net Acceleration Program with the goal of leading the transition to renewable energy. The company plans to increase their spending by £1 billion a year, making their total capital expenditure investment amount to 12.5 billion. This new investment coincides with COP26’s target of 1.5° Celsius for the energy sector. This goal would have global emissions stop at a 1.5° Celsius limit. The conference called for countries to strengthen their commitments to renewable energy, and SSE plc is helping do just that for Britain.

The company has also announced a plan to optimize the allocation of capital between regulated and unregulated business. Through selling a minority interest in their transmission and distribution business and a new dividend plan, they will be able to expand and meet their energy goals proposed in the Zero Net Acceleration Program. The investment and sale are also in part a response to activist investment firm Elliot Management. The firm was pushing for the company to fully spin off their renewable segment of business. However, SSE plc is a key part in the United Kingdom’s targets made at the conference and they are well positioned to help achieve these goals. On top of the commitments made at COP26, the scarcity of gas in the UK has electricity prices soaring, increasing the demand for a green alternative.

What has the stock done lately?

The stock has remained relatively steady. Since the stock was bought in early October, it has increased from $21.41 to $21.76. In the past month the stock price has decreased from $23.33 to 21.76. In the past sixth months, adjusted EPS increased by 44% and the company reported the profit from the past six months as £161.51 million, up from £122.3 million one year ago.

Past Year Performance: SSE plc has seen considerable growth in the past year. The stock has increased 17.34% in value over the past year. SSEZY has outperformed the bench mark and is well positioned to continue to growth in the future.  

Source: FactSet 

My Takeaway

SSE plc is well positioned for the future. Their recent announcement of their investments in renewable technology is exciting for the UK and shareholders alike. Their announced Net Zero Acceleration Program promises enhanced growth through 2026. These programs and investments combat many of the risks associated with the business that were in play when the stock was added to the portfolio. The company’s capital commitment to growing their renewable business segments combat the possibility of energy infrastructure failure as well as solidify their political and societal standing as a green energy player. Aside from the placation of risks, the drivers for the company are intact and beginning to yield results.  I am excited to see how the company innovates and growths in the next five years and beyond.  

Source: FactSet

An International Equity holding: ICON Plc (ICLR, $286.20): “A Global ICON” By: Grace Schwartz, AIM Student at Marquette University

 ICON Plc (ICLR, $286.20): “A Global ICON”

By: Grace Schwartz, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


ICON plc. (NYSE:ICLR) is a global clinical research organization that specializes in strategic development, consulting, and commercialization services to biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries. ICON is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and was founded in 1990.

• ICON’s current revenues come from Ireland (42.2%), the United States (33.1%), China (4%), and remaining amounts from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Japan.

• ICLR recently acquired PRA Health Sciences, one of the world’s leading global contract research organizations. This company will combine with ICON to provide clinical development, drug development, and data solution services to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

• The company still holds the 2023 goal of 2.5 times adjusted EBITDA. Strong cash flow backs this expectation.

• ICLR was added to the AIM portfolio on April 12, 2013, at a price of $30.66. It is currently trading at $286.20, showing an 833.46% increase from its initial purchase. 

Key points: ICON released its Q3 2021 Results on November 4, 2021. The company increased revenue by 25% compared to $701.1 million Q3 2020 revenue. Due to this strong performance, management increased 2021 outlook up to $5.53 billion, a 1.5% increase from expected revenue.

One key strength of increased revenue came from customer diversification and balanced representation across customer segments. This is likely due to the successful acquisition of PRA Health Sciences. This merger allowed ICON to reach a broader customer base and increase revenue.

ICON also expanded their partnership with Deep Lens. Deep Lens is a digital healthcare company that uses analytics to match patients with suitable clinical trials and precision therapies. This use of analytics will accelerate clinical trial enrollment, especially in the oncology realm.

What has the stock done lately?

Over the past 3 months, ICLR has seen a change of 16.27%. For the majority of the 3 months, the stock was trading between $256.77-$270.17. However, the company saw a 7.4% stock increase following an impressive Q3 earnings report released on November 6th. During this call the company announced a 3.8% increase in projected earnings per share, to a $9.55-$9.75 range.

Past Year Performance: ICLR stock has increased 50.89% in value over the past year. The company attributes the tremendous growth this year to customer diversification and an increase in investments in technology and innovation. Additionally, the company’s successful acquisition of PRA Health Sciences has increased investor outlook and allowed for increased engagement with new customers. Q3 2021 was the first quarter reported as a combined company.

1 Year Stock Chart vs. Benchmark from FactSet here

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

ICON Plc has performed extremely well this past year and its recent earnings call and quarter reports project this to continue. Nearly every year since 2000, ICON has acquired new companies. This has strongly improved data analytics and customer base and allowed the company to increase market share. Additionally, the market for clinical trials continues to increase, and ICON has shown to be a trusted partner for clinical development. The recent acquisition of PRA Health Sciences only drives these numbers higher, as the company has moved past the transitional phase. ICON’s management believes the company will continue to be successful, so much that they increased projected EPS 3.8%. For these reasons, it is recommended that ICON Plc remain in the AIM International Equity fund for the time being.

1 Month Stock Chart from FactSet here

Source: FactSet


A Small Cap Equity holding: Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS, $138.59): “Let’s play ball!” By: Ryan Kreie, AIM Student at Marquette University

 Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS, $138.59): “Let’s play ball!”

By: Ryan Kreie, AIM Student at Marquette University

Disclosure: The AIM Equity Fund currently holds this position. This article was written by myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it and I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. (NYSE:DKS) is the leading omni-channel sporting goods retailer offering an extensive assortment of authentic, high-quality sporting equipment, apparel, footwear, and accessories. They primarily retail goods from major athletic brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Under Armour, etc.

• ECommerce sales have continued to grow with the launch of their mobile app and new pick-up and delivery options.

• Youth sporting events are back in person which has driven people to acquire the necessary goods for their events after an extended offseason.

• Dicks has increased their sales per store dramatically (about 19%) due to decreases in costs due to moving business online. Gross profit has seen an increase of 5% each of the last two years for Q2.

• Their stock price is up roughly 150% YTD primarily due to their adaptation to the pandemic and their transition to a larger focus on eCommerce.

• Dicks continues to surpass previous year’s numbers in eCommerce despite all business being online last year.

Key points: Dick’s sporting goods has come out of the pandemic extremely well. They have the potential to end the year with outstanding performance due to the holiday season. During the second quarter, they generated revenues of 3.27 billion and expect to exceed this number in Q3 when they release their earnings on 11/23/2021. Their EPS also grew to 4.66 in Q2 which is a 33% increase compared to the previous quarter.

Their current strategy has been focused on increasing their eCommerce presence and sales while reducing the rate of opening new physical stores. They recently released a new mobile app that helps facilitate the integration between their brick-and-mortar stores and their online platforms. This includes ship-from-store, buy-online, pick-up in store, curbside pick-up, and marketing campaigns. 70% of online orders were fulfilled by their physical stores in FY 2021. Also, 90% of all sales were facilitated through their stores by either online fulfillment or in-person sales. ECommerce sales now account for 19% of net sales compared to 12% in 2019.

Dicks is a unique business seen more as a one-stop shop for all your sporting good needs. Few competitors offer what they do on a large scale, which gives them a significant competitive advantage. With high barriers for entry into the industry their growth can be sustained as many competitors have gone out of business because they did not adapt.

What has the stock done lately?

In the past 3 months alone the stock price is up 31.58%. This is a continuation of constant growth since the onset of the pandemic. This constant upward trajectory is promising to investors as Dicks continues to innovate new ways to reach their customers in the most efficient ways. They also released that they would repurchase $400 million in shares during FY 2021 to distribute capital back to investors.

Past Year Performance: Since a significant dip in stock price due to the pandemic in spring 2020 Dick’s sporting goods has skyrocketed. Dicks has increased 147.42% in the past year and there is still some value to be had. Their 52-week range in stock price has been $51.51 to $147.39. This range is large but was caused by the pandemic. They are still on their way out of the pandemic as they adjust to a larger focus on eCommerce and have some upside left to gain.

Source: FactSet

My Takeaway

Dicks has shown no sign of slowing down since the onset of the pandemic. They have continued to distance themselves from competitors with their increasing eCommerce presence and larger margins. I think Dicks has set themselves up nicely the crush the holiday season and end the year with a stock price of over $150 per share. I believe there is still plenty of upside in them and I recommend that we hold DKS for the foreseeable future as they have shown no signs of slowing down. Their constant growth is something we can count on for months to come.

Source: FactSet