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Kuwait-born CEO breaks glass ceiling to lift ailing Laurentian Bank - BNN
Laurentian Bank of Canada named Rania Llewellyn as its new chief executive officer, making her the first woman to lead a major Canadian bank.
Rania Llewellyn broke the glass ceiling as the first woman to lead one of Canadas eight largest banks. Her challenge at Laurentian Bank of Canada is to revive a lender that may need capital and has struggled for years to find growth. Llewellyn, who was named Laurentians chief executive officer Tuesday, comes with an unusual biography for a Canadian bank chief. Born in Kuwait, she moved to Canada as a teenager from Egypt, where her father is from, and earned a masters degree in business administration from St. Marys University, a small public college in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She joined Bank of Nova Scotia as a part-time teller and began a 26-year climb that included a stint as CEO of Roynat Capital, a unit of the bank that finances medium-sized businesses. Before jumping to Laurentian, shed been promoted to executive vice president in charge of Scotiabanks global payments strategy. Canadian banks rarely hire external candidates for the top job. Montreal-based Laurentian has unique problems, though. Llewellyn, 44, will need to shore up the banks capital position, which is the weaker than that of the countrys largest banks, while trying to undo the damage from the companys prior missteps, including a problem with mortgage fraud. The banks results have trailed analysts estimates in eight of the past 11 quarters, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Among the major moves she may make include raising new equity and divesting non-core assets like the Northpoint commercial-finance business, according to analysts. No matter what she does, it will require bold action to revive Laurentians shares, which have dropped 49 per cent over the past five years, compared to a 12 per cent gain for the S&P/TSX Commercial Banks Index. An external hire brings more potential for change, which is good, Gabriel Dechaine, an analyst at National Bank of Canada, said in a note. A new CEO will have more flexibility to take dramatic action to put the bank on more solid footing during the current downturn and into the future. Laurentian shares rose as much as 1.2 per cent after Llewellyns hiring was announced and closed up 0.2 per cent to CUS$26.36 in Toronto. The stock had fallen 41 per cent this year through Monday. Rania Llewellyn is the right leader to usher in a new era at Laurentian Bank. She has a proven track record as an energetic, strategic thinker focused on customer experience and tangible results, Michelle Savoy, the Laurentian director who led the search committee, said in a statement. Dividend Cut Llewellyn fills the gap left by Francois Desjardins, who stepped down in June after a five-year tenure that included an incomplete transformation plan and other woes. In 2017, the bank found customer misrepresentations on some mortgages that it sold to another firm. Laurentian said it would buy back CUS$180 million (US$137 million) in mortgages sold to the firm. Laurentian also took a hit in May, when it slashed its dividend 40 per cent, the first payout cut by a large Canadian lender in almost three decades, and posted fiscal second-quarter earnings that missed analysts estimates because of higher provisions for loan losses. While the bank increased a key measure of its capital known as common equity tier 1 to 9.4 per cent at the end of its third quarter, that level is still far from fortress-like, National Banks Dechaine said, adding that the situation makes an equity raise possible. The hiring of Llewellyn, who will also join Laurentians board, comes a little more than a month after Jane Fraser was named CEO of Citigroup Inc., which will make her the first female head of a big Wall Street bank. While women have held some high-profile positions in Canadas banking industry, Llewellyn will be the first female CEO of a major domestic bank. London-based HSBC Holdings Plcs Canadian operations are run by Linda Seymour. She succeeded Sandra Stuart, who ran the operation for five years until her retirement. And Gillian Riley serves as CEO of Tangerine, Scotiabanks online division. Llewellyns appointment also is notable because Canadian banks typically choose CEOs from inside their firms. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce entertained the idea of external candidates in its CEO search in 2014 before choosing internal candidate Victor Dodig. The last time Royal Bank of Canada went outside the firm for a top executive was in 1908. Llewellyn also isnt a native French speaker -- a disadvantage for the head of a firm headquartered in Montreal -- but has committed to learning the language, according to a note from RBC analyst Darko Mihelic.
Nokia Picked by NASA to Build First Cellular Network on the Moon - BNN
Nokia Oyj has been chosen by NASA to build the first ever cellular network on the moon.
(Bloomberg) -- Nokia Oyj has been chosen by NASA to build the first ever cellular network on the moon. The Finnish telecommunications firm said on Monday that the partnership will create a path toward sustainable human presence on the lunar surface, and will result in the first LTE/4G communications system in space. Nokias Bell Labs unit is planning to build what it describes as an ultra-compact, low-power, space-hardened, end-to-end LTE solution that will be available on the moon by late 2022. The idea is to provide the kind of technology that makes it possible to remotely control lunar rovers, or allow real-time navigation and streaming of high definition video, Nokia said. The solution has been specially designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the launch and lunar landing, and to operate in the extreme conditions of space, it said. The company said the technology its using -- the precursor to 5G -- is ideally suited for providing the kind of wireless connection that astronauts need. Nokia is working with Intuitive Machines to integrate the network into a lunar lander and deliver it to the surface of the moon, where it will self-configure, it said. ©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Conoco to buy Concho for US$9.7B, creating Permian giant - BNN
ConocoPhillips agreed to buy Concho Resources Inc. for US$9.7 billion in stock, the largest shale industry deal since the collapse in energy demand earlier this year and one that will create a heavyweight driller in America’s most prolific oil field.
ConocoPhillips agreed to buy Concho Resources Inc. for about US$9.7 billion in stock, the largest shale industry deal since the collapse in energy demand earlier this year and one that will create a heavyweight driller in Americas most prolific oil field. Investors will get 1.46 Conoco shares for each Concho share, the companies said Monday in a statement. The transaction represents a 15 per cent premium over Conchos closing price on Oct. 13, the last trading session before Bloomberg News first reported the companies were in talks. The pandemic-induced price crash and lackluster global economic recovery have accelerated the push for consolidation across the shale patch, which is under severe financial strain after years of debt-fueled growth. The combination of Conoco and Concho will be one of the dominant operators in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, rivaling only the likes of Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Chevron Corp. in terms of crude output. The deal may also signal further mergers and acquisitions in the sector. Despite a compelling rationale for more consolidation in order to cut costs, a lack of cash and Wall Streets antipathy toward the sector has, until recently, made it hard to get deals across the line. But with oil stable at around US$40 a barrel, there are signs that M&A is now gaining momentum. Chevron Corp. completed its acquisition of Noble Energy Inc. in early October, and in late September Devon Energy Corp. announced it was buying Permian operator WPX Energy Inc. Unlike some shale deals in 2019, Devons tie-up with WPX was well-received, with both companies agreeing on a small deal premium. That follows investor criticism of some deal premiums last year for being excessive. The Concho takeover is Conocos biggest under its current chief executive officer, Ryan Lance, who until now has sought to position the company almost as an anti-shale option for Wall Street, touting little-to-no-growth, steady cash flow and disciplined spending. While Lance has made no secret of his desire to take advantage of the downturn to expand in shale, he said in July that any transaction must meet Conocos criteria of having a low cost of supply while being able to compete with the rest of the companys portfolio. Houston-based Conoco emerged from the oil market slump in a relatively strong position with about US$7 billion of cash on hand. It recently resumed share buybacks. But its growth outlook is challenged: second-quarter production was down by almost 25% from a year earlier after it joined many other U.S. drillers in curbing output in response to lower prices. Conoco and Concho said on a conference call that the deal didnt arise from a need to fix anything but rather a desire to bulk up. Evaluating the go-forward size and scale really becomes more and more important, Concho CEO Tim Leach, who will be executive vice president and president of the merged companies operations in the lower 48 U.S. states, said on the call. The why now is that we have common vision on this, and creating a company that can attract capital and be a leader in that regard is the compelling reason why we wanted to move now. Adding Concho will dramatically alter Conocos production profile. The Midland, Texas-based shale company is entirely focused on the Permian and pumped 319,000 barrels in the second quarter, about six times what Conoco produced there. The combination will save US$500 million a year by 2022, and hand shareholders more than 30 percent of cash from operations through dividends and other distributions, the companies said. Concho was an attractive company and had one of the deepest tier 1 resource bases in shale, analysts at Wells Fargo said in a note. With a deal premium of 15 per cent along with the projected efficiencies, Conoco seems to be getting a bargain. What Bloomberg Intelligence Says With Concho Resources stock down more than 40 per cent in 2020, its sale to ConocoPhillips at a 15 per cent premium to the Oct. 13 close may not assuage holders of a best-in-class Permian E&P thats generating free cash flow and has less burdensome debt than smaller, independent peers. Concho had laid out a reasonable road map of modest production married with capital efficiency, and we thought it would be a consolidator, even given CEO Tim Leachs history of selling two other iterations of Concho. --Vincent Piazza, senior industry analyst, and Evan Lee, associate analyst Though the transaction may be good for shareholders, the extensive cost cuts mean its unlikely to benefit already declining U.S. oil production, or the companies like Halliburton Co. who provide drilling and other services. Halliburton said Monday that business outside the U.S. is still weak. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is Conocos financial adviser on the deal and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is its legal adviser. Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are Conchos financial advisers and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is its legal adviser. Conchos shares rose 0.7 per cent to US$48.96 at 9:32 a.m. in New York while Conocos dropped 0.3 per cent to US$33.67.
Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu to retire in February - BNN
Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu is retiring in February and will be succeeded by deputy CEO and chief financial officer Michael Rousseau, the company announced Friday.
Air Canada president and CEO Calin Rovinescu is retiring in February and will be succeeded by deputy CEO and chief financial officer Michael Rousseau, the company announced Friday. "I have enjoyed a unique and very special relationship with Air Canada and our outstanding people for over three decades, on the front lines of many of the company's defining moments, Rovinescu said in a release. "While COVID-19 has decimated the global airline industry, fortunately we entered the pandemic much healthier than almost any other airline in the world as a result of our strong balance sheet, track record and engaged workforce. Rovinescu said the airline continues to implement significant reductions in its fleet, capacity, network and workforce which are required for the next several years before we rebuild from that smaller footprint. We have reduced our cost structure, our capital spending and our supplier arrangements for the next years, he added. Air Canada will be extremely well positioned for the recovery when borders reopen, travel restrictions are lifted and the broader economy is functioning again. Rovinescu has been at the helm of the countrys largest air carrier since 2009. Prior to his role as CEO, he served as executive vice-president of corporate development and strategy from 2000-04. He also held the position of chief restructuring officer during the airlines restructuring in 2003-04. He previously served as chair of the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board and as chair of the International Air Transport Associations board of governors. Rovinescu is a current board member of BCE Inc., BNN Bloombergs parent company. Prior to joining Air Canada, Rousseau was president of Hudsons Bay Company. He graduated from York University's Schulich School of Business and was named Canada's CFO of the year in 2017.
Path to economic recovery filled with risks: Macklem - BNN
The governor of the Bank of Canada says managing the risks from the pandemic is more critical than ever, saying it is key to a recovery and the stability of society.
The governor of the Bank of Canada said managing the financial risk from the COVID-19 pandemic is more critical than ever, while the central bank is paying close attention to the housing market amid an historically low interest rate environment. We will also watch for signs that housing markets are being driven higher by speculation that prices will keep rising, Tiff Macklem said in a speech Thursday. And we will watch whether people buying houses are taking on outsized debt relative to their income. But if too many Canadian households start to become dangerously over-leveraged, policy-makers have several macroprudential tools they can use. Our experience with the mortgage-interest stress test shows how effective these tools can be. Companies and households have been given a financial lifeline during the pandemic, including deferrals on mortgage payments, a drop in the central bank's key policy rate, and billions in federal aid and credit programs. Macklem said in the speech to the Global Risk Institute that policy-makers need to navigate the potholes on the road to recovery, including new ones created by the pandemic. Canada has managed the crisis better than many countries, he says. Macklem notes the country's risk-cautious culture that is not usually celebrated, but it protected the economy during the financial crisis a decade ago and has helped during the current recession. Still, Macklem says overwhelming uncertainty weigh on the Canadian economy and country writ large. "The COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that how well we mange risks has a huge impact on our well-being," Macklem says in the text of his speech, released ahead of time to journalists. "Globally, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the quality of risk management will increasingly influence the success and stability of societies." The speech comes as the country heads into an expected second wave of COVID-19, with case counts rising and the threat of lockdowns looming over businesses and workers. Widespread lockdowns in March and April led to historic plunges in the labour market, with three million people out of work and 2.5 million more working less than half their normal hours. The country has recouped about two-thirds of the jobs lost, but Macklem says it will be a long time before the losses in jobs and work hours return to pre-pandemic levels. Federal spending has skyrocketed to provide aid to hard-hit companies, and put a financial floor under Canadians whose incomes crashed. The bank's key interest rate quickly dropped to 0.25 per cent and will stay there until a recovery is well underway. Macklem says the effect of the lower-interest rate environment created will require insurance companies and pension funds to adjust, and the path the policy rate takes will eventually have an impact on financial system vulnerabilities. "Without the fiscal and monetary policy actions, the economic devastation of the pandemic could have been much, much worse," Macklem says in the text of his speech. "As much as a bold policy response was needed, it will inevitably make the economy and financial system more vulnerable to economic shocks down the road." But it's not the only risk Macklem warns about, pointing to the long-term impacts climate change will have on the financial system and domestic economy. Physical and financial risks from more frequent and severe weather events, including the damage to infrastructure and homes, will almost certainly grow, he says. Business face risk from shifts in earnings and expenses as the country transitions to a low-carbon economy that need to be properly managed, Macklem says. Otherwise, he says, climate change could lead to heavy losses for financial institutions or threaten the stability of the country's financial system. With files from BNN Bloomberg
Stocks climb, bonds dip amid Trump tweet barrage - BNN
U.S. stocks rose, clawing back most of the decline triggered by Donald Trump’s suspension of stimulus talks, after the president backed a piecemeal approach to aid and investors took a longer-term view on a spending program. Treasuries and the dollar fell.
U.S. stocks rose, clawing back most of the decline triggered by Donald Trumps suspension of stimulus talks, after the president backed a piecemeal approach to aid and investors took a longer-term view on a spending program. Treasuries and the dollar fell. The S&P 500 opened higher after a barrage of overnight tweets from the president supporting US$25 billion to hard-hit airlines and US$135 billion for small businesses. The benchmark slumped 1.4 per cent Tuesday when Trump abruptly called off aid talks with Democrats. Stocks had climbed earlier in the day on signs a deal was still possible before the election. The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now! Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020 If I am sent a Stand Alone Bill for Stimulus Checks ($1,200), they will go out to our great people IMMEDIATELY. I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy? @[email protected]@[email protected]@SenSchumer Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020 It is very unlikely that House Democrats would entertain just these measures -- regardless, market action appears to be more driven by the prospects of a blue wave, rather than pre-election stimulus, said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at StoneX. Investors whove watched Democratic challenger Joe Bidens lead in the polls swell in recent days are now speculating that a victory by him would bring a wave of federal spending to boost the economy. Tech stocks also rose in early trading, even after a House panels proposal late Tuesday for stricter antitrust rules to curb the power of Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The four tech giants account for more than 15 per cent of the S&P 500. Eli Lilly and Co. rose after advances on its COVID-19 antibody drug. Volatility picked up this month after Trump contracted the coronavirus and investors were whipsawed by the ups and down of talks on U.S. economic aid. The standalone measures the president proposed also included US$1,200 aid checks to individuals. These tweets appear to have arrested the risk-off move, analysts including Lyn Graham-Taylor at Rabobank in London wrote in an investor note However, it seems a stretch to think that the Democrats would be fans of signing any standalone stimulus measures as, heading into the election, it would erode one of the differentiating factors between them and the Republicans. The dollar edged lower versus a basket of its peers before Federal Reserve officials comment later on Wednesday and release minutes from their past policy meeting. Oil fell and gold advanced. Meanwhile, with Trump now out of the hospital, investors continue to monitor the viruss impact on economic recoveries around the world. Signs are mounting the virus is returning to the New York area, with infections reaching three-month highs. The European Commission, meantime, is close to a deal to procure more of the COVID-19 treatment remdesivir from Gilead Sciences Inc. Elsewhere, Gazprom PJSCs shares fell after it was hit with a 29 billion zloty (US$7.6 billion) fine from Polands antitrust watchdog, which said its proposed Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline impedes competition on European Union energy markets. Satellite broadcaster Sirius XM Holdings Inc. rose in the premarket as star Howard Stern played down reports he was negotiating for $120 million in annual pay. Here are some key events coming up:
- The minutes of the Sept. 15-16 meeting of the FOMC on Wednesday could be especially fruitful for Fed watchers, beginning with details of the debate on conditions necessary to trigger a rate increase
- The U.S. Vice Presidential debate takes place in Salt Lake City on Wednesday
- The S&P 500 Index rose one per cent to 3,394.58 as of 9:30 a.m. New York time.
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.1 per cent to 28,068.08.
- The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 1.6 per cent to 11,154.60.
- The Nasdaq 100 Index sank 1.9 per cent to 11,291.27.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.2 per cent to 365.07, the first retreat in a week and the largest fall in more than a week.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.2 per cent to 1,171.83.
- The euro climbed 0.3 per cent to US$1.1772.
- The Japanese yen depreciated 0.3 per cent to 105.93 per dollar, the weakest in almost four weeks.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed four basis points to 0.78 per cent.
- The yield on 30-year Treasuries increased four basis points to 1.58 per cent.
- Germanys 10-year yield gained one basis point to -0.50 per cent, the highest in almost three weeks.
- Britains 10-year yield rose one basis point to 0.299 per cent, the highest in more than five weeks.
- West Texas Intermediate crude fell 2.3 per cent to US$39.72 a barrel.
- Gold strengthened 0.5 per cent to US$1,887.27 an ounce.
- Copper climbed 2.4 per cent to US$3.04 a pound, the highest in more than two weeks.
US stocks gain most in almost 4 weeks; yields rise - BNN
U.S. stocks closed at the highest levels of the day amid optimism that President Donald Trump will leave the hospital and lawmakers will move closer to providing more stimulus. Treasury yields jumped and the dollar weakened.
U.S. stocks closed at the highest levels of the day amid optimism that President Donald Trump will leave the hospital and lawmakers will move closer to providing more stimulus. Treasury yields jumped and the dollar weakened. The S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Dow Jones Industrial Average all rebounded from Fridays swoon in the wake of Trumps coronavirus disclosure. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. rallied after Trump was given an experimental antibody treatment made by the drugmaker. Energy, health care and technology shares were the biggest gainers in the S&P, pushing the benchmark index up by the most in almost four weeks. Fiscal stimulus continues to be a wild card for the market, and uncertainty around the health of the president certainly looms large, said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investment product at E*Trade Financial. So while theres a lot of noise out there, experienced traders may find bullish opportunities. Trump said on Twitter that hell leave Walter Reed hospital Monday evening after being treated since Friday for COVID-19. With less than a month until Election Day, Trumps hospitalization has jolted the presidential campaign, forcing him to scrap rallies and other events as polls show him trailing Joe Biden nationally and in swing states. On the stimulus front, Trump tweeted from the hospital that a deal needs to get done. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was optimistic on Friday that a bipartisan stimulus bill can be done. Absent of vaccine breakthrough, were in an economy that is modestly recovering from the lows of March and April, but it can only go so far, said Tom Hainlin, national investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Managements Ascent Private Wealth Group. Areas of the economy that are susceptible are still feeling the pain. Thats why we need so much stimulus from the Federal Reserve and Congress. Traders also pointed to polls suggesting a stronger lead for Biden and the possibility that a clear winner will emerge from the Nov. 3 election. U.S. markets have been nervous in recent weeks about a close election and the risk of a long and messy legal battle. Elsewhere, consumer companies and banks led a broad advance among European stocks. Equities in Asia notched gains, while crude oil rebounded from a three-week low and gold advanced. These are the main moves in markets: Stocks The S&P 500 Index climbed 1.8 per cent to 3,408.56 as of 4:01 p.m. New York time, the highest in a month on the largest increase in almost four weeks.The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 1.7 per cent to 28,148.18, the highest in more than a month on the biggest jump in almost 12 weeks.The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 2.3 per cent to 11,332.48, the highest in more than a month on the largest increase in almost four weeks.The Nasdaq 100 Index gained 2.3 per cent to 11,509.06, the biggest rise in more than a week.The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.8 per cent to 365.63, the highest in more than two weeks on the largest advance in a week. Currencies The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index sank 0.4 per cent to 1,169.13, the lowest in more than two weeks on the biggest dip in more than five weeks.The Japanese yen depreciated 0.5 per cent to 105.77 per dollar, the weakest in more than three weeks on the largest decrease in five weeks.The euro climbed 0.6 per cent to US$1.1783, the strongest in more than two weeks. Bonds The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed seven basis points to 0.78 per cent, the highest in almost four months on the largest surge in a month.The yield on 30-year Treasuries climbed nine basis points to 1.58 per cent, reaching the highest in almost four months on its sixth straight advance and the biggest surge in a month.Germanys 10-year yield increased three basis points to -0.51 per cent, the highest in more than a week on the largest climb in more than three weeks.Britains 10-year yield rose four basis points to 0.288 per cent, the highest in almost five weeks. Commodities West Texas Intermediate crude surged 6.2 per cent to US$39.36 a barrel, the largest jump in 20 weeks.Gold strengthened 0.6 per cent to US$1,911.48 an ounce, the highest in two weeks.Copper declined 0.4 per cent to US$2.97 a pound.
We're #25! Industrials power modest Q3 gain for the TSX - BNN
BNN Bloomberg takes stock of the quarter that was on the TSX.
The S&P/TSX Composite Index rose 3.91 per cent in the third quarter, with gains moderating after a blowout Q2 as equity markets digested the shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic, prospects for continued economic shutdowns and the impact of lower-for-longer interest rates. Those gains have the Toronto benchmark ranked 25th out of 92 global peers, sandwiched between Romanias Bucharest BET Index and Germanys DAX Index, and comfortably lagging the performance of the U.S. broad-market S&P 500 and the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average. In all, nine of the 11 TSX subgroups were in positive territory for the quarter, indicating a degree of breadth to the gains. Below, BNN Bloomberg takes a look at the TSX leaders and laggards for the quarter that was. Sector leaders: Industrials: +13.22 per cent Utilities: +9.88 per cent Materials: +8.76 per cent Industrials led the way for the TSX, as investors looked to parse the impact on Canadas economic reopening on the nations transport, construction and equipment makers. Utilities, which typically perform well in a low-rate environment due to their need to borrow capital to fund expansions and have a habit of paying steady dividends, took second spot with a nearly 10 per cent gain. The materials subgroup took third sport with a nearly nine per cent gain, with gold prices holding near a multi-year high due to global economic uncertainty. But it wasnt just the precious metal that helped the subgroup, with some strength in copper lifting base metals producers amid speculation Chinese industrial activity was beginning to recover from the pandemic-induced demand destruction. Lead gainers: Trillium Therapeutics Inc.: +72.45 per cent Pretium Resources: +50.00 per cent Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers: +42.88 per cent Trillium Therapeutics: Trillium hasnt just been a standout performer in the third quarter, its been the top performer on the TSX Composite Index so far this year, rising more than 1,000 per cent. The company, which develops cancer treatments for conditions including lymphoma, has seen encouraging results for some of its treatments, buoying investor enthusiasm. Trilliums efforts havent gone unnoticed by some of the heavy hitters in the pharma industry, with Pfizer Inc. taking a US$25 million equity stake in the firm during the quarter. Trillium also raised $150 million in Q3 through a share offering. Pretium Resources: The rising price of gold lifted all boats, but none more than single-mine operator Pretium. The company, which operates its Brucejack mine in north-west British Columbia, surged past analyst expectations in its most recent quarter. The rising price of bullion prompted Pretium to raise its full-year free cash flow expectations, based on an average gold price of US$1,800 per ounce. However, Pretium also warned that COVID-19 measures would raise costs as it looks to protect its workers and operations from the ravages of the virus. Pretiums Brucejack mine is a sprawling claim with difficult geological hurdles and is seen as a potential acquisition target, with Barrick Gold Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow having been reluctant to say the mining giant wouldnt take a look at a potential tie-up. Ritchie Bros Auctioneers: Canadas preeminent dealer of used industrial, farming and construction equipment has thus far weathered the pandemic-induced slowdown. Net income decreased a paltry two per cent in the companys most recent quarter, even in the face of lockdowns and a drop in overall economic activity. There is, however, a degree of counter-cyclicality to Ritchie Bros results. As a middleman for the sale of second-hand equipment, the firm often benefits from customers seeking out deals on the second-hand market rather than shelling out for brand new equipment. Sector laggards: Health care: -14.44 per cent Energy: -9.39 per cent Communications services: +0.79 per cent Trilliums outsized gains werent enough to spare the health care sector from posting the weakest performance of the composites 11 subgroups in the quarter. Health care was hammered by some noticeable weakness in the cannabis sector as pot stocks continue to be punished for rocky performances. Energys rough ride continued, albeit with a disconnect from underlying energy prices. While individual stocks have been under pressure, crude oil prices have largely been in a holding pattern, with North American benchmark West Texas Intermediate hovering around US$40 per barrel as investors assess how the pandemic and subsequent economic reopenings impact the demand picture. Communications services has seen a bit of a mixed bag through the quarter, as Canadas Big Three telcos spar with new entrants over wholesale network access rates and Cogeco battles a takeover offer from Altice USA and Roger Communications, which muddies the picture when it comes to overall performance. Lead laggards: Aurora Cannabis Inc: -63.07 per cent Vermilion Energy Inc: -48.51 per cent Enerplus Corp: -36.13 per cent Aurora Cannabis: Auroras stock has been demolished amid persistent cannabis oversupply concerns. Shares in the company plunged more than 25 per cent in one trading session alone after the company disappointed investors with its fourth-quarter results as growing pains persist in the cannabis market. The firm was also chastised by MKM Partners, with their analyst calling on Aurora to stop growing so much cannabis as the market remains out of balance with consumer demand. The company says it expects to reach positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) by the second quarter of 2021, about 18 months later than earlier projected. Vermilion Energy: The geographically-diversified energy company, which operates not only in North American but also off the coast of Ireland and France, has seen its share price swing with the vagaries of international energy markets. Fund flows from operations, a key metric in the energy sector, plunged 52 per cent in the companys most recent quarter as concerns over global energy demand mounted. Vermilion has also been hampered by price impacts from internal squabbling over production quotas for OPEC members and suspended its dividend in April. Enerplus: The energy price pressures also took a toll on Enerplus in the third quarter. The company, which operates in Western Canada, North Dakota, Montana and Pennsylvania, posted a 13 per cent decline year-over-year in its most recent quarter, reflecting a troubled picture for overall consumer demand. Enerplus also booked significant impairment charges in the quarter, further hampering results.