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David Harrell is the editor of the Morningstar StockInvestor, a monthly newsletter that focuses on a wide-moat stock investing strategy. For illustration purposes, issues highlight activities pertaining to Morningstar, Inc. portfolios invested in accordance with a strategy that seeks to focus on companies with stable or growing competitive advantages. David served in several senior research and product development roles and was part of the editorial team that created and launched Morningstar.com. He was the co-inventor of Morningstar's first investment advice software.

David joined Morningstar in 1994. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Skidmore College and a master's degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Matthew Coffina, CFA, is the portfolio manager for Morningstar Investment Management LLC’s Hare strategy. Matt was previously a senior healthcare analyst, covering managed care and pharmaceutical services companies. Matt also developed the discounted cash flow model used by Morningstar analysts to assign fair value estimates to most of the companies in its global coverage universe.

Matt joined Morningstar in 2007. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Oberlin College and also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.

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Prior to joining Morningstar in 2004, Michael worked at a public accounting firm and in the business lending arm of a major commercial bank. He has an undergraduate accounting degree from Loyola Marymount University, an MBA from Cornell University and is a CFA charterholder.

 
May 25, 2018
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David Harrell
Editor, Morningstar StockInvestor
David Harrell is the editor of the Morningstar StockInvestor, a monthly newsletter that focuses on a wide-moat stock investing strategy. For illustration purposes, issues highlight activities pertaining to Morningstar, Inc. portfolios
Featured Posts
Roundup 5/18/2018 -- Enbridge to Acquire Its Sponsored Vehicles

StockInvestorSM focuses on the activities of portfolios of Morningstar, Inc. that are invested in accordance with the Tortoise and Hare strategies. These portfolios are managed by Morningstar Investment Management LLC, a registered investment adviser, which manages other client portfolios using these strategies.

Please see new analyst notes below from Morningstar Research Services for Enbridge ENB (two notes), Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B (two notes), Starbucks SBUX, and Wells Fargo WFC.

Multiple holdings were tagged in separate notes about blockchain technology and the Trump administration's policy paper on drug prices, while Compass Minerals CMP was tagged in a note about the agriculture space and potash. All three notes are included below.

Best wishes,

David Harrell,
Editor, Morningstar StockInvestor

In a Good Move, Enbridge Proposes to Consolidate the Enbridge Family of Entities
by Joe Gemino, CPA | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-17-18

In an expected simplification transaction, Enbridge Inc. proposed to acquire all of the outstanding shares of its sponsored vehicles in exchange for Enbridge Inc. shares. Under four separate transactions, Enbridge proposed to issue 272 million common shares, worth CAD 11.4 billion. We think that the transactions will receive approval, but at a slight premium. We expect Enbridge to issue CAD 280 million shares, approximating CAD 12 billion. After Enbridge announced that it doesn't intend to utilize its sponsored vehicle for future growth projects, we expect each board to rule in favor of the transaction. We like the move as it simplifies the Enbridge family into a single holding. After the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its tax disallowance proposal in March, the master limited partnerships no longer serve the purpose they were created for: capital-raising vehicles for Enbridge.

More importantly, we expect a net positive to Enbridge's cash flows, which will allow the company to continue pursuing its three-year strategic plan. Investors can rest assured, management reiterated that it will continue its intended 10% annual dividend growth through 2020.

Enbridge will be able to recoup income taxes on its U.S. natural gas pipelines now that the assets will no longer be held in an MLP. Accordingly, we are increasing our fair value estimate to $50 (CAD 64) from $48 (CAD 62). The stock is up almost 1.5% on the news, but we still see plenty of upside. We consider Enbridge a rare triple threat, boasting a wide moat, an attractive 6.3% dividend yield, and a cheap valuation. While the market continues to place too much on emphasis on the dividend and overlook the impact that the growth portfolio will have on future cash flows and the balance sheet, the time is right for long-term investors to capitalize on the stock's considerable upside while collecting a steady stream of growing income.

Furthermore, we are maintaining our wide moat rating for Enbridge Inc. and our narrow moat rating for Enbridge Energy Partners.

The past few months have been a wild ride for Enbridge's stock, driven by uncertainty about future dividend growth, a downturn in Canadian energy stocks, rising interest rates, and the U.S.' proposed regulatory changes. Investors have also expressed concerns over Enbridge's balance sheet, specifically its ability to fund its growth portfolio while maintaining its planned annual 10% dividend growth. Growth skepticism seems centered around the Line 3 replacement project obtaining final approval.

Enbridge sports a near-term CAD 22 billion in commercially secured capital projects in its growth portfolio that is highlighted by Line 3. Based on the supportive U.S. political climate, the need for additional pipeline takeaway capacity from Canada, and the economic benefits to Minnesota and U.S. refineries, we think that the project will receive final approval later this year. Supplementing Line 3 are more than a dozen highly contracted natural gas pipelines. We think that the market is somehow overlooking the aggregate impact that these projects will have on the company's cash flow, adding almost CAD 1 billion in incremental EBIT.

Additionally, Enbridge's wide moat sets it apart from its Canadian midstream peers. The company boasts an impressive portfolio of assets, including natural gas utilities, highly secured natural gas and crude pipelines, and its crown jewel, the Mainline. Currently, Enbridge operates 80% of Canada's crude pipeline takeaway capacity and offers access to multiple refining markets that can maximize netbacks.

Enbridge Sucks Up Spectra Energy for a Steal
by Travis Miller | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-17-18

We are reaffirming our $48 fair value estimate, wide moat and stable moat trend for Spectra Energy Partners after Enbridge announced plans to acquire common unitholders' 17% stake. Enbridge's proposed 1.0123 share exchange ratio and our $48 per share pre-deal fair value estimate for Enbridge result in no fair value change for Spectra.

We are not surprised Enbridge made this move after management said last week they would not use Spectra as a funding vehicle given the 23% unit price drop since mid-January. Although the exchange ratio matches our fair value estimates, Spectra unitholders will receive no premium to the $33.10 per unit market price on May 16. We think this is an unfortunate outcome for Spectra unitholders. We estimate Enbridge is paying 11 times Spectra's 2018 distribution, down from 15 times Enbridge paid for Spectra's incentive distribution rights in February. Enbridge's 83% ownership stake gives common unitholders little power to oppose the deal.

Enbridge management justified the at-market offer by saying Spectra's distribution was at risk as soon as 2019 based on revised federal regulatory policies. We think that is off the mark. We estimate Spectra's regulatory downside exposure is around $100 million pre-tax, slightly below management's worst-case scenario outlined last week. We already incorporated this cut in our projections and Spectra still has sufficient cash coverage to fund distribution growth at the high end of management's 4%-6% target.

Enbridge's plan to invest $5 billion in U.S. gas transmission during the next five years is driving that growth. With a depressed unit price, Spectra would have needed equity from Enbridge to fund that growth. With this deal, Enbridge effectively pre-funds its equity investment. This works out poorly for Spectra unitholders who preferred Spectra's steady, growing distributions. Spectra unitholders will now own 4% of Enbridge and just 1% of Enbridge's U.S. gas transmission cash flows.

Berkshire's Purchase of Additional Apple Shares Lifts Tech Giant to Top Spot in Equity Portfolio
by Greggory Warren, CFA | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-16-18

There were few big surprises in wide-moat-rated Berkshire Hathaway's first-quarter 13-F filing. The company already announced in mid-February the sale of 35 million shares of Phillips 66 common stock for $3.3 billion in a private transaction with the oil and gas company. CEO Warren Buffett also alluded recently to the purchase of 74.2 million additional shares of Apple for an estimated $12.5 billion, which lifted the tech giant to more than one fifth of Berkshire's equity portfolio, noting that the insurer eliminated its remaining stake in IBM as well (for an estimated $314 million).

Berkshire also made large additions to existing stakes in Monsanto and Teva Pharmaceuticals, increasing its holdings in the former by more than 60% (acquiring an additional 7.3 million shares of the agricultural products firm for an estimated $850 million) and more than doubling its stake in the latter (picking up 21.7 million more shares of the generic drug manufacturer for an estimated $390 million). Other purchases during the quarter included 3.7 million shares of US Bancorp, 1.4 million shares of Bank of New York Mellon, and 0.5 million shares of Delta Air Line (for an estimated $197 million, $73 million and $27 million, respectively).

While we knew about Berkshire's trimming of its Wells Fargo stake (selling 1.7 million shares for an estimated $97 million during the period) to keep its holdings below 10% of the bank's total outstanding shares, we were surprised to see the insurer sell more than 80% of its position in Verisk Analytics (for an estimated $128 million), while also eliminating its remaining stake in Graham Holdings (for an estimated $62 million). As for the remaining sales, Berkshire sold 0.3 million shares of Charter Communications, 1.9 million shares of Liberty Global PLC, 0.5 million shares of United Continental, and 0.2 million shares of Sanofi-Aventis (for an estimated $86 million, $66 million, $35 million and $7 million, respectively).

These changes in the equity investment portfolio, as well as market movements, during the first quarter had a slight impact on Berkshire's top stock holdings. At the end of March, the company's top 5 positions -- Apple (21.3%), Wells Fargo (12.7%), Bank of America (10.8%), Kraft Heinz (10.7%), and Coca-Cola (9.2%) -- accounted for 64.6% of its $188.9 billion portfolio, and its top 10 holdings -- which included American Express (7.5%), US Bancorp (2.4%), Phillips 66 (2.3%), Moody's (2.1%), and Bank of New York Mellon (1.7%) -- accounted for 80.7%.

Some Key Takeaways from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting
by Greggory Warren, CFA | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-15-18

Over the past five years, our unique position on the analyst panel at wide-moat-rated Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting has allowed us to ask CEO Warren Buffett and Vice-Chairman Charlie Munger questions about the inner workings and performance of Berkshire's operating companies and investments, the capital allocation decision-making at the parent company and subsidiary level, and long-term succession planning for Berkshire's managers.

The questions we asked at this year's annual meeting were primarily geared towards providing us with greater insight into the biggest capital allocation decision management will need to make in the near to medium term--namely, how Buffett and Munger expect to deploy Berkshire's growing cash hoard at a time when asset valuations are high, interest rates are rising, corporate income tax rates are lower and some of the company's more reliable capital expenditure outlets (BNSF and Berkshire Hathaway Energy) are expected to spend less longer term on capital improvements--and came away with a few interesting nuggets of information. Although not enough to get us to alter our moat rating or fair value estimate for the firm.

We continue to believe that Berkshire has too much cash and not enough good options to deploy it. With the firm likely to generate $5 billion-$10 billion in free cash flows quarterly going forward, we expect that Berkshire during our five-year forecast period will reach the $150 billion cash threshold Buffett has said would be difficult to defend to shareholders. Absent a large (or several large) acquisition(s), we expect the firm to start returning more of its excess cash to shareholders. While share repurchases are Buffett's preferred option, we still believe that a special one-time dividend may end up being the bitter pill he has to swallow if Berkshire can't find a way to put its excess cash to work in acquisitions, investments or share repurchases in the near to medium term.

China Region Offers Starbucks a Tangible Yet Underappreciated Blueprint for Success Across the Globe
by R.J. Hottovy, CFA | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-17-18

Starbucks' inaugural China investor day event solidified our views on both the long-term opportunity this region offers--something we don't believe is reflected in market prices--and its importance to the brand intangible asset behind our wide moat rating. We still think Starbucks offers one of the most compelling ways to capitalize on Chinese consumption in the years to come, but also believe that China can serve as a blueprint for growth and operational improvements in other markets, including the U.S. We've long discussed China as Starbucks' second growth engine, but we believe the key takeaway for investors is that the Chinese market epitomizes the Starbucks brand's power when bringing together the right combination of leadership, restaurant experience/design, menu innovation, and operations excellence.

From a financials perspective, the most notable development from the event was new five-year China targets calling for 6,000 locations (compared with 3,300 locations today and implying 600 net new locations annually over the next five years), tripling its revenue (versus the $2 billion we estimate in fiscal 2017 and more than $3 billion in fiscal 2018 after the consolidation of the East China joint venture), and doubling its operating profit (which we estimate at roughly $600 million in fiscal 2018). While ambitious, all of these targets seem obtainable, if not mildly conservative. These figures are consistent with our previous assumptions calling for 10,000-15,000 China locations, as well as the high-single-digit top-line and low-double-digit operating profit assumptions backing our $68 fair value estimate, which remains in place following the event. While we recognize investor frustration with U.S. trends, we believe the combination of China's leadership, new channel diversification opportunities, and capital allocation ($20 billion expected to be returned to shareholders between 2018 and 2020) offers several reasons to stay with this name.

Pressure Building on Wells Fargo's CEO
by Jim Sinegal | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-18-18

Just a week after CEO Tim Sloan dismissed "sensational headlines" related to Wells Fargo's past misdeeds (and a month after another $1 billion settlement with regulators), the company acknowledged that employees of the bank's wholesale division altered information on customer accounts.

We don't think the latest reports are too surprising -- Wells Fargo has more than a quarter of a million employees, and the firm's practices are being examined with a fine-toothed comb by regulators and managers. Nor do we believe the latest revelations are material to the firm's financial prospects, as the alterations do not appear to have generated any additional revenue. Instead, mundane information was being added outside of proper channels.

The bigger question, given management's comments and the fact that this particular behavior continued into 2018, is whether top management is truly intent on conducting a ruthless transformation of the company's culture. Former CEO John Stumpf lost his job because he was not taking the bank's problems seriously enough, and regulators are clearly not happy with the changes that have been made so far. Notably, Sloan was the second in command as the first scandal broke. The company is the subject of a consent order limiting growth, and regulators appear to have influenced the board changes made this year.

We believe the wide-moat bank's competitive advantages are intact, and that it is undervalued relative to our $65 per share fair value estimate. However, we don't believe it is out of the woods yet, and further changes may be needed to catalyze the company's comeback in the eyes of customers and investors.

Weather Delays and Reduced Supply Highlight Our 1Q Earnings Takeaways for the Agriculture Space
by Seth Goldstein, CFA | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-15-18

Unfavorable weather weighed on first-quarter results for many of the agriculture companies we cover, as a delayed start to the U.S. planting season reduced sales across every crop input category. While seed sales should bounce back in the second quarter, we expect less total nitrogen and crop chemicals will be used in 2018 as the late start reduces midseason applications. However, stronger potash demand outside of North America should more than offset stagnant or slightly reduced demand in North America.

So far this year, potash and phosphate prices have been supported by reduced supply. In potash, new supply delays via lower-than-expected potash production from both SQM and K+S have led to a tighter market. We expect this dynamic to continue throughout the year, and we've raised our 2018 potash price forecast to $270 per metric ton. Similarly, phosphate prices have also been supported by reduced supply as production has decreased in both the U.S. (from Mosaic) and China. Accordingly, we've raised our 2018 price forecast to $380 per metric ton. Our long-term price forecast for potash and phosphate are unchanged at $270 and $350 per metric ton, respectively, in real terms.

From a valuation standpoint, potash producers are trading at a larger discount to fair value than the rest of our ag coverage, largely due to our long-term outlook that potash prices will remain flat, in real terms, while we forecast real price declines in nitrogen and phosphate. Nutrien and Mosaic offer the most upside based on current prices, as they trade at price/fair value ratios of 0.89 and 0.86, respectively. We view K+S as overvalued, as the firm's higher-cost potash and salt production will limit its earnings power. We also view CF as overvalued, given our forecast for lower nitrogen prices. Although we view Best Idea Compass Minerals as undervalued, we expect profitable growth to be driven primarily by the company's salt segment rather than its fertilizer business.

Blockchain: Disruption by Decentralization?
by Jim Sinegal | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-14-18

Blockchain is full of promise. Investment in the space totals billions of dollars--large corporations, venture capital funds, and initial coin offerings are funding projects. The activity is not completely misguided--blockchains have the potential to disrupt economic activities ranging from simple payments to the structure of the corporation as it currently exists. We see three broad categories of applications for the technology: 1) financial transactions; 2) data management; and 3) marketplace activity. Companies that engage in these functions are seemingly at risk, as blockchain technology can potentially lower transaction costs as well as the costs of record-keeping. However, we've identified some narrow and wide moat companies that will be less vulnerable to the blockchain threat, including undervalued names like TripAdvisor, McKesson, Anixter, Facebook, and American Express. These companies provide value-added services in addition to transaction processing and record-keeping functions. Finally, we note that the early-stage technology still suffers from a handful of technical issues, including problems with scalability, privacy, and leadership.

Trump's Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices Offers Minor Changes; No Big Pharma and Biotech Moat Impact
by Damien Conover, CFA | Morningstar Research Services LLC | 05-13-18

The Trump administration's policy paper titled “The Trump Administration Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices and Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs” offers proposals that don't impact our moat ratings in the Big Pharma and Biotech industries, and the pricing power of branded drugs in the U.S. still looks strong. The blueprint's near-term focus largely supports increasing generic drug competition, slightly strengthening Medicare drug price negotiations, improving drug price transparency, and providing more information to help patients lower out-of-pocket costs, all of which we believe have a limited impact on branded U.S. drug prices. The mild policy proposals appear to largely build on the 2019 U.S. Budget Proposal and the drug white paper issued by the Council of Economic Advisors in February. In aggregate, we think the proposals would likely impact less than 1% of U.S. drug spending, excluding the potential changes to negotiations for Medicare Part B drugs, which could offer another 1%-2% reduction in U.S drug spending depending on the exact implementation.

Overall, the blueprint's proposals create minor headwinds to branded drug pricing. Regarding the proposal to increase generic competition, we have viewed the branded drug industry's tactics of limiting generic competition as relatively ineffective. For generic biologics (biosimilars), we have largely assumed swift competition following patent losses, which is already in line with these policy efforts to increase generic competition on hard-to-make drugs. The policy proposal to limit the use of Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies to delay generic competition is rarely used, but could potentially impact some drug firms; for example, Celgene and its key drug Revlimid could face additional generics and more rapid launches once generics are reviewed by the FDA.

The proposal to increase negotiations around Part B drugs looks like the most substantive proposal as these drugs have historically not faced much pricing pressure, but we note these drugs tend to be the least interchangeable with competition, which makes negotiating drug prices more difficult. On the policy proposal regarding the incentives to lower drug list price with more pricing transparency in direct-to-consumer ads and in other information, we view this with limited potential in reducing pricing. Lastly, the focus on lowering out-of-pocket drug costs by allowing more cost-saving information from pharmacists and providing information on lower-cost alternative treatment options for Medicare patients could provide some minor cost savings, but would not significantly alter pricing power by branded drug companies.

Within each of the policy proposals, beyond the immediate actions outlined above, the administration provides further opportunities to explore additional cost savings. While the granularity for these proposals is more limited, we view the majority of these additional opportunities as more focused on closing relatively smaller pricing loopholes and exploring alternative pricing models such as more value-based reimbursement and new strategies around Medicaid drug pricing. We believe the more innovative branded drugs will be able thrive in this environment and the majority of current branded drug development already focuses more on innovation to meet the increasing demands by private sector payers and Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs.

Additionally, two opportunities under explorations could significantly help branded drugmakers. First, proposals to limit the ability of PBMs to rely on rebates from drug firms to lower their own drug costs could force more transparent and upfronted price discounts, potentially giving drug firms more power in setting price. Second, efforts to make other countries pay more for drugs hold potential to increase global pricing power, but we view this initiative as largely politically driven and difficult to implement.

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Investment research is produced and issued by subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc. including, but not limited to, Morningstar Research Services LLC, registered with and governed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Analyst ratings are subjective in nature and should not be used as the sole basis for investment decisions. Analyst ratings are based on Morningstar’s analysts’ current expectations about future events and therefore involve unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause such expectations not to occur or to differ significantly from what was expected. Analyst ratings are not guarantees nor should they be viewed as an assessment of a stock's creditworthiness. Ratings, analysis, and other analyst thoughts are provided for informational purposes only; references to securities should not be considered an offer or solicitation to buy or sell the securities.

©2018 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved. The Morningstar name and logo are registered marks of Morningstar, Inc. The information contained in this document is the proprietary material of Morningstar, Inc. Reproduction, transcription, or other use, by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Morningstar, Inc., is prohibited. All data presented is based on the most recent information available to Morningstar, Inc. as of the release date and may or may not be an accurate reflection of current data.  There is no assurance that the data will remain the same.

Disclosure:
The commentary, analysis, references to, and performance information contained within Morningstar® StockInvestorSM, except where explicitly noted, reflects that of portfolios owned by Morningstar, Inc. that are invested in accordance with the Tortoise and Hare strategies managed by Morningstar Investment Management LLC, a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of Morningstar, Inc. References to "Morningstar" refer to Morningstar, Inc.

Opinions expressed are as of the current date and are subject to change without notice. Morningstar, Inc. and Morningstar Investment Management LLC shall not be responsible for any trading decisions, damages, or other losses resulting from, or related to, the information, data, analyses or opinions or their use. This commentary is for informational purposes only and has not been tailored to suit any individual.

The information, data, analyses, and opinions presented herein do not constitute investment advice, are provided as of the date written, are provided solely for informational purposes and therefore are not an offer to buy or sell a security. Please note that references to specific securities or other investment options within this piece should not be considered an offer (as defined by the Securities and Exchange Act) to purchase or sell that specific investment.

This commentary contains certain forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results to differ materially and/or substantially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by those projected in the forward-looking statements for any reason.

Investments in securities are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of principal.  Prices of securities may fluctuate from time to time and may even become valueless.  Securities in this report are not FDIC-insured, may lose value, and are not guaranteed by a bank or other financial institution. Before making any investment decision, investors should read and consider all the relevant investment product information. Investors should seriously consider if the investment is suitable for them by referencing their own financial position, investment objectives, and risk profile before making any investment decision. There can be no assurance that any financial strategy will be successful.

Common stocks are typically subject to greater fluctuations in market value than other asset classes as a result of factors such as a company's business performance, investor perceptions, stock market trends and general economic conditions.

All Morningstar Stock Analyst Notes were published by Morningstar, Inc. The Weekly Roundup contains all Analyst Notes that relate to holdings in Morningstar, Inc.'s Tortoise and Hare Portfolios. Morningstar's analysts are employed by Morningstar, Inc. or its subsidiaries.  In the United States, that subsidiary is Morningstar Research Services LLC, which is registered with and governed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

David Harrell may own stocks from the Tortoise and Hare Portfolios in his personal accounts.

 
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