Two fascinating snippets, plus a cracking factoid today!
The first relates to the ‘mainstreaming’ of bitcoin and other digital currencies.
It comes in yesterday’s daily funds report by the research team at Numis and focuses on the news that Ruffer’s highly respected team behind their flagship Ruffer Investment Company have added bitcoin to their portfolio. This, from an outfit that is notoriously informed about alternatives and hedging strategies.
Here’s the Numis note:
“Ruffer IC has added exposure to bitcoin (2.5% of portfolio) through its holding in the Ruffer Multi-Strategies Fund, to diversify the company’s investments in gold and inflation-linked bonds, hedging against monetary and market risks. The managers suggest that this exposure is primarily a defensive move, noting that Bitcoin offers returns that exhibit low correlation to other asset classes and it can act as a “small but potent insurance policy against the continuing devaluation of the world’s major currencies.” The managers also comment that the current macroeconomic environment of “negative interest rates, extreme monetary policy, ballooning public debt and dissatisfaction with governments” provides an ideal backdrop for an asset that “blends the benefits of technology and gold,” and so they believe bitcoin is set to experience increased institutional adoption. The bitcoin is held in a segregated account by the world’s largest custodian of digital assets in safe, offline, cold storage. They are held separately from the holdings of other institutional clients and covered by an industry-leading insurance policy.”
This is sort of a big deal for me. If I had to pick someone in the private wealth space has one of the best reputations I’d pick Ruffer. They are also regarded as supersensible and this affirmation of bitcoin is striking.
Talking of mainstreaming, how about psychedelics? I have become increasingly convinced that this is the big new space in pharma and integrated healthcare, especially when it comes to mental health treatments. From what I little I know, it seems that most of the existing pharmacological treatments are beginning to run their course – I suspect we’ll have to await better neurological understanding of how the brain works before we see any major leaps in innovation. In that scenario any treatments based on relatively tried and tested methodologies seem to have a place – if you want a primer on this stuff I highly recommend the wonderful How to Change Your Mind by excellent Michael Pollen. Read this and you’ll be as convinced as I am.
Amazon link here
Anyway, until recently there was not much you could invest in this space, for very obvious reasons – not least that nearly all research was illegal. But that’s changing and there’s a bunch of still relatively early-stage research programmes working their way through the US and UK system. This space is very different from the fast-growing cannabis space. First off, it is almost exclusively medical based – no one is (to my knowledge) suggesting you buy chocolate bars infused with magic mushrooms although I’m sure there have been a few disastrous homegrown attempts at this in the past. The focus is exclusively on developing treatments that help people. Crucially most projects are combinational, involving some use of a compound ALONGSIDE some expert therapy, usually with a trained guide. That sounds like a robust healthcare solution to me.
Two early indicators of what’s coming down the track. First, a new ketamine nasal spray by Johnson & Johnson was approved for use in the US and Europe last year to treat adults suffering with treatment-resistant depression. According to Dr David Nutt at Imperial College London, this breakthrough marked the first major advance in the treatment of depression since the late 1980s. Also in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently designated psilocybin therapy — a hallucinogenic substance found in magic mushrooms – as a “breakthrough therapy” in treating major depressive disorder (MDD).
Anyway, as interest has grown, we are seeing the first signs of a public market emerging – although in truth most of the interesting businesses are still private. The most obvious play in the public domain is Compass Pathways, a UK business listed in the US. Its traded as low as $22 but is now near highs at $55. It’s a very credible player but I have a sense it’s some way from a product yet. There’s also a bunch of fruity Canadian listed businesses.
There’s also an excellent website tracking this space called PyschedlicInvest.com which I highly recommend. They even have their own index here – https://psychedelicinvest.com/index/
But, as I said, the truth is that this is still early stage stuff and most of the interesting businesses are very private. This is why I picked up on this news announcement earlier this week of a dedicated VC fund here in the UK. The fund is from
“…Neo Kuma Ventures which has already attracted millions of pounds in investment, has no set cap and will continue to draw venture capital through the first half of 2021. It comes as recent rigorous clinical trials have demonstrated psychedelics’ potential to treat unmet needs in mental illnesses including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, addiction and anxiety. Neo Kuma Ventures, a London-based Venture Capital firm, will use the fund to invest in “the most exciting, high quality and scientifically sound players in the industry.” The newly formed firm has an investment thesis focused on clinically proven psychedelic medicines which it believes will hit the market in the next five years. Neo Kuma is investing in the most promising companies from seed to Series C, with prior investments including ATAI Life Sciences, Bright Minds and Beckley Psytech among others, are looking to continue to support market leaders through capital deployment in 2021 and beyond.”
Streaming: the real deal on value for money
I could resist this last factoid. If like me, your family has binged on all the streaming services, you also probably wondering which of the services constitutes good value. Helpfully Currys PC and Philips, have done a survey which highlights the following findings:
- Netflix has the most expensive monthly fee at £8.99, while Shudder costs just £3.99
- With 5,900 titles to choose from on Netflix, this works out at just £0.15 per 100 titles
- Amazon Prime Video has the largest library with over 21,500 titles and costs £7.99 per month, equating to just £0.03 per 100 titles
- Apple TV+ costs just £4.99 a month, but only has 39 titles in its library, equating to £14 per 100 titles
The full data here, has much more. Fr the record I’ve always thought that contra the hype amazon Prime is a great platform which shit loads of content. Also I can attest to the fact that Shudder is a brilliant bargain although you have to be into your horror films – which I am! By contrast I have always thought Apple TV is a NON STARTER. It’s a real surprise because apple takes real care about stuff but
- There’s not much on there
- It is expensive relative to the content
- What is on there is largely rubbish or unwatchable.
If Apple Tv is the face of their brave new push into content, I’d be very worried if I was Mr Cook.