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As the year draws to a close, investors around the world are looking up from their portfolios, closing their trading apps and asking a single question: What the heck? It was a bad time for digital companies (and currencies) and a good one for those offering simple pleasures, from pet toys to fast food to soup. It’s difficult to remember everything. Thank goodness for John Heinzl and Tim Shufelt, here with their annual rundown of the most eye-catching tickers.

Restaurant Brands International (STAR)


It’s a perfect morning. You’ve got your box of Timbiebs and your French Vanilla Biebs Brew. You’re rocking your official Tims Run windbreaker with an insulated pocket for your Tims breakfast sandwich, made with a freshly cracked Canadian egg. And you’ve already preordered lunch and dinner on the Tims mobile app: a Tims Loaded Wrap, followed by a Tims Loaded Bowl. But something isn’t right. You’re spending all of your disposable income at Tim Hortons, but you’re getting nothing in return, except for a few lousy Tims Rewards points. There’s only one solution: You need to invest in Restaurant Brands International. After trading sideways for the past couple of years, shares of the parent of Tim Hortons, Burger King and Popeyes finally served up some tasty returns as pandemic restrictions eased and customers returned to their daily routines. In the third quarter, Restaurant Brands’ global same-store sales jumped 9.1 per cent across the company’s three major chains, driven by higher customer traffic, price increases and double-digit growth in digital orders. This calls for a Candy Cane Iced Capp. -John Heinzl

Dollarama (STAR)


When was the last time you ordered a tube of toothpaste online? What about AA batteries, deodorant or lightbulbs? Exactly, never. Which explains why, even as other bricks-and-mortar retailers are cowering in the face of, Dollarama is making bank. Folks who shop at Dollarama only care about two things: They want stuff cheap, and they want it now. Frequently, they emerge from the store with things they didn’t even know they needed: flameless LED candles; scented gel pens; artificial snow spray that creates that authentic wintry look you can only get from a can. All of these small items add up to some big sales. In its latest quarter ended Oct. 30, Dollarama’s sales leaped 14.9 per cent to $1.29-billion, driven by double-digit growth in same-store sales and the net addition of more than 60 stores in the past year. The retailer also hiked its fiscal 2023 same-store sales forecast to a range of 9.5 per cent to 10.5 per cent. This Christmas, you can tell Dollarama investors by the snowy dollar signs in their windows. -JH

Campbell Soup (STAR)


On a cold winter day, nothing warms your soul like a hot bowl of soup. Feeling sick? Open a can of soup. Lost your job? Soup. Mortgage in default? More soup. Turns out soup is also a great antidote to market volatility. In a year that saw interest rates and inflation spike and tech stocks, real estate and crypto tumble, many consumer staples companies bucked the trend as shoppers continued filling their carts with basics such as breakfast cereals, prepared foods – and soup. Lots and lots of soup. In its latest quarter, Campbell Soup reported that sales and earnings both grew 15 per cent, helped by inflation-driven price increases, productivity improvements and new products. The company also increased its full-year 2023 sales and earnings guidance, citing strong demand and improved supply chains, all of which generated some delicious, soothing gains for investors. That’s what Campbell’s Soup is, mm mm … money. -JH

Lithium (STAR)

One day, fossil fuels will be history and everything will be electric. We’ll all be zipping around in electric vehicles, flying in electric airplanes and watching electric cars race around the track. Not only will this make it easier to converse at NASCAR events, but it might just save the planet from burning and/or drowning everything in sight. But first, we need more lithium. Like, way more lithium. On average, the lithium-ion batteries found in EVs contain about 10 kilograms of the metal – thousands of times more lithium than in the battery of your smartphone. By 2035, demand for lithium is expected to soar about sevenfold. Problem is, lithium isn’t cheap or easy to obtain. First, you have to conduct geological studies. Then you have to obtain mining permits and raise capital. Then you have to pull the stuff out of the ground and process it. All of this takes years, which explains why, as demand for electric vehicles surged, the price of lithium carbonate soared to a record high in November, having more than doubled during the year. The future isn’t plastics, Ben. It’s lithium. -JH

Pet Valu Holdings (STAR)


When the pandemic started, dog breeders and animal shelters noticed a trend: People were adopting more puppies. Now that those pandemic pooches have grown into mature dogs with adult appetites, pet stores are noticing another trend: Sales of dog food are up. Could there possibly be a connection here? Yes, there could, which is why savvy investors have been gobbling up shares of Pet Valu like a hungry Rottweiler inhales Alpo. In the third quarter, Pet Valu’s revenue rocketed 21.9 per cent – exceeding 20 per cent for the third consecutive quarter – thanks to strong same-store sales growth, new store openings and acquisitions. The pet food and supplies retailer also hiked its full-year guidance for the third time this year. Putting a bow on the year, the stock was added to the S&P/TSX Composite Index in December. In addition to the tailwind from the puppy boom, Pet Valu benefited from strong merchandising, attractive store presentation and a location strategy that stresses neighbourhood convenience. No wonder sales are going through the woof. -JH

Allied Properties REIT (DOG)


Remember when offices shut down at the start of the pandemic, and people thought they’d be working from home for a month or two? And then a few months turned into a few years? Well, lots of folks still haven’t returned to the office full time, because – let’s be honest – working from home is the only way to grab a decent nap after watching the World Cup. The downside of the WFH trend is it’s casting a chill over office owners such as Allied Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. Units of the REIT, which specializes in low-rise, urban office space for tech and creative businesses, have been trading at a discount of more than 40 per cent to Allied’s most recent net asset value estimate. This not only signals investors’ skepticism about the portfolio’s true value, but also reflects the impact of higher interest rates. Allied, for its part, doesn’t seem too concerned. The REIT recently hiked its distribution, and it could raise buckets of cash by selling its data-centre properties in Toronto, which it recently put on the block. But for investors worried that working from home is here to stay, the REIT remains a show-me story. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to bed. -JH

Walt Disney (DOG)


To outsiders, Walt Disney seems like a joyful place, with its theme parks, iconic cartoon characters and movies about princesses and superheroes. But for Disney employees and investors, the mood has been a lot more Grumpy than Happy. Much of the ire was directed at Bob Chapek, who took over as chief executive from Bob Iger in February, 2020, just as the pandemic was bearing down on North America. Mr. Chapek’s tough management style and relentless focus on cost-cutting did not win him many friends inside the organization, and his decision to hike prices at Disney theme parks angered customers. Mr. Chapek also sparked a backlash from LGBTQ supporters inside and outside the company by initially failing to denounce legislation in Florida that prohibits teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation in early grades. The final straw was Disney’s dismal earnings report in November, which revealed that its streaming operations, including Disney+, lost nearly US$1.5-billion in its latest quarter – more than double the loss of a year earlier. Less than two weeks later, the board ousted Mr. Chapek and brought back none other than Mr. Iger. When it comes to Disney CEOs, it does seem to be a small world after all. -JH

Bitcoin (DOG)

What if I told you there was an “investment” that is ridiculously volatile, produces no income and is largely unregulated? And what if this highly unstable investment, which was invented by a person, or persons, whose identity remains a mystery, played a central role in multiple frauds, financial collapses, ransomware attacks and other criminal activities? Would you be interested? Well, for years plenty of folks – from small-time punters to major financial institutions – couldn’t cram enough bitcoin, ethereum and other make-believe money into their digital wallets. But the crypto crash of 2022 revealed – surprise! – that it had all been a giant speculative bubble. From the collapse of “stablecoin” terraUSD to the implosion of hedge fund Three Arrows Capital to the bankruptcy of crypto lender Celsius and Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX empire, cryptocurrencies and their blockchain cousins – NFTs – faced a colossal reckoning that wiped out an estimated US$2-trillion of wealth. With bitcoin plunging about 75 per cent from its November, 2021, record high of about US$69,000, even Canada’s most famous bitcoin booster, Pierre Poilievre, suddenly stopped his crypto cheerleading routine. That shawarma he bought with bitcoin last March must have left a really bad aftertaste. -JH

Shopify (DOG)


Isn’t technology wonderful? It puts vast stores of information at our fingertips, allows us to meet virtually with people halfway around the world and prevents us from looking like fools when we try to parallel park. But for all the good technology does, it also has a nasty habit of burning a hole in investors’ wallets. In a year that saw tech stocks get crushed as interest rates and inflation both surged, few companies shredded more shareholder wealth than Shopify. It was, in some ways, an accident waiting to happen: After a massive run-up in its stock price, the e-commerce software darling entered 2022 with a price-to-earnings multiple of about 280, reflecting a delusional optimism normally seen only in Toronto Maple Leafs fans. But as pandemic restrictions eased and consumers returned to in-person shopping, Shopify’s revenue growth slowed. Year-over-year growth fell to 22 per cent by the third quarter of 2022, down from 46 per cent a year earlier and 96 per cent in the third quarter of 2020. For Shopify’s stock, the slowdown triggered a severe case of what analysts call “multiple compression,” and what investors refer to as “losing their shirts.” That’s okay. They can always order a new one online – Shopify could use the business. -JH

Canada Goose Holdings (DOG)


If a goose flaps its wings in China, does it affect the weather in Canada? Maybe. But when people stop buying Canada Goose jackets in China, it definitely affects investors in North America. With China shutting malls and imposing lockdowns and travel restrictions under its recent zero-COVID policy, Canada Goose’s pricey parkas weren’t exactly flying off the shelves this year. Having already cut its fiscal 2022 revenue and earnings guidance in February, the company in November chopped its fiscal 2023 outlook, citing disruptions in China and global economic and political uncertainty. Predictably, Canada Goose’s stock came in for a hard landing. As the year drew to a close, the shares were down about 75 per cent from their 2018 high. “We remain confident in our brand strength and see a long runway ahead to drive profitable growth,” said Dani Reiss, Canada Goose’s chairman and CEO. But this wounded goose will have to start flapping its wings soon if it wants to get off the ground. -JH

Energy Sector (STAR)


As publicly traded entities, Canada’s big oil producers were obliged to report to their shareholders that they made obscene amounts of money this year. But for the love of God, please don’t tell anyone else about it. After spending years upsetting people by putting up very little in the way of profits, the oil patch is now upsetting people by doing the exact opposite. With billions in excess cash driven by a run in energy prices, and no mandate to spend that money on drilling and exploration, the oil patch quietly siphoned most of it back to shareholders. Meanwhile, the gap between fossil fuel’s critics and its supporters widened to canyonesque proportions. Last month, U.S. President Joe Biden said the industry was raking in “war profits” and proposed a windfall tax. That idea has been floated in Canada as well, which Alberta’s former energy minister, Sonya Savage, said would be considered an “extreme act of aggression.” Our only hope is for nuclear fusion to save us from this hopelessly divided debate, by providing a limitless source of emission-free energy. We’re told commercialization is at least a decade away. C’mon science, let’s see a bit of hustle. Put the power of the sun and the stars in our homes ASAP. -Tim Shufelt

Hershey (STAR)


Here’s an idea for a Hershey marketing campaign – The shot opens on a family sitting in a bunker, safe for now from whatever carnage and pestilence have engulfed the world just above them. After a tough day of scavenging, they divide a single chocolate bar between them, each savouring a moment of quiet, simple indulgence. “There for you until the end,” the voiceover says, “which may not be far off.” Too dark? Much like chocolate itself, when it comes to chocolate sales, the darker the better. The pandemic touched off a boom in snack food sales, with chocolate in particular seeing explosive demand in direct proportion to the health crisis. In 2021, Hershey reported that chocolate sales were 40 per cent to 50 per cent higher in areas of the U.S. with the highest rates of COVID-19 infections. Then along came the biggest wave of inflation in half a century, and that seemed to work in Hershey’s favour, as well. “It is an affordable indulgence when consumers can’t afford a lot of other things,” CEO Michele Buck said in an earnings call last month. At this point it might be tempting for the company’s shareholders to dream of a world in which perennial hyperinflation, war and disease have people living on nothing but Hershey’s kisses and peanut butter cups. -TS

U.S. dollar (STAR)

The lost souls of the currency wars of yore must have been rolling in their graves. In their day, war was waged by competitive devaluation – that is, intentionally lowering the value of one’s currency so as to make your own goods cheaper on the global market. This year saw the opposite kind of campaign – countries around the world scrambled to keep pace with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hiking campaign. They wanted to strengthen their currencies so as not to effectively import inflation, since commodities tend to be priced in soaring U.S. dollars. This dynamic was dubbed the “reverse currency war.” Then things reversed again, as central banks started to ease off monetary tightening over fear of crushing their economies, effectively letting their currencies weaken. It was enough to make you wonder whether the libertarians were right – perhaps we should cast the central bankers into the sea and return to the gold standard, where your exchange rate is fixed, and your money supply depends on how much of an arbitrary metal is dug out of the ground. -TS

Loblaw (STAR)


When you need to consider a payment plan to buy a few heads of romaine lettuce, it’s natural to wonder if perhaps you’re being taken advantage of. Millions of Canadians’ jaws dropped this year as they encountered a triple-digit bill at the checkout for a couple of bags of groceries. Critics of the grocery chains questioned whether they were using the inflationary backdrop to pad their profits. To which the companies essentially replied, “Nope,” and left it at that. The profiteering claims stem from the fact that Loblaw’s gross margins increased in each of the past six quarters, and are now sitting at record highs. That’s a definitive sign that companywide prices have outpaced costs, and it’s one reason the stock was in the top 20 per cent of TSX performers this year. Loblaw says that its margin gains have come from the beauty aisles rather than the produce section. Unfortunately, this is impossible to verify, as pharmacy and food profits are not split out in the company’s financial statements. Owning Loblaw shares this year would have gone a long way to easing grocery sticker shock, with the added option to plow dividend payments right into the household food budget. Bam, you’ve got yourself a stock that pays lettuce dividends. -TS

Lockheed Martin (STAR)


After Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, fund managers were faced with the question as to whether defence stocks deserve a place in the realm of sustainable investing. Never mind that tanks and fighter jets tend to have a rather large carbon footprint, or that many defence companies will happily arm both sides of a conflict. Might weapons that help preserve self-determination and national security, especially of an underdog in an unprovoked attack, be considered virtuous? Talk about an all-time great corporate image makeover! These are proving to be boom times for the likes of Lockheed, the world’s largest defence company. The rekindling of old tensions in Europe has many countries revisiting their military budgets. The U.S. and its European allies, as well as Canada, are already spending billions to send weapons to Ukraine, like Lockheed’s Javelin anti-tank missiles. NATO countries are dedicating new resources to protecting their borders. And the renewed nuclear threat emanating from Russia has helped propel defence stocks skyward, not unlike Lockheed’s Trident II D5 long-range submarine-launched nuclear missile system. So naturally, the company’s stock landed in some funds with terms like “ESG” and “social equity” in their names. Big Tobacco and for-profit prisons should be so lucky. -TS

Tesla (DOG)


You know what Ford CEO Jim Farley did not do this year? He did not personally buy an unrelated media company for US$44-billion, only to immediately gut the staff, float the possibility of bankruptcy, fire the board of directors, botch a subscription rollout that brought on a wave of accounts impersonating big brands, remove safeguards against misinformation and hate speech, suspend legitimate journalists and reinstate banned accounts, pick fights with advertisers, urge people to vote Republican, call for the prosecution of U.S. government medical adviser Anthony Fauci – before badly losing a poll on whether he should step down. The fact that Tesla CEO Elon Musk, on the other hand, managed to pack all that into the past two months has left Tesla shareholders wondering who exactly is running that particular company. Last week, Ross Gerber, a longtime investor of Tesla tweeted: “There is nothing wrong at Tesla at all. Other than the CEO working at another company.” Ouch. Tesla’s stock is having its worst year on record, its share price down by 40 per cent just since the Twitter takeover closed in late October. For the record, over that time, Mr. Farley has stayed in his lane, tweeting pictures of classic cars and links to pickup truck reviews. TS

Bausch Health (DOG)


It’s time we get to the bottom of the fabled curse of the Canadian stock market. About once a decade, some rising star ascends to the very top of the TSX, having supplanted Royal Bank of Canada as the country’s largest publicly traded company. This reign is inevitably fleeting, as some sort of calamity soon befalls the new champion. The latest casualty is Shopify Inc., which has seen roughly $200-billion of its market value vanish in a little over a year. The hex started with Nortel Networks Corp., which accounted for more than one-third of the total value of the TSX in 2000, but was delisted and sold for parts before the end of the decade. Then there’s Bausch, which dominated the market under its previous incarnation as Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. before it too flamed out. Seven years later, the company’s reckoning is still happening. It was the single worst performer in the S&P/TSX Composite Index this year, in large part because it lost a patent ruling over one of its key drugs. What’s happening to all these companies? The obvious explanation is that they were felled by some mixture of wanton growth, questionable acquisitions, and valuations in great excess to earnings power. But is it not more likely that RBC is a malevolent puppet master orchestrating the demise of all who dare to challenge it? It’s at least a question for the bank’s next earnings call. -TS

Bonds (DOG)

Since time immemorial, people have looked to bonds to be the silver lining in times of disquietude. Collapsing economy? At least your bond investments should hold up. World seems to be falling apart? Comfort yourself in the bond market’s hearty embrace. Nothing to eat for dinner? Let the steady returns of your bond portfolio nourish you. Then came 2022, which ushered in a trouncing of financial markets that came out of nowhere. Who could have imagined that the stock market wouldn’t gain 30 per cent every year? Or that a non-fungible token of a bored ape might not be worth millions? Very well. Do your thing, bonds. But alas, here is moment when the ancient compact between humanity and fixed income fell apart. As central bankers realized that inflation was not so much transitory as it was rampaging out of control, they applied a campaign of rate hikes that, up until this year, would have qualified as maniacal. This crushed bond prices on a scale that may have no precedent. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index was down as much as 16 per cent in October. In data going back a century, the next worst showing was an 8-per-cent decline in 1969, according to Vanguard Group data. So I hope you’re happy, 2022. You broke the bond market. -TS

Lumber (DOG)

You know you’ve officially arrived as an asset when they’re making memes about you. Last year, the lumber market went haywire, as explosive demand converged with supply constraints, and prices quadrupled to a record high. The internet masses, already intoxicated by the success of questionable companies with poor prospects, aka meme stocks, took notice. “I saw a billionaire today,” read one lumber meme with a photo of a truck laden with two-by-fours. Another had an image of a tiny plastic bag filled with sawdust, advertising grams of freshly shaved pine for $10. You get the idea. But lumber mania was short-lived. The sharp rise in interest rates this year has put the squeeze on the housing market, raising the cost of mortgages and cutting into demand for new homes. U.S. homebuilder sentiment, which drives the bulk of demand for lumber in North America, has declined for 12 consecutive months. Lumber has the dubious distinction of being the year’s worst performing commodity. It’s not worthless, but it’s certainly no longer meme-worthy. -TS

MOEX Russia Index (DOG)

Back in March, a Russian equities analyst appeared on local Moscow television and gave a toast to the stock market on the occasion of its apparent death. “Dear stock market, you were close to us, you were interesting, rest in peace dear comrade,” he said. This was clearly the influence of the Russia-haters in Western media. The fine journalists at Russian state television tell the real story. In the early days of the very correct and well-balanced Russian military operation to liberate the people of Ukraine, the stock market was shut down for a well-needed rest. After regaining its strength, the Moscow Exchange was triumphantly reopened by Vladimir Putin himself, who spent the morning ringing the opening bell with judo strikes. As Russian missiles were being welcomed by cheering masses across Ukraine, Russia’s stock market cleverly declined by 44 per cent, fooling the world into thinking it is weak. CNN will tell you this is a result of sanctions crippling our economy, of the collapse of the ruble, of local investors losing confidence, of financial isolation, of revelations of war crimes, of an unpopular military conscription, or of a fierce Ukrainian resistance. But do not listen to them. They are cannibals. Or maybe Nazis. -TS