2016 Investment Review and Expectations for 2017

Fri, February 17, 2017 - 10:15:00 am
Mark Meulenberg, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of VNB Wealth, reviews 2016 and offers some insight for 2017.

Value Investor Insight - Interview With Mark Meulenberg

Thu, September 29, 2016 - 9:17:00 am
Some investors have a penchant for high-quality compounders and some for somewhat-hairy special situations. Mark Meulenberg has an affinity for both.

2015 Year in Review and a look forward to 2016

Thu, January 21, 2016 - 4:41:00 pm
Mark Meulenberg, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of VNB Wealth, reviews 2015 and offers some insight for 2016.

From the Desk of Mark Meulenberg, CFA, Chief Investment Officer

Fri, January 15, 2016 - 4:40:00 pm
Mark Meulenberg, CFA, Chief Investment Officer of VNB Wealth, shares some perspective and insight on the recent market volatility.

VNB Wealth Management highlighted in Value Investor Insight

Fri, October 16, 2015 - 3:42:00 pm
Value Investor Insight’s most recent edition highlights the investment opportunity in Discovery Communications (ticker: DISCK) as discussed with Mark Meulenberg, Chief Investment Officer for VNB Wealth Management.

U.S. Stock Index Futures Slide as Virus Spread Saps Risk Demand

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 7:17:00 pm

U.S. Stock Index Futures Slide as Virus Spread Saps Risk Demand(Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock index futures slid in early Asian trading Monday as investors reacted to the spread of the deadly coronavirus over the weekend.S&P 500 Index futures contracts expiring in March fell as much as 1.3% as of 9:11 a.m. in Tokyo, after China extended the Lunar New Year holiday for an unspecified period of time to help stem the spread of the coronavirus that has killed at least 56 people. Dow Jones Industrial Average contracts for March were down 0.9% while those on the Nasdaq 100 retreated 1.3%.President Xi Jinping on Saturday ordered a faster response, sending teams into hard-hit areas to push local officials to strengthen prevention and containment.“Although stock markets remained reasonably calm last week, we believe the full impact on sentiment from fears of the coronavirus has clearly yet to be felt,” Amir Anvarzadeh, senior strategist at Asymmetric Advisors in Singapore, wrote in a note. “Given that millions have already traveled across China and indeed to many other countries for the Chinese New Year, the full impact of the contagion will not be known until around mid-February at the earliest.”A swathe of Asian markets are shut for holidays Monday including China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia. On Friday, U.S. shares posted their biggest drop since October amid reports of new infections around the globe.“Risk profiles need to be adjusted as the Wuhan frenzy factor kicks in, and risk markets enter the fear zone, a highly pandemic place in its own right,” Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader, wrote in a note. “Even more so after President Xi calls the rapid spread of the virus a grave situation.”To contact the reporter on this story: Naoto Hosoda in Tokyo at nhosoda@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lianting Tu at, Kurt SchusslerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Stocks Tumble With Oil; Yen Climbs With Treasuries: Markets Wrap

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 9:04:03 pm

Stocks Tumble With Oil; Yen Climbs With Treasuries: Markets Wrap(Bloomberg) -- Stocks and crude oil tumbled, and havens including the yen and Treasuries jumped, as fears deepened about the rising impact of the deadly coronavirus.With no sign of the disease’s containment, traders rushed out of risk assets. Contracts on the S&P 500 Index fell more than 1% before paring losses and Japan’s Topix slid. Futures on Chinese shares fell more than 5% as the country extended its Lunar New Year holiday. Oil dropped over 2% in New York, while 10-year Treasury yields sank to the lowest since October. The moves come on a day with limited trading options in Asia, as markets are shut in locations including China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Australia, due to holidays.China announced an unspecified extension to the weeklong lunar new year holiday, amplifying the economic impact. Beijing also suspended the sales of package tours, hitting firms around the world that rely on Chinese travelers’ spending. The death toll from the virus has risen to at least 80, and confirmed cases in the U.S. rose to five on Sunday.“I’m starting to think cash is the right place to be for the next few weeks,” Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at Axitrader, wrote in a note Monday. “Any economic shock to China’s colossal industrial and consumption engines will spread rapidly to other countries through the increased trade and financial linkages associated with globalization.”The virus news is coinciding with an earnings season in full swing. Apple, Facebook and Samsung are among those due to report this week. Investors will also have a Federal Reserve policy meeting and Mark Carney’s last monetary policy decision as the Bank of England‘s governor to monitor.Here are some events to watch out for this week:Tech giants Apple, Facebook, SAP, Samsung and South Korean chip maker SK Hynix announce earnings, as do industrial and energy behemoths International Paper, Boeing, Caterpillar, Lockheed Martin, GE, Unilever, United Technologies, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Chevron.The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump continues in Washington Monday.Fed policy makers are expected to open 2020 the same way they closed 2019: by holding interest rates steady Wednesday.The BOE meeting is highly anticipated Thursday after a series of dovish comments raised speculation it could lower interest rates.The U.S. reports fourth-quarter economic growth Thursday.The U.K. is scheduled to leave the European Union Friday.These are the main moves in markets:StocksS&P 500 futures fell 0.9% as of 11:02 a.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 Index fell 0.9% Friday.Japan’s Topix sank 1.3%.FTSE China A50 futures slid 5%.CurrenciesThe Japanese yen rose 0.3% to 108.96 per dollar.The offshore yuan fell 0.5% to 6.9634 per dollar.The euro was little changed at $1.1034.BondsThe yield on 10-year Treasuries fell five basis points to 1.64%, on top of a five basis-point drop Friday.Japan’s 10-year yields fell about two basis points, to about -0.045%.CommoditiesWest Texas Intermediate crude declined 2.1% to $53.04 a barrel.Gold rose 0.6% to $1,581 an ounce.To contact the reporter on this story: Cormac Mullen in Tokyo at cmullen9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Anstey at canstey@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Fired salesman disrupts car-buying industry with word-of-mouth 'concierge' business

Sat, January 25, 2020 - 7:00:08 am

Fired salesman disrupts car-buying industry with word-of-mouth 'concierge' businessA car salesman lost his job with no warning. After calling his wife in tears, he launched a car concierge company that's thriving one year later.

3 Monster Growth Stocks That Are Ready for the Next Leg Higher

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 8:30:15 am

3 Monster Growth Stocks That Are Ready for the Next Leg HigherAt the end of the day, investors want to see returns. To accomplish this goal, seasoned Wall Street observers often turn to one strategy time and time again: growth investing. A solid growth play is a name that appears poised to not only grow at an above-average rate but also reward investors handsomely over the long run.Rolling up their sleeves, investors are pounding the Wall Street pavement in search of the tickers with impressive long-term growth prospects. However, having a target in mind is one thing, but zeroing in on these stocks primed for stellar gains in the coming years is another story entirely. This task also isn’t made any easier by the fact that 2019 saw the S&P 500 post its largest yearly gain since 2013, closing the year up 29% and starting out 2020 with an increase of 2%.Luckily, TipRanks, a company that tracks and measures the performance of analysts, can lend investors a hand. After using the platform’s Stock Screener tool during our own search, we were able to unmask 3 Buy-rated stocks flagged by the analysts for their strong long-term growth narratives. On top of this, each boasts substantial upside potential from the current share price.Here’s the full scoop.Global Blood Therapeutics Inc. (GBT)Global Blood Therapeutics is focused on developing treatments for underserved patient communities. With one therapy for sickle cell disease, a group of disorders that impacts hemoglobin in blood cells, already approved and another candidate for the disease in development, some analysts believe that its 94% gain in 2019 is just the beginning.Back in November, the company got some good news when the FDA granted its lead candidate, Oxbryta, accelerated approval for use in adults and children 12 years and older with sickle cell disease based on the results of the pivotal Phase 3 HOPE study. In the study, the drug was able to produce a rapid, potent and durable improvement in hemoglobin. With the ruling coming three months before the original PDUFA date, it’s no wonder Wall Street pros are excited. To top it all off, the label for Oxbryta is clean and broad, and the therapy can be administered alone or in combination with hydroxyurea.H.C. Wainwright’s Debjit Chattopadhyay does remind investors that the company is still required to continue the HOPE-KIDS 2 study to demonstrate decreased risk of stroke in children 2 to 15 years old. That being said, the four-star analyst expects the results to be similar to the HOPE Phase 3 program findings. “Additionally, because the HOPE-KIDS 2 study is enrolling patients as young as 2 years of age, data could be leveraged for label expansion to treat patients under 12,” Chattopadhyay commented.As the analyst sees the drug’s U.S. sales reaching $1.2 billion in 2024, it makes sense that he reiterated both a Buy rating and $150 price target. Should the target be met, shares could be in for a 105% twelve-month gain. (To watch Chattopadhyay’s track record, click here)Like Chattopadhyay, Wedbush analyst Liana Moussatos takes a bullish approach. With no price increases expected for three years and little to no competition anticipated from Novartis’ recently released ADAKVEO antibody treatment for sickle cell disease, the analyst thinks the market opportunity is large. Bearing this in mind, she bumped up the price target from $120 to $143 in addition to maintaining her bullish call. (To watch Moussatos’ track record, click here)In terms of the rest of the Street, a majority of analysts also see GBT as a Buy, 13 out of 16 to be exact. As a result, the consensus rating is a Strong Buy. Given the $102.20 average price target, the upside potential lands at 40%. (See Global Blood Therapeutics stock analysis on TipRanks) Zynga Inc. (ZNGA)Zynga is best known for being the force behind wildly popular games such as “Words With Friends”, “Empires & Puzzles” and “Merge Dragon”. After posting an impressive 70% climb in 2019, does the video game developer still have more fuel left in the tank?According to SunTrust Robinson’s Matthew Thornton, the answer is yes. In his initiation note, the analyst points out that the already large gaming market, which was worth about $83 billion in 2019, is still expanding, with a 5-year 2018-2023 CAGR of 9.9%. He tells investors the companies that can prosper in this competitive and fragmented environment will be those with platform-exposure to the market, publishers with unique franchises or IP, network scale and ability to fund and execute robust live services, pipeline development and M&A. Based on this, Thornton has high hopes for ZNGA.“ZNGA provides pure-play exposure to the large and fast growing global mobile gaming market with a growing (31% pro forma in 3Q19, driven by Merge Dragons and Empires & Puzzles) and diversified existing game portfolio and highly experienced management team and Board. In addition to a healthy existing portfolio, ZNGA has a strong pipeline (at least 7 games, including FarmVille, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and others) as well as a strong balance sheet and acquisition track record to augment organic growth with M&A in what is a highly fragmented market,” he wrote.Taking all of this into consideration, the four-star analyst puts the 2-year 2019-2021 revenue and EBITDA CAGR at 13% and 18%, respectively. Not to mention the company is also expected to surpass consensus estimates over the next few years.In line with his bullish thesis, Thornton started his ZNGA coverage with a Buy recommendation. In addition, he set a $7.50 price target, indicating that shares could surge 23% in the next twelve months. (To watch Thornton’s track record, click here)Looking at the consensus breakdown, 6 Buys, 1 Hold and 1 Sell published in the last three months add up to a Moderate Buy. With a $7.50 average price target, the upside potential matches Thornton’s forecast. (See Zynga stock analysis on TipRanks) FTI Consulting, Inc. (FCN)Operating as a global business advisory firm, FTI Consulting offers its clients transactional, operational, financial, legal and reputational services. In 2019, the company saw shares climb 66% higher, and one analyst is betting that this run can continue in 2020.SunTrust Robinson’s Tobey Sommer argues that for the first time in its history, FTI has created a sustainable organic growth firm that constantly adds new employees so that it can offer “adjacent services”. Among these new services are business transformation, public affairs, cyber and global construction disputes. “We believe that FCN should be able to hire a steady stream of experienced talent from Big 4 accounting firms in Europe who are worried that emerging regulatory scrutiny will conflict them out of work from key relationships,” he noted.Additionally, Sommer cites several key upcoming catalysts as putting FCN on an upward trajectory. He thinks that fourth quarter revenue and EBITDA should beat the Street’s estimates, with the midpoint for initial 2020 guidance falling in line with expectations.He added, “From the initial guidance, we expect material upside results throughout the year propelled by headcount growth (year-over-year consultant headcount rose 17% in 3Q19), pricing could increase above trend and regulatory investigations into global tech firms could drive antitrust work.”It’s no surprise, then, that the five-star analyst stayed with the bulls, leaving the Buy rating unchanged. If that wasn’t enough, he gave the price target a boost, increasing the figure from $130 to $155. This bolstered target conveys his confidence in FCN’s ability to jump 31% in the twelve months ahead. (To watch Sommer’s track record, click here)When it comes to other analyst activity, it has been relatively quiet on Wall Street. As Sommer is the only analyst that has reviewed FCN recently, the word on the Street is that the stock is a Moderate Buy. The average price target and upside potential are also the same as the SunTrust Robinson analyst’s. (See FTI Consulting stock analysis on TipRanks)

Oil Tumbles on Virus Fear While Saudis See ‘Very Limited’ Impact

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 9:41:43 pm

Oil Tumbles on Virus Fear While Saudis See ‘Very Limited’ Impact(Bloomberg) -- Oil tumbled on fears China’s deadly coronavirus will crimp demand, prompting Saudi Arabia to say it was closely monitoring the situation.Futures in London and New York plunged more than 3% as the death toll and the number of infections rose, while officials extended the Lunar New Year holiday to help stem the spread of the outbreak. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicted that global oil demand may take a hit, but Saudi Arabia said it believes the crisis so far will have a “very limited impact” on consumption.The virus is the latest upheaval for the oil market, which has been hit with turmoil in OPEC producers from the Middle East and North Africa. The market is also dealing with plentiful global crude supply, even as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies trim output to prop up prices. Investors are selling crude amid a broad withdrawal from riskier assets and fears the virus will curtail fuel consumption as travel is restricted.“This could be one of the most significant demand destruction events in history,” Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group Inc., said by email. “The impact has to be in the hundreds of thousands of barrels of demand loss and counting. Fears of a fast spread will kill oil demand.”Brent futures lost as much as $2.01, or 3.3%, to $58.68 on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange and traded at $59.31 as of 10:41 a.m. Singapore time. The contract slid 6.4% last week, capping the longest run of weekly losses since June. West Texas Intermediate fell as much as $2.04, or 3.8%, to $52.15.The sell-off could gather pace as Brent approaches levels at which some U.S. shale companies have hedged their oil prices for 2020. For example, Occidental Petroleum Corp. has hedged this year in a complex deal at a price equivalent to $55 a barrel. As prices approach that level, the Wall Street banks which sold Occidental the insurance may be forced to sell to offset their exposure.See also: Viral China: Behind the Global Race to Contain a Killer BugSaudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said the world’s largest oil exporter was closely monitoring the situation both for its impact on the Chinese economy and the oil market fundamentals. Yet, he said that the same “extreme pessimism” that’s afflicting the market also occurred in 2003 during SARS, “though it did not cause a significant reduction in oil demand”.“The current impact on global markets, including oil and other commodities, is primarily driven by psychological factors and extremely negative expectations adopted by some market participants despite its very limited impact on global oil demand,” the prince said in a statement.Global oil demand may slip by 260,000 barrels a day this year and could shave almost $3 from the price of a barrel of crude, Goldman Sachs said last week, using the 2003 SARS epidemic as a guide.See also: Iraq Al Ahdab Oil Field Resumes Production After Protests EndChina extended the Lunar New Year holiday until Feb. 2 from Jan. 30. There are more than 2,700 confirmed cases of infection in China so far and Canada confirmed its first case while the U.S. announced a fifth, as the virus spreads to at least 15 countries and territories.“The ultimate worst case scenario is getting priced into oil,” said Stephen Innes, chief market strategist at AxiCorp. “The move is exaggerated because there is lot of oil in the market at the moment. Fear is driving markets.”\--With assistance from Javier Blas.To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Clark in Tokyo at;Saket Sundria in Singapore at ssundria@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Serene Cheong at, Ben Sharples, Ramsey Al-RikabiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

No Survivors in Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant, Eight Others

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 6:59:20 pm

No Survivors in Helicopter Crash That Killed Kobe Bryant, Eight OthersKobe Bryant, the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar, died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, NBA officials confirmed to league employees. He was 41 years old. Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was also killed in the crash. Photo: Getty Images

Global Markets: Shares, oil slide as China virus fears intensify; yen, Treasuries in demand

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 9:16:29 pm

Global Markets: Shares, oil slide as China virus fears intensify; yen, Treasuries in demandStocks tumbled on Monday as investors grew increasingly anxious about the economic impact of China's spreading virus outbreak, with demand spiking for safe-haven assets such as the Japanese yen and Treasury notes. Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> suffered a steep 1.8% loss, on track for the biggest one-day fall in three weeks. U.S. S&P 500 mini futures was last down 0.9%, having fallen 1.3% in early Asian trade.

Oil Was Sick Even Before Coronavirus Hit

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 7:00:36 am

Oil Was Sick Even Before Coronavirus Hit(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Oil succumbed to the coronavirus this week because its immune system was compromised already. Amid headlines about quarantined Chinese cities and dozens of potential cases showing up in the U.S., Brent crude closed on Friday at $60 and change, its lowest since Halloween. This is all the more remarkable when you consider January has seen  several geopolitical shocks stretching from Libya to Iraq.Like the outbreak itself, oil’s problems began in December with a fever of its own. Relief at a sudden truce in the U.S.-China trade war sparked a rally taking oil from about $62 a barrel close to $70 by the end of that month. Speculators, in retreat for much of 2019, suddenly piled in again. Hedge funds’ net length in the major crude and product contracts surged from less than 600 million barrels-equivalent to almost 900 million between early December and early January. On a rolling four-week basis, December saw the sharpest increase in long positions in my entire data series going back to the start of 2011 (and net length increased at its fastest rate in more than two years).You’ll notice the fever began to break a little earlier this month. Friday’s report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed net length dropped by 63 million barrels-equivalent, or 7%, in the two weeks after January 7.But the way the fever subsided revealed continuing vulnerability. After all, prices dropped even as the killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani threatened to unleash chaos in one of the world’s biggest oil-producing countries, Iraq, and Libya’s tensions flared up again, blocking its oil exports. And this comes mere months after the collective shrugging-off of September’s attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil-processing facility. Besides fever, listlessness is also the hallmark of a sick patient.So why has the oil market reacted strongly in response to coronavirus reports but not in the other direction when rockets are exploding in the Middle East?There is likely a technical factor at play. Energy economist Phil Verleger points out oil producers such as Occidental Petroleum Corp. took advantage of the speculative rally to hedge their 2020 output. You can see this in the roughly 140 million barrel-equivalent expansion of swap dealers’ net short position in Nymex light sweet crude between early December and early January, a proxy for hedging activity by producers. As oil prices decline, particularly toward such key levels as $60 in Brent and $55 in WTI, so the banks that wrote the puts sell futures to manage their own exposure — a self-reinforcing spiral similar to what appeared to happen in the oil rout that closed out 2018.Underlying this is the basic problem that has dogged the oil market for five years: excess supply and inventories relative to demand. The continuing OPEC+ cuts that got everyone excited back in 2016 are the surest sign of this chronic condition; but there are others, such as unusually subdued U.S. gasoline demand.No one can accurately quantify what impact the coronavirus outbreak will have on oil prices. Novel diseases can ultimately amount to little or spark pandemics, with much in between. And the impact on oil demand, at least in the near term, has more to do with perceptions of infectiousness and what that does to travel and regular interaction rather than fatalities per se.Oil traders are as much in the dark on the ultimate course of this as anyone. Meanwhile, on the supply side, they know there is spare capacity, a demonstrated Saudi pledge to maintain supply even if bombed and a U.S. fracking industry that is bowed but, if goaded enough price-wise, tends to produce more rather than less. In other words, the ceiling is in sharper focus than the floor right now. To contact the authors of this story: Liam Denning at ldenning1@bloomberg.netMark Gongloff at mgongloff1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Liam Denning is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy, mining and commodities. He previously was editor of the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column and wrote for the Financial Times' Lex column. He was also an investment banker.Mark Gongloff is an editor with Bloomberg Opinion. He previously was a managing editor of, ran the Huffington Post's business and technology coverage, and was a columnist, reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Intel Corporation Just Beat EPS By 7.8%: Here's What Analysts Think Will Happen Next

Sun, January 26, 2020 - 9:45:20 am

Intel Corporation Just Beat EPS By 7.8%: Here's What Analysts Think Will Happen NextIt's been a pretty great week for Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) shareholders, with its shares surging 15% to...

Scientists Are Already Working on Cures for Coronavirus

Sat, January 25, 2020 - 8:00:38 am

Scientists Are Already Working on Cures for Coronavirus(Bloomberg Opinion) -- We aren’t completely unprepared for the Wuhan coronavirus now spreading around the world. Just ask the people who work in Tyvek suits and respirators, such as epidemiologist Timothy Sheahan of the University of North Carolina.He has been studying coronaviruses since 2003, shortly after a similar virus triggered the SARS outbreak, which also started in China and spread to North America. In the end, it killed fewer than 800 people but raised legitimate fears about a global pandemic.Now there’s a drug called remdesivir which Sheahan and his colleagues at UNC, in collaboration with Gilead Sciences, have been testing in a level 3 containment facility for its ability to fight a whole range of coronaviruses — so named for their spiky shape, which resembles a crown.Sheahan said their drug targets an enzyme that different kinds of coronaviruses need to replicate themselves. They’ve tested the drug in mice infected with the SARS virus, as well as MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome — another coronavirus that has killed 851 people since it broke out in 2012. They published the MERS results this month in Nature Communications.Clinical trials in these cases usually test drugs’ effectiveness as compared with other therapies, rather than against a placebo. Such comparative testing is still being done with Ebola — which is currently infecting people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though Ebola is not a coronavirus, it is, like SARS and the new infection, a so-called RNA virus, and so doctors tested remdesivir against other Ebola therapies. It didn’t perform as well as a different kind of therapy, but it did prove reasonably safe.Sheahan says his work is part of a program on emerging infectious diseases, funded by the National Institutes of Health. How did the NIH have the foresight to fund research on coronavirus cures, when there hasn’t been a case of SARS since 2004 and there’s little fear that MERS will spread in the United States?Experts say they knew it was likely that another dangerous coronavirus would emerge in China. That’s because SARS — which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome — was eventually found to come from wild bats, and bats carry a whole cauldron of different strains of SARS-like coronaviruses. Bats are considered a “reservoir” for coronaviruses because they can carry them without getting sick.The story of SARS is well-told in David Quammen’s book “Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.” A determined group of investigators swabbing thousands of animals eventually found that people in China got the disease from eating small mammals called civets. The civets were likely infected by bats in a so-called wet market, where a vast array of wild and domestic species are stored in stacked up cages and exposed to one another’s wastes and germs before being butchered. The Chinese killed thousands of civets in an attempt to eradicate the virus, before they realized it was going to remain indefinitely in the bodies of wild bats — which some people there still consider a delicacy. The new disease appears to have emerged from a seafood market that also sold live mammals and birds, though the original animal host has yet to be identified.SARS was, ultimately, the story of a bullet dodged. According to Quammen’s account, the factor that worked in humanity’s favor was the pattern of contagion. While influenza tends to spread most readily when people first get sick, before the peak of their symptoms, SARS becomes most transmissible during or after symptoms hit their peak. It’s a lot easier to quarantine people who are or have been sick than those who have yet to notice symptoms.If the scientists working in level 3 containment facilities to develop cures can be thought of as the “special ops” part of the effort to protect the public, there’s also important work being done by the infantry: making sure hospitals worldwide are using the best standards for sanitation and protection of healthcare workers. All hospitals should be equipped to diagnose the disease, says virologist David Sanders of Purdue University, and regional centers should be set up as needed to treat patients.One chilling aspect of the SARS epidemic was the speed with which health care workers got sick and died. It happened in Asia, and then in Toronto, where the disease first appeared in North America. Investigations of the Toronto hospitals showed lapses, in some cases simply because health care workers had no idea what they were dealing with. SARS wasn’t a global pandemic, but it was still a tragic story as dozens of doctors and nurses, many of them young, were struck down in the line of duty.Experts say this Wuhan virus is unlikely to turn into a global pandemic — and whether it becomes as tragic as SARS depends on cutting-edge science and simple sanitation. The fact that our world is full of potentially deadly viruses is scary, but we are not helpless in the face of them.To contact the author of this story: Faye Flam at fflam1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Green Carmichael at sgreencarmic@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Faye Flam is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. She has written for the Economist, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Psychology Today, Science and other publications. She has a degree in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology.For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.