Pictures of the world welcoming 2022, as omicron weighs on celebrations

From Sydney to Shanghai and New York to Paris, the world ushered in the year 2022 with New Year celebrations, which were largely overshadowed by pandemic concerns – even if uncertainty threatens and the omicron variant continues to drive infections worldwide.

Australia and New Zealand were among the first to usher in the New Year, followed by countries in Asia, Europe and North America.

Under the cloud of Covid-19, the world is ringing in New Year’s Day.

Sydney, Australia

Fireworks are seen over Sydney Harbor during the New Year celebrations on January 1, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. New Years Eve celebrations continue to be a little different as some Covid-19 restrictions remain in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Wendell Teodoro | Getty Images

As Australia welcomed 2022, spectacular fireworks exploded over the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Queues had formed at many lookout points since the early morning of December 31, according to Reuters. Local media reported that the country’s most populous state, New South Wales, recorded 22,577 new Covid cases and four deaths as the number of ICU patients increased.

Auckland, New Zealand

The Waka Hourua sails under a light show from the Skytower and Harbor Bridge during Auckland New Year’s Eve celebrations on January 1, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. The light show, called “Auckland Is Calling”, is replacing normal fireworks due to government Covid-19 restrictions.

Dave Rowland | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images for Auckland Unlimited

In New Zealand, Restrictions on public gatherings in Auckland have been relaxed on December 30 at 11:59 p.m. local time before the New Year. The traditional fireworks display was canceled for fear of a gathering of night owls. Instead, there was a light show over the Auckland Harbor Bridge, the Sky Tower and the Auckland War Memorial Museum from 9 p.m. to midnight local time.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, Covid-19 infections exceed 287 million worldwide and the number of deaths is 5.4 million worldwide. Just two days earlier that World Health Organization warns of “tsunami of cases” how Omicron and Delta circulate at the same time.

New York, USA

Revelers celebrate New Year’s Eve in Times Square on December 31, 2021 in New York City. Despite an increase in Covid-19 cases, New Year’s Eve went as planned, but only 15,000 vaccinated participants were admitted, who also had to be masked at all times.

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

There were celebrations in New York City on New Year’s Eve, even though they were scaled down and the vaccinated crowd had to obey the rules of social distancing and wear masks. On-site viewers of around 15,000 people were allowed to gather in Times Square to witness the annual ball fall and to welcome the year 2022.

Prepare for the New Year’s Eve ball by installing panels of new Waterford crystals called the Gift of Wisdom in One Times Square. Side by side panels with 2021 crystals on the left (not yet replaced) and new 2022 crystals on the right.

Lev Radin | Pacific Press | LightRocket via Getty Images

Covid cases in the city and across the country may have hit record highs, but former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did said NBC on the Thursday before he left office: “We want to show that we are making progress, and we want to show the world that New York City is fighting its way through here.”

Eric Adams was sworn in how New York’s new mayor in a ceremony in Times Square minutes after midnight on Saturday, after the annual New Year’s ball drop, as the city ushers in the New Year.

Shanghai, China

People hold balloons to form the number “2022” during Xintiandi shopping on New Year’s Eve on December 31, 2021 in Shanghai, China as the world prepares for the New Year greeting.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

From Nanjing to Wuhan, Chinese cities canceled New Year’s Eve celebrations to curb the spread of infection. according to the South China Morning Post.

China continues to fight Covid-19 with its “zero tolerance” policy, ending 2021 with the highest weekly Covid cases since taming the original epidemic about two years ago. according to Reuters.

The total number of local symptomatic cases in the mainland last week reached 1,151 after 175 new infections were reported in the community with clinical symptoms as of December 31, the news agency said, citing statistics from the National Health Commission.

Pyongyang, North Korea

People gather to watch fireworks display on January 1, 2022 to celebrate the New Year in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang.

Kim Wonjin | AFP | Getty Images

Paris, France

A couple kiss on the Champs-Elysees in Paris early January 1, 2022 as the crowds gather to ring in the new year.

Martin office | AFP | Getty Images

Madrid, Spain

Fireworks light up the sky as part of the New Year celebrations at Puerta del Sol in Madrid, Spain on December 31, 2021.

Juan Carlos Rojas Rodriguez | Agency Anadolu | Getty Images

Krakow, Poland

People celebrate New Year on January 1, 2022 at Krakus Mound in Krakow, Poland.

Beata Zawrzel | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Starstream Leisure Coordinating Huge Consumer Advertising Campaigns In Addition To Welcoming Shareholders To Firm’s Annual Shareholder Assembly in Daytona Seashore Throughout Bike Week March Fifth-14th 2021

TipRanks

3 ‘Strong Buy’ stocks with an 8% dividend yield

Let’s talk about portfolio defense. After manipulating the Social Flash Mob Market for the past week, this topic should not be ignored. That doesn’t mean the markets will collapse. After falling 2% at the close of last week’s Friday session, this week’s trading started on a positive tone as the S&P 500 rose 1.5% and the Nasdaq rose 2.5%. The underlying bullish factors – a more stable political scene that steadily drives COVID vaccination programs – still play a role, even if not quite as strong as investors had hoped. While heightened volatility might linger with us for a while, it’s time to consider defensive stocks. And that will bring us to dividends. By providing a steady stream of income regardless of market conditions, a reliable dividend stock provides a pad for your investment portfolio when the stock ceases to appreciate. With that in mind, we used the TipRanks database to get three dividend stocks that yield 8%. However, that’s not all they offer. Each of these stocks received enough street praise to earn a consensus rating of “Strong Buy”. New Residential Investment (NRZ) First we examine the REIT sector, Real Estate Investment Trusts. These companies have long been known for dividends that are both high-yielding and reliable. Due to the company’s tax compliance, REITs are required to return a certain percentage of profits directly to shareholders. NRZ, a medium-sized company with a market capitalization of $ 3.9 billion, has a diverse portfolio of residential mortgages, original loans and mortgage loan service rights. The company is based in New York City. NRZ has a $ 20 billion investment portfolio that has generated dividends of $ 3.4 billion since its inception. The portfolio has proven resilient in the face of the corona crisis, and after a difficult first quarter last year, NRZ posted rising gains in the second and third quarters. The most recently reported third quarter showed GAAP earnings of $ 77 million, or 19 cents per share. This EPS was lower than in the previous year, but a strong trend reversal compared to the 21-cent loss reported in the previous quarter. The rising income has enabled NRZ to raise the dividend. The Q3 payment was 15 cents per common share; The dividend for the fourth quarter was increased to 20 cents per common share. At this rate, the dividend annualizes to 80 cents, making an impressive 8.5%. In a further move to return profits to investors, the company announced in November that it had approved $ 100 million in share buybacks. BTIG analyst Eric Hagen is impressed with New Residential – especially the company’s solid balance sheet and liquidity. “[We] like the ability to potentially build capital through retained earnings while maintaining a competitive payout. We believe the dividend increase will underscore the company’s liquidity position. We believe NRZ has been able to release capital because it has raised approximately $ 1 billion in securitized debt for its MSR portfolio through two separate transactions since September, ”said Hagen. In line with his comments, Hagen rates NRZ with a buy and its target price of $ 11 implies an upward movement of 17% for the coming year. (To see Hagen’s track record, click here.) It’s not often that all analysts agree on a stock. When this happens, take note of it. NRZ’s consensus rating for strong buy is based on unanimous 7 purchases. The stock’s average target price of $ 11.25 indicates an upward movement of ~ 20% from the current stock price of $ 9.44. (See NRZ stock analysis on TipRanks) Saratoga Investment Corporation (SAR) With the next stock we switch to the investment management area. Saratoga specializes in mid-market debt, capital appreciation and equity, with over $ 546 million in assets under management. Saratoga’s portfolio is broad, including industry, software, waste disposal and home security. Saratoga has seen a slow but steady recovery from the corona crisis. The company’s sales declined in the first quarter of 20 and have grown slowly since then. The third quarter fiscal year report released in early January contained $ 14.3 million. Adjusted for pre-tax taxes, Saratoga’s net investment income of 50 cents per share exceeded the 47-cents forecast by 6%. They say the race is slowly and steadily winning, and Saratoga has shown investors a generally stable hand over the past year. The stock has rallied 163% from its low after the corona last March. And the dividend, which the company cut in the second quarter, has increased twice since then. The current dividend of 42 cents per common share was declared for payment on February 10 last month. The annualized payment of $ 1.68 gives a return of 8.1%. The analyst Mickey Schleien from Ladenburg Thalmann is optimistic about Saratoga and writes: “We believe that the SAR portfolio is relatively defensive and focuses on software, IT services, education services and the CLO. SAR’s CLO remains up-to-date and the company is seeking refinancing / appreciation that we believe could positively affect our outlook. “The analyst continued,” Our model assumes that SAR will use cash and SBA debt to fund net portfolio growth. We believe the Board of Directors will continue to increase the dividend given the performance of the portfolio, the existence of undistributed taxable income and the economic benefits of the Covid-19 immunization program. “To this end, Schleien rates SAR a Buy along with a price target of USD 25. This number implies an upward trend of 20% from the current level. (To see Schleien’s track record, click here.) Wall Street analysts approve of Schleien on this stock. The other three registered ratings are buys and the analysts’ consensus rating is a strong buy. Saratoga’s shares trade for $ 20.87 with an average price target of $ 25.50, indicating an upward movement of 22% over the next 12 months. (See SAR stock analysis on TipRanks) Hercules Capital (HTGC) Last but not least, Hercules Capital is a venture capital company. Hercules provides early stage funding support to small client businesses with a scientific background. Hercules customers are life sciences, technology, and financial SaaS. Since its inception in 2003, Hercules has invested over $ 11 billion in more than 500 companies. The quality of the Hercules portfolio is evident from the company’s recent performance. The stock has fully rebounded from last winter’s corona crisis, rebounding 140% from its low last April. The result has also recovered. For the first nine months of 2020, HTGC posted net investment income of $ 115 million, or 11% more than the same period in 2019. For dividend investors, the key point is that net investment income covered the distribution – in fact, it was 106% of the Base distribution. The company was confident enough to kickstart sales with an additional 2 cents payment. The combined payout results in an annualized payment of $ 1.28 per common share and a return of 8.7%. In yet another vote of confidence, Hercules completed a $ 100 million investment-grade bond offering in November, raising capital for debt repayments, new investments and corporate purposes. The bonds were offered in two tranches, each valued at $ 50 million. The bonds mature in March 2026. Analyst Crispin Love covers Piper Sandler’s stock and sees plenty to love in HTGC. “We continue to believe that HTGC’s focus on fast-growing technology and life science companies positions the company well in the current environment. In addition, Hercules is not dependent on a COVID recovery as it does not invest in “vulnerable” sectors. Hercules also has a strong liquidity position which should allow the company to act quickly when it finds attractive investment opportunities, “commented Love. All of the above convinced Love to rate HTGC as an outperform (i.e. buy). In addition to the call, he set a price target of $ 16, indicating upside potential of 9%. (To see Love’s track record, click here.) The stock’s recent appreciation has pushed Hercules stock up to its average target price of $ 15.21 and up only ~ 4% above the trading price of $ 14.67 calmly. Wall Street doesn’t seem to mind, however, as the analyst consensus rating is a unanimous strong buy based on 6 recent buy-side ratings. (See HTGC stock analysis on TipRanks.) To find great ideas for trading dividend stocks at attractive valuations, visit TipRanks’ Best Stocks to Buy, ‘a newly launched tool that brings together all of TipRanks’ stock insights. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the presented analysts. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important that you do your own analysis before making any investment.