Author: Nick Johnston

The communication giant, T-Mobile US Inc. is planning merger talks after the ban put by the federal government expires this week. T-Mobile, the No.3 US wireless carrier said this on Monday as they reported a subscriber growth, which was more than what was expected in their first quarter.

The Federal Communications Commission of USA banned talks of mergers between telecommunication companies for about a year because it conducted about $20 Billion auction of broadcaster airways for use of wireless communication. The companies that took part in this auction were restrained by a period, which will be ending on 27th April when payments from winners of the auction are due.

With a bid of $8 Billion, T-Mobile was the largest winner and they are widely expected to be making the first discussion of mergers.

John Legere, the Chief Executive Officer of the company said that the organic and inorganic possibilities of this company are enormous and they are interested in looking at some possibilities on the matter. He said so on the post earnings conference call of the company.

In February, Reuters reported that the controlling shareholder of Sprint, Softbank Group Corp. was in talks with the shareholder of T-Mobile, Deutsche Telekom AG once the auction of the airwaves ended.

Many analysts and investors have pointed out that T-Mobile has other options too like staying independent or combining with Comcast Corp or Dish Network Corp and other companies like them as they try to improve their own network. They said with their airwave purchase they can compete in all the corners of this country.

On the same call, the CEO said that Dish, the satellite TV provider has access to spectrum and content and Sprint had a lot of scale options and a customer base that is really good.

The company has already started gaining the share of competitors like Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. by lowering their prices and improving their network in a US wireless market that is largely saturated.

They have already added 914,000 subscribers who pay monthly bills during the 1st January – March 31st quarter. The analysts had expected net additions of about 847,000 subscribers in this quarter.

Customer defection or churn was less than 1.18% as compared to the estimation of analysts of 1.27%

The overall income rose from $479 Million to $698 Million or in terms of per share, from 56 cents to 80 cents as compared to a year earlier.

Earnings per share excluding items was 48 cents and the adjusted revenue was about $9.61 Billion. On an average, analysts expected EPS of 35 cents and the revenue was expected to be $9.67 Billion, according to the analysts.

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On Friday, the Secretary of US Treasury, Steven Mnuchin said that the United States is not going to make exception for any companies based in America, which includes Exxon Mobil Corp., which is seeking permission to drill in US sanction prohibited areas on Russia.

This direct statement clarifies that the stance of United States on sanctions against the Russian capital are really tough.

These economic sanctions were imposed by the European Union and United States on Russia over their Crimea region annexation in 2014 and their role in the eastern Ukraine conflict. Due to these sanctions, the world’s largest oil producer and a publicly traded company, Exxon may pull out of the Arctic region of Russia in the same year.

Exxon asked for waivers in 2015 and 2016 to operate in a joint venture with Rosneft, a Russian Oil Producer and received them as well. The sanctions by the European Union don’t keep oil companies of European origin from operating in the country, which is annoying to Exxon.

The WSJ reported that Exxon had applied for waiver in the recent months from Treasury Department to drill in the joint venture. Exxon spokesperson Alan Jeffers said that there were no applications of waivers since Donald Trump’s election win.

Exxon’s former CEO, Rex Tillerson is now the Secretary of State for US and such kind of request would draw attention. Under Rex’s command, Exxon had lobbied Congress on the sanctions of Russia and he opposed these sanctions in the year 2014 saying that they would be rendered ineffective soon.

Lawmakers in the US are investigating the possibility of ties between campaign aides of Trump and Moscow. Republicans currently in Congress as well as allies of US in Europe are anxious to know whether the administration of Trump would ease some sanctions that were imposed on Russia.

Rex Tillerson has vowed to remove himself completely from Exxon Mobil unless he has the authorization to do so. He is also going to sell his stock in Exxon Mobil by May.

Companies in the US file applications frequently to the Treasury for permission to do activities that are barred due to sanctions. The government then weighs the application based on interest of national security and other factors.

The refusal to their application would affect the bottom line of Exxon Mobil as they haven’t been able to operate in Russia for so long, which hinders their potential of growth.

Treasury doesn’t comment on license applications publicly, but the statement by Mnuchin is just to clarify the country’s stance on the sanctions against Russia while American allies are looking for some kind of clue into US policy, said observers.

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Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft has started a new organization known as USAFacts. This organization would be analyzing the spending on the government on a larger scale. The organization would also make the revenue and spending easier to understand to the people of USA.

Steve Ballmer says that the motivation behind him to create the new organization USAFacts was that he himself was extremely frustrated that he was unable to find any source of information, which had all the relevant numbers from federal, state, and local government posts combined together to give a consolidated result.

Steve Ballmer started by gathering a lot of data specialists. These data specialists spent about three whole years to compile the initial report information that is now available at the website of USAFacts i.e. usafacts.org. The reports are going to be updated on the website in a periodic manner so that the organization maintains integrity and user base as well.

Steve Balmer said that he is a guy who loves numbers. Most importantly, he thinks that the correct and most appropriate role of the numbers is to try and help take on situations that are really complicated and try and simplify them drastically so that people can easily understand what they are all about.

The former executive officer of Microsoft said that his moto and aim is to provide the clearest of information on the spending of government. He also says that due to this the process of discussing divisive issues would be much easier if the basic facts are clear and each and every one agrees to them as they come from a credible source which he wants USAFacts to be.

Steve Ballmer also said that if people who are reasonable enough and end up disagreeing about something, they could be able to look at the same dump of data due to which growing closer together would be easier for those people.

He added that he was already surprised by many of the facts and numbers that the data specialists had collected like one of the facts that stated that more than 23 Million people in total are employed in government work

USAFacts.org was announced by him on Tuesday in a speech at New York’s Economic Club.

The team of this organization includes researchers, writers, and economists who are the ones that produce the reports. There are some academic experts from Lynchberg College, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford University, which also helped.

The former Microsoft executive, who bought Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 after retiring from Microsoft, said that about $10 Million was invested by him in USA Facts till now and he would continue spending a lot of million dollars per year.

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United Airlines has been reviewing their policies immediately after the violent incident that occurred when a seated passenger was removed from flight against his will. The latest change in their policy is that they won’t allow their employees to take the seats of passengers who have already been seated on the overbooked flights.

Maggie Schmerin, a company spokeswoman wrote in an email that they have issued this updated policy to make sure that the crews that are traveling on their aircraft are booked on the flight at least an hour before the departure of the plane. This step was taken this Sunday and it is one of their initial steps in reviewing their policies.

She also confirmed the validity of an April 14 dated memo, which TMZ published – that ordered this new policy’s issue. She said that this change was to ensure that violent episodes like last week’s don’t happen again.

Ms. Schmerin also emphasized on the change that was announced earlier that law enforcement officials won’t be asked to remove passengers who don’t pose security threats from the plane.

The company is under review of the circumstances due to which Kentucky resident, Dr. David Dao was forcibly removed from flight by aviation police officials of Chicago on 9th April.

The removal was really violent and it grew into a really embarrassing episode internationally. Two teeth of Dr. Dao were knocked out; he suffered a bleeding broken nose and a concussion on the head. His lawyer said that he might even need surgery.

The news of his treatment also caused a big backlash that lasted for almost a week and this backlash also spanned continents. During this troubled time, the stock price of the airline company started falling rapidly and they were having difficulties in coming up with a proper response for the Dao situation.

After the uproar that lasted several days, the Chief Executive Officer of United Airlines, Oscar Munoz apologized on the show Good Morning America.

He said that the incident will never happen again on a flight operated by United Airlines. The above said lines are his promise and premise as he said on the show.

But this apology didn’t turn the tide in favor of the company. The lawmakers have also called for an investigation on the matter. Due to this episode, fingers were pointed at the current state of the airlines industry where the fees of travel and the discomfort to travel both have started to rise each year in equal measure.

United Airlines would bounce back from this, but this episode means that there are going to be serious policy changes in the airline’s policy.

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Tensions mounted inside Amazon as their employees pushed the management to stop the ads running on Breitbart News for Amazon products.

On 22nd March, 2017, an Amazon employee group wasn’t happy with Amazon running ads on Breitbart. They wrote an email to SVP Jeff Blackburn and CEO Jeff Bezos. The mail had a petition that opposed the continued advertising of the company on Breitbart with about 564 signatures.

The email stated that an Amazon employee had confronted the SVP at the March all-hands meeting of the company about the advertising on a site that is known to publish bigoted and hateful content.

The employee asked with the applause from the coworkers as to what would take for them to not advertise on Breitbart News.

The email stated that Blackburn had no reply to this question. He said that the relationship of Amazon with Breitbart was a little complicated.

Although Amazon has no direct relationship with the news company, they do select the exchanges via which they buy ads and they also might have some say in how those ads are targeted. According to the mail, the employee outcry that is outgoing might cause the company to review their decision of allowing their ads to run on the Breitbart site.

Since the election last year, the leadership of Amazon has faced a direct pressure from their employees and customers to cut their ad ties from Breitbart. A website called SumOfUs.org has a petition signed by more than 550,000 people, which is urging the company to stop being an investor in hate, a sign to pull out of Breitbart ads. At the same time, Sleeping Giants, an anonymous collective of marketers has successfully called about 1600 advertisers out of putting ad dollars into Breitbart.

When the news was first reported on the unrest of Amazon employees on the ads on Breitbart in February, about 34 employees had filed individual complaints to the management of the company. Now with a petition of almost 600 signatories, most of whom are LGBTQ, colored people, or women, the momentum is clearly on the increasing side. Worldwide, Amazon employs about 340,000 employees.

The employees of Amazon said that the company had been extremely unresponsive to their complaints earlier. One told that they had been just brushing them off. But in recent terms, a movement has started to address this issue. Sources also said that the leadership of Amazon met with the representative employee behind the petition this Tuesday morning.

The Amazon employee told that now the company is taking this problem very seriously. The decision has not yet been finalized, but the direction is finally right!

There was no response to the multiple requests that were sent to Amazon for comment on this internal email.

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The new commercial jets finally made their debut for both Boeing and Airbus.

The 787-10 of Boeing took over the skies from South Carolina on 31st March, 2017 and it spent about four hours and fifty eight minutes in the air.

This aircraft is known as the Dreamliner and it is the biggest 787 variant for the company. The plan has the same wingspan of 60m and a cross section of 574 cm as the other two variants 787-9 and 787-8, but the length is about 68m, which is 5 meters longer than the other two variants due to which the Boeing 787-10 can pack about 38 added passengers in the recommended configurations by Boeing.

Due to this extra size, the 787-10 would have a shorter range, which is the only drawback. The plane would be comfortable covering 11,910 Km. Therefore, for flights going from Europe to Asia, Europe to west coast of US, or from Northern Asia to North America, it is perfect. But for farther flights like from Australia to US will be too far.

Those longer routes would need the forthcoming Boeing 777-9 which would leave 787-10 a promising option for replacements of all 767s on routes that are trans-Atlantic and older 747s, 777s and A340s as well for longer hops.

787-10 has to undergo a lot of testing before it can carry passengers. The previous 787s have already passed these tests, so this aircraft would also pass the tests before Boeing’s deadline of first half of 2018.

The new variant of Airbus also touched the skies for the first time. A319neo flew to Toulouse from Frankfurt last Friday.

A319 is the smallest of all the A320 aircrafts. It offers a maximum seating of 156 and has a range of up to 7000Km.

However, if required, the A319 can hop over the Atlantic. It is going to do shorter route duty as the aircraft’s single aisle clearly states that it is not suited for long flights.

The latest neo range has new engine options for operators and the debut flight was made using propulsion by the LEAP-1A engines of CFM international.

The focus for both the plane makers has been on lowering the operating costs in the new aircrafts. This is because the passenger services have really low margins.

This low margin is not stopping the airlines from sprouting up all around the world to cater to the needs of people with enough cash to afford flying. Indian and other airlines in Asia have placed dozens of orders to cater to the middle class travelers due to which both Airbus and Boeing have huge backlogs of orders.

The new planes have been designed and developed keeping that in mind and would definitely cover some backlog orders for both Airbus and Boeing.

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The departure list from Uber keeps on growing. On Sunday, Uber said that the ride sharing president of Uber, Jeff Jones left the company after six months of joining it. Brian McClendon, the maps and business platform Vice President at Uber, is also planning to leave by the end of this month.

The circumstances that led to them leaving are very different. Mr. Jones was poached from the company Target to be the No. 2 Executive at Uber, who left because the CEO of the company, Travis Kalanick said that he needed help in leadership and was searching for a new Chief Operating Officer.

The departure of Mr. McClendon was harmonious and he would stay as an adviser to the company. He said that he was moving back to his home state Kansas to explore politics. His last day at Uber would be March 28, 2017.

These departures add to the earlier executive departures from Uber in 2017. Gary Marcus, who joined in December after the acquisition of his company, left in March 2017 and Raffi Krikorian, the self-driving division director left last week. Top Engineer, Amit Singhal was also asked to resign as he failed to disclose the claims of sexual harassment against him at Google, his previous employer. Another senior executive, Ed Baker also left this month.

There were no comments from Mr. Jones on his departure. Mr. McClendon said that he was returning to Lawrence, Kansas, his hometown, after being away for thirty years.

The hiring of Mr. Jones last August was highly publicized by the company. He was in charge of the company’s operations, customer support, and branding divisions.

The exit of Mr. Jones is problematic as many former and current employees saw him as the counterpart or successor of Travis Kalanick. The Board of Directors and Investors just wanted to stabilize the company after the past few months of turmoil.

Kalanick has faced a lot of scrutiny for his role in the internal operations at Uber and blamed for not dealing with the human resources issues of the company. Mr. Jones was supposedly the adult in the room as he had a lot of experience as a leader in a public company going through a lot of crisis.

McClendon, on the other hand, was hired from Google nearly two years ago to work on the autonomous vehicle and mapping initiatives. McClendon was at Google for about ten years and was an integral cog in the formation of Google Earth and Geolocation Technology research of the company.

Uber currently relies on a mix of technologies, but heavily relies on Google Maps, which is one of Uber’s main competitors as well. Therefore, McClendon’s departure is problematic as it is strategically important for Uber to strengthen their geolocation and mapping services.

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The stock indexes in US closed higher on Wednesday because of an oil rate bounce after Federal Reserve had a less aggressive than expected stance. The interest rates were raised by the central bank as expected.

Dow Jones closed up at a triple digit, about 110 points after the released statement. Most gains were contributed by UnitedHealth with Caterpillar and Johnson & Johnson following right behind.

A fresh intraday high was also seen in the NASDAQ Composite 100, closing at a record. This was due to the record highs in shares of Apple Inc. Stocks of semiconductor companies also reversed losses with iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF ending higher as well, by nearly 0.8 percent.

The target range for federal funds rate was also raised by the Fed. It is now between 0.75% and 1%. The only no vote for this came from Neel Kashkari, the Minneapolis Fed President. The policy makers said in a statement that they are expecting conditions in the labor market to strengthen more and inflation to stabilize to about 2% in the coming term.

After the release of this statement, the Treasury yields fell. The 2Y Yield dropped to 1.3%. Earlier this season, this yield hit 1.4%, its highest value since June, 2009. The 10Y Yield was at 2.5%. Both the yields were at their lowest value in the week.

The index of the greenback extended its losses to trade at about 1% lower and these levels were not seen in about two weeks. The Euro traded at $1.073 and Yen at 113.4 Yen against the US Dollar.

The financial stocks just fell in the S&P 500. There were advances in the energy sector, which closed up 2.1%. US Crude oil futures were at $48.86 per barrel, up 2.39% after the weekly inventory data showed a stockpile drawdown. The consumer price index was up 0.1% in February and Ex-food and energy costs, the core Consumer Price Index was also up by 2.2% in twelve months through February.

Retail sales also showed a 0.1% rise, which is their weakest print since August. If we exclude food services, building material, gasoline, and automobiles, the core retail sales rose by 0.1% after a revised upwardly 0.8% jump in the month of January. The retail sales and CPI clearly matched the expectations.

According to the New York Federal Reserve, the ESMI (Empire State Manufacturing Index) lowered to 16.4 in March. The new order index climbed to 21.3, roughly by 8 points, its highest since 2009. There was a 0.3% rise in Business Inventories in January.

Dow Jones closed up 112.73 points at 20950.10. American Express still lagged. S&P 500 was up 19.81 points at 2385.26. Financials declined, but energy was the advancer. NASDAQ Composite closed at 5900.05 by gaining 43.23 points, mostly because of Apple.

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Volkswagen conducted an annual results conference on Tuesday. The Chief Executive Officer, Matthias Mueller said in a statement at the conference that he is still considering a merger to take place with Fiat Chrysler.

Reuters said that this statement represents a significant change of mind of the CEO, Matthias Mueller as in the previous week during the auto show at Geneva he said that the company is not ready to reveal anything at the moment. He had also said that the company was making attempts to overcome the crisis of the scandals caused by emissions and thus had written off any potential collaboration.

The Chief Executive Officer of FCA, Sergio Marchionne has declared openly that if the automakers wish to maximize their profits and work on a technology that benefits them then they should try and get into a merger so that they can share the technologies, resources, and insights and help each other to invent much cleaner technologies that are safe for the environment and this collaboration will also assist them in cutting their costs and expenditures.

In Detroit on Friday, the German automaker pleaded guilty and was accused of creating conspiracies and providing obstruction to justice in the results of the emissions scandal that had been a long-winding one and made Volkswagen undergo a great deal of challenges. After this, the automaker consented to a scheme to get the regulations and rules pertaining to pollution in the United States and checked for the safety parameters and threshold limits of about 500,000 diesel vehicles. 

In addition to this, the automaker has agreed to pay a sum of 4.3 billion as compensation and penalty. Along with this sum of money, the automaker has to pay around 21 billion dollars, which is inclusive of the pledge taken by the company to repair and buy back the diesel it had acquired by wrongful means.

After Volkswagen completes one of its buybacks, it will be transporting the vehicle from the concerned dealership to the storage facilities (for example, Pontiac Silverdome in the city of Metro Detroit). After the completion of the storage process, Volkswagen will be maintaining all the vehicles regularly according to the parameters defined in the modifications of the approved emissions. Volkswagen has assured that all the vehicles that fail to meet the requirements specified in the modifications of approved vehicles will be sent for the recycling process.  

However, a spokesperson from Volkswagen declined to reveal the number of vehicles at the Silverdome during late January.

 

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A rally in the city of San Francisco began in the afternoon on Tuesday by the name of Pi Day. Protesters in large numbers (about hundreds) joined this rally. This rally was a means of protest against the administration of the United States president, Donald Trump and the policies he formulated on issues like healthcare and immigration, which is causing immense problems to the residents of the United States.

This rally was organized by Tech Stands Up, which is a non-profitable group. The speakers of the rally comprised of both the current as well as the former employees from big companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Cisco.

Though the primary reason behind the rally was the administration under Trump, it also emphasized on the increased pressure that is put on the leaders of the technology companies as compared to the political leaders.

The co-founder of Hipmunk, which is a travel startup, Adam Goldstein said that it is easier for the executives to bring about tax reforms for social justice because they have no concern about losing their customers. He also added that is easier for these executives to advocate on the issue of immigration. According to various sources, this rally acted as an example of the political awakening of the Silicon Valley and highlighted the challenges and hurdles that are faced by the tech leaders in order to maintain a balance in the working of their companies due to the policies formulated by the White House.

The employees of several companies are urging them to protest against the progressive values that are forced by Trump on the industries. All the technical companies are trying to negotiate and work on a mutual process as far as the issue of taxation and other regulations are concerned.

Several other tech companies revolted against the travel ban imposed by Trump and the decision of the administration that withdraws all forms of protection towards the transgender students in the public schools.

A janitor and immigrant, Maria Gonzalez working at Facebook, suggested in her speech that the big technical companies must create campuses that serve as sanctuaries for the immigrants.

A barista working for Cisco, Jacky Espinoza also said at the rally that she hopes that the executives stand not only for the immigrant workers that are highly skilled, but also all the workers who provide some contributions in building a technology that enhances the United States.

Even the global platform, Twitter saw various tweets from different people supporting the cause of the rally and speaking against the rules imposed by Trump.

The founder of Tech Stands Up is Brad Taylor who is a software engineer. He founded this group after he got frustrated with the working of the current administration. The goal of the Tech Stands Up group is to withhold and defend the values of openness and diversity of the Silicon Valley.

 

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Despite the fact that Yahoo has sold its key business, it has decided to pay all its top executives with a handsome amount. On Monday, Yahoo announced its upcoming plans for the future and said that Yahoo is about to sell its advertising business and technology to Verizon. Once this deal has been made official, the company will replace its existing Chief Executive Officer, Marissa Mayer. The remainder of the company will comprise of the Alibaba stocks that are owned by Yahoo, the stakes of the Yahoo operating in Japan, and several other minor investments.

When compared to the tasks at hand available to Marissa Mayer, the tasks that are going to be executed now will be much simpler. As Marissa Mayer is leaving Yahoo, the company is going to offer her a severance package of 23 million dollars. In addition to this, she has been awarded with options of unexercised stocks that amount to 69 million dollars. And she is also the owner of the stocks of Yahoo, which are worth 97 million dollars. She can sell these stocks if she wants after she leaves the company.

Marissa Mayer has even voluntarily surrendered 20 million dollars as a compensation for the cyber-attacks that had recently taken place in Yahoo. Summing all this up, Marissa Mayer will still be the owner of a very handsome capital, which can be approximated to about 189 million dollars.

Yahoo decided to replace Marissa Mayer with the former Chief Executive of the IAC, Thomas McInerney. He received his offer letter on Monday and will be beginning his term as the new Chief Executive officer of Yahoo with a base salary of 2 million dollars. This is twice the amount that was being paid to the former CEO, Marissa Mayer. According to the disclosures revealed by Yahoo, the company plans to pay Thomas McLearney a sum of 4 million dollars in his 1st year and the company assumes that he is going to achieve all his targets.

This decision of paying Thomas Mclnerney so much more than Marissa Mayer can be questionable on the basis on discrimination of gender. The amount, which Thomas Mclnearney will be receiving, is for absolutely no work as compared to the burdensome, tedious, and challenging tasks that had to be carried out by Marissa Mayer.

Yahoo, which will be headed by Thomas Mclnearney, is not like the vast business Yahoo used to be prior to its sale to Verizon. It has transformed into an investment company, which will carry out similar operations and functions like any other mutual fund.

 

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The largest chain in the world dealing with the outdoor specialty stores, Gander Mountain filed for bankruptcy on Friday and asked the court for protection from the creditors and expressed that the company wants to sell their business.

Gander Mountain will be shutting 32 stores out of 162 stores, but has decided to keep the store at Onalaska open.

Gander Mountain is a company, which is based in St. Paul. It had started to experience some financial crisis from the month of January and many of its vendors had not received their payment yet.

The company decided to file for bankruptcy when it realized that it lacks the resources and capacity to restructure its outlets that were getting faltered. According to the company, the idea of selling the business is the most optimal solution to fight their existing problems. The protection from the court will be assisting the company to protect the interest of all its stakeholders, employees, and customers.

The auction for the sale of the company will begin in the month of April and Gander Mountain is indulging itself in discussions with various potential buyers.

Overton Inc., which is a subsidiary that sells outdoor equipment and boat gears, was also filed for bankruptcy by Gander Mountain. It is situated in North Carolina and was open for sale in the previous year also, but Gander Mountain unfortunately had not come across any buyer.

The outlets Mankato, Rogers, and Woodbury in Minnesota and the stores of Germantown and Eau Claire in Wisconsin are the few that are closing because of their bad performance. Gander Mountain has reduced the prices available in its online inventory by 15 percent to 25 percent.

Despite the severe challenges and crisis, many creditors believe that Gander Mountain has the capability to overcome these hurdles and survive.

A media agency of Chicago, Starcom WorldWide’s executive Vice President, Jens Wilins said that Gander Mountain is a great company with a long legacy. Thus, despite all the turbulences in the market, the company can consolidate its hold and come on track again.

Gander Mountain is privately held by David Pratt and the Erickson family. David Pratt is an outdoors enthusiast and a businessman from St. Louis. On the other hand, the Erickson family is the owner of the Holiday Station store.

The bankruptcy files state that Gratco LLC of David Pratt owns a stock percentage of 44.6 percent and Erickson family owns a percentage of 44.8 percent. The rest of the stocks belong to the other 2 members of the family of Pratt.

The report by Dun & Bradstreet reported that the company has about 5,605 employees all across the nation and has witnessed an annual sale of more than 1 billion dollars.

 

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Verizon initiated the year 2017 with the introduction of an unlimited data plan and has attracted a large number of users. This new data plan introduction was quite surprising as the CFO of Verizon had made a statement in the previous year and said that the unlimited data model does not work for them.

This is quite a contradiction from the statement of the CFO of Verizon. With help of this data plan now, Verizon has been successful with all the customers of Sprint in a very swift manner.

An investor conference of Deutsche Bank was held on Tuesday. In this conference, the CFO of Spring, Tarek Robbiati said that the push of Verizon towards the launch of unlimited data is largely affecting the number of users in Sprint. The customers of Sprint are declining as they are all preferring Verizon over Sprint. Tarek Robiatti also added that the competition and its intensity were far more than their expectations.

Sprint, in a very subtle way, suggested that the customers’ turnover rate has being going down steadily and it is because of the new Verizon strategy that is hitting the market. Not only are the number of customers declining, the pricing of the unlimited data model is disrupting and hindering the profits margin of Sprint. Because of the transformations and plummeting of these two factors, the stocks of Sprint have fallen in value by almost 5 percent.

To overcome this competition, Sprint has devised of a plan to reduce the prices of its services and offerings. After Verizon launched the unlimited data plan, which had a very aggressive pricing in the month of February, T-Mobile enhanced the quality of the plan it offered. This plan was included with unlimited data. AT&T also launched and introduced many options of data plans. To overcome the rivalry and competition by all these 3 companies, Sprint was only left with one option – to emerge from the losses and that was to reduce its prices.

For a longer term, if the company, Sprint wants to evolve as the emerging company it will likely be looking for a merger and collaboration with these companies so that it can grow and expand its business. In such a situation, many analysts reveal that T- Mobile might be a great choice if Sprint wants a merger. It will make one less company to compete with and also increase their hold over the spectrum availability.

Currently, since the margin of profits is dropping for Sprint, they have decided to reduce the amount of capital they will invest for the development of their networks.

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As per a source, MGM is in active negotiation with Epix to acquire all its premium cable network, which it doesn’t own from partners Lionsgate and Viacom. This ground-breaking deal is valued between $1 billion and $2 billion

The news was followed after January when Lionsgate started selling off the 31.2 percent stake it had in Epix, just a month after mini-major accomplished its $4.4 Billion purchase of Starz. However, Viacom owns 50 percent. The deal with MGM seems to happen in the near future; however, if they come across a suitor who would be better than MGM they would likely opt for them.

After the acquisition of Starz, it was quite obvious that Lionsgate would leave the Epix collaboration, but when asked about the same, the executives didn’t give any details.

In January, at an Investor Day gathering, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jon Feltheimer said Epix “is very valuable and throwing off cash.” He further added that Lionsgate and associates MGM and Viacom would “realize the value whichever way we all decide is best for our companies.”

Feltheimer later bantered that Lionsgate would “treat Starz just like any other third-party customer that we paid $4 billion for.”

Industry experts have pegged Lionsgate’s stake to be around $458 Million in Epix. This makes Viacom’s stake worth around $739 Million.

Currently, Epix is ranked at #4 position following leading networks like HBO, Showtime, and Starz. With the recent acquisition of Starz by Lionsgate, the company now does not need any other network. MGM Holdings has about 18.8 per cent of Epix. This puts an estimate on that of about $277.7 Million.

Epix deal further bolsters MGM’s digital and TV businesses. Recently, the company reported its 4th quarter earnings, as per which its TV content unit (including United Artists Media Group after MGM purchased the 45-percent in January in that it didn’t already possess) revenues fall 8.8 percent to $68.1 M along with a contribution of up to 117 percent to $33.9 M.

It was reported by CEO Gary Barber that the investors at MGM plan to enhance their content spending effectively this year to an amount as much as $440 M from $218 M recorded in the year 2016.

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Sears Holdings Corp. beat the market expectations by posting a smaller fourth-quarter loss. They managed to achieve it amid belt-tightening and working on the inventory management. The analysts had forecasted a loss of $2.85 per share, while the company posted $1.28 per share. Again the consensus on revenue was $5.9 billion, but the company came up with $6.1 billion figure.

In the past one year, the shares of the company were in a free fall with some 60% of the value eroded, but better-than-expected results made it jump by 11% in a day.

Jason Hollar, the Chief Financial Officer of the company said in a statement, “While the challenging holiday selling season pressured margins and comparable store sales, we were able to successfully improve profitability through disciplined inventory and costs management. We will continue to take actions to drive profitability, generate liquidity and adjust our overall capital structure while continuing to meet all of our financial obligations.”

Some of the cost-cutting measures taken by the company were closing its stores and giving pink slips to some of its employees working in the brick and mortar operations. The company also laid off some of its staffers at its Chicagoland headquarters.

If the long-term debt obligations of the company are compared then they have doubled from the last year, though the chain tried its level best to raise cash by selling off some of its assets.

The company looks determined to woo customers and has taken many steps to improve their experience. It includes introducing a new Sears MasterCard, which will enable the customers to accumulate their loyalty reward points and redeem them in their next shopping spree. The company has also expanded its partnership with the cab service Uber enabling its customers to get the rider rewards. It is also working on its mobile capabilities to provide home service operations to its clients.

Neil Saunders, the GlobalData Retail managing director, however, thinks that all these steps taken by the company are not enough. He feels that these are like “taking an Advil to cure a heart attack.” He believes that apart from sales of the company going down, the “pace of decline has accelerated sharply.”

Sears seems to work in the direction of making itself profitable. Last month only, the company had announced that it would close some 150 stores and reorganise some of its businesses to achieve annual savings of $1 billion. Working on it, the company sold its Craftsman brand for more than $525 million on Thursday.

 

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The year 2017 can be called unlucky for the coffee giant, Starbucks chains as it is facing challenges and difficulty in attracting customers towards its stores.

xAD, a research firm calculated data and said that in the month of January, Starbucks accounted for 11-percent of restaurant foot traffic of the US, which is down from January’s 12%.

A spokesperson from xAD informed the media that it is very difficult to discover a single factor that is resulting in this decline, but at the moment, Starbucks is going through a tough tide both in terms of operation as well as the challenge to enhance its reputation as a brand.

In the month of January, Starbucks had reported that the significant transactions that are a vital measure of the traffic of customers had gone down by 2 percent in the current quarter. The company attributed this loss to the challenges and hurdles that were being offered by the ordering through mobiles. The company also said that this wave of the orders through mobiles has created bottlenecks that pour into some of the busiest stores and thus have caused the crowd to let go of a few customers.

The company also hit a blow when Howard Schultz, the Chief Executive Officer of Starbucks announced that the company has plans to hire about 10000 refugees from all across the nation in the span of the next 5 years. This announcement was made when the President, Donald Trump had passed an executive order that stated that the refugees will be refrained from the entry in the United States.

The YouGov Brand Index stated that by the month of February, the perception levels of the consumers observed a drop of two thirds as compared to the month of January. The sentiment cracker provided by Credit Suisse has concluded that the online sentiment of the Starbucks chain by the customers has reached its lowest possible mark from the year 2014.

Once before, the company had faced a negative sentiment review when they started providing the red cups and the people said that it is not as much Christmasy and festive as they are supposed to be.

Jason West, a member of Credit Suisse mentioned in a report that the overall sentiment has recovered recently, but is still at a volatile stage in these weeks. This analysis has caused the Starbucks chain to be extremely cautious of all their activities if they want to meet the forecasts of their consensus of the sales in the stores of the United States.

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The President of the United States, Donald Trump had issued an order last month. The order pertains to the labor department to delay all the operations that are concerned with the rules of the retirement savings that were proposed. A unit of the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch has decided that it will not get rid entirely with its retirement accounts that are based on commission.

On Thursday, the bank called for a conference with all its advisors. Merrill Lynch said that it has plans to convert most of the retirement savers to the accounts that will be charging a fee, which will be based on the percentage of the assets. The assets taken into consideration will be from those accounts that will be charging a commission. This information was received from a source that is actively involved in this matter.

However, a memo was observed by Reuters that shed light on some valuable information in this context. The memo was noted by the head of the department of Wealth Management of the Merrill Lynch bank, Andy Sieg. The contents of this memo said that these conversions in the accounts might not be applicable to all those customers who hold an account in this bank.

In addition to this, the memo by Andy Sieg stated that Merrill Lynch has analyzed and understood that the best interest of any client that will lie in the arrangement based on the fee provided in limited situations only. The bank is considering all measures necessary to review and comprehend these limited circumstances so that other potential alternatives can be considered. These alternatives will be helpful in the IAP for many clients and will ensure the implementation in a consistent manner along with care, which will be of the highest standards.

During the presidency of the former president, Barack Obama, a new fiduciary rule was proposed, which has to be implemented from the month of April; however, Donald Trump in the previous month had ordered the Department of Labor to review the dates of its implementation.

Many financial services industries staunchly opposed this new rule. According to the Wall Street, if this new rule was implemented, it would provide harm and cause damage to the consumers because the costs of compliances and the fees will shoot up. This will make them to avoid the clients in the Main Street and also negate the small businesses and offer 401(k) plans.

The Wall Street Journal had also reported that Merrill Lynch was initiating plans to continue the offerings of the retirement accounts that were based on commission.

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Gothamist, which is a media company in the city of New York, has been bought by another media company, DNAInfo. Gothamist runs the local news websites in a total of five cities all across the United States. On the other hand, DNAinfo also runs local news. The company DNAInfo is owned by a billionaire named Joe Ricketts.

Gothamist.com, which is the flagship site for the city of New York, will be serving as DNAInfo’s official blog. The company said that it will be covering various topics like arts, food, and viral stories and in addition to this it will also promote various stories that will be churned out by the reporters’ network of DNAInfo. It also has a sister site called Chicagoist, which does the same for the site DNAInfo in Chicago.

The network of Gothamist also comprises of 3 other websites in Washington, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A statement by Gothamist said that these three sites can be used as the launch pads for the stories of DNAInfo sometime in the future when required.

The owner of DNAinfo, Joe Rickets said that by collaborating and joining forces and resources with Gothamist, DNAinfo will enhance its job and increase its performance. They will also improve the user experience with the company by providing news that will be both interesting as well as relevant. This merger will help DNAInfo to achieve all its objectives in the long run.  

Gothamist was founded in the year 2003 and DNAInfo was a startup that was initiated in the year 2009. Both these media companies have done remarkably well since the time of their inception. Gothamist has assisted in shaping the mold for the aggregation of the local news to take place as well as its coverage on the fast growing internet. DNAInfo has been advancing very aggressively to fill up the void with an attempt of the newspapers of the city to cut back on the coverage of the local news.

But these two publications also have a few differences between them. DNAinfo has gained popularity owing to its publications and coverage of news in the neighborhoods. On the other hand, Gothamist is popular for features like reports on pressing issues and various snappy writings that largely appeal to the populations of left leaning cities.  

The type of news covered by both these media companies will be a delight for the audience of the United States as both Gothamist and DNAInfo are pioneers when it comes to coverage of the news people want to watch.

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America Movil, controlled by Billioniare Carlos Slim, said that the telecommunications regulator of Mexico had stepped up its antitrust rules against America Movil. This cranking up includes the order to the company to separate their fixed line infrastructure out of their main company.

The complete family of Slim share controlling interest in America Movil and this company has been subjected to tough regulations since the better part of 2014. This is as a part of a reform of sweeping sector type, which has been aimed to make the current market more and more competitive, even for the big players.

The company said that the Federal Telecommunications Institute or IFT ordered America Movil to create a completely separate entity from their fixed line unit called Telmex. This was to offer their competitors access to the infrastructure. This was confirmed by a report in February by Reuters, which depicted that this kind of change was being considered.

The requests to IFT to comment on the matter were not immediately responded by the IFT spokesperson.

America Movil’s statement to Mexican Stock Exchange said that this functional separation is based on a clear plan that was presented by Telmex for approval to IFT.

After the company described what this resolution required, the company criticized it. The company said that they were analyzing the resolution and will soon challenge the decision put forth.

The company added that the additions and modifications to these measures had a lack of regulatory predictability and legal certainty in the entire sector in which the company operates.

A Mexico CID university researcher, Alexander Elbittar, who considers himself to be a specialist in competition and regulation, had some views on the matter. He said that he was not surprised that Carlos Slim’s America Movil is thinking of challenging the resolution as a way of keeping their legal options open.

He emphasized that it is yet to be seen how the Telmex unit proposes to structure the separation that is going to take place, but at the same time he said that the overarching resolution seems to be really sound.

Elbittar said that the measure is a really drastic one, but it is inevitable in these markets as the markets feature a very strong concentration for a lot of years in terms of market power.

IFT voted for this rule last week and it was as a part of a review of all the antitrust rules in a periodic manner.

America Movil has seen a drop in their home profit margins from 45 percent to an amount less than 30 percent ever since the antitrust rules were imposed. The company still holds a market share of wireless telecommunication of as much as 70 percent.

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Jay Z’s Roc Nation empire has bolstered the formation of a new start-up called Arrive. As per a release on March 6, this new platform would focus on nurturing promising start-up companies.

Shawn Carter popularly known as “Jay Z” is launching Arrive, a new start-up firm as part of Roc Nation. The platform will collaborate with a selected group of early-stage startups to offer business and brand development services. The company would also provide financial support for their growth.

Roc Nation comprises of songwriters, producers, and music artists. On the other hand, its sports subdivision would aid professional athletes.

This would be the 1st alliance announced by the GlassBridge Asset Management. GlassBridge initially originated from Imation, the data storage company.

As per a news release, GlassBridge would help Arrive with institutional and operational support. GlassBridge’s spokesperson declined to elaborate on details.

GlassBridge Enterprises is headquartered in Oakdale. The enterprise is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GlassBridge Asset Management. The firm was initially created to help the technology-driven and quantitative strategies. Imation Corp formerly changed their name to GlassBridge Enterprises on February 21.

Arrive was created via a collaboration of GBAM (GlassBridge Asset Management), Jay Z’s Roc Nation, and Primary Venture Partners (company located in New York)

Talking about the company, Neil Sirni, the Head of New Ventures at Roc Nation said, “Arrive was created to leverage our experience and resources in building brands, developing consumer facing businesses, managing artists and representing athletes. We’ve opened that diversified, global range of expertise to a new vertical: entrepreneurs and their early stage businesses”.

He further continued citing, “Arrive also anticipates the launch of a traditional venture fund in order to, among other activities, support existing portfolio companies through their subsequent growth stages.”

Primary Venture Partners is primarily focused on seed investments of the industry, mainly for those industries that transform technology firms. Enterprise SaaS and next-gen commerce companies would serve as venture adviser to the new Jay-Z’s Arrive.

Ben Sun, the co-founder of Primary Venture Partners, expressed his excitement over the new collaboration venture with Roc Nation. He said, “What Roc Nation has built so far is a true testament to their vision, capabilities, and willingness to dig in and take their companies to the next level. We are thrilled to partner with the amazing team at Arrive and to leverage these unique resources to build the next generation of powerful brands.”

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Barnes Group Inc. announced on 6th March that it will be expanding its injection moulding technology business and for that, it is going to acquire Gammaflux LP. The terms of the deal have not been made public so far, although it is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.

Gammaflux, which has its headquarters in Sterling, Virginia, is a supplier of sequential gate valve gate controls and temperature controllers for hot runners. The company also has offices in Illinois and Germany. The primary business of the company is serving the plastic injection moulding industry.

Bristol-based Barnes has been in the acquisition mode since 2012 when it bought Synventive, the hot runner manufacturer. Post that acquisition it added Otto Männer, Priamus, Thermoplay to its kitty. The most recent acquisition was that of the maker of rotating cube moulds for thin-wall packaging Foboha. To acquire it, Barnes paid $136 million.

The senior vice president of Barnes Group, Scott Mayo said that they are looking forward to adding Gammaflux control systems to their existing moulding solutions business.

He said, “Gammaflux adds technologically advanced, hot runner temperature control systems to our existing product portfolio, which enable moulders to achieve precise temperature control of the injection moulding process within the mould. This will ensure high-quality parts in the most critical moulding applications. These capabilities, when combined with Barnes Group’s leading hot runner, complex mould, and sensor technologies, create an unsurpassed offering to our customers in the plastic injection moulding industry.”

Once this acquisition completes subject to the meeting of certain closing conditions, Gammaflux will become an integral part of Barnes Group’s industrial segment. The acquisition has nothing to do with Barnes Group’s consolidated financial position or liquidity and will take place if certain closing conditions applicable to both the companies are satisfied. This acquisition when completed will mark the continuation of Barnes, a company formed more than 150 years back in 1857, to build an international plastics technology group.

Barnes Group is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It is an industrial and aerospace manufacturer and service provider catering to clients globally.

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Uber Technologies Inc. is going through trying times. This online transportation network company based in San Francisco has been hit by a lot of very public setbacks in the recent weeks.

Some incidents are a blog post dated Feb 19 by Susan Fowler, a former engineer at the company, which said that the human resources division had failed to respond to the complaints of sexual harassment made by her and also the sudden departure of Senior Vice President of Engineering, Amit Singhal, who did not inform Uber that a very credible sexual harassment case was made against him while he was working at Google Inc.

Also Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, quit the economic advisory council of President Donald Trump after a lot of protests from the members of Uber staff and boycott of Uber services by customers. A video also surfaced where the CEO was having an argument with one Uber driver over the fares, which were falling. He did apologize for this.

The CEO sent a companywide email in which he said that he had hired former Tammy Albarran and US Attorney General Eric Holder partners at Covington & Burling L.L.P. to investigate these sexual harassment allegations. The law firm declined to comment on this.

Even Uber did not respond to comment requests and Mr. Singhal didn’t respond either.

The Vice President Andrew Foose for Navex Globel Inc. said that the companies fearing lawsuits should only give basic information of an employee when being asked about them, but the firm should make sure to find as much information about the prospective employee as they can, especially if the position is a senior management position.

Mr. Foose advises that while interviewing candidates for a job, the employers should directly ask them if they have been accused of any violation of company policy or misconduct in any way any time during their former employment.

Mr. Foose also warned about the referral lawsuits of negligent type, where the employer could be sued if they let another company knowingly hire an employee who was bad.

Pepper Hamilton L.L.P. counsel, Tracey Diamond said that the companies also leave themselves susceptible to charges of hiring negligently if they are not doing a great job in vetting the candidates and hires someone who had committed a crime or creates a work environment that is unsafe. 

The company clearly has a lot of work to do to improve its image. The Assistant Professor of Clinical Marketing, Ira Kalb, of USC Marshal School of Business LA, said that Uber should be employing a fact procedure where they apologize and admit their mistake and propose a clear solution to show that these kinds of incidents will not be occurring again. He was not surprised by this situation at Uber.

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Coca-Cola Co., the leading maker of soft drinks all across the world, has come up with a new strategy for the advertisement of their soft drinks. The company has launched an advertisement that is gay-friendly – it features a brother and a sister who are vying to gain the attention of a good-looking pool boy. This ad has won a lot of praise and appreciation as it is bringing out the notion of both inclusion as well as diversity.

This commercial made its first appearance during the last week. The Out Magazine also appreciated the ad and said that never before the rivalry between siblings appeared more inclusive. The Marketing Week also agreed with the comment and approved it.

Most shows on television as well movies are now revolving around a gay theme. This has become a common trend. But when it comes to the field of advertisements, it is comparatively slower to embrace the gay couples. This trend has been observed very specifically amongst all the marquee brands.

This ad is a part of the global campaign of Coca-Cola. It features a teenage girl who is ogling at a pool boy from a window downstairs. The girl’s brother is also ogling at the same boy from a window upstairs.

After that, the brother and sister race towards the refrigerator and make an attempt to trip one another and enter a bid to be the first to give the worker an ice-cold Coke. The ad has the “Come Prima” Italian song playing in the background. The song adds more fun to the existing commercial and makes it more appealing.

But in spite of all the efforts the brother and sister put in, by the time they reach the handsome open-shirted pool boy, they discover that their mother had already given him Coke.

Though the ad does not comprise of any dialogues, the entire act speaks volumes of emotions.  

There are totally 4 commercials under the global campaign of Coca-Cola, which is new. And this ad is one of the four commercials.

The senior manager, Ali Brubaker of the Public Relations Department of the global brand, Coca-Cola said that the advertisement symbolizes a human story in which Coca-Cola has a vital, key, and essential role to play when it comes to the drama development of the campaign.

He also added that the company tries to manage relevant messages culturally and organically within their spots. This does not form the main subject, but the sub text of the story.

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IRS, in recent times, has faced some substantial slashes in its budget, forcing it to make some difficult choices. It looks like the IRS executives have given up on the “Do more with less” slogan.

The IRS administration is currently in a state of flux mainly due to the recent Presidential Election. The IRS executives are trying everything possible to cut down their budgets. One of the methods that the IRS is trying is to minimize the face-to-face conferences, which happen between the taxpayers and the IRS Appeals Officers

As an alternative, the IRS officials suggested that they could conduct the conference via telephone. It is understandable that it is important for the IRS to take the necessary steps to balance the current budgetary constraints. However, a telephonic conference is not the right platform for resolving complex issues like tax disputes between the taxpayers and the IRS.

Many tax litigation and controversy attorneys believe that a telephonic conference call is not the right platform for resolving the complex matters involved in the administrative appeals submitted by the taxpayers.

If the lawyers are not in the same room as that of the decision makers, they cannot read their body language and measure the reaction of the IRS Appeals officers. Usually, an advocate or a lawyer adjusts his/her appeal based on how the IRS Appeals Officer is taking it. If a doubtful look is seen across the IRS Appeals Officer’s face, then the advocate would put forward his/her presentation in a different way so as to convey the message.

The other and the most important reason why the taxpayer’s advocate and the IRS Appeals team must have a face-to-face conference is that the Administrative Appeal is more negotiable in this manner.

This is the primary difference between an IRS Administrative Appeal and litigation. The IRS- Exam Team first presents its case well ahead of time, and later it’s removed from the appeal process. Then, the taxpayer’s representative tries to persuade an IRS Appeals Team to solve the tax issue in an acceptable (not necessarily favorable) manner to his/her client. Any experienced negotiators will testify that for the success of a negotiation; it must be done in person.

Regardless of the complexity or the size of the tax issue, each taxpayer must be given a fair chance to have a face-to-face negotiation with an IRS appeals officer so as to bring the tax issue to an acceptable decision. It is not a field where restrictions or shortcuts should be implied by the IRS to safeguard its limited resources.

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After rising to their highest on Friday, Nintendo Co. shares maintained their surging spree and rose 3.4 percent in early Monday trading. This happened after the successful launch of Switch, which is a hybrid console aimed at bringing the two different worlds of home gaming and mobile together.

The company shares were having a tumultuous time from past some time. While they skyrocketed after the launch of games like Super Mario Run and Pokemon Go, they slumped after the announcement of Switch probably because of the incorrect assumption of investors that the console gaming days are getting over.

The reality, however, is totally different. Mobile games are no doubt cheaper to develop, but making money from them is a tough job as when it comes to gaming the mobile platform is saturated. Console gaming, on the other hand, can give decent returns if the games are developed within sensible budgets.

The success of this hybrid console can be judged from the fact that the demand outstripped the supply in no time. With most of the retailers’ exhausting both their same-day inventory and pre-order in a matter of few hours, it is now clear that the company’s goal of selling two million units by this month end will be a reality soon. The gaming fans waited in cold in Toronto and New York to buy it at midnight sale events.

An analyst at Jefferies Group, Atul Goyal said, “There’s a sigh of relief today that the actual launch has gone smoothly so far. We have to wait and see if any major issue comes up by the end of the week.” There were some rumours regarding a potential defect in the Switch, which made the investors worried resulting in the share hitting south for four straight sessions prior to Friday.

Fans are excited about the new invention from Nintendo and one of the fans Adachi said, “I’m most excited about its portability. It’s different from smartphones because it has chunky buttons useful for action games. I’m looking forward to using it on the Shinkansen (bullet train) as I travel a lot between Osaka and Tokyo.” The switch can be considered as a tablet with wireless controllers. The user has the flexibility of using it on its own or plugging it to a TV.

The Kyoto-based company has brought its latest invention in the market for $300 and it is seen as the biggest bet of the company in recent years especially after the flop show of Wii U console.

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IBM is all ready to set a milestone in the field of quantum computers to enhance its business opportunities. It has already achieved commendable results with the help of Watson in the Artificial intelligence category as well as the in the category of block chain with the help of Fabric and Hyperledger.

Quantum computer is a very advanced technology. It is very different from the traditional computers. The quantum computers use the technicalities and fundamentals of physics to perform extremely complicated and rigorous calculations using bits (digits 0 and 1). 0 denotes off and 1 denotes on.

On the other hand, the quantum computer makes use of qubit. This qubit is capable of holding more than one state at any instance of time. This leads qubits to unleash the property of superposition used for the particles of quantum mechanics for the exponential power.  

The company said that ever since it opened access to their own quantum computing system for the public in May, more than 40,000 people have run about 275,000 experiments on it till date. Today, this system has a 5Qubit Processor that the whole internet can use.

The level of engagement from the outsiders is really encouraging, according to IBM. To get people up and running on their tech, IBM released a new API, which would allow developers to build software integrations between the normal computers and IBM’s quantum computing system residing in IBM research lab (in Yorktown Heights, NY). IBM would also release a simulator, which can model about 20Qubit circuits in the next few months and IBM also plans to put a full software development for their programmers.

This is just the beginning for Big Blue. The company is planning to make this commercial in the upcoming years.

IBM declined to specify the exact time for this commercial availability, but the company is contingent in researches overcoming the obstacles. The company is also seeking to prepare customers to ponder over how quantum computing would fit in their businesses in the next decade.

IBM is not the only company working on this. It has about six partners in its IBM Research Frontiers Institute collaborating to make quantum software and hardware design. The companies are Nagase, Canon, Hitachi Metals, Honda, JSR, and Samsung.

An analyst, Bob Sorensen working at IDC says that the technology does hold a lot of promise, but it won’t be ready for a lot of years. It must be clearly demonstrated that they are an improvement on the computers that we use today. By these announcements, IBM is tapping people on the shoulder by saying that they are committed to this.

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Recently many companies are undergoing troubles with regard to email scam. The official term for the email scam is referred and known as the CEO fraud and information regarding this has been provided by the Bureau of Financial Institutions state.

The Bureau of Financial Institutions made a statement on Wednesday through a news release and stated that the email scam that is the “CEO fraud” attempts to obtain money by means of a transfer through wire. The transaction that is targeted takes place by an employee in the office working either in the accounts or the finance branch. This activity is carried out by sending a number of emails to the several employees of the workforce by impersonating as any of the senior officials of the office.

The reports from multiple national organisations dedicating in maintaining business security have also coined these scams by the term business email compromise scam. The reports also suggest that the fraudulence of these emails are difficult to detect and may pass without any investigation. They are very convincing and thus do not raise any question of doubt. Some frauds are acing this scam technique by earning the trust of the person they are targeting. For this, they make sure to send a number of other messages and email to the target so that he thinks that the malicious email which leads to the wire transfer of money is also a genuine one.

Lloyd LaFountain, the Superintendent of the Bureau of Financial Institutions said that there are few measures which can help the target to identify a genuine email and spam on closer observation. He said that if the contents of the email are read closely then the target might be able to picks up hints and identify that the email is a scam message. However, he also added that these scams as well as others keep transforming and evolving from time to time and thus it becomes difficult to identify them.

He also stated that all the individuals must be very careful and caution while communicating their personal and financial details over emails, texts or call. They must verify the authenticity and only then reveal the information.

The administration of the bureau has urged everyone to reconfirm with the person who is asking for money wire transfer over email. You can either call the person separately or meet him directly to confirm if he has actually demanded for a wire transfer or not. The bureau also urged all the people to refrain from providing them credit cards, social security number and any other financial details until and unless they are sure that it is legitimate.

 

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On Wednesday, one of the largest environmental organisation of Maine, took pledge to “pursue every opportunity” to reverse the much controversial solar energy rules, which were adopted by the states’ Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

In January, this year, PUC permitted new rules surrounding the change in “net metering” strategies. As per the original policy, the homeowners would get credits on their electric bills if they fed excess solar energy back into the grid. But, as per the new policy, finalised on Wednesday, the homeowners who have already installed the solar panels shall continue to reap the benefits of the power they produce for the next 15 years, at the full retail rate. But, on the other hand, those owners who install solar panel system in the year 2018 or later would witness their credits reduced over time.

These new policies adopted but the PUC received a strong condemnation from environmental groups and installation companies, as well as by the Gov. Paul LePage. He is a critic of the state’s renewable energy resources policies.

‘The Natural Resources Council’ of the state of Maine denounced the 3-member PUC for approving “some of the most extreme anti-solar elements in the nation.” NRCM’s clean energy and climate director, Dylan Voorhees, said that such rules would “stifle investment in clean, local, solar power.” He also accused the board of adopting the policy without actual analyzation of costs and benefits of net-metering.

Voorhees said in a written statement that NRCM would not simply sit back, they will take hold of every opportunity, so as to overturn the extreme anti-solar rules formulated by the PUC. The written statement expressed that, “The best and swiftest solution is for the Legislature to enact an effective law to move Maine forward this session, before these extreme rules take effect at the end of 2017. The Legislature should be setting solar policy in Maine, not the PUC. With others, NRCM is also likely to file a ‘motion for reconsideration’ with the PUC, giving them one last chance to set aside these extreme changes.”

Having said that, it is still unclear whether the Legislature would pass such a bill to make it into law. Last year, the Legislature fell short of 2 votes for overriding LePage’s-veto of a bill to restore Maine’s solar policy. However, this year both the Senate and House seem even more divided, than that was seen during 2016 legislative session.

It is not the environment organisations who were displeased, even the Conservation Law Foundation expressed their disapproval over the new policy.

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A lot of auto companies and tech companies think that within the next decade, the public roads will have driverless cars. Boston Consulting Group conducted a research, which estimated the driverless car market including cars, and the technologies in the cars to worth about $42 Billion by the year 2025.

Forecasts like these have made the market for driverless cars a booming one for the speculators. Due to this, many of the industry’s top stocks have gone up.

The rapidly growing automotive chip business by NVIDIA for driverless and connected cars has grown 220% in the past 12 months now trades at almost 40 times the earnings. Mobileye, providing the collision detection systems for most of the automakers in the world rallying over 40% in the 12 months trades at about 114 times the earnings.

Investors who are conservative might go towards these higher valuations but there are a lot of cheaper ways to expose yourself to this highly growing market. The two companies that are undervalued are Ford and Qualcomm, trading at very low multiples but might reap a lot of gains from the autonomous vehicle growth.

Ford has also invested a lot in this market in past two years. In 2015, a $4.5 Billion investment was announced by the automaker into autonomous and electric vehicles by 2020.

In 2016, Ford declared that they would mass produce millions of driverless cars and would use them in a ride hailing operation by the year 2021. Israeli startup SAIPS was also acquired for this very reason. They also announced acquisition of San Francisco’s ride hailing service Chariot this month.

 

Qualcomm, on the other hand, is known for being the biggest chipmaker for mobile in the world but it is in line of becoming the biggest chipmaker for automotive as well if the acquisition of NXP Semiconductors gets approved by the regulators.

Qualcomm is now diversifying their business from mobile and foraying into connected cars, wearables, IoT gadgets, and drones. In 2015, it acquired CSR to gain both the markets and offered $47 billion to NXP in 2016. If this deal closes, Qualcomm would boost their serviceable addressable markets by 40% in 2020. But the stock of this company underperformed with only 9% gain in 12 months. Although, the stock having P/E of 17 is a fairly cheap way to get into driverless and connected cars.

Ford and Qualcomm stocks are really low as they face near term challenges. These headwinds could easily drive their stocks lower therefore investors should clearly understand the risk involved. But, if investors are really interested in the driverless car market, then they should keep a close eye on both the stocks, as they are cheaper than most of the stocks in this market and are still promising.

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A lot of women, who worked for the largest US jewelry retail company, are alleging that they suffered from promotion and wage discrimination and about 200 of them described the working atmosphere at the company as an atmosphere where female employees endure sexual advances from the male superiors of the company.

Statements came up where former and current women workforce of another jeweler under the same parent company as Jared Jewelry and Kay Jewelers, Sterling Jewelers Inc. described the atmosphere of secrecy in pay where men had powerful positions and qualified women being publicly demeaned or passed over for promotions in some cases.

Female employees said that the Sterling executives and managers grabbed them from their bodies without their consent, kissed them, gave them sex propositions and spoke about their bodies and sex during company events.

249 statements, mostly by women, were sworn statements collected due to a class action lawsuit against the company filed in 2008, which alleged the violation of Civil Rights Act and Equal Pay Act. The sexual improprieties allegations were offered to show the context of the workplace where the pay discrimination occurred.

About 69,000 former and current employees, who were affected by this promotion and wage discrimination, are covered under this suit, which dated back to as early as 1990s. 10,000 women filed documentation of pay discrimination, according to the attorney who is handling this suit.

As this suit is tried by arbitration, as opposed to public trial where there is a judge or a jury, most of the case information is kept on the down low till now.

After a request by The Washington Post, a judge had ordered to release more than 1300 pages of the sworn statements on Sunday.

These statements showed that women were mostly hired as employees at lower levels at Jared and Kay stores and were not allowed to discuss wages, but via informal conversations, they found out that men who were doing the same work were payed higher.

For example, Timeen Adair, who worked from 1992 to 2009 at Sterling, said that she had found out that her pay was less than a man working in the same position. She complained about her manager and was promoted eventually.

When she got promoted to store manager, she saw a pattern where the female sales associates were payed $1 an hour less than their male counterparts.

Kalpana Kotagal, the class counsel on this case, said that the unwanted advances sexually are relevant to this claim of gender discrimination as they point a clear culture of intimidation in the sexual sense at the company. This evidence clearly shows sexual discrimination at the company and therefore the pay is also discriminated.

 

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Have you ever donated to charity via PayPal’s fundraising platform? Well, if you have, this news might come out as a shocker to you. Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed, alleging that the donation given through PayPal’s Giving Fund, may not reach the actual intended recipients.

The lawsuit filed claims that PayPal’s fundraising platform holds on to the money that is intended for recipients or organizations that aren’t registered with their platform. Also, PayPal does not “notify the unregistered charities that a donation has been made to them or that they need to create an account in order to receive the money.”

The report further alleges that PayPal has its own way of handling such donation. They allegedly transfer such donation to an interest-bearing account,“refuse[s] to promptly deliver” the donations. After accruing some interest on the money for a few months, they ultimately give the fund to a“similar” charity.

This is troubling news, especially for the smaller organizations. The bigger ones like Red Cross are registered at PayPal’s fundraising platform, so they will continue to receive their share of donations without any hassles. But, what happens to the smaller organizations that are in actual need of these donations? Even though there are donors who are directing funds to these groups, their efforts, as we have come to know, are in vain.

If you are not quite sure of what PayPal actually is, we will clear things out for you. PayPal Giving Fund is essentially a middleman for charitable donations. When donors give some amount via the firm’s fundraising platform, they initially go through PayPal Giving Fund section. After that, once a month the donations are transferred to the respective charities, as per the PayPal Site.

So, when does the problem actually arise? It is when a donation is made to an organization that isn’t registered with PayPal Giving Fund. In such cases, what PayPal is supposed to do is contact the organization to let them know that there is a donation waiting for them and that they need to register with PayPal Fundraising Platform in order to receive it.

The lawsuit filed claims that as “a general practice”, this course of action is not followed, observing that PayPal’s security reports filings from the year 2015 list only around 29,000 charities that have registered with PayPal, despite their claims that visitors can “choose from over a million charities.”

In the past years, if you have made any donations especially to the local or smaller charity, through PayPal, you should consider reaching out to the organization to check if they received your money and it might be best for you and the organization if you wait for the outcome of this lawsuit before making any more donations through this platform.

 

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The new administration under Trump is busy with legislation that is squarely aimed at stripping Americans of consumer protections they got through CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). The Republicans seem to have made it their top priority to eliminate it and repeal Dodd-Frank provisions.

The banking industry was unanimous that consumers use CFPB platform to single out firms and a low-level complaint is given the same weight as a serious allegation. The CFPB then uses these flawed and incomplete metrics to harass the businesses. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while defending itself said that the complaints that come to it are from the real people. It gives an insight into the consumer’s experience with the various financial institutions and the consumers have got a platform in the real sense where their grievances are actually heard and taken care of.

The Republican government has now decided to make businesses happy and are working on a bill, which if becomes a law will eliminate the existence of CFPB. There are nearly six bills for review that aim at different aspects of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law and the CFPB thus created.

The Vice President of policy and mobilisation for Consumer Reports, Laura MacCleery said, “The very same lawmakers who fought the creation of the CFPB are now hoping to take both the bark and bite out of this critical consumer watchdog. These bills would cripple the CFPB’s ability to stand up to the big banks and predatory lenders and leave consumers vulnerable to financial scams and rip-offs.”

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga introduced a bill last week, which if passed would give the entire control over the protection group’s budget to the Congress. If it happens, the very purpose of having an agency that cannot be influenced by the financial industry lobbyists will be defeated.

Another bill introduced by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb last month proposes to replace the single independent director of CFPB with a five-member commission. The Republicans have also called the firing of CFPB Director.  Under the current structure, CFPB is an independent entity and even the President of the United States does not have the power of removing its Director. Richard Cordray, the director, however, made it clear that he does not intend to step down before completing his term, which continues till 2018.

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The current Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer has decided to dock her pay and she is also giving up the stock award of 2017 and 2016 bonus due to the data breach the internet giant suffered in 2014. This move would cause Marissa a slight loss of about $14 Million only.

Record was the one who reported the data breach for the first time. This breach had a plethora of information that was sensitive to about millions of customers.

To investigate the matter, an independent committee was setup. This committee said that Mayer didn’t mean to run Yahoo with such loose security and the report by the committee didn’t even conclude if there was a suppression of information.

Apparently, it is the job of the lawyers to keep data secure as the giant booted their head lawyer, Ron Bell after the committee’s report. According to the report, the legal team had enough information for conducting a formal inquiry, which could reveal more details of the breach in the year 2014 only, but they decided not to pursue it.

Even social media had baffled comments on this announcement most being anti-Mayer and pro-Bell. People, who had worked with Bell, also disliked this move by the giant.

VijayaGadde, Twitter’s Head of Legal Affairs said that he has little to no knowledge about Yahoo’s breach, but he knew that lawyers are very easily blamed for everything. Ron Bell was a hell of a lawyer, according to him. A former Yahoo executive, Scott Moore also came to the lawyer’s aid by saying that this move was ridiculous and Ron Bell was a great lawyer. He added that lawyers aren’t in charge of the security.

There was a lot of truth in these comments. Many close sources also commented on the situation by saying that Yahoo’s ways of handling things after the breach was revealed were not clear cut as compared to their filing determination today. During these two years, security executives kept leaving the company. These departures included Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos, who after a lot of clashes on security issues with the CEO, left the company to join Facebook.

The summary of the filing by the company is given here:

  1. This investigation revealed that the information security in-charges at the company had enough information about these incidents.
  2. The senior execs and legal staff also knew that an actor who was state sponsored had access to a lot of accounts by hacking into the tool for account management.
  3. Although, actions to remedy that were taken and all 26 years were notified and authorities were consulted as well.

After this filing, the acquisition of Yahoo would go smoothly after already seeing a $350 million discount due to this breach.

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Priceline, a reputed online travel agent, posted strong Q4 earnings, which led to its stock rising by 6% during the intraday trading. It has properties that include Agoda, Booking.com, and kayak along with its namesake site.

In this result, the company posted a 17.4% increase in revenue. The market estimate was $2.32 billion, while it came up with the figure of $2.35 billion in revenue. The impressive rise in revenue is mainly attributed to the big 31% jump in one of the biggest segments of Priceline, which is ‘room nights booked’. This segment grew fastest in at least two years.

Glenn Fogel, the Chief Operating Officer of Priceline said, “The company saw solid organic growth and attractive profit margins in its hotel segment, and credited accelerating growth on its scaled accommodations platform and strong execution by our global teams.”

If we see the bottom line, the adjusted EPS (earnings per share) increased by 32% to touch $14.21, which beat the market expectations of $13.01 by a good margin. In the same quarter last year, the EPS was $10.73 on $1.99 billion in revenue.

In the year 2015, the Americans had wasted 658 million vacation days, but during the last year this trend changed and that is reflecting on the results of Priceline. The company managed gross bookings of $15.11 billion, whereas the same expected by FactSet’s consensus was $14.57 billion.

In the last one year, the stock of Priceline has been on a northern trajectory surging by some 30 percent in 12 months. The all-time intraday high of the stock is $1,664.99, which was made recently on Feb. 23. Some analysts are of the opinion that given the strong performance of the company the stock has the potential to touch $2000.

When the company posted its third quarter earnings, it said that Open Table, its restaurant booking site will cut down on its growth story. The same could be seen in this quarter earnings when the results were impacted negatively by $941 million impairment charge. This happened as the expansion strategy at Open Table is slowly taking shape.

The company said in a statement, “While OpenTable will continue to pursue … growth opportunities, they will do so on a more measured and deliberate basis.”

The high momentum in the hotel bookings might result in making 2017 another winning year for the company.

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Congratulations to Audi, BMW, Lexus, and Porsche for making it to the list of the best-performing brands in the Consumer Reports’ yearly rankings. But, the lower budget carmakers are not far behind.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Brands like Kia, Honda, Mazda, Buick, and Subaru also made it to the list of top 10 brands for the year 2017. The highest-ranking United States-based brand was Tesla, which placed itself at the #8 position. The poorest performers were brands like Mitsubishi, Fiat, and Jeep.

Consumer Reports ranked the brands based on factors like road tests along with satisfaction and reliability ratings that were based on owner reviews. Safety was also a huge factor. Marks would get deducted for the vehicles if they performed poorly in the government crash tests. Additional points were awarded if the vehicles had forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking as standard equipment.

A new rule was added this year according to which points would be deducted if the vehicle had an automatic transmission shifter that is tough to operate or if it doesn’t return to “park” automatically when the engine is either turned off or the driver’s side door is open.

The automakers are trying to free up some space in the front seat by coming up with uncommon shifter designs, including buttons and rotary knobs. But, improper implementing of such designs could be dangerous.

Last April, Fiat Chrysler had to recall about 1.1 million vehicles immediately after forty-one users reported damages because their vehicles rolled over when they thought the vehicle was in “park.”

Consumer Reports claimed that only one rotary shifter, seen in the 2017-Ford Fusion, met their standards. Various other vehicles, including the popular ones like Chrysler 300, Lexus CT 200h, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, are no longer recommended because of their rotary shifters.

Jake Fisher, the Consumer Reports’ director of auto-testing said, “Shifter design can’t just change for change’s sake. It has to actually make things better.”

The auto manufacturing industries keep a keen eye on Consumer Reports’ rankings as it influences many buyers. A New York-based nonprofit organization, Yonkers buys the vehicles it tests and later prints the outcome in its monthly magazine.

Consumer Reports endorsed 100 percent of the tested vehicles from brands like BMW Mazda and Porsche. Vehicles from brands like Chrysler, Mini, Dodge, Land Rover, Jaguar, Mitsubishi, Fiat or Jeep were not recommended.

Brands like Alfa Romeo, Genesis, Maserati, Ram and Smart were not included in the survey as they lacked the necessary information.

Consumer Reports also recommended vehicle models based on category. For the small car category, Chevrolet Cruze was the best pick, Kia Optima was picked as the best midsize car and Chevrolet Impala was the best large car. The best performing hybrid was Toyota Prius and the best sports car had to be Mazda MX-5.

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The US is thinking of pursuing tougher enforcement of all the trade rules that exist with China specifically and also all the other nations. This statement was said by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross before the addressing by President Donald Trump to the congress this Tuesday night.

In an interview, Wilbur Ross said that there is no point in making trade deals if the parties don’t end up enforcing them and enforcement would be applied to everyone.

Wilbur Ross was sworn as the Commerce Secretary earlier Tuesday only. He said during the confirmation hearing held for him that he would prioritize renegotiation of the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) with Canada and Mexico. He also said that he would be leveling the field of play with countries like China. He called China as the most protectionist of the major nations.

Wilbur Ross also said that he had specific measures to be taken against China. These specific measures are supposedly going to be announced as soon as they have prepared a case that is proper for them. He also said that the Trump Administration would fix NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and make it not just a deal of free trade but a fair deal.

Wilbur Ross also said that the administration run by President Donald Trump is also planning to implement deregulation programs. These deregulation programs are planned to not only cover the financial sector, but others too. They also have planned to include rules that cover environmental protection and also the labor market in these deregulation programs. He also added that the United States of America has many different rules. These rules are unimaginable and these rules are definitely blocking the straight growth of American businesses.

When Wilbur Ross was asked if there could be an economic growth of three percent or more than three percent in the year after 2017 for the United States of America, he said that according to his hypothesis, the year 2018 is going to be an excellent year for the economy of the United States of America.

Wilbur Ross, who is also a billionaire and a businessman, is going to be the most important and seasoned leaders in the business sector to be part of the economic team administered by President Donald Trump. Ross has been an equity investor for a long time now. He has been able to restructure a lot of companies and across a wide variety of industries. These industries include textiles, banking, and steel to name a few. According to Bloomberg, the fortune of Wilbur Ross is valued at an amount of at least 3 billion dollars.

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In Tuesday’s extended trading, shares of Salesforce.com Inc. plummeted 2 percent after they released their forecast for the full fiscal year and outlook for the next quarter. Their revenue was raised for the full year slightly above what analysts had expected, but their profit for the next quarter outlook was lower than what the analysts had expected.

The company expects their adjusted profits for the first quarter to be 25 to 26 cents per share. Analysts, on the other hand, had expectations of a profit per share of 30 cents.

Mark Hawkins, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, told the investors in a recent conference call that this mixed outlook is because of more customers who have booked large deals in the fourth quarter of the company, which has resulted in a steep drop in the first quarter outlook. Hawkins added that it was because of the holiday season.

The focus of the company has been more towards partnerships and acquisitions for bolstering their services and gaining a market share against the stiff competition by competitors like Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

Salesforce.com’s core sales software revenues increased to $3 Billion by about 13.3%. This was a faster rise in the recent years and also a surprise to the analysts who considered the core software their oldest and least likely to be a driver of revenue growth as compared to the other products by the firm.

Analysts believe this expansion was due to the new features added to the product like recommendation feature, which allows salespeople to know where to call next and overall growing market for sales software.

A Wedbush analyst, Steve Koenig believes that there is going to be a lot of opportunities of growth ahead. Salesforce.com has been working on broadening their services portfolio with hopes of keeping their existing users. The company launched an AI Einstein in the month of October as part of their efforts.

Their full year guidance for revenue slightly increased from the range of $10.1 Billion – $10.15 Billion to a range of $10.15 Billion – $10.20 Billion. Reuters’ analysts expected the revenues to be $10.16 billion.

The net loss of the company widened to 7 cents a share or $51.4 million in the last quarter from a loss of 4 cents a share or $25.5 million.

If you exclude items, the total earnings per share for the company was 28 cents. The revenue showed a rise of 26.8% to $2.29 billion. The expectations of analysts was a profit of 25 cents a share and a revenue of $2.28 billion.

Up to the close on Tuesday at $81.35, the stock of the company has risen 20% in the past 12 months.

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Destinations of the new United Airlines are not as popular as the other travel spots. Some of these destinations are Rochester, Columbia, and Champaign starting from Chicago.

The President of United Airlines, Scott Kirby said that these airlines are an attempt to emerge victorious in the share market that includes its domestic hubs. For example, the O’Hare International Airport was lost when the airline was at the stage of a docile competitor.

This Monday, the airline also announced that United will commence 47 round-trip daily flights this summer and this will be inclusive of the 6 new destinations from O’Hare Airport.

The trips to the cities in Midwest were initially ignored by the airline; however, now they have included them in the new destinations.

Kirby said that the Chicago area is not big enough to accommodate the non-stop flights to various international destinations (For example, Tel Aviv). He also said that when the travelers from smaller cites make their flying frequent then these plans will make more sense.

American Airlines is currently serving the mid-west destinations of United States like the Champaign, Rochester, and Columbia. Delta Airlines also operates flights to the city of Rochester.

Before joining United, Kirby was serving in the position of a president at the American Airlines. He said that sometime in the past, there were nearly 18 markets around the area of Chicago that were only under the operation of American Airlines. Kirby said that he is still perplexed as to why United let American operate there for so long.

Kirby also said that United Airlines will expand its destinations and routes and enhance their reliability and profits. As far as O’Hare Airport is concerned, the growth will depend on the access granted to several gates and prevent the cost from increasing.

O’Hare Airport’s modernization program is worth about 10 billion dollars. The airport has added many runways and more are under construction. But there is a still a challenge if the number of gates are less and there is not enough place for the flights to land and take off. This can cause some restriction in the traffic of passengers. The Department of Aviation at Chicago has informed that United has leased 77 gates out of 186 and on the other hand American Airlines has 67 gates.

Ginger Evans, the commissioner of aviation has said that they will fully cooperate with United and provide them with all the required facilities and resources.

Kirby also said that United is looking forward to add a few gates as soon as possible and within the calculated capital before an overhaul takes place.

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With the hopes of President Donald Trump’s big infrastructure announcement on Tuesday, the stocks in US ended higher on Monday and Dow Jones Industrial Average had a record high closing for the 12th straight session.

Dow’s streak of record highs matches their 12 day run in the year 1987 with UnitedHealth and Boeing being among the biggest boosts on Monday for Dow. S&P 500 also had a record high closing. The energy index, which is up by 0.9 percent, gave the required boost to S&P 500.

Trump, who met the governors at White House, also said that he is seeking a historic increasing in their military spending of about 9%, while he also said that his administration would be quickly moving on the regulatory reforms.

These comments by Trump were ahead of his first address at the Congress joint session Tuesday evening. The investors want more specifics on plans by Trump, as hefty gains have been seen in the market after the election win.

Leaf Group CEO Sean Moriarty is interviewed on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Bucky Hellwig, the senior VP at BB&T Wealth Management situated in Birmingham, Alabama, said that all the things are moving according to Trump’s agenda, but they are hoping to get a much clearer picture tomorrow night after which they would start some buying or selling.

Most investors, including Hellwig, feel that there is most probably an upside rather than downside from this address seeing how the market had reacted in the past recent weeks.

US Defense company shares like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Boeing rose after Donald Trump promised that he would be boosting spending of Pentagon by $54 billion in his first budget proposal.

UnitedHealth was up by 1.4 percent and Boeing was up by 1.1 percent.

Dow rose 9.2 percent in its 1987 12-day record high close streak compared with a gain of just 3.9 percent in the current record run.

Although there was a rise of 10.8 percent in S&P 500 since the election in November 8, the rally pace has slowed this year as compared to previous years.

A few weeks ago, Trump promised a phenomenal tax announcement, which helped rekindle the rally that took place post-election that drove the main US markets to their record highs.

The stocks of Time Warner ended up by 0.9% after the news came that the US Federal Communications Commission head doesn’t expect to review the plan by AT&T Inc. to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 Billion. AT&T, on the other hand, fell by 1.3%.

S&P had posted one new low and 63 new 52 week highs. NASDAQ Composite had recorded 45 new lows and 143 new highs.

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Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, has moved away from his statement, “If there’s lots of technology, we won’t understand it,” and going for more and more Apple shares.

By the end of Q3, Berkshire had 15.2 million shares, but by the end of Q4, it nearly quadrupled to 57.4 million amounting to $7.74 billion. Post the quarter four, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway had added a lot more and today it owns 133 million shares, which amount to nearly $17 billion.

The firm’s holding in Apple is nearly 2.5% today and it is the third biggest holding of Berkshire after Kraft Heinz and Wells Fargo. Although Buffett always shied away from technological shares with IBM shares being an exception, he has always maintained that one should buy ‘great businesses at fair prices than fair businesses on the cheap.’

The question that comes to everyone’s mind is, “What is that is prompting Buffett to come out of his comfort zone and invest heavily in the technological company?” Is it the influence of Combs or Weschler both of whom are the probable candidates to succeed as chief investment officer in Berkshire after Buffet?

When this question was put forward to Buffett by CNBC’s Becky Quick, he answered, “Because I liked it.” He said, “We’ve spent a lot of money since Dec. 31. Apple’s share price has shot up since then. It’s at a price different than I would buy it now.”

On being prodded further by Becky, Buffett said that he realised that Apple is a consumer product maker and most of its customers are very loyal to the innovative products that Apple brings in. Thus, if a consumer once buys ‘an Apple’, he keeps coming back for more. Buffett still uses his old cell phone, which is a Samsung model and pointing at it, he joked that there is still a vast, untapped market left of 86-year-old guys who don’t own Apple products yet.

In this year alone, the share price of Apple has gone up by 18 percent, which is huge and it is one of the best performing scripts at the Dow. Dow itself is having a run of life with 12 straight high closings. The current worth of Apple is $720 billion, while Berkshire Hathaway is worth $420 billion as on date. Buffett is hopeful that Apple will touch the $1 trillion mark soon and obviously much before his Berkshire Hathaway.

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