Five Top European States Young Americans Are Thriving

Despite the current economic climate, and the eye-watering cost of living that has already affected millions of American households, a portion of younger adults are still finding it manageable to thrive financially even as financial anxiety persists. It’s not completely possible to ignore the major economic headwinds many Americans have experienced throughout the year. Skyrocketing […] Despite the current economic climate, and the eye-watering cost of living that has already affected millions of American households, a portion of younger adults are still finding it manageable to thrive financially even as financial anxiety persists. It’s not completely possible to ignore the major economic headwinds many Americans have experienced throughout the year. Skyrocketing inflation has sent consumer prices soaring, leaving consumers baffled over whether they will be able to cope with the increasing cost of living. In June 2022, the Consumer Price Index hit a red-hot 9.1%, the highest recorded in more than four decades. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   During the same time inflation was sending warning signs across the economy, motorists were paying on average $4.96 per gallon of regular gas, in some places such as California, gas prices hit a staggering $6.39 per gallon. Fortunately, since then, gas prices have substantially come down in recent months, but have seen going up by a couple of cents in the last few weeks. Pricier goods and expensive gas isn’t the only thing that’s been hurting American households. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) recently hiked its prime interest rate by another 75 basis points, marking the highest interest rates have climbed since the financial crisis back in 2007. Jerome Powell, Chair of the FOMC commented that the Federal Reserve will continue to increase the cost of borrowing until they have managed to push inflation down to its target 2% range. The aggressive rate hikes have been a major headwind for not just more financially secure adults, but more so for the younger generations of Americans who were hoping to purchase their first or second home this year. On the back of this, recent indicators have also revealed that the median rental price has also jumped by 4.8% in the past year. Increased consumer demand as people returned to cities, and higher operating costs have sent rental prices spiraling in the last few months. A Redfin rental report from May 2022 revealed that the median price rental price in the country surpassed the $2000 per month threshold for the first time, with the outlook showing possibilities of further increases in the near future. Americans, young and old are paying more for nearly everything these days, and it’s likely to remain this way for the next few years. As economic conditions uncontrollably deteriorate faster than experts predicted, younger Americans are finding it easier and more affordable to relocate abroad in the hopes of enjoying a more affordable lifestyle. While there are several top countries Americans are considering moving to, for many millennials in the U.S. allied European nations are providing them with more attractive jobs and financial opportunities. Recent statistics indicate that among non-European citizens that currently reside within the European Union (EU) 17% relocated for work purposes, 3% for education, and 39% for family-related reasons. Although there is no direct indication of how many of these non-EU citizens were American-born, it, however, paints a vivid picture of how European nations are allowing migrants better opportunities economically. Where in Europe Are Millennials Thriving? While there are countless well-known cities in the U.S.that can offer millennials a place to call home, many are choosing EU nations that allow them an affordable cost of living, financial security, and access to affordable housing. The onset of remote working and work-from-home jobs has only further pivoted many to consider moving abroad. While the odds may be stacked against them in a foreign country, the stronger dollar to Euro is also slightly helping play more in their favor as they settle abroad. On top of that, some of these countries on our list have favorable tax regulations, and overall can offer a better quality of life, something which many younger Americans are seeking amid the cost of living crisis. Let’s see which European states are the top places where young Americans are thriving. Switzerland For decades Switzerland has topped many lists as one of the most livable countries in the world, offering citizens a high quality of life and first-rate public services. While Switzerland isn’t part of the European Union, it still offers a unique European experience like no other with its picturesque scenery, and easy access to neighboring countries including Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Liechtenstein. Popular cities for expats include Basel, Lausanne, and Zurich, which have been found to be among the best-performing hubs for political stability and urban development. While expats can enjoy better education and healthcare services often subsidized by the government, the cost of living is still more than what the average American could afford. Despite this financial challenge, the multicultural and diverse cities give American millennials a better opportunity to settle and perhaps start a family. Portugal As one of the smaller Western European states, Portugal has been ranked 48th among the 50 major economies in the world. The country has been slowly rebuilding its economy after experiencing major downturns during the first half of the 21st century, and in 2021, inflation was around 1.27%, while the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) registered a 4.7% inflation rate. Like other countries across the world that currently offer remote workers a chance at applying for an Expat Visa, a similar visa allows expats to apply and reside within the country for up to two years. The program allows expats to apply for permanent residency within five years of living in the country, making it one of the easiest routes to European citizenship. Although the country has a lot to offer in terms of public services, such as affordable healthcare and education, the COVID-19 pandemic saw an additional 400,000 Portuguese residents being impoverished due to financial uncertainty. Although there are some challenges that the country will still need to resolve in the coming years, it’s undoubtedly one of the more affordable EU nations which have captured the attention of millennial expats. Iceland Although Iceland is not considered one of the most affordable countries in the world, the country has a lot to offer its residents in terms of public services and recreational attractions. The Nordic nation, which is also known as the land of Fire and Ice, partially due to its active volcanoes, and snow-topped mountain ranges has attracted a small community of expats who are able to afford their way around. Most recent figures revealed that in January 2020, roughly 15.2% of the country’s population was made up of legal immigrants and expats. While the country has a small population of just under 400,000, in recent times it’s become a lot more expat-friendly due to the free movement of people coming from continental Europe and other developed nations. If universal state-sponsored healthcare isn’t something that piques your interest, perhaps the 557 hiking trails, backpacking routes, and numerous camping sites will help decide to relocate a bit easier. Large-scale remote working has also meant that since 2020, the country now offers working-from-home professionals the opportunity to legally reside in the country before having to re-apply for the right to remain. Spain  Ranked as the fourth largest economy in the EU, and 14th globally, Spain has become an international hub for business, tourism, and expats looking to take advantage of the numerous economic benefits the country has to offer. Aside from having a substantially developed economy, the country recently witnessed a surge in international firms being headquartered within its borders, seeing more than 14,600 foreign firms setting up their business in the last few years. On top of this, foreign investors have also found that investment opportunities provide better and more lucrative financial well-being, as the government seeks to provide them with an innovative and progressive workforce. Millennials who reside here enjoy affordable housing, among other economic benefits. There is also a well-functioning healthcare system, and most recent government efforts have seen the country move to improve its tax regulations to attract middle-tier working professionals. Germany Being one of the largest and most progressive economies in the European Union, Germany has ample to offer its residents including universal healthcare, tuition-free schools, and some of the best public transportation the continent has to offer. Industry is one of the country’s strongholds, including automotive, mechanical engineering, chemical, and electrical industries. Like other countries around the world, Germany has been struggling to control soaring inflation which hit a piping hot 10% in September. In an effort to control the rampant running rate at which prices have been increasing, the government has unveiled a €200 billion plan to assist consumers in the fight against the cost of living crisis. Although economic conditions have been tumultuous, the government has been actively working to control uncertainty for residents. The country has a strong workforce and offers ample job opportunities for those in their respective professional fields. If you’re lucky enough to obtain a work or residence permit, it’s definitely worth the effort as many expats have found. The Changing Tide On the bright side, it’s starting to look as if consumers are changing their sentiment in terms of current economic conditions. Recent preliminary data compiled by the University of Michigan showed that the consumer sentiment index increased from 58.2 in August, to 59.5 for the first half of September. While a marginal increment, it remains higher than the 50 recorded in June of this year when the economy started to erode on itself. Although it may still take some time before conditions improve, there is a small enclave of Americans who have been able to thrive in current conditions, as these states not only offer better paying jobs with higher wages, but also a more affordable cost of living. Making a living as an American millennial means that a majority of jobs now offer more competitive salaries, work benefits, and the possibility of working from home or remotely. Although this sounds enticing, millennials are still found to be the most in debt generation in the country, as nearly 73% of them have some form of non-mortgage debt, with the average millennial owing close to $117,000. The high amounts of debt have only further burdened many younger millennials, making it harder for them to properly save for retirement, or put money aside for bigger ventures such as buying a house or property. Again, it comes to show that although millennials may be in a comfortable financial position to some extent, they’re still carrying major debt burdens that will take decades to finish repaying. The Bottom Line While countless factors have made the financial outlook increasingly challenging for millions of Americans, it’s clear that some countries offer them an opportunity to thrive under the current economic climate. With better-paying jobs, booming industries, and evergreen tax provisions, several foreign countries are allowing residents to enjoy a better quality of life even as the cost of living has sent shockwaves across the world. In due time, these and other nations may look to make dramatic changes to the way they attract and retain younger and more skilled workers to help uplift the local economy. Although this may take some time before successfully initiated, it just comes to show that younger Americans are continuously looking for better and more lucrative opportunities, even if this means they need to relocate to a different country. Perhaps this is all temporary, but the future outlook is presenting itself in a completely different way, leaving many young Americans to seek out new ventures that provide them with the financial and social security their older counterparts enjoyed in the decades before......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 30th, 2022

Motto Mortgage and wemlo Appoint Industry Veteran Chris Erickson as New Vice President of Product and Strategy

Motto® Mortgage and wemloSM, have announced the appointment of industry veteran, Chris Erickson, as vice president of product and strategy for both brands. Erickson brings nearly two decades of experience in the financial services industry, previously serving as vice president of product management for Guaranteed Rate, head of product for Rental Property Solutions at CoreLogic,… The post Motto Mortgage and wemlo Appoint Industry Veteran Chris Erickson as New Vice President of Product and Strategy appeared first on RISMedia. Motto® Mortgage and wemloSM, have announced the appointment of industry veteran, Chris Erickson, as vice president of product and strategy for both brands. Erickson brings nearly two decades of experience in the financial services industry, previously serving as vice president of product management for Guaranteed Rate, head of product for Rental Property Solutions at CoreLogic, assistant vice president and product manager for Mr. Cooper (previously Nationstar Mortgage) and holding various product management roles at CitiBank, Caliber and Primary Residential Mortgage, a release stated. Throughout his career, Erickson has been heavily involved in the end-to-end mortgage origination process, overseeing the strategic, tactical product management, and development of mortgage origination workflow solutions, the company stated. Motto and wemlo say his work has also been integral to building proprietary systems that create improved, simplified and easy-to-use platforms for end users. “We are thrilled to welcome Chris to the team to help propel the growth of these young, thriving brands,” said Ward Morrison, president and CEO of Motto Franchising, LLC and wemlo, LLC. “His extensive industry experience has allowed him to learn the challenges originators and consumers face in the home buying experience and he will work to develop solutions that improve and streamline the process for our franchisees and customers.” The release states that in his new role, Erickson’s primary responsibilities include product management, the procurement and advancement of technology solutions, and overseeing the training department and support teams for Motto Mortgage and wemlo. For the Motto Mortgage brand, Erickson’s primary focus is to ensure the product ecosystem for franchisees is streamlined. He will also work to introduce new technology to the mortgage broker network that will allow franchisees to build and scale their businesses more effectively. For wemlo, Erickson will focus on enhancing the existing loan processing platform to improve user experience and continue building unique and innovative technology solutions for the mortgage brokerage channel. “I’ve always prided myself on being a leader who turns ideas into action, leveraging my refined skill set to take a concept from ideation to go-to-market in the most effective way,” Erickson said. “I am excited to join the Motto and wemlo teams during this time of rapid growth and am honored to be leading the charge in the development of an origination platform that is poised to disrupt the mortgage industry.” For more information, visit The post Motto Mortgage and wemlo Appoint Industry Veteran Chris Erickson as New Vice President of Product and Strategy appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaJun 10th, 2022

Asylum Seekers Overwhelm Shelters In Portland, Maine

Asylum Seekers Overwhelm Shelters In Portland, Maine Authored by Steven Kovac via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Facing an impending humanitarian crisis, Portland Family Shelters Director Mike Guthrie has a simple message to anyone who will listen, “We need help!” Families of asylum seekers warehoused outside of an overcrowded family shelter in Portland, Maine, on May 25, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) Guthrie, a hands-on, frontline worker in the effort to feed, clothe, and house a continuous flow of foreign nationals arriving in Portland by airplane or bus from the U.S. southern border, told The Epoch Times, “Our family shelter facilities, our warming room, and even area hotel space is at capacity. We have maxed out our community resources. “The time is coming when I’m going to have to look a dad in the face and tell him and his family that I don’t know where they’re going to sleep tonight.” The Portland Family Shelter is a complex of four rented buildings in various states of renovation located in the heart of downtown. Some of the structures are gradually being converted into small apartments where up to four families will share a single kitchen and bathroom. All four buildings are overflowing their present capacity. “The intake is greater and faster than we can process,” Guthrie said. Mike Guthrie, director of the family shelter in Portland, Maine, on May 25, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) To accommodate the stream of new arrivals, the family shelter program has in recent months placed 309 families (1,091 people) in eight hotels located in five neighboring municipalities spread over three counties of southeastern Maine’s prime tourist and vacation region. Those moves, with their attendant complications and problems, have resulted in some pushback from the local Mainers who fear their prized relaxed lifestyle may never be the same. And they resent not having a voice in any of it. “It’s just part of the state government’s plan to bring the slums to the suburbs,” said a Mainer from the resort and tourist community of Kennebunkport, a small town about 28 miles down the Atlantic coast from Portland. “The United States cannot rescue Africa.” Coming out of the Kennebunkport post office, long-time Mainers Virginia and Robert shared their opinions on what the locals see as the “invasion” of Maine by immigrants. Virginia commented, “We have sympathy for the asylum seekers, but resources are over-extended and now it’s going beyond Portland.” “Eventually, it’s going to impact our quality of life,” Robert said. A view of Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Maine, on May 25, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times Pressures on Portland’s homeless shelter capacity last year inspired a York County community action group to obtain a federal grant to help house the city’s regular homeless population. The plan included renting half a dozen large motels in a three-mile corridor in the heart of southeastern Maine’s Atlantic-shore tourist region. Motels within walking distance of shopping opportunities were selected. The motels close in the off-season, so it appeared to some people to be a win-win arrangement. Included in the plan was the small, quiet, resort town of Wells, located about six miles from Kennebunkport. Though the program sheltered hundreds of individuals from the brutal Maine winter, the resulting wave of never-before-seen vandalism, burglaries, and other property crimes in the commercial district forced the city of Wells to evict every tenant for violations of several municipal ordinances. It is unclear where the evicted people were relocated. Homeless Victimized and Intimidated A motel in Wells, Maine, that was used to shelter the homeless of Portland on May 26, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) According to Captain Gerald Congdon of the Wells Police Department, the crimes were not committed by foreign asylum seekers, Wells residents, or by the many legitimate, disadvantaged, and debilitated people housed in the motel. “The perpetrators arrested were mostly ‘couch-surfers’ spending time with homeless friends staying legally at the motel. However, the bulk of grant-qualified motel dwellers had drug problems,” Congdon said. One small business operator, whose sweetshop was burglarized, told The Epoch Times, “The thieves were druggies in need of a fix. They came in through a window, stole the cash from the register, and took our digital scales. “These people were brought in around Christmastime. It was like an invasion. We never had a crime at our store before they came in and ruined things. “It’s not fair. We now think differently. They changed the whole landscape of how we do business. We don’t want to see them come back.” Congdon told The Epoch Times, “There was shoplifting at the bigger chain stores and car break-ins going after loose change in the strip mall parking lot. “A small bike shop was burglarized twice, losing thousands of dollars-worth of high-end bicycles—never happened to them in 42 years of business. “Our officers spent a lot of time on disturbance calls and enforcing warrants. We made quite a few arrests and recovered some stolen property. “The management of the area’s motels got tired of seeing us there. They were tired of their legitimate businesses being associated with crime. “The nice tenants, many of whom are truly deserving of help, were being victimized and intimidated. They were afraid to call us.” Congdon said his department was not consulted and was given no advance notice on the plan to bring hundreds of homeless people—including many known drug-addicts—into their city. The City of Wells was not compensated for the additional hours of policing. A broad, sandy, beach in the tourist region of southeastern Maine, on May 26, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) ‘Feeder Sources’ On May 1, a hotel in the resort town of Old Orchard Beach, located about halfway between Portland and Kennebunkport, evicted all of its residents for a different reason. This time, they were asylum seekers evicted in order to make room for the arrival of legally permitted temporary seasonal workers to lodge there. These special visa-holders make up the majority of the workforce needed by the region’s thriving hospitality industry. The asylum seekers were relocated to motels in three other southern Maine communities, according to Portland city officials. In Portland, 500 single asylum seekers are housed in a municipal shelter separate from the family shelter, according to a spokesperson for the city. It too is at capacity. Guthrie told The Epoch Times that city authorities have publicly notified what he calls “the feeder sources” at the southern border and in Washington D.C. about the immigration crisis unfolding in Portland. The city administration asked Border Patrol, Health and Human Services, and participating non-profits to stop sending asylum seekers to Portland until sufficient resources become available to adequately care for them. But the force of the city’s request was blunted when it announced immediately after the notification that it would not turn anybody away, acknowledged Guthrie. Maine Gov. Janet Mills in 2019. (Rebecca Hammel/U.S. Senate/Public Domain) Guthrie stated that the city asked Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, to call out the National Guard to set up emergency shelters and feeding stations but has not yet received an answer. On June 2, in remarks before the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Mills committed the state to building a new emergency shelter in the city and said she was working to create additional housing for asylum seekers in the area. She also spoke of the desirability of the in-migration as a source of labor to fill many existing job openings. Speaking of the migrants, Mills said, “We need the workforce here. We want them to be available for work. Some of them come with incredible skills and experiences that we can employ.” One long-time Maine resident, who visited the Portland Family Shelter to see the situation for himself, told The Epoch Times, “Mike Guthrie is like a man frantically trying to bail out a sinking rowboat, while his superiors continue to drill holes in it.” During the month of May, the family shelter took in 79 families consisting of 262 individuals with no slowdown in sight, Guthrie said. “220 people turned up in just 20 days. We’re trying to help anybody that comes to the door. Thus far, nobody coming to us has had to sleep outside but we can no longer guarantee shelter upon arrival,” he said. “We need the state of Maine to step in and create safe places for these people. We need a facility to be created and run like a FEMA camp. “Our legislators are talking about buying and renovating older apartments throughout the region that could house 140 families. That’s great in the long-term, but the problem is now! “At the rate things are going, we’d have those places filled in two months. Then what?” Guthrie asked. Portland’s pastors, church members, and its citizens have been stepping forward to do what they can. “Local churches and those in Cumberland are offering space for people to sleep and some Portland residents have even opened up their homes,” Guthrie said. A surge in asylum seekers crossing the border in the Rio Grande Valley has put a strain on the immigration system. Here, migrants are on the move, in Mission, Texas, on March 17, 2021. (Los Angeles Times via TCA) Where Are the Asylum Seekers Coming From? The vast majority of the new arrivals at the family shelter in Portland have come from Angola and the Congo in Africa, with some coming from Haiti in the Caribbean. They make the arduous and often dangerous journey any way they can—largely on foot. Guthrie told of a father and child who recently showed up at the shelter. “The man said that his wife, the young child’s mother, died on the way. She was swept away while crossing a river.” Guthrie explained that the route to Portland for most of the asylum seekers begins in chaos-torn western equatorial Africa. “They cross the Atlantic to South America. They go up through South America and then north through Central America, ending up in northern Mexico, from which they cross the southern border into the United States. “At that point, they present themselves to Border Patrol. “A new arrival tells Border Patrol ‘I am here to seek asylum. If I go back home, I will be killed. I fear for my life.’ That’s the difference between an asylum seeker and an immigrant,” he said. Those three short sentences guarantee a person’s admission for a lengthy stay in the United States as his or her claim is adjudicated. Guthrie went on to explain, “After some additional questioning, the individual is issued minimal paperwork by immigration authorities and told they will be contacted about a formal hearing on their asylum plea. They are then turned over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” Most are given cell phones. Public servants with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and representatives of various American non-profit, philanthropic organizations, ask the asylum seekers where they want to go in the interior of the United States to await their asylum hearing. For many, their answer is “Portland.” “They are then put on buses or airplanes and sent on their way,” Guthrie said. Lobsterman Tucker Soule unloads a trap at Cape Porpoise near Kennebunkport, Maine, on May 23, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) Why Portland? Guthrie said that Portland is often recommended to people enroute to the United States by relatives who are already living in the city. “Once they get here, the majority of the new arrivals want to stay in Portland. They tell their relatives and friends about us,” he said. Jessica Grondin, the city’s director of communications and media, told The Epoch Times in a phone interview, “Portland is happy about and proud of our good reputation as a ‘Welcoming City.’ We presently have a large Somali population, as well as many Iraqis and Afghans who arrived here previously.” Grondin said that several busloads of asylum seekers recently shipped off to Washington D.C. by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, ultimately made their way to Portland. She stated that, along with the lack of housing, one of the biggest problems facing the city is a shortage of staff to care for the volume of new arrivals. Guthrie said that the influx asylum seekers has exceeded the city’s ability to offer basic services. “As we outgrow our past limits, we are being forced to prioritize what we are doing for these people. We are no longer able to help them connect with local immigration attorneys, nor help them learn English,” he said. Effective May 7, a policy change took effect forbidding the shelter’s staff from assisting asylum seekers in finding an apartment. “Instead, these folks, who are complete strangers to this community and speak no English, are being qualified for a state General Assistance housing voucher. “They are given a sample lease, a rental form, and an explanation of the GA process, and are then sent out on their own to find a place to live,” Guthrie said. While most of the new arrivals speak Portuguese, some speak French, Lingala, or another tribal language. Many are bilingual, but none speak English. Weary of waiting around, some of the French-speakers asked to be sent to Quebec, but the strict Canadian rules concerning COVID-19 prevented them from entering, Guthrie stated. Condition and Needs of Asylum Seekers Guthrie described the migrants’ situation, saying, “Understand, the majority of these people arrive here with no money. They spent their life savings during their trip and have to start over. They need everything. “They come from hot climates wearing summer clothes. We have given away about 97 percent of our clothing stock to help them cope with the colder weather here in Maine. “We have to keep many people outside during the day and then pack them into our warming room for the chilly Maine nights, or on rainy days,” he said. Fathers, mothers, and their numerous small children are kept outside all day long. They stand on the sidewalk across the street from the shelter or sit in an alley between two old houses passing the time until the next meal. The grimy concrete and stony gravel of the alley serve as furniture. There are no chairs or tables. They sit or recline on whatever is at hand, or on the bare dirt. The shade formed by the receding shadow of the walls of the surrounding old buildings is their only comfort. Antsy and bored small children have no toys with which to amuse themselves, except for one little boy who rides a plastic big-wheel tricycle around the alley. A small bathroom is available to people upon request in one of the shelter’s buildings, or at a nearby city-owned singles’ shelter around the block. “For showers, we team up with a local church that comes by with a bus and offers showers to any of them that want to go,” Guthrie said. When asked if the asylum seekers are Christians, Guthrie answered that many ride a bus to church services on Sunday morning. The shelter provides families with three meals a day, prepared off-site by “community partners.” “We pick up the meals and bring them here and serve them indoors. The food is decent. A typical lunch is a sandwich, salad, soup, granola bars, snacks, milk and water,” Guthrie said. Guthrie told The Epoch Times that the family shelter is providing standard baby formula for the young children, but one baby is intolerant to it. This infant requires a specialty brand that is hard to get—a fact that is upsetting to the mother and her child. The Maine Immigrant Rights Coalition (MIRC) is providing asylum seekers residing in hotels and motels with some culturally appropriate foods such as fufu (an African staple), goat meat, greens, chicken, and rice, he said. A lot of the accommodations do not have kitchens. According to Guthrie, the cost per motel room is between $250 and $350 dollars per night and rising as the tourist season begins. MIRC is part of a network of 85 statewide organizations involved in the care of the thousands of asylum seekers already here and those that are arriving daily. Guthrie said the state is footing 70 percent of the family shelter’s expenses, with the city making up the remaining 30 percent. But Guthrie says that getting the children into school is among the best assistance that can be provided. “The schools offer all kinds of different programs. They have community resource officers. They keep the kids busy while giving them two meals a day,” he said. More than 60 different foreign languages are spoken by students at Portland area schools, further complicating every task associated with education. When asked about the overall health condition of the asylum seekers, Guthrie replied, “They are exhausted and scared. They haven’t travelled a safe route. Though clearly traumatized, very few will talk about the details of their experience. Counselling is available if requested.” Teams of health care workers are performing what Guthrie calls “health outreach.” They have set up clinics at some of the motels to perform triage and make any necessary medical referrals. The city of Portland has a busy public health clinic helping to provide treatment, but some people with more serious conditions end up in emergency rooms. To overcome the language barrier, the city provides interpreters, and health care workers make use of cell phone translation apps. On the whole, Guthrie said most of the people under his supervision are physically “very healthy.” “Pregnancy is the families’ most urgent medical concern, and their most pressing medical need is OBGYN (obstetrics and gynecology) care,” he said. He also said there is some sickle cell disease among them. A young Angolan mother and child outside the family shelter in Portland, Maine, on May 25, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) City Hall allowed The Epoch Times access to several families being warehoused outdoors and a number of parents were eager to talk about their current plight. Speaking through an interpreter provided by the shelter, and in the presence of shelter director Guthrie, Samantha, a young Angolan woman with a 10-month-old baby on her hip and a toddler in tow, was not shy about sharing her dissatisfaction. When asked if her family’s basic needs were being met, Samantha replied, “We just need a place to sleep. We stay outside in the sun and the elements because there is not enough space for us indoors. There are not enough clothes for my family. “Being outside all day is not good for my baby. Some of us have caught colds. Some had fevers. Some were so sick they went to the hospital. “My son eats a special baby formula. I have to ration his feeding. “What we are fed is very different than what we are used to. We are receiving no culturally appropriate food. There was no way for us to take a shower for five days. “We endured a seven-month journey to come to this! We are not happy. Conditions are not good! We really need help.” When asked if she felt welcome, Samantha said with a look of disbelief, “No! I do not feel welcome. Look at us. We are outside.” A Congolese family seeking asylum in Portland, Maine, on May 25, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times) Landry, a housepainter and electrician’s helper, brought his wife Sylvie, two-year-old daughter, and 12-month-old son to Portland from the Congo. When asked why he risked the journey, Landry answered, “I left my country because of political issues and insecurity. There we could be sure of nothing. Here, it’s different.” Sylvie said, “We came from Texas unprepared for this Maine weather. I am not happy for how I am living here. I don’t feel welcome!” Tyler Durden Sun, 06/05/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJun 5th, 2022

Gladstone Commercial (GOOD) Buys Wilmington Industrial Facility

Gladstone Commercial's (GOOD) latest acquisition is in line with its strategy of expanding on the buyouts of high-quality, functional industrial assets leased to tenants with strong credit profiles. To expand its property base in targeted thriving markets, Gladstone Commercial Corporation GOOD recently shelled out $18.8 million to purchase a 345,584-square-foot industrial manufacturing/distribution warehouse in Wilmington, NC. The move boosts Gladstone Commercial's industrial presence in the Southeast with its 10th acquisition in North Carolina.The acquisition reflects GOOD's strategy of expanding on the buyouts of high-quality industrial assets in strong growth corridors leased to tenants with solid credit profiles.Located on 59 acres, this property is fully leased to Pacon Manufacturing, with 13.1 years of remaining lease term. The property will generate stable revenues for Gladstone Commercial as it functions as the mission-critical manufacturing and distribution headquarters facility for Pacon, which is a contract manufacturer of household/medical cleaning supplies.Apart from being leased to a strong tenant, this property enjoys access to I-40 and I-95, which connect the Port of Wilmington and Wilmington Terminal Railroad to key markets in North and South.The acquisition of properties in Gladstone Commercial’s targeted growth markets augurs well for long-term growth. On May 4, 2022, GOOD acquired a 260,719-square-foot, two-property industrial portfolio, with locations in Fort Payne, AL and Cleveland, OH, for $19.3 million.Moreover, Gladstone Commercial has been witnessing active leasing, aiding solid occupancy, healthy rental collections and ample liquidity to back its acquisitions and growth efforts. As of May 6, 2022, Gladstone Commercial’s portfolio occupancy was 97.2% due to successful leasing activities. Moreover, Gladstone Commercial collected 100% of the April cash base rent. The healthy levels of rental receipts have enabled GOOD to maintain its dividend rate.However, shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have declined 11% in the past three months, wider than its industry’s fall of 3.6%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchStocks to ConsiderSome key picks from the REIT sector include Prologis, Inc. PLD, Public Storage PSA and Extra Space Storage Inc. EXR.Prologis holds a Zacks Rank of 2 (Buy) at present. Prologis’ 2022 revenues are expected to increase 8.9% year over year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for PLD’s 2022 funds from operations (FFO) per share has been revised marginally upward in the past week to $5.15.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Public Storage’s 2022 FFO per share has moved a cent north to $15.54 over the past month.Currently, Public Storage carries a Zacks Rank of 2. PSA's long-term growth rate is projected at 7.2%.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Extra Space Storage’s 2022 FFO per share has moved six cents north to $7.98 in the past month.Extra Space Storage's 2022 revenues are expected to increase 15.6% year over year. Currently, EXR carries a Zacks Rank of 2.Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represents funds from operations (FFO) — a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Public Storage (PSA): Free Stock Analysis Report Prologis, Inc. (PLD): Free Stock Analysis Report Extra Space Storage Inc (EXR): Free Stock Analysis Report Gladstone Commercial Corporation (GOOD): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksMay 16th, 2022

Time To End The Grievance-Industrial Complex

Time To End The Grievance-Industrial Complex Authored by Rakib Ehsan via, The UK Government’s official response to last year’s Sewell report on race and ethnic disparities tells us one thing - Britain’s grievance industry is not going to have it all its way.  While we have recently witnessed the cross-sector popularisation of American-inspired pseudointellectual race theories and white-privilege narratives, the UK Government’s response to the Sewell report paves the path towards a more inclusive family-centric Britain. The grievance-industrial complex — a socio-political infrastructure of organisations and individuals which collectively have a vested interest in peddling warped interpretations of British society and its public institutions — has all too often simplistically placed racial identity at the heart of debates on multifactor-driven forms of disadvantage. As well as being empirically suspect, this threatens to fundamentally undermine social solidarity in our multi-racial democracy.  Dr Tony Sewell, the lead author of the report published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED), has received a torrent of racially-motivated abuse since the report was published back in March 2021 — being labelled by professional grievance-mongers for being the Tory establishment’s “token black man” who “sold out”. A rather odd accusation to direct towards a man who set up a charity — Generation Genius — which has helped to set up many young talented ethnic-minority Britons for a successful career in the science and technology sectors.  But the reality of the matter is that the Sewell report, while not perfect, is a seminal piece of work which will make a lasting contribution to our race-relations conversation. What it importantly achieved was helping Britain to move away from incredibly reductive “black versus white” approaches to understanding race and ethnic disparities. It exposed the reality that within both the White British and Black British populations, certain ethnic groups are performing far better than others on a range of social and economic metrics. It also shed light on the strengths of thriving Asian minorities in Britain which are outperforming the white-British majority in terms of school attainment and median hourly pay. The success of Britain’s Indian- and Chinese-origin minorities clearly demonstrates that an optimistic family-orientated traditionalism rooted in hard work, study and discipline makes for an effective agent of social mobility. In this sense, Dr Tony Sewell — along with the highly impressive Tory government minister Kemi Badenoch — have planted the seeds for an uplifting social-justice conservatism that is genuinely interested in empowering individuals, families and communities. It understands that public institutions — ranging from local NHS trusts to local police forces — must be more culturally responsive to the needs and sensitivities of an ever-diversifying population. But it also rejects the view that one’s racial identity is the most influential factor in the shaping of their life chances and personal growth. By arguing that Britain’s social, economic and political systems are “deliberately rigged” against Britain’s ethnic and racial minorities, the grievance-industrial complex seeks to demotivate aspirational young Britons and convert them into racial-justice warriors for their victimhood agendas.  In order to design social policies that foster meaningful change in modern-day Britain, it is vital that we are honest with both our strengths and weaknesses. The UK is one the leading white-majority, hyper-diverse countries when it comes to providing anti-discrimination protections on the grounds of race, ethnicity and religion — outranking major European Union member-states such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. It is home to some of the strongest equality bodies in the world.  But it has the unfortunate reputation for being a world-leader when it comes to family breakdown — which is anything but ideal when household characteristics have a significant impact on a variety of inter-related youth outcomes such as mental well-being, cognitive development, school attainment and respect for the rule of law. The UK also has one of the most inter-regionally imbalanced economies in the industrialised world. Two young people with similar “protected characteristics” are simply not on a level playing field if one lives in a rapidly regenerating part of London, while the other lives in one of Blackpool’s left-behind neighbourhoods. While much of our political and policymaking classes have been fixated with the Equality Act’s string of protected characteristics, two of the most crucial factors in personal development are family structure and community dynamics. While the politics of intersectionality presents white males as a hyper-advantaged section of British society, do they still maintain a high degree of “privilege” if they are burdened with a dysfunctional family life and located in a materially-deprived neighbourhood with minimal social and cultural assets? By providing its support to the Sewell report, the UK government has taken sharp aim at simplistic white-privilege theories and the crudely homogenising “BAME” acronym — a twin dagger to the heart of the grievance industrial complex’s activities. But it must back this with meaningful policy action. Britain must free itself from the shackles of divisive identity politics and excessive political correctness. We need an inclusive social-policy agenda that has families and communities at the heart of it. Tyler Durden Sat, 03/26/2022 - 09:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMar 26th, 2022

A Kentucky Democrat says solving the labor shortage is "cultural" because young people now "can make as much money being a barista as they can being an assembly-line worker"

Budget chair John Yarmuth says "so many things are changing right now in terms of the nature of work" but a solution may be three or four years away. Rep. John Yarmuth.J. Scott Applewhite/AP; Jon Cherry/Getty Images; Marianne Ayala/InsiderThe labor shortage hit Kentucky hard.A recent report indicated that the state had one of the highest quit rates nationwide in August, along with one of the highest job-opening rates. Months later, the state was still near the top of the list for most unfilled job openings. Insider spoke with more than a dozen Kentuckians to uncover what's powering the shortage and how it could be solved, and spoke to representatives from both the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle in the heavily conservative state. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat who chairs the House Budget Committee, argues there's a role for the federal government to ease the shortage. We also interviewed Yarmuth's Republican colleague James Comer, whose district covers the western part of the state. Yarmuth, whose district includes Louisville, said he's heard many complaints from local businesses about the labor shortage but not from constituents themselves, and that employers "are complaining, but they don't really have any ideas for what the government could do to make their jobs any more appealing." As for his Republican colleagues, he said he hasn't talked to any of them about solving the labor shortage. The Louisville area is thriving by paying workers more, though. "There are lots of opportunities in my district."Yarmuth is retiring from Congress next year.Here's a transcript of Insider's interview with the representative, lightly edited for brevity. During the pandemic, the quit rate in Kentucky was especially high — the highest in the country for a while — and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce foundation said the state was in a "workforce crisis." What do you think of that?I think to an extent we're in the same boat that many other places are in. We had healthcare fears, we had concerns about the disease itself. We have and still have problems with childcare. And with school shutdowns, that was a big factor, with parents having to stay home and take care of kids.This past year, in August, when we apparently led the country in percentage of job quits, we also had a very significant increase, and new people taking new jobs  — actually more people taking new jobs than had quit. So that was a little bit of a mixed picture.What that represented was essentially people understanding that they could do better, they found better jobs, quite simply. I mean, we still have a $7.25 minimum wage in Kentucky, and people realize that they could make $15 an hour, and they so they quit a job and took the better one. So in that respect, they were better off.Those businesses that either refused to or have been unable to compete with Amazon distribution centers paying $15 to $18 an hour. So a lot of people left low-paying jobs. We've lost tons of restaurants in my district and jobs in the hospitality field. People are desperately in need of those positions.So we got a big shortage, but it's not necessarily all bad news. Because a lot of people are doing much better now than they did before.What do you think needs to happen for the labor shortage to end?I'm very supportive of increasing the federal minimum wage, but it seems like, again, the market is actually taking care of a lot of that. I don't know that anybody right now can hire anybody under $11 or $12. I just don't think that job exists right now. So the combination of the pandemic and the need for more people has changed the equation. It's now very much a pro-worker environment, in terms of wages.So I don't think that a federal minimum wage at this point would make all that much difference in terms of the labor shortage, because there are plenty of jobs available at $15 an hour — jobs that don't require high-level skills. We've got so many distribution and logistics jobs available in the area that if you want a $15-an-hour job, you can get one, basically, regardless of your skill level.[My district is] just Louisville, but the surrounding counties obviously benefit from this. We got UPS as our largest employer, they have about 20,000 employees and they're hiring more people all the time. And they're paying in that $15- to $16-an-hour range and with benefits and with education benefits, and it's a pretty attractive place to work.And then all the companies like Amazon and Zappos and others who have distribution centers around us are all in the same boat. E-commerce is has expanded so dramatically during the pandemic.I don't think that's true of everywhere in Kentucky, certainly not true in Appalachia, there are not a lot of alternative jobs available. I think over half of our state is a childcare desert. Can you talk a little bit more about that specific part of it?Obviously, that's an element of childcare when you've got kids, 3- and 4-year-olds, go into school. [Addressing] that would be a significant help in resolving labor shortage.It's not going to be immediate, but as a longer-term solution to labor shortages, I think that's a big factor.Because clearly, the way the workforce is changing with more options available to work at home, and then you kind of make that judgment as to, "Well, am I going to take a job where I have to go to an office, and then I have to pay for childcare, or I can work at home and not have to pay for childcare?" That becomes a balancing act, and may contribute in some ways to the labor shortage. And because those people who might stay at home might otherwise take other jobs. So I just think there's so many changes going on in the workforce that I think it's probably too early to figure out what the horizon is going to be three, four years from now — the landscape is going to be three or four years from now, because so many things are changing right now in terms of the nature of work, the nature of the jobs that are available.And what we've seen is that the government's support, most of the studies show, it didn't make that much difference in people deciding to go back to work or not particularly when [unemployment benefits] went from $600 to $300. The share of Kentucky residents working has actually been going down for almost 20 years. Why do you think it has gone this long without being addressed? And then do you believe that there are more factors at play here?We've got an aging population, so I think you've got a lot of people who just aged out of the workforce or decided to retire when they could.We have a ton of people in the state with bad health and disabilities. We have a very bad health profile.I suspect that has something to do with it as well. Yeah, there are a lot of factors. I think it's pretty complicated.(Editor's note: Kentucky is ranked as one of America's least-healthy states. A report from the United Health foundation placed Kentucky near the bottom for health behaviors and health outcomes.)I would imagine that a lot of younger people are trying to seek other opportunities elsewhere.  Is that a factor?I suspect that in some parts of the state it is. I don't think that's a factor in my district. But my district is very unlike the rest of [the state]. It's a vibrant, significant urban area. And there are lots of opportunities in my district.But I think in some places in the state, certainly, when you're talking about coal country, those jobs really aren't available anymore. They certainly aren't attractive. And I think a lot of those young people have left those areas to try and find better opportunities.!function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(e){if(void 0!["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.querySelectorAll("iframe");for(var a in["datawrapper-height"])for(var r=0;r.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2021

Why Should You Add Virtu Financial (VIRT) to Your Portfolio?

Riding high on growth initiatives and a prolonged market uncertainty , Virtu Financial (VIRT) carries prospects to aid investors. Virtu Financial, Inc. VIRT has been gaining from its strong segmental performances and market volatility for a while. VIRT is also thriving on the back of operational excellence.This market-making firm offers its services in 36 countries and owns more than 30% market share for retail investor order flow. Virtu Financial witnessed tremendous volumes last year as it performs well amid market uncertainty.VIRT’s trailing 12-month return on equity (ROE) reinforces its growth potential. Its ROE stands at 38.59%, higher than its industry’s average of 22.2%.Virtu Financial benefits from advancements in technology, steady volumes and expanded product offerings.Now let’s dig deeper to find out what makes it an investor favorite.Given the market conditions, Virtu Financial continues to witness a solid revenue stream. Last year, VIRT reported revenues worth $3.24 billion, up 113% year over year.Virtu Financial constantly benefits from its Investment Technology Group, Inc. buyout, completed in 2019. It helped VIRT win institutional clients. In around two years from the closure, the transaction contributed to growth in the Execution Services segment. In 2020, revenues from this segment grew 32.2% year over year on the back of commissions, workflow technology and analytics. We expect the segment to deliver solid performances going forward.VIRT's solvency position also remains a positive. Virtu Financial already paid down debt worth $289 million in 2020. Repayment of debt enabled VIRT to successfully reduce the same by 16.5% from the 2019-end level to $1.67 billion as of Dec 31, 2020. In the first nine months of 2021, long-term debt dipped 2.1% from the level at 2020 end. Virtu Financial has plans to use its free cash flow to decrease the term debt.Owing to its financial strength, Virtu Financial deployed capital in the form of dividends for 23 straight quarters. The board members sanctioned an additional share buyback authorization of $750 million over the next couple of years. It even extended the duration of the same through May 4, 2022.Its dividend yield stands at 3.45%, higher than the industry average of 1.7%. Robust cash flows should enable VIRT to maintain its dividend payment policy along with share repurchases. Its intelligent capital management strategy should instill investors’ confidence in the stock.Although VIRT faced steep expenses over the last many quarters due to higher brokerage, exchange, clearance fees and payments for order flow, net, communication and data processing, employee compensation and payroll taxes, debt issue cost related to debt refinancing, prepayment and commitment fees, the same decreased 7.2% in the first nine months. We expect its expenses to continue decreasing going forward.In addition, this miscellaneous financial service provider’s diversified business strengthens its position for the long haul.Price PerformanceShares of this currently Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) player have gained 18.4% in the past year, outperforming its  industry’s growth of 14.7%. You can see  the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchOther Stocks to ConsiderSome other top-ranked stocks in the same space are Alerus Financial Corporation ALRS, Houlihan Lokey, Inc. (HLI) and Guild Holdings Company GHLD.Alerus Financial is a financial services company. ALRS’ earnings managed to beat estimates in three of its trailing four quarters (while missing the mark in one), the average beat being 23.58%.Houlihan Lokey is an investment bank focusing on mergers and acquisitions, financings, financial restructurings and financial advisory services. HLI delivered a trailing four-quarter surprise of 39.53%, on average.Guild Holdings Company provides financial services.  GHLD’s bottom line managed to beat on earnings in three of its trailing four quarters (while missing the mark in one), the average beat being 57.31%.While shares of Alerus Financial, Houlihan Lokey have gained 21.9% and 53.45% each , the stock of Guild Holdings has lost 4.1% in the past year. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Hecla Mining Company (HL): Free Stock Analysis Report Virtu Financial, Inc. (VIRT): Free Stock Analysis Report Alerus Financial (ALRS): Free Stock Analysis Report Guild Holdings Company (GHLD): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 6th, 2021

Ryanair (RYAAY) Posts Encouraging November Traffic Statistics

Load factor at Ryanair (RYAAY) improves to 86% in November 2021 from 62% recorded a year ago. Ryanair Holdings’ RYAAY November traffic report was highly impressive despite the rise in coronavirus cases in Europe. With air-travel demand skyrocketing from the 2020 levels, courtesy of increased vaccination, traffic surged more than 100% year over year to 10.2 million. Traffic in November 2020 was only two million at RYAAY.Load factor (percentage of seats filled with passengers) in November 2021 was 86% compared with 62% in November 2020. Ryanair, currently carrying a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell), operated more than 62,300 flights last month. You can seethe complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Though the data was more upbeat than the 2020 scenario, Ryanair’s traffic in November was 9.7% lower than 11.3 million recorded in October 2021. This decline may have been due to the rising coronavirus cases in Europe. RYAAY operated more flights (in excess of 71,500 flights) in October from the November reading.Apart from the month-over-month decline, Ryanair’s November traffic was below the pre-pandemic levels. The airline’s November 2021 traffic fell 7.3% from the comparable period’s level in 2019. Load factor in November 2019 was also much higher, reading 96%.Key PicksHere are some better-ranked stocks within the broader  Transportation  sector:Schneider National  SNDR currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). SNDR has a stellar surprise history as its earnings outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average being 21%.Shares of Schneider National have rallied more than 19% so far this year. SNDR is being aided by a strong performance in the Intermodal and Logistics units. The Intermodal segment is benefiting from yield management and increased volumes. The Logistics unit is thriving on the back of favorable market conditions and other factors.Expeditors International of Washington  EXPD currently flaunts a Zacks Rank of 1. EXPD’s earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average being 29.1%.Shares of Expeditors have appreciated more than 32% so far this year. EXPD is being aided by an increase in airfreight revenues in this coronavirus-ravaged scenario. Evidently, Airfreight Services revenues increased approximately 54% year over year in the first nine months of 2021. We are also encouraged by EXPD’s measures to reward its shareholders through dividends and buybacks. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYAAY): Free Stock Analysis Report Expeditors International of Washington, Inc. (EXPD): Free Stock Analysis Report Schneider National, Inc. (SNDR): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 6th, 2021

Why Expeditors (EXPD) Stock Should Grace Your Portfolio Now

Higher airfreight revenues bolster Expeditors (EXPD) even in coronavirus-ravaged times. Expeditors International of Washington EXPD has been on a tear for some time with its shares displaying an uptrend despite the coronavirus-led challenging scenario. The stock has rallied 32.3% year to date, outperforming its industry’s 1.5% growth in the same time frame.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchLet’s look into the factors working in favor of the stock.Northbound Earnings Estimates: The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has been revised 9.7% upward over the past 60 days. For 2022, the consensus mark for the metric has moved 10.6% north in the same time frame. Such favorable estimate revisions reflect brokers’ confidence in the stock.Given the sea of information at the brokers’ disposal, investors should best be guided by their expert advice and the direction of their estimate revisions. This is because the same serves as a key indicator in determining the price of a stock.Top Zacks Rank & Impressive Momentum Score:  The stock currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and a  Momentum Score  of A, which further highlights its  short-term attractiveness. You can see  the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Solid Industry Rank:  The  industry  to which Expeditors belongs currently has a Zacks Industry Rank of 64 (of 250 plus groups). Such a solid rank places EXPD in the top 25% of the Zacks industries. Studies show that 50% of a stock price movement is directly related to the performance of the industry group it hails from.In fact, an ordinary stock within a strong group is likely to outshine a robust stock in a weak industry. Therefore, taking the industry’s performance into account becomes imperative.Other Tailwinds: Increased airfreight revenues aid Expeditors in this coronavirus-ravaged scenario. Evidently, the metric increased approximately 54% year over year in the first nine months of 2021. We are also encouraged by EXPD’s measures to reward its shareholders through dividends and buybacks.During the first nine months of 2021, Expeditors repurchased two million shares at an average price of $110.45 per share. Moreover, in May 2021, EXPD announced an 11.5% hike in semi-annual cash dividend, taking the total to 58 cents per share.Other Key PicksHere are some other top-ranked stocks within the broader  Transportation  sector:Schneider National  SNDR currently flaunts a Zacks Rank of 1. SNDR has a stellar earnings surprise history. Its bottom line outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each of the preceding four quarters, the average being 21%.Shares of Schneider National have rallied more than 19% so far this year. SNDR gets a boost from its strong Intermodal and Logistics units. The Intermodal segment is benefiting from yield management and increased volumes. The Logistics unit is thriving on the back of favorable market conditions and other factors.Matson MATX: This Honolulu, Hawaii-based provider of ocean transportation and logistics services is presently Zacks #1 Ranked. Over the past 60 days, the stock has seen the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 move 16.4% north. The stock has gained 42.6% year to date.Matson is benefiting from the uptick in freight demand in the United States. MATX’s shareholder-friendly attitude and cost-management actions are also appreciative. Based on the improving business conditions, we expect MATX to perform well in the fourth quarter of 2021. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Expeditors International of Washington, Inc. (EXPD): Free Stock Analysis Report Matson, Inc. (MATX): Free Stock Analysis Report Schneider National, Inc. (SNDR): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 6th, 2021

Cigna (CI) Offers MA Plans in Florida, Boosts Provider Network (Revised)

Cigna (CI) announces that it will offer affordable MA plans in two new counties of Florida. Concurrently, CI includes HCA Healthcare to provide a boost to its provider network. Cigna Corporation CI recently extended cost-effective Medicare Advantage (“MA”) plans and forayed for the first time into new counties of Central Florida — Sarasota and Marion. CI boasts a well-established presence across Florida and continues to offer MA plans across 14 counties of Central Florida. For items not covered by Original Medicare, Cigna provides Medicare Supplement plans and standalone prescription drug plans in Florida.The recent move is expected to lead to better health outcomes for Cigna’s eligible MA customers in 2022 across the two newly covered counties of Florida, as they will have easy access to high-quality MA plans best suited to their diversified health needs.Concurrent with the latest MA footprint expansion, Cigna extended ties with HCA Healthcare in Central Florida and the Treasure Coast. Consequently, the MA customers of Cigna in these markets will be able to utilize the extensive medical facilities, primary care physicians and specialists of HCA. Such strengthening of ties reflects CI’s efforts to include reliable providers within its thriving MA network and offer increased provider choices to customers.The twin announcements also underscore Cigna’s efforts to bolster presence in not only Central Florida but also across the Treasure Coast, wherein the company provides MA plans in three of its counties. Equipped with enhanced health plans, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) global health services company continues to foray into every corner of the United States. In November 2021, CI introduced a number of MA plans to bolster the company’s MA footprint in Connecticut.Efforts to Capitalize on a Rapidly Growing MA MarketThe MA market seems to be an attractive one for Cigna, considering a growing U.S. aging population and surge in enrollment figures. MA plans remain the preferred choice for customers owing to several bundled benefits, improved care coordination and affordable nature, which make them a better option when compared to the traditional Medicare plans. Added benefits included in the MA plans can range from vision, hearing to even dental ones.The latest move will provide a boost to the MA customer base of Cigna as a result of which the healthcare provider’s MA business will continue to expand. Since 2019, the geographic presence of CI’s MA business has been boosted by 80%. The business has been performing well on the back of continuous product expansions, rising membership, and new collaborations or contract extensions with renowned healthcare systems.  As of Sep 30, 2021, a well-performing MA business contributed to the medical customer growth of Cigna.Cigna remains on track to achieve MA customer growth in the targeted range of 10-15% this year. Growth in customer base will continue to fetch higher premiums in the MA business for the healthcare provider, which rose 10.7% in the first nine months of 2021 from the prior-year comparable period. Premium growth, in turn, will contribute to the top-line growth of CI.Similar to Cigna, other players in the medical space such as Humana Inc. HUM, Centene Corporation CNC and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated UNH also boast of a solid MA business that caters to the healthcare needs of people.The MA business of Humana continues to ride on uptick in membership and new collaborations or contract extensions with renowned healthcare systems. This has been bolstering the partner networks and U.S. footprint of HUM. As of Sep 30, 2021, individual MA improved 11.7% from the prior-year comparable period. For 2021, Humana forecasts individual MA membership to witness an 11% year-over-year growth.Centene serves more than 1.1 million MA members across 33 states. Several contract wins and renewals have resulted in higher membership growth in the MA business. Medicare membership of CNC climbed 30.9% year over year as of Sep 30, 2021. For 2022, Centene has plans to foray into 327 new counties and three new states of Massachusetts, Nebraska and Oklahoma through enhanced MA offerings.UnitedHealth Group remains poised to benefit from a strong MA business. The business has been benefiting on the back of several business wins and a solid membership growth in MA business amid the annual enrollment period. As of Sep 30, 2021, the number of individuals served through UNH’s MA business grew 14% from the year-ago comparable period. UnitedHealth Group will broaden its service area to cater to 94% of Medicare consumers nationwide in 2022.Shares of Cigna have lost 8.6% over a year against the industry’s rally of 23.7%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchShares of Humana, Centene and UnitedHealth Group have gained 4.4%, 10.1% and 29.1%, respectively, in a year.(We are reissuing this article to correct a mistake. The original article, issued on December 02, 2021, should no longer be relied upon.) Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH): Free Stock Analysis Report Humana Inc. (HUM): Free Stock Analysis Report Cigna Corporation (CI): Free Stock Analysis Report Centene Corporation (CNC): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 6th, 2021

Millennials, Remote Work Are Upending Cities—What It Means for Real Estate

Location is, and has always been, everything in real estate. The truism that where a property sits must be its most important characteristic remains undisputed. But what is location, really? What does it mean to homebuyers, and what are the consequences when changes come? The truth is, street layouts, public transportation systems, commuting routes, open […] The post Millennials, Remote Work Are Upending Cities—What It Means for Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia. Location is, and has always been, everything in real estate. The truism that where a property sits must be its most important characteristic remains undisputed. But what is location, really? What does it mean to homebuyers, and what are the consequences when changes come? The truth is, street layouts, public transportation systems, commuting routes, open space, walking paths, restaurants or shopping, parks, schools and scenic views are malleable both in how they are valued and how they come to be. While location might seem like a relatively static feature when talking about properties, shifting priorities from policymakers as well as evolving consumer preferences can quickly cool off a hot neighborhood or revitalize a lagging market. Both these processes are happening all the time, but the current shift is maybe more dramatic and moving more rapidly than at any time in recent memory as Americans completely reevaluate exactly where they want to live—and why. Dr. Sam Chandan is a professor at NYU and Academic Dean of the school’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. He says a multitude of changes are manifesting now that could impact both city planning and real estate for decades to come. “Millennials are not necessarily looking for something that looks like Levittown,” says Chandan, referring to the hyper-planned suburban Long Island community that is often cited as a model of postwar housing philosophy. “It’s not sort of a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ scenario.” With people born in the 1980s and 1990s becoming the largest segment of homebuyers, understanding that demographic’s needs and preferences is a holy grail for real estate professionals. But how is that information guiding the growth of towns and cities, and what does it mean for the housing market? Chandan says that like most things real-estate related, the answers are always going to be local. But as the temporary supply constraints currently preventing the housing market from reaching its full potential fade, Chandan predicts that areas that allow higher densities through zoning reforms and follow a more centralized, community-oriented plan of development will be best positioned to capitalize and grow. “We’re talking about wanting to be in easy reach of a set of cultural and social amenities, and I think that is quite different from what we would have seen as the profile of a comparably-aged young family 30 years ago,” he says. Waiting on the World to Change Manhattan Beach nestles in the southwest corner of Los Angeles. The median sale price for a home exceeds $2 million, according to U.S. census data, with a mostly white and Asian population in a county that is almost 45% Hispanic. Most residential areas are composed of close-set, adobe-roofed single-family constructions on narrow streets, bisected with a commercial thoroughfare that feeds into the city’s bustling beach-adjacent downtown—a spread of health food stores, cafes and boutique retail shopping pressed right up against the water. Kristi Ramirez-Knowles is a team leader for Your Home Sold Guaranteed Realty and a long-time Manhattan Beach resident, though she works in many of the surrounding southwest LA cities. In an area that is historically resistant to change, COVID has potentially provided a kick-start for generational changes in living preferences. “Now, post COVID—though we’re still in COVID—we still have a mix. We still have people that are willing to go almost anywhere,” she says. “ it’s a safe community.” Woburn, Massachusetts is a sprawling suburb about 25 minutes outside of Boston. It can trace its European colonization back to the mid 1600s, and is now characterized by its rustic winding streets and big colonials with plenty of forested areas and parks filling the margins. The town offers a wider range of price points, from $150,000 ranch fixer-uppers to a handful of multi-million-dollar estates. Eileen Dohtery is a ninth-generation resident of Woburn with 40 years of real estate experience, currently working for Lamacchia Realty. She says even as homebuyer preferences have evolved rapidly, change in policy and infrastructure often creeps up more gradually. “ are beside themselves because there’s so much development—if anything they’d like to restrict it and make it less per acre,” she says. Dan Forsman is President & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties. Overseeing the Atlanta region, he says dozens of thriving suburbs—many of which were originally vacation or resort communities—have begun “revitalization” efforts to begin serving changing needs and desires of longer-term residents. “Eclectic, farm to table restaurants—people are looking for that, access to that, and looking to where they can get that when they’re away from what I call ‘white noise,’” he says. Though these three disparate regions will certainly evolve along different lines at a more granular level, Chandan says that broadly the narrative of mass migration to different states or cities is overblown. People—especially young people—are looking to live within or near traditional metros like New York or Boston, but specifically for towns that can offer them a specific index of amenities. “What the data actually tells us is the dominant trend is greater dispersion in the metropolitan area,” he says. “They’re able to sort of optimize in a way that also accounts for all these other things that they care about.” What’s My Age Again? One of the most direct methods of addressing these needs is “upzoning” to allow for more density around what Chandan describes as the “quasi-urban core” of smaller towns and suburban cities. This has proved effective in combating land scarcity, affordability and transportation access, and often allows for developments of mid-rise condo complexes, townhomes or repurposed mixed-used construction that previously might have been disallowed or heavily regulated. These changes are also becoming more politically viable in many places as a new generation arrives—a generation that is more comfortable with diversity and living close to others, according to Chandan. In Woburn, this is only partly true, as Dohtery says she has observed some attitudes changing while others have not—starting with acceptance of racial diversity. “In the older parts of the center…it was more mixed nationalities. The older people wouldn’t walk down there. Younger people are that much more liberal, they don’t care, they like it. That’s where you see changing,” she reflects. In recent years there has been a big push to tear down old buildings in Woburn’s centuries-old central hub, putting up some multifamily living units and opening restaurants and retail stores. Doherty herself owns a multi-family home right in the city center, where her niece currently lives with some younger roommates. “They absolutely love being there, they walk downtown—literally in their backyard—to a different restaurant every night,” she laughs. At the other extreme, some neighborhoods in towns abutting Woburn can only be reached by unpaved, pothole-ridden streets—not because the town cannot afford to fix or pave them, but because people who live there have lobbied against it, according to Doherty. The idea, she says, is to discourage anyone who doesn’t live there from even driving past, keeping noise and nuisance to an absolute minimum. “That’s old Yankee money,” Doherty says. “It keeps the people out of their neighborhood.” Some of these folks are likely fighting a losing battle if they’re hoping to prevent development to that extreme (Doherty is currently involved with a 147-unit townhome development in Woburn). While resistance from locals can certainly slow down the evolution of a city, eventually both policymakers and developers are going to find ways to meet consumers with what they want. One thing that is changing in Los Angeles is at least a partial removal of one of the biggest barriers there: commuting. In the past, Ramirez-Knowles says she would tell potential homebuyers to rent a hotel for a night near a neighborhood they were considering and see if they could endure the level traffic and smog on a day’s commute before deciding to live there. But now with remote work, as well as a renewed emphasis on transportation and now-ubiquitous electric cars, Ramirez-Knowles says that areas that used to be defined by their freeway access and distance to business centers are trying to become self-sustaining. “So many millennials are doing a lot of their jobs—-they can work from home,” she says. “They don’t want to get out and drive. It’s important for them to walk or if they have to drive, drive a very short distance.” That is not to say that traffic does not matter anymore—commuters still end up driving as much as four hours a day to go a handful of miles cross-town, Ramirez-Knowles says. But areas that have more space, better views and nice schools are now options for many more families who do not have to worry about prohibitively lengthy drives. Another offset of the millennial lifestyle and work-from-home opportunities that is influencing city layouts is loneliness. Starting with the pandemic isolation, Ramirez-Knowles says people began seeking out “community amenities” where they could at least encounter another friendly (even mask-wearing) face. That has continued as people who work from home have limited excuses to just get outside, meet neighbors and learn about their town. “They want to be able to go walk their dogs, walk with their kids, get outside and get vitamin D,” she says. “You’re not getting out very much…you need places to go walk, you need a walkway—a green belt, if you will—a park, a pier.” In the Atlanta area, several towns are realizing that they can provide a lot more for their changing communities, according to Forsman. People who have second homes in the suburbs are spending more and more time away from the white noise of their working lives, he says, and are beginning to look for the same amenities in these areas as they have in their primary homes. Though this trend is hardly analogous to what is happening in Woburn or Los Angeles, the effect is the same: cities are re-developing downtowns and shifting the kind of access and amenities they provide. “They’ve had a face lift and an upgrade, because people aren’t going to malls the way they used to,” Forsman says. This applies even to areas in the north that historically have been made up of mostly seasonal resort towns in the mountains. As flexible work allows residents to spend more time here, businesses move in to provide more grocery shopping, entertainment and year-round services, which in turn draws even more people to make those towns their permanent—or semi-permanent—homes. Stop, Collaborate and Listen There are many other barriers and unintended consequences stemming from the types of changes happening right now as well, he adds. Cities that are too successful with these tactics will quickly see the price of land and homes balloon, slowing real estate growth and creating more racial and economic segregation. In places like Woburn, there is also the possibility of political backlash, and policymakers must balance the often-powerful backlash from residents and other stakeholders who fear loss of so-called community character or outsides. Real estate professionals can make a big difference in these situations. Doherty says that as a longtime resident she is trusted by even the most stalwart Woburnites and can navigate the complicated landscape of local politics and land use laws, where trust and experience make all the difference. Doherty speaks of being contacted by a local politician one time, who invited her to attend a campaign event emphasizing that she was maybe the most well-known public figure in the area. “I said to him, ‘I have to go, I sold you your house!’” she laughs. In Woburn, developments, zoning tweaks and infrastructure investments happen gradually, and becomes much easier with any local support, according to Doherty, with projects eeking through the approval process one by one. On the other side of the country, Ramirez-Knowles says the overpricing and lack of homes has pushed people to settle in areas where the schools or neighborhoods maybe aren’t what they had originally hoped for. Developers are building brand new, more affordable condos inland in cities that haven’t historically been “family friendly” like Torrance and Gardena, and people are snatching them up, she says. “I would say that’s attracting families even though the school district may not be that great. I think it’s the appeal of brand new and something they can afford,” she posits. Many of these units are selling out before they are even framed, she adds, during the current inventory crunch. If cities approve the kind of housing units people are looking for— which Ramirez-Knowles describes as narrow, multi-floored condo communities with built-in recreation centers, pools and gyms—even more business investment and development often follows. The result of all this movement and new development, of offering wider varieties of housing types and densities in different parts of a given city creates demographic diversity, according to Chandan. A place that can accommodate young and old, wealthy and lower income folks, families and retirees is much healthier for everyone, and especially for the real estate market. Though convincing some people of these benefits will be difficult—and sometimes impossible— Chandan argues that even those who prefer their “Leave it to Beaver” lifestyle will eventually benefit from this type of change. “The person who is a young family right now in a two or three-bedroom rental unit in that quasi-urban core—in five years, that person is a potential buyer for your home,” Chandan says. Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Please email him your real estate news ideas to The post Millennials, Remote Work Are Upending Cities—What It Means for Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaNov 22nd, 2021

Florida Court Reinstates Governor"s Ban On Masking Mandates In Schools

Florida Court Reinstates Governor's Ban On Masking Mandates In Schools Authored by Patricia Tolson via The Epoch Times, In Florida’s ongoing battle over masking mandates in schools, the First District Court of Appeal (DCA) overruled the decision of a Leon County circuit court judge on Wednesday, reinstating the governor’s ban on forced masking in schools. Some Leon County parents are cheering the ruling as a big win for parents’ rights and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The Masking Battle In August, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis exceeded his authority in banning forced masking in public schools. In September, the First DCA overruled Cooper. But the following week, Cooper ruled that his order to prevent the state from enforcing school mask mandates should take immediate effect. On Oct. 27 (pdf), the First DCA again overruled Cooper and emphasized three reasons why his ruling was wrong. To begin, the First DCA ruled that the case never should have gone to trial because the plaintiffs did not have standing. The plaintiffs, a group of parents and students, could not sue to protect the institutional authority of local school districts and the Florida Department of Health. “Those entities alone must advance their own institutional rights,” the First DCA wrote. Second, the plaintiffs were not harmed by DeSantis’ order because the order took no action against them. In fact, all the governor did was direct other state agencies to protect parental rights. Third, the plaintiffs’ claim of receiving injury because they were exposed to COVID-19 by unmasked students was not “concrete” or “palpable” enough to warrant judicial intervention in public health policy. Most notable was how the First DCA admonished Cooper for inventing his own legal theory to ultimately rule against the governor’s school mask policy by saying DeSantis somehow violated the Parents’ Bill of Rights by giving parents more rights. “While the Parents’ Bill of Rights undoubtedly played a role in the governor’s issuance of the executive order—and was even pleaded as an affirmative defense—the [Plaintiffs] never sought relief in their complaint based on an alleged violation of the Parents’ Bill of Rights,” the First DCA wrote. “They certainly never requested an injunction against a state administrative actor proceeding in some way in contravention of the Parents’ Bill of Rights.” Similar court battles are playing out in other Florida counties. While the full appeal in the Leon County case is still pending, Christina Pushaw, executive press secretary for DeSantis said “the preliminary ruling shows that the Plaintiffs have little chance of saving the trial court’s ruling, so this is a win for Governor DeSantis and parents’ rights in Florida!” “Florida now has the lowest COVID-19 case rate in the entire country,” Pushaw told The Epoch Times. “Infections statewide have declined more than 90 percent since schools in Florida opened. The rate of decline was the same for districts that had mask mandates and districts that followed state law by allowing parents to choose whether their kids wore masks or not.” According to the New York Times interactive map, COVID-19 cases in California as of Nov. 4 are nearly three times the rate in Florida per capita. Michigan has about five times Florida’s per capita COVID case rate. The map for Leon County, Florida, shows a 49 percent drop in the number of hospitalizations in a 14-day average between Aug. 6 and Nov. 4, with a test positivity rate of only five percent. However, while Orange and Duval Counties imposed more stringent, long-term mask mandates, their numbers are similar, suggesting that masks had little if any effect on the numbers. “There is no evidence to support the argument that forced-masking in schools had any impact on COVID case rates, pediatric or overall,” Pushaw said further. Parents Celebrate “Of course we’re on the way out of the COVID wave,” Priscilla West, a Leon County mom, told The Epoch Times. “Florida’s leadership understood all along that protecting the elderly was the top priority. For everyone else, this thing needed to run its course. Schools never should’ve been closed. Kids never should’ve been masked. Whether or not you believed masks did any good, healthy kids suffer a mild COVID illness. Their young bodies will never be better able to fight it than they are right now. Then they emerge with robust, lasting immunity, which is protective for society as a whole. Children shouldn’t be subjected to experimentation with this new mRNA technology. Schools have no business pushing medical therapies on people’s Minor children.” Another Leon County mom, LaDonna Wagers, told The Epoch Times: “I have attended and spoke at many Leon County school board meetings this fall. Despite our citing many studies that show masks have no significant effect on virus transmission and actually do more harm than good, the Leon County School board is more interested in ‘feel good’ mask mandates and virtue signaling than science and parental rights. The board also used the National School Board Association and Merrick Garland calling parents who speak out at school board meetings ‘domestic terrorists’ to now have parents who attend these meetings in Leon County go through a security check before entering the building. This will not intimidate us or stop us from continuing to speak out and stand up for our God-given rights of liberty and freedom!” Sharyn Kerwin, a Leon County mother with two children in the Leon County school system, says she is “thankful for a governor who leads with science and not with fear. “DeSantis has stood boldly and remained steadfast on his mission to protect the elderly and those at highest risk of serious outcomes from COVID infection while also demanding that we protect Americans’ God-given freedoms which are protected by our constitution,” Kerwin told The Epoch Times. “Parents have a right to decide what’s best for their child’s medical and mental health. DeSantis knows this and our legislators supported this by passing the Parental Bill of Rights into law. I will never stop fighting for my children and my God-given authority to make decisions that are in their best interest! Nathan Newell, a father with four children in the Leon County school system, told The Epoch Times: “With all the scientific evidence available that shows the average mask is not effective, it is a shame school boards and governors are playing politics with our children’s well-being.” Brandi Andrews, a Leon County mother with two children in the Leon County School System, told The Epoch Times: “It has been very troubling to watch our local school board defy the governor and parents’ rights. The CDC recently confirming Florida now has the lowest COVID rates per capita in the United States goes to show masks don’t work being our state has a ban on masks/vaccines thanks to our great governor. I hope our school board will see the light since we finally don’t have to mask our children up for school every day and the COVID positive numbers have remained at bay.” Stephanie Henningsen of Leon County told The Epoch Times that parents “knew, as soon as local school officials imposed their illegal mask mandate upon students, they would ultimately try and claim the victory when the virus numbers inevitably bottomed out. “The thing is, numbers were already beginning to decline at the time they dictated their mandate and when one compared the data among schools that were unmasked compared to Leon County schools there was no significant difference in positive case percentages. The mandate was baseless and more about control and cashing in on the Biden reimbursement promise which ended up backfiring. “The forced masking of children is a form of child abuse and an overreach of local and state governments. Every parent should have a choice on what they deem healthy or not for their children; it’s their God-given right. Teachers and County School Boards should stay within the lanes of the authority they have, focusing on what is within their job description: educating children in regards to math, science, English, and history.” Ashley Crosby told The Epoch Times that the Leon County superintendent and members of the school board “have dedicated a ridiculous amount of time, effort, energy, and local tax paying dollars to act as tyrannical dictators over the matter of masking children, which is completely outside of their jurisdiction.” “Too many children have suffered mentally, emotionally, and educationally at the hands of these people. It’s a shame that rather than being passionate about assisting these children overcome the setbacks that occurred in the school system in the last year, they have rabidly and passionately pursued any means necessary to not let parents have a choice on whether they want their child to wear a mask or not. The health and well-being of the children should be left up to each individual family, and it has been a blessing to have our Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, understand the significant difference in the role of teacher/school boards and parents, defending parents’ rights to make their own informed decisions.” Leon County mom Denee Williams told The Epoch Times that many of the parents who have been attending school board meetings for months expected Cooper to come back with a biased ruling. However they also knew the ruling would not stand because the law, and DeSantis, is on their side. “We were pleased to see that the First Circuit Court ruled in favor of parental rights,” Williams said. “Governor DeSantis has consistently stood as a barrier between liberal politicians who would strip Florida parents of their rights to make the best medical decisions for their families. Parents know best and we do not appreciate these liberal leaders attempting to take decisions out of our hands as if they know better.” Williams further said she is not surprised to know Florida has the lowest COVID-19 rate per capita in the United States. “Our numbers are low because our great governor has made common-sense decisions and refused to be bullied and also refused to make fear-based decisions,” she explained. “He is using the data available and making common-sense decisions and not caving to the liberal narrative that we should all stop living out of fear of this virus. Florida is open and thriving. I look around the country at these blue states and I think how thankful I am to live here in this great state.” Who Gets Credit While some media try to downplay the governor’s role in the plummeting COVID-19 numbers, and others try to credit the fall in numbers to masking and vaccines, some Leon County parents attribute Florida’s COVID-19 success entirely to DeSantis. Crosby said her children attend a private, Christian school in Leon County and that the school board voted to allow parents to have a choice on whether or not they wanted to mask children. Thus far, Crosby said the overwhelming majority of children are unmasked, with “maybe one in 50” wearing a mask. “No teachers wear masks, and we have had a fantastic school year with no major outbreaks or problems,” Crosby said. “So in regards to Democrats or School Boards claiming low case numbers are due to masking, it’s simply not true. They have no science or evidence to prove that, and our school has done no masking since the beginning of August and we have had a normal year with no hiccups.” Williams said “hearing some Democrats try to claim credit that the falling COVID numbers are due to a handful of counties in Florida defying Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order and requiring masks on our students is short-sighted. First, the vast majority of counties did not force masks on their students and the numbers still fell in those counties as well. Second, many children who were forced into masks at school did not wear them outside of school at sporting events or to hang with friends. The claim that forced masking did the trick is a false narrative that I believe most people see right through. It’s laughable, honestly.” Tyler Durden Fri, 11/05/2021 - 18:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytNov 5th, 2021

Tyrants Of The Nanny State: When The Government Thinks It Knows Best

Tyrants Of The Nanny State: When The Government Thinks It Knows Best Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.” - Simone Weil, French philosopher and political activist We labor today under the weight of countless tyrannies, large and small, carried out in the so-called name of the national good by an elite class of governmental and corporate officials who are largely insulated from the ill effects of their actions. We, the middling classes, are not so fortunate. We find ourselves badgered, bullied and browbeaten into bearing the brunt of their arrogance, paying the price for their greed, suffering the backlash for their militarism, agonizing as a result of their inaction, feigning ignorance about their backroom dealings, overlooking their incompetence, turning a blind eye to their misdeeds, cowering from their heavy-handed tactics, and blindly hoping for change that never comes.  The overt signs of the despotism exercised by the increasingly authoritarian regime that passes itself off as the United States government (and its corporate partners in crime) are all around us: COVID-19 lockdowns and vaccine mandates that strip Americans of their freedom of movement and bodily integrity; censorship, criminalizing, shadow banning and de-platforming of individuals who express ideas that are politically incorrect or unpopular; warrantless surveillance of Americans’ movements and communications; SWAT team raids of Americans’ homes; shootings of unarmed citizens by police; harsh punishments meted out to schoolchildren in the name of zero tolerance; armed drones taking to the skies domestically; endless wars; out-of-control spending; militarized police; roadside strip searches; roving TSA sweeps; privatized prisons with a profit incentive for jailing Americans; fusion centers that spy on, collect and disseminate data on Americans’ private transactions; and militarized agencies with stockpiles of ammunition, to name some of the most appalling. Yet as egregious as these incursions on our rights may be, it’s the endless, petty tyrannies—the heavy-handed, punitive-laden dictates inflicted by a self-righteous, Big-Brother-Knows-Best bureaucracy on an overtaxed, overregulated, and underrepresented populace—that illustrate so clearly the degree to which “we the people” are viewed as incapable of common sense, moral judgment, fairness, and intelligence, not to mention lacking a basic understanding of how to stay alive, raise a family, or be part of a functioning community. It’s hard to say whether we’re dealing with a kleptocracy (a government ruled by thieves), a kakistocracy (a government run by unprincipled career politicians, corporations and thieves that panders to the worst vices in our nature and has little regard for the rights of American citizens), or if we’ve gone straight to an idiocracy.  This certainly isn’t a constitutional democracy, however. This overbearing Nanny State despotism is what happens when government representatives (those elected and appointed to work for us) adopt the authoritarian notion that the government knows best and therefore must control, regulate and dictate almost everything about the citizenry’s public, private and professional lives. The government’s bureaucratic attempts at muscle-flexing by way of overregulation and overcriminalization have reached such outrageous limits that federal and state governments now require on penalty of a fine that individuals apply for permission before they can grow exotic orchids, host elaborate dinner parties, gather friends in one’s home for Bible studies, give coffee to the homeless, let their kids manage a lemonade stand, keep chickens as pets, or braid someone’s hair, as ludicrous as that may seem. Consider, for example, that businesses in California must now designate an area of the children's toy aisle “gender-neutral” or face a fine, whether or not the toys sold are traditionally marketed to girls or boys such as Barbies and Hot Wheels. California schools are prohibited from allowing students to access websites, novels or religious works that reflect negatively on gays. And while Californians are free to have sex with whomever they choose (because that’s none of the government’s business), removing a condom during sex without consent could make you liable for general, special and punitive damages. Up until a few years ago, Missouri required that anyone wanting to braid African-style hair and charge for it must first acquire a government license, which at a minimum requires the applicant to undertake at least 1500 hours of cosmetology classes costing tens of thousands of dollars. Tennessee was prepared to fine residents nearly $100,000 just for violating its laws against braiding hair without a government license. In Oregon, the law was so broad that you needed a license even if you were planning to braid hair for free. The mere act of touching someone’s hair could render you a cosmetologist operating without a license and in violation of the law. It’s getting worse. Almost every aspect of American life today—especially if it is work-related—is subject to this kind of heightened scrutiny and ham-fisted control, whether you’re talking about aspiring “bakers, braiders, casket makers, florists, veterinary masseuses, tour guides, taxi drivers, eyebrow threaders, teeth whiteners, and more.” For instance, whereas 70 years ago, one out of every 20 U.S. jobs required a state license, today, almost 1 in 3 American occupations requires a license. The problem of overregulation has become so bad that, as one analyst notes, “getting a license to style hair in Washington takes more instructional time than becoming an emergency medical technician or a firefighter.” This is what happens when bureaucrats run the show, and the rule of law becomes little more than a cattle prod for forcing the citizenry to march in lockstep with the government. Overregulation is just the other side of the coin to overcriminalization, that phenomenon in which everything is rendered illegal and everyone becomes a lawbreaker. This is the mindset that tried to penalize a fisherman with 20 years’ jail time for throwing fish that were too small back into the water. That same overcriminalization mindset reared its ugly head again when police arrested a 90-year-old man for violating an ordinance that prohibits feeding the homeless in public unless portable toilets are also made available. It’s no coincidence that both of these incidents—the fishing debacle and the homeless feeding arrest—happened in Florida. Despite its pristine beaches and balmy temperatures, Florida is no less immune to the problems plaguing the rest of the nation in terms of overcriminalization, incarceration rates, bureaucracy, corruption, and police misconduct. A few years back, in fact, Florida officials authorized police raids on barber shops in minority communities, resulting in barbers being handcuffed in front of customers, and their shops searched without warrants. All of this was purportedly done in an effort to make sure that the barbers’ licensing paperwork was up to snuff. As if criminalizing fishing, charity, and haircuts wasn’t bad enough, you could also find yourself passing time in a Florida slammer for such inane activities as singing in a public place while wearing a swimsuit, breaking more than three dishes per day, farting in a public place after 6 pm on a Thursday, and skateboarding without a license. In this way, the Sunshine State is representative of the transformation happening across the nation, where a steady diet of bread and circuses has given rise to an oblivious, inactive citizenry content to be ruled over by an inflexible and highly bureaucratic regime. America has gone from being a beacon of freedom to a locked down nation. And “we the people,” sold on the idea that safety, security and material comforts are preferable to freedom, have allowed the government to pave over the Constitution in order to erect a concentration camp. The problem with these devil’s bargains, however, is that there is always a catch, always a price to pay for whatever it is we valued so highly as to barter away our most precious possessions. We’ve bartered away our right to self-governance, self-defense, privacy, autonomy and that most important right of all—the right to tell the government to “leave me the hell alone.” In exchange for the promise of an end to global pandemics, lower taxes, lower crime rates, safe streets, safe schools, blight-free neighborhoods, and readily accessible technology, health care, water, food and power, we’ve opened the door to lockdowns, militarized police, government surveillance, asset forfeiture, school zero tolerance policies, license plate readers, red light cameras, SWAT team raids, health care mandates, overcriminalization, overregulation and government corruption. In the end, such bargains always turn sour. We relied on the government to help us safely navigate national emergencies (terrorism, natural disasters, global pandemics, etc.) only to find ourselves forced to relinquish our freedoms on the altar of national security, yet we’re no safer (or healthier) than before. We asked our lawmakers to be tough on crime, and we’ve been saddled with an abundance of laws that criminalize almost every aspect of our lives. So far, we’re up to 4500 criminal laws and 300,000 criminal regulations that result in average Americans unknowingly engaging in criminal acts at least three times a day. For instance, the family of an 11-year-old girl was issued a $535 fine for violating the Federal Migratory Bird Act after the young girl rescued a baby woodpecker from predatory cats. We wanted criminals taken off the streets, and we didn’t want to have to pay for their incarceration. What we’ve gotten is a nation that boasts the highest incarceration rate in the world, with more than 2.3 million people locked up, many of them doing time for relatively minor, nonviolent crimes, and a private prison industry fueling the drive for more inmates, who are forced to provide corporations with cheap labor. A special report by CNBC breaks down the national numbers: One out of 100 American adults is behind bars — while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government spend about $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry. We wanted law enforcement agencies to have the necessary resources to fight the nation’s wars on terror, crime and drugs. What we got instead were militarized police decked out with M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, silencers, battle tanks and hollow point bullets—gear designed for the battlefield, more than 80,000 SWAT team raids carried out every year (many for routine police tasks, resulting in losses of life and property), and profit-driven schemes that add to the government’s largesse such as asset forfeiture, where police seize property from “suspected criminals.” According to the Washington Post, these funds have been used to buy guns, armored cars, electronic surveillance gear, “luxury vehicles, travel and a clown named Sparkles.” Police seminars advise officers to use their “department wish list when deciding which assets to seize” and, in particular, go after flat screen TVs, cash and nice cars. In Florida, where police are no strangers to asset forfeiture, Florida police have been carrying out “reverse” sting operations, where they pose as drug dealers to lure buyers with promises of cheap cocaine, then bust them, and seize their cash and cars. Over the course of a year, police in one small Florida town seized close to $6 million using these entrapment schemes. We fell for the government’s promise of safer roads, only to find ourselves caught in a tangle of profit-driven red light cameras, which ticket unsuspecting drivers in the so-called name of road safety while ostensibly fattening the coffers of local and state governments. Despite widespread public opposition, corruption and systemic malfunctions, these cameras—used in 24 states and Washington, DC—are particularly popular with municipalities, which look to them as an easy means of extra cash. One small Florida town, population 8,000, generates a million dollars a year in fines from these cameras. Building on the profit-incentive schemes, the cameras’ manufacturers are also pushing speed cameras and school bus cameras, both of which result in heft fines for violators who speed or try to go around school buses. As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, this is what happens when the American people get duped, deceived, double-crossed, cheated, lied to, swindled and conned into believing that the government and its army of bureaucrats—the people we appointed to safeguard our freedoms—actually have our best interests at heart. Yet when all is said and done, who is really to blame when the wool gets pulled over your eyes: you, for believing the con man, or the con man for being true to his nature? It’s time for a bracing dose of reality, America. Wake up and take a good, hard look around you, and ask yourself if the gussied-up version of America being sold to you—crime free, worry free, disease free and devoid of responsibility—is really worth the ticket price: nothing less than your freedoms. Tyler Durden Fri, 10/15/2021 - 00:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Calix (CALX) Well Poised on Innovation and Collaborations

Calix (CALX) is likely to be a promising investment option on the back of its robust business model, accretive partnerships, and emerging technological innovation. With an unprecedented surge in high-bandwidth communications services coupled with the upward trajectory of vaccinations, majority of the global tech companies are resuming their operations in full swing. Many leading network operators have been reaping benefits from this trend, including Calix, Inc. CALX.The company’s business operations are driven by the secular changes in the communications industry. Thanks to its future-proof technological advancements, Calix has been able to capitalize on the benefits of the new-age hybrid work environment, and has accordingly aligned its business systems, real estate, and human resources.Calix is well poised to make a mark in the telco space in the long run backed by disciplined operating expense investment, gross margin expansion, increased predictability, and deliberate revenue growth. Increasing customer adoption of product and service offerings coupled with favorable product and customer mix, and back-to-back collaborations act as major tailwinds. Let’s discuss further.Focus on InnovationThe San Jose, CA-based cloud and software platforms provider believes that innovations are the driving force behind its successful broadband businesses. The company boasts a diverse bouquet of technologically advanced solutions, some of them being GigaSpire BLAST portfolio, Calix Experience Innovation Platform, Revenue EDGE platform, Calix Customer Success Services, and Calix Marketing Cloud.Recently, it unveiled Calix Operations Cloud that enables broadband service providers (BSPs) to streamline their operations with end-to-end visibility into the access network as well as across the entire subscriber base inside the premises. The company capitalizes on Big Data and analytics to monetize the complex infrastructure between subscribers and the cloud, thereby creating new revenue generation paths.Also, Calix has been actively participating in Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auctions to establish a streamlined connectivity infrastructure across rural and underserved areas, thereby eliminating digital disparity. In second-quarter 2021, Calix reported record revenues for the EXOS platform, up more than 275% as a result of accelerated deployments of the Revenue EDGE solution. With an ever-increasing subscriber base, it added 43 new BSP customers during the second quarter.Further, the enhanced Calix Premier Success Services for Marketing witnessed impressive growth while aiding BSP customers to improve marketing campaign ROI through more effective use of social media and digital marketing channels. A solid financial position, coupled with technologically advanced platforms and services, aids Calix to not only augment its wide set of prospective customers but also to capitalize on the lucrative opportunities in the long run.Accretive Partnerships Bode WellCalix is blessed with a thriving ecosystem of partners. A few months back, it had collaborated with the third-largest RDOF recipient based in Arkansas — Petit Jean Electric Cooperative. Per the alliance, Petit Jean capitalized on Calix’s portfolio of avant-garde connectivity solutions such as Revenue EDGE, Intelligent Access EDGE, Network Innovation Platform (AXOS), Calix Support Cloud, and Calix Marketing Cloud for the deployment of the best-in-class fiber-to-the-home network.The company also leveraged the expertise of Calix Services, particularly Premier Support Services, Professional Services and Premier Customer Success Services to optimize network and service planning. Post the deployment of these services, Petit Jean facilitated its customers with seamless online learning and remote working opportunities on the back of a future-proof fiber broadband network infrastructure.Further, it had partnered with CityWest to revamp the latter’s omnichannel marketing campaign performance with the creation of highly targeted, relevant, and engaging email campaigns. The British Columbia-based BSP capitalized on Calix Marketing Cloud, Calix Premier Customer Success Services and email marketing platform — Mailchimp. This combination not only enabled CityWest to streamline its campaign development but also boosted high-impact offers to maximize return on investment with actionable insights.It had also joined forces with CTC Telecom to upgrade the latter’s network and customer experience with avant-garde solutions. The telco had deployed GigaSpire BLAST u6 systems, Calix Support Cloud, and full Revenue EDGE portfolio to capture valuable subscriber data and performance insights, thereby providing a personalized and secure Wi-Fi experience to its customers. CTC Telecom also capitalized on Calix Customer Success Services to revamp installation and support processes for a streamlined network infrastructure. Post its deployment, the telco witnessed a 37% reduction in support call volumes with more than 34% fall in truck rolls.Wrapping UpDriven by such focused endeavors, Calix is well-positioned to benefit from customer base expansion amid the coronavirus-induced disruptions. Its near-term focus is on serving the needs of BSP customers while the long-term focus remains on finding like-minded BSP customers regardless of their type, size, or location. It is committed to aligning investments to its strategy and maintaining strong discipline over operating expenses. The transition of Calix into a communications cloud and software platform business will manifest in improved financial performance over the long term.Some prominent players in the industry are Jiayin Group Inc. JFIN, Square, Inc. SQ, and Bentley Systems, Incorporated BSY.Jiayin Group delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 89%, on average.Square delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 111.1%, on average.Bentley Systems delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 32.5%, on average. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Calix, Inc (CALX): Free Stock Analysis Report Square, Inc. (SQ): Free Stock Analysis Report Jiayin Group Inc. Sponsored ADR (JFIN): Free Stock Analysis Report Bentley Systems, Incorporated (BSY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 12th, 2021

William Raveis: The Family Advantage

How William Raveis Real Estate Responds to Market Needs in Real Time  As one of the industry’s most iconic firms, William Raveis Real Estate’s (WRRE) origin story is a classic tale of entrepreneurial moxie. Started above a Fairfield, Connecticut, grocery store by Bill Raveis in 1974, the firm now comprises 136 offices in eight states, […] The post William Raveis: The Family Advantage appeared first on RISMedia. How William Raveis Real Estate Responds to Market Needs in Real Time  As one of the industry’s most iconic firms, William Raveis Real Estate’s (WRRE) origin story is a classic tale of entrepreneurial moxie. Started above a Fairfield, Connecticut, grocery store by Bill Raveis in 1974, the firm now comprises 136 offices in eight states, and is home to 4,300 sales associates. In RISMedia’s 2021 Power Broker Report, WRRE ranked No. 7, reporting more than $16 billion in sales volume in 2020. Today, Bill and the next generation of the Raveis family—brothers and co-presidents Chris and Ryan—share leadership responsibility for increasing revenue and expanding WRRE’s footprint in the coming years and beyond. In this exclusive interview, the pair explains how operating as a family-run business provides the firm with two critical characteristics necessary for growth: cultural agility to turn on a dime to innovate; and consistent leadership with an unmatched level of pride, passion and strategic vision. “No matter how much we evolve, this is not just a business for us—it’s a family,” says CEO and Chairman Bill Raveis. “At our core, family values drive every decision we make. From the very beginning, I said our agents are our customers, and 47 years later, we continue to provide the tools, technology and mentoring to empower their success.” Here, Ryan and Chris Raveis share what’s enabled the company’s extensive growth over the years, along with how they’re helping agents and clients maximize value and experience outstanding customer service in any market. Maria Patterson: William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance is the No. 1 family-owned real estate company in the Northeast, and your father views the entire firm as family. Please share a bit about how you and your brother came on board. Ryan Raveis: Growing up, Chris and I saw all those yard signs and wondered why our name was in front of everyone’s homes! We definitely had an affinity for the company and saw what Dad was doing and how hard he was working. But as we grew up, Chris and I wanted to spread our wings a bit, like most young, post-college graduates. I decided to pursue management consulting and Chris worked in commercial real estate. Then, in our late 20s, we were offered the opportunity to join the family business, but with a very clear understanding. Dad sat us down and told us there were two conditions: You have to grow the company; and you can never sell it. MP: I take it you’re happy with your decision? RR: I have worked in a large public company and so has Chris. While every industry has its excitement in some way, shape or form, there’s nothing I’d rather do than work with my Dad and brother and continue to drive our goals of a family-owned real estate, mortgage and insurance powerhouse. MP: What are some of the biggest advantages of being a family firm? RR: The biggest advantage is the consistency in leadership. This is a family business, and our name is on the door. We take our reputation, professionalism and the way we support our agents very seriously, to the point where being a family business is part of our identity. We plan on passing the company down to our children, so we want to leave it in a position where it’s thriving in each of its markets and each of its businesses. The only way we do that is by delivering superior service for our clients and agents. CEO Bill Raveis (center) poses with sales associates and managers at a WRRE networking event. MP: William Raveis Inc. is one of the only privately held firms to offer mortgage and insurance services under one roof. What role have these firms played in your growth over the years? RR: I don’t look at our mortgage and insurance companies as businesses under the real estate umbrella. Each of those companies was purposefully built with the ability to stand on its own. Granted, they service our real estate clients, but they also partner with clients who used another real estate brokerage prior to doing business with the mortgage and insurance companies. We strategically built these companies to a substantial level to support the overall entity, and this helps when we’re looking to expand into new markets. MP: Does having an established mortgage and insurance business play a more significant role in today’s real estate climate? RR: I think it does. In today’s market, we see plenty of large private equity and public companies that are trying to find their way. They’re struggling to figure out how to make a profit, and it’s not that easy. We’ve been running William Raveis Mortgage and William Raveis Insurance since the ’80s, and both have well-established operations and excellent reputations. MP: How would you describe market conditions in your regions? Chris Raveis: If I’m a home seller, I’ve seen my value increase by 30% in all the markets we serve. If I’m a buyer, I’m looking for solutions to help me find a home in this market. Overall, the market has been excellent for real estate brokers and agents, and that will continue through the end of the year, particularly in Florida, where we just had some of the largest sales in our company history—$80 million and $50 million in Palm Beach and Naples, respectively. The luxury market has taken off in those areas. MP: WRRE serves luxury buyers in many of your markets. What role does the luxury market play in the company’s success? CR: The luxury market is essential to our identity. We’re recognized by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® as the globe’s top luxury broker. We serve some of the highest-end markets in the U.S.—Naples, Florida; Fairfield County, Connecticut; Nantucket—and we have many of the finest agents in the world serving those markets. Their local knowledge and real estate expertise enable them to best connect with affluent clients, which is a priority audience for us. That said, we have a large audience base and serve other segments as well. Best practices honed by selling luxury properties are completely transferrable. We’ve fully embraced superior customer service at every point in the home-selling and -buying journeys, and consequently, invented new products and processes to support our agents. When we look at the level of service we strive to provide, we’re looking to emulate brands like The Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. Co-Presidents Chris Raveis and Ryan Raveis snap a picture with mortgage banker Francine Silberman and VP of Business Development Lisa Theiss. MP: Tell us about some of the ways you’re supporting agents… CR: Ryan, Bill, our senior management team and I are constantly in the field, constantly listening to agents. As a family business, we make decisions very quickly. Plus, we have the resources to compete with anybody. Each branch has a full-time manager, and we have multiple layers of admin and marketing support for agents. We are the only company that provides personalized branding for our sales associates because we believe each one is an entrepreneur who cannot be fit into a single, specific mold. Every manager is extensively trained through our career development department to become a certified coach and mentor to our sales associates. And we also bring in world-renowned business coaches, like Tom Ferry and Mike Staver. On the tech side, we’re well ahead of the market, particularly with automation. We have a completely automated listing launch platform, where in 30 seconds, an agent can get a listing launched, one that is personally branded with the agent’s name. Even better, we have integrated performance tracking, giving our agents and clients customized and immediate insights with real-time analytics. MP: This year, you quickly rolled out products to help buyers and sellers navigate the unique challenges of the market. Tell us a bit about them. RR: We truly walk the talk on exceptional customer service throughout the buying and selling journey. For the seller who has their home listed but can’t financially move or can’t get the equity out, we provide a bridge loan through William Raveis Mortgage. Another option we offer is Raveis Purchase, where sellers benefit from the speed of getting out of their home and unlocking their equity to make a non-contingent offer on a new home. With this program, we buy the home from them and use Raveis Refresh to help prepare and stage the home with our certified network of designers and installation teams. And here’s the best part: When we sell the refreshed home at a higher price point on the open market, the client keeps the upside, which is different than any other model out there. We’ve moved a couple dozen customers in the 90 days since we launched this innovative offering (at press time), and the traction has been incredible. We have hundreds in the pipeline. We also just launched the Raveis CashBid program where we buy the home from the seller—on behalf of the buyer—and take title to the home. Then we help those pre-approved buyers get a mortgage and repurchase the home from us. This creates opportunities for those buyers losing out on offers, as well as first-time homebuyers who can’t put down an all-cash bid. These are just a few examples of how we are empowering our agents to take care of their clients during a competitive market. We are always thinking outside the box and partnering for success. It’s all really exciting. MP: Were programs like this borne out of the pandemic? RR: 100%. When the pandemic hit, we knew that listing inventory was going to be slim, absorption rates would be fast, and that we needed to come up with solutions. Ryan and Chris Raveis with Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Carpenter MP: It seems like only a company of your scope and size, with in-house mortgage services, could make programs like these work… RR: Yes, it wouldn’t happen without the mortgage company. When the agent understands the 360-degree view of the consumer, it makes them a better agent. We have the resources—the luxury, mortgage and insurance products—but being able to execute and help thousands of agents put those resources to use is another thing. With the breadth of our offerings and our investment in career development, our agents are better trained than anyone else in the industry. MP: Do such programs represent the future of real estate, or are they temporary solutions to market conditions sparked by the pandemic? RR: If a company’s business model is banking on programs that buy homes and resell them, that company will have a tough time in a downturn. You have to be good at recognizing the tenor of the market and actively develop the right programs because each year has different needs. We constantly listen to our agents and innovate to serve their market needs. This was true in 1974, and it remains the same today. MP: What other evolutions—to your company and to the market—do you foresee taking place in the next year or so? CR: The market will remain challenging. The fourth quarter won’t be like last year, but it will be better than we thought at the beginning of the year. We are continuing to grow—having just expanded in Sarasota, Florida. Our footprint will encompass new areas in the Northeast and down the eastern seaboard as well. MP: Finally, if you had to point to just a few keys to success that have been instrumental to the firm’s longevity and growth over the years, what would they be? CR: You have to love the business; it has to be part of your soul. If you do, there’s a palpable energy that continually motivates you. And being a family business lends a lot to that—people are proud to associate themselves with real people as opposed to a large public or private equity firm. We thrive off each other and our larger business family. Our success is truly a collective team effort all around. For more information, please visit Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to The post William Raveis: The Family Advantage appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaOct 7th, 2021

Orlando is gearing up to become a rival to Silicon Valley - and shift away from being a destination primarily for tourists and retirees

Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Verizon, and Deloitte all have offices in Orlando - and more companies are joining them. Orlando has talent, transport, and low taxes. John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images Orlando has been shaking off Florida's reputation as primarily a place for tourists and retirees. Instead, the city is becoming a hub for tech, defense, training, and finance companies. Execs from EA, Luminar, and Stax told Insider why its tech scene is thriving. See more stories on Insider's business page. Defense and technology startup Red 6 is opening a hub in Orlando to develop its airborne tactical augmented reality system.It's one in a long line of companies, including Lockheed Martin, Oracle, Verizon, and Deloitte, with offices in the central Florida city.For years, people have viewed the Sunshine State as primarily a vacation and a retiree destination, but groups such as the Orlando Economic Partnership have been working to elevate its profile as a tech hub."In Orlando, everyone knows the Disney story," Tim Giuliani, the Partnership's president, told Insider. "This part of the story that people don't know or don't recall is the space race."NASA started performing launch operations in Cape Canaveral more than 70 years ago. The city is also home to the Kennedy Space Center and US Army, Air Force, and Navy simulation command centers, which has led to an influx of other technology, defense, and training companies."You have this cluster here, that's developed over a long time, and now you're seeing it get to a critical mass," Giuliani said. "You're seeing more companies moving out of California and New York.""We've made great strides in growing our reputation as a city where tech companies and start-ups can not only open, expand, relocate, and thrive, but be in proximity to some of the world's leaders in innovation," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer added.Orlando has talent, transport, and low taxesExecs from Electronic Arts, Luminar, and Stax told Insider that Orlando's big talent pool made it easier for them to recruit in the area."We have all these great colleges that are literally in our backyard," Suneera Madhani, founder of Orlando-based SME payments platform Stax, said. These include the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, and Valancia College.Giuliani said there were half a million college students within a hundred-mile radius of downtown Orlando."We have been able to tap into that talent," Luminar CTO Jason Eichenholz said. The self-driving LIDAR startup has around 400 employees, with roughly 60% based in Orlando."In the early days of Luminar, when we would meet with a potential customer and they'd have one specific LIDAR engineer, we would have a millennia of men and women, experienced in LIDAR technology, which gave us a very unfair advantage compared to our competition," Eichenholz added.The execs said it was easy to recruit workers from other states to move to Orlando, too.Electronic Arts vice-president Daryl Holt said its Orlando studios had more than 850 employees - some from the area, including many UCF graduates, and some who relocated.Migration to the state has boomed because of its warm climate, low living costs, and lack of income tax."Who wouldn't want to move to Florida?" Mahdani said. Many of Stax's C-suites and middle management relocated from New York, California, and Atlanta, he added.Eichenholz said some young tech workers relocated to California to work for companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook, but that once they had a family, "we do exceptionally well in being able to attract them back to Florida."The execs said Orlando had a pro-business environment and bustling tech community. Madhani, for example, sits on the board of Starter Studio, a venture-tech accelerator that helped her set up Stax in 2014."It's a wonderful nexus point of industry, education, and government all rowing in the same direction," Holt said.Giuliani said Orlando is a well-connected city. As well as an international airport, Brightline is due to launch a rail line connecting Orlando to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach in 2022."Obviously Silicon Valley is not going to die and New York's not going to die," Giuliani said. "There's just going to be more for everybody else."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 26th, 2021

Here"s Why You Should Buy Schneider National (SNDR) Stock Now

Impressive balance sheet and strong segmental performance boost Schneider National's (SNDR) stock. Schneider National, Inc. SNDR performed well in the past three-month period and has the potential to sustain the momentum. If you haven’t taken advantage of its share price appreciation yet, it’s time you add the stock to your portfolio.Let’s take a look at the factors that make the stock an attractive pick.Price Outperformance: A glimpse at the company’s price trend reveals that its shares have increased 4.5% in the past three months against a 6.4% loss of the industry it belongs to.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchSolid Rank & VGM Score: Schneider National currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and has a VGM Score of A. Our research shows that stocks with a VGM Score of A or B, when combined with a Zacks Rank #1 or 2 (Buy), offer the best investment opportunities. Thus, the company seems to be an appropriate investment proposition at the moment. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Northward Estimate Revisions: Seven estimates for 2021 moved north in the past 60 days versus no southward revision, reflecting analysts’ confidence in the company. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings has moved up 16.6% in the past 60 days.Positive Earnings Surprise History: Schneider National has an impressive earnings surprise history. The company outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate in all of the trailing four quarters, delivering an earnings surprise of 16%, on average.Strong Growth Prospects: The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings is pegged at $1.96, which reflects year-over-year growth of 56.8%.  The company’s long-term expected earnings per share (EPS) growth rate is at 17.9%.Driving Factors: Schneider National has a strong cash position. Its cash and cash equivalents at the end of the second quarter stood at $490.5 million, higher than the current maturities of debt and finance lease obligations of $100.7 million. The company’s current ratio (a measure of liquidity) stood at 1.94. A current ratio, which is greater than 1.5, is usually considered good for a company.Strong performances in the Intermodal and Logistics segments are driving the company’s top line, which increased 20.3% year over year in the first half of 2021. The Intermodal segment (revenues rose 15.9% in the first half of 2021) is benefiting from yield management and increased volumes, mainly in the Eastern rail network, while the Logistics unit (revenues surged 67.2% year over year) is thriving on favorable constructive market conditions and other factors.Recently, the company deployed a battery-electric truck (BEV) as part of the carrier’s plan to reduce greenhouse emissions. Starting next year, the company will add 50 Freightliner eCascadias to its Southern California intermodal operations. This will make the organization one of the largest battery-electric truck fleets in North America. It also has plans for more BEVs and route options.Other Stocks to ConsiderInvestors interested in the broader Zacks Transportation sector can also consider stocks like Saia, Inc. SAIA, Landstar System, Inc. LSTR and TFI International Inc. TFII. Saia and Landstar carry a Zacks Rank #2, while TFI International sports a Zacks #1 Rank.Long-term expected earnings per share (three to five years) growth rate for Saia, Landstar and TFI International is pegged at 29.9%, 12% and 31.6%, respectively.  Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Landstar System, Inc. (LSTR): Free Stock Analysis Report Saia, Inc. (SAIA): Free Stock Analysis Report Schneider National, Inc. (SNDR): Free Stock Analysis Report TFI International Inc. (TFII): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Florida May Require History Of Communism Classes In Public Schools

Florida May Require History Of Communism Classes In Public Schools Authored by T.J. Muscaro via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Florida State Legislature is one step closer to passing legislation making education on the history, philosophies, and global “atrocities” of communism mandatory in public schools. A view of the historic Old Florida State Capitol building, which sits in front of the current New Capitol, in Tallahassee, Florida, on Nov. 10, 2018. (Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images) Senate Bill 1264 was passed favorably through the Appropriations Committee on Education on Feb. 20 after several survivors of communist regimes around the world, as well as the children and grandchildren of survivors, testified to the atrocities they had to endure. Sponsored by Republican state Sen. Jay Collins, it calls for the formation of a five-person “History of Communism Task Force” within the Department of Education by the 2026-27 school year. Its aim would be to ensure the creation and integration of an age-appropriate curriculum focused on the history, philosophies, and “atrocities” of communism domestically and internationally. “What this does is focus on the reality of communism to make sure that we teach the truth about it holistically through our educational system, scaffolding year over year ensuring that we teach the very facts of what is done across the world,” he said. ‘Vital for the Future’ According to a 2020 poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, 18 percent of Gen Z and 13 percent of Millennials view communism as a system that is more fair than capitalism; 30 percent of Gen Z and 27 percent of Millennials have a favorable view of Marxism, and only 63 percent of both Gen Z and Millennials “believe the Declaration of Independence better guarantees freedom and equality over the Communist Manifesto.” Jaime Arellano, a political prisoner of the communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, was freed only a few months ago and flown to the United States, as part of a deal made by the State Department. Mr. Arellano stood before the Florida committee and said that, after reading about what was happening in the country, “I got away one from one nightmare to land into another nightmare.” “I think it’s very important for this country... to teach young kids what communists does [sic],” he said. “What communists take away from you. What communists does [sic] to your family. What communists does [sic]... to your dreams.” Mr. Arellano was one of more than 15 people from communist countries such as Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Cuba. Some were descendants of those who had escaped. Many were holding back tears as they retold their or their family’s stories. Michelle Lee-Chen was seven years old in 1975 when South Vietnam was taken over by the communists. She spoke about how her father, a Major General in the South Vietnamese Army, was sent to a prison concentration camp for 17 and a half years. Her brother was beaten in front of her and her mother, and he was sent to a “new economic zone camp” where many died from brutal punishment, starvation, or illness caused by unsanitary conditions. It took Ms. Lee-Chen and some of her family five attempts to escape by boat, while her father and mother stayed behind. Along the harrowing voyage, she recalled her sister nearly dying and being chased by Thai pirates. After being rescued by an oil rig, she said sailors of the Malaysian Coast Guard, who were supposed to transport her group safely to Indonesia, molested “pretty much every single woman on that boat.” “I can still hear the screaming,” she said. Peoples Liberation Army band members are seated during the Opening Ceremony of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at The Great Hall of People on Oct. 16, 2022, in Beijing, China. Chinese President Xi Jinping is widely expected to secure a third term in power. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images) The state of Florida had previously required all public high school students to pass a 30-hour course called “Americanism vs. Communism,” but that course was discontinued in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially proclaimed Nov. 7 “Victims of Communism Day.” Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, all high school students taking the United States Government class are required to receive at least 45 minutes of instruction on the atrocities of communism from the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the doctrine of Mao Zedong, through the present-day totalitarian regime of Nicolas Maduro and the Chavismo Movement in Venezuela. “I believe that it’s vital for the future generation [to] learn the truth about life under the tyrannical communist government after the fall of Saigon and to always honor the brave soldiers from the United States, South Vietnam, and our allies who gave so much to protect the ideals of democracy and freedom,” Ms. Lee-Chen said. Committee chairman Keith Perry, a Republican, also recognized 12 others who appeared in support of the event but waived their opportunity to speak. Two people appeared to waive speaking out in opposition. Democratic state Sen. Tracie Davis voiced concern about the proposed five-member Task Force, three of whom would be chosen by the governor and come from Florida International University’s Adam Smith Center for Economic Freedom, Miami-Dade College, and the general population. “I really, really would like for you as the sponsor and the carrier of this is very, very important piece of legislation to all of us that the members of that task force accurately represent a body and they are not afraid to place accuracy and the truth of the matter,” she told Mr. Collins. “The good, the bad, and the facts is what we need to be taught in our classrooms.” Ms. Davis voted in favor of the bill. ‘Anti-Communist Curricula’ SB 1264 mirrors House Bill 1349, “Required Instruction on the History of Communism.” Both versions have one more committee to pass through, and the senator’s office confirmed with The Epoch Times that the bills will be identical by the time they return to their respective chambers for voting. Florida’s legislature is not the only one taking a stance against communism. In New Hampshire, House Bill 1153, which “requires mandatory ‘anti-communist’ curricula and establishes elective curricula for public schools,” was required to only go through the Education Committee, and is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Feb. 22. Unlike Florida’s legislation, which calls for a task force to help create the curriculum based on broader regime-focused requirements, New Hampshire’s bill already lists specifics, and includes required reading of Marxist-Leninist concepts. New Hampshire congressional candidate Lily Tang Williams escaped communist China 35 years ago. She told The Epoch Times that the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. Mike Belcher, does not expect it to pass due to the slim Republican majority. But the hope is for it to start a conversation that ends with the passing of an amended version in the near future. Ms. Williams has also worked with the Florida Department of Education to create videos that share her own story for the Oral History of Communism Project, and she is confident Florida’s efforts will pass. “Even though I encourage homeschool, and private schools, school choice... most people [are] still in public schools,” she said. “So that’s where the red states have to exercise the state’s rights to do educational reforms. And by having the first step to, you know, teach the horrors of communism like Florida is doing, I totally support Florida.” Tyler Durden Thu, 02/22/2024 - 17:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedge3 hr. 36 min. ago

25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024

In this piece, we will look at the 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. If you want to skip the detailed analysis on the travel and tourism sector and other Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024, you can head on to 5 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. […] In this piece, we will look at the 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. If you want to skip the detailed analysis on the travel and tourism sector and other Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024, you can head on to 5 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. In the ever-evolving landscape of global tourism, the industry has not only rebounded from the challenges posed by the pandemic but is poised for unprecedented growth. According to a report by Future Market Insights, the global tourism industry soared to a valuation of $10.5 trillion in 2022, with projections indicating a staggering ascent to $17.1 trillion by 2032, reflecting a robust compound annual growth rate of 5% over the forecasted period. Remarkably, the return to pre-pandemic travel levels began to materialize in 2023, with 235 million international tourists embarking on journeys within the first three months of the year, as reported by UN Tourism. According to data shared by United Nations World Tourism Organization, international tourism will rise by 15% in 2024 from last year. In fact, it is even expected to exceed 2019, pre pandemic levels by 2%. In its 2024 Global Travel Outlook, Skift Research has forecasted that Asia will emerge as a key growth driver in the travel industry. As we stand on the precipice of 2024, the quest for travel experiences that seamlessly blend safety and enrichment has never been more compelling. In this pursuit, Asia emerges as a treasure trove of secure havens, each city offering a distinct and captivating narrative. The majority of these safest cities are nestled in East Asia, showcasing a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation, while the thriving metropolises of the Middle East make a significant contribution to this diverse mix of secure Asian destinations. These cities, irrespective of their geographical location, beckon travellers with promises of safety, serenity, and an array of experiences that span cultural richness and modern allure. As we explore the Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024, we acknowledge the substantial contribution these destinations make to the global travel industry. The World Travel & Tourism Council anticipates that the Asia-Pacific region will lead the way in adding 65% of new jobs to the global travel industry over the next decade, with economic powerhouses such as China and India at the forefront of this growth. This comprehensive guide navigates through the safest gems of the Asian continent, providing in-depth insights into the unique charm and security offered by each city. As we embark on this exploration, let us unravel the stories, cultures, and unwavering safety promised by the Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024, inviting travellers to partake in experiences that transcend the ordinary and create lasting memories. Amidst the burgeoning landscape of global travel, the role of travel companies has become increasingly pivotal, acting as architects of seamless and secure journeys for enthusiasts seeking the perfect blend of safety and adventure. As we navigate the Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024, these travel companies emerge as facilitators, guiding and curating experiences that transcend the ordinary. Their expertise becomes paramount, ensuring that travellers can explore the cultural richness and modern allure of these cities with utmost confidence. These companies not only connect explorers with the safest accommodations, reliable transportation, and expertly crafted itineraries but also serve as guardians of the evolving travel landscape. Prominent entities with significant influence in the travel and tourism market of the Asia-Pacific region include Expedia Group Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE), Booking Holding Inc (NASDAQ:BKNG) and Tripadvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP). Expedia Group Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) Expedia Group Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) stands as a prominent online travel company, offering a diverse array of services encompassing the booking of hotel rooms, airline seats, car rentals, and destination services through collaboration with various travel suppliers. The company operates under multiple brands, including,, Vrbo, Orbitz, ebookers, and CheapTickets. In the twelve months ending December 31, 2023, Expedia Group reported a substantial revenue of $12.84 billion, showcasing a noteworthy year-over-year growth of 10.05%. The quarter ending December 31, 2023, contributed $2.89 billion to this revenue, demonstrating a robust year-over-year growth rate of 10.28%. Expedia Group’s impressive financial performance underscores its significant presence and influence in the dynamic landscape of online travel services. Booking Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:BKNG) Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:BKNG), an American travel technology company incorporated under Delaware General Corporation Law and headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, holds ownership of several travel fare aggregators and travel fare metasearch engines. Operating websites in approximately 40 languages and spanning 200 countries, Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) has established a global footprint in the travel industry. In the twelve months ending September 30, 2023, the company reported an impressive revenue of $20.63 billion, reflecting a substantial year-over-year growth of 28.76%. Furthermore, the quarter ending September 30, 2023, contributed $7.34 billion to this revenue, showcasing a robust year-over-year growth rate of 21.30%. Booking Holdings’ remarkable financial performance underscores its position as a major player in the travel technology sector, catering to a diverse and extensive international audience. Tripadvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) Tripadvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP), an American company, is a notable player in the online travel industry, operating online travel agencies, comparison shopping websites, and mobile apps with a focus on user-generated content. The company’s primary brand,, operates in 40 countries and spans 20 languages, featuring an extensive database of approximately 1 billion reviews and opinions on around 8 million establishments. In the twelve months ending December 31, 2023, Tripadvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP) reported a revenue of $1.79 billion, showcasing a commendable year-over-year growth of 19.84%. The quarter ending December 31, 2023, contributed $390.00 million to this revenue, reflecting a solid year-over-year growth rate of 10.17%. Tripadvisor’s substantial user-generated content and robust financial performance affirm its significance in the realm of online travel and reviews. lev radin/ Methodology We identified 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024 by using Numbeo’s security index, which ranges from zero to a hundred—higher scores indicating greater safety. To increase the credibility of our rankings, these cities were then further assessed using the Legatum Prosperity Index, focusing on health, security, and safety matrices, each given equal weight in the ranking process. This Prosperity Index ranks 167 countries, with 167th ranked country standing worst in terms of the three matrices used. For instance, if two countries have Prosperity indices of 128 and 122, the one with 122 boasts better prospects in terms of health, security, and safety. This comprehensive approach resulted in a definitive ranking of 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024, considering both their inherent safety features and broader prosperity indicators. Our meticulous methodology ensures a thorough assessment of each city’s overall livability and well-being, providing valuable insights for residents, travelers, and policymakers. By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders. 25. Davao, Philippines Prosperity Index: 128 Safety Index: 72.5 Starting our list of 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024 is Davao City, the regional centre of Davao Region, which holds the distinction of being the most populous city in Mindanao and the third largest in the Philippines. Renowned for its bustling economy and modern amenities, it is a vital economic player on the island and the third most important urban centre in the country. Covering 244,000 hectares, Davao City is recognized as the Orchid Capital of the Philippines and is famous for its fruits. It serves as a gateway for climbing Mt. Apo, the Philippines’ highest mountain, boasts a mild, pleasant climate year-round, shielded from typhoons. 24. Antalya, Turkey Prosperity Index: 122 Safety Index: 72.6 Antalya, renowned for its breathtaking beaches with pristine sands and crystal-clear waters, offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment is next on our list of 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. The city comes alive after dark with a vibrant nightlife scene suitable for all ages, featuring everything from live music and seaside cocktails to late-night clubs and atmospheric opera. For an optimal visit, consider planning your trip to Antalya during the favorable periods of April to mid-June (Spring) or September to mid-October (Autumn), avoiding the wet winters and hot summers. During these seasons, popular activities like canoeing, trekking, and rafting are in full swing, providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventures in the stunning surroundings. 23. Eskisehir, Turkey Prosperity Index: 122 Safety Index: 74.2 Eskisehir, a beautiful and modern city, is known for its safety and is particularly popular among the young population. It has earned the distinction of being ranked second in the national survey for “the finest cities in Turkey for living.” The city boasts a high level of security, with a notably low risk of significant robberies, making it a dependable and secure place to live. As an excellent alternative to the bustling capital, Eskisehir combines modern amenities with vintage charm. The city offers a pleasant living environment, attracting residents and visitors alike with its unique blend of contemporary comforts and historical allure. 22. Baku, Azerbaijan Prosperity Index: 90 Safety Index: 69.6 Baku, with a rich history dating back to the 4th millennium BCE, has evolved into a modern and vibrant city. Its stunning architecture, beautiful parks, and lively streets contribute to its appeal. Travelers on a budget will find good news in the form of highly affordable accommodation in Baku and Azerbaijan, making it an excellent destination for budget-conscious backpackers. Baku is renowned as a safe city with a vibrant atmosphere that persists even into the night. An added advantage is the city center being closed to vehicular traffic, enhancing the overall safety and enjoyable experience for visitors. 21. Chiang Mai, Thailand  Prosperity Index: 83 Safety Index: 76.5 Chiang Mai, located in the mountainous northern region of Thailand, has a rich history dating back to its founding in 1296. Once the capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558, its Old City area still preserves remnants of walls and moats, reflecting its past as a cultural and religious center. The city is adorned with hundreds of intricate Buddhist temples. Today, Chiang Mai thrives as a flourishing tourist and resort center, known for attractions such as the Phu Ping Palace, the summer residence of the Thai royal family. The city is also renowned as a hub for Thai handicrafts, with small villages in the vicinity specializing in crafts like silverwork, wood carving, pottery, umbrellas, and lacquerware. Chiang Mai continues to captivate visitors with its historical charm and vibrant artisanal culture. 20. Tbilisi, Georgia Prosperity Index: 82 Safety Index: 74.4 Tbilisi has gained recognition as a rising hotspot for nightlife and entertainment, drawing tourists to its vibrant scene. The city is rumoured to host two of Eastern Europe’s most exclusive dance clubs. Notable areas for bars, especially catering to tourists, include Akhvlediani Street and the Chardin area, many of which offer live music. The prime time to visit Tbilisi is during May, June, July, August, September, and October, constituting the peak season. This period ensures favourable weather and a bustling atmosphere, making it an ideal time to explore the city’s dynamic nightlife and cultural offerings. 19. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia  Prosperity Index: 79 Safety Index: 73.1 The list of Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024 could not have been complete without Jeddah. Situated on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, Jeddah serves as a modern commercial hub and a key gateway for pilgrimages to the Islamic holy cities Mecca and Medina. Along its seafront promenade, the Corniche, visitors can enjoy resort hotels, beaches, and outdoor sculptures, with the iconic King Fahd’s Fountain as a prominent landmark. Known for its hospitality, Jeddah welcomes tourists, offering an unforgettable experience for those who respect local customs, laws, and traditions. Often referred to as the city that never sleeps, Jeddah is bustling with activities that continue throughout the night. This dynamic and lively city is always ready to provide visitors with a diverse and welcoming atmosphere. 18. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia  Prosperity Index: 79 Safety Index: 73.8 Riyadh, the capital and largest city of Saudi Arabia, stands as the central region’s administrative, political, and financial hub. Recognized for its modern skyline featuring tall skyscrapers, luxury hotels, and architectural marvels, Riyadh is a global destination for tourists seeking a blend of shopping, entertainment, and business opportunities. The city offers an exciting shopping experience within its malls, while the surrounding sand dunes under the brightest stars create a magical natural experience. Riyadh’s diverse environment, with its unique characteristics, attracts explorers. Luxurious restaurants provide elaborate international dishes, while local establishments showcase authentic flavors and spices rooted in Saudi culture, offering a variety of culinary experiences in this bustling city. 17. Yerevan, Armenia  Prosperity Index: 70 Safety Index: 77.1 Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, showcases grand Soviet-era architecture, and its main avenue is dominated by the impressive Matenadaran library, home to thousands of ancient Greek and Armenian manuscripts. The heart of the city, Republic Square, features musical water fountains and stately government buildings. Yerevan is considered generally safe, even at night. The city boasts a well-established and safe public transportation system, including mini busses, trams, and a metro network widely used by both locals and tourists. These services are known for their reliability and cost-efficiency, enhancing the overall accessibility and convenience of exploring Yerevan. 16. Guangzhou, China Prosperity Index: 51 Safety Index: 69.6 Guangzhou, the largest trade center in south China, is renowned for its flourishing markets, offering wholesale and retail opportunities and it stands at number sixteen on the list of 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. From clothing and cosmetics to electrical appliances and digital products, the city is a diverse shopping paradise. Guangzhou hosts the prestigious Canton Fair in April/May and October/November, attracting global visitors and earning the title of “China’s Number One Exhibition.” This dynamic city provides a comprehensive and enjoyable shopping experience, making it a sought-after destination for both business and leisure. 15. Shanghai, China Prosperity Index: 51 Safety Index: 70.7 Shanghai stands as a global hub for finance, business, economics, research, science, technology, manufacturing, transportation, tourism, and culture. Notably, the Port of Shanghai holds the title of the world’s busiest container port. As China’s most developed city, it serves as a major center for finance and fashion, making it one of the world’s most populous and influential urban centers. The city boasts an outstanding public transport network, anchored by the world’s most extensive metro system, comprising subway and elevated trains. Complementing this are buses that cover extensive routes. Taxis are abundant and affordable by international standards, and due to the city’s design, getting around on foot is often a practical and convenient option in Shanghai. 14. Shenzhen, China  Prosperity Index: 51 Safety Index: 73.0 Shenzhen is a prominent global technology hub, often referred to as China’s Silicon Valley. The city boasts a culture of entrepreneurship, innovation, and competitiveness, making it a hub for numerous small manufacturers and software companies. Shenzhen is renowned for its extensive shopping destinations, exemplified by Luohu Commercial City, a massive mall offering a diverse range of products, from tailor-made clothing to imitation designer bags. The city’s skyline is characterized by contemporary buildings, including the impressive 600-meter-tall skyscraper, Ping An International Finance Centre. Additionally, Shenzhen features several amusement parks, adding to the city’s dynamic and modern appeal. 13. Beijing, China  Prosperity Index: 51 Safety Index: 73.1 On thirteenth place of 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024 is Beijing. Beijing, China’s capital, boasts numerous national monuments and museums, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, and sections of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal. These sites attract a significant number of tourists due to their historical and cultural significance. For an optimal visit, the best times to explore Beijing are from March to May and from September to October. These temperate seasons offer favourable climates and showcase colourful scenery, enhancing the overall experience for visitors. 12. Hong Kong, China Prosperity Index: 51 Safety Index: 78.2 Hong Kong serves as the gateway to China and stands out as one of the safest cities in Asia. It is a global powerhouse for international trade and investments, featuring a unique blend of a capitalist economic system and semi-independence from mainland China. The city is renowned for its diverse population and offers an extensive array of shopping centres and vibrant street markets. A major tourist destination, Hong Kong attracts visitors with its gastronomic delights, lively nightlife, beautiful temples, and stunning natural beauty. Additionally, it is a paradise for shopaholics, making it a well-rounded and appealing destination for travellers. 11. Kuwait City, Kuwait Prosperity Index: 45 Safety Index: 70.2 Kuwait City, the capital and largest city of Kuwait, is situated on the southern shore of Kuwait Bay along the Persian Gulf. The city’s architecture draws inspiration from Islamic design. Fuelled by oil wealth, Kuwait City stands as the capital of one of the wealthiest nations in the Arabian Peninsula, boasting a sophisticated welfare state and a thriving free-market economy. This prosperity has enabled the establishment of state-of-the-art desalination plants to address water scarcity and significant investments in education, resulting in an impressive literacy rate of 93.3 percent. 10. Ajman, UAE Prosperity Index: 43 Safety Index: 83.5 Ajman, the capital of the emirate of Ajman in the United Arab Emirates, ranks as the fifth-largest city in the UAE, following Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Al Ain. Situated along the Persian Gulf, it is surrounded by the larger emirate of Sharjah in territory. A notable attraction in Ajman is City Centre Ajman, the emirate’s largest mall, offering a unique architectural experience and a diverse array of shops and confectioneries. The city’s corniche is a popular destination in the evenings and weekends, drawing families with its scenic views and featuring numerous fast-food outlets, coffee shops, and stalls for a leisurely experience. 9. Ras al-Khaimah, UAE Prosperity Index: 43 Safety Index: 83.7 Ras Al Khaimah is celebrated for its diverse offerings, ranging from outstanding nature and leisure to thrilling adventure and authentic experiences. Emerging as a highly sought-after destination, travelers to Ras Al Khaimah can indulge in a spectrum of experiences, from serene spa luxury to heart-pounding adrenaline adventures, and everything in between. This year-round destination caters to a variety of interests, providing a plethora of activities for everyone to enjoy. 8. Dubai, UAE Prosperity Index: 43 Safety Index: 83.8 No list of Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024 could have been complete without Dubai. Dubai, renowned for its exceptional safety measures and iconic skyscrapers, stands as a premier destination for global tourists. This city is synonymous with luxury, offering extravagant travel experiences that make it a sought-after escape for discerning travellers. Dubai presents a myriad of royal adventures, from exhilarating helicopter tours to opulent 5-star accommodations and upscale shopping destinations. Originally, a fishing village known for its booming pearl industry, Dubai underwent a transformative urban development in the 21st century, strategically designed to attract tourists. Today, it stands as a testament to architectural marvels, with record-breaking skyscrapers dominating its skyline. The city’s dedication to providing top-notch experiences, coupled with its commitment to safety, continues to make Dubai a destination of choice for those seeking unparalleled luxury and modern extravagance. 7. Abu Dhabi, UAE Prosperity Index: 43 Safety Index: 87.1 Abu Dhabi, the largest emirate by area in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), stands out as one of the top 12 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. Sharing a similar history with its neighbouring emirate Dubai as a seafront economic hub, Abu Dhabi distinguishes itself with a focus on cultural attractions rather than solely modern luxury experiences. Notable landmarks include the breathtaking Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the globally renowned Louvre Abu Dhabi, the tranquil Al Ain Oasis, and The Founders Memorial. This city offers a blend of rich cultural experiences and historical treasures, making it a compelling destination in the UAE. 6. Muscat, Oman Prosperity Index: 40 Safety Index: 80.2 Muscat, the port capital of Oman, is surrounded by a picturesque landscape of desert and mountains and is on number six on our ranking of 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. Renowned for its vibrant marketplaces, or souks, and delectable seafood, the city boasts a fascinating blend of ancient and modern structures. Notable landmarks include 16th-century Portuguese forts and the modern Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Muscat is celebrated for its dazzling souks and excellent seafood, but it is the diverse terrain that provides the most thrilling experiences. This Middle East port city offers opportunities to trek through deserts at dawn, spot dolphins at sundown, and immerse oneself in Omani hospitality. Muscat stands out as a destination that combines rich cultural heritage with exciting outdoor adventures. Click to continue reading and find out about 5 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024. Suggested Articles: 12 Worst Cities in the Southwest for Retirees 20 Best Small Cities to Live in the US 20 Cities With The Highest Cost of Living in the US Disclosure: None. Top 25 Safest Cities in Asia to Visit In 2024 is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkey9 hr. 4 min. ago

15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business

In this piece we will look at the 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business. If you want to skip our detailed analysis on the cannabis market, you can go directly to 5 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business. The global cannabis market could surpass $55 billion by 2024. While recreational cannabis remains […] In this piece we will look at the 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business. If you want to skip our detailed analysis on the cannabis market, you can go directly to 5 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business. The global cannabis market could surpass $55 billion by 2024. While recreational cannabis remains illegal in many places, evolving regulations may drive more individuals to seek medical validation to avoid legal consequences. Australia has shown interest in becoming a major player in medical-grade cannabis cultivation and pharmaceutical production. The country’s favourable climate and available land for cultivation position it well to be a leader in Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) cannabis production in the Australia-New Zealand and Oceanic regions, with expectations of the Australian cannabis market exceeding $1 billion by 2024. Forecasts suggest that Australia could become the fifth-largest medicinal cannabis producer globally, with potential for significant growth in the industry according to Forbes. In the US, the legal cannabis industry has shown rapid growth, with sales increasing significantly in its early stages due to high demand. According to Forbes, the global legal cannabis market is anticipated to reach $55 billion by 2027. According to the forecast, Michigan is expected to grow significantly, reaching a $3.8 billion market by 2027. Moreover, New York and New Jersey are forecasted to reach $2.5 billion each within four years, starting from 2024. Also, California and Colorado are predicted to experience modest recoveries post-pandemic, with California expected to reach $5.24 billion and Colorado to reach $1.7 billion in sales by 2027. As of January 2024, recreational cannabis use for individuals aged 21 and older has been legalized in 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, and Guam. These states include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. Additionally, marijuana is now legal in 40 states plus Washington D.C. for medical purposes. These states       comprise Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. With this let’s look at some of the major players in the cannabis market before we jump on to our list of 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business, where we look at what these entities do, and how their latest available performance has been. Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (Other OTC:CURLF) Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. is a holding company that operates subsidiary companies involved in the production and distribution of cannabis products. Its operations span dispensary and cultivation sites across North America. In the latest financial report, Curaleaf Holdings recorded a revenue of US$333.2 million for the quarter ending 31 October 2023, showcasing a 2.3% increase from the same quarter a year ago. However, the company experienced a net loss of US$69.5 million, representing an 80% widening of losses compared to the 3rd quarter of 2022. Moreover, Earnings per share also declined to US$0.096, deteriorating from US$0.054 in the same period, a year ago. Tilray Brands, Inc. (NASDAQGS:TLRY) Tilray Brands Inc. is an American pharmaceutical company specializing in cannabis research, processing, cultivation, and distribution. The company is recognized for its Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification in the production and supply of adult-use cannabis products, medicinal cannabis products, and hemp products, among others. In the quarter ending on November 30, 2023, Tilray Brands Inc. reported record net revenue of $194 million, marking a notable 34% increase from $144 million in the previous year’s quarter. The company’s gross profit saw an 11% rise to $47 million, with adjusted gross profit increasing by 18% to $52 million during the same period. The gross margin stood at 24%, while the adjusted gross margin improved to 27%. Specifically, within the cannabis segment, net revenue experienced a 35% growth to $67 million in the second quarter compared to $50 million previously. The cannabis gross margin was reported at 31%, down from 43% in the prior year, and the adjusted cannabis gross margin was at 35%, a decrease from 43% in the prior year quarter. Green Thumb Industries Inc. (Other OTC:GTBIF) Green Thumb Industries Inc. is a cannabis consumer packaged goods company with two segments: Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail. The company cultivates, produces, and sells cannabis products to retail stores and directly to patients and consumers. In Q3 2023 ending 30 September, the company reported $275 million in revenue, a 9% sequential increase. GAAP net income was $11 million ($0.05 per share), and Adjusted EBITDA was $83 million (30% of revenue). Cash flow from operations for the quarter was $61 million, totaling $154 million year-to-date. Cash at quarter end was $137 million, and share repurchases amounted to $25 million. The company also announced the launch of adult-use cannabis sales at four RISE Dispensaries in Maryland since July 1, 2023, and the opening of new RISE Dispensaries in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Fruitland Park, Florida at the end of 2023. Methodology To prepare our list of 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business, extensive research was done. First, Thompson Coburn LLP was referred to, which has created a state-by-state ranking of cannabis regulations, based on how much the regulatory system is feasible for the cannabis industry in each state. Their ranking considered variables such as medical and recreational cannabis legality and licensing, commercial licenses, regulatory agencies, developments and trends in cannabis legalization support, and business opportunities based on operators, consumers, and industry potential in the state. Next, the 15 states extracted based on Thompson Coburn LLP’s rankings were individually assessed for their average monthly revenue generation from recreational cannabis sales, since the time of each state’s legalization inception for recreational cannabis. The cut-off date for the average monthly revenue generation was 30 December 2022 for most of the states, keeping the consistency element intact. However, average monthly revenue generation for Missouri, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland pertain to post 2022 period, due to the fact that either adult-use cannabis hadn’t turned legal in these state by year 2022, or licenses hadn’t been issued for retail purposes. We then formulated an Insider Monkey score by combining the two metrics mentioned earlier. In this composite score, more reliance was put on Thompson Coburn LLP’s rankings. This was adopted to ensure cautious consideration of the accuracy of revenue figures. The resulted Insider Monkey score essentially tells us the relative risk associated with setting up cannabis business in each state. However, please note that the score predicts the risk of each state in relation to one another, i.e., higher the score, lesser the feasibility of each state in context of setting up a cannabis business. Note that any revenue projections for the future are sourced from Thompson Coburn LLP. Now, with this, let’s present our list of 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business. By the way, Insider Monkey is an investing website that tracks the movements of corporate insiders and hedge funds. By using a similar consensus approach, we identify the best stock picks of more than 900 hedge funds investing in US stocks. The top 10 consensus stock picks of hedge funds outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 140 percentage points over the last 10 years (see the details here). Whether you are a beginner investor or professional one looking for the best stocks to buy, you can benefit from the wisdom of hedge funds and corporate insiders. 15. Maine Insider Monkey Score: 14.6 Average Monthly Revenue: 15.2m Maine, securing the 14th spot on our list of Best States to Start a Cannabis Business, saw adult-use cannabis sales begin in March 2020 following a bill signed in June 2019. Sales surged to a record $21 million in July 2023, and the state is estimated to reach $300 million in sales by 2024, reflecting substantial growth in its cannabis industry. 14. New Mexico Insider Monkey Score: 13.6 Average Monthly Revenue: 21.2m At 13th, New Mexico initiated recreational cannabis sales on April 1, 2022, reporting over $5.2 million in the first weekend and reaching almost $39.5 million in the first month. In its initial 12 months, the state’s adult-use market generated $300 million in annual sales. 13. Maryland Insider Monkey Score: 12.6 Average Monthly Revenue: 55.2m Ranked at 15th on our list of Best States to Start a Cannabis Business is Maryland, which is poised for significant market growth, with an anticipated increase in total revenue from $275 million to $2.1 billion between 2023 and 2027. Notable retailers like Trulieve, Green Thumb Industries, Zen Leaf, gLeaf, Ethos Cannabis, and Health for Life are contributing to this growth, with promising initial sales data. 12. New York Insider Monkey Score: 10.8 Average Monthly Revenue: 9.1m New York residents are allowed to possess and use up to 3 ounces of cannabis and 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for recreational purposes. Despite the slow start, with only $16.5 million in sales from 20 adult-use businesses in July 2023, over 200 adult-use licenses were issued. Outside the city, legal avenues for obtaining recreational cannabis have emerged, particularly in western New York, where businesses on Native American tribal reservations enjoy a head start due to tribal sovereignty. 11. Washington Insider Monkey Score: 10.0 Average Monthly Revenue: 103.3m Although Washington just missed out on being the first state to legalize recreational cannabis, full legalization has been in place since 2012. With a stable, well-regulated environment and high social acceptance, Washington boasts one of the country’s best cannabis markets. While there is still room for growth for small businesses, competition is intense, requiring a solid business and risk management plan for success. 10. New Jersey Insider Monkey Score: 9.8 Average Monthly Revenue: 56.2m New Jersey, holding the 12th position, started retail cannabis sales in April 2022, with over $555 million in licensed retail market sales in 2022, reflecting a thriving market despite having the most expensive cannabis in the country. 9. Oregon Insider Monkey Score: 9.6 Average Monthly Revenue: 74.8m Oregon, home to one of the oldest cannabis markets, offers lower barriers to entry with lower startup costs and licensing fees. The state’s solid social acceptance and lower cannabis costs and taxes make it an attractive option for dispensaries. However, the competitive nature of the market requires fledgling business owners to be prepared for intense competition, with cannabis tourism being a significant draw. 8. Colorado Insider Monkey Score: 8.6 Average Monthly Revenue: 113.9m As the pioneer state to legalize recreational marijuana, Colorado embraces a remarkably cannabis-friendly environment. The established nature of its market affords a level of predictability and stability not commonly found in younger markets. Cannabis enjoys widespread social acceptance, mitigating the stigma for new business owners. With a diverse array of brands and products, Colorado provides ample choices for dispensaries to curate their offerings. While the market is competitive, as is typical in the cannabis industry, the demand has remained consistently strong for nearly a decade. Despite the apparent saturation, Colorado remains open to innovative brands seeking a foothold. 7. Nevada Insider Monkey Score: 7.0 Average Monthly Revenue: 69.9m Known as the home of Sin City, Nevada has been embracing legal cannabis since 2017, attracting visitors from around the globe. The decisions permitting consumption lounges have further bolstered the cannabis tourism sector. Furthermore, Nevada stands out for its lenient marketing laws, even allowing billboards. Although startup costs are high, competition is fierce, there is substantial room for growth and success in this dynamic market. 6. Missouri Insider Monkey Score: 6.6 Average Monthly Revenue: 109.0m 6TH on our list of 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business is Missouri. In November 2022, Missouri voters approved Amendment 3 to legalize adult-use cannabis, resulting in a booming cannabis market with monthly sales consistently reaching around $120 million from March 2023 to August 2023. Despite the strong demand causing price increases and product shortages, Missouri surpassed $1 billion in sales in early May 2023, presenting challenges for existing retailers. Click to continue reading and find out about the 5 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business. Suggested Articles: 25 Most Cannabis Consuming-Countries in the World 11 Best Cannabis Stocks To Buy Now 10 Best Cannabis Stocks To Buy Now Disclosure: None. 15 Best States to Start a Cannabis Business is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkey9 hr. 4 min. ago

Goosehead Insurance, Inc (NASDAQ:GSHD) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Goosehead Insurance, Inc (NASDAQ:GSHD) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 21, 2024 Goosehead Insurance, Inc misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.28 EPS, expectations were $0.32. Goosehead Insurance, Inc isn’t one of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds at the end of the third quarter (see the details here). Operator: Ladies and […] Goosehead Insurance, Inc (NASDAQ:GSHD) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 21, 2024 Goosehead Insurance, Inc misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.28 EPS, expectations were $0.32. Goosehead Insurance, Inc isn’t one of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds at the end of the third quarter (see the details here). Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to Goosehead Insurance Fourth Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please be advised that today’s conference is being recorded. I would like now to turn the conference over to your first speaker today, Dan Farrell, VP, Capital Markets. Please go ahead. Dan Farrell: Thank you and good afternoon. Before we begin our formal remarks, I need to remind everyone that part of our discussion today may include forward-looking statements which are based on the expectations, estimates and projections of the management as of today. Forward-looking statements in our discussion are subject to various assumptions, risks, uncertainties and other factors that are difficult to predict and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and, therefore, undue reliance should not be placed upon them. We refer you to all of our recent SEC filings for more detailed discussions of risks and uncertainties that could impact future operating results and financial condition of Goosehead. We disclaim any intention or obligation to update and revise any forward-looking statements except to the extent required by applicable law. I would also like to point out that, during the call, we will discuss certain financial measures that are not prepared in accordance with GAAP. Management uses these non-GAAP financial measures when planning, monitoring and evaluating our performance. We consider these non-GAAP financial measures to be useful metrics for management and investors to facilitate operating performance comparisons from period-to-period by including potential differences caused by variations in capital structure, tax position, depreciation and amortization and certain other items that we believe are not representative of our core business. For more information regarding the use of non-GAAP financial measures, including reconciliations of these measures to the most recent comparable GAAP financial measures, we refer you to today’s earnings release. In addition, this call is being webcast. An archived version will be available shortly after the call ends on the Investor Relations portion of the company’s website at Now, I’d like to turn the call over to our Chairman and CEO, Mark Jones. Mark Jones: Thanks, Dan and welcome, everyone, on the call. By now, you should all have had a chance to read the 2 press releases that went out prior to this call. I will address our management transition plans at the conclusion of our prepared remarks. Before getting into our 2023 results, I’d like to share some background context on the master plan that we’ve been executing against for the last 18 months. The basics of that plan were to refocus our efforts and resources around profitable growth, remove any barriers to profitable growth and protect and strengthen our competitive mode. We are pleased with both the pace of execution of the master plan and the results we are seeing and are right on schedule. Much of our time, effort and resources were focused on revamping our sales networks, yielding dramatic gains in agent productivity. During Q4, we reorganized our sales management functions into one consolidated team that works across both corporate and franchise under the leadership of Brian Pattillo. This has enabled us to better leverage our intellectual capital and is delivering great productivity growth. As a reminder, Brian took over the corporate sales function in late 2022. Corporate productivity was up 27% in 2023 relative to the prior year. Even more exciting, we saw first year corporate agent productivity grew 46%. Productivity per franchise was up 30% in Q4 following our management realignments even in the context of some pretty heavy industry headwinds. During the year, we also right-sized our cost structure in a way that continued to support high levels of growth but, at the same time, allowed us to deliver much better margins. We invested and continue to invest, aggressively in our quote-to-issue technology which has profoundly expanded our competitive moat, unlocking productivity of our sales agents, simplifying service delivery and, over time, potentially opening the aperture for other distribution channels. Tools like this create a virtuous cycle where agent success enhances our recruiting value proposition, drives better agent retention and, ultimately, facilitates more rapid and profitable growth. Our human capital is the secret sauce that make us an extraordinary company and we continue to focus on building it. We leveled up our recruiting practices by returning to our roots with uncompromising quality standards. These efforts are bearing fruit, with first year corporate agent productivity up 46% from 2022, as I mentioned earlier. We’re also investing in our highest potential franchises through additional leadership support, providing dedicated recruiting resources and implementing new training programs at important inflection points. Now that our sales teams are much more productive and we have the right cost structure and organization supporting the business, we’re beginning to reignite growth in sales capacity in each of our distribution networks. We’re growing corporate sales headcount up to our absorptive capacity. We’re expanding our partnership networks to drive growth in our new enterprise sales unit. We’re dialing up sales capacity in the franchise business through a combination of helping our agency partners recruit producers and adding high-quality franchisees. We launched what we call our middle market agency business development team in Q4, focused on helping mortgage lenders and realtors bolt their own Goosehead agencies onto their core businesses. Interest is high and the pipeline of active opportunities is very rich and exciting. While we’re in the early stages of this capacity growth, we’re seeing tangible results, with corporate sales headcount up 20% from its low of around 250 and producers per franchise up 7% from last year. Now turning briefly to our 2023 results. Total written premiums grew 34% for the year. Total revenues were up 25% for the year. Adjusted EBITDA grew 90% in 2023 and adjusted EBITDA margin expanded about 900 basis points to 27% on the year. We plan to continue to grow our corporate team in 2024 and for the foreseeable future which will support the conversion of more corporate agents into franchisees. As a reminder, when we launch a corporate agent into their own franchise, we’re not only creating a top decile agency but we’re also retaining and expanding the productive capacity of converting agents as they scale their agencies. During 2023, we launched 30 corporate agents into franchises and have already seen several of them adding new producers in just their first year. As a reminder, these 30 corporate conversions yield production equivalent to about 200 franchises that we hunt in the wild. This remains an incredibly long lever for us and a massive competitive moat. No other insurance agency has an asset like our scaled [ph] team of highly skilled, hard-working and disciplined corporate agents. We further invested in our highest potential franchises during 2023, rolling out a producer recruiting program that has seen immediate success. 2023 was the hardest product market we’ve seen in our 20 years of operations, as underwriters struggled to take premium rate fast enough to offset the increasing cost of claims. To combat this, we developed more resources. We deployed more resources to our carrier management function to work with our most important carrier partners to maximize product access for our agents. We’re very encouraged to see signs of the product market beginning to thaw and hope to see broader product access around midyear this year. On top of historic product restrictions for many carriers, we faced substantial headwinds in the housing market, as existing home sales fell to a 28-year low. It would have been easy for our agents to panic, wring their hands and say it’s out of our control but that’s not part of our DNA. We continue to deliver through these headwinds by doing what we do best, execute our value proposition with referral partners to maximize our inbound lead flow which was at an all-time high in 2023 and deliver an exceptional client experience. Since our last earnings call, we’ve launched 5 new carriers on our quote-to-issue platform, including Progressive Auto. Our QTI platform improves the client experience, increases agent productivity and improves our ability to deliver carriers the business that matches their underwriting risk appetite. I normally conclude our internal financial review meetings with a single comment: “This is a damn good business.” Let me explain why this is a damn good business. We operate in a highly fragmented, approximately $450 billion premium industry where we account for less than 1% of market share. If you live somewhere or drive something, you need the product that we sell. We have remained disciplined and focused on the link in the value chain where we can and do win in distribution. We don’t get distracted by shiny objects and we have a firm belief that ideas need to compete in a marketplace. So when we arrive at the office for work, we check our egos at the door. Our entire business model is based on placing the client at the center of our universe which has allowed us to deliver world-class NPS scores and maintain client retention at levels that allow us to aggressively attack new business growth while maintaining strong profitability. The competitive set in personal lines distribution cannot fully meet the needs of today’s clients. Single-carrier platforms do not offer the power of choice and other independent agents lacked the industry-leading technology we’ve spent decades building on the back of our millions of proprietary quotes. The industry has historically not attracted the very best talent. Goosehead, on the other hand, has. So we find ourselves possessing massive competitive advantage in an industry that, for all intents and purposes, is of infinite size with very attractive recurring economics, deeply aware of what we are and what we are not and I am grateful every day we face the competitive set that we do. We believe the only thing that could stop us from reaching our full potential, becoming the largest distributor of personalized insurance in the United States during my lifetime, is our own execution and we do not plan to let that happen. I’m very excited for our future and I want to thank our team for a tremendous 2023. With that, I’ll turn the call over to Mark Miller to go more in depth about our operations for the quarter and the year. Mark Miller: Thanks, Mark and good afternoon, everyone. As Mark mentioned, 18 months ago, we thoughtfully architected a master plan that included a list of initiatives designed to improve quality and execution across the organization. Our goal was to transform Goosehead into an even better company, one that could grow faster and more profitably at scale and expand our already wide competitive moat. We knew that, by executing our plan, we would slow the revenue growth in the short-term but we believed these actions will build a stronger foundation to deliver sustained high levels of both revenue and earnings growth in the future. In some areas, we were able to move quickly and start realizing benefits in the P&L within a few quarters. In other areas, we need to invest in people and processes and develop new business capabilities. Even when executed with precision, these types of growth initiatives can take multiple quarters to bear fruit. I’m pleased to report that, in 2023, we executed exceptionally well against these initiatives. We restructured our corporate and franchise agent force to drive higher levels of productivity. We doubled down on our recruiting function and raised our hiring standards to bring in significantly more high-quality talent. We drove cost discipline across the organization. We built a new enterprise capability that widens our distribution aperture to work more effectively with inbound lead flow from our online digital agent and partnerships. And we built a world-class technology team that has successfully developed what we believe is the best agent shopping platform in the industry and we have proven we can directly integrate that technology with the largest carriers in the industry to bind and manage policies. With strong execution in 2023, we are now ready to start pulling the levers to accelerate PIF growth in 2024. We plan to add distribution capacity across both corporate and franchise networks. Our corporate recruiters have already locked in a significant portion of our new agent needs for 2024 and our agency staffing program is on pace to help our agency partners recruit several hundred high-caliber agents this year. As we mentioned previously, these agents that we help place in thriving franchises are nearly 1.5x more productive than the average new franchise. We plan to continue increasing corporate and franchise agent productivity by leveraging improved sales processes and technology. With our new management structure, we believe we can continue to reduce the gap between franchise and corporate agent productivity. And our expanding QTI capabilities should improve overall efficiency of our entire agent force. In addition, our new enterprise sales and partnership network efforts are starting to add meaningful volume. We believe we can further improve our already-strong service function to effectively support our growing renewal base, enhance the client experience and ultimately drive client retention. Let me take a moment to go a bit deeper on some of the achievements in 2023 and how we believe this sets us up for profitable growth in 2024 and beyond. We saw a dramatic improvement in our new corporate and franchise agent productivity in 2023 and we believe the runway for further improvement is substantial, particularly as the challenging macro environment ultimately abates. For the year, our corporate new business revenue productivity on a cash basis which will be disclosed in the 10-K, increased 27%. Our agents with less than 1 year of experience increased new business productivity by 46%, a remarkable accomplishment in the current environment and a testament to the value of returning to our roots with our recruiting strategy. We saw substantial franchise productivity improvement in the back half of 2023, particularly in the fourth quarter compared to the first half of the year. We have now seen 4 consecutive quarters of franchise productivity improvement. Specifically, we saw a 30% increase in Q4 versus the prior year. To put this in perspective, franchise productivity in the fourth quarter was the highest on record. We believe there is substantial runway for continued improvement in franchise productivity as we reduce the gap between corporate and franchise agents with better technology, training and recruiting. Under Brian Pattillo’s leadership, we are managing corporate agents and guiding franchise agents as one cohesive team. We believe the changes that Brian has implemented already helped to drive fourth quarter gains. Our recruiting function was significantly upgraded in 2023 and we now have the foundation and process to bring on larger numbers of high-quality producers. In corporate, we ended the year at 300 agents, up from the low of around 250 in the middle of the second quarter. We’re now confident in our ability to significantly grow corporate producer count while maintaining quality in 2024. On the franchise side, we intentionally reduced the number of franchises recruited and focused on dramatically improving the quality and launch speed. Our franchises are now launching around 20% faster than they were in the prior year and are 29% more productive than they were this time last year. We have been franchising for over a decade now and we are continuously improving our model on who and where we want to launch franchises. We are currently focusing our franchise recruiting efforts on underrepresented geographies and on owners that want to run large multi-agent growth businesses. It is important to reiterate that our franchise growth is no longer about simply growing the number of franchises. It is about growing productive capacity and overall producer headcount. One of the most efficient ways to accomplish this objective is by helping our best agency partners grow more quickly. Let me highlight one example to illustrate how this new muscle works at one of our top franchises. The Sacchieri Agency is one of the most successful franchises in the country. The owners, Ryan and Scott Sacchieri, brothers, are masters at onboarding and ramping up agents. At Goosehead, we’re exceptional at sourcing high-caliber sales talent. Last year, we created the agency sourcing program to help franchises like Sacchieri’s find talent more quickly. In May of 2023, Goosehead helped the Sacchieri Agency recruit Demitri Kent. In his first 8 months, Demitri averaged a little over $13,000 in monthly new business revenue, earning him Rookie of the Year award. In November, he finished with $30,000 in new business revenue in just his seventh month. This is just one small example of how we work with our existing franchises to maximize growth. Ultimately, removing underproducing franchises has muted our overall producer growth numbers in recent quarters but I’m confident we will see strong overall franchise growth production in 2024, driven by adding high-quality new franchises, scaling existing franchises, driving productivity gains and converting high-performing corporate agents to franchises. In addition to sales productivity gains, our dramatic profitability improvement in 2023 was driven by very disciplined P&L management. Since taking on the CFO role, Mark Jones Jr. has personally taken on responsibility of the expense structure and helped drive cost discipline across the company. Thanks to Mark’s contributions, we’re starting to realize unit cost improvements in some of our largest expense categories, such as service. We believe we have the best service function in the industry but we also know we can get even better and more efficient over time. Towards that objective, we recently announced the hire of David Lakamp as Chief Service Officer. David brings substantial experience operating a large service function at USAA. David is uniquely qualified to help take service function to the next level, bringing benefits to clients and driving further scale efficiencies which will be key to building a service department that can support an organization and client base that we believe will be multiple times its current size. In 2023, we made substantial progress in laying a solid technology foundation for the future. One great example of this progress is the rollout of our quote-to-issue capability. We launched 5 carriers on QTI since our last call and we have ambitious targets for ramping this technology in 2024. We expect a substantial portion of our carrier volume to be QTI-enabled by the end of the year. We believe this technology will drive significant efficiency for the sales agents and service agents over the next several years. And this technology will greatly strengthen our ability around enterprise sales and partnership opportunities. For much of my career, when a company’s year-over-year revenue growth and EBITDA margin added up to 40, we would say the company was performing well at a rule of 40. This implies the company was balancing growth and profitability effectively. Over the long-term, I believe Goosehead can perform at a rule of 60 level, with a healthy balance of revenue growth rate and EBITDA margin. Very few companies can sustain these levels of financial performance over a long period of time but we believe our unique business model, huge addressable market and wide competitive moat make it completely possible. I want to thank the entire Goosehead team that worked tirelessly to make dramatic improvements to the organization. I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress we’ve made over the past year and our strong positioning for 2024 and beyond to drive accelerating high-quality and sustainable growth. With that, let me turn the call over to our CFO, Mark Jones Jr. Mark Jones Jr.: Thanks, Mark. Mark Senior and Mark Miller have both referred to our master plan. Let me take a minute to provide more details of that plan, what we’ve accomplished to date and what you expect in 2024. First and foremost in our plan was to refocus on profitable growth and remove any barriers to future profitable growth. When we kicked off this plan, corporate sales headcount was just over 500 but we were not delivering the productivity that could drive the level of margin we know this business should produce. We evaluated our management resources, our recruiting practices and our incentive structure and ultimately decided that the best step we could take would be to reset the size of the team with total productivity being the guidepost for the appropriate team composition, essentially a shrink-to-grow strategy. We reached our productivity targets, a 56% increase at a headcount of around 250 and have been adding back productive capacity, with the only limiting factor being our absorptive capacity. We took a similar approach in the franchise network. The business was carrying too many underproductive agencies that were blocking other successful agencies from onboarding new referral partners, hurting our brand in the market and clogging up management resources. We shifted our focus from the number of operating agencies to what we view as the true measure of productive capacity, the number of producers and begin healing that network by investing in additional management resources, fostering engagement and incentivizing monthly goals where possible. We began aggressively culling underperforming agencies early in 2022 and have made great progress to date. Through the combination of franchise culling and new producer onboarding, we transitioned from a peak of just over 2,100 producers to a much healthier 1,957 at year-end while seeing fourth quarter productivity gains of 30%. Because we were aggressive in executing to our plan in 2023, we are already seeing the strategic initiative bear fruit. Total new business production on the year was up 12%, while the average producer count company-wide was down 5%. As planned, we have reaccelerated growth in new business production, as total new business production in the fourth quarter was up 14% over the prior year. Re-establishing these high levels of productivity in corporate and driving significant improvement, particularly in the fourth quarter in the franchise network, allows us to shift our focus back to rapid and responsible growth. Looking forward to 2024, we are excited to be transitioning into the next phase of our overall plan, faster and more profitable revenue growth. We will achieve that through a few specific strategic actions: meaningful growth in corporate agent headcount, particularly in the second and third quarters of the year, further investment in our franchise agent staffing program, for which we have significant demand and through productivity enhancements from a combination of strategically-timed training programs and increased leverage of our proprietary QTI technology across all of our sales and service functions which will drive new business productivity and client retention. On top of that, we expect to onboard additional strategic partnerships that further decouple our results from the housing market and allow us to reach new clients outside of our traditional go-to-market strategy. All of those items on the backdrop of what we believe will be an improving macro environment as opposed to a deteriorating one give us tremendous confidence in our ability to drive a reacceleration in growth while expanding our margins. Moving on to some specifics for our fourth quarter and full-year results. For the quarter, total written premiums, the key leading indicator for future revenues, were $756 million, an increase of 29% from the year-ago period. This includes $584 million of franchise premiums, up 33% and $172 million of corporate premiums, up 18% for the quarter. For the full year 2023, our premiums grew 34% to just under $3 billion. While we have been experiencing tailwinds from carrier pricing actions, it is important to call out the secondary effect of that is less product availability in many of our key markets, such as Texas, California, Florida and New York. The impact to new business productivity from carrier restrictions has more than offset the tailwinds from increasing average premium per policy. We believe this makes our significant productivity improvements, particularly in the franchise side of the business, representing 87% of our total productive capacity, all the more exciting. During the fourth quarter, our existing agency saw 23% same-store sales growth, driven by both improvements in the productivity of the existing agents and by increasing the average number of producers per franchise from 1.49 a year ago to 1.6% at year-end 2023. Policies in force grew 16% versus the year-ago quarter, again, as we expected. We anticipate growth and policies in force to accelerate in the second half of 2024, with further acceleration in 2025 as we continue through our master plan to onboard new producers, improve our service function to maximize retention, launch additional strategic partnerships and continue to add carriers to our QTI platform. This very short-term slowdown in top line growth but not bottom line profitability, is just how we mapped out our plan 18 months ago. Total revenue for the quarter grew 10% to $63 million. And for the full year, total revenue was up 25% to $261 million. Core revenue for the quarter also grew 10% and was up 24% for the full year. As planned, we intentionally slowed overall premium growth and had a larger portion of our growth driven by the franchise network while reducing our average corporate agent headcount as we re-established our profitable base. Because we recognize only our royalty fee as revenue and the franchise distribution, this creates a lag from new business production growth to core revenue growth. As production continues to accelerate in 2024, we should see more meaningful revenue acceleration in 2025. Contingent commissions for the quarter were $3 million versus $2 million a year ago. For the full year, contingent commissions were $13.7 million compared to $7.7 million and represented 46 basis points of total written premium. For 2024, we are assuming contingent commissions to be roughly 35 basis points of total written premium. Longer-term, we see no impediments to contingent commissions getting back to the historical average of 80 basis points of total written premium. However, we are remaining cautious and prudent in our near-term forecasting as the timing and pace of the recovery of profitability for carriers has uncertainty and is not entirely within our control. Cost recovery revenue for the quarter was $2.8 million compared to $3.3 million in the year-ago quarter. For the full year, cost recovery revenue was $12.7 million compared to $12.3 million in 2022. For 2024, we are expecting cost recovery revenue to decline moderately from the 2023 levels as we have dramatically improved the health of our franchise network, resulting in fewer franchise terminations and less accelerated recognition of initial franchise fees for GAAP purposes. It is important to remember that this changes nothing from a cash basis, as we collect franchise fees at the time of training and they’re non-refundable at that point but we are required to recognize the revenue over a 10-year period or the life of the franchise. As year-over-year franchise turnover normalizes, we would expect this line item to grow at a level consistent with franchise launches. Franchise producer count ended the year at 1,957, down 7% from the year-ago period. High levels of terminations are masking what we believe to be strong growth in overall productive capacity for the franchise distribution. For the full year, we launched 209 franchises and terminated 396 franchises. With increasing resources we have put into our agent staffing program, we expect total agents placed into existing scaling franchises to increase in 2024, driving an increase in the average number of producers per franchise. An important stat for our scaling agencies: each time they add a producer, it improves the average productivity of everyone in their agency. This is an incredibly powerful tool for parabolic growth for both our franchises and us. Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter was $14.1 million compared to $11.9 million in the year-ago quarter. For the full year, adjusted EBITDA increased 90% to $69.8 million. Our adjusted EBITDA margin for the full year increased about 900 basis points to 27%. At the beginning of 2023, we indicated that intermediate-term adjusted EBITDA margin goal of 30%-plus over the next 3 to 5 years. With strong execution in 2023, we now expect to achieve that goal closer to the shorter end of that timeframe. We plan to manage the business to consistently grow margin on an annual basis and continue to believe that, longer term, we can operate the business around a 40% margins. As of December 31, 2023, we had cash and cash equivalents of $42 million. Our unused line of credit was $49.8 million and total outstanding term notes payable balance was $77.5 million. Given our low leverage levels, we have significant flexibility with which we plan to utilize to optimize our balance sheet in 2024. Our guidance for the full year 2024 is as follows: Total written premiums placed are expected to be between $3.7 billion and $3.85 billion, representing 25% organic growth on the low end of the range and 30% organic growth on the high end of the range. Total revenues are expected to be between $310 million and $320 million, representing 19% organic growth in the low end of the range and 22% organic growth in the high end of the range. Adjusted EBITDA margin is expected to expand for the full year. As a reminder, our philosophy on guidance has always been to be as transparent and accurate as possible. We guide to what we actually believe we will achieve during the year. I can’t thank our team enough for their hard work and discipline, delivering just what we set out to do in 2023 and I’m looking forward to doing that again in 2024. At this point, I’d like to turn the call back over to our Chairman and CEO, Mark Jones. Mark Jones: As Goosehead marks 2024 as our 21st year in business, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on a few of our important milestones to date. After I spent 14 years at Bain & Company, my wife, Robyn and I founded Goosehead in October 2003. My view of the personal lines insurance industry was that it was irredeemably broken. It was old, slow moving, not client-centric and, honestly, quite boring. So we started with a fresh approach. Conceptually it wasn’t complicated, just put the client at the center of our universe and build the business around them. We didn’t start with someone else’s business model and try and improve it. We started from scratch, a blank sheet of paper. My experience at Bain taught me that smart people will figure out great solutions to the most complex problems if we apply ourselves. So I set out to build a team of really smart, albeit inexperienced people, all committed to doing something really special, to create one of the truly great American business success stories. After launching the business in 2003, we opened our first satellite office in Houston in 2009. In 2012, we sold our first franchise to JC and Patti Harter. In 2018, we took Goosehead public in one of the most successful IPOs of that year. Since then, our stock is up approximately 800% versus returns for the S&P 500 of a little more than 100%. In 2020, we generated over $1 billion in premium for the first time and expect to be well north of $3 billion this year. As the company grew, we invested in our management team with an eye to the future needs of the company, trying to have the right team in place to manage the business when it was 2x or 3x its current size. The most important change has been Mark Miller joining us nearly 2 years ago as President and COO. He had previously served on our Board since 2018 and continues to do so. Mark has brought a deep reservoir of business experience and a maturity and discipline to our company that has resulted in stronger operating effectiveness and productivity and enabled much higher levels of profitability. Mark and I have worked very hard together to assemble what we view as the right senior leadership team at Goosehead and that team is working very effectively together. I have great confidence in their ability to deliver for our clients, business partners and shareholders for many years to come. Given our progress to date and the current state of the company, I feel like now is the right time for me to transition my role out of the day-to-day operations of the company so I can focus more of my time on other priorities in my life, such as family and philanthropy. Effective July 1, 2024, I will transition to an Executive Chairman role. Mark Miller will become President and Chief Executive Officer at that time. I continue to be, by far, the largest owner of Goosehead stock. Our family owns about 1/3 of the outstanding shares and a large portion of our family’s wealth continues to be invested in this company. I am fully committed to its success. I’m not retiring and I’m not going away. As I’ve said before, when I go away, it will be in a box. But going forward, my time will be focused on supporting our strategy development work, mentoring our executives and our most important franchise partners, serving as a resource and sounding board as needed for our leadership team and continuing to lead the work of our Board of Directors. Our mission remains the same as it was when we started the company, to become the number one distributor of first lines insurance in the United States during my lifetime. I’m very excited about our tremendous foundation for highly profitable growth and the amazing runway in front of us. I am fully committed and look forward to continuing to be engaged and contributing to making Goosehead one of the truly great American business success stories. With that, I’ll turn the call back to the operator to open the line-up for questions. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The first question comes from Paul Newsome with Piper Sandler. See also 11 Best Small-Cap Growth Stocks to Invest In and 10 Fastest Growing Energy Drink Stocks in the US. Q&A Session Follow Goosehead Insurance Inc. (NASDAQ:GSHD) Follow Goosehead Insurance Inc. (NASDAQ:GSHD) or Subscribe with Google We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Paul Newsome: Congratulations on the transitions to both of you. And I wanted to ask maybe and I know you guys touched on this through the prepared remarks but a little bit more on the disconnect between written premium growth and revenue growth in your expectations. I would expect some of that has to do with the contingents, obviously but it looks like there’s maybe something else in there as well to get you substantially slower revenue growth than written premium growth. Maybe you could just talk about that a little bit. Mark Jones Jr.: This is Mark Jr. So looking at 2024, as a reminder, when we write new business on the franchise side of the business, we only recognize our royalty as the revenue which is $0.20 on the dollar compared to the corporate side. And a lot of our investments are going into placing producers and launching new, highly successful franchises and driving productivity on that side of the business. That shows up in premium before it shows up in revenue growth. So then, you look forward to 2025 to see that spring-loading function as that 20% new business converts into 50% renewal. Paul Newsome: And then relatedly, I’m surprised that the amount of contingent commissions as a percent of premium is expected to fall. I kind of think of personal lines results being about as bad as they could get in the last 2 years and we’ve seen some companies make the transition to profitability in the fourth quarter. So is that essentially a lag effect from what’s happened with the personal lines profitability? Or is there something else in there that is reducing contingent commissions that isn’t related necessarily to the profitability of the personal lines providers [ph]? Is there a mix? Mark Jones Jr.: Looking at where carriers are having more success, now you’re starting to see the auto side of the business start to unthaw a little bit as loss ratios improve. 2023 on the home side was just about as bad as it has ever been. And so, when you think about our go-to-market strategy and how much of our book is made up of home which is a much more preferred client but this was a really bad loss year for carriers on the home side. We’re not expecting that to get materially better in 2024, so I don’t want to overpromise on contingencies. We’re going to be conservative on that outwardly. And I would love to see that home side thaw but we’re going to see the auto side come around first. Mark Jones: 2024 contingencies are based on 2023 loss ratios, so there is that lag effect. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Brian Meredith with UBS. Brian Meredith: I had a couple of them quickly here for you. First one, just looking at the commissions and agency fees, really slowed from a growth perspective in the fourth quarter and it looks like a lot of that is because of what was going on with renewal commissions. Was there anything unusual in that number, any kind of reversals or something that may have happened to cause that to really slow? Mark Jones Jr.: No. When you’re looking at the commissions and fees line, really agency fees, because that’s probably the least important line in our revenue as it doesn’t renew and a lot of that gets paid to the agents anyway and as we diversify our footprint outside of Texas into more states where the Department of Interest does not allow you to charge fees; naturally, that slows from a growth rate perspective. But also remember, on the corporate side of the business, we went through a lot of cutting starting in 2022 and through the middle of 2023. And so you saw that new business productivity increase but the aggregate amount of production remained relatively flat. So that had a really nice positive impact on the earnings. The secondary effect of that is you have less flowing into renewal than next year. So looking at the growth rate in that number, you need to go back and look at the growth rate in new business commissions in 2022 to see what happens to renewals in ’23. And we do expect to see that reaccelerate very early in 2024. Brian Meredith: And then, second just a quick question here. What is your kind of expectations with respect to leads from mortgage originators as you look into 2024? Mark Miller: This is Mark Miller. Brian Pattillo, who leads the sales organization, is here with me. I think our expectation is that the housing market continues to stay challenging but we’ve found a way to power through it. And we’re just literally going out and just making more referral partner relationships out there which increases our lead flow. So I think we can continue to see our lead flow at least as strong as it is now and continue to work on our sales process. Brian, anything you want to add? Brian Pattillo: Yes. I would argue, obviously, the 2023 housing results were not good but we were able to power through that and drive productivity. And it’s really just about managing the activity. We have such a low percent market share of new purchases still. There’s lots of business out there. We just have to go hunt, go develop new relationships and we’re able to power through it. So our intention is to continue on with those additional investments going into this year. It’s hard to say exactly what housing does this year but I feel very confident we can power through any challenges or headwinds on housing. Mark Jones: [Indiscernible] the proprietary RP search tool — just refresh everyone on that. Brian Pattillo: Yes. We have a proprietary kind of referral partner database that allows us to know exactly who is doing the transactions and which ones we’re working with and which ones we’re not. So every month, we’re looking at, okay which realtors which loan officers are doing the volume that are not working with us currently and our agents proactively go out and build relationships with those. So that technology has been a huge help and we have stayed extremely proactive and aggressive during this time. Many insurance agents have sat back and dealt with all of the reshops and renewal activity. Our agents have gone out and aggressively built more relationships during this time to counteract the slowdown in housing. Mark Miller: And I’ll just add one thing. I think we’re also expecting to see lead flow pick up from some of our new lead sources. We mentioned kind of the mid-market business and also our partnerships are starting to take hold. So I think all of that leads to, like, solid expectations for lead flow next year, or this year. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Andrew Kligerman with TD Cowen. Andrew Kligerman: So just talking onto Paul and Brian’s questions, just following up on the contingent, then, if I’m taking a very optimistic view about the return in auto underwriting performance, homeowners underwriting performance, I could see a material move when you’re citing contingent commissions in 2025, if I’m taking that optimistic view, right? Mark Jones Jr.: Yes. That’s exactly how I would look at it Andrew. I mean, I think, in 2025, we would expect to see some kind of regression back towards the mean of historical average of 80 basis points of total written premium. And I would be surprised if we get all the way back there in 2025 but it’s a very big premium number by that point. And any move in that makes a pretty big difference at not only the top line but the bottom line, because that is effectively 100% profit. Andrew Kligerman: And then, per what Brian was asking about the new business commissions, I guess it makes sense in the context of the corporate agents being down to 300 versus 310 year-over-year. And then the franchise producers, even though they’re more productive, they’re down 5%, 10%. So I guess the question then would be you’ve got 300 corporate agents. Where can that get to at the end of this year? And same thing on the 1,957 franchise agents. How are you thinking about growth in both of those channels in terms of numbers of agents? Mark Miller: This is Mark Miller. I’ll take that one. On the corporate side, we’ve had a very successful recruiting season which kind of for us starts in the fall on college campuses. They’re not all signed up yet but, like I mentioned in my comments, we feel really good about the class that we’ve signed up so far. So there’s still more work to go but we would expect to see a significant increase in the corporate producer headcount this year by the end of the year. But I’m not going to peg an exact number, because we’re not done with the recruiting cycle yet. On the franchise side, we’re more focused on making the agencies that we have stronger and adding producers to those franchises. So I think what you’ll see is the number of producers per agency go up over time. And we’re really focused on closing the gap between the productivity of a corporate agent and a franchise agent and I think we can meaningfully move that up. So what I’m trying to say is that the end goal here is a productive output across both channels and I think we can meaningfully increase productive output on both channels in the coming year. Brian Pattillo: Andrew, I would just add one thing. To your initial comments, you were talking about new business commissions. As a reminder, we did launch 30 of our absolute best corporate agents into franchises during this year. And so you can take our productivity numbers that are in the K that’s going to come out and you can see what would that have done to new business commissions had we had those 30 all year. Andrew Kligerman: I see. And just to kind of add on to that, it looks like you’re almost done with the restructuring, right, by the end of the first half of this year, that will be done. And I get that productivity is key but you actually could increase the number of agents given that that restructuring is kind of winding down, right? Brian Pattillo: Yes. I mean, we should see the turnover of franchises begin to slow in 2024. That will happen over time, you shouldn’t expect to see that naturally happen just in the first quarter. And we’re going to continue to recruit as aggressively as we can on behalf of our agencies because they’re telling us we want to hire, we need your help and those are really powerful tools for driving productivity, not just for that individual agent but for everybody in their franchise. So yes, it’s very possible you could see growth in the producer count number but we’re also not going to reduce our quality standards on our existing force. Mark Miller: And the way it works in reality is we set a minimum standard of production for the franchises and we expect them to get over it. As the average productivity of the franchises increases, I think you’ll naturally see less of them leave the system. But I do believe we will continue to keep the standard where it is and keep moving franchises up in the productivity range. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Meyer Shields with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods. Meyer Shields: Congratulations to really everyone on the move forward. A couple of technical questions on the supplemental disclosure which is really helpful. When we look at the franchise productivity, I can’t tell whether the denominator of that is the franchises or the producers. Mark Miller: It’s the franchises. Meyer Shields: And I was hoping and I’m sure that the shift of corporate agents to the franchise channel is a big part of it but we look at the productivity for the more experienced corporate agents that went down, is there any way of disentangling how much of that is because the superstars are leaving? Is there any other headwind that we should be thinking about? Mark Jones Jr.: No, we can quantify that for you pretty easily. So if you were to include those 30 corporate agents that we launched into franchises this year, that greater than 1-year bucket of corporate agents would have had a 19% increase in productivity. So that does have a meaningful impact to the team when you take out — I think the line we’ve used before is agents on nuclear steroids and put them into franchises. Mark Miller: And we did have a handful move into management, I believe, too, right? Meyer Shields: I’m sorry, that handful moved into? Mark Miller: Into management. So as we prepare to add more corporate agents, we need to up-level the management team and they don’t sell. Meyer Shields: And then one last question, if I can. I was hoping you give us a sense of the pricing specifically on the home side that are built into the premium and revenue expectations. Mark Jones Jr.: Yes. I mean we’re still expecting some pricing tailwinds, at least through the first half of the year. We’re not going to put a specific number on it but really, we’ll focus on driving policy productivity and reigniting policy-in-force growth rate which you should see in the second half of the year. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Scott Heleniak with RBC Capital Markets. Scott Heleniak: Congrats, all, to everybody there. Just a quick question on the revenue guidance that you’re talking about here. And you mentioned basically revenue trends expected to get better in the second half of 2024 and into 2025. Can you talk more about what’s going to be the drivers behind that? Is that new hires? Is that productivity? Is it market conditions? Or just kind of a combination of all those, or anything else that’s going to, I guess, result in better revenue trends in the second half of the year versus the first half? Mark Jones Jr.: Yes, it’s kind of all of those things, Scott. So if you think about our corporate team which they have 100% revenue recognition on their new business compared to the franchise side is 20%, so we’re going to onboard a pretty large class this summer of corporate agents that we’ve got through our recruiting pipeline right now which you’ll start to see that flow through the new business lines in the second and third quarter. And on the franchise side of the business, as we reaccelerated the growth in Q4 of 2023, we’ve talked a lot about the spring-loading factor of how that will now impact the next year. And so you start to see that new business convert into renewal in the second half of 2024. On top of that, I mentioned in my prepared remarks we do expect to see an improving macro environment as opposed to a deteriorating one in 2024, both from a product side and hopefully from a home market, housing market side. But even if the housing market doesn’t improve, our agents have shown that they can still go out there and generate kind of record number of leads. And so we think there’s a lot of things that are going to go right for us, especially in the second half of the year and so we’re feeling very confident. Scott Heleniak: And then on the EBITDA margin guidance, I know you’re not going to talk a whole lot about what it’s going to be, just up year-over-year. But is there any other expense items that we should kind of keep in mind versus 2023 that might be different, either up or down compared to the 2023 levels as we get into the year, particularly the second half of the year and some of those agents are onboarding? Mark Jones Jr.: I mean, I would just watch your quarter end [ph]. I mean, you should assume that, as we onboard a significant number of corporate agents late in the second quarter and early in the third quarter, that that will flow through your compensation expense lines. Your G&A shouldn’t vary, I would say, materially from the cadence in 2023. Now, to drive margin expansion which we plan to do again in 2024, you have to get some scale out of both those comp and G&A lines. So as you’re looking at your model, that’s something I’d point you to. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Michael Zaremski with BMO. Michael Zaremski: But on the contingents first, on the lag in terms of the payment to you all, could you give us any context on 6-month versus 12-month policies between home and/or auto so we can kind of better understand that lag? And just secondly, on the lack of care appetites in the current underwriting environment in certain zip codes or states, can you further unpack what’s been going on and how you’re viewing the care appetite changes in your kind of guidance in 2024? Mark Jones Jr.: Yes. So just to briefly touch on the contingency piece. So 12 months versus 6 months, that doesn’t really factor into how the contingent commission contracts work. We’ve gotten a couple of questions occasionally on how much 6-month policies do you write. And so that’s just a tool carriers use when they want to rewrite a little bit faster. It typically only happens on the auto side. You don’t see 6-month home policies. So the home policies are still all 12 months. You do see an increase in the amount of 6-month policies you write but it’s still not the majority of the business. We just do see an increase of it during hard markets for auto. Mark Miller: And I think the second part of the question was about the carrier market and what do we see there. I’ll take that one. So just to frame the question up a little bit, slightly over 50% of our business is home. And of that 50%, about 50% of that is in the state of Texas. And Texas was hit, as you know, very hard by the weather over the last several years, particularly hail in the spring of last year. A lot of carriers pulled out of the market or put additional restrictions on in selling Texas. So it’s been, as Mark mentioned in the opening remarks, one of the hardest markets that we’ve seen. We haven’t seen all the major carriers come back into the market yet but we have gotten an indication that carriers are interested in coming back in, especially in auto. So auto looks particularly good right now. And then, home, early indications are good. So the Texas home market is very important to us. California got really hard for a while. It’s gotten a little bit better. But generally, it comes in a couple of forms. Carriers can pull completely out of a market, or they can restrict new appointments. We’re still restricted in some states on appointments for new franchises, so it helps us really narrow our vision on where we want to add new franchises because we want to be in places where they can get full appointments. But we see the market softening over the next year and I think that really, like, when we look at our forward forecast, it implies that we think the market is going to get better, over time. Michael Zaremski: And as a quick follow-up, if the trend is towards more 6-month policies, does that put any incremental pressure on your agents in terms of them having to do a little more work around a renewal, they get the step-down in their commission rate upon renewal if they’re going from 12 to 6? Or is that not something we should really be thinking about? Mark Jones Jr.: Yes, it’s not a big issue for agents. I mean, if you do the math, the step-down in the commission rate versus the rerating faster, it doesn’t really cause that big of an impact to the individual agents. Now, it does give a policy more opportunity to rerate faster, so it should help actually drive premium growth. And then, frankly, on our end, the commission rate does step down. Operator: [Operator Instructions] The next question comes from Pablo Singzon with JPMorgan. Pablo Singzon: The productivity gains are encouraging. I guess, I basically hear is, you expect the same pace of gains in 2024. And longer-term, what kind of trajectory are you assuming for productivity? Mark Miller: Well, I guess I was having a hard time understanding exactly what you said but I think you said do we expect the same kind of productivity gains in the coming years. Pablo Singzon: Should I clarify? Let me go through it again. Apologies. I think it’s my phone. So yes, so 2023, clearly a good year for productivity gains outsized, right, like well in the double-digits. The question is do you expect the same pace in 2024? And longer-term, what kind of trajectory are you assuming for productivity? Mark Miller: Yes. I would say, when we look at corporate, we’re very proud of the turnaround in productivity improvement. We still believe that there is more room to grow on the corporate side and that just comes from productivity gains, maturing of the agent base as their tenure increases. On the franchise side I think is where you really see the opportunity, with approximately 2,000 agents out there and what their productivity level is versus a corporate agent. There’s no mathematical reason why a franchise agent can’t get to the same productivity level as a corporate. And I think the structural changes that we made to the franchise area towards the end of 2023 really make me optimistic about what the future looks like at the franchise business. And I give Brian Pattillo and his team a lot of credit with that. We structurally changed how we interact and engage with franchises rather than just putting them through training and then letting them loose. We’re managing their activities more closely now and helping educate them, helping them with their sales processes, helping them with their budgets and goals, incentivizing them. It’s a really, really long program of things that we’ve done with the franchises but it’s been incredibly successful. And I think there’s a long runway to continue to improve performance in the franchise side of the business. Pablo Singzon: And then the second question for me, just on the guidance. I just want to confirm that you expect margins to expand next year even with contingents down. Is that correct? Mark Jones Jr.: Correct. Operator: I show no further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the call back to Mark Miller for closing remarks. Mark Miller: Okay. Well, I want to thank everybody for joining us and appreciate your participation and support of the stock and your questions. With that, we’ll close the call. Thank you. Operator: This concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect. Follow Goosehead Insurance Inc. (NASDAQ:GSHD) Follow Goosehead Insurance Inc. (NASDAQ:GSHD) or Subscribe with Google We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkey11 hr. 48 min. ago