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Motorola (MSI) to Boost Airport Communication in Germany

Motorola (MSI) will deploy the DIMETRA X Core system to boost TETRA radio communication infrastructure in Cologne Bonn Airport. Motorola Solutions, Inc. MSI announced that Cologne Bonn Airport has opted to upgrade TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio) digital radio communication infrastructure, leveraging Motorola’s TETRA solution portfolio. TETRA is a vital component in airport communication for its reliability, coverage and efficiency in operations. It also boasts advanced security features owing to user authentication mechanisms.To modernize the airport’s network infrastructure, Motorola is offering the DIMETRA X Core system, designed to provide mission-critical voice and data communications. Along with enhanced flexibility and security, this system also provides greater scalability, capable of supporting a single site to a network spanning 5000 sites or more. The solution also comes with multi-layered cyber defense features that incorporate regular security updates, operating system patching, anti-virus and more.The technology also exhibits robust adaptability. With a software-based core, it allows users to augment capacity, launch new features and tailor communication system per the airport’s evolving requirements. The solution also centralized the communication network to bolster administrative efficiency. The capability to prevent single-point failures enhances the resilience of the TETRA network and makes it suitable for any unfavorable circumstances.In 2022, Bonn Airport witnessed a staggering 8.8 million passengers and 971,000 tons of cargo shipping. Owing to its strategic position, the airport plays a crucial role as a hub for businesses, tourism and economic activities within the region. The smooth functioning of the airport operations is heavily dependent on frontline workers such as logistics partners, ramp agents and baggage handlers.Ensuring perfect synchronization in this complex spread-out system is a challenging endeavor. The DIMETRA X Core system brings some enticing features like the Inter System Interface to facilitate effective collaboration. It also includes various service and support packages essential for maintaining the system at its peak performance level.  The successful deployment of the technology will ensure full coverage both inside and outside the terminal building, streamlining logistics and cargo management and ensuring premium passenger service.  Motorola is a leading provider of TETRA solutions, boasting 25 years of experience. It has installed approximately 1,000 systems worldwide across multiple industries. The company is leveraging this acquired expertise to augment the capability of its latest DIMETRA solution. Additionally, Motorola also secured a ten-year service contract from Bonn Airport to optimize network operation 24/7. This includes responsibilities for repair, maintenance services and the technological advancement of the network infrastructure.As a leading provider of mission-critical communication products and services worldwide, Motorola has ensured a steady revenue stream from this niche market. The communications equipment maker intends to boost its position in the public safety domain by entering into strategic alliances with other players in the ecosystem.The stock has gained 18.4% over the past year against the industry’s decline of 7.2%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchMotorola currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).Stocks to ConsiderModel N Inc MODN, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), delivered an earnings surprise of 20.78%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. In the last reported quarter, it pulled off an earnings surprise of 3.33%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.MODN provides revenue management solutions for life sciences and technology companies, including applications for configuration, price, quote, rebate management and regulatory compliance.NVIDIA Corporation NVDA, currently sporting a Zacks Rank #1, delivered an earnings surprise of 18.99%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. In the last reported quarter, it pulled off an earnings surprise of 19.64%.NVIDIA is the worldwide leader in visual computing technologies and the inventor of the graphic processing unit. Over the years, the company’s focus evolved from PC graphics to artificial intelligence-based solutions that support high-performance computing, gaming and virtual reality platforms.Arista Networks, Inc. ANET, carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), is likely to benefit from strong momentum and diversification across its top verticals and product lines. The company has a software-driven, data-centric approach to help customers build their cloud architecture and enhance their cloud experience. Arista delivered an earnings surprise of 12%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.ANET holds a leadership position in 100-gigabit Ethernet switching share in port for the high-speed data center segment. Arista is increasingly gaining market traction in 200 and 400-gigabit high-performance switching products and is well-positioned for healthy growth in the data-driven cloud networking business with proactive platforms and predictive operations. Zacks Names #1 Semiconductor Stock It's only 1/9,000th the size of NVIDIA which skyrocketed more than +800% since we recommended it. NVIDIA is still strong, but our new top chip stock has much more room to boom. With strong earnings growth and an expanding customer base, it's positioned to feed the rampant demand for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things. Global semiconductor manufacturing is projected to explode from $452 billion in 2021 to $803 billion by 2028.See This Stock Now for 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 NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA): Free Stock Analysis Report Motorola Solutions, Inc. (MSI): Free Stock Analysis Report Model N, Inc. (MODN): Free Stock Analysis Report Arista Networks, Inc. (ANET): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 1st, 2023

Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript November 21, 2023 Baidu, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $20.4, expectations were $2.45. Operator: Hello and thank you for standing by for Baidu’s Third Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at […] Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript November 21, 2023 Baidu, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $20.4, expectations were $2.45. Operator: Hello and thank you for standing by for Baidu’s Third Quarter 2023 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I would now like to turn the meeting over to your host for today’s conference, Juan Lin, Baidu’s Director of Investor Relations. Juan Lin: Hello, everyone and welcome to Baidu’s third quarter 2023 earnings conference call. Baidu’s earnings release was distributed earlier today and you can find a copy on our website as well as on newswire services. On the call today, we have Robin Li, our Co-Founder and CEO; Rong Luo, our CFO; and Dou Shen, our EVP in charge of Baidu AI Cloud Group, ACG. After our prepared remarks, we will hold a Q&A session. Please note that the discussion today will contain forward-looking statements made under the Safe Harbor provision of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from our current expectations. For detailed discussions of these risks and uncertainties, please refer to our latest annual report and other documents filed with SEC and Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Baidu does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, except as required under auditable law. Our earnings press release and this call include discussions of certain unaudited non-GAAP financial measures. Our press release contains a reconciliation of unaudited non-GAAP measures to the unaudited most directly comparable GAAP measures available on our IR website at ir.baidu.com. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. In addition, a webcast of this conference call will be available on Baidu’s IR website. I will now turn the call over to our CEO, Robin. Robin Li: Hello, everyone. Baidu Core delivered solid revenues, profit and cash flow in Q3 despite navigating in a challenging macro climate for both our online marketing business and AI cloud business. I am proud that our team managed to strengthen operational efficiency and maintain stable margins, a full-scale reinvention of our product portfolio with ERNIE and ERNIE Bot. Today, I would like to share an update on the new opportunities that ERNIE and ERNIE Bot have opened up for us. After that, I will discuss some key highlights of each of our businesses. Presently, we are in the midst of a broad-based platform shift driven by generative AI and foundation models that is set to revolutionize every industry. On August 31, we received the approval to deploy ERNIE Bot on a large scale and open ERNIE API to enterprise customers. Since then, we have witnessed a significant increase in queries handled by ERNIE Bot and through ERNIE API. Moreover, we have received valuable feedback from these users and customers enabling us to further refine our model’s performance. At Baidu World in October, we showcased our progress in ERNIE Bot and AI native products. During that event, we introduced ERNIE 4.0 or EB4, our most advanced foundation model. We believe that EB4 is the GPT-4 level model, displaying human level performance in understanding content generation, complex reasoning and memory retention. These capabilities are crucial for developing AI native applications and solutions. We are pleased to launch EB4 earlier than our expectations. It resulted from our unique end-to-end 4-layer AI infrastructure, which helped intense efficiencies in model training. The input and feedback from our users and customers also played a big role. In products, as I said in the past, we continue to use ERNIE to reinvent our entire portfolio and introduce an AI-native experience. On the customer front, the ERNIE Bot enables Baidu search by generating direct answers to search queries, complementing traditional search. In the quarter, we initiated tests on our new features that recommend news feed-like information together with the generated search results and enable multi-round conversations to encourage further user expression. Our initial tests have received promising feedback. We believe these features will help deepen user engagement and prolonged time spent unleashing new monetization opportunities. In particular, they benefit as verticals like healthcare, education, travel, legal and auto, in which advertisers are willing to invest heavily in customer acquisition and reengagement. ERNIE Bot, our new AI native product serves as a versatile multi-brand conversational AI assistant on both desktop and mobile. Given the exceptional performance of our large language model, we are confident in monetizing our services. Starting from November 1, EB4 was open to the public through ERNIE Bot at a subscription fee of about $8 per month. This marks us as the first company in China to implement user charges, distinguish us from other models in the market. Our primary focus is to encourage seamless collaboration between users and AI co-pilots, which we believe is a key trend in the new era. For example, with an AI co-pilot, Baidu Wenku has transformed into a one-stop shop for various document creation needs. We have already seen an increase in the paying user account, a trend that we expect to continue in the coming quarters. On the enterprise-facing product front, we recently introduced a GBI, generated business intelligence with ERNIE Bot. GBI simplifies data analysis using natural language interaction facilitating faster decision-making for business operation. The introduction of GBI was prompted by the recognition that customers across various industries have the need for AI co-pilots to help them analyze data more efficiently. During our last earnings call, we also discussed how we use ERNIE Bot to create Baidu Comate, our AI coding assistant and Infoflow, our enterprise communication and collaboration platform. These products focus on boosting productivity and efficiency gains and each of them present upsell opportunities for our cloud customers. In fact, an increasing number of our cloud customers in China’s traditional industry and public sector have used the trial version and showing interest in these products and features. Additionally, these products and features also allow us to acquire new customers across an even wider array of industries. In terms of ecosystem, we empower enterprises to leverage ERNIE through API to create their own AI native applications and solutions that will drive the development of generative AI and LLM. As more and more AI native applications built on top of ERNIE become successful, whether developed by us or by our customers, ERNIE will likewise be successful. Now, over 10,000 enterprises are actively using ERNIE through API on a monthly basis. This number has been growing quickly since we received the regulatory green light at the end of August. Currently, ERNIE is handling tens of millions of queries everyday. Right now, a large and rising number of these queries come from the Baidu family of products as we have been pioneers in building AI native products and have put a lot of effort into reinventing our offerings. In the first half of November, the number of daily external queries has increased by over 50% compared to the same period in October. As we are actively assisting our cloud customers in creating AI native applications, we believe there will be a continuous and significant rise in external credits in the future. We are also actively attracting developers to connect their information and services to ERNIE Bot through plug-ins. With plug-ins, ERNIE can help people with more-and-more tasks unlocking a wide range of possible use cases. As of today, [indiscernible] plug-ins have already been accessible to ERNIE. The initial batch of third-party plug-ins include ctrip.com, CITIC Press Group, China Justice Big Data Institute, New Oriental, Autohome and Tree Mind. In summary, during the quarter, we made significant progress in using Gen AI to revolutionize product usage and transform business operations for our users and customers. We believe that this is just the beginning. In the future, we will realign resources to invest in this growth opportunity and shift away from lower priority efforts and improve efficiency for existing businesses, thus balancing investment and margins. We are excited about the possibilities for Baidu for our users, customers, partners and the entire ecosystem. Now let me recap the key highlights of each of our businesses. Mobile ecosystem continued to exhibit steady growth for both user metrics and financial performance in the quarter. Baidu Apps MAUs increased by 5% year-over-year to RMB663 million in September. Search queries and content distributed by Baidu app remained resilient. In particular, videos distributed by search and feed within Baidu App both experienced a double-digit growth in third quarter. Baidu Core’s online marketing revenue increased by 5% year-over-year in the third quarter, consistently generating strong profit and cash flow for the group. This growth was driven by the continuous recovery in verticals such as health care and travel, among others. In the quarter, we continued to use Gen AI to help advertisers increase ROI and conversion on our platform. Starting from September, advertisers can engage with our new marketing platform. This platform supports natural language input and multi-round conversations which help advertisers, articulate their requirements more comprehensively, enabling us to formulate more effective campaign strategies for investment. Moreover, we made ongoing enhancements to our monetization system, focusing on improving targeting capabilities and the auction system. For example, Tarena Education and IT Professional Education Company achieved an increase of 23.3% in conversion rate and 22.7% boost in ROI after using this enhanced platform and capabilities. We are still in the early stages of using Gen AI to help advertisers achieve higher of conversions and ROIs on our platform. Our efforts will ultimately lead to significant improvement in marketization capabilities and will contribute to future revenue growth. In the quarter, we also used our AI capabilities to help merchants grow their sales on Baidu. One example is how we help SMEs with live stream shopping. With ERNIE Bot, we introduced a tool that allow them to easily create their own digital human, generate live scripts and more significantly lowering the barrier and cost for live streamers to sell merchandise on Baidu. Looking forward, we are optimistic that the growth of our online marketing revenue will continue to exceed China’s GDP growth. At the same time, we will continue to test AI native marketing products that could potentially open up more opportunities than traditional general search ads. This gives us confidence in Baidu’s long-term online marketing growth prospects. Turning to AI cloud, we continue to generate positive operating profit on a non-GAAP basis in the quarter as we remained focused on the healthiness of our business. Gen AI and LLM have brought us a lot of opportunities, which have strengthened our competitive advantages in cloud and increased our TAM. A growing number of enterprises are using ERNIE API to develop their own AI native applications and solutions. We are also helping customers build their own models efficiently by leveraging our unique 4-layer AI infrastructure and our years of experience in building and using foundation models. LLM training is very complicated. It requires a large number of GPUs working simultaneously. ERNIE GPU failures can impact the entire process. We have developed ways to identify and address GPU failures quickly leading to a significant reduction in training costs. Now about 98% of the training time on our platform is valid, setting an industry benchmark. We also have a set of different resources, including toolkits, data sets for enterprise customers to easily fine-tune their customized models. Gen AI has helped us grow our cloud customer base. A large number of cloud customers using ERNIE API are new customers. At the same time, some of our existing cloud customers have increased their spending with us because of generative AI. AI cloud revenues declined by 2% year-over-year in the third quarter, mainly due to the weak demand in smart transportation projects. We believe AI cloud revenue should rebound to positive growth in the fourth quarter, driven by the increasing momentum in generative AI-related businesses. Also, since smart transportation revenue started to slow down in Q4 of last year, we will have an easier year-over-year comp base in Q4 this year. Moving on to intelligent driving, our target remains unchanged, which is to achieve breakeven on the regional unit economics for robotaxi operation in a couple of years before turning operationally profitable. To this end, we are strategically concentrating our resources on pivotal regions. Wuhan remains our largest operational area and we believe it is also the largest region globally, providing autonomous drive aiding services currently covering a population of about 2.7 million. In the third quarter, the portion of fully driverless orders within the overall order portfolio in Wuhan exceeded 40%, that’s up from 35% in Q2. We are also particularly pleased to highlight that Apollo Go’s operation in Wuhan continue to expand. In late August, Apollo Go remains the first company in China to provide autonomous ride-hailing services to the general public at Wuhan Kinko International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Central China. The extended reach into the airport transfer involves longer travel distances, presenting an excellent opportunity for the future improvement of unit economics. All of these developments contributed to the UE improvement and we aim to reach regional UE breakeven in a couple of years. In Q3, Apollo Go provided 821,000 rides to the public, marking a 73% increase year-over-year and the cumulative order volume has surpassed 4.1 million by the end of Q3. As part of our executive reshuffle program, we have recently named Dr. Wang Yunpeng as Corporate VP of Baidu, who will lead the Intelligent Driving Group. Yunpeng has been with us since 2012 and has been responsible for autonomous driving business since 2018. I take great pride in seeing another business leader developed within Baidu. Zhenyu has taken a rotational position as CEO Assistant and the Chairman of the Technology Ethics Committee. Now let’s proceed with Rong’s financial performance review. Rong Luo: Thank you, Robin. Now let me walk through the details of our third quarter financial results. Total revenue was RMB34.4 billion, increasing 6% year-over-year. Revenue from Baidu Core was RMB26.6 billion, increasing 5% year-over-year. Baidu Core’s online marketing revenue was RMB19.7 billion, increasing 5% year-over-year. Baidu Core’s online marketing revenue was RMB6.9 billion, up 6% year-over-year. Revenue from IT was RMB8 billion, increasing 7% year-over-year. Cost of revenue was RMB16.3 billion, which remained essentially unchanged compared to the same period last year. Operating expenses were RMB11.9 billion, increasing 8% year-over-year primarily due to an increase in China spending, promotional marketing expenses, server depreciation expenses and the server custody fee, which support ERNIE Bot repurchasing costs. Baidu cost operating expenses were RMB10.5 billion, increasing 10% year-over-year. Baidu Core SG&A expenses were RMB4.8 billion, increasing 14% year-over-year. SG&A accounting for 18% of Baidu’s Core revenue in the quarter compared to 17%, in the same period last year. Baidu Core R&D expenses were RMB5.6 billion, increasing 7% year-over-year. R&D accounting for 21% of Baidu Core revenue in the quarter, which maintained unchanged from the same period last year. Operating income was RMB6.3 billion. Baidu Core operating income was RMB5.5 billion and Baidu Core operating margin was 21%. Non-GAAP operating income was RMB7.6 billion, non-GAAP Baidu core operating income was RMB6.7 billion, and non-GAAP Baidu Core operating margin was 25%. Total other income net was RMB1.9 billion compared to the total other loss net of RMB4.8 billion for the same period last year, mainly due to the first recognition of RMB338 million gain versus RMB3.1 billion loss for the same period last year from a fair value change in loan investments; and second, a decrease in impairment of long-term investments by RMB1.4 billion. Income tax expenses was RMB1.3 billion, increasing 41% year-over-year, primarily due to an increase in profit before tax. Net income attributable to Baidu was RMB6.7 billion, and diluted earnings per ADS were RMB18.22. Net income attributable to Baidu Core was RMB6.4 billion, and net margin for Baidu Core was 24%. Non-GAAP net income attributable to Baidu was RMB7.3 billion and non-GAAP diluted earnings per ADS were RMB20.40. Non-GAAP net income attributable to Baidu Core was RMB7 billion and Non-GAAP net margin for Baidu Core was 26%. As of September 30, 2023, cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash and short-term investments were RMB202.7 billion and cash, cash equivalent, restricted cash and shorting investments excluding IP was RMB197.4 billion. Free cash flow was RMB6 billion, and free cash flow, excluding IP, was RMB5.2 billion, Baidu Core had approximately 35,000 employees as of September 30, 2023. With that, operator, let’s now open the call to questions. Operator: [Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from Alicia with Citi. Please go ahead. Alicia Yap: Hello. Thank you. Good evening. Robin, Julius and management team. Thanks for taking my questions. My question is on advertising. So it seems like Baidu ad revenue growth is tracking slower than some of the Internet peers, so besides macro can management elaborate any other reasons that contributed to the softer ad revenue growth? And then looking into the fourth quarter, have you seen any demand picking up? What is the e-commerce sector contribution? And how will AI change the advertising outlook. Thank you. See also 20 Richest Countries that Mainly Speak English and 20 Most Advanced Countries in Education. Q&A Session Follow Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) Follow Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Robin Li: Hi, Alicia, this is Robin. In Q3, apart from the macro weakness, online marketing revenue from e-commerce platforms was also relatively weak. Revenue from e-commerce platforms is one of our top revenue contributors, accounted for about 10% of our total online marketing revenue. Like many other Internet platform companies, we are building our own native e-commerce business. Revenue growth from our native e-commerce business is tracking very strong as we continue to improve the shopping experience on Baidu. I would like to highlight the strides we have made in our ad business through Gen AI. We are basically restructuring the overall ad platform, including creative construction, ad targeting and the bidding investments. These efforts have started to pay off. And the incremental revenue from this kind of initiatives are expected to reach the level of hundreds of millions RMB in the current quarter, which is the Q4 of this year. And looking forward, we are optimistic that – the growth of our online marketing revenue will continue to exceed China’s GDP growth. Thank you. Operator: The next question comes from Alex Yao with JPMorgan. Please go ahead. Alex Yao: Thank you, management for taking my question. I have a few questions on cloud revenue. I believe Robin mentioned despite of moderate revenue decline in 4Q, the cloud revenue will – the growth rate will return to positive territory in Q4. And then from there, should we expect the cloud revenue to further accelerate into first half of 2024. With regard to the Smart City projects, are there any more projects that are still at risk? And then more importantly, as you guys start to monetize the AI capability, when will AI start contribute to the cloud revenue meaningfully. Lastly, any preliminary view on cloud revenue growth outlook for 2024? Thank you. Dou Shen: Hi, Alex, this is Doug. Thank you for your question. So actually, as we mentioned before, we have been focusing on improving the health of our business for sustainable development. And as a result, we have achieved non-GAAP operating profits in the past few quarters. As Robin already mentioned right due to the weak demand for intelligent transportation and the cloud revenue experienced a slight decline in Q3. So while excluding small transportation, the rest of our AI cloud business showed a pretty solid growth. And we believe AI cloud revenue will return to put growth in the fourth quarter and the trend will continue down the road. What is even more exciting side, we keep seeing new opportunities brought by Generative AI and large language models. Actually, last quarter, we already said that more and more customers across various sectors came to us for model training, application development and solution enhancement. Although the current revenue from Generative AI and LLM related business is still very small, but it’s growing very fast. We have seen more and more enterprises proactively adopting these new technologies for productivity and efficiency gain. Some of these customers, especially those from the internet education and the tech sectors, they have started to see efficiency gains through working with theirs. As a result, some of them have gradually increased their spending on our cloud services. Looking to Q4, we aim to leverage our leadership in generative AI and large language models to continuously attract new customers and encourage the existing customers to increase their spending on our Baidu AI cloud. And we believe this should not only lead to long-term revenue growth, but also continuous margin improvement. Thank you, Alex. Operator: The next question comes from Miranda Zhuang with Bank of America. Please go ahead. Miranda Zhuang: Thank you, good evening. Thanks, management for taking my question. And congratulations on the results. My question is about ERNIE’s. So can management share with us the recent feedback for ERNIE 4 since the rollout last month? And any color on the contract find on adopting ERNIE 4? And also for consumer and – and how is the feedback after ERNIE Bot started to charge end user subscription fee? And lastly, among the various opportunities you mentioned, which one do you think can become the biggest revenue driver. Thank you. Robin Li: Hi, Miranda, let me answer your questions. since the release of EB4 in mid-October, we’re receiving positive feedback from both users and customers. Many enterprises have reached out to test EB4 and have been impressed with it’s capabilities. EB4 has gained a reputation for advanced understanding and complex reasoning abilities. Comparing to EB3 5 and other LMs in the market, we have noted that EB4 generates more structured and clearer responses and excels in coding. From November 1, we started charging enterprises and users for using EB4. And we’ve seen a growing number of customers and users willing to pay for its us. We’re proud to be the first company to introduce GPT-4 level model in China. EB4 further widen our lead over other LMs in the market? And we are the first LM to charge end user fees that sets us apart from other peers. And regarding your question about monetization opportunity, we see significant opportunities in AI native applications, either devised by Baidu or by our customers, who leverage our AI capabilities. If you look at our own products, we see significant opportunities in the new search and the revamped ad platform. The new search complements traditional search. It can address complex questions that were previously unanswerable. It also enables users to conduct a more personalized and in-depth research on various topics and projects. We will soon enable users to have multi-round conversation with us. As our search will be able to talk with users in natural language and in multi-round, it will create more potential on the commercial side, too......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyNov 22nd, 2023

20 Best Residency by Investment Programs in 2023

This article will explore the 20 best Residency by Investment programs in 2023. You can skip our comprehensive analysis and proceed directly to the 5 Best Residency by Investment Programs in 2023. In the past few decades, the world has witnessed a remarkable shift in global migration trends, propelled by factors like economic prospects, political […] This article will explore the 20 best Residency by Investment programs in 2023. You can skip our comprehensive analysis and proceed directly to the 5 Best Residency by Investment Programs in 2023. In the past few decades, the world has witnessed a remarkable shift in global migration trends, propelled by factors like economic prospects, political instability, and the increasing ease of communication and transportation. This transformation is fostering a diverse and interconnected global community. According to the World Migration Report 2022, it was estimated that in 2020, approximately 281 million individuals were living as international migrants worldwide, constituting 3.6% of the global population. Last five decades saw a consistent increase in the number of international migrants. In 2020, the total estimate of 281 million individuals residing in countries other than their places of birth was 128 million higher than in 1990, and it was more than three times the number estimated for 1970. Europe and Asia played host to roughly 87 million and 86 million international migrants, respectively, collectively accounting for 61% of the global international migrant population. North America followed closely with nearly 59 million international migrants in 2020, representing 21% of the global migrant population. Africa accounted for 9%, Latin America and the Caribbean for 5%, and Oceania for 3%. When considering the proportion of international migrants in relation to the population of each region in 2020, highest percentages were observed in Oceania, North America, and Europe, where international migrants comprised 22%, 16%, and 12% of the total population, respectively. In contrast, Asia and Africa had relatively smaller shares of international migrants at 1.8% and 1.9%, respectively, while Latin America and the Caribbean had 2.3%. The same report highlighted that Asia saw the most significant growth from 2000 to 2020, with a 74% increase, corresponding to approximately 37 million people in absolute numbers. Europe experienced the second-largest growth during this period, with a rise of 30 million international migrants, followed by North America with an increase of 18 million and Africa with 10 million. In certain countries, like the United Arab Emirates, more than 88% of the population consists of international migrants. As global migration trends persist in their upward trajectory, numerous countries across the globe have introduced Residency by Investment programs and similar initiatives, each characterized by distinct eligibility criteria and advantages for both applicants and host nations. These programs serve as magnets for foreign investments, specifically targeting the high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs), and igniting economic expansion, all the while furnishing a pathway to residency for individuals who may not meet conventional qualification criteria. Benefits of Residency by Investment Residency by Investment programs offer a multitude of compelling advantages to individuals in search of a new place to call home. They liberate individuals from the constraints of travel, work, and residency limitations, granting them global mobility and the freedom to explore the world. This leads to an enhanced quality of life, encompassing improved access to healthcare, education, social services, and a more wholesome environment. Furthermore, these programs present diverse business opportunities for High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs), enabling them to diversify their investment portfolios and bolster their wealth. Additionally, the host country’s favorable tax structures empower investors to legally mitigate their tax obligations and even establish corporate entities. The long-term benefit of obtaining eligibility for a second passport and citizenship represents a significant advantage, rendering Residency by Investment programs an enticing pathway toward a brighter future. Residency by Investment programs offer diverse investment options and financial criteria, which vary by country. These options typically include purchasing real estate for personal or investment purposes, investing in local businesses (starting new ventures or backing existing ones), or contributing to a government fund dedicated to economic and social development initiatives. Each program has its unique requirements and benefits, making it essential for potential participants to research and choose the one that aligns best with their objectives. Trends in Residency by Investment In a report released by COMPAS (Centre on Migration, Policy & Society) in June 2022, it was revealed that the most comprehensive evaluation of Residency by Investment programs within the European Union (EU) had accrued a cumulative total of approximately €20 billion (approximately $22.5 billion) in investments by the end of 2019. Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, these programs were yielding an annual revenue of approximately €3 billion (approximately $3.375 billion), with a notable concentration of proceeds in countries such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. With the trends in European Residency by Investment programs steadily on the rise, investors are diversifying their portfolios beyond real estate and residency opportunities too. Many consider the stock market to capitalize on the potential for growth and stability within the region. A few notable stocks that have piqued the interest of investors in recent times are ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML), AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN), and Shell plc (NYSE:SHEL). ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML), is one of Europe’s top prestigious tech firms. ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML) currently commands approximately $180 million for its highest-end machine. Despite recent softening in the chip market, ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML), continues to experience growth, and its long-term prospects appear promising due to the constant demand for increased computing power. AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN), a prominent global pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation headquartered at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in Cambridge, England, has recently joined forces with IKN to introduce cutting-edge AI X-ray technology, as reported by Medical Device Network on September 25, 2023. This partnership marks a significant milestone in the quest for advanced healthcare solutions. On September 19, 2023, Reuters reported that Shell plc (NYSE:SHEL), the British multinational oil and gas company, opened the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging station in Shenzhen, China. This station, located near Shenzhen airport, offers 258 charging points and incorporates solar panels capable of generating 300,000 kilowatt-hours annually. It is a joint venture between Shell plc (NYSE:SHEL) and the Chinese EV giant BYD (002594.SZ). Let’s now proceed to explore the top 20 Residency by Investment Programs in 2023. Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay     Methodology To determine the top 20 programs, we considered key metrics such as investment amounts, application approval/process duration, and personal income tax rates of the leading Residency by Investment program countries in 2023. We utilized information from a diverse set of reputable sources, including IMI Daily, Get Golden Visa, Golden Visas, Global Citizen Solutions, Sov Spot, Best Citizenships, Passports.io, International Relocation Firm, Nomad Capitalist, Premier Consultancy Group, South China Morning Post, alongside the official Canada, New Zealand, and USA government websites. Additionally, we relied on data from Trading Economics and KPMG to ascertain the relevant tax rates. Subsequently, we created specific ranking indices for these metrics, and to establish the overall rankings, we averaged these three rankings. The best Residency by Investment program among these ranked at the top spot, followed by the second and third. In cases of tie scores, we used tax friendliness as the tiebreaker to distinguish and rank similar programs. 20 Best Residency by Investment Programs in 2023 20. Australia Investment Amount: $1.6 Million Process Duration: 12 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 45% To obtain residency in Australia by investment, there are several options available, including the Investor Stream, the Significant Investor Stream, and the Entrepreneur Stream. The minimum investment amount for the Investor Stream is AUD 2.5 million, while the Significant Investor Stream requires a minimum investment of AUD 5 million. The Entrepreneur Stream requires a minimum net business and personal assets of AUD 1.5 million, with a minimum annual turnover of AUD 3 million in one or more of the main businesses. After obtaining an investor visa, applicants can be granted a five-year visa by investment of AUD 1.25 million or more, and applicants who maintain their investment can then obtain permanent residency in Australia. 19. New Zealand Investment Amount: $1.8 Million Process Duration: 8-9 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 39% There are several investment programs available for individuals seeking New Zealand residence. The minimum investment amounts vary for each program. Investor Category 1 Visa requires a starting investment of NZD 10 million, while Investor Category 2 Visa calls for NZD 3 million (approximately $1.8 million), with the investment being directed towards lawful enterprises or managed funds and sustained for a four-year period. This investment can be spread across three years and must be maintained for the fourth year. Additionally, applicants must spend a minimum of 146 days in New Zealand in each of the last three years of the four-year investment, totaling 483 days over this period. For the Active Investor Plus Visa Program, individuals must invest between NZD 5 million and NZD 15 million over four years, following the same investment schedule. 18. Netherlands Investment Amount: $1.5 Million Process Duration: 3-5 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 49.5% The Netherlands allows foreign nationals to make a significant business or fund investment in the country and gain a renewable Dutch residence permit in return. The investment must be deposited into a Dutch bank account or the bank account of another EU member state with a branch in the Netherlands. For those considering investment opportunities in the European market, it’s worth keeping an eye on stocks like ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML), a leading semiconductor equipment manufacturer; AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN), a pharmaceutical giant; and Shell plc (NYSE:SHEL), a global energy company. These stocks represent diverse sectors within the European economy and can be attractive options for investors. 17. Ireland Investment Amount: $1.1 Million Process Duration: 9-12 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 40% The Ireland Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) necessitates a minimum investment amount of €1 million (approximately $1.1 million), which must be allocated to an approved fund and retained for a minimum duration of three years. In addition to this financial commitment, applicants must satisfy various eligibility criteria, including having a minimum net worth of €2 million, demonstrating good character, and possessing a clean criminal record in all jurisdictions. The application processing period typically ranges from nine to twelve months. 16. United States of America Investment Amount: $800,000 Process Duration: 30-36 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 37% The US residence program, also known as the Immigrant Investor Program, offers EB-5 visas to individuals who invest in USCIS-approved regional center-associated commercial ventures, aiming to boost economic development. The US ranks 16th on our list of best Residency by Investment programs in 2023. Eligibility for the EB-5 visa entails a minimum investment of $1,050,000, or $800,000 if directed to designated high-unemployment or rural areas. This investment must fund a newly established commercial enterprise with the goal of creating at least 10 new full-time jobs for US citizens and authorized US workers. 15. Singapore Investment Amount: $2.5 Million Process Duration: 9-12 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 22% The Global Investor Program (GIP) offers an opportunity for foreign nationals to obtain permanent residency in Singapore by making a substantial investment. To qualify for this program, individuals are required to invest a minimum of SGD 2,500,000 in either establishing a new business entity, expanding an existing business operation, or contributing to an investment fund. It is essential to note that this investment must be completed within six months following the approval-in-principle for permanent residency. 14. United Kingdom Investment Amount: $2.2 Million Process Duration: 1-8 weeks Personal Income Tax Rate: 45% The UK investor visa, also known as the Tier 1 investor visa, is a Residency by Investment program in the United Kingdom. To apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) Visa, you will be required to satisfy the following criteria: be 18 or over, have access to at least £2,000,000 (approximately $2.2 million) in investment funds, and open a UK bank account. The cost to apply for a Tier 1 visa is £1,623. Additionally, the application fee for citizenship by investment for each person is £1330. 13. Austria Investment Amount: $400,000 Process Duration: 1-3 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 55% Austria’s Residency by Investment program is attractive for those seeking to enjoy the country’s high quality of life, strong economy, and access to the Schengen Area, which allows for visa-free travel to many European countries. Investors can choose to invest in businesses, real estate, or approved securities, meeting specific financial thresholds. Once the investment criteria are fulfilled, applicants and their families gain the right to reside and work in Austria. 12. Switzerland Investment Amount: $220,000 Process Duration: 3-6 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 40% The Switzerland Residency by Investment program necessitates a lump-sum tax payment of CHF 200,000 (approximately $220,000) to the Swiss canton where the investor resides. However, it’s important to note that this amount can vary and may potentially escalate to CHF 600,000 per annum, contingent on the specific canton Alternatively, individuals can consider the Swiss Lump Sum Taxation program, which mandates a minimum investment of $1 million as a prerequisite for applying for the Swiss residence program. The actual lump-sum tax amount is contingent upon the canton in which one resides, as well as the family’s expenditures both within Switzerland and abroad. The tax agreement typically spans either 1 or 5 years, depending on the canton, and the residence permit must be renewed on an annual basis. 11. Canada Investment Amount: $150,000 Process Duration: 12–31 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 33% Canada allows foreign entrepreneurs to create an innovative business in Canada and apply for permanent residence. The minimum investment required is $200,000 if it comes from a designated Canadian venture capital fund, or $75,000 if it comes from a designated Canadian angel investor group. 10. Hong Kong Investment Amount: >$1,300,000 Process Duration: 4-8 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 15% Hong Kong offers multiple residency options through investment for talented individuals, professionals, and entrepreneurs. These programs include the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, introduced in 2003 but suspended in 2015. However, Hong Kong currently provides various employment and investment visa categories. To qualify, applicants need to pass a points-based test under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme. The new investment scheme announced in 2023 will require a higher investment than the previous HK$10 million (approximately $1,300,000) threshold from eight years ago. After residing in Hong Kong for seven years, individuals can apply for a Permanent Resident Visa, and citizenship eligibility begins after ten years. 9. Namibia Investment Amount: $316,000 Process Duration: 3 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 37% To obtain a residence permit in Namibia through investment, foreign nationals are required to purchase real estate with a minimum value of $316,000 at an approved project in Walvis Bay, Namibia’s second-largest city. Moreover, they must adhere to the specific investment criteria outlined by Namibian immigration authorities. 8. Monaco Investment Amount: $530,000 Process Duration: 8-9 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 0 To acquire a Monaco residency permit via investment, individuals are required to place a minimum deposit of €500,000 (approximately $530,000) in a Monaco bank. It’s essential to keep this deposit in the bank account, although the exact minimum deposit amount may differ depending on the chosen bank. Alongside the bank deposit, applicants must also either rent or purchase a property in Monaco. 7. Malaysia Investment Amount: $230,000 Process Duration: 3-6 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 30% To secure residency in Malaysia through investment, foreign individuals have two options: the Malaysia My Second Home Program or the Premium Visa Program. These programs permit eligible foreign nationals to live in Malaysia under a long-term multiple-entry visa. The minimum investment needed is MYR 1 million. The processing time for both programs typically takes three to six months. The program primarily caters to retirees and financially independent individuals seeking to establish residency in Malaysia. 6. Latvia Investment Amount: $270,000 Process Duration: 1-3 months Personal Income Tax Rate: 31% Investors can obtain a Latvian residence permit by purchasing real estate worth at least €250,000. After holding the property for 5 years, they have the option to sell it and recoup their initial investment, making this investment-based residence permit option a popular choice for those seeking European residency through real estate investment in Latvia. While real estate is an attractive investment option in Europe, investors can also look up top European stocks which include ASML Holding N.V. (NASDAQ:ASML), AstraZeneca plc (NYSE:AZN), and Shell plc (NYSE:SHEL). Click to continue reading and see the 5 Best Residency by Investment Programs in 2023. Suggested Articles: What are Golden Visas and 10 Countries that Hand Them Out? 5 Best Citizenship by Investment Programs in 2023 15 Cheapest CBI Programs in 2023 Disclosure: None. 20 Best Residency by Investment Programs in 2023 is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeySep 30th, 2023

S&P Futures Rise Above 4,000 On Last Day Of Turbulent Month

S&P Futures Rise Above 4,000 On Last Day Of Turbulent Month US stock futures rebounded on the last day of a turbulent month for stocks which saw much of the January gains wiped out, and even with S&P futures inching above 4000 the S&P 500 was on course to post a monthly decline as investor fears about a hawkish Fed response to sticky inflation prevailed. Contracts on the Nasdaq 100 and the S&P 500 rose 0.4% at 7:45 a.m. ET; the S&P 500 is set for a drop of more than 2% in February, trimming a sharp rally last month. Bonds sank in the wake of reports that showed accelerating inflation in France and Spain. The dollar reversed earlier gains and crypto rose. Among notable movers in premarket trading, Zoom jumped after the video-conferencing software company issued an outlook for adjusted earnings that was much stronger than expected. Workday Inc. dropped after results, with analysts saying that the payroll software company’s outlook for subscription growth was cautious. Target rose after results beat expectations and Chevron expanded its stock buyback plans. Here are all the notable premarket movers: Chevron shares gain 1.3% as the company increased its annual rate of share buybacks in a show of confidence in its cash-generation goals. Dish Network Corp. shares are down 4.5% after BofA downgraded the satellite television company by two notches. Hims & Hers Health gains 9.1% after the health-care software solutions company posted 4Q results and 2023 guidance that beat estimates. Norwegian Cruise shares tumble about 6% after the company’s adjusted loss per share and adjusted Ebitda loss were worse than analysts expected in the fourth quarter. Peers Royal Caribbean (RCL) and Carnival (CCL) are trading about 1% lower. Olaplex falls 15% after the maker of hair-care products issued weaker-than-expected forecasts for net sales and adjusted Ebitda for the current year, projecting that 2023 will be a “reset year.” Progyny jumps 16% after forecasting 1Q revenue that beat the average of analysts’ estimates. Tesla shares gain 2.2% as the electric carmaker closes in on the market capitalization of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. — the fifth most-valuable company in the S&P 500. Target Corp. rises 1.3% after turning in a strong fourth-quarter performance, but the company offered a cautious financial forecast for this year as the retailer contends with shaky demand for discretionary goods. Workday shares decline 2.4%, with analysts noting the payroll software company’s cautious outlook for subscription growth, defying expectations for a stronger outlook. Zoom Video shares gain nearly 7% after the video-conferencing software company reported fourth-quarter results that beat expectations and gave an outlook for adjusted earnings that was much stronger than expected. After a strong start to the year, demand for US stocks has tapered in February as data showed inflation remained elevated, raising fears that the Fed would keep interest rates higher for longer. The first quarterly decline in corporate earnings since 2020 has also hit risk sentiment. "The more upbeat sentiment that kicked off the week is ebbing away, with investors refocusing on risks ahead for the global economy,” said Susannah Streeter, head of markets at Hargreaves Lansdown. Both US and European stocks ended last week with their biggest five-day drop this year on concern that central banks will ramp up their battle on inflation seemingly invulnerable to aggressive policy. Positioning data shows investors becoming more pessimistic as they amass short bets in both US and European equity futures, according to Citigroup strategist Chris Montagu who said investor sentiment toward stocks was starting to become pessimistic as they built short bets on S&P 500 futures last week. Other market strategists including Michael Wilson at Morgan Stanley have also warned that equities could see pressure in March from faltering earnings and higher valuations. “Equity markets are not appreciating the macro challenges ahead,” said Wei Li, global chief investment strategist at BlackRock Inc. “That is not to say we cannot have shorter term bouts of rally, like what we saw in January, driven by technical factors, driven by FOMO.” European stocks are in the red but off their worst levels with the Stoxx 600 down 0.1%. Healthcare and construction are the worst performing sectors while banks and insurance rise.  European bond yields climbed as investors digested hotter-than-expected inflation prints in France and Spain, prompting traders to crank up wagers for the ECB deposit rate to hit 4% for the first time, sending the yield on two-year German debt to the highest since 2008. Here are the most notable European movers: Monte Paschi falls as much as 13% after French insurer Axa launched a private placing of about 100 million shares through an accelerated book-building process at a price of €2.33 per share Bayer shares slide 5.2% after the global agriculture and pharmaceutical company’s earnings outlook fell short of estimates due to declining prices for crop products Ocado shares drop as much as 10% after the online grocer reported a full-year pretax loss that was bigger than analysts expected Adecco shares drop as much as 3.6% following the staffing company’s fourth- quarter results, with analysts highlighting the impact of higher costs and potential for downgrades to consensus estimates Travis Perkins shares drop as much as 8.7%, the most intraday since August, after the UK builders’ merchant’s full-year results missed expectations Banco Santander shares gain as much as 3.2% after the Spanish lender unveiled a new 2023-2025 plan as it hosts an investor day in London on Tuesday Man Group Plc shares surge as much as 11%, their biggest jump since March 2020, after the world’s largest publicly traded hedge fund defied the gloom in the industry St James’s Place shares rise as much as 3.8% in early trading after the UK wealth manager’s underlying profit topped expectations Worldline shares rise as much as 3.4% as Morgan Stanley raises the French payments company to overweight from equal-weight, saying it offers an “attractive and defensive growth” outlook Saipem advances as much as 6.2% before paring some gains as the Italian oil-drilling specialist posted above- consensus guidance for 2023 after fourth-quarter Ebitda beat expectations Asian stocks were headed for their worst month since September as a repricing of the Federal Reserve’s policy and an evaporating China rally weighed on the region. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell as much as 0.5% on Tuesday, driven by consumer discretionary and communication shares. Hong Kong stocks declined the most even as the city said it will end its mask mandate. A late afternoon surge helped Chinese shares close in the green.  The regional stock measure has fallen more than 6% in February, erasing a bulk of January’s advance. Catalysts appear stretched amid concerns over global monetary policy, while China investors await a key meeting of the nation’s political leaders starting this weekend for further clues. Investors have moved to price in a peak Federal Reserve rate of 5.4% amid elevated US inflation, pressuring riskier assets including those in Asian emerging markets.  “It seems a lot of traders are not confident” as the economy still looks too strong for disinflation trends to resume, Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda, wrote in a note. ​“The Fed has a lot more work to do and that should be a difficult environment for stocks.” Japanese equities trimmed earlier gains amid cautious sentiment as investors came to terms with further rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.  The Topix was little changed as of market close Tokyo time, paring most of its 0.4% advance. The Nikkei rose less than 0.1% to 27,445.56.  Services were the biggest boost to the Topix among industry groups. Oriental Land contributed the most to the advance, rising 3.5%.  US Business Equipment Orders Increase by the Most in Five Months “While stocks in Japan rose following US peers, the market is still cautious about the outlook,” said Shogo Maekawa, a global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management. “If US economic indicators continue to exceed market expectations and interest rates rise, that will create headwinds for both US and Japanese stocks.” Australian stocks advanced; the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5% to close at 7,258.40, reclaiming some of Monday’s decline as miners and energy stocks climbed. Even with Tuesday’s advance, the benchmark notched a 2.9% monthly loss. Disappointing earnings results and worries over the Fed’s outlook weighed on the gauge in February. In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.9% to 11,894.58 In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed as the greenback traded mixed against its Group-of-10 peers, and Treasury yields inched up; the British pound is the best performer among the G-10’s, rising 0.1% versus the greenback.  One-month risk reversals in the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index remain under pressure in the past couple of weeks and point to a bearish correction, yet long-term bets suggest this will be short-lived. Here is the full FX scoreboard: The euro swung from a day low of 1.0582 to touch a high of $1.0625 following strong inflation readings from France and Spain. Euro-area bonds slid as traders bet the ECB will raise interest rates to a record high of 4%. The pound led G-10 gains, climbing against both the dollar and the euro for a second day as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland provided support. Gilts fell as traders raised tightening bets as much as 5bps, wagering on a 4.89% terminal rate by November. The Australian dollar erased Monday’s gain as broad greenback strength outweighed strong local economic data. Australian retail sales rebound, rising 7.5% from a year ago in sign of consumer resilience and keeping pressure on RBA. Bonds held opening gains. The yen was among the worst G-10 performers and most Japanese government bonds gained, flattening the yield curve, as concern eased that the BOJ will change its stimulus program any time soon. In rates, treasuries are slightly cheaper across the curve, following wider losses across core European rates after French and Spanish inflation data surprised to the upside, causing a new wave of hawkish repricing for ECB policy rate. US 10-year yields around 3.95%, cheaper by ~3bp vs Monday’s close, with bunds and gilts underperforming by ~4.5bp and ~1.3bp in the sector; front-end slightly outperforms, steepening 2s10s spread by 1bp on the day. Following France, Spain inflation data, euro-zone front-end repriced for a peak ECB rate of 4% for the first time. Bund futures fell; German 10-year yields are up 6bps on the day while two-year yields climb 8bps.  Focal points of US session include potential for month-end flows and a packed economic data slate.    In commodities, oil was set for a fourth straight monthly decline as concerns about tighter monetary policy and swelling stockpiles in the US eclipsed optimism about rising demand in China. Crude future advance with WTI rising 1.1% to trade near $76.50; Gold headed for its worst month since the middle of 2021, and on Tuesday fell roughly 0.4% to trade near $1,810. Looking at today's calendar, US economic data slate includes January advance goods trade balance and wholesale inventories (8:30am New York time), 4Q house price purchase index and December FHFA house price index and S&P Case- Shiller home prices (9am), February MNI Chicago PMI (9:45am), Richmond Fed manufacturing index, consumer confidence (10am) and Dallas Fed services activity (10:30am). From central banks, we’ll hear from the Fed’s Goolsbee, the ECB’s Vujcic, and the BoE’s Cunliffe, Pill and Mann. Finally, earnings releases include Target. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 3,978.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.4% to 460.78 MXAP down 0.4% to 157.58 MXAPJ down 0.4% to 510.36 Nikkei little changed at 27,445.56 Topix little changed at 1,993.28 Hang Seng Index down 0.8% to 19,785.94 Shanghai Composite up 0.7% to 3,279.61 Sensex down 0.6% to 58,944.15 Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% to 7,258.40 Kospi up 0.4% to 2,412.85 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.65% Euro little changed at $1.0616 Brent Futures up 0.7% to $83.02/bbl Gold spot down 0.3% to $1,811.43 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 104.66 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg Incoming Bank of Japan (BOJ) Deputy Governor Shinichi Uchida on Tuesday brushed aside the chance of an immediate overhaul of ultra-loose monetary policy, suggesting that any review of its policy framework could take about a year. RTRS Investors and traders continue to ramp up their bullish bets on the yen, with one eye firmly fixed on looming Bank of Japan management changes: BBG Ukraine’s head of military intelligence downplays talk of China supplying arms to Russia, saying he saw “no signs that such things are even being discussed”. SCMP Apple’s suppliers are likely to shift production capacity out of China far faster than many anticipate given deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing. BBG Euro-area bonds slid and traders bet the ECB will raise interest rates to the highest level on record amid signs inflation in some of the region’s biggest economies is not coming under control. Data showed French and Spanish inflation unexpectedly accelerated to an all-time high in February, spurring money-markets traders to fully price a 4% ECB terminal rate, which would exceed a peak in borrowing costs seen more than two decades ago. That compares to 3.5% expected at the start of the year, with traders now betting the ECB will keep raising rates through February 2024. BBG Euro zone inflation pressures have begun to ease, including for all-important core prices, but the European Central Bank will not end rate hikes until it is confident price growth is heading back towards 2%, ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane said. RTRS The ECB might hold borrowing costs at a high level for some time once they reach their peak, according to Chief Economist Philip Lane: BBG Credit Suisse "seriously breached" risk management obligations in the Greensill affair, the Swiss banking regulator said as it opened enforcement proceedings against four unnamed former managers. Remedial measures include regular executive board-level reviews of key relationships for counterparty risks and recording the responsibilities of its 600 highest-ranking employees. BBG META's new AI-driven Advantage+ tool, designed to overcome Apple’s privacy restrictions, is “significantly boosting the performance of advertising campaigns”. FT Chevron rose premarket after it raised its annual buyback rate to $17.5 billion beginning in the second quarter, up from a previously planned $15 billion. BBG The Swiss economy unexpectedly failed to grow in the final months of 2022 as manufacturing output contracted and exports weighed on momentum. Separately, Switzerland’s KOF Economic Leading Indicator rose more than economists expected in February, to 100 versus estimate 98.0: BBG The BOJ should take time over any future review if it undertakes one, according to deputy governor nominee Shinichi Uchida, a key engineer of the central bank’s easing program: BBG A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks eventually traded mixed heading into month-end and despite the early momentum from the positive close on Wall St where risk sentiment benefitted as yields softened amid mixed data. ASX 200 was led by strength in the mining-related industries and after mostly encouraging data releases including a stronger-than-expected rebound in retail sales. Nikkei 225 initially gained amid the upper house confirmation hearings where the BoJ Deputy nominees reiterated the need to continue monetary easing, although the gains were gradually pared as participants also digested mixed data including the largest monthly decline in industrial production in 8 months. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. failed to sustain opening advances despite a substantial liquidity injection and reports the White House is scaling back plans to regulate US investments in China. Top Asian News PBoC injected CNY 481bln via 7-day reverse repos at 2.00% for a CNY 331bln net injection. White House is scaling back plans to regulate US investments in China with US President Biden expected to forego expansive new restrictions on American investment in China, according to Politico. White House gave federal agencies 30 days to ensure they have TikTok bans on federal devices and systems, while it directed federal agencies to adjust contracts to ensure IT vendors keep US data safe by eliminating the use of TikTok on devices and systems, according to Reuters. BoJ Deputy Governor nominee Uchida reiterated that the BoJ needs to continue monetary easing for the time being to support the economy and shouldn't review easy monetary policy just because there are side effects. Uchida added the BoJ will conduct policy flexibly and will firmly continue monetary easing to lay the ground for companies to raise wages, while he added that it is too early to seek an exit from monetary stimulus and that widening the yield target band itself would weaken effects of easing. BoJ Deputy Governor nominee Himino said NIRP has negative impacts on financial institutions' profits and that they must be mindful of the impact to banks from negative rates but the focus now should be on keeping easy policy to support the economy. Himino stated that if conditions fall in place for BoJ to exit easy policy, that would be good for both the public and banks but added that the best approach is to support the economy with easy policy until inflation can achieve the BoJ's price target excluding the impact of import price increases. European bourses are mixed/flat, Euro Stoxx 50 +0.1%, as the initial pressure from hot French/Spanish inflation readings has eased through the morning. Sectors, are mixed with Banking/Financial names outperforming as yields lift alongside specific stock updates. Stateside, futures are little changed overall with the morning's action moving in-tandem with European performance ahead of earnings/Fed speak, ES +0.1% Foxlink, an Apple (AAPL) supplier, will not be able to resume full operations at its India plant for two months following a fire, via Reuters citing sources. Apple could potentially face disruptions in supply chain for iPhones due to Foxlink incident. Chevron (CVX) reaffirms higher returns and lower carbon objectives, lifts share buyback guidance to USD 10-20bln/year; increases targeted annual share buyback rate to USD 17.5bln from Q2. Apple (AAPL) probe by Brussels into the Co.'s restriction of certain apps has been narrowed, according to FT sources. The US is to prevent businesses from using cash for buybacks in the CHIPS Act, according to the Commerce Department; Additionally, cannot make new, high-tech investments in China or other “countries of concern” for at least a decade. A release that is in-fitting with recent press reports. Top European News ECB's Lane says positive supply shocks since December and rate hikes have curbed inflationary pressures, forward looking indicators for food, energy and goods suggests inflation slowdown. Rate plateau should be held for some time, rates could be in restrictive territory for a number of quarters; hikes to end when it is clear inflation is heading to target. Northern Ireland DUP leader Donaldson says the Stormont Break in the Northern Ireland deal at first glance does give Stormont the ability to apply the break. Continue to have some concerns with the deal. EIB President proposes a new fund to see off US subsidies, via Der Spiegel; concerned that entire industries will migrate to the US given the subsidies on offer there. FX The DXY is firmer on the session, though remains closer to its 104.57 trough then the 104.90 high, a low that printed in wake of shortlived EUR upside following February flash CPI metrics from France/Spain. Specifically, the price points lifted EUR/USD to a 1.0625 peak, though this has proved shortlived as the USD remains resilient and given unfavourable EUR/GBP action as the mood-music re. N. Ireland remains positive, on balance. As such, GBP is the G10 outperformer with Cable testing the 1.21 mark vs a 1.2028 base following a favourable face-value take from DUP's Donaldson; though, sources indicate the parties' review could potentially take weeks. JPY is the G10 laggard given unfavourable yield action and more dovish remarks from the BoJ deputy nominees; USD/JPY at the top-end of 136.12-84 parameters. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 6.9519 vs exp. 6.9515 (prev. 6.9572) Fixed Income Debt futures fade after the latest dead cat bounce and curves re-steepen. Bunds hit a fresh 132.51 cycle low, Gilts down to 99.38 and T-note retreats within 111-21+/10 range, solid 2025 German auction, albeit after heavy concession helps Schatz pare some losses between 115.52-114.95 parameters. JGBs outperform after more dovish testimony from BoJ nominees and decent 2 year sale. Commodities WTI and Brent are firmer on the session and currently reside at the top-end of narrow circa. USD 1/bbl parameters which are just about within Monday’s range, with newsflow limited and the complex seemingly continuing to consolidate. Japan plans to emphasise the importance of investments into natgas, LNG, hydrogen and ammonia during its G7 presidency, according to a METI official. LME announces immediate suspension of warranting, applicable to LME-listed warehouses located in the US of any new primary aluminium, copper, lead, nickel or aluminium alloy (in form of NASAAC). Currently Russian NASAAC on warrant, 400/T, in LME-listed warehouses within the US. Suspending use of such warrants for use in settlement of LME NASAAC futures. Spot gold is a touch softer on the session as initial USD-induced upside has faded as the index moves back into positive territory, albeit only modestly so; more broadly, base metals are mixed given the USD's resilience and inflation metrics weighing. Geopolitics Kremlin spokesperson Peskov said Russia will not resume participation in START talks until Washington listens to Moscow's position, while he added that NATO no longer acts as Russia's conditional opponent but as an enemy. Russian Defence Ministry said the US is planning provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals, according to TASS. Russian domestic flights heading for St Petersburg are reportedly turning around, via Reuters citing a flight radar tracking site; Pulkovo airport has been closed to air traffic, due to an unidentified object with fighter jets responding, via BAZA. Airspace around the airport has subsequently reopened. Russian Defence Ministry says Ukraine attempted to attack two Russian regions with drones overnight, via Ria. US Event Calendar 08:30: Jan. Wholesale Inventories MoM, est. 0.1%, prior 0.1% Jan. Retail Inventories MoM, est. 0.1%, prior 0.5% 08:30: Jan. Advance Goods Trade Balance, est. -$91b, prior -$90.3b, revised -$89.7b 09:00: Dec. S&P CS Composite-20 YoY, est. 4.75%, prior 6.77% Dec. S&P/CS 20 City MoM SA, est. -0.40%, prior -0.54% Dec. FHFA House Price Index MoM, est. -0.2%, prior -0.1% 09:45: Feb. MNI Chicago PMI, est. 45.5, prior 44.3 10:00: Feb. Richmond Fed Business Conditions, prior -10 Feb. Richmond Fed Index, est. -5, prior -11 10:00: Feb. Conf. Board Consumer Confidence, est. 108.5, prior 107.1 Feb. Conf. Board Present Situation, prior 150.9 Feb. Conf. Board Expectations, prior 77.8 Central Bank Speakers 14:30: Fed’s Goolsbee Speaks at Community College DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Regular readers won't be surprised to learn that I have a new injury. As soon as I was fit to resume normal activities after my recent back operation I went back to weights. I only do this to be better at golf. In my first couple of sessions back 2 weeks ago, I overdid the bench press and to cut a long story short I now have a rhomboid muscle strain or tear. I’ve stupidly tried to continue playing golf with it and have made it worse. I'm now in a lot of pain and probably out from golf for a few weeks. I come away from it wishing that my mid-life crisis was more skewed towards fast cars, tattoos, or a hair transplant rather than golfing ambitions. After a rough three weeks for equities, bonds and my shoulder, markets have started this one off in a better mood so far as we hit the last day of the month today. That's a sixth of the year nearly gone! They have edged higher thanks to a positive round of US data, whilst pricing for the Fed’s terminal rate remained stable after a sustained stretch higher over recent days. This in turn gave markets a clearer run to positively respond to the data across bonds and equities. Things had looked quite different earlier in the day. In fact, at one point the 10yr Treasury yield reached its highest intraday level since November at 3.977%, before moving lower in the US morning, and ultimately closing -2.9bps lower at 3.914%. In the meantime, expectations of the terminal rate had likewise been on track to hit a new closing high and moved as high as 5.43% intraday, before ending the session little changed at 5.404%. In risk markets, positive US data without a rates repricing helped, with core capital goods orders up by +0.8% in January (vs. unch expected). On top of that, there was further evidence that housing activity might have bottomed, since pending home sales were up +8.1% in January (vs. +1.0% expected), which leaves the index at its highest level since August. However note that mortgage rates have gone back up in February so we'll see how strong the nascent housing recovery is. For equities, the S&P 500 (+0.31%) posted a steady advance led by cyclical and growth sectors. The NASDAQ (+0.63%) outperformed, and the FANG+ index (+1.51%) saw an even larger advance thanks to a solid gain from Tesla (+5.46%) which ended the day as the 4th best performer in the entire S&P 500. Defensives lagged, as bond-proxies such as utilities (-0.77%) and food staples (-0.54%) were the worst performing industries. Meanwhile in Europe, the STOXX 600 (+1.07%) posted a decent broad-based recovery. Every sector of the index was higher, but like with the US, defensives lagged their more cyclical peers. The exception to the pattern of positive data came from the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing index for February, which came in at -13.5 (vs. -9.3 expected). Notably, there were also increases in the prices paid and prices received components, with both hitting a 5-month high. That topic of inflationary pressures in February is likely to stay in the spotlight today, since this morning we’ve got the flash releases from France, Spain and Portugal, ahead of the Euro Area-wide release on Thursday. Remember that our European economists expect Euro Area core inflation to hit a new record of +5.5%, although they see headline inflation coming down a bit further to +8.4%, which would be a 4th decline since the +10.6% peak back in October. This concern about inflation meant that European markets performed a bit differently to the US yesterday, with sovereign bond yields rising to fresh highs in several countries. For instance, the 10yr bund yield (+4.5bps) closed at its highest level since 2011, ending the day at 2.582%. And in the UK, the 10yr gilt yields was up +14.6bps to 3.805%, marking its highest level since Liz Truss was still PM back in October. Those moves came as investors continued to price in a more hawkish policy path for the ECB, building on the shift over recent weeks. Indeed, overnight index swaps are now pricing in no rate cuts at all in 2023, and by the December meeting they’re now pricing in +137bps of further hikes. That repricing of the ECB’s rate path was seemingly endorsed by Croatia’s Vujcic yesterday, who said that the repricing reflected the ECB’s moves, and that markets were right to price in 50bps next time as they’d indicated. He also said that as long as core inflation persisted, then the ECB must persevere. Meanwhile at the Fed, the only major speaker was Governor Jefferson (who previously spoke on Friday), but he offered little new information on the policy side. One thing he did say was that raising the Fed’s inflation target could hurt their credibility, and pointed out that the outlook for core services ex housing inflation (which Chair Powell has said they are following) remained uncertain. Yet in spite of his reiteration of the 2% goal, short-term US inflation expectations continued to move higher yesterday, with the 2yr breakeven (+3.4bps) hitting a fresh 6-month high of 3.088%. In a WSJ interview published yesterday, Cleveland Fed President Mester seemed to imply that the threshold to go back to 50bps hikes would be high. She noted that “this is a different situation now. We've already reduced it to 25 (basis points). That's going to be part of the consideration.” However, she noted that the more pertinent discussion for the FOMC in March will be just how much further the policy rate needs to go. Overnight in Asia, major benchmarks are trying to catch up with yesterday’s price action in the US, with the Kospi (+0.64%) and the Hang Seng (+0.41%) outpacing the Nikkei (+0.13%) and the Shanghai Composite (+0.07%). US futures are also in the green, led by the Nasdaq 100 (+0.18%) while the S&P 500 is flat (+0.01%). The 10y yield is marginally higher (+1.2bps), mirroring the move in the 2y (+1.5bps). Back here in the UK, sterling strengthened (+1.00%) after the government reached a deal with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been the most contentious part of the original Brexit deal. In essence, the Protocol was designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but in doing so placed checks on goods moving into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, whilst Northern Ireland also remained aligned with the EU single market for goods. This has been opposed by unionists in Northern Ireland, who see the Protocol as placing an economic border with the UK, and the DUP (the largest unionist party there) have refused to enter a power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland because of it. When it comes to the new agreement, it removes checks on goods that move from Great Britain into Northern Ireland that remain within the UK. It also enables VAT and excise changes to apply on a UK-wide basis in future, including to Northern Ireland. And a new mechanism was introduced that will allow the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly to decide whether or not changes to EU goods rules affecting Northern Ireland should apply. If this brake is pulled, the UK government would have a veto over the application of a new EU rule. Leader of the DUP, Jeffery Donaldson said his party needed to go over the finer points of the agreement over the next few days, but that “in broad terms it is clear that significant progress has been secured across a number of areas.” To the day ahead now, and data releases include French CPI for February, Canada’s Q4 GDP, and in the US there’s the FHFA house price index for December, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index for February, the MNI Chicago PMI for February, and the Richmond Fed’s manufacturing index for February. From central banks, we’ll hear from the Fed’s Goolsbee, the ECB’s Vujcic, and the BoE’s Cunliffe, Pill and Mann. Finally, earnings releases include Target. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/28/2023 - 08:17.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 28th, 2023

General Electric"s (GE) Arm Opens $8M Facility in Brisbane

General Electric's (GE) subsidiary GE Aviation opens a service center in Brisbane to provide customers with maintenance, repair and overhaul services across the Asia-Pacific region. General Electric’s GE subsidiary GE Aviation has opened a new service center in Australia for its Asia-Pacific customers. The $8 million facility at Brisbane airport provides customers with maintenance, repair and overhaul services and expands GE’s footprint in the Asia-Pacific region.The state-of-the-art facility is GE Aviation’s largest systems service center in the Asia-Pacific region. The service center supports avionics, flight management, electrical power and DOWTY propeller systems for Boeing 737 and 787, Q400 and F-50 regional aircraft and the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of C-130J Super Hercules and C-27J Spartan Military Transport Aircraft.The facility is expected to create several jobs in Brisbane, boost the economy and contribute to Brisbane airport’s growth.General Electric Company Price General Electric Company price | General Electric Company QuoteGE Australia Country Leader Sam Maresh said, “We are delighted to mark a new chapter in our Australian operations and our near two-decade relationship with Brisbane Airport with the opening of a leading aviation servicing facility that creates fresh opportunities for GE Aviation."The opening of this new facility in Brisbane adds to GE’s growth story in the Aerospace segment. Continued recovery in the commercial market is driving growth of the segment. Significant growth in commercial services and continued strength in spare parts sales are boosting segmental revenues, which increased 27% year over year to $6,127 million in the second quarter. General Electric will operate as an aviation-focused company starting in early 2024.Zacks Rank & Key PicksGeneral Electric carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).Some better-ranked stocks within the Conglomerates sector are as follows:Carlisle Companies CSL currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). CSL pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 28%, on average. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks.Carlisle Companies has an estimated earnings growth rate of 114.4% for the current year. Shares of CSL have rallied more than 22% in the year-to-date period.Griffon Corporation GFF presently flaunts a Zacks Rank #1. GFF delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 104.6%, on average.Griffon has an estimated earnings growth rate of 124.1% for the current year. Shares of GFF have gained more than 12% so far this year. Special Report: The Top 5 IPOs for Your Portfolio Today, you have a chance to get in on the ground floor of one of the best investment opportunities of the year. As the world continues to benefit from an ever-evolving internet, a handful of innovative tech companies are on the brink of reaping immense rewards - and you can put yourself in a position to cash in. One is set to disrupt the online communication industry. Brilliantly designed for creating online communities, this stock is poised to explode when made public. With the strength of our economy and record amounts of cash flooding into IPOs, you don’t want to miss this opportunity.>>See Zacks’ Hottest IPOs NowWant 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 General Electric Company (GE): Free Stock Analysis Report Carlisle Companies Incorporated (CSL): Free Stock Analysis Report Griffon Corporation (GFF): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 8th, 2022

Will Modest Top-Line Growth Aid Motorola (MSI) Q2 Earnings?

Motorola (MSI) is likely to have recorded year-over-year higher revenues on the back of growth in both segments driven by healthy order trends. Motorola Solutions, Inc. MSI is scheduled to report second-quarter 2022 results on Aug 4, after the closing bell. In the last reported quarter, the company delivered an earnings surprise of 7.6%. It pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 7.4%, on average.The Chicago, IL-based company is expected to have recorded year-over-year higher revenues on the back of growth in both segments — Products and Systems Integration, and Services and Software. It benefits from the increasing demand for its mission-critical technologies in North America and globally.Factors at PlayDuring the quarter, Motorola secured a contract to provide Swisscom with an advanced 3GPP standards-compliant push-to-talk (PTT) solution. The PTT service connects individuals and groups instantaneously over Swisscom’s broadband network and allows it to offer priority usage to critical users in emergency situations. It also secured a prime contract for an undisclosed amount from National Highways to provide VB400 body-worn cameras for the safety and security of employees and passengers across the strategic road network of England. With road journeys gradually picking up pace, the contract will offer the requisite wherewithal to the government firm that operates and maintains 4,300 miles of motorway and major roads in England 24/7 to ensure safer and smoother drives.In the second quarter, Motorola inked a contract with Taiwan National Police Agency to strengthen the public-safety communications system. Per the deal, it will enable advanced digitally encrypted radio communications based on the P25 standard for a secure and resilient private communications system to support public safety. Motorola deployed the TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) communication system in the Kansai International Airport in Japan in a major boost to the South East Asian country’s tourism and aviation sector. It has also deployed several two-way radios across these airport facilities for seamless communications with air traffic control, runway management, security, ground staff, bus transit services and commercial airlines.    Riding on such state-of-the-art products, Motorola expects to record strong demand across video security and services, land mobile radio products and related software while benefiting from a solid foundation. These systems drive the demand for additional device sales and promote software upgrades and infrastructure expansion. The comprehensive suite of services ensures continuity and reduces risks related to critical communications operations. These developments are expected to have positively impacted its performance in the quarter.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the Products and Systems Integration segment’s revenues is pegged at $1,220 million. The figure indicates a rise from $1,198 million recorded in the year-ago quarter.During the quarter, Motorola announced that its Pronto solution is being utilized by the frontline personnel within Surrey Police and Sussex Police forces to gain immediate access to the comprehensive international criminal database of the INTERPOL. The Pronto digital policing application software simplifies and streamlines disparate business processes from time-consuming, paper-based and resource-intensive systems into an efficient, effective, mobile and interconnected solution. This is likely to be reflected in the upcoming results. The consensus estimate for Services and Software revenues is $841 million, which indicates growth from the year-ago figure of $773 million.For the June quarter, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for revenues is pegged at $2,055 million, which indicates growth from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure of $1,971 million. The consensus estimate for adjusted earnings per share is pegged at $1.87, which suggests a decrease from $2.07 recorded in the prior-year quarter owing to high operating expenses and a challenging macroeconomic environment that strained margins.Earnings WhispersOur proven model does not predict an earnings beat for Motorola in the second quarter. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the chances of an earnings beat. This is not the case here.Earnings ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate Estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is 0.00%, with both pegged at $1.87. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.Motorola Solutions, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise Motorola Solutions, Inc. price-eps-surprise | Motorola Solutions, Inc. QuoteZacks Rank: Motorola has a Zacks Rank #2.Stocks to ConsiderHere are some companies you may want to consider, as our model shows that these have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this season:Keysight Technologies, Inc. KEYS is set to release quarterly numbers on Aug 17. It has an Earnings ESP of +1.23% and a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.The Earnings ESP for Qorvo Inc. QRVO is +0.41% and it carries a Zacks Rank of 3. The company is set to report quarterly numbers on Aug 3.The Earnings ESP for Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. AMD is +1.66% and it carries a Zacks Rank of 3. The company is scheduled to report quarterly numbers on Aug 2.Stay on top of upcoming earnings announcements with the Zacks Earnings Calendar. Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2022 In addition to the investment ideas discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top picks for the entirety of 2022? From inception in 2012 through 2021, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks portfolios gained an impressive +1,001.2% versus the S&P 500’s +348.7%. Now our Director of Research has combed through 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank and has handpicked the best 10 tickers to buy and hold. Don’t miss your chance to get in…because the sooner you do, the more upside you stand to grab.See Stocks Now >>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 Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD): Free Stock Analysis Report Motorola Solutions, Inc. (MSI): Free Stock Analysis Report Keysight Technologies Inc. (KEYS): Free Stock Analysis Report Qorvo, Inc. (QRVO): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksAug 1st, 2022

Motorola (MSI) Solutions Boost Japan Airport Communications

With this, Motorola (MSI) has deployed mission-critical communication network in five airports in Japan for effective management of key airport functions. Motorola Solutions, Inc. MSI recently announced that it will deploy the TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) communication system in the Kansai International Airport in Japan in a major boost to the South East Asian country’s tourism and aviation sector. With this, the company has deployed this mission-critical communication network in five airports in Japan, following the successful integration of Narita, Naha, Haneda and Chubu international airports between 2016 and 2019.TETRA caters to the personalized network demands of different industries, ranging from aviation to logistics to oil and gas. It offers global Land Mobile Radio open standard for digital trunked radio technology that allows public safety professionals to ensure reliable and instant communications in mission-critical and business-critical environments. It also keeps a check on voice and data traffic with best-in-class security features to curtail consumer data breaches.The deployment of TETRA in the five major airports of Japan, which handled nearly 200 million domestic and international travelers annually before the pandemic, is widely expected to be a boon for passenger traffic and international cargo as the country reopens its borders to foreigners. It will enable effective management of critical airport functions, including security, operations and baggage handling.Motorola has also deployed several two-way radios across these airport facilities for seamless communications with air traffic control, runway management, security, ground staff, bus transit services and commercial airlines. These communication systems serve as the backbone of the aviation sector with a coordinated set of activities to manage passenger flows, support on-time performance and maintain security, safety and customer satisfaction and are resilient against typhoons, snow storms and other natural catastrophes.As one of the top providers of mission-critical communication products and services, Motorola has ensured a steady revenue stream from this niche market. This communications equipment maker intends to strengthen its position in the public safety domain by entering into alliances with other players in the ecosystem. It is poised to benefit from organic growth and acquisition initiatives, disciplined capital deployment and a favorable global macroeconomic environment.Motorola expects to witness strong demand across land mobile radio products, services and software. These systems drive demand for additional device sales and promote software upgrades and infrastructure expansion. The comprehensive suite of services ensures continuity and reduces risks related to critical communications operations.Courtesy of such coveted product offerings, the company’s shares have gained 0.9% on average in the past year against the industry’s decline of 14.1%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchMotorola currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).Clearfield, Inc. CLFD, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), is a solid pick for investors in the industry. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Clearfield delivered an earnings surprise of 37.5%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. Earnings estimates for the current year for the stock have moved up 114.7% since June 2021. Over the past year, Clearfield has gained a solid 73.4%.InterDigital, Inc. IDCC also sports a Zacks Rank #1. It has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 15% and delivered a stellar earnings surprise of 141.1%, on average, in the trailing four quarters. Earnings estimates for the current year have moved up 69.1% since June 2021.InterDigital is focused on pursuing agreements with unlicensed customers in the handset and consumer electronics markets. The company aims to become a leading designer and developer of technology solutions and innovation for the mobile industry, IoT and allied technology areas. InterDigital’s global footprint, diversified product portfolio and the ability to penetrate different markets are impressive.Sierra Wireless, Inc. SWIR carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). It has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 15% and delivered an earnings surprise of 223.7%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.Over the past year, Sierra Wireless has gained 20.5%. Earnings estimates for the current year for the stock have moved up 616.7% since June 2021. The company continues to launch innovative products for business-critical operations that require high security and optimum 5G performance. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>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 Sierra Wireless, Inc. (SWIR): Free Stock Analysis Report Motorola Solutions, Inc. (MSI): Free Stock Analysis Report InterDigital, Inc. (IDCC): Free Stock Analysis Report Clearfield, Inc. (CLFD): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJun 28th, 2022

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From "Insurrection" To Authoritarianism

Sunday Collum: 2021 Year In Review, Part 3 - From 'Insurrection' To Authoritarianism Authored by David B. Collum, Betty R. Miller Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology - Cornell University (Email: dbc6@cornell.edu, Twitter: @DavidBCollum), I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance. ~  Carl Sagan, 1995, apparently having invented a time machine Every year, David Collum writes a detailed “Year in Review” synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year’s is no exception. Read Part 1 - Crisis Of Authority & The Age Of Narratives here... Read Part 2 - Heart Of Darkness & The Rise Of Centralized Healthcare here... So, here we are at the third and final part of the 2021 Year in Review and it’s no longer 2021. Sorry about that pfuck-up. Think of it as not in 2021 but from 2021. You may have noticed that the first 200 pages (parts 1 and 2) were laced with a recurring catchphrase, “WTF is happening?” It was a literary device for noting that the events ceased to make sense within a conventional worldview, suggesting it is time to torch the old model and start anew. Our response to a disease that was killing a very small slice of the population was to sequester and vaccinate the entire population with an experimental drug of real but unquantified fatality rate. The apparent scientific illiteracy was not some mass psychosis. Y’all just got suckered by America’s Most Trusted Psychopathic Mass Murderer assisted by an epic media blitz sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry that had a distinct authoritarian quality. Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth. ~ Albert Einstein During the brief period after uploading part 2 while grinding on this last portion, the Supreme Court took on the vaccine mandate issue, ruling that the only people forfeiting control of their own healthcare are the healthcare workersref 2 The court also illustrated their profound ignorance of the pandemic and what they were even charged to assess—the Constitutionality of mandates, not the efficacy.ref 3 The CEO of a major insurer reported a 40% spike in fatalities within the 18–65 age bracket that was not from Covid.ref 4 He said 10% would be a 3-sigma, once-every-200-year event: 40% is unheard of. Although he refrained from identifying a cause—deaths of despair, neglected healthcare, or a toxic vaccine—he knows precisely what did them in. They have been studying this stuff for centuries. I suspect his real message was that the insurance industry is about to contribute to inflation with rising premiums. Meanwhile, the pathological liars running the covid grift decided after two years the masks you’ve been wearing served no medical purpose and that the vaccines don’t work either. Wait: who said the masks and vaccines don’t work? We have known for many months that COVID-19 is airborne and therefore, a simple cloth mask is not going to cut it…Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations. ~ Leana Wen, MD, CNN medical expert with no admitted ties to the CCPref 5 Two doses of the vaccine offers very limited protection, if any. Three doses with a booster offer reasonable protection against hospitalization and deaths. Less protection against infection. ~ Albert Bourla, Pfizer CEOref 6 Here is my most heartfelt response to them: You psychopathic lying sacks of shit. You had us wear rags across our faces and put rags across the kids’ faces when clinical studies that could be read by people with half your IQs showed they were worthless. Suicide rates and other deaths of despair soared while you petty tyrants played your little games and generated billions of dollars of profits while destroying the middle class. You have maimed or killed an unknown number of gullible victims with your lockdowns, vaccines, remdesivir, and oppression of Ivermectin. You jammed a vaccine that bypassed animal trials into the fetuses of pregnant women, assuring them it was safe. If we spoke up, we got muzzled. If we refused the vaccine, we got fired. You should all hang from your necks until dead. I will piss on your graves. I feel better already. Very refreshing. Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues look at the same data and say, “Oh. I guess I better get the booster and a KN95 mask.” You have got to unfuck yourselves. You’ve been duped. It will get worse. The tactics used to oppress us would have made Stalin smirk. Australia was a beta test for what is to come in the rest of the west if we don’t wake up soon. They are gonna keep coming for one simple reason: we accepted it. We got bent over and squealed like pigs. What normalization does is transform the morally extraordinary into the ordinary. It makes us able to tolerate what was once intolerable by making it seem as if this is the way things have always been. ~ Jason Stanley, How Fascism Works A person is considered ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal’ by the community simply because he accepts most of its social standards and behavioral patterns; which means, in fact, that he is susceptible to suggestion and has been persuaded to go with the majority on most ordinary or extraordinary occasions. ~ William Sargant, in Battle of the Mind Meanwhile, the financial world became even more dominated by central bankers who haven’t the slightest understanding of free-market capitalism. These twits or criminals—maybe both—have blown the most colossal bubble in history if you account for both price and breadth across the spectrum of asset classes. For the layperson, that means they have set us up for a colossal failure. Go back and re-read Valuations if you cannot picture the epic financial carnage lying dead ahead. The gap between the Fed funds rate and headline inflation has never been this large. These pinheads believe that if the markets do not coincide with their world views, the markets must be wrong. I am not an economist, but it appears that none of them are either. The notion that a dozen nitwits should set the most important price of them all—the price of capital—rather than letting the markets set it through price discovery is financial authoritarianism or what some call State Capitalism. I am angry in case it doesn’t show. Meanwhile, in 2020–21 the Fed contributed to destroying upwards of a half-million mom ’n’ pop businesses—they gutted the middle class—while giving BlackRock credit at 0.15% interest rates to buy up all their houses. Here is my advice to those day trading criminals: look both ways as you enter crosswalks. What I believe the response of society to a severe downturn given the current political climate will be epic. Big downturns come after euphorias. We have never entered a downturn with society at large this grumpy. We are in the early stages of The Fourth Turning.ref 7 The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded. ~ Charles-Louis De Secondat When a State has mortgaged all of its future revenues the State, by necessity, lapses into tranquility, langor, and impotence. ~ David Hume, 1752 So, WTF is going on here? In this final part, I address geopolitics. It begins with a relatively benign analysis of Biden’s first year in office, culminating with what I think Afghanistan is really about. The second section addresses my view of what may prove to be the most important day in US History—January 6, 2021. Although it is my best shot—Dave’s Narrative—I will not attempt to nor will I inadvertently spread the love to both sides of the political spectrum. It is a right-wing view that most right-wing politicians and pundits are too cowardly to state in polite company. The final section addresses the Rise of Global Authoritarianism. For a topic covered by thousands of treatises to call my knowledge skeletal is a reach. I have merely created an intellectual foundation—a chalk outline—to ponder why authoritarianism is here and what could stop it. (Plot spoiler: I do not believe it can be stopped.) They know where we are, they know our names, they know from our iPhones if we’re on our way to the grocery store or not. But they haven’t acted on that to put people in camps yet. They could do it. We could be East Germany in weeks, in a month. Huge concentration camps and so forth. ~ Daniel Ellsberg (@DanielEllsberg), author of The Pentagon Papers and Secrets Before moving on, let me give a plug for a book.ref 8 I have not even finished it yet, but it will change your worldview. Look at those ratings! I can guarantee none of those readers enjoyed it. Kennedy will curdle your bone marrow describing 35 years of atrocities commited by America’s Most Trusted Madman. It is emblematic of a much larger problem. Evil is powerless if good men are unafraid – Americans don’t realize what they have to lose. ~ Ronald Reagan The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. ~ H. L. Mencken Biden – Freshman Year Scorecard Let’s go, Brandon! ~ Cheers across America Most presidents begin their reign with a calling. Reagan raised our national self-esteem after a period of economic and political malaise. Bush Sr. took on the Gulf War, for better or worse. Clinton oversaw the economic boom and bank deregulation, again for better or worse. Bush Jr. was handed 9/11 and, in my opinion, boned it badly. Obama had to wrestle with the Great Financial Crisis. Trump was charged with disturbing the peace—drain the swamp if you will. Biden undeniably needed to begin healing the social discord that, regardless of its source, left the country wounded and divided. Maybe that was not Biden’s calling, but I wanted to see him become the president of all the people. This is not revisionist history of my failing memory: Biden’s the last of the Old Guard, which is probably why he was slipped into the office by the DNC old guard. I am guessing there will be no Supreme Court stacking; that was just rhetoric (I hope). There will be wars just like every president (except Trump, who brought troops home.) Congress is more balanced again and, at the time of this writing, the Senate is still in Republican hands. Hopefully, the gridlock will usher in some garden-variety dysfunction. I have subtle concerns about a Harris presidency. Admittedly, my opinion is based on precious few facts, but Harris displays a concerning shallowness of character, a lack of a moral compass, and the potential to slide to the left of Bernie. (I sometimes reflect on what it must have been like raising the teenaged Kamala.) I am trying to reserve judgment because first impressions scavenged from the digital world are sketchy if not worthless. ~ 2020 Year in Review By this description, Biden tanked his GPA. He ushered in a Crusade to erase the Trump era and its supporters. The weaponizing of social media and censorship against one’s opponents was probably unavoidable, but the downside will be revealed when the wind changes. Team Biden took banishing of political opponents on social media to new levels by, as noted by Jen Psaki, flagging “problematic posts” and the “spread of disinformation” for censorship. NY Timeslapdog Kevin Roose called for a “reality Czar,” not noticing the Russian metaphor problem. The War on Domestic Terror may prove to be a turning point in American history, one that risks extinguishing the flame of the Great American Experiment. Significant erosions of Constitutionally granted civil liberties discussed throughout the rest of this document may not have been Biden’s fault, but they occurred on his watch. If you see an injustice and remain silent, you own it. I can’t remain silent. Biden is the epitome of the empty, amoral creature produced by our system of legalized bribery. His long political career in Congress was defined by representing the interests of big business, especially the credit card companies based in Delaware. He was nicknamed Senator Credit Card. He has always glibly told the public what it wants to hear and then sold them out. ~ Chris Hedges, right-wing hatchet man Team Biden. Books have been written about Trump’s fumbles in the first months (or four years) of his presidency. See Josh Rogin’s Chaos Under Heaven in Books or Michael Lewis’ less balanced The Fifth Risk reviewed in last year’s YIR. The Cracker Jack team assembled for Joe reveals a glob of feisty alt-left activists and omnipresent neocons. According to Rickards, two dozen players on Biden’s roster were recruited from the consulting firm WestExec Advisors (including Psaki and Blinken.)ref 1 That’s power and groupthink. David Axelrod: You must ask yourself, ‘Why are we allowing him to roll around in the hallways doing impromptu interviews?’ Jen Psaki: That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions.’ Young black entrepreneurs are just as capable of succeeding given the chance as white entrepreneurs are, but they don’t have lawyers; they don’t have accountants. ~ Joe Biden Joe Biden, President – Joe is the Big Guy. In an odd sense, he is immunized from criticism because he is visibly losing his marbles. His cognitive decline is on full display; this 52 seconds of gibberish about inflation is emblematic.ref 2 He’s 80 years old, for Cripes sake. I read a book this year entitled, When the Air Hits Your Brain, which derives from a neurosurgical aphorism that finishes with “you ain’t never the same.” Wanna guess who had two brain aneurysms (one rupturing) years ago leading to a miraculous recovery?ref 3 You’re the most famous African-American baseball player. ~ Joe Biden to the Pope, context unknown (possibly even a deep fake)ref 4 I am neither reveling in Joe’s problems nor do I believe he is calling the shots. Claims that the puppet master is Harris are, no offense, on the low side of clueless. Obama seems like a better guess but Barrack was a front man too. Having an impaired leader of a superpower, however, is disquieting and potentially destabilizing, especially with Taiwan in play. Biden’s energy policy that clamped down on fossil fuel production only to ask OPEC to open the spigots is one for the ages. The covid policies bridging both administrations were catastrophic, but throwing workers out of jobs into the teeth of unprecedented labor shortages makes zero sense. The nouveau inflation—Bidenflation—may stick to him like it stuck to Jimmy Carter, but that is unfair to both presidents. Look to the Fed in both cases for blame. Troubles at the southern border and the Afghanistan pullout are a couple of serious logs for a raging inferno that represents Biden’s first year in office. As discussed in a later section, demonizing “white supremacists”—not just political opponents but opponents labeled by their race—will not be viewed well by historians unless history is at a serious fork and Joe is ultimately protrayed as the founder of some new Fatherland. Kamala Harris, Vice President – Whenever situations heat up, Harris is off like a prom dress. During the crisis at the border that she was charged with overseeing, she took off to Europe, cackling about never even visiting the border. Kamala endorsed and claimed credit for the Kabul evacuation.ref 5,6 Realizing she had pulled yet another boner she pulled out before they renamed it Kamalabad. (Hey: At least I had the decency to pass on the Kamalatoe joke.) In a moment of surreal comedy, Harris hosted a public chat with Bill Clinton on “empowering women.”ref 7 She can even serve up semi-reasonable ideas with dollops of cringe. If the Democrats nominate her in 2024, may God have mercy on their souls—she is unelectable—or maybe on our souls—I could be wrong. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary – The role of any press secretary is to calm the press down with nuggets of insight—to feed the birds. When that fails, lie your ass off, all with a cold, calculating sociopathy. I would say she did the best job imaginable given the hand she was dealt. Disagree? I’ll just have to circle back with you on that. Ron Klain, Whitehouse Chief of Staff – This guy might be the rainmaker, but I haven’t quite figured him out. He has the durability of Andrei Gromyko, maintaining a central role through three democratic administrations. Keep an eye on him. Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury – We have yet to find out Yellen’s role because she has not been pressed into service by a crisis. To resolve the minor “meme stock” bruhaha, which did not call for a resolution, she needed an ethics waiver owing to the soft corruption of her bank-sponsored million-dollar speaking tour. My expectations of her are quite low, and I imagine she will meet them. Antony Blinken, Secretary of State – He has a good resume. Like Psaki, he is forced to play a weak hand. He lacks Psaki’s skills. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, US Energy Secretary – In a press conference she was asked how many barrels of oil a day the US consumes and said, “I do not have those numbers in front of me.” ‘Nuff said. Get her out of there. Merrick Garland, Attorney General – The press will tear anybody a new one so snippets with bad optics are always dangerous. I would say, however, ordering the FBI to investigate parents who get irate at school boards—even those who seem rather threatening—is over the top. Leave that to the local and state police. His role in the January 6th event and push into domestic terrorism is potentially sinister and moves him onto my shitlist. Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency – This one blows my circuits. She is what in the vernacular is called “a commie” straight from Kazakhstan with a thesis on Marxism—a devout believer that the State should run the show. She also hails from Cornell Law School. (Yeah. I know. STFU.) Matthew Continetti of the National Review noted she is, “an activist intellectual who is—and I say this in the kindest way possible—a nut.”ref 8 There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed. ~ Saule Omarova, Cornell Law Professor   We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change. ~ Saule Omarova, on oil and gas companies For those who have seen the horror movie The Ring, Cornell tried to exorcise the demon by sending “the VHS tape” to Washington, D.C., but it came back stamped “Return to Sender.” She withdrew. Hey Team Biden: you could want to snatch up MIT’s Venezuelan-derived president who is already on the board of the World Economic Forum and was instrumental in pushing Aaron Swartz to off himself.ref 9 John Kerry, Climate Czar – Don’t we have enough Czars? John is charged with flying around the world in his private jet, setting the stage for a 30-year $150 trillion push to make many bank accounts much My disdain for the climate movement catches Kerry in the splash zone. Pete Buttegieg, Transportation Secretary – I must confess to liking Mayor Pete and would have been happier if he had gotten the crash course in the oval office rather than Joe. The one criticism I would make is that taking two months of paternity leave during the nation’s greatest transportation crisis seemed odd. I think when you are in such an important position you find a way. Get a nanny. Bring the twins to your office. Leave them with your spouse. For Pete’s sake (sorry), stay at your post. For the record, after my youngest son was born my wife had health problems. I used to bring him to work and lecture with him in a Snugly and changed a shitload of diapers. You could have done it too, Pete. Samantha Power, Head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) – Sam is a garden-variety neocon, having served as ambassador to the UN and on the National Security Council, both under Obama. She was central to the planning behind destabilizing Libya,ref 10 which sure looks like a bad idea unless destabilizing the Middle East is our foreign policy. Please just don’t fuck up too much. Cass Sunstein, Homeland Security employee. This is not really an appointment, per se. Cass is the Harvard-employed husband of neocon Samantha Powers. In his 2008 book, Conspiracy Theories, Cass declared “the existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories” to be our greatest threat, outlining five possible solutions, and I quote, “(1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might engage in counter-speech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counter-speech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help.” Guys like Cass who come out of Harvard’s CIA training camps are menaces to society. Marvelous hire, Joe. Victoria Nuland, Undersecretary for Political Affairs – She is famous for her hot mic “Fuck the EU” comment and for engineering the coup in Ukraine—a Wonder Bread neocon. William J. Burns, Head of the CIA – I’ve got nothing on Bill, not even a fingerprint. It would be difficult for me to grade him poorly on a curve with the likes of John Brennan, William Casey, and Alan Dulles. (I once had dinner with a former CIA head John Deutch. What a dick.) Christopher Wray, Head of the FBI – As the FBI increasingly looks like the Praetorian Guard for the power elite (both in and out of public office), Wray has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors like J. Edgar Hoover and James Comie to be both top cop and dubious scoundrel. Wray’s fate might be dictated by the ongoing Durham investigation, but I have not seen any heads roll inside the Beltway since Watergate a half-century ago. Tony Fauci, Director of NIAID – That bipartisan, power-hungry authoritarian—The Most Trusted Madman in America—is a recurring theme. He doesn’t know any science. He is a political hack—a chameleon—who survived 35 years multiple administrations by being able slither out of anybody’s claws and regrow his tail. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC – She got serious attention in part 2. I am horrified by her sociopathy. I think she is evil. Amy Gutmann, Ambassador to Germany – Guttman was given the job after giving the Big Guy more than $900,000 in speaking fees and an honorary degree from UPenn when she was the University’s president. I am sure every ambassador pays market rates for the job.  Cathy Russell, Biden’s Director of Presidential Personnel–She is married to Tom Donlin, Chairman of the gargantuan multinational investment firm, BlackRock. Their daughter made it into the Whitehouse National Security Council. A talented family enjoying the political respect accorded to billionaires. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Head of the Office of Science – Despite scientific chops as a climate-change-supporting agronomist, she has no administrative experience and is inexperienced in the scientific programs that she is overseeing. Of course, everything is now about the $150 trillion climate grift, so she’s our girl. Jared Bernstein, Whitehouse Economic Advisor – He is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree in music, master’s degrees in social work and philosophy, and a Ph.D. in social welfare. His greatest strength may be his complete lack of training in economics. Shalanda Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy – Is that a salaried position? ‘Nuff said. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Mark transitioned from the Trump administration. It caused a stir when he went more “woke” than Chelsea Manning. We will no longer defeat our enemy but assign them pronouns and include them. This was followed by a scandal outlined in Bob Woodward’s book in which he instructed military leaders in a secret meeting to bypass Trump on important military decisions.ref 11 He then unilaterally told his peer in the Chinese military that he would drop a dime if there was an impending military conflict. He tried to hang it on the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary spit the bit fast.ref 12 My theory is that the sudden wokeness was to commandeer allies on the far left knowing that scandal was coming. It worked. He looks like he is right out of Dr. Strangelove without the lip gloss and eye shadow. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. He refuses to acknowledge the merits of natural Covid-19 immunity. That puts him near the top of my shitlist. Becerra has no medical or scientific training. He’s a lawyer, but at least he is from an underrepresented group. Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services – I know little about her. She might be the most qualified candidate, certainly more so than her boss Becerra. Call me skeptical of a purely merit-based appointment. Hunter Biden. I was going to place Hunter in the bullets and call him Head of the DEA and National Association of the Arts, but I had reservations. There are sad, heartwarming, and troubling roles played by Hunter Biden. His addiction is a highly personal problem that is difficult for the first family to deal with, especially given other tragedies in their lives. Joe Rogan succinctly explained Hunter’s remarkably odd behavior: “he is a crackhead.” They are part and parcel of being dopesick. Leaked emails from the laptop show Dad to be a compassionate and loving father struggling to save his son. Ironically, old footage surfaced of Joe ranting about how we have to deal with crackheads severely no matter whom they know.ref 13 It did not age well. It is clear that Hunter Biden was selling access and influence. It appears that Joe Biden was aware of that effort. That is very serious. If these emails are false, this is a major story. If they are true, this is a major scandal. ~ Jonathan Turley Before you start blubbering, however, recall that Hunter’s laptop revealed that he was playing critical roles in Russian and Chinese dealings for the Biden family. The Kleenex gets tossed and the gloves now come off. Hunter’s business partner stepped forward admitting nefarious deals were made with Joe involved. Joe denied knowing the clown, but a then photo of the two surfaced.ref 14 This year Hunter also began selling his artwork for up to $500,000 a pop behind a “Chinese Wall”—a veil that ensures we cannot find out who bought the art.ref 15,16,17 The money might literally be from behind a Chinese wall. That buys a lot of crack even after the Big Guy’s 10% cut. Figure 1 shows two paintings, one by a Hunter and the other by two elephants. (No joke, elephants have been painting brilliant pictures free-trunk for decades.) Figure 1. Biden art (left) brought $500,000. The elephant painting (shown being painted) brought $39,000. We are a democracy…there are things you can’t do by executive order unless you are a dictator. ~ Joe Biden, several years ago Executive Orders. Before the first week of his presidency was over, Biden had signed 37 of those beauties. Some, such as the order extending rent moratoria, were overtly unconstitutional. Some merely unwound Trump’s orders that had unwound Obama’s orders. This is dodge ball. While Yale was battling a civil rights case for discriminatory admissions practices, the Biden DOJ dismissed it without comment.ref 18 Yale is said to have promptly destroyed the evidence, which shows they have good lawyers. Transgender athletes were reinstated in women’s sports, ensuring that longstanding records will be shattered.ref 19 It got surreal when UPenn’s transgender swimmer was beaten by Yale’s transgender swimmer.ref 19a An executive order giving the IRS direct access to our bank accounts seems both sinister and inevitable…death and taxes as they say.ref 20 There are a lot of Republicans out there giving speeches about how outraged they are about the situation at the border. Not many who are putting forward solutions. ~ Jen Psaki, forgetting about the wall idea Crisis at the Border. The mainstream press covered this one exhaustively. There are parallels here with the North Africans crossing into Europe several years back. It looks intentional, but why? Don’t tell me about building a democratic base. That is too far in the future and too simplistic. It is far easier to control the elections at the server level. Baffling details include the administration’s suggestion that border agents should be empowered to authorize the immigration of “climate migrants.”ref 21 That could boost a few agents salaries. Rumors of US military planes transporting illegals into the US suggests somebody could punk the elite: load up a boat and drop a couple hundred on Martha’s Vineyard. On further thought, rather than offering Vineyardians more gardeners, drop off some Afghans.ref 22Whoever is calling the shots, this is neither about civil rights nor climate change. Attorney General Merrick Garland clarified the immigration challenge: Today marks a step forward in our effort to make the asylum process fairer and more expeditious. This rule will both reduce the caseload in our immigration courts and protect the rights of those fleeing persecution and violence. If you do that, that will set off a mass migration that’s like nothing that we have ever seen in this country because the entire world will then come on through to get their asylum, essentially legalizing illegal immigration, in a very clever way. ~ Attorney General Merrick Garland WTF did Garland just say? Both his meaning and intent are unclear. The immigrants, of course, were all unvaccinated, which would have been OK by me had the administration not gone Third Reich to vaccinate US citizens. The administration also wanted to offer $450,000 to every immigrant family separated from their loved ones: why?ref 23They seemed to walk that third-trimester idea back and then walked it forward again. A half-billion-dollar, no-bid contract to manage the immigrants went to friends of the administration.ref 24 Your tax dollars at work. At least we are back to business as usual. By the way, where is Border Czar Kamala Harris while all this is going on? Making creepy videos.ref 25,26 People who like quotes love meaningless generalizations. ~ Graham Greene Miscellaneous issues surfaced that either went away or are still festering quietly. On the positive side, stacking the Supreme Court—increasing the number of justices to get a left-leaning majority—seems to have been only a political football. Granting Washington DC statehood, while to a plebe like me doesn’t seem nuts, has the trappings of a massive powershift to the left in national elections. Joe invaded the legal process by declaring Chauvin guilty and Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. Would Obama have done this? I don’t think so. Rittenhouse may get his “10% for the Young Guy” in defamation suits against Joe and every media outlet on the planet. Joe checking his watch five times at the funeral of dead marines didn’t play well,ref 27 but if you put a camera on me I wouldn’t make it to lunchtime without serving up Jim Acosta fresh meat. The main drama of Biden’s first year, however, played out in a distant land.   Afghanistan—where empires go to die. ~ Mike Malloy Afghanistan. I’ve been groping for nomenclature — Afghazi, Afghazistan, Benghanistan, Benghazistan, Saigonistan, Clusterfuckistan, and Bidenistan—to describe this odd moment in history. That 20-year skirmish cost an estimated $2.3 trillion.ref 28 The idea that it was only a few thousand troops with no fatalities in the last year or two makes me question my wisdom, but I can’t start revising history. Whether for right or wrong, I was glad we were getting out. The ensuing Crisis in Kabul looked like the graveyard of a presidency—a combination of the Bay of Pigs and the Iran Hostage Crisis that would dog us for years. They are chanting “Death to America”, but they seemed friendly at the same time. ~ CNN reporter wearing a burka looking for a husband Even before the evacuation started we were hearing about huge caches of weapons that would be abandoned.ref 29 In an eat-and-dash that would make an IHOP waiter wince, we bugged out at 2:00 AM without telling anybody.ref 30Jalalabad Joe had assured us repeatedly the 300,000-strong Afghan army would hang tough. They were defeated in time to chow down on some goat stew for dinner. Images of desperate Afghan’s clinging to transport planes brought up images of the Saigon Embassy rooftop. We left service dogs in cages.ref 31 Marines would never do that. Stranded Americans and Afghan collaborators were begging for help to get to the airport and even to get into the airport.ref 32The administration used a drone to strike on some kids and their dads loading water into a truck to change the news cycle briefly.ref 33 The Afghan who is credited with saving Joe Biden and John Kerry in a disastrous excursion to Afghanistan years earlier got left behind pleading for help:ref 34 Hello Mr. President: Save me and my family. Don’t forget me here. Mercenaries like Blackwater’s Erik Prince tried to prevent Americans from taking The Final Exit,ref 35 only to get stonewalled by the Whitehouse. Meanwhile, the top commander and four-star Wokie, Mark Milley, was too mired in scandal.ref 36 Retired generals were calling for the active-duty generals to resign.ref 37 The withdrawal could not be botched worse if you tried. The populace are now facing a winter of profound famine.ref 38 Rural Afghanistan has been rocked by climate change. The past three decades have brought floods and drought that have destroyed crops and left people hungry. And the Taliban — likely without knowing climate change was the cause — has taken advantage of that pain. ~ CBS News, sticking it like a Russian gymnast This vexing story was from the Theater of the Absurd. Starting with the caches of military equipment left behind, I have two simple solutions that a group of teenagers could have concocted: Announce Blow Shit Up Friday (BSUF). Provide the military personnel with some grenade launchers and a few kegs of beer, grill up some goat burgers, and start blowing shit up. That would be a blast. If that is too unprofessional, you gather all armaments and anything of else of value into an open space. Once the wheels go up on the last troop transport, drop a MOAB—Mother of All Bombs.ref 39 Tough luck for those who were trying to hotwire the stuff when the MOAB arrives. It will take a year to get them out…If you use those billions of dollars of weapons behind I promise they’ll be using them against your grandchildren and mine someday. ~ Joe Biden, Presidential Candidate, 2007ref 40 The collapse of the Afghan Army also couldn’t have come as a surprise. The military and CIA certainly knew that those troops wouldn’t withstand a West Side Story-level brawl.ref 41 The soldiers were paid by the US for their service COD, and there was no C left. Shockingly, most of the payroll booty had long-since been snarfed up by the politicians and top military brass from the only swamp in Afghanistan.ref 42 Whocouldanode? Taliban can murder as many people as they want. But if they keep trolling Biden like this they’re gonna get kicked off of social media. ~ Jesse Kelley, noting the Taliban has an active Twitter feed Here is a script playing out in my noggin. The Crisis in Kabul was an arms deal—Fast and Furious 2.0. One of our top diplomats called the Taliban and said, “We are pulling out in a month. We’ll leave the keys in the ignition and pallets of $100 billsref 43 to help pay for upkeep. If you guys let us sneak out unmolested, you can party like it’s 999—an authentic Taliban-themed fraternity party. We will leave you guns, money, nice facilities, and even a few wives. If you fuck this up, however, we will be right back here.” The Whitehouse also lent a legitimizing tone to the regime when speaking about “working with the Taliban” as part of the deal. In return, the State Department called on the Taliban to form an “inclusive and representative government,”ref 44 so there’s that bit of risible nonsense. Neville Chamberlain couldn’t have done any better. The bottom line: 90% of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were able to leave Afghanistan. ~ Jalalabad Joe Biden That might be a great poll number or inflated final exam grade at a college Joe erroneously claimed to attend, but I am not sure “90%” is impressive in this context. The actual evacuation was ineptly executed from the get-go. Mr. Rogers, with the help of his viewing audience of toddlers, could have Kabuled together a better plan based on the simple precept, “pull out the civilians then the military.” Baffling claims the Whitehouse was obstructing evacuations of charter flights containing Americans was not right-wing propaganda: Where are they going to land? A number of these planes have a handful of Americans, but they may have several hundred individuals who do not have proper documentation of identity….we don’t have manifests for them, we don’t know what the security protocols are for them, we don’t know what their documentation is…hard choices you face in government. ~ Jen Psaki, press conference WTF actually happened? When nothing makes sense your model is wrong. Glenn Greenwald got the scent that withdrawal was intentionally mishandled, suggesting this is “fully within the character of the deep-state operatives.”ref 45We also forgot to destroy our sophisticated FBI-derived software and a complete database containing the biometrics of Friends of the USA,ref 46,47,48 enabling the Taliban to find potential detractors for an attitude correction. Think of it as Afghanistan’s high-tech War on Domestic Terror. The stonewalling of help from other countries also makes no sense using a conventional model.ref 49 Biden’s CIA Director met with Taliban leadership covertly—so covertly we all knew about it—to concoct a “deal”, but what kind of deal?ref 50 During the evacuation, we gave the Taliban names of American citizens, green card holders, and Afghan allies supposedly to let them pass through the militant-controlled perimeter of the city’s airport.ref 51 They would never abuse this list, right? A large number of Afghan refugees—possibly as many as 100,000 according to Tucker Carlson—entering the US are consistent with our open border policy along the Mexican border, but what is that all about? Afghans, by the way, are reputed to be always recalcitrant to assimilate in Europe just in case you’re thinking of renting out your basement as an Airbnb.ref 52 What happened in Afghanistan is not incompetence. We are not that incompetent. ~ General George Flynn The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war. ~ Julian Assange, 2011ref y I have no doubt that blood was shed after we left. More than a few US sympathizers surely lost their heads. As to the stranded Americans, why were they still there? China had evacuated their citizens months earlier.ref 53(Hmmm…Chinese citizens were there?) Two dozen students from the Cajon Valley Union School District and 16 parents there for an enriching summer trip were stranded.ref 54 How did they get visas? That field trip will generate a few college essays that will beat any written about dead grandparents, although Kabul State College may be their only option. This is now on-track, Peter, to be the largest airlift in U.S. history. I would not say that is anything but a success. ~ Jen Psaki to Peter Doucy The media can create, steer, or smother narratives at will. I have a question: Where are all the dead Americans—thousands of them—said to be left behind? Horror stories should be surfacing daily, but they’re not. We shit a mudbrick when One Dead Kashoggi (ODK) got fed to the camels in Saudi Arabia. Three thousand fatalities on 9/11 got us into Afghanistan in the first place. We supposedly left behind “thousands of Americans” but without generating a single headline? So much for that Bay of Pigs­–Iran Hostage Crisis analogy. So here are my next questions and I am deadly serious: Did we get duped? Was the whole thing more sham than farce? There is no such thing as a true account of anything. ~ Gore Vidal Here is Dave’s Narrative. We installed the Taliban as the rulers of Afghanistan as the best of many bad options. The winners are the Taliban and China. The two are inking deals for mineral rights as I type. The chaos was intentional. But why accept such a profound humiliation and dashed hopes of future alliances in global hotspots? I think that the Taliban winning the war in Afghanistan, and then the way our exit happened, has absolutely inspired jihadists all over the world. The Taliban is saying, we just didn’t defeat the United States, we defeated NATO. We defeated the world’s greatest military power, ever. I think, not only will the jihadists be inspired, but a lot of them are going to come to Afghanistan to be part of the celebration, to be part of jihadist central. We are more at risk, without a doubt. ~ Michael Morell, former CIA Director under Obama Maybe China has way more than just Hunter’s laptop to blackmail us and is about to take possession of Taiwan soon. While we await the next Kyle Rittenhouse trial to preoccupy ourselves, take a peek at this video. Skip over the election stuff since we all have rock-hard opinions on that and go to minute 55:30. Xi Jinping’s right-hand man, Di Dongsheng, publicly explained the extent Beijing controls US politics:ref 55 There is nothing in the world that money can’t fix, right? If one wad of cash can’t handle it, then I’ll have two wads. (laughter) Of course this is how I do things. In fact, to be a bit blunt, in the past 30 years or past 40 years, we manipulated the core power circle in the United States, right? I mentioned earlier that Wall Street started to have a very strong influence on U.S. domestic and foreign affairs in the 1970s. So we figured out our path and those we could be dependent on. But the problem is that Wall Street’s status has declined after 2008. More importantly, starting in 2016 Wall Street has no influence on Trump. Why? It is awkward. Trump had a soft breach of contract on Wall Street once, so the two sides had conflicts. They tried to help during the Sino-US trade war. As far as I know, friends from the U.S. told me that they tried to help, but they were too weak. But now we see that Biden has come to power. (crowd laughs) The traditional elites, political elites, and the establishment have a very close relationship with Wall Street. You all see it: Trump talked about Biden’s son, “You have investment funds around the world.” Who helped him build the funds? You understand? There are transactions involved. (laughter) So at this point in time, we use an appropriate way to express a certain kind of goodwill. (applause) ~Di Dongsheng, Vice Director and Secretary of the Center for Foreign Strategic Studies of Chinaref 55 January 6th Capitol Insurrection Alec Baldwin killed more people in 2021 than did the January 6th insurrectionists. Anybody reading this far knows that the January 6th riots stemmed from the right-wing voters who doubted the veracity of the 2020 election. Twitter polls show that view is not as partisan or as rare as the media would lead you to believe. I happen to doubt U.S. election integrity but have for quite a few election cycles. ref 1 Hacked Stratfor emails show the democrats rigged the vote in ’08 ref 2 and Republicans rigged it in ’04.ref 3 It is bipartisan Capture the Flag with red and blue pinnies.ref 4 In any event, Trump’s Green Goblin strategy was to beckon the MAGA faithful to the Capitol to protest the Electoral College signing off on the results. It was not so different than the mobs outside the courthouses trying to subvert the Rittenhouse and Chauvin trials, but the scale of January 6th was much larger and the optics were Biblical. It got out of hand and, at times, even a little Helter Skelter. Mob psychology elicits dramatic changes in brain chemistry and has been the topic of many laboratory studies.”ref 5 Temporary insanity is not a crazy defense. My Tweet got some hysterically hateful responses from the Right who missed the sarcasm and the Left who did not. I think I squandered more of my valuable time left on this planet burrowing through the January 6th story than on the Covid-Vaccine combo platter. I should preface this section by noting that I was praised by a thoughtful long-time reader for being “balanced and measured and carefully worded, even on edgy topics.” I may be on the cusp of disappointing him. It’s impossible to peer at the The Great Insurrection through a non-partisan lens. Both sides may find common ground in the belief that January 6th is a profound fork in the road of the American Experiment. The sock-starching Left will celebrate it as a national holiday every year while the bed-wetting Right will try to ignore it. Both are wrong. Look at that photo and pause to ponder its implications. Put a funny caption to it. Let’s hear from some Republicans first: We must also know what happened every minute of that day in the White House — every phone call, every conversation, every meeting leading up to, during, and after the attack. ~ Liz Cheney I think Lizard nailed it. We’re on the same page. Let’s keep going… January 6 was worse than 9/11, because it’s continued to rip our country apart and get permission for people to pursue autocratic means, and so I think we’re in a much worse place than we’ve been. I think we’re in the most perilous point in time since 1861 in the advent of the Civil War. ~ Michael Dowd, former Bush strategist I would like to see January 6th burned into the American mind as firmly as 9/11 because it was that scale of a shock to the system. ~ George Will, syndicated columnist Mike and George are as unhinged as I am but on different hinges. I think they are delusional and offensive. Edging forward… The 1/6 attack for the future of the country was a profoundly more dangerous event than the 9/11 attacks. And in the end, the 1/6 attacks are likely to kill a lot more Americans than were killed in the 9/11 attacks, which will include the casualties of the wars that lasted 20 years following. ~ Steve Smith, Lincoln Project co-founder Now I’m getting the heebie-jeebies if for no other reason than the Lincoln Project is filled with Democratic operatives (or at least neocons) pretending to be Republicans—as authentic as the Indians at the Boston Tea Party or stepmoms on PornHub. We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders but from violence that gathers within…There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home… But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. ~ George W. Bush, a thinly veiled allusion to January 6 George got some serious guff from more than a few of the 80 million Fox-watching extremists including the Grand Wizard: So interesting to watch former President Bush, who is responsible for getting us into the quicksand of the Middle East (and then not winning!), as he lectures us that terrorists on the ‘right’ are a bigger problem than those from foreign countries that hate America. ~ Donald Trump He nailed it. I have stated previously that Bush committed war crimes. Of course, the National Security Machine chimed in… The No. 1 national security threat I’ve ever seen in my life to this country’s democracy is the party that I’m in — the Republican Party. It is the No. 1 national security threat to the United States of America. ~ Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official Dude! You just tarred about 80 million asses with that brushstroke. Let’s move further left to find some middle ground: They swooned for him on 9/11 because he gave them what they most crave: the view that Al Qaeda is comparable to those who protested at the Capitol on 1/6. ~ Glenn Greenwald, on George Bush’s comments Glenn is part of a growing cadre of liberals including Matt Taibbi, Tim Pool, Bill Maher, The Weinstein Brothers, and Joe Rogan who are unafraid to extend olive branches across The Great Partisan Divide at risk of being labled white supremacists and Nazis, but they are hardly emblematic of the Left. From the elite Left… I think we also had very real security concerns. We still don’t yet feel safe around other members of Congress.  ~ AOC AOC’s comment prompted one pundit to tell her to “get a therapist”, which seems correct given her moment of maximum drama was when a security guard was screaming outside her door, “Are you OK, Ma’am?” #AlexandriaOcasioSmollett began trending on social media when it was disclosed that she was not even in the building when Ragnar and his buddies showed up.ref 6 They will have to decide if Donald J. Trump incited the erection…the insurrection. ~ Chuck Schumerref 7 What ya thinking about Chuckie? We are facing the most significant test of our democracy since the Civil War. That’s not hyperbole. Since the Civil War. The Confederates back then never breached the Capitol as insurrectionists did on Jan. 6. ~ Joe Biden Joe may be on the A-Team, but he hasn’t found his way out of the locker room. The blue-check-marked liberals did not mince words… The 9/11 terrorists and Osama bin Laden never threatened the heart of the American experiment. The 1/6 terrorists and Donald Trump absolutely did exactly that. Trump continues that effort today. ~ S.V. Dáte, Huffington Post’s senior White House correspondent The only effective way for the government to respond to an act of war by domestic terrorists is to be prepared to meet them with machine guns and flamethrowers and mow them down. Not one of those terrorists who broke through police lines should have escaped alive. ~ a Washington Post commenter Moving as far left as you can by tuning into the most cunning commie who can outfox any Western leader… Do you know that 450 individuals were arrested after entering the Congress? They came there with political demands. ~ Vladimir Putin The Cast of this Drama. This Kafkaesque narrative will be scrutinized by historians and democratic operatives for years to come. The Left will cast this event as a truly unique moment in US history, but it was precedented. I see parallels with the 1920’s Bonus Army in which World War I veterans were pissed off about unpaid post-war benefits.ref 8 In the saddest of ironies, many were killed by Army regulars. Some authorities, including a young Dwight Eisenhower, thought it was a benign protest while others thought it was an assault on America. Grumpy crowds appear at the Capitol only on days of the week that end in “y.” Recently, f.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeFeb 6th, 2022

FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE:FCN) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE:FCN) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 22, 2024 FTI Consulting, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $2.28, expectations were $1.57. FTI Consulting, 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: Good morning everyone and […] FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE:FCN) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 22, 2024 FTI Consulting, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $2.28, expectations were $1.57. FTI Consulting, 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: Good morning everyone and welcome to the FTI Consulting Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2023 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions]. After today’s presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. [Operator Instructions]. Please also note today’s event is being recorded. At this time, I’d like to turn the floor over to Mollie Hawkes, Head of Investor Relations. Ma’am, please go ahead. Mollie Hawkes: Good morning. Welcome to the FTI Consulting conference call to discuss the company’s fourth quarter and full year 2023 earnings results, as reported this morning. Management will begin with formal remarks after which they will take your questions. Before we begin, I would like to remind everyone that this conference call may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of section 27A, the Securities Act of 1933 and section 21 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 that involve risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning plan, initiatives, projected prospects, policies, processes and practices, objectives, goals, commitments, strategies, future events, future revenues, future results and performance, future capital allocations and expenditures, expectations, plans or intentions relating to acquisitions, share repurchases, and other matters, business trends, ESG related matters, new or changes to laws and regulations, scientific or technological developments and other information or other matters that are not historical, including statements regarding estimates of our future financial results and other matters. For discussion of risks and other factors that may cause actual results or events to differ from those contemplated by forward-looking statements. Investors should review the safe harbor statement in the earnings press release issued this morning, a copy of which is available on our website at www.fticonsulting.com as well as other disclosures under the headings of risk factors and forward looking information in our quarterly report on our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2023, and in our other filings with the SEC. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this earnings call and will not be updated. During the call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial measures such as total segment operating income, adjusted EBITDA, total adjusted segment EBITDA, adjusted earnings per diluted share, adjusted net income, adjusted EBITDA margin and free cash flow. For discussion of these and other non-GAAP financial measures, as well as our reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures. Investors should review the press release and the accompanying financial tables that we issued this morning, which includes the reconciliation. Lastly, there are two items that have been posted to the investor relations section of our website for your reference. These include a quarterly earnings presentation, and an Excel and PDF of our historical financial and operating data, which have been updated to include our fourth quarter and full year 2023 results. Of note, during today’s prepared remarks, management will not speak directly to the quarterly earnings presentation posted to the investor relations section of our website. To ensure our disclosures are consistent, these slides provide the similar details as they have historically, and as I have said, are available on the investor relations section of our website. But these formalities out of the way, I’m joined today by Steven Gunby, our President and Chief Executive Officer and Ajay Sabherwal, our Chief Financial Officer. At this time, I’ll turn the call over for President and Chief Executive Officer, Steven Gunby. Steve Gunby: Thank you, Mollie. Welcome, everyone. And thank you all for joining us this morning. I’m sure many of you saw in this morning’s press release, we delivered fabulous results in the fourth quarter, and fabulous results more generally, in the second half of the year. Those results in turn — turn the year, the whole year into one that was terrific overall. The results at the end of this year exceeded our expectations and I suspect many of yours as well. So what I’d like to do before turning this over to Ajay, who will go through the quarter in more detail just take a moment to reflect on the entire year. In particular, to reflect on the variation we saw in some of the performance metrics across the quarters. And talk about how we thought about what actions we should take and what actions we shouldn’t take as the year went on. I’m hoping those reflections support the more general conversations that we’ve had from time-to-time, about how do we think about the twin objectives of being responsible stewards of this company for your shareholders being seen as responsible stewards. Also not losing sight of the core ultimate objective, which of course is not quarterly earnings, which can be very transient, but rather is building something more powerful, ever more capable organization, a more welcoming organization, one that can make evermore difference for our clients, one that’s ever more able to attract great people and support them so they can develop themselves and the people around them through that creates something real, something durable for our clients and for our people and for you, our shareholders. Looking back ashore, as many of you will recall, our first quarters’ earnings were well below our internal expectations below Street’s expectations and down versus the prior year, even halfway through the year earnings were only flat versus the first half of the year. To the responsibility point, when you have periods of time where earnings are down or flat, you have to as a responsible management team, look at the underlying causes and challenge themselves. If the results are down because you’re losing traction with clients, professionals are departing in droves, or you’re not attracting more great professionals. Those are serious indicators, indicators, you may have fundamental problems and you may need to react in fundamental ways. We look at the company’s performance, actually on an ongoing basis, after every quarter in every good quarter and ask those questions. But of course, we particularly ask them when quarters are down. And if you remember, during the first half of the year, that was a time when the number of competitors were talking about difficult market conditions and when some of them were taking major actions. And that sort of commentary and set of actions also has to cause one to reflect. So we reflected. Interestingly, importantly, when we looked at our first half of the year, we continued to feel good about what was going on. Yes, our EPS was down but we were doing great work for our clients. We’re supporting brand building assignments and those efforts were showing up. They were showing up in qualitative terms like awards and client feedback. And I know that always can be something you get a little skeptical about, how are you measuring and so forth. But they also showed up pretty tangibly and quantitatively and measurably, for example, in terms of revenue growth, where we have 13%, revenue growth in the first half of the year, and important, we actually had more great people than we expected. Because we had, as we have, in recent years, had real opportunities to invest in terrific talent, which of course, we always take advantage of whether the quarter is good or not. So some of the extra talent that we had was because our — we’re really attracted is terrific talent. But in 2023, we also had the fact that attrition was down significantly lower than we expected lower than the prior year in the first half of the year. So those were the main goals of fact that our revenue was up so terrifically in the first half of the year, and yet our profits were not we also had some higher SG&A really hoped for. And so we took a look at that. But the deeper looks at most of that, not all but most of that was driven either by one-time factors or some key investments we felt good about. So you go through that analysis, and when you after you go through the analysis, you have to decide, of course, so what do we do? And this is at a time when we knew some others were doing substantial layoffs and others were reneging on campus offers or forcing delay arrivals. After reflection, our conclusion was that we did not need to do any of that. And more important, we could not see how that would help the multi-year trajectory of this company. Instead, what we decided to do was actually pretty modest actions. Things, I think you would all think of a sensible actions, of course, we continue performance management, as we are committed to do in good times and bad times. At the same time, however, we continue to invest aggressively, where we have great opportunities to add talent across a whole range of I think every segment across the firm. The one thing we did a little different at this point was that we substantially tapered some of the hiring in the second half of the year, which is not something I actually liked to do, because you always want that influx of new talent. But here, given the first half of the year, we tapered it aggressively in places where we had had little or no attrition and sustained low utilization. And that was a little different than we’ve done. And of course — we of course, we looked at our SG&A and reprioritized. These were not radical actions, I think most people would think they’re modest, they were prudent actions. Important, we did not actually expect those actions to yield the sorts of results that were reported this morning, primarily because they weren’t that radical. And but also because we did not expect to continue the incredible rate of growth and revenue in the second half of the year that we saw. What — more important than the tapering of the growth rate of costs, as Ajay will talk about is we did not see the slowdown in sales growth that we expected. Instead, we have strengthening our restructuring business, a business that as you know, has been getting ever more powerful, globally, year-after-year. But also well beyond that we have stronger than expected results in many, many other places, for example, our tech business, which has been soaring for a while now or Econ consulting business, and, frankly, a whole lot of places in Europe. So we cannot take credit and say, the results today were delivered by top actions. In fact, we did not take actions designed to deliver the sorts of results that we reported today. Rather, we took actions we thought were modest prudent steps. And important steps that would not interfere with the multi-year growth trajectory that we are so committed to. As I’m sure, as I hope most of you know now, our goal has never been to target great quarters. In fact, if I had known just how strong the revenue was going to be in the fourth quarter, I probably would not have allowed us to be as tight on tapering, as tight as hiring as we actually work not because they don’t like strong quarters who doesn’t like strong quarters. But because some places that we have previously low utilization are busier than we expected at that point in time by knowing that I surely would have hired more into those segments, which would have hurt the quarter. But of course would have benefited us in the medium term. And in general, that is our goal. The intention is not to ever focus a lot on quarters is, the intent to not focus a lot on quarters is not because we don’t feel a sense of responsibility. It’s because ensuring we are on the right long term trajectory, swamps the effect by a huge margin of any quarter. Let me give you an example. When we delivered the quarter we just reported this year are far weaker and for the year only hit the mid-point our guidance. Either way, the adjusted EPS in 2023 would still have been more than triple, the EPS we delivered just six years ago. For us, it’s that multi-year focus on building a more powerful institution that matters. It’s positioning ourselves for the next tripling of earnings that matters, not whether this quarter is good or bad. And so we try to keep our eyes on what’s required to deliver that, which in my view is all about practicing the people who can help you build a more powerful institution for your clients, finding and supporting those people, who can build those relationships, who want to build their business, who want to track the next generation of great people and mentor them. And people are just passionate about collaborating to make a difference. When we find those people, and we support them, and we support them, even if it hurts the bottom lines, and then individual quarter, it might cheat that quarter a little bit in terms of earnings. But to me by so doing, we put this company on a sustained path for the medium term. And then critically, this is a professional services environment. The only asset is passionate people. By doing that, we create an environment where the best people want to come and the best people want to stay and they thrive and they make a difference. They make a difference for themselves. They make a difference for each other. So that is the choice we made this year. It’s the choice we tried to make every quarter. And to me, it’s the choice that I believe that we continue to make will mean this company is only at the beginning of where we can go. With that I know a lot of you have detailed questions about the quarter, Ajay maybe you’ll take this down to a more detailed level. Thank you. Ajay Sabherwal : Thank you, Steve. Good morning, everybody. In my prepared remarks, I will take you through our company wide and segment results and guidance for 2024. Beginning with our full year 2023 results. We reported record revenues of $3.49 billion, up $468.3 million, or 15.2% compared to revenues of $3.03 billion in 2022. We also reported record earnings per share of $7.71, up $1.13 or 17.2% compared to EPS of $6.58 in 2022. As a reminder, in the fourth quarter of 2022, there was a $8.3 million special charge related to severance and other employee related costs, which reduced earnings per share last year by $0.19. Adjusted earnings per share of $7.71 in 2023 increased $0.94, or 13.9% from $6.77 in 2022. Net income of $274.9 million compared to $235.5 million in 2022. Adjusted EBITDA of $424.8 million was also a record that was up $67.2 million, or 18.8% from $357.6 million in 2022. The sharp increase in adjusted EBITDA is primarily a result of our superb revenue growth of 15%. Noteworthy, in the first half of the year, revenues grew 13% year-over-year, and in the second half of the year, revenue growth accelerated to 17.3% compared to the prior year period. This revenue growth occurred in a year where total headcount grew 4.6%, which is lower than we have seen or targeted in recent years. Revenue Growth exceeded the growth and direct costs and SG&A excluding depreciation and amortization, resulting in record adjusted EBITDA. All segments delivered record revenues and our corporate finance and restructuring segment also delivered record and adjusted segment EBITDA. Overall, growth was particularly strong for restructuring, investigations, litigation, non-merger and acquisition related antitrust, and corporate reputation services. Now I will turn to fourth quarter results. For the quarter, record revenues of $924.7 million increase 19.4% or 18% excluding effects driven by higher demand across all business segments. This quarter is truly exceptional. Three of our segments, corporate finance and restructuring, economic consulting and technology delivered record quarterly revenues in what is typically our slowest quarter of the year, as professionals and clients tend to take time off during the holidays. Net income of $81.6 million, compared to $47.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2022 GAAP EPS of $2.28, compared to $1.33 in the prior year quarter. Adjusted EPS of $2.28, compared to $1.52. In the prior year quarter. Adjusted EPS excludes special charges, of which we had $8.3 million or $0.19 per share in Q4 of 2022. SG&A of $194.6 million was 21% of revenues. This compares to SG&A of $165 million, or 21.3% of revenues in the fourth quarter of 2022. The year-over-year increase was primarily due to higher compensation and bad debt. Fourth quarter 2023 adjusted EBITDA of $127.4 million, or 13.8% of revenues, compared to $92 million, or 11.9% of revenues in fourth quarter of 2022. Our fourth quarter effective tax rate of 20.8%, compared to 25.3% in fourth quarter of 2022. The lower effective tax rate was primarily due to an increase in tax credits. We expect our effective tax rate for 2024 to be between 24% and 26%. Weighted Average Shares Outstanding or WASO for Q4 of 35.8 million shares, compared to 35.7 million shares in the prior year quarter. Now, turning to our performance at the segment level for the fourth quarter. In corporate finance and restructuring, record revenues of $365.6 million increased 19.7% compared to Q4 of 2022. The increase in revenues was primarily due to higher demand for business transformation and strategy and restructuring services. In the fourth quarter, restructuring represented 45% of segment revenues. Business transformation and strategy represented 34% of segment revenues and transactions represented 21% of segment revenues. Business transformation and strategy revenues grew 35% year-over-year. Restructuring revenues grew 20% year-over-year, and transactions revenues were essentially flat. Adjusted segment EBITDA of $65.4 million or 17.9% of segment revenues, compared to $49.1 million, or 16.1% of segment revenues in the prior year quarter. This increase was primarily due to higher revenues, which was partially offset by higher compensation, which includes the impact of a 5.5% increase in billable headcount and higher contractor costs, as well as an increase in SG&A expenses compared to the prior year quarter. Sequentially, corporate finance and restructuring revenues increased $18 million or 5.2%. Adjusted segment EBITDA decreased $2.7 million, as the increase in revenues was more than offset by higher variable compensation, and increase in contractor costs and higher SG&A expenses. Business transformation and strategy revenues increased 9% sequentially. Transaction revenues increased 4% and restructuring revenues grew 2% compared to the third quarter of 2023. Increased volume of work on existing business transformation matters in the public sector, technology and telecom industries, share performance and business transformation and strategy. Higher volumes of restructuring activity in the United States, Germany and the UK. And higher success fees on the completion of transactions engagements also contributed to the growth in corporate finance and restructuring sequentially. Industries, where we’ve been helping clients with restructuring matters where we saw sequential increases in revenues include healthcare, construction materials, and food and beverage, among others. In Forensic and Litigation Consulting or FLC, fourth quarter revenues of $165.5 million increased 11.9%, compared to Q4 of 2022. The increase in revenues was primarily due to higher demand for investigations and construction solutions services. Adjusted segment EBITDA of $19.2 million, or 11.6% of segment revenues, compared to $17.1 million, or 11.6% of segment revenues in the prior quarter. This increase was primarily due to higher revenues, which was partially offset by an increase in compensation and higher SG&A expenses. Sequentially, revenues were flat and adjusted segment EBITDA decreased by $2.2 million, primarily due to higher SG&A expenses, largely related to an increase in travel and entertainment expenses, compensation and bad debt. Economic consulting record revenues of $206.1 million increased 19.8%, compared to Q4 of 2022. The increase in revenues was primarily due to higher financial economics, non-M&A related antitrust and international arbitration matters, which was partially offset by a decline in M&A related antitrust matters. Adjusted segment EBITDA of $38.3 million or 18.6% of segment revenues, compared to $27.3 million or 15.9% of segment revenues in the prior year quarter. Then increase in adjusted segment EBITDA was primarily due to higher revenues, which was partially offset by an increase in compensation, which includes the impact of an 8.1% increase in billable headcount and higher SG&A expenses compared to the prior year quarter. Sequentially, economic consulting revenues increased $12.2 million or 6.3%, primarily due to higher financial economics and M&A related antitrust revenues, which was partially offset by a decline in non-M&A related antitrust revenues. Adjusted segment EBITDA increased $10.6 million primarily due to higher revenues. In technology, record revenues of $100.9 million increased 31.4%, compared to Q4 of 2022. The increase in revenues was primarily due to higher demand for M&A related second request and litigation services. Adjusted segment EBITDA of $12.4 million or 12.3% of segment revenues, compared to $11.8 million, or 15.3% of segment revenues in the prior year quarter. The increase was primarily due to higher revenues, which was largely offset by higher as needed consultant costs and increase in compensation, which includes the impact of a 12.9% increase in billable headcount and higher SG&A expenses compared to the prior year quarter. Sequentially, technology revenues increased $2.1 million or 2.1%, primarily due to higher demand for M&A related second request, and litigation services, which was partially offset by a decline in demand for investigation services. Adjusted segment EBITDA decreased $2.5 million, primarily due to higher SG&A expenses. Lastly, in strategic communications revenues of $86.6 million increased 19.6%, compared to Q4 of ’22. The increase in revenues was primarily due to higher demand for corporate reputation and Public Affairs services. Adjusted segment EBITDA of $15.6 million or 18% of segment revenues, compared to $10.5 million, or 14.5% of segment revenues in the prior year quarter. This increase was primarily due to higher revenues, which was partially offset by an increase in compensation and higher SG&A expenses. Sequentially, Strategic Communications revenues were flat and adjusted segment EBITDA increased $2.2 million. I will now discuss certain cash flow and balance sheet items. Net cash provided by operating activities of $224.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2023, compared to $188.8 million for the year ended December 31, 2022. The year-over-year increase in net cash provided by operating activities was primarily due to higher cash collections resulting from increased Billings. This increase was partially offset by higher compensation expenses primarily related to headcount growth, and increase in other operating expenses and higher use of working capital required for growth. Cash and cash equivalents and short term investments of $328.7 million at December 31, ’23, compared to $491.7 million at December 31, 2022. This decline in cash and cash equivalents and short term investments was primarily because our convertible debt matured in Q3, and related borrowings under the credit facility were paid off in full in the fourth quarter of 2023. Total debt, net of cash and short term investments was a negative debt position of $328.7 million at December 31, 2023, which compares to a negative debt position of $175.5 million at December 31, 2022 and a positive debt position of $59.4 million at September 30, 2023. Earlier in the year, our cash collections were not keeping pace with revenues because of slower Billings from a transition to a new enterprise resource planning or ERP system. In the fourth order, Billings improved and cash collections were significantly stronger. Fourth quarter free cash flow was $376.7 million, primarily because of such strong collections. There were no share repurchases during the quarter. In 2023, during the first quarter, we repurchase 112,139 shares at an average price per share of $158.70 for a total cost of $17.8 million. As of December 31, 2023, approximately $416.7 million remain available under our stock repurchase authorization. Turning to our 2024 guidance. We are as usual providing guidance for revenues and EPS. We estimate that revenues will range between $3.65 billion and $3.79 billion. We expect our EPS to range between $7.75 and $8.50. Our 2024 guidance range is shaped by several considerations. First, let me acknowledge that in 2023 restructuring grew even more than our expectations increasing 32% compared to 2022. In 2024, we expect restructuring to remain strong, but steady at levels similar to Q4 of 2023. However, with financial liquidity now increasing for challenged companies, we could see a slowdown later in the year. Second, we expect improvement in M&A to drive increased demand for services in our economic consulting and technology segments, as well as our transactions business and corporate finance. However, there are economic uncertainties, such as the face of interest rate reductions that could impact M&A. Third, we expect margins in economic consulting to decline compared to 2023. Primarily due to higher compensation from a combination of increased headcount, merit increases and competitive pressures. Additionally, because of the anticipated roll-off of certain large engagements, we expect revenue will not offset this increased cost. Further, similar to last year, we expect significant deferrals of revenue from early in the year to be recognized later in 2024. Forth, as we have discussed, we slow down hiring in 2023, particularly in the second half of the years. In 2024, we are assuming headcount growth will exceed the level achieved in 2023. And as Steve mentioned, we continue to see opportunities to invest in great professionals in more places around the world, as well as to expand the scope of our services to meet the evolving needs of our clients. We have both the appetite and the opportunity for investments, such investments could at least initially have a downward impact on earnings. Fifth, we expect increased compensation costs through our company due to competitive pressures, which may not be offset by pricing increases. Six, though we expect SG&A to grow at a more moderate pace, then in 2023, we may invest more, as we expect to remain in the forefront of changing technologies, such as in AI. Lastly, we expect to revert to our normal seasonal pattern of lower utilization in Q4 because of vacations. I must point out that our assumptions define a midpoint and we provide a range of guidance around such midpoint, which I characterize as our current best judgment. Often, we find actual results are outside of such range, because ours is largely a fixed cost business in the short term, and small variations in revenue may have an outsized impact on earnings. And as Steve has said, due to such variations, one should not take the earnings in a single quarter and multiply them by four. A comparison of earnings for the first half versus the second half of 2023 is an excellent illustration of how sharply results can vary during the course of the year without any underlying substantive change in our business. And now, I will close my remarks by emphasizing a few key themes. First, we are a unique company. In terms of the scope of our services, and the scale of our capabilities. We help our clients navigate through their most complex opportunities and challenges, such as data breaches, restructuring, mergers, antitrust proceedings, enterprise transformations, fraud investigations, crisis management, and more. Second, we continue to deliver excellent revenue growth and attract great professionals while overtime, remaining focused on utilization. Third, our diverse portfolio of businesses can grow and thrive, regardless of business cycle. And finally, we have an enviable balance sheet that provides us the flexibility to boost shareholder value through organic growth, share buybacks and acquisitions when we see the right one. With that, let’s open the call up for your questions. See also 15 Hot Penny Stocks On the Move and 16 Best Dog Breeds For First Time Owners. Q&A Session Follow Fti Consulting Inc (NYSE:FCN) Follow Fti Consulting Inc (NYSE:FCN) or Subscribe with Google We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll now begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]. Our first question today comes from James Yaro from Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead with your question. James Yaro: Good morning. Thank you for taking my questions. Perhaps starting with a bigger picture one. I think at the midpoint, your guidance for 2024 implies 7% revenue growth year-on-year. This would be the lowest year-on-year revenue growth since 2020, a year in which you faced significant headwinds, especially from courts being shut. Is there anything we should take away from this lower growth rate guidance in terms of the demand equation for your business next, in 2024 beyond lapping the strong 2023 restructuring results that Ajay touched upon, or is there something else? Steve Gunby: I’ll give you a high-level answer that Ajay disagree with me or add to it however he chooses. Look, there is nothing that has me concerned about the long-term demand structure of our company. Actually, one of the concerns I have is to be under higher in the second half of the year, which you can’t see aggregate utilization things because we have so many little sub businesses that even if the aggregate is x, a subpart of that business can be at 30 points above x. And so when you under-hire, you sometimes end up in different places around having to turn down work. So that worries me. And there’s always variation. As Ajay says, we don’t know the revenue in July at this point in time. I mean, there’s always variation, but there is no underlying concern about the overall growth potential of our company. I will say that. I think the two-year growth in here is pretty consistent with where we’ve been over the multiple years. I think ’19 was extraordinary in ’20, as you pointed out, was less and so forth. So this is in line with our two-year numbers, but I think that’s more coincidence than anything else. But I hope I answered. I am not worried about long-term growth if we do the right things, continue to do the right things about getting the talent and supporting them, James. Did I answer your question? James Yaro : Yes, that was excellent. Thank you. Maybe just one on restructuring. I appreciate your comments, Ajay, on the guide for 2024. But I just wanted to take a step back and get your perspective on two different scenarios, which is one is a soft landing. And then the second one is higher rates for longer. Presumably, of course, higher rates for longer would be stronger, but just how you’re thinking about the two of those and what that means for the restructuring longer-term outlook? Ajay Sabherwal : James, that it correctly, those would shape a whole variety of scenarios around our midpoint and though — transcend into next year as well. Clearly, higher rates for longer would extend the restructuring cycle. But we are beginning to see the yields, the yield spread has really tightened. And so the most challenged companies are beginning to get financing. We have seen that in the marketplace today. So the general theme for us at this juncture is we are proceeding carefully in our — in the way we think and the way we are presenting to you, we are proceeding carefully. James Yaro: Okay. That’s very clear. Just one on Compass Lexecon. I know there have been some senior leadership changes there. I just wanted to get your thoughts on the senior leadership changes there. And if that represents a different direction for the firm and whether it changes the growth for compact specifically and whether that changes the growth profile for that business? Steve Gunby : Yes. Look, let me be clear. I’m very excited about the people who are running Compass Lexecon. I mean I spent — it was over in Europe at the beginning part of this year with Jorge and three people who are running Europe underneath them, Lorenzo, Neil and Kirsten, I mean I got to tell you, there’s nobody at person on this call who wouldn’t love having time with those people. Jorge, the guys who founded Compass Europe for us. I mean it’s been an amazing growth engine, but he’s built a team underneath him. And as great as Lorenzo, Neil and Kirsten are — I went spent time in Spain, and you see — and Brussels and Paris and London, I mean there is an amazing, amazing place with multiplicity of talent. The US, as you know, Ampere, I’m not sure that a more distinguished powerful, incredibly respected and impressive person and professional services, and he’s sees these leading — I guess, the title as his Chairman, but he’s a father of Compass Lexecon in some ways. And I mean there’s multiple fathers, but he’s an incredible asset. I think probably people know Mark Israel less well. Mark is very different than them, but they’re very different personalities, but — and these are cap generation, younger, maybe a little more than half generation, younger and is equally as impressive. So we have an amazing leadership team, and they’re all focused on building it. Just to put the point on the table, we had a senior person leave. It’s always unfortunate when one senior person leaves. And I would say that the circumstances around the departure were particularly unfortunate, but it doesn’t give me any lack of confidence in where this business is the position it has and the ability of that leadership team to take it forward, not only that leadership team, but the people below them. Does that answer your question or speak to your question, James? James Yaro : That’s very clear, Steve. Thank you so much. Just one last one. Just on the longer-term ramifications of AI on your business. Maybe you could talk about the puts and takes there. What — how do they benefit your business? What are the potential risks? And then an investor question I’ve gotten is just are there any risks that certain parts of your business could be replaced by AI tools? On the other hand, of course, that could make you more efficient and increase margins. So just the puts and takes there over the longer term? Steve Gunby : Yes. Look, so I think there are for every company, right — well, first of all, let’s be clear, right, everybody has definitive opinions on new technology, which means some of it is right, some of it is wrong and you figure it out over time, right? But it’s obviously an area we’re focused on. And I suspect, and I think the team that’s looking at this within the segments and across all believe that this will change some of our businesses. I mean this has already happened. I mean our tech business, our e-discovery business has been using machine learning for review for years now and they’re cutting edge. And they know that if they fall behind on the changes, it doesn’t matter what success we’ve had. We won’t have it going forward. To the contrary, actually, their ability to innovate has been one of the reasons they’ve been outperforming the industry in the last few years in terms of emerging data and so forth. And so that mental mindset is the way we are looking at this. And we’re looking at this within segments. Each segment is looking at both of those questions. What’s the threat? Which way is can it lower value-added? Presumably, I wasn’t around. I don’t think you were around when people did handwritten spreadsheets. But you can’t build for handwritten spreadsheets and then a recalculation of handwritten spreadsheet these days anymore, right? Excel made a difference on that. And the same thing happens all the time. So yes, of course, 13-week cash flows. Are we going to need as much time to do it? Or is it going to take less. These are all the questions we’re asking across the business. I will say two things. Right now, I would say none of us feel like there’s more threat than there is opportunity, but we’re monitoring both. The other thing I would say is universals in the face of new technology are always a little scary. But our firm is not a commodity firm. Our firm is — we’re talking about Speciale in Israel. I mean you’re in the middle of a huge litigation, you want one of those persons with their capabilities testifying for you. And I think it’s — will their AI help streamline some of the preparation that makes our people more efficient. I think it’s going to be a long time before you have a computer testifying in court. And the same thing is true for any sort of crisis situation, which is crisis communication, M&A crisis. And I think that’s our firm position there. So as long as we do the right things and challenge ourselves, I suspect we will be fine. If we get lazy, we won’t be. But my job is to help us not get lazy. Does that at least talk to the question? James Yaro : That’s really helpful, Steve. Thank you so much for answering my questions. Operator: Our next question comes from Tobey Sommer from Truist Securities. Please go ahead with your question. Tobey Sommer: Thank you. Could you expand a little detail that peaked my interest at the end of your prepared remarks talking about the guidance, about the deferred revenue and competitive pressures in the guidance commentary? Steve Gunby : Let me talk about the competitive pressures and I’ll let him talk about deferred revenues. Look, I think you’ve noticed, Tobey, and we appreciate the comments you write about the success we’ve had. Unfortunately, competitors also noticed that, too. And so we are routinely attack. Now the reality is, so far, we are hiring many more people than we lose. But it remains we have to be on our toes on competitive comp, and that’s across the board in our company. And so that’s a reality of life. And I mean that’s at a high level, the answer to that. I’ll let Ajay talk to the other point. Ajay Sabherwal : Thanks, Steve. Tobey, you might recollect in the last two years in Economic Consulting, we’ve been saying in the first quarter and also in the second quarter, I think, in 2020, 2021 and 2022, sorry, in 2022, even in the second quarter, we said that look, there’s a whole bunch of utilization, which didn’t translate into revenue because the conditions for revenue recognition were not met. And we’ve had that happen in ’22 and ’23. And now I’m saying we’re going to have that happen in 2024 as well. And that’s what we just communicated. Tobey Sommer : Okay. That makes sense. What’s the right way to think about headcount growth in ’24 given sort of the lower starting point in the fourth quarter? And I was hoping you could also speak to the — whatever metrics you care to reveal about what drove the sequential headcount decline in the fourth quarter, maybe commenting on employee attrition trends or the inputs into that? Thank you. Steve Gunby : Yes. Look, let me clear. I mean we didn’t have a massive outpouring of people. Our attrition levels for last year were well below our expectations and below prior last — at least the prior year and maybe the year before that. I don’t remember the year before that right now. We did. The real issue was I took the action I mentioned of tapering hiring. Well, let me be clear. I got recommendations to do, and I reluctantly agreed to do that. I’m probably the more bullish guy on headcount, one of them are bullish people on headcount. Ajay, is more — my quarterly conscience and I’m more — look, what do we need to do to make this business where we want it to be in the next two to three years and who the hell cares what the utilization is this quarter. So we have a yin and yang within our farm. But I agreed to a substantial tapering of headcount just because of the conditions that was in the middle of the year. So I think we ended up the year, this year lower than we probably should have, well, lower than if I had known how strong the year was going to be, I would have guided us to, so we’re going to have to make that up. Because our goal is not to maximize the profits in 2024. Our goal is, and it’s not just work, is to sort of build a business that you and we can see the next tripling of earnings, and frankly, most of our people don’t care about the next tripling of earnings, but we do care of a team that is winning, that’s tracking great people, meaning the great assignments just happens to be that is consistent with a multi-year trajectory. So we are going to have to — we’re going to have to make up for some of the shortfall in hiring this year. And so I would be very surprised if it’s not up over last year, and much more in line with what we’ve been doing over time. Ajay, I don’t think we give more specifics than that, do we? Ajay Sabherwal : No, you’re right. So we’ve specifically said we expect headcount growth in 2024, Tobey to be higher than what we achieved in 2023. So that we have explicitly said. We’ve also said on top of that, we have an appetite to make investments, and we’re seeing opportunities. Now one of the reasons we don’t give a specific percentage is these things are easy to accomplish. There is also, there is a certain amount of attrition that takes place in the business, and you got to offset that and then grow. So there’s a lot of work that comes in all of this. But that clearly is our ambition, and that is factored into the guidance. Tobey Sommer : Okay. Perfect. What — I heard your general comments about restructuring demand in ’24 and sort of how to think about that puts and takes. From a domestic versus international perspective, are there any contours that may be different than the overall commentary? And how do you think the company’s performance reflects on sort of market share trends within that business? Steve Gunby : So I’ll — let me give a top-level answer and then Ajay wants to give more specifics. Look, the dynamics are different around the world just because, a, sometimes economic situations are different and sometimes there’s — if you remember from the COVID days, their government policies interfere. But also, it also depends on what parts of the restructuring we’re in. In the in the US, we are in both company side and creditor side. In overseas many places, we are primarily creditor side and there’s a timing difference. The company will often hire you months before they have decided to do a filing the creditors, don’t course or not usually. And so there is those timing dynamics, which vary around the world and, frankly, meant that I think the US was busier earlier than many places around the world. And that those dynamics change over time. So that’s a kind of a high level answer. I don’t know, Ajay, do you want to give anything more on top of that? Ajay Sabherwal : Just some slicing a little bit more. Germany has been really strong recently. The UK also kind of caught up to some of the trends we were seeing in the United States. So our international pieces were part of the surprise growth or growth more than we thought has come from EMEA, Germany, in particular. So that for whatever it’s worth, that’s additional color there. Did that answer sufficiently, Tobey? Tobey Sommer : Yes, yes. Thank you very much. I’ll get back in the queue. Operator: And our next question comes from Andrew Nicholas from William Blair. Please go ahead with your question. Andrew Nicholas : Hi, good morning. Appreciate you taking my questions. Maybe I’ll follow-up there on your last comment, Ajay, and take a step higher. Like in terms of the biggest areas of sequential improvement or areas that surprised you positively in the fourth quarter. Could you just provide a little bit more color or thoughts there? It’s the first time I can remember with this type of fourth quarter step-up and obviously better than your guide from last quarter. So if you could just isolate the main areas that surprised you positively, that would be helpful? Ajay Sabherwal : I am so proud of our practitioners, we just look at the statistics, put them on a piece of paper and stare at them which I do quite a bit. You three of last year utilization in corporate finance and restructuring was 61%. Q4, it dropped to 56%, 5% decline. FLC was flat at 53% and economic consulting declined from 67% to 64%, 4% decline. Expect folks to take some time off, right? Look at this year, from Q3 to Q4, 60% to 61% in corporate finance and restructuring 57% to 56%, higher than last year, and some are flat and FLC and 65% to 65% in economic consulting. This is incredible. This is our folks care for their clients are and do the most important things for them, and are there when they need them, regardless of whether it’s Christmas or New Year. And that 5 percentage points in utilization makes all the difference to revenues. Then look at Bill rates. We look at Bill rates. I mean, you can see this, in economic consulting in third quarter was $5.59 rate per hour to $5.86. We do the hardest stuff. And when M&A gets really, really hard, we get hired. And this says that the top people were the ones that were working. So those rates that makes that utilization is what delivered these results. I shouldn’t — I mean, I’m not trying to short-change anybody but business transformation. Some of the largest matters out there across the globe in different geographies, in technology, we crossed $100 million in revenue this quarter in our tech segment. I mean, so this was really, really good. Andrew Nicholas : Pretty broad-based point taken. In terms of utilization, you talked about the sequential trend, but maybe over the — looking at the annual trend line in utilization in FLC, another year of improvement, but still below pre-COVID levels. Just wondering how we should think about that business getting back to those levels potentially over the next couple of years? And what gives you confidence in that business’ trajectory?.....»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyFeb 23rd, 2024

American Airlines Is Changing Its Rewards Policy. Here’s What to Know

American Airlines announced changes to its AAdvantage rewards program and baggage fees. Collecting miles and loyalty points with American Airlines will soon become somewhat harder, with the carrier announcing on Tuesday changes to its AAdvantage rewards program that limit how customers can earn frequent-flyer points. “We want to make it more convenient for customers to enjoy the value and magic of travel,” American Airlines’ chief commercial officer Vasu Raja said in a statement. “Not only does booking directly with American provide the best possible experience, it’s also where we offer the best fares and it’s most rewarding for our AAdvantage members.” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Read More: How Much Are American Airlines Miles Worth? The carrier said in a press release Tuesday that tickets issued from May 1 onwards will be subject to the new policy. Here’s what to know:  How do you keep earning points? Starting in May, most customers will only be eligible for AAdvantage miles and Loyalty Points if they book directly with American Airlines and eligible partner airlines, or through “preferred travel agencies,” which the airline said it will reveal in a list in late April.  Those buying basic economy tickets will face even more restrictions, only being able to earn miles by booking directly with American Airlines or partner operators. But the update in the rewards program will not affect AAdvantage Business members or contracted corporate travelers, who remain eligible for miles and points no matter where they book their tickets. Meanwhile, AAdvantage members can also continue earning miles and points while shopping, booking hotels, and registering for events through partner platforms. Read More: Some Travelers Are Getting Paid Thousands to Give Up Their Plane Seats This is not the first time American Airlines has made changes to its loyalty program. Last year, the carrier raised the threshold for its members to attain the Gold status, which promises perks like selective free upgrades. Changes to checked baggage fees American Airlines has also raised fees of checking in a bag on domestic flights to $35 when purchased online—up from $30 previously—or $40 when purchased at the airport. A second checked bag will cost $45, up from $40 previously. The new prices will apply to tickets booked on or after Feb. 20. This is the first time in more than five years that American Airlines has adjusted its bag fees—and comes amid yearslong price adjustments by other airlines. In January, Alaska Airlines increased the fee for passengers’ first checked bag to $35 from $30. Bag-check fees have been rising across various airlines over the past few years, with a wave of bag fees increases in 2018, including JetBlue Airways, Air Canada, and WestJet, which all deciding to charge $30 for checked bags. Jetblue further raised its fee to $35  from $30 in 2020. Major U.S. airlines made a total revenue of $7 billion in baggage fees in 2022, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Fees like these  became the subject of a Senate panel investigation in November amid complaints that customers are often blindsided by these costs during the purchasing process. American Airlines said its new changes are partly being driven by rising costs.  “Fuel has gone up quite a bit. That’s a big component of our costs when we’re carrying bags,” Scott Chandler, American Airlines’ vice president of revenue management, told USA Today. The changes will not affect AAdvantage members and American Airlines credit card holders, who get complimentary checked bags. Customers who purchase premium cabins and active-duty U.S. military personnel will also remain eligible for free checked bags. American Airlines’ calculation of extra charges for overweight baggage is also changing. The latest changes introduce a $30 fee for bags that are up to 3 lbs or 3 inches over the limit. Anything more, and the existing charges, which start at $100, will kick in.  The carrier is also capping its oversized baggage limit to 115 linear inches, as well as banning items like javelins, pole vaults, and hang gliders from April 17 onwards. As for travelers bringing their pets, carry-on pet fees for tickets purchased on or after Feb. 20 have been raised to $150 per kennel, up from $125. Why all the changes? The adjustments to American Airlines’ rewards criteria come as airlines push for direct sales to customers, instead of relying on travel agents who are typically paid a commission. About 60% of American Airlines’ ticket sales are currently made directly through the airline, Chandler told ABC News. Meanwhile, the price adjustments come as U.S. carriers cope with falling domestic airfares, which are in the next few months expected to sink lower than pre-pandemic levels. In January, American Airlines also announced changes to boost sign-ups to its loyalty program, by restricting benefits, such as access to premium lounges and the ability to put flights on hold for up to 24 hours, American AAdvantage members only......»»

Category: topSource: timeFeb 23rd, 2024

Futures Slide Ahead Of Earnings By "The Most Important Stock On Planet Earth"

Futures Slide Ahead Of Earnings By "The Most Important Stock On Planet Earth" US futures extended their slide, bucking a strong Asian session with European stocks mixed, ahead of what Goldman trader Scott Rubner called “the most important stock on planet earth” - that would be Nvidia for anyone who has been living in a cave the past year - reports after the close facing sky-high expectations, and where another Goldman trader, Peter Callahan, said that the tactical debate is whether this print will be a local top or a ‘break-out’ moment for the stock and for the AI trade (from where he sits, this "feels like consensus is learning more towards the former"). And with options implying the stock may move about 11% in either direction, i.e., a whopping $200BN in market cap may be gained or lost for a company that recently surpassed GOOGL and AMZN in market cap, it's not surprising why the market is on edge. With that preamble out of the way, S&P 500 futures dropped 0.2% as of 7:40am and Nasdaq contracts lost about 0.5%, suggesting Wall Street may be in for a third day of declines. Bond yields are lower, the 10Y dropping 2bps, with steepening across most of the curve; the USD is flat and commodities are weaker. The macro data focus is on Fed Minutes this afternoon; while possible to see a dovish surprise regarding QT this most likely comes at the March 20 Fed meeting where we may see a reduction in the pace of QT. In premarket trading, Palo Alto Networks plunged more than 20% after the cybersecurity firm cut its forecasts for both revenue and billing and warned of "spending fatigue" among its customers; Piper Sandler downgraded its rating on the stock. Amazon.com rose 1.2% after replacing Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Walgreens fell 2.8%. Here are some other notable premarket movers: Community Health Systems falls 18% after the hospital owner and operator released a 2024 adjusted Ebitda guidance that was below the average analyst estimate. International Flavors & Fragrances shares fall 8.6% after providing a disappointing sales outlook. The company, which provides ingredients, flavors and scents for industries including food and beverage, also cut the dividend. Intuitive Machines shares jump 22% after giving an update on its lunar lander, Odysseus. The company, seeking to land a US spacecraft on the moon this week, closed higher by 50% during the regular session on Tuesday, for a third straight gain. Manchester United shares slip 2.5% after Jim Ratcliffe completed the acquisition of 25% of Class A shares and 25% of Class B shares for $33 per share. Matterport shares drop 13% after giving first-quarter subscription and revenue guidance that came in below the average analyst estimate. Fourth-quarter revenue also missed expectations. SolarEdge plunges 16% as the solar equipment maker’s first-quarter revenue forecast missed Wall Street estimates. Fourth-quarter results disappointed as well. Teladoc Health shares slide 22% after the healthcare services company reported fourth-quarter revenue that was weaker than expected. Additionally, the company gave first-quarter forecast below consensus expectations. Wendy’s shares decline 1.3% after the fast-food chain was downgraded to neutral from overweight at JPMorgan, which sees the stock remaining rangebound. RingCentral falls 4% after the provider of cloud-based communications services gave an outlook that analysts said wasn’t strong enough to be compelling. Wix.com shares rise 5.9% as the web platform company’s fourth-quarter revenue edged past the average estimate of analysts, who noted revenue growth momentum and expectations for margin expansion in the coming years. Going back to today's main highlight, Nvidia, the stock fell 1.7% in pre-market trading after sliding 4.4% yesterday. “It feels like these earnings today are a barometer of where we are in the global cycle,” said Justin Onuekwusi, chief investment officer at St James’s Place. “Concentration in the stock market has got to levels where one company’s earnings can have a big macro effect. It’s gone beyond being just a portfolio construction issue; it’s a macro challenge which you can’t get away from.” Meanwhile, Europe’s stock benchmark retreated from near a record high amid disappointing earnings from some of the region’s biggest companies. The Stoxx Europe 600 gauge edged lower 0.1% for a second day, still about four points from its January 2022 peak. Banks were among the leading decliners as HSBC Holdings Plc tumbled more than 7% after reporting an 80% plunge in fourth-quarter profit. Weak earnings from commodities trader Glencore Plc and Rio Tinto Plc, the world’s biggest iron ore miner, weighed on the basic resources sub-index, which slumped to a four-month low. On the positive side, Carrefour SA gained after the French grocer announced a share buy-back, even as quarterly sales disappointed. Here are all the notable European movers: Fresenius SE shares rise as much as 4.7% after the German health-care company reported 4Q Ebit before special items for beat estimates and provided reassuring 2024 guidance NKT gains as much as 8.8%, to a record high, after the Copenhagen-listed power cable manufacturer’s 4Q report and guidance both impressed with solid numbers, Carnegie says Aedifica rises as much as 3.7% after releasing results described as “excellent” by KBC analysts. A highlight was the Belgian healthcare property operator’s occupancy rates Conduit rises as much as 6.2%, the most in about 13 months, after the reinsurer delivers results which Peel Hunt says are strong, and highlight the maturity of the business Inditex advances to a fresh record, with Oddo BHF increasing its price target for the Spanish retailer ahead of 4Q earnings that the broker expects will show strong sales growth EFG International shares climb as much as 4.2%, to the highest level since 2015, after the Swiss private bank posted solid results according to Vontobel HSBC slides as much as 7.6% in London after the bank reported profit that was hit by charges and offered guidance for the year that analysts said was unclear, with Jefferies calling them “messy” Glencore shares slump 6.4% after the mining giant posted results showing lower thermal coal prices, which will likely lead to consensus downgrades, according to RBC says JDE Peet’s shares drop as much as 6.7%, hitting the lowest level on record, after the Dutch coffee company reported full-year adjusted Ebit that missed estimates BAE Systems retreats as much as 3.6% on Wednesday, paring a rally which has fueled the defense and aerospace systems manufacturer to a record high Fresenius Medical Care falls as much as 5.5%, adding to Tuesday’s 4.5% drop, following earnings and guidance that failed to turn analysts more bullish on the German dialysis provider Nel shares fall as much as 4.2% and to 2019 lows after SEB cut the Norwegian supplier of hydrogen technology’s price target, citing low visibility and forecasts for an Ebitda loss Positive economic surprises had buoyed European stocks even as traders trimmed bets on interest rate cuts by the European Central Bank. Volatility measures are at historical lows, suggesting some complacency has crept into a market still facing potential headwinds, including rising bond yields, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. “European stocks could consolidate recent gains in the near term as investor sentiment looks overheated,” BI strategists Laurent Douillet and Tim Craighead wrote in a report. “Rising government bond yields haven’t curbed enthusiasm so far, as highly leveraged companies slightly outperform, and remain a key 2024 risk for equities.” Earlier in the session, Asian stocks erased an early loss and edged higher as China rallied after authorities rolled out more measures to restore investor confidence, offsetting broader weakness ahead of Nvidia’s earnings. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1% after falling as much as 0.5% earlier, driven by gains in Chinese tech giants including Tencent and Alibaba. Miners dragged on the gauge as iron ore extended declines amid concerns about demand outlook in China, while chip-related stocks declined in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Chinese benchmarks jumped, with a gauge of offshore-listed shares surging more than 3% in Hong Kong, as the nation’s two bourses vowed to tighten supervision of quantitative trading after imposing a freeze on a major fund’s accounts.  Bloomberg also reported that China has banned major institutional investors from reducing equity holdings at the open and close of each trading day, part of the government’s most forceful attempt yet to prop up the nation’s $8.6 trillion stock market. Banks meanwhile ramped up funding help for the troubled property sector. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. shrugged off early weakness with outperformance in Hong Kong driven by strength in property and tech, while the mainland also recovered its initial losses and more following recent stability efforts by Chinese authorities. ASX 200 was dragged lower by consumer stocks and miners in another busy day of earnings. Nikkei 225 continued its gradual pullback from near-record levels but remained above the 38,000 level. Indian stocks snapped a six-day rally, dragged by a selloff in information technology companies and as investors likely booked profits. The S&P BSE Sensex Index fell 0.6% to 72,623.09 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar measure. Both gauges posted their biggest single-day slump since Feb. 12.   In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index is little changed after posting a small drop for two straight days; one-year risk reversals in the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index closed yesterday at the least bullish level in eight months. Markets are close to fully discounting a 25bps cut in June, and see a 33% chance of a cut in May. USD/JPY consolidated around 150 while EUR/USD fell back below 1.08 after hitting 1.0839 on Tuesday, its highest since Feb. GBP/USD fell 0.1% to 1.2606, in line with recent range AUD/USD rose on buying from leveraged accounts in view of solid gains in Chinese stock indexes, according to Asia-based FX traders In rates, Treasuries are slightly richer across the curve with gains led by front-end, where 2-year yields are lower by ~2bp vs Tuesday’s close. Treasury 10-year yields around 4.26%, richer by around 1.5bp on the day, outperforming bunds and gilts by 2bp and 3bp in the sector. Front-end-led gains in Treasuries steepen 2s10s, 5s30s curves by 0.5bp and 0.7bp, with both spreads off session wides. Bunds lag as the market digests German 10-year auction, while gilts give back a portion of Tuesday’s aggressive rally. US session includes 20-year bond auction, January FOMC minutes and Nvidia Corp. results, scheduled to be reported after the close. Corporate new-issue calendar is said to be under consideration for a large offering. Treasury auctions resume with $16b 20-year bond sale at 1pm; the WI level around 4.535% is above auction stops since November and ~11bp cheaper than January’s, which tailed by 0.8bp. In commodities, aluminum surged on speculation that a fresh wave of US sanctions against Russia may target the metal, potentially disrupting supplies. Iron ore futures hit the lowest since October after a volatile session in which prices flipped between gains and losses.  Oil edged lower with WTI falling 0.7% to trade near $76.50. Spot gold rises 0.2%. In crypto, Bitcoin (-1.3%) fell back below USD 52k, and Ethereum (-2.2%) dips back under 3k after briefly breaking out above. US economic data calendar includes only MBA mortgage applications, which declined 10.6% as interest rates rose. Federal Reserve members scheduled to speak include Bostic (8am), Barkin (9:10am) and Collins (5:30pm). FOMC minutes from Jan. 30-31 meeting are due to be released at 2pm Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.2% to 4,979.75 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.2% to 490.85 MXAP little changed at 171.21 MXAPJ little changed at 523.44 Nikkei down 0.3% to 38,262.16 Topix down 0.2% to 2,627.30 Hang Seng Index up 1.6% to 16,503.10 Shanghai Composite up 1.0% to 2,950.96 Sensex down 0.7% to 72,582.18 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.7% to 7,608.36 Kospi down 0.2% to 2,653.31 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.40% Euro down 0.1% to $1.0796 Brent Futures down 0.6% to $81.83/bbl Gold spot up 0.2% to $2,027.48 U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 104.17 Top Overnight News Beijing is overhauling how China’s fast-growing quant trading industry is regulated after one of the sector’s largest operators was hit with a trading ban this week for dumping shares. Stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen announced late on Tuesday that all market activity by computer-driven quant funds, which rely on complex automated trading strategies, would be closely scrutinized under a new monitoring scheme jointly run by both bourses and the China Securities Regulatory Commission. FT HSBC slid as its profit plunged 80% after taking unexpected charges on holdings in a Chinese bank. CEO Noel Quinn said it has de-risked its US commercial real-estate exposure and that China’s moves to prop up its property sector will lead to a more lasting recovery. The bank announced a $2 billion buyback. BBG Honda and Mazda agree to union wage demands, the latest sign that compensation is rising enough for the BOJ to begin tightening policy. BBG Japan’s exports for Jan come in a bit ahead of plan at +11.9% (vs. the Street +9.5%), although the Reuters Tankan survey revealed a deterioration in sentiment while the Japanese gov’t reduced its economic assessment for the first time in 3 months. RTRS Boaz Weinstein is building up positions across UK investment trusts that now account for about a quarter of his $5.4 billion bet on closed-end funds trading near historic discounts. His targets include funds managed by JPMorgan, BlackRock, Schroders and Baillie Gifford. BBG As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters a third year, President Vladimir Putin’s forces have shifted to the offensive and captured the eastern city of Avdiivka after months of fighting. In a conflict where momentum has ebbed and flowed, the mood is now noticeably darker in Kyiv. BBG Private equity firms are increasingly raising money to buy individual companies on a deal-by-deal basis, as they struggle with a downturn in the market and investors look for ways to cut management fees. A record $31bn was deployed by “deal-by-deal” investors last year, according to data provided by private equity advisory firm Triago, defying a broader dealmaking and fundraising slump in the industry. FT Donald Trump entered the 2024 election year with about 200,000 fewer donors than in the previous presidential campaign four years ago, raising questions about his fundraising machine just as legal bills eat into his war chest. FT Bank reserve balances remain ample, suggesting liquidity levels remain ample despite the drop in reverse repo balances (which means the Fed may not need to slow the pace of QT). BBG A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk APAC stocks traded mixed with headwinds following the tech-led declines stateside ahead of Nvidia earnings and FOMC  Minutes. ASX 200 was dragged lower by consumer stocks and miners in another busy day of earnings. Nikkei 225 continued its gradual pullback from near-record levels but remained above the 38,000 level. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. shrugged off early weakness with outperformance in Hong Kong driven by strength in property and tech, while the mainland also recovered its initial losses and more following recent stability efforts by Chinese authorities. Top Asian News China's housing authority said a total of CNY 123.6bln of development loans have been approved and that CNY 29.4bln have been issued under China's "whitelist" mechanism which was launched on January 26th and is aimed at injecting liquidity to the property sector. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang met with his French counterpart and said China is ready to strengthen strategic communication with France and forge more consensus, strengthen solidarity and cooperation, as well respond more effectively to global challenges. Wang also stated the two sides had in-depth communication on issues related to peace and security, while they agreed that multi-polarisation is indispensable for peace and stability, and will continue to strengthen strategic coordination. Furthermore, Wang said in a meeting with French President Macron that he hopes France will continue to play a constructive role in the healthy and stable development of Sino-European relations, while China hopes France will also create a fair and just business environment for Chinese enterprises there and provide positive and stable long-term expectations. China state asset regulator says state-owned firms should take steps to develop and promote artificial intelligence and should speed up in building smart computer centres. China's draft legislation of private economy promotion has commenced, according to state media. Japanese government cuts its view on the economy for the first time since November 2023. China is said to be tightening its grip on stocks with net sale ban at the open and close, according to Bloomberg sources. Major institutional investors have been banned form reducing equity holdings at the open and close of each session. Firms affected by the ban are not able to offload more shares than they buy during the first and last 30 minutes of the trading day. The order was delivered from China’s securities watchdog to major asset managers and proprietary trading desks of brokerages, sources said. The CSRC (with newly appointed Chairman Qing) also created a task force to monitor short-selling. European bourses, Stoxx600 (-0.1%) are mixed with a slight positive bias, following on from a similar APAC handover. FTSE 100 (-0.8%) underperforms, hampered by significant losses in index heavyweights. European sectors are on a mixed footing; Autos outperform with broad-based gains within the sector. Basic Resources is at the foot of the pile, weighed on by Glencore (-5.5%) and Rio Tinto (-2.1%) following poorly received earnings. Banks are also lower, after softer HSBC (-7.1%) results. US Equity Futures (ES -0.2%, NQ -0.4%, RTY -0.2%), are modestly in the red, continuing the losses seen in the prior session. Nvidia (-1.7%) is softer in the pre-market, ahead of earnings. In terms of pre-market movers; Amazon (+1.0%) and Uber (+0.6%) are firmer, after S&P Dow Jones Indices said they are set to join the DJIA and DJTA respectively. Top European News UK Chancellor Hunt will have GBP 23bln of headroom for pre-election tax reductions in next month's budget, according to the Resolution Foundation, via Bloomberg. Earnings BAE Systems (BA/ LN) – FY (GBP): Sales 25.2bln (exp. 24.6bln), adj. EBIT 26.82bln (exp. 27.1bln), Board has recommended a final dividend of 18.5p. Q4: EPS 63.2p (prev. 55.5p Y/Y), Adj. EBIT 2.68bln (prev. 2.48bln Y/Y). Order backlog 69.8bln (prev. 58.9bln Y/Y). Guides initial FY24 adj. EPS +6-8%, Revenue +10-12%, adj. EBIT +11-13%. Shares -3.5% in European trade Glencore (GLEN LN) - FY23 (USD): Revenue 217.83bln (exp. 216.02bln). adj. EBTIDA 17.10bln (exp. 17.35bln). Net Debt 4.92bln (exp. 4.43bln). Adj. Marketing EBIT 3.5bln (exp. 3.67bln); Recommends to shareholders a USD 0.13/shr base cash distribution. "Although the current macroeconomic environment remains challenging, global economic growth is forecast to bottom out in 2024." "Supply constraints and energy transition demand prevented large inventory increases in most commodities during this cyclical trough, leaving markets well-positioned for a strong recovery as demand conditions improve." "This is particularly the case for copper, where the closure of a major mine and various cuts to production guidance through the second half of 2023 have highlighted the persistent supply challenges facing the industry. These are likely to keep the market tight throughout 2024 against previous expectations of oversupply." Shares -5.5% in European trade HSBC (5 HK / HSBA LN) - FY23 (USD): Revenue 66.06bln (exp. 66.69bln). Pretax profit 30.35bln (exp. 34.12bln). Announces up to USD 2bln in share buybacks and a fourth interim dividend of USD 0.31/shr. Co. says the outlook for loan growth remains cautious for H1. OTHER METRICS: CET1 ratio 14.8% (exp. 14.5%). NIM 1.66% (prev. 1.42% Y/Y). Cost efficiency ratio 48.5% (prev. 64.6% Y/Y). OUTLOOK: Sees ROTE in the mid-teens for 2024. Expect banking NII Of At Least USD 41bln For 2024. The dividend payout ratio target remains at 50% for 2024, excluding material notable items and related impacts. Shares -7.1% in European trade Rio Tinto (RIO AT / RIO LN) - FY23 (USD): Adj. EPS 7.25 (exp. 7.27). Underlying Profit 11.8bln (exp. 11.7bln). Revenue 54.04bln (exp. 53.94bln). Net Income 10.6bln (exp. 11.15bln). Underlying EBITDA 23.90bln (exp. 23.85bln). Co. said cost pressures and weaker market demand lowered underlying EBITDA by USD 1.0bln. Shares -2.1% in European trade Fresenius (FRE GY) - Q4 (EUR): Adj. Net 397mln (exp. 416mln, prev. 445mln Y/Y), EBIT 634mln (exp. 592mln, prev. 559mln Y/Y), Revenue 5.68bln (exp. 5.82bln, prev. 5.67bln Y/Y). Guides FY23 EBIT +4-8%, Organic Revenue growth +3-6%. Shares +4% in European trade Carrefour (CA FP) - FY23 (EUR): Adj. Net 1.3bln (prev. 1.2bln Y/Y), Sales 94.13bln (prev. 90.81bln Y/Y). Raises dividend by 55% to 0.87/shr and launches new 700mln share buyback programme. CFO says the retailer plans to keep cutting prices this year in France to be more competitive; the Red Sea crisis has caused delays of one-to-two weeks on products coming from Asia to Europe and increased transport costs. Shares +4.6% in European trade FX Dollar is mixed vs its peers following yesterday's session of losses which sent the DXY down to a low of 103.79 but stopped shy of testing the 200DMA at 103.68. EUR is back on a 1.07 handle after pulling back from yesterday's 1.0839 peak and back below its 100DMA at 1.0806. Yesterday's low sits at 1.0761 with not much in the way of notable EZ newsflow to guide price action thus far. JPY is relatively steady vs. the USD as the pair continues to pivot around the 150 mark and remains within yesterday's 149.68-150.44 range. Antipodeans are both firmer vs. the USD but NZD more so. NZD/USD has mounted yesterday's peak and the 50DMA at 0.6181 with focus now on a potential test of 0.62. AUD/USD currently below yesterday's best of 0.6579 and the 200DMA at 0.6563. PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.1030 vs exp. 7.1877 (prev. 7.1068). Fixed Income USTs are essentially unchanged after Tuesday's light session into the 20yr supply. An outing which hasn't spurred any overt concession just yet, but this could well emerge into the US session. The yield curve is slightly steeper, whilst the benchmark itself is comfortably within Tuesday's 109-19 to 110-05 bounds. Bunds started the session on bearish/defensive footing, printing a trough at 132.89; initially unreactive to a strong German outing, but modest upside has emerged since. Gilt price action is in-fitting with the above ahead of BoE speak from Dhingra; incremental upside to a strong 2028 outing. UK sells GBP 4bln 4.50% 2028 Gilt: b/c 3.34x (prev. 2.86x), average yield 4.095% (prev. 3.946%) & tail 0.4bps (prev. 1.2bps) Germany sells EUR 3.712bln vs exp. EUR 4.5bln 2.20% 2034 Bund: b/c 2.1x (prev. 1.77x), average yield 2.38% (prev. 2.23%) and retention 17.53% (prev. 19.78%) Commodities Crude is lower with fresh catalysts light, though focus still remains on the Middle East and China; Brent futures hover off lows and holds around USD 82/bbl. Precious metals see upward biases despite the modest gains seen in the Dollar, but as market sentiment is tilting lower and geopolitics largely show signs of expanding; XAU met resistance at its 50 DMA (2,031.04/oz today). Mostly firmer trade across base metals. 3M LME copper rose back above the 8,500/t mark and LME aluminium soared over 3% in early trade Geopolitics: Middle East China's envoy to the UN said the objection to a ceasefire in Gaza equals a license to kill and is nothing different from giving the green light to a continued slaughter following the US veto of the Security Council draft resolution on a ceasefire in Gaza, while China expressed its strong disappointment at and dissatisfaction with the US veto, according to Reuters. US Central Command said Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at a Greek-flagged and US-owned bulk carrier bound for Yemen's Port of Aden, while one of the missiles detonated near the ship and caused minor damage UKMTO received a report of heightened uncrewed aerial system activity 40NM west of Yemen's Hodeidah. "Israeli sources: progress in hostage talks, Israeli delegation will head to Cairo", according to Sky News Arabia Geopolitics: Other Ukrainian military intelligence chief Budanov said Russia will struggle to keep up the fight and Russians don't have the strength to achieve the goal of seizing two eastern regions this year, according to WSJ. Taiwan's Defence Ministry denied increasing military deployments on Taiwan's offshore islands and said there is nothing unusual regarding the military situation around Taiwan, but stated that it is making preparations with the coast guard for possible new scenarios near offshore islands, according to Reuters. US Event Calendar 07:00: Feb. MBA Mortgage Applications, prior -2.3% 14:00: Jan. FOMC Meeting Minutes Central Bank speakers 08:00: Fed’s Bostic Gives Welcoming Remarks 09:10: Fed’s Barkin Speaks on SiriusXM 14:00: Jan. FOMC Meeting Minutes 17:30: Fed’s Collins Participates in Fireside Chat DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap One of the proudest moment of my career arrived in the last 24 hours as after 29 years of having a Bloomberg terminal, I found out that I breached their monthly download limit for the first time and was locked out. Before I apply for a pay rise based on my increased productivity, I can only think it's because of the colossal spreadsheets that were involved in the making of the Mag-7 chartbook where Galina in my team and I worked out the profitability of every listed stock in every G20 country and amalgamated them to compare with the Mag-7. A quick call to their help desk and my account was thankfully restored. Between publishing the above chart book 9 days ago and now, Nvidia has gone from being the 5th largest company in the US to initially the 4th and then the 3rd largest but yesterday it slipped back to the 5th again as it fell -4.35% ahead of a very important earnings release today. This was the worst daily performance since last October. However implied options suggest that that the post results move is priced to be 10.5% in either direction so stand by for potential fireworks across markets in either direction. After having said that they'll probably end up being flat in after-hours trading by tomorrow's EMR! This move contributed to the S&P 500 (-0.60%) losing ground with the Mag-7 (-1.46%) and the Nasdaq (-0.92%) underperforming. Small caps also lost significant ground, with the Russell 2000 (-1.41%) moving back into the red year-to-date. To be fair, most sectors within the S&P 500 posted pretty modest declines, and the equal-weighted S&P 500 saw a moderate -0.31% decline with 197 advancers. That included a strong performance for Walmart (+3.23%), which was the fifth best performer in the index after their earnings beat estimates. And over in Europe, it was much the same story, with technology stocks helping to drag the broader indices lower, as the STOXX Technology Index fell -1.93%, even though the STOXX 600 (-0.10%) only experienced a marginal decline. Moreover in France, the CAC 40 (+0.34%) hit a new all-time high. In the meantime, sovereign bonds got support from more dovish news over the last 24 hours, as the Canadian CPI print for January surprised on the downside. That was welcome news for investors, as recent prints from the US and Sweden had seen upside surprises, which added to fears that the path back to target was likely to prove a bumpy one. So with Canadian headline inflation down to +2.9% (vs. +3.3% expected), and core inflation also falling, that led to growing expectations that the Bank of Canada would soon be able to cut rates. Indeed, the chance of a rate cut by June surged from 58% on Monday to 84% by the close yesterday, and yields on 10yr Canadian government bonds fell -7.1bps. That backdrop helped support a global sovereign bond rally. There were modest declines in Treasury yields, with the 10yr down -0.5bps to 4.28%, and 2yr down -3.0bps. The bond rally was slightly stronger in Europe, where yields on 10yr bunds (-3.8bps), OATs (-3.6bps) and BTPs (-4.2bps) all fell back. And it was UK gilts (-6.9bps) that saw one of the biggest moves after comments from BoE Governor Bailey. He said that they “ don’t need obviously inflation to come back to target before we cut interest rates. I must be very clear on that, that’s not necessary ”. In addition, Bailey also said he was “comfortable with a profile that has cuts in it”, suggesting that the next move was likely to be a rate cut. In turn, investors became more confident in the likelihood of a cut by June, with the chance up to 66% by the close from 52% the day before. Otherwise on the inflation side, there was better news from the latest commodity declines, with Brent oil prices (-1.46% to $82.34) falling back from their 3-month high the previous day. At the same time, there was a notable decline in iron ore futures (-2.01%), which hit a 3-month low amidst ongoing concern about demand from China. The Bloomberg commodity index declined by -0.44%, although it stayed half a percent above its 2-year lows seen last week. Chinese stocks are bucking the global trend this morning as actions to boost sentiment are winning out for now. The Hang Seng (+2.40%) is off its highs but with the CSI (+2.30%) and the Shanghai Composite (+2.13%) catching up after the lunch break. Other Asian markets are lower with the Nikkei (-0.24%), KOSPI (-0.32%) and the S&P/ASX 200 (-0.66%) trading lower alongside S&P 500 (-0.13%) and NASDAQ 100 (-0.27%) futures. 2yr and 10yr US treasuries are -2.3bps and -0.6bps lower respectively. Early morning data showed that Japan’s exports rose for the second consecutive month advancing +11.9% y/y in January (v/s +9.5% expected and against a +9.7% downwardly revised increase in December) on higher demand for cars and semiconductor-manufacturing equipment. Imports fell -9.6% y/y, versus Bloomberg’s estimate for an -8.7% decrease. As such the trade deficit of -1.758 trillion yen was slightly smaller than the -1.855 trillion yen expected. There wasn’t too much data yesterday, although the US Conference Board’s Leading Index fell for a 22nd consecutive month in January, with a -0.4% decline (vs. -0.3% expected). To the day ahead now, and an important highlight will be Nvidia’s earnings after the US close. Otherwise from central banks, we’ll get the FOMC’s minutes from the January meeting, and hear from the Fed’s Bostic and the BoE’s Dhingra. Data releases include Euro Area consumer confidence for February. Tyler Durden Wed, 02/21/2024 - 08:23.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytFeb 21st, 2024

Nokia (NOK) Rolls Out New Multi-Access Edge Slicing Solution

With e& UAE, Nokia (NOK) launches industry???s first Multi-Access Edge Slicing innovation at Mobile World Congress 2024. Nokia Corporation NOK recently demonstrated its Multi-Access Edge Slicing breakthrough innovation with Etisalat by e& UAE on a live network at Mobile World Congress 2024 in Barcelona. With the help of Multi-Access Edge Slicing, e& UAE can extend new premium slicing services across 4G/5G, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and Fixed Access (FA) that simultaneously support several use cases and applications.Multi-Access Edge Slicing opens up new revenue streams from premium B2C/B2B services and successfully restores the subscriber experience across fixed and mobile access technologies. Operators can utilize the full potential of the multi-slicing feature, where each slice is tailored to specific use cases or applications, allowing the network to be dynamically configured based on the requirements of different services. e& UAE can enable a 4G/5G smartphone user to simultaneously send business-sensitive information using a secure and high-performing network slice and also participate in a video call using another slice.With a multi-sliced FWA or FA network, the technology is likely to boost network experience for families where one slice could be used to access services such as HDTV streaming or cloud gaming while another slice could be used in laptops by working individuals at home. Both slices can be customized on the basis of routing, bit rate, QoS, latency and security to cater to different network characteristics.The cutting-edge technology by Nokia supports laptops, tablets, game consoles, IoT devices, as well as 4G/5G smartphones, including new URSP (UE Route Selection Policy) capable multi-slice smartphones. It can also be used for popular network slicing, wherein a subscriber could order and activate a slice for a gaming application running at the edge cloud with improved network performance, reduced network disruptions and sliced edge.Nokia’s solution is based on industry standards, including 3GPP and IETF, and works ideally in multi-vendor networks. By supporting slice service continuity between 4G, 5G, FWA/Wi-Fi and FA/Wi-Fi, operators can instill the same subscriber experience across all access network technologies.Multi-Access Edge Slicing augments Nokia’s 5G edge slicing and, in recent times, announced edge cloud network slicing solution portfolio. The initiative enables operators to provide 4G/5G Virtual Private Network services for enterprises and industries operating in a wide range of infrastructure.With the launch of Multi-Access Edge Slicing, Nokia is expected to solidify its ground in the network ecosystem with a focus on extending connectivity, pushing the limits of performance and augmenting customer experience. The seamless integration of MEC and Network Slicing is likely to address the growing demand for enhanced connectivity by the core segments.The stock has lost 24% in the past year against the industry’s growth of 8.8%.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchZacks Rank & Key PicksNokia carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) currently. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks hereArista Networks, Inc. ANET , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), is likely to benefit from strong momentum and diversification across its top verticals and product lines. The company has a software-driven, data-centric approach to help customers build their cloud architecture and enhance their cloud experience. Arista has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 17.4% and delivered an earnings surprise of 12%, on average, in the trailing four quarters.It holds a leadership position in 100-gigabit Ethernet switching share in port for the high-speed datacenter segment. Arista is increasingly gaining market traction in 200- and 400-gig high-performance switching products and remains well-positioned for healthy growth in data-driven cloud networking business with proactive platforms and predictive operations.Ubiquiti Inc. UI , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 at present, is a key pick in the broader industry. Headquartered in New York, it offers a comprehensive portfolio of networking products and solutions for service providers and enterprises at disruptive prices.It boasts a proprietary network communication platform that is well-equipped to meet end-market customer needs. In addition, it is committed to reducing operational costs by using a self-sustaining mechanism for rapid product support and dissemination of information by leveraging the strength of the Ubiquiti Community.Headquartered in Wilmington, DE, InterDigital, Inc. IDCC is a pioneer in advanced mobile technologies that enable wireless communications and capabilities. The company engages in designing and developing a wide range of advanced technology solutions, which are used in digital cellular as well as wireless 3G, 4G and IEEE 802-related products and networks.This Zacks Rank #2 stock has a long-term earnings growth expectation of 17.4% and has surged 75.3% in the past year. A well-established global footprint, diversified product portfolio and ability to penetrate different markets are key growth drivers for InterDigital. The addition of technologies related to sensors, user interface and video to its already strong portfolio of wireless technology solutions is likely to drive considerable value, given the massive size of the market it offers licensing technologies to. Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2024 Hurry – you can still get in early on our 10 top tickers for 2024. Hand-picked by Zacks Director of Research, Sheraz Mian, this portfolio has been stunningly and consistently successful. From inception in 2012 through November, 2023, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks gained +974.1%, nearly TRIPLING the S&P 500’s +340.1%. Sheraz has combed through 4,400 companies covered by the Zacks Rank and handpicked the best 10 to buy and hold in 2024. You can still be among the first to see these just-released stocks with enormous potential.See New Top 10 Stocks >>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 Nokia Corporation (NOK): Free Stock Analysis Report InterDigital, Inc. (IDCC): Free Stock Analysis Report Arista Networks, Inc. (ANET): Free Stock Analysis Report Ubiquiti Inc. (UI): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksFeb 20th, 2024

4 Paper and Related Products Stocks to Watch in the Thriving Industry

The Zacks Paper and Related Products industry's prospects look upbeat, backed by strong demand on a rise in e-commerce and growing interest in sustainable packaging solutions. Stocks like SUZ, IP, KLBAY and SPPJY are well-poised to gain from these trends. The Zacks Paper and Related Products industry is set to benefit from increased packaging needs, driven by rising e-commerce activities. Sustained demand from consumer-oriented sectors, such as food, beverages, and healthcare, lends further support. The industry's growth is propelled by the escalating consumer inclination toward paper as an environmentally friendly packaging choice amid rising environmental awareness.Key players, such as Suzano SUZ, International Paper IP, Klabin KLBAY and Sappi SPPJY, are well-positioned to capitalize on these trends as they continue to position themselves favorably in the evolving market landscape.About the IndustryThe Zacks Paper and Related Products industry comprises companies that manufacture and sell paper and paper products. The industry is highly diversified in terms of products, ranging from graphic paper and packaging paper to absorbent hygiene products. Graphic papers, which include printing and writing papers, and newsprint, are utilized for communication purposes. The industry provides packaging solutions for liquid, food, pharmaceutical, beauty, household, commercial and industrial products. It also produces fluff and specialty pulps utilized in absorbent hygiene products, tissues and paper products. The industry caters to a wide array of industries, including food and beverage, farming, home and personal care, health, retail, e-commerce, and transport. Industry players meet customers’ shipping, storage and display requirements with sustainable solutions.Major Trends Shaping the Future of the Paper and Related Products IndustryE-commerce & Consumer Products to Support Packaging Demand: The industry’s significant exposure to consumer-focused markets, such as food, beverages and healthcare, ensures steady earnings growth. With the rise of e-commerce, packaging has gained the utmost importance, as it helps maintain the integrity of the product and withstand the complexities of delivery. According to Statista, global e-commerce sales were $5.8 trillion in 2023, and this figure is expected to reach $8 trillion by 2027, with a CAGR of 8.4%. This presents a major growth opportunity for the Paper and Related Products industry. In 2022, e-commerce accounted for nearly 19% of retail sales worldwide and this share is expected to increase to 25% by 2027. The United States is expected to lead the retail e-commerce development, with a CAGR forecast of 11.82% over 2024-2028. The current valuation of the U.S e-commerce market is $843 billion U.S. dollars and it is anticipated to surpass the $1-trillion mark in 2026. India and Mexico are expected to follow suit, seeing a CAGR of 11.79% and 11.71%, respectively.Sustainability Acts as the Key: Increasing demand for sustainable packaging options and eco-friendly packaging solutions will support the paper market in the days ahead. The paper industry has already begun incorporating recycled content into production methods. By maximizing recycling, the industry will be able to implement environmentally and economically sustainable production methods. Investment in breakthrough technologies will propel the demand for high-quality paper products.Pricing Actions, Improving Efficiency to Offset Cost Inflation: The industry is witnessing rising costs of transportation, chemical and fuel, and supply-chain headwinds. Therefore, industry players are increasingly focusing on pricing actions and cost reduction, and resorting to automation in manufacturing to boost productivity and efficiency. Digitization Hurts Graphic Paper Demand: The transition to digital media has been eroding the graphic-paper market for some time. Paperless communication, increased use of email, less print advertising, more electronic billing and fewer catalogs have collectively contributed to the decline in demand for graphic paper. Consequently, the companies have been converting their machines to produce packaging and specialty papers.Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Bright ProspectsThe Zacks Paper and Related Products industry is a 12-stock group within the broader Basic Materials sector. The industry currently carries a Zacks Industry Rank #30, which places it in the top 12% of the 252 Zacks industries.The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates bullish prospects in the near term. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.Before we present a few Paper and Related Products stocks that investors can keep an eye on, it is worth looking at the industry’s stock-market performance and its valuation picture. Industry Versus S&P 500 & SectorThe Paper and Related Products industry has outperformed the sector but lagged the S&P 500 over the past year. The stocks in this industry have gained 14.9%, while the Basic Materials sector has lost 1.4%. The S&P 500 has grown 25.4% in the said time frame.One-Year Price Performance Industry's Current ValuationOn the basis of the trailing 12-month EV/EBITDA ratio, a commonly-used multiple for valuing Paper and Related Products companies, we see that the industry is currently trading at 7.11X compared with the S&P 500’s 13.80X and the Basic Material sector’s trailing 12-month EV/EBITDA of 11.01X. This is shown in the charts below.Enterprise Value/EBITDA (EV/EBITDA) Ratio (TTM)Enterprise Value/EBITDA (EV/EBITDA) Ratio (TTM)Over the last five years, the industry traded as high as 11.25X and as low as 3.98X, the median being 6.82X.4 Paper and Related Products Stocks to WatchSuzano: With the acquisition of Kimberly-Clark’s tissue assets in Brazil in 2023, the company has become the leader in the domestic toilet tissue market. The deal added the Neve brand to SUZ’s portfolio and a plant with an annual capacity of 130,000 tons in Mogi das Cruzes (São Paulo), among other assets. The company continues to focus on digital transformation initiatives and invest in its portfolio of innovative products. Suzano’s $2.8-billion Cerrado Project, which is likely to commence production in June 2024, is expected to boost its current pulp production capacity by 20%. It will be the world’s largest plant with a single eucalyptus pulp production line. SUZ recently announced a slew of projects that will boost its production capacity and enhance its operational efficiency. These include a R$520-million investment to replace a biomass boiler and a R$650-million planned spending for the construction of a tissue paper mill in Espírito Santo. Suzano also announced investments of R$490 million to produce fluff pulp from eucalyptus wood (Eucafluff), with a nominal annual production capacity of 340 tons.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2024 for the Salvador, Brazil-based integrated pulp and paper producer has moved up 4% in the past 60 days. Suzano currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. Price & Consensus: SUZKlabin: In the fourth quarter of 2023, the company achieved a total sales volume of 961,000 tons, driven by a 10% increase in the pulp segment and an 11% rise in paperboard sales. Higher paperboard sales volume reflects the ramp-up of Paper Machine 28. In September 2023, KLBAY inaugurated the Puma II project with R$12.9 billion invested in the installation of two paper machines — MP27 and MP28 — with a total annual production capacity of 910,000 tons of paper. The MP28 machine also marked Klabin’s debut in the white paperboard market, reinforcing the expansion of its product portfolio. Klabin recently announced the acquisition of Arauco’s forest operation, which concludes forest expansion for the Puma II Project. With this deal, the company will be able to achieve its 75% self-sufficiency target in wood in Paraná. The company’s efforts to improve efficiency in its operations will also aid results. KLBAY shares have gained 6% in the past six months.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the São Paulo, Brazil-based company’s fiscal 2024 earnings has moved up 11.8% over the past 60 days. Klabin currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Price & Consensus: KLBAYSappi: The demand for dissolving pulp has been positive, supported by sustained high operating rates for viscose staple fiber and a recovery in pricing for alternative textile fibers, such as cotton. The company is progressing well in its Thrive25 strategic program. This entails focusing on growing its dissolving pulp capacity, expanding packaging and specialty papers in all regions, and reducing exposure to the graphic paper markets. Its ongoing restructuring actions are expected to yield significant cost savings. SPPJY is also focusing on maintaining financial health and progressing toward attaining a net debt target of $1 billion. It is striving to drive operational excellence by improving its cost position and production efficiencies.Johannesburg, South Africa-based Sappi has an estimated long-term earnings growth of 13.6%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s 2024 earnings has moved up 29.6% over the past 60 days. The company currently carries a Zacks Rank #2.Price: SPPJYInternational Paper: The company is adding capacity to its existing plants and investing in plants that will help it capitalize on the demand for corrugated and containerboard packaging, going forward. This will aid the Industrial Paper segment. In the Global cellulose fibers segment, demand for fluff is expected to pick up, considering the essential role that absorbent personal care products play in meeting consumer needs. The company realized $260 million of year-over-year incremental earnings improvement in 2023, outperforming the target of $125-$150 million for the year. This was achieved by streamlining the organization, cutting overhead spending, leveraging advanced technology and data analytics to improve efficiencies and lowering costs across its large system of mills and box plants. The same target range is projected for 2024 as well. The company’s efforts to reduce debt levels appear encouraging. Mergers and acquisitions are the key strategies for IP to strengthen its packaging business.This Memphis, TN-based entity has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 19.4%, on average. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for IP’s 2024 earnings has been unchanged over the past 60 days. International Paper currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).Price & Consensus: IP  Just Released: Zacks Top 10 Stocks for 2024 Hurry – you can still get in early on our 10 top tickers for 2024. Hand-picked by Zacks Director of Research, Sheraz Mian, this portfolio has been stunningly and consistently successful. From inception in 2012 through November, 2023, the Zacks Top 10 Stocks gained +974.1%, nearly TRIPLING the S&P 500’s +340.1%. Sheraz has combed through 4,400 companies covered by the Zacks Rank and handpicked the best 10 to buy and hold in 2024. You can still be among the first to see these just-released stocks with enormous potential.See New Top 10 Stocks >>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 Suzano S.A. Sponsored ADR (SUZ): Free Stock Analysis Report International Paper Company (IP): Free Stock Analysis Report Klabin SA (KLBAY): Free Stock Analysis Report Sappi Ltd. (SPPJY): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksFeb 20th, 2024

CCP Tightens Exit Controls Amid Sharp Increase In Citizens Fleeing China

CCP Tightens Exit Controls Amid Sharp Increase In Citizens Fleeing China Authored by Alex Wu via The Epoch Times, The sharp increase of Chinese citizens joining the “run” movement—fleeing China by both legal and illegal means—has attracted international attention since the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) three-year draconian “zero-COVID” lockdowns that caused countless humanitarian tragedies. Most of them have taken various routes to the United States, their ideal destination. Meanwhile, the CCP is reported to have tightened control over Chinese citizens’ overseas travel to save face as so many citizens are fleeing, in contrast to the CCP’s claim of “confidence” in its system. Different Routes According to media reports and what fleeing citizens told The Epoch Times, Chinese nationals at various economic strata take different routes into the United States. People with sufficient funds can enter Mexico through a Schengen visa or a short visit visa. Some use a Korean visa to enter Panama without a visa, and some people directly obtain a Mexican visa under the arrangement of an agency and cross the U.S. southern border via the shortest route. Other Chinese have taken longer routes, first flying to Thailand, then to Turkey, then to Ecuador. Others fly to Turkey via Hong Kong. Mr. Lu, who is doing business in Thailand, told The Epoch Times that the Chinese regime has tightened its exit controls. His full name, along with others mentioned in this story, is being withheld for his safety. If people join a tour group, they won’t be bothered by border control agents. But people traveling independently will most likely be interrogated for extended periods by customs about their reasons for going to Thailand. “The authorities are worried that after people go to Thailand, they may go from Thailand to Turkey, South America, and then enter the United States,” he said. “Some people from Chengdu, Luoyang, and other parts of China told me that when they were leaving China as individuals, they’re all interrogated, the shortest questioning time was 25 minutes.” Mr. Lu believes that the reason why customs have interrogated people like this was that they must have received orders from above to probe people’s reasons for leaving. Mr. Zhang, who just fled China, told The Epoch Times that when they left China via Turkey in September 2023, it was relatively normal and there were not many restrictions. But since early December last year it started to tighten restrictions. Migrants walk along the US side of the United States border wall after crossing through an open gap in Jacumba, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times) Mr. Zhang said that one of his friends went to Turkey in December, but the situation was different. “He bought a ticket that required a layover in Chengdu in China. That is, he flew from Bangkok to Chengdu and then to Turkey,” he said. “When he entered Chengdu Airport, the Chinese airport staff stopped him and tried to drag him to the Chinese domestic area, preventing him from leaving. Fortunately, he stayed with another passenger who is Turkish in the international area in the airport and didn’t cross to the Chinese side at the airport. Once he enters the the Chinese area at the airport, he will definitely not be able to get out of the country. He thought about it now and felt it’s rather scary.” CCP Tightens Control to Save Face Mr. Yang, a Chinese expat in Thailand, told The Epoch Times, “Those Chinese who have the means to flee, most of them have already left after the CCP abandoned the COVID-19 controls. There are still more people leaving now because they needed time to take care of families, children, real estate, and businesses in China, so they are leaving slowly.” He said that it is certain that the communist regime is trying to suppress this, because there are too many Chinese people fleeing now. “Many Chinese people haven’t been interviewed by the CCP’s national security. They haven’t attracted the attention of the CCP, or were not its focus, so they were able to leave. Those people who have been interviewed by the national security are restricted from leaving China, so they have to find ways to leave the country illegally,” he said. Mr. Wei, who just came to the United States last year, told The Epoch Times, “I learned from many people that the exit control at many ports in China is currently being tightened.” Li Beixing, who traveled to the United States last year, told The Epoch Times, “The CCP’s customs staff asked me to take out everything from my bag, and then they took my cellphone to check my communication records. They interrogated me for at least two hours, asking every question they could think of.” Lawyer Liang Shaohua, former chief compliance officer of a mainland asset management company, told The Epoch Times that everyone in mainland China could apply for a passport before, but that seems to no longer be the case. Those who have a passport are also not allowed to renew it. A post on Chinese social media has attracted wide attention in recent days. It shows that Lianjiang County in Fujian Province was having a meeting titled “Lianjiang County’s deployment meeting to crackdown on smuggling to the United States and the control of key personnel involved in fraud” to focus on the “run” movement in the county. Mr. Wu from Fujian told The Epoch Times that what happened in Lianjiang is true. “If someone is caught there, they will be fined into bankruptcy,” he said. Mr. Wu said that Lianjiang County is the hometown of overseas Chinese, and is a place known for smuggling people out of the country. After three years of COVID-19 lockdowns and strict controls, a large number of people have begun to flee again, and many people are being smuggled out to other countries, with most fleeing to the United States. “Why [does the CCP] need to crack down on it? People are all gone, there is no one here anymore, and it sounds bad in the international community,” Mr. Wu said. Mr. Li in Lianjiang also confirmed with The Epoch Times Lianjiang’s supression notice, saying that it’s been particularly strict recently. “It is because the CCP is afraid of losing face, so the higher-ups are suppressing local officials, and now people are caught for smuggling out they will be sentenced to prison.” A Border Patrol agent apprehends a Chinese couple that just waded across the Rio Grande from Mexico into Eagle Pass, Texas, on Jan. 25, 2022. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times) International human right group Safeguard Defenders published a report in last May that the CCP “is increasingly resorting to exit bans to punish human rights defenders (HRDs) and their families, hold people hostage to force targets overseas to come back to China (a practice called persuade to return, a form of transnational repression), control ethnic-religious groups, engage in hostage diplomacy and intimidate foreign journalists.” The CCP’s exit ban and others are “illegitimate and violate the Universal Declaration of Human Right’s principle of Freedom of Movement,” the report pointed out. Tyler Durden Tue, 02/20/2024 - 02:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytFeb 20th, 2024

20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey

In this piece, we will look at the 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. For more Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, head on over to 5 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. In a society where approximately half of all marriages end in divorce, navigating […] In this piece, we will look at the 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. For more Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, head on over to 5 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. In a society where approximately half of all marriages end in divorce, navigating the complexities of legal separation and child custody issues requires the expertise of skilled professionals. In 2021, a staggering 689,308 divorces were recorded across 45 U.S. states, illustrating the prevalence and significance of this life-altering event. Amidst the 1,985,072 marriages that took place during the same year, the U.S. marriage rate stood at 6 per 1,000 people, underscoring the pervasive nature of divorce within the fabric of American relationships. The process of divorce is not only emotionally taxing but also time-consuming, with contested divorces often extending over a year for finalization, though simpler cases can conclude in as little as three months. Drawing from data provided by Flowing Data, sectors such as protective services, transportation, construction, management, and sales exhibit a 40% divorce rate, shedding light on the unique strains these professions may impose on individuals and their personal relationships. On the contrary, industries such as healthcare, military service, and occupations in computers and mathematics demonstrate comparatively lower divorce rates, showcasing the diverse impacts that professional demands can have on marital harmony. As we delve deeper into the dynamics of marriage, the age at which individuals choose to embark on the journey of matrimony also emerges as a significant factor. According to available data, the average age for first-time divorce is 30 years old, a point in life where individuals may be reassessing their priorities and personal goals. Moreover, a notable pattern surfaces, indicating that the most common age bracket for divorce falls between 25 to 39 years old, encompassing a substantial 60% of all divorces. Alarming statistics reveal that 67 percent of second marriages and an even higher percentage of third marriages culminate in divorce. The financial toll of divorce is substantial, as couples spend an average of $7,000 to dissolve their union, contributing to the thriving $28 billion-a-year divorce industry that affects half of those involved in marriage. In this intricate and often overwhelming landscape, the role of divorce and child custody lawyers emerges as crucial, which is why we have handpicked the Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. These legal professionals play a pivotal role in guiding individuals through the legal intricacies, ensuring fair resolutions, and safeguarding the rights of all parties involved, making them indispensable allies in the challenging terrain of marital dissolution. The legal sector has been experiencing a wave of innovation and disruption in recent years, with the emergence of various companies aiming to bring convenience and efficiency to both traditional law firms and direct clients. The use of legal technology skyrocketed during the pandemic; and it hasn’t slowed down since. According to the 2022 Legal Trends Report, Cloud-based LPMs have transformed the practice of law by enabling lawyers to offer better client experiences and increased flexibility. So before moving onto 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, let us look at a few companies that are leveraging technology to streamline processes, improve access to legal services, and enhance overall client experience. LegalZoom.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:LZ) LegalZoom.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:LZ) provides an online platform in the United States that offers a variety of legal and compliance solutions for small businesses and individuals. Its range of services includes assisting with business formations, drafting estate planning documents, safeguarding intellectual property rights, filling out specific forms and agreements, granting access to independent attorney consultations, and linking customers with professionals for tax preparation and bookkeeping assistance. LegalZoom.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:LZ) has a current market capitalization of $1.99 billion USD. For the twelve months ending September 30, 2023, the company reported revenue of $649.55 million, reflecting a 5.53% year-over-year growth. In the quarter ending September 30, 2023, revenue amounted to $167.27 million, representing a 7.73% year-over-year growth. In 2022, LegalZoom.com recorded annual revenue of $619.98 million, marking a 7.81% growth compared to the previous year. Intapp, Inc. (NASDAQ:INTA) Intapp (NASDAQ:INTA) offers cloud-based software solutions designed to meet the specific operational challenges and regulatory needs of the services industry. Despite the legal industry’s focus on client service, many firms struggle to attract new clients and strengthen existing relationships due to increased competition, market changes, and geopolitical uncertainty, hindering growth. To address this issue, Intapp (NASDAQ:INTA) concentrates on serving law firms with growth-oriented goals. Regardless of the specific practice areas or industries a law firm specializes in, Intapp provides a solution that integrates individuals, workflows, and information to enhance risk management, streamline operations, and enhance profitability. Earlier this year in January, DAC Beachcroft, a prominent international legal firm, opted for Intapp (NASDAQ:INTA) Collaboration & Content to enhance firmwide knowledge management. This initiative aims to enhance information management within the firm, aiming to boost client satisfaction and internal efficiency. Furthermore, the firm will collaborate with Intapp to establish best practices for supporting contemporary legal work through document management technology. CS Disco, Inc. (NYSE:LAW) CS Disco, Inc. (NYSE:LAW) integrates artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and data analytics into legal practice, allowing attorneys to concentrate on their primary objectives: achieving justice for clients and prevailing in significant disputes worldwide. It’s used globally by corporate legal departments, law firms, and government agencies for e-discovery in compliance, disputes, and investigations. CS Disco (NYSE:LAW) generated $134.89 million in revenue for the twelve months ending September 30, 2023, experiencing a slight decrease of -1.16% year-over-year. Revenue for the quarter ending September 30, 2023, was $34.94 million, with a modest 1.36% year-over-year growth. In 2022, CS Disco reported annual revenue of $135.19 million, reflecting a significant growth of 18.23%. As individuals in New Jersey grapple with these life-changing events, the search for the best divorce and child custody lawyers becomes imperative, and this list aims to spotlight the 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, poised to provide the necessary support and expertise during this trying time.  But it is also important to note that most of these divorce law offices are local in nature. The granular and local nature of the divorce lawyer market is crucial for several reasons. Family laws can vary significantly based on jurisdiction, and a granular approach allows lawyers to stay well-versed in the specific regulations and nuances of their local areas. Additionally, family dynamics and legal needs differ, making specialization essential to address the diverse circumstances of clients effectively. One more factor is that the legal field has long prioritized independence and ethical conduct, and permitting public ownership could jeopardize these principles. Moreover, the characteristics of legal services and the confidentiality obligations inherent in attorney-client relationships might not harmonize effectively with the transparency and disclosure obligations associated with being publicly traded. Consequently, the majority of law firms opt to maintain their status as partnerships or privately owned businesses, as you will see in our list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. While the idea of setting up companies and sharing marketing and back-office expenses may seem logical from a business perspective, the personal and sensitive nature of family law requires a more individualized and client-focused approach. Each case is unique, demanding personalized attention, and local specialization ensures lawyers are intimately familiar with the intricacies of the legal landscape in their specific regions, ultimately providing more tailored and effective representation to clients. Therefore, private companies, far from being inferior to their public counterparts, actually leverage their private status to their advantage. So not to fret, our curated list of 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey is all that you need to choose the Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey for your unique needs. Stuart Miles/Shutterstock.com Methodology In compiling the article on the 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, we conducted an extensive search for divorce lawyers throughout the state. Our assessment focused on utilizing Google ratings and reviews as key criteria. To ensure a comprehensive selection, we identified lawyers and law firms in each city, primarily choosing those with the highest Google ratings and also filtering on the basis of number of Google reviews. This meticulous approach aimed to highlight legal professionals who not only excel in their field but also have garnered positive recognition and feedback from their clients. The resulting list is a curated compilation of 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, providing a valuable resource for individuals seeking reliable and highly regarded legal representation in family law matters. 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. 20. Williams Law Group, LLC Average Google rating: 4.3 Current Google reviews: 140 We are starting our list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey with Williams Law Group. Williams Law Group, LLC, located in Short Hills, New Jersey, stands as a distinguished family law firm extending its services to clients across the state. The firm’s practice areas encompass a comprehensive range of family and matrimonial law matters, including divorce, child custody and support, alimony, property division, marital agreements, mediation, collaborative law, and various child welfare issues such as DYFS/DCPP investigations and appeals. Led by the accomplished founding attorney, Allison C. Williams, the firm boasts nearly two decades of experience and holds the prestigious certification from the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney. Under the guidance of Attorney Williams, the Williams Law Group has earned a reputation for excellence, known for its dedicated and skilled team of negotiators and assertive litigators. The firm is steadfast in its commitment as relentless advocates for the well-being of children, parents, and families, ensuring that each client receives tailored legal solutions to navigate the complexities of family law matters. 19. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group Average Google rating: 4.4 Current Google reviews: 109 The Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group stands as a team of dedicated and specialized divorce lawyers and family law attorneys in New Jersey, committed exclusively to safeguarding your future. Whether residents of Jersey City or surrounding areas seek legal representation for divorce, child custody, alimony, child support, adoption, restraining orders, or any other family law matter, this esteemed group of advocates is poised to provide expert assistance. With a laser focus on New Jersey divorce and family law, their carefully selected team of formidable attorneys is prepared to craft innovative legal solutions and tirelessly advocate on your behalf. Boasting 25 years of collective experience, they bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. The Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group’s offices are strategically located throughout North and South Jersey, ensuring accessibility and convenience for those in need of their exceptional legal services. 18. HD Family Law Average Google rating: 4.5 Current Google reviews: 25 HD Family Law has made it to number nineteen on the list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. It is a private legal practice serving Jersey City and its neighboring areas, offers comprehensive assistance throughout the divorce process, encompassing appeals, pre-trial motions, trials, and settlement negotiations. In addition to divorce matters, the firm adeptly handles various aspects of family law, such as post-divorce modifications, prenuptial agreements, and adoptions. Principal attorney Helen M. Dukhan, recognized as a standout professional, has earned a place in the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys: Top 10 under 40. Her commitment to excellence is underscored by her ability to assist clients in both English and Russian, ensuring effective communication and tailored legal solutions for a diverse clientele. 17. The Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen Average Google rating: 4.5 Current Google reviews: 63 Peter Van Aulen stands out as a distinguished divorce lawyer in NJ, holding the prestigious certification from the Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney—a recognition held by only a select few in the field. With an unwavering commitment to divorce and New Jersey family law, Peter brings over twenty-five years of extensive experience to his practice. As a prominent figure in Northern New Jersey and Bergen County, he has navigated through numerous divorce cases of varying complexities, showcasing his proficiency in both large-scale and nuanced legal matters. Peter’s dedication extends beyond the courtroom, as evidenced by his impressive contributions to the legal community. Having authored or edited over 300 divorce and New Jersey family law articles, he has demonstrated a commitment to sharing his knowledge and expertise. His practice encompasses a wide spectrum of matrimonial law, including handling challenging cases involving custody disputes, parent alienation, child relocation, and international child abduction. Peter Van Aulen’s prowess extends to matters of domestic violence, where he has successfully obtained Restraining Orders for victims and adeptly defended clients against unfounded claims. His skill set also includes drafting prenuptial agreements and divorce settlement agreements, ensuring their enforceability and providing clients with comprehensive legal solutions. 16. DeTommaso Law Group Average Google rating: 4.6 Current Google reviews: 54 Led by Attorney Michael J. DeTommaso, the DeTommaso Law Group, LLC, stands at number sixteen on our list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. A formidable team of divorce attorneys dedicated to delivering aggressive and proactive representation for families across Somerset, Morris, Middlesex, Hunterdon, and Union Counties, as well as throughout New Jersey. Specializing in a wide range of domestic and matrimonial matters, the team collaborates closely with each client to devise short- and long-term legal strategies aimed at achieving their specific goals. Whether dealing with Family Court litigation or other legal challenges, the lawyers at DeTommaso Law Group work tirelessly to safeguard the best interests of clients and their families. What sets them apart is their commitment to tailoring their approach to meet the unique needs of each case, ensuring that clients receive personalized representation at every step of their legal journey. 15. Duque Isern Law Average Google rating: 4.6 Current Google reviews: 85 Duque Isern Law is a dedicated legal practice serving individuals, couples, and families in Jersey City and the surrounding areas. Specializing in divorce and legal separation, the firm offers counsel and representation, tailoring a customized legal roadmap to guide clients through the process efficiently and with minimal stress. Managing attorney Stephanie M. Isern, with expertise in divorce cases, also extends her services to immigration law and represents clients in family courts and municipal courts. Notably, the firm includes team members fluent in Spanish, enhancing accessibility and communication for a diverse clientele. Duque Isern Law is committed to providing comprehensive legal solutions to meet the unique needs of its clients in family law matters. 14. Moskowitz Law Group, LLC Average Google rating: 4.6 Current Google reviews: 190 Duque Isern Law is not just a legal practice; it’s a dedicated ally for those navigating the complexities of family law. Whether you seek assistance in establishing paternity or pursuing custody of your grandchild, their overarching goal is to provide support with unwavering integrity, empathy, and care. What sets them apart is their exclusive focus on family law. While some firms may treat family law as a secondary aspect of their practice, Duque Isern Law is committed solely to this area, ensuring that their expertise is finely tuned to the nuances and challenges unique to family legal matters. This commitment underscores their dedication to providing specialized and comprehensive assistance to individuals and families in Jersey City and the surrounding metros. 13. Freeman Law Center, LLC Average Google rating: 4.6 Current Google reviews: 297 With over 30 years of experience, Freeman Law Center LLC is a highly skilled family law firm specializing in guiding clients through divorce proceedings. Their seasoned attorneys adeptly handle issues such as child custody, support, property division, and spousal support. The firm offers mediation services for those preferring amicable resolutions but vigorously represents clients in court when disputes escalate.Freeman Law Center LLC’s longevity in the legal field is a testament to its unwavering dedication to delivering high-quality legal services. With a wealth of experience and a commitment to client advocacy, the firm remains a trusted resource for individuals navigating the complexities of family law and divorce in particular. And it is very evident from the number of reviews and ratings why Freeman Law Center made it to our list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. 12. Netsquire – Divorce & Family Law Attorney Average Google rating: 4.7 Current Google reviews: 29 On our list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey, Netsquire, based in Morristown, NJ, stands out for its specialized focus on providing swift and cost-effective divorce solutions for individuals in Morristown and the surrounding areas of New Jersey. Their distinctive approach prioritizes efficiently resolving the entirety of a divorce, all while keeping costs lower than retaining separate attorneys for both parties. Netsquire offers comprehensive assistance in various areas of Family Law, including adoption, post-judgment issues, prenuptial agreements, mediation, LGBTQIA+ Law, domestic violence, divorce, and child custody. This firm’s commitment to delivering efficient and affordable divorce solutions underscores its dedication to helping clients navigate the complexities of family legal matters with ease. 11. Petrelli Previtera, LLC Average Google rating: 4.7 Current Google reviews: 50 Petrelli Previtera, LLC, is distinguished by its team of family law attorneys who bring extensive experience to a range of family law matters. Specializing in both uncontested and contested divorce cases, the firm is well-versed in protecting clients’ rights concerning child support, child custody, and asset division. Their nuanced understanding of the complexities of divorce enables them to provide strategic and effective representation tailored to individual needs. Beyond divorce, the family law attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC, exhibit proficiency in adoption cases and adeptly advocate for the interests of both adoptive and biological parents. Whether navigating the emotional terrain of adoption or addressing the legal aspects of biological parenthood, their attorneys are committed to providing unwavering support. 10. Family Focused legal Solutions Average Google rating: 4.7 Current Google reviews: 53 In Morristown, New Jersey, Family Focused Legal Solutions distinguishes itself as a law firm devoted to the intricacies of family and matrimonial law. Understanding the unique nature of each case, their attorneys and staff prioritize personalized attention to address the specific needs of families throughout North and Central New Jersey. Notably, this firm on our list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey has earned a reputation for excellence in this field. One notable area of expertise at Family Focused Legal Solutions lies in the meticulous preparation and review of prenuptial agreements. With a comprehensive understanding of the legal intricacies surrounding such agreements, their attorneys craft documents that not only meet all legal requirements but also safeguard the interests of their clients. Recognizing that legal matters persist even after a divorce is finalized, Family Focused Legal Solutions extends its support through post-judgment services. Whether it involves modifying custody or support arrangements, navigating complex cases related to parental relocation or alienation, or enforcing divorce order terms when compliance is at stake, their experienced attorneys provide necessary guidance and representation. This commitment to comprehensive assistance underscores the firm’s dedication to ensuring the continued well-being and legal protection of their clients long after the conclusion of the divorce process. 9. Villani & DeLuca, Attorneys at Law Average Google rating: 4.7 Current Google reviews: 99 Founded in 1996 by Attorneys Carmine R. Villani and Vincent C. DeLuca, Villani & DeLuca is a legal firm that emerged with a vision of providing clients in New Jersey with respectful and trustworthy legal representation. With over twenty-three years of dedicated service, the firm has expanded to include a team of professionals specializing in diverse practice areas such as family law, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, DWI/DUI, criminal defense, and personal injury. The New Jersey attorneys at Villani & DeLuca prioritize individualized client needs, offering tailored legal solutions. Vincent C. DeLuca, a partner at the firm, exclusively focuses his practice on family law, bringing expertise as a trained divorce mediator and collaborative divorce attorney. Carmine R. Villani, the managing partner, co-founded the firm with Vincent over 20 years ago. He has played a pivotal role in establishing Villani & DeLuca’s reputation in criminal defense. The firm’s growth in stature reflects its commitment to providing exceptional legal services and personalized attention to clients facing a range of legal challenges in New Jersey. 8. The Divorce Service Average Google rating: 4.8 Current Google reviews: 37 Conveniently located in the State of New Jersey, Petrelli Previtera, LLC, is dedicated to offering comprehensive divorce services tailored to the unique circumstances of each client. Specializing exclusively in New Jersey Court Documentation, their expertise extends to all court rules and guidelines for every county and clerk in the state. Recognizing the importance of personalized support, the firm assigns a dedicated Divorce Caseworker to each case, ensuring one-on-one assistance throughout the entire divorce process until its finalization. This personalized approach allows clients direct communication with their caseworker through multiple channels, including phone, text, and email, providing them with continuous support and guidance as they navigate the complexities of divorce proceedings. 7. The Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC Average Google rating: 4.8 Current Google reviews: 86 At The Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC, meticulous attention to detail is the cornerstone of their approach. Led by a dedicated team, they thoroughly review each case, aiding clients in crafting a strategic plan that presents their case in the most favorable light before the court. Known for their assertive advocacy, the team at this law office is committed to pursuing resolutions that align with the best interests of their clients. Their experience extends across a spectrum of divorce cases involving complex issues, such as custody disputes, hidden assets, domestic violence, unreported income, and premarital property. Handling these nuanced factors with precision is paramount to protecting the rights of individuals undergoing divorce, and The Law Office of Steven M. Cytryn, LLC, ensures that each case is addressed with the necessary expertise and dedication. 6. The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh, L.L.C. Average Google rating: 4.8 Current Google reviews: 105 Sixth on the list of Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey is The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh. Rajeh A. Saadeh, founder and principal attorney of The Law Office of Rajeh A. Saadeh, L.L.C., is a licensed legal professional offering sophisticated counsel and representation in divorce and family law matters. With a focus on serving clients in both New Jersey and New York, Rajeh specializes in various areas, including collaborative law, contested and uncontested divorce, military divorce, and asset division. He also addresses issues such as same-sex divorce and alimony. Beyond divorce, Rajeh provides guidance on pre and post-nuptial agreements, adoption, child custody, child support, father’s rights, paternity, and same-sex family law. Recognized for his excellence, he has been honored by The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys as one of the 10 Best Under 40, showcasing his dedication to delivering top-tier legal services tailored to the unique needs of his clients. Click to continue reading and find out about 5 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey. Suggested Articles: 30 Countries with Lowest Divorce Rates in the World Best Divorce Lawyers in Each of 30 Biggest Cities in the US Billionaire John Paulson’s Messy Divorce and Top Stock Picks Disclosure: None. Top 20 Best Divorce and Child Custody Lawyers in New Jersey is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyFeb 19th, 2024

4 things a doctor who"s written best-selling books about aging does daily in the hope of living longer

Lifestyle choices are the biggest factor in how long we'll live, a longevity doctor said. He eats a plant-based diet and exercises daily. Dr. Michael Greger tries to eat berries and cruciferous vegetables daily to live longer.Michael Greger/BIOur lifestyle choices are the biggest indicator of how long we will live, a doctor said. Dr. Michael Greger shared the four things he does daily in to boost his longevity. Greger mostly eats plant-based whole foods and exercises daily. Dr. Michael Greger has written four New York Times bestsellers on the subject of longevity and healthy living. He’s dedicated his career to studying how nutrition and lifestyle factors can increase lifespan and shares his findings in his books and charity, Nutritionfacts.orgGreger then applies his findings to his own life, he told Business Insider, and is a huge advocate of life-lengthening habits, such as eating a healthy diet and staying active.Greger shared four things he tries to do daily to live the longest, healthiest life possible. Eat berries, cruciferous vegetables, and flax seeds “The most important thing we can do is we can follow the Blue Zones example and center our diets around whole plant foods,” Greger said.Blue Zones are small regions — such as Loma Linda, California — where the population lives around 10 years longer than the country’s average.People in Blue Zones tend to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds and low in refined sugar, animal products, and ultra-processed foods. The Blue Zone diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet, which is widely considered the healthiest way to eat.“Basically real food that grows out of the ground,” Greger said.Greger primarily, but not exclusively, eats plants. “I certainly try not to be a hypocrite and try to eat the diet that I recommend to everybody,” he said. More specifically, he tries to eat berries and cruciferous vegetables daily. He often blends these into a smoothie that he sips throughout the day. Breakfast, meanwhile, will typically be oats with cherries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and cocoa powder.“For kind of a morning-time chocolate-covered cherry sensation,” he joked.Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, contain nutrients such as sulforaphane, a compound that can neutralize toxins and reduce inflammation, while berries are rich in antioxidants, which help fight cell damage, Greger said on his YouTube channel. Greger also eats one tablespoon of ground flax seeds every day because they contain high quantities of lignans, which are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. He sprinkles this on his oats or adds it to a smoothie. Use a treadmill desk Being sedentary, or sitting 10 or more hours a day, is linked to a higher risk of dying early, while an active lifestyle is known to have a huge range of health benefits, from improving heart health to reducing the risk of cancer. Whenever Greger works from home, he walks all day on a treadmill desk set to two to three miles per hour. He estimated that he walks around 14 miles a day. “That keeps me from being sedentary, but it doesn't really give me exercise per se,” he said. Get his heart rate up Greger makes sure that he gets his heart rate up every day in some way, aiming to do 90 minutes of moderate or 40 minutes of vigorous exercise. But he was on the road for a speaking tour when he spoke to BI and is the first to admit that maintaining healthy habits can be tough when you’re traveling. So he works with what he has available. “This new apartment I have by the airport is on the 18th floor, so I try to jog up 18 floors every day,” he said. He also packs a resistance band and does burpees if the place where he’s staying doesn’t have enough stairs. Eat calories earlier in the day Eating earlier rather than later is thought to be beneficial for health and longevity because of how our circadian rhythm works, Greger said. The exact same number of calories eaten in the evening causes less of a blood sugar spike in the morning, and we absorb fewer triglycerides, the fat the body converts unused calories into, he said. In a 2022 review of studies involving 485 adults, researchers found that participants who consumed most of their calories earlier in the day lost more weight than those who did the opposite despite eating a similar amount overall.They also saw bigger improvements in their blood sugar and cholesterol levels.“If you're going to eat any kind of junk, you eat it in the morning because the body's better able to handle it,” he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytFeb 19th, 2024

Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CNK) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CNK) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 16, 2024 Cinemark Holdings, 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: Hello, and welcome to the Cinemark Holdings Fourth Quarter 2023 Earnings Call and Webcast. [Operator Instructions] A […] Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:CNK) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 16, 2024 Cinemark Holdings, 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: Hello, and welcome to the Cinemark Holdings Fourth Quarter 2023 Earnings Call and Webcast. [Operator Instructions] A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It’s now my pleasure to turn the call over to Chanda Brashears, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead. Chanda Brashears: Good morning, everyone. I would like to welcome you to Cinemark Holdings, Inc.’s fourth quarter and full year 2023 earnings release conference call, hosted by Sean Gamble, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Melissa Thomas, Chief Financial Officer. Before we begin, I would like to remind everyone that statements or comments made on this conference call may be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements may include, but are not necessarily limited to, financial projections or other statements of the company’s plans, objectives, expectations or intentions. These matters involve certain risks and uncertainties. The company’s actual results may materially differ from forward-looking projections due to a variety of factors. Information concerning the factors that could cause results to differ materially is contained in the company’s most recently filed annual report on Form 10-K. Also, today’s call may include non-GAAP financial measures. A reconciliation of these non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures can be found in the company’s most recently filed earnings release, 10-K and on the company’s website at ir.cinemark.com. With that, I would now like to turn the call over to Sean Gamble. Sean Gamble: Thank you, Chanda, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us today for our fourth quarter and full year 2023 earnings call. 2023 represented another year of meaningful post-pandemic progression for our industry and our company. And I thought I’d start today’s call by providing a summary of the significant achievements we made advancing our key priorities throughout the year. First and foremost, we continued to effectively navigate the fluid dynamics of our industry’s ongoing recovery, putting an emphasis on near-term revenue and margin generation, strengthening our balance sheet, and actively maneuvering through varied fluctuations in film release volume as well as inflationary cost pressures. Once again, I’m pleased to share that our phenomenal Cinemark team produced sensational results across all of these focal points. For the full year 2023, we entertained 210 million guests worldwide and generated $3.1 billion of revenue, that was up 25% year-over-year and included our highest concession sales of all time, which were 3% higher than 2019. Our adjusted EBITDA grew 77% from 2022 to $594 million, with a 19.4% margin rate that represented 570 basis points of margin expansion. Moreover, during the year, we delivered our second highest quarterly adjusted EBITDA in the history of our company in 2Q, and our highest third quarter adjusted EBITDA in 3Q. In total, our 2023 adjusted EBITDA recovered to within 20% of 2019 on 25% less attendance, a clear sign that our many ongoing strategic growth and productivity initiatives are delivering significant impact. Furthermore, our strong operating results yielded free cash flow of $295 million, with positive full year net cash generation of $175 million after paying down more than $100 million of COVID-related debt. In addition to outstanding operational execution and sound financial discipline throughout the year, these tremendous results also benefited from our continued drive to expand content and build audiences through marketing actions, loyalty programs, pursuit of new content sources, and heightened guest service standards. Throughout 2023, we strengthened and took full advantage of our extensive marketing and communication reach, amassing more than 8 billion media impressions, increasing web and app traffic over 30%, doubling audience engagement on social media, and growing our global addressable customer base to nearly 30 million consumers, while enhancing personalization. We also continued to advance our global loyalty programs, increasing membership by nearly 20% in the U.S. and by more than 45% in Latin America. Furthermore, Movie Club, our paid U.S. subscription tier, grew 13% during the year to over 1.2 million members, as moviegoers continued to highly value and embrace the meaningful benefits included in this program. During the year, Movie Club drove 24% of our domestic box office and our data continues to demonstrate that the program stimulates increased moviegoing frequency and food and beverage consumption. In tandem with our marketing and loyalty actions, we continued to actively collaborate with our traditional studio partners to drive the successful releases of their films, while also working closely with Amazon, Apple and an increasing number of non-traditional content creators to help establish and grow their foothold within theaters. To that end, we were thrilled to see North American industry box office grow to $9.1 billion in 2023, driven by a diverse array of studio hits, including Barbie, Super Mario Bros., Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Oppenheimer, to name just a few. Furthermore, Amazon and Apple collectively generated almost $0.5 billion of domestic box office last year, which was also a highly encouraging sign considering they are still in the early stages of their theatrical distribution expansion. Also encouraging was 2023’s wide range of record-breaking international concert and faith-based films that approached $0.75 billion of North American box office and included the remarkable successes of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour and Sound of Freedom. For Cinemark, non-traditional content accounted for 14% of our U.S. admissions revenues during the year as we worked aggressively to pursue these supplemental box office opportunities and maximize their overall revenue potential. Of course, as we focus on growing the number of guests we bring into our theaters, it’s essential that we provide them an exceptional entertainment experience when they join us. As such, we spent a considerable amount of effort in 2023, further enhancing and executing our guest service protocols, as well as sustaining our industry-leading 99.97% screen up time to avoid viewing disruptions. We also continued to advance our company-wide rebranding initiative, modernizing our messaging strategy and overall aesthetics to strengthen the differentiated experience we provide our audiences. Altogether, our collective efforts to delight our guests and grow our audiences earned us guest satisfaction scores over 95%, help sustain our market share gains that continued to exceed our pre-pandemic results by more than 100 basis points, and delivered box office results that surpassed industry recovery relative to 2019 by 700 basis points domestically and 600 basis points internationally. Combined with the effective navigation of our industry’s ongoing recovery and the benefits we gained from our focus on expanding content and building audiences, another key contributor to our 2023 results is all the work we’ve pursued over the past few years to evolve Cinemark for future success. This work includes further enhancing the immersive cinematic experiences we provide our guests, growing new and diversified revenue streams, driving productivity gains, and optimizing our circuit. Impact derived from actions in all of these areas provided substantial upside in 2023, and during the year, we continued to advance new and existing initiatives to drive even further growth and market leadership going forward. While staying disciplined with overall capital management, we leaned further into premium amenities during 2023, which continued to resonate exceptionally well with the growing range of moviegoers. To start, recliners continue to be a significant driver of box office outperformance. And with nearly 70% of our U.S. circuit reclined, we remain the most penetrated major exhibitor featuring this highly sought after amenity. Over the course of the year, we also grew our D-BOX motion seat footprint by 16%, generating all-time high D-BOX admission revenues that were up 87% compared to 2019. Similarly, we delivered record high XD revenues that increased 13% versus 2019, as XD remains the number one exhibitor branded premium large format in the world. And we continue to enhance our unmatched presentation quality, extending Barco laser projectors to nearly 15% of our theaters worldwide as we progress toward converting our entire global circuit to laser technology over time. We also continue to drive significant growth and enhancement of our concessions offerings during 2023, as evidenced by our all-time high food and beverage sales and per caps. In addition to expanding the variety of selections we provide consumers, including new menu options and movie-themed merchandise, we further improved distribution as well. For example, we introduced new space management layouts across a range of our theaters that increase product assortments and speed of service, driving incremental purchase incidents. We also continued to advance our mobile ordering platform and realized a 32% year-over-year increase in online concession sales. Furthermore, we became the first major U.S. exhibitor to partner with all three of the largest third-party delivery platforms, DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, as we aim to further extend the reach of our concession sales beyond our theaters. Pricing sophistication is another area we continue to actively develop as we aim to maximize attendance, box office and concession sales, while leaving our guests feeling satisfied with the overall value they received. To strengthen our assessment and calibration of consumer elasticity at a theater-by-theater level in the midst of evolving macroeconomic and competitive developments, we’ve been increasing the number of resources, tools and data-driven insights we use. The process improvements we have made to-date are already helping us finetune our pricing strategies with enhanced results, which we expect will continue ramping up as we further develop these capabilities. Likewise, the continuous improvement productivity-related initiatives we’ve been pursuing are also yielding sizable bottom-line benefits. Examples include our ongoing actions to enhance operating hour windows, showtime scheduling, training efficiency, procurement strategies, and overall labor practices. For instance, as a direct result of our varied workforce management projects, we managed to hold salaries and wages growth to only 8% in 2023, despite a 22% year-over-year increase in attendance, ongoing wage rate pressures and staggered fluctuations in volume throughout the year. Finally, we took a variety of steps during 2023 to further optimize our circuit. In addition to expanding premium amenities, as I’ve previously mentioned, we also added four new theaters through a management deal with EPR Properties, our largest landlord, we closed 10 low-performing theaters that will provide bottom-line improvement going forward, and we opportunistically exited our non-strategic business in Ecuador, where we were a distant third player after receiving an attractive unsolicited offer. At the same time, seeing a growing number of opportunities on the horizon, we reactivated our new build development pipeline and added a new family entertainment center concept to our array of theater designs with plans to open two of these new concepts by the end of this year. So, in summary, 2023 was a highly successful year for Cinemark, with the significant results we delivered amidst another period of fluid market dynamics, the growth we derive from expanding new sources of content and building audiences and the further advances we made to position our company for future success. It was also a meaningful year for theatrical exhibition as a whole as positive indicators pertaining to the key fundamentals that drive our industry, specifically consumer trends and product flow, were further reinforced. Sustained consumer enthusiasm for shared larger-than-life cinematic experiences was validated again and again throughout 2023, as more films were released, more records were achieved and North American box office grew 21% year-over-year. Action, family, horror, spectacle, adult drama, romcom, concerts, faith-based, foreign films, 2023 was propelled by a diverse range of content across all demographics of moviegoers during all times of the year. In fact, as we’ve examined our Cinemark data, we’ve observed that audience mix over the past two years, film by film as well as overall mirrors pre-pandemic patterns. During 2023, film volume grew to 110 wide releases and reached 85% of pre-pandemic levels, up from 65% in 2022. This favorable growth in film product is the result of studio efforts to rebuild their slates back to historic levels of output after having measured and publicly referenced the enhanced benefits that a theatrical release provides their film assets and their companies. These benefits include elevating promotional impact that increases awareness, interest in recall, strengthening performance on downstream distribution channels, including streaming platforms, boosting overall financial results and library value, and satiating consumer and talent demand to see these films on the big screen. And while six months of work stoppage associated with the Hollywood strikes will likely cause a dip in wide releases to approximately 95 titles in 2024, an estimated 75% of pre-pandemic levels, we expect film volume in 2025 will quickly spring back to the recovery glide path it’s been on over the past two years, notching another step closer to pre-pandemic levels based on current production activity and expressed plans at the major studios. This expectation is further supported by Amazon’s and Apple’s stated ambitions to continue scaling their theatrical film slates as well as the encouraging trends we’ve recently witnessed in non-traditional content growth. As film volume rebounds once again, Cinemark remains in the most advantaged position to capitalize on that upside on account of our solid foundation and the myriad of actions we continue to pursue to further strengthen our company. So, as we consider the fundamental drivers of our industry, our current market position and the many opportunities before us, we remain highly optimistic about the future of our industry and particularly our company. I’ll now turn the call over to Melissa, who will provide additional information on our fourth quarter results. Melissa? Melissa Thomas: Thank you, Sean. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining the call today. We were thrilled to deliver strong operating and financial results for the fourth quarter and full year, while further strengthening our balance sheet. We are incredibly proud of the focus and execution our global team exhibited as we capitalized on the box office and remained nimble in this dynamic environment. During the fourth quarter, we served more than 40 million guests globally, an increase of 4% year-over-year and grew total revenue 7% to $638.9 million. With the uptick in attendance, our strong operating discipline and the ongoing execution of our strategic initiatives, we delivered $79.6 million of adjusted EBITDA in the quarter, up more than 8% year-over-year, and we expanded our adjusted EBITDA margin by 20 basis points to 12.5%. Moving to the results for our domestic segment. We welcomed 26.2 million guests across our U.S. circuit during the fourth quarter, an increase of 4% year-over-year. We grew our admissions revenue 7% to $267.5 million and surpassed the North American industry’s box office growth by 140 basis points, driven by our strong market share in the quarter. Our market share benefited from the higher mix of family and horror content, which resonated particularly well in our circuit, coupled with the successful execution of our strategic initiatives, as Sean discussed. Our average ticket price grew 2% year-over-year, reaching an all-time high of $10.21 in the quarter, driven primarily by the elevated ticket pricing and box office success of Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film, in addition to strategic pricing initiatives. Together, these tailwinds were able to overcome the difficult comparison from the fourth quarter of 2022, where ticket prices were bolstered by outsized 3D format mix from Avatar: The Way of Water. Domestic concession revenue was $200.9 million, an increase of 8% year-over-year. Our concession per cap grew 3% and reached a record high of $7.67 for the quarter, primarily driven by strategic pricing initiatives and product mix, with particular success from merchandise sold for the Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film in the quarter. Our teams continue to find new and innovative ways to drive incidents and improve the monetization of the attendance in our theaters, whether it be through the introduction of new concessions and movie-themed merchandise offerings, modifying the flow of concession traffic within our theaters or promoting mobile ordering, among other initiatives. Other revenue grew 5% year-over-year to $50.4 million, largely due to the attendance growth during the quarter. Altogether, our domestic segment delivered total revenue of $518.8 million, an increase of 7% year-over-year and generated $68.5 million of adjusted EBITDA, an increase of 15% versus the fourth quarter of 2022. Domestically, we expanded our adjusted EBITDA margin by 90 basis points to 13.2%. Turning to our International segment. We entertained 14.4 million guests during the fourth quarter, an increase of 2% year-over-year. While the fourth quarter is typically a seasonally low attended quarter in Latin America, we outpaced the attendance growth for the broader Latin American industry by 600 basis points in the quarter. We delivered $54.9 million of admissions revenue, $42.1 million of concession revenue and $23.1 million of other revenue. In total, our international revenue increased 5% to $120.1 million, and we delivered $11.1 million of adjusted EBITDA, yielding a 9.2% adjusted EBITDA margin. Our international adjusted EBITDA margin was impacted by two meaningful headwinds in the fourth quarter. The expiration of pandemic-related temporary rent relief and the sharp devaluation in the Argentinian peso. While inflation has been outpacing FX devaluation over the past few years, that was not the case in the fourth quarter of 2023, given the abruptness and magnitude of Argentina’s devaluation following economic measures implemented by their new administration. We expect these factors to continue to be headwinds in 2024. That said, we have long-tenured and highly-experienced local teams that are extremely well versed in navigating complex economic and political landscape such as this. Moving to global expenses. Film rental and advertising expense was 53.6% of admissions revenue, a 330 basis points reduction from 4Q of 2022, predominantly driven by the lower concentration of blockbusters and overall film mix during the quarter. Concession costs as a percent of concession revenue were 19.5% in the fourth quarter, up 160 basis points year-over-year, primarily due to inflationary pressures, higher shrink and product mix, particularly elevated merchandise sales in the quarter, which have a higher overall cost associated with them. Strategic price increases partially offset these impacts. Global salaries and wages were $96.9 million, an increase of 1% year-over-year. As a percent of revenue, salaries and wages declined 80 basis points due to benefits realized from our ongoing focus on our labor productivity, coupled with higher attendance, which drove operating leverage in the quarter. This leverage was partially offset by wage rate pressure and the expansion of operating hours. Facility lease expense was $78.8 million, up 2% year-over-year, primarily due to the expiration of pandemic-related temporary relief that benefited the prior-year period, partially offset by the theater closure, as Sean mentioned. As a percent of total revenue, facility lease expense decreased 60 basis points. Utilities and other expense was $113.3 million, up 10% year-over-year, primarily due to an increase in our variable costs such as utilities, credit card fees and repairs and maintenance, driven by the growth in attendance, expanded operating hours and inflationary pressures. Higher gift card commissions due to stronger gift card sales through third-party channels in the quarter, also contributed to the increase. As a percent of total revenue, utilities and other increased 50 basis points. G&A was $54.1 million, an increase of 24% year-over-year, driven by higher incentive and stock-based compensation and, to a lesser extent, incremental headcount to support business recovery and our strategic initiatives, as well as wage and benefit inflation. Globally, we generated a net loss attributable to Cinemark Holdings, Inc. of $18 million in the fourth quarter, resulting in diluted loss per share of $0.15. For the full year, we generated net income of $188.2 million and diluted earnings per share of $1.34. Turning to the balance sheet. We remain highly focused on strengthening our financial position, while continuing to make investments to position the company well for long-term success. We made significant progress in this regard throughout 2023. We generated $295 million of free cash flow during the year, $49 million of which was generated in the fourth quarter, and we ended the year with nearly $850 million of cash on the balance sheet. All the while, we reduced our debt by over $100 million and invested roughly $150 million of capital into our global circuit, $60 million in the fourth quarter alone. Notably, we were pleased to end the year with our net leverage ratio within our target range of 2 times to 3 times. Looking forward to 2024, our capital allocation priorities remained balanced and disciplined, as we prioritize addressing our 2025 maturities and investing in the long term, while managing through content volume headwinds this year. To that end, we currently intend to redeem the remaining $150 million of 8.75% notes with cash on hand in May of this year when they step down to par. Additionally, we expect to spend approximately $150 million in capital expenditures during 2024. Although film volume and box office are expected to decline year-over-year due to the Hollywood strikes, we intend to hold our capital expenditures flat given our optimism regarding the industry’s recovery and our objective to capitalize on that recovery. That said, in 2024, we expect to prioritize more of our capital deployment towards long-term strategic opportunities, including new builds and other ROI-generating initiatives, mainly premium amenities. In closing, while we expect 2024 to represent a near-term setback in our recovery trajectory, we are highly encouraged regarding the exhibition industry’s recovery in 2025 and beyond. We remain laser-focused on further advancing our strategic initiatives, and we believe we are well positioned to capitalize on the anticipated recovery and maximize shareholder value over the long term. Operator, that concludes our prepared remarks, and we would now like to open up the line for questions. See also 17 Fastest growing B2B SaaS Companies and Jim Cramer’s Top 10 Stock Picks This Week. Q&A Session Follow Cinemark Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CNK) Follow Cinemark Holdings Inc. (NYSE:CNK) or Subscribe with Google We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Certainly. We’ll now be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question is coming from Eric Handler from ROTH MKM. Your line is now live. Eric Handler: Good morning. Thanks for the question. Wonder if you could talk a little bit about your free cash flow. Your conversion from adjusted EBITDA for the year was 50%, which going back to 2007 is a record number. Is that a good barometer going forward, or was there anything unusual there that sort of elevated that percentage? Melissa Thomas: Hi, Eric, thanks for the question. We were certainly pleased with our free cash flow conversion rate this year and optimistic about the possibilities over the longer term as our business recovered. But it’s important to bear in mind that this year’s free cash flow conversion rate was bolstered by moderated CapEx levels, which we would expect to ramp up as industry box office resumes its recovery though we do believe our peak CapEx years are behind us. The other key factors to consider going forward include, of course, our debt levels and corresponding interest payments as well as any working capital dynamics. Eric Handler: Great. Thank you. And one of the things you mentioned, Sean, in your commentary was, I think, two concepts to open in 2024 for sort of new concepts. What exactly is that? Is that within your existing footprint? Sean Gamble: Yes, thanks for the question. That’s basically a new format of one of our theaters, that at least the way we’re looking at it with the family entertainment center. So, an extension of theaters that has a little bit larger-scale gaming in it as well as some bowling concepts and a little bit larger bar restaurant facility. We’ve had some really positive experience with that in a joint venture that we currently have for a single venue. And we’ve seen how well these types of concepts have performed both during the pandemic and since. So, we look at that as a really positive opportunity for diversification, for growth. It can also provide opportunities both from a new build perspective, as well as also remodels of existing theaters where we may have a large theater that doesn’t quite need all of the auditoriums that we have. So, the two that I referenced include one new build that we have currently underway in El Paso, Texas, as well as a remodel that we have underway of our Merriam, Kansas City theater. Eric Handler: Thank you. Sean Gamble: Thanks, Eric. Appreciate the questions. Operator: Thank you. Next question today is coming from David Karnovsky from JPMorgan. Your line is now live. David Karnovsky: Hi, thank you. Sean, thanks for the view on ’24 supply. I know you spoke to ’25 in that level being back to the recovery path you had been on. So, to be clear, does this mean you expect kind of the ’25 wide release volume to be above ’23, and maybe you could talk to some of the factors driving that? And then for Melissa, just wanted to see if you could provide any early expectations on average ticket prices or per cap levels in the coming year? Thanks. Sean Gamble: Sure. Thanks for the question, David. Yes, I mean, just to quickly answer your question on ’25, we do anticipate, based on the information we have at hand right now that it would notch further forward from 2023’s volume level approaching pre-pandemic levels. We saw a nice trajectory of progress from ’22 to ’23. As mentioned, unfortunately, that was disrupted by a disruption in supply chain production due to the Hollywood strikes. But based on all of our conversations with our studio partners with regard to what they have currently in process from production as well as their ongoing plans, coupled with what we know is happening at Apple and Amazon as well as with some of this additional non-traditional content, we remain positive and optimistic about that spring back in recovery. So that’s really the drivers of why we think ’25 will just quickly bounce back to that recovery path we’ve been on. Melissa Thomas: And then, David, in terms of your question around expectations on ATP and per cap, on the average ticket price side, we do anticipate modest growth in our domestic average ticket prices for full year 2024, though that may fluctuate quarter-to-quarter based on film mix. Just a couple of points on some of the key catalysts we see for that. We do think there’s still additional opportunity on the strategic pricing front as we continue to leverage data and analytics to find that optimal price point that maximizes our overall attendance in box office. Of course, film mix also does play a role in our ticket prices going forward. But net-net, we do think modest growth there. The one thing I would keep in mind just from a modeling perspective is that Q1 and Q4 of 2023 are certainly going to be tougher comparisons given the outsized 3D mix due to the carryover of Avatar: The Way of Water from Q1 of 2023 and then Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour concert film in Q4 of last year. And then, on the F&B per cap side, there, we do expect to see moderate growth on per caps year-over-year. Some of the key drivers there, we do intend to continue to lean into various initiatives that we have to maximize food and beverage incidents. So that includes creating a frictionless experience through mobile ordering platform, our self-serve capabilities, as well as modifying the flow of concession traffic, and we also expect proactive category management as well as leaning into movie-themed merchandise and scaling third-party delivery to be potential growth drivers for us. And then certainly, on the pricing side, we continue to evaluate opportunities there to make sure that we’re finding that right balance to maximize that per cap opportunity, while at the same time, sustaining our historically high incidence rates. David Karnovsky: Thank you. Sean Gamble: Thanks, David. Operator: Thank you. Next question today is coming from Ben Swinburne from Morgan Stanley. Your line is now live. Ben Swinburne: Thanks. Good morning. Sean, just back on your 95 film expectation for ’24, I’m just curious if you’re assuming more are added between now and the end of the year. We’ve seen, at least we’ve noticed a number of films, still smaller films, but a number of films added to the slate even in the last month. So, I was just curious what you’re assuming in that 95, if you don’t mind sharing. Sean Gamble: Sure. Well, I think it’s a great observation that you have. We do tend to see films continue to be added through the year. In some ways, that actually was a little bit elevated in the fourth quarter when several films moved out as a result of the Hollywood strikes. We saw a number of smaller films get dated that previously weren’t — some weren’t even on the radar prior to that. So, as we sit right now, we have line of sight to about 90 titles. So, we’re assuming another five or so get added above and beyond that. So that’s kind of generally in line with what we’ve seen in the past. That may be tempered a little bit in 2024, just simply because of the effect of the Hollywood strikes on production cycle. The only other thing that I would flag is the way this year is — the calendar is lined up, there is definitely a concentration of larger films toward the end of the year, again, a byproduct of the strikes on production. So, there is a chance. I’m just saying there’s — we have no line of sight to any risk right at this moment of anything fluctuating. But if the normal course of making movies, if something doesn’t come together, there’s a situation where something could slide out. So, I’m just flagging that because it’s a little bit more heavily loaded at year-end than we’ve seen over the last couple of years. But there’s the potential for additional films to pop in like we saw in ’23, and that’s where we sit right now. Ben Swinburne: Okay. That makes sense. And what do you guys looking for to resume the dividend? I know it’s a Board decision, but as we track the business this year, got a lot of cash on the balance sheet. Can you just talk about the things you are waiting to see to bring that back? Melissa Thomas: I’ll take that one, Ben. So, with respect to the dividend, reinstating the dividend does remain a key consideration for both management and the Board. However, the timing of any reinstatement is predicated upon our ability to sustain our net leverage ratio within our target range of 2 times to 3 times. Keep in mind that our leverage ratio is highly dependent upon the box office and our free cash flow generation, which are both expected to face headwinds from reduced content volume this year. So that may put some near-term pressure on our net leverage ratio. We do, though, remain in active conversations with our Board regarding our capital allocation priorities, and that includes potential timing of reinstating the dividend. Ben Swinburne: Okay. And then I just want to ask, Melissa, I don’t know if there’s any way to size Argentina for us since you called it out as something for us to think about in ’24? Melissa Thomas: Yeah. So, on the Argentina front, I mean, they’re certainly contending with sharp devaluation following the economic measures implemented in December with further devaluation projected this year. If we look at and of what bank projections are saying in terms of FX devaluation for Argentina, could be as high as 80% year-over-year. That said, we’ve got to keep in mind that Argentina is a highly inflationary environment. So, we do expect that inflation could provide some offset to that FX devaluation in the country. It’s just unclear to what extend at this time and whether our pricing can keep up with the rate of inflation. But what I would say there is, it’s a highly fluid situation. Our teams continue to closely monitor it and lean hard to kind of navigate through some of this. We have some long-tenured teammate — team members that are at — in our international countries. So, we feel good about our position there. But it’s really highly fluid. So, it’s hard to pinpoint at this stage. Operator: Thank you. Next question is coming from Mike Hickey from Benchmark. Your line is now live. Mike Hickey: Hey, Sean, Melissa, Chanda, congratulations, guys, on 2023 and your fourth quarter. Great job. Just curious, Sean, on the product volume question on ’25 getting back here to sort of pre-pandemic levels. Just curious what sort of boost you’re thinking getting from ’24 films that were delayed because of the labor strikes in the ’25. I guess the question being, do you feel like your studio partners at this point structurally are sort of ready to provide you the volume of films that they had pre-pandemic? And then, on ’25, are you including incremental films from streamers? Obviously, that business looks like it’s scaling. And I guess you would think over time, streaming plus your traditional studio partners would give you a volume of product that was above pre-pandemic. Curious when we hit that inflection point, Sean. And then, the second question would be on your domestic network. It looks like your theater count has contracted about 10% versus where you were pre pandemic. It looks like most of that is just sort of thoughtful optimization from you and your team. So obviously, that would be accretive. But as we move forward here, do you think you’re getting in a better position to sort of base and build your domestic network? And I get the new concept you’re trying with, that looks interesting. Curious also, if that’s an M&A opportunity if you’re successful there. Thanks, guys. Sean Gamble: All right. Thanks, Mike. Let me start with the first question. So, just touching a little bit more on 2025 estimates volume, prior to the strikes, the whole industry was still in the recovery mode, rebuilding the whole production pipeline of films that was affected by COVID. And at that time, we were anticipating perhaps in ’25, ’26 would be the time that we could see things get back to pre-pandemic levels, again, based on how things were progressing at that point. As a result of the strikes, clearly, that created over six months of work stoppage and delayed things. There were some movements out of ’24 into ’25. And as we sit here today, and what we’re going on is just largely the discussions, the ongoing conversations we’re having with our studio partners. 2025, while there’s certainly the potential it could get back there to pre-pandemic levels, I’d say we’re probably looking at that maybe more of a 2026 phenomenon. Apple and Amazon are certainly building to your question on that, they’ve been adding. We know that Amazon has publicly stated that they are working towards a slate of eight to 12 films a year. They may get there in 2025. I think we’ll have to see how that just comes together, but I know that’s a directional target that we understand at least that they’re working towards. And Apple’s building as well. So, can’t fully call it now. It’s kind of why we’ve tried to give a sense where we see things coming in somewhere between 2023 and 2020 in pre-pandemic levels as we sit here today. But we’re optimistic......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyFeb 17th, 2024

Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE:SHAK) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE:SHAK) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 15, 2024 Shake Shack Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.02, expectations were $0.01. Shake Shack 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: Greetings, and welcome to […] Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE:SHAK) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript February 15, 2024 Shake Shack Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.02, expectations were $0.01. Shake Shack 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: Greetings, and welcome to the Shake Shack’s Fourth Quarter 2023 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Michael Oriolo, Senior Financial Planning and Analysis, Investor Relations. Thank you, sir. You may begin. Michael Oriolo: Thank you, and good morning, everyone. Joining me for Shake Shack’s conference call is our CEO, Randy Garutti, and CFO, Katie Fogertey. During today’s call, we will discuss non-GAAP financial measures, which we believe can be useful in evaluating our performance. The presentation of this additional information should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for results prepared in accordance with GAAP. Reconciliations to comparable GAAP measures are available in our earnings release and the Financial Details section of our shareholder letter. Some of today’s statements may be forward-looking and actual results may differ materially due to a number of risks and uncertainties, including those discussed in our annual report on Form 10-K, filed on February 23, 2023, and our other filings with the SEC, including our Form 8-K filed this morning. Any forward-looking statements represent our views only as of today, and we assume no obligation to update any forward-looking statements if our views change. By now, you should have access to our fourth quarter 2023 shareholder letter, which can be found at investor.shakeshack.com in the quarterly results section or as an exhibit to our 8-K for the quarter. We filed an 8-K this morning related to a correction the company identified and brought to its auditors, primarily regarding how the company has accounted for elements of tax depreciation. These errors led to overstatements of income tax expense and understatement of deferred tax assets during the impact of periods. The unaudited amount of the overstatement of prior year non-cash GAAP income tax expense for fiscal 2021 and 2022, as well as an opening adjustment to the retained earnings balance in fiscal 2021, that is related to prior periods to 2021, can be found in the 8-K. We will provide additional details in our upcoming 10-K filing, which we expect to be filed on time. I will now turn the call over to Randy. Randy Garutti: Thanks, Mike, and good morning, everyone. I want to congratulate our teams on an exceptional 2023. This year marked transformative milestones and substantial profitable growth, building upon our already solid foundation for the long-term opportunity ahead. We grew system wide sales by 24% year-over-year to a record $1.7 billion. We opened 85 total restaurants, the most ever in a single year, ending 2023 with 518 Shake Shacks across the world. We grew Shack sales by 20% to over $1 billion with 4.4% same Shack sales growth and a strong class of 41 domestic company operated restaurants. In just the past four years, we’ve nearly doubled our footprint, system wide sales, and total revenue and we have a robust pipeline of opportunities going forward. Importantly, we grew our Shack level operating profit even faster than our total revenue, expanding restaurant margin by 240 basis points year-over-year to nearly 20%, growing Shack level operating profit by 37% year-over-year. With this and 110 basis points of leverage in our G&A, excluding one-time adjustments, we delivered over 80% improvement in our adjusted EBITDA to $131.8 million. We ended 2023 with strong momentum in the fourth quarter with our marketing strategies delivering positive traffic and our operational focus achieving further margin expansion. We executed our five strategic priorities for 2023, and I want to wrap up how we performed for the year across each of these priorities. First, recruiting, rewarding, and retaining a winning team. At the beginning of 2023, staffing pressures were material. We’re negatively impacting sales, profit, guest experience, but throughout the year, we improved staffing retention to the best levels we’ve seen in years, which had a direct tie to our stronger labor and restaurant level margin performance. Second, we focused on the guest experience. We rolled out kiosks nearly all our domestic company operated Shacks, a full quarter ahead of expectations. We’re seeing a high-single digit check lift on kiosk channel versus the traditional cashier experience. We also made material improvements to how our guests can order through this channel. We advanced our commitment to culinary innovation, a competitive strength of Shake Shack, with improvements to our core menu, as well as exciting LTOs, including White Truffle Burgers, top-selling Spicy Fries, and a return of Bourbon Bacon jam. We also forwarded learnings towards future strategies as we are testing combo meals for the first time at drive throughs and looking to increase dessert occasion through Mini Shake and Sundae Tests. Number three, with a targeted development strategy this year, we opened 85 Shacks across the globe in 2023, including 18 domestic drive throughs and our first international licensed drive throughs in Mexico and Dubai. We launched in two new markets in the Bahamas and Bangkok. The Bahamas also being a new format, our first-ever hotel resort Shack with a full bar. We built a solid foundation in development with prototype site design that will help us reduce our build costs in coming years, and we know we have a lot more work to do here, especially on build costs and preopening, where we believe 2023 was the high water mark. Last year, we demonstrated meaningful improvement in restaurant profit margins. We showed leverage across every Shack level operating expense line item and drove 240 basis points of expansion for the year to nearly 20%. Importantly, we have line of sight to further margin expansion this year in 2024. And finally, number five, our commitment to investing with discipline. We leveraged G&A excluding one-time adjustments of 110 basis points and we grew adjusted EBITDA by over 80% to nearly $132 million. I’m pleased with our progress in 2023 and our teams are energized and building for what’s ahead. Our leadership team has developed our 2024 strategic priorities to drive further profitable growth at Shake Shack with a clear line of sight to generating free cash flow even while investing for a robust pipeline of growth. Our entire leadership team and the Board are fully engaged, committed, and incentivized to continue execution in 2024. So today, I want to go a bit deeper on our new strategic priorities for this year. First, we’re committing to delivering a consistent guest experience. Shake Shack has always been differentiated from traditional fast food and fast casual in our food quality, in the look and feel of our Shacks, and in the enlightened hospitality we provide our guests. In 2024, we’re committed to delivering a great guest experience consistently across all channels. We have core KPIs for our ops leadership. For the first time, we’re targeting throughput improvement by reducing guest order times by roughly 30 seconds and even more in our drive-through locations. We’ll achieve this through new kitchen flows that will roll-out through the year, increased real time reporting, new training, urgency, and goal focus, while continuing to cook to order at the highest level quality in the Burger industry. We believe this can grow sales, energize our teams, and improve guest sentiment. Second, our plan this year is to grow sales and strengthen our brand awareness. Shake Shack continues to build upon our global brand appeal. We’ve nearly doubled our footprint since ’19, but we believe we’re still early in our growth journey at just a small fraction of the scale that our competitors have, and yet we know that we still have a massive opportunity to increase our brand awareness. As we scale, we’re leading into new and expanded marketing, brand partnerships, and additional spending opportunities that are demonstrating success. Our advertising spend at roughly 1% of sales is a fraction of many of our peers. We know we can and will invest with success here moving forward. As we’ve improved our overall profitability and increased our scale, we are able to unlock additional funds for advertising this year and will do so with data driven discipline. On development, plan to open approximately 40 company operated Shacks and approximately 40 licensed Shacks this year in ’24. Expanding our footprint is key to driving sales and strengthening our brand awareness. In 2024, the majority of our company operated openings will be in existing markets across a variety of formats. We’ll also be continuing our license Shack development by going deeper in domestic airports, roadsides, and deepening international expansion into new and existing markets. Third, we’re going to make Shake Shack more profitable. In 2023, we improved restaurant level margins by 240 basis points to approximately 20%. We plan to further margin expansion in 2024, with our next goal of reaching 20% to 21% Shack level operating profit margin, continuing our work to close the gap to our pre-COVID profitability levels. Katie will share more, but our main strategies on improving forward margins and lowering total cost to serve involve work on supply chain and operational efficiencies. Many of these initiatives are things that we identified in prior years, such as increasing the number of suppliers as we scale, optimizing our freight, and improvements in labor scheduling and deployment. We’ve also engaged in external consultants, help find additional opportunities and we will also look to leverage G&A while continuing to invest more in advertising and for the future growth of our business. Fourth, we’re going to continue to improve how we build and open Shacks. We believe ’23 was the high watermark for our build and preopening costs as we dealt with inflation, supply challenges, and a higher mix of more capital intensive drive throughs. This year, we’ve prioritized our commitment to reducing average net build and preopening costs by about 10%. The team has begun to employ early prototype improvements to future Shacks as a Phase 1 approach and will be doubling down further this year to capture additional savings over time. Some of this work necessarily caused us to slow down timing of the 2024 pipeline and that will cause a back weighted opening schedule this year. But as that work takes hold, we’ll begin to see more impact in 2025 as we rollout improved prototypes and a strong pipeline of Shacks in the years ahead. And lastly, we will continue to develop and reward our high performing teams. Our people have always been and will always be a core focus. High performing teams helped fuel the success we drove this year and we expect to drive in 2024. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in our teams through increased wages, training, opportunities, enhanced recruitment with AI-enabled recruiting tools, and retention practices to optimize their experience and ultimately drive the business. Now, I’ll turn the call over to Katie to recap more of ’23 and provide our initial outlook for 2024. Katie Fogertey: Thanks, Randy, and good morning, everyone. The past year was a year of solid profitable growth as we drove 240 basis points of Shack level operating profit margin expansion in the year, building up to approximately 20%, further closing the gap to pre-COVID profitability levels, and growing Shack level operating profit by nearly 40% year-over-year to a record of $208.2 million. We did this by successfully implementing our profitability improvement programs in our restaurants and home office, including better forecasting and labor scheduling, and other operational and total cost to serve initiatives, and with our commitment to investing with discipline, we levered our G&A, excluding one-time adjustments by 110 basis points, while still prioritizing advertising and marketing investments and we grew adjusted EBITDA by more than 80% year-over-year to a record of $131.8 million. We ended the year on an optimistic note for the fourth quarter with solid execution against marketing and operational strategies that drove strong sales growth with positive traffic and solid flow through, and as a result, we were more profitable despite continued inflationary pressures. Fourth quarter total revenue was $286.2 million, up 20% year-over-year as we opened 24 company operated and licensed units and grew system-wide sales approximately 21%. Licensing revenue was $10.5 million in the fourth quarter and licensing sales were $166.4 million, up 24% year-over-year, and with particular strength in our airport and domestic locations and nine openings. We face geopolitical pressures in the Middle East and continue to see macroeconomic pressures in China, and in both markets, we expect to experience further volatility in our sales for the foreseeable future. Shack sales in the fourth quarter were $275.8 million, growing nearly 20% year-over-year, supported by opening 15 domestic company operated Shacks and driving strong Same Shack sales with positive traffic through our marketing strategies. Our sales outperformed historical seasonality throughout the whole quarter and all of our regions saw sequential traffic improvement since the third quarter. We grew Same Shack sales by 2.8% versus 2022 with traffic up 1.4%, which accelerated through the quarter, driven by success of our strategic marketing initiatives as well as approximately 1.4% price mix. We generated 76,000 in average weekly sales, up from 74,000 in the third quarter with mid-single digit price and positive traffic across both in Shack and digital channels. Fourth quarter Shack level operating profit was $54.6 million or 19.8% of shack sales, 80 basis points higher versus last year despite continued inflationary pressures across our Shack P&L, and we achieved this with our strong sales performance and strategic initiatives around food cost, labor, and other OpEx driving strong flow through. In the fourth quarter, food and paper costs were $80.3 million or 29.1% of Shack sales, flat quarter-over-quarter and down 40 basis points year-over-year. Food and paper inflation was up mid-single digits year-over-year, led by beef up mid-teens and fries up high-single digits with pressures broadly across our basket. Labor and related expenses were at $78.6 million or 28.5% of Shack sales, down from 28.9% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and down 30 basis points quarter-over-quarter. With increased sales and positive traffic, the benefits from our strategic initiatives including improved forecasting and labor scheduling drove strong flow through on our better sales. Late in the fourth quarter, we implemented the first round of tests of our new labor modules. Now, as a reminder, this new scheduling standard leverages the unique characteristics of a Shack in terms of channel and menu mix to enhance deployment. While takeaways are still early, we are pleased with the initial results from this test and expect to expand it to additional Shacks in the first quarter with the potential to rollout broadly later this year. Other operating expenses were $41.1 million or 14.9% of Shack sales, up 30 basis points from the fourth quarter of 2022, as we faced increased repairs and maintenance expenses, a higher delivery sales mix, and continued inflationary pressures in energy and utilities. Occupancy and related expenses were $21.2 million or 7.7% of Shack sales, down 20 basis points from the fourth quarter of ’22 driven by sales leverage. G&A was $35.8 million or 12.5% of total revenue. Excluding $900 million in one-time adjustments, G&A was $34.9 million or 12.2% of total revenue, down 130 basis points from 13.5% of total revenue in the prior year, despite continued investments needed to support our growth across technology, marketing, and operations. We ended 2023 with $125.1 million in G&A, adjusted for legal settlements, professional fees, and other one-time expenses. Pre-opening costs were $5.1 million in the quarter as we opened 15 new company operated Shacks and depreciation was $24.5 million. On a GAAP basis in the quarter, we reported a pretax income of $1.5 million and a tax benefit of $5.3 million. On an adjusted pro forma basis, we reported a pretax income of $2.4 million and a tax expense of $1.4 million. Excluding the tax impact of equity based compensation, our adjusted pro forma tax rate in the fourth quarter was 55%. Adjustments can be found on Page 30 of the shareholder letter. We reported fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA of $31.4 million, up approximately 60% year-over-year, or 11% of total revenue, marking a significant improvement relative to 8% of total revenue in the fourth quarter of ’22. And for the full year of 2023, we grew adjusted EBITDA by over 80% to $131.8 million or 12.1% of total revenue, 400 basis points higher than the prior year. We realized a net income attributable to Shake Shack Inc., of $6.8 million or $0.15 per diluted share. On an adjusted pro forma basis, we reported a net income attributable to Shake Shack Inc., of $1 million or $0.02 per fully exchanged and diluted share. And finally, our balance sheet is strong. As we enter the quarter with $293.2 million in cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities, up approximately $8 million from last quarter. Now on to guidance for the first quarter and full year of 2024. Our guidance assumes no material changes in the macroeconomic or geopolitical landscape and the potential impact of system wide sales or costs. For the first quarter, we guide total revenue of $288.4 million to $292.8 million with $9.4 million to $9.8 million of licensing revenue, approximately four company operated openings, approximately two licensed Shack openings, and for Same Shack sales to be up low-single digits year-over-year. January Same Shack sales were flat with an approximate low-single digit headwind from unfavorable weather, as well as pressures from comparing over a particularly strong January 2023, average weekly sales that had a large benefit from a high number of Shacks that we opened in the fourth quarter of 2022. Outside of weather impacted weeks though, we saw that the underlying strength of our fourth quarter trends continued into January and while we’re not providing specific numbers around February, our trends have improved from January levels and our guidance reflects this. As we execute on our 2024 strategic plan, we are guiding to first quarter Shack level operating profit margin of 19% to 19.5%, representing approximately 70 basis points to 120 basis points improvement year-over-year. In the first quarter, we are planning for low-single digit year-over-year inflation in food and paper costs, with pressures led by uncertainty in beef pricing, the largest part of our basket. For 2024, we are guiding total revenue of $1.21 billion to $1.25 billion, growing about 11% to 15% year-over-year with approximately 40 company operated and 40 license openings, both of which are back end weighted, and Same Shack sales to grow by low-single digits with low-single digit realized price. Our pricing plans for this year are modest and consistent with our pre-COVID pricing patterns of low-single digits. We recently increased price in our digital channels and plan to take additional menu price in areas with outsized labor inflation such as California. But for the majority of our Shacks, we plan to increase in-Shack menu prices by about 2.5% this year. We guide full year license revenue of $45 million to $47 million, up 11% to 15% year-over-year, as we factor in a degree of continued macroeconomic and geopolitical risks. The Middle East and China together were approximately 40% of our total license units and comprised a material amount of our 40 projected openings for 2024. We’re targeting another year of restaurant margin expansion as we guide Shack level operating profit margins to 20% to 21%, as we focus on driving sales and delivering on continued operational improvements. The low end of this guidance range while nearly flat year-over-year contemplates a weaker sales backdrop, a worsening staffing backdrop, and the potential for even more elevated inflationary pressures in beef and other areas of the supply chain. We guide 2024 G&A to $139 million to $142 million, which is up 11% to 14% year-over-year, driven by a planned large increase in advertising spending to drive greater brand awareness and sales, while still having a disciplined approach to run rate G&A. We’re increasing spend on areas of marketing where we have high visibility in our returns and will continue to closely monitor and adjust accordingly with changes to our business. We expect approximately $18 million of equity based compensation expense with about $17 million in G&A. We guide full year depreciation of $100 million to $105 million and preopening of approximately $17 million, in-line with our commitment to reduce preopening cost per Shack by at least 10%. We guide adjusted EBITDA of $160 million to $170 million in fiscal 2024. This represents 21% to 29% growth year-over-year and solidly outpacing total revenue guidance growth for 11% to 15%. And finally, we guide for fiscal year ’24 adjusted pro forma tax rate, excluding the impact of stock based compensation to be 20% to 25%. Our overall tax rate will be impacted by a number of factors including our level of profitability, tax credit, state mix, and other impacts. So, thank you for your time, and with that, I’ll turn it back to Randy. Randy Garutti: Thanks, Katie. Before we open up the call to Q&A, I do want to give a brief update on behalf of our Board of Directors on the CEO search. We are really fortunate that the role of CEO, Shake Shack is among the most exciting and biggest opportunities in the industry today. We’ve had enormous interest. The Board search committee is pleased with how the search is progressing and we’re on target we believe with expectations to transition leadership in the coming months. I also want to announce that today the company is promoting long-tenured leader Michael Kark to President of our Global License Business. Michael has been leading our International and Domestic License Relationship since he joined the company 12 years ago. He’s led one of the most nimble and innovative teams in the industry and will continue to chart the course for this exciting and critical part of our growth ahead. Congrats to Michael and to all of our partners around the globe. In the meantime, I remain deeply committed to executing against our strategic priorities to deliver profitable growth in the year ahead and ensure a seamless transition for my successor and the utmost confidence in our seasoned leadership team and never been more optimistic about Shake Shack’s potential as we build upon this last year’s success and enter 2024. With that, operator, thank you, and let’s go ahead and open up the call for questions. See also 16 Best Beach Towns to Buy a House/Apartment in USA and Top 20 Companies With the Most Cash Reserves. Q&A Session Follow Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE:SHAK) Follow Shake Shack Inc. (NYSE:SHAK) or Subscribe with Google We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. At this time, we will be conducting a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Brian Vaccaro with Raymond James. Please proceed with your question. Brian Vaccaro: Thank you, and good morning. You noted that average weekly sales through the fourth quarter exceeded your normal seasonality, and you attributed some of that to your strategic advertising initiatives, can you elaborate on the levers that you’re pulling there? Is that mainly focused on markets with lower awareness and kind of any way to frame what percentage of your units you would classify as lower awareness and the sales improvement you’re seeing behind some of those initiatives? Randy Garutti: Thanks, Brian. Yeah. I mean, listen, first of all, I want to come back to the point I made overall. We have big opportunity here to continue to expand this as we scale. I think it’s important to continue to name, listen, we’re not big enough yet to capture the kind of scale that we’d love to have a Super Bowl Commercial someday, right? We’re just not there yet, but there will be a day where that can happen. Today, we’ve got to test and learn into the strategies that we’re getting a strong return on. So, when you think about what we’ve done, we started to talk about this last quarter and do some of this in the third quarter, we did a bunch in the fourth, and we’ll continue to do that. Lots of things happening. There’s a few kind of lower brand awareness markets, where we did employ various media tests, most of what we’re doing is increasing our one-to-one performance marketing efforts that we’re getting smarter every day. We used to brace on some of our marketing efforts there. We’re just getting a better connection directly to our guests. We’re doing various really fun brand partnerships, things like our partnership with Trolls, the movie in the fourth quarter, and other things that continue on down the line that we use our culinary template to do. We also are doing things in our own channels. If you saw, we did a fun promotion with a Chicken Dance. If anybody in the NFL did a Chicken Dance, we were going to do free Chicken Shacks in our app, so that and a couple others like that drove a lot of traffic to our channels, which we really like. We also do things with third-party DSPs from time-to-time to promote those channels, where we see a good return. So all kinds of different things. Right now, for instance, we’re doing Free Fridays, right, through about a six, seven-week period in this time of year. That captures — what we love about that is, it captures our guests, it drives frequency, it kind of helps lapse guests in the app, go for an order and within all that, my final point is, we’ve been really happy to see that these things not only accretive to sales but also to profit. When we do things like that, we’re not seeing — we’re not doing them to lose profit, we’re doing them with positive profit gains. So really happy to see it. And I think the main point we want to take away is as we increase that to some extent this year, we’ll keep testing and learning new strategies in all kinds of markets to see where it hits best. So we’ve got a lot of opportunity ahead and the marketing team is set up to fire a lot this year. Brian Vaccaro: All right. That’s great. And sorry if I missed it, but Katie, can you level set where was advertising spend in 2023 and what’s embedded in your guidance, kind of ballparking what’s in guidance in advertising for 2024? Katie Fogertey: Yeah. So you’re going to get the 2023 number in the 10-K, so I don’t want to front-run that, but what I will say is that our guidance assumes a material step up in our underlying G&A or advertising spend. And what’s really important is that taking out that increase in advertising, we are showing continued discipline and leverage on our kind of underlying run rate G&A. So it’s been great to be able to see — drive increased profitability here and also be able to unlock that really powerful source of funds to help drive the future growth of the company. Brian Vaccaro: Great. And if I could just ask one quick follow-up on the topic of throughput, obviously, the time to get your food and average ticket times is really important to the guest experience and being consistent on that metric. I think you said, you’re looking — you’re targeting a 32nd improvement with even more in the drive through, but can you level set what your average ticket time is today? Any perspective on how that’s trended over time or perhaps how variable across the country, just to help us frame the opportunity on that? Thank you. Randy Garutti: We haven’t really released specific numbers on that. We’ve generally said over time that’s been a sort of 6 to 8 minute ticket time as we cook fresh to order over time. It’s really not a regional question, it’s more of a volume question. Obviously, when you’re busier, sometimes those times extend. Our goal for this year is consistency and continue to just improve and be relied upon better for what our guests can expect. So that’s the goal we’ve set out there. Ambitious target for our teams to knock 30 seconds off the average order over the course of this year. This is going to take time, it’s not tomorrow. This will be through the year, as we go and as we kind of exit the year that’s really been our goal. Thank you. And if [Multiple Speakers] and as we go, if we can keep — thank you — if we can keep, operator, the questions to one because we have a lot of people on the line, so thank you. Operator: Our next question comes from Sharon Zackfia with William Blair. Please proceed with your question. Sharon Zackfia: I was actually really excited to hear about the initiatives on throughput. I’m one of those people who would love to get through the line faster, so I definitely appreciate that. I’m sure you have a lot of unmet demand, can you talk about the labor modules that you tested, I think at a few locations in the fourth quarter, and is that the same as what you’re talking about with new kitchen flows and kind of the timing of real-time reporting and what that kind of looks like at the unit level? Thanks. Katie Fogertey: Yeah. Sure. So I’ll flip this one with Randy, but on the labor module side, these are two different things. How we flow food through our kitchens is very different than how we’re thinking about kind of better and more bespoke deployment. Over the course of Shake Shack’s history, as I’m sure you’ve followed, we’ve evolved with adding more channels. Our menu has changed and as we’ve grown across the country, there are just Shacks with different characteristics than others. And so, especially with the kiosk rollout that we did last year, we felt it was the right time to revisit with time in motion studies and the great data that the team has built up here, a really bespoke per Shack staffing and deployment model — module. And we did the first round of the test late last year. We’re really encouraged by the results there. We talked about rolling out to more Shacks this year. It’s important to note, none of that is actually embedded in our guidance for 2024 Shack level operating profit margin improvement. So it’s something that we’re still rolling out here. And what I would say too, is that it’s not just about reducing the number of people in the Shack, it’s actually about rightsizing the deployment we have there. So there are some areas where we feel it’s appropriate at certain times of the day to add more people in. We think that that’s important for our ability to execute a great guest experience and capitalize on the opportunity there and by different formats. But, Randy, do you want to take the… Randy Garutti: Yeah. Just on the kitchen flow, just to be more specific, this is something — this is going to always evolve forever, right? I mean, this is every restaurant, every day, continuing to try to figure out the best way to move food, but remain — keep integrity in how we cook our food. What we’ve been working on really for the better part of the last year and a half is testing various different flows that can help that same great food move through the kitchen in a more organized way that saves time and that’s what we’re working on, and that’ll take the small percentage of our restaurants doing that today. And most of our new restaurants will open with our linear kitchen that changes that flow. Some of our existing restaurants will convert, but it’s more about just how we move the food and it’s not really about renovations and all, any other major costly thing. It’s really just about a different flow of food. So we’ve got a lot of work to do on that among other things and that’s in the works. Operator: Our next question comes from Brian Mullan with Piper Sandler. Please proceed. Brian Mullan: Hey. Thank you. Just a question on the drive throughs, could you speak to how those are doing in general? Understanding, there have been some learnings, maybe some locations you might have done differently in certain instances, just looking to understand your degree of optimism about drive throughs overall, and if you think they have a solid long-term future at Shake Shack, any thoughts would be great. Randy Garutti: Yeah. Thanks. The answer for the long-term future is, you bet. We’re big believers in it. I think in order to capture market share, continue to hit our major growth goals, and hit the white space that this country has, we want to make drive-through work. We know we’ve had lots of things that we’ve learned. We have about 30 right now. We opened 18 last year. We’ll have a smaller percentage of the class in 2024, but still a significant commitment this year and the years ahead. So, we continue to learn. As I’ve said in previous conversations about drive through, we’ve got some that are below our targets, some that are above, right around — lots in the middle. And I think what we’re learning is best positioning, best real estate, best flow, and then you take that into the operational flow and locking in what we believe now our prototype for the coming years will be a little bit smaller, a little bit less seats, and we’re taking significant costs out of the cost to build. So that’s been really the work in the flow so that over time we can continue to drive stronger returns here, but really excited about drive through, and we will say we still have a ton to learn and it’s all going to continue to roll forward. We’re excited this year to open some drive throughs in some of our higher brand awareness markets. We’ve got some in California, we’ve got some in New York, New Jersey, and that’ll be exciting for us to learn how that goes and how people choose to use Shake Shack at a drive through experience. Operator: Our next question comes from Sara Senatore with Bank of America. Please proceed with your question. (ph) Sara Senatore: Okay. Thank you very much. I just wanted to ask a little bit about how you’re thinking about the margin outlook versus the same store sales. You’ve done a lot of work on restaurant level margins, but if I go back and look at the sort of initial guide for this year, restaurant level margins, I think was 19% to 20% and comp was kind of low-single to mid-single. So you came in at the high end of the range for both, but so is that sort of how we should be thinking about this, which is there are kind of puts and takes, so even though you have opportunities maybe on the margin side and if you could talk a little bit about what you think the biggest ones are, that would be helpful. But we should really be thinking about this as sort of you need a certain amount of comp to lever the expenses. Katie Fogertey: Great. So our guidance for this year is for low-single digits Same Shack sales growth. We are anticipating to have positive traffic and we’re taking — especially at our — most of our Shacks, less price more consistent with what we did in pre-COVID areas — times. We’re also, at the same time, though we talked about having a meaningful step up in advertising expense and we’ll see how that helps to benefit and impact our comp and we’re certainly doing that with strong confidence in what we’ve seen before historically with that and bringing that up to new levels or meaningfully higher levels. On the point on our restaurant margin guidance for 20% to 21%, we saw certainly — throughout last year and especially in the fourth quarter, very strong flow through on these incremental sales, and so we’re excited for what’s ahead. We also have a number of initiatives on our operational improvement plan, though, through total cost of serve, work that our supply chain team is doing to help offset inflationary pressures, some of that’s in the guidance, but also there’s a lot of white space opportunities still available there. And then on labor, we’ve been really efficient with the added sales that we’ve been seeing as a result of our marketing efforts and expect to continue to have opportunity on that side. Operator: Our next question comes from Michael Tamas with Oppenheimer. Please proceed. Michael Tamas: Hi. Good morning. Thank you. You talked about some interesting sales drivers in the ’24, including combo meals and desserts and increasing your marketing spend obviously, can you talk about some of the work you’ve done that suggests those are the right strategies, maybe why now? And then related to that, do you think those platforms are required to hit the positive traffic goal you’re talking about for ’24 or can the core existing strategies get you there? Thank you. Randy Garutti: Michael, great question. I think those strategies that I named specifically on the tests of combo meals, Sundaes, Mini Shakes, those are not core to our assumptions at all, and this year would be immaterial at best, and what we want to do there, why are we looking at that. Well, Shake Shack (ph) combo meals, Shake Shack has never had a combo meal in the history of the company. Time will tell if that’s the right thing, if that’s what our guests want. What we wanted to do and as part of our drive through goals is, that speed is a goal here. We know Shake Shack is not the fastest and we want to test how people react to that. And I think the initial news is well, a lot of people like combo meals at drive through. That shouldn’t be a shocker to anybody in the industry. The question is whether that’ll be the right thing for us long term, so we’re trying various pricing strategies, various visual, and merchandising strategies, and things that do not put us in that fast food category, but still really give that consistency to the guests. On our kind of dessert destination goals, look, Shake Shack before COVID had concretes, right, our Frozen Custard Sundaes. We’ve continued to hear from guests, they want us to continue to have more options and what we’re doing there is bringing back Sundaes. We’re going to be expanding those tests. We have Mini Shakes at a number of Shacks right now, we’ll be expanding that test, but not rolling out to the entire fleet just yet. These are things we want to tweak, get right, and the whole goal there is, can we increase some of that day part expansion? Can we get some more afternoon? Can we get a little average Shack? And how do those things work into the digital universe that we live in today? So I love menu innovation. As you know, we’re really good at it here. We got to keep doing it, but we’re doing it prudently. So all in all, the factors in the guide that we gave are really based on what we see as kind of our run rate opportunity, a lot of that increased marketing opportunity, and hopefully, an economy that cooperates and lots of opportunity. Those are the things that — some will be out of our control and the things that are, we’re going to keep driving the business. Operator: Our next question comes from Andrew Charles with TD Cowen. Please proceed. Andrew Charles: Great. Thank you. Katie, I just want to better understand the components of the 2024 low-single digit same store sales guidance. This embeds expectations for 2.5% price and positive traffic, so inherently is mix expect to be negative. I would think with the kiosk efforts and the traction you’re seeing there, the high-single digit boost in ticket that you’re seeing theoretically that should be a good guy, but is delivery sales embedded to be a continued headwind through ’24? Just looking for some more color within the components. Thanks......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyFeb 17th, 2024

Nasdaq Down 50 Points; TreeHouse Foods Shares Tumble After Q4 Results

U.S. stocks traded lower midway through trading, with the Nasdaq Composite falling over 50 points on Friday. The Dow traded down 0.10% to 38,736.15 while the NASDAQ fell 0.34% to 15,852.87. The S&P 500 also fell, dropping, 0.09% to 5,025.26. Check This Out: Amazon, Royal Caribbean Cruises And 2 Other Stocks Insiders Are Selling   Leading and Lagging Sectors   Materials shares rose by 0.8% on Friday. In trading on Friday, communication services shares fell by 1.6%.   Top Headline   Shares of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. (NYSE: THS) fell around 14% on Friday after the company reported worse-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue results and issued FY24 outlook below estimates. The company reported fourth-quarter adjusted EPS of 77 cents, beating the analyst consensus of 73 cents. Quarterly net sales of $910.8 million missed the consensus of $925.44 million.   Equities Trading UP   The Trade Desk, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTD) shares shot up 16% to $87.56 after the company reported mixed fourth-quarter financial results. Shares of PRA Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRAA) got a boost, surging 19% to $29.15 following upbeat results. Fusion Fuel Green ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaFeb 16th, 2024

Crude Oil Gains Over 1%; Cooper-Standard Shares Plummet

U.S. stocks traded lower toward the end of trading, with the Nasdaq Composite falling around 0.5% on Friday. The Dow traded down 0.24% to 38,681.46 while the NASDAQ fell 0.56% to 15,816.84. The S&P 500 also fell, dropping, 0.27% to 5,016.06. Check This Out: Amazon, Royal Caribbean Cruises And 2 Other Stocks Insiders Are Selling   Leading and Lagging Sectors   Materials shares rose by 0.8% on Friday. In trading on Friday, communication services shares fell by 1.4%.   Top Headline   Shares of TreeHouse Foods, Inc. (NYSE: THS) fell around 16% on Friday after the company reported worse-than-expected fourth-quarter revenue results and issued FY24 outlook below estimates. The company reported fourth-quarter adjusted EPS of 77 cents, beating the analyst consensus of 73 cents. Quarterly net sales of $910.8 million missed the consensus of $925.44 million.   Equities Trading UP   The Trade Desk, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTD) shares shot up 17% to $88.65 after the company reported mixed fourth-quarter financial results. Shares of PRA Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: PRAA) got a boost, surging 13% to $27.66 following upbeat results. Fusion Fuel ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaFeb 16th, 2024

Twilio (TWLO) Q4 Earnings and Revenues Surpass Estimates

Twilio's (TWLO) Q4 results reflect growth in the usage of its products and seasonal sales boost during the holiday season, partially offset by the challenges from the crypto customers. Twilio Inc. TWLO reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter 2023 results. The programmable communication tool provider reported non-GAAP earnings of 86 cents per share, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 57 cents and came above management’s guidance range of 53-57 cents. The bottom line also witnessed robust improvement from the year-ago quarter’s earnings of 22 cents.Revenue DetailsThe cloud-based communications platform-as-a-service provider registered revenues of $1.08 billion. The figure improved 5% year over year and beat the consensus mark of $1.04 billion.The company benefited from the steady growth in the usage of its products and experienced seasonal sales boost during the holiday season. However, the top line was affected by the challenges from customers in the crypto industry.Twilio Inc. Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise Twilio Inc. price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Twilio Inc. QuoteIn the fourth quarter, TWLO also restructured its business segments by shifting Flex and Marketing Campaigns to the Communications segment, which was earlier reported in the Data and Applications segment, thereby shifting $54 million of revenues to Communications. The company has renamed its Data and Applications business unit to the Twilio Segment, which includes both the Segment and Engage products.The company’s dollar-based net expansion rate was 102% in the reported quarter, up from 101% in the previous quarter and down from 110% in the year-ago quarter.Active customer accounts decreased to 305,000 as of Dec 31, 2023, from 306,000 at the end of the third quarter of 2023. The figure was 290,000 as of Dec 31, 2022.Operating ResultsNon-GAAP gross profit climbed 9% year over year to $564 million. The non-GAAP gross margin expanded 180 basis points to 52.4% year over year and declined 110 basis points sequentially.Non-GAAP operating income was $172.6 million against the year-ago quarter’s non-GAAP operating loss of $32.9 million. The non-GAAP operating margin was 16% for the reported quarter.General & administrative (G&A) expenses on a non-GAAP basis decreased 29.1% to $62.1 million. G&A expenses accounted for 6% of quarterly revenues, down from 9% in the year-ago quarter. Research & development (R&D) expenditures on a non-GAAP basis declined 15.9% year over year to $149.2 million. R&D expenses contributed 14% of fourth-quarter revenues, down from 17% in the year-ago quarter.Non-GAAP sales & marketing costs declined 18.3% to $179.7 million. The same represented 17% of fourth-quarter revenues, lower than 21% in the year-ago quarter.Balance SheetThe company exited the December quarter with cash and cash equivalents and short-term marketable securities of $4.01 billion, up from $3.86 billion at the third-quarter 2023 end. As of Dec 31, 2023, TWLO’s long-term debt was $988.6 million.During fiscal 2023, Twilio generated an operating cash flow of $414.8 million and repurchased stocks worth $656 million. Moreover, the company revealed that it had bought back $730 million worth of its common stock till Feb 14 under the ongoing $1 billion share repurchase program authorized in February 2023. The program will expire in December 2024.Q1 GuidanceFor the current quarter ending Mar 31, 2024, TWLO anticipates revenues between $1.025 billion and $1.035 billion, indicating a year-over-year increase of 2-3% on a reported basis and 5-6% on an organic basis. Twilio forecasts non-GAAP earnings in the range of 56-60 cents per share.Zacks Rank and Other Stocks to ConsiderCurrently, Twilio carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Shares of TWLO have gained 9.4% in the past year.Some other top-ranked stocks from the broader technology sector are BlackLine BL, Dell Technologies DELL and Arista Networks ANET, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 at present. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for BlackLine’s first-quarter 2024 earnings has remained unchanged at 47 cents per share in the past 90 days. Shares of BL have lost 20.9% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Dell's fourth-quarter 2024 earnings per share has been revised northward by a penny to $1.73 in the past 30 days. Shares of DELL have surged 101% in the past year.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Arista’s first-quarter 2024 earnings has been revised by 3 cents northward to $1.70 per share. Shares of ANET have rallied 87.7% in the past year. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s credited with a “watershed medical breakthrough” and is developing a bustling pipeline of other projects that could make a world of difference for patients suffering from diseases involving the liver, lungs, and blood. This is a timely investment that you can catch while it emerges from its bear market lows. It could rival or surpass other recent Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock And 4 Runners UpWant 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 Dell Technologies Inc. (DELL): Free Stock Analysis Report Arista Networks, Inc. (ANET): Free Stock Analysis Report Twilio Inc. (TWLO): Free Stock Analysis Report BlackLine (BL): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on Zacks.com click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksFeb 15th, 2024