Party on Butler to open in Lawrenceville storefront

An entrepreneur that launched an event business in Brooklyn is ready to now get the party started in Lawrenceville......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsAug 14th, 2022

Bath & Body Works Reports First Quarter 2023 Earnings Results

COLUMBUS, Ohio, May 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bath & Body Works, Inc. (NYSE:BBWI) today reported first quarter 2023 results. Gina Boswell, CEO of Bath & Body Works, commented, "We delivered first quarter sales in line with our expectations while our EPS was better than anticipated as we saw benefits from our work to improve merchandise margin as well as early benefits from our cost optimization initiatives. I want to thank our team for their continued dedication and efforts in delivering innovation and newness to our customers as well as leveraging the agility of our vertically integrated supply chain to meet demand and capture market opportunities. In addition, we maintained our intense focus on efficiency and navigated the ongoing challenging macroeconomic environment. Looking forward, we are moving quickly and implementing our plans to profitably grow sales and drive long-term value for our shareholders. I remain excited about the opportunities ahead, and I am confident that the future is bright for Bath & Body Works." First Quarter 2023 Results The company reported net sales of $1.396 billion for the first quarter ended April 29, 2023, a decrease of 4% compared to net sales of $1.450 billion for the first quarter ended April 30, 2022. The company reported earnings per diluted share of $0.35 for the first quarter of 2023, compared to $0.64 for the same period of the prior year. First quarter operating income was $181 million compared to $280 million last year, and net income was $81 million compared to $155 million last year. Reported first quarter 2023 net income includes a $7 million pre-tax gain ($5 million after-tax gain) associated with the early extinguishment of debt, resulting from the open market repurchase and retirement of $84 million principal amount of the company's senior notes during the first quarter. Excluding the gain on the early extinguishment of debt, adjusted first quarter 2023 earnings per diluted share were $0.33 and adjusted net income was $76 million. At the conclusion of this press release is a reconciliation of reported-to-adjusted results. 2023 Outlook The company has updated its full-year forecast to reflect better-than-expected bottom line results and the impact of the gain on the early extinguishment of debt in the first quarter. For fiscal 2023, the company reiterates its forecast of flat net sales to a mid-single digit decline compared to $7.560 billion in 2022. The company now expects full-year 2023 earnings per diluted share to be between $2.70 and $3.10, compared to $3.40 in 2022. The company expects full-year 2023 adjusted earnings per diluted share to be between $2.68 and $3.08. The company's adjusted earnings per diluted share forecast excludes the gain on the early extinguishment of debt associated with the open market repurchase and retirement of $84 million principal amount of the company's senior notes during the first quarter. Fiscal 2023 will include a 53rd week, with the fourth quarter of fiscal 2023 consisting of 14 weeks. The company's full-year outlook includes the impact of the 53rd week, estimated at 7 cents per diluted share. The company expects second quarter net sales to decline low- to mid-single digits compared to $1.618 billion in the second quarter of 2022. Second quarter earnings per diluted share are expected to be between $0.27 and $0.32, compared to $0.52 earnings per diluted share in the second quarter of 2022. The company's second quarter and full-year outlook exclude the impact of any future debt or share repurchase activity. Earnings Call and Additional Information Bath & Body Works, Inc. will conduct its first quarter earnings call at 9:00 a.m. Eastern on May 18. To listen, call 1.888.946.7609 (international dial-in number: 1.517.308.9411); conference ID 6362067. For an audio replay, call 1.888.566.0470 (international replay number: 1.203.369.3050); conference ID 6362067 or log onto ABOUT BATH & BODY WORKS Home of America's Favorite Fragrances®, Bath & Body Works is a global leader in personal care and home fragrance, including top-selling collections for fine fragrance mist, body lotion and body cream, 3-wick candles, home fragrance diffusers and liquid hand soap. Powered by agility and innovation, the company's predominantly U.S.-based supply chain enables the company to deliver quality, on-trend luxuries at affordable prices. Bath & Body Works serves and delights customers however and wherever they want to shop, from welcoming, in-store experiences at more than 1,800 company-operated Bath & Body Works locations in the U.S. and Canada and more than 435 international franchised locations to an online storefront at Safe Harbor Statement Under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 We caution that any forward-looking statements (as such term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) contained in this press release or made by our company or our management involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change based on various factors, many of which are beyond our control. Accordingly, our future performance and financial results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in any such forward-looking statements. Words such as "estimate," "project," "plan," "believe," "expect," "anticipate," "intend," "planned," "potential," "target," "goal" and any similar expressions may identify forward-looking statements. Risks associated with the following factors, among others, in some cases have affected and in the future could affect our financial performance and actual results and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements included in this press release or otherwise made by our company or our management: general economic conditions, inflation and deflation, consumer confidence, consumer spending patterns and market disruptions including pandemics or significant health hazards, severe weather conditions, natural disasters, terrorist activities, financial crises, political crises or other major events, or the prospect of these events; the seasonality of our business; the anticipated benefits from the Victoria's Secret & Co. spin-off may not be realized; the spin-off of Victoria's Secret & Co. may not be tax-free for U.S. federal income tax purposes; our dependence on Victoria's Secret & Co. for information technology services and the transition of such services to our own information technology systems or to those of third-party technology service providers; our ability to attract, develop and retain qualified associates and manage labor-related costs; difficulties arising from turnover in company leadership or other key positions; the dependence on store traffic and the availability of suitable store locations on appropriate terms; our continued growth in part through new store openings and existing store remodels and expansions; our ability to successfully operate and expand internationally and related risks; our independent franchise, license and wholesale partners; our direct channel business; our ability to protect our reputation and our brand image; our ability to successfully complete environmental, social and governance initiatives, and associated costs thereof; our ability to successfully achieve expected annual cost savings in connection with our profit optimization efforts to reduce expenses and improve operating efficiency in the business; our ability to attract customers with marketing, advertising and promotional programs; our ability to maintain, enforce and protect our trade names, trademarks and patents; the highly competitive nature of the retail industry and the segments in which we operate; consumer acceptance of our products and our ability to manage the life cycle of our brand, develop new merchandise and launch new product lines successfully; our ability to source, distribute and sell goods and materials on a global basis, including risks related to: political instability, wars and other armed conflicts, environmental hazards or natural disasters; significant health hazards or pandemics, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which could result in closed factories and/or stores, reduced workforces, scarcity of raw materials, and scrutiny or embargoing of goods produced in impacted areas; duties, taxes and other charges; legal and regulatory matters; volatility in currency exchange rates; local business practices and political issues; delays or disruptions in shipping and transportation and related pricing impacts; disruption due to labor disputes; and changing expectations regarding product safety due to new legislation; our geographic concentration of vendor and distribution facilities in central Ohio; our reliance on a limited number of suppliers to support a substantial portion of our inventory purchasing needs; the ability of our vendors to deliver products in a timely manner, meet quality standards and comply with applicable laws and regulations; fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; fluctuations in product input costs; fluctuations in energy costs; our ability to adequately protect our assets from loss and theft; increases in the costs of mailing, paper, printing or other order fulfillment logistics; claims arising from our self-insurance; our and our third-party service providers', including Victoria's Secret & Co. during the term of the Transition Services Agreement between us and Victoria's Secret & Co., ability to implement and maintain information technology systems and to protect associated data; our ability to maintain the security of customer, associate, third-party and company information; stock price volatility; our ability to pay dividends and make share repurchases under share repurchase authorizations; shareholder activism matters; our ability to maintain our credit ratings; our ability to service, repurchase or refinance our debt and maintain compliance with our restrictive covenants; the impact of the transition from London Interbank Offered Rate and our ability to adequately manage such transition; our ability to comply with laws, regulations and technology platform rules or other obligations related to data privacy and security; our ability to comply with regulatory requirements; legal and compliance matters; and tax, trade and other regulatory matters. We are not under any obligation and do not intend to make publicly available any update or other revisions to any of the forward-looking statements contained in this press release to reflect circumstances existing after the date of this press release or to reflect the occurrence of future events even if experience or future events make it clear that any expected results expressed or implied by those forward-looking statements will not be realized. Additional information regarding these and other factors can be found in "Item 1A. Risk Factors" in our 2022 Annual Report on Form 10-K, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and our subsequent filings. For further information, please contact: Bath & Body Works, Inc.:Investor RelationsHeather Media RelationsTammy Roberts BATH & BODY WORKS, INC. First Quarter 2023 Total Sales (In millions):                   First Quarter2023     First Quarter2022   %Inc/(Dec) Stores - U.S. and Canada $ 1,034   $ 1,059   (2 %) Direct - U.S. and Canada   280     318   (12 %) International (a)   82     73   13 % Total Bath & Body Works $ 1,396   $ 1,450   (4 %) (a) Results include royalties associated with franchised stores and wholesale sales. Total Company-Operated Stores:   Stores           Stores   1/28/2023   Opened   Closed   4/29/2023 United States 1,693   16   (8 )   1,701 Canada 109   —   —     109 Total Bath & Body Works 1,802   16   (8 )   1,810 Total Partner-Operated Stores:   Stores           Stores   1/28/2023   Opened   Closed   4/29/2023 International 401   9   —   410 International - Travel Retail 26   —   —   26 Total International 427   9   —   436 BATH & BODY WORKS, INC. CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF INCOME THIRTEEN WEEKS ENDED APRIL 29, 2023 AND APRIL 30, 2022 (Unaudited) (In millions, except per share amounts)     2023       2022   Net Sales $ 1,396     $ 1,450   Costs of Goods Sold, Buying and Occupancy   (800 )     (781 ) Gross Profit   596       669   General, Administrative and Store Operating Expenses   (415 )     (389 ) Operating Income   181       280   Interest Expense   (89 )  .....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaMay 18th, 2023

How To Choose Your Business’s Next Investment

Choosing the right investments for your business can generate growth or stifle it without the right strategy in mind. Every company’s goals and trajectory are different, but there are a few core tips you can use to help guide your investment choices. Choosing your business’s next investment is about staying anchored in your goals and […] Choosing the right investments for your business can generate growth or stifle it without the right strategy in mind. Every company’s goals and trajectory are different, but there are a few core tips you can use to help guide your investment choices. Choosing your business’s next investment is about staying anchored in your goals and putting financial resources toward the right stepping stones to reach those aims. Here’s an overview of some top considerations you should have in mind when planning your business’s investments for the future. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   Find A Qualified Financial Advisor Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. Consider Long-Term Plans The first thing you should do when trying to choose your business’s next investment takes a look at how you are hoping to grow. It can help to lay things out over the next five to 10 years. Consider where your company is and how far you could reasonably progress toward your hopes in the near future. For example, maybe you currently run a small construction business. In five years, you might want to have a larger team, take on more projects annually or operate over a larger area. In 10 years, you might want to own your own vehicles and equipment or take on larger-scale projects. These goals are ambitious and motivating while also remaining realistic and achievable. Your long-term plans for your company serve as a road map for where you should invest your money now. An investment might sound attractive at first glance, but it might not be a good fit if it doesn’t align with your long-term vision. Think of your five to 10-year goals as your travel itinerary for a road trip — it’s alright to take detours now and then, but each step along the way should move you toward your ultimate destination. Save for Worst-Case Scenarios It may sound grim initially, but planning for worst-case scenarios can help save your business stress and money in the long run. Investing in disaster recovery resources could potentially save your company in the event of a natural disaster or cyber attack. Disaster recovery investments will vary for different businesses and different areas. For example, imagine a coffee shop based in Orlando, Florida. Business owners in Southern Florida are all too aware of the dangers of hurricanes. There may not be any way to stop these natural disasters, but business owners can make critical investments to help them recover faster afterward. If you owned this coffee shop, you might want to invest money in a securities stock, where you could leave your money to grow over time with minimal risk of losing any. In a disaster, you could pull that money out of the stock market and use it to help cover damages and other recovery expenses. There are a variety of online tools you can use to research good stock investments like this. Similarly, you might buy backup storefront gear for your coffee shop that you could store in a safe location. This would allow you to reopen quicker after a natural disaster like a hurricane, where property destruction could be a problem. Organizing emergency clean-up services ahead of time could be another good investment for quick storefront recovery after a storm. Remember to consider financial fallout, as well. For example, you might invest in a real estate entity that ends up falling through. Having the possibility of a 1031 exchange for that investment could help save you hefty tax payments when backing out of the investment. It might sound pessimistic to arrange worst-case scenario plans like these — hopefully, you don’t have to use them. However, you will be glad you have these disaster preparations in place if worst comes to worst. Consider Personnel Investments In addition to physical investments, it’s always a good idea to consider investing in new team members or contractors. Part of being a growing company is recognizing when you could benefit from something your team is not currently doing and responding to that. For example, you might see a lot of potential in content marketing, but your company doesn’t currently have a team member with strong content marketing skills. You could invest in a freelance content writer or a training program or course for one of your team members to learn content writing skills. This investment would deliver a return in the form of improved marketing for your business. It’s also worth asking your team members what skills they would like to learn or what help they could use on the job. Employees will have a unique perspective on everyday life in your company, including things you might not be aware of. Their input can help guide your personnel investments to meet your workers’ needs, helping them strengthen the business as a whole. One particular personnel investment every entrepreneur should consider is IT and cybersecurity expertise. Ransomware attacks rose by an estimated 92.7% in 2021, hitting organizations in all fields and industries. Cyber attacks can be extremely costly for companies, particularly ransomware attacks. Investing in someone who can build a robust cybersecurity system for your business could help protect you from these rising security threats. Invest in Your Business’s Reach When new entrepreneurs think about investing, things like property or stocks may come to mind. However, you need to remember to invest in your company’s growth. You can do this by investing in your reach — the audience connecting with your brand. A helpful way to think of this is in terms of Wi-Fi. A single Wi-Fi router on its own can only reach so far. Eventually, the signal will grow weak and drop off. If you invest in more routers and hot spots, your signal can go much further. Investing in your business’s reach is all about finding new people and avenues to help you expand the audience your brand’s message is connecting with. There are all kinds of ways to do this. You might invest in a couple of videographers or social media experts to build out your company’s social media pages or create YouTube ads. Similarly, you could invest in copywriters and micro-influencers to help spread the word about your brand online. You could also invest in market research services. Whether you do this analysis internally or hire a third-party firm, thorough market research requires time and resources. It can be a worthwhile investment for discovering your target market’s interests, where they interact online, their awareness of your brand, and how you can potentially improve your relationship with them. Consider what audience you are attracting now, what audience you would like to reach that you aren’t already and what investments could bridge that gap. Additionally, consider the role technology plays in expanding your business’s reach. Investing in something like a customer relationship management platform could help your business deliver a better experience for your customers, improving the word-of-mouth marketing you generate. Technology can help you support a larger community of customers as you grow, as well. Keep Your Investments Diverse Finally, while choosing new investments for your company, remember to step back every now and then. Check-in with the investments you have planned. Are they heavily concentrated in one area or another? Are they spread out between various types of investments and assets? Ideally, you want to make sure your business is growing evenly. You don’t want to invest in a vast new team of employees before you have the sales revenue to support them. So, analyze the assets you are currently investing in and consider what could help diversify your investments. At this stage, it is also worth considering how your investments impact your company’s taxes. You may want to diversify your investments to include some that help lower or minimize your tax burden. There are many ways small businesses can do this, such as investing in retirement funds or equipment that qualifies for business expense tax write-offs. Creating a Diverse Investment Plan This is an excellent opportunity to build on the five to 10-year road map mentioned earlier. You might have many ideas for exciting investments for your company, but you don’t need to start diving into those investments all at once. In fact, the wisest course of action is to give each asset your full attention while planning and implementing it before moving on to another. Considering what your five to 10-year goals are and the current state of your business, pinpoint which investments would be the most impactful over the next one to three years. Make sure you keep them varied, as mentioned above. Maybe over year one, you invest in cybersecurity training for a few team members and a disaster recovery plan. Add those to your road map. Similarly, maybe in five years, you have invested in some new staff and are now ready to open a second office. Each investment you add to the road map should build on progress in some area of your company, such as personnel or real estate. By outlining your goals over the next five to 10 years, you can get a clear overview of what investments you have in mind and how you’ll grow in the years to come. This allows you to plan well ahead and keep your assets diverse and relevant to your ultimate aspirations. Making the Right Investment Moves Choosing company investments can often feel like a game of chess — every move contributes to your business’s larger vision and strategy. Be tactical about your next investment. Consider the current state of your company and your team, where you want to go, and how you could improve. With the right goals and strategy in mind, you can choose the perfect investments to build the business of your dreams, one wise investment at a time. Article by Devin Partida, Due About the Author Devin Partida grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the booming tech and startup scene nurtured her curiosity. Always an avid writer in her younger years, Devin began covering the tech industry for ReHack in 2019, and has since become the young brand’s Editor-in-Chief. When she isn’t writing, Devin enjoys biking around the Golden Gate Bridge, eating hand-crafted ice creams and listening to true crime podcasts......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 26th, 2022

Party on Butler to open in Lawrenceville storefront

An entrepreneur that launched an event business in Brooklyn is ready to now get the party started in Lawrenceville......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsAug 14th, 2022

2 German volunteers went to Ukraine to fight the Russians. Confusion, chaos, and then COVID-19, defeated them instead.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on foreign fighters to help defend against Russian attacks. Many weren't what the Ministry of Defense had in mind. Lukas and Tobias, two German volunteers, arrive in the western city of Lviv, just over a week after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began.Alan Chin for Insider To help defend against Russian attacks, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called on foreign fighters.  Volunteers poured in, but many were perhaps not what the Ministry of Defense had in mind. On March 2, two German volunteers arrived in Lviv, ready to become war heroes. Chaos ensued. The two Germans burst into the hostel in Lviv, Ukraine, at 2 a.m., bumping into the door frame and shouting questions about where the beds were and how to find the bathroom. It was March 2, a week into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the hostel was mostly filled with shell-shocked women and children escaping war to the east. The Germans were starkly out of place. Marie and Etterem, the Ukrainian-Turkish couple who ran the place, had been sleeping on the kitchen floor down in the basement—now doubling as an air raid bunker—to leave more room for guests. They got up to prepare tea for the newcomers, giving the men a chance to explain themselves."We are volunteer soldiers for the International Legion of the Ukrainian military," Lukas, the younger of the two men, said. His companion, Tobias, twitched with excitement as he interrupted with, "We're here to fight the Russians."Marie and Etterem thanked the men for their bravery and headed back to bed. The Germans stepped out onto the balcony for a smoke, inviting me—a jet-lagged journalist who had been staying at the hostel since the war began—to join their late-night conversation. Sharply dressed in pristine blue-and-white tennis shoes, with a nose piercing and studded ears, Lukas, 33, had been living in Montenegro for the last six months while working at his father's IT company. He had come with a small backpack containing little that might come in handy for a soldier, and just enough money to pay for a few nights at a hostel.As he would tell me later, Lukas was bored with his tech job and was looking for something "real." Ukraine seemed as real as it could get. When he told his family and his girlfriend that he planned to join the International Legion, they tried to hide his passport. He slipped out in the middle of the night. "It was my decision and no one could stop me," Lukas said.Tobias—a decade older, at 44—was a luxury watchmaker by trade and spent weekends DJ-ing at techno clubs. Tall and lanky, with gauged earlobes and an uneven buzz cut, he carried only a small, overstuffed suitcase on two wheels, a well-worn black backpack, and a khaki shoulder bag that he seemed unwilling to part with. A simple black watch hung on his wrist. Tobias had been watching the news from his home in Fulda, outside Frankfurt, and was moved by a striking image of a Ukrainian girl carrying a Kaloshnikov in Kyiv. She looked to be around the same age as his daughter, Luna. "What if that were my Luna?" he remembers thinking. "How could I let her do this fight alone?"  Over the last year, Tobias had fallen out with his father and sister, lost ownership of the business he'd spent years building, and relapsed into binge drinking and drugs. He hadn't seen either of his two kids in more than six months. "My family is everything, and I don't have them anymore," he said. So, why not go to Ukraine, he figured."Were we supposed to just stand by and watch?" Tobias asked, digging into his pocket for his lighter. "We are from Germany," he said, halting his incessant fidgeting to emphasize his words and allude to his country's WWII history. "Not again."Neither man had any military experience or combat training, or even a connection to Ukraine. Lukas, smoking a joint, pulled his jacket more tightly around himself. He had brought rolling papers, but not a scarf or gloves. It was just 26 degrees that night in Lviv, and snowing.'Please come, we will give you weapons'On February 26—two days after the start of the Russian bombardment—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy invited foreign nationals who considered themselves friends of Ukraine to join the fight, saying, "Please come. We will give you weapons."A day after that, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense provided more details: "Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe, and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals." Practically unprecedented in modern times, it brought to mind the call for anti-fascist volunteers to Spain in the 1930s, when over 60,000 volunteers from 50 countries (George Orwell among them) rushed to the Republicans' side in the Spanish civil war.These foreign fighters would be incorporated into the military under a voluntary contract with the same rights and responsibilities as the 100,000 or more Ukrainian militiamen already organized within 25 Territorial Defense Force brigades around the country.The International Legion added to Ukraine's 200,000-plus active-duty troops and 900,000 reservists—Europe's second largest military force, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Only Russia oversees a bigger military in the region, dwarfing the forces of its neighbors, with over 900,000 active-duty soldiers and two million reservists.Formed at breakneck speed, many of the recruits were perhaps not who the Ministry of Defense had hoped to attract or was prepared to train. And, although legislation already existed to recruit foreigners, the military infrastructure that is needed to prepare inexperienced volunteers for war was still developing.On March 2, Ukraine updated its guidelines, and specified that recruits must sign up at the nearest Ukrainian embassy, complete a background check, and pass a health screening before presenting for service. (By March 7, Ukraine said 20,000 foreign recruits from 52 countries had applied to join the International Legion. Some estimates suggest the number has grown to 40,000.)But by that time, Tobias and Lukas were already in Ukraine—heading to training in their sneakers and jeans. The Georgian LegionTobias and Lukas had met at the train station in Przemysl, a small town on the Polish-Ukrainian border, during the long wait for the next train to Lviv—40 miles to the east. Tobias had overheard Lukas chatting with another man in German and, happy to hear his mother tongue, introduced himself. Lukas had been telling people that he was heading to Ukraine as a humanitarian volunteer. But when Tobias mentioned that he already had a military contact inside Ukraine, Lukas came clean. Tobias (left) and Lukas at the train station in Lviv.Alan Chin for InsiderA few days earlier, back in Germany, Tobias had reached out to the Ukrainian embassy in Frankfurt and learned that Ukraine's borders were open for volunteer fighters from anywhere in the world. No visa was required, so travel wouldn't be a problem. Tobias went on Facebook in search of a contact for the International Legion. He discovered instead the Georgian Legion—a battalion of volunteer soldiers mostly from the ex-Soviet country, many of whom carried anger towards Russia from when President Putin attacked their country in 2008. Tobias was given an email address and instructed to reach out once he crossed into Ukraine. While Tobias might have thought he had nothing to lose, his family saw things differently. "It was like a rollercoaster," Tobias' daughter, Luna, told me when I reached her by phone. "Always waiting for messages to know if he was okay."Lukas had done even less research, jumping on a train without any plans, instructions, or contacts. Once in Ukraine, he figured, it wouldn't be difficult to connect with a recruiter for the Legion. And then, he met Tobias, who seemed to have all the information Lukas needed. The Germans decided to continue the journey together. On that first frigid night in Lviv, they arrived too late to meet their Georgian contact. Instead, they were told they should find a place to sleep, and a car would come for them the next morning to take them to the training center.  The hostel was the only place their taxi driver could find with two open beds in the packed city, which had become a transit hub for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the bombardments of Kyiv, Kharkiv, and other cities.  Lukas (left) helps Tobias repack his bags as they prepare to meet their Georgian Legion escort at the hostel in Lviv, Ukraine.Katie Livingstone for InsiderThe next morning, after just a few hours of sleep, the Germans showered and repacked their bags. Lukas finished first and watched as Tobias struggled to stuff all his things into his two bags. After a while, Lukas gamely plopped onto Tobias' suitcase so that his companion could more easily zip it up.Sure enough, later that morning a dark blue skoda with two armed soldiers pulled up in front of the hostel. The car was unmarked, but the soldiers wore the telltale yellow armband meant to differentiate Ukrainian troops from Russian soldiers. Making their way to the car, the Germans promised me they would stay in touch. (Over the next three weeks, I would hear from them almost daily, and meet them for several more interviews. They asked that Insider use only their first names.)  Tobias and Lukas climbed into the back seat and off they sped to some unknown location to begin their service to Ukraine. 'Katastrophe'In a hushed phone call that first night, Tobias explained that he and Lukas had been taken to the Georgian Legion's barracks, just outside Lviv. The place was barren and disorganized. They had expected to receive gear and start training right away. Instead, they spent most of that day and night drinking and smoking with their new brothers-in-arms while trying to communicate in whatever lingua-franca passed for the moment. (Most of the soldiers were Georgian, and about a third were from other places.) "Katastrophe," Tobias repeated over and over again. "There's no organization, no organized training. Everyone just wants to kill the Russians." Lukas and Tobias depart the Lviv hostel for training with the Georgian Legion.Katie Livingstone for InsiderThe next morning, Tobias and Lukas were told the Georgians were evacuating the base after getting a report that Russians were heading their way. They should take a train to Kyiv, they were told.But the details were foggy. Still without any military gear, they told me they were instructed to pose as Red Cross volunteers and prepare reports on any suspicious activity that they observed en route. "They want us to spy on the people on the train," Tobias said. Once in the capital, they would meet up with another squadron at a safe-house. After that, they'd go to the front, they were told.When asked why the Legion would make such a request of two foreigners with no experience in the country who couldn't speak the local languages, Lukas said simply: "They asked, so we are going." Out of Lukas' earshot, Tobias offered another explanation. "The Georgian officer asked Lukas to stop smoking in the room twice last night. And he didn't want to. He's not thinking. Then, the officer asked us to go to Kyiv, and Lukas agreed. Katastrophe," Tobias lamented. He had agreed to accompany Lukas because he didn't want the younger man to go alone, he said.Fissures in the brotherhood were already becoming apparent.Meanwhile, since the war began, no Russian troops have been reported in Lviv by any media outlets. Instead, across Lviv, paranoia about Russian saboteurs was palpable. At the hostel where Tobias and Lukas stayed, Marie and Etterem said they received almost nightly calls from an intelligence officer asking if any of their guests seemed dubious. One night, prior to the Germans' arrival, police had burst into the small lodge and interrogated all of the male foreigners staying there, and then left without another word. Hundreds of check-points have gone up around greater Lviv and residents are told to call a hotline to report anything suspicious."I remember two crazy Germans," Mamuka Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion, told me when I reached him over Skype. I showed him a picture of Tobias and Lukas, just to be sure, and Mamulashvili burst out laughing, explaining that he tries to personally interview every recruit. "That's them.""My officers told me there were these two guys trying to party in the barracks, and they had to go. They were gone the next day," Mamulashvili said. Mamulashvili said the Georgian Legion is a Special Forces battalion made up of combat-ready fighters, and that it has been repeatedly confused with Ukraine's newly-organized International Legion, which has training capacity for less experienced soldiers."I don't know anything about the 'spy story,' though," he added with a smirk, after I summarized what the Germans had told me.'Ukraine must know its heroes'Unlike the packed trains carrying mostly women and children toward the Polish border, the trains heading east had plenty of seats. Tobias and Lukas' trip to Kyiv was uneventful, even as their excitement grew. "We have gone past some blown-up buildings, and I think I saw an unexploded missile in a field," Tobias texted from the train."This isn't what I signed up for," Lukas admitted in an audio message, adding, "But we are ready." Tobias and Lukas arrived at Kyiv's central train station that evening, still wearing their civilian clothes. As instructed, they called their Georgian commander back in Lviv. The phone rang and rang. No one answered. Now at the war's doorstep, they had no plan and no idea where they would spend the night.By this point in the war—ten days after Kyiv was first hit—Russian missile assaults had driven over a million people to the west and into neighboring countries. That day, Russian troops had occupied the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia, stirring up decades-old fears of nuclear war. Incessant bombing had started in Mariupol, southeast from Kyiv—the start of one of the worst civilian disasters in Ukraine since the war began.Tobias on the train from Lviv to Kyiv, where he and Lukas hoped to finally reach the front line.TobiasBut Ukrainian forces had stalled the 40-mile-long line of Russian troops heading into the capital from Belarus, repelling forces from the capital through a stunningly successful combination of air defense tactics and street combat. Zelenkskyy continued to speak to the Ukrainian people from Kyiv's iconic city squares, proving to the world that the capital was still in Ukrainian hands. Still, shelling was heard nightly and many residents of the capital took refuge in the city's subway stations, which had been built during the Cold War to withstand a nuclear attack. Without a better idea, Tobias and Lukas began approaching uniformed soldiers to ask if they could join their squads. They eventually found two friendly Ukrainian reservists in fatigues and, with the help of a translation app on their phones, introduced themselves. The reservists said their squadron had not yet been mobilized. They invited the Germans back to their makeshift barracks, in the back of a storefront, to sleep for the night. "Only civilians are protecting the train station! There's a ring of Russians around Kyiv! We don't know how to get out!" Tobias exclaimed on the phone that night. I checked the news and, in fact, trains were still leaving daily to the east. With their Georgian commander still not picking up their calls, the Germans passed the hours drinking the reservists' alcohol and smoking the last of the marijuana Lukas had brought—bonding over their united mission against Russia. Tobias (second from left) and Lukas (right) hang out with the Ukrainian reservists they met at the Kyiv train station. The Ukrainians invited them to stay at their makeshift barracks.TobiasThe next morning, the reservists drove Tobias and Lukas around Kyiv to search for a new group to join, the Germans told me. But no one would have them. "They told us to leave because the war is lost and it is too dangerous," Tobias said later. (In fact, the steadfast resolve of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike has been well documented. Insider was unable to speak to the reservists by phone to confirm details of the visit.)Their best bet was to return to Lviv and try to reconnect with the International Legion there, Tobias and Lukas decided.  Back at Kyiv's train station, they found, for the first time, they were heading in the same direction as throngs of other people. Children still in their pajamas from hasty escapes, elderly people with blank stares and almost no luggage. When a Lviv-bound train pulled up at the platform, the scene was chaotic, as hundreds of people tried to push their way onto the already crowded train. The Germans noticed a shell-shocked woman standing nearby, who seemed unable to jostle her things onto the train. They sprung into action, securing the woman a seat on the next train out and, as her escorts, finding just enough space to squeeze themselves into the train's corridor. The woman, named Yulia, was 38 and had fled the besieged northeastern city of Kharkiv. She carried just one small suitcase and said she wasn't sure if her apartment had been bombed. She said she thought it had.  On the long ride west, Tobias and Lukas hatched a plan to escort Yulia to Germany. "It's too dangerous for a woman to travel on her own," Tobias told me later that night, with conviction and satisfaction in his voice. But the next morning, after another night spent in the bunk-beds of the Lviv hostel, they changed their minds about leaving Ukraine so quickly. They accompanied Yulia to the bus station, and waved as she headed towards Poland, where she had family waiting for her."I am very grateful to these guys who literally dragged me onto the train to Lviv," she later posted on Facebook. (She also confirmed the details of Tobias and Lukas' story to Insider.) "I can't tell you how I felt at that moment, only tears of joy and gratitude. Ukraine must know its heroes—Sláva Ukrayíni! (Glory to Ukraine!)"Reinvigorated by their brief visit to Kyiv, Tobias and Lukas finally gave up on the Georgians and decided to focus on the International Legion. But it still wasn't clear how they would do that. So, once again, they began approaching men in uniform.Soon, a friendly man in fatigues was leading them to a small building that had just been repurposed into a military post for the International Legion. Inside, they were led past the long line of Ukrainian men presenting for service with the Territorial Defense Forces, to the much shorter line reserved for foreigners.Tobias and Lukas were asked a few questions and then heard the words they had been waiting for: The International Legion of the Ukrainian armed forces would welcome them at its training center. The Yavoriv training center was located at a former NATO base, 15 miles from the Polish border. Tobias and Lukas would spend the night at a way-station in Novoyavorivsk, not far from the base. Finally, it seemed, Tobias and Lukas were on the right course.'Drive as fast as the rockets!'The first day at the Yavoriv training center of the International Legion was a blur of activity. There were recruits from the US, Canada, Israel, and several other countries. Taking pictures at the base was forbidden and the recruits were told to switch their phones to airplane mode to avoid detection.As Tobias and Lukas would later tell me, Ukrainian soldiers took their passport details and had them sign documents, which they said they couldn't understand because they were written in Ukrainian. No copies were provided. Every recruit was given pants with a digital camouflage pattern (too thin for the winter, they said), several button-down shirts, some undershirts and underwear (several sizes too big, they said), boots, and a duffle bag. They were offered a Kalashnikov, but no ammunition since foreign recruits were not allowed to carry loaded weapons on the base.Days on the base started every day at 6 a.m. with breakfast in the mess hall, followed by marches in formation and combat exercises. They were taught about Russian weaponry and field tactics via PowerPoint presentations. Recruits sat shoulder to shoulder in packed rooms, often without enough chairs.Tobias in uniform during training at Yavoriv.LukasTo verify what the men were telling me, I went to one of the International Legion's offices in Lviv and interviewed Col. Anton Myronovych, a public affairs officer for the Ukrainian military.He told me the contracts he's seen are translated into English—it's the same contract as Ukrainian volunteers for the Territorial Defense Forces—and trainees receive copies of everything they sign. Foreign fighters are also entitled to the same pay and benefits as Ukrainians. "There's no difference between Ukrainians and foreigners in this situation," he said. Col. Myronovych said that troops in the International Legion are initially trained in separate groups according to their skill level, and later put into squadrons with skilled soldiers. When international battalions are sent to the front, he said, they are paired with Ukrainian battalions already on the battlefield to face the enemy as a united force. At Yavoriv, Lukas had grown tight-lipped. He said he couldn't talk while on the base. But Tobias was in high spirits. "They're crazy happy I have a license to drive trucks," Tobias said in a WhatsApp message after the first day of training. He imagined they might assign him to transport goods to the front since there were so few available drivers. "But this is also very dangerous," he said. "So I'll have to drive as fast as the rockets!"'Someone watching your back'One of the first people Tobias and Lukas met in Novoyavorivsk was Kevin, a sturdy, 58-year-old Irishman with bright white hair. Unlike most of the other recruits, Kevin had arrived in Ukraine with a bullet-proof vest and a helmet, and seemed well versed in modern weaponry and tactics. As a young man, he had served in the Irish special forces, and had later worked as a security contractor in some of the world's hotspots. (Kevin would later show me dog-eared pictures of from his military days, which he'd brought with him to Ukraine.) With high blood pressure and persistent pain from, he said, a crushed vertebra from a parachuting accident years ago, he was no longer in top form, but he thought he could still be useful in a fight.Like the Germans, Kevin had hoped to join a small squadron and get out to the front line as soon as possible. "When you see the suffering, the killing of women and children and the elderly, it's pretty hard to just sit back and watch it happen," Kevin told me later. Kevin displays two photographs from his younger days as a soldier.Katie Livingstone for InsiderWhen Kevin contacted the Ukrainian embassy in Ireland, they only insisted on recruits having some military experience, according to an email reviewed by Insider. After Kevin crossed the border, he found a military representative, who directed him to the training center at Yavoriv. In Tobias and Lukas, Kevin saw men with "good hearts." "We all agreed that we would help and look out for each other," Kevin told me when I first interviewed him. "In situations like this, it is essential to have someone watching your back and vice versa." Meanwhile, three other recruits had also joined the Germans' unofficial crew. There was William, a moody, 25-year-old Frenchman, who cited his hundreds of hours playing Call of Duty when asked about his military experience; Misha, 42 and Czech, who admitted he didn't know how to handle a gun but said he could survive off the land for months at a time if needed; and Erik, a 20-year-old medic from Germany, had brought along a well-stocked first aid kit and flak jacket from his time training (but not fighting) with the military back home.'I came to fight for Ukraine, not to die for Ukraine'Within about three days, doubt once again had set in. There wasn't any time for questions, or enough equipment for hands-on practice. Many of the recruits weren't taking the training seriously, and were smoking cigarettes during drills. Then, there was the constant clamor of air raid sirens—day and night—and the furious rush to take cover in case they signaled a true threat. And all over the base, the men noticed that fellow recruits were getting sick. On around the third day of training, Tobias started feeling unwell. A high fever kept him up at night. Kevin wouldn't admit it, but others noticed something wrong in him, too. William fainted twice during their morning exercises. The three men started skipping training to rest—which was fine, since no one required them to attend. There was no COVID-19 testing available on the base, but all three suspected they'd come down with the virus. With a hint of hyperbole, the men said that half of the recruits appeared to be sick, and some were giving up on training entirely and leaving the camp. (Col. Myronovych denied any large-scale Covid outbreak, or shortage of medical care.) "I am wondering if I made the right decision to come," Tobias wrote in a WhatsApp message.  "But it is too late to turn back now." At around the same time, Neumann, a German field medic who was helping to lead some of their drills, started showing signs of mounting stress, the men said. He had begun shouting during their lessons, they said, losing his patience more often with both the recruits and the Ukrainian officers. That afternoon, Neumann pulled Tobias, Kevin and a few others aside. He whispered urgently that he had overheard some of the Ukrainian officers talking. Behind their backs, officers were referring to recruits like them—those without combat training but with a will to fight—as "cannon fodder" and "mine meat." They'd be used to open up the battlefield and test their enemy's capabilities before risking more valuable, better-trained troops, he said. With tears streaming down his face, he urged the men to leave. Insider was unable to reach Neumann, and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine did not respond to requests for comments on these accusations. When I asked Col. Myronovych about this, he said he didn't recognize the name Neumann, and denied that such an attitude existed.Foreign recruits have access to the same training resources and safety measures as Ukrainian members of the Territorial Defense Forces, Col. Myronovych said, adding that the Legion was doing the best they could to quickly and effectively train these rookie troops alongside veteran soldiers. "They cannot only fight and die in the first day. They have to survive. They have to stay safe. It's one of our goals—they have to come back alive." Back at Yavoriv, Neumann's warning terrified Tobias, Lukas, and the others. Erik's tactical first aid vest, which he brought with him from Germany.Used with permission"I came to fight for Ukraine, not to die for Ukraine," Erik told me later. "Being in these legions is like holding a loaded gun to your head and pulling the trigger." The six men decided it was time to leave, and went to their commanding officer to report their decision. After that, things moved quickly. They were immediately separated from the other troops, and forbidden from reentering the barracks or other communal areas unaccompanied. They were ushered back into the registration area to sign more forms and then into the storerooms to return their gear. Within a couple hours of their announcement, they were waiting for a taxi back to Novoyavorivsk, hoping to make it back to Lviv before the 10 p.m. curfew. Thanks to a last-minute cancellation on, they ended up lucking out and finding an apartment in downtown Lviv that could house all six of them for the next week. It only had 2 double beds, but seemed warm and safe. At around midnight, the six soldiers arrived at the apartment, and promptly fell asleep on couches, floors, and beds. Close callThe next morning, at about 5:50 am — as the six men slept in their rented apartment in Lviv — 30 high-precision missiles hit the Yavoriv training center.Initial estimates said that 35 people had been killed and another 134 were wounded, making it one of the most devastating attacks on a military facility since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. A Russian spokesman later said that the strike had targeted "foreign mercenaries" and a large shipment of weapons from the west. The six men, safe in Lviv, only learned of the bombing when they awoke hours later. They had slept through the sirens that had blared across the region to announce the danger. Groggy and still incredulous from the many false alarms they had endured in the last week, they pulled up shaky videos of the base on social media. They saw smoke rising from courtyards they recognized, strewn with debris, and heard victims crying for help in the background. They tried calling a few of the fellow trainees, who's numbers they'd collected. For hours, no one picked up. It seemed that the horrible reality of war had finally started to sink in, and they didn't yet seem to have the words to describe the mix of relief and guilt they were feeling at having narrowly escaped the carnage."If I was there, I could have at least tied a tourniquet," Erik said later. The men spent the rest of the day arguing about what to do next. The three youngest – Lukas, William, and Erik – talked about going to the front to join the unofficial squadrons they'd heard about. But at this point, Tobias and Kevin had been paying everyone's way, and they announced they were tired of it. The next day, Kevin told Lukas, William, and Erik they had to go. "Wake up. This isn't a game and we're not your parents," Kevin told them as his parting words, handing them bus money and a spare iPhone since Erik's had disappeared at the base.  From left to right, Kevin, William, and Eric at the apartment in Lviv.Katie Livingstone for InsiderEleven days after arriving in Ukraine with Tobias, Lukas left without saying goodbye. He was out of the war zone by later that afternoon. "I am dead," Lukas told me later over WhatsApp.Back in Montenegro, Lukas vowed to return to Ukraine soon, better prepared, to finish his mission. Maybe he hadn't understood how easily it would be to die in a war that had already claimed thousands of Ukrainian and Russian lives. William ultimately stayed in Ukraine for a few more weeks to volunteer with the Cross of Malta, and has since returned to his IT job in France. Erik is gone too. Back home, he told me he was having nightmares about the people he didn't help. Misha was the next to left Ukraine. Only Tobias and Kevin remained.They had come to "kill some Russians," as they often said, and still weren't ready to give up on that. They went to the train station to volunteer, but were turned away because, they were told, each group already had enough help. Tobias thought about trying to link up with the reservists in Kyiv, who had been mobilized since their first meeting. In truth, Tobias was too sick to do much of anything. On top of the fever, headaches and racing hearts, Kevin had also run out of his blood pressure medicine, and Tobias was out of the pills he took to manage his anxiety.On Wednesday, March 16, both men tested positive for COVID-19.Tobias' positive COVID-19 test.Tobias On Friday, Tobias sat outside their apartment under the glare of a full moon, whispering because it was after curfew and he didn't want the neighbors to call the police. "I don't want my kids to grow up without a father," he said emotionally, finally realizing he didn't want to die in this war."I am too sick to fight. I am useless, I must go home," Tobias said. He left Ukraine on March 21.A week later, while trying out tricks on a bike he had bought for his son, Tobias fell—breaking his shoulder. He sent me a picture, displaying his wounded body. "Unbelievable," Tobias texted. "Back from Ukraine and totally injured in Germany." Kevin made the same concession and returned to Ireland—though he, like Lukas, plans to return to Ukraine soon. Less than three weeks after valiantly trekking across Europe to join a fight more visceral and complicated than any of them had imagined, Tobias, Lukas, and the others had returned home without ever meeting a Russian soldier. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 29th, 2022

Byrna Technologies Reports FY 2021 Third Quarter Results

ANDOVER, Mass., Oct. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ --Byrna Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:BYRN) ("Byrna" or "the Company") today announced financial results for its fiscal third quarter ended August 31, 2021 ("Q3 FY21"). Third Quarter 2021 Highlights Financial Revenues rose 107.3% to $8.7 million from $4.2 million in last year's third quarter Gross profit increased by 129.6% to $4.9 million from $2.1 million in last year's third quarter Gross margin improved to 56.2% from 50.7% in last year's third quarter Available cash of $58.4 million at August 31, 2021 Operational Acquired assets of Ballistipax® and introduced "Byrna Shield" product line Introduced new products ranging from a price point personal safety alarm at $29.99 to the Byrna Mission-4 and Byrna Shield at $899 Commenced sales of Byrna products at 82 Bi-Mart stores in the Pacific Northwest Commenced sales on e-commerce platform "Growing brand awareness, the introduction of new Byrna products and increased international sales drove the increase in Q3 FY21 net revenues," said Bryan Ganz, CEO of Byrna. "Although sales were anchored by our e-commerce platform, we started to experience strong growth in international dealer sales.  Revenue growth in Q3FY21 did not include any material contribution from Byrna's dedicated Amazon store that commenced sales in late August 2021, however, we expect to see Amazon become an increasingly important sales channel over time. Over the last month Amazon sessions grew from approximately 750 per day the first week of September to approximately 3,000 sessions per day the last week of September.  While this is still only 15% of the daily sessions on Byrna's own website, it is growing rapidly and we expect to see traffic to our Amazon storefront ultimately equal or exceed traffic to the Byrna website.  We continued to expand our brick-and-mortar retail presence during Q3FY21, with the commencement of sales of the Byrna HD, ammo and accessories at 82 Bi-Mart locations in the Pacific Northwest." Mr. Ganz continued, "Gross profit rose at faster rate than net revenue in Q3FY21, up 130% from last year's third quarter, as gross profit margins climbed year over year. These higher gross profit margins were the result of continued manufacturing efficiencies and the introduction of higher margin products – partially offset by an increase in lower margin international dealer sales.  These production efficiencies are the result of continued investment in our production facilities, processes and people – each of which is vital to advance our long-term growth strategy.  With the funds available from our recent capital raise, resulting in the strongest balance sheet in our history, we are finally in the position to make these necessary investments."  Third Quarter 2021 Business Overview Revenues increased 107.3% to $8.7 million in Q3FY21 from $4.2 million in the third quarter of 2020 ("Q3FY20").  The year over year increase was driven by higher e-commerce and international sales and an expanded product range. Gross profit rose to $4.9 million, or 56.2% of reported net revenue, in Q3FY21.  This was up from a gross profit of $2.1 million, or 50.7% of net revenue, in Q3FY20.  The improvement was largely driven by higher sales volumes, the introduction of higher margin products and improved operating efficiencies in the Company's US production facility.  Operating expenses rose to $6.7 million in Q3FY21 from $2.7 million in Q3FY20 as the Company added people and infrastructure required to support the Company's growth. Specifically, payroll related costs increased by $1.5 million as the Company added several critical positions and acquired employees in the acquisition of both Mission Less Lethal and Ballistipax. Non-cash stock compensation costs also increased by $1.0 million from Q3FY2020, reflecting long-term incentive stock compensation programs for a number of key management personnel.  Higher sales volumes drove increases in variable expenses such as freight, which increased by $0.3 million from Q3FY20. The Company also incurred $0.25 million in one-time legal costs incurred to protect Byrna's intellectual property from infringement.  With the Company's rapid growth and the listing on Nasdaq, the cost of D&O insurance increased by $0.3 million. The Company also incurred higher public company costs as a result of our listing on Nasdaq.  Additionally, R&D expenditures continued to climb as the Company kicked off the development of several new products which we expect to commercialize in 2022.  Net loss in Q3FY2021 was $(1.8) million, or $(0.08) per share, compared to a net loss of $(0.6) million, or $(0.04) per share, in Q3FY2020, due primarily to the higher operating expenses outlined above.  For the three quarters ending August 30, 2021 the Company is reporting net loss of $(75,000).  Backing out long-term stock-based compensation, non-GAAP net loss1 for Q3FY2021 was $(0.9) million or $(0.04) per share, bringing non-GAAP adjusted net income for the year-to-date to $2.4 million, or $0.07 per share. Financial Position as of August 31, 2021: Total cash of $58.5 million, including $0.1 million of restricted cash, up from total cash of $9.7 million at November 30, 2020, including restricted cash of $6.5 million Total assets of $76.3 million, up from $21.2 million at November 30, 2020 No current or long-term debt 1 See non-GAAP financial measures at the end of this press release for a reconciliation and a discussion of non-GAAP financial measures. FY 2021 Outlook For FY 2021 ending November 30, 2021, Byrna reiterated its revenue guidance of $40 - $42 million, reflecting year-over-year growth of approximately 146% at the mid-point of the range. The guidance is based on the Company's current order flow, and the growth expected from: (1) the recent and planned introduction of new products; (2) increased availability of ammo (after shortages in prior periods); (3) additional e-commerce sales via a dedicated Amazon store that kicked off in late August 2021; (4) anticipated increases in international sales; and (5) broader brand awareness among consumers Gross margin for FY 2021 is expected to range between 53% - 56%, as compared to gross margin of 45.3% in FY 2020. The anticipated improvement in gross margin is expected to be supported by the introduction of new higher margin products, including the recent launch of the Byrna SD and planned launches of the Byrna SD XL and the shoulder-fired launchers acquired in the Mission acquisition including the Byrna TCR and Byrna MLR. Q3 FY21 New Product Introductions Byrna Banshee military-grade, 130dB* personal safety alarm: entry level product and our first product that is forward-facing; capable of producing an ear-piercing alert designed to draw attention and thwarts potential attacks. Byrna Eco-Kinetic .68 caliber round: one of the lowest priced non-lethal rounds on the market.  Water-soluble round designed to dissolve completely when left out in the elements, making it truly environmentally friendly.  Byrna SD Launcher: based on the popularity of the Byrna HD, which has sold more than 100,000 units over the past two years, the Byrna SD is the natural evolution of Byrna's handheld personal security device.     Byrna Mission-4 High-Capacity Rifle: expands our brand to law enforcement and private security; premium priced product identifies and caters to our most engaged customers. Byrna Shield Ballistic Backpack:  features a concealed, patented, rapidly deployable ballistic body armor system, hidden securely within a rugged yet comfortable backpack. Q4 FY 21 New Marketing Campaigns With the recent capital raise, Byrna is now able to kick off a number of new and exciting marketing campaigns in the 4th quarter including; Billboards – Starting on October 11th Byrna will Launch in 5 markets – San Diego, Kansas City, Dallas, St Louis, Orlando Direct Mail – In October Byrna will be sending out more than 350,000 pieces of direct mail Outsourced Email Media Buy- Byrna will be sending emails to more than 500,000 gun enthusiasts  Influencers - 10-15 anchor influencers to launch content in October and another 25-30 in November SMS Text Message Marketing Campaign Print Media Advertising – Gun Digest, Conceal Carry and Recoil magazines among others FY 2022 Planned Introductions The below launchers are designed to utilize Byrna's patented fintail projectiles.  These projectiles, which are designed to spin-stabilize in flight, are significantly more accurate, carry greater payloads and travel at higher speeds over longer distances than traditional round ball projectiles. Pump Action Launcher (PAL) - Operating like a pump action shotgun, the PAL is being designed to offer law enforcement the ability to disarm a threat at distances of up to 150 feet without the need to use lethal force. Byrna demonstrated the capabilities of this launcher in June in Los Angeles County where representatives of several Police and Sherriff's departments test-fired a prototype PAL. Byrna PE - The Byrna PE will be designed to provide civilians and security professionals with an easy to carry, compact handheld launcher capable of firing up to ten highly accurate payload rounds from a single magazine.  In addition to the launchers described above that will utilize Byrna's patented fintail projectiles, Byrna expects to shortly introduce a 12-gauge round that will allow the .68 caliber fintail projectile to be fired from any 12-gauge shotgun.  This will allow the owners of almost 100 million shotguns in the United States alone to take advantage of Byrna's patented and highly effective .68 caliber non-lethal fintailed round without having to spend as much as $1,000 to purchase the Byrna PAL.  Byrna expects these rounds to retail for approximately $7.00 per round. Conference CallByrna Technologies will host a conference call later this morning at 9:00 am ET to review these results. To listen to the call live, dial (201) 493-6744 or (877) 445-9755 and ask for the Byrna Technologies call. The question-and-answer portion of the call will be open to industry research analysts.  To listen to a simultaneous webcast of the call, please visit ten minutes prior to the start of the call and click on the Investors section to download and install any necessary audio software.  If you are unable to listen live, the conference call webcast will be archived on Byrna Technologies' website for thirty days. About Byrna Technologies Inc. Byrna is a technology company, specializing in the development, manufacture, and sale of innovative non-lethal personal security solutions. For more information on the Company, please visit the corporate website here or the Company's investor relations site here. The Company is the manufacturer of the Byrna® HD personal security device, a state of the art handheld CO2 powered launcher designed to provide a non-lethal alternative to a firearm for the consumer, private security, and law enforcement markets. To purchase Byrna products, visit the Company's e-commerce store or  Forward Looking Information This news release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the securities laws. All statements contained in this news release, other than statements of current and historical fact, are forward-looking. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as "plans," "expects," "intends," "anticipates," and "believes" and statements that certain actions, events or results "may," "could," "would," "should," "might," "occur," or "be achieved," or "will be taken." Forward-looking statements include descriptions of currently occurring matters which may continue in the future. Forward-looking statements in this news release include but are not limited to the Company's statements related to its revenue and gross profit margin projections, future order fulfillment, anticipated order flow, growth expectations, dealer stocking, plans for introduction of new products, anticipated product features and timeline including the traffic and sales anticipated from the Company's new Amazon store, the success of our investment of capital in advancing long term growth, the success of our long term incentive compensation plans in facilitating retention and recruitment, success and timing of new product development and introduction, our anticipated growth and margin contributors, our success in appealing to new markets including by offering a broader range of products, and our plans for new marketing campaigns, and other plans and expectations discussed.  Forward-looking statements are not, and cannot be, a guarantee of future results or events. Forward-looking statements are based on, among other things, opinions, assumptions, estimates, and analyses that, while considered reasonable by the Company at the date the forward-looking information is provided, inherently are subject to significant risks, uncertainties, contingencies, and other factors that may cause actual results and events to be materially different from those expressed or implied. Any number of risk factors could affect our actual results and cause them to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this news release, including, but not limited to, disappointing market responses to current or future products or services or to related marketing campaigns, shortages of materials needed by our suppliers, including suppliers of plastic components, or by us, the potential disruption of production, distribution, or marketing for any reason including but not limited to  competitive factors or issues related to  the pandemic (particularly with respect to our production and suppliers in South Africa where the province in which we and our chemical irritant supplier are located is experiencing a severe outbreak), civil unrest, supply chain shortages or interruptions, including material shortages, that could affect our extended supply chain, unavailability of parts, particularly parts sourced from limited or sole source providers, reduced air freight capacity, or otherwise; determinations by dealers, distributors or other third party controlled distribution channels, including Amazon, not to carry our products, potential cancellations of existing or future orders including as a result of any fulfillment delays, introduction of competing products, negative publicity, the recent safety alert, product recalls, litigation, enforcement proceedings or other regulatory or legal developments; changes in consumer or political sentiment or the law regulating the Company's products or other regulatory factors including the impact of commerce and trade laws and regulations including export related matters or sanctions or embargos that could affect the Company's supply chain or markets; larger than expected demand for the previously announced technical factory safety update, product design or manufacturing defects and related product recalls, future restrictions on the Company's cash resources impacting the availability of sufficient cash to meet operating expenses, other costs of goods or sales, and increased costs of production or sales and other events  that could potentially reduce demand for the Company's products or result in order cancellations. The order in which these factors appear should not be construed to indicate their relative importance or priority. We caution that these factors may not be exhaustive; accordingly, any forward-looking statements contained herein should not be relied upon as a prediction of actual results.  Investors should carefully consider these and other relevant factors, including those risk factors in Part I, Item 1A, ("Risk Factors") in our most recent Form 10-K and the updated risk factors delineated in Part 1, Item 1A of our Form 10-Q for the quarter ended May 31, 2021, should understand it is impossible to predict or identify all such factors or risks, should not consider the foregoing list, or the risks identified in our SEC filings, to be a complete discussion of all potential risks or uncertainties, and should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. The Company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable law. BYRNA TECHNOLOGIES INC. Condensed Consolidated Statements of Operations and Comprehensive Loss (Amounts in thousands except share and per share data) (Unaudited) For the Three MonthsEnded For the Nine MonthsEnded August 31, August 31, 2021 2020 2021 2020 Net revenue $ 8,703 $ 4,198 $ 30,997 $ 5,537 Cost of goods sold (3,815) (2,069) (13,807) (2,926).....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaOct 8th, 2021

This Gen Z founder made an OnlyFans rival that has no nudity and sold it for $65 million

Harry Gestetner and Simon Pompan founded Fanfix as a platform for TikTokers to monetize their fanbases. But unlike OnlyFans, it doesn't allow nudity. From left: Harry Gestetner and Simon Pompan, the cofounders of Fanfix.Courtesy of Fanfix Harry Gestetner, 22, runs Fanfix, a platform where fans can subscribe to content. He said it sold for $65 million after sites including TikTok "failed" to help creators make money. He said the platform is "strictly clean" — though it's not all safe for work. Harry Gestetner is keen to reassure people that he doesn't live with his parents.He's sitting in front of a model airplane in his dad's home office as he speaks to Insider over Zoom from Los Angeles."I'm at my parents' house now because I had a family dinner last night, but I did actually move out," he said.The 22-year-old certainly doesn't need to live with his folks: He became a millionaire last year after his company, Fanfix, sold for $65 million, according to Crunchbase. Fanfix wouldn't confirm the amount beyond saying it was an eight-figure sum.Gestetner is the co-CEO of the platform, which he cofounded in 2020, that lets social-media creators and influencers monetize their fan bases by offering a monthly paid subscription for content such as day-in-the-life vlogs, DMs, and unpublished first-draft TikToks.It's a model broadly similar to OnlyFans, but with a major difference: it doesn't allow nudity.Gestetner calls FanFix: "Gen Z-first, TikTok-first, mobile-first."Pete Syme/InsiderUnlike OnlyFans, which is known for its adult content, and Patreon, which allows nudity in some contexts, Fanfix markets itself as offering an income stream for Gen Z influencers who want to make money from their fans, but who don't want to be associated with explicit content. They also need at least 10,000 followers across their social-media profiles to be eligible for joining Fanfix.Gestetner believes most famous creators on OnlyFans are "not actually doing any nudity for the most part — but they're associated with the extreme pornography that's going on" meaning they "lose out on brand deals."Avi Gandhi, the founder of Partner with Creators and the former head of creator partnerships at Patreon, told Insider that companies doing brand marketing are "very unlikely to invest in partnering with creators on OnlyFans because of the brand association."Some heralded the sale of Fanfix to SuperOrdinary, a "brand accelerator" that helps companies market themselves through influencer partnerships, as signaling that "the creator economy is here to stay."Fanfix said in April that it had over 10 million users and expects to have paid out $50 million in total to its 3,000 creators by the end of the year. Data seen by TechCrunch showed that a creator's average annual income on the platform is $70,000.Gestetner doesn't hold back on criticizing competitors, calling Patreon an "outdated, bulky desktop-first platform catered to our parents' generation" and OnlyFans a "porn site" with a "massive stigma surrounding it."But Fanfix is tiny compared to OnlyFans, which told Insider in 2021 that it had 180 million registered users — about 18 times the number of Fanfix users today.An entrepreneurial familyGestetner grew up in London and has a background of wealth and innovation.His great-great grandfather, David Gestetner — who he counts as an inspiration — invented an early photocopying machine in 1879. Ricoh bought the business in 1996 for $226 million, The Guardian reported. The publication also reported that Harry's father, Daniel, was one of the UK's richest young entrepreneurs in 2000.He attended Highgate School, which currently has fees of $29,000 a year, before moving to Los Angeles for high school.It was there, studying at Harvard-Westlake School — whose alumni include Lily Collins and Jake Gyllenhaal — that he met his cofounder, Simon Pompan.The pair studied business while in college and launched a charity called Fuel Our Heroes during the pandemic, using social media to raise over $350,000 for healthcare workers.From left: Simon Pompan, Tana Mongeau, Harry Gestetner, and Rory Noenan attend the Dizzy red-wine launch party.Unique Nicole/Getty ImagesDuring that time, Gestetner's cousin posted a TikTok, which got millions of views. Gestetner was frustrated that his cousin "couldn't make a penny" from it.Working from their dorm rooms, Gestetner and Pompan raised $1.3 million from the venture-capital firms Antler, Rough Draft Ventures, and Day One Ventures, to found Fanfix.The former Vine star Cameron Dallas also came on board as a cofounder and raised the platform's profile.'We don't venture into any of the more explicit areas'Fanfix's content guidelines define nudity as "photos, videos, and some digitally-created content that show sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully-nude buttocks."But though Gestetner described it as a "strictly clean platform," a look through some of the most popular creators' accounts shows it's not all safe for work. There are close-ups of bikini-clad buttocks, pictures of feet, and videos of creators spitting. In DMs, there are images users can unlock for $25, captioned with the peach emoji. Clips of girls dancing in bikinis that creators claim TikTok took down under its ambiguous moderation policy on semi-nude videos often get re-uploaded to Fanfix.An illustration of Brooke Monk's Fanfix page and messages with fans.Courtesy of Fanfix"We allow what's the societal norm, and we don't venture into any of the more explicit areas," Gestetner said. "The most lewd stuff on our platform will be similar to the most lewd stuff on TikTok or Instagram."Savannah Demers, a 22-year-old with 2.2 million TikTok followers, said the no-nudity rule was the main draw for her to join Fanfix, explaining that she wanted "an outlet that is at a calmer level and reputation than other platforms might give" to let her create content she is "comfortable with."'Not a team of middle-aged men'From left: Cameron Dallas, Harry Gestetner, and Simon Pompan.FanfixGestetner calls Fanfix: "Gen Z-first, TikTok-first, mobile-first." It has over 50 staff who are mostly in their early 20s. "We're not sitting in a room with a whiteboard, theorizing what Gen Z might want, as a team of middle-aged men. We talk about what we want, and then we build that," he said.FanfixThe finance category on the site's "explore" page is playfully labeled with the "Stonks" meme, and Fanfix's desktop interface is designed with the proportions of a phone screen, but it doesn't have an app in app stores. Gestetner told a Spotify podcast in 2022 that applying Apple's 30% fees on in-app purchases would mean creators' earnings would drop dramatically, which he said would be "an absolutely ludicrous concept." Fanfix takes a 20% commission on creators' earnings — the same rate as OnlyFans.When SuperOrdinary bought Fanfix, Insider's Geoff Weiss reported that there were plans for product collaborations with the platform's creators.Gestetner said he is open with Fanfix creators on that he thinks they would always make more money on OnlyFans than Fanfix on a "per-creator basis," because of the expectation that fans will be able to see nudity on OnlyFans.Gandhi told Insider he doesn't think the two platforms are really competitors because they target different audiences. "Both of these platforms are building brands for very specific creator demographics and psychographics. Expanding outside of those once established will be challenging," Gandhi said.Gestetner said he feels the booming subscriptions market is up for grabs and that Fanfix could even "eclipse" OnlyFans in a few years, though he admits this is an ambition rather than a projection. "The reality is, the creator economy itself shouldn't have existed in the first place, because Instagram, Facebook, and then eventually, TikTok, should have taken care of monetization, as well as discovery," Gestetner said. "They failed at that. And they took advantage of the creators, and so a massive gap opened up for platforms like Patreon, platforms like us."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 29th, 2023

Rickards: DEI Must DIE

Rickards: DEI Must DIE Authored by James Rickards via, After taking in hundreds of millions of dollars of corporate contributions, paying millions in bonuses and buying million-dollar mansions for founders, BLM (Bolshevik Lives Matter) ran a $9 million deficit. Cowardly CEOs eager to appease the woke mob fall for these scams every time. Could we soon be witnessing the demise of the “DEI” movement? The letters “DEI” stand for diversity, equity and inclusion, which is the mantra of corporate and political America today. It sounds good. Who doesn’t like diversity in experience and conversation? Who doesn’t support equity? And what’s wrong with the inclusion of individuals in larger groups and institutions? Nothing. The problem is that none of these words is used in any common-sense way. They’re used in Orwellian fashion to mean almost their exact opposites. In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell wrote the slogan of Big Brother’s political party as WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. Today’s DEI pushers have done Orwell proud. Diversity means uniformity of thought and practice along ideological and political lines. Equity does not mean equality of opportunity. It means equality of result, which involves handicapping the most talented and taking from the most productive to give handouts to the laziest and least motivated. Inclusion means exclusion of whites from Black dorms, exclusion of unpopular speakers from public venues and exclusion of ideas that vary from a politically rigid orthodoxy. The DEI thought agenda is being enforced by armies of inspectors and compliance officers who will fire you, demote you and denigrate you in front of your peers if you deviate from their thought control. It’s time for DEI to DIE. It’s time to exclude these ideas from the campuses, institutions and corporations where they prevail. Many decent-minded Americans have begun to push back against the DEI agenda but none more aggressively and successfully than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has just signed legislation that eliminates DEI in higher education in the state of Florida. This comes after DeSantis fired the president and the entire board of trustees of the New College of Florida for their DEI propaganda and replaced them with officials who value honest education and the study of the humanities. A lot of people talk a lot about DEI but don’t actually do anything except create sound-bites. DeSantis gets things done. Let’s hope he’s not alone. The future of education, open debate and creativity is at stake. Related to the DEI agenda is the ESG agenda. And the main component of the ESG agenda is climate. Below, I show you how that climate agenda has little to do with climate — and everything to do with control over you. Read on. The Green Fraud Those yelling the loudest about climate change want to destroy the oil and natural gas industry, destroy nuclear power plant construction, shut down coal-fired plants, end coal mining, mandate electric vehicles (EVs) on very short deadlines and eliminate gas stoves in your kitchen, fireplaces and even outdoor barbecues. They also want to build wind turbine arrays offshore and on deserts, plains and even mountains near you. They want to install solar module fields on every rooftop and open space near a population center. The climate change radicals want to increase the mining of lithium, nickel, cobalt, copper, rare earths and other dangerous chemicals to feed their obsession with EV batteries. They’re spending hundreds of billions of tax dollars to subsidize the EVs, battery manufacturing and a coast-to-coast network of charging stations to keep the EVs moving (even if they do have to stop for a charge every 180 miles). The greenies also want to mandate “15-minute cities” where you can walk everywhere in town within 15 minutes, which means you won’t need your car to visit a doctor, dry cleaner, grocery store, pharmacy or any of the other locations we routinely visit for errands and necessities. That may sound attractive if you chose it voluntarily. That’s not what the greenies have in mind. They want 15-minute cities as a Trojan horse to eliminate automobiles entirely and force you to ride bicycles or use public transportation. In the end, you’ll need a permit to fly to another city. The permits will be rationed and you’ll have to put yourself on a waiting list until your turn. You can pay for your ticket with the new central bank digital currency (CBDC), assuming your social credit score is high enough and you didn’t vote for the wrong candidate in the last election. In short, the climate change agenda is not about climate change. It’s about total political and economic control of the population. So-called climate change is an elite scare tactic to get you to fall into line and obey government orders (as most people do). Elites claim that if we don’t radically reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) emissions, global warming will melt the ice caps, raise sea levels, put island nations underwater and flood the New York City subway system in 10 years or less. They’ve been making similar claims for 40 years and they’ve been wrong every time. That doesn’t stop them. Fear works. What is new is that the climate crowd now has the political power they need to push their agenda using fear and the regulatory state to attack your means of transportation, your personal conveniences and your consumer choices. This is being enabled by Joe Biden and thousands of bureaucrats buried in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and scores of other agencies. The U.S. Treasury, SEC and the Federal Reserve have even joined in by regulating loans to the oil and gas industry and requiring financial disclosures about climate change and other ESG (environment, social and governance) metrics. Meanwhile, the World Bank (controlled by the U.S.) is being encouraged to deny loans to industries that involve carbon-based development and to steer financing toward projects approved by the climate mavens. This is called the “all of government” approach in which every agency gets involved in pushing the climate agenda, even if it’s not the primary job of that agency. The pressure never stops. In short, the climate change debate could not be more relevant to investors. Those calling the shots in the Green New Deal (what I call the Green New Scam) will decide which industries win or lose, which projects get financed (or not), which initiatives are subsidized by the government or left to wither on the vine and which companies will feel the regulatory heat if they don’t get with Biden’s programs. Climate change is not a sideshow. Nothing is more relevant to markets, investors and asset allocators today. Climate change is real but it’s slow and powerful and has nothing to do with trace gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane. It’s caused by the interaction of complex systems such as sun cycles, ocean currents, wind patterns including the jet stream, volcanic activity, salinity levels (in turn caused by ocean current subduction) and other mega-systems over which humans have no control. We’re living in a world where major forces beyond our control have been hijacked by elites to create a climate of fear to achieve their agenda of total government command over your life. It’s time for Americans and citizens around the world to learn the facts, push back on the elites and reestablish public policy based on real science. It’s time to push the flawed models, phony data and bogus warnings out of the way. Unfortunately, the public relies on media elites and political leaders for their information. As decades roll by and scare stories are discredited time and again, public skepticism will rise and the alarmists will lose credibility. The danger is that alarmists may pass legislation, limit choices and impose costs in the name of climate change before the public catches on to the scam. At that point, the economic damage becomes semi-permanent even if alarmism fades. In the elites’ vision, citizens will be confined to small towns or cities for extended periods. Travel will be tightly restricted. Appliances will be downsized with no consumer choice allowed. Taxes will be imposed on targeted activities to discourage use. Education will be turned to indoctrination to raise a generation who believe in the climate lies needed to gain support for these measures (that kind of indoctrination has been underway for some years). Welcome to the world of the green elite. It’s coercive, restrictive, arrogant and apparently not much fun. It’s a world where the elites control everything and you do as you’re told. It’s a world based on lies and fear. It’s coming sooner than you expect unless citizens can join hands, reassert the truth and push the elites back into a corner where they belong. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 22:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 26th, 2023

DeSantis campaign tells nervous donors in leaked audio that voters will care more about a recession and Biden"s age than the governor"s anti-abortion record

The leaked audio revealed that numerous fundraisers were hearing concerns from donors about the governor's six-week abortion ban in Florida. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during the annual Feenstra Family Picnic at the Dean Family Classic Car Museum in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday, May 13, 2023.Photo by Rebecca S. Gratz for The Washington Post via Getty Images Leaked audio from revealed that donors were concerned about DeSantis' abortion ban. The DeSantis campaign shared talking points with fundraisers over how to discuss the issue.  They said it would be less important to voters than Biden's age and predicted a recession.  The DeSantis 2024 campaign is banking that voters who decide general elections will care more about economic turmoil and President Joe Biden's age during the general election, outweighing the issue of abortion rights, according to leaked audio obtained by admission sheds light into the Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis campaign strategy as he kicks off his early state voting tour next week. DeSantis would be 45 when elected whereas Biden would be just shy of 82. "If you are a voter in 2024 as we likely are in a historic recession and you are choosing between a young candidate — Ron DeSantis — versus an octogenarian, and if you are voting on the issue of abortion as one of the top two issues, our data suggests that person has a very high correlation with typical Democrat voting behavior," Ryan Tyson, the DeSantis campaign's pollster said. He made the comments during a presentation from DeSantis campaign aides who shared talking points and polling with bundlers — a term in the political world that refers to people who solicit their contacts for numerous donations. The bundlers had gathered at the Four Seasons in Miami for a two-day marathon of calls. Two bundlers raised concerns about how to talk about abortion rights when calling up donors for contributions to the campaign. One said he called donors whose "daughters and wives are upset" and another said he was calling donors who said they liked DeSantis "when he was more in the middle" but feared he had become too right-wing. That donor said he saw nods from other people in the room who were getting similar responses. Tyson warned that Democrats would campaign on abortion "regardless of what your position is." He argued that being anti-abortion was only a "kill shot if you're a piss-poor candidate." As evidence, he pointed to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican who signed a six-week abortion ban into law and still solidly defeated his Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. "What the 2022 general election proved is that if you're a good candidate you can survive that," Tyson said, though he didn't mention that Kemp signed the bill before the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade. Still, there are some signs that DeSantis' anti-abortion record is seen as a vulnerability. DeSantis signed a nearly all-out abortion bill just before midnight last month, without a public ceremony, and put pressure on former President Donald Trump to say whether he would have signed the bill into law. The law bans abortion after six weeks into a pregnancy and will take effect if the state Supreme Court upholds the 15-week abortion ban that DeSantis signed into law last year.  On Monday night, DeSantis defended the six-week law as "the right thing to do" and intended "to protect an unborn child that has a detectable heartbeat," referring to the time in a pregnancy when an embryo has cardiac activity.But when Fox News' Trey Gowdy asked him about his anti-abortion position as president, DeSantis suggested it should be decided by state legislators. Tyson highlighted the response in the donor meeting, though anti-abortion advocates criticized Trump when the Washington Post reported that he told his advisers privately that abortion rights should be decided by the states. "While there are ways the federal government can preserve life, the best way to preserve abortion is at the state level," Tyson said, articulating the governor's position. "If the federal government starts getting involved with abortion, then it's actually going to open up the door for Democrats to roll back pro-life reforms in many states across the country."  Tyson said that the voters who like "middle" politicians belonged to 2024 candidates Nikki Haley, the former UN ambassador, and Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas. Those voters were looking for someone "thoughtful," and "sensitive," he said in a singsong voice. "They just don't have enough math," Tyson concluded, meaning that most of the GOP primary electorate is more conservative. "Got to win a primary in order to be in a general," he added when pushed by a donor for talking points. Toward the end of the conversation, however, he acknowledged, "I totally understand how difficult that is when you're talking to a pro-choice donor." Whether a strict ban is a general election or even presidential primary killer remains an open question, though the issue proved to hurt congressional Republicans during the 2022 midterms.Adding to the talking points, someone in the room who Insider couldn't identify from his voice falsely said that "abortions occur with Plan B," urging donors to point out most people had access to contraception. Plan B is a preventive type of birth control known as "emergency contraception" and doesn't trigger an abortion. "I don't think if you're talking to a pro-choice voter you skip over it," he said. "You have to point out this is a major step forward for the Republican party in terms of moving to the middle on abortion." It wasn't clear how the DeSantis team came to view a six-week ban as a middle ground, as polling shows most Americans support abortion for weeks past the six-week mark, but up to a point. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 26th, 2023

Covenant School, Church Allowed To Intervene In Public Records Lawsuits Seeking Shooter’s Writings

Covenant School, Church Allowed To Intervene In Public Records Lawsuits Seeking Shooter’s Writings Authored by Chase Smith via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Covenant School, and its parent organization Covenant Presbyterian Church, will be allowed to argue their interest in whether or not the school shooter’s writings will be released to the public, as Chancellor I’Aesha Myles ruled for them to become third-party interveners in the public records case on May 24. The flag atop the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville flew at half-staff on March 29, 2023, two days after six were killed at The Covenant School in a shooting. (Chase Smith/The Epoch Times) In her order on Wednesday evening, Myles said that arguments presented in the court on Monday impacted her decision. Then, the Covenant school and church argued that release of the documents could have a negative impact on the school and church’s security moving forward, as well as risking the release of private information that would cause harm. “[The Church and the School] demonstrated during oral argument that the documents and materials collected by [the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department] during its purportedly ongoing criminal investigation contain materials created by the Church and the School that would normally be kept private,” Myles wrote. “Therefore, the Court will allow the Church and School to intervene in this matter and to provide a brief that sets forth their claims and/or defenses regarding the matters pending before the Court.” Myles added, “Both the Church and the School have asserted that should those documents and materials be released to the Petitioners, they would sustain a palpable and distinct injury as a result of public access to their private documents…” Attorneys for the petitioners—which includes Tennessee residents, The National Police Association, the Tennessee Firearms Association, a former Tennessee sheriff, the Tennessean newspaper, and a state senator acting in his personal capacity—made various arguments against the intervention on Monday. The petitioners are suing the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) for their denial of public records requests under the Tennessee Public Records Act (TPRA) related to shooter Audrey Hale’s writings. The parties sued the department in separate cases that have been merged into one, as they all had similar interests in getting the documents under the TPRA, after all being denied under a rule cited by MNPD, which alleged that the documents were exempt from public disclosure due to an ongoing investigation. Police Provide New List of Exemptions Myles ruled that MNPD could present and argue additional exemptions not previously cited to petitioners in their denial of public records requests, and submit a list of new exemptions on Wednesday evening. Although MNPD used Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure in their denial of public records request, including in their denial letter to an Epoch Times reporter based in Tennessee, the chancellor did not limit them to submitting additional possible exemptions at Monday’s hearing. The Covenant School in Nashville, Tenn., in April 2019. (Google Maps/Screenshot via The Epoch Times) On Wednesday afternoon, Myles issued an order requiring MNPD to file a list “setting forth all exemptions” to the TPRA and “any other legal authority it will raise” at a June 8 hearing as “support for limiting the public release of the records requested by petitioners.” She issued the oral ruling on Monday, adding in the written order that the list is due no later than 11:59 p.m. on May 24. Attorneys for the petitioners on Monday argued that MNPD should not be allowed to claim new exemptions as reason for denying the TPRA requests, stating in their opinion that MNPD should only be allowed to argue the Rule 16 exemption cited in their denial letters. New Exemptions to be Argued MNPD plans to add additional exemptions after their original denial citing only Rule 16. They will still argue the records are exempt under Rule 16 but add five total exemptions, starting with Rule 16. Exemption two cites Tennessee Code that states, “No governmental entity shall publicly disclose personally identifying information of any citizen of the state.” Exemption three cites Tennessee Code stating, “Information, records, and plans that are related to school security, the district-wide school safety plans or the building-level school safety plans shall not be open to public inspection.” The fourth exemption concerns minor victims, and treating their information as confidential and not open for inspection by the public. The last exemption is a Tennessee law that states medical records of deceased persons, law enforcement investigative reports, photographs, video and other images of deceased people “shall not be public records.” The petitioners have not yet filed response to the rulings but should be expected to do so in the coming days. Monday’s Hearing: Victims’ Rights In the hearing on Monday, attorneys argued that intervention should be granted owing to victims’ rights, while opposing attorneys lodged complaints of government suppression, violations of First Amendment rights, and violations of the Tennessee Public Records Act (TPRA). The attorney for the parents of Covenant School students, Eric Osborne, argued that victims’ rights under the Tennessee Constitution allow the nearly 100 families seeking his firm’s help to intervene. He argued that the surviving children, represented by their parents, were all victims of attempted murder. Osborne also said it was the belief of parents that Hale’s writings could inspire copycat attacks or even a repeat attack on the school. Robb Harvey, an attorney representing the Tennessean newspaper and state senator, said the denial and ensuing decision on whether the parties may intervene amounted to a “chilling of First Amendment rights.” He stated it was his belief that the “parents and families of the people who were killed [are] not victims of a crime,” so victims rights shouldn’t come into play. He added the victims were murdered. On Wednesday morning, Lt. Brent Gibson, who is in charge of the Covenant investigation, filed a declaration letter to the court stating he believes that all those present at the school were victims. He added he believes the school and church were victimized as well, due to “extensive damage,” as were the officers who were fired at. Arguments to Intervene Attorneys for The Covenant School and Covenant Presbyterian Church had similar arguments in their motion to intervene, citing state law that exempts information related to school security plans from public inspection. Exempt from release for public inspection under the TPRA are “information, records, and plans that are related to school security, the district-wide school safety plans or the building-level school safety plans.” Nashville Police Department officers rush towards a shooter in The Covenant School shooting in Nashville, Tenn., on March 27, 2023. (Nashville Police Department via The Epoch Times) In their court petition to intervene, attorney’s for The Covenant School argue that release of the documents “may impair or impede its ability to protect its interests and the privacy of its employees and students… [and] could cause security and safety issues for the school, its employees and students.” Of this, Harvey argued that the policy on exemptions for school safety only applies to public schools and not private schools. Attorney Insinuations Douglas Pierce, attorney for the National Police Association and Tennessee resident Clata Brewer, insinuated MNPD may have already made their Rule 16 argument moot because parents already seem to know what’s in the writings they are trying to prevent release of. “I want to point out what document we’re talking about here, because that’s very critical,” he said on Monday. “The document we are talking about was not a document that ever belonged to any of these alleged interveners, it is not a document that they ever created. This is some third party document, but you do get the distinct impression from what has been filed … they all know what is in that document.” He added his belief is that the writings had been “made available to [parents] either overtly or just told what’s in it,” which is not what the rest of the public has had access to. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/26/2023 - 17:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 26th, 2023

Tesla just gave away one of its biggest advantages in the EV race

Tesla owners told Insider they'd be open to buying another brand's EV, if they had access to Tesla's charging network. On Thursday, Elon Musk announced that Ford customers will be given access to Tesla's exclusive Supercharger network in 2024.Lucy Nicholson/Reuters Tesla announced on Thursday that it plans to open some of its Supercharger network to Ford. Tesla has the largest network of roadside fast chargers in North America. Some Tesla owners say they'd consider buying another brand's EV, if they had access to Supercharging. Tesla plans to open some of its exclusive Supercharger network to Ford owners — a move that could diminish a significant Tesla advantage in the EV race.The partnership, announced Thursday, will allow Ford EV owners to access about 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across North America starting in the spring of 2024.Wedbush tech analyst Dan Ives told Insider that it's a "no-brainer move" for Ford, adding that "Tesla holds most of the cards with its Supercharger network." Tesla has spent over a decade building out more than 20,000 Superchargers in North America, earning it the region's largest network of roadside fast chargers. Moreover, Superchargers are widely regarded as more reliable and easy to use than other networks' chargers. Non-Tesla EV owners rely on a shakier patchwork of public chargers, which can be difficult to find and are plagued by reliability issues.While most EV owners charge at home, a lack of public chargers has historically posed a hurdle to wider EV adoption as drivers struggle with range anxiety. Over the years, non-Tesla owners have shared their horror stories — from a road trip where a Kia EV owner had to stop 12 times to charge at slow public chargers to a Mustang Mach-E driver who had to stop at four different charging stations, frantically searching for a working one.What's more, if you ask a Tesla owner why they chose the automaker, it often comes down to the company's charging network. Several Tesla owners told Insider they would only consider buying another automaker's EV if they either had access to Tesla's network or an equally reliable network. "I couldn't even imagine being with another car company and relying on third-party chargers," Jonathan Baalke, a Model 3 owner in Kentucky who says he drives over 150 miles a day for work, told Insider. "It's hard to have range anxiety when you have access to Tesla's network, but if I was with any other brand's cars, I would definitely have some concerns."The move may leave some Tesla owners peeved at having to share their beloved chargers with outsiders. Garrett Nelson, vice president and senior equity analyst at the research firm CFRA, expects "dissatisfaction" from "some Tesla owners at the increased traffic at Tesla charging stations."Musk isn't against evening the playing field. On Thursday, the Tesla CEO said the move will ensure that Ford is on "equal footing" with Tesla. "We don't want the Tesla Supercharger network to be like a walled garden," Musk said. "We want it to be something that is supportive of electrification and sustainable transport in general." Before Thursday's announcement, Tesla had already opened some of its chargers to non-Tesla owners in Europe and in some parts of the US. Current Ford electric cars will need a special adapter to connect to Tesla's charging plugs, but Ford's next-generation EVs will come equipped with a Tesla-style port. (Most electric models use one style of port called the Combined Charging Standard; Tesla uses another, which it calls the North American Charging Standard.)So what's in it for Tesla?While there's a bit of risk involved — making the Supercharger network less exclusive could steer potential customers toward non-Tesla options, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV — the charging deal also gives Tesla a valuable source of recurring revenue, Mike Austin, a senior research analyst at Guidehouse Insights specializing in EVs, told Insider. "It's a much simpler business model than building cars," he said. "It generates regular revenue, and you don't have to deal with recalls or tooling or putting up factories." Musk has indicated in the past that he's not concerned about Tesla's market share. Last month, the billionaire said during Tesla's annual meeting that the carmaker could sell its product for "zero profit" and still dominate the market due to its autonomous technology.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 26th, 2023

Alabama Lawmakers Advance "What Is A Woman" Bill Defining Male, Female Sex

Alabama Lawmakers Advance 'What Is A Woman' Bill Defining Male, Female Sex Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Alabama State Capitol stands in Montgomery, Ala., on May 15, 2019. (Julie Bennett/Getty Images) Alabama lawmakers advanced legislation on May 24 that seeks to define an individual’s sex based on their reproductive systems under state law. HB405 (pdf), known as the “What is a Woman” Act, was introduced by Republican state Rep. Susan DuBose. The House Health Committee voted along party lines to approve the bill, which now heads to the House floor for a vote. Under the legislation, a “female” is defined as an individual whose biological reproductive system is designed to produce ova, and a “male” is defined as an individual whose biological reproductive system is designed to fertilize the ova of a female. The legislation also defines “woman” and “girl” as human females, while the terms “man” and “boy” refer to human males. Elsewhere, the term “mother” is defined as a parent that is of the female sex under state law, while the term “father” is defined as a parent that is of the male sex. “When it comes to sex, ‘equal’ does not mean ‘same’ or ‘identical,'” the legislation states. “When it comes to sex, ‘separate’ is not inherently unequal.” The legislation includes an exception in the case of individuals who are born with a medically verifiable diagnosis of a “disorder or difference in sex development,” and such individuals will be provided legal protections and accommodations afforded under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the measure. Bill Protects Women, Lawmakers say “Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary, there are legitimate reasons to distinguish between the sexes with respect to athletics, prisons or other detention facilities, domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, locker rooms, bathrooms, and other areas where biology, safety, or privacy are implicated,” the measure states. “Policies and laws that distinguish between the sexes are subject to intermediate constitutional scrutiny, which forbids unfair discrimination against similarly-situated males and females but allows the law to distinguish between the sexes where such distinctions are substantially related to important governmental objectives,” it adds. The measure would also require any state department, school district, or public school to include an individual’s biological sex in all reporting of health, crime, economic, or other data. DuBose has argued that the bill is needed to prevent violence from occurring in “women’s spaces,” telling that such incidents are occurring in places “throughout our nation” that are open to transgender women, who are biological males. The Republican lawmaker stressed that the bill “is in no way trying to deny their existence, or their rights or their relevance or their importance,” referring to transgender women, adding that she believes the legislation will “affect a few women that are in these very specific situations,” and not the majority of people. Read more here... Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 21:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 25th, 2023

8BitDo Ultimate Controller review: A pro-level gamepad with a convenient charging dock

The 8BitDo Ultimate Controller is a comfortable and versatile gamepad made for Nintendo Switch and PC, which comes with an included charging dock. The 8bitdo Ultimate Controller comes in white and black.William Antonelli/InsiderWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.8BitDo is best known for its retro-inspired gamepads, usually styled like old Nintendo and Sega controllers. But its premium offering, the Ultimate Controller, is actually a full-sized gamepad with a modern design. It's built for use with the Nintendo Switch in docked or tabletop mode, and it also works with PC and mobile platforms.The Ultimate Controller is fun to play with, easy to personalize, and amazingly versatile. After spending days testing the Ultimate Controller across multiple games and platforms, I'm convinced that it's one of the best controllers available right now, and it's my top pick for the best Nintendo Switch controller — no matter your skill level and no matter what kind of games you like to play.What worksTextured handles feel great on your handsLoads of ways to customize your button layoutIncluded dock makes charging easy and convenientWhat needs workSwitching between devices can be confusingThe paddle buttons are awkwardly placed and shapedDoesn't support Amiibos on SwitchThe 8BitDo Ultimate Controller is comfortable and tactileThe 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller has grippy joysticks and comfortable handles.William Antonelli/InsiderThe Ultimate Controller feels wonderful to hold. Each handle has thousands of tiny bumps that I love running my palms over, and which make sure the controller stays firmly in hand. Just note that if you buy the controller in white, these buttons tend to pick up dirt easily.The joysticks are similarly grippy, which is great for games like Mario Kart that require a lot of stick mashing. They're also built using Hall sensors, meaning that they're much less prone to drifting, even after prolonged use.The buttons are just as nice. The Ultimate Controller's face buttons are clicky and responsive. Unlike many other controllers, the triggers are analog, meaning PC games like Grand Theft Auto will actually detect exactly how hard you're pressing down on the gas. It's also got a solid D-pad, and although the pad wobbles a bit in its casing, it's not noticeable during gameplay.The 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller works well with all sorts of games.William Antonelli/InsiderThe only buttons that aren't up to snuff are the extra paddles on the back of each handle. Compared to other controllers, the Ultimate's paddles are far too shallow — just gripping the controller naturally is enough to press them down, forcing misinputs. If you decide to use the paddles, you'll need to be careful about how you hold the controller.Unlike other third-party controllers, the Ultimate supports both motion controls on the Switch (great for games like Splatoon) and even rumble. The rumble response in particular feels fantastic on the Ultimate, even better than the official Nintendo Pro Controller's "HD" rumble, although you won't get the game-specific vibrations that some Switch titles have. It also doesn't support Amiibo scanning.The Ultimate Controller claims to have about 22 hours of battery life, which is fine, but not as good as the Pro Controller's 40 hours.You can use the Ultimate Controller with loads of devicesThe 8BitDo Ultimate Bluetooth Controller can connect to even more platforms than advertised.William Antonelli/Insider8BitDo sells two different versions of the Ultimate Controller: A Bluetooth and 2.4g version that costs $70, and a version that only supports a 2.4g connection, which costs $50. 2.4g is a different form of wireless signal, and you'll need to use a special dongle (included with each controller) to connect with it.If you're choosing between the two models, do yourself a favor and buy the Bluetooth/2.4g version. This model not only works with the Switch and PC, but also Mac, Steam Deck, iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile devices. The solely 2.4g model only works with PC, Mac, and Android.Figuring out which mode to use — Bluetooth or 2.4g — can be confusing. The Switch can connect either way, although the steps to connect are different. My iPad and Android phone could only connect through Bluetooth. And my PC needed either the 2.4g dongle or a direct wired connection. You'll also need to flip a tiny switch on the back of the controller, depending on which way you're connecting.And while this might be a misunderstanding on my part, it seems like switching between Bluetooth devices requires you to re-pair the controller each time, as if it were the first time you connected it.An included charging dock and custom profiles make the Ultimate Controller incredibly convenientThe 8BitDo Ultimate Controller in its charging dock, next to a laptop with the Ultimate Software app open.William Antonelli/InsiderEvery Ultimate Controller comes with a charging dock included. It's amazing.The charging dock is compact, has a stylish LED light that turns on when charging, and even acts as a case for your controller's 2.4g dongle. It makes charging and storing your Ultimate Controller so easy.If any other company (e.g. Nintendo) were selling this controller, they'd charge an extra $50 for the charging dock, and probably $15 for the dongle. But 8BitDo just gives them to you. I also want to shout out the free Ultimate Software app, available on PC, Android, and iPhone/iPad. This app lets you customize nearly any part of the Ultimate Controller, from the button layouts, to the joystick deadzones, to the rumble vibration strength. You can even set up macros, or specific button combinations to perform set tasks.The app lets you save up to six different "profiles" to the controller (three each for PC and Switch), and each one can have its own unique setup. Ultimate Software is the best controller mapping app I've ever used, and turns the Ultimate Controller into a truly pro-level gamepad.Should you buy the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller?The 8BitDo Ultimate Controller is one of the best controllers I’ve used.William Antonelli/InsiderThe 8BitDo Ultimate Controller is a wonderful gamepad, whether you only own a Switch or play games on every platform it supports, and whether you're a hardcore gamer or casual player. It's comfortable, customizable, and convenient. It feels great, and looks great.Since 8BitDo markets this as a Nintendo Switch accessory, it's natural to compare it to the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, another favorite of mine. The major differences are that the 8BitDo Ultimate Controller has easily remappable buttons, a better feeling grip, and an included charging dock. But the Pro Controller gives you longer battery life, game-specific HD rumble, and Amiibo scanning, which could be must-haves for some Switch owners.But which one is better? When it comes to pure value, 8BitDo comes out on top, and I absolutely think it's worth the money. But whichever way you go, they're both great gamepads for nearly any kind of game.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2023

Ron DeSantis joins GOP presidential primary with glitch-filled launch. Here are all the Republicans in the 2024 mix.

Seven Republicans, including Trump, have made a White House run official, others are considering jumping in, and some have dropped out. Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak during an event at Mar-a-Lago on November 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Trump, Haley, Ramaswamy, Hutchinson, Elder, Tim Scott, and DeSantis are running for president. Others have been floating the possibility of entering the GOP contest — and some are dropping out. From Pence to Cruz, here's how Republicans are laying the groundwork for presidential runs. Seven Republicans are now running for president in 2024 — at least officially. Embattled former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, conservative commentator Larry Elder, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are the candidates who have so far formally announced a 2024 presidential bid.But plenty of others appear to be toying with the same idea.They're doing all the things they're supposed to do to test their chances: Visiting early primary states, writing books, showing up on the Sunday shows, and weighing in publicly on President Joe Biden's policies — and even Trump's latest controversies. The next step will be hiring teams in Iowa and New Hampshire, Doug Heye, a longtime GOP aide and strategist, told Insider."You have got a stable of people who are essentially putting themselves all in the starting gates and all have their own timetable about when and if they decide to run," he said. Over the next few weeks and months, candidates would be floating what Kristin Davison, vice president and general consultant at Axiom Strategies, called "trial balloons" — in which they publicly raise the prospect of a run to see how donors and the press will react. Whoever seizes the nomination will likely face Biden, who made a run official on April 25. But, Heye said, "it's a real possibility" that the GOP lineup will large.The stakes for losing the nomination aren't all bad, even if Republicans might come out of it with an unforgettable Trump nickname. After all, one of the people running for president could get chosen as the running mate or get a seat on the new president's Cabinet.And there are other perks to formally seeking the White House, such as raising one's profile and having a better shot at the presidency during a future cycle. Candidates could also sell a lot more books or leave politics to get a prime TV or radio show. "It's a long, difficult process," Heye said, "and you're more likely to lose than not."Trump's legal, political, and personal liabilities have been piling up for several months, leading many in the GOP to say the party needs not just a fresh face but to be led by a candidate who can actually win. Insider identified 15 people who have or could seek the Republican nomination in 2024. Each will have to effectively answer the "why I'm running for president" question and find their lane in the party, which will inevitably include defining — or redefining — their relationship with Trump. "I don't think you can discount any of them at this point," Heye said. "It's too early to determine who outside of Trump is a frontrunner." And others, like newly minted GOP star Glenn Youngkin, 56, are already bowing out of consideration, with Youngkin telling attendees on May 1 at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California that he still had work to do in Virginia. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also officially declared he's not seeking the nomination, despite releasing a book and rumblings he was considering a run.Scroll through to see the politicians who have either already declared or are potentially gearing up for run — and who has officially decided not to move forward:Gov. Ron DeSantis of FloridaRepublican gubernatorial candidate for Florida Ron DeSantis speaks during an election night watch party at the Convention Center in Tampa, Florida, on November 8, 2022.Giorgio VIERA / AFP via Getty ImagesDeSantis, 44, made his long-anticipated run official on May 24. The two-term governor of Florida launched his bid to wrest control of the party from Trump in a glitchy interview with Twitter owner Elon Musk that was quickly dubbed a #DeSaster on the now right-leaning platform. DeSantis campaign spokesman Bryan Griffin tried to spin the online debacle — which purportedly attracted roughly half-a-million participants before technical difficulties thinned the audience to around 300,000 — as a groundbreaking achievement. "There was so much enthusiasm for Governor DeSantis' vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet," Griffin boasted on Twitter. Trump, who's been raring to rip his former ally apart, was having none of it. "Tim Scott's Presidential launch, even with the broken microphone (don't pay the contractor, Tim!), was by far the best Presidential launch of the week. Robs was a catastrophe!" the combative former president gloated on his own social media channel. DeSantis deliberately avoided mentioning Trump on Wednesday night, sticking with the talking points about the gubernatorial agenda that's gotten him this far. He famously and unapologetically reopened Florida during the COVID-19 pandemic, before federal health officials said he should. He banned certain teachings on race in workplaces and schools, and flew unsuspecting migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.DeSantis also signed a contentious parental involvement and sex ed bill into law that critics call "Don't Say Gay." Instead of backing down over the outcry, he worked to punish Disney for threatening to repeal it and then expanded the law. Then there were the historic tax cuts in Florida with promises of more as well as viral videos bashing what he calls the "corporate media." All of these actions have portrayed the governor as a fighter. That's not the only part of his public persona on display. Often in tow is his beautiful, young family. His former newscaster wife, Florida's first lady Casey DeSantis, has been instrumental in his rise. To the New York Post, pictures of the DeSantis family on Election Night was "DeFuture." Others see a conservative JFK. But the politician DeSantis most often gets compared to is Trump. Numerous news profiles have described DeSantis as "Trump without the baggage," or as a more disciplined Trump. Yet after leaning on Trump during his first gubernatorial victory in 2018, DeSantis showed he could win big on his own, scoring a historic, 20-point victory in Florida in November without Trump's endorsement.DeSantis also released his first memoir in February: "The Courage to Be Free: Florida's Blueprint for America's Revival." During the midterms, he extended goodwill to other Republicans by campaigning with them. Back at home, he raked in a record amount of cash for a gubernatorial race. If the GOP primary were decided today, numerous polls show, DeSantis is the only person that gets close to Trump. Trump has nicknamed DeSantis "Ron DeSanctimonious" and threatened to release damaging information about the governor. Sen. Tim Scott of South CarolinaSen. Tim Scott, a Republican of South Carolkina, speaks at a fundraiser in Anderson, South Carolina on August 22, 2022.Meg Kinnard/AP Photo, FileScott, 57, made his run official on May 22. "I am living proof that America is the land of opportunity, not a land of oppression," he said during his formal campaign launch in North Charleston, South Carolina. He'd hinted at a presidential bid during his midterms victory speech, even though he previously said he wouldn't run against Trump. "My grandfather voted for the first man of color to be elected as president of the United States," he said on November 8, referring to the vote his grandfather cast for Obama. "I wish he had lived long enough to see perhaps another man of color elected president of the United States. But this time, let it be a Republican and not just a Democrat. So just know: All things are possible in America."Scott, who previously served in the US House, is the only Black Republican in the Senate. He said his six-year term in the Senate beginning in January would be his last, but he didn't rule out a presidential run. He also released a memoir, "America, a Redemption Story: Choosing Hope, Creating Unity" and is one of the top fundraisers in the Senate — which includes support from small and online donors — even though he defended a safe seat this cycle.Major donors have contributed to Opportunity Matters Fun, a pro-Scott super PAC. In February, he launched a listening tour. Scott was among those leading the push for the successful passage of the bipartisan First Step Act and his measure to create Opportunity Zones that bring private investments into economically distressed communities was part of the 2017 tax reform law. He garnered national interest after delivering the GOP response to Biden's address to Congress in 2021. Afterward, McConnell said the senator represented "the future of the Republican Party." Scott has been open about the racism he has faced over the course of his life. "I get called Uncle Tom and the n-word by progressives, by liberals," he said in response to Biden's address. He has shared that police have pulled him over numerous times, despite him not violating any traffic laws. He sat down with Trump at the White House to discuss systemic racism and publicly called on Trump to call back certain statements he made on race. Haley, who was South Carolina governor at the time, appointed Scott to the Senate in 2013 after the seat opened up. Former UN Ambassador Nikki HaleyFormer UN Ambassador Nikki Haley during a news conference in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.Matt Rourke/AP PhotoHaley, 51, made a run official on February 15. During her campaign launch in Charleston, South Carolina, she portrayed herself as a young leader who could win elections. "If you're tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation," she said. Her experiences in public office give her the coveted pairing of having both executive and foreign policy chops, which are often viewed as crucial to the presidency. Aside from Trump and Pence, few other contenders would have such a profile. As a woman of Indian descent, she could also help bring in suburban women voters who graduated from college and expand the GOP coalition among people of color. She embraced her unique background during her campaign kickoff, wearing suffragette white and and calling herself "a brown girl growing up in a black-and-white world." Haley has had a turnaround from last year, when she said she wouldn't run for president if Trump were to seek the White House in 2024. She started our her career working in the private sector, joining her family's clothing business before leading the National Association of Women Business Owners.She served in the South Carolina House for three terms then was the state's governor for six years. In that time Haley delivered the GOP response to Obama's 2016 State of the Union Address.She pushed for the removal of the confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol after a gunman killed nine Black people at Emanuel Church in Charleston. Also as governor, Haley would not support a bill requiring transgender people to use the restroom that corresponded with the gender on their birth certificate. But in 2021 she wrote a commentary in the National Review saying transgender inclusion in sports was an "attack on women's rights."Haley was UN Ambassador under Trump for two years, and successfully pushed for the US to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem and defended Trump's decision to do so.In 2019 she published a memoir, "With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace." Haley campaigned and fundraised in high-profile races during the 2022 midterms, including in Pennsylvania and Georgia. Haley told the National Republican Committee the day after the January 6 riot that Trump was "badly wrong" in his speech to supporters and that his "actions since Election Day will be judged harshly by history." Tech entrepreneur Vivek RamaswamyRamaswamy founded the biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences.Fox NewsRamaswamy, 37, made his run official on February 22. Ramaswamy is an Indian-American tech entrepreneur who co-founded Strive Asset Management and serves as its executive chairman. He also founded the biopharmaceutical company Roivant Sciences."We're in the midst of a national identity crisis. Faith, patriotism & family are disappearing. We embrace one secular religion after another — from wokeism to climatism — to satisfy our deeper need for meaning," he said in a video announcing his campaign. "Yet we cannot even answer what it means to be an American." —Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) February 22, 2023 Ramaswamy wrote "Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam" and "Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence."The New Yorker nicknamed Ramaswamy the "CEO of Anti-Woke Inc." for his stance against environmental, social, and governance investing.In February, he delivered a speech about ESG at Trump National Doral, near Miami, before the exclusive and influential Council for National Policy at Trump Doral, where DeSantis was also a key speaker. Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson of ArkansasArkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson attends the National Governors Association summer meeting, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Portland, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty/AP PhotoHutchinson, 72, threw his hat into the ring on April 2. He told ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl there would be a full-scale rollout later on in his hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, but that his mind was made up. "I've traveled the country for six months, I hear people talk about the leadership of our country," Hutchinson said Sunday. "I'm convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts."He also weighed in on Trump's indictment in New York, calling it a "great distraction" that voters need to get past. "We can't set aside what our Constitution requires — which is electing a new leader for our country — just because we have this side controversy and criminal charges that are pending," Hutchinson said, adding, "And so we've got to press on, and the American people are gonna have to separate what the ideas are for our future."Hutchinson hasn't been shy about criticizing Biden or Trump. After Trump's 2024 announcement, he said the former president's "self-indulging message promoting anger has not changed," and also disavowed the Fuentes and Ye meeting at Mar-a-Lago.Hutchinson has taken at least five trips to Iowa through America Strong & Free, the nonprofit of which he's the honorary chairman and spokesperson."I am seriously looking at a run in 2024 because America and the Republican Party are not in the best place," he said in a statement provided to Insider. "I know how to get us back on track both in terms of leadership and facing the challenging issues of border security, increased violent crime, and energy inflation." As governor of Arkansas for eight years, Hutchinson has pushed to make the state a leader in computer science, and signed several tax cuts into law, including lowering the state income tax rate from 7% to 4.9%. Hutchinson also signed bills into law blocking businesses from requiring customers and workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and blocked state and local officials from obligating masks — a move he later said he regretted. He asked state lawmakers to create a carve-out for schools, but the Arkansas House rejected the proposal. While he signed an abortion ban into law in 2019 that took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, he said on CNN that he personally believes in exceptions for rape and incest."Many out there appreciate a 'consistent conservative,' even one they don't agree with all the time," Hutchinson told Insider. "I am not interested in the 'outrage of the day,' and I am committed to using my consistent conservative principles to guide me and our nation on important policy decisions." Hutchinson began his government career as a US attorney for the Western District of Arkansas under President Ronald Reagan, then went on to serve in the US House for three terms. President George W. Bush tapped him to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration, after which he served as undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He has criticized Biden on illegal immigration, inflation, and student-loan forgiveness. He said on CNN that the president's September speech about "MAGA Republicans" and democracy "singled out a segment of Americans and said basically they're our enemy."Hutchinson also has the distinction of being especially press friendly at a time when numerous Republicans have copied Trump's style of lashing out against journalists. "The media plays an important role in our democracy," Hutchinson told Insider. "I've never shied away from tough questions, and I have always been willing to defend my positions and conservative principles with the hard questions coming from the press."Conservative commentator Larry ElderGOP presidential hopeful Larry Elder speaks to guests at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition Spring Kick-Off on April 22, 2023 in Clive, Iowa.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesLarry Elder, 71, made his first presidential bid official on April 20. A conservative talk show personality who led the field of nearly four dozen candidates attempting to replace California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a 2021 recall effort, Elder entered the fray with a "we've got a country to save!" pitch.—Larry Elder (@larryelder) April 21, 2023 "We can enter a new American Golden Age, but we must choose a leader who can bring us there. That's why I'm running for President," Elder said during the rollout of his long shot campaign. A lawyer turned Fox News fixture, Elder's platform mirrors many MAGA grievances: condemning critical race theory and the idea that systemic racism exists, bemoaning immigration at the southern border, demanding school choice to "break the monopoly" of public schools, and branding Democrats as "soft on crime." He also takes frequent swipes at President Joe Biden and routinely engages in "woke" culture war fights on social media. The budding politician, who wrote about his surprise gubernatorial run in "As Goes California: My Mission to Rescue the Golden State and Save the Nation," is no stranger to controversy. His ex-fiancee, Alexandra Datig, accused Elder of flashing a gun at her during an argument while he was under the influence of marijuana. Elder denied it ever happened in a Twitter thread. CNN reported that Elder was accused of sexual harassment twice — allegations Elder also waved off. Former Rep. Liz Cheney of WyomingRep. Liz Cheney, a Republican of Wyoming, campaigned with Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat of Michigan, at an Evening for Patriotism and Bipartisanship event on November 1, 2022 in East Lansing, Michigan.Bill Pugliano/Getty ImagesCheney, 56, is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney and one of Trump's toughest Republican critics.She voted to impeach Trump after the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, and served as vice chair of the House select committee investigating Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election.Cheney's actions have come at a cost under the heavy weight of Trump's ire. House Republicans punished her by stripping her of her leadership post, and she lost her US House seat to Trump-backed GOP challenger Harriet Hageman during the state's August primary.But she hasn't been deterred. Cheney said on NBC's "Today" that she would do "whatever it takes" to keep Trump out of the White House in 2024, including "thinking about" running for president herself. "I wouldn't be surprised to see her run for president," Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah told Insider in August. Cheney voted with Trump on policy when he was in office, and remains a conservative, telling the Reagan Foundation and Institute in June 2022 that she believes "deeply in the policies of limited government, of low taxes, of a strong national defense." But Cheney said she sees a breaking point with the Republican Party, telling the Texas Tribune Festival in September that she would leave the GOP if Trump became the 2024 nominee.This could mean she'd run for president as an Independent. Already, she has shown she's willing to campaign against Republicans who falsely deny that Biden won the 2020 presidential election.In 2022, Cheney converted her House campaign finance committee into an anti-election denier leadership PAC called The Great Task. The PAC spent $500,000 on a TV ad in Arizona that urged voters to reject Republicans Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, who were running for governor and secretary of state, respectively. During the 2022 midterms, Cheney endorsed incumbent Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia. Both won their races. "We had to make sure that we prevented election deniers from taking power," she told The Washington Post's Global Women's Summit in November. Many outsiders see long odds for Cheney, though a poll conducted in Utah found she could be a top contender there. Sen. Ted Cruz of TexasSen. Ted Cruz, a Republican of Texas, speaks at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker on November 10, 2022 in Canton, Georgia.Megan Varner/Getty ImagesCruz, 52, was the last Republican standing against Trump during the 2016 presidential nomination and had even announced that he'd pick former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate. But Cruz — whom Trump nicknamed "Lyin' Ted" — lost following a nasty primary in which Trump levied highly personal attacks against the senator, including disparaging his wife's looks and falsely suggesting that Cruz's father had something to do with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Once Trump was in office, however, Cruz was one of the president's  biggest defenders. He voted to overturn the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania and helped to secure Trump's acquittal in his second impeachment trial. In recent months, Cruz has been spending time in New Hampshire and during the midterms campaigned with retired football star Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff. While in the Senate, Cruz led the successful effort to zero out the unpopular fine on the uninsured created by the Affordable Care Act.More recently, Cruz used Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court confirmation hearing to score points for a potential 2024 run, questioning her about school curriculum on race. Before coming to Congress, Cruz was solicitor general in Texas, a role that involves arguing cases before the Supreme Court. When Insider asked whether Trump's latest missteps had provided an opening for him to jump into the 2024 presidential race, Cruz chuckled a bit before laying out what sounded like a near-term agenda. "I think the Senate is the battleground … and I'm going to do everything I can to lead the fight right here," Cruz told Insider before launching into a tirade about his mounting frustration with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's decision making. He made no specific mention of 2024, but also didn't work in the word "no" anywhere.Cruz told the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas that he'll seek reelection in Texas in 2024 when his term is up, though state law allows him to run for both offices at the same time.Former Gov. Chris Christie of New JerseyFormer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP PhotoChristie, 60, is famously said to have missed his moment for the White House because he didn't run for president when he was getting a lot of attention as New Jersey's governor in 2012, and instead fizzled out in 2016 when faced with Trump and numerous other contenders. But that hasn't stopped him from weighing another go at it. In October, during an appearance on "Real Time with Bill Maher," Christie confirmed that he was considering a 2024 run. Now, New Hampshire Today says an announcement is imminent.Christie wrote a book in 2021, titled "Republican Rescue: Saving the Party From Truth Deniers, Conspiracy Theorists, and the Dangerous Policies of Joe Biden." He served two terms as a Republican governor in a blue state where Democrats controlled the legislature. In that role, he expanded Medicaid under Obamacare and passed bail reform.But he got flak over a handshake with then-President Barack Obama during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, and was hurt politically after members of his administration created traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge.Christie became a lobbyist in 2020, when he had several healthcare clients but cut ties a year later, according to the lobbying disclosure database, in what could be a sign that he's lining up for a run.   Today, Christie blames Trump for the GOP's losses the last three election cycles and spent months saying Republicans "have to be the party of tomorrow, not the party of yesterday" if they ever want to win another election. His tone on Trump is a stunning turnaround for a man who was one of Trump's closest outside advisors when he was in the White House and was even on the shortlist to be Trump's chief of staff. Christie turned on Trump after January 6, saying the president violated his oath of office. He told The New York Times that Trump's candidacy was "untenable" and that the former president had had "poor judgement" after he dined at Mar-a-Lago with white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. He also told the Washington Examiner that Republicans "fail the leadership test" when they don't call out Trump. South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemSouth Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, on July 11, 2021.Brandon Bell/Getty ImagesNoem, 51, has been on a Trump-related roller coaster ride as of late. In January 2021, the embattled former president tried to get her to primary fellow South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a lawmaker Trump took to calling a RINO (which stands for "Republican in name only") after Thune balked at his baseless claims of election fraud. Noem bowed out of joining Trump's revenge campaign, opting to focus on her own re-election plans. Once 2022 rolled around, she leaned hard into the GOP culture wars, promising voters that she'd bar transgender athletes from participating in women's sports, stamp out any "critical race theory" instruction in local schools, and decimate any "radical political ideologies" that annoyed her evangelical Christian base.Come July, Noem told CNN she'd be "shocked" if Trump tapped her to be his 2024 running mate. But she didn't rule out sliding into the VP slot — or mounting a challenge of her own. Since winning a second term in November, Noem has started taking on bigger foes, including the People's Republic of China. —Kristi Noem (@KristiNoem) November 30, 2022 Her state government-wide ban against the use of social media app TikTok scored her fawning interviews on conservative outlets including Fox News and Newsmax, beaming her into the homes of potential admirers who don't happen to reside in the Mount Rushmore State. Noem seems far less enthusiastic about Trump these days, telling reporters that the twice-impeached, scandal-plagued former president isn't Republicans' "best chance" at retaking the White House in 2024. She issued this prediction just days after Trump announced he was running again.  Former Vice President Mike PenceFormer Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition on Friday, November 18, 2022, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP PhotoPence, 63, has been distancing himself from his former boss, while also promoting his new book, "So Help Me God." He told ABC's "World News Tonight" that Trump "decided to be part of the problem" by not immediately calling off the insurrectionists during the January 6 riot, after he declined to help invalidate Biden's lawful win. Pence also pushed back against Trump on WVOC in South Carolina after he called for terminating the Constitution, and came out forcefully after Trump had dinner with Fuentes."President Trump was wrong to give a white nationalist, an anti-Semite, and a Holocaust denier a seat at the table," he said on November 28. An adviser to the former vice president told Insider that, should Pence decide to run, the team has discussed several policy areas to differentiate himself, including Trump's bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act, and that he'll continue to be "very outspoken on the issue of life."Pence wouldn't have to worry about name ID during a presidential run. Still, his new book and a campaign would allow him to reintroduce himself to voters by talking about his work in the US House and then as governor of Indiana. He already has made numerous trips to early primary states New Hampshire and South Carolina. Further, he'll be able to amplify policies that carried his fingerprints during the Trump administration, including his oversight of the US's pandemic response.Pence was a sought-after midterm surrogate, traveling to dozens of states. In May, he went to Georgia to help incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp beat Trump-backed primary challenger David Perdue.Pence's vision for the future of the party is laid out in his Freedom Agenda and Advancing American Freedom, the nonprofit aligned with him that serves as a type of campaign in waiting. The policies include reducing mail-in voting and implementing universal school choice, which allows public education funds to pay for K-12 students to select alternatives to public schools. While Pence didn't testify before the January 6 select committee, his senior aides including former chief of staff Marc Short and legal advisor J. Michael Luttig walked investigators through some of the scenarios that led up to the attack. In November, Pence said on Fox's "Hannity" that he would make a 2024 decision after discussing it with his family during the holidays. Sen. Marco Rubio of FloridaWilfredo Lee/AP PhotoRubio, 51, has come out hot after cruising to a third term in November, castigating GOP leaders for totally blowing the midterms. "We have a historically unpopular Dem President, record inflation, a violent crime wave & total chaos at the border & not only did we fail to win a majority, we lost a seat. And the Senate GOP response is going to be to make no changes?" Rubio fumed in a December 7 Twitter post. His anger hadn't abated when Insider caught up with him at the US Capitol. "I don't know how you come back from what we have just encountered and conclude that the status quo and business as usual is how we want to proceed," Rubio said of the need for drastic changes within the GOP. While conceding that he doesn't have "all those answers," Rubio suggested that Senate Republicans take a hard look at "the mechanics of elections, policy, the legislative agenda, and all of that." "I think that's something we should all be involved in talking about," Rubio said of the sorely needed soul searching. Rubio, who is of Cuban descent, was speaker of the Florida House before heading to Washington. He has sponsored numerous bills that have become law, including doubling the child tax credit and co-authoring the Paycheck Protection Program that helped keep small businesses afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.On top of that, he's got a powerful perch as the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee. Political operatives have credited him with helping the GOP grow its influence with Hispanic voters, NBC News reported. Asked by Insider whether he had it in him to take another run at the former president after getting clobbered by the insult-flinging Trump in 2016, Rubio said he just really needs to take a breath. "We'll have time over the holidays and into the new year to sort of focus on everything going on in my life and here in the Senate," Rubio told Insider, adding that he hasn't "really focused in on" returning to the presidential proving grounds at the moment. Perhaps voters will learn more about future plans in his forthcoming book, "Decades of Decadence." Miami Mayor Francis SuarezTaylor Hill / Contributor Getty ImagesSuarez, 45, confirmed in October that he's considering a presidential run. By March, he was still deciding, he told the Miami Herald. "It's something that I would consider given the right circumstances and given the right mood of the country," Suarez said at a Punchbowl News event in October. Miami has been getting a lot of attention given the surge of people moving to Florida — and tech companies and crypto startups in particular headed to Miami under Suarez's encouragement. He even told Twitter CEO Elon Musk that he should consider relocating the company's headquarters from San Francisco.Suarez's office sent over a list of accomplishments for the mayor, saying the city was No. 1 in job and wage growth, and had 1.4% unemployment. The Financial Times called Miami "the most important city in America." The mayor made historic increases to the city's police department, increased funding on climate-resistant infrastructure, and passed a rental tax credit for seniors. Suarez didn't vote for Trump during the 2020 election and in the 2018 gubernatorial race in Florida he voted for Democrat Andrew Gillum over DeSantis. He did flip in 2022, voting for DeSantis for reelection, he told Insider. Suarez said Trump has been kind to him. The two spoke at a wedding recently, he said, and Trump told him he was the "hottest politician in America after him.""I don't know if he meant physically hot or if he meant I was getting a lot of buzz," Suarez said. "But he was very nice." Suarez is of Cuban descent and leads the National Conference of Mayors. When asked about how he might stand out in a presidential race, Suarez said he might be able to speak to "a variety of minority communities that are going to be important if Republicans want to grow their base for a generation." Gov. Chris Sununu of New HampshireGov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.Jon Cherry/Getty Images for ConcordiaSununu, 48, was just reelected to a fourth term in New Hampshire, where governors are reelected every two years and there are no term limits. There's a "61 percent chance" he runs for president, he told Puck last week. Sununu is a centrist Republican who has the distinction of being in favor of abortion rights, at a time when many states are banning abortion. He came close to running for the US Senate in 2022, but told the Washington Examiner that other senators told him their main job was to be a "roadblock" in office — and he wasn't interested in that.Sununu also called Trump "fucking crazy" at the Gridiron dinner, a journalism event. "Let's stop supporting crazy, unelectable candidates in our primaries and start getting behind winners that can close the deal in November," Sununu said in November at Republican Jewish Coalition meeting.He told the Washington Examiner after the midterms that there should be new GOP leadership — not just in the White House but inside the Republican National Committee."Did they achieve on the level of results that we all thought we were going to get?" he asked. "No. So, why would we stick with the same team assuming we're going to get a better result?"Sununu is part of a political dynasty. His father was governor of New Hampshire who then went on to work in the George H.W. Bush administration as chief of staff. His brother was in the US House and US Senate. Out of the Running: Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger of IllinoisRep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., speaks as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol holds a hearing in Washington, DC, on July 21, 2022.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteLike Cheney, Kinzinger, 45, spent much of 2022 focused on the January 6 committee and drawing Trump's ire. He was the only other Republican on the House committee investigating the riot, and retired from his seat at the end of the last Congress, after six terms. Kinzinger told HuffPost in April 2022 that he "would love" to run against Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination, but more for the fun of it than to actually win."Even if he crushed me, like in a primary, to be able to stand up and call out the garbage is just a necessary thing, regardless of who it is," he said. "I think it'd be fun."But by January 2023, Kinzinger told CNN's "State of the Union" that he had no intention of running for president. Kinzinger in early 2021 launched his anti-election denier leadership PAC, called Country First. The group launched a nationwide campaign urging voters to reject "extreme" candidates in 2024. Kinzinger sponsored several bills that became law, including measures to prevent opioid addiction and a bill to help veterans with medic training transition to EMT work as civilians. Kinzinger served in the Air Force and remains a pilot in the Air National Guard. Out of the Running: Sen. Josh Hawley of MissouriSenator Josh Hawley (R-MO) speaks during the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on March 22, 2022.JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)Hawley, 43, won't be seeking the presidency in 2024, he told NBC News in November. But the senator has reached for the spotlight whenever possible while Congress is in session.From famously saluting the January 6 protestors on the day of the violent siege at the Capitol to holding Brown Jackson's feet to the fire as she raced to join the Supreme Court, the first-term lawmaker works to portray himself as the perennial outsider who's only here to shake things up. He's played up the part by voting to overturn the 2020 election results on behalf of MAGA vote-magnet Trump, butting heads with McConnell on the way the upper chamber is run, and blaming short-sighted leaders for running the party into the ground. "When your 'agenda' is cave to Big Pharma on insulin, cave to Schumer on gun control & Green New Deal ('infrastructure'), and tease changes to Social Security and Medicare, you lose," Hawley, bemoaned on Twitter following a demoralizing midterms performance by flawed GOP candidates, which he blamed on "Washington Republicanism." The potential 2024 contender followed up with some suggestions, floating an alternative vision he said would help "unrig the system."   "What are Republicans actually going to do for working people? How about, to start: tougher tariffs on China, reshore American jobs, open up American energy full throttle, 100k new cops on the street," Hawley, who was also Missouri's former attorney general, tossed out on his social media feed. Out of the Running: Former Gov. Larry Hogan of MarylandGov. Larry Hogan of Maryland.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesEven before the bruising 2022 midterms, Hogan, 66, was warning that Republicans couldn't continue down the path they are on. "I am not about to give up on the Republican party or America," he wrote on Twitter in early December. "None of us can. It's too important."The two-term governor who survived a 2015 cancer scare has been fired up about plotting his next act. But that next act won't be seeking the presidency. "The stakes are too high for me to risk being part of another multicar pileup that could potentially help Mr. Trump recapture the nomination," Hogan wrote in a guest essay for The New York Times. He elaborated about his thinking in a March 5 interview with CBS News, signaling he wouldn't support Trump or DeSantis — the only Republican who polls near Trump. "Right now, you have Trump and DeSantis at the top of the field, soaking up all the oxygen, getting all the attention, and then a whole lot of the rest of us in single digits," Hogan said on CBS. "And the more of them you have, the less chance you have for somebody rising up."Hogan, a centrist Republican, did explore the possibility of running for president, making the rounds in early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. Hogan also scored some face time with GOP mega donors at this year's Republican Jewish Coalition leadership meeting — mentioning to political reporters covering the event that he and other potential 2024 hopefuls were there because "maybe there's a little blood in the water." As governor, Hogan signed a gun control bill into law and has said that while he opposed abortion, he wouldn't move to gut the state's guarantee on reproductive rights. During the COVID-19 pandemic he instituted a statewide mask mandate, then lifted restrictions in May 2021. He billed himself as a "commonsense conservative" who GOP voters sick of losing may want to consider."I think there are 10 people who want to be the next Donald Trump, and I think there may be a different lane," Hogan said while stumping in Manchester, New Hampshire, adding, "I'm going to do everything I can to get the country back on track." He cast a write-in vote for Reagan in the 2020 election and called for Trump to be impeached or resign after January 6. Out of the Running: Former Secretary of State Mike PompeoFormer Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Friday, November 18, 2022, in Las Vegas.John Locher/AP PhotoPompeo, 59, bowed out of contention on April 14, telling his social media followers that putting it all on the line now didn't seem prudent. "The time is not right for me and my family," Pompeo wrote in a formal statement. The former Trump administration official turned critic of the embattled former president did, however, leave the door open to giving public service another go in the future. "There remain many more opportunities for which the timing might be more fitting as presidential leadership becomes even more necessary," he teased. Despite his stature as a former Secretary of State and longtime GOP power player, Pompeo barely registered in 2024 polling while out promoting his book "Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love." In April, he polled at 1% in two separate Morning Consult tracking polls, at 1% in a Reuters/Ipsos poll, and at 2% in a Leger/Canadian Press Poll, according to polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight. He consistently polled in sixth-place or lower in the field.Pompeo represented Kansas in the US Congress and was also a former CIA director under Trump. After the end of the administration, he lost weight, which sparked speculation that he was interested in a White House run.He has openly criticized Biden, including after the president's September speech on protecting democracy. "He essentially said if you're pro-life or you're opposed to a certain set of policies, you're a threat," Pompeo told the New England Council's "Politics and Eggs" breakfast.  Biden, he said at the event, could be summed up as having "woke ideas, weak resolve, and waffling leadership."Trump should not have taken classified documents to Mar-a-Lago, he said, but added that the "raid on Mar-a-Lago was indecent and improper." Pompeo told conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt in November that Trump's announcement wouldn't affect whether he decides to run for president, adding that he'd make a determination in the spring. "We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward," Pompeo said, "not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood." Out of the Running: Gov. Glenn Youngkin of VirginiaGov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia.AP Photo/Steve Helber, FileYoungkin, 56, bowed out of the 2024 presidential race on May 1, telling attendees at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California that he still had work to do in the Old Dominion. When the Wall Street Journal's Gerard Baker asked Youngkin whether a White House run was in his immediate future, the newly-minted Republican said "No." He added that his near-term goals include preserving GOP control of Virginia's House of Delegates and flipping the state's Democratic-led Senate.  Sticking close to home in the battleground state will give Youngkin a chance to work on playing defense. He tried playing kingmaker in over a dozen 2022 gubernatorial contests and mostly came up short.Youngkin rocketed to stardom in late 2021 by keeping Virginia purplish with his electrifying win over Democratic fixture Terry McAuliffe tried to work that same Trump-light magic into contests all around the country. The result: only four of the 15 Republican gubernatorial candidates Youngkin got involved with won their races. It's unclear whether Youngkin had any effect on the reelection bids of blowout winners like Kemp or Noem.By the same token, it's debatable whether he could have dragged Lake, Michigan's Tudor Dixon, or any of the other 2020 election deniers across the finish line given their full-on embrace of Trumpism. While he remains reluctant to badmouth the embattled former president, Youngkin clinched his 2021 win by keeping Trump at bay while still reaching out to the MAGA base. Trump, on the other hand, has tried to take full credit for Youngkin's win and lashed out at the newcomer for not being more appreciative. Trump's already working on trying to clip a Youngkin presidential bid from ever taking wing, panning him and DeSantis as ingrates who have no chance of beating him. Trump also reverted to his old tricks after the politically damaging 2022 midterms flop, hitting Youngkin with a bizarre, racist rant on Truth Social. Given that Virginia only allows governors to serve non-consecutive terms, it makes sense for Youngkin to seek opportunities elsewhere.The Washington Post reported that Youngkin spent part of his summer huddling with Republican mega donors in New York. And while he remains mum on any official plans for 2024, Politico said Youngkin's putting in place the types of fundraising groups a presidential candidate would want to have at the ready.Youngkin is a former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group. As governor, his first official action was to sign an executive order prohibiting Virginia schools from teaching "critical race theory." More recently, he's been pushing to reimburse individuals and businesses who paid fines for violating state COVID-19 restrictions under his Democratic predecessor.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2023

The best Android phones in 2023

We tested nearly a dozen current Android phones to land on a list of the best Android phones you can buy for battery life, camera quality, and more. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.We've whittled down the long list of Android phones to just five of the best you can buy.Antonio Villas-BoasWeighing your options for a new Android phone is more difficult than it is for iPhone users. There are many Android brands, each with distinct approaches to hardware and software, and price tags vary widely. To help you sort through the Android landscape, we've tested nearly a dozen current phones to land on a definitive list of the five best Android phones you can buy depending on your priorities, with top recommendations for battery life, small screen size, camera quality, and budget value.The Android models listed here from Samsung, Google, and OnePlus achieved their rank thanks to their superior performance in daily use and in long-term testing.Our top picks for the best Android phonesBest overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus - See at AmazonSamsung's Galaxy S23 Plus simply has the least compromises out of any phone here, and it has the best likelihood of pleasing the most people.Best budget: Google Pixel 6a - See at AmazonGoogle Pixel 6a offers unrivaled value, and its performance, cameras, and design punch far above its weight. Best camera: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra - See at Best BuySamsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra has four camera lenses that take excellent photos, and it offers the most versatility with its unique 10x zoom lens.Best battery life: OnePlus 11 - See at Best BuyThe OnePlus 11 scored the best result in our battery stress test out of any Android phone, and it comes with an incredible 80W fast charger.Best small phone: Samsung Galaxy S23 - See at AmazonSamsung's 6.1-inch Galaxy S23 is the smaller sibling of the Galaxy S23 Plus, our top Android pick.Best overall: Samsung Galaxy S23 PlusSamsung's Galaxy S23 Plus is our best overall Android phone as there's little wrong with it, except for its high price.Antonio Villas Boas/InsiderPros: Lightweight for a large phone, excellent cameras, stellar performance, excellent battery life, smooth 120Hz displayCons: Occasional shutter lag, some unwanted bloatwareThe Galaxy S23 Plus is our top pick because we don't have to spend time talking about compromises like we do on most other Android phones — if you have a necessity in an Android phone, it's more than likely that the Galaxy S23 Plus has it, and it has it in high quality. The only trade-off for such a complete experience is its $1,000 starting price.The Galaxy S23 Plus's performance goes beyond expectations for high-end Android phones in 2023 by running on a specially optimized processor that's exclusive to the Galaxy S23 series — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy. The gains aren't massive over the OnePlus 11 running on the standard Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but the Galaxy S23 Plus does occasionally open apps a little faster in side-by-side testing.The rear triple-lens camera on the Galaxy S23 Plus delivers photos anyone would be happy with, even if it often processes and enhances photos with extra color saturation or heightened brightness. Samsung has also improved the selfie camera on the Galaxy S23 Plus, with surprisingly good HDR, portrait mode, colors, contrast, and brightness. Battery life on the Galaxy S23 Plus is excellent and matches Apple's iPhone 14 Pro Max with a 67% battery result in our intensive battery test. That's saying something, as Apple had crushed Android phones in the battery department in the previous two years. The Galaxy S23 Plus has a fairly large screen at 6.6 inches, which may be too large for some people, but its light weight at 6.91 ounces makes it comfortable in the hand. And, as expected for a premium Android phone, the Galaxy S23 Plus' display runs at a silky smooth 120Hz, which pairs beautifully with the phone's powerful processor — every swipe and animation on the screen glides effortlessly. We realize the Galaxy S23 Plus' $1,000 price is high, which is why we also recommend the OnePlus 11 as a less expensive alternative that starts at $700. The OnePlus 11 offers a similar overall experience to the Galaxy S23 Plus, though it has compromises like a lack of wireless charging and a comparatively poor selfie camera.Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus review. Best budget: Google Pixel 6aGoogle’s Pixel 6a might be a year old, but it offers incomparable value at $350.Antonio Villas-Boas/InsiderPros: Superb price-to-performance ratio, premium design, excellent camera qualityCons: Unimpressive battery life, lacks wireless charging, 60Hz displayGoogle's Pixel 6a is an incredible deal for its starting price of $350, and it's our first recommendation when it comes to value. Yes, it's a year old, but it punches way above its price tag. The Pixel 6a's performance easily keeps up, and its camera quality competes with phones that cost three times as much. At this price point, you are compromising on certain features, like a high refresh rate and wireless charging, and connecting to your carrier's fast mmWave 5G network isn't an option (though you can connect to the slower sub6 5G networks). If you'd rather make fewer compromises and are willing to pay a little more, we recommend the newer Pixel 7a as an upgrade option. Starting at $500, it has a newer processor, a 90Hz display, and wireless charging. Support for fast mmWave 5G networks on the Pixel 7a is limited to Verizon, and it's a separate model that costs more at $550.Still, the Pixel 6a is a marvel that offers an incredible core phone experience for $350, and you won't find a better phone for the price. Read our full Google Pixel 6a review.Best camera: Samsung Galaxy S23 UltraSamsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is the best Android camera phone thanks its unmatched versatility and excellent photo quality.Antonio Villas-Boas/InsiderPros: Largest display, four excellent versatile cameras, improved selfie camera, smooth 120Hz display, S Pen stylusCons: Pricey compared to competition, may be too large for some peopleSamsung's Galaxy S23 Ultra is the ultimate camera phone with its four lenses, including a 200-megapixel (MP) main camera, a 12MP ultrawide, a 10MP 3x zoom, and a 10MP 10x zoom. Despite the very high-resolution main camera, you might not notice much of a difference in photo quality compared to other premium phones with around 50MP cameras — most high-end devices achieve a similarly good balance of color, brightness, contrast, and sharpness. What really sets the Galaxy S23 Ultra apart is its fourth 10x zoom lens. It takes crisp, clear photos in full detail significantly further than any other phone, making it the most versatile camera phone you can buy in the US.The Galaxy S23 Ultra comes with a built-in stylus, which comes in handy for editing photos on the phone's giant 6.8-inch screen — it offers precision and functionality that simply can't be achieved with a fingertip. In case the Galaxy S23 Ultra's $1,200 price is over your budget, you also have the rest of Samsung's Galaxy S23 series to pick from that take similarly excellent quality photos. You'll just have to make do with three camera lenses. Alternatively, we love the OnePlus 11's camera, which produces stunning colors and contrast. Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra review.Best battery life: OnePlus 11The OnePlus 11 is the highest scoring Android phone we've tested to date for battery life, and it comes with a super fast 80W charger.Antonio Villas-Boas/InsiderPros: Remarkable battery life for Android, 80W fast charging with included charger, excellent performance, stellar rear camerasCons: Slow charging with third-party chargers, no wireless charging, sub-par selfie cameraThe OnePlus 11 obtained the best result in our battery stress test among Android phones, ending the test with a 71% charge remaining.To finish the test with 71% remaining after five runs of the Geekbench 5 app, two runs of the incredibly intensive 20-minute 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test, two hours of video streaming, and one hour of music streaming while connected to Bluetooth headphones is astonishing. Other Android phones with similar screen sizes couldn't get above 70%, including the Galaxy S23 Plus (67%), Galaxy S23 Ultra (61%), and Pixel 7 Pro (57%).Still, in practical terms, the OnePlus 11's result doesn't mean you'll dramatically change your charging habits — you might only need to plug in the phone later than usual. Speaking of charging, the OnePlus 11 also has the fastest charging speeds of any phone in the US at 80W. Those charging speeds are only possible with OnePlus' proprietary charger and cable, which comes in the box with the phone — a unique rarity these days. Just note that the OnePlus 11 can only charge up to 18W speeds with any third-party charger, even if that charger supports 100W charging speeds. It also lacks wireless charging. Read our full OnePlus 11 review.Best small phone: Samsung Galaxy S23Samsung's standard Galaxy S23 is basically a smaller version of our pick for the best Android phone overall.Antonio Villas-Boas/InsiderPros: Lightweight, excellent cameras, stellar performance, excellent battery life, smooth 120Hz displayCons: Occasional shutter lag, slower charging speed (25W) than expected, some unwanted bloatwareThe Android phone market is flooded with large screens, and you'd think fans of smaller phones in the 6.1-inch range are underserved, but not when Samsung's Galaxy S23 is around. The Galaxy S23 is essentially a smaller version of our pick for the best overall Android phone, the 6.6-inch Galaxy S23 Plus — same premium performance, same cameras, and same design. Its battery life isn't quite as good as the Galaxy S23 Plus (56% vs. 67%), but that's understandable and expected in smaller phones. The only baffling compromise is its 25W charging speed compared to the Galaxy S23 Plus' 45W charging speed, as well as a lower base storage option at 128GB. Starting at $800, the Galaxy S23 is on the expensive side, which is why we also recommend the Pixel 7a or the Pixel 6a, both of which have 6.1-inch screens and start at $500 and $350, respectively. The Pixel 7a, especially, has few compromises despite its price tag. The main trade-offs include decreased performance relative to the Galaxy S23 and making do without a zoom lens, though the 7a's camera quality is otherwise comparable to the Galaxy S23. The 7a runs on the same processor as Google's flagship Pixel 7 phones, and its 90Hz display delivers an overall comparable experience to the Galaxy S23's 120Hz display.The Pixel 6a offers incredible value, but with more compromises. Primarily, its performance and 60Hz display are not in the same league as the Galaxy S23, and it doesn't come with a zoom lens or wireless charging. However, the Pixel 6a's cameras are on par with phones that cost three times as much. For $350, it's the ultimate device for a bargain hunter.  Read our full Samsung Galaxy S23 review.The best Android phones comparedSpecsGalaxy S23 PlusPixel 6aGalaxy S23 UltraOnePlus 11Galaxy S23Starting price$1,000$350$1,200$700$800ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy Google TensorQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Optimized for Galaxy Release dateFebruary 2023July 2022February 2023February 2023February 2023Screen size6.6 inches6.1 inches6.8 inches6.7 inches6.1 inchesRear cameras50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x zoom12MP main, 12MP ultrawide200MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x zoom, 10MP 10x zoom50MP main, 48MP ultrawide, 32MP 2x zoom50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, 10MP 3x zoomStorage256GB, 512GB128GB256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB128GB, 256GB, 512GBHow we test Android phonesWe test every phone side-by-side, as our daily drivers, and we put them through various tests and benchmarks.Antonio Villas-Boas/InsiderWe test Android phones as if they were our daily drivers for at least several days, and often much longer. That way, we can get the best anecdotal feel for their performance, battery life, cameras, and new features.We also conduct standard tests on all the phones we review and include in our guides.For performance, we put the phones through a gamut of benchmarking apps to check for performance discrepancies between phones, at least on paper. These benchmark tests also help us evaluate how many years a phone could maintain its performance compared to other phones. We use Geekbench 6 for general performance, and the 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test to get a sense of extended heavy gaming performance. For camera testing, we photograph a set gamut of scenes with every phone (you may have seen our barn photos over and over again!). We take photos with each lens on each phone and compare them to their direct competitors. We even compare premium phone cameras to budget options to evaluate the difference. For battery life, we run each phone through a stress test that simulates a mixture of typical daily workloads, like streaming a video and music, as well as high intensity workloads, like playing demanding games. The battery stress test includes five runs of the Geekbench 6 app, two runs of the 3DMark Wildlife Stress Test, two hours of video streaming at a set average brightness, and one hour of music streaming with Bluetooth headphones connected. At the end of the test, we note the remaining battery percentage on the phone.Best Android phone FAQsWho owns Android? In simple terms, Google owns the Android operating system. Other companies like Samsung and OnePlus can run Android on their phones because Google makes it freely available as an open source operating system for anyone to use on their phones. Even you, the reader, could build your own phone that legally runs the Android operating system.  The Android operating system looks and works differently on phones from different companies because phone makers modify the operating system by adding their own layers of software on top of Android for users to interact with.For example, while Samsung phones run the core Android operating system that gives them access to the Google Play Store apps, they also run Samsung's own user interface (UI) layer called One UI, which adds a distinctive look and feel to the company's phones. Which is better, iPhone or Android?The choice between an iPhone or an Android phone is subjective and depends on your personal preferences. One of the primary selling points for Android is that its open-source operating system allows for greater customization than Apple's iOS. Android users can radically change the look and function of their phone's home screen and apps in ways that iPhone users can't. On Android, you can also install third-party apps outside of the Google Play Store, which the iOS App Store doesn't allow for. On the other hand, iPhones offer a more intuitive and easy-to-use interface. If you own multiple other Apple products, an iPhone is a logical purchase, as it provides seamless integration with those devices, and it allows you to better interact with users on Apple's ecosystem of apps, like Messages. From a hardware standpoint, Android phones often include more features than an iPhone for the same price. For example, both the Samsung Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14 start at $800, but the Galaxy S23 has a third camera for zooming, whereas the iPhone 14 doesn't. The Galaxy S23 has a super-smooth premium 120Hz display while the iPhone 14's display runs at a traditional 60Hz that's noticeably not as smooth. Android phones can even offer similar hardware and features for less than the iPhone equivalent. The Galaxy S23 Plus and even the OnePlus 11, which start at $1,000 and $700, respectively, have similar overall hardware and features to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which starts at $1,100.  On a software level, Apple's iPhones have greater longevity than Android phones. Apple is known for its incredibly long support for iPhones, often keeping them updated with the latest version of the iOS operating system for six years, and patching major security flaws for longer. Meanwhile, the best Android phones have a maximum of four years of Android operating system upgrades, and up to five years of security updates. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2023

US Futures Jump Led By Record-Breaking Surge In Nvidia

US Futures Jump Led By Record-Breaking Surge In Nvidia US equity futures are higher led by tech names after blowout earnings reported by Nvidia - which as Goldman reminds us "is now #5 weight in the S&P and the poster child for “AI” Euphoria + momentum" - whose stock is up almost 30% premarket and rapidly approaching $1 trillion in market cap. S&P futures  were up 0.6% to 4,151 with Nasdaq 100 futures up  a whopping 2% led higher by NVDA and semi stocks. Bond yields are slightly higher, while USD is stronger. Commodities are mostly lower as WTI fell 1.5% reversing all of yesterday's gains after Russia played down the likelihood of OPEC+ cutting production further. In premarket trading, Tech stocks are surging boosted by NVDA which reported after the bell yesterday with forecast beat; stocks is up almost 30% after close. For some context, NVDA added > $200bn in market cap overnight post earnings and as Goldman notes, "this might be the best TMT earnings print we've seen since that June qtr 2020 print from Zoom (ZM), when they beat revs by ~62%."  In any case, it’s another sign that investors are willing to pile into promising tech stocks, despite the growing worries about China’s economy and a potentially catastrophic US debt default. “If you look at tech it continues to reinvent itself over and over,” Larry Adam, chief investment officer at Raymond James, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “I continue to like the big tech names.” Here are some other notable premarket movers: American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) shares tumble 21% after the apparel retailer’s forecast for the full-year disappointed analysts. Carnival Corp. (CCL) rises 2.5% after Citi upgrades to buy from hold, citing in note continued good momentum for the cruise sector. Desktop Metal (DM) shares trade 9.1% higher after Stratasys agreed to buy the 3D printer company in an all-stock transaction valued at around $1.8 billion. Stratasys shares are up 3.8%, reversing an earlier drop. Dish Network Corp. (DISH) shares are down 3.4% after Citi downgraded the satellite television company to neutral from buy. Dorian LPG (LPG) upgraded to outperform from inline at Evercore ISI based on valuation, following the propane gas shipper’s fourth-quarter results. Shares are up 1.1% Dycom Industries (DY) rises 1.5% as Wells Fargo raises to overweight from equal-weight after the engineering services company “massively” beat first-quarter expectations. Leidos (LDOS) rises 1.7% after Wells Fargo upgrades to overweight from equal-weight, saying the engineering company’s valuation includes too much fear around short-term uncertainty, while not taking into account upside for 2024 sales, margin and cash flow. Nutanix (NTNX) shares are up 17% after the infrastructure-software company boosted its revenue guidance for the full year. The outlook beat the average analyst estimate. The company also said its audit committee completed an investigation of third-party software usage. Nvidia Corp.’s (NVDA) blowout sales forecast puts a fresh emphasis on the latest game in town: identifying artificial intelligence losers. Shares are up 28%. Snowflake (SNOW) shares fall 13% after the cloud-software company cut its product revenue guidance for the full year. In other overnight news, Fitch put US’s AAA rating on negative watch amid debt ceiling concerns, and this morning DBRS echoed the move when it "Placed United States Ratings Under Review With Negative Implications." McCarthy signaled some progress being made on the negotiation, but representatives are not required to stay in DC over the holiday weekend. Meanwhile, JPM sees the odds of passing x-date without an increase in the ceiling index is now around 25% and rising. Elsewhere, Treasury-bill yields slated to mature early next month surged above 7% on Wednesday, with the rate on the June 1 and June 6 maturities increasing by more than a percentage point. Those securities are seen as most at risk of non-payment if the government exhausts its borrowing capacity. On Thursday morning, Bills maturing on June 1 traded just around 7%. “Nvidia was last night’s good surprise,” said Gilles Guibout, head of European equity strategies at Axa Investment Managers. “But more broadly, there are few reasons for the market to keep rising: interest rates are not going down, global economic growth isn’t rebounding, full-year earnings are seen flat and stock valuations are already at a decent level.” European markets were propped up by chipmakers after sales guidance from Nvidia smashed expectations - shares in the US semiconductor maker are up ~28% in the premarket. The Stoxx 600 is up 0.1% after touching a seven-week low on Wednesday. Here are some of the most notable European movers: ASML leads a rally in shares of European semiconductor equipment makers after US chipmaker Nvidia gave a sales forecast that blew past estimates, boosted by burgeoning AI demand GN Store Nord gains as much as 10%, the most in a month, after a DKK2.75 billion rights issue removes a “significant overhang” for the Danish hearing-aid and audio equipment firm, Citi says Tate & Lyle rises as much as 2.6% after the ingredients company reported FY23 results and forecast revenue growth of 4%-6% for the current fiscal year. The profit beat was impressive, Citi says Elekta shares gain as much as 4.8% after the Swedish medical technology firm beat expectations on sales and Ebit, with Handelsbanken noting the company’s free cash flows are at a record high D’Ieteren rises as much as 3.3% after the automotive retailer reiterates its pretax profit guidance for the full year. Analysts flag this was maintained despite costs associated with recent refinancing QinetiQ rises as much as 2.2%, snapping three days of declines, after the British technology and research firm delivered full-year results that Barclays says beat consensus on all metrics ALSO gains as much as 2.4% after Stifel initiated coverage of the Swiss IT and consumer electronics wholesaler with buy, saying its cloud marketplace business is an underestimated value driver Allegro shares fall as much as 6.7%, their biggest decline in more than four months, after Poland’s biggest e-commerce platform guided for slower gross merchandise value growth in 2Q Johnson Matthey shares decline as much as 3.8%, to the lowest since October, after the UK-based chemicals company published below-consensus guidance for this year and next Earlier in the session, Asian stocks were mostly lower with the region cautious after the losses on Wall Street due to debt ceiling fears. The MSCI Asia-Pacific index closed 0.8% lower for the day as sentiment around Chinese markets continued to worsen. The Hang Seng Index shed 1.9% on the day and the yuan broke through the closely-watched 7-per-dollar level. The key worry for investors is that China’s economy is losing momentum and there are persistent financial troubles in the real estate industry. Recent data suggest gross domestic product growth this year will be closer to the government’s target of about 5%, contrary to expectations of a large overshoot formed earlier in the year. The Hang Seng was pressured with underperformance in Hong Kong after the benchmark index slipped beneath the 19,000 level. Japan's Nikkei 225 was kept afloat but with the upside capped in the absence of any major positive drivers. Australia's ASX 200 weakened as the commodity-related sectors led the broad declines across nearly all industries and with sentiment also dampened as households are set to pay hundreds of dollars more each year after the energy regulator approved an increase of up to 25% in electricity bills. Korea's KOSPI was subdued after the BoK rate decision in which the central bank kept rates unchanged as expected, although 6 out of the 7 board members saw the need to keep the door open for one more rate hike. Indian stocks recovered late in the day to end higher and outperform most of their Asian peers even as broad sentiment remains cautious amid ongoing concerns of a possible debt default by the US. The S&P BSE Sensex rose 0.2% to 61,872.62 in Mumbai, while the NSE Nifty 50 Index advanced 0.2% to 18,321.15. Stocks of consumer staple, energy and communication services firms, part of the benchmarks, led the recovery as the May futures contract expired. In FX, the Bloomberg dollar index climbed for a fourth day, boosted by rising US yields and more-averse trading conditions after Fitch Ratings on Wednesday said it may downgrade the US’s AAA credit rating; the kiwi is the weakest of the G-10 currencies. The USD/JPY was little changed at 139.49, holding near 139.70 hit in earlier trade, its highest since late November. In rates, treasuries are lower with the US 10-year yield rising 1bps to 3.76% ahead of GDP and claims data. The yield on two-year Treasuries rose 4 basis points to 4.42%, its highest since March; traders are pricing in a nearly 50% chance that the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points next month; 10-year yields sit around 3.76%, with gilts trading cheaper by 10bp in the sector as rate-hike premium increases further in sterling swaps. A late Wednesday announcement that Fitch placed US credit on “rating watch negative” elicited limited market reaction. The US auction cycle concludes with $35b 7-year note sale at 1pm, following strong demand for 2- and 5-year sales. WI yield around 3.790% is ~25bp cheaper than last month’s, which tailed by 1.3bp. Meanwhile, UK government bonds led losses in Europe. Traders added to bets the Bank of England will keep raising interest rates after an unexpectedly strong reading of UK inflation Wednesday. Money markets are now pricing more than 100 basis points of additional tightening by December.   In commodities, WTI declined 1.3% to trade near $73.40 on Thursday after the dollar strengthened and Russia played down the likelihood of OPEC+ cutting production further. Billionaire mining investor Robert Friedland says the copper market weakness is temporary. Southwestern Energy is among the most active resources stocks in premarket trading, falling 4.6%.  Bitcoin is lower but holding above the $26k mark despite briefly dropping below in early trade, with the USD capping upside and broader marks still focused on the debt ceiling as we near the US long weekend. To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, the second estimate of Q1 GDP, pending home sales for April, and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for May. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Barkin and Collins, ECB Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Nagel, Villeroy, Centeno and De Cos, along with the BoE’s Haskel. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures up 0.5% to 4,144.75 MXAP down 0.8% to 159.34 MXAPJ down 0.9% to 503.86 Nikkei up 0.4% to 30,801.13 Topix down 0.3% to 2,146.15 Hang Seng Index down 1.9% to 18,746.92 Shanghai Composite down 0.1% to 3,201.26 Sensex down 0.4% to 61,526.09 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.0% to 7,138.16 Kospi down 0.5% to 2,554.69 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1% to 457.06 German 10Y yield little changed at 2.47% Euro down 0.2% to $1.0727 Brent Futures down 0.9% to $77.68/bbl Gold spot up 0.4% to $1,964.02 U.S. Dollar Index up 0.16% to 104.06 Top Overnight News China’s muted economic rebound and Beijing’s reluctance to deploy large-scale stimulus are reverberating around the globe, crushing commodity prices and weakening equity markets. Investors are pegging back their expectations for the world’s second-biggest economy as worries mount that its recovery from pandemic restrictions has lost momentum. BBG   The widening rift between the world’s two biggest economies, the US and China, now looks in some regards to be irreconcilable, according to Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong. The geopolitical situation has become more dangerous amid tensions between the two sides with the Taiwan Strait becoming the region’s “most dangerous flashpoint,” Wong said in his speech at the Nikkei Forum 28th Future of Asia in Tokyo. BBG Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday he expected no new steps from the OPEC+ group of oil producers at its meeting in Vienna on June 4, Russian media reported, after the group announced a significant output cut earlier this year. RTRS Germany suffered its first recession since the start of pandemic, extinguishing hopes that Europe’s top economy could escape such a fate after the war in Ukraine sent energy prices soaring. First-quarter output shrank 0.3% from the previous three months following a 0.5% drop between October and December, the statistics office said Thursday. Its initial estimate, last month, was for stagnation. BBG Don't expect Fed rate cuts until "well into 2024," Raphael Bostic warned. "The tightening that we've done is just starting to show up," but it's not clear how much time it'll take for higher rates to slow the economy. BBG Fitch Ratings is reviewing whether the U.S. should retain its top credit rating as the White House and Republicans struggle to reach an agreement on raising the debt limit. WSJ On Friday, June 2, millions of Americans are due a total of $25 billion worth of Social Security payments. And more than anything else, that may prove a decisive element in forcing an end to the partisan standoff over raising the federal debt limit. That obligation is “an enforcement mechanism we can’t ignore,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, one of President Joe Biden’s top allies in Congress, said on MSNBC Wednesday. “When they find out that they’re not getting that check, our phones will light up like a Christmas tree.” BBG Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic faces a crucial test of whether it can start its commercial space service next month. Unity 25, scheduled to lift off at 8 a.m. local time from New Mexico, will take a six-person crew to the edge of outer space. It's only been to space four times and has suffered technical issues during flights and a crash in 2014. The company, which had expected to start commercial service at the end of 2022, also must overcome doubts about its financial viability. BBG NVDA added > $200bn in market cap overnight post earnings. Hardly any 'real' feedback from investors, but this might be the best TMT earnings print we've seen since that June qtr 2020 print from Zoom (ZM), when they beat revs by ~62% A more detailed look at global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asia-Pac stocks were mostly lower with the region cautious after the losses on Wall St owing to debt ceiling fears and after the FOMC Minutes showed officials were split on support for more hikes, while Fitch placed the US AAA sovereign rating on Rating Watch Negative despite several optimistic comments from House Speaker McCarthy. ASX 200 weakened as the commodity-related sectors led the broad declines across nearly all industries and with sentiment also dampened as households are set to pay hundreds of dollars more each year after the energy regulator approved an increase of up to 25% in electricity bills. Nikkei 225 was kept afloat but with the upside capped in the absence of any major positive drivers. KOSPI was subdued after the BoK rate decision in which the central bank kept rates unchanged as expected, although 6 out of the 7 board members saw the need to keep the door open for one more rate hike. Hang Seng and Shanghai Comp. were pressured with underperformance in Hong Kong after the benchmark index slipped beneath the 19,000 level, while the mainland was lacklustre amid recent US-China frictions. Top Asian News Chinese companies reportedly switch auditors to avoid US delisting risk, according to FT. USTR Tai is reportedly to meet with Taiwan's minister in charge of the Office of Trade Negotiations. BoK maintained its base rate at 3.5%, as expected, through a unanimous decision although six board members saw the need to keep the door open for one more rate hike. BoK statement noted economic growth is to remain weak for some time and inflation will likely fall considerably before rebounding slightly for the rest of the year, while it stated uncertainty is high over the Chinese economy and IT sector, as well as lowered its 2023 GDP growth forecast to 1.4% from 1.6%. Furthermore, BoK Governor Rhee said core inflation is not easing as much as board members had expected and that board members share the opinion that it is premature to talk about a rate cut this year with uncertainty higher over regarding whether inflation will approach the 2% target before year-end. RBNZ Governor Orr said rates are restrictive and well above neutral, while he added that economic growth and inflation are weaker than expected although they can change the assessment if needed as new data emerges, according to Reuters. BoJ Governor Ueda says we are beginning to see good signs in the economy but still some distance to stably and sustainably hit inflation target; BoJ will patiently sustain easy monetary policy. Japan raises May overall economic view for first time since July 2022 and says economy is recovering moderately. European bourses are mixed after initial pressure on a negative German GDP revision, DAX 40 -0.2%; though, tech is the standout outperformer post-NVDA, with Euro Stoxx 50 +0.3% as such. Stateside, the NQ +1.9% and ES +0.7% are firmer, given Nvidia, while the RTY and YM reside in negative territory amid broader market concern over the debt ceiling and after Fitch's update. Nvidia (NVDA) Q1 23 (USD): Adj. EPS 1.09 (exp. 0.92), revenue 7.19bln (exp. 6.52bln). Q2 23 revenue view 11bln (+/- 2%) (exp. 7.18bln). CFO said that the data centre revenue rise in the quarter is led by growing demand for generative AI and large language models using GPUs. +24% in pre-market trade. Swiss government to commence consultation on liquidity backstop of all systemically important banks, according to the Finance Ministry; SNB's Maechler says Credit Suisse (CSGN SW) crisis was one of confidence. Top European News ECB's Vasle said the ECB must still raise rates further and inflation is becoming increasingly stubborn. Riksbank's Thedeen says the SEKs level is worrying. UK's Ofgem sets the energy price cap at GBP 2074 for dual-fuel households (prev. 3280), for July-September; the cap represents a reduction QQ and a reduction in how much customers will pay on their bills. Shipping activity returns to normal in Suez Canal after a malfunctioning ship was towed away, according to Two Canal. FX Dollar remains dominant as US debt ceiling talks proceed productively, DXY tops 104.000 and probes Fib at 104.090. Kiwi descends further as RBNZ Governor Orr underscores guidance indicating no further tightening, NZD/USD hovers under 0.6100. Euro undermined by unexpected negative German Q1 GDP print, EUR/USD fades from just above 1.0750 and EUR/GBP retreats through sub-0.8700 10 DMA. Sterling rebounds towards 1.2400 vs Buck as Gilts reverse sharply from post-UK inflation correction lows. Yen hits new y-t-d trough, but stays afloat of big option barriers seen at 140.00 against Greenback PBoC set USD/CNY mid-point at 7.0529 vs exp. 7.0515 (prev. 7.0560) Turkey asked banks to buy dollar debt to support default swaps, according to Bloomberg. Fixed Income Gilts markedly underperform amidst reversion toward post-UK inflation data lows within a 96.24-95.10 range. Bunds and T-notes retreat in sympathy between 133.93-56 and 113-12+/00 bounds, the former irrespective of Q1 German GDP contraction and the latter ahead of US IJC, GDP, Fed speakers and 7 year auction. BTPs resilient and only just below par in the wake of well-received Italian end-of-month supply. Commodities Crude benchmarks are softer intraday, with WTI & Brent July under USD 73.50 and USD 77.50/bbl respectively after soft German data and remarks from Novak ahead of next week's OPEC+ confab; most recently, the benchmarks are closer to USD 73.00/bbl and USD 77.00/bbl. On this, ING writes that “There is a large speculative gross short in the market and they will likely be hesitant to carry too much risk into the OPEC+ meeting scheduled for 4 June”. Spot gold is deriving support from the broader macro tone, ex-tech, though is yet to see any real haven bid despite the Fitch update and as the X-date draws closer as updates on progress this morning are more-encouraging, overall. Base metals mixed with LME Copper still under USD 8k/T while tin was initially bolstered after the Wa region reiterated its mining ban. Russian Deputy PM Novak says do not see new steps at the June 4th OPEC+ meeting and sees Brent crude above USD 80/bbl by year-end. Chevron (CVX) launched the sale of tis oil and gas assets in Congo which could raise up to USD 1.5bln, according to Reuters sources. Debt Ceiling Headlines US House Speaker McCarthy said he believes they can get back to a 2022 spending level and has always thought that they could get a deal in a day, while he also stated there should not be any fear in markets and negotiations have made some progress. McCarthy also noted that a number of issues remain unresolved but added that things are better than they were the prior day, while he will stay in Washington DC this weekend and said they could get a debt agreement in principle this weekend, according to Reuters. US House Majority Leader Scalise said the weekend recess will begin on Thursday as planned, while debt ceiling talks will continue and lawmakers should be ready to return in case of a deal. Scalise also stated that members will get 24 hours' notice that they need to return if an agreement is reached and members will get 72 hours to read any debt ceiling bill, according to Reuters. US House Republican leadership reportedly feels very good about the state of the debt limit negotiations after several days of little progress, according to Punchbowl's Jake Sherman. US House Democratic leader Jeffries demanded that the length of spending caps match the length of the debt limit increase, according to a Bloomberg reporter. Fitch placed the US AAA sovereign rating on Rating Watch Negative which reflects the increased political partisanship that is hindering a resolution to raise or suspend the debt limit, while it still expects a resolution to the debt limit before the X-date but believes risks have risen that the debt limit will not be raised or suspended prior to the X-date. Fitch added that it would expect the US country ceiling to remain at AAA even in the scenario of a debt default and believes a failure to make full and timely payments on debt securities is less likely than reaching the X-date and is a very low probability event, according to Reuters. White House said the Fitch report reinforces the need for Congress to quickly pass a bipartisan agreement to avoid a debt default, while the US Treasury said brinkmanship over the debt limit does serious harm to businesses and American families, raises short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers and threatens the credit rating of the US. Many within the US House Republican Leadership expect a deal to be finalised by the weekend, via Punchbowl; if a deal came together on Thursday, it would take around two days to convert this into legislative text, implying a final vote as soon as Tuesday. Albeit, Punchbowl writes "it seems very possible that Congress won’t be able to lift the debt limit until next weekend, which is June 3-4". Geopolitics EU is reportedly discussing sending profits from EUR 196.6bln of frozen Russian assets to Ukraine, according to FT. Twitter sources noted air raid sirens in Kyiv and that Shahed drones were launched towards northern and southern Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of South Korean artillery rounds are on their way to Ukraine via the US, according to WSJ sources. Russian and Belarus Defence Ministers have signed a document on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, via Tass; Russia's Shoigu says West is waging undeclared war against Russia and Belarus, according to RIA; Defence Minister Shoigu says Russia are to control nuclear weapons in Belarus, according to IFX. China Commerce Minister Wang will meet US Commerce Secretary Raimondo, according to Reuters citing the Chinese Commerce Ministry Japan Defence Ministry says Japan scrambled jets after spotting Russian information gathering aircrafts over pacific ocean, sea of Japan on Thursday. US Event Calendar 08:30: May Initial Jobless Claims, est. 245,000, prior 242,000 May Continuing Claims, est. 1.8m, prior 1.8m 08:30: 1Q GDP Annualized QoQ, est. 1.1%, prior 1.1% 1Q Personal Consumption, est. 3.7%, prior 3.7% 1Q GDP Price Index, est. 4.0%, prior 4.0% 1Q PCE Core QoQ, est. 4.9%, prior 4.9% 08:30: April Chicago Fed Nat Activity Index, est. -0.20, prior -0.19 10:00: April Pending Home Sales YoY, est. -20.1%, prior -23.3% 10:00: April Pending Home Sales (MoM), est. 1.0%, prior -5.2% 11:00: May Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. -9, prior -10 Central Bank Speakers 09:50: Fed’s Barkin Speaks at Southwest Virginia Economic Forum 10:30: Fed’s Collins Speaks at Community College of Rhode Island DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Given it’s our AI week, it’s appropriate that one of the world’s largest chipmakers Nvidia reported earnings last night, which included an outlook far above expectations thanks to demand for AI processers. They said that revenue in the three months ending July was expected to be $11bn, which was well above analysts’ estimates for $7.18bn, and their shares were up by around 25% in after-hours trading. That’s given a massive boost to other chipmakers too, and futures for the NASDAQ 100 are up by +1.39% this morning. For instance in Tokyo, shares in the equipment supplier Advantest are up +15.58% this morning, whilst the memory-chip maker SK Hynix is up +4.50% in Seoul. Although AI could prove to be a turning point, elsewhere actually saw markets slump again yesterday as fears ramped up on several fronts. The biggest issue right now is the US debt ceiling, where there’s still no sign of a resolution, even though we might be as little as a week away from the Treasury being unable to pay its bills. On top of that, there was a very strong UK inflation print, which brought back fears that more persistent inflation was still on the cards and central banks would need to keep hiking rates to deal with that. And the other data from the last 24 hours was also pretty weak, such as the Ifo’s business climate indicator from Germany that saw its biggest monthly decline since September. All this led to another combined bond-equity selloff, with the S&P 500 down -0.73%, whilst yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +5.0bps to 3.74%. For now at least, the focus is still very much on the debt ceiling, where there are several signs of growing market stress around the X-date. In terms of the latest news, there wasn’t anything particularly promising, with Speaker McCarthy saying to reporters that “there are a number of places where we are still far apart”. He noted later on that he thinks “we have time to get an agreement”, and said it could happen over the weekend, but thus far there haven’t been any tangible signs of progress. After the US close, we then heard from the credit rating agency Fitch that they’d placed the US’ AAA rating on “Rating Watch Negative”. Whilst their base case was that a deal would be reached, they said that the move was down to “increased political partisanship” and reflected growing risks that “the government could begin to miss payments on some of its obligations.” The lack of any agreement (or even signs of one) has meant that market stress around the X-date has only continued to rise, with front-end T-bills around the debt ceiling now yielding well above 6%. For instance, the bill that matures on June 1 saw its yield surge by +111bps yesterday to 6.84%, and the bill maturing on June 6 is now at 6.68% (+65bps yesterday). The effects of that are increasingly being felt further out the curve as well, with the 3-month yield (+10.1bps) closing at a post-2001 high yesterday of 5.33%. Those bond losses driven by the debt ceiling were also interacting with a very strong upside surprise in UK inflation earlier in the day, which showed headline CPI at +8.7% in April (vs. +8.2% expected). That was above every economist’s expectation on Bloomberg, as well as the +8.4% projection from the BoE a couple of weeks ago. Furthermore, core CPI rose to its highest level since 1992, at +6.8% (vs. +6.2% expected). The reading added to fears that inflation was becoming entrenched, which led investors to rapidly dial up their expectations for rate hikes from the BoE. For instance, further 25bp hikes are now fully priced in for the next two meetings in June and August, whilst terminal rate pricing has also surged, with the peak rate seen by the December meeting standing 92bps above current levels. Whilst it was just the UK that had a strong inflation print yesterday, investors responded by dialling up the chances of rate hikes more broadly. And those moves then got further momentum thanks to a speech from Fed Governor Waller, who signalled a clear openness to another hike in June, saying that “I do not support stopping rate hikes unless we get clear evidence that inflation is moving down towards our 2 percent objective.” He framed the options around hiking, skipping, or pausing, suggesting that there was thought being given to the idea of skipping a hike in June ahead of another hike in July. Atlanta Fed President Bostic later reiterated his preference for both a near term pause and for no rate cuts until “well into 2024.” In response, investors dialled up the chances of a hike by July, with futures now putting the chance at 66% this morning, which shows how this is now being seriously considered by market participants. Looking further out, the rate expected by the December meeting also hit a post-SVB high of 4.83% by the close yesterday, and this morning that’s risen further to 4.86%, which just shows how investors are increasingly pricing out the chances of rate cuts this year. With another upside surprise on inflation and hawkish rhetoric from officials, sovereign bonds sold off on both sides of the Atlantic. UK gilts were at the epicentre of this, with the 2yr gilt yield ending the session up by a massive +23.7bps, taking it up to its highest level since September 27, just after the mini-budget that triggered market turmoil. Likewise, the 10yr yield was up +5.6bps to its highest level since October. In the US, yields on 10yr Treasuries were up +5.0bps to 3.74%, which is their highest level since the SVB collapse, and in Europe yields on 10yr bunds (+0.3bps), OATs (+0.9bps) and BTPs (+1.7bps) all moved higher as well. Overnight, 10yr Treasury yields have seen a further +0.8bps increase to 3.75%. The deteriorating global backdrop also led to a bad day for equities, with the S&P 500 (-0.73%) losing ground for a second day running amidst broad-based declines. Over in Europe the losses were even more severe, with the STOXX 600 (-1.81%) seeing its worst daily performance since March 15 at the height of the market turmoil over Credit Suisse, which took the index back to a 7-week low. On a sectoral basis, the biggest outperformer was energy thanks to a further rise in oil prices, with Brent crude (+1.98%) closing at a 3-week high of $78.36/bbl. Another event yesterday were the latest Fed minutes from the meeting on May 2-3, but they weren’t a particularly market-moving event. They showed that the committee members were becoming more open to a pause in rate hikes, and it said that “Many participants focused on the need to retain optionality” moving forward. Some participants noted that since the “progress in returning inflation to 2% could continue to be unacceptably slow, additional policy firming would likely be warranted at future meetings.” But the counter was that if there were a medium-term economic slowdown there wouldn’t be the need for further tightening. There was also a note that “that data through March indicated that declines in inflation, particularly for measures of core inflation, had been slower than they had expected”, which correlates to Fed speakers becoming more hawkish in recent weeks. Overnight in Asia, the selloff has mostly continued, with losses for the Hang Seng (-2.07%), the Shanghai Comp (-0.66%), the CSI 300 (-0.49%), and the KOSPI (-0.52%). The main exception is the Nikkei, which has posted a +0.50% advance. And looking forward, there are signs that markets are now beginning to stabilise, with futures on the S&P 500 up +0.38% this morning, having been helped by the strong Nvidia earnings last night. On the data side, the main release yesterday aside from the UK CPI print was the Ifo’s business climate indicator from Germany. That came in at 91.7 in May (vs. 93.0 expected), and marked an end to 6 consecutive monthly gains in that indicator. The expectations reading fell to 88.6 (vs. 91.6 expected), ending a run of 7 consecutive gains, and the current assessment reading fell to 94.8 (vs. 94.7 expected). Whilst the release is only one indicator, it adds to the pattern across Europe in recent months whereby we’re no longer seeing the big upside surprises from Q1, and if anything the releases have been more on the downside of late. Finally in the political sphere, there was another announcement in the 2024 presidential race yesterday as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis formally confirmed he would be a candidate. According to FiveThirtyEight’s polling average for the Republican nomination, DeSantis is currently in second place behind former President Trump. However, Trump’s lead has widened significantly over the last couple of months, and Trump currently stands at 54.3%, with DeSantis some way behind on 20.6%, and then former Vice President Pence (who hasn’t yet declared) on 5.3%. The first primaries won’t actually be until 2024, but based on past cycles we can expect the field to come increasingly into view over the summer as the various candidates seek to coalesce public support, raise funds and win key endorsements beforehand. To the day ahead now, and data releases from the US include the weekly initial jobless claims, the second estimate of Q1 GDP, pending home sales for April, and the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing index for May. Central bank speakers include the Fed’s Barkin and Collins, ECB Vice President de Guindos and the ECB’s Nagel, Villeroy, Centeno and De Cos, along with the BoE’s Haskel. Tyler Durden Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:11.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 25th, 2023

How "the dress" broke the internet — and pushed Facebook to force everyone into their own filter bubble

In a new book, BuzzFeed's former editor-in-chief shares the backstory of the blue and black (or was it while and gold?) dress that changed internet culture forever. The Dress was an "unmitigated triumph" for BuzzFeed co-founder Jonah Peretti, according to a new book.Getty Images/Michael Kovac In 2015, a BuzzFeed staffer posted a picture of a dress with the caption, "What color is this dress?" and kicked off a viral debate. It marked the beginning of a decade in which Facebook would start to realize its own power and try to control it. The following is an excerpt from "Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral" by Ben Smith. The day began with a national frenzy over two llamas that escaped from an Arizona retirement home and ran wild for nearly three hours through the streets of Sun City, Arizona, pursued by hapless humans and capturing the interest of millions.Then, near the end of the workday at BuzzFeed's offices over the Home Depot, Cates Holderness got a message. "BuzzFeed, please help," it read.Cates was one of the old guard at BuzzFeed, hired way back in 2011 when the company was just pulling in people who loved the internet and didn't even really think of themselves as working in media. Cates, in fact, had been working at a boarding and grooming kennel in North Carolina, reading Peggy and Matt on BuzzFeed and sharing the best of their work on her Facebook page.That afternoon, a Scottish folk singer named Caitlin McNeill had messaged Cates through Tumblr, where she managed the BuzzFeed account, with her urgent request about a wedding she'd played."I posted a picture of this dress," she wrote of the crappy, badly lit photograph taken by a friend's mother. "Some people see it blue and some people see it white can you explain because we are goING CRAZY."The dress that kicked off a viral sensation.TwitterCates looked at the photograph, plainly of a blue-and-black dress, and thought the email was weird, inexplicable, but eventually asked the people sitting next to her what color they thought it was. One said "blue and black" and one said "white and gold" and they started yelling at each other, each convinced the other was crazy. Pretty soon she had 20 people standing behind her desk incredulously debating the point.So Cates posted the image to BuzzFeed under the heading "What colors are this dress?" and left workWhen her train, the F, emerged from the tunnel under the East River a few minutes later, her phone was flooded with alerts. She tried to open them, and it crashed. She restarted it, and it crashed again.She hurried to a friend's house to figure out what was going on. I was reading a fairytale to my young son when I realized what was happening. I put the book down to frantically assign more stories to capture what I knew would be a flood of traffic spilling over from Cates's post, which would go on to receive more than 37 million views.One reporter called McNeill in the middle of the night in Scotland, which led to "The Dress Is Blue And Black, Says the Girl Who Saw It In Person." Our science editor dialed scientists after bedtime to churn out another piece, "Why Are People Seeing Different Colors In That Damn Dress?"What was going on, it emerged, was the last, greatest, totally harmless moment of global internet cultureThe Dress was divisive, in the purest sense, dividing (according to a BuzzFeed poll with nearly 4 million votes) the two thirds of people who saw white and gold from the third who saw blue and black. Facebook's engineers had been perfecting its engagement metrics since the debate, a year earlier, over who was destined to move to Wyoming.And the Dress was universal — a form of media that didn't even require literacy to land. It didn't spread, like most memes, along a rising viral curve, passed hand to hand. It spread, instead, algorithmically, as Facebook showed the Dress to users whose friends had not yet shared it, confidently predicting that they would find it just as engaging.The book's author, Ben Smith, was editor-in-chief at BuzzFeed from 2011 to 2020.SemaforWithin a couple of hours, our traffic rose to 700,000 people simultaneously, seven times our usual peaks. That sent our engineers scrambling to add servers to BuzzFeed's back end; it was a number not reached before or since by a BuzzFeed post on the web.A couple of hours after it was posted, on the other side of the world, Cates's boss, Scott Lamb, was giving a morning speech at a media conference in Jakarta. All of the questions he fielded were about the Dress.The Dress was an unmitigated triumph for BuzzFeed and for Jonah — the kind of social content he'd hoped would define us. I toasted a blushing Cates with champagne in the middle of the office. Jonah bragged about it to advertisers.What a score — and also, what a nice thing. Maybe this is what the world would be like in the future — people across nations and cultures all talking about the same fun thing at the same time, with Facebook and BuzzFeed uniting them. "Traffic: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral" by Ben Smith.Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Random House LLCJonah learned that he'd misunderstood Facebook's point of view when Chris Cox introduced him to Adam Mosseri at a party on the sprawling roof garden of the building Frank Gehry had designed for Facebook in Menlo Park. Mosseri, a tall and unusually open Facebook executive, was in charge of News Feed. His decisions could make or break publishers."How often do you think things should go viral like the Dress?" Mosseri asked. Jonah was surprised by the question — and by the idea that the frequency of things going viral was up to Mosseri's team.The conversation made clear to Jonah that Facebook was worried about something new: losing control. To them, the Dress hadn't been a goofy triumph: it had been a kind of a bug, something that scared them. The Dress itself was harmless, but the next meme to colonize the entire platform within minutes might not be, and this one had moved too fast for the team in Menlo Park to control.Many of Facebook's critics were glad to see the platform make this realization: It marked the beginning of a decade in which Facebook would start to realize its own power and try to control it, even if the company's efforts always seemed to be too little, too late.Jonah saw it differently.He still believed in the power of the global conversation to bring out people's best instincts — to joke around harmlessly, to act charitably and brag about it. The people who really saw the danger in virality, he liked to remark, were the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, who had discovered that they could stop a social movement from starting without totally wiping it out — just by deleting some of its content, enough to stop it from achieving escape velocity.In Mosseri's worried tone, Jonah detected the same threat of censorship. And he saw more clearly than most that the alternative to a wide-open viral internet wasn't necessarily a return to the placid old media world. It would be an algorithm that recommended content to individuals according to a narrower set of guidelines. Facebook's solution wasn't to abandon its algorithms, which could predict what you'd like and show it to you: it was to tighten the scope in which those algorithms worked.Going forward, Facebook would do a better job of keeping people in their lanes and in their bubbles. We at BuzzFeed might have seen the Dress as the beginning of a new kind of global culture, but in fact nothing quite like it was ever allowed to happen again.From TRAFFIC: Genius, Rivalry, and Delusion in the Billion-Dollar Race to Go Viral by Ben Smith. Copyright © Ben Smith, 2023. Published by arrangement with Penguin Press, a member of Penguin Random House LLC.nmsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 25th, 2023

OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 22, 2023 OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $-1.2 EPS, expectations were $-0.53. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the OneConnect First Quarter 2023 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants […] OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 22, 2023 OneConnect Financial Technology Co., Ltd. misses on earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $-1.2 EPS, expectations were $-0.53. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the OneConnect First Quarter 2023 Earnings Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the management prepared remarks, we will have a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Please note this event is being recorded. Now I’d like to hand over the conference to your speaker host today, Mr. Rick Chan, the Company’s Head of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, Mr. Chan. Rick Chan: Hello, everyone, and welcome to our 2023 first quarter earnings conference call. Our financial and operating results were released earlier today and currently available on our IR website. Today, you will hear from our Chairman and CEO, Mr. Shen Chong Feng, who will give opening remarks and the business highlights. Afterwards, our CFO, Mr. Luo Yongtao, will offer a closer look into our financials. And then, in question-and-answer session, our management team will be available to you. We have our CTO, Mr. Li Jie; Head of Digital Banking, Ms. Ellen Jia; and Deputy General Manager of Strategy and Products Division, Ms. [indiscernible]; and Chief Executive of Ping An OneConnect Bank, Mr. Michael Fei. In today’s conference, our management team will make statements in Mandarin or in English. For those in Mandarin, a consecutive translation will be provided. In case of any discrepancy between the Mandarin version and the English version, our statement in the original language should prevail. Let me quickly cover the Safe Harbor statement before we start. As we will be making forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks and uncertainties, that could cause actual results to differ materially. Please note that we may present both IFRS and non-IFRS financial measures. With that, I’m now pleased to turn our call to our Chairman and CEO, Mr. Shen Chong Feng. Mr. Shen, please. Shen Chong Feng: [Foreign Language] [Interpreted] Hello, everyone. I’m Shen Chong Feng. Thank you for taking the time to dial in OneConnect 2023 Q1 earnings call. Against complexities brought by momentous changes never seen in the last 100 years and the pandemic of the century, OneConnect strives through a progress while maintaining stability, remained in innovative and delivered a solid performance under the guideline of increasing revenue, reducing costs, optimizing structure, improving products. We carried out key initiatives, including product standardization, sales and marketing standardization and delivery standardization to continue to execute our stage two strategy of broadening customer engagement. In Q1, operating loss narrowed by 67.5% or ¥240 million. Net loss attributable to shareholders reduced by 65.7% or ¥210 million, while gross margin at 37.1% saw an improvement of 2.8 percentage points. As a result of our approach for quality development and proactively adjusting business structure, revenue registered a small dip compared to Q1 2022. During our stage two development, we phased out low gross margin and high customization projects, for example, reducing the scale of some customer acquisition products. These business structure adjustments, despite their temporary topline impact, will no doubt benefit the quality and sustainability of our revenue over the long-term and build a solid foundation for OneConnect sustainable quality and healthy development. Next, I’ll update you on OneConnect business highlights this quarter. Please go to Page 3 and 4 of our slides. 2023 remains a key year in our stage two strategy of broadening customer engagement, where we focus on One Body, Two Wings, that is focusing on financial institutions while expanding ecosystem and overseas. Next on Page 5. This quarter saw continued customer-based expansion and improved customer recognition in three – in our three major segments as a part of our stage two strategy. OneConnect announced its all-around strategic collaboration with the largest life insurer and comprehensive financial group in South Africa, Old Mutual Plc, leading to faster cooperation in life insurance digital transformation. We kicked off our cooperation last year with an omni-channel Asian solution project, the first phase of which has been successfully delivered in 2022. In Q1, we completed the signing for phase two projects and are now working on the delivery of phase two and the landing of phase three. In addition, we also launched index cooperation with the major state-owned bank contributing to its push for self-control technology and empowering the bank in digital transformation and delicacy management. Next on Page 6. We continued product improvements in digital banking, digital insurance and Gamma Platform. Digital lending products in the banking segment equipped with over 30 new plugins can better empower managers in six business scenarios and improve business development efficiency. Omni-channel Asian solution in life insurance has been further updated and experienced significant improvement in standardization. AI customer service from Gamma Platform has been tailored into seven smart sub applications, with three AI middle platforms, the offering comes with over 50 operation services and over 4,000 financial scenario templates. Aside from product improvement, to make sure our efforts will reflect on our financial results, we also strengthen internal operations and management. We released delivery management standardization Framework 2.0 to improve standards, metrics and measures for internal management. OneConnect’s first operation and maintenance framework has been launched to issue standard operation and maintenance sales contract and improve revenue from operation and maintenance. On the other hand, to achieve better P&L management, timely warning and improvement for projects, we introduced a dynamic project P&L management plan based on operating target, which gives us a clear insight into all of our projects and improves overall efficiency within our organization. Please go to the next page. Overseas business sustained its rapid growth into this quarter. In Hong Kong, PAOB is the first virtual bank to be involved into Hong Kong MA business data connect initiative. As we have been expanding partnerships and business scenarios, revenue increased by 51.6% year-over-year in Q1. At the same time, lighter fintech products such as EKYC achieved breakthroughs in Hong Kong and established cooperation with multiple banks, which will enable local businesses to open accounts online. Next, please go to Page 8. Turning to Southeast Asia. We introduced the digital banking solution highly tailored for Southeast Asian market. The offering stemming from our project with the top digital bank covers products, including but not limited to, onboarding deposit spending, marketing, customer service, virtual debit card and payments. We have also fostered a new business collaboration model, where we grow with our customers and the share value added in their businesses, which means we not only collect the implementation revenue but also receive license fees, share revenue from increased business volume as well as charges, operation and maintenance fees. This model ties OneConnect and our customers together and encourages win-win growth. Next, on Page 9. We also published our first ESG report in 2022 under the listing rules in Hong Kong, introducing OneConnect ESG practices and achievements in four areas, namely supporting self-control technology serving real economy, accelerating digital transformation in financial industries and empowering small and medium-sized enterprises as a commercial technology service provider for financial institutions. OneConnect is committed to innovative applications of technology in the industry, empowering digital transformation in financial industries with technology and supporting the development of green finance with our practices as well as achieving sustainable development for the industry and OneConnect. Next page. This quarter, OneConnect and our products have been awarded by multiple institutions, including KPMG’s 2022 leading fintech, top 50 Tier 1 Caijing leading fintech enterprises top 50 and the best 2022 fintech supplier in China award to name just a few. Looking forward, challenges and opportunities come hand in hand. Development of financial technology will undoubtedly remain relevant both at home and abroad as financial institutions continue to aim for improved revenue and efficiency, reduce cost and risk. Understandably, they are now more prudent with their IT spending over the short-term against downward economic pressure and narrow the net interest margin. For fintech service providers, this means higher requirements for product value and bigger challenges. At OneConnect, we are fortunate enough to see this coming. Over the past several years, we continue to improve our product and introduce high-value offerings. We are confident that we will land our stage two strategy of broadening customer engagement, where our customers grow more focused and our engagement with them continue to deepen. I would like to hand over to our CFO, Luo Yongtao, to go through our overall financial results. Thank you. Rick Chan: Thank you, Mr. Shen. Next, our CFO, Mr. Luo Yongtao, will go through the financial results in more detail. Mr. Luo, please. Luo Yongtao: Okay. Thank you. Good evening, everyone. Despite an uncertain macro environment, we recorded satisfactory first quarter results. Just as Mr. Shen said, we delivered revenue of RMB926 million in the first quarter of 2023, decreased by 9.1% compared to the same period last year. Revenue generated from third-party customers decreased by 6.9% to RMB318 million in the first quarter. Revenue decline reflects our decision to adopt quality growth strategy and to reduce customized projects with low margin. We are encouraged to see that gross margin for the quarter improved by 2.8 percentage points year-over-year to 37.1% because of this strategy and non-IFRS gross margin increased 1.6 percentage points to 40.4%. Net loss attributable to shareholders was RMB109 million and the corresponding net loss ratio to shareholders improved substantially by 19.4 percentage points on a year-over-year basis to negative 11.8%. Now let’s turn to our revenue mix. In the first quarter, our revenue mix by customer type maintained relatively stable. Our third-party revenue decreased by 6.9% to RMB318 million compared to Q1 last year, contributing 34.3% of total revenues in Q1 2023. The uncertain maro environment and the strategic adjustment did have an impact on our revenue, which mainly reflected in a decreased revenue from business origination services and risk management in the first quarter. Third-party revenue growth remains a key focus of our second strategy – second stage strategy. Once macro pressures subside and as we continue to advance our initiatives, we believe revenue from the third-party will improve. We are also glad to see that our implementation and overseas business continued strong momentum in the first quarter, making up the shortfalls of temporary reduced demands for certain products and services. In the first quarter, revenue from Lufax decreased 44.7% to RMB71 million and contributed 7.7% of total revenue. The revenue decline from Lufax was mainly due to Lufax business operation optimization, resulting in lower demands for our business origination services and risk management services. Revenue from Ping An Group decreased 2.2% to RMB537 million and contributed 58% of our total revenue. Revenue from Ping An Group was essentially stable. As always, OneConnect regards Ping An Group as our most important flagship client. The services provided to Ping An Group are core technology solutions, which have been deeply embedded into Ping An Group’s daily operations. Our services to Ping An Group also have a proven record of success. Therefore, we expect our revenue from Ping An Group to maintain a steady momentum. Moving on to revenue mix by business type. The implementation revenue increased by 22.3% on a year-over-year basis to RMB210 million, mainly due to expanding demands for insurance the system products and the gamma data middle platform’s system products in the first quarter. Revenue from business origination services decreased by 57.3% year-over-year to RMB49 million, primarily due to decline in transaction volumes in channel marketing products and business origination modules under digital retail banking solutions. Revenue from risk management services decreased by 27.3% year-over-year RMB78 million, mainly due to reduced transaction volume in lower risk analytics solutions because of lower than expected demands into the challenging macro environment in the first quarter. Revenue from operation support services decreased by 12.8% on a year-over-year basis to RMB223 million, which was primarily caused by a reduced demand for customer services operation products and auto ecosystem services in the first quarter. Revenue from cloud services platform was RMB292 million, decreased by 1.2% on a year-over-year basis and relatively stable compared with RMB296 million in the first quarter last year, reflecting the benefits of our continued transformation efforts. Revenue from cloud services platform continued taking up the biggest chunk of our revenue and we believe that cloud services platform would see improved demand and continue the strong performance Revenue from post implementation support and other services decreased by 20.6% year-over-year to RMB42 million in the first quarter. The decline was primarily due to lower demand for auto ecosystem services. PAOB continued the strong growth momentum from our virtual banking business in Hong Kong in the first quarter 2023. Its revenue increased by 51.6% to RMB32 million as compared to the first quarter last year. We will continue to capture the growing overseas demand for digital transformation and see the opportunities that arise. As you can see our businesses are diverse and we are developing more solutions around technology infrastructure, we will remain committed to diversifying our product mix and adopting a stable and sustainable stock-based charging model. Let’s turn to revenue mix by product sectors. Gamma Platform sector, the focus of product innovation in recent years, contributed the biggest chunk of our revenue and recording a 7.5% growth in the first quarter 2023 and accounting for 49.5% of our total revenue. Digital banking sector, which accounted for 27.9% of total revenue, reduced by 33.2% on a year-over-year basis. This was mainly caused by a reduction in transaction volume of our business origination services and risk management services, which were related to our initiatives to phase out lower value products and the unfavorable macro circumstances. Digital insurance sector, which accounted for 19.1% of total revenue, decreased by 4% on a year-over-year basis, mainly because decreased demands in auto ecosystem services. In addition, our virtual banking sector, as I have just mentioned before, saw continued expansion accounting for 3.5% of total revenue in the first quarter. Let’s now take a look at the customer numbers. The number of premium-plus customers slightly decreased to 33, 73 as compared with 74 for the same period last year, mainly due to macro pressures and our pursuance for quality growth strategy. As aforementioned, we believe as we continue to advance our initiatives, we expect our customer base further expand and more premium-plus customers using our products and services. Now let’s take a look at the gross margin for the quarter. We are very glad to see our gross profit reached RMB343 million in the first quarter 2023. Gross margin improved to 2.8 percentage points to 37.1%, supported by quality growth strategy and benefiting from product standardization. Our non-IFRS basis, gross margin was 40.4% compared with 38.8% in the prior year. As Mr. Shen mentioned, in the first quarter of 2023, the continued efforts in product integration and the delivery efficiency, together with execution on quality growth, helped to improve our gross profit margin. We will stick to the strategy and continue the endeavor of achieving profitability. Moving on to our expenses and the net loss attributable to shareholders. You can see that we are well on track to our break-even mid-term target. First of all, our research and development expenses came down to RMB288 million from RMB363 million in the same period of last year. As a percentage of revenue, it decreased to 31.1% compared with 35.6% in the prior year. In the first quarter, we continued implementing our phase two strategy that focus on product integration. As our products were upgraded and integrated, we further improved our product delivery efficiency. Looking ahead, we will keep investing in research and development at a more measured and reasonable pace to enhance our product competitiveness in the market. Our sales and marketing expenses for Q1 decreased 41.2% to RMB64 million compared with RMB109 million in the first quarter of 2022. As a percentage of revenue, sales and marketing expenses decreased to 6.9% from 10.7%. The improvement in sales and marketing expenses, mainly benefited from enhanced sales capability and marketing efficiency. Our general and administrative expenses decreased 49.3% to RMB107 million from RMB211 million in the prior year. As a percentage of revenue, it decreased to 11.6% from 20.7%. The decline in general and administrative expenses was due to lower the cost associated with operational efficiency improvements and ongoing transformation initiatives. It is worth mentioning again that under a challenging business environment, our net loss attributable to shareholders improved substantially to negative RMB109 million from negative RMB318 million in the same period last year. And the corresponding net loss ratio to shareholders improved significantly by 19.4 percentage points from negative 31.2% to negative 11.8%. The next page demonstrates the trend of our net loss ratio to shareholders improvement in the past three years and the first quarter of 2023. From this page, you can see a clear trajectory overall path to profitability over the years. We will continue our product integration efforts and strive to improve operating efficiency and margin. We are confident about break-even by mid-term. Looking forward to the rest of the year. Although we continue to see a degree of unpredictability in the market, our focus remains on improving third-party revenue. We will continue to enhance gross profit margin, focus on cost control and improve operational efficiency to stay on our path to profitability. Next page, we listed the key financial metrics of the first quarter 2023. Lastly, we summarized the adjustments in non-IFRS gross margin for reference. Thank you. Back to your, Rick. Rick Chan: Thank you, Mr. Luo. Operator, we are ready for questions. Please open the line. Q&A Session Follow Oneconnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) Follow Oneconnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Timothy Zhao from Goldman Sachs. Your line is open. Timothy Zhao: [Foreign Language] Thank you, management, for taking my question. I have two questions here. First is regarding your strategy to turn down the low-margin product. I was wondering if management can help quantify the impact on revenue for each product line and between the revenue from Ping An and third parties. And from which quarter that we should be able to see a cleaner base to support the future revenue growth? And secondly, as we see a very good execution in reducing the operating loss for the first quarter of this year, just wondering if management can give any guidance on the full-year operating expenses and any guidance on the [indiscernible] will be appreciated. Thank you. Rick Chan: Question. Mr. Luo would take. Luo Yongtao: [Foreign Language] [Interpreted] We may need to figure out low gross margin and low added technology value product. Examples can be found in all business segments. Projects with high customization, low potential and unsustainable revenue will also shut down. The impact of which can be found in the slow down growth in our first quarter. Improving revenue quality and upgrading products are crucial initiatives in our stage two strategy. We have also – we have so far seen promising results. We will keep on this effort to continuously improve revenue quality and gross margin. Some product upgrades and development efforts to maintain upward revenue train over the long-term. In Q1, you can see strong momentum and solid growth in revenue from implementation overseas and technology infrastructure. Sales and marketing and general and administrative expenses have been reduced by a big margin as a result of head optimization and cost reduction. The stringent cost control measures, mainly by firstly being more efficiency – is being more efficient with resources and improving ROI. Secondly, focusing on resources on R&D keeping – keep developing and upgrading products to make sure we remain competitive. All comes down to achieving sustainable business development, which means we will maintain effective use of our resources going forward. Thank you. Timothy Zhao: Thank you. Operator: [Operator Instructions] We now turn to [Keith Ng ph from DBS]. Your line is open. Unidentified Analyst: [Foreign Language] So the first question is when is the company’s financial cloud license ready? And what’s the progress now? And the second question is in the future, what’s the company’s third-party revenue growth potential? Thank you, management. Rick Chan: Thank you for your question. And the first question related to the financial cloud will be taken by Mr. Li Jie; and the second one regarding third-party revenue will be taken by Mr. Shen. Li Jie: [Foreign Language] [Interpreted] We are closely following up the financial cloud registration process. So far, the application is going well. We are cautiously optimistic about our application but can commit to a clear timeline. Next to your question regarding the growth drivers for our third-party revenue. Firstly, we will remain committed to our stage two strategy of broadening customer engagement. And at the same time, prioritize product integration and upgrade. We aim to deepen engagement and expand customer base by continuing to polish and cross-sell our products. Secondly, if you look at the growth drivers by segments, we noted promising trends. Thanks to our ongoing product innovation efforts. We expect to see growth drivers from all three segments: life insurance from digital insurance, AI customer service and financial cloud from Gamma Platform and overseas. In addition, developing self-control technology also shows a lot of potential. Operator: Our next question comes from [Laura Lee] from CGS-CIMB. Your line is open. Unidentified Analyst: [Foreign Language] Rick Chan: For your question. And for the first question related to cost control will be taken by Yongtao and the second one would – Michael Fei take the second question, please. And first of all, [indiscernible] first question. Luo Yongtao: Regarding to the question about the cost control methods, as I’ve mentioned before, over the past year, our – the reduction mainly came from the optimization of our headcounts, upgrading of our product as well as expensive reduction. And as a result, our R&D, S&M and G&A expenses have been lower significantly, which further contributed to the narrowing of our losses. Unidentified Company Representative: Questions about the cost control measures. Looking forward, we’ve been asking ourselves the same question,. And I believe the – in the future, cost control can be down mainly in two – by two aspects. Firstly, we will maintain a strict and stringent cost control discipline. And secondly, we will make sure that our resources are utilized more effectively. And that’s number one, being more efficient with our resources and improving ROI. And the number two, focus our resources more on R&D expenses, that is to develop new products and upgrading our existing products to make sure we remain competitive. Two is only a handle for internal management. And it ultimately comes down to contributing to the sustainable development of our business overall. Therefore, we will maintain the discipline going forward. Michael Fei: So I will take the the next question, which is essentially three sub questions. One is about the funding cost, the second is about their loan growth, and third one is about the loan quality. Yes. In the past 12 months, the rising funding, the Fed rate increase did have a impact on our funding cost. So we react from two aspects. So first of all, we work very closely about the market development and we make swift adjustments if there’s any market development trend about our deposit rate. And we’re using our deposit very effectively, efficiently and maintain our loan to deposit ratio at a acceptable optimized level. And on the other hand, we also try to improve our loan pricing. Actually, the average loan interest rate in the first quarter compared with the last last quarter will increase about 40 basis point. And on the loan growth rate according – well, given the impact of the Hong Kong economic slow down as well as the impact for slow down. The loan growth in the first quarter did also slow down. To tackle the challenges, I think on one hand, we introduced a more new product. If you follow us, probably you will notice that in May, we actually launched a cooperation with Octopus. We will be able to use Octopus data for us to do alternative data credit assessment. And also given the connection between the Hong Kong [indiscernible] connection between Hong Kong and China, as well as the opening up of the Hong Kong market, I think we are cautiously optimistic about the growth outlook in Q2 and the following quarters. Considering we only launched our business in the third quarter of 2020 and we started a very small phase with high growth. I think it’s natural for NPOs to increase. Compared with our peers participating also in the SME banking business, we actually see a very good quality, a very good ratio compared with our peers. In addition to that, considering the fact that over 80% of our loan exposure is actually under the SFGS program, which is the Hong Kong government, SMB loan lending guarantee program. So our actual loss ratio as of now is actually lower than 0.3%. Operator: Our next question comes from Lydia Lin from Morgan Stanley. Your line is open. Lydia Lin: [Foreign Language] So my first question is how do we quantify the impact on the first quarter revenue from compressing the low-margin product line? [Foreign Language] So my second question is how is the pace of lowering the mix of low-margin product in lowering the OpEx in the next three quarters compared to the first quarter of this year? Thank you. Rick Chan: Question. I think both questions will be taken by Mr. Luo. Luo Yongtao: [Foreign Language] For the – building out our low gross margin product, we mainly close the low gross margin and low tax value product. And these examples can be found in all of our business segments. In addition, projects with higher customization and low potential and unsustainable revenue will also phase out. And if we were to quantify the impact, we can observe that in the decrease in our topline as well as third-party revenue in Q1. However, our business still demonstrates huge potential end of the year phasing out project also delivered promising results. To specific, we notice the pick up from delivery revenue, revenue from overseas as well as the revenue from technology infrastructure, which is a flagship product from our Gamma Platform. Question on the progress of gross margin and the loss reduction initiative. As we have – as you may probably notice, we have been carrying out these efforts over the past several quarters. And this year, these initiatives will carry on full-year. And the results have demonstrated that we are well on track to our mid-term target that is to break-even soon, which means that with our loss reduction efforts will continue and the results will continue to reflect on our financial metrics. Operator: This concludes our Q&A. I’ll now hand back to Mr. Rick Chan for any final remarks. I will hand back to Mr. Rick. Rick Chan: Sorry that we offer in a little bit today. And thank you very much for joining the call today. If any questions, please feel free to contact our IR team. We appreciate your interest in following us and look forward to speaking with you again. Thank you. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, today’s call is now concluded. We’d like to thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect your lines. Follow Oneconnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) Follow Oneconnect Financial Technology Co. Ltd. (NYSE:OCFT) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyMay 25th, 2023

The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript

The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript May 17, 2023 The TJX Companies, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.76, expectations were $0.71. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the TJX Companies First Quarter Fiscal 2024 Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this […] The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX) Q1 2024 Earnings Call Transcript May 17, 2023 The TJX Companies, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.76, expectations were $0.71. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the TJX Companies First Quarter Fiscal 2024 Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded as of today, May 17, 2023. I would now like to turn the conference call over to Mr. Ernie Herrman, Chief Executive Officer and President of the TJX Companies, Inc. Please go ahead, sir. Ernie Herrman: Thank you, Ivy. Before we begin, Deb has some opening comments. Debra McConnell: Thank you, Ernie and good morning. The forward-looking statements we make today about the company’s results and plans are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results and the implementation of the company’s plans to vary materially. These risks are discussed in the company’s SEC filings including, without limitation, the Form 10-K filed March 29, 2023. Further, these comments and the Q&A that follows are copyrighted today by the TJX Companies, Inc. Any recording, retransmission, reproduction or other use of the same for profit or otherwise without prior consent of TJX is prohibited in the violation of United States copyright and other laws. Additionally, while we have approved the publishing of a transcript of this call by a third-party, we take no responsibility for inaccuracies that may appear in that transcript. We have detailed the impact of foreign exchange on our consolidated results and our international divisions in today’s press release and the Investors section of our website, Reconciliations of other non-GAAP measures we discuss today to GAAP measures are also posted on our website,, in the Investors section. Thank you. And now, I’ll turn it back over to Ernie. Ernie Herrman: Good morning. Joining me and Deb on the call is John Klinger. I’d like to begin today by recognizing our global associates for their continued hard work and dedication. It is our associates who bring our business to life everyday for our customers and I want to thank them for their strong commitment to our business especially our store, distribution and fulfillment center associates. Now to our firs quarter results. I am very pleased with our strong sales and are well above planned profitability. Our 3% overall comp sales growth was at the high-end of our plan and driven by an increase in customer traffic. I am particularly pleased with the performance at Marmaxx, which delivered mid single-digit increases in both comp store sales and customer traffic. Further, we saw comp sales and traffic increases at both of our international divisions. I also want to highlight the continued strength of our apparel and accessories businesses across the company. In terms of profitability, both pre-tax profit margin and earnings per share increased versus last year and well exceeded our expectations. Importantly, merchandise margin was very healthy. With our strong profitability performance in the first quarter, we are raising both our full year pre-tax profit margin and earnings per share guidance. John will talk to this in a moment. Our first quarter results are a testament to the strength and resiliency of our flexible off-price business model. I am very pleased with the excellent execution of our teams across the company whose collective efforts brought our shoppers great values and a compelling treasure hunt shopping experience everyday. Our buyers took advantage of amazing deals in the marketplace and the organization flowed product to the right stores at the right time and did a great job of merchandising the product, delivering on customer satisfaction and marketing. We are happy with our good start to the second quarter and are in a great position to take advantage of the phenomenal buying environment and ship fresh selections to our stores and online. Going forward, we are excited about the opportunities we see to gain market share in the U.S. and internationally and continue to improve the profitability of TJX. Before I continue, I will turn the call over to John to cover our first quarter financial results in more detail. John Klinger: Thanks, Ernie and good morning everyone. I also want to add my gratitude to all of our global associates for their continued hard work. I’ll start with some additional details on the first quarter. As Ernie mentioned, our overall comp store sales increased 3% at the high end of our plan. This comp sales increase was driven by customer traffic, with average ticket up for the quarter. Again, our overall apparel business, including accessories, continued its momentum with comp growth up mid single-digits. Overall, home sales were down as we continue to cycle the outsized sales we saw during the pandemic. TJX net sales grew to $11.8 billion, a 3% increase versus the first quarter of fiscal ‘23. On a constant currency basis, first quarter sales were up 5%. First quarter consolidated pre-tax profit margin of 10.3% was up 90 basis points versus last year’s adjusted 9.4% and well above our plan. Gross margin was up 100 basis points and driven by an increase in merchandise margin. The benefit from lower freight cost was significantly more than we expected. Once again, mark-on was strong due to better buying. Unfavorable hedges, our year-over-year shrink accrual and supply chain investments were headwinds to the gross margin in the first quarter. As a reminder, we are planning to shrink flat in fiscal ‘24 versus fiscal ‘23. Our plans this year assume an expected headwind in the first, second and third quarters and an expected benefit in the fourth quarter. SG&A increased 60 basis points. Less than half of this increase was due to incremental store wage costs. And net interest income benefited pre-tax profit margin by 50 basis points. I want to note that our above plan pre-tax profit margin performance was primarily driven by an unanticipated benefit from a freight accrual adjustment, better-than-expected freight rates in our freight initiatives as well as the timing of some expenses. Lastly, we are very pleased that earnings per share of $0.76 were up 12% versus last year’s adjusted $0.68 and also well above our expectations. Moving to our first quarter divisional performance. At Marmaxx, first quarter comp store sales increased a very strong 5% over a 3% increase last year. We are very pleased to see a mid single-digit increase in Marmaxx’s customer traffic. Once again, Marmaxx’s apparel business, including accessories, had a high single-digit comp increase. Marmaxx’s first quarter segment profit margin was 14%, up 80 basis points versus last year. We are extremely pleased with the momentum of our largest division as sales and traffic were consistent across each of Marmaxx’s regions. We continue to see an excellent opportunity for Marmaxx to capture additional market share across the U.S. HomeGoods’ first quarter comp store sales decreased 7% as it continues to cycle the outsized sales we saw during the pandemic, specifically fiscal 2022’s first quarter 40% comp sales increase. HomeGoods’ first quarter segment profit margin was 7.3%, up 130 basis points. We expect HomeGoods’ year-over-year comp sales to improve for the remainder of fiscal ‘24. We continue to see a terrific opportunity to capture additional share of the U.S. home market. In the first quarter, we opened our 900th HomeGoods store and continue to see excellent opportunities to grow both our HomeGoods and Homesense banners. At TJX Canada, comp store sales were up 1% and driven by customer traffic. Segment profit margin on a constant currency basis was 11.2%. As the only major brick-and-mortar off-price retailer in Canada, we benefit from excellent customer awareness of our brands. We continue – we are confident that we are set up extremely well to continue our growth plans and attract even more shoppers to our banners. At TJX International, comp store sales increased 4% and customer traffic was also up. It was great to see strong sales in our European business especially in a challenging macroeconomic environment. In Australia, comp store sales were outstanding and continue to grow, and we continue to grow our footprint in that country. Segment profit margin for TJX International on a constant currency basis was 2.7%. Going forward, we continue to see a path to improve profitability for this division as we plan to grow our footprint in our existing countries and leverage our infrastructure. As to e-commerce, overall, it remains a very small percentage of our business. We continue to add new brands and categories to our sites, so that shoppers can see something new every time they visit. Moving to inventory. Balance sheet inventory was down 8% versus first quarter of fiscal ‘23. Importantly, this year-over-year decline is primarily due to the elevated levels we saw last year from a larger in-transit balance as a result of supply chain delays. We feel great about our balance sheet and store inventory levels. We are confident that we are strongly positioned to take advantage of the outstanding buying environment and flow fresh assortments to our stores and online this summer. I’ll finish with our liquidity and shareholder distributions. For the first quarter, we generated $745 million in operating cash flow and ended the quarter with $5 billion in cash. After the quarter ended, we paid down $500 million of maturing debt. In the first quarter, we returned $841 million to shareholders through our buyback and dividend programs. Now I’ll turn it back to Ernie. Ernie Herrman: Thanks, John. Today, I’d like to highlight our confidence in our growth plans and why we are convinced that we are in a great position to capture additional market share in the U.S. and internationally. First, we are confident that the appeal of our value proposition will continue to resonate with consumers. Over the past 46 plus years, our continued focus on value has served us extremely well through many kinds of economic environments, including periods of inflation and through recessionary times. In an ever-evolving retail landscape, we believe our commitment to offer great value every day will continue to attract shoppers to each of our retail banners. Second, we see our differentiated treasure hunt shopping experience as a tremendous advantage. Our stores receive multiple deliveries each week of fresh, branded merchandise to surprise and excite our customers. With our rapidly changing assortment, shoppers are inspired to visit us frequently to see what’s new. Third, we see ourselves as leaders in flexibility. The flexibility of our buying allows us to seek out the best opportunities and hottest trends in the marketplace. Our store formats and fixtures allow us to flex our floor space to support our opportunistic buying. Further, our systems and the flexibility of our supply chain allow us to merchandise stores individually with a curated mix of good, better and best brands with a wide span of price points. All of this allows us to attract consumers across wide income and age demographics in each of the countries that we operate in. Our broad demographic reach across income levels can open up even more opportunities for us in the product marketplace. Further, we continue to attract an outsized number of younger customers to our stores including many Gen Z and millennial shoppers, which we believe bodes well for the future. We believe our ability to flex our product offerings across a vast array of category brands helps us attract a wider shopping audience than many other retailers. Next, we see the potential to grow our global store base by more than 1,400 additional stores over the long term with just our current banners in our current countries. Giving us confidence are the opportunities we see for real estate and our disciplined approach to selecting locations. Next and I can’t emphasize this enough, we are extremely confident that there will be more than enough inventory available in the marketplace to support our growth plans. Over the last year, our more than 1,200 global buyers have sourced merchandise from a universe of approximately 21,000 vendors, including many new ones. Overall availability of quality branded merchandise has never been an issue for us throughout our history as vendors and brands continue to produce goods from multiple channels, including in-store, online and direct-to-consumer. In fact, many vendors want to work with TJX due to our size, scale and buying power. As a growing global retailer with nearly 5,000 stores, we offer vendors a very attractive way to grow their business and clear their excess inventory quickly and discretely. Lastly, I truly believe that the depth of our off-price knowledge and expertise within TJX is unmatched. We have a highly differentiated global business and have developed a specialized talent and teams to support it. We have many leaders with decades of off-price experience and remain focused on developing newer associates and the next generation of leaders within our organization. We take great pride in our TJX University and other training programs. Our deep bench allows us to deploy teams where needed and rotate talent between divisions and geographies, all of which strengthens our company as we continue to pursue our goals for growth. As I look at the retail industry today, I believe our best-in-class organization is a major advantage. Moving to profitability. Again, we are extremely pleased with our well above planned first quarter performance and have increased our pre-tax profit margin expectations for fiscal 2024. We are confident about our ability to achieve our 10.6% pre-tax profit margin target by fiscal ‘25 and we will continue to strive to exceed it over the long term. Turning to corporate responsibility. We continue to focus our global corporate responsibility reporting under 4 key pillars: Workplace, communities, environmental sustainability and responsible business. We recently updated our corporate website,, with our 2022 efforts across several of these areas. We encourage you to look more on our website, and we expect to release our updated global corporate responsibility report later this year. I am also proud to share that TJX was recently named to Newsweek’s list of America’s Greatest Workplaces for Diversity for 2023 as well as Forbes Magazine’s list of America’s Best Employers for Diversity. As always, I’m grateful to our teams around the globe for the work they do to support our global corporate responsibility efforts. Summing up, our strong first quarter results highlight the continued appeal of our branded merchandise, terrific values and the excellent execution across the organization. I want to again recognize and thank all of our global associates whose collective efforts drove our strong performance. We feel great about our plans for the remainder of the year. While our business is not immune to macro factors, I am convinced that the characteristics and flexibility of our off-price business model and the depth of our organization’s expertise will remain important advantages. Looking ahead, I am convinced that we have a long runway for growth and are set up well to capitalize on the opportunities we see to drive sales and traffic, improve profitability and capture market share going forward. Now, I’ll turn the call back to John to cover our full year and second quarter guidance, and then we’ll open it up for questions. John Klinger: Thanks again, Ernie. Before I start, I want to remind you that fiscal ‘24 calendar includes a 53rd week. Also, as we stated in our press releasing, we will be offering eligible former TJX associates who have not yet commenced their pension benefit an opportunity to receive a lump sum payout of their vested pension benefit. We anticipate that the impact of this pension payout offer, primarily a non-cash settlement charge, could negatively impact fiscal ‘24 EPS by approximately $0.01 to $0.02, but could be higher or lower depending on participation rates and other factors. To be clear, all of the guidance we are providing today does not include the potential impact of this pension payout offer. We expect to exclude the impact of this potential settlement charge from our adjusted pre-tax profit margin and EPS results in the third quarter. Now to our full year guidance. We continue to expect an overall comp store sales increase of 2% to 3%. As a reminder, our comp guidance will exclude expected sales from the 53rd week. For the full year, we expect consolidated sales to be in the range of $52.7 billion to $53.2 billion, a 6% to 7% increase over the prior year. This guidance assumes approximately $800 million of additional revenue expected from the 53rd week. As Ernie said, we are increasing our full year profitability guidance. We’re now planning full year pre-tax profit margin to be in the range of 10.3% to 10.5%. Excluding an expected benefit of approximately 10 basis points from the 53rd week, we now expect adjusted pre-tax profit margin to be in the range of 10.2% to 10.4%. On a 52-week basis, this would represent an increase of 50 to 70 basis points versus fiscal ‘23 adjusted pre-tax profit margin of 9.7%. Our full year pre-tax profit margin guidance assumes that we will now see a benefit of more than 100 basis points from lower freight expenses. Our current freight assumption includes a pull forward of some of the benefit we previously – we expected in FY ‘25. This includes favorable freight rates and benefits from some of our freight initiatives. These, along with the freight accrual favorability in the first quarter that I mentioned earlier, is driving the increase in our full year freight benefit assumption. Our full year pre-tax profit margin guidance also assumes that we will see a continued benefit from better buying and that we continue to have in that we will continue to have headwinds from incremental store and distribution center wages and supply chain investments. Further, this pre-tax profit margin guidance continues to assume that shrink will remain similar to last year. In the first quarter, we took actions to secure more of our store merchandise through tagging, tethering and casing. We also increased our loss prevention presence more broadly across our banners. We are laser-focused on our shrink initiatives and continue to look for additional ways to mitigate the impact. As a reminder, we won’t know the full effect of these actions until we do a full annual inventory count at the end of the year. For modeling purposes, we’re currently assuming a full year tax rate of 26%, net interest income of about $135 million and a weighted average share count of approximately $1.16 billion. As a result of these assumptions, we’re increasing our full year earnings per share guidance to a range of $3.49 to $3.58. Excluding an expected benefit of approximately $0.10 from the 53rd week, we expect adjusted earnings per share to be in the range of $3.39 to $3.48. On a 52-week basis, this would represent an increase of 9% to 12% versus fiscal ‘23 adjusted earnings per share of $3.11. Moving to the second quarter. We are planning overall comp store sales growth to be up 2% to 3%. We expect second quarter consolidated sales to be in the range of $12.3 billion to $12.4 billion, a 4% to 5% increase over the prior year. We are planning second quarter pre-tax profit margin to be in the range of 9.3% to 9.5%. This guidance assumes a significant benefit from lower freight costs as well as a benefit from better buying. It also includes ongoing headwinds from incremental wage costs and supply chain investments. When looking at our second quarter pre-tax profit margin guidance sequentially versus the first quarter, I want to remind you that our first quarter pre-tax profit margin benefited from a favorable freight accrual adjustment that won’t repeat in the second quarter. Further, in the second quarter, we are expecting a reversal of most of the first quarter timing of expense benefit that – as well as a bigger impact from wage costs and supply chain investments. For modeling purposes, we are currently assuming a second quarter tax rate of 26.2%, net interest income of about $37 million and a weighted average share count of approximately $1.16 billion. We expect second quarter earnings per share to be in the range of $0.72 to $0.75, up 4% to 9% versus last year. Lastly, on a 52-week basis, our implied guidance for the second half of the year assumes that pre-tax profit margin will be in the range of 10.6% to 10.8%. Our outlook also implies that overall comp store sales growth will be up 2% to 3%, and on a 52-week basis, earnings per share will be in the range of $1.91 to $1.97 for the second half of the year. In closing, I want to emphasize that we are in a great position, both operationally and financially to take advantage of the opportunities we see to grow our business. We plan to continue making important investments in our business while simultaneously returning significant cash to our shareholders. Now we are happy to take your questions. As we do every quarter, we ask that you please limit your questions to one per person so we can keep the call on schedule and answer as many questions as we can. Thanks, and now we will open it up for questions. Q&A Session Follow Tjx Companies Inc (NYSE:TJX) Follow Tjx Companies Inc (NYSE:TJX) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Lorraine Hutchinson. Pease go ahead. Lorraine Hutchinson: Thank you. Good morning. I was hoping you could walk through some of the specific pressures that you’re seeing on SG&A this year? Any quantification would be helpful because the growth rates a little bit higher than normal. And then if you could perhaps comment on which of these expenses will continue into next year versus some more one-time type of investment? Thank you. John Klinger: Yes. Thanks, Lorraine. So we’re not giving guidance, but I will walk you through some of the components. As I said in my prepared comments, we continue to have incremental store wage, but for the full year, we expect this incremental wage pressure to be less than half of our anticipated SG&A increase. The rest of the cost is in a number of smaller headwinds such as general cost inflation, return to normal cost that includes such things as increased travel, and investments in loss prevention. Lorraine Hutchinson: Thank you. Operator: Thank you. Next, we will go to the line of Matthew Boss. Please go ahead. Matthew Boss: Great. Thanks. And congrats on a really nice quarter. John Klinger: Thank you. Matthew Boss: [27:20]brawning: Ernie Herrman: Yes. Traffic – Matt, great questions. Traffic has been healthy overall. It was pretty consistent, and one of the things we’re looking at, and this is a good opportunity for me to give you a heads up, is our ticket has started to moderate a little bit. And so we can – we’re doing this business off of our traffic, which we said in the release, and it’s not being driven as much by ticket when we had our average ticket being up. It’s also encouraging when we look at the way our HomeGoods business is starting to rebound a little bit, we’re seeing relative to the trend we had before where traffic was down quite a bit, we’re seeing the traffic kind of pick up there more recently as well. So these are healthy signs. We’re very bullish on these signs. We do not manage average ticket by the way. Obviously, we’ve talked about that, Matt. I know we’ve talked in the past where we bottom up that in the company, and that we want to just drive it off of the exciting values that are in the store and the traffic, for what you were talking about. New customers, I think that was kind of part B of your question, new customer, talking to like new customer acquisition that we’re getting in this environment. Is that what you’re getting at? Or… Matthew Boss: Yes, exactly. If you could just elaborate on new customer acquisition, who you’re seeing as new, I think you cited a younger customer, and a broad… Ernie Herrman: Yes. And then I think you were talking about the demos, how I had talked about the different good, better, best and income levels, right? So – but we’re getting a good amount of younger customers or a percent of our new customers are on the younger age group. That’s been going on for a while now. We’re also – we don’t want to be – we really don’t want to be pigeonholed into any group of income demographics or how this fashion looks, whether conservative, traditional. We want customers from all demographics, income and even fashion looks. The one thing that’s a constant denominator which all our merchants go after is quality. So we consistently talk about the quality level of the goods that our buyers buy and what we put on the floor that we never give up on that. What does fluctuate is the fashion and the income, good, better, best. Which I think has been competitive advantage to us in gaining new younger customers, yes, but also customers across the board. When you look at the competition around us, and I’m not talking just off-price, many of them don’t trade broadly like us. So they are very narrow in the scope of what they go for either in the looks of the goods or in the price bracket that they are in. They either go after a lower, better demographic/price point range or they are more fashion-driven or more – they are never all of it. And our strategy and we believe, by the way, that this is linked with us driving more traffic, is to have good, better, best to capture more of the potential customers that are out there. And then I would throw in one of the things – you didn’t ask about it, but our marketing teams, as you know, specifically and consciously do that in our marketing approach where, of course, we have upped our digital media to a much greater degree over the last handful of years which gets across many demographics. But they are actually going for different looks of customers, and the placement of the working media that we do is meant to go after different customers as well where I saw the retailers purposely place their working media in segments that are going after a certain customer base. We are very strategic and conscious and purposeful about where we go with our media spend. So great question. Sorry, I’ve given you a lot of information there, but you were getting to some of the meat of why we have a lot of confidence in our top line going forward. Matthew Boss: It’s great color. Best of luck. Ernie Herrman: Thank you, Matt. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Paul Lejuez. Please go ahead. Paul Lejuez: Hey, thanks, guys. Just a follow-up on that last bit, Ernie, can you talk about the performance of your higher-income demographic stores versus your lower-income demographic stores? And I’m curious if you would say that you are seeing a trade down customer at this point? And then just anything you could add on regional performance, any differences there? Thanks. Ernie Herrman: Yes. Paul, what we’re seeing in the first quarter is what we were seeing similar to the first quarter of last year. So through the first three quarters of last year, as we said, we were seeing stores in higher demographic areas being more of the driver of our comp. As we – and that’s what we’re seeing in the first quarter as well. As far as by geography, Marmaxx by geography was pretty consistent, so it was really nice to see the consistency that we’re seeing in the business. Paul Lejuez: Any more – any detail you can give by state, like some of your larger states in terms of outperformers or underperformers? Ernie Herrman: By geography, it was pretty consistent. And again, it’s hard for us to read into trade down and what we’re seeing. There is just so many moving things that are going on right now that it’s just tough to read. But like I said, we are seeing the higher demographic stores, stores in higher demographic areas performing – being more of the driver of our comp in Marmaxx. Paul Lejuez: Got it. Thanks, guys. Good luck. Ernie Herrman: Thank you, Paul. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Alex Straton. Please go ahead. Alex Straton: Great. Thanks so much for taking the question. Congrats on the quarter. I wanted to zoom in on Marmaxx here. It looks like the margin outpaced expectations. Also, looks like it was one of the highest you guys have delivered there for a first quarter in a number of years. So I’m just wondering, is that a function of some of the price increase strategy flowing through? Or what would you attribute that result to? Thanks. Ernie Herrman: Well, I’ll start off, and John will jump in as well. I think it’s multipronged. We’ve had a pricing strategy, sales being healthy, markdowns certainly are part of that margin. John, do you want to jump in? John Klinger: Obviously, lower freight cost… Ernie Herrman: Lower freight favorability, yes, freight cost favorability. John Klinger: That’s essentially… Ernie Herrman: Yes, that’s it. John Klinger: Honestly, and we will reiterate, we feel good about the expected level of freight expense recapture and the continued opportunity we have in better buying. Ernie Herrman: Yes. Alex, I’ll throw something else. And on Marmaxx is, as you could see by the strong performance, we – on sales, we show it as a 5. It was a very strong 5. And we really like the positioning on open-to-buy. They are the big ships. We like the open-to-buy that we have there and the liquidity because the markets as we talked about, have been – they are just really flooded with a lot of inventory across many brands. And so that, combined with the fact of the good, better, best advantage that we have and our teams are – we have so much long-tenured merchants in that world and planning and allocation teams that were really able to leverage the market, I think, better than a lot of other retailers to achieve some of these merchandise margins that are driving their profit performance. Again, a lot of the other retailers can’t bob and weave as much because they are not as broad as we are. So it gives us more retailing play, I think, in surgically addressing the retails as we do. Alex Straton: Thank you. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Brooke Roach. Please go ahead. Brooke Roach: Good morning. And thank you for taking our question. I was wondering if you could provide a bit more color on the drivers of the freight outperformance and what you’re seeing between ocean and domestic freight as you enter the new contract year? How much of this better freight outlook for the fiscal year is a pull forward from FY ‘25? And how does this impact your view on the recapturability of the approximately 300 bps of freight pressure versus pre-COVID levels? Thank you. John Klinger: Yes. So we’re not going to get into the detail of the pull forward other than to say that we did have some operational initiatives that gave us some benefit earlier than expected. But basically, where we’re seeing the freight favorability versus last year is primarily in ocean rates. So the ocean rates have come down significantly, the freight initiatives that we’ve implemented such as more intermodal, more premier carriers on our roots, and we’re seeing less port congestion as well. And we’re seeing – at the beginning of the year when we did our plans, we put something in our plans on the – as I said in the fourth quarter, the domestic contracts. But honestly, the majority is coming from the ocean. The domestic, the costs are a little stickier. The wage rates that have been implemented particularly in rail and truck, those aren’t going to come back out. So we don’t anticipate, at this time, huge domestic freight favorability. But again, the initiatives that we’re putting in place to mitigate our freight expenses, we’re very happy with. So as far as the recapture, we don’t expect to recapture the full 300 basis points of incremental faith that we saw over the last 3 years. Brooke Roach: Thank you very much. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Laura Champine. Please go ahead. Laura Champine: Thanks for taking my questions. I wanted to get a little bit of clarity on the expense shift given that Q1 margins were better, but the Q2 guide is a little bit lighter. So can you help quantify the drivers that are just timing-related? John Klinger: Yes. So as far as Q2, so we did have a favorable timing of costs in the first quarter. And those – the majority of those will reverse out in the second quarter. We are planning 330 basis points improvement over last year, and again, the lower freight – we anticipate lower freight benefit in the second quarter because the first quarter, we had the accrual reversal that benefited us in the first quarter. And then of course, higher wage and supply chain investment costs start in the second quarter. So those are the main reasons for the – when you look at Q1 versus Q2. Laura Champine: And did you quantify what the Q1 impact was from the freight accrual reversal? John Klinger: No, we did not. Laura Champine: Okay, got it. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Aneesha Sherman. Please go ahead. Aneesha Sherman: Thank you. I want to ask a little bit more about your traffic patterns through the quarter. I know you talked about overall seeing an increase and not seeing differences by geography. What about through the quarter and your exit rates at the end of the quarter? Did you see it pick up throughout the quarter? And last Q2, you talked about traffic being down and basket being up. It sounds like now, you are seeing those trends reverse where your traffic is up and your basket is coming down a little bit where ticket is starting to moderate. Is that consistent into Q2 as well? Thank you. John Klinger: Yes. We haven’t given any guidance on Q2 as far as what we are seeing other than where we have got a good start. And we have said that the sales in Marmaxx were pretty consistent by month. Does that answer your question? Aneesha Sherman: Yes. Well, could you give a bit more color on the components of that? The traffic and the basket through, are those all consistent by month as well? John Klinger: No, we are not giving that detail other than to say, on the quarter, the transactions drove the comp. Aneesha Sherman: Got it. Okay. Thank you. Ernie Herrman: Yes. I think Aneesha, maybe part of this question is related to one before I have talked about. We could have – I guess I am giving you a little preview that we could have our ticket coming down a notch from where it’s been a point or 2 points, but that’s related – that’s going forward, and that’s just a bit of a heads up for everybody. The ticket could come down, I don’t know, a couple of points, and that’s really more based on a merchandise mix variance within the store. So, when our mix is certain mixes, we get more growth in a lower ticket area, which is happening. And again, that’s what I was trying to say before. We don’t drive the bus on. We don’t determine that. We want to do whatever drives our top line sales the most. That’s our priority. And the pricing throughout the store is a bottom-up pricing strategy where our buyers, literally, they make the deals at the right and they assign the right value there. But I understand the question because we were talking about the traffic and then the ticket. The ticket is really just me giving you a heads up that it could come down a couple of points. Based on what we are seeing in some of our hotter businesses are tending to be our lower ticket, and that mix just could bring our ticket down a little over the next quarter or two quarters. Aneesha Sherman: Very helpful color. Thank you. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Chuck Grom. Please go ahead. Chuck Grom: Hey. Thanks for that. Great quarter. Just wanted to focus on HomeGoods a little bit, you talked about a recovery throughout the quarter there. So, I just wanted to if we could dive into that a little bit? And then given the pending closing of some of these Bed Bath stores, wondering if you decide to reposition the business to pursue that market share opportunity in greater quantity going forward? Ernie Herrman: Okay. So, yes, so the – Chuck, what’s happening is we are seeing an improvement in the business here as we were coming out of Q1 and going into Q2 on a year-over-year comp basis. And if you look, we actually commented on seeing that – seeing continuous improvement there as the year goes on over the next three quarters. And so we do feel that opportunity based on what we are actually experiencing with our sales more recently. Again, we don’t give out exactly what we did by month in the quarter, but I can only say that as we got to the end of the quarter and as we started off this quarter, it was improving, the trend. In the Bed Bath & Beyond situation, what’s interesting is a lot of articles, many of you have probably seen them, that have come out that are referring directly to us has been in HomeGoods as being beneficiaries. We believe, and we always talked, we never like to name the other retailers where it’s happening. But we do strongly believe that that creates market share opportunities and market grab for us. And I think what you are talking about is are we – you are asking about, are we doing anything in our stores to capitalize, what we do within our own systems here, and HomeGoods is very diligent on this. Strategically, we will go in and we are able to do this with our planning and allocation system where we can look at which categories in Bed Bath & Beyond store, obviously, we know what they did for category business, and we can go in and re-rank our HomeGoods stores and inventory at the nearby location where they have just vacated. And that’s how – we don’t artificially change proactively without knowing. We don’t just go in and say, oh, we should do more of this category of business because that’s what Bed Bath & Beyond did. We did it by location and by the category of businesses we think they stood for. And we say, yes, there is more market share opportunity for us in those categories. So, we are taking advantage of that situation, to your point, so great question. We – but we do it very select – we do it very strategically like that. We don’t just broad brush it across the HomeGoods store, so to speak. Chuck Grom: Great. Thank you. Ernie Herrman: You’re welcome. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Dana Telsey. Please go ahead. Dana Telsey: Good morning everyone and congratulations on the nice results. As you think of the international business where you had talked about strong sales in Europe and very good sales in Australia, how does that business compare to the U.S. and what you are seeing, anything by category to note? And just lastly, on the shrink side, keeping it flat for the year, how much of a benefit are you seeing – do you expect to see in Q4 versus the first three quarters? Thank you. Ernie Herrman: Alright. Dana, so I will start off with the merchandise category thing and then John and I will get into the shrink after that a little bit. So, the – clearly, what we have been seeing is Marmaxx has been the most consistent sales performer. But internationally, we are seeing strong – and by the way, we get data on market share. We are picking up major market share across the board in actually, all three of those geographies. If you mention Europe or Australia or Canada, we are outperforming by my guess, on average, hundreds of basis points. So, it’s not just a little outperformance. There is also – helping that a little is the store closure – all those geographies, I don’t know as much about Australia, but Canada and Europe have a fair amount of store closures going on. So, that will play and they are not necessarily like a Bed Bath & Beyond, but they have other store closures that will create ongoing tailwind, I think for market share grab. Little tough to read on the ups and downs because of those areas having – our compare ads are a little funky as to when they were opening, right, John. Opening up, coming out and then there were some shutdowns and so when we look at our 1-year or 2-year stacks, it gets a little funky when we look at it. John Klinger: Correct. The timing of the openings and closings were not consistent by geography. Ernie Herrman: Yes, to your point, the pure numbers aren’t – well, aren’t as good as Marmaxx. Obviously, HomeGoods is a whole different animal. But Europe in the first quarter was – well, it was very close. John Klinger: Yes. It was a strong quarter. Ernie Herrman: Strong quarter, yes. And so we are excited about the – and by the way, the way they are positioned in terms of liquidity and the branded market availability in both those regions is also going to bode well, I think for the balance of the year. Shrink? John Klinger: As far as shrink goes, we didn’t give guidance on shrink for the full year. But just to remind, we are laser-focused on our shrink initiatives which are the increasing tagging, tethering, the using – uses of hard cases and increased loss prevention presence. We are continuing to look for newer ways to protect our merchandise. And then, of course we are also very focused on the employee and customer safety in our stores, that along with the customer satisfaction. So, anything we do, we want to make sure that our customers and employees are protected and that the customers, it’s an easy experience for them to shop in the store. Ernie Herrman: Dana, I am going to just jump back in also as we are talking about the international and we have been talking about ticket, etcetera. I want to make sure everybody is clear that we have – we are still extremely bullish on our ability to do our pricing strategy. The ticket – the whole ticket discussion, which is going to have a slight amount of risk [ph], has nothing to do with our pricing strategy. That is really just based on the mix of categories within the store that could affect that. Our pricing strategy where we have been selectively addressing prices and retails on certain items here or there is continuing in full force, and one is not connected with the other actually. They are two different things. So, I just want to make sure that’s clear there. And by the way, internationally, which you were talking about, they have been having terrific success on the pricing strategy in Canada and in Europe. And domestically, we continue it from our e-comm business through our Marmaxx, through our HomeGoods businesses. So, I wanted to make sure that was clear. Dana Telsey: Very helpful. Thank you. Ernie Herrman: Thank you. Operator: Next, we will go to the line of Adrienne Yih. Please go ahead. Adrienne Yih: Great. Thank you very much. Congratulations. Tremendous execution. Ernie, on the last call, you had… Ernie Herrman: Thank you. Adrienne Yih: You’re welcome. Well deserved. You had mentioned that sort of the Chase capacity of the model is sort of now fully functional and really allowing the off-price model to shine. So, can you just go into kind of some more detail about how much better kind of this year is from an open-to-buy, and how that gives you tremendous visibility for the buyers? And then kind of just a follow-on to that, we get a lot of questions about availability, which you addressed. But as the inventory at frontline cleans up, can you then explain the next phase, right, the longevity of the off-price comparative advantage as AURs at frontline move up and then the value shines through on off-price? Thanks. Ernie Herrman: Okay. Very good, Adrienne. You are going right to – well, you are hitting right on the crux of what we do here. So, the Chase, the first thing you were talking about is the Chase culture, so to speak, of what we have going here versus a year ago. Well, we are coming, as witnessed by some of these inventories. You can see – and last year, part of what was happening last year is it was a bigger challenge for the merchants to kind of guesstimate our sales trends and the timing of availability that was going to be in the market. And we were finding that the transportation, inbound transportation was moving faster than we thought it would be. So, all of those dynamics were intersecting, which for a period of time had us chasing a little bit less. Whereas this year, we are in, I would call it a textbook situation to take advantage of the “phenomenal availability” that’s out there. So, I think that’s what – that’s why we feel great about it. And I do feel we are in more of the Chase mode in, actually, every division. And that combined – it’s not tricky to picture why that combined will help our profits, by the way. And we mean the other dynamic going on with – in terms of our buyers who are so talented and so experienced, again, we have very little turnover in that group. As we mean more to – and I think I have talked about this before, we mean more to vendors today than we did a few years ago. And we mean a lot of them a few years ago. It’s just since COVID has gone this way, and as you can imagine, the decrease in branded retail out there, whether it’s online or at brick-and-mortar, has created more of a reliance on a partnership on the key brands in the market to want to do more business with us. So, add that into the Chase and it has allowed us to make sure we have a lot of open-to-buy, and we have a vendor community that is loaded with merchandise that also knows we are more important to them today than we have ever been. So, that’s why excited about where we are currently, excited about the potential of future increase in profitability as we move forward and continued top line market share grab, I hope. So, I think that answers that first part. Then I think are you asking on availability where there – where the vendor community talks about maybe cleaning up their inventories. Adrienne Yih: Yes. Exactly. And I think I have mentioned that… Ernie Herrman: So, that has been said for years and years and years, decades. And what happens now is, again, no matter who they are, we are dealing with 21,000 vendors. But even if you would look at our top couple of thousand vendors, think about that. Yes, one vendor, one year could have less. But most of them are public companies that certainly and rightfully still need to grow their earnings and show growth. So, they are almost – no matter what they do, they have to still chase inventory or drive an inventory situation a little to try to get reorders to maximize their business. So, that’s always going to be there. I see no signs of that changing. To your point, I know certain vendors will come out and say they are going to clean up their inventory, but it – what typically happens is they are clean for a season or two seasons and that the other vendor in a similar category just happens to have more at that time, and it all dovetails rather nicely. So again, I see zero issue in a constant availability of desirable merchandise. Adrienne Yih: Super helpful, great to get your insights and best of luck. Ernie Herrman: Thank you. Operator: Thank you. And our final question comes from Ike Boruchow. Please go ahead. Ike Boruchow: Hey guys. Let me add my congrats. Just two modeling questions, I am sorry if I missed this. Can you give us the freight benefit you got in the first quarter? I know you said – you are saying 100 bps for the year, 100 bps plus for the year, but what was it in Q1? And then, Ernie, you are taking the pre-tax margin up 20 basis points. I think on the last call, you said gross margin’s up 140 bps. Should we assume that that now means gross margin is up 160 bps? Is that where that upside comes from? Just kind of curious on the gross margins for the year, what the thought – the plan is? Ernie Herrman: Okay. We will answer both. So, on the gross margin, Ike – and John, I will let John jump in here as well. On the gross margin, you are talking about where we guided for the year. Now, we are raising it, I said the operating margins at 10.4%, is that? Ike Boruchow: Yes. I was trying to understand, is that upside to the gross margin you gave prior, like what is that new annual plan on gross margin? John Klinger: Yes. We didn’t give guidance on a full year gross margin just to say that we had a significant benefit, right. Ike Boruchow: Okay. Ernie Herrman: Does that make sense, Ike? Ike Boruchow: I guess I thought on the prior call, you guys had said 140 basis points of gross margin for the year. John Klinger: Yes. We are not giving freight or gross margin other than to say that we feel good about the freight benefit that we have gotten and the better buying that we are seeing as well. Ike Boruchow: Got it. Okay. Thank you. Ernie Herrman: And then what was the other question? John Klinger: The other question, Shrink? Ike Boruchow: Tailwind. Ernie Herrman: We are doing shrink in the first quarter? Ike Boruchow: Freight tailwind. Ernie Herrman: Freight, we talked about that, right. So – but you had a two-part question. One was on the gross margin. I think one was on something else. Ike Boruchow: Yes. I was just asking if you could tell us the freight tailwind to margin in the first quarter, and then if you could give us a gross margin guide for the year. But it sounds like we are not going to do the second part of it. Is the first part possible? John Klinger: Yes. I mean as far as the first quarter goes, I mean we had a benefit from unanticipated freight accrual. And then we had – some of our freight initiatives were coming – we were getting a benefit earlier than we anticipated, and those are the real two items. Ike Boruchow: Okay. Thank you. Ernie Herrman: And we are – Ike, so the one thing we would like to leave you with on that is we are feeling very confident about the 10.4% for the year though, which I think was the original catalyst of why you are asking. So, we are feeling good about where we are heading on achieving that for the bottom line pre-tax profit margin. Ike Boruchow: Okay. Got it. Thank you. Ernie Herrman: Thank you. Okay. That was our last question. And I would like to thank you all for joining us today. We will be updating you again on our second quarter earnings call in August. Everybody, take care. John Klinger: Thank you. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes your conference call for today. You may all disconnect. Thank you for participating. Follow Tjx Companies Inc (NYSE:TJX) Follow Tjx Companies Inc (NYSE:TJX) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyMay 25th, 2023

A Wyoming Republican says Christian nationalism has hijacked her state and that on Sundays she can"t tell if she"s listening to a "sermon or a stump speech"

As Christian nationalism has gained traction in Wyoming politics and churches, Republican Susan Stubson argues it's led to "bad church and bad law." Two men walk in front of the Wyoming Republican Party headquarters in Cheyenne, Wyo., on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.Thomas Peipert/Associated Press Christian nationalism has gained traction in the Republican party in recent years. A Wyoming Republican wrote an op-ed arguing the movement has hijacked her state. She said the growing embrace of the concept has led to "bad church and bad law." A Republican in Wyoming says the Christian nationalism movement has "hijacked" both the GOP and her religious community "by blurring the lines between church and government and in the process rebranding our state's identity."Susan Stubson, a lawyer and a member of Wyoming's Republican Party, described the transformation in an opinion piece published in The New York Times this week. Stubson is married to Tim Stubson, also a Republican, who served in Wyoming's House of Representatives from 2008 to 2017 and ran in the primary against Liz Cheney for a seat in the US House.Stubson said she first witnessed Christian nationalism in 2016 while campaigning for her husband at a monster-truck rally. A man they greeted who was wearing a cross necklace and a "God bless America" shirt said he would vote for him if he kept a certain group of people out of office, using a racial slur. The man proceeded to make racist and xenophobic statements."I now understand the ugliness I heard was part of a current of Christian nationalism fomenting beneath the surface," Stubson wrote.Christian nationalism can be described as the belief that the US is a Christian nation and that the government should work to ensure it stays that way. While the concept is still on a historical decline as Americans, in general, continue to become less religious, experts say the ideology has experienced a resurgence of support over the past decade or so, particularly among conservatives and the far right.Critics of Christian nationalism, which also includes Christians, say the concept distorts both American and Christian values. But the movement has gained traction in US national politics, including open expressions of support from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and not-so-subtle allusions to the concept by former President Donald Trump and Rep. Lauren Boebert.Stubson said Christian nationalism has now taken such a strong hold over Wyoming that on many Sundays it's unclear if she's listening to "a sermon or a stump speech." She also said there is a growing group of new lawmakers who embrace Christian nationalism in Wyoming's legislature, adding that a third of Wyoming's House members align with the Freedom Caucus, which she described as "a noisy group unafraid to manipulate Scripture for political gain under a banner of preserving a godly nation."Stubson said the rise in Christian nationalism has subverted Wyoming's roots as a "live-and-let-live cowboy culture," which itself is enshrined in law as the state code.As "God, guns, and Trump" has become "the new trinity" in Wyoming, Stubson said it's led to "bad church and bad law."Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 24th, 2023

Some GOP lawmakers want McCarthy to reject any debt ceiling deal that doesn"t include banning student-loan forgiveness and strengthening work requirements for federal programs

"My conservative colleagues... don't feel like we should negotiate with our hostage," GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz said. A default could be eight days away. Republican Reps. Chip Roy of Texas (L) and Matt Gaetz of Florida (R) attend a press conference outside the US Capitol Building on March 8, 2022 in Washington, DC.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images Some GOP lawmakers don't want McCarthy to budge on any of their demands in a debt ceiling deal. Rep. Chip Roy said banning student-debt relief and strengthening work requirements should make it into an agreement. The US could default on its debt as soon as June 1, and the parties have yet to reach a deal. Some conservative lawmakers don't want Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy to make any compromises with President Joe Biden on the debt ceiling — even with a default potentially eight days away.McCarthy and Biden met on Monday evening to once again attempt to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned McCarthy that same day that the US could run out of money to pay its bills as early as June 1, and even with the severe time crunch to pass legislation before that deadline, both parties have yet to reach an agreement.And even with an economically catastrophic default looming, some GOP lawmakers don't want McCarthy to budge on Republican demands to reach a deal. At the end of April, the House passed the Limit, Save Grow Act of 2023, which would raise the debt ceiling through the end of March 2024 accompanied with $4.5 trillion in spending cuts — including banning student-loan forgiveness and strengthening work requirements on federal programs like SNAP.GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz told Semafor on Tuesday that he thinks the cuts proposed in that legislation should not change, saying that "my conservative colleagues for the most part support Limit, Save, Grow, and they don't feel like we should negotiate with our hostage."And on Wednesday, GOP Rep. Chip Roy sent a four-page memo to his Republican colleagues urging them to hold the line on spending cut demands in a potential debt ceiling deal. "While House Republicans are fighting for hard-working American families facing a woke, weaponized government at odds with our way of life, President Biden and Democrats have been dragging their feet for weeks to fight for rich liberal elitists who want more spending, more government, more corporate subsidies, and less freedom," Roy wrote in the memo.—Emily Brooks (@emilybrooksnews) May 24, 2023 He wrote that Republicans should not budge on the bill's proposals to freeze spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, repeal energy tax credits, ban student-debt relief, and strengthen work requirements on federal programs, among other things. Many progressive lawmakers have criticized compromising with Republicans on the debt ceiling, reinforcing Biden's repeated statements that raising the debt ceiling should be a bipartisan and clean process, without any spending cuts attached.In response to Gaetz's comments on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter: "Maybe he could also tell us who their hostages are? The American people? Our economy? VA benefits? Social security checks? Matt and the GOP are playing a dangerous game and like every hostage situation someone is likely going to be hurt. We have to rescue the American people."House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, however, suggested on Monday to reporters that Democrats could be open to capping spending levels. "That's an inherently reasonable position many in our party might even be uncomfortable with, but President Biden recognizes we're in a divided government situation," he said.McCarthy and Biden are set to continue negotiations this week, but the clock continues to tick for Congress to find a way to address the debt ceiling before Americans experience the first default in the nation's history.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 24th, 2023