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TILT"s New Partnership: This Time With the Shinnecock Indian Nation To Establish Vertical Cannabis Operations

TILT Holdings Inc. (NEO: TILT) (OTCQX: TLLTF), a global provider of cannabis business solutions including inhalation technologies, cultivation, manufacturing, processing, brand development and retail, has formed a new partnership with Little Beach Harvest, a brand-new cannabis business entirely read more.....»»

Category: blogSource: benzingaOct 13th, 2021

Inside the World of Black Bitcoin, Where Crypto Is About Making More Than Just Money

“We can operate on an even playing field in the digital world” At the Black Blockchain Summit, there is almost no conversation about making money that does not carry with it the possibility of liberation. This is not simply a gathering for those who would like to ride whatever bumps and shocks, gains and losses come with cryptocurrency. It is a space for discussing the relationship between money and man, the powers that be and what they have done with power. Online and in person, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C., an estimated 1,500 mostly Black people have gathered to talk about crypto—decentralized digital money backed not by governments but by blockchain technology, a secure means of recording transactions—as a way to make money while disrupting centuries-long patterns of oppression. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “What we really need to be doing is to now utilize the technology behind blockchain to enhance the quality of life for our people,” says Christopher Mapondera, a Zimbabwean American and the first official speaker. As a white-haired engineer with the air of a lecturing statesman, Mapondera’s conviction feels very on-brand at a conference themed “Reparations and Revolutions.” Along with summit organizer Sinclair Skinner, Mapondera co-founded BillMari, a service that aims to make it easier to transmit cryptocurrency to wherever the sons and daughters of Africa have been scattered. So, not exactly your stereotypical “Bitcoin bro.” Contrary to the image associated with cryptocurrency since it entered mainstream awareness, almost no one at the summit is a fleece-vest-wearing finance guy or an Elon Musk type with a grudge against regulators. What they are is a cross section of the world of Black crypto traders, educators, marketers and market makers—a world that seemingly mushroomed during the pandemic, rallying around the idea that this is the boon that Black America needs. In fact, surveys indicate that people of color are investing in cryptocurrency in ways that outpace or equal other groups—something that can’t be said about most financial products. About 44% of those who own crypto are people of color, according to a June survey by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. In April, a Harris Poll reported that while just 16% of U.S. adults overall own cryptocurrency, 18% of Black Americans have gotten in on it. (For Latino Americans, the figure is 20%.) The actor Hill Harper of The Good Doctor, a Harvard Law School friend of former President Barack Obama, is a pitchman for Black Wall Street, a digital wallet and crypto trading service developed with Najah Roberts, a Black crypto expert. And this summer, when the popular money-transfer service Cash App added the option to purchase Bitcoin, its choice to explain the move was the MC Megan Thee Stallion. “With my knowledge and your hustle, you’ll have your own empire in no time,” she says in an ad titled “Bitcoin for Hotties.” Read more: Americans Have Learned to Talk About Racial Inequality. But They’ve Done Little to Solve It But, as even Megan Thee Stallion acknowledges in that ad, pinning one’s economic hopes on crypto is inherently risky. Many economic experts have described crypto as little better than a bubble, mere fool’s gold. The rapid pace of innovation—it’s been little more than a decade since Bitcoin was created by the enigmatic, pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto—has left consumers with few protections. Whether the potential is worth those risks is the stuff of constant, and some would say, infernal debate. Jared Soares for TIMECleve Mesidor, who founded the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain What looms in the backdrop is clear. In the U.S., the median white family’s wealth—reflecting not just assets minus debt, but also the ability to weather a financial setback—sat around $188,200, per the Federal Reserve’s most recent measure in 2019. That’s about eight times the median wealth of Black families. (For Latino families, it’s five times greater; the wealth of Asian, Pacific Island and other families sits between that of white and Latino families, according to the report.) Other estimates paint an even grimmer picture. If trends continue, the median Black household will have zero wealth by 2053. The summit attendees seem certain that crypto represents keys to a car bound for somewhere better. “Our digital selves are more important in some ways than our real-world selves,” Tony Perkins, a Black MIT-trained computer scientist, says during a summit session on “Enabling Black Land and Asset Ownership Using Blockchain.” The possibilities he rattles off—including fractional ownership of space stations—will, to many, sound fantastical. To others, they sound like hope. “We can operate on an even playing field in the digital world,” he says. The next night, when in-person attendees gather at Barcode, a Black-owned downtown D.C. establishment, for drinks and conversation, there’s a small rush on black T-shirts with white lettering: SATOSHI, they proclaim, IS BLACK. That’s an intriguing idea when your ancestors’ bodies form much of the foundation of U.S. prosperity. At the nation’s beginnings, land theft from Native Americans seeded the agricultural operations where enslaved Africans would labor and die, making others rich. By 1860, the cotton-friendly ground of Mississippi was so productive that it was home to more millionaires than anywhere else in the country. Government-supported pathways to wealth, from homesteading to homeownership, have been reliably accessible to white Americans only. So Black Bitcoiners’ embrace of decentralized currencies—and a degree of doubt about government regulators, as well as those who have done well in the traditional system—makes sense. Skinner, the conference organizer, believes there’s racial subtext in the caution from the financial mainstream regarding Bitcoin—a pervasive idea that Black people just don’t understand finance. “I’m skeptical of all of those [warnings], based on the history,” Skinner, who is Black American, says. Even a drop in the value of Bitcoin this year, which later went back up, has not made him reticent. “They have petrol shortages in England right now. They’ll blame the weather or Brexit, but they’ll never have to say they’re dumb. Something don’t work in Detroit or some city with a Black mayor, we get a collective shame on us.” Read more: America’s Interstate Slave Trade Once Trafficked Nearly 30,000 People a Year—And Reshaped the Country’s Economy The first time I speak to Skinner, the summit is still two weeks away. I’d asked him to talk through some of the logistics, but our conversation ranges from what gives money value to the impact of ride-share services on cabbies refusing Black passengers. Tech often promises to solve social problems, he says. The Internet was supposed to democratize all sorts of things. In many cases, it defaulted to old patterns. (As Black crypto policy expert Cleve Mesidor put it to me, “The Internet was supposed to be decentralized, and today it’s owned by four white men.”) But with the right people involved from the start of the next wave of change—crypto—the possibilities are endless, Skinner says. Skinner, a Howard grad and engineer by training, first turned to crypto when he and Mapondera were trying to find ways to do ethanol business in Zimbabwe. Traditional international transactions were slow or came with exorbitant fees. In Africa, consumers pay some of the world’s highest remittance, cell phone and Internet data fees in the world, a damaging continuation of centuries-long wealth transfers off the continent to others, Skinner says. Hearing about cryptocurrency, he was intrigued—particularly having seen, during the recession, the same banking industry that had profited from slavery getting bailed out as hundreds of thousands of people of color lost their homes. So in 2013, he invested “probably less than $3,000,” mostly in Bitcoin. Encouraged by his friend Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, one of the largest platforms for trading crypto, he grew his stake. In 2014, when Skinner went to a crypto conference in Amsterdam, only about eight Black people were there, five of them caterers, but he felt he had come home ideologically. He saw he didn’t need a Rockefeller inheritance to change the world. “I don’t have to build a bank where they literally used my ancestors to build the capital,” says Skinner, who today runs a site called I Love Black People, which operates like a global anti-racist Yelp. “I can unseat that thing by not trying to be like them.” Eventually, he and Mapondera founded BillMari and became the first crypto company to partner with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to lower fees on remittances, the flow of money from immigrants overseas back home to less-developed nations—an economy valued by the World Bank and its offshoot KNOMAD at $702 billion in 2020. (Some of the duo’s business plans later evaporated, after Zimbabwe’s central bank revoked approval for some cryptocurrency activities.) Skinner’s feelings about the economic overlords make it a bit surprising that he can attract people like Charlene Fadirepo, a banker by trade and former government regulator, to speak at the summit. On the first day, she offers attendees a report on why 2021 was a “breakout year for Bitcoin,” pointing out that major banks have begun helping high-net-worth clients invest in it, and that some corporations have bought crypto with their cash on hand, holding it as an asset. Fadirepo, who worked in the Fed’s inspector general’s office monitoring Federal Reserve banks and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is not a person who hates central banks or regulation. A Black American, she believes strongly in both, and in their importance for protecting investors and improving the economic position of Black people. Today she operates Guidefi, a financial education and advising company geared toward helping Black women connect with traditional financial advisers. It just launched, for a fee, direct education in cryptocurrency. Crypto is a relatively new part of Fadirepo’s life. She and her Nigerian-American doctor husband earn good salaries and follow all the responsible middle-class financial advice. But the pandemic showed her they still didn’t have what some of his white colleagues did: the freedom to walk away from high-risk work. As the stock market shuddered and storefronts shuttered, she decided a sea change was coming. A family member had mentioned Bitcoin at a funeral in 2017, but it sounded risky. Now, her research kept bringing her back to it. Last year, she and her husband bought $6,000 worth. No investment has ever generated the kinds of returns for them that Bitcoin has. “It has transformed people’s relationship with money,” she says. “Folks are just more intentional … and honestly feeling like they had access to a world that was previously walled off.” Read more: El Salvador Is Betting on Bitcoin to Rebrand the Country — and Strengthen the President’s Grip She knows frauds exists. In May, a federal watchdog revealed that since October 2020, nearly 7,000 people have reported losses of more than $80 million on crypto scams—12 times more scam reports than the same period the previous year. The median individual loss: $1,900. For Fadirepo, it’s worrying. That’s part of why she helps moderate recurring free learning and discussion options like the Black Bitcoin Billionaires chat room on Clubhouse, which has grown from about 2,000 to 130,000 club members this year. Jared Soares for TIMECharlene Fadirepo, a banker and former government regulator, near the National Museum of African American History and Culture There’s a reason Black investors might prefer their own spaces for that kind of education. Fadirepo says it’s not unheard-of in general crypto spaces—theoretically open to all, but not so much in practice—to hear that relying on the U.S. dollar is slavery. “To me, a descendant of enslaved people in America, that was painful,” she says. “There’s a lot of talk about sovereignty, freedom from the U.S. dollar, freedom from inflation, inflation is slavery, blah blah blah. The historical context has been sucked out of these conversations about traditional financial systems. I don’t know how I can talk about banking without also talking about history.” Back in January, I found myself in a convenience store in a low-income and predominantly Black neighborhood in Dallas, an area still living the impact of segregation decades after its official end. I was there to report on efforts to register Black residents for COVID-19 shots after an Internet-only sign-up system—and wealthier people gaming the system—created an early racial disparity in vaccinations. I stepped away to buy a bottle of water. Inside the store, a Black man wondered aloud where the lottery machine had gone. He’d come to spend his usual $2 on tickets and had found a Bitcoin machine sitting in its place. A second Black man standing nearby, surveying chip options, explained that Bitcoin was a form of money, an investment right there for the same $2. After just a few questions, the first man put his money in the machine and walked away with a receipt describing the fraction of one bitcoin he now owned. Read more: When a Texas County Tried to Ensure Racial Equity in COVID-19 Vaccinations, It Didn’t Go as Planned I was both worried and intrigued. What kind of arrangement had prompted the store’s owner to replace the lottery machine? That month, a single bitcoin reached the $40,000 mark. “That’s very revealing, if someone chooses to put a cryptocurrency machine in the same place where a lottery [machine] was,” says Jeffrey Frankel, a Harvard economist, when I tell him that story. Frankel has described cryptocurrencies as similar to gambling, more often than not attracting those who can least afford to lose, whether they are in El Salvador or Texas. Frankel ranks among the economists who have been critical of El Salvador’s decision to begin recognizing Bitcoin last month as an official currency, in part because of the reality that few in the county have access to the internet, as well as the cryptocurrency’s price instability and its lack of backing by hard assets, he says. At the same time that critics have pointed to the shambolic Bitcoin rollout in El Salvador, Bitcoin has become a major economic force in Nigeria, one of the world’s larger players in cryptocurrency trading. In fact, some have argued that it has helped people in that country weather food inflation. But, to Frankel, crypto does not contain promise for lasting economic transformation. To him, disdain for experts drives interest in cryptocurrency in much the same way it can fuel vaccine hesitancy. Frankel can see the potential to reduce remittance costs, and he does not doubt that some people have made money. Still, he’s concerned that the low cost and click-here ease of buying crypto may draw people to far riskier crypto assets, he says. Then he tells me he’d put the word assets here in a hard set of air quotes. And Frankel, who is white, is not alone. Darrick Hamilton, an economist at the New School who is Black, says Bitcoin should be seen in the same framework as other low-cost, high-risk, big-payoff options. “In the end, it’s a casino,” he says. To people with less wealth, it can feel like one of the few moneymaking methods open to them, but it’s not a source of group uplift. “Like any speculation, those that can arbitrage the market will be fine,” he says. “There’s a whole lot of people that benefited right before the Great Recession, but if they didn’t get out soon enough, they lost their shirts too.” To buyers like Jiri Sampson, a Black cryptocurrency investor who works in real estate and lives outside Washington, D.C., that perspective doesn’t register as quite right. The U.S.-born son of Guyanese immigrants wasn’t thinking about exploitation when he invested his first $20 in cryptocurrency in 2017. But the groundwork was there. Sampson homeschools his kids, due in part to his lack of faith that public schools equip Black children with the skills to determine their own fates. He is drawn to the capacity of this technology to create greater agency for Black people worldwide. The blockchain, for example, could be a way to establish ownership for people who don’t hold standard documents—an important issue in Guyana and many other parts of the world, where individuals who have lived on the land for generations are vulnerable to having their property co-opted if they lack formal deeds. Sampson even pitched a project using the blockchain and GPS technology to establish digital ownership records to the Guyanese government, which did not bite. “I don’t want to downplay the volatility of Bitcoin,” Sampson says. But that’s only a significant concern, he believes, if one intends to sell quickly. To him, Bitcoin represents a “harder” asset than the dollar, which he compares to a ship with a hole in it. Bitcoin has a limited supply, while the Fed can decide to print more dollars anytime. That, to Sampson, makes some cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin, good to buy and hold, to pass along wealth from one generation to another. Economists and crypto buyers aren’t the only ones paying attention. Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Reserve have indicated that they will move toward official assessments or regulation soon. At least 10 federal agencies are interested in or already regulating crypto in some way, and there’s now a Congressional Blockchain Caucus. Representatives from the Federal Reserve and the SEC declined to comment, but SEC Chairman Gary Gensler assured a Senate subcommittee in September that his agency is working to develop regulation that will apply to cryptocurrency markets and trading activity. Enter Cleve Mesidor, of the quip about the Internet being owned by four white men. When we meet during the summit, she introduces herself: “Cleve Mesidor, I’m in crypto.” She’s the first person I’ve ever heard describe herself that way, but not that long ago, “influencer” wasn’t a career either. A former Obama appointee who worked inside the Commerce Department on issues related to entrepreneurship and economic development, Mesidor learned about cryptocurrency during that time. But she didn’t get involved in it personally until 2013, when she purchased $200 in Bitcoin. After leaving government, she founded the National Policy Network of Women of Color in Blockchain, and is now the public policy adviser for the industry group the Blockchain Association. There are more men than women in Black crypto spaces, she tells me, but the gender imbalance tends to be less pronounced than in white-dominated crypto communities. Mesidor, who immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti and uses her crypto investments to fund her professional “wanderlust,” has also lived crypto’s downsides. She’s been hacked and the victim of an attempted ransomware attack. But she still believes cryptocurrency and related technology can solve real-world problems, and she’s trying, she says, to make sure that necessary consumer protections are not structured in a way that chokes the life out of small businesses or investors. “D.C. is like Vegas; the house always wins,” says Mesidor, whose independently published book is called The Clevolution: My Quest for Justice in Politics & Crypto. “The crypto community doesn’t get that.” Passion, she says, is not enough. The community needs to be involved in the regulatory discussions that first intensified after the price of a bitcoin went to $20,000 in 2017. A few days after the summit, when Mesidor and I spoke by phone, Bitcoin had climbed to nearly $60,000. At Barcode, the Washington lounge, Isaiah Jackson is holding court. A man with a toothpaste-commercial smile, he’s the author of the independently published Bitcoin & Black America, has appeared on CNBC and is half of the streaming show The Gentleman of Crypto, which bills itself as the one of the longest-running cryptocurrency shows on the Internet. When he was building websites as a sideline, he convinced a large black church in Charlotte, N.C., to, for a time, accept Bitcoin donations. He helped establish Black Bitcoin Billionaires on Clubhouse and, like Fadirepo, helps moderate some of its rooms and events. He’s also a former teacher, descended from a line of teachers, and is using those skills to develop (for a fee) online education for those who want to become crypto investors. Now, there’s a small group standing near him, talking, but mostly listening. Jackson was living in North Carolina when one of his roommates, a white man who worked for a money-management firm, told him he had just heard a presentation about crypto and thought he might want to suggest it to his wealthy parents. The concept blew Jackson’s mind. He soon started his own research. “Being in the Black community and seeing the actions of banks, with redlining and other things, it just appealed to me,” Jackson tells me. “You free the money, you free everything else.” Read more: Beyond Tulsa: The Historic Legacies and Overlooked Stories of America’s ‘Black Wall Streets’ He took his $400 savings and bought two bitcoins in October 2013. That December, the price of a single bitcoin topped $1,100. He started thinking about what kind of new car he’d buy. And he stuck with it, even seeing prices fluctuate and scams proliferate. When the Gentlemen of Bitcoin started putting together seminars, one of the early venues was at a college fair connected to an annual HBCU basketball tournament attended by thousands of mostly Black people. Bitcoin eventually became more than an investment. He believed there was great value in spreading the word. But that was then. “I’m done convincing people. There’s no point battling going back and forth,” he says. “Even if they don’t realize it, what [investors] are doing if they are keeping their bitcoin long term, they are moving money out of the current system into another one. And that is basically the best form of peaceful protest.”   —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Simmone Shah.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 15th, 2021

New airline ITA has officially taken over for Alitalia - see the full history of Italy"s troubled flag carrier

Alitalia has officially ceased operations and handed the baton to newcomer ITA, which stands for Italian Air Transport. ITA Airways Chairman Alfredo Altavilla poses with rendering of new livery ITA Press Office/Handout via REUTERS Government-owned Alitalia ceased operations on October 15, marking the end of its 74-year era. Alitalia has been replaced by ITA Airways, a brand new airline that will not be responsible for the old carrier's debt. ITA plans to buy 28 Airbus jets, create a new aircraft livery, and launch a new loyalty program. Alitalia has officially ceased operations and handed the baton to newcomer ITA Airways, which stands for Italian Air Transport.Italy's national carrier Alitalia has had a rocky past full of financial struggles, employee strikes, and other damaging events, forcing it to make the decision to cease operations on October 15 after 74 years of service. The airline stopped the sale of tickets in August and has committed to refunding all passengers who were booked on flights after October 14.On Thursday, the airline flew its final flight from Cagliari, Italy to Rome, according to FlightAware, officially sealing the fate of Alitalia. On Friday, the country's new flag carrier ITA took its place with a new livery, airplanes, and network, flying its first route from Milan Linate Airport to Bari International Airport in southern Italy.-João ☕ (@joaointhesky) October 14, 2021 Here's a look at Alitalia's storied past and the plan of its successor. Alitalia as a brand began in 1946, one year after World War II ended, first flying in 1947 within Italy and quickly expanding to other European countries and even opening intercontinental routes to South America. Passengers disembarking from an Alitalia Douglas DC-3 aircraft. Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia The full name of the airline was Italian International Airlines, a joint effort between the United Kingdom through British European Airways - a precursor to British Airways - and the Italian government. A British European Airways Vickers Viscount. Museum of Flight/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia True to its name, Alitalia flew its first with Italian aircraft produced by now-defunct manufacturers in aerospace including Fiat and Savoia-Marchetti. An Alitalia Fiat G-12. Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Following a merger with Italy's other airline, aptly named Italian Airlines or Linee Aeree Italiane, in 1957, Alitalia - Linee Aeree Italiane became Italy's top carrier. A Linee Aeree Italiane Douglas DC-3. Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Armed with a sizeable fleet of 37 aircraft including the four-engine Douglas DC-6 and Corvair 340, the airline was ranked 12 in the world for international carriers. Passengers disembarking an Alitalia aircraft. Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group via Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia As Europe returned to normalcy following the war, so did Italy and the 1960s became a pivotal decade for both the country and its airline as the 1960 Summer Olympics would be held in Rome. An Alitalia poster highlighting the upcoming Olympic Games in Rome. David Pollack/Corbis via Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia The year saw Alitalia carry over one million passengers, introduce jets into its fleet, and move to a new home at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport in 1961. Carlo Bavagnoli/Mondadori via Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Alitalia entered the jet age with a mix of European and American aircraft such as the Sud Caravelle SE210… An Alitalia Sud Caravelle. Touring Club Italiano/Marka/Universal Images Group/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia And the Douglas DC-8. An Alitalia DC-8. Adams/Fairfax Media via Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia American aircraft largely comprised the airline's fleet once settled into the jet age with a short-haul fleet featuring the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and later the McDonnell Douglas MD-80... An Alitalia MD-80. Etienne DE MALGLAIVE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Complemented by a similarly American-dominated long-haul fleet consisting of aircraft such as the Boeing 747. An Alitalia Boeing 747 chartered by Pope John Paul II. Scott Peterson/Liaison/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia The arrival of the 747 was a seminal moment for Alitalia and it was the first aircraft to wear the airline's famed green, white, and red livery with an "A" shape on the tail. Alitalia's red and green "A" tail design. Etienne DE MALGLAIVE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Alitalia was the first European airline to transition fully into the jet age and continued the switch with more wide-body aircraft such as the Airbus A300. An Alitalia Airbus A300. aviation-images.com/Universal Images Group/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Other aircraft that would join the Alitalia jet fleet included the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, McDonnell Douglas DC-10... An Alitalia McDonnell Douglas MD-11. Education Images/Universal Images Group/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia And Boeing 767-300ER for long-haul flights. An Alitalia Boeing 767-300ER. JOKER/Hady Khandani/ullstein bild/Getty Source: Boeing and Alitalia Alitalia even had uniforms designed by Georgio Armani, who also contributed to aircraft interior designs. Italian designer Georgio Armani. Vittoriano Rastelli/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Source: Alitalia The airline's short-haul fleet later included a European favorite, the Airbus A320 family. An Alitalia Airbus A320 airplane approaches to land at Fiumicino airport in Rome Reuters Source: Boeing As Italy's national airline, Alitalia was also known for flying the Pope with the papal plane using the flight number AZ4000, better known as Shepherd One An Alitalia plane chartered by the Pope. AP Photo/Plinio Lepri Source: Telegraph Despite rising traffic throughout its history with Italy being a popular European tourist and leisure destination, the airline struggled with profitability. Alitalia check-in desks at Rome's Fiumicino Airport. ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty As a state-owned airline, Alitalia could always depend on the government to keep it flying, until the European Union stepped in and forbade financial support in 2006. An Alitalia Airbus A330. AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca Source: New York Times The 2000s then saw serious discussion into Alitalia's future with the Italian government wanting to sell its stake in the airline. The airline was opened for bidders in 2007 but yielded no results. A crow flying passed an Alitalia plane. AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia Source: New York Times Air France-KLM Group, the parent company of Air France and KLM as well as several smaller European airlines, then offered to buy the struggling airline but couldn't get labor unions on board and the deal collapsed. Alitalia and Air France-KLM Group signage. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP via Getty Source: Reuters The Italian government, not wanting to lose its flag carrier, continued to prop up its airline via emergency loans in violation of European Union rules. The European Commission in Brussels. Greg Sandoval/Business Insider Source: European Union The third attempt in two years to sell the airline came after the Air France-KLM Group deal collapsed with an investors group forming the Compagnia Aerea Italiana to purchase the airline, despite heavy pushback from labor unions. An Alitalia Boeing 777. VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Source: Reuters This Alitalia began operations in 2009, with Air France-KLM soon coming back into the picture taking a 25% stake from CAI. Alitalia meeting with Air France, Delta, and KLM executives. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Source: Financial Times The new airline quickly began differentiating itself from its former self, leasing aircraft instead of purchasing them with the fleet consisting of the Airbus A330 family… An Alitalia Airbus A330. Alberto Lingria/Reuters Source: FlightGlobal And Boeing 777 family comprising the airline's long-haul fleet. An Alitalia Boeing 777. Abner Teixeira/Getty Source: FlightGlobal It wasn't long before Alitalia was plagued with issues ranging from union strikes to underperforming subsidiaries and even a sting operation that saw Alitalia employees arrested for theft, according to contemporaneous news reports. Alitalia workers protesting at Fiumicino Airport. AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino Source: New York Times and BBC With bankruptcy looming in 2013, Alitalia secured another bailout with help from the government that highlighted the need for restructuring. An Alitalia Airbus A320. AP Photo/Antonio Calanni Source: New York Times Alitalia saw a new investor in 2015, Eithad Airways, which would take a 49% stake in the airline and Alitalia - Compagnia Aerea Italiana became Alitalia - Societa Aerea Italiana. Alitalia and Etihad celebrating a new partnership. AP Photo/Antonio Calanni Source: Alitalia With a new investor in tow, Alitalia began cost-cutting measures but facing a backlash from employees due to planned job cuts, the airline began bankruptcy proceedings and the government announced Alitalia would be auctioned. Alitalia and Etihad's merger livery. AP Photo/Antonio Calanni Source: Reuters Meanwhile, another airline was positioning itself to become the new Italian flag carrier, the aptly named Air Italy. An Air Italy Airbus A330-200. Air Italy Rebranded from Meridiana, a regional Italian airline, Air Italy was jointly owned by private company Alisarda and Qatar Airways. A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR. Thomas Pallini/Business Insider The airline chose Milan as its main hub ceding Rome to Alitalia. Long-haul flights from Milan to New York began in June 2018, with expansion to Asia happening soon after. Air Italy's inaugural ceremony for Milan-New York flights. David Slotnick/Business Insider Affected by the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max and without the Italian government as a benefactor, Air Italy closed up shop in early 2020, giving back full control of Italy to Alitalia. An Alitalia Airbus A320. ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty While Air Italy was getting its start, the Italian government would once again seek outside investors with European, North American, and Asian airlines expressing interest in Alitalia. Alitalia aircraft in Italy. Alberto Lingria/Reuters Among those interested were UK low-cost carrier EasyJet... EasyJet airplanes are pictured at Tegel airport in Berlin. Reuters Source: Bloomberg Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair… A Ryanair commercial passenger jet takes off in Blagnac near Toulouse. Reuters Source: The Guardian The Lufthansa Group… Strike of Germany's cabin crew union UFO at Frankfurt airport. Reuters Source: CNBC Delta Air Lines… A Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200. James D. Morgan/Getty Source: Bloomberg And China Eastern Airlines… A China Eastern Airlines Airbus A320. REUTERS/Jon Woo Source: Reuters As well as Italian railway group Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane. A Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane train. TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Source: Reuters One after the other, the airlines dropped their interest, and ultimately, the Italian government re-nationalized the airline on March 17 during the coronavirus pandemic. Alitalia was re-nationalized amid the coronavirus pandemic. Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Source: Reuters  Despite bailouts from the state, the pandemic and subsequent lockdown of Italy took the ultimate toll on Alitalia, forcing it to make the decision to close the airline and launch a new one. Alitalia aircraft at the Frankfurt airport Vytautas Kielaitis/Shutterstock Source: The Local On August 25, the airline stopped selling tickets and announced on its website that it would be offering free flight changes or refunds for passengers booked on Alitalia flights after October 14. People at Alitalia check in counter TK Kurikawa/Shutterstock Source: The Local When the airline ceased operations, its successor, Italia Transporto Aereo, took its place. Alitalia's last flight flew from Cagliari, Italy to Rome on October 14, and ITA launched operations with a flight from Milan to Bari, Italy on October 15. ITA app and logo rarrarorro/Shutterstock Source: AeroTime Talks between the European Commission and Italy over Alitalia and ITA began in March 2021, with Rome designating 3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) to establish the new flag carrier. ITA signage at Catania airport rarrarorro/Shutterstock Source: Reuters Initially, ITA was slated to begin operations in April 2021, but lengthy discussions between Italy and the European Commission delayed its launch. Flags outside European Commission building in Brussels VanderWolf Images/Shutterstock Source: Reuters Part of the negotiations focused on confirming ITA's independence of Alitalia to ensure it did not inherit the billions of debt the old carrier owed to the state. Alitalia Airbus A319 Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock Source: Reuters Talks also included asking ITA to forfeit half of Alitalia's slots at Milan Linate Airport, which the airline was unwilling to do. Alitalia aircraft sit at Milan Linate airport Gabriele Maltinti/Shutterstock Source: Reuters ITA determined giving up that many slots at Linarte would be too big of a loss and proposed forfeiting slots at Rome Fiumicino Airport as a compromise. Alitalia check in counter Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino airport TK Kurikawa/Shutterstock Source: Reuters At the end of the discussions, negotiators agreed to allow ITA to keep 85% of slots at Linate and 43% at Fiumicino. Green ribbon barrier with the ITA airline logo inside the Leonardo da Vinci airport rarrarorro/Shutterstock Source: Reuters Also under negotiation was Alitalia's brand and its loyalty program, MilleMiglia. The European Commission said ITA would have to give up both. Alitalia Airbus A320 Yaya Photos/Shutterstock Source: Reuters Under European Commission rules, MilleMiglia cannot be bought by ITA and must be put out for public tender, meaning another airline or entity outside the aviation industry can purchase the program. There are an estimated five million MilleMiglia miles that customers have not been able to use. Customer checking into an Alitalia flight Sorbis/Shutterstock Source: EuroNews However, ITA was able to bid on Alitalia's brand, which it did the day before its launch. The airline bought the Alitalia name for €90 million ($104 million), though ITA executives say they don't plan on replacing the ITA name. Alitalia aircraft Light Orancio/Shutterstock Source: Reuters ITA began operations on October 15, the day after Alitalia's last flight. The new airline secured €700 million ($830 million) in funding earlier this year, which helped it purchase some of Alitalia's assets. Alitalia employees with new livery in 2015 Simone Previdi/Shutterstock Source: Reuters The successor acquired 52 of Alitalia's aircraft, seven being wide-bodies, and has plans to purchase and lease new ones, the first of which will enter the fleet in early 2022. Alitalia Boeing 777 Deni Williams/Shutterstock Source: Reuters By 2025, the airline expects to have 105 aircraft in its fleet and earn over 3.3 billion euros in revenue. ITA logo with Alitalia aircraft Yaya Photos/Shutterstock Source: Reuters, Airways Magazine Moreover, ITA plans to renew its fleet with next-generation aircraft, which is expected to make up 77% of its fleet in four years. According to ITA, the aircraft will reduce CO2 emissions by 750 thousand pounds from 2021 to 2025. Milan Linate Airport Alexandre Rotenberg/Shutterstock Source: Airways Magazine, ITA Airways The 31 new-generation planes, which include short, medium, and long-haul aircraft, will be leased by Air Lease Corporation. Airbus A320neo Airbus Source: Airways Magazine Meanwhile, 28 new Airbus jets, including ten Airbus A330neos, seven Airbus A220 family aircraft, and 11 Airbus A320neo family jets, will be purchased. Airbus A220 Airbus Source: Airways Magazine As part of a carbon-reducing project, the first 10 flights to depart Rome on October 15 will use sustainable aviation fuels made by Italian energy company Eni. The project will contribute to the EU's "Fit for 55" proposal, which strives to reduce carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030. Eni headquarters in Rome MyVideoimage.com/Shutterstock Source: Airways Magazine ITA introduced a new livery on launch day, which includes a light blue paint scheme representing unity, cohesion, and pride of the nation, as well as homage to Italy's national sports team, which wears sky blue during competitions. On the tail will be the Italian tricolor of red, white, and green. ITA Airways Chairman Alfredo Altavilla poses with rendering of new livery ITA Press Office/Handout via REUTERS Source: Airways Magazine In regards to its network, the carrier launched with 59 routes to 44 destinations. ITA plans to increase its routes to 74 in 2022 and 89 by 2025, while destinations are expected to increase to 58 in 2022 and 74 by 2025. ITA logo ITA Airways Source: Airways Magazine ITA will focus its operation out of Rome's Leonardo da Vinci International Airport and Milan Linate Airport, establishing itself as a "reference airline" for both business and leisure travelers. bellena/Shutterstock.com Source: Airways Magazine The carrier also plans to target the North American market, with flights from Rome to New York launching on November 4. Joey Hadden/Insider Source: CNN As for the over 11,000 Alitalia workers, 70% were hired to work for ITA, which has 2,800 employees. 30% of that came from outside Alitalia. The company plans to add 1,000 new jobs in 2022 and reach 5,750 employees by 2025. Alitalia staff at Milan Linate Sorbis/Shutterstock Source: Reuters, Airways Magazine ITA plans to improve upon Alitalia's services, including incentivizing good customer service by attaching employee salary with customer satisfaction. Alitalia staff Sorbis/Shutterstock Source: CNN ITA has set up a loyalty program called Volare, effective October 15, which is split into four levels: smart, plus, premium, and executive. Customers can use accrued points for any flight in ITA's system. ITA app rarrarorro/Shutterstock Source: Airways Magazine According to ITA executives, the company plans to join a major international alliance, though it has not stated which one it prefers. Alitalia was aligned with the SkyTeam alliance, which is comprised of carriers like Delta, Air France, and KLM. Alitalia Embraer 190LR SkyTeam livery InsectWorld/Shutterstock Source: CNN, Reuters However, ITA chairman Alfredo Altavilla said it was open to all options. "ITA can't be a stand-alone carrier forever," he said. Alitalia Boeing 767 SkyTeam livery Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Shutterstock Source: Reuters While it is the end of an era with the closing of Alitalia, there are high hopes for its successor. "ITA Airways has been created to intercept the recovery of air traffic in the coming years on the strength of the foundations of its strategy: sustainability, digitalization, customer focus, and innovations," said ITA CEO Fabio Lazzerini. Alitalia plane with ITA logo Yaya Photos/Shutterstock Source: Airways Magazine Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

How the US Navy plans to make its future attack submarine into an "apex predator"

The Navy won't order its first SSN(X) boat until the 2030s, but estimates already put the price for each sub as high as $6.2 billion. US Navy Seawolf-class submarine USS Seawolf after an undersea-warfare exercise with US and Japanese ships in the Pacific, February 12, 2009. US Navy/PO3 Walter Wayman US Navy officials are getting ready to start designing the service's future attack submarines. They plan to take design elements from the Navy's current submarine fleet and combine them in a new boat. The result will be what one of the Navy's top submarine officers calls "the ultimate apex predator." US Navy officials are already laying the groundwork for the next generation of nuclear-powered attack submarines, drawing on the current fleet to develop a fearsome new boat."We are looking at the ultimate apex predator for the maritime domain," Vice Adm. Bill Houston said of the new program at a Navy League event in July. Houston is now the head of Naval Submarine Forces, Submarine Force Atlantic, and Allied Submarine Command.The new submarine is dubbed SSN(X), indicating that the design is not yet determined, but Houston said the boats would take the best features of the Navy's three previous sub designs: the Seawolf- and Virginia-class attack submarines, or SSNs, and the still-in-development Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines, classified as SSBNs."We're taking what we already know how to do and combining it together," Houston said, pointing to the payload and speed of the Seawolf class, the electronics of the Virginia class, and the expected service life of the Columbia class.Best of three Sailors load a Mark 48 torpedo aboard Los Angeles-class fast-attack sub USS Columbia at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, June 2, 2021. US Navy/MCS1 Michael B. Zingaro Seawolf-class subs were designed in the 1980s to counter the increasingly advanced Soviet submarine fleet.They were intended to replace Los Angeles-class SSNs, but the end of the Cold War and the Seawolf program's high costs prompted its cancelation in 1995, with only three boats built. The Seawolfs are still regarded as the most powerful SSNs in the Navy's inventory.They're known for being among the quietest subs ever built and are some of the most heavily-armed American attack subs ever, with eight torpedo tubes and enough space for 50 torpedoes or cruise missiles. They can also reach speeds well over 25 knots.Seawolf-class subs have had their electronics upgraded and are fully loaded with advanced sonars, acoustics, and other sensors.The final boat in the class, USS Jimmy Carter, received a 100-foot extension known as the Multi-Mission Platform, which allows it to carry unmanned vehicles for intelligence missions and SEAL teams for special operations. Sailors aboard Seawolf-class fast-attack sub USS Jimmy Carter sailing to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington state September 11, 2017. US Navy/Lt. Cmdr. Michael Smith The Navy began procuring Virginia-class attack submarines in 2011. Virginia-class subs are meant to replace Los Angeles-class subs and are cheaper than their Cold War-era predecessors. So far, 19 have been completed, with 11 more under construction and four on order.Virginia-class subs are not as well armed as the Seawolfs - they have just four tubes and enough space for 37 torpedo-sized weapons - but they have some features that make them more advanced than their predecessors, including vertical launch systems and modern periscopes.Additionally, Virginia-class Block V subs are being built with the Virginia Payload Module, an 84-foot extension that adds four launching tubes capable of firing seven missiles each, increasing the total payload to 65 torpedo-size weapons.Finally, Columbia-class SSBNs are meant to replace the Navy's Ohio-class subs.The first boat of the Colombia class, USS Columbia, will be the largest American submarine ever built. It was ordered in late 2020 but is not expected to be commissioned until 2031. The Navy hopes to take elements of the Columbia-class - specifically its planned 42-year service life - and include them in the SSN(X) design.SSN(X) The future US Navy attack submarine North Dakota during sea trials. US Navy photo While the Virginia-class was designed at a time when war with another major power wasn't a primary concern, work on SSN(X) is starting amid rising competition with China.China's military has grown considerably, particularly its navy, which the Pentagon says is the largest in the world. Because of those trends, SSN(X) "really needs to be ready for major combat operations," Houston said."It's going to need to be able to go behind enemy lines and deliver that punch that is going to really, really establish our primacy. It needs to be able to deny an adversary ability to operate in their bastion regions," he added.The Navy has said that the SSN(X) design will feature "a renewed priority in the anti-submarine warfare mission against sophisticated threats in greater numbers" and that the new subs need to be able to defend themselves against unmanned underwater vehicles.Given the requirements, combining the best of three nuclear submarines makes sense, although it is a monumental task.According to Houston, the Navy is timing the development of the SSN(X) with the final phase of the Columbia-class design process and will use the same team. Ohio-class ballistic-missile sub USS Pennsylvania in the Hood Canal as it returns to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, December 27, 2017. US Department of Defense "We're going to capitalize on that design team," Houston said, "and we're going to time [it] such that when Columbia is ramping down in production, we'll be ramping up in SSN(X) because we'll have the design and the [research, development, testing, and evaluation] done.""We're very confident we can get there. It's a daunting task, but the team is more than capable of doing it," Houston added.Kevin Graney, the president of General Dynamics Electric Boat, which builds all of the Navy's submarines, said coordination can increase once the specifics of the new subs are determined."We'd love to see those requirements get settled down, so that we know exactly what we are designing" Graney said at the event in July. "I think we're getting more and more in sync with each passing day, which I think is great.""We've got the design team coming off of Columbia right now, so they're a hot hand, having just developed that, and now's the time to transition to the new SSN(X) design. We're ready to go," Graney added.The Navy's sub fleet will shrink in coming years as older boats are retired, but recent administrations have proposed plans to build a fleet of roughly 70 attack subs over the next three decades.The Navy plans to procure its first SSN(X) boat in 2031, with follow-on orders beginning in the mid-2030s. The service estimates each submarine of the class will cost $5.8 billion, but a Congressional Budget Office report estimated it could be as high as $6.2 billion.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 11th, 2021

Why Is Coupa Software (COUP) Down 12.5% Since Last Earnings Report?

Coupa Software (COUP) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues. It has been about a month since the last earnings report for Coupa Software (COUP). Shares have lost about 12.5% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Coupa Software due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts. Coupa Software Q2 Earnings & Revenues Top EstimatesCoupa Software Inc. reported second-quarter fiscal 2022 non-GAAP earnings of 26 cents per share in contrast to the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss per share of 7 cents. The bottom line increased 23.8% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure.Revenues of $179.2 million outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 10.3%. The top line increased 42.3% from the prior-year quarter’s figure.Subscription revenues (87.2% of total revenues) increased 40% year over year to $156.2 million.  Professional services & other revenues (12.8%) surged 60.5% year over year to $23 million.The top line benefited from strong uptake of the company’s Business Spend Management (BSM) and Coupa Pay offerings, including Coupa Treasury and Coupa Supply Chain Management.Major HighlightsFor the fiscal second quarter, calculated billings came in at $195 million, up 49% year over year. In April 2021, Coupa Software entered into a strategic partnership with Japan Cloud to establish a joint venture known as Coupa K.K. This joint venture will enable Coupa to scale up to support the growing number of Japanese companies looking to gain greater efficiency and agility through BSM.The company continued to add clients to its customer base in the reported quarter. Some of the notable new deal wins in the quarter included Adastria Co., AR Holdings, Asklepios BioPharmaceutical, Cuprum, DiCE Molecules, Fairlead Integrated, FIFA, Foghorn Therapeutics, Garrett Motion, Greenstone Financial Services, Groupe Lapointe Dentaire, Imago BioSciences, JG Summit Holdings, JGC Holdings, Jubin Frères, mobilezone, Novelis, PACT Group, Progress Rail Services, ProSciento, Sasol, SCG Packaging, Schwan's Company, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Suzano, Unilab, Walker & Dunlop, WestJet Airlines, and Workato.Moreover, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company launched Coupa App Marketplace, connecting businesses with certified, pre-built solutions to tap into a global ecosystem.However, Coupa Software faces stiff competition from SAP’s Ariba, Fieldglass, and Concur solutions, and Oracle’s Procurement Cloud offerings.Margin DetailsNon-GAAP gross margin contracted 50 basis points (bps) from the prior-year quarter’s level to 71.6%.Non-GAAP research and development expenses increased 34.3% year over year to $30.7 million.Non-GAAP sales and marketing expenses surged 31.8% year over year to $50.9 millionNon-GAAP general and administrative expenses increased 17.3% year over year to $20 million.Non-GAAP operating income surged 117.5% year over year to $26.7 million.Non-GAAP operating margin expanded 520 bps on a year-over-year basis to 14.9%.Balance Sheet & Cash FlowCoupa Software had cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities of $633.5 million as of Jul 31, 2021, compared with $600.3 million as of Apr 30, 2021.For the fiscal second quarter, cash flow from operations came in at $40.8 million compared with $32 million in the previous quarter. Adjusted free cash flow totaled $36.9 million compared with $30 million reported in the prior quarter.GuidanceFor third-quarter fiscal 2022, revenues are anticipated in the range of $177-$178 million. While Subscription revenues are expected between $158 million and $159 million, professional services revenues are anticipated to be approximately $19 million.Non-GAAP income from operations is estimated in the range of $6-$7 million. Non-GAAP net income per share is projected in the range of 1-3 cents.For fiscal 2022, Coupa Software projects revenues between $706 million and $708 million.Non-GAAP income from operations is anticipated in the range of $40-$41 million. Non-GAAP net income per share is now expected in the band of 27-29 cents.How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?It turns out, fresh estimates have trended upward during the past month. The consensus estimate has shifted 15.79% due to these changes.VGM ScoresAt this time, Coupa Software has a nice Growth Score of B, though it is lagging a bit on the Momentum Score front with a C. However, the stock was allocated a grade of F on the value side, putting it in the fifth quintile for this investment strategy.Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.OutlookEstimates have been trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Notably, Coupa Software has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Coupa Software, Inc. (COUP): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 7th, 2021

BlackBerry (BB) Boosts Fleet Automation With Ridecell Tie-Up

BlackBerry (BB) teams up with Ridecell to unveil AI-Powered Fleet Automation and Nemo ADAS Data Platform for improved automotive mobility. BlackBerry Limited BB collaborated with software company RideCell to unveil next-gen Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), while bolstering the development and adoption of Smart Mobility and Fleet Automation Solutions on the back of BlackBerry IVY intelligent vehicle data platform integration.The innovative platform will streamline next-gen fleet operations by empowering automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to seamlessly integrate Ridecell solutions directly to the vehicle on a real-time basis. This helps in saving on data connectivity and cloud costs, while creating significant revenue-generating streams for automakers.BlackBerry IVY is scalable, cloud-connected software platform, which has been co-created with Amazon.com, Inc.’s AMZN subsidiary, Amazon Web Services (“AWS”). The platform enables automakers to enhance operations of connected vehicles with BlackBerry QNX and AWS technology, thereby, creating customized driver and passenger experiences.It reads vehicle sensor data and captures actionable insights with support for multi-cloud deployments. The solution facilitates automotive suppliers and automakers to minimize costs by shifting processing to the edge and reducing raw data transmission. Further, it boosts innovation in the automotive industry, while unleashing new business models and revenue streams.Meanwhile, Ridecell’s Fleet IoT Automation Platform automates fleet optimization. It turns manual tasks into automated workflows, which resolve issues. It has been specifically designed to change the state of any vehicle and program the automatic distribution of digital keys with greater security. The partnership also involves Ridecell’s NEMO Data Platform. This AI-powered offering analyzes data from driving history to understand critical events.The combination of Ridecell’s automotive mobility solutions integrated with BlackBerry IVY will allow OEMs to provide first-hand access of advanced tools to fleet operators. The future-proof tools convert fleet-management insights into automated actions and robotize vehicle access control, while complying with the recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruling on crash analytics for utmost safety.Thanks to BlackBerry-IVY-led fleet insights, OEMs can boost assisted driving systems with unparalleled visibility into their vehicle assets, while providing customers with an intuitive platform that will holistically manage the overall health of vehicles. Driven by such robust characteristics, the latest product-development move is likely to be a game-changer for both entities, in turn, propelling the adoption of BlackBerry IVY among global automakers.Moving forward, BlackBerry intends to drive healthy revenue growth and increase market share in the industry vertical. With a holistic growth model, focusing on organic and inorganic initiatives, the company continues to invest in product development and go-to-market strategy. Riding on such dynamic business fundamentals, BlackBerry appears well prepared to drive long-term sustainable growth, thereby, instilling optimism among investors.Zacks Rank & Stocks to ConsiderBlackBerry has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s shares have rallied 115.6% compared with the industry’s growth of 31.1% in the past year. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Some better-ranked stocks in the industry are salesforce.com, inc. CRM and Aspen Technology, Inc. AZPN. While salesforce.com currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Aspen Technology carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.salesforce.com pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 68.5%.Aspen Technology pulled off a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 19.9%. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report salesforce.com, inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report Aspen Technology, Inc. (AZPN): Free Stock Analysis Report BlackBerry Limited (BB): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 4th, 2021

Veeva Systems" (VEEV) Deal to Enhance Digital Clinical Trials

Veeva Systems' (VEEV) partnership with Leo Pharma to significantly boost the clinical trial process for patients, sites and sponsors. Veeva Systems Inc. VEEV recently entered into a strategic technology deal with Leo Pharma to facilitate scalable digital trials that are paperless and focused on patients. It is worth mentioning that Leo Pharma — a global leader in medical dermatology — will leverage the success achieved with the Veeva Clinical Operations portfolio and complete its standardization on existing Veeva clinical technology. Apart from this, Leo Pharma will become an early adopter of future Veeva solutions and help in shaping the Veeva digital trials roadmap.Interestingly, Leo Pharma will utilize the integrated suite of Veeva clinical products that include eTMF (electronic trial master file), Virtual Visits, Site Connect, CDMS (clinical data management suite) CTMS (clinical trial management system) and eSource.This collaboration is likely to provide a boost to Veeva Systems’ solutions portfolio.More on the PartnershipPer management, the extension of its well established partnership with Leo Pharma is likely to enable Veeva Systems in advancing the industry with a flexible digital trials platform that can substantially enhance the clinical trial process for patients, sites and sponsors.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchAccording to management at Leo Pharma, the partnership with Veeva systems lends support to Leo Pharma’s 2030 strategy, which will aid in providing innovative treatments to patients quicker and simultaneously support a more sustainable business.Industry ProspectsPer a report by Grand View Research, the global virtual clinical trials market was worth $7.4 billion in 2020 and is projected to witness a CAGR of 5.7% from 2021 to 2028. Adoption of telehealth, growing healthcare digitization and increase in research and development activities are the primary factors driving this market’s growth. Hence, this collaboration comes at an opportune time for Veeva Systems.Recent DevelopmentsIn September, the company announced a new cloud application — Veeva Vault LIMS — with an aim of modernizing quality control lab operations. Vault LIMS, which is expected to be available in the second half of 2022, is part of the Vault Quality Suite that includes Vault QMS, Vault QualityDocs and Vault Training.In the same month, Veeva Systems announced that the global medical products company, ConvaTec, has adopted Veeva Vault CDMS to provide electronic data capture, coding and data cleaning for their upcoming study on the detection of wound infections.Also in September, the company announced that Emmes is standardizing on Veeva Development Cloud applications across functional areas to enable greater speed and compliance. The company will use applications in Vault Clinical, Vault Quality, and Vault Safety suites to establish a technology foundation for delivering clinical research and pharmacovigilance services to its global customers.Price PerformanceShares of the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 5.6% on a year-to-date basis compared with the industry’s growth of 8.5%.Stocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks from the broader medical space are Henry Schein, Inc. HSIC, Envista Holdings Corporation NVST and Patterson Companies, Inc. PDCO, each currently carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Henry Schein’s long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 13.9%.Envista Holdings’ long-term earnings growth rate is estimated at 27.4%.Patterson Companies’ long-term earnings growth rate is projected at 9.6%. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Henry Schein, Inc. (HSIC): Free Stock Analysis Report Patterson Companies, Inc. (PDCO): Free Stock Analysis Report Veeva Systems Inc. (VEEV): Free Stock Analysis Report Envista Holdings Corporation (NVST): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 4th, 2021

In Deep Ship: What"s Really Driving The Supply-Chain Crisis

In Deep Ship: What's Really Driving The Supply-Chain Crisis By Michael Every and Matteo Iagatti of Rabobank Summary It is impossible to ignore the current shipping crisis and its impact on global supply chains  A common view is that this is all the result of Covid-19. Yet while Covid has played a key role, it is only part of a far larger interconnected set of problems This report examines current shipping market dynamics; overlooked “Too Big to Sail” structural issues; a brewing political tsunami as a backlash; possible Cold War icebergs ahead; and the ‘ship of things to come’ if maritime past is a guide to maritime future  The central argument is that while central banks and governments both insist inflation is transitory and will fall once supply-chain bottlenecks are resolved, shipping dynamics suggest they are closer to becoming systemically entrenched Moreover, both historical and current trends towards addressing such problems suggest potential global market disruptions at least equal to the shocks we have already experienced. Many ports will get caught in this storm, if so Ready to ship off? It is impossible to ignore the current shipping crisis and its impact on global supply chains and economies. Businesses face huge headaches as supply dries up. Consumers see bare shelves and rising prices. Governments have no concrete solutions – save the army? Economists have to discuss the physical economy rather than a model. Central banks still assume this will all resolve itself. And shippers make massive profits. The giant Ever Given, which blocked the Suez Canal for six days in March 2021, is emblematic of these problems, but they run far deeper. This report will explore the shipping issue coast-to-coast, and past-to-present in six ‘containers’: “Are you shipping me?”, a deep-dive into market dynamics and supply-demand causes of soaring shipping prices; “To Big to Sail”, a key structural issue driving things; “Tsunami of politics” of the looming backlash to what is happening; “Cold War icebergs” of fat geopolitical tail risks; “Ship of things to come?”, asking if the maritime past is a potential guide to maritime future; and “Wait and sea?”, a strategic overview and conclusion. Are You Shipping Me? Since 2020, global shipping has been frenetic, with equally frenetic shipping rates (figure 2); difficulties for both businesses and consumers; and container-carrier profits. Is Covid-19 driving these developments, or are there other structural and cyclical factors at play? Let’s take stock. One root of the problem… In 2020, COVID-19 become a global pandemic, and lockdowns ensued: factories, restaurants, and shops all closed, bringing global supply chain almost to a halt. In this context, container carriers had no visibility on future demand and did the only reasonable thing: cut capacity. There is no economic sense in moving half-empty ships across the globe; it is costly, especially for a sector operated on tiny margins for a very long time. The consequence was widespread vessel cancellations, which soared in the first months of 2020 (figure 3). Progressively, more trade lines and ports were involved as containment measures were enacted globally. By H2-2020, virus containment measures were over in China, and many other nations eased them too. Shipping cancellations did not stop, however, just continuing at a slower pace. Indeed, capacity cuts have plagued supply-chains in 2021. Excluding the January-February peaks, from March to September 2021, an average of 9.2 vessels per week were cancelled, four vessels per week more than the previous off-peak period of July to December 2020 (figure 3). Cumulative cancellations (figure 4) underline the problems. Transpacific (e.g., China-US) and Asia-Northern Europe lines saw the largest capacity cuts, but Transatlantic and Mediterranean-North America vessels also reached historic levels of cancellations. Transpacific and Asia-Europe lines are the backbone of global trade, each representing 40% of the total container trade. More than 3 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units, a standard cargo measure) are moved on Transpacific and Asia-Europe lines in total per month. Due to cancellations, more than 10% of that capacity was lost in early 2020. In such a context, it was only normal to expect a rise in container rates. Over January-December 2020 the Global Baltic index (the world reference for box prices) increased by 115% from $1,460 to $3,140/TEU. However, as figure 2 shows, things then changed dramatically in 2021 for a variety of reasons. As can be seen (figure 5), cancellations alone cannot explain the price surge seen in the Baltic Dry Index -- the leading international Freight Rate Index, providing market rates for 12 global trade lines-- and on key global shipping routes (figure 6). So what did? We have instead identified five key themes that have pushed up shipping costs, which we will explore in turn: Suez – and what happened there; Sickness – or Covid-19 (again); Structure – of the shipping market; Stimulus – most so in the US; and “Stuck” – as in logistical congestion. Suez On March 23rd 2021, a 20,000TEU giant vessel, the Ever Given, owned by the Taiwanese carrier Evergreen, was forced by strong winds to park sideways in the Suez Canal, ultimately obstructing it. For the following six days, one of the fundamental arteries of trade between Europe, the Gulf, East Africa, the Indian Ocean, and South East Asia was closed for business. While the world realized how fragile globalized supply chains are, carriers and shippers were counting the costs. 370 ships could not pass the Canal, with cargoes worth around $9.5bn. Every conceivable good was on those ships. The result was more unforeseen delays, more congestions and, of course, more upward pressure on container rates. Sickness New COVID-19 Delta variant outbreaks in 20201 forced the closure of major Chinese ports such as Ningbo and Yantian causing delays and congestion that reverberated both in the region and globally. Vietnamese ports also suffered similar incidents. These closures, while not decisive blows, contributed to taking shipping capacity off the global grid, hindering the recovery trend. They were also signals of how thin the ice is that global supply chain are walking on. Indeed, Chinese and South-east Asian ports are still suffering the consequences of those earlier closures, with record queues of ships waiting to unload. Structure When external shocks cause price spikes it is always wise to look at structure of the sector in which disruption caused the price spike. This exercise provides precious hints on what the “descent” from the spike might look like. Crucially, in the shipping sector, consolidation and concentration has achieved levels that few other sectors of the economy reach. In the last five years, carriers controlling 80% of global capacity became more concentrated, with fewer operators of even larger size (figure 7). However, this is just the most obvious piece of the puzzle. In our opinion, the real change started in 2017, when the three main container alliances (2M, THE, and Ocean) were born. This changed horizontal cooperation between market leaders in shipping. The three do not fix prices, but via their networks capacity is shared and planned jointly, fully exploiting economies of scale that are decisive to making a capital-intensive business profitable and efficient. Unit margins can stay low as long as you move huge volume with high precision, and at the lowest cost possible. To be able to move the huge volumes required by a globalized and increasingly e-commerce economy at the levels of efficiency and speed demanded by operators up and down supply chains, there was little other options than to cooperate and keep goods flowing for the lowest cost possible at the highest speed possible. A tight discipline of cost was imposed on carriers, who also had to get bigger. This strategy more than paid off in the Covid crisis, when shippers demonstrated clear minds, efficiency in implementing capacity control, and a key understanding of the elements they could use to their advantage: in other words – how capitalism actually works. Carriers did not decide on the lockdowns or port closures; but they exploited their position in the global market when the pandemic erupted. In a recent report, Peter Sands from BIMCO (the Baltic and International Maritime Council) put it as follows: “Years of low freight rates resulting in rigorous cost-cutting by carriers have left them in a great position to maximise profits now that the market has turned.” Crucially, this market structure is here to stay - for now. It is a component of the global system. Carriers will continue to exert pressure and find ways to make profit but, most importantly, they will make more than sure that, this time, it is not only them that end up paying the costs of rebalancing within the global system. In short, the current market allows carriers to make historic levels of profits. However, in our view this is not the end of the story – as shall be shown later. Stimulus 2020 and 2021 saw unprecedented economic shocks from Covid-19, as well as unprecedented economic stimulus from some governments. In particular, the US government sent out direct stimulus cheques to taxpayers. With few services to spend the money on, it was instead centred on goods. Hence, consumer demand for some items is red-hot (figures 8-10). The consequences of this surge in buying on top of a workforce still partly in rolling lockdowns, and against a backlog of infrastructure decades in the making, was obvious: logistical gridlock. Moreover, with the US importing high volumes, and not exporting to match, and its own internal logistics log-jammed, there has been a build-up of shipping containers inside the US, and a shortage elsewhere. Shippers are, in some cases, even dropping their cargo and returning to Asia empty: the same has been reported in Australia. Against this backdrop, the US is perhaps close to introducing further major fiscal stimulus, with little of this able to address near-term infrastructure/logistical shortfalls. Needless to say, the impact on shipping, if such stimulus is passed, could be enormous. As such, while central banks and governments still insist that inflation is transitory, supply-chain dynamics suggest it is in fact closer to becoming systemically entrenched. Stuck In normal times, a surge in consumer spending would be a bonanza for everyone: raw material producers, manufacturers, carriers, shippers, and retailers alike. In Covid times, this is all a death-blow to global supply chains. Due to misplaced global capacity, high export volumes cannot be moved fast enough, intermediate goods cannot reach processors in time, and everybody is fighting to get a container spot on the ships available. Ports cannot handle the throughput given the backlog of containers that are still waiting to be shipped inland or loaded on a delayed boat. It is not by chance that congestion hit record peaks at the same time in Los Angeles – Long beach (LALB), and in the main ports in China, the two main poles of transpacific trade. Clearly, LALB cannot handle the surge in imports, the arrival queue keeps on growing by the day (figure 11). There are now plans to shift to working 24/7. However, critics note that all this would do is to shift containers from ships to clog other already backlogged areas of the port, potentially reducing efficiency even further. Meanwhile, in Shanghai and Ningbo there were also 154 ships waiting to unload at time of writing. The power-cuts seeing Chinese factories only operating 3-4 day weeks in many locations suggest a slow-down in the pace of goods accumulating at ports, but also imply disruption, shortages, and delays in loading, still making problems worse overall. Imagine large-scale US stimulus on top of a drop in supply! Overall, “endemic congestion” is the perfect definition for the state of the global shipping market. It is the results of many factors: vessels cancellations and capacity control; Covid; bursts of demand in some trade lines; imbalances in container distribution; regular disruption in key arteries and ports; a backlog and increasing volumes cannot be dealt with at the same time, all creating an exponentially amplifying effect. The epicenter is in the Pacific, but the problem is global. At present 10% of global container capacity is waiting to be unloaded on ship at the anchor outside some port. Solutions need to be found quickly – but can they be? The Transpacific situation is particularly delicate, stemming from a high number of cancellations, ongoing disruption, and the highest demand surge in the global economy. However, this perfect recipe for a disaster is also affecting Asia–Europe lines where shipping rates hikes also do not show any signs of slowing down. …and unstuck? The shipping business would logically seem best-placed to get out of this situation by increasing vessel capacity. Indeed, orders of new ships spiked in 2021, and in coming years 2.5m TEUs will come on stream (figure 12). However, this will not arrive for some time, and may not sharply reduce shipping prices when it does. Indeed, the industry --which historically operates on thin margins, and has seen many boom and bust cycles—knows all too well the old Greek phrase: “98 ships, 101 cargoes, profit; 101 ships, 98 cargoes, disaster”. They will want to preserve as much of the current profitability as possible, which a concentrated ‘Big 3’ makes easier. Tellingly, a recent article stressed: “Ship-owners and financiers should avoid sinking money into new container vessels despite a global crunch because record orders have driven up prices, according to industry insiders.” True, CMA CGM just froze shipping spot rates until February 2022, joining Hapag-Lloyd. Yet in both cases the new implied benchmark is of price freezes at what were once unthinkable levels – not price falls. To conclude, shipping prices are arguably very high for structural reasons, and are likely to stay high ahead – if those structures do not change. On which, we even need to look at the structure of ships themselves. Too Big to Sail Shipping, like much else, has become much larger over the years. Small feeder ships of up to 1,000TEU are dwarfed by the largest Ultra-Large Container Vessels (ULCVs), which start from 14,501 TEUS up, and are larger than the US Navy’s aircraft carriers. Of course, there is a reason for this gigantism: economy of scale. It is a sound argument. However, the same was said in other industries where painful experience, after the fact, has shown such commercial logic is not the best template for systemic stability. In banking we are aware of the phenomenon, and danger, of “Too Big to Fail”. In shipping, ULCVs and their associated industry patterns could perhaps be seen as representing “Too Big to Sail”. After all, there are downsides to so much topside beyond the obvious incident with the Ever Given earlier in the year: ULVCs cannot fit through the Panama Canal; Not all ports can handle ULCVs; They are slow at sea; They are slow to load and unload; They require more complex cargo placement / handling; They force carriers to maximize efficiency to cover costs; They force all in-land logistics to adapt to their scale; They force a hub-and-spokes global trade model; and They are vulnerable to accident or disruption, i.e., they were designed for an entirely peaceful shipping environment at a time of rising geopolitical tensions (which we will return to later). In short, current ULCV hub-and-spokes trade models are the antithesis of a nimble, distributed, flexible, resilient system, and actually help create and exacerbate the cascading supply-chain failures we are currently experiencing. However, we do not have a global shipping regulator to order shippers to change their commercial practices! Specifically, building ULVCs takes time, and shipyard capacity is more limited. As shown, the issue is not so much a lack of ULCVs, but limited capacity from ports onwards. That means we need to expand ports, which is a far slower and more difficult process than adding new containers or ships, given the constraints of geography, and the layers of local and international planning and politics involved in such developments. There is also then a need for matching warehousing, roads, trucks, truckers, rail, and retailer warehousing, etc. As we already see today, just finding truckers is already a huge issue in many  economies. Meanwhile, any incident that impacts on a ULCV port --a Covid lockdown, a weather event, power-cuts, or a physical action-- exacerbates feedback loops of supply-chain disruption more than any one, or several, smaller ports servicing smaller feeder ships would do. So why are we not adapting? Economic thinking, partly dictated by the need to survive in a tough industry; massive sunk costs; and equally massive vested interests – which we can collectively call “Too Big to Sail”. Naturally, some parties do not wish to move to a nimbler, less concentrated, more widely-distributed, locally-produced, more resilient supply-chain system --with lower economies of scale-- while some do: and this is ultimately a political stand-off. Crucially, nobody is going to make much-needed new investments in maritime logistics until they know what the future map of global production looks like. Post-Covid, do we still make most things in China, or will it be back in the US, EU, and Japan – or India, etc.? Are we Building Back Better? Where? Resolving that will help resolve our shipping problems: but it will of course create lots of new ones while doing so. Tidal Wave of Politics Against this backdrop, is it any surprise that a tsunami of politics could soon sweep over global shipping? In July, US President Biden introduced Executive Order 14036, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy”. This puts forward initiatives for federal agencies to establish policies to address corporate consolidation and decreased competition - which will include shipping. Ironically, the US encouraged “Too Big to Sail” for decades, but real and political tides both turn. Indeed, in August a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress --“The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021”-- which proposes radical changes to: Establish reciprocal trade to promote US exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) mission; Require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry; Require ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that any late fees --known in maritime parlance as “detention and demurrage” charges-- comply with federal regulations or face penalties; Potentially eliminate “demurrage” charges for importers; Prohibit ocean carriers from declining opportunities for US exports unreasonably, as determined by the FMC in new required rulemaking; Require ocean common carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and TEUs (loaded/empty) per vessel that makes port in the US; and Authorizes the FMC to self-initiate investigations of ocean common carrier’s business practices and apply enforcement measures, as appropriate. Promoting reciprocal US trade would either slow global trade flows dramatically and/or force more US goods production. While that would help address the global container imbalance, it would also unbalance our economic and financial architecture. Fining carriers who refuse to pick up US exports would also rock many boats. Moreover, forcing carriers to carry the cost of demurrage would change shipping market dynamics hugely. At the moment, the profits of the shipping snarl sit with carriers and ports, and the rising costs with importers: the US wants to reverse that status quo. While global carriers and US ports obviously say this bill is “doomed to fail”, and will promote a “protectionist race to the bottom”, it is bipartisan, and has been endorsed by a large number of US organisations, agricultural producers and retailers. Even smaller global players are responding similarly. For example, Thailand is considering re-launching a national shipping carrier to help support its economic growth: will others follow suite ahead? Meanwhile, shipping will also be impacted by another political decision - the planned green energy transition. The EU will tax carbon in shipping from 2023, and new vessels will need to be built. For what presumed global trade map, as we just asked? The green transition will also see a huge increase in the demand for resources such as cobalt, lithium, and rare earths. Economies that lack these, e.g., Japan and the EU, will need to import them from locations such as Africa and Australia. That will require new infrastructure, new ports, and new shipping routes – which is also geopolitical. Indeed, the US, China, the EU, UK, and Japan have all made clear that they wish to hold commanding positions in new green value chains - yet not all will be able to do so if resources are limited. Therefore, green shipping threatens to be a zero-sum game akin to the 19th century scramble for resources. As Foreign Affairs noted back in July: “Electricity is the new oil” – meant in terms of ugly power politics, not more beautiful power production. Before the green transition, energy prices are soaring (see our “Gasflation” report). On one hand, this may lift bulk shipping rates; on another, we again see the need for resilient supply chains, in which shipping plays a key role. In short, current zero-sum supply-chains snarls, already seeing a growing backlash, are soon likely to be matched by a zero-sum shift to new green industrial technologies and related raw materials. In both dimensions, shipping will become as (geo)political as it is logistical. Notably, while tides may be turning, we can’t ‘just’ reshape the global shipping system, or get from “just in time” to “just in case”, or to a more localized “just for me” just like that: it will just get messy in the process. Cold War Icebergs The US is now pushing “extreme competition” between “liberal democracy and autocracy”; China counters that US hegemony is over. For both, part of this will run through global shipping. Both giants are happy to decouple supply chains from the other where it benefits them. However, the larger geostrategic implications are even more significant. Piracy and national/imperial exclusion zones used to be maritime problems, but post-WW2, the US Navy has kept the seas safe and open to trade for all carriers equally. This duty is extremely expensive, and will get more so as new ships have to be built to replace an ageing fleet. Meanwhile, China is building its own navy at breath-taking speed, and a maritime Belt and Road (BRI). As a result, a clear shift has occurred in US maritime strategy: 2007’s “A Co-operative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power”, stressed: “We believe that preventing wars is as important as winning wars.” 2015’s update argued: “Our responsibility to the American people dictates an efficient use of our fiscal resources.” 2020’s title was changed to “Advantage at Sea: Prevailing with Integrated All-Domain Naval Power”, and stressed: “...the rules-based international order is once again under assault. We must prepare as a unified Naval Service to ensure that we are equal to the challenge.” The US is also pressing ahead with the AUKUS defence alliance and the ‘Quad’ of Japan, India, and Australia to maintain naval superiority in the Indo-Pacific. This is generating geopolitical frictions, and fears of further escalation of maritime clashes in the region. The Quad has also agreed to key tech and supply-chain cooperation, with Australia a key part of a new green minerals strategy – a race in which China is still well ahead, and the EU lags. Should any kind of major incident occur, shipping costs would escalate enormously, as can easily be seen in the case of US-UK shipping from 1887-1939: this leaped 1,600% during WW1, and these shipping data stopped entirely in September 1939 due to WW2. Crucially, US naval strategy is rooted in the post-WW2 power structure in which it benefitted from such control commercially. That architecture is crumbling - and there is a matching US consensus to shift towards “America First”, or “Made in America”. The thought progression from here is surely: “Why are we paying to protect shipping from China, or economies that do not support us against China?” In short, the strategic and financial logic is: surrender control of the seas, or ensure commercial gains from it. There are enormous implications for shipping if such a shift in thinking were to occur - and such discussions are already taking place. July 2020’s “Hidden Harbours: China’s State-backed Shipping Industry” from the Center for Strategic and International Studies argued: “The time is long overdue for the US to reinvigorate its maritime industries and challenge the Chinese in the same game by using the very same techniques the Chinese have used to gain dominance in the global maritime industry. The private-sector maritime industry cannot do this alone—the US maritime industry simply cannot compete against the power of the Chinese state. The US and allied governments must bring to bear substantial and sustained political action, policies, and financial support. To do anything less is to cede control of the world’s maritime industry and global supply chains to China, and perhaps to force the US and its allies to enter their own ‘century of shame.’” Meanwhile, stories link ports and shipping to national security (see here and here), underlining logistics are no longer seen as purely commercial areas, but rather fall within the “grey zone” between war and peace – as was the case pre-WW2. This again has major implications for the shipping business. Expect that trend to continue ahead if the maritime past as guide, as we shall now explore. The Ship of Things to Come? US maritime history in particular holds some clear lessons for today’s shipping world if looked at carefully. First, the importance of the sea to what we now think of as a land-based US: the US merchant marine helped it win independence from the powerful naval forces of the British, and the first piece of legislation Congress passed in 1789 was a 10% tariff on British imports, both to build US industry and merchant shipping. Indeed, the underlying message of US maritime history is that the US is a major commercial force at sea – but only when it sees this as a national-security goal. Following independence, US commercial shipping and industry surged in tandem, with an understandable dip only due to war with the British in 1812. The gradual normalisation of maritime trade with the UK after that saw a gradual decline in the share of trade US shipping carried, which accelerated with the end of steamship subsidies --which the British maintained-- and the US Civil War. By the start of the 20th century, W. L. Marvin was arguing: “A nation which is reaching out for the commercial mastery of the world cannot long suffer nine-tenths of its ocean-carrying to be monopolized by its foreign rivals.” Yet 1915 saw the welfare-focused US Seaman’s Act passed and US flags move to Panama, where costs were lower. However, WW1 saw US shipping surge, and the Jones Act in 1920 reaffirmed ‘cabotage’ – only US flagged and crewed vessels can trade cargo between US ports. The 1930s saw global trade and the US maritime marine dwindle again – until 1936, when the Federal Maritime Commission was set up "to promote the commerce of the US, and to aid in the national defense." WW2 then saw US mass production of Liberty Ships account for over a third of global merchant shipping – and then post-1945, this lead slipped away again, and the US merchant marine now stands at around just 0.4% of the world fleet. Indeed, in 2020, US sealift capability was reported short on personnel, hulls, and strategy such that the commercial fleet would be unlikely to meet the Pentagon’s needs for a large-scale troop build-up overseas. As we see, the US has been here several times before. If the past is any guide for the future response, this suggests the following US actions could be seen ahead: Use its market size to force shippers to change pricing – which may already be happening; Raise tariffs again (on green grounds?); Refuse to take goods from some foreign ships or ports; Force vessels to re-flag in the US, at higher cost; Build a rival to China’s marine BRI with allies; Massive ship-building, for the 3rd time in the last century; Charter US private firms to bring in green materials; or The US Navy stops protecting some sea lanes/carriers, or forces the costs of their patrols onto others. It goes without saying that any of these steps would have enormous implications for global shipping and the global economy – and yet most of them are compatible with both the strategic military/commercial logic previously underlined, as well as the lessons of history. Wait and Sea? We summarize what we have shown in the key points below: Markets For markets, there are obvious implications for inflation. How can it stay low if imported prices stay high? How will central banks respond? Rate hikes won’t help. Neither will loose monetary policy – and less it is directed to a directly-related government response on supply chains and logistics. This suggests greater impetus for a shift to more localised production on cost grounds, at least at the lower end of the value chain, if not the more-desirable higher end. Yet once this wave starts to build, it may be hard to stop. Look at EU plans for strategic autonomy in semiconductors, for example, which are echoed in the US, China, and Japan. For FX, the countries that ride that wave best will float; the ones that don’t will sink. Helicopter view of ships Clearly, shipping will continue to boom. There are huge opportunities in capex on ships, ports, logistics, and infrastructure ahead – as well as in new production and supply chains. Yet one first needs to be sure what, or whose, map of production will be used for them! As the industry sits and waits for the wind and tide to change, logically one wants to position oneself best for what may be coming next. That implies global consolidation and/or vertical integration: Large shippers looking at smaller shippers to snuff out alternative routes and capacity; shippers looking at ports; ports looking at shippers; giant retailers/producers looking at shippers; importers banding together for negotiating power in ultra-tight markets. Of course, nationally, governments are looking at shippers, or at starting new carriers. If this is to be a realpolitik power struggle for who rules the waves --“Too Big to Sail”, or a new more national/resilient map of production-- then having greater scale now increases your fire-power. Of course, it also makes you a larger target for others. Let’s presume current trends continue. Could we even end up with a return to older patterns of production, e.g., where oil used to be produced by company X, refined in its facilities, shipped on its vessels, to its de facto ports, and on to its retail distribution network. Might we even see the same for consumer goods? That is the logic of globalisation and geopolitics, as well as the accumulation of capital. However, if history is a guide, and (geo)politics is a tsunami, things will look very different on both the surface and at the deepest depths of the shipping industry and the global economy. Much we take as normal today could become flotsam and jetsam. To conclude, who benefits from the huge profits of the current shipping snarl, and who will pay the costs, is ultimately a (geo)political issue, not a market one. Many ports are likely going to be caught up in that storm. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/03/2021 - 12:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 3rd, 2021

PPL to Join Electric Highway Coalition, Expand in EV Market

PPL's units are going to join the Electric Highway Coalition to further accelerate its efforts to meet its clean energy plans. PPL Corporation PPL recently pledged to join the Electric Highway Coalition, a partnership of 17 U.S. utilities. Three of its units, namely Louisville Gas and Electric Company, Kentucky Utilities Company and PPL Electric Utilities Corporation will collaborate with other coalition utilities.The company’s current decision will help it establish efficient, fast electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to broaden the charging infrastructure network. This shall surely expand its footprint in the rapidly-expanding EV market.Details of the PartnershipFollowing the closure of the utility’s pending deal to acquire The Narragansett Electric Company, operations of the newly formed company will also be included in this coalition membership.The above-mentioned subsidiaries of PPL Corp. already deployed nearly two dozen charging stations and launched a related program to provide business customers with an affordable option. Further, the utility plans to add fast-charging stations along the major Kentucky highway corridors. PPL Electric Utilities is using data analytics for expanding EV’s fast charging in Pennsylvania and locating the most advantageous locations.About the Electric Highway CoalitionThe partnership was forged in March 2021 to create a network of effective electric vehicle charging stations along the highways stretching from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest and South and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions. Its work includes the placement of infrastructure and complementing existing travel corridor fast-charging sites.PPL Corp.’s Other Clean Energy EffortsThe company consistently makes investments to expand its renewable generation capacity as well as deepen its focus on new technology to serve customers more efficiently. It is taking initiatives to electrify its fleet of vehicles along with seeking opportunities to reduce carbon footprint. Moreover, the utility’s carbon emission reduction target is set to touch the below two-degree Celsius scenario.PPL Corp. updated its mission to curb carbon emission by 70% within 2035 instead of 2040 and 80% by 2040 instead of 2050 through the introduction of carbon capture technology and addition of renewable sources to its generation portfolio. It also aims to become carbon neutral by 2050. As of 2020, it achieved nearly 60% emission reduction from the 2010 levels. We believe, the company’s latest strategy to join the Electric Highway Coalition took it a step closer to its long-term carbon reduction target.Peer MovesPer the Edison Electric Institute, 18.7 million EVs will run on the U.S. roads by 2030, indicating 7% growth from the 2018 levels, and to realize this objective, 9.6 million charge ports will be required. Within the same time frame, annual sales of EVs are expected to exceed $3.5 million.To reap benefits from the expanding EV market opportunities, other utilities including FirstEnergy FE, Xcel Energy XEL and Duke Energy DUK are also making efforts to electrify their vehicle fleets.Price MovementIn the past three months, shares of PPL Corp. have gained 2.2% compared with the industry’s growth of 0.3%.Three Months Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment ResearchZacks RankPPL Corp. currently carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report PPL Corporation (PPL): Free Stock Analysis Report Xcel Energy Inc. (XEL): Free Stock Analysis Report FirstEnergy Corporation (FE): Free Stock Analysis Report Duke Energy Corporation (DUK): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 29th, 2021

4 Buy-Ranked Stocks that Soared Over 20% in the Past Week

The market remains on its toes as investors digest the ton of information hitting us about now. The market remains on its toes as investors digest the ton of information hitting us about now.Perhaps the most significant in all that is the rising bond yield. Rising yields are negative for stocks because they’re considered risk-free investments. So when yields rise, it makes more sense for investors to get into safe bonds rather than risky stocks. So stocks need to generate well above those yields to continue attracting investors.But yields rise both on account of growth and inflation. When they’re rising on account of growth, cyclicals (sectors that rise and fall with the business cycle) usually do well. That’s because in a growth environment, they generate stronger cash flows and are able to pay more dividend, which provides some buffer to these stocks, i.e. makes them less risky. Restaurants, hotels, consumer discretionary, furniture, premium/specialty retailers, auto, etc fall in this group.Also, in inflationary conditions, investors need higher returns to offset the impact of inflation, so they would pull money out of bonds, which would drive yields. Rising energy prices are a major cause of inflation. Oil is hitting $75 a barrel (WTI) or $79 (Brent) and natural gas prices are also on the rise. We’re looking at much costlier heating this winter, for both commercial operations and individuals. This situation isn’t changing soon. In fact, Goldman Sachs sees Brent oil hitting $90 by year-end because of production disruption from hurricane Ida.   So deciding the correct strategy is trickier now because we’re having a little bit of both. And especially when you consider that rising fuel costs are going to add to the rising input costs, making everything that much more expensive for the consumer (when companies are able to transfer the excess, as they have been doing so far). There’s also the concern that we’re headed for higher taxes, but maybe that will hold for some time.More immediate is the conversation around the debt ceiling and what could happen if it isn’t raised (it has always been raised in the past and will in all probability be raised again) and the chances of a government shutdown. It is ultimately likely to have no material impact on stocks, but could increase volatility in the near term.So there’s too much going on right now. And it’s probably a good idea to look for safer bets with more or less steady earnings growth trends and some dividend to boot.But in case you’re still looking for market outperformers, here are a few that have really picked up in the past week. Take a look here-Condor Hospitality Trust, Inc. CDORNorfolk, VA-based based Condor Hospitality Trust is a self-administered real estate investment trust specializing in the investment and ownership of upper midscale and upscale, premium-branded select-service, extended-stay and limited-service hotels in the top 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, particularly the top 20. Condor's hotels are franchised by a number of the industry's most well-regarded brand families including Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental Hotels. It currently owns 15 hotels in 8 states.On Thursday, the company entered into a deal with affiliates of Blackstone Real Estate Partners to sell its entire portfolio of hotels for $305 million. Since 60% of shareholders have already agreed to back the deal, there’s no chance of a reversal.  Blackstone is also not assuming any debt, so the amount to be paid to shareholders will be after meeting legal obligations and paying related costs and expenses. The Board has also approved the liquidation of the company pending shareholders’ approval.The shares carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The company had reported very strong results as a reopening play with the lone analyst covering the name also enthusiastically raising estimates. And the double-digit projected revenue and earnings likely helped the company to clinch the deal. The shares are up 25.9% over the past week.Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. CRVSBurlingame, CA-based Corvus Pharmaceuticals is involved in the development and commercialization of immuno-oncology therapies that harness the immune system to attack cancer cells. Its products include CPI-444, Adenosine production inhibitor, Adenosine A2B antagonist and Interleukin-2 (IL-2)-inducible T cell kinase (ITK) inhibitors.Corvus is developing mupadolimab as a therapeutic for oncology indications as well as infectious disease, including COVID-19. On Wednesday, the company released the results of a phase 3 clinical trial of the candidate on COVID 19. A group of 40 patients were administered mupadolimab at doses of 2mg/kg and 1mg/kg and compared to placebo. The test was able to establish a dose response relationship on the endpoint of time to respiratory failure or death, with no reported adverse events. The 2mg/kg cohort was also shown to elicit antiviral response in all variants tested, including delta.Richard A. Miller, M.D., co-founder, president and CEO of Corvus said, “Combined with the findings in our previous Phase 1 trial in 29 patients, we believe there is mounting evidence that mupadolimab could become a universal treatment for viral diseases, with the ability to address immune escape from variants. We plan to evaluate our next steps with mupadolimab for COVID-19 as we continue to analyze the trial data and explore partnership opportunities to continue its development as a therapeutic."After three quarters of earnings misses, the #2 ranked company finally beat estimates in the last quarter. Analysts expect the loss per share to come down significantly in 2021 and again in 2022. The shares jumped 27.8% in the past week.Covenant Logistics Group, Inc. CVLGChattanooga, TN-based Covenant Logistics Group offers a portfolio of transportation and logistics services through its subsidiaries. The company’s services include asset-based expedited, dedicated and irregular route truckload capacity, as well as asset-light warehousing, transportation management and freight brokerage. It also has a used equipment selling and leasing business. Its customers include transportation companies, such as parcel freight forwarders, less-than-truckload carriers and third-party logistics providers, as well as traditional truckload customers like manufacturers, retailers, and food and beverage shippers. As of December 31, 2020, it operated 2,461 tractors and 5,647 trailers.Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) ranked CVLG shares have been rising consistently over the past year and are up 97.1% year to date. Last week’s appreciation of 21.7% was a continuation of this trend and may have been spurred by a Cowen analyst raising the estimated price target on the basis of CVLG’s pricing power.The trucking industry is seeing tremendous demand around now as manufacturers and traditional retailers respond to the reopening even as ecommerce related last-mile demand remains high. With drivers being in short supply, trucking companies are also capacity constrained. A combination of these factors is responsible for the pricing power.And so we see that CVLG topped estimates at strong double-digit rates in each of the last two quarters. It is expected to grow revenue by 18.2% and earnings by 217.6% this year and there’s more growth slated for next year. Its estimates are also on an upward trajectory.Herc Holdings Inc. HRIBonita Springs, FL-based Herc Holdings, through its subsidiary Herc Rentals, is a full-line equipment-rental supplier in commercial and residential construction, industrial and manufacturing, refineries and petrochemicals, civil infrastructure, automotive, government and municipalities, energy, remediation, emergency response, facilities, entertainment and agriculture. It operates primarily in North America.Last week, at its analyst day, the #1 ranked company raised its 2021 adjusted EBITDA expectations from $840 million-$870 million to $870 million to $890 million. The adjusted EBITDA guidance for 2022 of $1.05 billion to $1.15 billion was even more encouraging.Naturally, this led to estimate revisions for both years. And so, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 jumped 54 cents (7.6%) while the 2022 estimate jumped by $3.26 (37.6%).The economic recovery we are seeing has clearly been positive for the company going by the positive surprises it has been recording in each of the last four quarters, averaging 120.4%.The shares jumped 24.1% over the past week.One-Month Price PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment Research 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Condor Hospitality Trust, Inc. (CDOR): Free Stock Analysis Report Herc Holdings Inc. (HRI): Free Stock Analysis Report Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (CRVS): Free Stock Analysis Report Covenant Logistics Group, Inc. (CVLG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 29th, 2021

Aurora Cannabis Announces Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Results

NASDAQ | TSX: ACB #1 Canadian LP in Global Medical Cannabis; Total Medical Cannabis Net Revenue Rose 9% Compared to Prior Year; Strong Adjusted Gross Margin before FVA of 68% Business Transformation Plan on Track; Reiterates Annual Cost Savings of $60 Million to $80 Million, Providing Clear Pathway to Adjusted EBITDA Profitability Balance Sheet Remains Strong with $440.9 Million of Cash at June 30, 2021; Working Capital Improves by $404.3 Million Compared to Prior Year Adjusted EBITDA Loss, Excluding Restructuring Costs, Narrows to $13.9 Million, a $17.6 Million Improvement Compared to Prior Year Total Cannabis Net Revenue, Net of Provisions, of $54.8 Million Compared to $55.2 Million in the Prior Quarter, and $67.5 Million in the Year-Ago Period EDMONTON, AB, Sept. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ - Aurora Cannabis Inc. (the "Company" or "Aurora") (NASDAQ:ACB) (TSX:ACB), the Canadian company defining the future of cannabinoids worldwide, today announced its financial and operational results for the fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2021 ended June 30, 2021. "We are very pleased with our strategic and financial progress in growing our high-margin medical revenue, rationalizing expenses, strengthening our balance sheet, and reducing our cash burn during fiscal year 2021. Given ongoing challenges in the Canadian adult recreational market, our broad diversification across domestic medical, international medical, and adult recreational segments provides us with underlying strength, stability, and growth opportunities in an evolving industry for global cannabinoids. Additionally, our enviable leadership position as the #1 Canadian LP in global medical cannabis by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, supported by regulatory and compliance expertise, is a tailwind that we expect to enable us to ultimately expand into global adult recreational as medical regimes evolve" stated Miguel Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Aurora Cannabis. "During the quarter, we delivered another strong yet steady performance in domestic medical, the largest federally regulated medical market globally, exceptional year-over-year growth in our high-margin international medical segment, where we remain the #2 Canadian LP by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, and quarterly sequential growth in adult recreational which included higher sales of premium cultivars. We are now delighted to announce a long-term supply agreement with Cantek in Israel that we expect to provide us with a steady stream of high-margin revenue that could also evolve into a larger partnership over time. We further believe our Canadian adult recreational segment is poised for recovery due to our product portfolio enhancements coupled with an acceleration of new store openings and rising consumer demand," he continued. "We have positioned ourselves for long-term success by delivering further improvement in our industry-leading Adjusted gross margin and substantially narrowing our Adjusted EBITDA loss compared to the year-ago period. With annual cost savings of approximately $60 to $80 million across selling, general and administrative ("SG&A"), production cost, facility and logistic expenses, we have a clear pathway to achieve Adjusted EBITDA profitability. Importantly, our considerable cash balance of $440.9 million, substantial improvement in working capital, and strong balance sheet support our organic growth and can be utilized for opportunistic M&A, particularly in the U.S," he concluded. Fourth Quarter 2021 Highlights (Unless otherwise stated, comparisons are made between fiscal Q4 2021 and Q4 2020 results and are in Canadian dollars) Medical cannabis: Medical cannabis net revenue1 was $35.0 million, a 9% increase from the prior year period. The increase was primarily attributable to continued growth in the international medical business, 88% over the prior year comparative period, as the Company continued to grow new, high margin medical markets. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue1 was 68% versus 64% in the prior year, as a result of overall reduction in production costs due to the closure of non-core facilities as part of our business transformation plan and higher sales coming from our international sales, which yield higher margins. Consumer cannabis: Consumer cannabis net revenue1 was $19.5 million ($20.2 million excluding provisions), a 45% decrease from $35.3 million ($37.1 million excluding provisions) in the prior year. This was due primarily to a reduction in orders from Provinces in response to slower consumer demand, reflecting the impact of lockdown restrictions related to COVID-19. Sequentially, consumer cannabis net revenue increased 8% over the prior quarter mainly due to completion of the transition of our fixed sales force to Great North and a $2.5 million reduction in actual net returns, price adjustments and provisions as the company completed its product swap initiative to replace low quality product with higher potency product at the provinces. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue[1] was 31% vs 36% in the prior year period. This was primarily driven by an increase in cost of sales due to under-utilized capacity at Aurora Sky as a result of the scaling back production (expected to partially reverse in future quarters), offset by an increase in the consumer cannabis sales mix attributed to our core and premium brands, contributing to an increase in our average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis. Consolidated: Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on cannabis net revenue1 was 54% in Q4 2021 versus 49% in the prior year period and 44% in Q3 2021. The increase in Adjusted gross margin compared to Q4 2020 is due primarily to a shift in sales mix towards the medical market which commands higher average net selling prices and margins. Adjusted EBITDA1 loss improved to $19.3 million in Q4 2021 ($13.9 million loss excluding restructuring charges) compared to the prior year Adjusted EBITDA loss1 of $33.3 million ($31.5 million loss excluding restructuring charges) primarily driven by the substantial decrease in SG&A and R&D expenses and an increase in gross margins. Q4 2021 total cannabis net revenue1 was $54.8 million, essentially flat sequentially, and a 19% decrease in over fiscal Q4 of the prior year. Reflecting the shift in mix toward our medical businesses, the Q4 2021 average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis1 increased to $5.11 per gram from $3.60 in Q4 2020 and $5.00 in Q3 2021. This excludes the impact of bulk wholesale of excess mid-potency cannabis flower at clear-out pricing. Selling, General and Administrative ("SG&A"): SG&A, including Research and Development ("R&D"), was $44.8 million, excluding $5.2 million in severance and restructuring costs ($49.9 million reported), down $19.1 million or 30% from the prior year as a result of our business transformation plan. Operational Efficiency Plan, Balance Sheet Strength, & Working Capital Improvement Aurora has identified cash savings of $60 million to $80 million. We expect to deliver $30 million to $40 million of annualized cash savings within the next year, and the remainder by the end of Q2 fiscal 2023. ___________________________________ 1 These terms are non-GAAP measures, see "Non-GAAP Measures" below. Approximately 60% of the savings are expected to be driven out of our network through asset consolidation, and operational and supply chain efficiencies. In fact, last week we announced the centralization of much of our Canadian manufacturing processes to our River facility in Bradford, Ontario and the resultant closure of our western Canada manufacturing facility. The remaining 40% of savings are intended to be sourced through SG&A; a portion of those savings will be via insurance structures that are already partially executed.   These cash savings will be reflected in our P&L either as they occur for SG&A savings, or as inventory is drawn down for production-related savings.  These efficiencies are incremental to the approximately $300 million of total cost reductions achieved since the announcement of the Company's business transformation plan in February 2020. Aurora materially improved its balance sheet during fiscal year 2021 through a number of purposeful actions including repaying the credit facility in full in June 2021, which resulted in interest and principal repayment reductions of approximately $25 million annually. The Company views a strong balance sheet as critical to operating the business, executing its strategic plans, and pursuing growth opportunities in an unconstrained manner, including within the U.S. At June 30, 2021 Aurora has a cash balance of approximately $440.9 million, comprised of $421.5 million of cash and cash equivalents and $19.4 million in restricted cash, no secured term debt, and access to US$1 billion of capital under its shelf prospectus. The Company's focus on realizing operational efficiencies and ability to manage cash has greatly improved operating cash flow; reducing the need for incremental capital. In Q4 2021, Aurora managed cash flow tightly using $7.8 million in cash to fund operations, including working capital investments and restructuring and severance payments of $5.1 million. Cash inflow from capital expenditures, net of $17.5 million disposals and government grant income, in Q4 2021 was $6.2 million versus $32.8 million of cash used in Q4 2020 and $12.2 million of cash used in Q3 2021. Cash used in operations and for capital expenditures are crucial metrics in Aurora's drive toward generating sustainable positive free cash flow, and both have improved significantly over the past year. The Company's ongoing business transformation, with the additional cost efficiency savings described earlier, is expected to move the operating cash flow metric in a positive direction over the coming quarters. Fiscal Q4 2021 Cash Use The main components of cash source and use in Q4 2021 were as follows: ($ thousands) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(4) Q3 2021(4) Cash Flow Cash, Opening $520,238 $230,208 $434,386 Cash used in operations including working capital ($7,840) ($64,199) ($66,215) Capital expenditures, net of disposals and government grant income $6,230 ($32,789) ($12,320) Debt and interest payments ($90,141)(3) ($52,979) ($7,766) Cash use ($91,751) ($149,967) ($86,301) Proceeds raised from sale of marketable securities and investments in associates 11,929 33,673 $- Proceeds raised through debt - - - Proceeds raised through equity financing $435 $48,265 $172,153(1) Cash raised $12,364 $81,938 $172,153 Cash, Ending $440,851 $162,179 $520,238(2) (1) Includes impact of foreign exchange rates on USD cash raised from financing (2) Includes restricted cash of $50.0M for Q3 2021 held as cash collateral under the BMO Credit Facility. (3) Includes $88.7 million full principal repayment on the BMO Credit Facility. As of June 30, 2021, the BMO Credit Facility has been fully settled and discharged. (4) Previously reported amounts have been retroactively recast for the biological assets and inventory non-material prior period error. Refer to the "Significant Accounting Policies and Judgments" section in Note 2(h) of the Financial Statements. Refer to the "Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows" in the "Consolidated Financial Statements" for our cash flow statements prepared in accordance with IAS 7 – Statement of Cash Flows. ($ thousands, except Operational Results) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(5)(6) $ Change % Change Q3 2021 (5)(6) $ Change % Change Financial Results Total net revenue (1) $54,825 $68,426 ($13,601) (20) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $54,825 $67,492 ($12,667) (19) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Medical cannabis net revenue (2a) $35,022 $32,226 $2,796 9 % $36,378 ($1,356) (4) % Consumer cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $19,514 $35,266 ($15,752) (45) % $18,023 $1,491 8 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on cannabis net revenue (2b) 54 % 49 % N/A 5 % 44 % N/A 10 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue (2b) 68 % 64 % N/A 4 % 53 % N/A 15 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue (2b) 31 % 36 % N/A (5) % 33 % N/A (2) % SG&A expense $46,902 $57,969 ($11,067) (19) % $41,684 $5,218 13 % R&D expense $3,034 $7,645 ($4,611) (60) % $3,398 ($364) (11) % Adjusted EBITDA (2c) ($19,256) ($33,349) $14,093.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 27th, 2021

Aurora Cannabis Announces Fiscal 2021 Fourth Quarter Results

NASDAQ | TSX: ACB #1 Canadian LP in Global Medical Cannabis; Total Medical Cannabis Net Revenue Rose 9% Compared to Prior Year; Strong Adjusted Gross Margin before FVA of 68% Business Transformation Plan on Track; Reiterates Annual Cost Savings of $60 Million to $80 Million, Providing Clear Pathway to Adjusted EBITDA Profitability Balance Sheet Remains Strong with $440.9 Million of Cash at June 30, 2021; Working Capital Improves by $404.3 Million Compared to Prior Year Adjusted EBITDA Loss, Excluding Restructuring Costs, Narrows to $13.9 Million, a $17.6 Million Improvement Compared to Prior Year Total Cannabis Net Revenue, Net of Provisions, of $54.8 Million Compared to $55.2 Million in the Prior Quarter, and $67.5 Million in the Year-Ago Period EDMONTON, AB, Sept. 27, 2021 /CNW/ - Aurora Cannabis Inc. (the "Company" or "Aurora") (NASDAQ:ACB) (TSX:ACB), the Canadian company defining the future of cannabinoids worldwide, today announced its financial and operational results for the fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2021 ended June 30, 2021. "We are very pleased with our strategic and financial progress in growing our high-margin medical revenue, rationalizing expenses, strengthening our balance sheet, and reducing our cash burn during fiscal year 2021. Given ongoing challenges in the Canadian adult recreational market, our broad diversification across domestic medical, international medical, and adult recreational segments provides us with underlying strength, stability, and growth opportunities in an evolving industry for global cannabinoids. Additionally, our enviable leadership position as the #1 Canadian LP in global medical cannabis by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, supported by regulatory and compliance expertise, is a tailwind that we expect to enable us to ultimately expand into global adult recreational as medical regimes evolve" stated Miguel Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Aurora Cannabis. "During the quarter, we delivered another strong yet steady performance in domestic medical, the largest federally regulated medical market globally, exceptional year-over-year growth in our high-margin international medical segment, where we remain the #2 Canadian LP by revenue on a trailing twelve-month basis, and quarterly sequential growth in adult recreational which included higher sales of premium cultivars. We are now delighted to announce a long-term supply agreement with Cantek in Israel that we expect to provide us with a steady stream of high-margin revenue that could also evolve into a larger partnership over time. We further believe our Canadian adult recreational segment is poised for recovery due to our product portfolio enhancements coupled with an acceleration of new store openings and rising consumer demand," he continued. "We have positioned ourselves for long-term success by delivering further improvement in our industry-leading Adjusted gross margin and substantially narrowing our Adjusted EBITDA loss compared to the year-ago period. With annual cost savings of approximately $60 to $80 million across selling, general and administrative ("SG&A"), production cost, facility and logistic expenses, we have a clear pathway to achieve Adjusted EBITDA profitability. Importantly, our considerable cash balance of $440.9 million, substantial improvement in working capital, and strong balance sheet support our organic growth and can be utilized for opportunistic M&A, particularly in the U.S," he concluded. Fourth Quarter 2021 Highlights (Unless otherwise stated, comparisons are made between fiscal Q4 2021 and Q4 2020 results and are in Canadian dollars) Medical cannabis: Medical cannabis net revenue1 was $35.0 million, a 9% increase from the prior year period. The increase was primarily attributable to continued growth in the international medical business, 88% over the prior year comparative period, as the Company continued to grow new, high margin medical markets. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue1 was 68% versus 64% in the prior year, as a result of overall reduction in production costs due to the closure of non-core facilities as part of our business transformation plan and higher sales coming from our international sales, which yield higher margins. Consumer cannabis: Consumer cannabis net revenue1 was $19.5 million ($20.2 million excluding provisions), a 45% decrease from $35.3 million ($37.1 million excluding provisions) in the prior year. This was due primarily to a reduction in orders from Provinces in response to slower consumer demand, reflecting the impact of lockdown restrictions related to COVID-19. Sequentially, consumer cannabis net revenue increased 8% over the prior quarter mainly due to completion of the transition of our fixed sales force to Great North and a $2.5 million reduction in actual net returns, price adjustments and provisions as the company completed its product swap initiative to replace low quality product with higher potency product at the provinces. Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue[1] was 31% vs 36% in the prior year period. This was primarily driven by an increase in cost of sales due to under-utilized capacity at Aurora Sky as a result of the scaling back production (expected to partially reverse in future quarters), offset by an increase in the consumer cannabis sales mix attributed to our core and premium brands, contributing to an increase in our average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis. Consolidated: Adjusted gross margin before fair value adjustments on cannabis net revenue1 was 54% in Q4 2021 versus 49% in the prior year period and 44% in Q3 2021. The increase in Adjusted gross margin compared to Q4 2020 is due primarily to a shift in sales mix towards the medical market which commands higher average net selling prices and margins. Adjusted EBITDA1 loss improved to $19.3 million in Q4 2021 ($13.9 million loss excluding restructuring charges) compared to the prior year Adjusted EBITDA loss1 of $33.3 million ($31.5 million loss excluding restructuring charges) primarily driven by the substantial decrease in SG&A and R&D expenses and an increase in gross margins. Q4 2021 total cannabis net revenue1 was $54.8 million, essentially flat sequentially, and a 19% decrease in over fiscal Q4 of the prior year. Reflecting the shift in mix toward our medical businesses, the Q4 2021 average net selling price per gram of dried cannabis1 increased to $5.11 per gram from $3.60 in Q4 2020 and $5.00 in Q3 2021. This excludes the impact of bulk wholesale of excess mid-potency cannabis flower at clear-out pricing. Selling, General and Administrative ("SG&A"): SG&A, including Research and Development ("R&D"), was $44.8 million, excluding $5.2 million in severance and restructuring costs ($49.9 million reported), down $19.1 million or 30% from the prior year as a result of our business transformation plan. Operational Efficiency Plan, Balance Sheet Strength, & Working Capital Improvement Aurora has identified cash savings of $60 million to $80 million. We expect to deliver $30 million to $40 million of annualized cash savings within the next year, and the remainder by the end of Q2 fiscal 2023. ___________________________________ 1 These terms are non-GAAP measures, see "Non-GAAP Measures" below. Approximately 60% of the savings are expected to be driven out of our network through asset consolidation, and operational and supply chain efficiencies. In fact, last week we announced the centralization of much of our Canadian manufacturing processes to our River facility in Bradford, Ontario and the resultant closure of our western Canada manufacturing facility. The remaining 40% of savings are intended to be sourced through SG&A; a portion of those savings will be via insurance structures that are already partially executed.   These cash savings will be reflected in our P&L either as they occur for SG&A savings, or as inventory is drawn down for production-related savings.  These efficiencies are incremental to the approximately $300 million of total cost reductions achieved since the announcement of the Company's business transformation plan in February 2020. Aurora materially improved its balance sheet during fiscal year 2021 through a number of purposeful actions including repaying the credit facility in full in June 2021, which resulted in interest and principal repayment reductions of approximately $25 million annually. The Company views a strong balance sheet as critical to operating the business, executing its strategic plans, and pursuing growth opportunities in an unconstrained manner, including within the U.S. At June 30, 2021 Aurora has a cash balance of approximately $440.9 million, comprised of $421.5 million of cash and cash equivalents and $19.4 million in restricted cash, no secured term debt, and access to US$1 billion of capital under its shelf prospectus. The Company's focus on realizing operational efficiencies and ability to manage cash has greatly improved operating cash flow; reducing the need for incremental capital. In Q4 2021, Aurora managed cash flow tightly using $7.8 million in cash to fund operations, including working capital investments and restructuring and severance payments of $5.1 million. Cash inflow from capital expenditures, net of $17.5 million disposals and government grant income, in Q4 2021 was $6.2 million versus $32.8 million of cash used in Q4 2020 and $12.2 million of cash used in Q3 2021. Cash used in operations and for capital expenditures are crucial metrics in Aurora's drive toward generating sustainable positive free cash flow, and both have improved significantly over the past year. The Company's ongoing business transformation, with the additional cost efficiency savings described earlier, is expected to move the operating cash flow metric in a positive direction over the coming quarters. Fiscal Q4 2021 Cash Use The main components of cash source and use in Q4 2021 were as follows: ($ thousands) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(4) Q3 2021(4) Cash Flow Cash, Opening $520,238 $230,208 $434,386 Cash used in operations including working capital ($7,840) ($64,199) ($66,215) Capital expenditures, net of disposals and government grant income $6,230 ($32,789) ($12,320) Debt and interest payments ($90,141)(3) ($52,979) ($7,766) Cash use ($91,751) ($149,967) ($86,301) Proceeds raised from sale of marketable securities and investments in associates 11,929 33,673 $- Proceeds raised through debt - - - Proceeds raised through equity financing $435 $48,265 $172,153(1) Cash raised $12,364 $81,938 $172,153 Cash, Ending $440,851 $162,179 $520,238(2) (1) Includes impact of foreign exchange rates on USD cash raised from financing (2) Includes restricted cash of $50.0M for Q3 2021 held as cash collateral under the BMO Credit Facility. (3) Includes $88.7 million full principal repayment on the BMO Credit Facility. As of June 30, 2021, the BMO Credit Facility has been fully settled and discharged. (4) Previously reported amounts have been retroactively recast for the biological assets and inventory non-material prior period error. Refer to the "Significant Accounting Policies and Judgments" section in Note 2(h) of the Financial Statements. Refer to the "Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows" in the "Consolidated Financial Statements" for our cash flow statements prepared in accordance with IAS 7 – Statement of Cash Flows. ($ thousands, except Operational Results) Q4 2021 Q4 2020(5)(6) $ Change % Change Q3 2021 (5)(6) $ Change % Change Financial Results Total net revenue (1) $54,825 $68,426 ($13,601) (20) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $54,825 $67,492 ($12,667) (19) % $55,161 ($336) (1) % Medical cannabis net revenue (2a) $35,022 $32,226 $2,796 9 % $36,378 ($1,356) (4) % Consumer cannabis net revenue (1)(2a) $19,514 $35,266 ($15,752) (45) % $18,023 $1,491 8 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on cannabis net revenue (2b) 54 % 49 % N/A 5 % 44 % N/A 10 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on medical cannabis net revenue (2b) 68 % 64 % N/A 4 % 53 % N/A 15 % Adjusted gross margin before FV adjustments on consumer cannabis net revenue (2b) 31 % 36 % N/A (5) % 33 % N/A (2) % SG&A expense $46,902 $57,969 ($11,067) (19) % $41,684 $5,218 13 % R&D expense $3,034 $7,645 ($4,611) (60) % $3,398 ($364) (11) % Adjusted EBITDA (2c) ($19,256) ($33,349) $14,093 42.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaSep 27th, 2021

Fighter pilot from the Marine Corps" first F-35C squadron says the stealth jet is making US aircraft carriers more lethal

"The jet brings a lot of capability to the Marine Corps and to the Navy," Maj. Mark Dion told Insider. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, conduct a new expeditionary landing demonstration on Dec. 3rd, 2020 US Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Cervantes, Leilani The US Navy's first F-35C fighter jet squadron deployed on an aircraft carrier early last month. The first Marine Corps F-35C squadron is working up to its first carrier deployment, expected early next year. A Marine pilot in this squadron talked to Insider about what the stealth jet means for US carriers. See more stories on Insider's business page. US Navy aircraft carriers have started deploying with F-35C stealth fighter jets, aircraft that one fighter pilot called "a game changer" and said are making US carriers even more lethal.The first US Navy aircraft carrier to deploy with F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the variant engineered for carrier operations, was USS Carl Vinson, which departed San Diego last month and sailed through the South China Sea recently with the "Argonauts" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, the Navy's first F-35C squadron, on board.The Marines are in the game as well. The "Black Knights" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, the Corps' first F-35C squadron, achieved full operational capability in July and are now preparing for their first carrier deployment.This squadron is working long hours training as part of Carrier Air Wing 9 aboard USS Abraham Lincoln and at Naval Air Station Fallon, home of TOPGUN, the Navy's elite air combat school, to get ready for the deployment expected to start early next year.The F-35, the most expensive weapon program in US military history, has had its share of setbacks in development. But pilots are still excited about what the aircraft can do, one of the "Black Knights" told Insider. Maj. Mark Dion in an F-35 Courtesy photo 'This is where I want to be'Maj. Mark Dion, an operations officer and VMFA 314 pilot, transitioned to the F-35 from the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and he told Insider recently that the fifth-generation fighter is definitely what he wants to be flying. He said that "the F-35C is far and away more capable than the F/A-18" Hornet."This jet gives you so much more situational awareness," he explained. "The fusion of all these sensors the jet has just gives the pilots so much more information to make decisions, make better decisions, make them quicker, and just be more lethal.""If we are doing an intercept out there, the F-35 is what you want to be in," he said."It gives me that ability to kind of remain undetected or at least, the ability to remain where the enemy cannot necessarily employ their weapons against me, which we didn't really have back in the F/A-18s, those fourth-gen aircraft," Dion said. "That's a massive advantage of this jet."He added that "if we find ourselves going to a merge with an enemy fighter, it does well in that close combat ACM [air combat maneuvering]. It does very well. I would rather be in the F-35. I have flown both, and this is where I want to be." Maj. Mark Dion Courtesy photo 'It just makes the carrier much more lethal'Dion has also flown the F-35B, a short takeoff and vertical landing variant for the Marine Corps that can fight from airstrips and amphibious assault ships. He was actually part of the first US F-35 combat deployment, which saw Marine pilots flying F-35Bs off the USS Essex and conducting strikes in Afghanistan."That was amazing," he told Insider, saying that it is something he'll always remember."That was huge, just being kind of the first ones out there, leading the way with the Marine Corps and really the [Department of Defense] in general," said Dion, who is now out front on the Corps' efforts to field an F-35C squadron.Asked if he preferred the Hornet, the F-35B, or the F-35C, Dion said that his favorite aircraft was the C.The major said the F-35C "brings a lot more capability" than the B. It has more fuel, allowing for more time on station, and the ability to carry different weapons."The jet brings a lot of capability to the Marine Corps and to the Navy," he said, "and to have an F-35 squadron on a carrier integrated with F/A-18s and the tactics we have with those F/A-18s, it just makes the carrier much more lethal."For example, data links allow the carrier air wing to fight as a single force. In combat, the F-35 can get a better read on the battlefield and then relay targeting information to the F/A-18s, which have a more robust missile loadout than their fifth-gen counterparts. Each aircraft enhances the combat power of the other.Dion described the F-35's ability to enhance the carrier air wing, project power, evade higher-end threats, and mitigate near-peer assets as "a game changer." Three U.S. Marine Corps F-35C Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepare for take off in support of tailored ship’s training availability (TSTA) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, June 30, 2021 US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Juan Anaya 'A lot of hard work and sacrifice'VMFA 314 received its first F-35C on January 21, 2020, achieved initial operational capability in December 2020, and was fully operational by this past summer."The Marines of VMFA 314 have worked their tails off for the past two years to build a squadron of the best DoD air asset that we have, to build the squadron up with that jet, to be ready to go to combat if necessary within a very short period of time," Dion said.The major said it's been "a lot of hard work and sacrifice," but "the hard work that they put into the last two years has really allowed us to be here where we are at right now and continue to be successful and to eventually, early next year, deploy and be ready to defend the nation.""It's been amazing," he said. "It's pretty awesome to be a part of that and see that."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 27th, 2021

Calix (CALX) Solutions Revamp CTC Telecom"s Network Operations

Calix (CALX) partners CTC Telecom to transform the latter's network operations and slash expensive customer support calls on the back of state-of-the-art solutions. Calix, Inc. CALX has joined forces with CTC Telecom to upgrade the latter’s network and customer experience with avant-garde solutions. Per the collaboration, the telco deployed GigaSpire BLAST u6 systems, Calix Support Cloud, and full Revenue EDGE portfolio to capture valuable subscriber data and performance insights, thereby providing a personalized and secure Wi-Fi experience to its customers.CTC Telecom also capitalized on Calix Customer Success Services to revamp installation and support processes for a streamlined network infrastructure. Post its deployment, the telco witnessed a 37% reduction in support call volumes with more than 34% fall in truck rolls. By capturing critical insights, CTC Telecom eradicated consumer-grade gateways issues by replacing them with GigaSpire BLAST systems. This helped in minimizing its day-to-day operational overheads.At a time when the telecom industry is facing record demand for high-bandwidth services, service providers are managing the deployment of advanced network platforms. Against this backdrop, Calix’s solutions have supported service providers over the years with the introduction of new services and models, thereby accelerating its business roadmap.One such service is the GigaSpire BLAST systems. The GigaSpire BLAST u6, which is an integral part of Calix’s Revenue EDGE solution, is equipped with Wi-Fi 6 technology. The BLAST platform deploys a powerful EDGE system that offers cutting-edge applications for the ultimate Wi-Fi experience and paves the path for revenue generation on the back of accretive broadband investments.Calix Customer Success Services offers a plethora of value-added capabilities and provides ongoing guidance that aids users to exceed their business objectives while improving marketing return on investment with reduced customer support expenses. Within four months of this partnership, CTC Telecom has been able to focus on growing its value for the community and has cut down related expenditures to transform the way it conducts its operations.The amalgamation of these trailblazing solutions enabled the telco to enhance subscriber experience across West Central Idaho while boosting broadband businesses with recurring revenue streams. The latest move highlights Calix’s efforts to establish a robust network infrastructure while offering customers the latest technology available in the market.Calix is well-positioned to benefit from customer base expansion amid the coronavirus-induced disruptions. The San Jose, CA-based company is committed to aligning investments with its strategy and maintaining strong discipline over operating expenses, along with a favorable product and customer mix. Moreover, the transition of Calix into a communications cloud and software platform business will manifest in improved financial performance over the long term.Shares of the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have surged 204.2% compared with the industry’s growth of 13.4% in the past year.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchSome better-ranked stocks in the industry are Jiayin Group Inc. JFIN, Paycom Software, Inc. PAYC, and Bentley Systems, Incorporated BSY. While Jiayin Group and Paycom Software sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Bentley Systems carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.Jiayin Group delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 89%, on average.Paycom Software delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 12.3%, on average.Bentley Systems delivered a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 32.5%, on average. Time to Invest in Legal Marijuana If you’re looking for big gains, there couldn’t be a better time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $17.7 billion back in 2019 to an expected $73.6 billion by 2027. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could be a still greater bonanza for investors. Even before the latest wave of legalization, Zacks Investment Research has recommended pot stocks that have shot up as high as +285.9%. You’re invited to check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Calix, Inc (CALX): Free Stock Analysis Report Paycom Software, Inc. (PAYC): Free Stock Analysis Report Jiayin Group Inc. Sponsored ADR (JFIN): Free Stock Analysis Report Bentley Systems, Incorporated (BSY): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 24th, 2021

Euronet"s (EEFT) Ria Money, Nobel Financial Form Partnership

Euronet's (EEFT) arm Ria Money strengthens its position and boosts portfolio by establishing its relationship with Nobel Financial. Euronet Worldwide, Inc.’s EEFT subsidiary Ria Money Transfer forged an alliance with Nobel Financial Inc., part of Nobel Ltd for transitioning 117 Nobel agents to the Ria Money brand, platform and network in the United States. Nobel is a leading company in the global telecommunications industry.With this partnership, Noble customers can now send funds from various locations that consist of the 4,600+ Walmart and 2,100+ Kroger stores across the United States. They can even make the transactions from home with the help of the Ria Money Transfer application.Customers now have access to Ria Money’s 490,000 payout locations in more than 165 countries and can complete transactions in as less as 10 minutes. Nobel customers in the United States can now use Ria Money’s Bill Pay service and network of more than 8,000 billers.Ria Money will also be able to leverage Nobel Financial’s 20 plus years of expertise in the Liberian market and solidify its position in the region.The unit runs the second biggest payments network and is constantly taking initiatives to boost its portfolio and expand its capabilities. It strives hard to ensure that customers can send funds wherever needed across the world in a safe and effective manner.In 2019, this subsidiary of Euronet joined Ripple’s blockchain-based payments network seeking faster cross-border payments.In June, Ria Money launched instant payments in Brazil. This was done through the nation’s new PIX real-time payments network. In May, it extended its distribution network through an alliance with Mooney to further establish its dominance by providing services to the latter’s 45,000 points of sale and 20 million customers in Italy. Euronet also expanded its network with the launch of the Ria Money Transfer app in Chile.Kroger selected Ria Money as its second money transfer service provider in the United States at all its approximately 2,000 locations.Ria Money’s international fund transfer grew 16% year over year in 2020, which is pretty impressive. The business showed its effectiveness in bridging the gap between digital and physical transactions. Its omnichannel products and services along with Euronet’s global payout capabilities bode well for the segment.The business is massively contributing to the parent company’s Money Transfer segment, which is well-poised for growth on the back of physical and digital distribution channels, acquisitions, etc.Zacks Rank & Price Performance of PeersShares of this presently Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) company have gained 40.9% in the past year, outperforming the  industry’s growth of 16.6%. The stock should continue its rally on the back of its solid EFT, epay and Money Transfer segments as well as increased digital transactions.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchStocks to ConsiderSome better-ranked stocks in the same space are CIT Group Inc. CIT, XP Inc. XP and HoulihanLokey, Inc. HLI, earnings of which managed to deliver a trailing four-quarter surprise of 224.59%, 24.44% and 38.33%, respectively, on average. All the companies presently hold a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report CIT Group Inc. (CIT): Free Stock Analysis Report Euronet Worldwide, Inc. (EEFT): Free Stock Analysis Report Houlihan Lokey, Inc. (HLI): Free Stock Analysis Report XP Inc. (XP): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 22nd, 2021

The 4 best knife sharpeners we tested in 2021

A sharp knife makes kitchen tasks a breeze and is actually safer to cut with. Keep your knives sharp with the best knife sharpeners of 2021. Owen Burke/Insider Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky If you own a knife, you should probably own a knife sharpener, unless you want to pay a sharpening service. Our favorite knife sharpener for most kitchens is the Chef's Choice Trizor XV EdgeSelect. We also have recommendations for manual pull-through, kit (jig system), and portable sharpeners. There's no way around it: at some point, your knives are going to need sharpening. And while sharp knives are dangerous, dull knives can be even more so. A dull edge requires more pressure to do its job, making it that much more likely to slip.Since keeping a knife sharp can be a chore, the best sharpener is the one you'll actually use. That's why we spoke with third-generation butcher Pat LaFrieda, who spends just about every night of his life sharpening knives, for his expert input and recommendations. If you don't do much food prep or perform too many precise tasks (like, say, slicing sashimi), LaFrieda suggests pull-through sharpeners; they're about as effective as sharpening steels, but much more user-friendly.However, if you depend more heavily on your knives, an electric sharpener (if you have the space) is going to make your life easiest, followed by a jig system or a whetstone (just know these have a steeper learning curve).We tested eleven sharpeners with a variety of knives, noting how easy the sharpeners were to use and how clean of an edge we were able to achieve on each blade. Below, we have recommendations for electric sharpeners, kits (jig systems), multi-stage pull-through sharpeners, and even one for taking on the go.Here are the best knife sharpeners of 2021Best overall: Chef's Choice Trizor XV EdgeSelectBest budget knife sharpener: Müeller Heavy-Duty 4-Stage Diamond SharpenerBest knife sharpening kit: Edge Pro Apex 2Best compact knife sharpener: KitchenIQ Edge Grip 2-Stage The best knife sharpener overall Owen Burke/Insider The Chef's Choice Trizor XV makes sharpening knives at home as quick and foolproof as can be.Pros: Fast, even, precise, multiple bevel angles and ways to sharpen for different types of knivesCons: Doesn't work well with small (paring) knives or scissorsElectric sharpeners are the fastest, easiest, and most dependable tool for sharpening knives, and the Chef's Choice Trizor XV offers three different bevels of 25, 20, and 15 degrees. Starting with the 25-degree bevel, you can work your way down to 15 degrees. For context, the sharpest kitchen knives on the market top out at 14 degrees, which is sharp enough to slice sashimi. The proof is in the testing, of course.  I took the edge off of a Victorinox Fibrox Extra Wide 8" Chef's Knife (our top recommendation for a budget chef's knife) using concrete, and after less than five minutes running it through all three stages of the Trizor XV, it was shaving a path right through the hair on the back of my hand — something it couldn't do very well even right out of the factory.A three-stage sharpener includes a coarse stage, which takes off the most metal, a finer stage that evens out the burr (overhanging metal on the edge of the blade) from the coarse stage, and a third stage performs the stropping or honing function, usually using ceramic as opposed to the diamond-coated steel in the first two stages. Running your knives through the third stage every few weeks will keep the blades fresh and extend the time between sharpening.What we like most about the Trizor XV (the XV refers to the 15-degree sharpener) is the spring-loaded sharpening blades that grip the knife's edge at the correct angle, preventing you from damaging the blade as you pull it through. This is the main problem with pull-through sharpeners: too much pressure or a slight tilt as you draw the blade through and you'll actually end up dulling your knife, or at least making a jagged edge that will be tough to fix.The Trizor XV is also easy to store (there are no parts beyond the unit itself) and it requires almost no maintenance beyond occasional light cleaning, which involves opening a catchment system for filings.While running through the three stations in order is the general way to sharpen a basic chef's knife, you can also mix things up to better suit different types of blades. For example, Chef's Choice recommends using stage one followed by stage three if your knife is intended for butchering, field dressing, or "highly fibrous material" in general. This helps retain "micro flutes" (flouted channels running near and perpendicular to the edge), which create a more abrupt edge to cut through fibers.When it comes to filleting, you can use stages two and three, which will help retain even finer micro flutes, and prevent tender meat from tearing. Lastly, running your knife through the third station will strop and polish blades, which will remove any burrs (or wire edge) and give it a light sharpening. You can do this every couple or few weeks to keep your blades fresh and extend the time between sharpening. The best budget knife sharpener Owen Burke/Insider Müeller's Heavy-Duty 4-Stage Diamond Sharpener takes care of most knives and scissors for a surprisingly impressive result without breaking the bank.Pros: Sharpens scissors as well as knives, three stages for knivesCons: Doesn't sharpen serrated knives, not the finest edge, but more than good enough for mostA pull-through sharpener strikes a happy balance between quality and convenience. You're not going to get an edge that will appease a sushi chef, but you'll be able to slice tomatoes (or trim raw fish for that matter) with the end result.We tested seven pull-through sharpeners and found that Müeller's Heavy-Duty 4-Stage Diamond Sharpener turned out the best edges with the least amount of difficulty and margin for error.All of our research and expert interviews pointed us to three-stage sharpeners, and our testing confirmed that three stages seem to offer the best edge from a pull-through, but this model's fourth stage, for scissors, certainly doesn't hurt. Couple that with the fact that this sharpener is about the same price as less-intensive single-stage ones, and we had our pick.We sharpened cheap drawer scissors and kitchen shears, as well as nearly-destroyed bait knives and fine German steel with this sharpener and while we didn't get a perfect edge on the latter two (that would be tough with most sharpeners), we did get them serviceable again.The most common issue we ran up against with pull-through sharpeners was getting a bite on edges without coarsely gouging away at them, which can be disastrous. With the exception of wider-angled pocket knife blades, everything ran through the Müeller smoothly, and most jobs were done in a matter of minutes.No, you're not going to completely restore knives with jagged edges or broken tips using this pull-through or any other, but for a quick but respectable edge freshening, nothing we tried within this price range offered the same treatment. The best knife sharpening kit Owen Burke/Insider Edge Pro's Apex 2 offers the whetstone experience with foolproof control, allowing you to get your edges (almost) as sharp as the pros.Pros: Sharpens all knives, adjustable bevel settingsCons: Suction-cup grip doesn't work on all surfaces, best for kitchen knives (you can augment your kit for other knives though)A sharpening kit, and specifically a jig system like Edge Pro's Apex 2, is essentially a whetstone kit with training wheels. You get absolute control while using the most traditional sharpening tools (a set of ceramic stones) without the hassle of having to intimately understand the edges of your blades.Edge Pro offers several different kits, but the Apex 2 is a great place to start for those just looking to sharpen kitchen knives. You get three stones of 220, 400, and 600 grit ceramic, the kit itself, an 8" ceramic hone, a microfiber towel, a water bottle for careful dousing, and a black carrying case. It's everything you need and nothing you don't.We found the Apex 2 exceptionally easy to set up and put to work, thanks to the marked angles on the vertical rod on which the jig pivots. We also appreciated the instruction manual; it offers tips on how to find the edge of your blade by using a permanent marker, which will ensure you don't ruin it.If you're new to sharpening, you'll probably want to practice on a knife that you're not terribly worried about, but you'll get comfortable soon enough (and much sooner than if you were to use whetstones freehand). The only thing we don't like about the Apex kits is that they're held in place by suction cups. While they work extremely well on high-gloss surfaces, they wouldn't stick to my workbench or my card table, where I like to handle messier tasks, and I had to buy a bench mount for $27. That said, since most people are sharpening in their kitchen and many might not have enough of an overhanging edge on their countertops for a vice or clamp, we understand how the suction cups may be useful.  We've recommended the Apex 4 in the past because it's a little better suited to polishing Japanese knives, but it's not necessary for most people, and you'll do just fine with everything from shears to serrated knives using the Apex 2.This kit will last you an incredibly long time, and it will handle every kind of knife in your kitchen and then some (though if you really want to branch out you may want to invest in a few other items). We brought back everything from absolutely tortured bait knives from a fishing boat to chipped carbon blades on Japanese knives with little trouble at all. Plus, we have to admit that it's sort of fun to use. The best compact knife sharpener Owen Burke/Insider If you don't have room in your kitchen for a full-sized sharpener or you want something you can take on the go, the KitchenIQ Edge Grip 2 Stage Sharpener will get the job done and neatly tuck away.Pros: Small, stable, effective for basic sharpening and finishing, works on serrated bladesCons: You won't get as refined of an edge as with a three-stage sharpener, not good for scissors The Kitchen IQ 2-Stage Knife Sharpener is almost as basic as knife sharpening gets, and if it's the difference between you owning a sharpener — any sharpener — and not, spend the $10 and your knife work will become infinitely better, and perhaps more importantly, safer.There's not much to this little number: the carbide blades make up the coarse treatment and the ceramic ones do the fine work to touch up the edge. What we like about it over the others in this size class is that it does have two stages as opposed to one, and it is incredibly stable with a low center of gravity and a comfortable grip. Out of almost all of the sharpeners we tested, this was by far the least likely to topple over.Of course, it also fits in your drawer, or your pocket for that matter. Either way, it's not going to occupy precious space, and you can take it on the go. It's not going to perform any miracle work on far-gone cutlery, but keeping it in regular use will keep the working knives you do have in commission, which is all most of us need anyhow.It's a great backup tool to have in your kitchen, and easy enough to pull out of the drawer and draw a knife or two through it a few times before prepping for dinner. It won't break the bank, and you may rely on it more than you expect. What else we tested Owen Burke/Insider AccuSharp: This one doesn't offer the cleanest sharpening, but it is extremely safe and does a decent touch-up for those less inclined to spend time sharpening knives. Still, we found it to be the quickest and easiest to use, which goes a long way.Lansky D-Sharp: This is a great pick for those looking to take a sharpener on the go, and especially those looking to keep a variety of knives sharp. With 17-, 21-, and 25-degree angles as well as a ceramic edge for honing, you can use this palm-sized sharpener with anything from a fillet knife to a pocket knife. This doesn't do the finest job, but it's versatile, extremely thin (about half an inch) and only a few inches long, so it'll fit in any kit.Work Sharp E2: If you want a more affordable option for an electric sharpener, this is a great (and more compact) option, but you'll have to operate it with a little more finesse or you'll torture your blade like you would misusing most any sharpener. Unlike the Chef's Choice Trizor XV, it also works well with scissors. Our testing methodology Owen Burke/Insider We dulled a few different types of knives for this guide, ranging from lower-quality 440 stainless steel (including a cheap pocket knife) to mid-quality X50CrMoV15 steel to finer VG-10 (a relatively high-carbon steel with vanadium and chromium and molybdenum for a hybrid between German- and Japanese-style blades).We then ran each knife through every sharpener we tested (11 in all), weeding out ones that clearly, off the bat, weren't working as well as others.After we were pleased with the sharpness of the knife, we ran it through a sheet of paper and along the outward sheet of a folded high-gloss magazine, which is Bob Kramer's method for testing sharpness. We then took them back to the kitchen where we made sure they could slice tomatoes and skin-on onions under little to no more than their own weight.We also spoke with metallurgist and MIT senior lecturer Michael J. Tarkanian, as well as Pat LaFrieda, the famed butcher behind LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, to learn what types of sharpeners work best, and which ones should be left to the professionals.While whetstones and grinding wheels reign supreme, we found through experience and interviews with the experts above, as well as others, that they require a certain level of prowess most home cooks don't have. Grinding wheels can also be very, very dangerous.If you're really after a whetstone, the ones we recommend based on past testing are Smith's TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HOME Sharpening System, but generally, we've found that electric, pull-through, kits (specifically, jig systems), and portable options are best for most people.Our general criteria for consideration included:Convenience: Above all, a sharpener has to be simple enough to use that it doesn't prevent you from ever putting it to use at all. We made sure that each sharpener we tested worked with basic instructions. A whetstone, on the other hand, requires a level of expertise that most home cooks don't have. Further to that point, a grinding wheel is incredibly dangerous and has no place in most homes. We also took note of efficiency: how long did it take to sharpen a knife sufficiently? Although, convenience and quality are generally non-correlative. Specifically, when pull-through sharpeners were quick to sharpen, they usually left edges fairly rough and jagged.Safety: Sharpening knives can be dangerous, so a stable device is paramount to ensuring safety. Some options we tried didn't necessarily inspire confidence in that department, so they were set aside. Each of the sharpeners we ended up recommending is on the sturdier and safer side.Materials: We found that kits with whetstones offered the most precision, but a combination of diamond and ceramic pull-through options offered a lot for the relatively quick pass most home cooks are willing to give their knives.Versatility: Some sharpeners — including most pull-through options — only offer a single setting. These work in a pinch, but we found that at least three options (one for coarse sharpening, one for fine sharpening, and one for polishing) serviced a knife best, while a fourth, for scissors and serrated blades, offered the most versatility.Size: We considered sharpeners based on size depending on where one might keep them. Some fit in drawers, some required a devoted shelf within a cabinet, and others fit in your pocket. Larger sharpeners performed better almost across the board, but we also considered the needs of those looking for a portable sharpener. What we look forward to testing Knifeaid We are still looking at more pull-through options, but we will also be recommending both honing steels (we haven't found much difference from one brand to the next, but we're happy with this one from Victorinox) and e-commerce-based sharpening services.Chef's Choice Pronto Pro 4643: This is a pull-through option we've recommended in the past, but after testing and researching so many more, we're not sure you need to spend so much on a pull-through sharpener, as you can find quality electric sharpeners for about the same price. We'll be putting it through more testing and reporting back soon.KnifeAid: At nearly $13 a sharpening, this is probably going to cost you a little more than taking your knives to a local sharpener — provided you have one. For convenience's sake, we're going to consider KnifeAid and other sharpening services. The one thing you'll need to keep in mind is that your knives will be out for a while, so you'll need a backup or three in the meantime. Glossary Angle: Each blade edge has an angle set in the factory. Most kitchen knives will range from about 14° to 20° per side.Bevel: The surface of a blade that has been ground to create the angle and edgeEdge: The sharp side(s) of a bladeElectric sharpeners: Electric sharpeners are similar to pull-through, but with exponential precision. These are the best for most people where convenience, efficiency, and precision are concerned. They do tend to be larger and harder to store, though.Honing: Maintaining (by way of aligning) the edge of a bladeJig systems, or kits: You can think of a jig system or kit as a whetstone with training wheels. You're still using and wetting ceramic stones, you just have a stationary axis that allows you to position the jig (to which the stone attaches) and measure out precise angles. These are more involved than other options, but behind a whetstone, they offer most of us the optimal end result.Pull-through sharpeners: The most basic option, but also the most cursory, a pull-through sharpener is made using opposing steel (often diamond-coated) and sometimes ceramic edges, which remove steel from the edge of your blade as you draw it through the wedge. These will do the job for quick touch-ups but don't usually perform well when trying to bring back a seriously dull or damaged blade.Stropping: The polishing of a blade, often with leather, after it has been sharpenedWhetstone: While whetstones indisputably offer the greatest sharpening potential, they really only do so in the hands of a pro. If you're looking to make a hobby of knife sharpening, be our guest, but know that you'll have a learning curve with which to contend. Check out our other great knife buying guides Too many knives. Owen Burke/Insider The best knife setsThe best kitchen knivesThe best cutting boardsThe best knife blocks Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytOct 15th, 2021

Realty Income (O) Makes More Investments in Carrefour Properties

Realty Income's (O) additional investments in Carrefour properties are in sync with its strategy of partnering with operators enjoying consistent sales trends and limited cash flow volatility. Realty Income Corporation O announced the closing of a €64-million ($74.2 million) portfolio transaction in Spain. It comprised three properties leased to Carrefour under long-term net lease agreements.Together with the prior-announced Carrefour transaction, this leads to an investment of roughly €157 million ($182 million) by Realty Income in Spain-based real estate. The initial €93-million strategic sale-leaseback transaction in Spain, which was announced this September, marked the company’s “debut strategic expansion into Spain”. That comprised seven properties under long-term net lease agreements with Carrefour and its real estate subsidiary Carrefour Property.According to Sumit Roy, president and chief executive officer of Realty Income, "We deeply value our partnerships with leading global operators like Carrefour as we establish our foundation in Spain, and we look forward to strengthening this relationship and building others as we continue to expand internationally."The company’s expansion into continental Europe and partnership with Carrefour are strategic fits as Carrefour enjoys the second-highest grocery market share in Spain. Notably, it has emerged as the eighth largest retailer in the world, operating more than 13,000 stores with different formats across more than 30 countries.Carrefour’s non-discretionary business model comprises an omni-channel strategy, helping achieve resiliency through various economic cycles. Even amid the turbulence in the industry, its same-store sales increased 7.8% in 2020.Therefore, the tie-up with Europe's largest food retailer aligns with Realty Income’s investment strategy of partnering with prominent operators in industries enjoying consistent sales trends in different economic cycles and having limited cash flow volatility.Solid property acquisition volume at decent investment spreads has played a key role in boosting the company’s performance. In the first half of 2021, Realty Income invested $2.16 billion in 254 properties and properties under development or expansion. This included $994.8 million in U.K. properties.Further, Realty Income’s VEREIT Inc. VER merger, which is expected to close this quarter, augurs well as the combined entity is poised to benefit from the enhanced size, scale, diversification and synergies, particularly through accretive debt-refinancing opportunities.Shares of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company have gained 7.3% so far in the fourth quarter compared with the industry’s rally of 2.9%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Other Key PicksThe Zacks Consensus Estimate for Simon Property Group’s SPG current-year FFO per share has moved up marginally to $10.85 in the past week. The company carries a Zacks Rank of 2, currently.Regency Centers Corporation REG has a Zacks Rank of 2 at present. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for its 2021 FFO per share has been revised 1.3% upward to $3.79 in a month.Note: Anything related to earnings presented in this write-up represents funds from operations (FFO) — a widely used metric to gauge the performance of REITs. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Simon Property Group, Inc. (SPG): Free Stock Analysis Report Regency Centers Corporation (REG): Free Stock Analysis Report Realty Income Corporation (O): Free Stock Analysis Report VEREIT Inc. (VER): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 15th, 2021

IPO Saga in Auto World Continues: Rivian the Latest Aspirant

Amid the trending excitement in the market surrounding IPOs, Amazon (AMZN) and Ford (F)-backed Rivian aspires to raise the much-needed money to carve a niche in the growing EV sector. Electric vehicle (EV) companies are seen as an attractive investment opportunity with some of the biggest IPOs happening in the United States and China. In fact, there have been a number of IPO instances during 2020 involving Chinese manufacturers.To name a few, Li Auto Inc LI raised $1.1 billion after it debuted on NASDAQ on Jul 30, 2020, being the second China-based EV maker to be listed on the U.S. stock market after NIO Inc. NIO. XPeng Motors XPEV also raised $1.5 billion after it made a public debut on the NYSE on Aug 27, 2020.Elsewhere, Geely Automobile Holdings GELYY-owned Volvo Cars recently announced its plans to raise at least 25 billion kronor ($2.9 billion) in Sweden’s biggest IPO in decades and expects to debut on the Nasdaq Stockholm before the end of this year.Amid the trending excitement in the market surrounding IPOs, Amazon AMZN and Ford F-backed Rivian Automotive Inc. filed for a confidential IPO in August and publicly submitted its paperwork recently with the security regulators. The EV start-up has applied to trade under the ticker symbol RIVN on the NASDAQ.About RivianHeadquartered in Irvine, CA, Rivian commenced operations in the year 2009 as Mainstream Motors before switching to the name Rivian two years later. The company makes an upscale pick-up truck and a sport utility vehicle, both designed to be driven off-road. These vehicles are manufactured at its plant in Normal, IL. The plant has a production capacity of 150,000 units annually.The company had raised $10.5 billion in venture capital funding as of mid-2021, including from Amazon and Ford, each of which have an ownership of more than 5% in the company.Rivian unveiled prototypes of its all-electric R1T truck and R1S SUV at the LA Auto Show in late 2018. The R1T and R1S are equipped with the Driver+ advanced driver assistance system. The Level 2 system assists drivers in a wide range of driving and parking situations. The company started deliveries of its R1T pick-up truck this September, beating Tesla, General Motors and Ford by being the first to bring an electric pick-up to the market.Like Tesla, Rivian sells its vehicles directly to consumers, skipping dealership networks, and demands a refundable deposit when people configure their vehicle on its website.Inside Rivian’s IPO FilingIn its recent S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Rivian revealed mounting losses and an ardent need for cash as it heads into one of the most anticipated IPOs of the year to fulfill its desire of designing, developing, producing and then selling EVs.The filing states that Rivian currently operates six service centers in California, Illinois, Washington, and New York, and runs 11 mobile service vehicles that can go to a customer’s home and do repairs.Rivian claims to have incurred a $994-million net loss in the first six months of 2021. In 2020, the company registered a net loss of $1.02 billion, underscoring the costs and risks involved in developing EVs. Further, the company expects to invest roughly $8 billion on infrastructure and equipment through the end of 2023. The company claims to still be in nascent stage of development having not generated any meaningful revenues till date.Rivian also disclosed it had secured 48,390 pre-orders for its R1T pickup trucks and R1S SUVs in the United States and Canada as of September. The company also announced plans to roll out its seven-passenger R1S SUV this December. Management said in its filing that it also plans to build multiple vehicles within the consumer and commercial sectors.Per the filing, Amazon, which has a contract to buy 100,000 last mile-delivery vehicles from Rivian, has invested more than $1.8 billion in the company. Amazon and Cox Automotive also have spots on the board of directors for Rivian, with Ford no longer having any representatives, according to the filing.Rivian also presented its long-term business strategies in the filing. The company anticipates selling its EVs first in the United States and Canada, and then plans to expand to Western Europe, followed by the Asian-Pacific markets. The company also clarified that it does not expect to be profitable for the foreseeable future as it continues to invest in its business, and scale up its capacity and operations.The company plans to establish its own network of charging stations as well as offer charging spots in hotels and other locations. Its filing states that the company has secured 24 Rivian Adventure Network direct current fast charging sites in seven states and 145 Rivian Waypoints charging sites in 30 states.Though the filing did not mention how much money Rivian expects to raise in the offering, the initial reports suggest its IPO valuation could hit $80 billion.What Lies Ahead for Rivian?By opting for an IPO, Rivian would be able to raise the much-needed money to carve a niche in the growing and increasingly competitive landscape for EVs. With deliveries already underway, Rivian will start generating revenues soon. However, heavy losses are projected to continue for some time as underlined by the company’s flaring up expenses. Thus, investors need to keep a close eye on this intriguing young EV company to decide whether or not it would be worth betting on it. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report Ford Motor Company (F): Free Stock Analysis Report Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. (GELYY): Free Stock Analysis Report NIO Inc. (NIO): Free Stock Analysis Report Li Auto Inc. Sponsored ADR (LI): Free Stock Analysis Report XPeng Inc. Sponsored ADR (XPEV): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 15th, 2021

BD"s (BDX) New Manufacturing Facility to Boost Supply Readiness

BD's (BDX) latest manufacturing line is expected to not only boost supply capacity but also provide priority access to needles and syringes to the U.S. government. Becton, Dickinson and Company BDX, popularly known as BD, recently announced that it has increased its manufacturing capacity and domestic supply via its latest Nebraska-based manufacturing capacity. The latest facility is expected to bolster the U.S. government's access to safety injection devices.For investors’ note, the new syringe and needle manufacturing lines represent the public-private partnership between BD and the Department of Health and Human Services' Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (“ASPR”). In fact, in July 2020, ASPR's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority had invested approximately $42 million in a $70-million capital project to further expand BD's operations and manufacturing lines in Holdrege, NE.The latest addition to BD’s syringe and needle manufacturing line is expected to significantly strengthen its foothold in the niche space across the world.Significance of the Latest AdditionThe new manufacturing lines is expected to contribute to BD's existing needle and syringe supply capabilities domestically. This latest addition marks a significant manufacturing milestone for the company as the United States prepares to head into the flu vaccination season, where the critical requirement for these essential devices continues.Per management, the unrelenting spread of the pandemic has highlighted the need to secure the nation's supply continuity of these critical injection devices. Hence, BD is expecting to uphold its commitment to ensure that all of its customers, including the U.S. government, have the supplies required to vaccinate against the COVID-19 virus and simultaneously manage routine preventative health care needs, such as the seasonal flu.The addition to domestic manufacturing is also likely to meet patients’ and health care providers’ needs as well as create employment in the United States. BD is also working toward ensuring that the global community is prepared for future pandemic vaccination.Industry ProspectsPer a report by HNY Research published on Business Growth Reports, the global syringes and needles market was valued at $1156.53 million in 2020 and is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of approximately 4.2% between 2020 and 2027. Factors like high adoption of prefilled needles, increasing prevalence of diabetics and rising incidence of trauma cases are likely to drive the market.Given the market potential, the latest facility addition is expected to significantly strengthen BD’s business worldwide.Recent DevelopmentsOf late, BD has witnessed a few notable developments across its businesses.This month, the company received the FDA’s 510(k) clearance for expanded indications for the Rotarex Atherectomy System.In August, BD announced the launch of BD COR System, a new and fully-automated high-throughput diagnostic system utilizing robotics and sample management software algorithms.The same month, the company announced receipt of the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) for the BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test. The test is an over-the-counter rapid antigen test that utilizes the Scanwell Health mobile app to deliver reliable results in 15 minutes.Comparison With PeersBD’s peer, PerkinElmer, Inc. PKI, this month, announced that the FDA has issued an EUA for the PKamp Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Panel 1 assay. The single-test assay can immediately be utilized by qualified laboratories for the simultaneous qualitative detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, influenza B and respiratory syncytial virus isolated from nasopharyngeal swabs, anterior nasal swabs and mid-turbinate swabs.Another key peer of BD, Hologic, Inc. HOLX, announced its broad European launch of the Novodiag system — a fully automated molecular diagnostic solution for on-demand testing of infectious diseases and antimicrobial resistance — this month.Quidel Corporation QDEL, another key player in the fight against the pandemic, announced in early September that it will make its non-prescription QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test available to consumers soon. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Becton, Dickinson and Company (BDX): Free Stock Analysis Report Hologic, Inc. (HOLX): Free Stock Analysis Report PerkinElmer, Inc. (PKI): Free Stock Analysis Report Quidel Corporation (QDEL): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 15th, 2021

NextGen"s (NXGN) Integrated Platform Gets Leveraged by Mednax

Mednax utilizes NextGen's (NXGN) fully-integrated platform to enhance its efficacy in placing crucial information on patients' health and well-being at the physician's fingertips. NextGen Healthcare, Inc. NXGN recently announced that its client Mednax, Inc. MD has expanded the use of NextGen Healthcare’s integrated platform. Mednax has adopted NextGen Virtual Visits as well as the NextGen Mobile. In addition, the company is utilizing the entire NextGen Healthcare platform, including NextGen Optical Management and NextGen API Solutions, throughout its network of 800 ambulatory providers in 39 states and counting.It is worth mentioning that Mednax has been a longtime user of NextGen Enterprise electronic health records (EHR) and NextGen Enterprise PM. The long-standing, collaborative partnership with NextGen has enabled Mednax to scale operations and add new functionality at its own pace, per management. The use of NextGen’s fully integrated platform is expected to improve Mednax’s practices in putting crucial information on patients’ health and well-being at physicians' fingertips.Per NextGen management, the company’s strategic acquisitions, including telehealth and mobile capabilities, are facilitating seamless patient-provider connections at healthcare centers throughout the country.More on the NewsNextGen Virtual Visits is expected to help Mednax in remote monitoring and treatment. This platform enables providers to see their patients through video as part of their normal workflow. The NextGen Virtual Visits integrates fully into the NextGen Enterprise EHR and virtually offers safe, convenient, and HIPAA-compliant access to care.NextGen Mobile will enable Mednax’s providers to access schedules and records, streamline clinical documentation and collaborate with members of the care team, all with the help of a smartphone. NextGen Mobile can also connect to NextGen Enterprise EHR and provides doctors with access to a patient’s medical records, prescription lists, appointments and detailed care plans from prior providers right away.Industry ProspectsPer a report published in MarketsandMarkets, the global telehealth and telemedicine market is expected to see a CAGR of 37.7% during 2020-2025. Factors driving the market include growing population, increased need to expand access to healthcare, rising prevalence of chronic diseases and conditions, physician shortages, advancements in telecommunications, government support, increasing awareness and greater use of technology due to COVID-19.Given the market prospects, the expanded utilization of NextGen’s fully-integrated platform seems strategic for the company.Notable Developments by NextGenIn September 2021, NextGen announced that it has facilitated 2 million telehealth visits since March 2020, which is a significant milestone. Since last year, the company witnessed an almost 5000% surge in telehealth visits as providers across the United States turned to the NextGen Virtual Visits to offer safe and convenient continuity of care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NextGen Virtual Visits also gained high patient satisfaction scores of 9.1 out of 10 during this time.In August 2021, the company announced that Neighborhood Health was utilizing the NextGen Mobile application to deliver its “street medicine” program to the homeless residents of Nashville. The NextGen Mobile app is linked to the NextGen Enterprise Electronic Health Record. This app enables field doctors to quickly access a patient’s medical records, prescription lists, appointments and detailed care plans from previous providers.A Few Updates in TelehealthThe teleheath market has gained significant momentum with the COVID-19 outbreak when remote health care options became increasingly important. The telehealth space is competitive with the presence of notable players.CVS Health’s CVS subsidiary Aetna recently unveiled its 2022 Medicare offerings, including expanded telehealth benefits. In this regard, it was noted that all Aetna 2022 Medicare Advantage plans will cover telehealth visits for primary care, urgent care and specialty care provided by a doctor, including mental health services. Further, members will be able to schedule telehealth visits 24/7 via MinuteClinic Video Visit, Teladoc, or another network provider offering this service, based on their location.Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. WBA inked a five-year strategic affiliation deal with Northwell Health. The collaborative activities that are being pursued under this partnership involve digital offerings, retail and specialty pharmacy services, as well as offering Walgreens as an in-network pharmacy provider for Northwell’s employees. Notably, the terms of the digital agreement have made Northwell telehealth providers accessible on the Walgreens Find Care platform across New York, allowing community members to receive virtual emergency care services from board-certified emergency medicine physicians in the comfort of their own homes. Infrastructure Stock Boom to Sweep America A massive push to rebuild the crumbling U.S. infrastructure will soon be underway. It’s bipartisan, urgent, and inevitable. Trillions will be spent. Fortunes will be made. The only question is “Will you get into the right stocks early when their growth potential is greatest?” Zacks has released a Special Report to help you do just that, and today it’s free. Discover 7 special companies that look to gain the most from construction and repair to roads, bridges, and buildings, plus cargo hauling and energy transformation on an almost unimaginable scale.Download FREE: How to Profit from Trillions on Spending for Infrastructure >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report CVS Health Corporation (CVS): Free Stock Analysis Report MEDNAX, Inc. (MD): Free Stock Analysis Report Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA): Free Stock Analysis Report NEXTGEN HEALTHCARE, INC (NXGN): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here......»»

Category: topSource: zacksOct 15th, 2021

Truist reports third quarter 2021 results

GAAP earnings of $1.6 billion, or $1.20 per diluted share Adjusted earnings of $1.9 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share Results reflect diverse business mix, strong fee income, and solid core loan and deposit growth Excellent credit quality and improving economic conditions drive provision benefit Successful conversion of heritage BB&T clients CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Truist Financial Corporation (NYSE:TFC) today reported earnings for the third quarter of 2021. Net income available to common shareholders was $1.6 billion, up 51%, compared to the third quarter last year. Earnings per diluted common share were $1.20, an increase of 52% compared with the same period last year. Results for the third quarter produced an annualized return on average assets (ROA) of 1.28%, an annualized return on average common shareholders' equity (ROCE) of 10.2%, and an annualized return on tangible common shareholders' equity (ROTCE) of 19.3%. Adjusted net income available to common shareholders was $1.9 billion, or $1.42 per diluted share, excluding merger-related and restructuring charges of $172 million ($132 million after-tax), incremental operating expenses related to the merger of $191 million ($147 million after-tax), and a one-time professional fee expense of $30 million ($23 million after-tax). Adjusted results produced an annualized ROA of 1.51%, an annualized ROCE of 12.1%, and an annualized ROTCE of 22.6%. Adjusted earnings per diluted share were up 46% compared to the prior year. "Truist produced solid results in the third quarter, driven by strong fee income from our diverse business mix - including wealth, insurance brokerage, investment banking, and positive trends in a number of other businesses given improving economic conditions," said Chief Executive Officer William H. Rogers Jr. "We also continue to deliver exceptional credit performance with net charge-offs at 19 basis points. The health of our clients remains strong and we delivered average loan growth of 2% annualized compared to the prior quarter, excluding PPP loans. "We continue to make great progress and carefully guide our clients through conversion milestones, including completing our retail mortgage origination conversion and accelerating the roll-out of our Truist digital app. In addition, after months of intense preparation, we migrated approximately 7 million clients to the new Truist technology ecosystem - our most significant milestone to date and the result of the expertise and purposeful commitment from thousands of dedicated teammates. We are excited about these successful milestones in the integration process and are one step closer to the finish line of the merger. "Truist continued fulfilling our purpose—to inspire and build better lives and communities—in the third quarter through a number of unique and creative initiatives. Purpose drove our decision to remain open this past Saturday to ensure a smooth and successful systems conversion. This quarter, we expanded our partnership with EVERFI bringing literacy tools to elementary schools across the nation. We showed leadership as the first top 10 bank to join Blackrock's philanthropic Emergency Savings Initiative, and 64% of our early career hiring in 2021 has been filled by diverse candidates. Our teammates and I are very proud of all the ways we live our purpose at Truist." Third Quarter 2021 Performance Highlights Earnings per diluted common share were $1.20 Adjusted diluted earnings per share were $1.42 up $0.45 per share, or 46%, compared to third quarter 2020 ROA was 1.28%; adjusted ROA was 1.51% ROCE was 10.2%; adjusted ROCE was 12.1% ROTCE was 19.3%; adjusted ROTCE was 22.6% Taxable-equivalent revenue was $5.6 billion Adjusted taxable-equivalent revenue (excluding securities gains) was down 0.9% compared to second quarter 2021 and up 2.3% compared to third quarter 2020 Noninterest income, excluding securities gains, was down 1.7% compared to second quarter 2021 and up 12% compared to third quarter 2020 Strong results from wealth, insurance, investment banking, and residential mortgage banking; traditional fee streams increased from higher economic activity (card, payments, and service charges on deposit accounts) Fee income ratio was 42.2%, compared to 42.6% for second quarter 2021 Net interest income was down 0.4% compared to second quarter 2021 and 3.8% compared to third quarter 2020 Net interest margin was 2.81%, down seven basis points from second quarter 2021 Core net interest margin was 2.58%, down two basis points from second quarter 2021 Noninterest expense was $3.8 billion Adjusted noninterest expense was $3.3 billion, up 2.4% compared to second quarter 2021 and 3.5% compared to third quarter 2020 GAAP efficiency ratio was 67.8%, compared to 71.0% for second quarter 2021 Adjusted efficiency ratio was 57.9%, compared to 56.1% for second quarter 2021 Asset quality remains excellent, reflecting our prudent risk culture, diverse portfolio, improving economic conditions, and the ongoing effects of government stimulus Nonperforming assets were 0.23% of total assets, relatively stable from second quarter 2021 Net charge-offs were 0.19% of average loans and leases, down one basis point compared to second quarter 2021 The ALLL ratio was 1.65% compared to 1.79% for second quarter 2021 Provision for credit losses was a benefit of $324 million for third quarter 2021, primarily reflecting an improving economic outlook The ALLL coverage ratio was 4.35X nonperforming loans and leases held for investment, versus 4.83X in second quarter 2021 Capital and liquidity levels remained strong; deployed capital through increased dividend and acquisitions Common equity tier 1 to risk-weighted assets was 10.1% Consolidated average LCR ratio was 114% Increased common dividend 7% in third quarter 2021 Completed acquisition of Constellation Affiliated Partners Announced acquisition of Service Finance, LLC to expand point-of-sale lending capabilities   EARNINGS HIGHLIGHTS Change 3Q21 vs. (dollars in millions, except per share data) 3Q21 2Q21 3Q20 2Q21 3Q20 Net income available to common shareholders $ 1,616 $ 1,559 $ 1,068 $ 57 $ 548 Diluted earnings per common share 1.20 1.16 0.79 0.04 0.41 Net interest income - taxable equivalent $ 3,261 $ 3,273 $ 3,391 $ (12) $ (130) Noninterest income 2,365 2,405 2,210 (40) 155 Total taxable-equivalent revenue $ 5,626 $ 5,678 $ 5,601 $ (52) $ 25 Less taxable-equivalent adjustment 28 28 29 Total revenue $ 5,598 $ 5,650 $ 5,572 Return on average assets 1.28 % 1.28 % 0.91 % — % 0.37 % Return on average risk-weighted assets (current quarter is preliminary) 1.77 1.76 1.19 0.01 0.58 Return on average common shareholders' equity 10.2 10.1 6.9 0.1 3.3 Return on average tangible common shareholders' equity (1) 19.3 18.9 13.3 0.4 6.0 Net interest margin - taxable equivalent 2.81 2.88 3.10 (0.07) (0.29) (1) Excludes certain items as detailed in the non-GAAP reconciliations in the Quarterly Performance Summary. Third Quarter 2021 compared to Second Quarter 2021 Total taxable-equivalent revenue was $5.6 billion for the third quarter of 2021, a decrease of $52 million, or 0.9%, compared to the prior quarter. Net interest income for the third quarter of 2021 was down $12 million, or 0.4%, compared to the prior quarter due primarily to lower purchase accounting accretion and lower fees from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, partially offset by growth in the securities portfolio. Average earning assets increased $6.5 billion, or 1.4%, compared to the prior quarter. Average securities available for sale increased $10.6 billion, or 7.8%, while average total loans decreased $2.6 billion, or 0.9%, and average other earning assets (primarily cash at the Federal Reserve) decreased $2.3 billion, or 10.5%. The growth in average earning assets is a result of an increase in investment securities driven by strong deposit growth. Average deposits increased $6.5 billion, or 1.6%, primarily due to the ongoing impacts of fiscal and monetary stimulus. The net interest margin was 2.81% for the third quarter, down seven basis points compared to the prior quarter. The decline in the net interest margin was primarily due to lower purchase accounting accretion. The yield on the total loan portfolio for the third quarter was 3.90%, down 11 basis points compared to the prior quarter primarily due to lower purchase accounting accretion and loan mix changes. The yield on the average securities portfolio for the third quarter was 1.50%, up three basis points compared to the prior quarter. Core net interest margin was 2.58% for the third quarter, down two basis points compared to the prior quarter driven by higher levels of liquidity and lower PPP revenue. The average cost of total deposits was 0.03%, down one basis point compared to the prior quarter. The average rate on long-term debt was 1.61%, up one basis point compared to the prior quarter. The provision for credit losses was a benefit of $324 million and net charge-offs were $135 million for the third quarter, compared to a benefit of $434 million and $142 million, respectively, for the prior quarter. The net charge-off rate for the current quarter of 0.19% was down one basis point compared to second quarter 2021. Noninterest income was $2.4 billion, a decrease of $40 million, or 1.7%, compared to the prior quarter. Commercial real-estate related income decreased $60 million primarily due to client-related structured real estate transactions in the prior quarter. Insurance income decreased $45 million primarily due to seasonality, partially offset by $41 million of revenue from the Constellation Affiliated Partners acquisition. Residential mortgage income increased $62 million primarily due to higher servicing income (due to lower prepayment rates and a bulk purchase of servicing assets). Noninterest expense was $3.8 billion for the third quarter, down $216 million, or 5.4%, compared to the prior quarter. Merger-related and restructuring charges decreased $125 million primarily due to costs in connection with a voluntary separation and retirement program in the prior quarter. Incremental operating expenses related to the merger were relatively flat compared to second quarter 2021. The current quarter also includes a $30 million professional fee to develop an ongoing program to identify, prioritize, and roadmap teammate generated revenue growth and expense savings opportunities beyond the merger. The prior quarter included $200 million of expense associated with charitable contributions to the Truist Foundation and the Truist Charitable Fund. Excluding the aforementioned items and changes in amortization of intangibles, adjusted noninterest expense was up $75 million, or 2.4%, compared to the prior quarter. Equipment expense increased $32 million primarily due to a higher volume of laptop purchases, partially as a result of delays due to supply chain issues. Marketing and customer development expense increased $28 million due to planned advertising campaigns to expand Truist brand awareness. Personnel expense decreased $20 million compared to second quarter 2021 due to lower incentive expenses, partially offset by higher medical insurance claims and personnel costs related to the Constellation Affiliated Partners acquisition. The provision for income taxes was $423 million for the third quarter of 2021, compared to $415 million for the prior quarter. The effective tax rate for the third quarter of 2021 was 19.9%, compared to 20.0% for the prior quarter. Third Quarter 2021 compared to Third Quarter 2020 Total taxable-equivalent revenues were $5.6 billion for the third quarter of 2021, an increase of $25 million, or 0.4%, compared to the earlier quarter. Excluding securities gains of $104 million from the third quarter of 2020, adjusted taxable equivalent revenues increased $129 million, or 2.3%, compared to the earlier quarter. Net interest income for the third quarter of 2021 was down $130 million, or 3.8%, compared to the earlier quarter due to lower purchase accounting accretion, lower rates on earning assets, and a decrease in loans. These decreases were partially offset by growth in the securities portfolio, lower funding costs, higher fees on Payroll Protection Program loans, and fewer interest deferrals on COVID-19 loan accommodations. Average earning assets increased $26.4 billion, or 6.1%, compared to the earlier quarter. The increase in average earning assets reflects a $66.4 billion, or 83%, increase in average securities, while average total loans and leases decreased $25.4 billion, or 8.0%, and average other earning assets decreased $16.5 billion, or 46%. The growth in average earning assets is a result of an increase in investment securities driven by strong deposit growth resulting from fiscal and monetary stimulus. Average deposits increased $30.5 billion, or 8.2%, compared to the earlier quarter, while average long-term debt and short-term borrowings decreased $3.6 billion, or 8.8%, and $849 million, or 14%, respectively. Net interest margin was 2.81%, down 29 basis points compared to the earlier quarter. The yield on the total loan portfolio for the third quarter of 2021 was 3.90%, down 14 basis points compared to the earlier quarter, reflecting the impact of lower purchase accounting accretion and a lower rate environment. The yield on the average securities portfolio was 1.50%, down 47 basis points compared to the earlier quarter primarily due to lower yields on new purchases. The average cost of total deposits was 0.03%, down seven basis points compared to the earlier quarter. The average rate on short-term borrowings was 0.68%, down 17 basis points compared to the earlier quarter. The average rate on long-term debt was 1.61%, up 13 basis points compared to the earlier quarter. The lower rates on deposits and short-term borrowings reflect the lower rate environment. The higher rates on long-term debt was due to the runoff of lower rate FHLB advances. The provision for credit losses was a benefit of $324 million, compared to a cost of $421 million for the earlier quarter. The earlier quarter reflected significant uncertainty related to the economic impacts resulting from the pandemic, whereas the current quarter includes a reserve release due to the improving economic outlook. Net charge-offs for the third quarter of 2021 totaled $135 million compared to $326 million in the earlier quarter. The third quarter of 2020 included $97 million of charge-offs related to the implementation of CECL, which required a gross up of loan carrying values in connection with the establishment of an allowance on PCD loans. The net charge-off ratio for the current quarter of 0.19% was down 23 basis points compared to the third quarter 2020, due primarily to the additional losses on PCD loans taken in the earlier quarter and lower actual net losses in the commercial portfolio. Noninterest income for the third quarter of 2021 increased $155 million, or 7.0%, compared to the earlier quarter. Noninterest income for the third quarter of 2020 included $104 million of securities gains on available-for-sale securities. Excluding securities gains, noninterest income increased $259 million, or 12%, compared to the earlier quarter. Insurance income increased $127 million due to acquisitions, as well as organic growth. Investment banking and trading income increased $57 million due to strong merger and acquisition activity and loan syndications. Wealth management income increased $32 million due to higher valuations of assets under management. Service charges on deposit accounts and card and payment related fees increased $29 million and $25 million, respectively, due to increased economic activity. Residential mortgage banking income ...Full story available on Benzinga.com.....»»

Category: earningsSource: benzingaOct 15th, 2021