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STOCKS TO BENEFIT FROM DRIVERLESS CARS
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Bridgewater Associates paid a settlement to a woman who was pushed out after engaging in a consensual relationship with top executive Greg Jensen, and shortly after it heard from another female employee that Mr Jensen had groped her buttocks. Mr Jensen 43 years old, was directly mentored by Bridgwater founder Ray Dalio 68, and groomed over two decades to succeed him as leader of the world's largest hedge fund. At the time both incidents were brought to the company's attention roughly three years ago, Mr Jensen was co-chief executive of the firm He is now Bridgewater's co-chief investment officer, helping oversee around $160 billion in assets and hundreds of employees. The billionaire Mr Dalio was personnly involved in mediating both matters. Both women have since left Bridgewater and are barred by nondisclosure agreements from discussing their experiences publicly. Mr Dalio approved a settlement of more than $1million for the woman who had a relationship with Mr Jensen
Mr Jensen said in a statement: The Wall Street Journal's accusations of my behavior are inaccurate and salacious. They are hurtful to my family and my reputation with those who do not know me. After online publication of this article Mr Dalio said in a statemtn " I judge Greg to be a man of high character and I would not of tolerated the pattern of behavior inaccurately described by the Wall St Journal"
NEW STRATEGY ON THE WAY
The Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey scandals engulfing Hollywood have brought national attention to the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Women and men in industries as diverse as advertising and even government are speaking out to tell their stories of being harassed on the job. Is anyone at your business being sexually harassed?
What can you do to prevent harassment from happening at your workplace?
Employees are protected from harassment, sexual and otherwise, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the law applies to companies with 15 or more employees, even smaller businesses should take steps to prevent sexual harassment on the job.
There are two types of sexual harassment:
Quid pro quo: Submitting to or refusing unwelcome sexual advances or contact affects the “tangible employment actions” around the employee, such as whether s/he is hired, fired, promoted or assigned to desirable shifts.
Hostile environment: This type of harassment doesn’t result in tangible employment actions. However, the employee is subjected to enough harassment to create what a reasonable person would consider a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment.
Some forms of sexual harassment are clear-cut, such as physical harassment or requests for sexual favors. However, making offensive remarks about women (or men) in general can also be considered sexual harassment.
The Department of Labor cites the following examples of behaviors that may contribute to a hostile environment:
Commenting on someone’s physical attributes
Displaying sexually suggestive pictures
Using crude language
Making obscene gestures
Small business workplaces are typically close-knit communities, and some of the behaviors above may be part of good-natured teasing or friends joking around. But it’s easy for one person’s idea of humor to cross the line and offend someone else.
Here are some things you may not know about sexual harassment:
Sexual harassment doesn’t have to come from the employee’s direct supervisor. For example, a coworker, customer, or supervisor from a different department can be responsible for sexually harassing an employee.
Sexual harassment happens to men, too. According to the EEOC, last year men filed 16.6 percent of sexual harassment claims.
The victim and the harasser can be the same sex.
The best way to deal with sexual harassment is to prevent it in the first place. How?
Communicate to your staff that you do not tolerate sexual harassment. Put this policy in writing as part of your employee handbook that employees have to read and sign.
Establish a process for handling harassment complaints. Since employees are often harassed by supervisors, the supervisor shouldn’t be the only person employees can talk to. Let employees know they can come to you or another trusted manager who will be impartial.
If a complaint occurs, take action quickly. You should talk to the employee making the complaint, the person accused of harassing them and anybody else who can provide information (for example, others in the same department).
Keep complaints confidential as much as possible.
Create an atmosphere of open communication. If Joe’s suggestive comments are making Jane uncomfortable, she should feel safe telling him to stop. Simply letting coworkers know that attentions are unwanted sometimes can nip a situation in the bud before it becomes a formal complaint.
Be proactive. You’re the boss, so if you see or hear something that could cause a problem (like a pinup calendar on an employee's wall), don't wait for an employee to file a complaint. Take the offender aside, and resolve the situation one-on-one.
You can find more information on preventing harassment at the EEOC website, including its Guidance on Employer Liability for Harassment by Supervisors. When in doubt, always consult your attorney for guidance on any employment matters.
NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER 6
On Monday, November 13, at 9 a.m. ET, General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) CEO John Flannery will present his much-anticipated strategy to turn around the venerable industrial giant. It is hard to find anyone who does not believe that a reduction of the company’s $0.96 per share annual dividend will be at the top of the list of things to go, even if Flannery saves the announcement until the end of his presentation.When the company reported dismal third-quarter results, Flannery said “we are focused on redefining our culture, running our businesses better, and reducing our complexity.”
So far he has worked on redefining the culture by grounding the corporate fleet of airplanes and reducing the number of executives who are supplied with a company car. He is also expected to announce formally that the staff at the company’s new Boston headquarters will be reduced from the 800 jobs originally planned. Other measures to run the businesses better will almost certainly include more layoffs for the 300,000 people GE employs.And as for reducing complexity, Flannery is likely to confirm that GE is looking to divest its railroad business. The new CEO, who took over on August 1, has already said he plans to divest more than $20 billion assets. That will certainly reduce complexity.
Flannery’s chore on Monday is to weave these threads into a narrative tapestry that investors and analysts both understand and accept. Former CEO Jeff Immelt spun off the bulk of GE’s financial business, sold off its media and appliances businesses, and bought an oilfield services company. Did it get too little for what it sold off and pay much for what it bought?While Flannery probably can’t rake Immelt’s decisions over the coals, he at least needs to serve up a compelling narrative explaining what he is going to do and why. The “how” can come later.Then there’s the dividend. Generally speaking, when a company cuts its dividend the share price takes some punishment, and if there’s anything GE does not need it’s more punishment for a stock price that is down by about 37% to date in 2017.
The temptation to avoid that pain may prevent Flannery from snipping the dividend, but if he chooses to take that course he’ll need to explain how he plans to improve GE’s cash flow, which fell by 40% on an adjusted basis year over year in the third quarter and is down 53% for the first nine months of the year. On a GAAP basis, the quarterly drop was 82% and the nine-month drop was 99%.A compelling strategy and simple story explaining it could allow GE to shave its dividend without an extraordinary hit to the share price. Yes, there is likely to be more pain, but if the company shows it can execute on the new strategy and that it is paying off, the pain may be short-lived.
Shares of GE recently traded at $20.26, within a 52-week range of $19.63 to $32.38 and with a consensus price target of $27.60. Over the past 52 weeks, the stock is down more than 33% as of Friday morning. The company’s market cap is about $176 billion.
Western energy sanctions vis-à-vis Russia have become a steady phenomenon of the global oil and gas market.
Most Russian oil companies don’t expect sanctions to be scrapped anytime soon—an assessment espoused by the political elites of the country, too. The sides even seem to have resigned their minds to the current frosty relations.The Russian economy has swung back to growth this year, with an anticipated 1.7 percent GDP increase this year, and the ruble solidified following a disastrous 2015-2016 period.Russian oil companies have mostly overcome the lending obstructions U.S. sanctions present by finding new partners in Asia and taking use of their free cash flow, and were it not for the OPEC+ agreement, they would ramp up production even more swiftly than the 4-5 percent since the sanctions regime kicked in. As a consequence, the current consolidation will soon move to a new phase: testing the sanctions unity of the United States and European Union.
The Black Sea isn’t particularly famous for its oil production. Romania is virtually the only country with stable output from offshore fields, with Bulgaria, Turkey and now Russian-controlled Crimea joining by means of new ventures. The relative insignificance of the Black Sea’s current oil output is mostly caused by the fact that, so far, oil companies have concentrated on shallow water, while most geologists contend that the sweetest spots will be found further, in deep water. This is bound to change this December as Rosneft, joined by the Italian ENI, will attempt to start exploration drilling at the Shatsky Ridge (also known as the Western Chernomorsky block), one of the most promising blocks of the Russian Black Sea sector.
Notably, Directive 4 under EO 13662 stipulates that the provision of goods, services and technology to any deepwater, Arctic and shale project in Russian territory shall be prohibited. The Shatsky Ridge, located at depths ranging from 1200m to 2200 m, indisputably qualifies for the “deepwater” category as both U.S. and EU sanctions deem anything developed at depths deeper than 150m a deepwater project.
The Shatsky Ridge was initially a YUKOS-led project and ended up within the Rosneft portfolio after the 2007 firesale of YUKOS assets. Its tumultuous history is also peculiar in that throughout the 21st century the project migrated from one Western major to another—first TotalFinaElf (now Total) tried to sign up onto it in 2002, then Chevron tried its luck in 2010, yet only ENI could clinch a final deal with Rosneft in 2012. The date of the deal conclusion is crucial in this matter, as it will likely become the rock on which the sides will split, whereas the EU sanctions entail a “grandfather clause” for projects that started before 2014, the US sanctions know no such concession.
Thus, the Russo-Italian consortium will put the US sanctions to test. The issue has thus far elicited no reply from the American side, so it remains to be seen whether the U.S. administration would go so far as to discipline a European company abiding by European rules.
The Shatsky Ridge exploration drilling starts in December by the means of Scarabeo-9, a Chinese-built new-generation deepwater semi-submersible rig. The Saipem-owned rig in itself is a carefully elaborated pick, since it was initially built for a sanctions-hit country, Cuba, with the proportion of American components in it below 10 percent to circumvent U.S. sanctions regarding Havana. Rosneft experienced some delays with the upgrading of Scarabeo-9, as the rig had to be partially dismantled so that it could pass the Bosphorus Strait; however, these issues are now resolved.
The Shatsky Ridge was subjected to a thorough 2D and 3D survey in the past years (ENI retrospectively reimbursed Rosneft’s previous expenses on geological prospecting in accordance with its 33.33 percent share ratio) and is ready to be developed. The location couldn’t be better—the block is situated just several dozen miles away from Novorossiysk, Russia’s biggest export outlet for Mediterranean-bound cargoes.
The reserves of the Shatsky Ridge are still a matter of dispute. An early DeGolyer & MacNaughton D2 recoverable reserves estimate put them at 1.36 billion tons of oil (10 billion barrels). However, latest reports indicate a lower number, at approximately 0.7 billion tons of oil. This might be downgraded even further with the course of time. In many respects, Chevron’s reported discrepancies with Rosneft boiled down to their reserves forecast—which is significantly lower than Rosneft’s—and the U.S. company didn’t want to sign up to the hefty ($1 billion) prospecting expenses
For ENI, the most appealing factor in developing the Shatsky Ridge is the proximity of a potentially resource-rich production area to the Mediterranean region (its core region), while Rosneft’s main manifest advantage is the future assimilation of deepwater drilling technologies and practices, to be used in the oil giant’s other projects elsewhere, if sanctions remain.The Shatsky Ridge developments stand in stark contrast with other promising block in the Russian Black Sea sector—the Tuapse Trough (ExxonMobil suspended its participation in 2014 due to debilitating sanctions) and Yuzhno-Chernomorskiy (Rosneft was required to drill two exploration wells by 2022, postponed indeterminately).
The Tuapse Trough is estimated to be even more hydrocarbon-prolific than Shatsky Ridge (the latter’s DeGolyer & MacNaughton D2 estimates stand at 1.5 billion tons of oil). However, due to ExxonMobil’s participation it is likely to be given a much slower development. In 2016-2017, ExxonMobil sought a waiver from the U.S. Treasury for the Tuapse Trough, yet saw its claim rejected against the background of a salient Congress outcry. Representatives of ExxonMobil lamented that the decision puts them in a highly unfavorable position as European companies operate on a less confining playing field.
Although Rosneft remains sanctions-listed and CEO Igor Sechin is on the OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals list, the company didn’t completely severe its links to Western majors. In some cases it managed to circumvent restrictions taking use of loopholes. For instance, it moved forward with Statoil (it, too, has a 33.3 percent share in their JV) on Domanik formations in Russia’s Volga-Urals region and expects to drill three exploration wells by late 2019. Domanik reserves fall into the tight category, however, since they aren’t iin shale formations, they ought to be exempted from the sanctions regime. Yet all upcoming deepwater projects (including the 17 TCf and 1 Bbbl Pobeda field discovered in 2014) involving Western partners have been postponed or abandoned indefinitely, naturally, with the notable exception of the Shatsky Ridge.
In the future, there is a good chance that people will look at the first prototype self-driving cars and laugh, as they will look primitive and clumsy. However, there will be a day in the not-too-distant future where they become ubiquitous and will be the standard we all are accustomed to, and just like virtual reality headsets, they will go from the current bulky and awkward, to sleek and incredible.
In a new research report, the analysts at Jefferies take a deep dive into the world of autonomous driving, and while they concede that wide consumer penetration could be as much as 10 to 15 years or more away, they note that many investors are excited about the fast-moving developments in the technology.
Jefferies points out three major hurdles to adoption:
Consumer comfort: The analysts think attitudes can change dramatically after a test ride.
Vehicle cost: The initial high cost of the technology, and in turn the new vehicles. It could mean that ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft will adopt before individuals do.
Government regulation: It is very possible that driverless cars will not be allowed for wide use until the safety of the vehicles is proven beyond the proverbial shadow of a doubt.
While numerous companies will be winners in the field, six look like the leading candidates. Shares of all make sense for aggressive growth accounts looking to the future.
Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) is an obvious choice as the company has been working on the technology for years. The analysts note that the company benefits from what they see as vertical integration and has the ability for a rapid pace of innovation. The 52-week trading range for the shares is $178.29 to $389.61. The shares closed Tuesday at $355.75.
Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), via Waymo, has strength in artificial intelligence and the analysts note the company has a long history of research and development for autonomous vehicles. The 52-week range for the technology giant is $743.59 to $1014.76. The shares closed Tuesday at $1011.
General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) are obvious original equipment manufacturers, and given their investments in Cruise and ARGO AI, respectively, are already working on such vehicles. GM’s 52-week trading range is $30.21 to $46.11, and shares closed Tuesday at $45.02. The 52-week range for Ford is $10.47 to $13.21, and it ended trading on Tuesday at $12.27 a share.
Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE: DLPH) is a top tier-one supplier of vehicle electronics, transportation components, integrated systems and modules, and other electronic technology. The company will benefit from demand for autonomous vehicle–related systems. The 52-week range is $60.50 to $104.09. The stock closed most recently at $97.24.
NVIDIA Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) is a leading semiconductor company and is moving into visual computing chips for cars, mobile devices and supercomputers. The 52-week range for its shares, which have been on fire, is $65.82 to $98.05. The stock ended trading on Tuesday at $197.75.
It’s not a question of if, but when for the autonomous driving revolution. Once adoption becomes widespread, the technology will increase and jump sequentially on a much faster basis as consumer and business demand will drive more and more innovation. The wave of the future will also have many societal ramifications, many of which have probably not even been considered yet.
Oil neared $57 a barrel as OPEC boosted its projections for demand and the group’s top official signaled that producers should continue to curb output.
Futures rose as much as 0.7 percent in New York. Output cuts are the “only viable option” to rebalance a global market still contending with excess supply, OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo said in Abu Dhabi on Monday. The group also increased its forecast for its own crude in 2018, signaling global inventories could drop further if OPEC and its allies continue to keep supplies restrained.With OPEC raising estimates, there’s an expectation that the market’s a lot tighter," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group Inc. in Chicago, in a telephone interview. "We’ve gone from mentality of glut, glut, glut, to more rebalancing."
Oil has climbed about 20 percent since the start of September as global supplies tighten and speculation mounts that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will extend output curbs past the end of March. Prices have also been boosted by internal upheaval in Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest member, and escalating tensions with its rival and fellow producer Iran. An oil pipeline between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain halted briefly over the weekend following an attack.
“Political developments in Saudi Arabia sent bullish ripples across the energy complex,” said Stephen Brennock, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd. in London.At the same time, crude stockpiles at the storage hub in Cushing, Okla. fell 1.9 million barrels to 64.6 million in the week ended Nov. 10, Genscape said, according to people familiar with the report. The dip comes after the Energy Information Administration reported supplies in the previous week were at the highest seasonal level going back to 2004.
West Texas Intermediate for December delivery traded 34 cents higher at $57.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:04 a.m. local time. Total volume traded was about 10 percent below the 100-day average. Prices capped a fifth weekly gain last week, the longest run since October 2016.Brent for January settlement fell 8 cents to $63.44 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange, after rising 2.3 percent last week. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $6.31 to January WTI.
OPEC raised estimates for the amount of crude it will need to pump next year by 400,000 barrels a day to 33.4 million a day, according to a monthly report from the group.Saudi Arabia said it will boost security at its oil facilities after Bahrain blamed Iran for a fire at a pipeline that connects the two Arab allies. Iran denied that it was involved. The pipeline resumed pumping later in the day after a brief halt.
The pipeline attack “is a dangerous Iranian escalation that aims to scare citizens and hurt the global oil industry,” Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Khalifa said on Twitter. Iran responded by saying the Bahrainis “need to know that the era for lies and childish finger-pointing is over,” the Islamic Republic News Agency reported Sunday, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.
Hedge funds raised their Brent net-long positions by 2.4 percent to a record 543,069 contracts in the week ended Nov. 7, according to data from ICE Futures Europe.
Official selling prices for December sales of flagship crudes pumped by Iraq, Iran and Kuwait show they are undercutting Saudi Arabia’s pricing for refiners in Asia.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. kick-started a round of privatizations in the Middle East oil industry, saying it will sell shares in its retail fuel stations unit and list them on the local stock exchange.
Large retailers have shown such poor results that even minor progress makes it appear they have a brighter future than the one predicted for the last year. Results from several companies, most notably Macy’s (NYSE: M) and J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) represent a turnaround, albeit a dull oneJ.C. Penney in particular showed some magic. It lowered expectations a few weeks ago and then beat them, a clever sleight of hand by management. Its stock rose 15% to $3.17. That is still down from a 52-week high of $10.74. Its results for the last quarter:J. C. Penney Company, Inc. announced financial results for its fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 28, 2017. Total net sales decreased (1.8) % to $2.81 billion in the third quarter compared to $2.86 billion in the same period last year, primarily the result of the 139 stores closed this year through the end of the third quarter. Comparable sales increased 1.7 % for the third quarter, resulting in a positive two-year stack of 0.9 %.
Penney still lost $128 million up from a loss of $67 million a year ago.
Macy’s shares were either dragged high by Penney, or investors saw something in them. The stock rallied 2.5% to $19.98 yesterday, still well short of its 52-week high of $45.41. It was the second day of a big increase in share price. Macy’s announced:Sales in the third quarter of 2017 totaled $5.281 billion, a decrease of 6.1 percent, compared with sales of $5.626 billion in the third quarter of 2016. The year-over-year decline in total sales reflects, in part, the closure of stores previously announced by the company. Comparable sales on an owned basis were down 4.0 percent in the third quarter and down 3.6 percent on an owned plus licensed basis.Macy’s made $36 million compared to a profit of $17 million in the same period a year ago. The same store sales continue to be very troubling, but not compared to results from Sears Holding which announced about its last quarter:Total comparable store sales declined 15.3% during the quarter. Kmart comparable store sales decreased 13.0%, while Sears comparable store sales declined 17.0%. Excluding the impact of the above items, comparable stores sales declined 13.6% during the quarter, with Kmart comparable store sales declining 10.7%, and Sears comparable store sales declining 15.6%.Macy’s results were a relief by contrast.
Finally, Kohl’s (NYSE: KSS) shares also rallied, up 4,5% after earnings, to $43.04 compared to a 52-week high of $49,67. Revenue was flat at $4.3 billion Net income was $117 million compared to $146 million in the same period a year earlier
The odds remain that these companies will continue to close more store, but they will make it through one more holiday season without major restructures
SETTLEMENT WITH FEMALE EMPLOYEE
If you’ve been paying attention to the real estate market for the past few years, you already know the cities where home prices are rising fastest. They would be San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver, among others.
But where are home values appreciating the most? After all if you buy a house in Seattle, is the 6% to 10% year-over-year growth in the home’s value going to deliver the most for your money?
According to the experts at Realtor.com, home value appreciation in the double digits is more common in less expensive markets rather than in those with already sky-high prices. Values in former manufacturing centers, especially in the Midwest, have been catching up with their coastal brethren but still offer affordable housing.
Realtor.com analyzed median listing prices in the top 300 U.S. metro areas between September 2014 and September 2017 looking at the percentage change (not the total dollar increase) over one, three, and five years. A $50,000 dollar increase in Boston, for example, where the median price is $489,500 is not the same as $50,000 in home appreciation in Cincinnati, where the median price is $227,400.
Here are the top 10 cities according to Realtor.com’s analysis along with their median home prices and one, three, and five year appreciation percentage.
One-year change: 20.7%
Three-year change: 62.1%
Five-year change: 73.5%
Santa Maria, California
Median: $1.363 million
One-year change: 20.9%
Three-year change: 62.1%
Five-year change: 73.5%
Charlotte, North Carolina
One-year change: 10.7%
Three-year change: 59.4%
Five-year change: 82.9%
Grand Rapids, Michigan
One-year change: 8.7%
Three-year change: 56.4%
Five-year change: 72.5%
College Station, Texas
One-year change: 2.4%
Three-year change: 55.5%
Five-year change: 85.3%
One-year change: 14.9%
Three-year change: 53.1%
Five-year change: 61.7%
New Orleans, Louisiana
One-year change: 9.8%
Three-year change: 52.5%
Five-year change: 62.4%
Fort Wayne, Indiana
One-year change: 22.5%
Three-year change: 52.5%
Five-year change: 67.9%
One-year change: 27.1%
Three-year change: 51.3%
Five-year change: 66.4%
One-year change: 10.8%
Three-year change: 49.1%
Five-year change: 89.4%