Finance news. My opinion.

July 29, 2014

UPS 2Q profit drops 58 percent

Filed under: loans, term — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 4:31 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) on Tuesday reported net income that declined by 58 percent in its second quarter, and missed analysts’ expectations.

The Atlanta-based company said profit declined to $454 million, or 49 cents per share, from $1.07 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were $1.21 per share. The average per-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for profit of $1.24.

The company said revenue climbed 5.6 percent to $14.27 billion from $13.51 billion in the same quarter a year ago, and beat Wall Street forecasts. Analysts expected $14.07 billion, according to Zacks.

United Parcel Service shares have fallen $2.42, or 2.3 percent, to $102.66 since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed 7.1 percent. However, the stock has risen $15.85, or 18 percent, in the last 12 months.

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This story was generated automatically by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Full UPS report: http://www.zacks.com/ap/UPS

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Keywords:UPS,Earnings Report

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July 28, 2014

China

Filed under: lenders, management — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 1:35 am

On a Chinese hospital ship off Hawaii, crew members demonstrate traditional massage techniques to U.S. sailors. The mood is one of collegiality, even after China opted out of Japan-led humanitarian drills at the world

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July 21, 2014

World stocks weak as pressure on Russia grows

Filed under: finance, loans — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 2:08 pm

BEIJING (AP) — World stock markets remained on the back foot Monday as tensions grew between Russia and the West over the downing of an airliner in eastern Ukraine.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX was off 0.7 percent at 9,654.54 and France’s CAC-40 shed 0.4 percent to 4,315.92. Britain’s FTSE 100 dropped 0.3 percent to 6,732.16.

Futures pointed to losses on Wall Street. Dow futures were down 0.1 percent at 17,009 and S&P 500 futures shed 0.1 percent to 1,969.

The shooting down last week of the Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people aboard has rattled markets, which worried about how Western governments, already alarmed by Russia’s support for rebels in Ukraine’s east, would react.

The disaster, in an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists, has sparked international condemnation and increased pressure on Russia to stop meddling in Ukraine. Russian officials have blamed Ukraine’s government for creating the situation and atmosphere in which the plane was downed.

“The more pressure that builds on Russia the more volatile European indices will be,” said strategist Evan Lucas at IG Markets in a report. “With the strong trade links between the continent and Russia, any disruptions to this through sanctions will cause profit taking on European indices payday loan.”

China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.2 percent to 2,054.48 points and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent at 23,387.14. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 5,539.90.

Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.1 percent to 2,018.50 ahead of this week’s release of quarterly economic growth data. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly higher. Jakarta rose 0.8 percent despite tensions over presidential election results due out Tuesday, with both candidates claiming victory.

Investors were looking ahead to U.S. earnings reports amid hopes American economic growth is recovering. Results from Apple, Microsoft and Coca Cola were due out Tuesday and Caterpillar on Thursday.

In energy markets, U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery was down 1 cent to $103.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 6 cents on Friday to close at $103.13.

The euro rose to $1.3537 from $1.3525 late Friday. The dollar fell to 101.31 yen from 101.36 yen.

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July 16, 2014

Minimum wage in 2013 same as 1975 in constant dollars: Statistics Canada

Filed under: legal, lenders — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 5:12 pm

Statistics Canada says the average minimum wage in 2013 was almost identical to the 1975 minimum wage, in constant dollars.

The agency says the average minimum wage was $10.14 in 2013 and the 1975 wage, expressed in 2013 dollars, was $10.13.

Between 1975 and 2013, however, the minimum wage in 2013 dollars, varied, slipping to $7.53 in 1986 before rising to $8.81 in 1996.

Up to 2003, the real minimum wage remained stable at around $8.50.

The report says 6.7 per cent of all paid employees earned the minimum wage in 2013, up from 5.0 per cent in 1997.

It says young employees, less-educated employees, part-timers and people in service industries were most likely to be paid minimum wage

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July 6, 2014

Oscar Pistorius re-enacts Steenkamp shooting in leaked video

Filed under: legal, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 11:21 pm

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA — A haunting video of Oscar Pistorius reenacting the night he shot his girlfriend emerged Sunday, showing the Paralympic gold medalist walking on his bare stumps, with his hand clenched as if aiming a pistol.

In the video aired by Australian broadcaster Channel 7, the 27-year-old demonstrates how he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder, walking through a room as if carrying a gun. In another clip, an impassive Pistorius, wearing a blue Nike tank top and tight black shorts, walks backwards on his stumps.

“I wasn’t sure if someone was going to come up and point a firearm at me,” said Pistorius in the video.

Later, he struggles to pick up his younger sister Aimee up off a tiled bathroom floor, recreating the moment he carried his dying girlfriend in his arms after shooting her four times with a 9mm pistol through a locked toilet door early Valentine’s Day in 2013.

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The video was made by the Evidence Room, an American forensic animation firm based in Cleveland, Ohio, that was commissioned by the Pistorius defence team in October 2013 to make a digital video of the crime scene.

In the same way that real life actors have to model for computer animated characters in blockbuster films like Avatar, the Evidence Room filmed Pistorius in order to accurately replicate the athlete’s movements.

“When he’s on his prosthetics, you know he’s a very tall broad-shouldered athletic guy, he looks like he can really handle himself,” said Scott Roder, head of the Evidence Room, in the video. “But when he takes his prosthetics off and he’s on his stumps, he’s short, the confidence washes away from his face.”

Lawyers representing Pistorius said the footage was obtained unlawfully.

“We wish to make it very clear that the material that has been aired was obtained illegally and in breach of the non-disclosure agreement with the Evidence Room,” said Brian Webber, a lawyer representing Pistorius, in a statement released Sunday afternoon.

“It has come to our attention that Channel 7 purchased this footage unlawfully,” said Webber. “In addition, during our engagement with Channel 7, we received an undertaking that they would not air any of the material before the end of the trial easy payday loans.”

The video highlights the impact of the intense media interest in the Pistorius trial, where videos obtained by major media houses have been introduced in court, including one where the athlete is shooting at watermelons saying “It’s a lot softer than brain but…it’s like a zombie stopper.”

When news of the reenactment video broke, South African journalist Mandy Wiener tweeted “Difficult ethical dilemma for local journalists covering #OscarPistorius story—many exclusives appear to have gone to the highest bidder.”

#OscarPistorius story - many exclusives appear to have gone to the highest bidder.

July 5, 2014

Jokowi to Ease Foreign-Ownership Ban on Indonesia Apartments - Bloomberg

Filed under: mortgage, technology — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:49 am

Indonesian presidential hopeful Joko Widodo plans to allow foreign investment in apartments to boost tax revenue, a move that could spur demand for property in the country

June 28, 2014

Li Ka-Shing Says Wealth Gap Is Making Him Sleepless in Hong Hong - Bloomberg

Filed under: business, mortgage — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:57 pm

The widening wealth gap is keeping Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing up at night and Asia

June 20, 2014

Congress probes how IRS emails could go missing

Filed under: Uncategorized, news — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 6:17 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight federal employees connected to the tea party investigation experienced hard drive crashes, resulting in an unknown number of lost emails, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen told lawmakers Friday in an unusually tense congressional hearing.

A week ago the IRS acknowledged it could not produce some of the emails of the IRS executive at the center of the probe because her computer crashed in 2011. Koskinen acknowledged to lawmakers that the hard drive was recycled and presumably destroyed.

“I want that hard drive and I want the hard drive of every computer that crashed,” said the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.

Koskinen said the IRS took extra measures to try to retrieve the lost emails. But he was unapologetic about the computer crashes or the period when the IRS advised Congress that emails it had sought were lost.

“I don’t think an apology is owed,” Koskinen said.

Koskinen says it’s not clear whether all eight of the hard drive crashes resulted in lost emails.

Koskinen also said appointment of a special federal prosecutor to investigate the IRS handling of tax-exempt applications would be a “monumental waste of taxpayer funds.”

The congressional investigation has been highly politicized because of allegations that the IRS improperly singled out tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status. Friday’s hearing was unusually tense, as Camp and other Republicans occasionally interrupted Koskinen and continued to ask other questions before Koskinen had an opportunity to answer.

The senior Democrat on the committee, Rep. Sander Levin of Mich., chided his colleagues that, “Witnesses deserve some respect.”

An FBI investigation is ongoing.

The former IRS official at the center of the investigation, Lois Lerner, has invoked her Fifth Amendment right at least nine times to avoid answering lawmakers’ questions. Lerner did not learn that IRS staffers were improperly reviewing applications of tea party and other conservative groups for tax-exempt status until weeks after her computer crashed, according to an earlier audit by the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration.

Lerner’s computer crashed sometime around June 13, 2011, according to emails provided to Congress. She first learned about the tea party reviews on June 29, according to the inspector general.

Koskinen told Congress that Lerner’s hard drive was unavailable to them because it had been recycled.

The IRS said last week it became aware of the missing emails in February of this year. The IRS did not know whether the other computer crashes have resulted in lost emails as well. It will also not say how often its computers fail and lose data.

The lost emails are raising questions even by the government’s records officer. In a June 17 letter to the IRS, Paul Wester Jr. asked the agency to investigate the loss of records and whether any disposal of data was authorized. Wester, the chief records officer at the National Archives and Records Administration, was responding to the IRS’ June 13 disclosure of Lerner’s lost emails.

Wester’s letter did not address the lost records of six other employees that the IRS disclosed that day. Wester said the IRS is required to report its finding within 30 days. Federal agencies are supposed to report destruction of records — whether accidental or intentional — to the National Archives “promptly” after an incident.

The IRS said that after Lerner’s computer crashed in June 2011, technicians were not able to retrieve data from her hard drive.

In May, more than two months after the IRS discovered the emails were missing, the IRS assured Camp that it would provide all applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status in 2010 and 2011, including all files, correspondence and internal IRS records related to them. Camp had asked for the records in May 2012.

It’s similarly unclear why the IRS didn’t attempt to recover the emails from backup servers in June 2011, especially since Lerner told an IRS computer technician in a July 2011 email, “There were some documents in the files that are irreplaceable.”

Shawn Henry, the FBI’s former cyber director, said technicians should have been able to retrieve data from the servers around the times the computers crashed.

“If they knew there was a problem in 2011,” said Henry, now president of CrowdStrike, a security technology company, “they could have or should have been able to recover it.”

The IRS told Congress last week that recovering emails has been a challenge because doing so is “a more complex process for the IRS than it is for many private or public organizations.”

The IRS was able to find copies of 24,000 Lerner emails from between 2009 and 2011 because Lerner had sent copies to other IRS employees. Overall, the IRS said it was producing 67,000 emails to and from Lerner, covering 2009 to 2013. The agency said it searched for emails of 83 people and spent nearly $10 million to produce hundreds of thousands of documents.

At the time that Lerner’s computer crashed, IRS policy had been to make copies of all IRS employees’ email inboxes every day and hold them for six months. The agency changed the policy in May 2013 to keep these snapshots for a longer, unspecified amount of time. Had this been the policy in 2011, when at least two of the computer crashes occurred, there likely could have been backups of the lost emails today.

The chief executive for an email-archiving company, Pierre Villeneuve of Jatheon Technologies, said most public and private sector organizations keep emails for several years, not six months, because of financial regulations and inexpensive computer storage.

“To have a large agency like the IRS have a very weak policy for email archiving and retention is quite shocking,” Villeneuve said. “If this were a private enterprise and they couldn’t produce this information on demand, they’d be in trouble. They’d either be fined or accused of hiding information.”

The IRS has said technicians sent Lerner’s hard drive to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But the information was not recoverable, a technician told her in an Aug. 5, 2011, email.

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May 1, 2014

Energizer to split into 2 companies to hone focus

Filed under: loans, management — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 3:48 pm

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Energizer Holdings plans to split into two separate and publicly traded companies, one selling batteries and household items, the other selling personal care brands such as Schick razors and Edge shaving gel.

Shares jumped 16 percent in midday trading Wednesday to reach a six-year high.

The St. Louis company believes the split will give each company a clearer focus and let them make a more transparent case to investors.

Reusable batteries have cut into traditional battery sales in recent years, thought the company does have its own line of rechargeable batteries.

The split will be structured as a tax-free spinoff to existing Energizer shareholders, the company said. Energizer did not say what names the companies would operate under auto warranty.

The household company will sell Energizer and Eveready batteries, flashlights and portable lamps. It accounted for $1.9 billion in revenue in the year that ended March 31.

The personal care company’s other brands will include Playtex and Stayfree feminine-care products and Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion. It had $2.6 billion in revenue in the same period.

“Since becoming an independent company in 2000, Energizer has built two successful divisions and each is now well-suited to realize its full potential on a stand-alone basis,” said CEO Ward Klein.

Energizer expects the split to take place in the second half of fiscal 2015, which ends in September 2015.

After the split, Energizer CEO Ward Klein is expected to serve as executive chairman of the personal care company. David Hatfield, current head of the personal care unit, will be CEO of the stand-alone company, Energizer said.

Current Energizer Chairman J. Patrick Mulcahy would be chairman of the stand-alone household products company and that unit’s current chief, Alan Hoskins, would be CEO.

Citigroup analyst Wendy Nicholson said the split likely surprised most investors since the company has repeatedly said that it has more value as a single entity. The change in heart at Energizer, which Nicholson rates as a ‘buy,” will boost company shares, she said.

Shares of Energizer Holdings Inc. rose $15.65 to $113 auto warranty cost.36, erasing declines in the stock seen throughout this year.

Separately, Energizer reported second-quarter net income for the three months ended March 31 rose 16 percent to $98.5 million, or $1.57 per share. That compares with $84.9 million or $1.35 per share last year. Excluding restructuring and other costs, net income totaled $1.88 per share. Analysts had expected $1.73 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell 3 percent to $1.06 billion from $1.1 billion last year. Analysts expected $1.07 billion.

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April 25, 2014

Minding the tax bite in fund investing

Filed under: Uncategorized, uk — Tags: , , , — Professor @ 8:29 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — How painful was tax season for you?

For many investors with mutual funds in a taxable account, it was tougher this year than last. That’s because the best year for stocks since 1997 pushed many funds to make capital gains distributions to their shareholders, and those got taxed even if the shareholder didn’t sell any shares. Investors who make the biggest incomes got a double whammy: They paid a higher percentage of their capital gains distributions in taxes than a year before.

Now that April 15 has passed, investors have a chance to reflect on what drove their tax bills and rejigger their portfolios. For most retirement investors, the answer is simple: Keep your mutual funds in a tax-advantaged account, whether that’s a 401(k), individual retirement account or Roth IRA. For those with funds in taxable accounts, other avenues are available for tax-smart investing, and experts say they’re growing in importance.

During the ’80s and ’90s, when markets were booming, many investors were making so much money that they didn’t mind paying big tax bills, says Fran Kinniry, a principal in the investment strategy group at Vanguard. Now that many don’t expect the returns they got during the boom years, there’s more interest in keeping costs and taxes low.

“Investors are taking 100 percent of the risk of their investments, and the goal should be to capture as much as 100 percent of that return,” Kinniry says.

First, a reminder on the taxes mutual-fund investors can incur: Funds that own dividend-paying stocks distribute those payments to shareholders, which can be taxable. Each year, funds also tally the gains booked from selling stocks and bonds. From that, funds subtract the losses they incurred from trading and pass along the remainder to shareholders. These are called capital gains distributions, and the tax rate on long-term gains for the very top earners rose to 23.8 percent last year from 15 percent.

Here’s a look at what investors can do to minimize those payments:

—REMEMBER THE POWER OF TAX-ADVANTAGED ACCOUNTS. If you own a mutual fund in a 401(k) or IRA, you also get dividend and capital-gains distributions. But you don’t need to worry about taxes until you withdraw money. Investors with funds in a Roth IRA don’t need to worry about taxes on those distributions at all, under some conditions.

Tax-advantaged accounts are particularly useful for mutual funds that produce more distributions than others, such as ones focused on bonds, dividend-paying stocks or real-estate investment trusts used car warranty. Actively managed stock mutual funds - ones run by stock pickers looking to beat an index - also can have bigger gains distributions because they do more buying and selling than index funds.

— SOME MUTUAL FUNDS ARE BUILT TO MINIMIZE TAXES. Tax-managed mutual funds use several methods to limit their shareholders’ tax bills. They can be biased toward stocks with lower dividend yields, looking to limit dividend payments, for example. They also try to hold off on selling stocks to minimize potential capital gains distributions.

Generally, only investors who have already maxed out their annual contributions to tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs would consider tax-managed funds. Because their audience is so narrow, they tend to have fewer assets under management, says Michael Rawson, a fund analyst at Morningstar.

Their smaller size means tax-managed funds don’t benefit from the economies of scale that large mutual funds do, which can mean higher expense ratios, Rawson says.

— INDEX FUNDS AND ETFs CAN MEAN SMALLER TAX BILLS. The capital-gains distributions that funds make are a result of buying and selling stocks. So one way to limit those distributions is to limit buying and selling.

Big index mutual funds and ETFs do just that. Unlike actively managed funds looking to beat the market, index funds are merely trying to match an index’s performance. That means they’re content to own the same stock as long as it stays in the index. Index funds also tend to have lower expenses than actively managed funds.

But “just because a fund is an index fund doesn’t mean that it’s tax efficient,” says Vanguard’s Kinniry. Indexes that cover smaller swaths of the market tend to change more often than large, broad-market indexes. So a small-cap value index fund will likely see more turnover than a broad-market index fund, which can trigger more gains distributions.

— MUNICIPAL BONDS OFFER TAX-FREE INCOME. The interest paid by bonds issued by cities, water and sewer authorities and other local governments is generally free from federal income taxes. That means investors can more comfortably keep muni-bond funds in a taxable account.

They come with their own risks, of course: Worries flare periodically about the financial strength of local governments, which can cause their prices to swing sharply.

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