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Twilio, Several Other IPOs on Tap This Week


Twilio opened Thursday, June 23, at $15 a share. During intraday trading it surged 92% above that price and closed at $28.79. It’s market cap is valued at $2 billion.

As you know, there have been few opportunities for investors to get in on initial public offerings this year. However, that will change next week as four companies, with various sized offerings will be in the market.

The market has been especially dry for Silicon Valley tech companies going public, but Twilio will change that. The cloud communications company is expected to well, which could spur other tech companies to go public.

Twilio is looking to raise up to $130 million, with 10 million shares priced between $12 and $14. Twilio is one of the bright stars, startup companies in the tech sector right now. It’s been reported that Twilio’s offering will be the first initial public offering from the tech sector in six months. The last IPO from Silicon Valley was Square, the payment systems company.

One of the reasons tech companies have been slow to go public has to do with so-called unicorn valuations, which refer to startup corporations with valuations of at least $1 billion. Twilio’s valuation is $1 billion.

Twilio is fast-growing due to the type technology it offers. It is aimed at software developers and some of the companies that use it are Facebook and Uber. They use Twilio’s technology to add voice or text communications features to their apps.

While Twilio’s market cap is estimated to be $1 billion, its profits are virtually non-existent. Its annual revenues rose to $167 in last year. That’s impressive considering it was just $50 million in 2013.

Through six rounds of funding, from 23 investors, it achieved $233 million of funding. Twilio will trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker TWLO.

Angel investors have gone to town with tech companies, which has caused their valuations to reach these billion-dollar levels. This has made them unattractive to investors who trade stocks in the public market.

Many startups have many reluctant to go public because they may have to discount their valuations, which many are unwilling to do.

Roger Lee, a general partner with Battery Ventures, said he doesn’t expect a surge of tech IPOs to immediately follow Twilio. But to break an IPO market out of a slump, one or two brave companies must go first and test the waters, he said.

“There are at least 20 or more really good companies that could go public in the coming few quarters here, and if there is a successful IPO from Twilio, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them push forward with their own IPOs,” Lee said. “That’s why everyone’s watching.”

Selecta Biosciences plans to raise up to $75 million in its IPO. The biotech company uses synthetic vaccine nanoparticles to develop treatments for rare and serious diseases. Selecta reported $6 million in revenue for a loss of $3.88 a share for 2015. It plans to trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker SELB.

Gemphire Therapeutics will seek to raise $45 million through the offering of 3.8 million shares. It plans to raise $45 million at a price between $11 and $13 a share. About 22% of the shares, or $10 million worth, will be purchased by insiders. The company develops therapies for the cardiovascular disease dyslipidemia.

Tactile Systems Technology, which sells at-home compression therapy devices for vascular swelling, plans to raise $60 million by offering four million shares. The price range will be between $14 and $16.

The Minneapolis-based company plans to raise $60 million by offering 4.0 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16. At the midpoint of the proposed range, Tactile Systems Technology would command a fully diluted market value of $262 million.




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Smith & Wesson Among Gun Makers Whose Sales Soared Last Week

Smith & Wesson Among Gun Makers Whose Sales Soared Last Week

As the nation mourns the Orlando terrorist attack by a man who was radicalized and pledged his allegiance to ISIS, Smith & Wesson is enjoying a spike in sales. In fact, the gun-maker’s surged to just a few dollars; of its new 52-week high of $30.44.

Gun-maker Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ: SWHC) rose more than 7% during intraday trading on Friday. Two factors contributed to the stock’s soar.

One is the gun-maker beat analysts’ estimates for its fourth quarter. Revenue in the fourth quarter reached $211 million, representing 22% growth. Earnings per share can in at $.66. Analysts were expecting just $.54. Gross margin for the quarter was 41.6% compared with 37.1% for the comparable quarter last year.

However, guidance was $.51 to $.53. On the news, Smith & Wesson stock soared.
The second reason the stock is up is due to it being upgrade to buy from hold. Craig Hallum has a price target of between $26 and $28. Wedbush reiterated its neutral rating on the stock earlier this month. Its price target is between $26 and $23.

James Debney, Smith & Wesson President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “Our solid fourth quarter and full year performance further validates our vision, which is to become the leading provider of quality products for the shooting, hunting and rugged outdoor enthusiast.”

Debney boasted that the company continued to execute on its long-term strategy, while delivering financial and operational results that set a number of new company records. Its firearms division, enjoyed several important new product introductions and continued to leverage its flexible manufacturing model, allowing the company to benefit from strong consumer demand.

The company expects fiscal 2017 to have a strong balance sheet, combined with its track record of successful acquisitions. That positions the company well for an expanding role in the market for products for shooting, hunting, and rugged outdoor enthusiasts, according to Debney.

Debney’s positivity about fiscal 2017 reflects increased sales due to the renewed calls for gun control. Sales have spiked following previous massacres. The shooting in Orlando claimed 49 lives.

One reason the stock may be surging is because analysts believe the outlook provided by management is conservative, given it hasn’t accounted for a potential spike in demand that would come after the Orlando shooting.

However,Yahoo Finance quoted the company’s CFO Jeff Buchanan as saying, “basically, this guidance does not take into account any surge, any potential spike in consumer demand as a result of any

Gross margin performance remained strong throughout fiscal 2016, driven by robust volumes in our firearms division and favorably impacted by the strong gross margins in our accessories division.

In fiscal 2016, Buchanan said the company we generated $168.6 million in operating cash flow, establishing a new company record. We ended the year with cash and cash equivalents totaling $191.3 million and total bank debt and Senior Notes of $175.3 million, leaving us with zero net debt. In fiscal 2017, we expect to use the strength of our balance sheet, including our unused $175 million revolving line of credit, to fuel growth opportunities, both organic and inorganic.”of that. He added that with regard to what happened in Orlando, any impact on demand is unknown and therefore not included in its guidance.

Shares of sellers were up many of the companies last week. Zacks reported that Sturm Ruger & Co. (NYSE: RGR) climbed to 8.5% after Orlando shooting. Vista Outdoor Inc. (NYSE: VSTO), which makes ammunition was up roughly .19%. rose about 0.19%.

Sporting goods retailer Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPWH) saw its shares fall 2.55%. Cabela’s Inc. (NYSE: CAB)l shares fell 1.59%.




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IEX: The new stock exchange aimed to slow down high frequency trading


This post was originally published at New York Times.
 

IEX stock exchange floor
The IEX office/trading floor, located in downtown Manhattan. Credit Cole Wilson for The New York Times

America is getting a new stock exchange from the most prominent critics of high-frequency trading.

After months of delays and a brutal lobbying battle that divided Wall Street, the IEX Group won approval on Friday from the Securities and Exchange Commission to become the nation’s 13th official stock exchange.

IEX is run by the people at the center of the Michael Lewis book, “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” which profiles the early efforts of the IEX team to create a trading exchange that would be somewhat shielded from high-frequency traders.

Other exchanges and trading firms had urged the S.E.C. to reject the IEX application to become an exchange.

Opponents of IEX, including the other stock exchanges, have argued that the structure of the new exchange will add unnecessary new complexities into an already complex stock market, and potentially end up hurting small investors.

But the three S.E.C. commissioners all voted on Friday to approve the IEX exchange, with one commissioner, Michael S. Piwowar, a Republican, dissenting on a few points.

“Today’s actions promote competition and innovation, which our equity markets depend on to continue to deliver robust, efficient service to both retail and institutional investors,” Mary Jo White, the S.E.C. chairwoman, said in a statement.

The most novel and controversial feature of the IEX exchange is a so-called speed bump that would slow down trading slightly to throw off traders that rely only on speed.

The speed bump slows trades down by only 350 microseconds — or millionths of a second — but that is an eternity in a stock exchange universe in which computers can buy and sell stocks in nanoseconds — or billionths of a second.

The Nasdaq, and other existing exchanges, have said that the IEX’s speed bump will violate rules mandating that exchanges make their prices available to all parties at the same time.

IEX’s critics have also said that the speed bump could add new complications into a stock market infrastructure that is already criticized for its complexity.

In a statement, the S.E.C. said that the commissioners “determined that a small delay will not prevent investors from accessing stock prices in a fair and efficient manner.”

The S.E.C. did say, though, that within two years it will do a study to examine whether the delays lead to problems in the markets.

If nothing else, the approval of the exchange will provide an opportunity to test the many competing theories about what impact the IEX’s speed bump will have on the pattern of trading.

The IEX has been a flash point in the broader debate over technological changes that have altered the basic functioning of the American stock markets over the last two decades.

IEX won support — and financial backing — from several large mutual fund companies, which said that the exchange would help them trade more cheaply and efficiently, as well as from hundreds of small investors, many of whom read “Flash Boys” and wrote in to the S.E.C.

Brad Katsuyama, the chief executive of IEX, said on Friday night that the company was “grateful and humbled by the support we’ve received from the investor community, without it, we may have faced a different result.”

In addition to the speed bump, the IEX has said it will not offer the same fees or rebates that other exchanges do to attract traders, a common practice at other exchanges that has been criticized for distorting trading incentives. The IEX also offers fewer complicated ways to enter trades than other exchanges, in an effort to simplify trading.

Mr. Katsuyama has argued throughout the application process that IEX would provide a market-based solution to the problems created by high-frequency trading rather than requiring the S.E.C. to change the rules governing the markets.

The other exchanges have complained that the IEX was essentially asking to be exempt from rules that governed them.

In a letter written in May, Nasdaq’s lawyers suggested that the S.E.C. could face a lawsuit if it approved the IEX application. A spokesman for Nasdaq said on Friday that the exchange company had no comment on the S.E.C.’s decision.

Larry Tabb, a market analyst with the Tabb Group, said the IEX speed bump could end up benefiting more sophisticated traders, like high-frequency traders, who can find ways to take advantage of the small delays.

“It hurts the broad middle who may not have access to the best tools,” Mr. Tabb said.

The hedge fund and trading firm Citadel has been one of the most outspoken critics of the IEX application. On Friday, a spokeswoman for Citadel said that the S.E.C.’s decision “will test and potentially reverse the gains in fairness, efficiency and transparency that have been made to our markets over the last decade. We must be vigilant to identify unintended consequences.”

Another relatively new American stock exchange company, BATS Global Markets, initially supported the IEX application, but earlier this year withdrew its support, pointing to “gross omissions of fact” by IEX. BATS wrote that the problems “call into question the applicant’s professional judgment.”

On Friday, a BATS spokesman, Randy Williams, said that the company “congratulates IEX and appreciates the significant changes they made to their application to address industry concerns.”

IEX has already been operating as a private trading pool and has recently been attracting about 1.6 percent of all daily trading volume.




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Posted by Guest June 17, 2016
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How To Start An Online Trading Business?


It is an appealing idea for many people to start with online trading. You are your own boss, set your own schedule and work from the convenience of home with unlimited income potential. Adding to the advantages anyone with a laptop and working internet connection can give it a try by just opening an easy trading account with the broker of your choice. There are no degrees, special training or experience needed in this profession unlike many others.

 

 · Online trading is not as easy as it seems

 

But many people often fail to acknowledge the financial, emotional and timely commitments which are required to create a successful online trading business with XTrade or any other broker. Here are some of the quickest facts about trading-

 

  • There is no way to eliminate the risk in trading completely
  • There is no trading system which provides you win 100 percent of the time
  • Even you are a rock star trader, you have to face some losing trades at times
  • With a small trading account it takes time to get rich
  • It is not a way to become rich overnight and it takes time to gain substantial income

 

The ease with which you are able to start trading does not imply that it is easy to become a profitable and successful trader. Many of the online traders who fail within the first year do so because they have not developed any type of logical plan and strategies in place. Any business with a lack of planning is likely to fail.

 

 · It needs planning, research and discipline

 

As a business, it requires constant research, discipline and evaluation. There is no guarantee in this and you might work a number of hours and might lose money in the end. Anyone who joins this business must be ready to accept these challenges and plan every move in advance to get the best results.

Ask yourself this before you start with your adventure:

  • Am I motivated and driven for success?
  • How to handle the losses?
  • Do I have time for learning the trading business?
  • Do I have a support?
  • Do I have realistic expectations?
  • How to deal with stress?

 
So, you need to ask yourself the questions mentioned above and then decide what would be the best course of action. Whether you become a part time or full time trader, you should give some time to research and plan the trading business you have. This profession is not the profession where you achieve all the skills overnight. It takes some time in learning the skills of trading, which pays off in the long run. Traders who have realistic expectations and who treat online trading as a business are more likely to succeed and beat the odds.
 
 




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Posted by Martin June 17, 2016
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The Math of S&P 2200


This post was originally published on Yahoo Finance.

 

 

I want to discuss a meta-theory about how and why the stock market can go higher this year, despite valuations and sluggish growth in the economy and earnings.

 
This theory involves 5 elements:

  1. The investment machinery of Wall Street where trillions of dollars are ear-marked solely for stocks and managers “have to buy”
  2. Extraordinarily low interest rates and a central bank committed to avoiding any action that could lead to recession

  3. Weak global economy and foreign central bank commitments (BOJ and ECB) making US equities the TINA (There Is No Alternative) stars of investing

  4. Quantitative factor investing whose current “Buy, Buy, Buy” input is the premium between the earnings yield on stocks and that of the 10-year Treasury

  5. The dividend yield on the S&P 500 is 2.1%, 50 basis points higher than the yield on the 10-year

 

We define “earnings yield” as the inverse of the P/E, and thus another way of looking at valuations.

So if I say that the current forward P/E of the S&P 500 is 18 because 2075 / $115 EPS, then the inverse is $115 / 2075 or 5.5%.

Thus, 5.5% is the earnings yield of the index. Just like we want “low” P/E ratios, we want “high” earnings yields. They are opposite sides of the same coin and move inversely.

You may be familiar with my #4 element as the “equity risk premium” concept, which is the amount of the excess return that investing in the stock market provides over a risk-free rate, such as the return from government Treasury securities.

This excess return compensates investors for taking on the relatively higher risk of equity investing. The size of the premium will vary depending on the level of risk in a particular portfolio and will also change over time as market risk fluctuates. As a rule, high-risk investments are compensated with a higher premium.

 

 · Great Theory, But What About the Real World of Investing Risk?

 

Lest you think this is some merely theoretical, text-book finance discussion, let me make sure you understand that I also used to think so.

But to Steve Reitmeister goes much credit for being relentlessly focused for many years on the excess premium, or “spread,” between the earnings yield and Treasuries.

Why is this so important?

Let’s look at the attractiveness of this earnings yield compared to alternatives.

Versus a 1.6% yield on the 10-year Treasury, that’s a juicy 3.9% premium.

Is that enough compensation? How much excess premium do institutional equity investors who use quant models really want?

According to Investopedia, survey of academic economists gives an average range of 3-3.5% for a 1-year horizon, and 5-5.5% for a 30-year horizon. Meanwhile, much more conservative CFOs estimate the premium to be 5.6% over T-bills and 3.8% over T-bonds (maturities of greater than ten years).

So it looks like the premium isn’t that juicy after all compared to what professional investors and their advisors say they want.

In the video that accompanies this article, I show a graph of the equity risk premium going back to the early 1960s. The historical average looks like it is actually closer to ZERO! And this is because it often went negative.

In other words, investors have been very accustomed to accepting far more risk for owning equities, and demanding far less premium vs other alternative asset classes like risk-free government bonds.

Remember my #1 real-world “secret” of Wall Street: “they have to buy.” Equity long-only fund managers are in a desperate competition against the benchmark and each other for survival. They can’t sit in cash, so they keep pushing out investments along the risk curve of alternatives.

And since this has worked out quite well for the survivors over many ten-year periods, it’s no wonder they keep doing it.

 

 · The Quant Models Are Pushing Cash — And Everybody Else — Into Stocks

 

You understand the first 3 elements of my meta-theory because I talk about them all the time.

The fourth and fifth additions seal the deal for new highs this year because many investment managers don’t want to think.

They want to use a quantitative model that tells them what to do.

If these large, quantitative, and “competitive” (risk-taking vs. risk-averse) investors keep pushing cash into stocks with relentless flow, they force everybody else in too.

Every short. Every fund manager competing for his breakfast. Every technical break-out trader and momentum hedge fund.

And that is the math of new highs this year, especially after St. Louis Fed President James Bullard suggested on Friday morning that the FOMC may only hike rates once more until the end of 2018.

The Fed has no problem feeding and fueling the stock market wealth effect. They know it’s better than the alternative where a weak market could tip us into recession.

Long live buyers of the equity risk premium!

And be sure to watch the video that goes with this article for all the math and mechanics explained in more detail.

Kevin Cook is a Senior Stock Strategist for Zacks Investment Research where he runs the FTM Institutional portfolio.




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Posted by Martin June 15, 2016
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Fed keeps rates unchanged. Of course!


 

 

The Federal Reserve has wrapped up its latest two-day meeting and Janet Yellen is set to address the media in Washington, DC. Yahoo Finance has all the latest on the statement and Chair Yellen’s press conference.




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Posted by Martin June 14, 2016
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Just for the record: Will the market (S&P 500) reach 2,400 this year?


Today, we saw the market in its third day of selling, falling hard off of the highs and increasing fear among investors and speculators.

Yet I could find one who was optimistic enough to claim that the selling is far over and that the market will actually go a lot higher in a matter of a few months.

 

 · Why I decided to write about it?

 

There is tons of people, investors, traders, and speculators out there competing in predicting the next move of the market.

This guy, however, sparked my attention because he said something I could see myself and strongly agree with. So I wanted to record his prediction to see if he was right or not. This post will stay here for some time and in a few months I will be able to go back and see if his assessment was right.

Why bother doing it? Well, the trader, I am talking about, has a 6 year record of consecutive beating of the market by a quite large margin (really impressive in my opinion).

In 2010 he started trading in his own mutual fund (he traded and invested in the market longer than that, but started his own fund 6 years ago) and since then he beat the market every year. His average annual return is 18.34% while S&P average return is only 10.47% for the same period.

His name is Ivan Kollar and he is a manager of Marketocracy fund. You can check his performance on his track record page.

 

 · What is it that sparked my attention about this prediction?

 

Ivan says that many investors are wrong in counting the cycles of the market. They misinterpret cycle count counting the current rally as another corrective cycle. Investors and traders simply expect another selloff. Ivan says that it is wrong and that we corrected from $2134 down to $1810 in February and that was a bottom.

This claim wouldn’t be significant alone to me. I would normally consider it as yet another prediction from another crazy guy out there.

But I noticed one thing in the current market sentiment which supports his claim that investors are wrong about their assessment.

As a member of StockTwits I follow S&P on that website and it also shows the market sentiment.

And the current market sentiment can be summarized as the most sold rally ever. Why? What happened?

Since February 2016 the traders’ sentiment was 70% – 80% bearish. All the time! They simply refused to believe in this rally and they were bearish all the time.

Here, see an example:
Market Sentiment
 

The sentiment above shows “elevated data” as for the long time there were only 20% bulls!

However, I do not give too much credit to all claims of people on StockTwits. Their claims and trades are not verifiable. Many members claim driving Lamborghini and in reality they might not even have a drivers license yet. So, I am taking their claims and sentiments with a grain of salt.

But this sentiment could be seen at American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) where only 27% of members are bullish. The rest is neutral or bearish.

And I have noticed myself that investors have not believed the rally. Articles and posts on financial blogs were mostly gloomy and with every little price drop posts about perma-bears such as George Soros emerged describing why this market was going to crash.

This is why Ivan’s interview caught my attention and I am actually willing to give him a credit and accept that there is something to his claim.

 

 · Let’s put a time stamp on this prediction

 

Ivan says that “we are about to embark on the next upswing, (we might have already started) which will bring the market to 2400 and beyond before we take another break and move downward”.

He adds: “The market will be decidedly higher within the next few months and the seesaw action that has occurred since the beginning of the year will vanish.
With the market nearly flat for the entire year, we are about to embark on a protracted rally that should last about 3 months. The market move from February until April is part of a larger move which will continue upward again in either late May or early June”
. (source: Forbes)

I must admit I am bullish on the market and have a bias upward so I welcome this prediction and hope it will materialize. But I am not going to trade that. I would stick with a conservative put selling strategy against dividend stocks and see how this prediction plays.

I am recording this prediction on my SPX chart and will watch it over the next few months. Let’s see if this trader is good at counting market cycles:

SPX prediction

I will come back and review this prediction three months later.

 

 · What about you? Do you think we will reach $2400?

 

What do you think about this prediction? Will we reach this level or the guy is just one of many who are typically wrong? Let us know what you think and vote:

[poll id=”30″]

Or comment below in comments!

Good Luck!




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Posted by Martin June 11, 2016
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Trade Alert – ROTH IRA cash secured put (LGCY)


I am going to open a cash covered put trade (CSP) in my ROTH IRA account on Monday using LGCY stock.

The stock has been beaten up severely and I own it at $12.40 a share but it currently trades at $2.24 a share. It paid dividends, but about a year ago it suspended it. Time for recovery is too long.

 
LGCY trend
 

I decided to start selling puts and if assigned, selling covered calls using this stock and hopefully to improve my cost basis.

I only own 83 shares so I cannot sell calls yet so starting with puts.

But options for this stock are not very good, so thinking out of the box will be needed.

 

 · Trade Detail

 

On Monday, I will take the following trade:

STO 1 LGCY Sep16 5 put
@ 2.80 LIMIT DAY
DTE = 97
LGCY put selling

As you can see, the option is deep in the money (DITM), but if I get assigned I will buy at 5 a share, but because of collected premium my cost basis will only be $2.20 a share. The stock is trading at $2.24 a share, so I will be making a few cents profit.

 

 · Trading Plan

 

I will not be taking assignment unless I get early assigned or I would have to do it due to other circumstances such as inability to roll.

I would rather roll the option. I am selling September contract (97 DTE). When the time gets closer to September (I expect 2 to 3 weeks to expiration) if the stock will still be hoovering around $2.20 a share, I will roll the contract away in time with the same strike (maybe into January 2017) and collect more premium.

If I managed to keep the contract, I expect it to be worth approx. $2 (or whatever the intrinsic value will be) and I will roll to capture another time value further away in time.

Hopefully, I will be able to do this as long as the stock gets higher in price or I get assigned in which case I buy 100 shares and start selling covered calls.

I’ll keep you all posted on this trade and its development.

 




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Posted by TwillyD June 09, 2016
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Technology May Win In Minimum Wage Fight; Restaurant Space


The movement afoot to raise the minimum wage has frequently captured headlines as of late. Many understand the financial plight of people trying to live on minimum wage. On the flip side are observers who are raising concerns about the negative effects on the top and bottom lines of companies that will have to absorb the higher labor costs that come from raising the minimum wage.

Perhaps no other space is grappling with this like the fast food industry. Also referred to as quick serve, the space is estimated to have generated more than $200 billion in revenue in 2015, according to Franchisehelp.com. It notes that the industry is expected to enjoy annual growth of 2.5% for the next several years. This is below the long term average, notes the site, which added that the industry is rebounding from a slump that lasted several years.

So it should be no surprise that fast food companies would be willing to take the necessary steps to maintain and grow their companies. This is especially the case for publicly-traded companies that must answer to shareholders when there are rifts in revenue streams.

This was most recently highlighted during the first quarter earnings season for 2016, which is wrapping up now. Fast food restaurants reported dealing with a host of headwinds that are affecting their earnings, and a common theme among all of them deals with labor costs.

Take Popeyes Chicken (NYSE: PLKI) for example. Sales for its company-operated restaurants were $34.6 million during Q1 2016 quarter compared to $34.7 million during the first quarter of last year. Company-operated restaurant operating profit was $7 million, or 20.2% of sales, compared to $7.5 million, or 21.6% of sales in 2015.

Company officials noted that higher labor costs were a factor in its weaker earnings, along with lower sales and operating profit. During its conference call to discuss its Q1 2016 earnings, the company’s chief executive officer didn’t mince words when it came to higher wages. Cheryl Bachelder had this to say:
“Labor really is directly tied to the strength of the top-line. And so, that’s what we are managing, that’s what we are chasing is to get the top-line improved, so that we can properly service our guests and have labor in line with expectations.”

In the restaurant business, it’s all about margins, and raising the minimum wage can negatively impact those margins. Publicly-traded companies know that shareholders don’t like to see margins narrow, so they will take the necessary steps to control those costs.

Bachelder, like lead officials at other fast food operators, is trying to control the impact of rising labor costs through the use of technology. One way is through the use of technology. Popeyes is in the midst of finalizing a technology initiative called One Technology. The goal is to develop a unified technology platform that will transform how the company operates its restaurants, communicates with its employees and interacts with customers. Popeyes is also taking advantage of mobile apps so that customers can place orders and pay for them. The use of such technology can reduce the need for some employees who normally interact with customers.

At the end of the day, empathy will persist for those who work some of the lowest paying jobs in the fast food industry. However, publicly-traded companies will likely do whatever they can to maintain their labor costs, and it looks like leveraging technology is the best way to do that.




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Posted by TwillyD June 09, 2016
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Viacom Squabbling Troublesome for Investors


There has been quite a bit of drama playing out in the entertainment space lately as Viacom (NYSE: VIAB) is enthralled in an unprecedented fight over who will be in charge of the $17 billion company.

The power struggle antics over who will control the company are serving to aggravate shareholders who were already concerned about the mental health of the company’s controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. They could be getting some idea of the future of the company soon, as the matter has made into the court system. Last week, Shari Redstone, the daughter of the company’s founder Sumner Redstone, filed papers with the courts, highlighting the increased likelihood that there may be no amicable solution to stop the squabbling.
 

 · What is going on?

 
Viacom is a well-respected media conglomerate that is best known for its media networks and film entertainment segments. It provides entertainment for consumers through channels that include Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, and Nickelodeon. Its film entertainment segment produces movies under brands that include Paramount Pictures and MTV Films.

If you recall, about 10 years ago, Redstone separated Viacom from CBS. He now reportedly owns 80% of the voting stake in the two companies.

In May, Redstone removed Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman and board member George Abrams. Specifically, they were removed as trustees and members of the board of National Amusements, which the Redstone family uses as an investment vehicle. Observers have chimed in saying that the two and other members of the board could be replaced by people with ties to Sumner Redstone’s daughter, Shari. She’s thought to be pulling the strings, as opponents of the changes charge that the 93-year-old Sumner Redstone may be making such dramatic decisions because of a diminished mental capacity.

Crying foul over their removal, and the negative consequences they perceive the changes will have on the company, Dauman and Abrams are vowing to fight to get their positions back. A hearing over the matter has been set for June 7 over the matter.
 

 · What’s at stake for shareholders

 
Viacom shareholders had been preparing for the company to sell a significant portion of its minority stake in its Paramount film unit. A major concern is that these board and likely management maneuvers may threaten that deal.

Investors complained the unit should be sold due to weak advertising sales and poor ratings at cable networks. Possible buyers include Chinese firms and tech companies that want to develop original content. When the sale was proposed earlier this spring, June was set as a target date to complete it. However, Redstone’s camp has released statements that say he questioned the need for the sale.
 

 · Should you buy Viacom now?

 
Given that so much is up in the air for Viacom, I would not invest it in in the short-term. A long-term play would be more appropriate to allow time for all of this to shake out, which will most likely be in the courts. With many allegations and looming lawsuits at play, Viacom may not be a good stock to get into right now. You may want to consider some of Viacom’s competitors, such as SNI Scripps Networks (NYSE: SNI), CBS (NYSE: CBS) and Tegna (NYSE: TGNA). They are solid performers, and they are not in the midst of a power dispute.




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