Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Investment Dogs With Fleas

Published by Fortune magazine, the Fortune 500 is a yearly list that ranks businesses in the United States by total revenue for each company’s respective fiscal year. Public companies and privately held companies with revenues available to the public are eligible to make the list.
Making the Fortune 500 list is widely considered a marker of substantial achievement and is often heavily publicized by included companies. It is also often considered a kind of seal of approval for investors looking to make profitable investments.

However, making the Fortune 500 list is no guarantee of longevity. Among the most famous and regularly listed Fortune 500 companies that no longer exist are Compaq, MCI WorldCom, Eastern Airlines, Enron, Woolworth’s and Trans World Airlines.

1) Compaq
During the 1980s and 1990s, Compaq was among the largest sellers of personal computers in the world. The company came to an end in 2002 after its merger with Hewlett-Packard Corporation. In relative terms, Compaq had a short life, lasting from 1982 to 2002. The chief executive officer (CEO) of Hewlett-Packard at the time, Carly Fiorina, sought and oversaw the merger and ultimate takeover of Compaq to facilitate her strategy to make HP’s market share larger than it had ever been.

2) MCI WorldCom
WorldCom began in 1983 as Long Distance Discount Services. In the following decade, the company underwent several massive mergers that transformed and updated the corporation. In 1998, the company was rechristened MCI WorldCom. Shortly thereafter, the telecom industry began what eventually became a prolonged downward trend. The management team at WorldCom resorted to tricks with accounting techniques to make it appear that the company’s stocks were still viable. In 2002, the elaborate accounting fraud scheme was revealed, and WorldCom declared bankruptcy and shortened its name to MCI. Verizon purchased MCI in 2006, and MCI’s operations are performed under Verizon Business.

3) Eastern Airlines
Eastern Airlines started in the 1920s and operated primarily as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. During the following several decades, Eastern Airlines made numerous acquisitions and expanded its company, eventually dominating a significant portion of domestic air travel along the East Coast by the 1950s. Into the 1970s, Eastern Airlines was largely successful and remained one of the top four major airline companies in the U.S. The Air Transportation Deregulation Act of 1978, which took away political control of the airline industry, caused Eastern to struggle. The company was driven into bankruptcy in 1989 and finally ceased all operations in 1991.

4) Enron
Enron may have caused one of the largest business scandals in the last 100 years, one that ultimately led to its own demise. Based in Houston, the energy company had a meteoric rise, grew to employ over 20,000 workers and claimed over $100 billion in revenues in 2000. Shortly thereafter, the company’s massive accounting fraud scheme was exposed. Enron was forced into the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history in 2001. Today, the company is generally seen as the symbol for corporate corruption and fraud.

5) Trans World Airlines
Trans World Airlines (TWA) was founded in 1930 and rose to become the major U.S. competitor to Pan Am for international air travel. As was true for Eastern Airlines, deregulation laws and a lack of investments in new aircraft had a significantly negative impact on the airline. Through a brutal takeover in 1985, Carl Icahn acquired TWA and eventually took the company private in 1988 after burdening the airline with over $500 million in debt. In 1992, the company finally declared bankruptcy after several years of being unable to cover its debt payments. American Airlines purchased TWA in 2001.

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Position Opening; Advancement Business Intelligence & Reporting Specialist, Pomona College, Claremont, California

In the desert landscape that was inland Southern California in 1887, it took audacity to imagine "a college in a garden." Yet far from the ivied halls of the Northeast, Pomona's founders envisioned "a college of the New England type," with small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a green jewel of a campus. From that beginning, Pomona has grown to be one of the nation's premier liberal arts colleges. Located in Claremont, Calif., on a campus where ivy and palm trees coexist under habitually sunny skies, Pomona offers an environment for intellectual development and personal growth that is second to none. (Please)

The Advancement Business Intelligence and Reporting Specialist functions in a team environment, working closely with Advancement users throughout the division. This position acts as a business analyst and applies expertise in data warehousing and reporting; investigates and analyzes the feasibility of program requirements and develops data warehouse specifications; analyzes needs, designs, writes and tests dimensional models, dashboards and reports; and is responsible for the overall lifecycle management of the Advancement data warehouse and reporting infrastructure.

    Bachelors degree in MIS or a related field or equivalent combination of education and experience is required
    Experience with Data Warehouse design and implementation, data warehousing life cycle and dimensional modeling
    Advanced Structured Query Language (SQL) programming experience including DTS and ETL
    Solid data warehouse skills and knowledge of data warehouse methodologies; solid business analyst skills
    Ability to complete complex analysis, design and programming projects
    Excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to multi-task and set task prioritizations
    Minimum of two years of experience with Cognos and/or Tableau is preferred
    Experience at an academic institution is preferred
    Deploy professional skills in Cognos, Tableau, and language (SQL) programming, in collaboration with colleagues, to best promote the Advancements strategic interests
    Demonstrate effective, accurate and clear communication with excellent verbal, written, interpersonal, and customer service skills
    Operate computers proficiently with basic Microsoft Office software (such as Word, Excel, Outlook) and associated professional software
    Use assigned technology/devices/equipment to achieve annual goals and maintain confidentiality
    Working knowledge of report design methodology
    Experience with Business Analysis and Process redesign
    Advanced Structured Query Language (SQL) programming experience including DTS and ETL
    Demonstrate solid data warehouse implementation and maintenance skills and methodologies
    Must understand and communicate the mission and history of the Colleges liberal arts environment

AGING WITH STUDENT DEBT: The Education Department and some congressional Democrats seem to agree that more should be done to protect Social Security recipients who have their monthly payment garnished to pay student loan debt. The question is who should take the responsibility. Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Keith Ellison and Raúl Grijalva teamed with organizations such as the AFL-CIO, Alliance for Retired Americans, Student Debt Crisis, and Social Security Works on Thursday to present to the Education Department a letter signed by nearly 40 members and a petition urging the government to stop the garnishments. "Halting this troubling policy will ensure greater economic security for the most vulnerable Americans, and promote the value of investing in higher education," said the letter addressed to leaders at the Social Security Administration, and the Education and Treasury departments.

- The Education Department agrees it's an issue that needs to be addressed but says Congress should act. Department spokeswoman Denise Horn noted that Congress in 1996 required the department to refer defaulted student loan debt to Treasury for collection. Horn said the department has increased outreach to these borrowers about their options. "We have also called on Congress to better protect Social Security from garnishment,' Horn said. "We urge Congress to take up this proposal, and the other legislative recommendations in the recent Student Aid Bill of Rights report, as we continue working to improve protections for student loan borrowers."

- The number of people whose Social Security benefits were offset to pay student loan debt increased about five-fold between 2002 and 2013, from about 31,000 to 155,000, according to the GAO. In 2013, the government collected about $150 million. The GAO said about 80 percent of seniors' debt was for their own education, while the rest was for loans they cosigned to help out others, like their children.

NO GO JOE - Vice President Joe Biden last Wednesday ended months of breathless will-he-or-won't-he speculation about a potential presidential run, saying he's concluded that he's simply "out of time" to mount a real and winnable campaign. The announcement, in the Rose Garden, with Biden flanked by President Barack Obama and his wife, Jill, means the vice president is foregoing what would have been a third run and likely the last chance to fulfill a lifelong quest to the highest office in the nation.

BIDEN ON WHY HE SAID NO - "I've said all along what I've said time and again to others: that it may very well be that that process, by the time we get through it, closes the window on mounting a realistic campaign for president: that it might close. I've concluded that it has closed." RR would of liked to see Joe run, just for the fact it would be good theatre versus Hillary.

POLITICS 101 - INSIDE THE CAMPAIGNS -- Bush slashes costs as campaign gasps:  Starting on Nov. 1, the campaign will cut payroll costs by 40 percent, downsize its Miami headquarters by more than 50 percent, reduce travel costs by 20 percent and cut 45 percent of spending on things other than media and voter contact. Even if those moves ease financial pressures, ... they only reinforce the prevailing narrative about a candidate, not long ago viewed as a front-runner, in freefall.

According to donors, some of whom called for Bush to rein in its spending, the campaign's assurances about its organizational and financial advantages have worn thin; and the third-quarter financial report, filed last week, gave further definition to their growing concerns about the state of a big-spending campaign failing to deliver results. ... [One bundler:] 'There's a lot of frustration that a lot of money's been spent and it hasn't moved anything.' 

Bush's team didn't know the depths of its problems until it got to look at the other campaigns' finance reports. The just-ended quarter - the first full period in which all the major candidates had announced and campaigned - set off alarms in Miami. ... [A Bush staffer]: 'Suddenly Marco's campaign had about as much money as we did, but it wasn't as big.

This past weekend, Bush went to Houston for a weekend meeting with his father and brother, an event conceived as a reward - a pep rally of sorts - for major donors but one that now serves to further underline the campaign's reliance on an old network of family funders ...
The anxiety inside Bush's Miami headquarters was running high ... as staffers met with their bosses to discuss possible reassignments. As local reporters and photographers gathered outside the building, staffers were encouraged not to speak to the press when leaving and to remove their ID badges before walking out. ... During ... meetings with division directors, senior adviser Sally Bradshaw and [campaign manager Danny] Diaz, staffers were given the option of transferring to jobs in the early-voting states ...

After months of insisting that no one state is of critical importance to what was billed as a national campaign, it's clear that New Hampshire is increasingly Bush's top priority. ...
Of all the GOP presidential candidates, Bush ... spent the most on early state ads ($9.8 million), consulting services ($2 million), charter-air service ($922,000), and payroll ($1.7 million) on the biggest staff (134).

Days until the 2015 election: 7. Days until the 2016 election: 378.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Stephanie Abrahms (37) New York, NY; Dodie Bracken ….famous UCLA graduate; James Carville (71) Atlanta, GA; Hillary Rodham Clinton (68)  New York, NY; Bob Knight (75) Bloomington, IN; Katy Perry (31) Los Angeles, CA; Gary Player (80) Johannesburg, South Africa; Juli Roberts ….famous academic administrator; Jaclyn Smith (70) Houston, TX.

HARD DRIVE - Private Preferred: The IPO parade is marching on, but without many tech firms. Technology companies’ share of U.S. initial public offerings has fallen to a seven-year low, and a number of once-hot IPOs have underperformed recently including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and social-media site Twitter. There are now at least 117 private companies valued by venture firms at $1 billion or more, nearly double the number from a year ago. The current trend threatens the outlook for what has been one of the most robust segments of the U.S. investment landscape. That said, some of the most valuable startups are intentionally holding off IPOs and growing at rates that could be eagerly welcomed by public investors.

Keys to the Future: Most notebook computers are likely to be replaced by devices with optional keyboards, writes WSJ’s tech columnist Christopher Mims in his column on why tablets are the future computing. “I’m willing to bet that the iPad Pro will only help sales of the Surface, and its competitors, by doing what Apple has always done best: convincing the masses that what seems like a strange new category of gadget is in fact a must-have,” he notes. Elsewhere in the tech world, Google is ready to turn its self-driving car technology into a business and has hired an auto-industry veteran to run it. And Facebook is working on a stand-alone video app that would support 360-degree videos, allowing users to change their viewing perspective by tilting their phones.

Risky Business: Michael Dell is pressing ahead with an ambitious and risky deal that would require massive debt financing at a time when credit markets have become less hospitable to mergers. Negotiations have advanced for a $50 billion-plus acquisition of data-storage giant EMC and could produce an agreement by next week, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal marks an attempt by Mr. Dell to craft a future for a company caught between the shift toward mobile devices and fierce competition among providers of storage capacity and computing power. The recent rebound in markets has lent urgency to the talks. U.S. stocks climbed again yesterday after minutes from September’s Federal Reserve meeting were released.

GOOD READS – “The Lost Art of Listening," by Anna Goldsworthy in The Monthly: "Has classical music become irrelevant?" http://bit.ly/1LSGD4P

-"Ten Borders," by Nicholas Schmidle in The New Yorker: "One refugee's epic escape from Syria." http://nyr.kr/1kAvUld

A HEADY BREW - After weeks of back and forth, SABMiller’s board has agreed on key terms of a sweetened takeover proposal by Anheuser-Busch InBev, setting the stage for the creation of a brewing behemoth. A $104.2 billion combination of the world’s two biggest brewers would redraw the map of the global beer industry and is likely to trigger higher prices for consumers around the world. The pending deal would also bring radical cultural change to SABMiller and will reduce AB InBev’s dependency on the U.S. market. The acquisition, however, still requires regulatory approval, and would almost certainly involve the company selling off operations in the U.S. and maybe China.

TEARJERKER - StoryCorps thought Thanksgiving was the perfect time to put the app into use. "Essentially, students who are studying US history would have an opportunity to discover the history in their own family, their own backyard," said Kate Duff, director of the initiative. Duff, herself a history major, emphasized how the Great Listen can be a teaching tool. She said recording the conversation allows students to create a primary source, as well as assign archive titles, summaries and keywords - "the very elements that future historians will use to browse the Library of Congress," Duff said. "To our knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done before."

- StoryCorp is working with several education partners, including the NEA, National Council for the Social Studies and Teach for America, to get the word out and encourage teachers to involve their students.

YOU GOTTA’ LOVE SPORTS – This week all four major sports are on the scene: NFL is in week 8, NHL is in week 4, MLB has the World Series, and the NBA begins its’ 2015-16 schedule.

WORLD SERIES LOOKAHEAD - BBQ or bagels? A tasty World Series set, Royals meet Mets: The pitching-rich New York Mets, boosted by Daniel Murphy's power surge. The plucky Kansas City Royals, aiming to atone for last year's near-miss. ... They start Tuesday night in Kansas City. ... [By coincidence,] opening day in the majors next April 4 is Mets at Royals. ... One team wearing blue is about to end a long drought.

The Royals, who lost ... in Game 7 ... last October, haven't won the crown since George Brett and Bret Saberhagen ... in 1985. The Mets' most recent title came in 1986, led by Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden. ... The teams have met only nine times since interleague play began in 1997, with the Royals holding a 5-4 edge. The Mets haven't ... visited Kansas City since 2004. RR likes The Metropolitans to win in five games.

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Sunday 11/1, 5:30 PM ET NBC: A big one; Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Denver Broncos (6-0). It has been awhile in the NFL for two 6-0 teams to meet, The Pack has no problem with Denver, 24 – 14. Season to date (3-4)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/31, 5:00 PM ET ABC: #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-1) visit #21 Temple Owls (7-0), this will be closer than you think Irish 30 Owls 27. Season to date (5-3)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 10/31, 2:10 PM ET HGTV: #7 St. Thomas Tommies (7-0) at #17 Concordia-Moorhead Cobbers (7-1), a huger MIAC battle for first place. We like The Tommies 35 - 28. Season to date (7-1)


(SCIAC, Oct. 31) Chapman University Conservatives (2-4) at University of La Verne Leopards (5-1), La Verne wins this one a league title is in site – Leopards 32 Chapman 24.

Season to date (80-51)

MARKET WEEK – U.S. stock futures were lower this morning. This week's big drivers include the Fed's two-day meeting, which begins tomorrow, and the continued flood of earnings, including Apple (AAPL) after the bell tomorrow. 

With a week to go in October, Wall Street has, thus far, had its best month in four years. The Dow is coming off its fourth straight week of gains for the first time this year.
Quarterly profits and revenue at big American companies are poised to decline for the first time since the recession. The drag on earnings and sluggish growth projections for 2016 come as the Federal Reserve considers raising interest rates for the first time in nine years, and could strengthen the case of those in favor of postponing any rate increase until next year. The global economy’s troubles are casting a long shadow over this week’s Fed policy meeting, as investors see a growing likelihood that there will be no rate increase this year. Meanwhile, another third of the S&P 500 are expected to report their results this week, including Apple, United Parcel Service and Exxon Mobil Corp.

It’s been more than seven years since the Federal Reserve began its extraordinary measures to aid the U.S. economy and as 2016 approaches, pressure is on the central bank and Janet Yellen to better manage expectations for interest rates and the U.S. economy. Bank officials are widely expected to announce Wednesday that short-term interest rates will remain near zero, leaving mid-December as the central bank’s last chance to raise rates this year. The timetable poses challenges for Ms. Yellen, including deciding whether the U.S. economy is ready for an interest-rate increase, and signaling central bank intentions without causing further market confusion.

DRIVING THE WEEK -  T-minus 12 days till the debt limit deadline. Clean hike remains the likely outcome but getting there could be ... scary. ... House expected to vote on measure to fund the Ex-Im bank ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew this morning will join Secretary Kerry at the U.S. - Qatar Economic and Commercial Dialogue at the State Department ... CNBC debate on Wednesday night in Colorado will focus on jobs and the economy ... US Chamber on Tuesday holds its 16th annual Legal Reform Summit ... SEC at 09:30 a.m. Tuesday holds a meeting of the Equity Market Structure Advisory Committee ... First American Financial at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday hosts the "Achieving the American Dream" leadership forum ... Senate Banking at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday holds a hearing on "The State of Rural Banking: Challenges and Consequences" ... New homes sales Monday at 10:00 a.m. expected to dip to 550K from 552K ... Case-Shiller home prices at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.1 percent ... Consumer Confidence at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday expected to dip to 102.8 from 103 ... FOMC Announcement at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday expected to feature no rate hike but any change to the growth outlook? ... First read on Q3 GDP at 8:30 a.m. Thursday expected to show growth of 1.9 percent.

Next week: Financial Aid 101, Dear Rink Rats, Fall in the Garden, and Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
October 27, 2015


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