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(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It is a bad time to buy into an oil company whose major asset is reserves in the ground that can sustain current production levels of the carbon-laden fossil fuel until near the end of the century. Oil lost its place in the power generation market after the oil shocks of the 1970s, and it is now starting to see serious competition for powering cars, buses and trucks along with the first signs of viable alternatives for fueling maritime transport. Oil’s domination in air transport looks safer for now, and the industry forecasts the strongest growth in petrochemicals that go into everything from plastics and fertilizers to electronic gadgets and clothing. But the tide of history is moving firmly against fossil fuels.Saudi Aramco may boast that it holds the rights to the largest reserves of crude with the lowest carbon footprint to extract, but that rather misses the point. The climate concerns around oil are not about the carbon cost of getting it out of the ground, but of what is done with it afterward.The oil age may not be over — far from it — but oil is facing unprecedented headwinds. Here’s a sample from recent weeks and months:Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said last week that climate change is menacing the historic maritime city, which suffered its second-highest tide on record. Parts of northern England are suffering their worst flooding in decades, and millions were displaced as Cyclone Bulbul hit Bangladesh and northern India.Storms and floods are not new, but they are becoming more severe, more frequent and causing more damage as sea levels rise and the climate changes — developments that are linked, at least in part, to the burning of fossil fuels.Unprecedented bushfires are ravaging parts of eastern Australia rendered tinderbox dry by a two-year drought. Wildfires forced hundreds of thousands of Californians to flee their homes earlier this month. Russia is suffering one of its worst years this century for forest fires. Once again, climate change is contributing to the creation of the hot, dry conditions that have allowed the fires to spread.Climate change is also melting Russia’s permafrost. Not a problem for Saudi Aramco, perhaps, but certainly one for Russia’s oil industry, which relies on infrastructure built in the 1970s on ground that is no longer able to support the weight it was 40 years ago.Mounting climate concerns are inexorably turning public opinion against hydrocarbons, including oil.What’s more, pollution caused by leaking pipelines, accidents involving oil tankers, or drilling rigs are all increasing the pressure on the oil and gas industry. Particulate emissions from burning fossil fuels are behind elevated mortality rates, leading to stricter controls on ship fuels, measures to push cars and vans out of city centers and increasing pressure on airlines to find alternatives.Aramco has a solution to the predicament the industry is in — petrochemicals. The company wants to turn 40% of its crude into chemicals, according to Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, Saudi Aramco’s senior vice president for downstream. But petrochemicals are under pressure, too.Globally more than 200 businesses, from Coca-Cola Co. to food and consumer goods giant Unilever NV have made commitments to reduce plastic waste, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Unilever aims to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025. Coca-Cola’s goal is for its bottles to contain an average of 50% recycled content by 2030. Initiatives like those will make a serious dent in the projected demand for new plastics.Globally more than 200 businesses, from Unilever NV to Coca-Cola Co. have made commitments to reduce plastic waste, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Unilever NV aims to halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025. Coca-Cola Co. intends that its bottles will contain an average of 50% recycled content by 2030. Initiatives like those will make a serious dent in the projected demand for new plastics.And then there’s an issue that is specific to Saudi Aramco — the security of its facilities. The company did a spectacular job of restoring output levels after a devastating attack on its oil facilities in September, using spare capacity elsewhere to boost flows. But the very fact of the attacks has raised concerns among potential investors about Saudi Arabia’s ability to protect its oil infrastructure.The time to bring private investors into Saudi Aramco was when everybody wanted a piece of the action. Twenty years ago investors would have fallen over each other beating a path to Saudi Aramco’s door. It’s a much tougher sell now.To contact the author of this story: Julian Lee at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Julian Lee is an oil strategist for Bloomberg. Previously he worked as a senior analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
While economic data will influence, Beijing and Washington will likely have the greatest impact on risk appetite in the week ahead.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As recently as March, Daimler AG, the German carmaker, promised to put 10,000 autonomous taxis on the streets by 2021. But this week, Daimler chairman Ola Kaellenius announced that the company was taking a “reality check” on the project and focusing on self-driving long-haul trucks instead. It’s fine that self-driving cabs aren’t coming as fast as some expected — and it’s even better that Silicon Valley-style big talk appears to be going out of fashion.Kaellenius’s “reality check” has some solid business reasons: Daimler is cutting costs and can’t commit to a large, capital-intensive project without a clear idea of what kind of first-mover advantage it might confer. But mostly, it comes because of a long-obvious technical problem. Making sure self-driving cars aren’t a menace in city traffic is a job that’ll take more than a couple of years. Investigators are still trying to get to the bottom of the March 2018 accident in which a driverless Uber killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, and it appears Uber Inc.’s cars had been involved in dozens of previous nonfatal incidents in the course of the same testing program. No one wants to be in the same situation as Uber — so General Motors Co. subsidiary Cruise won’t be launching self-driving taxis in San Francisco this year, as previously promised, and maybe not next year, either. There's been lots of news stories about Waymo Llc, an Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, launching a self-driving taxi service in Arizona, and in April, it even put an app for it on the Google Play store. But in September, Morgan Stanley lowered Waymo’s valuation because of delays in the commercial use of its technology, and last month, Waymo chief executive John Krafcik said driverless delivery trucks could come before a taxi service.For European carmakers, which have to deal with older cities not laid out on a grid, launching autonomous taxi services appears even more daunting than for Americans. They know it’s a long way from Tempe to Amsterdam or Rome. That’s one reason Volkswagen AG, a latecomer to self-driving development, isn’t worried about being overtaken. Alexander Hitzinger, chief executive of Volkswagen’s autonomous-vehicle subsidiary, said in a recent interview that even an industry pioneer such as Waymo was “a long way away from commercializing the technology” and that Volkswagen’s autonomous vehicles would be developed by the mid-2020s.That time frame may be no more realistic than the previous hype about big 2019 and 2020 launches. Autonomous car developers can complain all they want about unpredictable human drivers and pedestrians who are causing all the accidents with their flawlessly superhuman creations, but nobody is going to clear the cities of people to give self-driving cars a spotless safety record. And making sure that, after millions of hours of training, artificial intelligence is finally able to drive like a human after a few hundred hours on the road, is not all that’s required for robotaxis to be viable. There's still the whole matter of figuring out how to reduce rather than increase urban congestion by using cars that don't “think” like humans.It’s also dangerous to adopt any kind of specific framework for the launch of automated truck services, even though that’s an easier project than taxis because the routes are fixed. The presence of humans in what is still a predominantly human world has rather unpredictable consequences for robot behavior. And the first movers have an obvious disadvantage: Like Uber with a taxi, they can get burned in ways that could set the whole business back years, and the earnings potential is unclear.None of this means, of course, that self-driving development has failed or even hit a dead end. Given enough time and a few technological breakthroughs, autonomous vehicles will be safe around actual people in actual winding, narrow, crowded streets. Engineering challenges exist to be overcome. The problem isn’t with the tech, which is moving along at a reasonably rapid pace, but with how that progress is communicated.Nobody forced experienced managers at venerable companies such as Daimler or GM to make overly optimistic statements about self-driving taxi launches. Waymo is a cash-burning startup, and it’s difficult to hold it responsible for getting ahead of itself. But the adults in the room look silly for having tried to play catch-up. There’s no reason for the big car companies to make any promises on self-driving at all. Unlike with vehicle electrification, which is part of many countries' climate policies, there’s no regulatory pressure to eliminate human drivers. And autonomous mobility-related business models are purely theoretical at this point.It would be enough for companies involved in autonomous car development to say they’re working on it. Pretty much all the big players are, to some extent. The time for any other kind of announcement will come when someone is really ready to launch a commercial service, whenever that may be. No rush.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Tobin Harshaw at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The United Auto Workers union said on Friday that rank-and-file members at Ford Motor Co have voted in favor of a new four-year labor contract with the No. 2 U.S. automaker. Talks with FCA are expected to begin on Monday, a UAW spokesman said. The union said 56.3% of Ford's hourly workers voted to approve the deal, which allowed the company to avoid a strike like the one that cost its larger rival General Motors Co about $3 billion (£2.3 billion).
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- When a stock goes into free fall, one hope is that some acquirer out there will catch it. Sometimes, though, suitors come with their own complications. That brings us to EnLink Midstream LLC.EnLink operates gathering and processing pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure across several onshore U.S. basins. In the summer of 2018, Devon Energy Corp., an exploration and production company, sold its stakes in various EnLink entities to Global Infrastructure Partners for just over $3.1 billion. After a subsequent simplification of EnLink, GIP owns 46% of the common units, now worth $1.2 billion.EnLink has been undone by weaker commodity prices. Earlier this month, Devon announced it had dropped the number of rigs operating in one of Oklahoma’s shale basins to precisely zero (how’s that for a coda to last year’s deal?). This confirmed a trend evident already in permitting and drilling data for the Anadarko basin, where just four companies account for the majority of activity; and, crucially, they have operations in other basins that are more competitive in terms of breakeven costs.The distribution yield on EnLink’s stock now scrapes 20% — on a par with the current yield on long-dated bonds of Chesapeake Energy Corp., which just issued a going-concern notice. There’s being paid to wait, as they say, and then there’s being paid to wait in that trash compactor from Star Wars.EnLink’s cash flow math is tight. Consensus forecasts — which have now had time to digest cost savings pledged on the latest earnings call — put Ebitda at $1.1 billion in 2020. Take off around $500-$550 million for cash interest and (much-reduced) capital expenditure, and that leaves about $550-$600 million versus current distributions of about $550 million. With Ebitda forecast to grow at just 1% a year through 2022, that tight squeeze won’t ease up. Wells Fargo & Co.’s analysts estimated in a recent report that, absent a change in distribution policy, current leverage of 4.2 times adjusted Ebitda could reach almost 6 times by 2025. By any rational measure, the distribution should be cut.The complicating issue is that EnLink’s leverage is compounded by more leverage at the GIP level in the form of a $1 billion term loan. Technically, it is separate from EnLink’s own finances. But as the company acknowledges in its own 10K filing, debt owed by an entity owning almost half the company plus its managing partner, and which is serviced by EnLink’s own distributions, is very much a risk factor. By my calculations, the loan requires roughly $80 million a year of EnLink distributions (GIP didn’t respond to requests for comment)(1). As of now, distributions amount to about $255 million. So, in theory, EnLink could slash its payout by about two-thirds and GIP could still service the loan.In practice, that would be a bitter pill to swallow. As it is, GIP’s common units in EnLink are now worth not much more than the value of the loan and way below the original investment. Cutting distributions would certainly help EnLink’s balance sheet; all else equal, a 67% cut would save enough cash to take leverage below 4 times adjusted Ebitda, in line with long-term targets. But this would almost certainly push the value of GIP’s stake even lower, at least in the near term. As Ethan Bellamy, analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc., put it to me:Does GIP leverage prevent EnLink from cutting the distribution and right sizing the ship? It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen parental leverage from a private equity sponsor lead to sub-optimal outcomes for the subsidiary public entity.On the other hand, if EnLink cuts and its price falls further, then GIP might be tempted to make an offer for the rest of the company in an effort to salvage things out of the public eye. Needless to say, a takeover premium on an even lower EnLink price would do very little to make up for the losses suffered to date. We are seeing this play out with Blackstone Group Inc.’s offer for another midstream company, Tallgrass Energy LP, although the pain there is compounded by an agreement between the buyer and Tallgrass’s executives that effectively shields the latter from losses (see this).EnLink captures so much of what has gone wrong in America’s pipelines business. There’s the misalignment of interest between ordinary investors and the sponsors steering the company’s destiny. There’s the exposure to commodity markets from which, in theory, midstream companies were supposed to be insulated. Above all, there’s the overcapitalization of this sector, with obligations piled onto assets (largely to fund outsize payouts to controlling sponsors) that ultimately couldn’t generate the profits to service them (largely because too much stuff got built).Almost exactly four years ago, Kinder Morgan Inc. presaged the midstream reckoning to come by slashing its dividend. The stock has been listless for much of the period since then; even with the cut, chipping away at debts in a post-boom environment is a laborious process. As this decade of nominal success for America’s shale boom draws to a close, EnLink’s predicament shows the hangover remains very much a work in progress.(1) This assumes the full $1 billion remains outstanding. Interest is charged at Libor plus 4.25%, equating to 6.15%, or about $62 million. A debt-service covenant ratio of 1.1 times takes this to $68 million. Mandatory annual amortization of 1% of the loan plus assumed G&A costs results in an estimated minimum requirement of about $80 million to service the debt. Details derived from Moody's Corp.'s initial rating report from July 2018.To contact the author of this story: Liam Denning at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Gongloff at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Liam Denning is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering energy, mining and commodities. He previously was editor of the Wall Street Journal's Heard on the Street column and wrote for the Financial Times' Lex column. He was also an investment banker.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The British pound has rallied a bit during the week, reaching towards the top of the flag that is currently being built. It should be noted that we are just above the 50 week moving average, which is a representation of support.
The British pound is very little during the trading session on Friday, as the market is struggling with the 1.29 handle. We are currently trying to build a bullish flag, but at this point most of what we have is noise.
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has proposed taking back some of the spectrum long promised to automakers and re-allocating it to other wireless uses, according to people familiar with the matter.It’s a potentially significant development in a years-long debate that saw automakers fight to retain frequencies they’ve barely used. Carmakers say they’re poised to finally use the airwaves to connect vehicles and infrastructure to prevent collisions.The FCC sent the proposal to the Transportation Department in recent days, said two people who asked not to be identified discussing the private deliberations. If DOT agrees, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai could set a Dec. 12 vote on the proposal to modify the grant of airwaves it made 20 years ago.The Transportation Department has long resisted the idea and remains concerned and will likely oppose the FCC’s latest plan, one of the people said.Representatives for both agencies declined to comment.Cable providers who offer Wi-Fi for customers’ wireless use are hungry for spectrum as digital technology transforms everything from cars to video feeds and household appliances.More airwaves are needed to help “deliver a future of ubiquitous connectivity,” Charter Communications Inc. said in a Nov. 12 filing. Charter’s network supports more than 300 million devices, the Stamford, Connecticut-based company said.Auto industry companies including General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Denso Corp. spent more than a decade developing vehicle-to-vehicle, or “V2V,” communications systems to link cars, roadside beacons and traffic lights into a seamless wireless communication web to avoid collisions and heed speed limits. Yet deployments have been few, and no major automakers produce cars using the technology in the U.S.The auto industry has broadly shifted to favor a newer technology based on cellular systems, in part because it offers a path to transition to 5G systems in the future, proponents of the FCC’s plan say.Ford announced earlier this year that it will outfit all its new U.S. models starting in 2022 with cellular vehicle-to-everything technology. The system would enable Ford’s cars to communicate with one another about road hazards, talk to stop lights to smooth traffic flow and pay the bill automatically while picking up fast food.Automakers and their allies last year asked the FCC to let them use part of the band for cellular-based technology - rather than the Wi-Fi format the agency mandated in 1999 - while preserving all of the airwaves for transportation safety. In a petition the companies said the newer, cellular technology is more reliable, with greater range.The airwaves could be used for fast communications including machine-to-machine links, and smart city applications such as smart cameras, traffic monitoring and security sensors, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, a trade group for companies including Comcast and Charter, told the FCC in a Sept. 25 filing.(Updates with Charter filing in seventh paragraph.)\--With assistance from Keith Naughton.To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Todd Shields in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org, Elizabeth WassermanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- If the U.S. is going to make a big dent in income inequality and raise living standards for the middle class, it’s going to need a multipronged approach. Higher taxes and more spending on health care will help. Minimum-wage laws can raise pay for workers at the bottom without reducing employment much, but they only benefit a relatively small slice of the workforce. But something else is needed.One big idea is to bring back unions and collective bargaining. Several teams of economists have examined the historical record and concluded that unions were important in reducing inequality. But although unions are still important in the public sector, in the private sector they’ve been almost wiped out.People argue about the cause of the decline. Some blame weak enforcement of labor laws or the rise of state right-to-work laws. Others blame global competition and technology. But Martin Manley, an entrepreneur who previously served as assistant secretary of the Labor Department under President Bill Clinton, thinks he has the answer. In a new book titled “A Better Bargain: Organizing Employers and Workers to Grow America’s Middle Class,” Manley argues that the U.S. union system was doomed from the start.Before 1935, Manley notes, there were several types of collective bargaining in the U.S. But the one that ended up being enshrined in law, in the National Labor Relations Act, was called enterprise bargaining. Under that law, workers at each workplace have to vote to unionize; if they do, all workers at that workplace are covered by the union contract. If they reject the union down, however, there’s no collective bargaining.This system has a huge downside: competition. Suppose the workers at a McDonald’s want to form a union. The managers know that if the workers unionize, wages will go up and prices for hamburgers at that McDonald’s will rise. That will put the restaurant at a competitive disadvantage versus the non-unionized Burger King down the street, eventually resulting in layoffs. The managers will make this argument to the workers, who probably will find it convincing.If both the McDonald’s and the Burger King could coordinate and unionize together, competition would be no problem; wages would rise and the profits of the two giant corporations might fall while consumers paid higher prices for burgers. But because U.S. labor law forces each workplace to act independently on unionization, they can’t effectively coordinate. The situation is even worse for companies such as General Motors that face international competition because there’s no way for GM workers to coordinate with Volkswagen workers in Europe or Toyota workers in Asia.Manley has a two-pronged solution to this problem. Both pieces would require a major rewrite of U.S. labor law. And both would involve a shift from enterprise-level bargaining to sectoral bargaining, with negotiations taking place in an entire industry, not individual workplaces or companies.The first piece is industry associations — groups of companies in the same industry and region that bargain collectively with their workers all at once. Though it might seem counterintuitive to let employers collaborate like this, it would remove the competitive threat that unions represent, because the resulting agreements would constrain all businesses equally. Manley suggests that industry associations could also collaborate to create more efficient and flexible labor markets by providing worker training, sharing knowledge about workers across company lines and so on.Second, Manley would make unions nonexclusive. Under his preferred system, an industry association would bargain simultaneously with all the organizations that workers in that industry belonged to, be they unions, worker co-ops, professional associations or advocacy groups. The various worker groups would be awarded representation at the negotiating table proportional to their membership (which could overlap). Manley envisions various worker groups competing with each other for members by offering services other than wage bargaining.These are good ideas. To really be effective, they’ll require one crucial element: that workers who don’t belong to any organization are all covered by the contracts that result from sector-level labor negotiations. A law like this is the reason that the French and German workforces are still mostly covered by collective bargaining, despite falling unionization:If combined with Manley’s idea for competing labor organizations and proportional representation in negotiations, sectoral bargaining would undo the decades-long decline in private-sector collective bargaining almost overnight. It wouldn’t require unions to rebuild their membership; all it would need is a few worker organizations to pop up and start bargaining on behalf of everyone. At first, these early movers would get almost all the seats at the negotiating table, which would induce other workers to form other organizations to get a piece of the action.Presidential candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren have backed sectoral bargaining, showing that the idea is catching on. Innovative ideas like Manley’s could allow sectoral bargaining to take root even faster and to be carried out in a way that many employers would embrace. Ultimately, a more cooperative relationship between workers and management would result in a more sustainable system for supporting the middle class.To contact the author of this story: Noah Smith at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) will establish Customer Experience Center in Nassau County for the creation of employment opportunities and enhanced customer support.
Navistar's (NAV) 2019 revenues and adjusted EBITDA are likely to be hit by $140 million and $15 million, respectively, owing to the UAW strike.
Kinder Morgan (KMI) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. manufacturing output slumped in October by the most in six months as an auto workers’ strike at General Motors Co. curtailed vehicle production and the trade war continued to weigh on other factories.The 0.6% decline in output followed a 0.5% decrease the previous month, Federal Reserve data showed Friday. Excluding the 7.1% drop in motor vehicle output, which was the largest since January, factory production decreased a more modest 0.1% for a second month.Total industrial production, which also includes output at mines and utilities, slumped 0.8% in October, the largest setback since May 2018.Key InsightsThe data are consistent with other reports showing cracks in the factory sector as producers grapple with sluggish global demand, slower business investment and the U.S.-China trade war. The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge contracted three straight months, while a separate index showed global manufacturing shrank in October for a sixth month.All major market groups, including consumer goods and business equipment, reported declines in output for at least a second month.Factory production may rebound next month as the striking United Auto Workers reached an agreement with GM late in October. Overall the strike cost the company nearly $3 billion and lasted 40 days.Aside from the slump in automaker output, production also retreated at makers of computers, electrical equipment, chemicals, apparel and fabricated metals.Get MoreThe median forecast of economists in the Bloomberg survey for manufacturing output called for a 0.7% decline.Of the three main industrial production groups, mining dropped for a second month on weakness in the oil patch, while utilities registered the sharpest drop since June.Capacity utilization, measuring the amount of a plant that is in use, fell to 76.7% from 77.5%. Capacity utilization at manufacturers decreased to 74.7%, the weakest since September 2017.The Fed’s monthly data are volatile and often get revised. Manufacturing, which makes up about three-fourths of total industrial production, accounts for about 11% of the U.S. economy.(Adds graphic)\--With assistance from Chris Middleton.To contact the reporter on this story: Katia Dmitrieva in Washington at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Scott Lanman at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vince GolleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The British and Canadian currencies are almost unchanged on Friday. We could see some movement with the release of U.S. retail sales at 13:30 GMT.
GBP/USD has continued higher after consolidating in a bull flag for most of the week. However, strong resistance is nearby from a declining trendline that originates from the October high.
Jan Gooding has had one of the most storied “portfolio” careers in the world of advertising and is the chair of Stonewall.
The economic calendar shifts focus to the U.S Dollar. Following Powell’s positive outlook on the economy, retail sales will need to impress…