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(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s massive investment in WeWork triggered a multi-billion-dollar writedown and a rare apology from founder Masayoshi Son. But one analyst argues the deal is likely to work in the end and SoftBank will have the “last laugh.”Chris Lane of Sanford C. Bernstein says WeWork can have a bright future if SoftBank overhauls the business plan and more carefully focuses on the evolution of the corporate office market. He likens WeWork’s business model to Starbucks’s, where branding, consistency and global scale give it an advantage over the competition.Lane argues WeWork can achieve profitability if it pulls back on extraneous areas and calms a frenetic pace of expansion to focus on filling up existing space. That will allow it to grab an estimated 8% of an emergent market for pre-fitted offices for corporate clients, almost like a white-label tech gadget or home appliance.“We think investors should think of the basic business as being similar to Starbucks,” Lane wrote in a 21-page research report. “While profitable, the scale of profits that can be generated from a single site is small. Starbucks as a corporation only makes sense if you plan to open thousands of outlets.”It’s a contrarian take on a WeWork deal that has been widely viewed as a fiasco. After SoftBank invested in the co-working startup, its planned initial public offering fell apart as investors balked at its enormous losses and conflicted governance. Son conceded “there was a problem with my own judgment” as he announced the writedown last month. SoftBank has put about $14 billion into a startup that’s now valued at less than $8 billion.The Japanese company’s shares are down about 30% from their peak in April. They were little changed on Friday.After discussions with management, Lane explains they see an opportunity for WeWork to move beyond the niche of providing space for entrepreneurs to offering flexible real estate for a broad range of companies. He calls this “managed space as a service” and compares it to “software as a service,” which is the way many companies now buy from Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc. WeWork, Lane says, sees the potential to make $500 per month on memberships as “an on-going annuity,” far more than software generates.SoftBank named Marcelo Claure, the former chief executive at Sprint Corp., executive chairman of WeWork and put him in charge of the turnaround effort. Under his leadership, Lane says the company will be able to focus on profitability by stopping any incremental expansion, filling its existing space and slashing overhead by getting rid of expansion staff and non-core businesses. WeWork’s ability to gather data about office-use and optimize layouts -- while not entirely substantiated -- could prove disruptive to the industry, he added.He estimates that WeWork’s revenue will rise from $720 million a quarter to about $1.5 billion if it can push occupancy to 90% on its current portfolio. Once profitable, WeWork will once again try to go public, perhaps in 2023, and then raise additional capital to resume expansion, albeit more slowly than before.With a discounted cash flow model, Lane projects WeWork would have an enterprise value of $28.8 billion in 2025. That would make SoftBank’s 80% stake worth about $19.1 billion, roughly 40% more than the estimated $13.8 billion the company and its Vision Fund have invested.“We believe WeWork’s valuation is justified if you believe in the long-term, ‘office space’ will be a managed service outsourced to professionals – and that WeWork will be the leading global player,” Lane wrote. “Despite the huge embarrassment WeWork has been for SoftBank this year, we suspect SoftBank will have the last laugh when they bring the company back to market in a few years – bigger and profitable.”(Updates with shares in the sixth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Pavel Alpeyev in Tokyo at email@example.com;Takahiko Hyuga in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at email@example.com, Peter ElstromFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. managed to borrow at some of the lowest costs ever in the junk-bond market as investors clamored for a piece of the technology company’s debut sale.The size of the offering was increased to $700 million from a planned $600 million after Twitter received more than $6 billion in orders for its debt, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. It ultimately sold the notes at a yield of 3.875%, matching the yield Popeyes parent company Restaurant Brands International Inc. paid to borrow in September. The coupon is the lowest for securities maturing in eight years or more in the U.S. high-yield market, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The strong demand for the bonds shows how eager investors are to get their hands on higher paying securities, especially ones with BB tier ratings that carry less risk than lower-rated junk bonds. Double B rated notes have returned 14.1% this year through Wednesday, compared with the broader high-yield market’s 12.1% gain. Large cash-flow positive technology companies like Twitter are also a relative rarity in a market that’s become accustomed to deals from cash-burners like Netflix Inc. andTwitter and Restaurant Brands may have each other to thank for some of their junk bond market success. The fast-food operator brought its deal just weeks after Popeyes sold out of its famous chicken sandwich. Crowds descended onto stores eager to try a menu item that became a sensation on the microblogging site.\--With assistance from Gowri Gurumurthy.To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Boston in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nikolaj Gammeltoft at email@example.com, Christopher DeReza, Allan LopezFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The latest U.S.-China trade war updates and some positive U.S. economic data. A dive into third quarter 2019 earnings and what to expect from Q4 and 2020. Plus, a look at why RH is a Zacks Rank 1 (Strong Buy) stock right now...
(Bloomberg) -- Qualcomm Inc. is under no illusions about how long it will take to make a dent in Intel Corp.’s dominance of the laptop market. But a new set of chips it’s offering will make it tougher to keep Qualcomm out of computers.San Diego-based Qualcomm, whose processors are the heart of most of the world’s high-end smartphones, is trying to carve out a niche for its technology with laptops that last more than a day on a single battery charge and are always connected to the internet. Current models, such as Microsoft Corp.’s Surface Pro X, cost more than $1,000. Qualcomm is now rolling out new chips that will allow PC makers to build machines that compete with budget systems retailing for as low as $300.“We were not confused. We knew this market would take a long time,” said Qualcomm product director Miguel Nunes. “We still understand it’s going to take longer.”More affordable devices will help, Nunes said. But Qualcomm and other interlopers need new ways to reach consumers if they’re to overcome Intel’s brand recognition and marketing spending. One thing that’s helping is the sale of Qualcomm chip-based laptops by mobile phone service providers. Like phones, they’re increasingly being offered on monthly installment purchase plans, making the devices more affordable, Nunes said. Carriers like the cellular component of Qualcomm chips which ties customers to their networks, he said.Corporations like the idea that the the machines they give to employees are always connected to the internet. Interest from that market has surprised Qualcomm. Knowing where the machines are and being able to update them all the time are advantages of a cellular link, Nunes said.Qualcomm’s attempts to get into PCs are part of a broader push to push mobile technology into devices outside of the smartphone market. Growth in smartphones has slowed as consumers have shown less interest in upgrading to devices that offer marginal improvements over existing models. Qualcomm is targeting PCs in particular where it believes chips based on mobile technology can offer huge improvements in battery life, promised but not delivered by Intel-based devices, and have them continually connected to the internet.“One of the challenges we’ve seen is that the computing industry was plagued by a lot of lies when you talk about battery life,” Nunes said. “Consumers don’t believe you.”Qualcomm-based devices go days without needing to be plugged in, he said. With coming fifth-generation networks, they’ll also get extremely fast data all the time, enabling them to take advantage of more powerful computing over the internet, he said.The company is holding its annual conference in Hawaii. It has introduced new 5G chips for mobile phones, including ones that will enable cheaper handsets from early next year, and a new offering for virtual reality and augmented realty headsets.To contact the reporter on this story: Ian King in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Molly Schuetz, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. claims it lost a Pentagon cloud contract valued at as much as $10 billion because of political interference by President Donald Trump, according to the judge overseeing the case.Federal Claims Court Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said during a court proceeding last week that Amazon’s lawsuit argues that the Pentagon didn’t award the cloud deal to Microsoft Corp. on the basis of a fair evaluation of the companies’ bids.“Plaintiff contends that the procurement process was compromised and negatively affected by the bias expressed publicly by the president and commander in chief Donald Trump against plaintiff,” Campbell-Smith said in a recording of a status hearing released Thursday by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington.The judge’s comments were the first public confirmation that Amazon cited bias by Trump as grounds to overturn the award to Microsoft. Trump has long criticized Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on everything from the shipping rates his company pays the U.S. Postal Service to his personal ownership of what Trump calls “the Amazon Washington Post.”The contract was awarded to Microsoft “despite what plaintiff characterizes as its depth of experience, superior technology and proven record of success in handling the most sensitive government data,” Campbell-Smith said.Amazon filed a lawsuit under seal with the court last month to formally protest its loss of the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, cloud contract.For More: Amazon’s $10 Billion Pentagon Challenge: Proving Trump MeddledCampbell-Smith said Amazon is seeking to prohibit the Defense Department from proceeding without a new evaluation or award decision. The company is requesting that the Pentagon either reevaluate bids or reopen the procurement to allow for bid revisions, the judge said.Campbell-Smith also granted Microsoft’s request to intervene in the suit.In July, Trump stunned lawmakers and technology companies when he openly questioned whether the JEDI contract was being competitively bid, citing complaints from Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.Dana Deasy, the Pentagon’s chief information officer, said during his confirmation hearing in late October that to the best of his knowledge, no one from the White House reached out to any members of the JEDI cloud contract selection team.The Pentagon’s JEDI cloud project is designed to consolidate the department’s cloud computing infrastructure and modernize its technology systems. The contract is worth as much as $10 billion over 10 years and could offer the winner a bigger foothold in the burgeoning federal cloud market.(Updates with Amazon seeking new evaluation and decision from seventh paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Nix in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.