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Summary of business news and analysis

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Case for optimism in Europe?

Permalink 11:59:35 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 193 words   English (US)

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Categories: Economics Europe

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The Reformed Broker: Green Shoots in Europe (can’t believe I’m saying this out loud), July 30, 2013

In May, we began talking bullishly about European stocks and put a position on for select accounts. As Buffett said about his recent European stock buys, the news hadn't gotten better but the prices sure had.

The valuations were absurdly low relative to what investors are paying for the US and Japan. Price to earnings ratios - on both a trailing-12 months basis and cyclically adjusted over ten years - are substantially lower for Euro stocks than for their US counterparts. At the same time, dividend yields in Europe are significantly higher.

In addition, you'd have to leave earth to find a more hated asset class. Everyone's underweight Europe - they think it's the "conservative" thing to do while they chase the Russell 2000 at 20 times earnings. Meanwhile it's the largest economy on earth - 760 million people in 48 countries producing $16 trillion in GDP.
read more on The Reformed Broker

Keywords: Europe, European Economy

Related:

Job Curtis, co-portfolio manager of the Henderson Global Equity Income Fund, provides his views on the improving economic background and describes the Fund's positioning both geographically and by sector.


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Private equity in the aftermath of the financial crisis

Permalink 09:45:09 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 36 words   English (US)

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Categories: Deals, Valuation, Performance Measurement, Various Market Info, Market Characteristics

Good illustrations and reflections on private equity in the latest IESE Alumni Magazine. There could in dead be a private equity revival ahead.

Source: SSRN, Alumni Magazine IESE Juli - Sept 2013

Keywords: Private Equity, Buy Outs, LBO

07/31/13


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US real estate: recovery accelerates

Permalink 07:54:12 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 189 words   English (US)
Categories: Market research, United States

Zillow Real Estate Research: 2013 Spring Selling Season Was Hottest Since 2004, As Recovery Accelerates & Widens, July 22, 2013

Zillow’s second quarter Real Estate Market Reports , released today, show home values increased 2.4% from the first quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2013 to $161,100 (Figure 1). This quarter marks the largest annual gain since August 2006 and largest quarterly gain since the fourth quarter of 2005. On an annual basis, the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) rose from June 2012 levels (Figure 2). Monthly appreciation remains strong with national home values growing by 0.9% from May. Not only did the pace of home value appreciation quicken in the second quarter, but the recovery also fully took hold nationwide. Markets in some areas of the Northeast, Midwest and Southeastern U.S., such as Atlanta, Chicago and St. Louis, that had previously been slow to turn the corner began to appreciate, which helped boost the overall national market. All of the top 30 largest metro areas covered by Zillow experienced annual appreciation in home values as of the end of the second quarter, and all have hit their bottom. read more on Zillow Real Estate Research

Keywords: US Real Estate Market, Case Shiller

07/30/13

Permalink 06:44:28 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 177 words   English (US)
Categories: Various Market Info, Regulation

TechCrunch: Why Labor Unions And Silicon Valley Aren’t Friends, In 2 Charts, July 29, 2013

None of the Internet giants have unionized employees, which has made Silicon Valley a favorite target for civil libertarians.

Earlier this month, after several prominent Bay Area technologists came out against the BART subway union strike, it provided a convenient excuse for haters to brand the tech community as greedy oligarchs. “There’s a reason why so many people are hating on the techies,” wrote Slate’s Andrew Leonard, after quoting one tech executive who wanted to automate BART employees out of existence — “Get ‘em back to work, pay them whatever they want, and then figure out how to automate their jobs so this doesn’t happen again.”

There’s a very good reason why unions have never had a presence in Silicon Valley: they aren’t fans of technology. Labor unions have aggressively fought Uber and Lyft, which threaten taxi drivers with increased competition. They’ve effectively paralyzed a multi-billion-dollar sharing economy industry from spreading around the country.
read more on TechCrunch

Keywords: Technology, Productivity, Technological Progress, Labor Unions

07/29/13


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Google chromecast in action - and more about the "hardware revolution"

Permalink 06:23:46 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 259 words   English (US)

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Categories: Media, Technology

This, in combination of what google already has, could be a game changer:

"Once your Chromecast is set up, you can use your phone, tablet or laptop to browse and cast content to your TV, play and pause, control the volume, and more. But unlike other streaming solutions, you can still multitask—send emails or surf the web—while enjoying what’s on the TV screen.


It works across platforms—Android tablets and smartphones, iPhones, iPads, Chrome for Mac and Windows (more to come), so your personal device is also now your remote control. In addition to apps like Netflix, you can use Chromecast to bring a broad range of content available on the web to your big screen, thanks to a new feature in the Chrome browser that allows you to project any browser tab to your TV. From sharing your family photos to enjoying a video clip from your favorite news site, it’s as simple as pressing a button."

Keywords: Google Chromecast, Google

Related:

true ventures: The Hardware Revolution is Upon Us and Why it Matters, July 27, 2013

Great article by trueventures on the "new industrialization":

...."This is a tectonic shift that is going to drive the next wave of industrialization — one that is more nimble, adaptable and rapidly evolving. One that is as much based in software as it is in assembly lines. The past 150 years were about the economics of labor and mass production. Now, information flow, data, and analytic platforms are the new tools augmenting the lathes, pneumatic hammers, and assembly lines of yesteryear.".. read more on trueventures

Permalink 06:10:27 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 121 words   English (US)
Categories: Industrial Firms, Technology

VentureBeat: Connected cars are the future, but we still have miles to go, July 27, 2013

.."Consumers now expect a “smartphone-like experience in the car,” Golvin said. They are used to rapid cycles of innovation, and they have a greater range of transportation alternatives through companies like Zipcar and Getaround. Studies have shown that people are now driving less and buying fewer cars, and car makers, which are already facing significant challenges, need to respond accordingly if they want to remain competitive. According to Golvin, the greatest potential to create new revenue is with data brokerage and analysis and the ability to turn data collected by vehicles into actionable information"...

read more on the connected car on VentureBeat

Keywords: Car Industry, Connected Car

07/27/13

Permalink 08:16:48 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 252 words   English (US)
Categories: Analysts, Media

Source: Data by Nielsen

Nielsen: Global Ad Spend: Display Ads See Double-Digit Growth in Q1, July 25, 2013

"According to Nielsen’s quarterly Global AdView Pulse report, the first quarter of 2013 held few surprises for media sectors—continuing trends established in recent years. Television remained the dominant media type in terms of advertising investments (with 59% media share and 3.5% global growth), and it appears that TV will maintain this position at least for the short term. TV advertising, however, was not immune to the economic problems in Europe in Q1, leading to a 2.9 percent decrease in this region.

Decreases in print advertising continued slowly, as both spending in magazines and newspapers both declined in the first quarter (-2.8% and -4.7%, respectively). Newspaper ad spend decreased in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, while magazine ad spending decreased in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East & Africa, showing that print advertising is declining around the globe.

The two media types combined, however, still hold nearly a 30 percent media share, validating that print is still a power player in the media mix for marketers.

Display Internet advertising, though measured in a smaller subset of countries, grew a significant 26.3 percent for the first quarter. Display internet ad growth was particularly impressive in the Asia-Pacific (33.2%) and Latin America (48.2%). Internet even bucked the trend in Europe, boasting growth of 10.4 percent."
read more on Nielsen

Related:

Facebook captured growth opportunities in mobile advertising:

MarketObservation: (Mobile) advertising results boost facebook share price - mindblowing facts to know about the company

Keywords: Advertising, Print, Television, Online Media, Internet

07/26/13


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Columbia University and Deutsche Bank researchers say that sustainable investing can be a clear win for investors and for companies

Permalink 08:43:51 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 676 words   English (US)

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Categories: Research, Academic, Sustainable Investing

Profound ESG analysis could be a next important element in the investment field.

Fulton, Mark, Kahn, Bruce M. and Sharples, Camilla, Sustainable Investing: Establishing Long-Term Value and Performance (June 12, 2012). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2222740 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2222740

Abstract:

"The evidence is compelling: Sustainable Investing can be a clear win for investors and for companies. However, many SRI fund managers, who have tended to use exclusionary screens, have historically struggled to capture this. We believe that ESG analysis should be built into the investment processes of every serious investor, and into the corporate strategy of every company that cares about shareholder value. ESG best-in-class focused funds should be able to capture superior risk-adjusted returns if well executed.

This is the key finding of our report in which we looked at more than 100 academic studies of sustainable investing around the world, and then closely examined and categorized 56 research papers, as well as 2 literature reviews and 4 meta studies - we believe this is one of the most comprehensive reviews of the literature ever undertaken.

Frequently, Sustainable Investing is stated to yield "mixed results." However, by breaking down our analysis into different categories (SRI, CSR, and ESG) we have identified exactly where in the sprawling, diverse universe of so-called Sustainable Investment, value has been found.

By applying what we believe to be a unique methodology, we show that "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR) and most importantly, "Environmental, Social and Governance" (ESG) factors are correlated with superior risk-adjusted returns at a securities level. In conducting this analysis, it became evident that CSR has essentially evolved into ESG. At the same time, we are able to show that studies of fund performance - which have been classified "Socially Responsible Investing" (SRI) in the academic literature and have tended to rely on exclusionary screens - show SRI adds little upside, although it does not underperform either. Exclusion, in many senses, is essentially a values-based or ethical consideration for investors.

We were surprised by the clarity of the results we uncovered: 100% of the academic studies agree that companies with high ratings for CSR and ESG factors have a lower cost of capital in terms of debt (loans and bonds) and equity. In effect, the market recognizes that these companies are lower risk than other companies and rewards them accordingly. This finding alone should put the issue of Sustainability squarely into the office of the Chief Financial Officer, if not the board, of every company. 89% of the studies we examined show that companies with high ratings for ESG factors exhibit market-based outperformance, while 85% of the studies show these types of company's exhibit accounting-based outperformance. Here again, the market is showing correlation between financial performance of companies and what it perceives as advantageous ESG strategies, at least over the medium (3-5 years) to long term (5-10 years).

The single most important of these factors, and the most looked at by academics to date, is Governance (G), with 20 studies focusing in on this component of ESG (relative to 10 studies focusing on E and 8 studies on S). In other words, any company that thinks it does not need to bother with improving its systems of corporate governance is, in effect, thumbing its nose at the market and hurting its own performance all at the same time. In the hierarchy of factors that count with investors and the markets in general, Environment is the next most important, followed closely by Social factors.

Most importantly, when we turn to fund returns, it is notable that these are all clustered into the SRI category. Here, 88% of studies of actual SRI fund returns show neutral or mixed results. Looking at the compositions of the fund universes included in the academic studies we see a lot of exclusionary screens being used. However, that is not to say that SRI funds have generally underperformed. In other words, we have found that SRI fund managers have struggled to capture outperformance in the broad SRI category but they have, at least, not lost money in the attempt."

Source: SSRN

Keywords: ESG, SRI, Sustainable Investing

Related:

Selection of fields covered by a leading Rating Firm

07/25/13

Permalink 08:56:49 pm, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 79 words   English (US)
Categories: Analysts, Media

Source: MarketWatch

Keywords: Facebook, Advertising

Related:

A MarketObservation editor wrote at the beginning of 2011, when Goldman Sachs structured the private investor deal:

Having hundreds of millions of users there is the potential for big subscription fees. This would be more or less additional profit for Facebook. But Facebook is offerig tremendous new advertising opportunities. Where else can you more precisely target your peer groups?! Maybe not such a bad deal for Goldman... an its clients.... - See more at: http://www.marketobservation.com/blogs/index.php/2011/01/08/facebook-a-bad-deal-for-goldman?blog=8#sthash.mEhCDYM0.dpuf

Permalink 08:00:44 pm, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 13 words   English (US)
Categories: Economics United States

US an outlier:

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Keywords: Health Care Spending, GDP

Permalink 12:13:26 pm, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 143 words   English (US)
Categories: Politics, Initiatives, Technologies

School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University: Economy Edges Out Environment for Governments Plugging Electric Vehicles, July 15, 2013

Contrary to common belief, many of the world’s most powerful nations promote the manufacture and sale of electric vehicles primarily for reasons of economic development – notably job creation – not because of their potential to improve the environment through decreased air pollution and oil consumption.

This is among the main findings of a study by researchers at the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental (SPEA) and University of Kansas that analyzed policies related to electric vehicles (EVs) in California, China, the European Union, France, Germany, and the United States – political jurisdictions with significant automotive industries and markets for EVs.
read more on the page of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University

Keywords: Environmental Policy, Industrial Policy, Electric Cars

Permalink 08:22:59 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 3 words   English (US)
Categories: Technologies, Innovation

Keywords: Traffic, Tesla

07/24/13

Permalink 06:04:36 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 149 words   English (US)
Categories: Media

Venture Beat: Apple’s declining international sales should be its biggest worry right now, July 23, 2013

Apple dropped its Q3 2013 financial results hours ago, and the dust is settling: iPhones up, iPads down, some less-bad-than-expected news, and overall, an after-hours Wall Street vote of confidence.

But international sales is a problem that Apple needs to fix.

Here’s a quick look at Apple and international markets, both year-over-year (YoY) and quarter-over-quarter (QoQ):
◾apple declinesEurope: down $600 million YoY, down $2.2 billion QoQ
◾Greater China: down $800 YoY, down $3.6 billion QoQ
◾Japan: up $500 million YoY, down $600 million QoQ
◾Asia Pacific: flat YoY, down $1.2 billion QoQ

Sequentially, that’s down 19 percent, including the relatively strong Americas numbers. Year-over-year, that’s down 8 percent in Europe, 14 percent in China, and 18 percent in the rest of Asia Pacific, in spite of good news in Japan, which was up 27 percent.
read more on Venture Beat

Keywords: Apple, Apple's International Sales, Apple Product Innovation

Permalink 05:47:37 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 152 words   English (US)
Categories: Analysts, Media

Yahoo Finance: As Media Cos. Shed Print Assets, Investors Snap Up Shares, July 22, 2013

"Media companies can’t get rid of their publishing divisions fast enough. Yet investors can’t get enough of publishers’ stocks. So what’s the real story here?

Are newspapers and magazines a doomed, anachronistic business? Or have the surviving publishers found some equilibrium, learning how to get paid for digital content, driving down expenses, pivoting toward the broadcast business and harvesting value from New Media investments? Probably a bit of both.

The headline-nabbing performance of publishing stocks has also benefited from investors’ hunt for unloved and under-owned ideas, expectations of further industry consolidation and the fact that they had gotten so depressed over the prior five years or so. Most of the stocks leading the sector higher also own television stations, whose implicit value has surged based on recent transactions."
read more on Yahoo Finance

Keywords: Media Companies, Internet, Print Media

07/22/13

Zeisberger, Claudia, Prahl, Michael and Wee, Jean, Private Equity and Family Businesses - Making the Partnership Work (July 18, 2013). INSEAD Working Paper No. 2013/81/DS/EFE. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2295314

Abstract:

"Fast growing Family Businesses have many choices when considering the sources of funding to expand their business. The article discusses a systematic approach to exploring a potential partnership between Growth Equity Investors and Family Owned Businesses. It describes under which circumstances Growth Equity can significantly contribute to the development of the family firm and contemplates the main issues to consider before entering into such a long term partnership. As such it acts as a valuable checklist for entrepreneurs and business owners to make better informed decisions when selecting a Growth equity or Private Equity investor to facilitate future growth."

Keywords: Private Equity, Family Firms


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MOOCs, a viable business model?

Permalink 07:34:05 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 142 words   English (US)

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Categories: Education, MOOC

The Economist: The attack of the MOOCs; An army of new online courses is scaring the wits out of traditional universities. But can they find a viable business model? July 20, 2013

DOTCOM mania was slow in coming to higher education, but now it has the venerable industry firmly in its grip. Since the launch early last year of Udacity and Coursera, two Silicon Valley start-ups offering free education through MOOCs, massive open online courses, the ivory towers of academia have been shaken to their foundations. University brands built in some cases over centuries have been forced to contemplate the possibility that information technology will rapidly make their existing business model obsolete. Meanwhile, the MOOCs have multiplied in number, resources and student recruitment—without yet having figured out a business model of their own. read the whole article in The Economist

Keywords: MOOC, Online Education

07/21/13


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"Things learned from Kahneman about investing"

Permalink 08:50:45 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 313 words   English (US)

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Categories: Humor

25iq: A Dozen Things I’ve Learned About Investing from Daniel Kahneman

1. “Many individual investors lose consistently by trading, an achievement that a dart-throwing chimp could not match.”

2. “Few stock pickers, if any, have the skill needed to beat the market consistently, year after year.”

3. “I actually am a believer in index funds. … if you don’t have very specific information, which some say you’re not allowed to have, you better not kid yourself that you can pick individual stocks.”

4. “For a large majority of fund managers, the selection of stocks is more like rolling dice than like playing poker.”

5. “The persistence of individual differences is the measure by which we confirm the existence of skill.” and “Five years is really nothing. I mean, people who go by the record of five years just don’t understand statistics.”

6. “Individual investors predictably flock to stocks in companies that are in the news.”

7. “Groups tend to be more extreme than individuals.”

8.“Many people now say they knew a financial crisis was coming, but they didn’t really. After a crisis we tell ourselves we understand why it happened and maintain the illusion that the world is understandable. In fact, we should accept the world is incomprehensible much of the time.”

9. “We explain the past with the greatest of ease, and we’re really crummy at forecasting the future….”

10. “Many people will admit that they made a mistake [putting money in dot-coms or telecoms at their peak] But that doesn’t mean that they’ve changed their mind about anything in particular. It doesn’t mean that they are now able to avoid that mistake.”

11. “A person who has not made peace with his losses is likely to accept gambles that would be unacceptable to him otherwise.”

12. People have “bounded self-control…. They have procrastination problems.” People don’t save enough money given their needs for things like retirement.

Source: 25iq.com

Keywords: Investing, Investing Biases

07/20/13

Permalink 10:53:49 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 206 words   English (US)
Categories: Analysts, Investment, Academic

The Graham Investor: Benjamin Graham’s 10 Rules – Still Valid Today? May 2013

Rules are:

1. An earnings-to-price yield of twice the triple-A bond yield. The earnings yield is the
reciprocal of the price earnings ratio.
2. A price/earnings ratio down to four-tenths of the highest average P/E ratio the stock reached
in the most recent five years. (Average P/E ratio is the average stock price for a year
divided by the earnings for that year.)
3. A dividend yield of two-thirds of the triple-A bond yield.
4. A stock price down to two-thirds of tangible book value per share.
5. A stock price down to two-thirds of net current asset value — current assets less total debt.
6. Total debt less than tangible book value.
7. Current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities) of two or more.
8. Total debt equal or less than twice the net quick liquidation value as defined in No. 5.
9. Earnings growth over the most recent ten years of seven percent compounded—a doubling of
earnings in a ten-year period.
10.Stability of growth in earnings—defined as no more than two declines of five percent or more
in year-end earnings over the most recent ten years.

read opinion on The Graham Investor

Keywords: Value Investing, Value Investor, Value Investment Rules, Benjamin Graham

07/18/13

Permalink 01:02:45 pm, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 45 words   English (US)
Categories: Economics Global

Extremley relevant graph for the judgement of the innovation power of countries.

Source: voxEU

Keywords: Inventors, Immigrants, Emigrants, Inventors

Related:

Global Innovation Index 2013

2013 top ten in Innovation Index Ranking:

1 Switzerland 66.6 (Score)
2 Sweden 61.4
3 United Kingdom 61.2
4 Netherlands 61.1
5 United States of America 60.3
6 Finland 59.5
7 Hong Kong 59.4
8 Singapore 59.4
9 Denmark 58.3
10 Ireland 57.9

Permalink 07:02:26 am, by editor of MarketObservation.com Email , 164 words   English (US)
Categories: Banks/Investment Banks, Regulation

Marginal Revolution: The Puzzling Return of Glass-Steagall, by Alex Tabarrok, July 17, 2013

I am puzzled by the renewed demand for the return of Glass-Steagall. I am puzzled not because Glass-Steagall might be bad policy but because it is so clearly a policy that doesn’t deal with the problems that created the financial crisis. If one had to sum the crisis up in one sentence it would be hard to do better than “a run on the shadow banking system.” The shadow banking system is that collection of mostly non-bank financial intermediaries who base their credit creation not on deposits but on repo, money market funds, SIVs, asset backed securitizations and other financial structures. The big new fact that I learned from the financial crisis and that I thought someone like Elizabeth Warren would surely also have learned is that the shadow banking system is larger than the regular banking system.

Separate commercial and investment banking?
read more on Marginal Revolution

Keywords: Banking, Financial Regulation, Glass-Steagall

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