Category Archives: Cloud Computing

China approves HP's $1.1 billion buy of Samsung's printer business with curbs

BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Thursday it has approved HP Inc’s (HPQ.N) $ 1.1 billion purchase of Samsung Electronics’ (005930.KS) printer business with certain restrictions, citing concerns about the U.S. firm’s dominance of the domestic laser printer market.

HP announced the deal in September 2016, hoping to disrupt the $ 55 billion copier market by focusing on multifunction printers and more deeply embedding mobile and cloud printing technologies to its product solutions.

It hoped at the time to close the transaction within 12 months, pending regulatory review.

In a statement issued late on Thursday, the Ministry of Commerce said sale of A4 format laser printers by HP in China should be done on “fair and reasonable” terms and the firm must report every six months on their prices and related data to the ministry.

HP must not buy any stakes in other A4 printer manufacturers in China even if they are a minority equity investment, it said.

It must not adapt its printers to restrict compatibility with third-parties or claim in advertising that its printers are not compatible with other suppliers, the ministry said.

HP expects to close the acquisition in the fourth quarter which ends on Dec. 31, a spokeswoman said in an email. She declined to comment on the regulatory process.

Samsung was not immediately available for comment.

Under the deal, HP would add an intellectual property portfolio of more than 6,500 printing patents and nearly 1,300 researchers and engineers with expertise in laser printer technology, imaging electronics and printer supplies.

Reporting by Josephine Mason and Stella Qiu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Indonesia's first ever IPO by a startup draws robust investor interest

JAKARTA (Reuters) – E-commerce firm PT Kioson Komersial Indonesia Tbk drew strong investor interest for Indonesia’s first ever IPO by a startup, and its shares surged on their trading debut in very thin volumes on Thursday.

The response to the IPO could potentially pave the way for more technology companies in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to follow in Kioson’s footsteps and list in the domestic stock market.

Kioson raised 45 billion rupiah ($ 3.3 million) by selling 150 million shares, or 23.1 percent of the company’s total share base, at 300 rupiah each. The offering was more than 10 times over-subscribed.

The stock surged as much as 50 percent on its debut, but volumes were very thin with just over 10,000 shares traded.

Indonesia’s startup scene is booming as investors are lured by the youthful demographic of the country of 250 million people, who are increasingly buying anything from tickets to electronic gadgets online.

President Joko Widodo has also aimed to increase broadband access in the sprawling archipelago.

Kioson CEO Jasin Halim said the company previously received offers from venture capital and private equity funds, but decided to go for an IPO because of a difference in valuation.

“The path that startups take is normally to look for venture capital, angel investors and so on…We feel that by taking the IPO route, that’s the method that is the most fair and transparent,” he told reporters. “Let the market value our company.”

On top of showing that an IPO could be an alternative method to raise funds for startups in Indonesia, Kioson also offers retail investors a chance to take part in the capital market and benefit from the “hyper-growth” of startups, Halim said.

Kioson operates an “online to offline” business model, which allows customers to make online purchases and pick up their orders at the ubiquitous kiosks, locally known as “warungs”, across Indonesia.

The company had tied up with 19,000 kiosks as of September, and plans to raise that to 100,000 by 2019, Halim said.

Kioson plans to use the proceeds from its IPO mainly to acquire online vouchers firm PT Narindo Solusi Komunikasi.

Andi Boediman, co-founder of venture capital firm Ideosource, told Reuters he expects more startups to take the IPO route in Indonesia as they could get better valuations from local investors who are more familiar with their products.

“With products that are offered in Indonesia, it’s easier to build a positive perception in Indonesia than to introduce it in other countries,” said Boediman, whose venture capital firm had invested in online retailer PT Bhinneka Mentari Dimensi. (reut.rs/2yJnoHQ)

PT M Cash Integrasi, which distributes online vouchers through its physical kiosks, is also planning to raise up to 300 billion rupiah by offering a 25 percent stake in an IPO. M Cash is a unit of PT Kresna Graha Investama Tbk.

Reporting by Eveline Danubrata; Additional reporting by Cindy Silviana; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Wisconsin, Michigan were key targets of Russia-linked ads on Facebook: CNN

(Reuters) – Russia-linked Facebook ads during last year’s U.S. presidential election mainly focussed on the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The ads targeted key demographic groups and used divisive messages including promoting anti-Muslim sentiment, the report said, citing sources. cnn.it/2klAM2y

Wisconsin and Michigan were among the handful of battleground states that helped Trump win the presidency over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Trump carried Wisconsin by 22,748 votes and Michigan by 10,700 votes.

About 10 million people in the United States saw politically divisive ads on Facebook which were purchased in Russia in the months before and after the U.S. election, Facebook said on Monday as social media companies face calls for increased regulation and more transparency to open up the opaque world of online political ads.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees are investigating possible links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. Russia denies meddling in the election.

A representative from Facebook could not be reached for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Sunil Nair

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Tax Reform Proposal Gets Mixed Reviews From Small Business Owners

The Republican-backed tax proposal announced last week addresses concerns of some small business groups but also raises questions that it could create a tax loophole for wealthy people.

The proposal would change the way some company owners — sole proprietors, partners and owners of what are called S corporations — are taxed. They report business income on their individual 1040 forms and under current law, can be taxed at a rate up to 39.6 percent. Many small business advocates have long objected to the fact that some of these owners pay a higher tax rate than corporations whose rates currently top out at 35 percent.

Under the GOP proposal, the tax rate on the businesses known as pass-throughs would be 25 percent. The corporate rate would be 20 percent.

Small business advocates were split over the plan. The National Federation of Independent Business welcomed it, but others objected.

“The current proposal leaves a disparity by offering pass-through entities a 25 percent tax on business income while dropping the corporate rate to 20 percent,” said Todd McCracken, CEO of the National Small Business Association. “We hope to work with tax writers to find ways to close that gap.”

The pass-through provision has already encountered criticism among Democrats who say it would enable wealthy Americans to structure their finances in a way that would dramatically lower their tax bills. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said it would allow hedge funds to “to convert ordinary income into low-rate pass-through income.”

The NSBA was happy with some other proposals, including an end to the estate tax, which can force the heirs of company owners to sell a business or place it in debt in order to pay the government.

The Small Business Majority said the plan would not help most small companies.

“The current top rate is paid by less than 2 percent of pass-through business owners. Nearly 9 in 10 businesses that pass through their income already pay at the 25 percent rate or less,” said the group’s CEO, John Arensmeyer.

The plan would simplify business taxes, encourage business investment and increase owners’ confidence, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council said.

“High confidence will drive investment, risk-taking, bigger economic growth and wage growth,” said Karen Kerrigan, the group’s CEO.

The overall tax proposal faces an uncertain path through Congress although it has the backing of GOP leaders and President Donald Trump. Another provision in the overall plan that is being criticized is a proposal to eliminate the deduction for state and local taxes.

OPTMISTIC ABOUT TRADE

Small and mid-sized U.S. businesses that export their goods and services generally anticipate healthy growth in their overseas sales in the next five years. That’s the finding of a survey of 501 exporters released Monday by American Express.

Seventy-seven percent of the exporters who took part in the survey expect revenue from overseas sales to increase in the next five years, on average by nearly 30 percent. International trade is a significant part of their business — on average 36 percent of annual revenue comes from other countries.

Global economics and politics are a concern to these companies, with nearly 80 percent saying changing economics is a significant challenge. Thirty percent said Britain’s planned exit from the European Community will make them more cautious about international trade.

The survey, which questioned companies with total annual revenue between $ 250,000 to under $ 1 billion, was conducted in August.

PAID SICK LEAVE

Rhode Island has become the eighth state to require employers to give their staffers paid time off when they’re sick. Gov. Gina Raimondo signed a bill Thursday giving staffers at businesses with at least 18 employees three days of paid sick leave in 2018, four in 2019 and five in 2020. Workers can also use the time to care for ill relatives.

A growing number of states and cities have enacted laws that give workers paid sick leave, which is not required under federal law. Rhode Island’s neighbors, Connecticut and Massachusetts, also have sick leave laws, as do Vermont, California, Oregon, Arizona and Washington state.

–The Associated Press

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Uber’s path to win back London: data, fines and fees

(Reuters) – If history is a guide, Uber Technologies new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi is likely to dangle data sharing and a promise to pay fines and fees when he sits down with London officials to negotiate the ride service’s future in one of its most important markets.

From the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, the strategy has worked time and time again for the San Francisco company.

London transportation officials last month deemed Uber [UBER.UL] unfit to operate because of lax corporate responsibility. The move threatens an Uber stronghold at a time when Khosrowshahi is trying to salvage the company’s reputation after a series of scandals.

Police have complained that Uber was not disclosing or taking too long to report serious crimes tied to its rides, and London mayor Sadiq Khan backed the decision to pull Uber’s license.

Khosrowshahi already offered a contrite public response, which is unusual for Uber, in an open-letter apology to Londoners “for the mistakes we’ve made.” He’s also armed with local support: more than 840,000 Londoners have signed an Uber petition urging city to reconsider its decision.

Khosrowshahi is scheduled to meet on Tuesday with Transport for London Commissioner Mike Brown.

A deal would be a big victory for the new Uber leader, and securing a surcharge or new data on drivers could be a win for Khan, Uber’s highest profile critic and chair of the regulator.

Uber has been willing to pay fines and institute fees in local disputes around the world. But when pressed, it has also shut down in several markets to protest measures that it says slow the service for customers or hinder driver recruitment. As recently as last week, Uber said it would pull out of Quebec rather than agree to 35 hours of training for drivers.

Uber declined to comment on London bargaining tactics. It has said it wants to work with the city “to make things right.”

There is no certainty of a deal, and neither side has portrayed the Tuesday meeting as a negotiations. But with the stake so high – 3.5 million customers won over by price and convenience have made it Uber’s biggest European market – a deal for both sides makes sense.

“The mayor just wants to get something to show constituents upset with Uber some action,” said Bruce Shaller, a former New York City transport official who has authored a book on ride-hailing apps. “Transport for London would look unreasonable to let Uber walk away.”

DATA DEALS

Uber is often described as a “big data” company that thrives because it can match customer needs to driver availability, predicting where cars will be needed and dynamically tailoring fares based on expected demand.

Though it has been loathe to share information for privacy and business reasons, awarding limited data access to cities has solved several standoffs.

When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to limit the number of Uber cars in the city to clear up traffic, the company released data that helped show congestion would persist and agreed to give the city ongoing data such as the location and time of pickups.

Uber also launched a personal and public campaign in New York against the mayor, similar to the London petition but with criticism aimed directly at de Blasio. De Blasio dropped the proposal.

Portland, Oregon let Uber back into the city in 2015 after a similar promise of trip data – and a fee of 50 cents per ride to pay for oversight. The information helps the city check compliance with requirements such as 24-hour, citywide service.

“We’ve been able to use data from the company and the resources from the rides’ fees to create a regulatory scheme that is robust,” said Brendan Finn, chief of staff to Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who played the role of swing vote and wasn’t otherwise an Uber backer.

Uber has paid fines to other regulators for access: a one-month suspension in the Philippines was lifted early, once Uber paid almost $ 10 million to the government and drivers in August. Last year, Uber agreed to a $ 7.6 million fine in California to avoid suspension over a delay in turning over data sought for an analysis on the neighborhoods the company served.

Still, Uber has drawn lines when the convenience and affordability that has helped its offering stand out is threatened. The company suspended operations in places such as Macau, Bulgaria, Denmark and Hungary that are all mandating terms the company has called financially unbearable for itself and its drivers.

And talks with Australia’s Northern Territory province have been bogged down over a proposed registration fee of around $ 500 for each driver and a small per-ride fee, which Uber said were not affordable.

In Quebec, the company has provided 20 hours of training for new drivers. When the province said it wanted 35, in line with training for taxi operators, Uber said it would pull out in mid-October.

“They are more than happy with regulation,” a former Uber public policy official speaking on the condition of anonymity said of the company. “But it has to enable the market for ride sharing, and it has to exist for a public policy reason.”

Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco, Eric Auchard in Frankfurt, Julia Fioretti in Brussels, Costas Pitas and Kate Holton in London and Julie Astrid Thomsen and Teis Jensen in Copenhagen; editing by Peter Henderson and Edward Tobin

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Is UX Dead?

The usage of the term User Experience (UX) has has exploded in the tech, media and design industries in recent years. But what does UX really mean?

The truth is, it is incredibly difficult to define what UX is, or what a UX designer does. Because it’s so new, we haven’t yet arrived at a universal definition. If you Google “definition of UX” you’ll be hard pressed to find two credible sources with the same definition. Go ahead, try. I’ll wait.

What’s worse, when you combine the inconsistent definitions with the usual word vomit used to explain UX, it makes understanding the job nearly impossible. Most definitions I’ve come across make it sound like it’s rocket science. Take Wikipedia’s definition, for example:

User Experience is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. User experience design encompasses traditional human-computer interaction (HCI) design, and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.

As a UX designer myself, how am I supposed to explain that to my mom?

Most definitions are certainly a mouthful. Don’t get me wrong, you can still count on me to talk the talk, as well. But the irony is that UX designers are supposed to make things easy to use and understand, and yet, how we explain what we do is so complex.

Why haven’t we used our superpowers to design a definition that can be easily consumed and understood?

I’m sure most UX designers are too busy saving the world, one digital product at a time, to worry about describing their work. But it matters that we do. It really matters. With the lack of consistency and simplicity in how we define UX, we’ve stripped it of it’s meaning and, more importantly, reduced the job to a mere buzzword.

Because of the pervasive abstraction about what UX design is, the most common perception of UX is the design of the “face” or “skin” of an an app or website. Today, the things that UX designers create, the apps you use every day, have shaped our interpersonal relationships, dictated how we manage our finances and influenced how we consume news.

Is a visual artist qualified to control the essential elements of how we function as a society? Probably not.

A one-dimensional understanding of UX means there’s a greater chance of companies underestimating the resources that create the products that shape our value systems, our social norms, our brains.

Yet part of the reason UX is so difficult to define is that it has so many dimensions, which makes it challenging to encapsulate. Among other things, a UX designer requires at least some foundational knowledge of:

  • Business acumen to ensure that the interests and strategies of the business are being met;
  • Cognition and communication to logically organize information (visually and semantically) in a way that can be quickly understood or learned;
  • Behavioral sciences to take into consideration human motivations, attitudes and aspirations;
  • Computer science to understand the constraints and possibilities of the medium by which he or she creates;
  • Cultural intelligence to be sensitive of diversity and international exposure;
  • Ethics to prevent users from being exploited.

How then, do we create an all-encompassing description of a UX designer that isn’t ripe for misunderstandings and over-simplification? One that allows us to truly understand the capabilities of the person that carries so much weight.

The answer is we don’t. That person doesn’t exist. Here’s why.

Business has always been about providing a great experience to the customer–that’s the nature of creating value, and it’s nothing new. In fact, 86% of buyers say they are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. All successful businesses, not just the digital ones, have mastered that.

Since the advent of the term, UX has primarily been a reference for resources dedicated to a customer’s digital experience. The distinction for digital designers signaled a shift to behavioral factors (like emotion and memory) that influence our experience with a screen, rather than our traditional experiences in brick and mortar environments.

Today, however, the boundaries between physical and digital experiences are blurred, with nearly all businesses operating with some sort of digital component. The reality is, every business must have some degree of digital competency in order to remain relevant.

If there is no longer a distinction between users and customers, why should separate business functions exist to serve each of them?

For instance, would a UX designer for Marriott’s mobile app operate any differently than, say, the hotel concierge? Both require empathizing with the customer, anticipating their needs and adding value to their experience. The only difference is the medium in which that service is provided.

Granted, there’s still a need for strong design in successful digital experiences, but it might be time to drop the User in User Experience and focus on the customer holistically. When you think about which business functions have historically owned the customer experience, you’d be hard pressed to find a company that leaves that responsibility to a graphic designer. Rather, that responsibility falls on the entire organization, or more specifically, the company leadership.

That’s likely the reason why designers are becoming the next generation of CEOs.

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The Senate Is About to Approve Commercial Sale of Self-Driving Cars (But Not Trucks)

You will soon be able to ride home from your local car dealership in a car that finds its way there unassisted while you nap or read. That reality came a whole lot closer this week, with bipartisan agreement in the Senate on legislation allowing self-driving cars to take the the roads. The law is expected to come up for vote in the near future, and pass.

The House passed similar legislation, also with bipartisan support, several weeks ago. That legislation allows car manufacturers to sell up to 25,000 autonomous vehicles the first year they offer them. That will go up to 100,000 cars a year if the self-driving cars prove as safe as human-driven ones. And that’s not all. The Trump administration also helped out recently by issuing voluntary safety guidelines for autonomous cars and at the same time requesting that states avoid writing laws or regulations governing self-driving cars and possibly hampering their introduction.

The senators who arrived at the self-driving deal note that autonomous cars appear to be safer than human-driven ones. “Ultimately, we expect adoption of self-driving vehicle technologies will save lives, improve mobility for people with disabilities, and create new jobs,” said Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in a joint statement. They may be right: When a Tesla owner died while his car was in Autopilot mode last summer, company founder Elon Musk pointed out that it was the first known Autopilot fatality in 130 million miles of driving, whereas there’s a human fatality for every 89 million miles of traditional driving.

But if cars with no one at the wheel will soon become a common sight, the same won’t be true of semi trucks. The Teamsters successfully lobbied for the House version of the bill to limit self-driving vehicles to 10,000 pounds or less. That could be a problem for the U.S. trucking industry, which was short an estimated 48,000 drivers at the end of 2015, a shortage that’s expected to grow to 175,000 over the next seven years. That will create enormous pressure to replace hard-to-find long-haul truck drivers with no-muss, no-fuss AI.

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Three Keys To Driving Business Growth

Business development is crucial for any new start-up, without it, your business will struggle to survive let alone thrive.

When it comes to developing your business, and let’s be clear about what we mean by this, we mean increasing your revenue.

And simplistically speaking there are only three ways that you can do that, and these are: sell more, sell to more, and sell for more.

Too often we overcomplicate things, but in terms of revenue growth, these are the only options and the clearer that we can see them the easier it is to address them, and all of your efforts should be directed to these three tasks.

Your business should have strategies for all three of these opportunities because if you don’t then, you are missing opportunities and potentially leaving the business on the table for your competitors to profit from.

Sell More

The easiest way to grow your business is to sell more products or services to your existing customers. Your existing customers already have a relationship with you, they probably already know you, like you and trust you, so it should be fairly easy to sell additional items to them.

Some studies have shown that it costs seven times as much to add new customers than it does to sell to existing customers.
That means that there are bigger profits to be made in selling additional products and services to existing customers as you have already borne the customer acquisition cost previously.

So what other products and services can you offer to your existing customers. These might not even be services that you produce; these could be complimentary services where you take a small percentage from a partner. Look at airlines who look to offer additional services like car hire, hotels, etc., etc. as they look to maximise the revenue from their customers.

You also need to have customer satisfaction high on your agenda, because for every customer you lose it will cost you significantly to replace them.

You need to have strategies for increasing your revenue per customer.

Sell to More

This is probably the area that most businesses focus on, attracting new customers and increasing market share and penetration. You need more customers if you want to dominate your market and also to drive efficiencies and economies of scale which can help increase profits. But you need to be smart about how you go about this, and to look to keep your customer acquisition costs as low as possible.

One of the cheapest ways to attract new customers id through referrals from existing customers. If your existing customers are happy with your products and services how can you encourage them to become your advocates and to recommend you?

How can you set up win-win arrangements so that both of you benefit?

Remember, if it costs seven times more to acquire a new client than it does to sell to an existing client when clients are recommended to you much of this cost is saved and could be used to reward those who recommended you.

Affiliate programs take a similar approach, where you let someone else bear the cost of finding you new customers for a percentage of the sale.

There are many options for finding new customers, and you need to have strategies that best fit your business model, and also optimize your profitability.

Sell for More

I am always amazed at the number of clients I work with that undervalue the services that they offer. There are often several reasons for this: they lack confidence and so underprice; they don’t understand what the market can bear, or they don’t see the real value in what they are offering.

This last one can come from too much familiarity, which can lead to a form of contempt for our own goods or services which then leads us to lower the price.

Price increase is probably one of the easiest ways to increase revenue, but it does come with risk. Raise the prices too high, and we could lose business and customers.

But the same is true when our prices are too low, if you do not see the value in what you offer, then why should someone else.

One client, I worked with, we doubled her pricing. As she rightly predicted it lost her some customers, but it also attracted new customers who were both able and willing to pay the higher price, and she actually increased overall demand and revenue.

If you have a quality product then you need to sell it for premium prices, if you seel it at budget prices, it will be deemed a budget product.

There are only three ways to increase revenue, sell more to your existing customers, sell your products and services to more people, and to sell them for more money. By having strategies for all three of these will allow you to maximise your business potential.

Ignoring one or more of these just leaves more money for your competitors to take.

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3D Printing is Changing the World One Hand at a Time. 3 Ways You Can, Too

If you believe some of the recent headlines, you’d think we’re heading for a dystopian future where technology takes over and robots rule. But keep reading and you will see a different story emerging; a story of what happens when entrepreneurs get creative with technology like 3D printing to create inspiring solutions that change people’s lives.

How do these innovation-infused social impact projects begin? Does it take a grand vision, a lengthy planning process, grant funding or a fairy godmother? Maybe that is the case for some. But for Enabling the Future, it began with an inventor-artist, a South African carpenter with a few missing fingers, and a boy named Liam.

Liam was born without a fully formed right hand. His mother saw an online video of a mechanical finger that was created by artist Ivan Owen for an inspired carpenter who saw an earlier video of puppet hand. Ivan said, “I made it and put on YouTube and didn’t expect anything to happen.”

But things did happen. As the volunteer project progressed, each step was met with challenges. It turns out for Liam and thousands of children around the world who share his reality the expense and lack of accessibility to materials, doctors and resources make prosthetics for most children completely out of reach. Add to the fact that growing children mean constant recalibration and fabrication and a solution seems hopeless.

Enter technology. Thanks to 3D printing, digital design, an insistence on an open source platform, a Google group, social media and an online mapping tool, Enabling the Future now has a growing community of more than 10,000 people and chapters around the world. A person can upload measurements on a Friday and have a 3D hand printed by a local builder by Monday. The story is released by Freethink Media on Facebook’s new “Watch” platform.

Given the impact of this organization, it is easy to forget that it began with one person exploring a single solution. Technology, enabled by inspired humans is a force that can change the world. Ivan says, “You don’t need a master plan. You need show up and put something into motion.”

So are you feeling motivated to start your own positive influence project? Here’s all you need to do to get started.

1. Put yourself out there

While it is fun to imagine what is possible, you don’t have to start with the end in mind. Ivan Owen set the wheels in motion for Enabling the Future simply by doing what he loves which includes “chasing the next thing that looks interesting and doing all sorts of weird and fun stuff.” He simply created a mechanical puppet hand and step-by-step, a movement to make prosthetics better and cheaper for everyone was born.

2. View barriers as your best friend

Innovation eats challenge for breakfast. It was only through the seemingly impossible task of designing prosthetics for growing kids that the process of 3D printing was considered. This technology democratized manufacturing, making the solution accessible to all. Because there was an openness to new and interesting solutions Enabling the Future can now “email a hand through space.”

3. Include others

“If enough people come on board, there is so much potential,” says Jen Owen, Beyond Impact’s wizard behind the curtain. Instead of guarding your idea, worrying about who may steal it or lawyering up, the team was able to quickly scale their impact. Today thousands of volunteers and recipients are connected and creating life-changing technology. “We’re not making hands, you are helping kids gain confidence.” It turns out that improving the lives of other people is a team sport.

Jen Owen sums it up best when she says, “I definitely didn’t expect the crazy things coming out of my garage would end of changing the lives of people in countries I haven’t even heard of.” By being present, flexible and open to possibilities, it is absolutely possible to create positive impact. So… how are you going to create your version? The world needs you to get started.

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3 Reasons To Buy Gilead

The Power Factors System is the backbone of my research service, The Data Driven Investor. It’s essentially a quantitative ranking system that selects stocks based on three powerful and time-proven return drivers: financial quality, valuation, and momentum.

Multiple academic studies have proven that companies exhibiting strong numbers in these three areas tend to beat the market in the long term, and my own backtesting work confirms that the Power Factors Systems can generate impressive performance over time.

The specific details behind the system are not particularly important, the main idea is using a combination of indicators and ratios to select companies with strong metrics in these main areas. Among others, the Power Factors System includes the following metrics:

  • Financial quality: the system looks for companies with superior profitability on sales, considering ratios such as gross profit margin and free cash flow margin. In addition, financial quality includes metrics based on return on capital, such as return on investment and return on assets.
  • Valuation: this covers classical valuation ratios like price to earnings, and price to free cash flow, among several other metrics based on similar concepts.
  • Momentum: the system picks companies that are outperforming expectations, and it also looks for stocks that are doing better than the broad market. In a nutshell, we want companies that are delivering performance numbers above Wall Street forecasts, and we also want the stock price to be reflecting such outperformance.

An equally-weighted portfolio comprised of the 50 best-ranking companies in the system produced an impressive annual return of 26.39% since 1999. By comparison, the S&P 500 produced a far more modest return of 3.77% per year over the same period.

In other words, a $ 100,000 position in the S&P 500 back in 1999 would currently be worth nearly $ 199,100, while the same amount of money invested in the Power Factors portfolio would be worth an exponentially larger sum of $ 7.8 million.

Data and chart are from Portfolio123, and the full list of companies in the system is available to subscribers in The Data Driven Investor.

The ranking system is based on a stock universe that excludes over-the-counter stocks in order to guarantee a minimum size and liquidity levels. Nevertheless, most stocks in the system are relatively smaller than those in the S&P 500, and in many cases far more volatile.

Interestingly, Gilead (GILD) is a noteworthy exception. The company has a market capitalization value of more than $ 109.6 billion, and it ranks remarkably well across the three dimensions in the Power Factors System. These particularities make of Gilead a particularly intriguing name among the stocks selected by the quantitative model.

Case Study: Gilead

Gilead is a leading player in the biotech space. The company is focused on life-threatening infectious diseases, with a big presence in treatments for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Gilead has made a series of acquisitions to expand its portfolio in cardiovascular diseases and Cancer over the past several years. More recently, the company made a big move with the acquisition of Kite Pharma (KITE) for $ 11.9 billion in cash. This deal could provide a big boost to Gilead in cell therapy and oncology treatments.

The business is under pressure due to lower sales and increasing competition in Hepatitis C (HVC) products.

On the other hand, Gilead has a promising pipeline of new developments across different areas, and this should drive increased revenue growth over the years ahead.

Importantly, the company has an impressive track record of financial performance over the long term, and profitability levels are considerably above-average. The following table compares key financial metrics for Gilead vs. other big biotech companies, such as Amgen (OTC:AMGM), Celgene (CELG), and Biogen (IBB).

5 Year Sales Growth.

Return on Assets (ROA)

Return on Investment (ROI)

Operating Margin

Net Margin

Gilead

29.4%

21.1%

31%

57.8%

42.9%

Amgem

8.1%

10.4%

13%

44.7%

35.5%

Celgene

18.3%

9.1%

11.7%

27.6%

21.3%

Biogen

17.8%

15%

21%

38.7%

28.1%

The numbers are quite clear, Gilead ranks above the competition across all of the five indicators: sales growth over the past five years, return on assets, return on investment, operating margin, and net margin.

Financial performance over the years ahead will depend on variables such as demand for Gilead’s new products, and this is always a source of uncertainty. Nevertheless, the company’s track-record and current performance are a positive reflection on its management team and its ability to deliver attractive returns for shareholders.

In terms of valuation, Gilead stock is fairly conveniently priced, if not downright undervalued. The stock trades at a price to earnings ratio around 9.15 times earnings over the past year. This is a huge discount versus the average company in the S&P 500, which trades at a price to earnings ratio around 21.5.

Looking at valuation ratios in comparison to industry peers, Gilead also looks quite cheap in terms of price to earnings, forward price to earnings, price to free cash flow, and price to sales.

P/E

Forward P/E

P/FCF

P/S

Gilead

9.1

11.2

10.1

3.85

Amgem

16.9

14.5

18.7

5.9

Celgene

44.7

16.1

26.8

9.2

Biogen

29.8

13.7

18.21

5.7

Offering a similar perspective, the following chart shows how Gilead’s valuation has evolved over the past several years, and current entry price looks quite compelling by historical standards in terms of price to earnings, price to free cash flow, and enterprise value to EBITDA.

ChartGILD PE Ratio (ttm) data by YCharts

The bottom line is that Gilead stock is substantially cheap, be it in comparison to the broad market, when compared to industry peers, or by the company’s own historical standards.

Momentum is favoring the bulls. Both revenue and earnings came in above Wall Street expectations last quarter, and analysts are adjusting their earnings forecasts to the upside. The average earnings estimate for Gilead in 2017 was $ 8.35 per share 90 days ago, and it has steadily increased towards $ 8.78 currently.

Stock prices don’t just reflect fundamentals, expectations about those fundamentals are tremendously important. When expectations are on the rise, this generally means that stock prices are rising too. On the back of increasing earnings forecasts, Gilead stock has substantially outperformed the S&P 500 index over the past several months.

ChartGILD data by YCharts

Past performance does not guarantee future returns. However, profitability metrics, valuation, and momentum are all positive forces for investors in Gilead on a forward-looking basis.

Disclosure: I am/we are long GILD.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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