Monthly Archives: July 2015

Microsoft’s Investment In Uber Is A Head Scratcher

This post was originally published on this site



My 2014 Best Performers, Looking Ahead To 2015

Microsoft has agreed to invest a substantial sum of money in Uber, according to sources speaking to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. The investment is part of a larger round of funding that values Uber at $51 billion.

Not surprisingly, speculation is rampant about the reasons behind Microsoft’s investment — which is said to total about $1 billion if the deal is finalized.

One theory: Microsoft wants to solidify a growing partnership with Uber. Said the New York Times:

Uber recently acquired a portion of Microsoft’s mapping-technology assets and extended employment offers to more than 100 Microsoft employees. And while neither company has announced plans for a partnership, Microsoft’s struggling mobile app ecosystem could benefit if Uber devotes more resources to making its service available on Windows devices.

Here’s another: Microsoft wants to stick it to Google and possibly grab some of the user data generated by Uber.

The company is “collecting a lot of data on things like traffic flow around cities, and there might be tie-ins with Microsoft’s data analytics products and services there, “Business Insider writes.

An Odd Investment

BI also happens to think the investment is a little off for Microsoft, a point that has gone missing in much of the discussion to date. It writes:

It’s odd that Microsoft would make such a big late-stage investment in a company like Uber, which falls well outside of its recent focus on user productivity.

It’s not just odd, it’s a head-scratcher, Rob Enderle of The Enderle Group tells me.

“This can’t be about user data – Microsoft has never been interested in that,” he says.

And while Uber is clearly making an aggressive push into driverless car technology, that has never been Microsoft’s thing either, he added.

It is Google’s thing, of course, which adds credence to the “stick it to Google” theory. Google and Uber undoubtedly view each other as competitors by this point.

Besides Uber’s investments in driverless car tech, a Google-owned startup in Israel has begun testing its own ride-hailing service. But Google’s empire and interests are huge and wide ranging. Why would Microsoft bother to try to disrupt this one aspect of Google’s operations?

Perhaps the answer is simply this: Microsoft is hoping Uber will use its cloud platform for its operations, giving it an instantly recognizable reference client around the world.

“It almost has to be about Azure,” Enderle said. “There is no other compelling interest for Microsoft.”

Well, there’s Uber’s $51 billion valuation.

Which is also the point, Enderle said. “This is an investment on Microsoft’s part, so if Uber adopts Azure it becomes almost negative money for Microsoft.”

“Microsoft gets a huge new client, a great reference and a return on its original investment.”






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cortana

With Some Work, Cortana Could Be Windows 10’s Killer Application

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My 2014 Best Performers, Looking Ahead To 2015

Although I cringe at the realization, I am an old school computer user. I have been tinkering and messing around with computers since the early days of the Commodore PET and C64. Back in the day, hammering away at command prompts was the norm. And with “newer” machines came things like manually assigning interrupts via jumpers, tweaking QEMM settings, plugging in SRAM cache, and worrying about which slot a particular expansion card was in, among many other annoying quirks.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so programmed to manually do things with my computers over the years, I haven’t fully embraced voice controls like Apple’s Siri, OK Google, or Cortana, which has been available on Windows Phone for quite a while.

But now that I’m hammering away on Windows 10 on some of my office and test PCs, I’ve been getting much more intimate with Cortana and I think it’s (She’s?) pretty awesome. Though, for Cortana to be truly great, some key things have to happen.

On the surface Cortana isn’t terribly revolutionary versus Apple’s and Google’s recent efforts.  They do pretty much the same thing.  Cortana’s integration with Windows though, which is the platform 90%+ of you most likely use to get any real work done, make Cortana’s abilities much more intriguing. Over the last couple of days I’ve been experimenting with random questions and just incorporating voice controls into my daily workflow. And this old-school computer user thinks there’s some real potential here.

Cortana

Cortana Is Microsoft’s Digital Assistant.

I have some travel coming up, and within seconds—literally—of asking Cortana some questions, I was able to check the weather forecast for my destination, find a handful of restaurants around my hotel, and find out what kind of facilities are offered there.  I also quickly found a couple of specific recipes online, search for some images, launched some applications, and added a handful of reminders to my calendar. I even had Cortana remind me to get up and walk around every couple of hours, so I wasn’t glued to my office chair for too long each day.

All of this can easily be done without Cortana, of course, but the speed at which it could all be done with Cortana was much faster.  And easy too. If you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, give it a try for yourself.

There is still a lot of work to do though.  First, there are major privacy concerns with all of the data Cortana collects.  Cortana reportedly has issues in regions other than the US.  And Microsoft needs to add support for compound questions to make conversation more natural too.  For example, if you ask “what the time and weather is in San Francisco”, Cortana will only answer back with the weather—not both.

Ultimately though I think Cortana’s got some real potential.  If the natural speech recognition is improved and integration is seamless across all Microsoft devices, it’ll get us all much closer to having a Star Trek like computer in our homes and offices.






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Jerome Kohlberg, Co-Founder of Buyout Pioneer KKR, Dies at 90

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Jerome Kohlberg Jr., who orchestrated the creation of the leveraged-buyout powerhouse Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. — today’s KKR & Co. — only to walk away following a bitter struggle with his two younger partners, has died. He was 90.

Kohlberg died on July 30 at his home in Martha’s Vineyard, according to the New York Times, citing his son, James. The cause was cancer, which was diagnosed two decades ago.

The “spiritual father of the entire LBO industry,” as Fortune magazine called him, Kohlberg set out in 1976 to create an investment firm based not on earning commissions but on taking controlling equity stakes in companies at crossroads. He started the firm with Henry Kravis and George Roberts, two colleagues of his at Bear Stearns & Co. who were 18 years his junior.

More from Bloomberg.com: Why the Trail of Clues to Flight 370 Now Leads to France

“I liked the idea of surviving on what you did, on what you were building with your own money,” Kohlberg told Eric J. Weiner for “What Goes Up,” a 2005 book about Wall Street’s history. “I didn’t want to just collect a fee or a commission.”

Expanding a practice they had begun at Bear Stearns, Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts would borrow large sums from institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies to purchase underperforming companies from shareholders. They would typically retain management and cut staff, unload unprofitable assets and end costly perks such as private airplanes, then sell the company in whole or in pieces within several years.

More from Bloomberg.com: The CEO Worshipped by His Workers Is Back and Better Than Ever

Key Contribution

“I think the thing I brought to the buyout business more than anything else was the idea that management had to be an integral part of what we were doing,” Kohlberg said. “They had to have ownership in the business, something at stake. We made them buy stock and also gave them some options, so that they were on the same side of the table as we were.”

Their 1979 purchase of Houdaille Industries, a maker of automobile and aircraft equipment, for about $370 million was the first buyout of a large company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The firm pulled off several billion-dollar buyouts in the 1980s, including those of Wometco Enterprises, owner of cable systems and the CBS affiliate in Miami, for about $1 billion in 1984; the Beatrice Cos., a food processor, in 1986 for about $6 billion; and supermarket chain Safeway Stores Inc. in 1986 for about $4 billion.

More from Bloomberg.com: Warren Buffett’s Family Secretly Funded a Birth Control Revolution

As of 1988, the firm had completed more than 35 buyouts worth more than $40 billion, earning billions of dollars in profits, the New York Times reported at the time.

The firm’s partners rose quickly into the ranks of America’s wealthy. Kohlberg spent several years on the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans, with an estimated wealth that reached $1.5 billion in 2007 and 2008.

Friction Develops

All was not happy inside KKR, however. In 1984, as the firm accelerated its deal-making, Kohlberg was sidelined for months after undergoing surgery for a benign brain tumor. Disagreements grew between Kohlberg and his younger partners about the firm’s direction. The final straw, by most accounts, was the Beatrice buyout, the firm’s first hostile takeover.

In 1987, Kohlberg warned in a speech about the “overpowering greed that pervades our business life” and that it could “kill the golden goose.” Soon afterward, he withdrew as a general partner. With his son he created another buyout firm, Kohlberg and Co.

“I won’t restrict myself to small transactions, but I’ll stick with deals where reason still prevails,” he told the New York Times.

Kohlberg had become known as “Dr. No” inside the firm as his younger and more aggressive partners pressed for more deals and more staff, Bryan Burrough and John Helyar wrote in “Barbarians at the Gate,” their account of KKR’s 1989 acquisition of RJR Nabisco Inc. for $30.1 billion.

Shoved Aside

George Anders, in “Merchants of Debt: KKR and the Mortgaging of American Business” (1992), wrote: “As his importance at KKR waned, Kohlberg turned angry and then bitter toward his younger partners. Kravis, determined to take the lead in the New York office, began to elbow his former mentor aside.”

Though Kohlberg’s name remained on the partnership after his departure, the firm hasn’t celebrated his role in its history. “It was the partnership of our founders, Henry Kravis and George Roberts, that set the tone for KKR’s values and the way our firm would conduct business for decades to come,” according to the firm’s website.

Jerome Spiegel Kohlberg Jr. was born on July 10, 1925, and grew up in the New York City suburbs of Westchester County, where he attended public schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1946 while participating in a U.S. Navy officer training program on campus. He later earned a law degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

Bear Stearns

He began work on buyouts at Bear Stearns in the 1960s, when, he said, they were known as “bootstrap deals” and “buying anything with over 50 percent debt was ungentlemanly.” (JPMorgan Chase & Co. acquired Bear Stearns in 2008.)

Kravis and Roberts, who are cousins, worked under Kohlberg in Bear Stearns’ corporate-finance division — Kravis in New York, Roberts in San Francisco. Kravis said the three were mostly left alone, since the firm’s other partners were interested in fees for closing deals, not acquiring long-term equity stakes in companies.

When Kohlberg decided to strike out on his own, Roberts and Kravis joined him. Kohlberg put up $100,000 in startup funding; Roberts and Kravis each invested $10,000. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts opened its doors on May 1, 1976, in midtown Manhattan.

Following his retirement from Kohlberg & Co. in 1994, Kohlberg helped manage his family foundation. With Nancy, his wife, Kohlberg in 2010 purchased the Vineyard Gazette, a weekly newspaper on Martha’s Vineyard, from the family of James “Scotty” Reston, the longtime New York Times editor and columnist.

The couple, who also resided in Mount Kisco, New York, had four children.

More from Bloomberg.com

  • Personal Finance – Lifestyle
  • Kohlberg Kravis Roberts
  • Henry Kravis
  • Bear Stearns
  • Jerome Kohlberg

 





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Jerome Kohlberg, Co-Founder of Buyout Pioneer KKR, Dies at 90

This post was originally published on this site

Jerome Kohlberg Jr., who orchestrated the creation of the leveraged-buyout powerhouse Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. — today’s KKR & Co. — only to walk away following a bitter struggle with his two younger partners, has died. He was 90.

Kohlberg died on July 30 at his home in Martha’s Vineyard, according to the New York Times, citing his son, James. The cause was cancer, which was diagnosed two decades ago.

The “spiritual father of the entire LBO industry,” as Fortune magazine called him, Kohlberg set out in 1976 to create an investment firm based not on earning commissions but on taking controlling equity stakes in companies at crossroads. He started the firm with Henry Kravis and George Roberts, two colleagues of his at Bear Stearns & Co. who were 18 years his junior.

“I liked the idea of surviving on what you did, on what you were building with your own money,” Kohlberg told Eric J. Weiner for “What Goes Up,” a 2005 book about Wall Street’s history. “I didn’t want to just collect a fee or a commission.”

Expanding a practice they had begun at Bear Stearns, Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts would borrow large sums from institutions such as pension funds and insurance companies to purchase underperforming companies from shareholders. They would typically retain management and cut staff, unload unprofitable assets and end costly perks such as private airplanes, then sell the company in whole or in pieces within several years.

Key Contribution

“I think the thing I brought to the buyout business more than anything else was the idea that management had to be an integral part of what we were doing,” Kohlberg said. “They had to have ownership in the business, something at stake. We made them buy stock and also gave them some options, so that they were on the same side of the table as we were.”

Their 1979 purchase of Houdaille Industries, a maker of automobile and aircraft equipment, for about $370 million was the first buyout of a large company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The firm pulled off several billion-dollar buyouts in the 1980s, including those of Wometco Enterprises, owner of cable systems and the CBS affiliate in Miami, for about $1 billion in 1984; the Beatrice Cos., a food processor, in 1986 for about $6 billion; and supermarket chain Safeway Stores Inc. in 1986 for about $4 billion.

As of 1988, the firm had completed more than 35 buyouts worth more than $40 billion, earning billions of dollars in profits, the New York Times reported at the time.

The firm’s partners rose quickly into the ranks of America’s wealthy. Kohlberg spent several years on the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans, with an estimated wealth that reached $1.5 billion in 2007 and 2008.

Friction Develops

All was not happy inside KKR, however. In 1984, as the firm accelerated its deal-making, Kohlberg was sidelined for months after undergoing surgery for a benign brain tumor. Disagreements grew between Kohlberg and his younger partners about the firm’s direction. The final straw, by most accounts, was the Beatrice buyout, the firm’s first hostile takeover.

In 1987, Kohlberg warned in a speech about the “overpowering greed that pervades our business life” and that it could “kill the golden goose.” Soon afterward, he withdrew as a general partner. With his son he created another buyout firm, Kohlberg and Co.

“I won’t restrict myself to small transactions, but I’ll stick with deals where reason still prevails,” he told the New York Times.

Kohlberg had become known as “Dr. No” inside the firm as his younger and more aggressive partners pressed for more deals and more staff, Bryan Burrough and John Helyar wrote in “Barbarians at the Gate,” their account of KKR’s 1989 acquisition of RJR Nabisco Inc. for $30.1 billion.

Shoved Aside

George Anders, in “Merchants of Debt: KKR and the Mortgaging of American Business” (1992), wrote: “As his importance at KKR waned, Kohlberg turned angry and then bitter toward his younger partners. Kravis, determined to take the lead in the New York office, began to elbow his former mentor aside.”

Though Kohlberg’s name remained on the partnership after his departure, the firm hasn’t celebrated his role in its history. “It was the partnership of our founders, Henry Kravis and George Roberts, that set the tone for KKR’s values and the way our firm would conduct business for decades to come,” according to the firm’s website.

Jerome Spiegel Kohlberg Jr. was born on July 10, 1925, and grew up in the New York City suburbs of Westchester County, where he attended public schools. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1946 while participating in a U.S. Navy officer training program on campus. He later earned a law degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

Bear Stearns

He began work on buyouts at Bear Stearns in the 1960s, when, he said, they were known as “bootstrap deals” and “buying anything with over 50 percent debt was ungentlemanly.” (JPMorgan Chase & Co. acquired Bear Stearns in 2008.)

Kravis and Roberts, who are cousins, worked under Kohlberg in Bear Stearns’ corporate-finance division — Kravis in New York, Roberts in San Francisco. Kravis said the three were mostly left alone, since the firm’s other partners were interested in fees for closing deals, not acquiring long-term equity stakes in companies.

When Kohlberg decided to strike out on his own, Roberts and Kravis joined him. Kohlberg put up $100,000 in startup funding; Roberts and Kravis each invested $10,000. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts opened its doors on May 1, 1976, in midtown Manhattan.

Following his retirement from Kohlberg & Co. in 1994, Kohlberg helped manage his family foundation. With Nancy, his wife, Kohlberg in 2010 purchased the Vineyard Gazette, a weekly newspaper on Martha’s Vineyard, from the family of James “Scotty” Reston, the longtime New York Times editor and columnist.

The couple, who also resided in Mount Kisco, New York, had four children.

 





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Buffett’s Not Sweating Over China; An Oil Bottom; Anything But Cellphones: Jim Cramer’s Best Blogs

This post was originally published on this site



Year-To-Date Winners: We Have Found The Market And It's Apple

APPLE – THE BEST OPPORTUNITY EVER?

I SEE APPLE GOING BACK ABOVE $300, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

NEW YORK Real Money — Jim Cramer fills his blog on RealMoney every day with his up-to-the-minute reactions to what’s happening in the market and his legendary ahead-of-the-crowd ideas. This week he blogged on:

  • Why he can’t take the long view on China’s troubles, unlike the Oracle of Omaha;
  • What the news out of Saudi Arabia will mean in the energy sector;
  • The “anything but cellphones” reaction to the Chinese slowdown.

Click here for information on RealMoney, where you can see all the blogs, including Jim Cramer’s — and reader comments — in real time.


Watching China and Envying Warren Buffett

Posted on July 28 at 4:50 a.m. EDT

Must Read: 5 Toxic Stocks to Avoid This Summer

It all seems so ethereal. I am waiting to listen to some ridiculous conference call about Baidu (BIDUGet Report) and thinking that somehow it will matter, petrified if I don’t get the skinny on it.

Yet, if we step back and try to be, say, the impossible one, Warren Buffett — do you think he’s listening to the Baidu conference call? Do you think he is worried about anything China, other than how it can help him get better prices for the merchandise he wants?

Ah, but we are not Warren Buffett. We don’t have his money, or his time frame or his ABILITY TO BE WRONG FOR LONG STRETCHES OF THE HORIZON AND IT DOESN’T MATTER (housing, oil, IBM)

And, while I am typically castigated as someone who thinks too short term, what am I supposed to do, not do the work so I cannot explain in any coherent and rigorous fashion what’s occurring?

The simple fact is right now that China might, in some ways, be unraveling and there are so many industries devoted to producing goods for China — iron, copper, autos, turbines, airplanes, shampoo, soda, aluminum, zinc, you name it — that to not try to figure out what’s going on is to be willing to sacrifice your year.

Now if your year means nothing to you and you are in it “for the long run,” then you don’t have to do anything other than re-invest when stocks break down. You are in a remarkable and enviable position. If I were you, I would just sit there and wait for one or two pitches a year and nothing else. It’s not worth it to try to figure out how to make even more money if you don’t care about how much you make to begin with.






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Buffett’s Not Sweating Over China; An Oil Bottom; Anything But Cellphones: Jim Cramer’s Best Blogs

This post was originally published on this site



Year-To-Date Winners: We Have Found The Market And It's Apple

APPLE – THE BEST OPPORTUNITY EVER?

I SEE APPLE GOING BACK ABOVE $300, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

NEW YORK Real Money — Jim Cramer fills his blog on RealMoney every day with his up-to-the-minute reactions to what’s happening in the market and his legendary ahead-of-the-crowd ideas. This week he blogged on:

  • Why he can’t take the long view on China’s troubles, unlike the Oracle of Omaha;
  • What the news out of Saudi Arabia will mean in the energy sector;
  • The “anything but cellphones” reaction to the Chinese slowdown.

Click here for information on RealMoney, where you can see all the blogs, including Jim Cramer’s — and reader comments — in real time.


Watching China and Envying Warren Buffett

Posted on July 28 at 4:50 a.m. EDT

Must Read: 5 Toxic Stocks to Avoid This Summer

It all seems so ethereal. I am waiting to listen to some ridiculous conference call about Baidu (BIDUGet Report) and thinking that somehow it will matter, petrified if I don’t get the skinny on it.

Yet, if we step back and try to be, say, the impossible one, Warren Buffett — do you think he’s listening to the Baidu conference call? Do you think he is worried about anything China, other than how it can help him get better prices for the merchandise he wants?

Ah, but we are not Warren Buffett. We don’t have his money, or his time frame or his ABILITY TO BE WRONG FOR LONG STRETCHES OF THE HORIZON AND IT DOESN’T MATTER (housing, oil, IBM)

And, while I am typically castigated as someone who thinks too short term, what am I supposed to do, not do the work so I cannot explain in any coherent and rigorous fashion what’s occurring?

The simple fact is right now that China might, in some ways, be unraveling and there are so many industries devoted to producing goods for China — iron, copper, autos, turbines, airplanes, shampoo, soda, aluminum, zinc, you name it — that to not try to figure out what’s going on is to be willing to sacrifice your year.

Now if your year means nothing to you and you are in it “for the long run,” then you don’t have to do anything other than re-invest when stocks break down. You are in a remarkable and enviable position. If I were you, I would just sit there and wait for one or two pitches a year and nothing else. It’s not worth it to try to figure out how to make even more money if you don’t care about how much you make to begin with.






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Researchers warn of bogus emails offering Windows 10

This post was originally published on this site



My 2014 Best Performers, Looking Ahead To 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some hackers are exploiting Microsoft’s offer of free upgrades to its new Windows 10 operating system.

Security researchers are warning about a wave of bogus spam emails with malicious attachments, labeled as if they’re legitimate copies of the new program.

The attachments contain a “ransomware” program that, when opened, locks all the data on a computer and demands payment to release them.

Researchers at Cisco Systems say the emails are designed to look like an official upgrade notice from Microsoft Corp., but several words have random, out-of-place letters and punctuation.

Another important clue: Microsoft says its update mechanism provides computer owners with a notice on their screens — not via email — when a direct Internet download is available. Experts warn against clicking on files that come with unsolicited emails.

  • Information Technology
  • Microsoft
  • spam emails
  • Cisco Systems






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Researchers warn of bogus emails offering Windows 10

This post was originally published on this site



My 2014 Best Performers, Looking Ahead To 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some hackers are exploiting Microsoft’s offer of free upgrades to its new Windows 10 operating system.

Security researchers are warning about a wave of bogus spam emails with malicious attachments, labeled as if they’re legitimate copies of the new program.

The attachments contain a “ransomware” program that, when opened, locks all the data on a computer and demands payment to release them.

Researchers at Cisco Systems say the emails are designed to look like an official upgrade notice from Microsoft Corp., but several words have random, out-of-place letters and punctuation.

Another important clue: Microsoft says its update mechanism provides computer owners with a notice on their screens — not via email — when a direct Internet download is available. Experts warn against clicking on files that come with unsolicited emails.






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money-growing_large

5 Dividend Stocks You’ll Want to Own for the Next Decade

This post was originally published on this site



Year-To-Date Winners: We Have Found The Market And It's Apple

APPLE – THE BEST OPPORTUNITY EVER?

I SEE APPLE GOING BACK ABOVE $300, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

Money Growing

Source: 401kcalculator.org via flickr

There are several characteristics to look for when buying dividend stocks for the long haul. Ideally, you want companies with stable and growing revenue, excellent track records of dividend increases, and histories of shareholder-friendly management, just to name a few important attributes. With that in mind, here are five examples of excellent dividend stocks for the long haul, as explained by our analysts.

Selena Maranjian: You might not think of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) as a dividend stock, but it recently yielded a solid 1.7%, and its payout has increased by an annual average of about 11% over the past three years. Better still, it’s sitting on plenty of cash — more than $200 billion — so that payout isn’t in any foreseeable danger. It’s true that some 90% of that is held abroad, which isn’t ideal, but even having 10% at home represents a lot of money.

Apple is committed to rewarding shareholders, too — not only with a dividend, but also with share buybacks. It has already bought back about $90 billion of stock, with $50 billion more authorized.

Management disappointed many investors during the company’s recent quarterly earnings report by projecting relatively weak earnings, but even those weren’t too shabby — and the company is known for issuing conservative guidance. In the quarter, iPhone sales surged 35% over year-ago levels, with many expecting a further bump from the release of the iPhone 6 “s” model, presumably in the fall. Overall revenue was up 33%, too, with gross margins growing. Meanwhile, as global PC sales shrink, Apple’s Mac sales jumped 9%.

Sales of the new Apple Watch seem to have lagged some expectations, but the product is still new, and Apple hasn’t released a lot of detail on its performance. Apple has other new offerings as well, such as its music streaming business and Apple Pay. The company is also moving aggressively into promising regions abroad, such as China, where it has already become the top smartphone seller.

Better still, it’s not even exorbitantly priced, with a recent P/E ratio of 14. Give this dynamic, growing, dividend-paying innovator some consideration for your portfolio.

Dan Caplinger: PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) hasn’t always gotten as much respect as it deserves, as it has long played second fiddle in the soft-drink business to its red-canned rival. Yet what PepsiCo has that its primary competitor doesn’t is a burgeoning snack business, and that has been instrumental in helping the company overcome pressure from growing concerns about the possible health impacts of both sugar-laden and diet carbonated soft drinks.

From a dividend perspective, PepsiCo is a member of the elite group of Dividend Aristocrats, with the drink and snack giant having boosted its dividend every single year for the past 43 years. Just last month PepsiCo made its latest increase, sending its dividend up more than 7% to $0.7025 per share on a quarterly basis. That works out to a dividend yield that approaches 3%, and over the past decade, PepsiCo’s payout has roughly tripled, showing off the growth the company has enjoyed.

PepsiCo has worked hard to build up a worldwide presence, and its latest results confirmed its emerging-market success. With innovative product launches that range from craft sodas to snack offerings adapted from existing hit products, PepsiCo should have the staying power to give investors powerful returns for years to come.

Matt Frankel: One dividend stock that could deliver excellent performance for the next decade and beyond is Health Care REIT (NYSE:HCN). As the name implies, this REIT invests in healthcare properties — mainly senior housing and long-term care facilities.

There are a few reasons why Health Care REIT is a good long-term candidate. First, demand for this type of property is projected to grow at a rapid pace over the coming years. In fact, the 75-and-older age group is expected to grow five times faster than the overall population between now and 2035. Plus, Health Care REIT is a leader in a fragmented industry. The healthcare real estate market is approximately $1 trillion in size and growing, leaving plenty of room for future investment opportunity, both in terms of acquisitions and development.

Finally, HealthCare REIT partners with some of the most experienced operators in the business, and likes to expand alongside them. In other words, by expanding on already-successful partnerships, HealthCare REIT takes much of the guesswork out of its growth strategy — which can be seen by the company’s 87% occupancy rate (83% is average) and the fact that the company’s senior housing units generate 52% more income than the industry average.

The numbers speak for themselves here. Health Care REIT pays a generous 4.8% annual dividend that has grown consistently over the past several decades, and it has produced an outstanding 16.1% average total return since its inception. And, while past performance doesn’t necessarily guarantee future results, with the increasing demand for healthcare properties, there is no reason to think the strong performance won’t continue.

Eric Volkman: I feel confident not only holding my Disney (NYSE:DIS) stock for the next decade, but recommending it for at least that long to any investor.

There is no better entertainment company to own. Disney’s got some of the most solid intellectual property around — the Marvel comic book universe, for one, and the Star Wars galaxy for another. As if that wasn’t enough, it also owns America’s best feature animation studio, Pixar.

Disney operates a big Hollywood studio, but filmed entertainment is just one of its divisions. Media networks (i.e., television and related assets) and parks and resorts (Disneyland and the like) are both thriving. Ditto consumer products, essentially the merchandise arm of the company.

The brilliant thing about Disney is that it’s excellent at leveraging its intellectual property among those divisions. A successful movie can generate a spinoff TV series, not to mention a popular line of related merchandise and even a new ride at a theme park.

This gives Disney many levers to pull that can magnify revenue and add to the company’s bottom line. That’s why it is and will continue to be a highly profitable company paying a solid dividend — now and well into the future.

Asit Sharma: Choosing a dividend stock you can own for a decade going forward is a thought-provoking exercise. A basic principle to remember is that it’s not enough to isolate a stock with the ability to pay out and grow a dividend over the next decade. The company should also operate within an industry that has a reasonable certainty of growth over the long-term.

I find both conditions in Weingarten Realty Investors (NYSE:WRI), a real estate investment trust (REIT) that leases retail space to tenants, primarily in grocery store-anchored shopping centers which it either owns or leases.

Weingarten operates 232 income-producing properties across 20 states. Long-term leases with grocery stores like Kroger, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Harris Teeter,and Publix anchor most of the company’s shopping centers. Weingarten’s revenue is extremely well diversified among its properties: as of the company’s last annual report, no single center provided more than 2% of total annual base rental revenue.

I believe WRI will benefit from the multi-year evolution in grocery store formats as leading grocers continue to expand their core store layouts while experimenting with new designs and footprints. From the expansion of Publix into new states to Whole Foods’ upcoming “365” store format, there’s plenty of growth ahead in this stable property investment concept. Weingarten has a well-structured balance sheet and is quite disciplined about disposing of aging properties it chooses not to renovate. Best of all, WRI offers a current dividend yield of 4%, creating long-term total return opportunities for those who like to reinvest their dividends.

How one Seattle couple secured a $60K Social Security bonus — and you can too
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John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Asit Sharma has no position in any stocks mentioned. Dan Caplinger owns shares of Apple, Walt Disney, and Whole Foods Market. Eric Volkman owns shares of Walt Disney. Matthew Frankel owns shares of Whole Foods Market. Selena Maranjian owns shares of Apple, PepsiCo, Walt Disney, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Health Care REIT, PepsiCo, Walt Disney, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Walt Disney, and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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ipodtouch_2015_02

Apple Loop: Secret iPhone Test, iPhone 6S Pictures Leak, Samsung Camera Smashes Apple

This post was originally published on this site



Year-To-Date Winners: We Have Found The Market And It's Apple

APPLE – THE BEST OPPORTUNITY EVER?

I SEE APPLE GOING BACK ABOVE $300, SOONER RATHER THAN LATER

Taking a look back at another week of news from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the question of the iPod Touch and the iPhone 6C, the leaked front screen of the iPhone 6S, a comparison of pocket-to-picture camera times, Apple’s solution to one writer’s Apple Music issues, T-Mobile’s free streaming offer for Apple Music, details on the subscriber numbers of Apple’s streaming music service, a solution to iTunes’ woes, IDC’s tablet market share survey, and a seven-year old MacBook finally retiring.

Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read our weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).

Apple iPod Touch 6th Generation, 2015 (image: Ewan Spence)

Apple iPod Touch 6th Generation, 2015 (image: Ewan Spence)

Is The iPod Touch Getting Us Ready For A Monster iPhone 6C?

Last week I reviewed Apple’s latest iPod Touch model, and the little media player has still got my attention. Maybe it’s the light weight, maybe it’s the portability, maybe it’s just cute… but it’s mostly that I’m enjoying a powerful mobile experience on a four-inch screen. I’m not alone in that feedback, and the iPod Touch has convinced me that a high-specification, high-power, iPhone 6C would be a success. The question is, will Apple release a highly specced iPhone 6C, or carry on the 5C’s servitude in the low end of the market?

While I confidently expect Apple to release an iPhone 6C, my fear is that it will be pitched as the ‘basics’ model with a limited amount of storage, and specifications that are dulled just a little bit more than the original iPhone 6. If the iPhone 6S does jump up to offer 32, 64, or 128GB of storage, the 6C could be doomed to suffer with just 16 GB.

From my time with the iPod Touch, that’s not what I want. I want the smaller screen and form factor, I want the convenience of a physically light model. I want a discreet smartphone.

If you were a cynic you might think Apple was conducting a public beta test of a four-inch, A8 powered device in full view of the world ahead of launching a four-inch, A8 powered smartphone.

Here Is The Front Of The iPhone 6S 

With Apple selling so many devices, keeping secrets once parts are in the supply chain is an almost impossible task, so it should come as no surprise that we’ll learn more about the new iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus as September approaches. The latest reveal comes as a result of some rather tasty pictures of the front display. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly looks at what this tell us:

…the iPhone 6S looks set to keep up the tradition of the S range and make virtually no external alterations to its predecessor. This includes the display size (4.7-inches), native resolution (1334 x 750 pixels) and Touch ID-equipped home button, though a more rigid aluminium alloyshould kill off any new bendgate talk.

Some wild speculation had claimed Apple will move to Touch ID to the back of the iPhone or even inside the screen to reduce bezel size. This sounds great in theory, but these pictures stamp on that and I’d say it’s highly unlikely we see anything similar before the iPhone 7 – at the earliest.

More details on the leaked pictures can be found here.

But Which Takes The Faster Picture?

For all of the snazzy software features and PowerPoint presentations, in many areas there is very little practical difference between handsets. Paul Monckton takes a look at an important aspect of smartphones – the camera – and how quickly you can take a picture with an iPhone 6 or Galaxy S6 Edge in your pocket.

The Samsung’s Quick Launch feature works directly from the home screen or from within any app. This means you can switch immediately from typing a message to shooting a photo without having to quit your current app to go looking for the camera icon. On the iPhone 6, the quickest way to reach the camera is often to lock the phone and start from there. This takes a little extra time and also leaves you with a locked phone after you’ve taken your photo, so you’ll be spending more time unlocking it again to get back to where you started.

Find out the winner here.

A Rather Unique Solution To Apple Music Issues

You might recall last week’s Apple Loop carried a story from Jim Dalrymple and his issues with Apple Music. The good news is that there’s a resolution to the lost music, disrupted metadata, and sync issues caused by Apple Music, the iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match, and the iTunes application. Unfortunately it’s not open to everyone:

It’s been an interesting and confusing day. I arrived at Apple this morning to talk to them about my issues with Apple Music and to hopefully fix my problems. The good news is that I have about 99 percent of my music back.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way. The missing and duplicate song issues that we’ve all seen in Apple Music are being fixed shortly. They are certainly aware of what’s been going on, I can assure you.

Dalrymple goes on to theorise what is going on, but there’s two points to take away here. The first is that not everyone with these issues is a highly visible blogger who Apple will invite to Cupertino to walk through their issues. The second issue is about communication. If Apple is “certainly aware” then why can that not be communicated?

Be it The Emperor’s New Clothes, the reveal of the Wizard Of Oz, or the realisation that Mel Brooks’ films are only funny when Gene Wilder stars, the mystery and shamen-like power that seemed to put  Apple above these issues is slipping. That won’t stop the juggernaut of sales in the near future, and neither will it alter Apple’s long-term plans to stabilise existing markets and expand into new markets. But it should be a concern.

For many, Apple was considered to be above and beyond the normal errors that weakened technology companies such as BlackBerry, Nokia, Palm, and countless others.  It’s hard to argue that is still true with the evidence available today.

It’s just another issue of arrogance that is affecting Apple’s reputation, and it’s one that should be addressed as quickly as possible.

The iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014 (picture: Ewan Spence)

The iTunes Festival at SXSW 2014 (picture: Ewan Spence)

No More Apple Music Streaming Charge On T-Mobile

While I’ve been setting up Apple Music’s family account I’ve been ensuring that mobile data is switched off so the app doesn’t eat up anybody’s bandwidth by accidentally streaming the latest album from Kelly Clarkson. It’s a setting I’d normally recommend everyone looks for, but now T-Mobile in the USA has ensured that its customers won’t drain their data. CEO John Legere:

First, we’re amping up Un-carrier 6.0, Music Freedom and adding Apple Music to our list of 33 services that stream totally free on T-Mobile.  Apple Music has become the single most requested new addition to Music Freedom and counts for a full 80% of the requests coming in via Twitter. I heard every one of them, so it’s happening right now!

In short, if you stream using mobile data using Apple Music, or any of the other applicable services, it’s not going to count against your bandwidth allowance. All you’ll need to worry about is the extra strain on your battery life.

A US Boeing B-52 Stratofortress strategic bomber overflies the runway during the F-Air Colombia 2015 air festival at the Jose Maria Cordova airport (RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s The Only Way To Be Sure 

All that said, everyone still has to live with iTunes, even if I might agree with Ben Lovejoy’s opinion on how to solve the iTunes bloat issue:

iTunes is now so clunky the only safe solution is to nuke it from orbit

I’ve complained before about the massive missed opportunity of Apple failing to properly integrate both owned and streamed music within iTunes. I got over that enough to use and enjoy Apple Music, and I’m confident I’ll be continuing my subscription once Apple starts charging my card, despite the raw deal we get on pricing in the UK.

But I also agreed with Variety that Apple needed to adopt the same approach for OS X as it does for iOS, splitting out the various iTunes functions into separate apps. Having now been using version 12.2 of iTunes for a month, I’m escalating this from a moderate whinge to a full-scale rant. The time has come for Apple to finally rid us of this creaking, bloated disaster of an app, and start afresh …

Go on Ben, tell us how you really feel…

Apple Music Reaches Eight Figures

Music industry sources have told music site ‘Hits Daily Double‘ that Apple Music has “attracted more than ten million subscribers in a mere four weeks”. That’s a very big sounding number and from a standing start it compares well to the 75 million or so paying subscribers reportedly signed up to Spotify.

There are caveats though. The first is that every subscriber so far is part of the three-month trial period, and there is no indication at all as to the numbers of people who will move to either of the paid tiers. the second is that the vast majority of users who updated to iOS 8.4 were eligible to sign up to Apple Music, and would have seen the splash screen pushing Apple Music the first time they opened the music app. Looking at the numbers from Mixpanel, forty percent of the iOS user were on iOS 8.4 earlier this month.

Ten million subscribers doesn’t look that impressive now. I expect Apple will hold fire on an official number until the opening statements of the September event that will announce the new iPhone devices.

SUN VALLEY, ID – JULY 10: Eddy Cue, senior vice president of internet software and services at Apple Inc., adn Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of AOL Inc. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Tablet Sales Shrinking As Competition Catches Up To Apple

IDC’s latest look at the tablet market makes for mixed reading for Apple. The iPad range is still top, with a market share of 24.5%, although that has dropped year-on-year from 27.7%. Second place still belongs to Samsung, and the South Korean company has also seen a drop, from 18% to 17%. Roger Fingas looks at the numbers and the overall market for Apple Insider:

The tablet industry as a whole declined during the quarter, with shipments falling 7 percent to 44.7 million. IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani suggested that the market has been impacted by several factors, such as larger smartphones, and people keeping their tablets for longer before upgrades…

iPad sales have been shrinking for six quarters in row. Beyond introducing iOS 9, Apple is also expected to reinvigorate its “post-PC” device with a 12.9-inch model that could offer things like a USB-C port and a pressure-sensitive Bluetooth stylus.

And Finally…

Seven years ago, Christopher Phin bought a MacBook. Specifically he bought a 2008 edition MacBook Pro. And this week is the week that he has decided to retire the computer. In a world where manufacturers hope that update cycles last little more than a year, the build quality and utility of Macs are a hidden benefit of the range. Even if Phin’s MacBook is somewhat of a Trigger’s Broom:

But while outwardly little has changed since it was new, the same isn’t true inside, which is the second reason it was so long pressed into service. First the hard disk was swapped for a 256GB SSD from Crucial (transformative, as you’ll know if you’ve done similar), then the optical drive swapped for a second internal drive using a kit from OWC and a 500GB hard disk donated by a friend of mine. Then, as the battery wore out, it too got replaced. And finally, once SSD prices dropped significantly, the main SSD got switched again, this time for a 500GB MX100 from Crucial.

Turns out Phin is, perhaps by accident, a bit of a philosopher.

MacBook range running OSX Yosemite (image: Apple.com)

MacBook range running OSX Yosemite (image: Apple.com)

Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.

You can find more of my work at ewanspence.co.uk. I’m on TwitterFacebook, and Linked In. You should subscribe to my weekly newsletter of ‘Trivial Posts’.






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