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Apple Inc. Entering the Wearable Items Market?

Apple Inc. is set to sell its first wearable item this coming October with the goal of producing 3-5 million smartwatches a month in their first run. This is reported by Nikkei. The devices are probably going to have curved OLED (organic light-emitting diode) displays and sensors that will collect health data from blood glucose and calories consumed.

The industry has just been waiting, assuming that Apple would produce a smartwatch at some point after Samsung released its Galaxy Gear watches. CEO Tim Cook has promised “new product categories” for 2014.

Developers Doronin and Colombo Breaking Ground on Luxury Condos in Miami

 

Vladislav Doronin

Ugo Colombo and Vladislav Doronin

Vladislav Doronin, founder and chairman of Moscow-based Capital Group, is partnering with Ugo Colombo’s CMC Group Inc., to build two major projects in the downtown Brickell area of Miami, Florida.

Ugo Colombo is recognized by many as one of Miami’s most ambitious developers of high-end condos. Vladislav Doronin has established himself as an international real estate developer with a focus on superior quality and cutting edge innovation. Doronin has developed some of Moscow’s most sought-after properties, including 70 million square-feet of luxury residential space, retail footage, and mixed-use properties.

The new development which the partners are about to embark on consists of two high-rise buildings located on a triangular shaped piece of land they own jointly. The first building going up will be the “Brickell Flatiron.” It will be architecturally unique, reaching 65 stories, a 750-foot soaring structure. Within its curvaceous walls will be 550 luxury residences, 40,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, a rooftop swimming pool, and a health/fitness center with a panoramic view of the surrounding Miami expanses.

Mr. Colombo said,

“Vladislav Doronin brings to our partnership over 20 years of proven development experience and a global perspective on real estate investment. All of his projects have been distinguished by a combination of outstanding design and flawless execution, creating environments that appeal to luxury buyers. Working with such a strong and capable partner has already been highly productive and I look forward to a long and successful relationship.”

The project is located at South Miami Avenue and Brickell Plaza, and is expected to break ground by the end of 2014. The second tower will be situated at Brickell Plaza and Eighth Street. Ground breaking there should take place sometime in 2015.

Vladislav Doronin stated,

“Ugo is simply the best in class and I am very pleased to be working with the recognized leader in Miami development. We both see tremendous opportunity in Miami and in the Brickell area particularly. We also share a commitment to innovative aesthetics and relentless attention to detail, so I am especially pleased to partner with Ugo on these exceptional new projects, with more ideas in the pipeline.”

G.I. Joe Action Figure Creator Dies at 86

gi joeThe G.I. Joe action figure it probably one of the most popular of all times. Donald Levine, the Hasbro executive who designed this figure, the world’s first action figure, recently died at 86. As head of Hasbro’s research and development team, Levine took the toy through the design and development stages.

Levine, who served in the Army in Korea, said that he got the idea for the figure as a way to honor veterans. The G.I Joe figure hit the shelves in time for Christmas in 1964 and it sold for $4. It was popular until the late 1960s, when opposition to Vietnam intensified and parents started to move away from military related toys.

In the 1970s, to revive the love for G.I Joe, Hasbro added “lifelike hair” and a “kung-fu grip” to the figures and outfitted them with scuba gear to save oceans and with explorer’s clothes.

Today, the G.I. Joe figure has a following that includes comic books, cartoons, two movies, a G.I. Joe Collector’s Club, an annual convention and more.

 

Workers Demonstrate Against McDonalds and Wages

happymealThe happymeal is apparently not making everyone happy. More than 100 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday as they protested the fast-food chain’s corporate campus near Chicago. They were demanding that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour and that they have the right to unionize.

The protest came the day before the shareholder vote on executive pay was set to take place. Chief Executive Don Thompson earned a total compensation of $9.5 million in 2013, and this flies in the face of the struggles that many middle to low income Americans are experiencing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for the approximately 3.5 million fast-food and counter workers is $8.83. US President Barack Obama has been pushing for Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

McDonald’s spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhm said, “$15 is unrealistic, but we know that the minimum wage will increase over time.”

Time will tell how the controversy gets settled.

 

Coca Cola’s Perez Joins Board of Primerica

Primerica Gains New Board Member Beatriz Perez

New Primerica Board Member, Beatriz Perez

The Chief Sustainability Officer at Coca Cola, 44-year-old Beatriz R. Perez, joined the board of directors at Primerica Inc.

Peres has been the CSO of the Atlanta-based giant beverage company since July 2011. From April 2010 until she took the job as CSO Perez was the chief marketing officer for the North American Division of Coca Cola.

Primerica, headquartered in Duluth, Georgia, is a financial services company which sells insurance and investment products to a wide variety of individuals and families in America and Canada.

“I’m pleased to join Primerica’s Board of Directors because I believe in what they’re doing to help bring financial security to their Main Street clients,” Perez said. “This type of economic empowerment is helping people and families realize their potential and fulfill their dreams.”

Developing Company Strategy

strategyCompanies and heads of corporations take different approaches when it comes to leadership, management and strategic development. According to Keith McFarland, a growth strategy has to be one that “brings you the most results from the least amount of risk and effort.” Such strategies should be like a ladder – lower rungs representing lower risk and higher rungs, higher risks. Small businesses should steer towards the lower rungs. In addition, if strategy is not a priority, market forces are likely to interfere with overall business development. Irrespective of the level of risks a company is going to take, it needs to be strategized.

Sometimes, the ability of a company leader to develop strategy is simply a case of experience. Steven Rosenthal, Northland Investment Corporation, has been with the firm since October 2007. Sustaining the firm’s development, whilst developing its future strategic direction, Rosenthal was hired for these roles partly because of his experience. Indeed, he brought to the firm a history of entrepreneurial experience, having previously managed a much larger firm. As co-managing partner at Boston-based Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo P.C., Rosenthal drove growth, doubling the number of attorneys from 250 to 500 and opening an additional four offices for the firm.
Rosenthal’s strategic development capacity comes from his experience and according to Lawrence R. Gottesdiener – the firm’s founder – Rosenthal was able to “see the big picture and execute on the details. He is an outstanding strategic thinker and knows how to develop and maintain relationships.”

Focusing on strategic development of a firm is one major way forward for companies trying to progress. And, it’s a very common and effective way. According to a recent article by Robert Kabacoff, countless studies continuously show that “strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders…a true strategic leader thinks and acts strategically every day.” Further, a study conducted by Management Research Group (MRG) in 2013 found that strategic leaders in general have a much broader, longer-term approach to problem-solving and decision making using “objective analysis, thinking ahead and planning.”

In other words, strategic planning in business has a greater chance of creating effective growth than leadership that is not strategy-based.

GM Under Fire and Under Investigation

General Motors Co. is in hot water as they recall 51,640 Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and GMC Acadia SUVs from their 2014 model year. They have done so because of faulty software that could cause fuel gauges to read in accurately.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on its website, “An inaccurate fuel gauge may result in the vehicle unexpectedly running out of fuel and stalling, increasing the risk of a crash.”

GM dealers plan now to reprogram the engine control modules in these cars. The fuel gauge could be off by as much as a quarter of a tank, causing cars to run out of gas and create an accident. At least 7 million vehicles have been recalled this year. This includes 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts, Saturn Ions and similar models that have been linked to at least 13 deaths as a result of faulty ignition switches.

In addition to their recall issues, GM is under investigation by NHTSA, Congress, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission for waiting until now to order the new ignition switch recall when they apparently knew about this issue for more than ten years.

Craft Brewers Conference Heads to Denver

beerThe Craft Brewers Conference takes place in Denver this week and more than 7000 industry professionals are expected to attend. The event will take place at the Colorado Convention Center from Wednesday to Friday. The CBC actually rotates to cities around the country, and this year Denver can expect to fill its hotel rooms to capacity and generate significant revenue for its bars and restaurants.

Local breweries will also be able to feature their work. More than one brewery opened a week in the state of Colorado in 2013. As Steve Kaczeus, the co-owner of Boostrap Brewing of Niwot said,“I just think it’s a chance to learn for us, and to network. We’ll have a bunch of people stopping by. They get to try our beer … There’s still a lot of technical information we can gather, a lot of networking we can do.”

During the conference, close to 400 exhibitors will show off their brewing gadgets, their canning equipment and other specialty items.

The country is brimming with opportunity for brewers at the moment. As of March of this year, there are 2966 operating breweries in the US with 99% of them meeting the definition of craft breweries, according to Bart Watson, the staff economist for the Boulder-based Brewers Association, which is running the event. Craft beer hit a record 14.3% share of the national beer sales in 2013, and this is an area of interest for the conference as well. One of the conference goals is to have craft beer retain a 20% sales share nationwide by the year 2020. Time will tell how they do.

For now, it’s drinking time in Colorado.

Pimco Reevaluates Outlook for US Economy

Bill Gross’s Pacific Investment Management Co., or Pimco, recently raised its outlook for the U.S. economy, stating that expansion is likely to be between 2.5% and 3% over the course of the year. At the end of last year, the fund estimated growth of between 2.25% and 2.75%.

According to Pimco, the adjusted assessment is a result of “trends toward growth and spending in the consumer, corporate and public sectors.”

“The global economy will likely experience steady, broad-based growth in 2014 thanks in no small part to the extraordinary expansion in central bank balance sheets in 2013,” said portfolio manager Saumil H. Parikh.

Pimco’s report went on to explain that “rising asset prices in combination with fading near-term fiscal uncertainties will drive global aggregate demand growth forward, adding stability to what has thus far been an on-again, off-again global recovery from the financial crisis of 2008.”

Pimco also reassessed its outlook for the euro zone, now claiming to expect real economic growth in the region to measure between 1% and 1.5%.

“We expect the reduction in fiscal drag in the euro zone periphery will reinforce gradually improving credit conditions to drive aggregate demand growth from well below potential to up toward potential in the year ahead,” Parikh said.

The report also revealed the fund’s expectations for China and Japan in 2014.

 

San Diego Investor Discusses Emerging Markets

Listen to this informative video in which Charles Brandes of San Diego based investment firm Brandes Investment Partners discusses emerging markets and why Brandes is bullish on them. As a longterm valued investor Brandes prefers to buy low and sell high and believes that down markets are great opportunities to get into the market.


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