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SunEdison Not Looking at a Sunny Future

Solar energy giant SunEdison Inc. was growing by leaps and bounds until recently. Now, many of their projects are in danger and they are looking at bankruptcy. One of the solar plants now in jeopardy is one in central Texas. SunEdison was initially planning to self-finance the project, but will now need to make alternative funding arrangements.

While SunEdison won’t discuss its unfinished deals, company releases and news reports suggest that the company has many projects in development which range from massive power plants to smaller rooftop projects.

SunEdison was, until recently, the nation’s fastest growing renewable energy developer. They are now, however, $12 billion in debt. Their shares have fallen 98% in the last 12 months.

Learn more about the situation and what the future may bring for SunEdison.


New Appointments at Anchin Block & Anchin and Other Companies

A number of financial services companies have recently announced changes in their management. Companies such as Anchin Block & Anchin, Colliers International, Steinbridge Group and others have made recent announcements.

Anchin Block & Anchin has recently announced that they have appointed Jared Feldman to Co-Practice Leader of Anchin Private Client. This is a specialty group within the firm that works with affluent clients. He will be in charge of the Co-Practice with Udi Sadan.

Colliers International announced Harry Seherr-Thoss has rejoined their New York operations as their Executive Managing Director of Brokerage Services. They also announced that Samuel Hamlin has joined their New York operations as Associate Director in the Capital Markets & Investment Services Group.

The Steinbridge Group announced that the former Wall Street and NYCEDC executive Tawan Davis has joined their firm as their Chief Executive Officer. He will oversee their day-to-day operations.

Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 List

awardFor the last few years, AdAge has been compiling a “40 Under 40 List.”  Making it to this list is a real badge of honor, since every honoree has “managed amazing achievements relatively early in their careers. They have shown not just talent, but perseverance, drive and creativity that bodes well for the future of the business.”

AdAge says that it looks for a whole slew of different talents, that comprise “paradigm breakers, smart thinkers and thought leaders who are really making a difference and who are tipped to climb company ladders…[AdAge seeks] to identify the people who are reshaping marketing and making important contributions to a company or business.”

Adam Roseman received the honor this year, making it to the list.  And he really felt that it was an honor.  The co-founder and CEO of FansTang (digital media company with a focus on China’s increasing demand for content from around the world, in Chinese) said he was “honored to be recognized by Advertising Age amongst all the other established, talented industry leaders…[and very] proud of what [his] business has achieved.”

Roseman went on to explain about FansTang’s strategy which is centered on using the firm’s broad “data analytics and production capabilities to create positive and localized international content consistent with Chinese culture and appealing to Chinese millennial consumers.”  This year, he said they will continue their focus on the production and curation of “high quality digital content, expanding [its] brand partnerships and further developing [its] exceptional international team.”

One of last year’s honorees – Spence Kramer – was just appointed CEO of J. Walter Thompson Atlanta. The umbrella organization – J. Walter Thompson is “the world’s best-known marketing communications brand.”  According to Stefano Zunino, JWT CEO of the Americas, Kramer has “contributed pioneering ideas like Walter, the start-up agency for start-ups; Pennzoil Mario Kart experience at the SXSW festival; and extended the agency’s humanitarian efforts with the Travis Manion Foundation.”

Everyone who finds a place on this list, has, as Deputy Editor of AdAge, Judann Pollack points out “one thing in common: they are smart young innovators who will be driving business for years to come.”

Businesses React to Obama’s Upcoming Trip to Cuba

With Obama’s upcoming visit to Havana, a number of companies are trying to complete deals with Cuba. This includes AT&T Inc, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., and Marriott International Inc.

This will be the first visit to Cuba by a US president in almost 90 years. AT&T is working to complete a mobile communications agreement with Cuba’s telecoms Etecas. Starwood says that it “has applied for authorization from the U.S. Treasury Department to operate hotels in Cuba. We see many opportunities for the expansion of our brands into Cuba at this inflection point, and look forward to building long-term relationships and welcoming travelers into our hotels in this dynamic market.”

The Marriott spokesman Thomas Marder said, “We are optimistic that we are going to get a green light soon from the U.S. government to have hotels under the Marriott flag in Cuba.”

Certainly, other companies are dabbling in the idea of doing business with Cuba, but many are still wary of the half-century old embargo and the Cuban government’s failure to enact economic reforms of any significance.

Obama has called for the lifting of the embargo but this can only be done through Congress, and the Republicans have said they will not be doing so.




Housing Prices Take a Beating

In January, new US single family home sales took a tumble from their 10 month high. This was particularly due to a dip in the West, although overall housing market recovery remains strong. The Commerce Department has reported that single-family home sales dropped 9.2% last month. In the West, where there has been a sharp rise in home prices, sales went down 32.1% to the lowest level since July of 2014. This was the largest decline they’ve seen since May of 2010.

In the Northeast, the sales rose 3.4% and sales were up 1.8% in the South. However, sales decreased 5.9% in the Midwest. While the plunge was dramatic, economists did not seem too worried about it.

As Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York said, “Through some of the noise in the data, it appears that home sales are continuing to trend higher over time off of historically low levels. We maintain our view that the housing market will continue to recover.”

Xerox Corp. Splitting Into Two Companies

Xerox Corp. is soon splitting into two companies, one for the printer operations and the other for business process outsourcing. They have, for years, tried to integrate the businesses and have finally decided to divide into this model. Carl Icahn will have three board seats on the outsourcing company as he tweeted on Friday that “the separation will greatly enhance value for Xerox Corp shareholders.”

As Xerox Chief Executive Officer Ursula Burns said, “The reason why it was easy to get to a decision is because we do have two businesses that rotate around two different axes.”

Xerox’s shares have fallen more than 30% in the last 12 months and it has been trying to turn itself around by focusing on software and services. Burns explained that the leadership and the names of the new companies have not yet been decided.

Does the Avon Lady Sing the Blues?

makeup-brushes-824707_960_720Avon Products rebuffed a $10.7 billion offer by Coty over three years ago and since then their business has been on the rocks. This week, Cerberus Capital Management agreed to take their North American business. The North American business has been at the heart of Avon’s problems, weighing down the rest of the company.

Sheri McCoy, the chief executive of Avon Products, explained that the Avon portfolio outside of North America represents 86% of their revenue in the last nine months.

As Ms. McCoy explained, “We believe that the separation of North America is the best way to ensure that both businesses have an unencumbered path to profitability and growth. This was a key principle as we considered alternatives.”

Learn more about Avon’s plans and what Cerberus has planned with their take-over.

Unemployment Levels Looking Up

In good news, the Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell even more than expected last week. This was almost a 42 year low, as the state unemployment benefits dropped 5000 for 267,000 for the week ending December 19th. This was close to the levels last seen in late 1973, according to the Labor Department.

The claims report showed that those receiving benefits declined 47,000 to 2.20 million in the week that ended on December 12th.

Read more and get the details with this article at Reuters.






Mobile Hits the Mark on Cyber Monday

Mobile device shopping accounted for more than a quarter of the $3 billion in sales over Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday was the biggest ever day for online sales in the US according to the Adobe Digital Index report. This was attributed to larger than expected discounts and to a demand for electronics and toys in particular.

There were 200 million visitors who visited 4,500 retail websites on Cyber Monday. Last year, mobile devices accounted for 19% of the total sales on Cyber Monday, and this year that number hit 26%.

What were the top selling items? Lego’s Star Wars collection, the Barbie Dream House, the Samsung 4K television set and Apple Inc.’s iPad Mini.

Interestingly, even though more people were shopping from their mobiles, they were spending less. On average, the smartphone shopper spent $102.02 on each order, which was below the $128 average spent by desktop users. Scot Wingo, executive chairman of ChannelAdvisor shared his frustration when he said, “The fact that we haven’t improved the mobile conversion rate is a little depressing to be honest.”

Which stores faired the best? Inc. had a 21.1% rise in Cyber Monday sales according to ChannelAdvisor. Discounts through Amazon averaged 40%.

Target Earning Results

Target just issued its earning results, reporting $.086 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter. They hit the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $.086, as reported by Target earned $17.60 billion during the quarter, just over the consensus estimate of $17.57 billion. Their revenues are up 2.1% on a year-over-year basis.

Thursday, they opened at 69.78. Their quarterly divided will be paid on Thursday, December 10th. As the article explained, “Shareholders of record on Wednesday, November 18th will be given a $0.56 dividend. The ex-dividend date is Monday, November 16th. This represents a $2.24 dividend on an annualized basis and a yield of 3.21%.”

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