Tag Archives: West Coast

How To Handle Q And A Successfully

By Nick Morgan, Contributor

Ben Decker is the CEO of Decker Communications, a fellow communications company on the West Coast.  We crossed paths years back when Decker started putting out their list of 10 best and worst communicators at the end of each year.  I loved their lists, argued with them, commented on them, and started a conversation with Decker which has now extended to a podcast.  Our chat will give you the chance to hear from Ben on the right and wrong ways to handle Q n A, current trends in communications and Paula Deen’s legendary communication skills.  It’s a fun conversation, and Ben has a great perspective on the world of public speaking.  Thanks, Ben, and enjoy! …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Ethnic Radio Programming Targets New Chinese Immigrants

By David Yin, Forbes Staff

The U.S. Census Bureau recently announced that Asians were the country’s fastest-growing ethnic group in 2012. Their population jumped 2.9%, or 530,000 to 18.9 million, with 60% of this increase coming from international migration. As many migrants have limited English proficiency, their growth in numbers has led to opportunities for media companies which serve ethnic minorities. In April Magic Broadcasting agreed to sell KDAY, a Los Angeles-based hip hop radio station that had helped bring the West Coast rap scene into prominence, to a group of Chinese investors for $19.5 million. If the deal is approved by the Federal Communications Commission (), KDAY is likely to switch from playing Jay-Z and Kanye West to a Chinese language format. I spoke to Arthur Liu, founder and chief executive of Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, to discuss his broadcasting niche and his views on the future of the industry. (Liu is not involved in the KDAY deal.) The son of a journalist, Liu was born in Shandong, China and later moved to Taiwan and the U.S.. He started the company in 1982 and launched his first radio station (WNWK, 105.9) in New York in 1992. Six years later, a change in FCC regulations allowed him to sell the station, along with another smaller station, to Heftel Broadcasting, then the nation’s largest Spanish language radio group, for $135 million. Given that Liu only paid $5 million for the station, he used most of the proceeds to buy ten more radio stations on the West Coast. Today, Liu splits his time between New York and California, managing a nationwide network of 40 radio stations and serving ethnic minorities in ten major markets. Liu says his business builds on the diversity of race, culture and language in the country. His radios stations mirror the ethnic makeup of the population, broadcasting daily in Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, Russian and several other languages. He specifically targets the Asian-American market because the audience in its different subcultures cannot be reached so broadly, unlike the Spanish language market. Before entering a radio market, Liu looks carefully at its geographic location and the size of its audience. He adds that the company has no Vietnamese language programing in New York but several Vietnamese language stations in southern California. To cater to the large Spanish-speaking population, Liu also leases airtime in 12 stations to Spanish language producers, who design their own content and seek their own advertising streams. While Liu says his radio business is “doing very well,” he admits that it has been greatly affected by the rise of new forms of media. He says that the company is adopting new broadcasting trends such as mobile applications and internet streaming. He cites the company’s Radio Chinese Plus, a radio application for smartphones that currently has 680,000 active users. Liu is also expanding his cable business, which complements his radio business and broadens his reach. His radio and cable branches are housed in the same buildings – in New York and Los Angeles – and …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Forbes Latest

Vancouver, Washington Oil Train Terminal Approved By Port Commissioners

By The Huffington Post News Editors

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — Port of Vancouver commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a lease for a Columbia River terminal that would take in crude oil by train from North Dakota and ship it to West Coast refineries.

About 60 people were at the port’s office for the vote, which followed Monday night’s public hearing, The Columbian reported (http://bit.ly/11ccypC ).

The project will be reviewed by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which will make a recommendation to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for a final decision.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

‘Breaking Amish: LA’ Premiere: New Cast Has Secrets, Including Secret Pregnancy

By The Huffington Post News Editors

While it’s unlikely they were able to watch the first season of “Breaking Amish,” five new Amish and Mennonite young adults were nevertheless inspired by the original cast, and decided they were ready to break away from their sheltered communities. This time, they’re headed to the West Coast with the premiere of “Breaking Amish: LA.”

The big move came just in time for one of the five, as 21-year-old Lizzie revealed a secret that would have gotten her shunned from her community anyway.

“No one knows that I’m pregnant,” Lizzie admitted. “Thank God the Amish traditional dresses are so modest and loose-fitting. That’s how I’ve been able to hide my belly.”

Read More…
More on TV Replay

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Huffington Post

All of a sudden, Nissan doesn't have enough Leafs to go around

By Sebastian Blanco

2013 nissan leaf

Filed under:

March: 2,236. April: 1,937. May: 2,138. June: 2,225.

Those are the US sales totals for the Nissan Leaf over the last four months. According to Erik Gottfried, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle sales and marketing, the numbers are a bit too high. Or production is too low. Or something. Point is, demand is apparently outstripping supply.

Nissan says it’s “going to be short on inventory all through the summer.”

Despite having a stated annual capacity of 150,000 Leaf EVs at its Smyrna, TN plant – over 10,000 a month – Leaf production in the Volunteer State has not yet ramped up to a level that can satisfy demand for 2,200 Leafs a month. According to Automotive News, Gottfried recently told dealers in Texas that, “we’re doing everything we can to get them more inventory. But it’s taking some time. … We’re going to be short on inventory all through the summer. It will be late fall before we can produce enough to satisfy everybody.”

Everybody in this case means the expanding markets outside the West Coast, where all the cool EVs have long been allowed to play. AN says that the third-largest market for the Leaf is now Atlanta, where there is only a nine-day supply of the EV. The world’s most popular highway-speed EV (over 60,000 have been sold worldwide, and around 30,000 in the US) got a big price drop earlier this year when the company started making the car in the US. Previously, all Leafs were exported from Japan.

All of a sudden, Nissan doesn’t have enough Leafs to go around originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Mon, 15 Jul 2013 17:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Source: FULL ARTICLE at Autoblog

Protests of Zimmerman verdict mostly peaceful, sporadic violence, vandalism reported

Communities nationwide braced for a day of demonstration, and possibly even dissent, as the public awoke Sunday to learn a six-person Florida jury had acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder, overnight, in the February 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Protesters on the West Coast massed, and in some cases marched, in four California cities, beneath the lingering sunshine that had already yielded to twilight and nightfall by the time the decision had been rendered shortly before 10 p.m. on the mostly quiescent East Coast.

Mostly, the California demonstrations proved peaceful, although matters were marred by sporadic reports of stray violence and vandalism, including the halt of a passenger train, the burning of American and California flags, the lighting of small fires in city roadways, shattered storefront windows and the spray painting of a courthouse, as well as the damaging of a police squad car.

In San Francisco, raucous, yet peaceful protesters marched on the city’s Mission District neighborhood; while about 200 in Los Angeles convened for a vigil in Leimart Park, or the city’s historically black neighborhood. City News Service in Los Angeles said, at one point, a smaller group halted an Expo Line train, somewhere within the city, but police could not immediately confirm details of that account.

Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman said another group of 50 to 100 demonstrators marched around midnight.

“There was a period where crowds were running among vehicles, but police dissuaded them,” he reportedly said, although he added that he knew of no arrests.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, police reported about 100 people protested, with some among the crowd breaking windows and starting fires in the streets. As the protest eventually fizzled, the office of police information added that it had no word of any arrests as of 2 a.m., PST.

However, some Oakland marchers reportedly vandalized a police squad car, and police were — at one point – forced to form a line to block the protesters’ path.

The Oakland Tribune reported some downtown office windows had been shattered, and footage from a television helicopter portrayed people starting fires in the street and spray painting anti-police graffiti. Protesters, there, also reportedly burned an American, and California state flag and spray painted Alameda County’s Davidson courthouse.

In Sacramento, more than 40 people gathered at City Hall, and the Sacramento Bee reported protesters riotously chanting: “What do we want? Justice. When do you we want it? Now. For who? Trayvon.” Meanwhile, a banner unfurled behind the speakers read, “No justice, no peace!” as the crowd cried out in unison.

Meanwhile, in Florida, media outlets reported mostly subdued sadness, and no violence or large gatherings.

“I’m sad,” was the only response Miami Gardens barber Steve Bass could muster to the Miami Herald, when asked for his opinion regarding the verdict. Bass had reportedly cut Trayvon Martin’s hair since the teen was a toddler.

Outside the Seminole County courthouse, where the trial took place, the Orlando Sentinel reported that a bewildered crowd of about 150 received the not-guilty verdict with chants of, “No justice, no peace.”

“He …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News

What Could Alleviate High Gasoline Prices in This State?

By Taylor Muckerman, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

Due to its California Air Resources Board and the regulations imposed by it, Californians pay a premium at the pump to every state that’s not named Alaska. One might wonder why California is able to enforce these standards; it’s because the state-run organization was already in place before the Clean Air Act was passed. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is trying to enact the low sulfur and nitrogen oxide standards throughout the country, but there has been some pushback.

Is there any help on the horizon?
Those who call California home are certainly hoping so. Increased infrastructure to get cheaper Bakken formation and other mid-continent oil to the West Coast is likely to begin appearing in 2014. One of the state’s biggest refiners, Tesoro , plans on increasing rail capacity to ports on the coast where it can then ship the cheaper, lighter oil to its refineries throughout the state. Couple this with pipeline expansions in Canada, and some, not total, relief could be in sight. 

The general partner of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners will likely see some payback, as well
It’s easy to forget the necessity of midstream operators that seamlessly transport oil and gas throughout the United States. Kinder Morgan is one of these operators, and one that investors should commit to memory due to its sheer size – it’s the fourth largest energy company in the U.S. — not to mention its enormous potential for profits. In The Motley Fool’s premium research report on Kinder Morgan, we break down the company’s growing opportunity – as well as the risks to watch out for – in order to uncover whether it’s a buy or a sell. To determine whether this dividend giant is right for your portfolio, simply click here now to claim your copy of this invaluable investor’s resource.

var FoolAnalyticsData = FoolAnalyticsData || []; FoolAnalyticsData.push({ eventType: “TickerReportPitch”, contentByline: “Taylor Muckerman”, contentId: “cms.35256”,

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Managing Your Data Growth by Migrating to Cloud Storage

By Michael Goodenough, AdVoice

Despite attempts to limit and even delete stored data, archived business data continues to grow exponentially. Once companies have eliminated unnecessary data and implemented an information lifecycle management solution, they’ll eventually need a data storage solution. Compliance, data retention requirements, and the rising cost of hardware infrastructure are pushing businesses to explore alternatives to traditional storage. At some point, it makes sense to investigate the realities of a cloud storage solution. You must follow the cloud migration best practices in order to begin moving your data to cloud storage. Preparing to Store Files in Cloud Storage Once you make the decision to store data in the cloud, it’s time to create a migration plan, including a diagram to help organize your files, data sets, and current onsite storage systems. Ask your website administrators to catalog your current storage volumes and file types in use to determine which files you need to store in the cloud. Next give some consideration as to where your files currently reside and determine if storing them in U.S. East Coast and/or U.S. West Coast location(s) would help improve your geographic redundancy and end-user access time to extract data from cloud storage. Also, have your staff consider the authorization structure for managing these files (images, html, text, audio or video files) since you will have the ability to use permissions to manage files securely in cloud storage. Do I Need a File Upload Application? The actual data migration process is actually the next step in managing data growth in the cloud. Because the file size for an initial upload can be large (100GB to 500GB) and might use a sizeable percentage of your total Internet connection (1.54 Mbps, 10Mbps, 100Mbps,>100Mbps LAN speed), you’ll want to schedule the data upload event during off-business hours to avoid service interruptions. In order to simplify the file migration process, ask your IT administrator to investigate the installation and configuration of a file upload and manage application, such as EMC GeoDrive, Google Chrome Atmos, or AtmosFox plug-ins. Accessing Cloud Storage: 3 Use Cases Following are three examples of how various user types can potentially access cloud storage, depending upon the service and how your IT department sets it up. 1)      Software Developer Application Writing to Cloud Storage through RESTful API Many software developers want cloud-based storage that will accept a RESTful Web Services API call to target storage for code and related assets. In this case they’ll find several services that do accept RESTful commands that integrate into development routines, giving flexible options for managing objects in the cloud. Software programming language bindings are also available to accelerate code development for popular languages, such as Python, Java, Ruby and others. The Python wrapper, for example, performs string signing, sends the HTTP requests, and parses the responses. 2)      IT Administrators Can Use Cloud Storage to Address Data Growth and Protections Administrators can add additional security to their files with many cloud storage services by applying 256 bit AES encryption using the letter

From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/centurylink/2013/04/16/managing-your-data-growth-by-migrating-to-cloud-storage/

Amid federal investigation, coal exports at record levels

From the time coal is scooped from the depths of the Spring Creek strip mine in Montana’s wide-open Powder River Basin until it travels more than 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean to power plants in South Korea, the price can increase more than fivefold.

Mining companies, however, are only paying government royalties on the price of the coal when it is mined from federal lands, not when it is sold for more overseas, saving them millions of dollars in the process.

As the Interior Department investigates the industry’s export practices and considers a new royalty system, several exporters in the Montana-Wyoming coal region — the nation’s most productive — are planning to increase shipments abroad to energy-hungry Asia.

Whatever the department decides on royalties, a matter currently under internal review, the results have the potential to cut into profits at a time when the industry is looking to foreign markets to offset some of the daunting challenges it faces at home.

Proposed ports on the West Coast have the potential to increase U.S. coal exports by 60 to 100 million tons a year, said Jim Rollyson, an energy analyst with the advisory firm Raymond James.

“The international export market is where long-term growth for the industry might come from,” Rollyson said. “If you’re the government, that’s real money you’re trying to get there.”

Federal officials forecast that 175 coal-burning power plant units will be shuttered in the next five years, equal to 8.5 percent of the total electricity produced by coal, largely because of competition from cheap natural gas and costs of complying with new environmental regulations.

Overseas markets, by contrast, have been booming.

While analysts expect demand to slip temporarily this year, 2012 saw a record 125 million tons of coal exported from the U.S. Some in the industry project that figure could double in just the next five years if new ports and port expansions are built in Washington state, Oregon and the Gulf Coast.

Federal officials declined to say what they’ve uncovered since the royalties investigation was announced in February. But they’ve said the probe will continue under the leadership of recently confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“We take this issue very seriously and remain fully committed to collecting every dollar due,” said Patrick Etchart with Interior’s Office of Natural Resource Revenue.

Among the major coal producers from federal lands in the West, Peabody Energy and Spring Creek owner Cloud Peak Energy have denied any wrongdoing, while Arch Coal, Inc., has declined to comment.

The investigation into the industry follows concerns raised by two prominent U.S. senators — Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and the committee’s ranking minority member, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

They’ve warned taxpayers could lose many millions of dollars annually if royalties are unfairly calculated. “Taxpayers deserve to know if Interior’s oversight and regulations have kept up” with the rise in exports, said Wyden spokesman Keith Chu.

Royalties currently are paid based on the mine price of coal — about $10.55 a ton in the Powder River Basin, kept low by the volume

From: http://feeds.foxnews.com/~r/foxnews/national/~3/XPevvQXZnLg/

Secrets of Successful Airlines

By Asit Sharma, The Motley Fool

Filed under:

The airline industry has a singular talent for draining the pockets of well-intentioned investors. Highly leveraged balance sheets and bankruptcies are the norm. Significant labor costs and unpredictable jet fuel prices wreak havoc on variable costs. Yet some airlines generate solid returns quarter after quarter. Alaska Air Group , Ryanair , Southwest Airlines , and Copa Holdings each manage to be consistently profitable. Let’s examine a few themes they share in common, and zero in on their individual strategic ideas.

1. Go regional
None of the four airlines above tries to compete on a grand international scale, with presence in every metropolitan area that looks enticing on a map. Instead, each confines itself more or less to a geographical theme. Alaska Air, for example, primarily focuses on the West Coast of the U.S., along with Alaska (naturally) and Hawaii, with some coverage in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Ryanair operates as a European carrier, with comprehensive coverage across the continent.

2. Maintain a uniform fleet
Southwest pioneered the practice of buying a single type of aircraft from the same manufacturer, which cuts down on maintenance costs significantly, as less specialization of maintenance is required and a standard extra-parts inventory can be maintained at various airports. Large carriers that choose to service a variety of hubs and both short- and long-haul flights can end up like US Airways, which stocks its fleet with multiple model series from at least three different airline manufacturers.

3. Invest in a fuel-efficient platform
The actual aircraft that makes up a uniform fleet is a significant decision. All four airlines have invested heavily in the fuel-efficient Boeing 737 platform. Variants of the 737 represent nearly all of the these companies’ active fleets. The 737 has been in continuous production since 1967, and it has been marked by continuous evolution in fuel efficiency and performance in the short-to-medium-range flight segment. So after choosing to implement a uniform fleet strategy, each of this group has voted the venerable 737 series with their checkbooks and long-term debt capacity.

Beyond these three key points, each airline has a strategic bet fueling its returns:

Alaska Airways
Alaska Airways focuses on return on invested capital, or ROIC, as a key performance metric. ROIC is an excellent metric for an airline to consider, as it counts all invested capital, including debt a company must repay, as the base on which financial returns are earned. ROIC forces a company to understand its returns in the context of its debt. In 2012, the airline achieved an ROIC of 13% .

Alaska Airways also invests in its people. In 2012, Alaska’s net income as a percentage of revenues was 6.8%. It could have been 8.6%, but the company paid out $88 million of variable incentive pay to its workforce. By making such a significant discretionary payment, the company is proving the premise that giving its workforce an incentive to work around a “common set of goals” will

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/12/secrets-of-successful-airlines/

A Quarter-Century of Volkswagen’s California

By Jens Meiners

A quarter-century ago, Volkswagen discovered the motorhome. Before then, conversions of its rear-engined T2 and T3 buses—the latter known in the U.S. as the Vanagon—were handled by aftermarket companies such as Westfalia or yacht-maker Dehler. But these elaborate, if compact, motorhomes became unaffordable, and VW moved to fill the niche. Based on the T3, the first-generation California hit the market. It was succeeded by a California version of the T4, and the current T5 also is available as a California model—a perfect companion to explore the roads far from the beaten path.

The naming of the California models was and is no coincidence. VW’s affordable motorhomes are a nod to the incredible popularity the T2 and the T3 enjoyed in America’s West Coast—particularly among the surfer and hippie communities, where it was sometimes fondly referred to as the “Love Bus.” Today’s California is about love as much as it is about leading the segment—with diesel engines of up to 180 horsepower and an available gasoline engine with 204 horsepower. The gallery below provides a look of the California’s evolution from T3 through today’s T5.

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/caranddriver/blog/~3/YlCcPEI5VFU/

This Little Airline Has Big China Plans

By Adam Levine-Weinberg, The Motley Fool

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On Wednesday morning, Hawaiian Holdings subsidiary Hawaiian Airlines announced that it plans to fly to Beijing from its Honolulu hub, beginning on April 16, 2014. Assuming that the route is approved by the U.S. and Chinese governments, it will be Hawaiian’s 10th new international destination since it began its recent round of expansion in November, 2010.

China, here we come
Hawaiian has had its eyes on growth markets in Asia for several years, but began its expansion with the more mature, developed countries of the Pacific Rim. In the past two and a half years, the carrier has added four destinations in Japan (and will beginning serving a fifth city, Sendai, in late June), as well as cities in South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. Hawaiian is also preparing to launch service to Taiwan — another relatively wealthy Pacific Rim country — this summer.

However, the big prize is China, which is an enormous market with a rapidly growing economy and rising middle class. Hawaiian’s management has continually stressed China‘s potential as a long-term-growth driver. The company already has a Chinese-language website, and targets Chinese customers with “codeshare” flights on Korean Air and ANA that connect with Hawaiian’s flights from Japan and South Korea to Honolulu. Moreover, at the Hawaiian Airlines investor day last December, the company pointed to Beijing as one of five cities in China that could be viable for near-term expansion.

Management has repeatedly stated that the biggest impediment to succeeding in China is the complexity of the U.S. visa process. Despite the difficulty of obtaining U.S. visas, the Hawaii Tourism Authority expects visitor arrivals from China to increase 25% this year, to 145,000. Hawaiian’s Beijing flights will provide approximately 46,000 seats annually, and will be the only direct flights between Beijing and Hawaii. It should be manageable to fill this amount of capacity given the size and growth of the market, especially because the existence of direct flights will stimulate demand.

Why it matters
Hawaiian Airlines‘ capacity is still heavily concentrated on West Coast-Hawaii routes. This over-reliance on one region has made Hawaiian vulnerable to supply and demand trends there. Most notably, the rapid growth of Alaska Airlines in the West Coast-Hawaii market has put pressure on Hawaiian’s operating results. While Hawaiian is not pulling back in the West Coast market, its global expansion nevertheless helps it diversify its revenue base. Moreover, after rapid expansion in Japan, Hawaiian is now trying to diversify its international reach, particularly because the yen’s rapid fall has diminished the profitability of Japan flights.

However, entering China is particularly important because of the size of the opportunity. Beijing has a population of more than 20 million, as does Shanghai. Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Chengdu (the other three cities listed as opportunities by Hawaiian’s management) are slightly smaller, but still very populous by U.S. standards. Hawaiian is beginning with three flights a week from Beijing, but within a few years China

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/12/this-little-airline-has-big-china-plans/

Coming Soon to Taco Bell: Breakfast and Health Food

By Matt Brownell

Filed under: ,

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Taco Bell (YUM) has seen sales explode in the last couple of years, largely on the strength of zany junk food like the Doritos Locos Tacos. But now it’s making a pitch to customers who aren’t necessarily attracted by bizarre fast-food mashups.

The “Mexican-inspired” fast-food joint announced this week that it was going to start bringing healthier offerings to its menu. According to the AP, it’s aiming to make at least 20% of its menu items meet government guidelines for fat and calorie content by 2020. That means, for instance, that a single meal would only have 666 calories, based on the 2,000-calorie daily diet recommended by the USDA. CEO Greg Creed said that some of the healthier products may start launching as early as next year.

That’s not the only change coming to Taco Bell‘s menu. Earlier this month, Creed told a restaurant industry conference that the chain was aiming to double sales over the next decade, in part by adding breakfast to the menu.

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The breakfast menu (dubbed “FirstMeal,” of course) has already rolled out in more than 800 Taco Bells on the West Coast, including locations in California, Arizona and Colorado. As you might expect, you aren’t getting pancakes — Taco Bell looks to be putting its own twist on the breakfast burrito with its first offering, the A.M. Crunchwrap. It features egg, cheese, a hashbrown and your choice of bacon or sausage, all stuffed inside a tortilla. And since this is Taco Bell, you’ll get it with a glass of Mtn Dew A.M., which is a mix of a Mountain Dew and orange juice.

“Everyone’s saying we’re crazy because McDonald’s owns this,” Creed told the conference. “That has to stop.”

And breakfast isn’t the only time of day that Taco Bell wants to conquer. The chain also recently started offering an afternoon menu called “Happier Hour,” which includes the snack-sized loaded grillers and a variety of frozen drinks. It will aim to increase traffic during the 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. time block, which tends to be a dead zone for restaurants.

We’re not sure we can get on board with the idea of eating Taco Bell for breakfast, but then, we’re sure people said the same of McDonald’s. Maybe we just need to think outside the bagel.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.


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From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/on/taco-bell-breakfast-healthy-choices/

U.S. Retailers Report March Sales Rose Modestly

By The Associated Press

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Mike Groll/AP

NEW YORK — U.S. retailers are reporting a key revenue figure rose slightly in March, as shoppers held back on spending because of the cold weather across the nation, particularly the Midwest and East Coast, and continued fears about the economy.

Overall, 14 retailers reported on Thursday that revenue at stores open at least a year — a key indicator of retail health — rose an average of 0.6 percent, according to research firm Retail Metrics. Including drugstores, the number was slightly higher, up 1.5 percent.

“While clearly that’s not a great number by any stretch, it could have been worse,” said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics. “Wintry weather conditions persisted deep into March depressing spring apparel, home and garden, and seasonal merchandise sales.”

He expects April to be stronger, as the weather improves and customers respond to strong fashion trends such as colorful jeans. An earlier Easter, which meant one less selling day in March, will also help April results, he said.

The number of retailers reporting monthly sales figures has been shrinking. Big names like Target Corp. (TGT), Macy’s Inc. (M) and Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) have recently stopped reporting. Walmart Stores Inc. (WMT), the world’s largest retailer, hasn’t reported monthly sales figures in several years.

Revenue in stores open at least one year is a key measure of a retailer’s financial health, because it excludes stores that open or close during the year.

Retailers who do report had a mixed month, with those with more stores on the East Coast, where the weather was cold and wet, faring worse than stores on the West Coast.

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TJX Cos. (TJX), which operates TJX and Home Goods stores, said revenue in stores open at least one year fell 2 percent, while analysts expected a 1 percent drop. The company said that the drop was due to the weather and the Easter shift, and they expect a stronger April.

“Overall business trends improved as the weather became warmer,” said CEO Carol Meyrowitz. “April is off to a good start, our inventories are in great shape, and we are seeing an enormous amount of desirable product in the marketplace.”

L Brands, formerly Limited Brands Inc. (LTD), the parent of Victoria’s Secret and Bath and Body Works, says the revenue figure was flat, above analyst expectations for a drop, according to Thomson Reuters.

Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp.’s (COST) revenue figure rose 4 percent in March, short of expectations for a 5.2 percent rise.

Department store operator Stein Mart Inc. (SMRT) said revenue at stores open at least a year dropped 2.8 percent in March, falling short of Wall Street predictions. The company said sales were hurt by cold

From: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2013/04/11/march-retail-sales-rise/

PBF Energy Announces Supply Agreement with Continental Resources for Bakken Crude Oil

By Business Wirevia The Motley Fool

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PBF Energy Announces Supply Agreement with Continental Resources for Bakken Crude Oil

PARSIPPANY, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– PBF Energy Inc. (NYS: PBF) announced today the signing of an agreement with Continental Resources Inc. (NYS: CLR) to supply PBF with Bakken crude oil, which will be delivered by rail to PBF‘s double-loop track at its refinery in Delaware City, DE.

Commenting on the transaction, Don Lucey, PBF‘s Chief Commercial Officer, said, “We are pleased to be working directly with Continental Resources, a leader in domestic crude oil production and a major producer and supplier in the Bakken play. We look forward to growing our relationship with them.”

Continental Resources is the largest producer and leaseholder in the Bakken, with significant supply arrangements with refiners on the West Coast, the Gulf Coast, and now the East Coast. Continental Resources President and Chief Operating Officer, Rick Bott, added, “This unique transaction illustrates the emerging shift in the light sweet crude market. In addition to diversifying Continental’s customer base and streamlining our value chain, it allows us to deliver unblended premium Bakken crude to the East Coast – a market that has historically been driven by imports of foreign oil.”

PBF‘s Chief Executive Officer, Tom Nimbley, said, “PBF has made significant investments in acquiring rail cars and developing our East Coast rail delivery infrastructure to increase our access to North American crude oil, which positions PBF to benefit from these cost-advantaged crudes. Delaware City‘s heavy and light crude rail discharge facilities allow us to work directly with producers in Canada and the Mid-continent, like Continental Resources, and provide us with a competitive advantage versus northeast refiners that rely on third parties to deliver North American crude oil.”

PBF also announced that the company opened a new office in Oklahoma City. This office, along with PBF‘s Calgary, Alberta office, will focus on sourcing North American crude oils and feedstocks for the company’s refineries.

PBF: Forward-Looking Statements

Statements in this press release relating to future plans, results, performance, expectations, achievements and the like are considered “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, many of which may be beyond the company’s (PBF Energy Inc. and subsidiaries) control, that may cause actual results to differ materially from any future results, …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Pump Prices Predicted to Drop for 2nd Summer in a Row

By Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool

2013 Ford Focus ST

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Prices at the pump are expected to drop for the second consecutive summer, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) report (link opens in PDF) released today.

After a 34% spike from 2010 to 2011, summer retail gasoline prices bumped down in the summer of 2012 and are expected to drop again this summer. According to EIA‘s report, drivers can expect an additional $0.06 shaved off this summer’s per-gallon cost, putting the average at $3.63, compared to last summer’s $3.69 average.

Source: eia.gov. 

The EIA assessment notes lower Brent crude oil prices, non-OPEC supply growth, and increased fuel economy as the main drivers behind the projected drop.

On a regional basis, West Coast pump prices should drop the most, from $4.02 last summer to $3.89 per gallon  this summer. The Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions are expected to receive a $0.09 cut from 2012’s pump prices, followed by a $0.04 drop on the East Coast and a $0.02 decrease for the Gulf Coast.


The article Pump Prices Predicted to Drop for 2nd Summer in a Row originally appeared on Fool.com.

ou can follow Justin Loiseau on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, @TMFJLo.
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Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

Why FirstGroup, Vedanta Resources, and Shanks Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today

By Alan Oscroft, The Motley Fool

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LONDON — The FTSE 100 has risen 0.57% to 6,313 points this morning. The main force behind the U.K.’s top-tier index appears to be the miners, which are generally up around 2% to 3%. And those in turn were buoyed by lower-than-expected Chinese inflation figures, which raise hopes that the economy will keep growing.

But which companies are beating the indexes today? Here are three that are rising.

FirstGroup shares have picked 2.9% to 207 pence after the rail and bus operator told us that full-year trading is going as expected. In a statement ahead of results due on May 22, the firm reminded us that its interim dividend was held but told us that it has still to decide on this year’s final payment. It’s hard to predict anything right now, with the West Coast rail franchise still on hold.

Should the final payment also be held at last year’s levels, we’d be seeing a yield of more than 11% — though many will surely be expecting to see a cut. If earnings come in close to the latest City forecasts, the shares will be on a price-to-earnings ratio of about seven.

Vedanta Resources
Shares in Vedanta Resources have gained 3.8% to 1,100 pence after the company’s Indian exploration subsidiary announced an oil discovery in Rajasthan. Cairn India‘s latest strike takes the total number of discoveries in the RJ-ON-90/1 block to 26.

A gross oil column of approximately 10 meters was found this time, and evaluation of potential oil volume will be the next stage. Vedanta shares had been sliding since the start of the year, but they have regained about 10% in the past week.

Shanks Group
Waste management specialist Shanks Group saw its shares rise 1.3% to 75.5 pence following an upbeat end-of-year update told us that trading has continued “robustly.” Despite bad weather hampering the firm’s operations, we should see full-year results in line with previous expectations.

Management of costs has been the key issue in “very challenging” market conditions, and the current plan is expected to save about 20 million pounds per year by fiscal year 2016. Results should be released on March 31.

Finally, if you’re looking for investments that should take you all the way to a comfortable retirement, I recommend the Fool’s special new report detailing five blue-chip shares. They’ll be familiar names to many, and they’ve already provided investors with decades of profits. But the report will only be available for a limited period, so click here to get your hands on these great ideas — they could set you on the road to long-term riches.

The article Why FirstGroup, Vedanta Resources, and Shanks Should Beat the FTSE 100 Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Alan Oscroft has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks …read more

Source: FULL ARTICLE at DailyFinance

US missile defense shield to counter NKorea threat

The Pentagon said Wednesday it was deploying a missile defense shield to Guam to protect the U.S. and its allies in the region in response to increasingly hostile rhetoric from North Korea. The North renewed its threat to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.

The threat issued by the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army capped a week of psychological warfare and military muscle moves by both sides that have rattled the region.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced it will deploy a land-based, high-altitude missile defense system to Guam to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region’s protections against a possible attack.

Pyongyang, for its part, said that America’s ever-escalating hostile policy toward North Korea “will be smashed” by the North’s nuclear strike and the “merciless operation” of its armed forces.

“The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation,” said the translated statement, which was issued before the Pentagon announced plans to send a missile defense shield to Guam.

The Pentagon had no immediate reaction to the latest statement, but earlier Wednesday Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel labeled North Korea‘s rhetoric as a real, clear danger and threat to the U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies. And he said the U.S. is doing all it can to defuse the situation, echoing comments a day earlier by Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Some of the actions they’ve taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan and also the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States,” Hagel said.

He said he believes that the U.S. has had a “measured, responsible, serious responses to those threats.”

Deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System is the latest step the U.S. has taken to bolster forces in the region in a far-reaching show of force aimed at countering the North Korean threat.

In recent months, North Korea has taken a series of actions Washington deemed provocative, including an underground nuclear test in February and a rocket launch in December that put a satellite into space and demonstrated mastery of some of the technologies needed to produce a …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News

Hagel calls N. Korea 'real and clear danger,' as US plans defense system in Guam

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday that North Korea‘s rising threats pose a “real and clear danger,” as the Pentagon continued to take precautions with a plan to deploy a missile-defense system to Guam.

A senior U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that the military will deploy an Army system shown as a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery to Guam. The system is capable of shooting down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

This follows the positioning of two U.S. destroyer ships in the region, along with plans to have two sea-based radar systems in the western Pacific.

Hagel, speaking Wednesday at the National Defense University, said the cascade of threats out of North Korea must be taken “seriously,” given the country’s nuclear and missile-delivery capacity — though analysts say the country still could not fire a nuclear-tipped missile all the way to the continental United States.

“As they have ratcheted up (their) bellicose, dangerous rhetoric — and some of the actions they’ve taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger and threat to the interests, certainly of our allies, starting with South Korea and Japan,” Hagel said. He also cited the “threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened to the West Coast of the United States.”

The Kim Jong Un regime has toggled in recent weeks between threatening the U.S. and threatening South Korea.

The latest development was North Korea reportedly announcing it had “ratified” a strike plan against the United States. Also Wednesday, it decided to bar South Korean managers and trucks delivering supplies from crossing the border to enter a jointly run factory park called Kaesong.

The Kaesong industrial park started producing goods in 2004 and has been an unusual point of cooperation in an otherwise hostile relationship between the Koreas, whose three-year war ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The Kaesong move came a day after the North said it would restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons that North Korea is developing and has threatened to hurl at the U.S., something experts don’t think it will be able to accomplish for years.

The North’s rising rhetoric has been met by a display of U.S. military strength, including flights of nuclear-capable bombers and stealth jets at annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that the allies call routine and North Korea says are invasion preparations.

In a telephone call Tuesday evening to Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, Hagel cited North Korea‘s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and said Washington and Beijing should continue to cooperate on those problems.

“The secretary emphasized the growing threat to the U.S. and our allies posed by North Korea‘s aggressive pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and expressed to General Chang the importance of sustained U.S.-China dialogue and cooperation on these issues,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement describing the phone call.

Little also disclosed that Gen. …read more
Source: FULL ARTICLE at Fox US News