UK SMEs Target US Consumers

The growth of ecommerce in the United States and Europe has been simultaneous. While the US had a head start of sorts, Europe followed suit and its fastest growing ecommerce market was the UK. Now, after having focused on the UK market and having expanded across Europe, small to medium businesses and midsize online retailers are targeting the US consumers.

In terms of international sales and growth in foreign markets, the UK had first looked east, explored Germany, France, the Netherlands and even Italy, Spain and Greece. UK SMEs had also explored the Scandinavian countries but did not consider venturing westward, across the Atlantic. US companies have always eyed the UK market and have often considered it as the first stepping stone in foreign shores. Global expansion of US online retailers has always been built on the understanding that buying patterns and consumer preferences are similar in the US and in the UK. That is something UK SMEs have started capitalizing on now.

The expansion of UK SMEs in Europe is obvious because of the proximity. The European Union and free access to the single trading zone within it makes it easier for a cheap international courier service to exist for deliveries between members of the European Union. Whereas if you need to find a courier service to send parcel to USA it is more expensive as the goods need to clear customs as there is no free trade yet between the European Union and the USA. Even if the process was convenient, the charges were not as affordable.

With dipping prices in logistics, the profits have certainly been better and that has been further aided by the fact that the dollar has appreciated vis-à-vis the euro. With a strong pound and a strong dollar, it makes sense for UK SMEs to try and capitalize a market that is staggeringly larger than the UK and almost identical in shopping patterns, buying preferences and various other cultural or social indicators which influence ecommerce sales.

Royal Mail had conducted a study that revealed more than two third of UK SMEs are targeting the US market right now. The survey reported that almost 40% of online retailers prefer the US market and 30% prefer the European markets. The third preferred market is Canada. As the US consumers grow fonder of British brands and the logistics get better, it is only reasonable to expect that more UK SMEs would be selling to US consumers and thus shipping more stuff. As the euro continues to weaken, the US would offer a better equivalent of the pound than the bloc of European nations.

13 Stocks Gauge Which Sector Looks Best for 2016

Get TheStreet Quant Ratings’ exclusive 5-page report for (AAPL) – FREE.

Tech investors have laughed their way to the bank in 2015, but if you’re one of those who primarily bet on financial stocks your mood could understandably be a little somber.

We examine how each sector performed in 2015, and which is best positioned for growth in the new year. Many of the stocks we highlight below have been reliable sources of income and they should continue to reward income investors in 2016 and beyond.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Technology Sector

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  AAPL data by YCharts

Shares of Apple Inc. (AAPL – Get Report) , a company known for its amazing ability to mix hardware, software, services, and third-party apps into smart devices, gained just 7.8% in 2015 (so far). That’s actually under-performing the S&P 500 IT index that is up 8.43% (based on last Friday’s closing).

Must Read: Why You Should Dump These 3 Large-Cap, High-Yield Energy Stocks Now

Analysts estimate the Tim Cook-led behemoth to log in a 6.8% rise in earnings-per-share (EPS) in the current year, ending Sept. 16. The stock’s fortunes, which are closely linked to the performance of its iPhone, may change for the better next year, as analysts expect nearly 10% EPS growth.

MSFT data by YCharts
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT – Get Report) , one of the most influential stocks in the S&P 500 tech index, has seen a robust 20% gain in stock price in 2015 so far. New CEO Satya Nadella seems to have changed the perception of the company as an aggressive tech firm with a clear focus — and Wall Street loves it. With Windows 10 finding traction among consumers and its Office 365 business strategy paying off, Microsoft has found currency among investors as a quick innovator and a company that can offer stable earnings.

The 15 Best Business Schools to Get Into Tech Companies

It doesn’t take an MBA to know that tech is the booming industry in today’s market. But it certainly helps to have an MBA when searching for a profitable job in that sector. And because of the allure of working for tech companies, which offer high salaries and a more egalitarian atmosphere, the competition for new hires can be steep.

Here are 15 business schools that place their graduates in ideal positions for taking a leading role at Google, Apple, Microsoft or any of the many startup companies that will become the tech giants of the future.

 

The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business
Austin, Texas

The MBA program here offers six different ways to achieve a graduate degree in business including a full-time two-year daytime program and an evening program that takes two-and-a-half years. While most programs are based in the growing tech hub of Austin, there are also options for classes in Dallas, Houston and even Mexico City. The university also offers a Master of Science in Technology one-year degree that helps students “learn how to identify technologies with commercial viability and bring them to market.”

Stanford Graduate School of Business
Stanford, CA

“It is harder to get into Stanford than any other business school in the country,” says Forbes about this prestigious university. “The school’s 7% acceptance rate is the lowest in the world.” That means once you enroll there, you’ll be graduating with one of the most elite degrees anywhere — especially among technology companies who recognize the tech-heavy focus of this Silicon Valley school. Graduates are able to take advantage of the school’s Career Management Center for life to help them get the jobs they want.

Harvard Business School
Boston, MA

In a Business Insider survey of 10,000 of its readers who work in the tech industry, Harvard came right after Stanford as best business school. One of the programs that sets it apart is the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab). It’s a collaboration and education space that allows students to develop ideas for new commercial ventures, so students here can get a jump on life in the tech sector if they choose to participate.

 

 

Why the Dow Jones Industrial Average Could Begin a 70% Decline in the Next Few Weeks

There is a rare bull market pattern that, once it ends, is one of the worst formations that can occur. It has two names. Some call it the megaphone pattern, as its shape resembles what many know as the voice amplifier that coaches and referees use to get large groups of people to pay attention.

Those who know its implication for the financial markets refer to it as the Jaws of Death pattern. In fact, both names have meaning for this ominous indicator of egregious crowd bullishness. Its megaphone analogy reminds us that when this pattern appears, investors need to pay attention that the party attitude of recent memory is on it’s “last call.” The Jaws of Death descriptor is clear. When the pattern ends, the jaws snap shut like those of an alligator chomping down on hapless prey that got too close to the water.

Click here to see the following chart in a new window

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Above is the monthly bar chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) , from the 1987 crash low (far lower left of graph) near 1600. This is the origin of the pattern, too. The green box highlights the zone between that low and place where the lower jaw line (connecting the 2002 low and the 2009 low — the bottoms of the two biggest market crashes since 1929) will intersect a dramatic crash if one occurs within the next three years (around 6000). However, since the pattern began at the 1987 crash low, a complete round trip to the beginning cannot be ruled out, although it’s not required. The price highs of December 2014, as well as February, March, and May of this year all tested the upper jaw line within 0.5%. These achievements mark the second, third, fourth and fifth tests of this monster trend line in the past 186 months (15.5 years); about 2.7%. In other words, this is a rarity of irrational exuberance.

But the exuberance doesn’t stop there. Click the link to expand the chart and observe the bearish divergence sell signals that occurred at the 2000 and 2007 peaks, labeled (A) and (C), where higher highs in price were met with lower highs in stochastics. The same signal was just triggered at the May high this year and will likely recur if the Dow sneaks a new high in price into history to test the upper jaw line again. Regardless, the last two times risk of portfolio wipeout was this high were 2000 and 2007, and we can see what happened next: 35% and 50% Dow crashes, respectively; and 50% and 50% S&P 500 crashes. The crashes were even worse for the Nasdaq and Russell indices).

Must Read: 5 Rocket Stocks to Buy for End-of-Year Gains

What about that awesome rally on Friday? Well, looking at the internals, we notice that Friday’s 370-point rise occurred with a muted 65% of stocks advancing. This compares to Thursday’s decline of 252 points, when 81% of stocks declined. So, although the “manipulators” got the headlines, the story was told by the crowd.

Some common mistakes while choosing the right investment company:

There are plenty of investors out there who are looking for making the most out of the profits at this time of the year. But they often make several mistakes when it comes to choose the right kind of investment Company. Making mistakes is a part of the learning process.

However, sometimes plain common sense distinguishes an investor from the poor one while many beginner or experienced have made mistakes during the lack of common sense. It is not possible to be perfect all the time but as an investor you should be aware of some of the common investing errors. And if you want the solutions of coping up with these common mistakes then Spectrum Business Ventures could help you out. As a leading investment company, it always helps shows its clients the right path to success.

Using too much margin:

Margin is referred to the usage of borrowed money to purchase securities. The procedure can help you make more money. But if you do not use it wisely, it can also enhance your loss.

As a new investor you may become carried away with what appears like free money. You need to opt for an investment firm who can monitor your positions properly in order to use margin in the correct way. If you are wondering which would be the best company to choose from, knowing about some tips could help you out. Leading companies like Spectrum Business Ventures do provide the newbie with the proper guidance.

Setting up at too high of a valuation:

A high valuation may seem a good idea to opt for, but you could set yourself up for further problems by doing so. It can set huge expectations for ensuring funding rounds and that can be crucial to fulfill. You might find it hard to top your initial valuation as you have not grown into your valuation yet. That is why you need to plan the valuation in a proper way.

Not being careful while choosing the investment firm for your business:
Try to work with a limited number of investors. Managing a huge number of them could be troublesome when everyone may have different kinds of expectations and schedules. Amit Raizada, the CEO of Spectrum Business Ventures, could help you out with all of your queries regarding investing. This leading investment firm provides all their clients with the cutting edge solutions.

Selecting the wrong angel route:

If you are finding it difficult to choose the right kind of group, the best one would be a small one, with each person providing a big check. You could also try to choose people who have enough experience as angel investors. Spectrum Business Ventures could be the best guide for you if you are a beginner. This leading company is working with major business executives for a long time. You can fully trust this firm with your investments and ultimate success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales Training is an ongoing process that should not be ignored

As business is evolving, new products and services are being introduced every day. In order to keep in step with the fast pace of development of new products and services it is imperative that the sales force have to be trained regularly. This is primarily called product training but is usually included in the sales training modules. The commercial aspects of selling like pricing and special schemes that companies introduce every now and then have to be communicated to the sales force on time, hence the need for sales training. Any new marketing initiative that the company plans has to be communicated to the sales people and they have to be trained to implement it. Training is thus a way of life for sales people as there is always something new happening in the sales field. However, there is some basic training too, that have to be imparted to make salesmen more effective.

Failures are the pillars of success

According to Marty Hale, the reputed Management Consultant in the U.S.A. the most important training for sales people is how to handle reluctant customers. For those who are new in the sales profession are often turned off to hear ‘no’ from customers. They consider it to be a closed door whereas in reality, it is actually a prospective lead that can be turned into a positive sale if the right approach is taken. The initial failure can show the path to success. How the reluctance can be converted into sales opportunities is the subject of sales training. How perseverance and the right approach can convert negative feelings into positive sales is taught in the training.

Improving listening skills

In modern communication, listening is considered to be the most powerful tool. The problem with most sales people is that they are so much habituated in talking their way that they seldom care to listen what others have to say. This develops a syndrome of turning a deaf ear to customers, which creates a huge impediment for companies as they are unable to capture the right feedback from the market that can help to improve, products, services, pricing, packaging or any other thing that affects the sales of the product or service. Sales training can provide a cure to this problem. At the training sessions, sales people are taught to unlearn their earlier learning that emphasized on questioning others and now teaches them to become good listeners.

Improving negotiation skills

Another reason for sales training is to improve the negotiation skills of salesmen which are considered to be a basic for them. In all walks of life we engage in different kinds of negotiations and it is an important skill for salesmen. Since the skill apparently seems to be acquired easily, it actually requires structured learning and practice that can be attained through training.

Marty Hale points out that picking up buying signals at the right time is paramount for any salesman as this leads to closing the sale. Missing the opportunity can turn costly that can be averted through proper training.

 

 

Petroleum Wholesale Promotes Safe Driving

Safe driving is not an option but a responsibility. Do not you think that it is better to arrive later than arrive ugly? Driving safely is not only about your safety but for others too. Therefore, people need to understand how they can drive safely. Most of the people only think of under the influence of drugs driving cases, which is unsafe. However, in some cases, people who are tired can unintentionally doze off at the wheel. There are various reasons why you need to learn some tips of safety driving. You should not only avoid ‘drink and drive’ but should also avoid driving when you are tired.

Petroleum Wholesale is one of the innovatively designed fuel distributors. It is not a gas station where you just refuel your vehicle but a place where you can easily refuel yourself. This gas situation is an example of how innovation leads to success if you are dedicatedly following the steps.

This fuel distributor has been conducting its business since 1973 covering nine states of Western US. Starting with two jobberships in 1971, company has expanded its business. It has more than 200 properties and several outlets across the nation. Recently, this gas station has started hybrid retail concept wherein it started to offer hardware auto parts, premium cigars, fast food, apparel, and discount groceries to the people under one roof. Travelers can take rest and refuel their vehicles here. Moreover, there is a lot that this gas station offers, not only the fuel. Therefore, it is believed that in near future, it will be expanding its outlets in other cities because the aim is to make hybrid retail concepts popular among people so that travelers get the complete comfort.

How to drive safely?

Here comes the important aspect that need to be nailed out. When it comes to drive safely, it is not only meant that you avoid ‘under the influence of drugs driving’, it is always meant that you follow all traffic rules properly. Travelers who cover long distance usually need to understand importance of having sound sleep before they start their journey to particular place. It has been noted that drivers who do not take rests properly are prone to accidents. Therefore, it is very important for the drivers to understand some important aspects of safety while they drive.

  • You should avoid driving when you are tired. No matter how hard you try to drive, you will end up feeling sleepy.
  • If you are driving continuously, you need to take rests every 3 hours of journey. You need to pull over your vehicles in a safe place and take 15 minutes nap before starting your journey again.

Petroleum Wholesale ensures that travelers who visit its gas stations get complete rest and other items to rejuvenate themselves. The role of this hybrid retail concept is very innovative and commendable because travelers get required items when they stop by this gas station to fuel their vehicles. Safety is a paramount concern and one should follow the safety measures while they drive – for their as well as others’ safety concerns.

Is it Wise to Buy Auto Gap Cover from a Car Dealership?

There are different answers and different experiences on this subject, so we have to pick the side. And we picked our side. If you don’t have patience to read the whole article, we will say our opinion right away: No, we think it is not wise to buy an auto gap cover from your car dealer. As we said, we might not be right, but we think we have pretty much evidence that you should buy this auto gap cover from your insurance agent, not a car dealer.

You have probably been in the situation when your car dealer was offering you a perfect solution for your problems, and the name of this solution was, of course, gap insurance. Probably, these guys were trying to convince you to protect yourself because your brand new vehicle will lose its initial value quickly, meaning that you might have problems to pay for a replacement car if you ruin your vehicle in the accident or if someone steal it.  And it all sounds perfectly normal. You just need something that will bridge this huge gap between initial and current value of your car. This is especially a big problem for people who still owe a  big sum to a bank or leasing company.

Where to buy a gap cover?

You have two possibilities. One is to buy it from your car dealer and the second is to get it directly from the insurance company. People who don’t have enough experience opt for the first scenario. The biggest problem here is that car dealers have some really crazy prices for a gap cover. They charge these plans as it is some kind of the usual routine to them. This is the reason why people get surprised when they discover that they were “cheated”. In fact, nobody cheated them; it was their duty to check different options and see which one is best for them. On the other hand, it is something that could be expected. These car dealers are just middlemen when it comes to insurance and they have to collect their fees, don’t they. This is the reason why you should remove them for this “chain” and go where you should be in the first place.

Probably the best place to buy a gap cover for your vehicle is the insurance company. This is the right place where you should apply for a car protection plan. In most cases, you will not have to ask for it, they will offer it right after you sit in the chair. If you already checked the prices that are offered by car dealers, then you will know that you have made a right choice. If didn’t, make a phone call right now and compare prices. There is no need to believe us, believe what you hear with your ears.

Instead of conclusion

Gap insurance should be considered as an option only if you have a relatively new car (not older than one year) and if you think that you will need additional financial injection in the case of some unwanted situations (theft or accident).  Whatever you decide, we advise you to buy this gap cover from insurance companies.

 

Guide to the Hotel Jobs and Hospitality Industry.

Before you possibly relocate for hotel jobs or make a life changing job decision such as flinging in your old job, it is necessary that you know what the work involves in the hospitality industry, and what you can expect when applying for hotel jobs. There are several reasons why you may want to work in a hotel job or in the hospitality industry.

Hospitality is an international industry and there are millions of bars, hotels, restaurants, resorts, cruise ships, cafes, fast food outlets, pubs and coffee shops making the hospitality and hotel industry one the biggest proprietors on the earth. You can work anywhere in the world by gaining hospitality experience and especially with a hotel job, transfer your skills gained to any industry. Making it one of the biggest global employers, there are millions of hospitality workers in the world. There is a growing trend of enterprises offering higher rewards and becoming more flexible to encourage people in a hotel job and into the industry.

The managing director of investment company Imbardelli Holdings Limited, Patrick Imbardelli has spent his 30 years of his career in the hospitality industry. He has been influential in the establishment of market strategies for strengthening the operations of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, the InterContinental Hotels Group, and Hilton International in locations in the Asia and U.S.

In the hospitality industry, one of the world’s fastest growing sectors, some of the benefits of working in a hotel job include attaining valuable skills which will earn you money anyplace in the world. It is considered more flexible than your typical conventional job, allowing you to have fun while getting paid, fit work around your family responsibilities, decent way to earn extra money and often companies will provide meals, uniforms, and pension and incentive programs. In the Hotel industry, there are several simple ways for making the most towards a hotel management career. If you have exceptional communication skills, administrative skills, interpersonal skills, are prepared for the long hours working with and for people, and different pay scales of the hospitality industry, then hospitality is the right career for you.

To experience all departments of a hotel, training programs are a good way and to see which department you have a particular interest in including career in hotel management. Whether it is healthier for your career to stay within the company or move to another, you will need to decide. Hospitality recruiters value experience and diversity, however those who jump from job to job too often, they do not value. If you decide to work overseas, a good amount of time to stay for hotel management career jobs five to six years and in the company one year to a year and a half.

In his role as Chief Executive and President of PPHG or Pan Pacific Hotels Group in Singapore, Patrick Imbardelli has brought effective and new management plans and strategies to his firm. At the wheel of an expansive network of resorts and hotels across the Asia-Pacific Region and North America, Patrick Imbardelli impregnates his work at PPHG or Pan Pacific Hotels Group with lessons learned over the course of 30 very fruitful years in the hospitality industry.

Customized Shipping Labels to Ensure Accurate Delivery

bluerosepackaging4The last thing a business would want is to have a parcel return because of wrong address. This is quite frustrating and can spoil the reputation of your brand. To ensure that there is no issue with the parcel you send out, you can take the help of packaging companies that provide shipping labels. These labels are useful to ensure that the accurate address is mentioned on the package and the item reaches the appropriate recipient. This avoids almost all chances of causing any confusion which was quite possible otherwise.

The courier service that I own undertakes a lot of parcel work wherein we send out packaged goods to customers every now and then. Earlier I have faced issues when parcels have come back due to mentioning of wrong address. A few times, these boxes had address mentioned which were not clear. Due to this, they used to not reach the recipient and come back us. This created a bad image with my customers as they were angry that their parcels came back. This is when I got in touch with a professional packaging company that undertakes the activity of making customized shipping labels for businesses. I got to get the labels designed in the manner I want so that I get the desired look. The labels were available in various colors and designs and the company ensured to mention the correct address on the label. This ensured that the parcel reaches the right recipient without any delay or other issues.

Along with labels, the packaging company I deal with also offers shipping boxes. These are designed to be strong and sturdy enough to be able to transport numerous goods. With the help of these boxes, I could send across different kinds of items. These include fragile items too. I never faced any issues with sending out delicate items as these boxes ensured that they do not get damaged while being transport.

To provide better protection, I felt that boxes were not enough. Along with top quality shipping boxes, I decided to make use of bubble cushion. The packaging company offers quality bubble cushion which are great to pack items and place them in the box. This cushioning ensures that there is no damage caused to the goods in any manner, leading to maximum safety. These items are protected when they are being transported to any place. From the time I started dealing with a reputed packaging company, I am more confident of shipping goods to various places for all my customers. This has improved the reputation of my business as my customers trust that I will send their goods to recipients on time and in the right condition.

These boxes, labels and bubble cushion ensure that the parcel reaches the recipient in the same condition as they are sent out. These bubble cushions are available in numerous sizes so that you get to pick the one that best suits the item you want to send. Bubble cushioning is an amazing packing material and does not even cost

much.
Contact:
Charles Wainford
2950 Sunshine Wy
92807
USA
877.808.4698

European business is willing, but not equipped, for low carbon transition

Research from Climate-KIC reveals that most European business leaders have prepared strategies to respond to climate change, but with a lack of focus on innovation, those strategies are likely to be ineffective for a 2°C trajectory.

The study from Climate-KIC, the EU’s principal knowledge and innovation community focused on climate change is entitled, Sparking an Innovation Step Change. It analyses the readiness of C-level European business leaders to deploy radical innovation to turn climate change from a threat into an opportunity.

Most European business leaders, (63%) acknowledge the regulatory and physical risks posed by climate change. 63% also believe responding to climate change would drive growth as demand for environmentally sound products and services increases. To address the identified risk and opportunity, most businesses (59%) said they have a strategy to respond to climate change.

However, despite the positive ambitions of European business, only 3 in 10 (29%) see a large amount of scope to respond to climate change using innovative technologies and ways of working. Even less (14%) believe there is a large amount of scope to evolve their business model to reduce resource consumption and carbon emissions.

An even more concerning insight was that irrespective of climate change, over a third (35%) of respondents concluded that their market is not subject to external changes, so they do not need to incorporate any form of innovation.

Speaking from the Paris launch of the study, Bertrand van Ee, Chief Executive, Climate-KIC, said: “Innovation has played a critical role in most socioeconomic revolutions. Climate change is no exception. The science shows we need to reconfigure the economy in-line with the 2°C trajectory — and innovation must sit at the centre of the transition.

“Many businesses seem to have forgotten how to innovate, or are delaying innovation until they get a policy silver bullet. That strategy doesn’t reflect business’ understanding of the risks of climate change; or the realistic timelines to scale up radical innovations to turn the threat into an opportunity.”

Research & Development (R&D) departments are the critical business function for identifying and responding to the needs of the changing marketplace, so they were a key focus of the Climate-KIC study. Despite climate change appearing clearly on boardroom risk registers, R&D departments were found to lack the skills and resources to meet the challenges of a carbon constrained world.

· Less than 4 in 10 (38%) of R&D departments have sufficient expertise to respond to climate change

· Most firms (29%) invest between 10-20% of their budget in R&D, but nearly two-thirds (63%) only dedicate 5% or less of their R&D budget to innovation to respond to climate change

· 1 in 10 (11%) dedicate none of their budget to responding to climate change

Whilst R&D departments were the ‘least worst’ at understanding how to respond to climate change, the research also highlighted a severe lack of skills in other key business functions.

· Only 10% of accounting and finance teams, which are critical to forming corporate strategy, have climate change expertise

· 6% of Human Resources departments; i.e. those responsible for hiring personnel with skills to respond to climate change, understand it

The research also explored the barriers that have led to the addiction to incrementalism, as well as potential solutions to break that cycle. There was a clear signal to the COP21 negotiators that business needs the certainty to internalise the challenge of climate change in order to apply innovation to responding: only 3 in 10 (30%) said climate change regulation encouraged them to develop new innovation to respond to climate change.

Given the global scale of the climate challenge, the study explored the role of industry collaboration for enabling businesses to tackle common carbon-related issues.

· Two-thirds (65%) believe EU-level competition law has limited industry’s ability to collaborate and respond to climate change

· A third (33%) believe sharing costs and resources to improve efficiency and reduce emissions would enable them to respond effectively

· 32% believe sharing the results of tests and best practice related to improving efficiency and reducing emissions could enable them to respond effectively

Paul Simpson, CEO, CDP, which contributed to the Climate-KIC report, said: “Most companies, especially in the commodities space, cannot be seen to discuss or share ideas amongst themselves on carbon pricing as they could be called out for price fixing. Corporate law has been designed to prevent monopolies, but it can hold back sustainability. In my view, business needs to first collaborate to create a sustainable system — then compete.”

Climate-KIC’s experience as Europe’s largest collaboration community on climate change is that greater sharing of information can actually raise more competition, not limit it. The willingness of business to collaborate is a clear opportunity to evolve policy to encourage greater diffusion of radical innovation to address climate change.

Bertrand van Ee, Chief Executive, Climate-KIC, added: “Business has a choice, either to shape the needs and impacts of a zero carbon future, or to be shaped by it. Education is needed to equip business leaders with the knowledge and skills to shift them to a larger, “system-level” approach. Business must actively place themselves on an innovation journey; creating channels for radical innovation to flow into their operations, making them more resilient and equipped to seize first mover advantage.”

Scientists estimate that by deploying technologies business can potentially reduce the emissions intensity of industry by approximately 25%, with innovation reducing this by up to another 20 percent, before technological limits are approached in some energy-intensive sectors[1].

Hillary Clinton Attacks GOP Lawmakers in Wall Street Op Ed for New York Times

It wasn’t just Wall Street in Hillary Clinton’s cross-hairs Monday — the Democratic presidential contender also took aim at Republican lawmakers.

Clinton penned an op-ed in The New York Times Monday outlining her plans to rein in the financial sector. While the piece largely reiterates the reform strategy the former secretary of state outlined in October, it also targets for assault the GOP and its financial reform policies. Last time

She warns of GOP politicians in Congress and on the campaign trail who are “dead-set on rolling back critical financial protections” and pinpoints legislators who are “working to attach damaging deregulation riders” to the spending bill being hammered out this week.

“As president, I would not only veto any legislation that would weaken financial reform, but I would also fight for tough new rules, stronger enforcement and more accountability that go well beyond Dodd-Frank,” she writes.

Must Read: You Might Want to Name Your Next Baby Girl ‘Clinton’

She calls attention to the threat of defunding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is responsible for consumer protections in the financial sector, as part of the spending bill currently being debated. She also promises to appoint “tough, independent regulators” to the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission and to ensure both bodies are independently funded “so they can do their jobs without political interference.”

All are jabs at the GOP.

The CFPB, which has returned more than $10 billion to consumers over the past five years, has been under attack by the GOP essentially since it was put in place in 2010 under Dodd-Frank. Congressional Republicans have proposed that it should be funded through the Congressional appropriations process instead of by the Federal Reserve, as it is today (though unlike other financial regulators, its budget is capped).

“They say it’s unaccountable because it doesn’t have to justify its funding before Congress,” said James Kwan, associate law professor at the University of Connecticut.

Bills have been introduced in both houses to subject the CFPB to appropriations. Wisconsin Representative Sean Duffy introduced a bill proposing such reforms in March, and Georgia Senator David Perdue introduced another in May. Such a proposal is part of the proposed Financial Services and General Government appropriations bills that passed out of committee in both houses.

At the Wisconsin Republican presidential debate in November, GOP candidate Carly Fiorina targeted the CFPB as part of her critique of Dodd-Frank as an example of crony capitalism. She said the agency is a “vast bureaucracy with no congressional oversight that’s digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records to detect fraud” and warned that “this is how socialism starts.”

During the same debate, the American Action Network, a right-leaning “action tank,” aired a 30-second attack ad against the bureau. Clinton responded to the ad on Twitter.

The @CFPB protects borrowers from unfair and deceptive Wall Street practices. Attacks against it are unfounded and outrageous.

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 11, 2015

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who helped create the CFPB and is a frequent Wall Street critic, supported Clinton’s proposals in a Facebook post.

Unlike the CFPB, the SEC and CFTC are supported by Congressional appropriations, which Clinton hopes to change. But she won’t be able to do so without a fight from Republicans. GOP legislators have resisted funding increases to both regulatory agencies, drawing the ire of congressional Democrats and the White House.

“Republican appropriators in the House undercut the SEC and CFTC by refusing to adequately increase their funding, despite the fact that they are given significant new responsibilities under Dodd-Frank,” reads a July report from House Dems. They pointed to Republicans’ vote against an amendment that would have restored SEC funding to $1.7 billion and another against an amendment that would have restored funding to the CFTC to $280 million (both amounts were President Obama’s requests).

What Effects Would Clinton’s Regulations Have on Wall Street?

But what of the reforms themselves and the effects they might have on Wall Street?

Clinton has taken an increasingly tough stance on Wall Street regulation on the campaign trail, and given the stock market’s reactions to some of her statements, it appears a number of investors believe she has a good chance at making it to the Oval Office and enacting reforms. Should bankers be shaking in their boots?

“Basically, we have a system now where banks are doing whatever they want, and then they pay a fine. That’s just a cost of doing business. So, they may look at their cost of doing business going up, but the devil would be in the details,” said John Goodell, associate professor of finance at the University of Akron.

Appointing “tough regulators,” might help address Wall Street’s cozy relationship with government regulators, highlighted in the 2010 documentary Inside Job, has been criticized in the past by reformers who pointed out the flow of executives between finance industry firms and Washington agencies.

Current SEC Chair Mary Jo White, for instance, is a former securities lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton, whose specialties include mergers and acquisitions, syndicated loans and high-yield bonds. Christopher Cox, who held the same post under President George W. Bush, specialized in corporate finance and venture capital at Latham & Watkins before winning election to Congress.

Clinton has promised to impose a new risk fee on banks with more than $50 billion in assets — institutions like JPMorgan, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs — as well as “other systematically important financial institutions.”

“If that fee were high enough, then banks would have an incentive to become smaller, which would be good, because individually they wouldn’t pose as much risk,” said Kwan.

She has also pledged to make sure that when firms do pay fines, they admit wrongdoing. Banks have already paid quite a bit to make up for past mistakes. According to an analysis from University of Chicago finance professor Luigi Zingales, the financial sector paid $139 billion from January 2012 through December 2014 alone. Under a Clinton presidency with increased fees and fines, that number could very well go up.

While Clinton has promised to increase fines on big banks, what she does not have on her Wall Street agenda, at least explicitly, is breaking them up. She has declined to push for a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era rule that separated traditional banking from investment banking and was repealed under her husband’s watch in 1999.

In addition to the biggest banks, Clinton has also targeted what she calls the “shadow banking sector,” including hedge funds, investment banks and other institutions, which she says is another important facet of the problems on Wall Street today.

“My hunch, regarding the [big] banks, is that the reforms will not prevent bad behaviors but somewhat increase the cost of business for engaging in illegal activities. In other words, the fines might be larger,” Goodell said. “Regarding shadow banks such as hedge funds, there may be more potential for improvement as these entities have been less supervised in the past.”

Should Clinton be successful in gaining the presidency and reining in Wall Street, as she promises to do, there is no doubt there would be an impact on some of the biggest publicly traded companies in the country — and those they do business with; so, a large chunk of the economy. And while it may be costly for banks and their investors in the short term, there is hope that eventually the outlook would be more positive.

“These types of proposals can focus on long-term value and preventing harm. They will serve investors and the economy very well,” said Joe Valenti, director of consumer finance at progressive policy research and advocacy organization the Center for American Progress. “There’s an important piece here of encouraging a long game and also addressing the wide swath of financial actors and not just the big banks.”

Must Read: Positive Jobs Numbers Could Give Democrats Boost in 2016

Clinton in the Pocket of Wall Street?

To be sure, there are those who doubt Clinton’s sincerity about bringing any reform to Wall Street.

The former first lady’s relationship with the finance industry has been heavily scrutinized, especially in light of some of her campaign donations. An analysis of Federal Election Commission data, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows Clinton has received $5.9 million from Wall Street through the third quarter.

At the most recent Democratic presidential debate in November, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders characterized Clinton’s plans for Wall Street reform as “not good enough” and pinpointed the campaign funding issue.

“Here’s the story. Let’s not be naïve about it. Why over her political career has Wall Street been the major campaign contributor to Hillary Clinton? Maybe they’re dumb and they don’t know what they’re going to get, but I don’t think so,” he said.

Clinton made what some perceived as a bizarre defense of her Wall Street ties, invoking the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

“So, I represented New York, and I represented New York on 9/11, when we were attacked. Where were we attacked? We were attacked in downtown Manhattan, where Wall Street is,” she said. “I did spend a whole lot of time and effort helping them rebuild. That was good for New York. It was good for the economy, and it was a way to rebuke the terrorists who had attacked our country.”

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” aired in early December, Clinton defended her Wall Street donations. When asked by host Charlie Rose if she had taken money from the financial industry, she responded, “Yeah. But that has nothing to do with my positions. Anybody who thinks that they can influence me on the ground doesn’t know me very well.’

A number of Republican presidential contenders have received much more Wall Street money than Clinton. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who has raised more than $30 million, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz has received $12.5 million.

Bank of America Will Rise With Interest Rates

Shares of Bank of America (BAC – Get Report) have dropped about 2% in 2015 in what has been a fairly uninspiring year for big bank stocks. Jeanie Wyatt, CEO of South Texas Money Management, said Bank of America’s low valuation makes it a strong buy for the coming year.

“We like it because it’s the cheapest, and we think as interest rates rise — and they are going to rise moderately — that will benefit the big banks,” said Wyatt.

Bank of America trades at a price-to-earnings multiple of 11 times next year’s earnings and a price-to-book ratio of less than 1.

Wyatt is also positive on Disney (DIS – Get Report) , which has seen its stock rise 21% this year despite a 30% dive in August as a result of subscription losses at its sports network ESPN. Wyatt said Wall Street’s analyst community is underestimating the profit that Disney will derive from the coming Star Wars movie.

“We think it will be a very impactful movie and environment for Disney,” said Wyatt.

Shares of Vantiv  (VNTV – Get Report)  have surged 53% thus far this year and Wyatt said the payment processor could still move 20% higher as more fast-food restaurants adopt new electronic payment methods.

“Fast food is going to get faster in both the back and front-end of the house,” said Wyatt. “Vantiv is a company that does iPhone processing and payment processing so they are well-positioned for that.

Finally, shares of technology giant Microsoft (MSFT – Get Report) have jumped 20% year-to-date, breaking the $50 level for the first time in more than a decade. Wyatt said so-called Mister Softee could eclipse the $60 mark in the coming year as a result of improving earnings now that CEO Satya Nadella has the company moving like a well-oiled machine.

“They are getting their various operating units working well and so we expect revenue and earnings to be strong on a relative basis,” said Wyatt.

Here’s a Crazy Reason Why Your Future Car Might Not Need a Steering Wheel

Once self-driving cars become a reality we’ll all have to get used to vehicles without steering wheels. But there’s a different and surprising reason why some cars might soon go hands-free: Researchers in China have created the first car that’s operated by mind control.

Reuters explains the car uses electroencephalogram sensors to read signals from the driver’s brain, filter out the relevant ones and translate them into instructions for the car to move forward or in reverse or come to a stop, for example.

The Nankai University researchers said the original idea was to create a car for disabled people who were unable to steer one physically. Though they have a commercial car company partnering with them, they’re clearly still a long way from mind-controlled cars being sold to the public. But as a proof of concept, it’s only slightly less cool than a certain fictional Delorean’s airborne upgrades, that were, we recall, supposed to be available by 2015.

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Last week, Amazon (AMZN – Get Report) told us the Kindle Fire was going to China. Today, the Kindle news is closer to home: Amazon launched its Fire HD 8, which it calls its “Readers Edition.”

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Which, considering that all Kindles are fundamentally e-book readers, makes you wonder what the non-“reader’s editions” are about. But there are some fairly cool new features on the device beside its spiffy limited-edition leather cover. For $249.99 you also get a year of Kindle Unlimited, with access to more than one million books, plus a big 8-inch screen, super-thin and light, and new audiobook and dynamic speed-reading functions.

Personally, I’m most impressed with Amazon’s new “Blue Shade” technology, a feature that allows you to reduce the amount of blue-wavelength light the device emits. Why should you care? Because that’s the spectrum of light that essentially tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, which in turn makes it harder for you to fall asleep after you’ve been staring at it. Read in bed with less blue light shining off the screen and you should find it easier to snooze quickly once you’re done.

There’s more to the new device, of course, but this isn’t a commercial. If you’re curious, go read more at Amazon.com.$669.83.


Netflix (NFLX – Get Report) may be the king of streaming video in the U.S. but MarketWatch reported today that its stock took a hit after Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the company has been hitting turbulence in its international expansion efforts.

The issue, Sarandos said at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York, is essentially a political one. Studios and networks are used to selling licensing rights to by region. Netflix wants to buy globally, and it’s facing some pushback as a result.

All Eyes on Costco’s Latest Quarterly Results

In “What to Watch on Wall Street” for Tuesday Dec. 8, TheStreet will highlight several companies that are set to release their latest financial results.

We’ll begin Tuesday morning with AutoZone (AZO) and Toll Brothers (TOL – Get Report) reporting their earnings before the market opens. In the afternoon we’ll hear from Costco Wholesale (COST – Get Report) Dave & Buster’s (PLAY) , and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD – Get Report) .

The big one to watch for is Costco. Wall Street analysts are expecting the warehouse retailer to deliver $1.17 a share on revenue of over $27.5 billion. Earnings are projected to be higher compared to a year ago, while sales are estimated to decline. During the same period a year ago, the company earned $1.12 a share on revenue of $26.87 billion.

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Costco recently reported its same-store sales results for November. Even though comparable sales were flat, results still beat analysts’ estimates.

Must Read: Jim Cramer’s ‘Mad Money’ Recap: Time to Sit on the Sidelines, Again

Overall, analysts are optimistic on Costco even though the retail sector is seeing some challenges. The company has consistent traffic at its stores and a  steady income stream through its membership program.

TheStreet’s Portfolio Analyst Scott Berman said, “I think investors are aware of where Costco sits because they release their sales reports each month. So I think it’s going to be important to pay attention to the commentary on trends for the Christmas buying season and gas and currency impacts.

“The real interesting thing is that the market is very bullish on them right now and their valuation is at a premium. So if there’s a disappointment in their commentary, we could see the stock fall down, but I don’t expect that.”

Additionally, there are two major economic reports to pay attention to on Tuesday –the Redbook and the job openings and labor turnover survey.

FTC Challenges Staples-Office Depot Merger

With the FTC dealing a major blow to the proposed merger of Staples (SPLS – Get Report) and Office Depot (ODP – Get Report) , the biggest loser will likely end up being its biggest player, Staples.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint charging that the proposed deal would violate antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition nationwide in the market for “consumable” office supplies sold to large business customers. Further, the complaint alleges that by eliminating the competition between Staples and Office Depot, the transaction would lead to higher prices and reduced quality.

“The commission has reason to believe that the proposed merger between Staples and Office Depot is likely to eliminate beneficial competition that large companies rely on to reduce the costs of office supplies,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

In a statement, Staples said it intends to contest the FTC’s attempt to block the deal. An administrative trial to decide on whether the deal can go through is scheduled to begin on May 10, 2016.

To help temper the concerns of regulators and win approval, the companies had said they would sell off Office Depot assets with revenues of up to $1.25 billion. Nevertheless, Wall Street continues to be skeptical that the deal will proceed, with Office Depot’s stock falling about 39% since Staples disclosed its offer. On Monday, Office Depot shares fell another 15% to $5.62 on doubts about the deal, well below the offer price of $11 a share.

Meantime, Staples shares have lost roughly 32% since the deal was first announced, and were down an additional 11% on Monday.

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With Staples likely to miss out on acquiring Office Depot for the second time (a previous bid in 1997 was squashed by regulators), Staples stands to lose on several fronts. Right off the bat, Staples would become poorer. As part of the merger agreement, if regulators do not approve the deal due to antitrust concerns, Staples would be forced to pay a $250 million breakup fee to Office Depot.

That’s money that could be spent on continuing to close under-performing Staples stores in the U.S., or investing in lower prices for consumers. Instead, the money will fill the coffers of a smaller competitor, who may then seek to offer promotions on office supplies or ramp up their marketing to take business from Staples.

But the real concern for Staples stretches beyond having to cut a competitor a hefty-sized check.

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Staples needs Office Depot to increase its market share in what has become a highly competitive office supplies market. Walmart (WMT – Get Report) and Target (TGT – Get Report)  are selling more office supplies now in physical stores and online, while Amazon (AMZN – Get Report)  hawks office products to a growing base of customers on the web.

By becoming the dominant office supplies destination in the U.S., Staples would have a greater chance of competing with its brick-and-mortar foes such as Walmart and Target, and reversing otherwise dreadful same-store sales results. Shuttering overlapping Staples and Office Depot stores would also free up money for Staples to invest in more competitive prices both in stores and online, and thwart advances by Amazon.

Increased competition has taken a heavy toll on Staples. According to research firm Euromonitor, the U.S. market for office supplies sold in stores has been in a protracted decline since 2007 and totaled $11.7 billion in 2014. Staples’ market share fell to 38.2% in 2014 from 40.6% in 2013, estimates Euromonitor.

Staples’s U.S. same-store sales fell 2% in the third quarter owing to declines in tablets, computers, tech accessories, and ink and toner. For the year, Staples earnings –excluding items — have dropped to 63 cents a share, from 66 cents year earlier, with sales lower by 6.2% to $15.7 billion.

If Tesla Can’t Beat the Competition in Netherlands, What About Elsewhere?

If you want a preview of how Tesla might fare as more competition enters the electric car market, look no further than the Netherlands — but brace yourself for what you are about to see, especially if you’re a hopeful Tesla (TSLA – Get Report) investor.

The Netherlands is the second-largest market for electric cars in Europe, after Norway, which has generous subsidies to encourage mass adoption.

Netherlands reports monthly car sales promptly at the conclusion of each month. These are the results for plug-in electric vehicles in November:

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  1. Mitsubishi Outlander 889
  2. Volvo XC90 T8 714
  3. Volkswagen Passat GTE 692
  4. Mercedes C350e 650
  5. Volkswagen Golf GTE 560
  6. Audi A3 eTron 451
  7. Volvo V60 438
  8. BMW X5 40e 244

Did you notice something about that list? Tesla isn’t on it. Tesla, the pioneering luxury electric vehicle company, was not one of the eight best-selling plug-in cars in Netherlands in November.

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Year-to-date, however, Tesla is No. 6, with 1,613 cars sold through November. What does that mean? That Tesla has been losing plug-in market share month-over-month in 2015.

But what about Tesla’s absolute sales numbers? In a growing market, you can lose market share while still growing in absolute terms, right?

The answer is that Tesla’s sales in Netherlands have been relatively flat in 2015, with some minor fluctuations from month to month, quarter to quarter:

First quarter: 407 cars

Second quarter: 478 cars

Third quarter: 409 cars

Fourth quarter, through November: 302 cars

In other words, Tesla’s sales have been approximately 150 cars per month, 450 cars per quarter, very consistently throughout 2015 thus far, with one month of the year left to go. It’s in this market of flat sales for Tesla, that it’s gone from No. 6 for the year as a whole, to No. 8 in November.

If the November sales trends continue in December, both the Volvo XC90 T8 as well as the Volkswagen Passat GTE should be approximately tied with Tesla for the full-year number, all of them ending the year close to 1,900 cars. As a result, Tesla Model S should end the year in sixth, seventh or eigth place in the Netherlands plug-in sales statistics.

$13.9 Billion Mega-Deal Persuades Keurig Green Mountain to Go Private

Keurig Green Mountain (GMCR – Get Report) , the maker of beverage dispensers for the mass market, has agreed to be acquired by a JAB Holding-led investor group for about $13.9 billion, the two companies announced Monday morning.

The Luxembourg-based private equity firm will take the Waterbury, Vt.-based company private for $92 per share in cash, a 77.9% premium over the target’s closing stock price of $51.70 on Dec. 4.

As of Nov. 13, Keurig had total outstanding shares of about 148.9 million, according to a 10-K filed on Nov. 19. At $92 per share, that would equate to nearly $13.7 billion. It also had cash and cash equivalents of nearly $60 million and restricted cash and cash equivalents of about $30 million as of Sept. 26, as well as outstanding debt of about $330 million and capital lease obligations and financing obligations of around $120 million, giving the company an enterprise value of close to $14.1 billion.

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The offer, however, is below Keurig’s 52-week-high of over $141 per share. The company’s stock has been battered due to increased competition and questions around its devices, such as the launch of an expensive new cold-brewing system for making soda drinks at home.

Must Read: Jim Cramer Likes Keurig Coffee Deal, Says Buy Amazon, Hormel

In Monday trading, Keurig’s stock was up about 72% on the news pegged at $89.15 per share.

JAB said it is teaming up with the same strategic minority investors who participated in the acquisition of Jacobs Douwe Egberts, including Mondelez International (MDLZ – Get Report) , as well as BDT Capital Partners and those affiliated with the firm.

Keurig as a private company will continue to be operated as an independent company, according to the announcement.

The investment by JAB is not the first in the sector, as it has made a number of coffee plays in recent years, including the purchase for approximately €7.5 billion, which at the time was the equivalent of $9.8 billion, of D.E. Master Blenders in 2013.

Then in 2014, D.E. Master Blenders combined with the coffee unit of Mondelez, paying the cookie and cracker maker $5 billion and a 49% stake in the newly formed Jacobs Douwe Egberts.

Bart Becht, chairman of JAB, said in a statement, “Keurig Green Mountain represents a major step forward in the creation of our global coffee platform. It is a fantastic company that uniquely brings together premium coffee brands and new beverage dispensing technologies like the famous Keurig single-serve machine.”

Coca-Cola (KO – Get Report) , which bought a 10% stake in Keurig for almost $1.3 billion, is also supportive of the deal.

“The Coca-Cola Company is fully supportive of this transaction,” said Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, in a statement. “We have enjoyed a strong partnership with Keurig Green Mountain, and will continue our collaboration with JAB in order to capitalize on the growth opportunities in the single-serve, pod-based segment of the cold beverage industry,” he added.

This German-Based Biotech Juggernaut Will Be Unstoppable in Europe’s Coming Revival

The European Union certainly has its share of headline-grabbing problems: the worst migrant crisis since World War II; terrorist attacks; indebted countries such as Greece; and sluggish growth. But as Warren Buffett once said with characteristic understatement, Europe “is going to be around.”

Turn your back on Europe and you’re leaving serious money on the table. Several clear signs now point to a European revival in the making — and we’ve pinpointed an undervalued German-based “blue-chip” biotech that’s one of your best profit-making opportunities right now on the continent. It’s among a group of undervalued growth stocks set to soar in the coming year.

Last Friday in a speech to some of Wall Street’s biggest players, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi underscored his determination to do whatever it takes to stimulate the eurozone’s moribund economy, including an extension of the ECB’s current program of buying about 60 billion euros worth of bonds each month until at least March 2017.

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The U.S., China and emerging markets tend to hog the financial limelight, but consider the following: The economy of the European Union was generating a nominal gross domestic product of about 14.303 trillion euros a year ($18.451 trillion at the time) as of an International Monetary Fund report in 2014. That would make it the largest national economy in the world if it were treated as a single country.

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Based in the EU’s economic powerhouse of Germany, drug giant Bayer AG (BAYRY) (BAYN: Frankfurt) is a powerhouse of its own. The company develops, produces and markets more than 5,000 health care, pharmaceutical and agricultural products worldwide.

With a market cap of $106 billion, Bayer has a promising pipeline of current and potential blockbuster products; monetary stimulus should act as a shot of adrenaline for a company that’s already positioned for growth.

As a flood of patent expirations con­tinue to shake up the drug industry, the future winners will be those with the strongest drug development pipe­lines and the most innovative treat­ments.

A robust pipeline is vital for pharmaceutical companies, because it can take about 20 years and $1 billion to create a new drug and usher it through the byzantine testing and approval process.

Another hurdle is patent expiration. Drug patents last for 20 years from the date of application; postexpiry treatments must contend with fierce competition from low-priced generic copies.

Biotech companies are known for product innovation, but they’re also notorious for showing great promise and then crashing and burning, either because they couldn’t get their drugs through the regulatory gauntlet or because they ran out of cash.

Why You Should Dump These 3 Large-Cap

Often investors lose sight of the big picture, entranced by the lure of double-digit dividends. But every meteoric income-graph has an underlying story that warrants a wary eye.

We flag three such stocks that are enormous yield-generators but have lost their sheen with a dismal market performance over the last year. They belong to an entire group of horrible stocks that are poised for collapse in 2016.

ETP data by YCharts

1. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP – Get Report)

Energy Transfer Partners is a natural gas company. Its activities include intrastate transportation and storage, midstream services as well as retail marketing.

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As with most oil and gas utilities, 2015 has been a difficult year for the company, with a year-to-date fall of near 40%. There are several major issues plaguing the oil major (its five-year market yield is at a woeful -24%). Even trailing returns have been lower than both the oil and gas midstream index and the S&P total returns index by big margins.

The current dividend yield of 10.92% is a non-event in the prevailing scenario.

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Most analysts’ estimates reveal a disappointing landscape with sales and profit figures revised substantially downwards from a year ago. Revenues for the full year ending December 2015 have been scaled down to $41.13 billion (from $58.11 billion in 2014) while revenues for December 2016 should be even lower, at $39.95 billion.

Revenues have reflected a declining trend in the last five quarters with the most recent quarter being the worst with a drop of 57% to $6.6 billion from $ 11.54 billion.

The company’s current price-to-earnings ratio of 70.3 is way above the industry average of 40.4 and 19.3 for the S&P 500. It also looks highly unsustainable going forward in the context of a challenging environment in the oil and gas sector and the resultant adjustments required in investments, costs and expenses for almost all major oil and gas companies. Further, Energy Transfer Partners is also battling a higher debt management risk and a weakening profit outlook. This energy stock offers a high yield, but it’s among several investment dangers now lurking in this volatile market.

Perfectly Legal but Commonly Ignored Tax Deductions and Credits

Rap artist Dr. Dre once said, “The only two things that scare me are God and the IRS.” Yes, preparing and paying your income tax can be a scary proposition, and December is the month when many investors start to fret about their taxes. You should follow the letter of the law, but you shouldn’t overpay the IRS, either.

Fact is, taxes make it harder for you to reach your financial goals, by steadily eroding your income and investment earnings. As part of your long-term strategy to build up your net worth, you should do everything you can to legally minimize the taxes you pay.

That means you shouldn’t let the deductions and credits you deserve slip through the cracks. It’s hard to believe that while many folks love to complain about taxes, those same people may be failing to take advantage of the many legal tax breaks available to them. Come tax time, don’t needlessly cheat yourself.

Maintaining tax-smart records is always a good idea. Keeping track of your deductible expenses will save you from a world of pain if the IRS decides to audit you. Nowhere is incomplete record keeping more deadly than in an audit because without documentation, any of these deductions are likely to be disavowed by the IRS in an audit. That means, when applicable, you should pay by check and credit card, or insist on cash receipts.

I recently spoke with a few accountants, who told me that the following tax deductions and credits are the most commonly overlooked by their clients:

1) Reinvested dividends.

If you’re set up to have mutual fund dividends automatically plowed into buying more shares, don’t forget that each reinvestment boosts your tax basis in the fund. That, in turn, lowers the taxable capital gain (or increases the tax-saving loss) when you redeem shares. Neglecting to factor reinvested dividends into your basis results in double taxation of the dividends, once in the year when they were paid to you and reinvested, and afterwards when they’re included in the sales proceeds.

2) Job-seeking costs.

The unemployment rate in the U.S. is now at a relatively low 5%, but that figure masks “underemployment.” Millions of people are still looking for work, perhaps you’re one of them. You can deduct several aspects of any job hunt, including transportation expenses, food and lodging, employment agency fees, costs of printing a resume, etc.

3) Deduction of Medicare expenses for the self-employed.

The rise of home-based businesses is a huge but underrated trend that’s transforming the U.S. economy. Many factors are fueling this “megatrend,” including the flexibility of the Internet, the emergence of new technological tools, the nonconformism of Millennials, and the corporate downsizing of baby boomers who aren’t ready to go out to pasture. This is the new face of retirement in America.

It all adds up to a big paradigm shift. People who run their own businesses after qualifying for Medicare can deduct the premiums they pay for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D, in addition to the expense of supplemental Medicare policies or the cost of a Medicare Advantage plan.

4) Child-care credit.

You can qualify for a tax credit worth between 20% and 35% of what you pay for child care while you work. A “credit” is considerably more beneficial than a deduction, because it lowers your tax bill dollar for dollar. So ignoring this credit is even worse than missing a deduction that simply lowers the amount of income that’s subject to tax.

5) Mortgage refinancing points.

When you purchase a house, you can deduct the points paid to obtain your mortgage. When you refinance, you must deduct the points on the new loan over the life of the loan. You can deduct 1/30th of the points a year if it’s a 30-year mortgage.

Nordstrom Boosts Omnichannel Efforts With Investment in Shoe Start-Up

Continuing its commitment to investing in new shopping models, Nordstrom (JWN – Get Report)  is backing a startup called Shoes of Prey, which lets shoppers create their own customized shoes.

Nordstrom has already partnered with Shoes of Prey since earlier this year on physical design studios within six Nordstrom locations, plus a dedicated section on Nordstrom.com for Shoes of Prey.

But now Nordstrom is putting its money behind the partnership as a part of a $15.5 million series of funding for Shoes of Prey. BlueSky Venture Capital, Greycroft, and Khosla Ventures also participated in the round, which brings Shoes of Prey’s total funding to $24.6 million.

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Shoes of Prey was founded in 2009 and has since sold more than five million customized shoes. Its customers have the ability to choose the style, heel height, material, color, size, and width of every pair of shoes they purchase.

The startup will use its new funding to ramp up its omnichannel efforts and to expand into new categories like women’s handbags.

Shoes of Prey aligns with Nordstrom’s emphasis on blending the worlds of digital and physical in retail.

“Nordstrom has shown an affinity for investing in and testing newer trends and capabilities in retailing as seen in their acquisition of Trunk Club and flash sale site Haute Look,” said Bridget Weishaar, an analyst at Morningstar.

Nordstrom acquired the menswear startup Trunk Club last year for $350 million in stock. Similar to Birchbox, Trunk Club periodically sends customers a selection of custom-picked clothing to choose from. They can then return the items they don’t like.

Previously, Nordstrom acquired the flash sales site Hautelook in 2011 for $180 million in stock.

Weishaar said she wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Nordstrom acquiring Shoes of Prey down the line.

“In my opinion, this investment makes perfect sense for them,” Weishaar added. “Given Nordstrom’s relatively upper-middle class, computer savvy, clientele, I think this is a good investment and will keep them ahead of the curve in retailing trends.”

And while the investment may not have a huge impact on near-term performance at Nordstrom, Weishaar said, “It could draw in new customers or help convert existing customers and result in some increase in sales.”

Nordstrom has promised to spend $1.2 billion of its $3.9 billion capital budget — nearly 31% — on e-commerce technology between 2014 and 2018. Stifel analyst Richard Jaffe estimates online purchases made up 15.1% of Nordstrom’s total sales in 2014, and will make up 17.2% in 2015.

“We want to serve customers in many different ways to deliver highly relevant experiences,” Scott Meden, Executive Vice President and General Manager-Merchandise of Shoes at Nordstrom, said in a statement. “With personalization becoming more important to how the customer views good service, it’s important for us to find opportunities to stay increasingly relevant. Shoes of Prey offers us a way to enhance and deliver a great customer service experience that aligns well with our strategic vision and long-term goals as a company.”