Monday, March 30, 2015

Renewing McDonald's

Change may be coming to a McDonald's near you.The storied fast food chain is seeking to reinvent itself in light of declining sales worldwide.It wants to be seen as a modern,progressive burger chain,in line with such peers as its former subsidiary Chipotle's,Burger King and Wendy's.Table service is being introduced in Germany.Other updates being tried are customised burgers;less antibiotics in chicken;digital ordering kiosks;and all-day breakfast food.
CEO Steve Easterbrook was brought on to spearhead the new direction,replacing Don Thompson as of 1 March.He will be focusing on turnarounds in the US,Germany,Australia and Japan.Easterbrook,who is British,had been chief brand officer before assuming his new position.Earlier in his career,he had been a McDonald's manager in London before leaving the firm to lead British casual dining chains PizzaExpress and Wagamama.Mr.Easterbrook returned to McDonald's in 2013 as head of UK and Northern Europe,and was credited with an uptick in UK sales.
McDonald's shares closed at 97.83 in New York on Monday,up 0.90%.*
McDonald's (MCD)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Biogen IDEC Changes Name,But Gets Downgrade Anyway

Biogen has dropped the IDEC from its name as of today,Monday 23 March,and is getting a new logo as well.It added IDEC when it merged with IDEC Pharmaceuticals 12 years ago.*
Today we are a new company,distinct from either parent,and we hope to not only carry on our heritage of excellence,but to forge new ground,said CEO Dr.George Scangos.0ur name is intended to acknowledge our heritage,but also to create a new image to reflect our new reality.*
The Cambridge,Massachusetts-based firm has a market cap of around 112 billion dollars and a staff of 7550.Last week the company announced a successful early stage trial for a drug that slows the progression of early stage Alzheimer's disease.A third of the patients with a gene that makes them susceptible to developing Alzheimer's had to discontinue the treatment because of brain swelling,however.Still,Biogen is going directly to a late stage trial,aiming to have the drug on the market by 2020.It has been estimated the new drug,BIIB037,could bring in more than 10 billion dollars at peak revenue.
Biogen is already known for its effective multiple sclerosis therapies,but now aims to find a cure for the ailment,and even for ALS,or Lou Gehrig's disease.It sees itself as a neurodegenerative disease specialist.
Biogen is also working on a number of biofamiliar drugs,the equivalent of generics for off-patent biotech drugs.It is seeking European approval for biofamiliars it ha developed for Amgen's Enbrel and Johnson and Johnson's Remicade,both of which are rheumatoid arthritis treatments.
Biogen stock was downgraded by Stiefel Financial from buy to hold on concern that it is overvalued because definitive data for the Alzheimer's drug will not be in before 2018.Citi maintained its buy rating on the firm,and Barclays maintained its overweight on the company,although Biogen's price targets have already been exceeded.The expensive stock was going for 469.71 this morning,down 1.34%.*
Biogen (BIIB),iShares Biotechnology ETF (IBB)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Strong Dollar,Appreciation Recasts Investing Strategies

Chipmaker Qualcomm will buy back 15 billion in stock,10 billion of that over the next 12 months.It has 31.6 billion in cash on hand,and will increase its dividend by 14%.It is contemplating a debt issue plus use cash for the buyback.Shareholders have been pushing for this bigger return on investment.Along with this accelerated repurchase,the company has just announced some new chips that are going to be important to its business.*
General Motors will be executing a five billion dollar stock buyback in the near term.*
The soaring US dollar makes it the worst of times for big American companies with an overseas presence,said Larry Glazer of Mayflower Advisors.There's actually a shortage of stocks out there.You have to change your investment strategy.Ultimately,the strong dollar is a good thing,but a volatile currency is not a good thing.It is hurting the emerging markets.*
Small cap stocks,as well as domestically-oriented US companies and European stocks,which have not appreciated nearly as much as US issues in recent years,are being recommended in these conditions.Margins of the big multinationals are likely to be hit by the strong dollar.*
iShares Small Cap Core ETF (IJR),iShares S&P Europe 350 Index Fund (IEV),Qualcomm Inc (QCOM)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Image of the Year: Billion-Year Old 'Black Widow' Pulsar Ripping Through Milky Way at 1 Million KPH

Image of the Year: Billion-Year Old 'Black Widow' Pulsar Ripping Through Milky Way at 1 Million KPH

Exploring Dwarf Planet Ceres:NASA,Spacecraft and Industry

On Friday 6 March,NASA's Dawn spacecraft became the first spacecraft in history to orbit a dwarf planet.At 07:39 ET,Dawn began orbiting dwarf planet Ceres,which is in the Main Asteroid Belt,between Mars and Jupiter.Dawn called home to Mission Control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,California to say it was in good health and its ion propulsion engine,one of the first to be tested,was thrusting it into orbit.Principal Investigator Chris Russell of the University of California Los Angeles expressed his exhilaration at hearing the news.Also partnering in the mission are the German Aerospace Center;the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research;the Italian Space Agency;and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute.
Formerly classified as an asteroid,Ceres was elevated to dwarf planet status in 2006;while Pluto was demoted from planet to dwarf planet.The average diameter of Ceres is 590 miles.An icy world,it has craters and bright spots on its surface that are not well understood.Dawn will emerge from Ceres' dark side in April and spiral down for ever-closer photos and measurements.When the mission ends in 2016,Dawn will continue to orbit Ceres,which is 3.1 billion miles from Earth.Dawn first explored the giant asteroid Vesta from 2011-13 before going on to Ceres.*
Orbital ATK,based in Dulles,Virginia,designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.Dawn's ion propulsion system,a deep space engine system,is the next step in propulsion technology.The system is called the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster,or NEXT.Dawn's engines ionise,or charge,Xenon fuel atoms and accelerate these ions out of the back using high voltage.NASA says the ion propulsion system's efficient use of fuel and electrical power enable modern spacecraft to travel farther,faster and cheaper.The systems are use for stationkeeping on communications satellites and for main propulsion on deep space probes.*
Orbital Sciences and Alliant Techsystems completed their merger into Orbital ATK on 10 February.The company's more than 12,000 employees are spread across three divisions:
1.Flight Systems Group in Chandler,Arizona-4500 employees.
2.Defense Systems Group in Baltimore,Maryland-4900 employees.
3.Space Systems Group in Dulles,Virginia-2700 employees.
Besides space probes and other satellites,the company produces the Antares rocket and Cygnus cargo spacecraft under contract to NASA for the International Space Station.Its other products include antennae and radomes;munitions and weapons;as well as rocket engines,missile components and defence electronics.*
Orbital ATK Inc (ATK)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Major League Baseball Updates Itself-plus Alex Rodriguez returns

Our new pace of play rules show the game is trying to be responsive to what we're hearing from our fans,said Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred to reporters at his spring training news conference.I certainly want to stop the trend of increasing length of the game.I'm hoping to have game lengths that begin with a two,rather than a three.Among the new rules are:
1.The manager should request replays from the dugout,either verbally or by hand signal,and within 20-30 seconds after the umpire's call.
2.The batter must keep his feet in the batter's box at all times-no more wandering around between pitches.
3.Play will resume promptly after TV commercial breaks.
I have said repeatedly that pace of play is going to be an ongoing evolution.Youth will continue to be a focus of ours going forward.We need to make sure that all kinds of kids are engaging in the game at an early age.Youth participation is the single biggest determinant of the avidity of a fan.We see the issues of attracting a younger audience and the pace of the game as being interrelated.You have to enhance the fan experience with technology,because tech is what holds their attention most completely.
As to Alex Rodriguez returning to the New York Yankees after his suspension for using performance enhancing drugs,I am anxious to see the focus be on how he performs on the field.We've had enough focus on Alex Rodriguez's activities off the field.
We're really nowhere with our preferences and priorities about the lack of offense issue,becuase we aren't sure we have a problem yet.
We did not have a single serious collision at home plate instance all of last season,and from my point of view,that's a success.
What I believe about the Oakland Athletics is that the A's need a new stadium.I don't believe the stadium they're playing in,Oakland Coliseum,is of major league quality.I have not had talks with the A's-including the Fisher family-indicating that I would like to see that happen as quickly as possible.*
Alex Rodriguez reported to spring training early.I made a mistake,A-Rod told reporters at the Yankees training camp.I served a big penalty personally and professionally.I feel good.Right now I'm just focusing on making this team.What it reminds me of is,when I was 18 years-old trying to make Lou Pinella's team.