Earnings Call Digest 2017.08

Apple (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Services revenue hit an all-time quarterly record of $7.3 billion representing 22% growth over last year. We continue to see great performance all around the world with double digit growth in each of our geographic segments. Over the last 12 months, our services business has become the size of a Fortune 100 company, a milestone we’ve reached even sooner than we had expected.

Sales of Apple Watch were up more than 50% in the June quarter and it’s the number one selling smartwatch in the world by a very wide margin.

We’re also seeing incredible enthusiasm for AirPods with 98% customer satisfaction based on Creative Strategy’s survey. We had increased production capacity for AirPods and are working very hard to get them to customers as quickly as we can, but we are still not able to meet the strong level of demand.

We are very focused on autonomous systems from a core technology point of view. We do have a large project going and are making a big investment in this. From our point of view, autonomy is the mother of all AI projects. And the autonomous systems can be used in a variety of ways and a vehicle is only one.

The App Store was a major driver of this performance. And according to App Annie’s latest report, it continues to be by a wide margin the preferred destination for customer purchases, generating nearly twice the revenue of Google Play. Revenue from our Apple Music streaming service and from iCloud storage also grew very strongly. And across all of our Services offerings, the number of paid subscriptions reached over 185 million, an increase of almost 20 million in the last 90 days alone.


Square (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

One of the drivers of our results is our work on automation, which I mentioned is an area of increased focus for us this year. Automation has always been a core differentiator for us. We’ve used machine learning and data science to manage risk since the beginning of Square. We’re constantly looking for ways to make our services more automated and more self-serve and machine learning is perfect for that.

First, automation allows us to give more people access to the financial system. More than 90% of sellers are automatically approved and self-onboard to process payments, and we’re able to onboard individuals to Square Cash with just a zip code and an e-mail address or phone number. We’ve extended this approach to risk management in Square Capital to provide financing to the underserved.

Second, automation helps us scale as we grow. For example, we currently automate risk assessment for more than 99.95% of transactions. We’re also able to make improvements to our manual handling; our fraud models have already allowed us to resolve 40% more cases every week, compared to beginning of the year.

And third, automation allows us to help our sellers grow. You can see this in our unique suite of CRM tools. We leverage our deep understanding of the customer to build marketing and loyalty programs that are easy to use, measurable and effective. Our loyalty programs are tracked and managed by Square point-of-sale and our technology automatically recommends programs optimized for the seller’s particular business.

Subscription and services-based revenue nearly doubled on a year-over-year basis as Instant Deposits, Caviar and Square Capital all benefited from stronger adoption, both within our installed-based and for bringing new customers to the Square ecosystem.


Tesla (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

What we have ahead of us, of course, is an incredibly difficult production ramp. Nonetheless, I think we’ve got a great team, and I’m very confident that we will be able to reach a production rate of 10,000 vehicles per week towards the end of next year. And we remain – we believe on track to achieve a 5,000 unit week by the end of this year.

So, if you can sort of see where we came from, the Roadster – we were making only 600 units a week where the non-powertrain portion of the car was made by Lotus. And we did the powertrain and final assembly of the car, and then we went from that to 20,000 units a year of the Model S, a far more complex car, where we did the whole thing. And then with Model 3, we are more vertically integrated. I think people should really not have any concerns that we will reach that outcome from a production rate.

…We’re also thinking hard about, where do we put Gigafactorys three, four, five and six? We expect to keep the majority of our production in the U.S., but it’s, obviously, going to make sense to establish a Gigafactory in China and Europe to serve the markets there, because it’s not to build cars in California and truck them halfway around the world, particularly when you’re trying to make things as affordable as possible – that really hurts. We really want to make our cars as affordable as possible. And so that does require some amount of local market production, particularly for the mass market vehicles in order to make it as accessible as possible.

Model Y, or our compact SUV – it’s called Model Y. It may or may not be – would be a totally new architecture. Upon the council of my executive team – thank you. Thanks, guys – who reeled me back from the cliffs of insanity – much appreciated – the Model Y will in fact be using a substantial carryover from Model 3 in order to bring its market faster. Yes. So that will really accelerate our ability to get to Model Y to market faster, because fundamentally people prefer a sedan, people prefer an SUV. And in fact, the SUV market is larger. It’s the biggest single product I believe in the world.


Tableau Software (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

With subscription, our customers get the full power and simplicity of Tableau but with lower risk and a lower initial investment. And the move to subscription also creates recurring revenue streams, generates more predictable results over the long-term and expands the overall market.

For example, this quarter TransUnion, a credit reporting and global risk information provider that serves over 45,000 companies and more than 500 million customers, standardized their analytics on Tableau across multiple areas from credit reporting to health care and auto lending, amongst many others. By signing a subscription agreement, TransUnion will be able to flexibly scale their deployment as they grow and build out their analytic solutions…We continue to believe that subscription is the right long-term decision for all of our stakeholders and will only help us to sharpen our commitment to our customers on a daily basis.

Our passionate customer base is not just a U.S. phenomenon; it’s global. And it’s been incredible to see our community thrive around the world, across various user groups, training groups and conferences. For example, in the UK, Jet2.com, a leading British leisure airline and package holiday specialist, recently chose Tableau to visualize complex data that was difficult to analyze and access within Excel. With Tableau, Jet2 is now able to better analyze a range of data to attain faster speed to insight.

And in APAC, Mercedes-Benz expanded their self-service analytics capabilities with Tableau in their China Financial Services Group. Now the company, including the most senior management has real-time visibility on the organization’s auto financing, leasing and insurance performance and now makes daily strategic business decisions from a single source of truth through Tableau.

Turning now to customer momentum in the cloud, we’re seeing strong demand from customers who want to be able to run their analytics in the cloud. And with Tableau, customers can deploy on their choice of cloud, whether it be AWS, Azure or Google or a fully managed SaaS solution via Tableau Online. That flexibility and choice has already attracted thousands of customers running on Tableau Online and thousands more running Tableau on the public cloud. In fact, over one-third of our Tableau server trials today are deployed in the public cloud.

Turning now to product, I want to focus on two important areas: giving our customers choice with how they connect to their data and enriching our smart analytics offering via machine learning recommendations. Tableau now has over 65 native data connectors from on-premises databases like Oracle and SAP, Hadoop systems like Cloudera and Hortonworks, and cloud databases like Amazon Redshift and Google BigQuery.


IAC/InterActiveCorp (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

…it is a very – the SVOD market is very crowded and cost were skyrocketing.

In terms of new M&A, the thing that worked well for us are this concept of product – the scale improved the product, not just the price. That is the way – the way we think about network businesses or marketplace businesses and that’s what we’re looking for.

…there is again a natural tailwind today are in terms of the online migration, in terms of video being more relevant in a lot more places than it used to be, to a lot of businesses than it used to be, to lot more individuals than it used to be.


Activision Blizzard (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

We invest in creative and commercial excellence in order to expand reach, deepen engagement and provide more opportunity for player investment which then allows for reinvestment in creative and commercial excellence and for the growth cycle to continue.

Let’s start with audience reach, which was 407 million monthly active users this quarter. Blizzard did not have any new full game releases this quarter, yet a strong stream of content updates across Blizzard franchises drove an all-time MAU record of 46 million, up 38% from last year and up 12% from the last quarter. Blizzard’s community has now more than doubled in MAUs since early 2015, underscoring the ability to grow audience reach across the portfolio of platforms, regions, genres and business models.

As illustrated by the frequency with which players reengage each month, it remains at an all-time high. To put this in perspective, the time spent per player per day inside King franchises is 35 minutes, higher than that of Instagram or Snapchat.


Workiva (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

A large regional bank is using Wdesk for its call reports which are quarterly filings required by the FDIC. A large sporting-goods company is now using Wdesk for corporate performance management. The company will use Wdesk to consolidate spreadsheets into a linked workbook, thereby reducing manual data entry. The treasury department of a private electrical products manufacturer is using Wdesk for debt compliance reporting.

We remain focused on our leadership in the SEC compliance market. We continue to add new customers at both large and small public companies, because we believe that Wdesk is widely regarded as the best practice for SEC reporting and XBRL. In the first quarter of 2017, Wdesk was used to file 53% of all XBRL facts with the SEC. So as you can see, we have room to grow in this market. Customer press releases this quarter reported that a multinational agri business is achieving an ROI of 266% and reaping more than $677,000 in total savings and benefits over 3 years by using Wdesk to streamline its management reporting.

We finished Q2 with 2908 customers, a net increase of 286 customers from Q2 2016 and a net increase of 83 customers from Q1 2017. Our subscription and support revenue retention rate, excluding add-ons, was 96.1% for the month of June 2017 compared with 95.1% in both March 2017 and June 2016. Customers being acquired or ceasing to file SEC reports accounted for a majority of revenue attrition, consistent with our experience to date. With add-ons, our subscription and support revenue retention rate was 106% for the month of June 2017 compared with 106.6% in March 2017 and 110.2% in June 2016. Increased subscription revenue on non-SEC use cases from existing customers continues to be the primary driver of our add-on revenue retention rate.


Etsy (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

There has been much speculation about the size of the market for handmade. But handmade is not a purchase occasion nor is it representative of all of our 45 million listings. Etsy is about so much more than handmade. Buyers come to us when they want something special. And being the destination for something special is powerful because special can’t be commoditized.

But how big is the market for special? We believe the market for special is huge. Etsy shines specifically in three types of purchase occasions. Celebrations, gifting and style. If you think about it, these types of occasions happen regularly throughout the year. These occasions drive purchases across six primary categories, clothing and accessories, home and living, jewelry, craft supplies, art and collectibles, and paper and party supplies. Not surprisingly, these are also Etsy’s top six categories based on GMS.

First, we are building trust and reliability throughout the buyer experience. Trust is essential for any marketplace but is even more so for one that’s both on original and unbranded goods. Our goal is to bolster trust not just in the item and the seller, but in the Etsy brand.


NVIDIA (Q2 2018 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Data center is a very large market, as you know, and the reason for that is because the vast majority of the world’s future computing will be largely done in data centers. And there’s a very well accepted notion now that GPU acceleration of servers delivers extraordinary value proposition. If you have a data-intensive application, and the vast majority of the future applications in data centers will be data intensive, a GPU could reduce the number of servers you require or increase the amount of throughput pretty substantially. Just adding one GPU to a server could reduce several hundred thousand dollars of reduction in number of servers. And so the value proposition and the cost savings of using GPUs is quite extraordinary.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain is here to stay. The market need for it is going to grow, and over time it will become quite large. It is very clear that new currencies will come to market, and it’s very clear that the GPU is just fantastic at cryptography. And as these new algorithms are being developed, the GPU is really quite ideal for it. And so this is a market that is not likely to go away anytime soon, and the only thing that we can probably expect is that there will be more currencies to come. It will come in a whole lot of different nations. It will emerge from time to time, and the GPU is really quite great for it.

Volta was a giant leap. It’s got 120 teraflops. Another way to think about that is eight of them in one node is essentially one petaflops, which puts it among the top 20 fastest supercomputers on the planet. And the entire world’s top 500 supercomputers are only 700 petaflops. And with eight Voltas in one box, we’re doing artificial intelligence that represents one of them. So Volta is just a gigantic leap for deep learning and it’s such a gigantic leap for processing that – and we announced it at GTC, if you recall, which is practically right at the beginning of the quarter.

A neural net in terms of complexity is approximately – not quite, but approximately doubling every year. And this is one of the exciting things about artificial intelligence. In no time in my history of looking at computers in the last 35 years have we ever seen a double exponential where the GPU computing model, our GPUs are essentially increasing in performance by approximately three times each year. In order to be 100 times in just four years, we have to increase overall system performance by a factor of three, by over a factor of three every year.

And yet on the other hand, on top of it, the neural network architecture and the algorithms that are being developed are improving in accuracy by about twice each year. And so object recognition accuracy is improving by twice each year, or the error rate is decreasing by half each year. And speech recognition is improving by a factor of two each year. And so you’ve got these two exponentials that are happening, and it’s pretty exciting. That’s one of the reasons why AI is moving so fast.

The second major component is our self-driving car platforms, and a lot of it still is infotainment systems. Our infotainment system is going to evolve into an AI cockpit product line. We initially started with autonomous driving. But you probably heard me say at GTC that our future infotainment systems will basically turn your cockpit or turn your car into an AI. So your whole car will become an AI. It will talk to you. It will know where you are. It knows who’s in the cabin. And if there are potential things to be concerned about around the car, it might even just tell you in natural language. And so the entire car will become an AI.

The next revolution of AI will be at the edge, and the most visible impactful evidence will be the autonomous vehicle. Our strategy is to build a ground-up deep learning platform for self-driving cars, and that has put us in pole position to lead the charge.


The Walt Disney (Q3 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

It’s been clear to us for a while with the future of this industry will be forged by direct relationships between content creators and consumers. Given our incomparable collection of strong brands that are recognized and respected the world over, no one is better positioned to lead the industry into this dynamic new era, and we’re accelerating our strategy to be at the forefront of this transformation.

With this strategic shift, we’ll end our distribution agreement with Netflix for subscription streaming of new releases beginning with the 2019 calendar-year theatrical slate. These announcements marked the beginning of what will be an entirely new growth strategy for the company, one that takes advantage of the opportunities the changing media and technology industries provide us to leverage the strength of our great brands.

But we’ve already begun the development process at the Disney Channel and at the Studio to create original TV series and original movies for this service. So if the Studio makes, let’s call it, roughly 10 films a year or distributes 10 films a year – that includes Marvel and Pixar and Star Wars and Disney-branded and Disney Animation. We’ve commissioned them to make, to produce more films with the incremental films being produced very, very specifically and very exclusively for this service. So this will represent a larger investment in Disney-branded intellectual property, both TV and movies.

I think there are forces, whether they’re technological in nature or sociological or economic in nature, out there that are changing the way media is consumed in general, and I don’t think this is either going to hasten them or exacerbate things in any way. What it does do, though, is a couple of things. First of all, it gives us the ability to leverage the strength of our brands, which a lot of our peers and competitors do not have. Secondly, it gives us what we’d call optionality. It’s a word I’ve not used very much in my life, but it gives us the flexibility, really, to move our product to the consumer in many new ways, ways that we’ve not been able to do before, because of just how strong this platform is that we bought control of.


TripAdvisor (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

We have large app penetration and a great ability to offer attractions to our users, so marketing efficiency, but then just operational efficiency as well. So initially, a lot of manpower going into both site development as well as supply expansion and we’re now reaping some of the leverage benefits from that going forward. So you are right, we are managing the business not for profitability. We’re managing it for growth. There’s just tremendous opportunity in terms of the TAM of this – particularly the attractions market space. We feel we have an early lead and we continue to invest aggressively to capitalize on that advantage. So, we’re not seeking margin expansion, and going forward, we will continue to emphasize revenue growth. But the way the business has evolved has allowed us to see some margin expansion this year.

In terms of the monetization, there’s likely to be always a delta between monetization on desktop and on the phone. It is just more plausible that you book a larger trip, a multi-day, multi-destination trip on your desktop in the comfort, obviously, on your big screen and more detailed photos and skew the more immediate purchases to the phone.

As we are working on our conversion improvements, they’re all aligned with matching our advertising campaign and matching our value proposition that delivering to travelers of helping them save money on this trip. We’re so well known for reviews, which is wonderful, incredible differentiator. It’s hard to imagine anyone could ever make a serious inroad to us in terms of being a competitor in that space. But as we move the product, the display, the visibility and the impression of TripAdvisor on the part of our travelers, to view us as that review site, that review site that actually saved me a ton of money because it offered me a great value hotel that I wouldn’t have otherwise find with a better price or it helped me find the best place to actually reserve a room at this hotel that I want to go at, and that’s kind of a new piece and so part of the site redesign was clarity. Part of the site redesign was easier shopping experience, but one of the things that we love the most from our testing that we’ve achieved in this redesign is that we are educating our users, our travelers that we’re helping to save them money, that we’re finding them great prices. And we see that come through in our surveys, we see that come through in those anecdotes in the stories, and that matches, of course, the big message in our brand campaigns.


MakeMyTrip (Q1 2018 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

The latest estimates from IAMAI, the Internet and Mobile Association of India, indicates that India now has roughly 420 million mobile Internet users and this base is expected to keep growing rapidly.

Large opportunities for new user growth will likely come from the non-urban parts of the country where penetration levels are estimated at 16%. Affordable smartphones and data plans are easily available via the recent disruptive offers from the telecom players led by Reliance Jio.

Additionally, a significant government initiative which can facilitate online penetration is the unified payments interface app called BHIM, which creates a common nationwide payments platform for simple and quick transfer of money.

Indian carriers collectively have already placed more than 1,300 new orders, with 250 planes expected to be put into service over the next two to three years. Furthermore, demand for air travel is expected to increase with the launch of the government’s regional air connectivity program called Udan by operationalizing up to 100 regional airports out of a total 400 unserved or underserved domestic regional airports by fiscal year 2019.


DISH Network (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

I think each carriers offer a little bit different strategy today. I mean, obviously AT&T is getting more heavily into the content side of the business. Verizon’s got more of a small cell strategy and T-Mobile is just taking away a lot of the pain points that are out there. So each have strategies that those guys are a lot more knowledgeable about the wireless business than I am, so each of the – there’s no reason that each of those strategies can’t work.

So, all those things are going to happen. The only thing I know for sure is that if you’re born today in the United States, you’re probably not going to have one second of your life you’re not connected. And you’re going to use a lot of data during your lifetime. And there’s going to be – and that’s just people. And every microprocessor and every light and every other thing is going to have a sensor that’s going to be connected. And that’s just – it’s going to make us more productive. And it’s going to save companies money. And so there’s going to be very large companies coming out of the connectivity business on a big scale, and we hope to play a part in that.

You can’t have all the profits going to three or four companies and have the guys that are – the companies that are providing them the raw material to make that money, not get wake up one day and get a little smarter. That’d be my guess, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. But at some point, all the money going one direction, a lot of people are enabling that. They’re going to wake up and say maybe they should get – I’ve been through this business long enough to know that the money ebbs and flows between distribution and content. It’s probably going to continue to do that today. And a lot of the content companies, probably the distribution guys, probably are going to be in position to get a more of it. Then it may go the other direction.

The average smartphone probably consumes, I don’t know, 5 gigs a month. Use cases that are being discussed around 5G that will start to materialize in the early 2020s, they’re going to dwarf that in terms of the amount of data consumed whether that be drone network or autonomous vehicles or healthcare or massive connectivity. So to look at the marketplace in terms of today’s four big competitors and the new entrants, I think you have to really think about how the market will get redefined in the next five years to seven years to ten years.


The Home Depot (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

We’ve had obviously a protracted recovery here, and it has been clearly driven from housing which has been a steady but slow recovery in the market. You know we continually look at months of supply, there is 4.3 months of supply in the market of housing availability against a historical norm of six, that clearly is helping to drive improvement in home value appreciation, but housing starts haven’t returned to their norm yet either. The only thing that’s kind of run on an historical averages is housing turnover. So, we see this housing favorability continuing as we look forward. And I think the watch out for us is, you wouldn’t want to see affordability become an issue, but that at this point doesn’t seem to be a concern for us at all.

Right. As we look at the affordability index, it stands at 153%, so long ways to go before that would be a watch out for us. And recovery is a difficult thing to put your arms around. But if you look at simply PFRI dollars they’ve only recovered 70% of the loss. The other thing that’s really interesting to us is the age of the housing stock. We’ve talked to you a lot about 66% of the housing stock being older than 30 years. Did you know that 51% of the house stock is older than 40 years and as houses age, well, they need more of repair.


TJX Companies (Q2 2018 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

Our key pillars for growth remain driving comp sales and customer traffic and our global store expansion. Our consistently strong performance tells us that our strategies to drive customer traffic and comp sales are working. Further, we see enormous global store growth potential for TJX. We have plenty of white space or markets to fill in throughout our current countries. Long-term, we see the opportunity to open 5,600 stores with just our current banners and that’s about 1,700 more stores than we have today. We continue to see store openings as an attractive investment and a very good use of capital. We are convinced that these growth drivers will allow us to continue to capture additional market share both in the U.S. and internationally.

We see our treasure hunt shopping experience as an advantage. As today shopper spends more on personal experiences, particularly millennials they constructed dollars further in our stores in both our apparel and non-apparel categories. We are very pleased that across our major divisions we continue to capture a broad age demographic with new shoppers skewing towards younger customers. We see this as a great indicator for our future.

In closing I would like to emphasize that the key advantages that I have discussed today are all built on our 40 years plus of experience in building, developing and refining our off-price retail model. While we were trying to keep our business simple and focused, the ability to operate and highly integrate international – to operate a highly integrated international off-price retail business doesn’t happen overnight and we believe would be extremely difficult to replicate. We have decades of experience to build international teams and infrastructures that we see as key advantages. We believe our buying organization of more than 1,000 associates is best-in-class. We have great longevity among our buyers which we attribute to our very strong corporate culture. Our worldwide vendor universe also took us decades to build. We see ourselves as a global sourcing machine. Our processes, systems and logistics are all built to support our off-price opportunistic buying. Further, we have been operating internationally for well over two decades and are the only major international off-price apparel and home fashions retailer.


Tencent Holdings (Q2 2017 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

We have been investing heavily in AI but relatively quietly, as we view AI as an essential capability that enhances user experience and empowers us to capture the new exciting opportunities to grow our businesses for the future. We’re confident that our existing strength in computing power, data, engineering, technologies as well as use cases coupled with our proactive build-up of AI content — talent will give us a favorable position in this strategic initiative. Especially a wide and diversified business scope creates a variety of use cases for AI research and application across a range of AI fundamental research areas, such as machine learning, computer vision, speech recognition and natural language processing. We will be persistent but patient with our AI investment, because we believe it is a long-term initiative, and we do not necessarily require a research to generate revenue directly in the short-term. On the other hand, AI will significantly benefit all of our existing products, services and businesses in many ways.

There is a lot of usage, more and more people are watching online video at longer and longer time, on a daily basis. But at the same time — and at the same time, advertising revenue has been increasing, and there is also an increasing willingness from consumers to pay. So, the subscription number as well as revenue has been increasing quite rapidly. On the other hand, the flip side of this is the cost of content has been increasing, even faster. So, what we see is that over time, we believe the content will continue to increase, but the rates would probably be lower. And the subscription, as we continue to increase, would deliver higher revenue per active user. So, we will get closer to a more equilibrium between cost and revenue at some point in time. But I think unfortunately at this point in time, the net loss of the business is still increasing.

It’s a little bit tough to make advertising revenue from that because we usually — these video are relatively short; and depending on how aggressive you are in terms of balancing user experience and monetization, I think if you really care about user experience and the trends of putting advertising on these short videos are more limited.

In terms of the advertising, I think most of the growth has actually been from the click-through rates as well as the improvement in targeting technology. As a result, the pricing achieved has been higher. There is some help from the other two factors, which is slight increase in terms of the inventory and an increase in terms of the general traffic. But, I think from the inventory angle, we have achieved a second ad for some cities, but within a 24-hour period, not everybody is seeing two ads. So, compared to our international peers, I think the amount of inventory is relatively small. And at the same time, the traffic increase has been most significant around Moments. Then, if you look at our performance ads, it’s across pretty large number of different properties. So, the traffic growth in the other areas might not be as great as the Moments traffic increase.

At this point, my guess is that the big advertisers have a certain budget for television and then for online video and then they have a separate budget for social and a separate budget for search and so forth. And then, the migration between those buckets happens relatively slowly, typically at the beginning of each year rather than happening on a month-by-month basis.

In terms of providing AI-as-a-service, I think this is definitely a one direction that we are going into in our cloud business already and we are seeing a lot of demand on that. And we have been able to sign up a lot of customers because of our ability to offer them AI capability. And that’s just the beginning. Over time, I think we will do much more on that.

In terms of games and targeting, if you look at games playing globally, particularly on the personal computer, it’s moved from being media driven to being increasingly community driven. 20 years ago, people discovered new games on the PC in the U.S. and Europe through computer magazines; now, they’re discovering them through reddit, through Twitch, through those kinds of more communal venues. And some of the same trends are underway in China. And what we’re trying to do is working with the game developers to make sure that we target their games to the users who are likely to be most receptive.


Alibaba Group (Q1 2018 Results) – Earnings Call Transcript

The macro way of looking at the landscape is e-commerce accounts for 15% of total retail in China. The retail segment in China is about $5 trillion economy in value. 15% of e-commerce still leads, 85% of retail that is offline.

In this new world of consumption expectations, the distinction between online and offline would disappear.

Mobile Taobao is the Chinese consumers’ leading destination for online shopping and the total MAU for mobile apps with access to our China retail marketplaces has grown to 529 million. No other commerce app in the world compares to mobile Taobao’s consumer engagement and user stickiness. Our user stickiness measured by the DAU divided by MAU ratio continues to remain above 40% due to our relentless focus on more content and community-driven engagement on the approximately, allowing consumers to enjoy the fun of discovery and exploration. We not only satisfy existing user needs but more importantly we’re able to stimulate new demand as user experiences have become more content-driven by community of consumption-related content generators, such as influencers and key opinion leaders have emerged alongside buyers and sellers in the ecosystem.

What unifies the businesses in the Alibaba economy is our mission, to make it easy to do business anywhere. We believe the path to value creation becomes extremely clear when we focus on a single mission. In the next 5, 10, 15 years, you will see an unfolding of how we execute the new retail strategy as it becomes an integral part of the Alibaba economy. Shareholder value will follow when we create value for our customers. So, understanding this is important to understanding a long view of Alibaba.

Our cloud computing business continues to enjoy high growth at scale with annualized revenue growth well exceeding $1 billion, while paying customers surpassed 1 million. An important milestone in a landscape where every industry is seeking to migrate to the cloud, we believe 1 million is merely a starting point.

Regarding 30-minute delivery, as an example of where new retail can be very disruptive to existing ecommerce. Consumer demand is generated from an in-store experience and then that consumer says, well, I am going to a movie, so I don’t want to a carry bag with me, so I am going to have it delivered to my home within a very short period of time. That’s where logistics — your traditional e-commerce logistics infrastructure can be disruptive because you’ll need to fulfill out of that retail location as opposed to out of a warehouse that is not even in the city center. So, the expectation becomes 30 minutes and not overnight or 24 hours. So, that’s going to be very, very disruptive to existing infrastructure and investments that have been made.

Curated Insights 2017.08.27

Inside Waymo’s secret world for training self-driving cars

Collectively, they now drive 8 million miles per day in the virtual world. In 2016, they logged 2.5 billion virtual miles versus a little over 3 million miles by Google’s IRL self-driving cars that run on public roads. And crucially, the virtual miles focus on what Waymo people invariably call “interesting” miles in which they might learn something new. These are not boring highway commuter miles.

And in both kinds of real-world testing, their cars capture enough data to create full digital recreations at any point in the future. In that virtual space, they can unhitch from the limits of real life and create thousands of variations of any single scenario, and then run a digital car through all of them. As the driving software improves, it’s downloaded back into the physical cars, which can drive more and harder miles, and the loop begins again.

Not surprisingly, the hardest thing to simulate is the behavior of the other people. It’s like the old parental saw: “I’m not worried about you driving. I’m worried about the other people on the road.”

“Right now, you can almost measure the sophistication of an autonomy team—a drone team, a car team—by how seriously they take simulation. And Waymo is at the very top, the most sophisticated.”

And in reality, those 20,000 scenarios only represent a fraction of the total scenarios that Waymo has tested. They’re just what’s been created from structured tests. They have even more scenarios than that derived from public driving and imagination. “They are doing really well,” Peng said. “They are far ahead of everyone else in terms of Level Four,” using the jargon shorthand for full autonomy in a car.


Halliburton and Microsoft do not compute for OPEC

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the oil business is a high-tech one. You don’t map out complex rock formations thousands of feet beneath the ground in three or four dimensions and then drill into them without advanced tools. For example, Total SA, the French oil major, boasts the 19th-most powerful supercomputer in the world, Pangea, which has clocked a speed of more than 5 quadrillion calculations a second (technical note: pretty fast) according to The Top 500 List.

…the average well has less than 10 gigabytes of data associated with it, equivalent to a couple of high-definition movies.

…the company’s teams now have access to more than 80 real-time data streams and sensors embedded in wells, giving them a constantly updated picture of what’s happening beneath the ground. The killer app here, in every sense of the word, is providing crews and their managers with an integrated platform; a suite of sensors and software communicating seamlessly, updating constantly and available to all involved.


Costco is playing a dangerous game with the web

Costco’s reluctance to embrace the web is understandable. Its warehouse club business model is based on selling a limited assortment of bulk-size food and household items at low prices, alongside an ever-changing selection of general merchandise—everything from margarita machines to kayaks. This creates an in-store treasure hunt experience. Both elements are costly and difficult to replicate online.

Potentially more worrisome: Half of Costco’s shoppers are Amazon Prime members, Kantar Retail says, up from 14 percent five years ago. Sharing too many of the same subscribers could be risky, since Planet Retail RNG analyst Graham Hotchkiss says Amazon now offers many bulk-size goods at prices that rival Costco’s. And Amazon’s pending $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. will give it a firm foothold in groceries—the primary reason people shop at Costco, according to Barclays’s Short.


What is Amazon, really?

At last count, Amazon’s delivery infrastructure included more than 180 warehouses, 28 sorting centers, 59 local package delivery stations, and 65 hubs for its two-hour Prime Now deliveries. Investment bank Piper Jaffray estimates that 44% of the US population lives within 20 miles of an Amazon warehouse or delivery station. Amazon’s proposed $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods could add another 431 distribution nodes in bougie neighborhoods to that network.

“Our goal with Amazon Prime, make no mistake, is to make sure that if you are not a Prime member, you are being irresponsible,” Bezos told shareholders in May. The plan is working: 63% of US Amazon users subscribe to Prime, and estimated to reach more than half of American households by the end of the year. Prime doesn’t just lift $99 off of regular Amazon users each year—it’s proven to be a powerful customer loyalty program. The average Prime user spends $1,300 each year on the site, with 78% of Prime users still citing free 2-day shipping as the main reason for coughing up the fee.

The service first reached customers by 2005, and was officially launched in the summer of 2006. Tom Szkutak, Amazon’s CFO at the time, said the business was “exposing the guts of Amazon,” using the knowledge gained from 11 years of building Amazon.com. Today AWS is on a tear. It’s the world’s dominant cloud computing provider, and the nearest competitors aren’t even within shouting distance: Amazon’s servers deliver 34% of the world’s public cloud services, reports Synergy Research Group, while Microsoft, IBM and Google provide 24% combined.


Amazon vs Maersk: The clash of titans shaking the container industry

Manufacturing is new step for Amazon and they won a patent earlier this year to develop a system to rapidly create clothing and other products after a customer order is placed. This forms a cheap and simple method for Chinese exporters as Amazon have effectively wiped out the middle man, acting as a shipbroker for itself and on behalf of smaller companies.

Freight forwarders may find it hard to compete with companies as powerful as Amazon and Maersk, who can afford to develop disruptive technology and prioritize increasing market share over higher profits.

Small independent ship owners will be left behind unless they adapt their business model to seek different shipping routes, for example choosing container lanes that do not feed into deep sea ports where the ultra large container vessels operated by Maersk can only dock.


Great Wall Motor’s better path leads to emerging markets

The Proton purchase not only gives Geely inroads to the Malaysian consumer market but also access to production plants in the region that could be used to manufacture other car brands. Being closer to the end customer would lower production costs. While Proton’s Tanjung Malim plant has the capacity to churn out one million cars annually, it made only 72,000 last year, according to the Malaysian government.

A lean company, analysts estimate Great Wall makes 60 percent of its parts in-house. It spends little on marketing and is the fourth-most-profitable automaker globally by net margin and return on equity. Its return on invested capital ranks number one among 40 manufacturers tracked by Bloomberg Intelligence.


A handful of companies control almost everything we buy — and beer is the latest victim

A whopping 182 beauty brands fall under the massive umbrellas of seven huge manufacturers: Estée Lauder Companies, L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Shiseido, Johnson and Johnson, and Coty.

A 2015 Morgan Stanley report found that 10 companies controlled 41% of the clothing market. No other retailer had more than 2% of market share. The retailers dominating the market were Walmart, T.J. Maxx, Macy’s, Gap, Kohl’s, Target, Ross Stores, Amazon, Nordstrom, and J.C. Penney.

According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch chart, in 2014 AB InBev and SABMiller alone controlled about 58% of the beer industry’s $33 billion in global profits.

Winner-takes all effects in autonomous cars

… it seems pretty clear that the hardware and sensors for autonomy will be commodities. There is plenty of science and engineering in these (and a lot more work to do), just as there is in, say, LCD screens, but there is no reason why you have to use one rather than another just because everyone else is. There are strong manufacturing scale effects, but no network effect. So, LIDAR, for example, will go from a ‘spinning KFC bucket’ that costs $50k to a small solid-state widget at a few hundred dollars or less, and there will be winners within that segment, but there’s no network effect, while winning LIDAR doesn’t give leverage at other layers of the stack (unless you get a monopoly), anymore than than making the best image sensors (and selling them to Apple) helps Sony’s smartphone business. In the same way, it’s likely that batteries (and motors and battery/motor control) will be as much of a commodity as RAM is today – again, scale, lots of science and perhaps some winners within each category, but no broader leverage.

Maps have network effects. When any autonomous car drives down a pre-mapped road, it is both comparing the road to the map and updating the map: every AV can also be a survey car. If you have sold 500,000 AVs and someone else has only sold 10,000, your maps will be updated more often and be more accurate, and so your cars will have less chance of encountering something totally new and unexpected and getting confused. The more cars you sell the better all of your cars are – the definition of a network effect.

The more real world driving data that you have, the more accurate you can make your simulation and therefore the better you can make your software. There are also clear scale advantages to simulation, in how much computing resource you can afford to devote to this, how many people you have working on it, and how much institutional expertise you have in large computing projects. Being part of Google clearly gives Waymo an advantage: it reports driving 25,000 ‘real’ autonomous miles each week, but also one billion simulated miles in 2016 (an average of 19 million miles a week).

So, the network effects – the winner-takes-all effects – are in data: in driving data and in maps. This prompts two questions: who gets that data, and how much do you need?

This leads me to the final question: how much data do you really need? Does the system get better more or less indefinitely as you add more data, or is there an S-Curve – is there a point at which adding more data has diminishing returns? That is – how strong is the network effect?


The stereo speaker company giving sight to self-driving cars

Although it will soon face plenty of competition, Velodyne has become the industry’s go-to lidar supplier and is cranking up production to match. Last year, Ford Motor Co. and Chinese Internet giant Baidu pumped $150 million into Velodyne, money the company used to open its “mega-factory” on San Jose’s southern edge.

Lidar works by firing laser beams — thousands per second — at nearby objects and measuring how quickly they bounce back. With the notable exception of Tesla, most companies pursuing autonomous vehicles rely on lidar, along with radar and cameras.

“The prevailing view is that in the near term — at least a decade — you’re not going to be able to execute this safely without lidar,” said Mike Ramsey, research director at Gartner.

“One major automaker told me they had vetted 50 lidar companies,” Ramsey said. “So more than 50 companies exist, but only Velodyne is producing a lidar they can use.”

Now, the race is to cut lidar’s cost. Velodyne’s most popular lidar, about the size of two stacked hockey pucks, sells for $8,000. As it ramps up production, the company hopes to bring prices down to “a few hundred dollars,” Hall said. “We’re in the inventing business, so we’re going to keep working on this thing until we crack that nut.”


The internal combustion engine is not dead yet

Mazda, which now markets no hybrid vehicles, calls the engine Skyactiv-X and says it is scheduled for a 2019 introduction. In simplest terms, the big difference with the new engine is that under certain running conditions, the gasoline is ignited without the use of spark plugs. Instead, combustion is set off by the extreme heat in the cylinder that results from the piston inside the engine traveling upward and compressing air trapped inside, the same method diesel engines use. The efficiency gains come with the ability to operate using a very lean mixture — very little gas for the amount of air — that a typical spark-ignition engine cannot burn cleanly.

…addresses the challenge of gasoline’s future from a somewhat different direction: the practical limitations of battery electric cars. “Holding a gas nozzle, you can transfer 10 megawatts of energy in five minutes,” he said, explaining today’s refueling reality. To recharge a Tesla electric at that rate today, he said, would require “a cable you couldn’t hold.”

By 2050, Dr. Heywood’s studies project, today’s fuel economy could be doubled. “A quarter to a third of that improvement would come from improvements to the vehicle,” he said, in areas like aerodynamics and weight reduction. Other promising areas include variable compression ratios — a technology Nissan plans to introduce next year — and making better use of available fuels.


Wind power is all grown up now

People tend to think of renewable energy companies as the new kids on the block but Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s biggest wind turbine manufacturer, is no pimply teenager. The Danish group entered the turbine business almost 40 years ago and went public in 1998…

The wind industry is consolidating — Siemens merged its wind business with Gamesa in April — and competition is intensifying. This puts pressure on margins and makes it more difficult to lift revenue.

A bigger concern is that more countries are adopting auction-based contract awards. These promote projects that deliver the cheapest electricity as opposed to feed-in tariffs, which guaranteed a fixed electricity price. So life’s getting a little tougher for Vestas.

There are other ways to make money. High-margin maintenance contracts are an increasing share of business. There are opportunities too to upgrade the installed base with those newer, better turbines.


The very symbolic collision of Sotheby’s-Christie’s and Poly-Guardian in China art

If Sotheby’s and Christie’s are purely commercial Giants, then Poly Culture and Guardian are something else. They are certainly Giants, dominating the domestic art auction industry. But Poly in particular is also a direct extensions of the State. Because it turns out, what happens to historic Chinese art is a significant concern to the Chinese government. Part of this sensitivity is about repatriating works that were stolen and misappropriated over the centuries. Many of the works that have been returned can be seen on display at Poly’s headquarters in Beijing.

Poly Auction is now not just one of the top two auction houses in China. It is also the number three art auction house in the world (after Christie’s and Sotheby’s). Their 2013 turnover was over a billion dollars (about one-fourth of Sotheby’s). They sell approximately 10,000 objects each week, with as many as 40 different catalogs per show.

Because at the same time, Poly and Guardian have been expanding internationally. And they are now on Sotheby’s and Christie’s home turf for the first time. Both have moved into Hong Kong. And Poly is now moving aggressively into New York City, where Sotheby’s is headquartered. Thus far, they have focused mostly on finding consignments in the US for sale in China, particularly Chinese collectibles. But Poly’s openly stated ambition is to become the world’s top art auction house. According to CEO Jiang Yingchun, “We are very big in the art auction market in Mainland China but still have a long way to go to become the biggest auction house worldwide”.


It’s hard to keep up with all that lithium demand

Australia is the biggest lithium producer, though Chile and Argentina account for 67 percent of global reserves, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Extracting lithium from the salt flats that dot the arid northern regions of the South American countries is a lot easier and cheaper than digging underground for metals like copper. Producers just pump the brine solution into evaporation ponds, harvesting the mineral once the moisture is gone.

With demand expected to keep rising as electric cars gain a bigger share of the global auto fleet, Argentina and Chile are attracting interest from mining companies because it costs about $2,000 to $3,800 a ton to extract lithium from brine, compared with $4,000 to $6,000 a ton in Australia, where lithium is mined from rock.

Of the 39 lithium ventures tracked by CRU, only four have firm commitments, and all of those are in China, adding about 24,000 tons of annual supply. Another 10 projects representing 400,000 tons are rated “probable” — in Canada, Chile, China, Mexico, Argentina and Australia — but probably only about 30 percent will make it into production, CRU said.

“But we have a window of only 25 years to develop these projects because prices can fall again as soon as a replacement to lithium appears.”


Hunt for next electric-car commodity quickens as prices soar

As one of the key components in the new breed of rechargeable batteries and with supply dominated by the Democratic Republic of Congo, prices have surged at four times the pace of major metals in the past year.

The cobalt market is in a 5,500-ton deficit, according to CRU, with global supply contracting 3.9 percent in 2016.

“The mix of iron and cobalt is tricky. Cobalt is already mined as a byproduct of copper and nickel, but iron has the most negative impact on cobalt, which means processing would be more difficult and more expensive.”

Aging Japan wants automation, not immigration

In the absence of large-scale immigration, the only viable solution for many domestic industries is to plow money into robots and information technology more generally.

With unemployment down to 2.8 percent, companies are increasingly realizing they need to pay up to attract and keep qualified personnel. The other option — increased immigration — is politically difficult.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch forecast IT investment in Japan to rise as much as 9 percent annually in coming years, with the difference in software investment per worker versus the U.S. falling to 5 to 1 by 2020 from about 10 to 1 now.


Who really owns American farmland?

Farmland, the Economist announced in 2014, had outperformed most asset classes for the previous 20 years, delivering average U.S. returns of 12 percent a year with low volatility.

Today, the USDA estimates that at least 30 percent of American farmland is owned by non-operators who lease it out to farmers. And with a median age for the American farmer of about 55, it is anticipated that in the next five years, some 92,000,000 acres will change hands, with much of it passing to investors rather than traditional farmers.

It’s a tenuous predicament, growing low-cost food, feed, and fuel (corn-based ethanol) on ever-more-expensive land, and it raises a host of questions. Is this a sustainable situation? What happens to small farmers? And are we looking at a bubble that will burst?

In practice, our best hope of true stewardship of the land will come from enlightened, committed owner-farmers. But the trend toward treating farmland as a financial investment, and the high prices that have come with it, make it harder and harder for new young farmers to enter the field.

By buying land in other countries and farming it, foreign buyers are able to support their domestic food supply and other markets that depend on agriculture without having to compete for essential products on the global market.

The government of China now controls more than 400 American farms consisting of a hundred thousand acres of farmland, with at least 50,000 in Missouri alone, plus CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), 33 processing plants, the distribution system—and one out of every four American hogs.


Yesterday’s “plastics” are today’s crypto tokens

Our ability to profit from our investments relies on two things: having the resources needed to purchase the asset and then having a way to sell it — a concept known as liquidity. Tokenizing real-world assets will allow buyers to access assets never before within their reach, and sellers to move assets that were previously difficult to unload. The secret lies in the possibility of fractionalization.

Imagine unlocking cash from the equity in your home without having to borrow or pay interest. Tokenize your home and sell fractions to the public. Buy the tokens back, or pay the investors their value at the time the property is sold.

In the future, you’ll be able to tokenize the value of unused bedrooms and backyards in your home. You’ll be able to tokenize use of your vehicle for Uber driving while you’re away on travel. You’ll even be able to tokenize access to your phone so marketers have to pay you tokens in order to gain access to your attention. Yes, this will happen.

At 5,4000 pounds, the Tesla is no lightweight, and the Aventador is a good 1,200 pounds lighter. But the Ludicrous + enabled vehicle not only beats the Lambo, it sets a world record for the quickest SUV with a quarter mile time clocking in at 11.418 seconds at nearly 118 miles-per-hour.

Company Notes 2017.08.25 (Part 3)

Kossan Rubber Industries Q2 FY2017 Results

With the completion of the commissioning of Plant 16 in end-July, the existing annual glove production capacity of the Group has since enlarged to 25 billion pieces, an increase of 3.0 billion pieces of nitrile gloves with the patented Low Derma technology. This plant is expected to contribute to the Group’s earnings gradually from the end of third quarter onward.

Keeping up with the expansion momentum and in need of new glove capacity to cater for increasing demand for the Low Derma technology nitrile gloves, the Group has since commenced the construction works for Plant 17 and 18. These 2 new plants which are equipped with high speed dipping technology and a high degree of automation are capable of producing up to 4.5 billion pieces (1.5 and 3.0 billion pieces respectively) of nitrile gloves per annum once completed in 2018.

The construction works of the integrated Research and Development cum Training Centre (“RDTC”) are progressing well and are expected to complete by end of the year. The RDTC once completed, will propel the Group to another level of achievement and breakthrough of the Group’s R&D efforts as the centre will focus on all areas of new innovations and quality improvements of our products. It will also involve research into engineering and robotic implementations to provide higher automation systems to new and existing facilities with the aim of lowering dependence on manpower.


Lee Swee Kiat Q2 FY2017 Results

The expansion and modernization project for our latex division is near completion. The new line would potentially increase our capacity by 30% and increase the varieties of latex pillows in productions.

Key Raw Material – Centrifuged latex price which had risen by more than 80% in Quarter 1 for the current financial year, has softened recently. The lower latex price would be beneficial to the Group’s margin in the coming months.

The Group is negotiating to acquire the plant & machineries of a small bedding company. The Group would also absorb the key managers as well as a group of skilled production workers from that company.


Perak Transit Q2 FY2017 Results

The outlook of integrated public transportation terminal operations segment is expected to the favorable driven by the Group’s plans for expansion in other parts of Perak, whereby the construction of the Terminal Kampar has commenced and it is on schedule. It is expected to be completed by the 4th quarter of 2018. In addition to Terminal Kampar, the Group’s plans include similar integrated public transportation terminal in Bidor and Tronoh. As of this juncture, the Group is unable to determine the construction cost for the terminals to be built as the construction project is still at its preliminary stage and the approvals for construction have yet to be obtained from the relevant authorities.


Thong Guan Industries Q2 FY2017 Results

The group is scheduled to commission its second nano layer stretch film line and its 8th PVC food wrap line during the current quarter.


GFM Services Q2 FY2017 Results

The Pangkalan Ikan Central Sdn Bhd LKIM deep sea fishing port facilities management contract located at Tanjong Bako, Kuching Sarawak commence operations on 22 July 2017. This project will contribute positively to the Group earnings this year.


Sime Darby Q4 FY2017 Results

Accordingly, the results of the Plantation and Property businesses have been classified as Discontinuing Operations and, upon completion of the Proposal, both Sime Darby Plantation Berhad and Sime Darby Property Berhad would be deconsolidated from the Sime Darby Berhad Group. Going forward, the Group’s businesses would be Industrial, Motors, Logistics and Others.


Luster Industries Q2 FY2017 Results

With the successful rationalization of the manufacturing business and successfully position itself to be an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), manufacturing segment has shown positive growth in profitability.

Pan Cambodian Lottery Corporation Limited (PCL), a 60% owned subsidiary of LIB has successfully grow the business in gaming & leisure segment by increasing the network of agents. The Group is also looking at strategy to increase the number of the digit game products. As for the plan to establish a gaming entertainment center, PCL is looking at the option of leasing the land and building and is currently in the process of discussion with several gaming operators.


DRB-HICOM Q1 FY2018

In line with DRB-HICOM’s effort to turnaround PROTON, the Group had on 23 June 2017 entered into a strategic collaboration with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd. (“ZGH”) vide a share subscription agreement for ZGH to acquire 49.9% equity interest in PROTON Holdings Berhad (“PROTON”) and for PROTON to divest its indirect 100% entire stake in Lotus Advance Technologies Sdn. Bhd. to ZGH and Etika Automotive Sdn. Bhd. The entry of ZGH as the Strategic Partner is expected to improve PROTON’s competitiveness through infusion of competitive products and technology, advanced manufacturing systems, quality and brand confidence which will allow PROTON to improve its sales domestically and globally especially in South East Asia and the right hand drive markets. In addition, PROTON will also be able to leverage on ZGH Group’s advanced technology, global resources through its extensive business network as well as global best practices. An Extraordinary General Meeting will be convened on 30 August 2017 to seek the shareholders’ approval on the above mentioned transactions.


OpenSys Q2 FY2017 Results

For the remainder of this year, we will continue to roll out even more Cash Recycling Machine from the robust orders we have received in the second quarter of this year.


Muda Holdings Q2 FY2017

The Board believes that the upward price trend of industrial paper will support the domestic selling price for the rest of the year. However, tight supply of waste paper in the domestic market which will translate into higher production cost, coupled with higher depreciation charge and interest cost from the new corrugating production line, will assert negative pressure on the profitability of the Manufacturing Division.


Mega First Q2 FY2017 Results

Being a coal fired thermal plant, the tightening environmental protection policies in China also have the effect of pushing up steam production cost. Heavy investments are necessary to add or modify existing plant and machinery to comply with the new emission standards. Earnings contribution from China is therefore expected to remain weak.


Transocean Holdings Q2 FY2017 Results

Logistics division derived revenues and profits mainly from multinational electronic factories shipments for “loose cargo” or consol cargo trucking services for the routes Pg/Sin/Pg and Pg/Thai/Pg. Continuous pull out of multinational factories from Malaysia particularly the electronic companies from Penang has reduced the cargo volumes and revenues. Furthermore, with the improved infrastructure of Air and Sea Ports in Malaysia, fewer importers and exporters are using Singapore Air and Sea Ports nowadays.

Traditional long haul chartered load sector required a large fleet of trucks operating with low margins.

The group had switched to car parts sector to improve revenues moving consol cargo from Thai/Mal/Sin. Steps also had been taken to convince existing customers to accept the “monthly price adjustments format” based on the average of weekly fuel price adjustment announced by the government to pass on the extra cost to the customers. The effect of the price adjustments will only materialize during the 3rd quarter.


Scicom MSC Q4 FY2017 Results

During the financial year, the Company recognized a tax incentive representing 70% tax exemption on its statutory income from outsourcing services. The Company’s achievement of the conditions and KPIs have been presented to the administrator, however, the assessment by the administrator has not been completed as at 30 June 2017. The Directors have assessed that the Company is able to meet the requirements for the tax incentive after taking into consideration that the Company has substantially met the stipulated conditions and KPIs, and their historical experience where confirmations from the administrator were obtained to recognize the tax incentive when conditions and KPIs were substantially met.

Therefore, the Directors are of the view that there is a reasonable basis for the Company to recognize the tax incentive during the financial year ended 30 June 2017.

Where the final outcome of the assessment of income tax exemption by the administrator is different from the Company’s assessment, this will result in higher income tax expense on the statutory income from outsourcing services recognized during the financial year.


Padini Holdings Q4 FY2017 Results

…the positive growth from the existing stores with 8% same stores sales growth… the opening of fourteen new stores during the current 12-month quarter.

There is an increase of RM22 million on inventories losses, inventory written-off and inventory written-down as compared to last financial year. This is an initiative of the management to embark on a more stringent implementation of the inventory policy with the use of stricter write off/ write down estimates. Excluded the effect of the additional inventories losses, the gross profit margin stood at 40.8%.


N2N Connect Q2 FY2017 Results

The acquisition of AFE, which was completed on 31 March 2017, enhanced our coverage in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and the United States. With the addition of Hong Kong, Macau, and Vietnam resulting in N2N being one of the largest Asian base platform provider. The acquisition of AFE will positively contribute to the Group’s performance in the future. We are assessing a few more potential targets for acquisition to establish a Pan Asia presence and the network of inter broking activities powered by our latest platform.

The Philippines business is expanding beyond the provision of the platform to the Philippine Stock Exchange(“PSE”) as leading brokers are now coming directly to N2N to obtain a more advanced version of the trading system to complement the services currently obtained from N2N via PSE. New agreements are in the pipeline and more demonstration to prospects, including the Back Office Settlement system, which had gone live in April 2017.


Choo Bee Metal Industries Q2 FY2017 Results

Of late, flat strip products have begun to pick up in price prior to earlier moderation, mainly due to speculative buying activities in China’s futures market. The pick-up in prices will augur well for tubular products and manufacturers where they are expected to raise their selling prices for finished products in tandem with the rise in iron ore prices. However, global demand ex-China remains soft and as such, sustainability of this price increase remains uncertain.


Tomypak Holdings Q2 FY2017 Results

With the completion of the new plant and the successful commissioning of the first more advance and efficient new printing and lamination machines, the Group is in the midst of working with major existing customers and potential customers to qualify this new plant to service these customers. Upon the successful certification of this new production process, the Group expects the overall performance to improve.

Another three sets of advance and efficient machines are schedule to be delivered in the last quarter of 2017, which will be commissioned and ready for production towards the end of the first quarter of 2018. The Group expects these machines to further improve the overall productivity and efficiency.


Hexza Q4 FY2017 Results

Due to lower sales volume and taking into consideration the Excise Duties (Amendment) Order 2016, whereby the excise duty of potable alcohol will be levied on the finished products and paid by the bottlers, our ethanol division’s revenue, which previously included excise duty for potable alcohol, was 66.1% lower.

The impact of the steep hike in excise duty for potable alcohol is still being felt as manufacturers of locally bottled alcohol products continued to adjust to the new market dynamics. In view of the challenges in the potable alcohol market, our strategy is to intensify our marketing efforts and deepen customer relationship. Our potable alcohol sales may be affected by new regulation introduced by the government but we expect our ethanol division to remain profitable during the financial year ending 30th June 2018.

Company Notes 2017.08.25 (Part 2)

Amway Malaysia Q2 FY2017 Results

…driven by positive momentum among Amway Business Owners (ABOs) and higher qualifiers in response to the 40th anniversary sales and marketing programmes. Notwithstanding this, the Group revenue has shown a general decline in light of softer consumer confidence levels.


FACB Industries Q4 FY2017 Results

The bedding operation in Malaysia recorded lower profit before tax as a result of declined revenue and gross profit margin which was affected by higher raw material costs. The stainless steel fittings operation’s reduced loss before tax was attributable to better average selling price. Loss in associates in China was mainly due to impairment loss on plant and equipment in the power business.


WCE Holdings Q1 FY2018 Results

The West Coast Expressway (WCE) Project involves the development of a 233 kilometres tolled highway from Banting, Selangor to Taiping, Perak (including 40 kilometres of highway to be constructed later). The WCE Project is a build-operate-transfer project with a concession period of up to a maximum of 60 years. The total project cost is approximately RM5,900 million and revenue from toll collections from certain sections are expected to commence late 2018. The Construction Commencement Date was set on 25 August 2014. Currently, the construction is ongoing. The Company is also participating in the construction of the WCE as the IJMC-WCEHB Joint Venture has been appointed as the Turnkey/Engineering and Procurement Contractor for the WCE highway project.


Box-Pak Malaysia Q2 FY2017 Results

The main challenge faced by the Group in the current financial year is the sharp and continous increase in paper cost (since the end of 2016) and the rising competition in Malaysia and Vietnam. Since the end of the previous financial year, average cost of the main paper materials used by the Group has increased by more than 8% and is expected to increase further.

The Vietnam government has in August 2017 announced further increase in minimum wage in Vietnam of approximately 6.5%-7.0%, effective 1 January 2018.


Uchi Technologies Q2 FY2017 Results

There were no significant changes to the cost structure where material consumption made up the highest percentage of the Group’s expenditure at 55%, followed by employee benefit expense at 26%, depreciation and amortization at 8%.


Pelikan International Q2 FY2017 Results

The discontinuation of printer consumable business and the point of sale services will cut the losses contributed by these business units to the Group going forward. The Group shall continue to enjoy higher sales in the next quarter from the “back to school” peak season in Europe. This was already apparent in July sales in the key German markets whereby the sales were much higher than planned.


MBM Resources Q2 FY2017 Results

Although the Division’s alloy wheel plant continued to incur losses in current quarter, its quantum has lessened as various measures taken thus far are showing effect.

The market environment is expected to remain challenging in the coming quarters. Among the factors would be intense competition, uncertainties in the industry environment and strict hire-purchase approvals. The Group will continue to improve the production efficiency at its manufacturing plants and to secure higher volume to achieve more sustainable margin. Cost structure review and new model launches by Perodua and Volvo in the coming quarters are expected to contribute positively to the Group’s performance


Matrix Concepts Q1 FY2018 Results

Additionally, the Group‟s investment properties comprising Matrix Global Schools and d‟Tempat Country Club have attracted increasing patronage, as reflected in its revenue uptrend since the previous financial year ended 31 March 2017 (FY2017). Together with the newly commenced 34-acre X Park and d‟Sora Boutique Business Hotel, as well as potential future investments, these properties would position Bandar Sri Sendayan as a leading community-focused township that aims to provide wholesome living experience for everyone.


Chin Hin Group Q2 FY2017 Results

The Company had on 18 July 2017 entered into a conditional share sale agreement (“SSA”) with the vendors of Atlantic Blue Sdn Bhd (“Atlantic Blue”) for the proposed acquisition of 45% equity interest in Atlantic Blue from the Vendors (“Sale Shares”) for a total cash consideration of RM24.75 million (“Proposed Acquisition”). Atlantic Blue controls approximately 10% of the market share of solar projects in Malaysia, by way of mounting over 30 MW of solar panels on rooftops for residential and industrial buildings across the country. The Proposed Acquisition will enhance the group’s solar income stream. Moreover, the Proposed Acquisition were pursued on the premise of Profit Guarantees on the Target Companies’ profit after taxation of RM20 million within 24 months from the date the purchase consideration is satisfied.


WCT Holdings Q2 FY2017 Results

The Engineering & Construction Division of the Group is expected to continue to build on its strong order book, after having secured a few new contracts amounting to approximately RM2 billion in the last financial year ended, backed by the Government’s emphasis on infrastructure development and spending. With a higher proportion of infrastructure related jobs, the Group expects the overall construction margin to improve.


OldTown Q1 FY2018 Results

As at 30 June 2017, the Group has a total of 231 café outlets; 191 in Malaysia, 9 in Singapore, 26 in Indonesia, 1 in Australia, 3 in China and 1 in Hong Kong.

We market, sell and distribute our products under OLDTOWN brand name in approximately 17 countries…For FYE 2018, we expect strong growth from export market driven by China, Australia, USA, Indonesia and Philippines.


Hap Seng Consolidated Q2 FY2017 Results

Automotive Division will have 10 autohauses in the second half of 2017 with the opening of another 2 new autohauses in Iskandar, Johor Bahru and Puchong South. These 2 new autohauses together with the Bukit Tinggi, Klang autohaus that was officially opened in April 2017 would enable the division to expand further its market coverage and contribute positively to its future performance.


Bintulu Port Q2 FY2017 Results

The handling of LNG vessel calls and cargoes will still be Bintulu Port main revenue contributor. Other cargoes that would contribute to the positive growth in 2017 include palm oil, palm kernel and containerized cargoes.

Samalaju Industrial Port was ready for commencement of Phase 1 operation from 1st June 2017 and is expected to contribute positively towards the revenue growth of the Group. The cargoes include among others Alumina, Manganese Ore, Silica Quartz and Coke.

Though there will be growth in terms of revenue, the expenditure to be recognised relating to amortisation of lease concession assets, other concession infrastructures and equipment as well as the SUKUK finance charges at Samalaju will give a downward impact on the overall performance of the Group.


Kelington Group Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group continues to enjoy a healthy orderbook replenishment rate. Year-to-date, the Group has clinched new projects worth approximately RM180 million. Including the orderbook carried forward from the previous year, the Group has an orderbook on hand of RM342 million, of which RM205 million remains outstanding. The progress billing of the outstanding orderbook will contribute positively to the Group’s financial performance.

Over the longer term, the newly established Industrial Gases division will be positively impacted by the recently secured long-term 10-year contract with a major photovoltaic manufacturer. Contribution from this contract is expected to commence in the next financial year ending 31 December 2018. The Group aims to grow this business further, which will add a stable and recurring income stream to the Group.


Yee Lee Q2 FY2017 Results

Our aerosol can business segment’s profit margin was also affected by the increase in tin plate prices where the full cost of the increase was not immediately passed on to their customers.

The higher selling price of cooking oils and sales of the Ribena and Lucozade products have offset the substantial drop in sales of other beverages such as bottled water and energy drinks.

Although the sales of tea was higher in this quarter, the sales volume is still insufficient to cover its plantation costs.

On 11 August 2017, our principal, Suntory Beverage and Food Malaysia Sdn Bhd has voluntarily recalled five flavour of Ribena Concentrate products with specified expiry dates due to suspected exposure to air during bottling process that may potentially deteriorate in quality earlier than the expiry date. Others ready-to-drink Ribena products are not affected. Based on its brand reputation and quality commitment, the Board foresees that this recall is a temporary setback and sales of these affected products will normalise once the recall has been completed. All the products recall expenses will be borne by the principal.


Gabungan AQRS Q2 FY2017 Results

The revenue for the current quarter was mainly from the work progress for the Sungai Besi – Ulu Kelang (SUKE) Highway, PR1MA Homes in Kuala Kuantan, Gambang, Pahang and Pusat Pentadbiran Sultan Ahmad Shah (PPSAS).

The Group’s monetization programme through the disposal of its selected landbank, aimed to improve the Group’s working capital position and to repay bank borrowings, will significantly reduce its finance cost and lower its total borrowings by the end of 4Q17. From 1Q18 onwards, the Group expects finance cost to reduce drastically.

The Group envisions to further increase the Construction Order Book by another RM1 billion to RM1.4 billion by the end of the Financial Year 2017 which will continue to contribute to the Group’s revenue and profit sustainability.


Uzma Q2 FY2017 Results

The joint venture between Uzma Energy Venture (Sarawak) Sdn. Bhd. and EQ Petroleum Developments Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. (the “Contractors”) had achieved first oil from Tanjung Baram Fields (as disclosed in note (v) below) on 18 August 2015. Pursuant to the Small Field Risk Service Contract signed with Petroliam Nasional Berhad, the Contractors are responsible for incurring costs for development and production of petroleum from the Tanjung Baram Fields, and will be reimbursed for the costs incurred. The Contractors will also receive remuneration fee, linked to performance variables, for a contract period of nine years.


Frontken Q2 FY2017 Results

While the Group’s subsidiary in Indonesia is one out of four companies that possess an API certification to enable it to carry out repairs and rectification works or tender for projects from large oil companies for blowout preventer repairs, we are concerned that the overall operations in that country will continue to be impacted by the oil and gas downturn, coupled with lower than expected GDP growth and weakened consumer spending.


Kian Joo Can Factory Q2 FY2017

Average cost of paper rolls used by the Group has increased by more than 8% and is expected to increase further. Cost of aluminium materials has also increased in tandem with the aluminium price quoted on London Metal Exchange. Cost of tin plate has also increased.

The revision in minimum wage rate in Malaysia (since July 2016) and Vietnam (since January 2017) has increased the production cost of the Group. The Vietnam government has in August 2017 announced a further increase in minimum wage by approximately 6.0% – 7.0%, effective January 2018. The prospect of possible implementation of employment insurance in Malaysia may add further burden to the escalating production cost.


Country Heights Q2 FY2017 Results

The health division, GHHS Healthcare, which have a combined western and eastern practices continues to be the key opinion leader in the preventive healthcare industry. GHHS Healthcare will focus on raising its platform to be perceived as a centre for medical tourism with increased international health tourists especially from the Indonesian market and a new focus on the China market.


PPB Group Q2 FY2017 Results

On the back of rising world prices for wheat, the outlook for the flour business is expected to be challenging. However, we are confident that stronger flour demand in the second half of the year would mitigate the margin erosion pressure. Amidst a competitive and changing industry landscape, the animal feed business is difficult although the division is expected to maintain its performance given a bullish broiler market. In summary, the Grains and agribusiness segment performance will be affected by the aforesaid factors.


Sunway Construction Group Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group’s outstanding order book amounts to RM4.3 billion with RM1.0 billion new order book as at end June 2017. The tender book value is now more than RM14 billion with majority of jobs tendered under the civil/infrastructure division. In addition, SunCon at present is in discussion with our parent company for several potential projects.

Call for GDP to be measured in USD

“The GDP grew 5.8% in the second quarter of 2017 (2Q17) … but it grew in ringgit. If we calculated in [the] US dollar, it would be about -3.3% because the ringgit has devalued by 9%.”

“We do business in the world market, so we must bench up. [In order] to become a developed country, [the] GDP should be based on the dollar, not ringgit. As such, our per capita in dollars is not growing.”

“The statistics show good export in 2H17 because of a weaker ringgit which means we become more cost-efficient, and labour and operation costs become cheaper. However, that is not so good. We must be competitive, efficient and productive. We have [a] quality product to compete to gain market share but ringgit devaluation is not our effort, so it is not a good way to gain market share.”


Measuring GDP in USD not relevant or appropriate

“In other words, the GDP reflects only the changes in the quantity of goods and services produced in the country. This compilation of GDP is consistent with international standards as stipulated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The department of statistics’ surveys and compilations are wide-ranging and inclusive of all sectors of the economy.”

“In view of this internationally-accepted standard, I wish to point out that [the] GDP measured in US dollars is not relevant for a matured and sophisticated economy like Malaysia, nor is the GDP measured in USD appropriate for an economy that is not dollarised in any sense. In any economy that is ‘dollarised’, there would be a loss of policy independence and flexibility, hence undermining a nation’s sovereignty.”

Maybank eyes RM160m spending from Amex gold card

“Our credit card billings have an average of RM3 billion monthly, driven by a total of 1.9 million customers in the credit card segment.” Maybank is the leading credit card issuer in Malaysia with more than 20 per cent market share as at July 2017.

Company Notes 2017.08.25 (Part 1)

Malakoff Q2 FY2017 Results

The results for the financial year ending 31 December 2017 will be affected by the lower capacity payment in the new revised Segari Energy Ventures Sdn Bhd’s Power Purchase Agreement commencing 1 July 2017.


Fiamma Q3 FY2017 Results

The new integrated logistics warehouse has improved the operation and cost efficiency of the Group and will also be able to generate a recurring income stream for the Group from the provision of storage space and logistic services to third party customers.


TH Plantations Q2 FY2017 Results

“The recovery in production and replenished stock levels throughout the industry have inevitably cause some downward pressure in CPO and PK prices, and we have seen average prices normalising down from their recent highs. However, we remain optimistic that the prices will still remain supported by increased demand for palm oil products, particularly in view of higher soybean oil prices in the United States.”


APM Automotive Q2 FY2017 Results

… lower demand from OEMs. ..lower revenue and higher operating costs from the newly completed plants overseas.

…profitability will be pressured by higher operating costs from the new overseas operations such as Thailand and Indonesia. These operations will focus on driving sales with an internal emphasis on efficient resource management, cost containment and increased technical training of workers to improve production efficiency.

…level of investment will not be curbed in the face of declining profitability… continue to expand its product range and to diversify geographically its reliance on one market.


Nestle Malaysia Q2 FY2017 Results

Compared to the second quarter of last year, the prices of major raw materials such as milk powders, coffee beans, and palm oil had increased by some margin.

Examples for the successful product launches in H1 2017 are MAGGI Hot Mealz, MILO “KAW”, KIT KAT Mini and MAT KOOL Panda Ice Cream.


Rubberex Q2 FY2017 Results

the provision of unrealized foreign exchange losses on investments held in China and higher costs of production, especially latex and resin, key components of our manufactured products.

The first phase of our nitrile disposable gloves project is currently operating at 80% capacity and is expected to be fully utilized by the second half of the year.

The Group is now embarking on the second phase of expansion with the proposed installation of two production lines that would increase the current installed capacity by another 500 million pieces to 1.5 billion pieces annually, however, commercial production is only expected to commence by the second half of 2018.


Evergreen Fibreboard Q2 FY2017 Results

due to higher log and glue cost…Production volume was reduced as a result of shortage supply of rubber wood and scheduled plants shut down for maintenance during the Ramadan festive period.


Star Media Group Q2 FY2017

On 12 May 2017, the Company announced that Laviani Pte Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary company, entered into a conditional share purchase agreement with Lucrum 1 Investment for the proposed disposal of its entire equity interest in Cityneon for a disposal consideration of SGD115,612,731 (equivalent to RM360,179,902) to be satisfied entirely via cash.

With the sale of the two radio stations (Capital FM and Red FM) which were loss-making in the last financial year, Radio segment is expected to contribute positively to the Group.

The Group has recently embarked on its next digital transformation plan with the launch of dimsum.my, its very own video-on-demand service. It offers Asian content and much of it on an exclusive basis. Currently, we are also building its library content to secure a much higher subscribers base.

All TV broadcasting companies globally are facing headwinds and with digital disruption within the media industry, the Company does not expect a turnaround from Li TV. In view thereof, the Board has decided to cease the business operations of Li TV Group to mitigate further losses.


Hock Seng Lee Q2 FY2017 Results

With a record order book of RM3 billion in hand, the Group is now busy on work execution. Nevertheless, the Group will continue to bid for projects that are related to our core business in infrastructure works. Our procurement initiative shall be undertaken in line with our prudent project management strategies, taking due consideration of the capacity and capabilities of the Group. The Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative, as well as the forces of industrialization and urbanization, provides further contract opportunities for HSL in the key SCORE growth node towns of Tanjung Manis, Mukah and Samalaju and the major cities of Sarawak. HSL foresees the property development segment, with a variety of products on offer, will make a greater impact on the business of HSL Group in 2017.

“While we are busy executing contracts across the state, we are also experiencing some pressure on margins as demand for materials, labour and sub-contractors has pushed up operating costs.”


Kerjaya Prospek Group Q2 FY2017 Results

The outstanding performance, especially in the construction segment, has mitigated the slowdown in the manufacturing segment which was due to completion of existing projects.

The Group’s outstanding order book stands at RM2.5 billion as at the current financial quarter. In addition, the construction division has secured about RM362 million worth of jobs as at the financial quarter.


Ta Ann Holdings Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group’s log harvesting policy is in compliance with our certification exercise. The reduction of log export quota from 30% to 20% effective 1 st July will channel more proportion of logs harvested to the mills for processing. We have strategically revised our plywood production to processing more products with higher plantation and certified woods components as we are stepping up harvesting of our plantation logs and utilization of imported PEFC certified eucalyptus veneer. To-date, plywood products prices have gone up by USD25/m3 and with higher demand, we anticipate the price uptrend to continue.


Boon Koon Group Q1 FY2018 Results

The prospect of rebuilt commercial vehicles business in Malaysia is expected to remain challenging for the year ahead, with continuing weak consumer sentiment and stringent hire purchase lending rule.

Instead of overdependence on its existing business, the Group via its subsidiary, BKG Development Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company has proposed to diversify into the property development segment with strong growth prospects with Platinum Eminent Sdn Bhd.


Salutica Q4 FY2017 Results

Bluetooth headsets contributed approximately 94.6% or RM48.9 million of total revenue for the current quarter. Non-Bluetooth products and in-house brand FOBO made up of the balance 5.4% of total revenue for the current quarter.

…due to the deferment of new product launch to the following quarter. This had affected the absorption efficiencies of fixed and variable overheads.

One of the models to be shipped to one of its major customers in the second half of CY2017 will be a new form factor of Bluetooth headsets.

The Group expects the sales of its in-house brand FOBO to grow by increasing the marketing and sales activities through expansion of sales distribution channels and promotional activities. Currently, the Group is marketing FOBO Tire, which is a tire pressure monitoring system for light vehicles, as an OEM after-market accessories to automotive brand owners. FOBO Ultra, which is for heavy vehicles continue to receive encouraging response from commercial vehicles and fleet companies. The Group expects to grow and expand in tandem with the market response.


Pecca Group Q4 FY2017 Results

Revenue from leather car seat covers contributed approximately 73.71% of total revenue followed by leather cut pieces supply which accounted for approximately 18.36% of total revenue during the quarter under review. OEM leather car seat remained the largest contributor segment accounted for approximately 39.94% of the total revenue for leather car seat covers whilst REM and PDI contributed approximately 21.99% and 11.78% respectively.


Classic Scenic Q2 FY2017 Results

…lower export sales revenue from wooden picture frame moulding as the market demand for the wooden picture frame in North America remained flat…The input cost of the Group’s major raw material and timber was fairly stable in the first six months ended 30 June 2017.


Techfast Holdings Q2 FY2017 Results

In order for TPSB to become a one stop center for the military and aerospace business, arrangements had also been made with the said customer as above mentioned to transfer their broaching machines from the USA to the company. As such, these machines will enable customers to source from TPSB as a one-stop center for finished products instead of semi-finished products currently, where further enhancement processes are required.

Cape has dominated the Malaysian market with more than 70% market share of products supplied to most of the semiconductor companies in the country. It has also captured over 40% of the market share in South East Asia. However, the biggest markets for Cape’s products are in China and Taiwan where the monthly market demand for rubber sheets in China and Taiwan is about 150 tons and 30 tons respectively, out of which Cape has about 6% market share.

Oriem, on the other hand, is working on some high end LED and epoxy projects with two reputable international original equipment manufacturers in Penang. Oriem is already an approved vendor which meets the standards and requirements of their supply chain. Our company’s new products are now in the final stages of evaluation by the OEM companies and we expect a business deal to be clinched soon.


Rhone Ma Holdings Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group’s future plans and strategies will focus on the expansion of our manufacturing activities by constructing and operating a new GMP-compliant plant in Nilai, which will increase our production capacity by approximately 4 times of the existing maximum production capacity.

We have commenced work on our new warehouse situated in Kampar on 21 July 2017. The new warehouse, which will be used as our main distribution center to cater to our increasing storage needs for both animal health products and food ingredients, estimated to be completed by 3Q 2018.


Focus Lumber Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group’s production unit cost had surged every month and decreased our profit margin as a result of poor production in the current quarter.

We expect the profit margin of our products to be impacted if the supply of logs issue persists. Currently, management is actively looking for alternative supply of logs, which includes purchasing veneer sheets from local timber companies.


Dagangan NeXchange Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group’s Information Technology business continues to firm up its e-services by broadening its product range in business-to-business segment to complement the Group’s position in delivering business-togovernment services.

The award to supply Portable Container Systems (“PCS”) for petroleum products by Petro Teguh (M) Sdn Bhd, is in line with our plan to pursue opportunistic contracting work in Oil & Gas downstream sector leveraging on OGPC’s expertise in delivering innovative engineered systems in short-cycle projects. This PCS project augurs well with our strategy to expand on the Group’s Energy division and further strengthen this business segment and provide growth moving forward.


E.A. Technique Q2 FY2017 Results

The higher cost of EPCIC was mainly due to additional request for work from the client, of which we will pursue for its recovery in future quarters. The increase in administrative expenses was due to discount on receivables and amortization of goodwill for the acquisition of Libra Perfex Precision Sdn Bhd.

The Group remains optimistic on its operating performance in view of the deployment of FSU Nautica Muar, the chemical tanker and oil tanker in Q3 2017. The overall performance of the Group will depend on the closing of the EPCIC project.


BP Plastics Q2 FY2017 Results

…higher resin costs which the Group was unable to completely pass through to its customers in order to maintain price competitiveness.


UMW Oil & Gas Q2 FY2017 Results

In the second quarter of 2017, five out of the Group’s seven jack-up rigs were income-generating with four of them contributed full-quarter revenue thereby achieving an overall asset utilisation rate of 68%. However, the positive effect from higher asset utilisation was offset by the lower time charter rates as well as zero contribution from Naga 1, a semi-submersible rig, which disposal was completed on 9th May 2017.

While asset utilisation is improving for the second half of 2017, the charter rates continue to remain soft, in line with prevailing market rates.


Ann Joo Resources Q2 FY2017

The Group’s earnings were affected by 1) lower sales tonnage on softer domestic demand which was affected by various factors affecting the construction industry; 2) higher finance cost due to recognition of RCPS unwinding of discount; and 3) recognition of LTIP – share based payments expenses of RM1.06 million.

Global steel supply is expected to be affected by: i. Potential output cuts by Chinese steel mills over winter; and ii. Potential production constraints faced by electric arc furnace operators globally given shortages in graphite electrodes worldwide. This expected demand-supply imbalance should enable the Group to be in an advantageous position as a hybrid Blast Furnace-Electric Arc Furnace (“BF-EAF”) operator with high degree of operational flexibility.


MWE Holdings Q1 FY2018 Results

The construction of both factories in Vietnam (Textile division) and Penang (Telecommunication division) has been completed. New production lines will be gradually increased in our Vietnam factory during this financial year. As for the Penang factory, the production is fully operated after the relocation from the previously rented factory. With the additional new facilities, the management expects the expansion and development of new products will further enhance the future earnings of both divisions.


Plenitude Q4 FY2017 Results

70% of Group’s revenue was from property development and 30% from hotel operations.


IHH Healthcare Q2 FY2017 Results

Parkway Pantai expects revenue to increase with aging demographics, more complex cases undertaken in its home markets and the ramp up of its new hospitals. As Parkway Pantai embarks on its next growth phase, it would focus on markets, such as China and India, where there is robust demand for quality healthcare services.

While the Group expects the pre-operating costs and start-up costs of new operations to partially erode its profitability during the initial stages, the Group seeks to mitigate the effects by ramping up on patient volumes in tandem with phasing in opening of wards at these new facilities in order to achieve optimal operating leverage. The Group expects higher costs of operations arising from wage inflation as a result of increased competition for trained healthcare personnel in its home markets.


Spritzer Q2 FY2017 Results

We will continue with our marketing and sales efforts so as to improve our sales of bottled water in Guangzhou, China and in Malaysia. We will also continue with our market development and brand awareness activities in China. We remain confident that the sales of our bottled water products will be sustainable in the domestic market. We are also taking firm steps to improve our business operations in China.

La Nina to hurt air-con sales this year — Daikin

As the blistering heat of El Nino gives way to increased rainfalls under its wet cousin La Nina across Southeast Asia this year, air conditioner (air con) sales are expected to cool.

“I don’t think we will see similar [sales] numbers this year, as the market is shrinking. In the last two years, Malaysia and a major part of Southeast Asia were experiencing very hot El Nino weather and [air con] brands actually could not meet demand and ran out of stock in the months of April to June.”


Malaysia is IKEA’s near RM1 billion Asean distribution and supply chain hub

IKEA will invest RM908 million for the new centre, which will adopt the structure and technology of IKEA’s biggest regional distribution centre in Germany. IKEA will manage an inventory of 9,500 stock keeping units worth RM6.6 billion annually.

“With the establishment of the regional distribution and supply chain centre, Malaysia will strengthen its role in supporting IKEA’s growth in the Asean region. The centre will serve 12 retail stores in Asean, which will increase to 20 stores by 2026.”

Urgent need to regulate healthcare fees

…the central bank will come out with a framework as soon as possible to reduce the medical insurance rate, which is projected to rise to 12.7% this year.

…rising medical insurance in Malaysia and other countries in the region is partly due to unregulated rules.

“While doctors’ fees are regulated, other components of private hospital charges are not. We need a framework on private hospital charges so that prices remain fair and appropriate. Consumers are advised to request for more detailed billing of charges, breakdown of cost of treatment and medicines provided to them.”

Other components of hospital charges not regulated include fees for hospital stay, laboratory investigations, nursing care, use of equipment and operation room and drugs.

Curated Insights 2017.08.20

Apple has the best business model for generating cash

Apple’s $64B of operating cash flow was nearly as much as that of Alphabet ($36B), Facebook ($19B), and Amazon ($17B) combined. In essence, Amazon is doing as well financially as Facebook. Google is generating as much cash as Amazon and Facebook put together. Apple is generating nearly as much cash as Amazon, Facebook, and Google combined.

Apple’s $51B of TTM free cash flow is $3B more than the free cash flow produced by Alphabet, Facebook, and Amazon combined. In what may come as a surprise, Apple is bringing in 70% more free cash flow than Microsoft, who is still considered to possess one for the more lucrative business models in existence.

Apple is a design company focused on selling tools capable of fostering superior experiences. Scale is considered a byproduct of a properly functioning business model. Facebook and Google are service companies focused on offering free, data-capturing services to as many people as possible. The business models are dependent on achieving scale in order to access as much data as possible. Amazon is a retail platform company focused on getting you to buy more stuff over time. Scale in terms of purchase volume is needed in order for the cash flow/reinvestment cycle to continue.

Instead, we have non-hardware companies pontificate how hardware won’t matter in the future. In reality, the opposite will likely occur. Hardware will matter more going forward. The wearables industry represents a good example of this in practice. Meanwhile, the way smartphone and tablet components are mattering more now than ever to AR and AI is another hole in the “hardware won’t matter” thesis.


No one knows how much money WeChat is making, and investors are too bullish to care

…the success of Honor of Kings as an example of WeChat’s indirect influence on Tencent’s revenue growth. “When you go into the game, it becomes all about playing with your WeChat friends, and looking at their scores and achievements,” he says. Honor of Kings is currently ranked the top-grossing game in China’s iOS App Store (registration required), and four other Tencent titles fill out the top 10.

…pointing to WeChat’s low take on payments (Stripe and PayPal each charge about 3%) and its aggressive discounts, speculates it’s a loss leader. Tencent executives, meanwhile, have downplayed its role in making money for the company. “We consider payment at this point in time as to [sic] infrastructure service rather than a service that generates profit for us. And I think that status will maintain for quite some time.”

“Payments are the gateway to lending. And because you’re tracking the same consumer across so many platforms, you know the credit score of the consumer and you have very few non-performing loans.”


How Baidu will win China’s AI race—and, maybe, the world’s

But to train the algorithms that will deliver the intelligence to transform our cities, it needs data. To wit: The company with the most data wins.

Clearly, he saw more opportunity across the Pacific: In China, 731 million people—nearly twice the entire population of the United States—are online. Says Lu: “China has the structural advantage.”

We’re the first major company to clearly separate the perceptual and the cognitive layer. Perceptive capability and the cognitive are related, but they are quite different. Most of the [other] AI platforms bundle them together.

But one thing I learned is that in this race to AI, it’s actually more about having the right application scenarios and the right ecosystems.

It’s just like the phone ecosystem today. The phone ecosystem is the largest silicon software ecosystem. I believe the same thing will happen for the autonomous system. The car is going to build a larger ecosystem. And the same set of capabilities—hardware, sensors, chip sets, software—will be used to build industry robots, home robots. We want to have hundreds of companies and universities all at work on this, building a very large ecosystem. Then we can build robots, build drones, and build all those autonomous systems. So, to me, autonomy is a key.

…because China is highly, highly fragmented. There’s more than 250 car OEMs [original equipment manufacturers], unlike the United States, which is a heavily concentrated industry. None of the OEMs will have the full capabilities to build out deep R&Ds. With our code base that we released on July 5, [we will make it possible for] one person to assemble a vehicle in three days that can do autonomous driving in limited forms and start on R&Ds.

We’re competing against nobody. We enable each OEM, whether it’s Bosch, Continental, or Nvidia, to be able to do more.


Amazon has largest A.I. platform in the world, its machine learning guru boasts

Despite the lack of notoriety, “inside Amazon we’ve been doing machine learning for over twenty years,” he notes, and anyway, “We have more machine learning running on the platform than anywhere else” he claims, meaning AWS is doing more A.I. than Google or any other facility in the world.

“Today, machine learning is very technical,” he says, but overtime, and with Amazon’s help, it is going to be simpler and simpler to apply machine learning to any number of different applications, “and to do it with high accuracy.”

Wood noted another important development, the shift from just the “training” phase of A.I., where a computer deduces patterns, to the “inference” stage, where it responds to user requests based on what it’s learned.

…what he thinks of machines making machines, meaning, machine learning being able to design new algorithms for machine learning, a kind of self-reflexive moment in A.I. “Absolutely,” says Wood, “It’s already happening. There are customers on AWS who are training bots to to make algorithms.” One example is something called Bandits, where machines face off against one another, with one machine trying to deduce learning models while the other is trying to trick it with falsehoods.

Amazon expands program that pays Alexa developers for top-performing voice apps

It’s notable that the Alexa platform has managed to attract a sizable group of developers ahead of any formal compensation program, or support for traditional app monetization business models, like freemium apps, paid apps, and advertising. Despite this, Alexa’s app store has grown to over 15,000 skills in a relatively short period of time – after all, the Echo speaker – Amazon’s first Alexa device – wasn’t even available to the public until July 2015.

That said, direct payouts for skills is a program that can only be sustained for so long. Eventually, developers will demand more control over their businesses, rather relying on some inscrutable algorithm. In the meantime, Amazon will face competition from rivals, including Google Home and Apple’s forthcoming HomePod – both from companies who have a better understanding of how an app store ecosystem works.


Amazon in talks to offer event ticketing in U.S.

…the U.S. ticketing market as ripe for attack. Consumers dislike ticket fees, and venue owners, sports leagues and teams want more distributors for their tickets as they seek to boost sales. Access to tickets could be another means to lure members to the Amazon Prime shopping club. For music acts and sports teams, selling tickets through Amazon could help sell their merchandise.

Amazon has had conversations to partner with Ticketmaster as a potential way to get into ticketing in the United States, but those conversations have stalled over who would control customer data, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations.

Ticketing would likely make money for Amazon, which has a patchy record of profitability. Ticketmaster generated $1.6 billion in revenue from initial sales of tickets to events in 2016, according to estimates by research firm BTIG. That figure does not include revenue from the reselling of tickets, which BTIG estimates at $250 million.


Amazon looks to new food technology for home delivery

If the cutting-edge food technology comes to fruition, and Amazon implements it on a large scale, it would be a major step forward for the company as it looks to grab hold of more grocery customers shifting toward quick and easy meal options at home.

The pioneering food-prep tech, known as microwave assisted thermal sterilization, or MATS… The method involves placing sealed packages of food in pressurized water and heating them with microwaves for several minutes, according to 915 Labs.

“They obviously see that this is a potential disruptor and an ability to get to a private brand uniqueness that they’re looking for. They will test these products with their consumers, and get a sense of where they would go.”

“They have to leapfrog to MATS because they don’t have the refrigerated supply chain like we have in the U.S.”

Facebook buys computer vision startup focused on adding objects to video

…could be useful as Facebook pursues additional video filter creation technology, both for its live streaming efforts, and for platforms like Instagram Stories.

…being able to add objects to live video and remove them or cover them over on the fly is also something that can be put to interesting use in the emerging field of augmented reality.

The world’s shipping companies are going super-sized

A massive consolidation is underway in the $500 billion global industry and the survivors now enjoy big economies of scale and increased demand, one year after excess capacity caused the sector’s worst-ever crisis — the bankruptcy of South Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co.

These super-sized shipping companies wield much more pricing power over manufacturers and retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. The five biggest container lines control about 60 percent of the global market, according to data provider Alphaliner. Shipping rates are climbing, and an index tracking cargo rates on major routes from Asia is about 22 percent higher than it was a year earlier.

“Since the demise of Hanjin Shipping, flight to quality has become more noticeable in the container shipping business,” said Um Kyung-a, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co. in Seoul. “That’s why the market is becoming more and more dominated by top players with big ships and those that don’t have could become more and more obsolete.”


The awesome but mostly unknown story of Carlsberg beer in China (Part 1, Part 2)

It was a daring strategy. Inland China was the one region that was not yet dominated by the large SOE brewers. It was still open territory. But you also need to have a picture in your mind of Western China circa 2003. It was the poorest part of China. It was a massive and undeveloped territory. There was little infrastructure and even less money.

A review of Sunny’s Carlsberg presentation in 2006 is fascinating. Western China had exceptionally low per-capita beer consumption. In Eastern China in 2005, it ranged from 30-80 liters per person, but in Tibet and Ningxia it was only 10-15 liters. And in Yunnan and Xinjiang it was closer to 3 liters. That could of course mean big growth one day. More likely, it meant small money in difficult geographies for the foreseeable future.

Across the board, it was a strategy of regional dominance. They were building a competitive advantage based on local economies of scale in marketing, distribution and production. And they were racing to become a giant in the West.


Deep learning could discover new plant species hidden in centuries of herbarium data

…but the valuable info in these slowly vanishing temples to the plant kingdom needs to be modernized in order to be of use to an increasingly digital-first scientific community.

They trained a plant-identification algorithm on a quarter million images of plant samples, and set it to work IDing new sheets. It matched the species picked by human experts exactly 4 out of 5 times, and 90 percent of the time the correct species was in the algorithm’s next few guesses.

“People feel this kind of technology could be something that will decrease the value of botanical expertise,” study co-author Pierre Bonnet told Nature. “But this approach is only possible because it is based on the human expertise. It will never remove the human expertise.”

CRISPR’d pigs offer hope for the human organ transplant shortage

The findings represent an important breakthrough in the potential for xenotransplantation, or the use of animal organs in humans. Currently there are more than 117,000 men, women and children on the donor waiting list in the U.S., 22 of whom die each day from lack of a matching donor. The ability to use a pig heart, lungs or other body parts could shore up the shortage and save numerous lives.

This is the first time researchers have been able to demonstrate they were able to inactivate PERV and open the way for xenotransplantation without cross-species contamination.

CRISPR holds enormous potential to wipe out diseases in both humans and animals, upend our food system and has many other applications we likely don’t see yet. Just last week, U.S. scientists were able to demonstrate they could successfully CRISPR out a faulty heart gene mutation in human embryos. However, there is still a lot to take into account before applying the technology to fully formed human beings.


The death of the internal combustion engine

And then there is oil. Roughly two-thirds of oil consumption in America is on the roads, and a fair amount of the rest uses up the by-products of refining crude oil to make petrol and diesel. The oil industry is divided about when to expect peak demand…

Meanwhile, a scramble for lithium is under way. The price of lithium carbonate has risen from $4,000 a tonne in 2011 to more than $14,000. Demand for cobalt and rare-earth elements for electric motors is also soaring. Lithium is used not just to power cars: utilities want giant batteries to store energy when demand is slack and release it as it peaks. Will all this make lithium-rich Chile the new Saudi Arabia? Not exactly, because electric cars do not consume it; old lithium-ion batteries from cars can be reused in power grids, and then recycled.

Housing for the long run?

Housing beat stocks mostly because the returns were less than half as volatile. Thanks to the magic of compounding, this created a performance gap of more than 2 percentage points each year, on average, since 1950, with an even bigger gap if you start the clock in 1870.

Housing has beaten stocks since 1950 because rental income has been better than dividend income, not because house prices have grown more than stock prices.

It’s possible to imagine a world where most housing is owned by large diversified investment trusts that anyone can invest in, but until then, “housing for the long run” is not a practical investment strategy.


Sustainability of hedge-fund reinsurers questioned

Such reinsurers generally engage in “low-margin and low-volatility (property/casualty) reinsurance business,” and try to generate returns for investors through hedge fund investment or other strategies.

The fund reinsurers’ strategy is a half success, as they outperform traditional reinsurers’ investment record. This is still not enough to offset underwriting losses, says S&P, leaving the fund reinsurers trailing their more established brethren in total return.

“We continue to believe that HFRs need to focus as much on the additional risks of their overall strategies as they do on the higher investment returns,” S&P said, adding that “HFRs will continue to evolve, learn from their earlier brethren’s mistakes, and nibble at the edges of the reinsurance market as they carve out a niche for themselves.


ASEAN at 50

Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most diverse regions. Its 640 million people include 240 million Muslims, 120 million Christians, 150 million Buddhists, and millions of Hindus, Taoists, Confucianists, and Communists. Its most populous country, Indonesia, is home to 261 million people, while Brunei has just 450,000. Singapore’s per capita income of $52,960 per annum is 22.5 times that of Laos ($2,353). This diversity puts Southeast Asia at a distinct disadvantage in terms of fostering regional cooperation. When ASEAN was founded in 1967, most experts expected it to die within a few years.

But ASEAN defied expectations, becoming the world’s second most successful regional organization, after the European Union. Some 1,000 ASEAN meetings are held each year to deepen cooperation in areas such as education, health, and diplomacy. ASEAN has signed free-trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, and established an ASEAN economic community. Today, ASEAN comprises the world’s seventh-largest economy, on track to become the fourth largest by 2050.

Yet ASEAN’s long-term progress is undeniable. Its combined GDP has grown from $95 billion in 1970 to $2.5 trillion in 2014. And it is the only reliable platform for geopolitical engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, unique in its ability to convene meetings attended by all of the world’s great powers, from the United States and the European Union to China and Russia.

Company Notes 2017.08.18

Media Prima Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group incurred an LAT of RM138.4 million for 2QFY17 mainly due to the impairment of investment in an associate of RM142.4 million.

…lower advertising and newspaper sales as the shift to digital media significantly affected the Group’s traditional media business. While the Group has ventured into new digital and consumer-based business initiatives to complement its traditional media segments, these initiatives are still undergoing a gestation period.

Digital Media – The proposed acquisition of RAHSB will enable access to resources and competencies to drive growth in digital business by acquiring expertise in digital content curation and digital content marketing. The acquisition of RAHSB increases content monetisation opportunities for the key market segments by leveraging on the Group’s audience base, big data initiative and traditional media platforms to strengthen the newly acquired business further.


Eversafe Rubber Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group plans to increase its export sales and geographical footprint to various overseas markets. The new markets the Group intends to expand to will primarily be outside the ASEAN region, with a focus on the South American region. The Group is in the midst of finalising the details of a joint venture agreement with its business partner to establish a tyre retreading plant in South America and also to market and distribute the retreaded tyres.


AHB Holdings Q1 FY2018 Results

AHB has increased its R&D resources and plans to continue to introduce new dynamic furniture programs and new products to improve financial performance. AHB is also diversifying its market base, including improving the local market share of the office furniture market.


Batu Kawan Q3 FY2017 Results

Profitability of the Group’s oleochemical business will be lower in view of stocks write-down, challenging and difficult market environment. As for the Chemicals division, profit from the chlor-alkali business is projected to be higher due to better prices while the restructured sulphuric acid business should contribute a modest profit.


Kuala Lumpur Kepong Q3 FY2017 Results

Financial performance of the oleochemical business was significantly impacted by the high volatility of the price of its raw material, crude palm kernel oil (CPKO), during the current quarter which had created mismatch in the selling price of oleo products against its raw materials purchase price. Customers additionally, are exercising higher prudent buying strategy in light of market conditions. This had resulted in the write-down of RM60.3 million in stocks with most of the oleo products had lower or negative contributions.


Hup Seng Industries Q2 FY2017 Results

…the development of new market such as China over the past has also started to bear fruits contributing to the pleasant growth.

Domestic sales registered a drop of 2% mainly due to some problem in East Malaysia market. However, this decline was more than offset by a 20% growth in export sales propelled by higher demand from existing distributors due to concerted effort of promotion activities as well as contribution from a new distributor in China whom the Group nurtured since 2016.


Ornapaper Q2 FY2017 Results

The key factors affect the group’s performance include mainly raw material costs (such as kraft liner, test liner, medium paper and etc), operationg cost, demand for the packaging products and the ability to cope with the change. The recent upward trend of raw material costs has resulted in increase of production cost.

The sales volume and average selling price for corrugated cartons and boards has increased by 4.97% and 8.76% respectively compared to the preceding quarter.


Pharmaniaga Q2 FY2017 Results

Although earnings were impacted by the temporary closure of production lines, this will subsequently enable the Group to move forward with the commercialisation of new products as some of the products were approved ahead of schedule. This is certainly testament to the Group’s strong research and development initiatives.


LTKM Q1 FY2018 Results

The decrease in earnings was due mainly to the drop in egg prices and increase in cost of major raw materials namely corns and soybean.


Taliworks Q2 FY2017 Results

The high trade receivables particularly the amount owning by SPLASH continues to be a major concern as it has long been outstanding due to the uncertainties in the Selangor water restructuring exercise.


Paramount Q2 FY2017 Results

Education institutions have gone into a price war in an attempt to hold their respective market positions and compete for new students.

With the enlarged K-12 segment, comprising Sri KDU and the R.E.A.L Education Group, offering premium and more affordably priced alternative private and international schools respectively, Paramount Education is now able to reach a wider segment of the K-12 market. Sri KDU’s excellence in quality education continues to be reinforced. Following the success of PISA in 2012, Sri KDU International School achieved the International School Quality Mark (ISQM) Gold Award this year, the first in Malaysia and third in Asia to procure this award.


Press Metal Aluminium Q2 FY2017 Results

Aluminium price continues to increase as more and more production cuts are being announced in China according to the government supply reform policy. As a result, the China smelting production is expected to slow down and the world’s supply and demand will tilt towards a deficit situation which will support long term aluminium price performance.

Our smelting operations will continue to run at full capacity for the remaining of the year with demand continues to be well supported.


IFCA MSC Q2 FY2017 Results

As the trend of businesses moving online to the cloud starts to pick up momentum, the Group has started to invest in the next generation of solutions for the property industry with a strong focus on prop-tech. This initiative is expected to leverage the depth of experience of the Group in the property sector over the last 30 years, and combine it in a partnership with a leading cloud technology provider.

As at 30 June 2017, the Group has unbilled orders in hand amounting to RM28.22 million, an increase of RM 4.44 million from the previous quarter, showing an upward trend in the order book.


HSS Engineers Q2 FY2017 Results

The decline was compensated by newly secured projects in 2017 including East Coast Rail Line (“ECRL”) scheme design and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail.

The Group has put in place a series of future plans as follows:- (a) Geographical expansion into ASEAN, Middle East and India regions; (b) Continuous enhancement on its three (3) existing core services (i.e. engineering services, project management and Building Information Modeling (“BIM”) services) and proposed venture into a fourth (4th) core service i.e. facility management; and (c) Venturing into the provision of support services to the water and power generation sectors which are expected to continue receiving strong government support given their strategic importance to the country.


Dialog Group Q4 FY2017 Results

As a leading integrated technical services provider to the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry, DIALOG remains confident that its business model is well structured and can withstand the current oil price volatility and currency movements. The Group’s financial track record has proven that DIALOG’s business is well risk-managed and sustainable.


S P Setia Q2 FY2017 Results (Press Release)

Sapphire By The Gardens, comprising a residential tower with 345 units of apartments and GDV of AUD376 million in Melbourne’s Central Business District (“CBD”) witnessed a strong take-up rate of 70% during the launch weekend on 17 June.

Moving forward into the second half of 2017, the Group will focus more on the local market with emphasis given to the launches of mid-range landed properties in the Klang Valley…The strategy is to launch more of the landed properties in the Group’s flagship townships where the underlying demand for such properties by owner occupiers are still strong.


Three-A Resources Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group has positioned itself strategically to leverage on the expansion of production facilities especially the completed Maltodextrin product Plant no. 3 and also the acquisition of lands located in the vicinity of the existing production facilities.


Shangri-La Hotels Malaysia Q2 FY2017 Results

Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur is expected to deliver revenue and profit growth for the full year 2017, supported by stronger food and beverage business over the second half, with the continuing benefit of its recently fully upgraded banqueting facilities and all-day dining restaurant. Hotel Jen Penang successfully completed its major renovation, with the hotel’s full inventory of renovated rooms back in operation at the end of June 2017. This will allow the hotel to drive improvements in occupancy and room rates during the reminder of 2017.


Aemulus Q3 FY2017 Results

Sales growth in the Far East region has been encouraging. The double digit revenue growth target set by the Group for this region remain unchanged.

Orders for products continue to stream in from our customers in the enterprise storage segment.

The combined revenue from the enterprise storage, smartphone and tablet segments constitute close to 90% of the Group revenue


Century Logistics Q2 FY2017 Results

The Group will leverage its extensive customer base and internal strength which the Group has put in place that focuses on providing value added logistics solutions while maintaining cost efficiencies. Following the ongoing synergy process, the Group also intends to tap into the extensive network and infrastructure of its major shareholder, CJ Logistics Group. The Group is currently setting up the necessary infrastructure to roll-out its parcel delivery operation and expects to commence the operation soon.


Vitrox Q2 FY2017 Results

…the increase in revenue recorded for Machine Vision System (MVS) and Automated Board Inspection (ABI). Revenue from MVS and ABI have recorded an increase of 45% and 31% respectively against the corresponding period of preceding year. The increase was mainly due to higher demand from widen customer base and positive acceptance of our products.


Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Q2 FY2017 Results (Press Release)

… higher sales volume and a one off trade discount adjustment in Singapore. This improvement was achieved despite trade loading last year in Malaysia during June 2016 prior to the price increase in July 2016.

“Our premium brands Somersby cider and Kronenbourg Blanc are growing double-digit, improving our brand mix and overall revenue. In Malaysia, our draught stout Connor’s is also growing double-digit as well and reaching new consumers with the ‘Connor’s Challenge’ campaign. In Singapore, our Asahi Super Dry sales are also very encouraging.”


Allianz Malaysia Q2 FY2017 Results

The increase in gross earned premiums of the life insurance operation was mainly contributed by growth in premiums from agency and bancassurance channels.

The higher expense ratio is due mainly to investment in digital assets and provision for impairment on insurance receivables.

The second phase of motor and fire detariff commenced in July 2017 where insurers have the flexibility to deviate pricing for the motor and fire portfolios within certain regulatory allowances. The pricing for both lines of business is expected to move towards a risk-based pricing approach. Competition is expected to intensify for the general insurance business.

The general insurance subsidiary has taken key initiatives to remain competitive in this environment including building a technical pricing model, active portfolio, and claims management as well as disciplined expense management.

The life insurance subsidiary will focus on strengthening its distribution channels through the professionalization and increased the productivity of its agency force. It will generate growth from its investment-linked business with rider attachments which cater for customers’ protection needs.


JcbNext Q2 FY2017 Results

Pending the acquisition of new businesses and/or investments, the Group’s future prospects will depend on the performance of its associated companies in Taiwan and Malaysia, quoted investment in Hong Kong, foreign exchange rates, and operating activities in Malaysia and Japan. The Group will derive income primarily from the provision of consultancy services, dividend income from its quoted investments and rental of office space.


Tasco Q1 FY2018 Results

Contribution from export cargoes of printed circuit boards, E&E, capacitors, semiconductors as well as aerospace customers boosted the higher revenue of AFF business. For Ocean Freight Forwarding (“OFF”) division, strong shipments contribution by a solar panel customer, especially export shipments to New York & Savannah of USA, coupled with increased export to Japan of an aerospace customer significantly uplifted OFF revenue performance. New customers of furniture manufacturers of OCM business also contributed higher revenue to OFF division…Trucking division posted a revenue increase of RM3.0 million (15.2 per cent), largely as a result of an increase in a new secured E&E account in the central region as well as increased distribution of an FMCG customer and inbound cross border business from Thailand.

On 12 July 2017, we completed our acquisition of Gold Cold Transport Sdn. Bhd. (“GCT”), thus marking our official foray into cold supply chain logistics business. Hence, the results of GCT will be consolidated into our accounts with effect from our second fiscal quarter this year. Our acquisition of MILS Cold Chain Sdn. Bhd., on the other hand, is still pending approval from the relevant authorities.


Pos Malaysia Q1 FY2018 Results

…the recent upbeat economic sentiments, globally and domestically, are supportive of the growth of e-Commerce, the key driver of the Pos Malaysia’s revenue growth. Furthermore, the Government’s continued progress in rolling-out the Digital Free Trade Zone incentives is also positive for the continued growth of e-Commerce and its ecosystem in Malaysia.

…traditional mail business to remain challenging due to the structural decline in mail volume driven by the continued shift into digital and mobile communications platforms.


Notion VTec Q3 FY2017 Results

The accounting profit is affected by losses mainly arising from Notion Thailand and Notion International, Johor due to insufficient orders covering the higher overheads but there are new orders from new customers in the coming quarters.

The camera continues to be on a decline…


Hong Leong Industries Q4 FY2017 Results

Malaysian Newsprint Industries Sdn Bhd (“MNI”), an associated company had commenced creditors’ voluntary winding-up proceedings. Arising thereto, the Group had made a one-off full impairment provision of RM172 million which is the Group’s carried amount of investment in MNI as at 30 June 2017. Going forward the Group is no longer required to equity account for the future results of MNI. In the event of any residual value from the liquidation process, the Group will recognize any recoveries in future periods.


ELK-Desa Resources Q1 FY2018 Results

The Group will continue to strategically operate in the underserved niche market and focus on growing the small value second hand car financing segment. The business strategy will also be constantly reviewed to ensure the Group continues to stay relevant in the industry and at the same time keeping the credit risk exposure within the tolerance level.

…the furniture business will continue to be affected by the sluggish consumers’ sentiments and the current soft economic environment. However, the Group will continue to grow the furniture business and focus on ensuring the operational efficiencies in the various divisions (i.e. retail, wholesale, export, and manufacturing).


Tune Protect Group Q2 FY2017 Results

“Gross Written Premiums is up by 11.3% which was driven by our motor, offshore oil, and engineering, as well as Middle East travel businesses.”

“More importantly, we are excited to announce that we’ve secured a new airline partner. Our partnership with Cambodia Angkor Air marks the 4th airline partnership with Tune Protect and is slated to commence in 3Q2017. This is definitely a silver lining for Tune Protect, as we ride out the storm. Securing another airline partner in the region is a huge milestone for us as it brings us closer to our vision of becoming a leading travel insurer in ASEAN.”

…due to increase in net claims mainly from Motor class of general insurance business, offset by a minor improvement in share of profits from overseas ventures.

“To alleviate the higher costs of motor claims that continue to impact our Malaysian general insurance business, we have redirected car repairs to non-franchise panel workshops to minimise the cost. We are also revising the way we evaluate franchise vehicles that have higher loss exposure and reviewing Beyond Economic Repair level to curb total loss exposure.”

With the intensified competition on the back of the liberalization of Motor and Fire businesses, our strategies for the coming months will concentrate on providing further online accessibility and product differentiation via risk-adjusted pricing.


Kawan Food Q2 FY2017 Results

The construction of the new plant at Pulau Indah is progressing accordingly to the revised schedule. The new factory is expected to be commissioned in the second half of the year. The research and development activities are continuing for new products which are planned to be manufactured at the new factory.

Thong Guan eyes to list unit on HK’s GEM

Ang is increasingly frustrated with the low market valuation of Thong Guan, saying it is an unjustified discount to its local rivals, which he hopes would eventually be corrected with a spin-off of its F&B arm and leaving the parent focused on the plastic packaging business.

“Last year, the F&B division contributed about RM4.5 million in profit and we expect this to grow to RM5 million this year. The PVC food wrap business recorded a profit of RM6 million in 2016. If we combine the two, we have a RM10 million profit company.”

“China has the largest market for organic noodles in the world. And the people there are growing more affluent, preferring to buy imported food products because they know regulations for imported food are very stringent. And there is a big market for baby noodles in China. So far, there is no organic noodle for babies in China and we would be among the first to go with that concept. I believe it would work. People want to start [letting] their kids [like and eat healthy food] when they are young.”

“Under China’s food regulations, products for children more than seven months old are categorised as infant food where certain vitamins and minerals are necessary. Our baby noodle products did not meet those requirements. So, we are changing the packaging of these baby noodle products in order for them to enter China.”

“We are actively looking for potential acquisition targets in the nanotechnology stretch film and max-stretch film business in Malaysia, Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia, [but the] market is good now. When the market is bad, then it is a good time to move in. We are also looking at companies that can provide complementary strengths like producers of plastic raw materials. We have been in talks, but we are not in a hurry [to complete any M&A transaction]. We can sit on top of the mountain and watch, and still grow our existing business.”


Sasbadi to ‘unleash’ non-academic segment’s potential

“Most of the products we sell target students. However, students have many needs, for example they want to read fiction too. We also want to target books for adults such as for self-improvement and other hobbies. There are [basically] many other segments we can look into.”

“We have mature technology that can be exported. So we are identifying partners who have good content and good branding in the local market, with good reach in terms of distribution, but lack the technological advantage. That’s where we can come in and collaborate. I believe this kind of collaboration will enable us to get access to good markets abroad.”


Gamuda’s IBS parts-making capacity to double by end-2018

Gamuda Bhd will see its annual manufacturing capacity of industrialised building system (IBS) components more than double to 8,000 units, with the completion of its second facility in Banting by end-2018.

“With the second factory coming online [by the] end of next year, we will be able to produce a total of 8,000 of 1,000-sq ft units per year. The current facility manufactures solid walls which are heavy and unsuitable for taller buildings. The new facility will be able to produce double walls, which are lighter and more suitable for taller buildings.”

“But when IBS is made mandatory, demand will rise and factories will ramp up their capacity. I am confident that there will be more IBS manufacturers coming up when demand picks up.”

Malaysia’s medical inflation at double-digit pace

Malaysia’s healthcare inflation stood at 11.5% in 2016 and is projected to rise to 12.7% this year, the survey shows. The pace is much faster than the average of 10.7% in Asia last year, and the rate is projected to ease to 10.2% this year. In fact, Malaysia is the third-highest among the 11 Asian countries surveyed, after India’s 14% and Indonesia’s 13.1%.

Among the reasons for the growing inflationary pressure on medical costs, the top three are utilisation medical services as more people are falling sick, the growing ageing population, and the costly advancement of medical technology.

“As medical care becomes more and more expensive, premiums [for medical insurance] will likewise increase.”

Curated Insights 2017.08.13

Misunderstanding Apple Services

Services revenue for the last four quarters reached $27.8B, figuratively placing Apple’s Services 98th on the Fortune 100 List. If Apple Services were a standalone company, its $27.8B in revenue would just squeak past Facebook’s $27.6B.

…It’s the consideration of Apple Services as a self-standing business. Remove “Apple” from “Apple Services”…would this stand-alone “Services” company enjoy the same success were it to service Android phones or Windows PCs?

With Services, Apple enjoys the benefits of a virtuous circle: Hardware sales create Services revenue opportunities; Services makes hardware more attractive and “stickier”. Like Apple Stores, Services are part of the ecosystem. Such is the satisfying simplicity and robustness of Apple’s business model.

Electric vehicle realities

Peer reviewed research suggests the cost of the battery pack is about 50% greater than the cost of the battery cells, however, we note the same article suggests that ratio will remain the same as battery prices drop. This is unlikely as there is no reason to believe the largely mechanical battery pack will decline proportionately any more than the cost of an engine or transmission will decline. Most likely, the battery pack assembly, excluding the cells, will decline only slightly.

For example, about 2 million new passenger cars are registered in France every year. If only half of those were EVs, subsidies would total $7.2B. Money for roads, infrastructure maintenance, policing, and so on have to come from somewhere, and if ICEV sales decline substantially, European governments’ huge gasoline tax revenues would also deteriorate; in such an environment, it is reasonable to assume that EV subsidies would eventually disappear and be replaced by taxes.


Why 5G will transform much more than telecommunications

The transition from 4G to 5G will allow wireless technology to surpass three technical thresholds: 1) wireless internet speeds will surpass cable broadband and potentially also fiber optic cable; 2) the “internet of things” will have mass industrial applications for the first time; and 3) communication lag will fall to one millisecond—faster than the speed at which humans perceive touch response as instantaneous—giving rise to new, “tactile internet” applications such as remote surgery.

As a result of these barriers being broken, the 5G transition will likely have a larger and broader economic impact than shifts between previous wireless generations.

The end of typing: The next billion mobile users will rely on video and voice

…many of America’s most popular apps aren’t in India’s top 100… Mr. Singh’s phone uses Google’s Android operating system, which nearly monopolizes India’s smartphone market… Apple Inc., in contrast, has a 3% smartphone market share in India, in part because its least expensive iPhone costs over $300; in India, more than 90% of smartphones cost less than that.

In the year through June, use of YouTube in India has more than doubled, while Gmail use fell 15%…Facebook says it has just over 200 million active users in India, the largest number outside the U.S…

UC Browser, from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UCWeb, is optimized to use less data for low-speed connections like those India’s poor use. UC Browser, with a less-than-1% market share in the U.S. and Europe, controls more than 40% of India’s mobile browser market…

Google has also benefited from the dominance of its Android operating system.

Paytm, the biggest mobile money app in India, now has more than 200 million users in India, vastly more the number of credit-card holders in India.

Some poor users say they are willing to pay for data even if it means forgoing consumption of things like cigarettes to afford prepaid cards. Sales of shampoo and some snacks foods have slipped for certain consumers as they put more rupees aside for their phones, say consumer-goods companies such as Nestlé SA.

The evolution of machine learning

Traditional machine learning models — not deep neural networks — are powering most AI applications. Engineers still use traditional software engineering tools for machine learning engineering, and they don’t work: The pipelines that take data to model to result end up built out of scattered, incompatible pieces.

Facebook’s FBLearner Flow and Uber’s Michelangelo are internal machine learning platforms that do just that. They allow engineers to construct training and validation data sets with an intuitive user interface, decreasing time spent on this stage from days to hours. Then, engineers can train models with (more or less) the click of a button. Finally, they can monitor and directly update production models with ease.

Services like Azure Machine Learning and Amazon Machine Learning are publicly available alternatives that provide similar end-to-end platform functionality but only integrate with other Amazon or Microsoft services for the data storage and deployment components of the pipeline.

The market really is different this time

Over the past month, small investors have pulled $17 billion out of U.S. stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and added $29 billion to bond funds. That’s the latest leg of a long-term trend: Since the internet-stock bubble burst in 2000, investors have withdrawn half a trillion dollars from U.S. stock mutual funds.

The math is simple: If you had a target of 50% in stocks and they go up 10%, you are suddenly off-target, with more than half your money there. Your financial adviser or target-date fund will automatically sell stock and buy bonds to get you back to 50%.

These automatic adjustments don’t mean stocks can’t crash or soar from here. But such sharp moves are at least somewhat less likely, and less likely to last, in a homeostatic market. So don’t believe anyone who tells you Dow 22000 is driven by euphoric “dumb money.” This is a market in which millions of small investors have been selling, not buying.


When (if ever) has it paid to wait for a stock market correction? Reviewing 115 years of US stock market history

From a given “expensive” starting point, there was a 56% probability that the market had a 10% correction within 3 years, waiting for which would result in about a 10% return benefit versus having invested right away.

In the 44% of cases where the correction doesn’t happen, there’s an average opportunity cost of about 30% – much higher than the average benefit.

Putting these together, the mean expected cost of waiting for a correction was about 8% versus investing right away.

Now shifting focus from the historical record to looking forward, it’s true that the lower one’s expectation of the stock market return, the lower the expected cost of waiting for a correction. If you believe the stock market has a negative expected return to a particular horizon, then waiting for a correction to invest makes sense. However, at least as far as the historical record for the US stock market goes, higher market valuations are consistent with lower prospective long-term returns, but not negative expected returns.

Americans are dying younger, saving corporations billions

In 2015, the American death rate—the age-adjusted share of Americans dying—rose slightly for the first time since 1999. And over the last two years, at least 12 large companies, from Verizon to General Motors, have said recent slips in mortality improvement have led them to reduce their estimates for how much they could owe retirees by upward of a combined $9.7 billion, according to a Bloomberg analysis of company filings. “Revised assumptions indicating a shortened longevity,” for instance, led Lockheed Martin to adjust its estimated retirement obligations downward by a total of about $1.6 billion for 2015 and 2016, it said in its most recent annual report.

The fact that people are dying slightly younger won’t cure corporate America’s pension woes—but the fact that companies are taking it into account shows just how serious the shift in America’s mortality trends is.

Changes to life expectancy in the U.K. could cut 310 billion pounds from British private-sector pension obligations, or 15 percent of the total liability, PwC estimated in May, although other actuaries have called that figure “relatively extreme.”

The question actuaries can’t yet answer is whether the slowdown is a short-term blip or a more permanent shift. If mortality improved by 1 percent a year for most of the past 70 years, might the U.S. revert to that soon? Or, Keener asks, “is this really a new reality that we’re living in?”


Baby boomers who refuse to sell are dominating the housing market

Like much of his generation, Yanoviak is desperate to get a piece of an increasingly scarce commodity: prime American real estate. Millennials are finding themselves out in the cold because building has slowed, and longer-living baby boomers are staying put, setting up a simmering conflict between the two biggest generations in U.S. history.

People 55 and older own 53 percent of U.S. owner-occupied houses, the biggest share since the government started collecting data in 1900, according to real estate website Trulia. That’s up from 43 percent a decade ago. Those ages 18 to 34 possess just 11 percent. When they were that age, baby boomers had homes at almost twice that level.

Company Notes 2017.08.11

PIE Industrial Q2 FY2017 Results

With increasing orders from existing customers and on-going new projests with potential customers, the Group foresees a steady grow of revenue in the year 2017, while the drastic fluctuation of Ringgit Malaysia against USD, labour and eletronic components shortage will continue to be the main factors to affect the Group’s future revenue and earning. The Group will continue to strengthen its vertical integration of manufacturing capability and maintain sufficient manufacturing capacity to cater to outsourcing orders from new and existing customers.


Hartalega Q1 FY2018 Results

The significant increase in profit mainly due to increase in sales volume and average selling price, strengthening of USD and improvement in operation efficiency.

The demand for rubber gloves remains in resurgent mood with demand supply dynamics in healthy balance. The nitrile wave continues with 60% of Malaysian rubber glove export denominated by nitrile gloves. Hartalega NGC’s capacity growth is on track to meet the increasing demand for rubber gloves. We have completed commissioning of NGC Phase 1 comprising Plant 1 and 2 in early 2016 and have completed Phase 2 Plant 3 in June 2017. We will begin commissioning of the first production line at Plant 4 in August 2017 and the remaining production lines will be commissioned progressively. Plant 4 is scheduled to complete in 1st quarter of calendar year 2018. The progressive commissioning of Plant 4 is expected to contribute further to Group earnings.


Unisem Q2 FY2017 Results

…improved profit margin arising from higher USD sales achieved coupled with the appreciation of USD/MYR exchange rate.


Tien Wah Press Q2 FY2017 Results

…impacted by the cessation of its Australia’s printing operations announced on 15 June 2017, the Group has recorded a one-off redundancy expenses of RM20.3 million and an impairment loss of machinery of RM11.0 million.

The group continues to review our current footprint, while focusing on the growth opportunities in Indonesia and Dubai.


Hektar REIT Q2 FY2017 Results

Hektar is expected to complete the acquisition of 1Segamat Shopping Centre in September 2017. The Asset Enhancement Initiative (“AEI”) at Landmark Central in Kulim, Kedah is expected to complete by end September 2017. Both exercises are expected to contribute positively to Hektar.


MISC Q2 FY2017 Results

In addition to production cuts, drawdown of crude oil and products inventory continue to dampen demand for petroleum tankers in the immediate term. Freight rates are also being pressured by high fleet growth in 2017.

The LNG shipping market continues to be affected by newbuilds delivery and expiry of older vessel charters, which has depressed spot rates.


Daibochi Plastic and Packaging Q2 FY2017 Results

…saw a double-digit increase in raw material costs compared to the corresponding six months period in the previous year, in line with higher global crude oil prices and a weaker MYR versus the USD. The rise in raw material costs was however mitigated by continued improvement in wastage control, and enhanced operations efficiency following an increase in new foreign worker hires since January 2017.

Daibochi Packaging (Myanmar), which is 60%-owned by the Group, produces consumer flexible packaging for Myanmar’s fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, and is expected to contribute positively to the Group’s performance from the third quarter of 2017 and onwards.

…completed the qualification process with an MNC in Indonesia to supply one of its key F&B brands, and is currently conducting trial production runs.


Boustead Heavy Industries Q2 FY2017 Results

The commercial shipbuilding, looks set to continue to come under pressure from low demand for ships, tonnage overcapacity, tight financing, low oil prices and uncertain economic global outlook. This will continue to put pressure on shipyards which are already reeling from thin order books and cancelled deliveries.


MRCB-Quill REIT Q2 FY2017 Results

The office market in KL is expected to be stagnant for 2017. The accumulative supply of office space in KL City, KL Fringe and Beyond KL increased by 1.46 million sq. ft. to 96.4 million sq. ft. (4Q 2016: 94.97 million sq. ft.) with completion of 5 office buildings. Overall occupancy rates in all areas have dropped, with KL City decreased by 2.3% to 80.8%. Although KL Sentral and Mid Valley City/ Bangsar saw an increase of 1.3% and 0.4% respectively, the overall occupancy rate in the KL Fringe experienced a 0.4% decline to 91.2%. In Beyond KL(Selangor), overall occupancy dropped 1.3% to 78.1%.

The 1Q 2017 average rents in KL City and KL Fringe recorded declines compared to previous quarter at RM6.04 psf and RM5.69 psf, while 1Q 2017 average rents for Beyond KL remained stable at RM4.13 psf. Outlook for the office market in Kuala Lumpur will remained lackluster with continued pressure on both occupancy and rental rates as more new supply is anticipated to enter the market.

The overall occupancy rate of Purpose-Built Retail centres in Penang was relatively stable, which was in the region of 69% to 72% in the past 5 years. Retail malls in the Penang Island continued to outperform those in Seberang Perai, of which the former registered average occupancy rate of about 80% whilst the latter at about 60%. The high occupancy of the island, is attributed to the rather good retail sales mainly from the relatively large working population as well as tourists. Gross rentals for the ground floor of selected prime retail malls in Penang Island commanded higher rental rates compared to those in Seberang Perai, of up to RM22 per sq. ft per month.

Public Bank game changer

…a shareholder who had bought 1,000 Public Bank shares in 1967 (the year it was listed) and held on to them, would be holding 148,938 shares as at end-2016 valued at RM2.94mil. In addition, that shareholder would have received a total gross dividends of RM1.2mil.

Curated Insights 2017.08.06

The data that transformed AI research—and possibly the world

Today, many consider ImageNet solved—the error rate is incredibly low at around 2%. But that’s for classification, or identifying which object is in an image. This doesn’t mean an algorithm knows the properties of that object, where it comes from, what it’s used for, who made it, or how it interacts with its surroundings. In short, it doesn’t actually understand what it’s seeing. This is mirrored in speech recognition, and even in much of natural language processing. While our AI today is fantastic at knowing what things are, understanding these objects in the context of the world is next. How AI researchers will get there is still unclear.

“One thing ImageNet changed in the field of AI is suddenly people realized the thankless work of making a dataset was at the core of AI research,” Li said. “People really recognize the importance the dataset is front and center in the research as much as algorithms.”

Apple Glasses are inevitable

There is room for Apple to create value by controlling both the hardware and software comprising AR glasses. The sum will be greater than its parts. Apple’s big bet on AR will represent the catalyst for turning glasses and sunglasses into something more. An engaged base of iOS developers experimenting with ARKit will give Apple Glasses a hospitable app environment.

Apple’s success with Apple Watch has done much to calm some of my fears and hesitation regarding face wearables. With 29 million Apple Watches sold to date, Apple has turned the dynamic of tech meeting fashion on its head. Apple has been able to get people to wear an item that was increasingly losing its place in a smartphone world.

The idea of a product having a “killer app” has been misconstrued over the years. The iPhone really doesn’t have a killer app. Instead, the device itself has turned into the killer app – the most valuable computer in our lives. In addition, the iPhone’s role in our lives has evolved over time – a true sign of value. Apple Glasses would provide an improved view of the world to its user. For some, this will come in the form of clearer vision plus additional context. Others will gain value just from receiving additional context.


The Priceline party, the world’s largest online-travel company

Over the past decade Priceline’s pre-tax earnings have grown at a compound annual rate of 42%, faster than Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet. It also boasts a 96% gross margin. Its share price has risen by more than 50% over the past 12 months, about four times faster than the broader stockmarket. On July 26th the firm’s market value rose above $100bn.

Priceline’s focus on accommodation helps explain why it is more profitable and more highly valued than Expedia, a rival online-travel company that operates sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Trivago and Hotels.com. Expedia does more business booking flights, but these are not as lucrative. Online-travel firms take a meaty commission of 15-18% of a hotel room’s price, compared with a slim 3-4% for airfares.

The most dangerous rival, however, may well come from somewhere else entirely. “We’re all waiting for the moment when a big Chinese company comes in and tries to take market share,” says Erik Blachford, a former boss of Expedia. Ctrip, a giant based in Shanghai and worth an estimated $30bn, is the obvious candidate. But if it indeed makes a move, Priceline will not necessarily suffer. Not only is its Chinese business growing nicely, but it has also invested nearly $2bn in Ctrip’s debt and equity. Small wonder that some analysts consider Priceline the best-run internet company after Amazon.


Why Alibaba could double in two years

China online advertising is $50 billion market, currently Alibaba has about 20% market share. Entire online advertising market will grow at 15% to 20% for next eight years, I expect Alibaba to take incremental share and possibly increase to 30%+ market share of online ads in five years.

AliCloud is No. 1 in China by a huge margin.

Alibaba has a ton of equity investments made over the years. Core holdings include a 33% stake in Ant Financial, 30% stake in Weibo, and 47% in logistics network operator Cainiao.


Amazon moves into self-distribution with Woody Allen’s ‘Wonder Wheel’

Amazon is moving into self-distributing its own movies, putting it on the path to becoming a full-fledged film studio.

With their deep pockets and big ambitions, Amazon and Netflix have upended the film distribution landscape, although they have taken different approaches. Netflix is solely focused on servicing its streaming service subscribers. Amazon believes in premiering movies in theaters before offering them on its Prime digital service. With the move into self-distribution, Amazon now offers all of the services that a traditional film studio boasts — from financing to production to rolling out a picture in cinemas.


Amazon’s ‘Beehive’, drone-carrying trains reinforce focus on logistics tech

CB Insights’ analysis shows that the retail giant has been focused on shortening the distance between warehouses and consumers for some time. They have considered various formats for expanded warehouse networks, including flying warehouses, mobile truck-based mini warehouses, underwater warehouses, local re-stocking stations for drones, and a multi-level drone-docking fulfillment center.


This Amazon threat just got even more real

Already, the price transparency that’s characteristic of Amazon’s consumer e-commerce platform has exposed major flaws in Grainger’s model, forcing the company to roll out price cuts that have squeezed its margins and darkened its EPS outlook. In the face of Amazon’s staggering customer growth, Grainger CEO DG Macpherson’s admission earlier this year that the company hasn’t been able to acquire a new customer under its namesake brand in years and has struggled to use digital marketing to draw business becomes even more worrisome.


Foursquare eyes Amazon Alexa partnership as its tech is quietly built into Snapchat and Apple Maps

In the past four years, the company has been shopping its technology around to other companies, a task that turned out to be surprisingly easy. In an interesting development, Foursquare has found that a lot of companies looking for data or location tech come to Foursquare before Facebook or Alphabet’s Google because those two giants are trying to kill those companies who need help. “We’re like the independent broker of this awesome technology and you’re not tying yourself to Google or Facebook, yet you get these great tools to build competitive products,” Crowley explained.

The partnerships take different formats, with Foursquare sharing its tech in exchange for exposure, revenue or partnership deals, he explained. Facebook and Google haven’t teamed up with Foursquare due to competing products and because the Silicon Valley players have built up their own ecosystems, he said. But that’s a rare exception. Snapchat, Twitter, Uber, and Pinterest are using a version of its geotagging tech. Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 phone, launched in April, has Foursquare baked in to tell users where their photo was taken and what it was taken of. Finally, Apple is using Foursquare in its Apple Maps product.


Redfin set out to disrupt real estate—it was harder than it looked

Zillow and Trulia make money by referring customers to independent real estate brokers. Redfin, in contrast, aimed to disrupt the real estate business by becoming a real estate brokerage itself.

In a traditional real estate transaction, the agent on each side of the deal gets a three percent commission. Redfin offered a do-it-yourself model where buyers would do more of the work themselves, lowering Redfin’s costs and allowing it to pay thousands of dollars in rebates.

This approach sounded great in theory, but there was a big problem: customers hated it. Buying or selling a home is a complex, stressful, and often once-in-a-lifetime transaction. People wanted a personal agent who had plenty of time to understand their situation, answer questions, and guide them through the steps of the home-buying process. Redfin’s early approach—with an ever-changing cast of agents showing homes and writing offers but not doing much else—left most customers unsatisfied.

…some of the biggest opportunities for innovation were on the seller’s side of the market, because sellers ultimately set the terms of real estate transactions. And because home sellers tend to be older and more risk-averse, it has taken longer for Redfin to build up a customer base on the seller’s side of the market.


A look back in IPO: Google, the profit machine

Sources are saying that Microsoft was previously courting Google, pursuing options ranging from a kind of merger to an outright takeover. It appears that their overtures failed to materialize any deal, so now the Redmond will have to wait; Google is headed in the IPO direction, and if there’s a merger to be had, it’s likely going to be with a post-IPO Google.

“It’s still expensive at these levels,” said Will Dunbar, managing director with Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm with no stake in Google. “There will be substantial competition in the near future and that’s one of the things that gives me pause about the price.”

Janco’s Pyykkonen adds that he was hearing it was difficult for traders interested in short-selling Google to find shares to borrow from the banks and brokers involved in the auction.

And according to an informal poll on CNN/Money, 85 percent of more than 23,000 respondents said that they did not plan on buying shares of Google once it began trading.

Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg’s plan to revolutionize entertainment on mobile screens

Katzenberg’s plan involves nothing less than the creation of a whole new species of entertainment targeting 18- to 34-year-olds: short-form video series produced with budgets and production values you might expect from primetime TV, along with top-shelf creatives on both sides of the camera. For example, imagine a drama akin to “Empire” or “Scandal” but shrunk to 10-minute episodes made for mobile consumption. Or a five-minute talk show, or a two-minute newscast — all with high-profile talent attached.

Disney CEO Bob Iger, whose company is considering producing for what Katzenberg has tentatively dubbed New TV, sees the merits in the idea. “The explosion of short-form video is obvious to all of us, but a lot of what we’ve seen is the production of amateurs — user-generated content,” Iger says. “Taking a professional approach to this kind of content, we haven’t seen that yet in a concerted way, and I think that’s a smart thing to try.”


Alphabet wants to fix renewable energy’s storage problem — with salt

It can be located almost anywhere, has the potential to last longer than lithium-ion batteries and compete on price with new hydroelectric plants and other existing clean energy storage methods. “If the moonshot factory gives up on a big, important problem like climate change, then maybe it will never get solved,” said Obi Felten, a director at X. “If we do start solving it, there are trillions and trillions of dollars in market opportunity.”

X is stepping into a market that could see about $40 billion in investment by 2024, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Roughly 790 megawatts of energy will be stored this year and overall capacity is expected to hit 45 gigawatts in seven years, BNEF estimates. Existing electrical grids struggle with renewable energy, a vexing problem that’s driving demand for new storage methods. Solar panels and wind farms churn out energy around midday and at night when demand lulls. This forces utilities to discard it in favor of more predictable oil and coal plants and more controllable natural gas “peaker” plants.

A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising.

The number one solution, in terms of potential impact? A combination of educating girls and family planning, which together could reduce 120 gigatons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 — more than on- and offshore wind power combined (99 GT). Also sitting atop the list, with an impact that dwarfs any single energy source: refrigerant management. Both reduced food waste and plant-rich diets, on their own, beat solar farms and rooftop solar combined.

Our models include a lot of things that were excluded from other models. One is land use. It’s given passing reference, but hasn’t been given much credibility by the IPCC. They don’t include, for example, farmland restoration — over a billion hectares of abandoned land all over the world. We know how to regenerate that, using animals, using cover, using no-till. Is there a transition cost? Yeah. But it’s a big sink.

First of all, let’s be honest: The US has never led in this area. Ever. When they’ve tried on an executive level, they’ve never been supported by Congress. States have led, cities have led, but never the federal government. Now the federal government is what it is. When [Trump] was elected, I went over every one [of the Drawdown solutions]. I said, “What can the [US federal] government do?” And it really isn’t that much.


The world’s first floating wind farm could be a game changer for renewable power

The first floating wind turbine has been placed about 20 km (12 miles) off the coast of Peterhead in Scotland. Another four turbines will be added to the farm, which together will generate enough energy to power 20,000 households.

Floating wind turbines cannot currently compete with fixed turbines, which have seen their cost plummet by more than 30% since 2012. However, Statoil believes that as floating wind farms are built at scale, they will soon be able to compete with traditional offshore wind turbines without subsidies.


It goes completely against what most believe, but out of all major energy sources, nuclear is the safest

Based on historical and current figures of deaths related to energy production, nuclear appears to have caused by far the least harm of the current major energy sources. This empirical reality is largely at odds with public perceptions, where public support for nuclear energy is often low as a result of safety concerns.

Whilst the share of energy production from renewable technologies is slowly growing, 96 percent of global energy production is produced from fossil fuels, nuclear and traditional biomass sources. Our global transition to renewable energy systems will be a process which takes time—an extensive period during which we must make important choices on bridging sources of energy production.

 

In fund management, churn is not necessarily burn

What may be more surprising is that we found no evidence of any relationship across all other styles of US equity fund, even in small-caps where the costs of trading are noticeably higher. On average, high turnover US equity funds have been able to add at least enough value to offset the additional transaction costs they incur. The moral is that pursuing a reduction in transaction costs without considering the consequences is misguided. Consistency between investment process and turnover is more important than the level of turnover itself.


Cities’ success leaves them vulnerable in the next downturn

But the specialization of high-end jobs and wealth in cities could end up being their undoing. The city model of old was like a grocery store — a balanced mix of all types of different products, from milk and bread to a pharmacy to some splurge items like cupcakes and Champagne. In tough times, cupcake and Champagne sales might fall, but people are still going to buy their milk, bread and toiletries, keeping the store afloat.

Cities today increasingly resemble endless aisles of Champagne and cupcakes. If tough times strike again — perhaps in a tech downturn, or in a stock market crash — the pain will be concentrated here. And while the well-paying white-collar jobs migrating to cities now are coveted, there’s no guarantee the best jobs will always be urban. The next economic cycle may well bring a different pattern.


Many Indians don’t know the real architect behind the country’s economic reforms

On that monsoon day in Hyderabad in 2015, no one could recall that a long-time inhabitant of that city, Pamulaparthi Venkata Narasimha Rao, PV as he was always known to the Telugus, was, in fact, the author of the most radical shift in India’s economic policy since Jawaharlal Nehru’s famous Industrial Policy Resolution of 1956. Nehru’s resolution had declared that India would strive to establish a “socialistic pattern of society”. In 1991 PV moved away from that pattern to unleash private enterprise.

PV was India’s first “accidental” prime minister, and a path-breaking one. He took charge of the national government and restored political stability; assumed leadership of the Congress, proving that there was hope beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty; pushed through significant economic reforms; and steered India through the uncharted waters of the post-Cold War world.


NASA has a way to cut your flight time in half

…NASA will begin taking bids for construction of a demo model of a plane able to reduce the sonic boom to something like the hum you’d hear inside a Mercedes-Benz on the interstate. The agency’s researchers say their design, a smaller-scale model of which was successfully tested in a wind tunnel at the end of June, should cut the six-hour flight time from New York to Los Angeles in half.

Over the next decade, growth in air transportation and distances flown “will drive the demand for broadly available faster air travel,” says Peter Coen, project manager for NASA’s commercial supersonic research team. “That’s going to make it possible for companies to offer competitive products in the future.” NASA plans to share the technology resulting from the tests with U.S. plane makers, meaning a head start for the likes of Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, and startups such as Boom Technology and billionaire Robert Bass’s Aerion.