Daimler Explores Use of Blockchain in Financial Services | Auto …

Hancock Capital Management Adds Leveraged Senior Credit Leadership Team In Chicago

A brief history of Wellesley and the US Presidency

Wellesley has a long and storied association with Presidents of the United States, starting with George Washington himself.

* As you may know, Washington Street running through the center of town is named after old George, who visited town in in November of 1789 on his Presidential Tour of New England. A plaque mounted on a stone (shown above) marks this historic occasion at Washington Park along the Charles River on River Street.

* President Ulysses Grant visited and stayed over at his cousin’s home at 50 Woodlawn Ave. in 1875 when he was president as well as in 1868 while campaigning (during his earlier visit he addressed a meeting in a park that went on to become Wellesley Hills station).

* President Grover Cleveland, he of the two separated terms as President, stayed at the home of Stephen Simons in the late 1800s on land that is now home to the Wellesley Free Library. As far as I know, neither Grove Street or Cleveland Road in Wellesley are named after him.

* Business and finance whiz Roger Babson, who founded Babson College in 1919 as the Babson Institute, ran for President of the United State in 1940 as the candidate for the National Prohibition Party. According to the Babson College biography of its founder: “Although the church-affiliated party was best known for wanting to outlaw vices such as alcohol, gambling, and narcotics, as well as indecent movies and publications, the party also advocated reducing debt and taxation, conserving natural resources, aiding farmers, and ‘assuring workers and consumers a fair share of industry’s products and profits.’ Although Roger Babson knew his party would not win the election, he felt it was his duty to bring its moral and religious agenda to the nation. Out of a field of eight candidates, Roger Babson followed fourth behind Franklin Roosevelt, Wendell Willkie, and Norman Thomas.”

* In 1969, Hillary D. Rodham, later Clinton, delivered the student commencement speech. Clinton, who was First Lady from 1993 to 2001 and the Democratic candidate for the 2016 election, was at the time of her 1969 commencement speech the President of the Wellesley College Government Association. She paid a visit to Wellesley College in 2007 while on the presidential nominee campaign trail, as seen in this video. Clinton is delivering the 2017 Wellesley College commencement speech too.

* In 1980, the last debate before the Massachusetts Republican Primary (which was held on March 4th) was at Dana Hall’s Bardwell Auditorium. Wellesley historian Beth Hinchliffe, who attended, says the event wasn’t sponsored by the school, but just happened to be held there. “Two of the participants were Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush — so we got two Presidents in one night then,” she says.

* In 1990, then-First Lady Barbara Bush gave the commencement address at Wellesley College, and brought as her special guest visiting Soviet First Lady Raisa Gorbachev (read the former First Lady’s remarks here).

A couple of other tidbits:

* In 2010, the Babson Executive Conference Center named John Mills as its executive chef. One of his claims to fame: Having cooked for both Bill Clinton and George HW Bush.

* Nearby in Natick, on Rte. 135 west just past the Natick Roche Bros., stands the Henry Wilson Shoe Shop, commemorating the former Massachusetts senator who served as vice president under Ulysses Grant in the 1870s.

(Thanks to Beth Hinchliffe, Josh Dorin as well as Wellesley College and Babson College media relations and archivists for their assistance)

Anyone got anything else worth mentioning on this topic? If so, please comment below or send us a note here

UPDATE 3-Teck shares slide on coal demand woes despite earnings beat

(Adds conference call, analyst comment, updates stock price)
By Susan Taylor and Nicole Mordant
TORONTO/VANCOUVER, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Canadian miner Teck
Resources Ltd lt;TECKb.TOgt; reported a better-than-expected
quarterly profit on Wednesday, lifted by a surge in the price of
coal for steelmaking, but weaker demand at the start of the year
spooked investors, sending its shares lower.
Teck, North Americas largest producer of steelmaking – or
coking – coal, said that inquiries from buyers had picked up
recently and that it expects sales to be weighted toward the
second half of this quarter after a slow start.
I actually feel much better today than I did three weeks
ago, Teck Chief Executive Donald Lindsay said on a conference
call.
Teck blamed the weaker start on customers drawing down coal
inventories following a fourth-quarter buying binge, sparked by
global supply worries that were ultimately unfounded. The Lunar
New Year holidays also crimped demand in Asia.
Shares of the Vancouver-based company, which also mines
copper, gold and silver, were down 9 percent at C$29.70 in
mid-afternoon trading. It was the best-performing stock on the
Toronto Stock Exchange in 2016.
Teck has reached agreements with the majority of its coal
customers for the first quarter, based on a quarterly benchmark
price of $285 per tonne.
But since that benchmark was set in early December, spot
prices have plunged to about $155 per tonne. Teck expects an
average realized price this quarter of about 70 percent to 75
percent of the $285-per-tonne benchmark.
Teck forecast first-quarter steelmaking coal sales of
approximately 6 million tonnes, down from 7.3 million tonnes
last quarter.
But Lindsay said the miners top priority was reducing debt,
and it was aiming to get debt levels, possibly this year, below
$5 billion from $6.1 billion at the end of 2016.
A surge in coal prices last year from below $80 a tonne to
above $300 had raised expectations of mine restarts. Real Foley,
Tecks coal marketing vice president, said less than 15 million
tonnes of coking coal had come online globally and that there
had been no restarts since last October. [nL1N1CV03U]
The company forecast 2017 steelmaking coal production of 27
million to 28 million tonnes, but said output may be adjusted
depending on demand.
Teck, the worlds second-biggest exporter of seaborne coking
coal, reported an adjusted profit of C$1.61 per share in the
three months to the end of December, ahead of analysts
consensus estimate of C$1.56.
(Reporting by Susan Taylor in Toronto, Nicole Mordant in
Vancouver and Vishaka George and Vishal Sridhar in Bengaluru;
editing by Sunil Nair, Paul Simao and G Crosse)
((susan.taylor1@thomsonreuters.com; +1-416-941-8083; Reuters
Messaging: susan.taylor1.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
Keywords: TECK RES RESULTS/ (UPDATE 3)

FTC Looks for Abuses in Auto Lenders’ Use of Kill Switches

A US regulator is looking at whether auto finance companies that use sophisticated technology like ignition kill switches are illegally harassing subprime borrowers that have fallen behind on their payments.

The Federal Trade Commission, a consumer protection agency, has asked forinformation from at least two lenders, according to securities offering documents from both companiesthis month obtained by Bloomberg. The probe is part of a larger investigation into subprime auto lenders’ collection practices, said a person with knowledge of the matter. A spokesman for the FTC declined to comment.

The investigation adds to the pressure that auto finance companies are already facing after a massive wave of lending to borrowers with blemished credit. They are under investigation by the Department of Justice and state attorneys general. And more borrowers are falling behind on their bills.

Kill Switches

Robbing the Poor to Pay Paul Ryan’s Pals

That’s why it’s so curious that the Wisconsin Republican has fetishized destroying Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the destitute and disabled. House Republicans are moving forward with a plan that would reportedly slash Medicaid funding to help finance tax cuts for drug, insurance and medical device companies as part of a stalled effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Targeting the poor

But while the specific contours of the policy may still be under discussion, Ryan has been targeting health insurance subsidies for the poorest Americans ever since Republicans won control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections.

In early 2011, when he was writing his first blueprint as chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan developed a plan to gut Medicaid by cutting $1 trillion over 10 years. Ryan’s favored approach, which appears to be in play again, is to stop providing health insurance for the poor based on eligibility and need. He prefers a modified voucher system in which states are given a limited amount of money for each person eligible for the program, regardless of their individual needs.

There are two basic justifications for Ryan’s assault on entitlements: First, he has argued, the federal government needs to drive down the costs of programs that contribute to the debt; and second, he says, giving too much assistance to the impoverished encourages them to stay poor. These seem like compelling frames for entitlement reform. After all, reducing debt seems like a good thing. And why would anyone want to oppress the poor more?

But Ryan’s plans are neither a serious answer to rising debt nor a means to creating opportunities for the least among us. Contrary to his self-styled mission for justice, and his expert way of talking about his care for those in need, his approach to Medicaid is a stealth attack on those who have neither power nor money in service of those who have both.

A half-dozen years ago, Ryan wanted to go after the big entitlements — Medicare and Social Security — but settled for trying to destroy Medicaid. Why? Because middle-class people, who have more political clout, wouldn’t stand for major changes to programs that benefit them. That’s why, during his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump promised to protect Medicare and Social Security.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that fiscal 2017 spending on Medicare will net at $592 billion, while Medicaid will account for $389 billion. It doesn’t take a green eyeshade to see that there’s a lot more money in Medicare — or that the kind of cuts for Medicaid that Ryan has flirted with in the past ($100 billion a year) would debilitate that program.

A third-rail topic

Key Takeaways From Avon’s Q4 2016 Earnings

Avonis progressing with its three-year Transformation Planat a better than expected paceand that helped the companyin the revival of its 2016 financial performance. Though the company’s performance faltered in Q4, the year 2016 ended on a much hopeful note when compared to the prior year.Avon’s net sales declined by 7% y-o-y in 2016 compared to a 19% decline in 2015.Avon’s current strategy is to focus on its top ten markets (that accounted for 70% of its revenues in 2016) and its top 40 brands. It hassegregated its brands under three tiers: Upper Mass, Mass, and Value. The ten markets in order of importance are: Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Philippines, UK, Argentina, Colombia, Turkey, Poland, and South Africa. The growth of these markets surpassed the overall growth of the company driven bya higher average order growth and a higher growth of active representatives. Eight of these top ten markets grew in terms of constant dollars in 2016, with the exceptions being Colombia and Turkey.

Avon’s fourth quarter constant currency revenue growth remained flat at $1.6 billion and its active representative count declined by 2% y-o-y mostly due to declines in markets including Malaysia, Colombia, Turkey, and Italy. Also, Avon’s cost cutting initiatives were dampened in Q4 due to an increase in bad debt by around $35 million, mainly in the Brazil business. The slow performance in the fourth quarter was primarily due to the active representative decline. However, for the full year 2016, Avon’s revenues grew by 3% y-o-y in constant dollar terms to reach $5.7 million. The average order for the year rose by 4% y-o-y due to the company’s revisionof its product mix and pricing. Avon’s active representative base declined by 1% y-o-y in 2016. The company’s profitability improved during the year with an expansion of its operating margin by 80 basis points y-o-y to 6.5% even after a 310 basis point erosion due to negative foreign exchange impact. Itachieved a$120 million cost savings in 2016 which was above its original target of $90 million.

Below we present Avon’s top line performance in terms ofUS dollars.

Avon’s Performance In Its Top Three Markets:

  • Brazil

In Q4, Brazil’s top line grew by 7% in terms of constant currency mainly due to higher average order. During the course of last year, Brazil has continued with its recovery and gained market share despite its economic and political weaknesses. It is noteworthy to mention here that Latin America accounts for over 50% of Avon’s revenues and Brazil is Avon’s most important market.

In Q4,Avon gained market share in color, fragrance, and skincare. This was boosted by its innovative product launches in the Upper Mass category including Avon Life (created with designer Kenzo Takada) and the Avon Attraction fragrance. The Beauty ForA Purpose brand marketing helped in the company’s sales growth.

However, the region was still under the impact of bad debt in the second half of 2016 mainly due to Brazil’s poor economic climate at present. The consumers’ inability to pay and the adjusting of credit terms by the Brazil team in order to hire new representatives were the reasons behind the debt.

A new digital platform was launched in Q3 in order to facilitate the representatives’ ease of doing business with Avon. The platform included features like mobile responsiveness, a better system for the placement of orders, integration of social media, training videos, credit and data management, upsell and cross sell capabilities, and an easy returns and exchange option. The platform will be fully integrated by the first quarter of this year. For the full year, Brazil grew by 2% y-o-y in constant currency terms and the company expects a stronger performance from the region in 2017.

  • Mexico

Mexico grew by 2% y-o-y in Q4 in terms of constant currency mainly due to the increase in average order. The Beauty segment was especially successful in Mexico bolstered byinnovations in the color, skincare, and personal care categories with products such as Avon True and Avon Care.

Mexico’s revenue grew by 5% y-o-y in constant currency terms for 2016 and the company expects a low to moderate growth from this geography this year due to its geopolitical turmoils that might adversely impact consumer spendings.

  • Russia

Though Russia performed well in the first half of 2016, its Q4 performance had been very weak with a 3% decline inrevenue in terms of constant currency due to a decline in average order and active representatives. The pricing changes made in the country were out of sync with its economic condition and that might have led to this slowdown. The pricing strategy is being reviewed for improvements in the future. For the full year, Russia grew by 9% in terms of constant currency.

The Company Progressed Well With Its Three-Year Plan

2016 was the first year of Avon’s three-year Transformation Plan and the company is well on track with its progress. The aim of the transformation plan is to help Avon achieve its long run goal of a low double digit operating margin along with a mid single-digit constant dollar growth. All the three pillars of the growth plan, (i.e, investing in growth, improving cost structure, and improving financial resilience) showed significant progress in 2016:

  • Avon plannedto invest around $350 million into the business over the three years starting 2016. Out of this amount, $150 million would be invested in media and social selling and $200 million on information technology, mainly capital expenditures to improve the working experience of its representatives. Avon plans on undertaking this investment over time with a focus on digital media and its top ten markets.
  • Out of its targeted $350 million savings in cost, $120 million estimated cost savings was achieved in 2016 itself.
  • With an aim to improve its balance sheet, Avon has planned on reducing debt by $250 million in 2016.In reality, it reduced debt by $260 million and extended its maturity profile with no long term debt due till 2019.

Editor’s Note: We care deeply about your inputs, and want to ensure our content is increasingly more useful to you. Please let us know what/why you liked or disliked in this article, and importantly, alternative analyses you want to see. Drop us a line atcontent@trefis.com

Have more questions aboutAvon Products(NYSE:AVP)? Seethe links below:

  • What Is Avon’s Fundamental Value Based On 2016 Estimated Numbers?
  • Revlon Versus Avon: How Do The Top Line And Bottom Lines Fare Currently?
  • Why We’re Revising Our Price Estimate For Avon From $3 To $5?
  • What Led To Avon’s Revenue And EBITDA Decline Over The Last Five Years?
  • How Did Avon’s Different Segments Perform Over The Last 5 Years?
  • What To Expect From Avon Products Q1 2016 Results?
  • Avon Products Q1 2016 Results
  • How Is Avon’s Financial Health And What Are The Implications?
  • Will Avon Products Be Impacted By Brexit?
  • How Do We See Avon Products’ Top Line Trending?
  • How Is Avon Products’ Beauty Business Expected To Trend?
  • Avon Products Q2 Results Suggest That The Company Might Be On Track For Recovery
  • How Is Avon’s Fashion Products Segment Expected To Progress In The Next Five Years?
  • Here’s How Avon Is Making A Start To The New Year
  • How Has The Year 2016 Shaped Up For Avon Products?
  • What Are Some Of The Key Areas Of Focus For Avon Products ?
  • What To Watch For In Avon’s Q4 2016 Earnings

Notes:

Windstream Completes $580 Million Term Loan, Extending Maturity to 2024

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Windstream Holdings, Inc. today announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Windstream Services, LLC (Windstream), completed a $580 million term loan due in February 2024 under its existing senior secured credit facilities. The proceeds were used to refinance existing term loans maturing in August 2019 and/or repay certain of its other debts.

“We were very pleased to see strong investor demand in this transaction. As a result of this financing, we have no debt maturities until 2020,” said Christie Grumbos, Windstream treasurer.

This press release is for informational purposes only and is not an offer to buy or the solicitation of an offer to sell any securities, loans or indebtedness of Windstream or Windstream Holdings, Inc.

About Windstream

Windstream Holdings, Inc. (WIN), a FORTUNE 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications and technology solutions for consumers, businesses, enterprise organizations and wholesale customers across the US Windstream offers bundled services, including broadband, security solutions, voice and digital TV to consumers. The company also provides data, cloud solutions, unified communications and managed services to business and enterprise clients. The company supplies core transport solutions on a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 129,000 miles. Additional information is available at windstream.com. Please visit our newsroom at news.windstream.com or follow us on Twitter at @Windstream.

Forward-Looking Statements

Certain statements contained in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual future events and results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements, including with respect to Windstream’s ability to incur the incremental term loans described in this press release, and incur them on the terms set forth herein, are based on estimates, projections, beliefs, and assumptions that Windstream and Windstream Holdings, Inc. believe are reasonable but are not guarantees of future events and results. Actual future events and results may differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements as a result of a number of important factors, including those described in filings by Windstream and Windstream Holdings, Inc. with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which can be found at www.sec.gov.

Daimler Invests Millions in AutoGravity App

Daimler AG has invested a multi-million dollar figure in the vehicle financing app AutoGravity, Serge Vartanov, the start-up’s chief marketing officer, told Auto Finance News.

The announcement was made Tuesday in London, but did not include a specific dollar amount.

“It means a lot to us that Daimler believes in our platform and is willing to invest a multimillion dollar figure to continue to facilitate and drive our growth,” Vartanov said. “That Daimler has recognized the technology and sees the potential in transforming that shopping and financing experience for the consumer, I think is a really good validation of what we’ve been building.”

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, a subsidiary of Daimler, was the first captive to join the platform with leasingin July followed by loan servicing in October.

AutoGravity expanded to 46 states earlier this year and is now supported by multiple lending and dealer partners, AFN has previously reported. While few specific companies and dealer groups have been named, there are enough that the app can deliver at least four financing offers from different lenders in each state.

Because the platform is a multi-lender service, Daimler is ultimately investing in technology that will not only help Mercedes-Benz Financial Services originate loans, but also loans at other financial institutions as well. AutoGravity’s momentum is “fundamentally what’s driving the investment,” Vartanov said.

“In our conversations [with MBFS] they believe in our technology, they believe in the research that we’ve done, and with this latest round of funding, they believe in the trajectory that we are now on, and the momentum that we’ve shown,” he said.

Like This Post

Credit Suisse, Rabobank Arrange $1.45B Credit Facility for Herbalife

Herbalife Ltd., a global nutrition company, announced that it has closed a new $1.45 billion senior secured credit facility, which consists of a $150 million revolving credit facility maturing 2022 and a $1.3 billion term loan maturing 2023.

“This credit facility affords us the financial flexibility to continue to create long-term value for our shareholders, capitalize on our solid business fundamentals, and realize our global market potential,” said Herbalife Chief Financial Officer John DeSimone. “We thank our banking partners for their confidence and commitment in Herbalife Nutrition.”

Credit Suisse acted as administrative agent for the new term loan and collateral agent for the credit facility, Rabobank acted as administrative agent for the revolving credit facility, and Citizens Bank, NA acted as documentation agent for the credit facility. Credit Suisse and Rabobank acted as joint book runners and joint lead arrangers of the transaction. The new facility replaces Herbalife’s senior secured revolving credit facility which was due to mature in March 2017.