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Yelp (YELP) delivered earnings and revenue surprises of -7.69% and -1.46%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 2019. Do the numbers hold clues to what lies ahead for the stock?
Is Extended Stay America, Inc. (NASDAQ:STAY) a good dividend stock? How can we tell? Dividend paying companies with...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Even on a gloomy Sunday, with skies threatening rain, the U.S. Courthouse on First Street in downtown Los Angeles is strikingly beautiful. The clouds and surrounding buildings reflect in its pleated glass sides, which look far airier in person than in photographs. By breaking up its plane, the pleats call attention to the Great Seal etched in the glass. The American flag reflects in their panes.Opened in 2016, it’s a civic building that makes you happy to see it. Reviewers on Google and Yelp, including a grumpy juror, give it good marks.Catesby Leigh, by contrast, calls it a “Borg Cube.” I can only assume he has never actually watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Or maybe he’s too blinded by architectural theory to enjoy beauty that doesn’t conform.You probably haven't heard of Leigh. He’s a critic associated with the National Civic Art Society, a think tank that “endeavors to help architecture return to its pre-Modernist roots.” The society wants government buildings to re-adopt classical architectural styles: more domes and columns, less glass and steel. Its formerly obscure views are now enjoying the world’s largest megaphone.Last week, a draft executive order titled “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” leaked to Architectural Record. (The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a copy and put it online.) The draft denounces modern architecture. It requires classical styles as the default architecture for all new federal buildings in the Washington D.C. area, including surrounding counties; for all federal buildings costing more than $50 million; and for all federal courthouses. It specifically forbids Brutalist and Deconstructionist styles. It establishes a President’s Committee for the Re-Beautification of Federal Architecture to revise the principles that guide federal architecture commissions.It calls for the General Services Administration to solicit public comment on new building designs while specifically excluding “artists, architects, engineers, art or architecture critics, members of the building industry or any other members of the public that are affiliated with any interest group or organization involved with the design, construction or otherwise directly affected by the construction or remodeling of the building.”You could see that requirement as avoiding conflicts of interest — or as excluding anyone who knows what they’re talking about.Architects and critics were apoplectic.Classical styles are fascistic, suggested Artnet News. The Guardian warned of “dictator chic.” The order would constitute “a complete constraint on freedom of expression,” an architect told the New York Times. Even a nuanced historical article in Archinect News concluded with a reference to Nazi architect Albert Speer. New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman rightly identified the draft as Twitter bait.The response demonstrates how, even when he’s barely involved, President Donald Trump manages to effectively troll snooty elites by giving voice to widely held popular grievances. A lot of government buildings are indeed ugly. No matter how hated, they rarely get torn down. But the draft order also demonstrates Trump’s propensity for ham-handed remedies that would do more harm than good.As creators, architects face an inherent problem. They can’t do their work without clients. Writers, painters, sculptors — these days even filmmakers — can find ways to follow their muse even if their creations have little or no market. Beyond building homes for themselves (or their mothers), architects have few options.Construction is expensive, it requires land, and it needs people who’ll use it. That’s the real-world conflict at the heart of Ayn Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead,” which lampooned the throwback styles and populist attitudes the draft order promotes.Federal commissions offer relative freedom for architectural ambitions. “Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government and not vice versa,” declare the guidelines in place since 1962. Written by a young Daniel Patrick Moynihan, these design principles reflect the technocratic modernism of the Kennedy era — the deference to experts and belief in the new that landed a man on the moon but also razed urban neighborhoods to make way for Brutalist government centers.Under those guidelines, the architecture profession itself acts as the client. The result can be a masterpiece like L.A.’s new courthouse — or a monstrosity like the headquarters of the F.B.I., the J. Edgar Hoover Building, one of Trump’s pet peeves.By contrast, the advocates of classical architecture position themselves as the voice of the people. “For too long architectural elites and bureaucrats have derided the idea of beauty, blatantly ignored public opinions on style, and have quietly spent taxpayer money constructing ugly, expensive and inefficient buildings,” the National Civic Art Society’s chairman told the Times.But if architects can’t represent the public, who can? That’s the problem at the heart of any government building project. Whose taste should rule? What should the balance be between saving money and creating meaningful, attractive buildings? What role should the people who’ll work in the building have? What is the right form for the building’s specific use? For federal buildings outside the capital, what voice should locals have? Who speaks for the client when the client is everyone?These are political, not technical, questions. You can’t reason your way to the single right answer. You can only try to strike a sensible balance — which isn’t exactly the Trump way.In an editorial attacking the executive order, the Chicago Sun-Times evoked the city’s federal plaza designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Ordinary locals find it striking, part of Chicago’s heritage of beautiful architecture, including many modern buildings.Leigh, by contrast, says the plaza “raises serious issues of appropriateness” and is “far better suited to the high-end corporate world and its promotion of itself as culturally au courant.” (The building was au courant a half century ago.) Dictating that your idea of civic appropriateness is right for all buildings in all times and places shouldn’t be confused with speaking for the public.What looks “civic” depends on experience, not architectural theory. In Los Angeles, where I live, traditional civic buildings are not classical. They’re not even the Mission style popular elsewhere in the state. They’re Moderne ziggurats with Art Deco features, like the L.A. city hall, or midcentury modern structures like the Wilshire Federal Building in West L.A. They reflect the eras in which the city was rapidly expanding.Some, like these examples, are attractive and popular, others less so. But all of them represent the actual city and its history, not an outsider’s idea of civic ideals. The eco-conscious 21st-century beauty of the new federal courthouse fits appropriately in its dense urban setting. Columns and domes would not. Neither would the red tile roofs of Santa Barbara.However great it may be for the Lincoln Memorial, classicism itself is no guarantee of good civic architecture. Packing columns onto a hulking monstrosity like the Eisenhower (formerly Old) Executive Office Building does not make it beautiful. Historical, yes. Meaningful because of that history, sure. But not attractive or inspiring or representative of American ideals.The sweeping language of the draft order simply replaces one group of architectural theories with another, one set of insiders with an even smaller one. Preserving the high-handed attitudes it claims to oppose, it avoids the hard questions. Even on its own grounds, its judgments and prescriptions are suspect.This architectural tiff is an argument among intellectuals with ideas about the ought of the built environment, not citizens with experience of the is. It might make government buildings more uniform, but it wouldn’t make them better.To contact the author of this story: Virginia Postrel at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Katy Roberts at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Virginia Postrel is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. She was the editor of Reason magazine and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the New York Times and Forbes. Her next book, "The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World," will be published in 2020.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It's hard to miss how many technology companies engage in increasingly questionable -- and occasionally reprehensible -- conduct. This is something beyond the unsavory frat bro behavior of people like Uber Technologies Inc. founder and former Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick. No, I mean companies whose very business models seem to be built around elements of fraud, deception and abuse of employees, partners and clients.Maybe it is a sign of what happens when too much capital sloshes through too few startups.(1) Whatever the underlying cause, one cannot help but notice some of the awful behavior in the venture-funded tech world. Consider these recent headlines:\-- "Court Rules It's Totally Cool for Yelp to Extort Businesses"\-- "Grubhub’s new growth hack is listing restaurants that didn’t agree to be listed"\-- "Delivery apps like DoorDash are using your tips to pay workers’ wages" There may be any number of reasons these companies might engage in such shoddy behavior, but the most obvious one seems to be that their business models are so lame that they must do shady stuff simply to keep the lights on.Disruption is a consequence of true innovation; that isn't the issue here. No, this points to something deeper and more troubling about the startup landscape.Let’s consider a few of these companies:Grubhub: The food-delivery company is in hot competition with other startup delivery companies. One of the things it's done: buy up domain names of its restaurant partners without their permission or even knowledge, thus making it hard or impossible for a restaurant to establish its own website without Grubhub's blessings. (Grubhub’s defense: It’s in our contract’s fine print.) The company also published shadow websites and misleading phone numbers of its restaurant partners to pull web traffic and phone orders away from them.I imagine Grubhub being pitched as the Uber of food delivery (though Uber also is in the food-delivery business). One key difference: There was no entrenched local monopoly similar to taxis. Instead, there are tens of thousands of local restaurants, many of which already deliver or offer takeout. Uber and Lyft used technology to break the monopoly: Grubhub and its related divisions -- Seamless, Eat24, MenuPages and AllMenus -- instead insert themselves as middlemen between restaurants and consumers. This seems to be true regardless of whether the restaurant is a willing participant or not.Maybe it's the big decline in Grubhub's share price that has led the company to stoop so low: the stock has fallen about 65% from its high in 2018.Yelp: The review site seems to have morphed into what its critics sometimes characterize as an extortion racket. The company has been accused by restaurant owners of hiding positive reviews unless those establishments advertise on Yelp.Business owners have challenged this model, with some even winning in small claims court.A broader class-action case was dismissed, with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that it was fine for Yelp to manipulate positive and negative reviews of its restaurant clients. As for the claims of the plaintiffs that Yelp functionally extorted them, the court said too bad; Yelp was under no obligation to be even-handed or fair.Lots of outrage over this eventually led to a Kickstarter campaign to fund a documentary, "Billion Dollar Bully." The problem has caused Yelp so much reputational harm that the company felt compelled to set up a page on its website with the headline, "Yelp Does Not Extort Local Businesses or Manipulate Ratings."Nevertheless, the market has mounting doubts about Yelp and its business: the shares have declined 65% from their peak in 2014.DoorDash: How well does the gig economy pay? That was what a New York Times reporter wanted to find out. So he started working as a food-delivery man for some of the more popular apps, including DoorDash. He discovered that the pay wasn't great -- as little as $5 an hour to as much as $20 for "Jedi Masters" \-- and it's falling as the apps attract more delivery people.It also turned out that DoorDash and others were keeping the tips -- all of which employees were supposed to get -- and using them to subsidize workers' base pay. The subsequent uproar over the Times article led DoorDash and others to change tipping policies.DoorDash also was sued for using a fake In-N-Out Burger logo on its website and offering unauthorized deliveries for the fast-food chain.One thing becomes obvious when looking at these companies: they are all in hyper-competitive, low-margin businesses where economies of scale are either minimal or don't exist.But more to the point, it makes you wonder if these companies actually solve a consumer problem. There are reasonably credible review sites online such as Zagat, so why does anyone need to turn to suspect reviews on Yelp. As for restaurants that already offer meal delivery -- and there are many -- third-party delivery apps are superfluous.In other words, these are businesses that are responding to market signals the wrong way. Instead of bending the law and trampling all over ethical standards, they probably should rethink their business models -- or just close their doors.(1) Theself-dealing sweetheart arrangementsof Adam Neumann, WeWork’s founder and former CEO, was a special case, the result mainly of a weak and conflicted board of directors.To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Oil prices fell again on Friday as the OPEC+ plans to deepen production cuts in order to counter bearish sentiment driven by Coronavirus demand fears hit a rut
Yelp (YELP) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
Viasat (VSAT) fiscal third-quarter earnings gain from sustained momentum in Government Systems and Satellite Services segment, along with year-over-year rise in product and service revenues.
ViaSat (VSAT) delivered earnings and revenue surprises of 1100.00% and 0.34%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 2019. Do the numbers hold clues to what lies ahead for the stock?
Today we'll evaluate Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ:SABR) to determine whether it could have potential as an investment...
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. A grim situation for U.S. natural gas exporters has gotten even worse as the coronavirus outbreak sends global prices plunging on concern that China’s demand for the fuel will collapse.Suppliers of American liquefied natural gas were already under pressure from depressed prices arising from a global glut and an unusually mild domestic winter. Now, with the virus threatening to disrupt industrial production across China, Asian spot LNG prices have hit a record low.Faced with prospect of being unable to even cover their shipping costs, customers such as commodity trading houses may simply refuse to load U.S. cargoes. Those cancellations could force LNG export terminal operators to cap, or “shut in,” production of the fuel as their storage tanks fill up.“Forward prices for summer are now at levels where U.S. LNG shut-ins begin to seem viable,” said Edmund Siau, a Singapore-based analyst with energy consultant FGE. “There is usually a lead time before a cargo can be canceled, and we expect actual supply curtailments to start happening in summer.”Such an outcome would be a blow to the young and fast-expanding U.S. LNG industry. New export terminals from Maryland to Texas have sprung up to make the country one of the world’s top suppliers, while also providing a crucial outlet for soaring production from shale basins.China hasn’t directly imported LNG from the U.S. in a year amid trade tensions and tariffs on the fuel. But it’s the world’s fastest-growing buyer, and a slowdown or decline in demand there will have an effect that ripples right across the market. China’s big state-owned LNG importers are said to be considering force majeure declarations on contracted cargo deliveries, which would further burden an oversupplied market.Brimming global gas stockpiles are increasing the risk that cargoes will be curtailed, according to Nina Fahy, head of North American natural gas for Energy Aspects Ltd., and Madeline Jowdy, senior director of global gas and LNG for S&P Global Platts.“The full impact of the coronavirus on global gas markets is yet to be felt as lower LNG demand expectations for the Lunar New Year were already built into most forecasts,” Jowdy wrote in an email.“The global LNG outlook is going from bad to worse for suppliers.”For Cheniere Energy Inc., the biggest U.S. exporter of the fuel, “the summer doesn’t look good” for the economics of American cargoes at the moment, Eric Bensaude, managing director of the company’s marketing arm in London, said in an interview.Any decisions by Cheniere’s buyers, which include Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Korea Gas Corp., are likely in March or April. That’s a period of seasonally lower demand when the company anticipates “people will be assessing the situation,” Bensaude said.Customers of U.S. LNG terminals can typically opt out of taking contracted supplies with 30 to 60 days’ notice. Cheniere’s buyers have to pay a fee to cancel a cargo, Bensaude said.If a customer decides not to load a cargo, Cheniere’s marketing arm won’t take the LNG back and resell it unless market conditions have changed, Bensaude said. Instead, the company would typically reduce LNG production at its terminals, he said.But U.S. LNG companies continue to sound an upbeat note on the longer-term outlook for the market. Charif Souki, co-founder of terminal developer Tellurian Inc, said the global glut of the fuel could be erased as soon as a year from now. Cheniere’s Bensaude said he also expects the oversupply to ease.“We are going to weather the storm this year as the market should absorb production from the extra capacity that comes online,” Bensaude said.(Updates with Cheniere comments in 10th paragraph. An earlier corrected the attribution in the seventh paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Anna Shiryaevskaya in London at firstname.lastname@example.org;Stephen Stapczynski in Singapore at email@example.com;Naureen S. Malik in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at email@example.com, ;Simon Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christine Buurma, Joe CarrollFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
ViaSat (VSAT) doesn't possess the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
Higher demand in construction end-markets served helps United Rentals (URI) to post strong Q4 earnings and revenues. Yet, higher costs and expenses ail margin growth.
Today we will run through one way of estimating the intrinsic value of Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (NYSE:AWI) by...
Jazz (JAZZ) files regulatory application seeking approval for JZP-258, a low sodium formulation of Xyrem, in the United States.
Jazz (JAZZ) has an impressive earnings surprise history and currently possesses the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely beat in its next quarterly report.
(Bloomberg) -- The Koch political network is advising tech companies that have come under fire in Washington that they should act as good stewards of data but resist pressure to police political ads or give the government access to encrypted devices.After the group spent years defending business and telling the government to stand back, it released principles on Monday that press companies to change their behavior. They call on firms to be “responsible stewards of the data they collect, use, store, and share,” post clear data-use policies, and be transparent about problems.“At a time when the tech industry is under increasing scrutiny from D.C., we think it’s critical that companies remain committed to a principled approach,” said Jesse Blumenthal, vice president of technology and innovation at Stand Together.The manifesto is a further sign that the network of political groups and non-profits founded by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and his late brother, David Koch, is shifting its focus away from the Tea Party-style politics it helped create a decade ago, which experts say gave rise to a more nationalist, populist Republican Party -- and President Donald Trump.Now, the Koch-affiliated groups are increasingly emphasizing tech policy. Charles Koch, 84, is courting the mostly liberal denizens of Silicon Valley. His son, Chase, 42, is pouring money into tech startups as part of an initiative to diversify the family business, many of whose products are derived from fossil fuels. The younger Koch is “interested in helping to shape our vision across issue areas, including tech,” said Jim Fellinger, spokesman for Stand Together, the umbrella name for the Koch network.Blumenthal praised Facebook Inc. for its controversial decision to leave its political-ads policy intact and not fact-check the ads in the name of free speech. He also said Apple Inc. was right to oppose the U.S.’s renewed push for so-called back doors into encrypted iPhones.Bipartisan ApproachThe Koch organizations have broken from Trump over several high-profile issues, including trade and immigration. They have backed away from supporting some Republicans and focused on issues, such as criminal-justice reform, with more bipartisan appeal. The splits have diminished the network’s clout in conservative circles.The group said it will promote its principles in Washington through Facebook and Twitter ads. Blumenthal said it will also refer to them in future statements, conversations with lawmakers and interactions with the companies themselves.Aside from data stewardship, free speech and surveillance, the Koch document also wants corporations to push back on government regulation and embrace emerging technologies.Companies should also stop seeking special deals from government, Blumenthal said, adding that the U.S. risks losing its global leadership to countries like Russia and China if the tech sector backs away from free-market ideals.The principles come as many lawmakers, regulators and consumer groups have expressed frustration with internet companies’ privacy lapses, alleged anti-competitive practices and controversial content that users post or advertise.Encryption FightSome companies and trade groups argue that the industry should accept light regulation on privacy and artificial intelligence as a way to fend off more onerous rules. In a sign that the Kochs remain true to their libertarian roots, Blumenthal said that such proposals concede too much on important issues.The group’s document urges companies to defend free speech in particular. Last year, Twitter announced it was ending political ads, and Google’s YouTube has moved to limit political ad targeting, both in response to concerns about election misinformation.Lawmakers and civil rights groups have argued that the platforms have allowed politicians and foreign actors to spread misinformation -- a concern Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey acknowledged in his company’s announcement.The tech sector should also hold the line against warrantless government surveillance and access to encrypted data, the principles say. The Trump administration’s recent push on the issue has focused on an iPhone used by the gunman in a December terrorist attack. Blumenthal praised the Cupertino, California-based phone maker for being among “businesses standing up to government and productively saying no.”Stand Together also pressed companies to avoid using regulation or antitrust enforcement to hinder competitors. Blumenthal pointed to Yelp Inc.’s longtime allegations of anticompetitive behavior against Google as well as Google’s own role in pushing 2015 net neutrality rules, since repealed, that regulated broadband providers.“That’s just corporate welfare,” Blumenthal said.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Paula DwyerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Despite accounts of a strong U.S. consumer, local businesses slumped in 2019 based on data from the business review site Yelp.