Categories
Corporate Investing Stocks Surveys Technology

Survey of Global Public Companies Finds Investor Relations Professionals Ready to Engage Investors with Mobile Technologies

Survey of Global Public Companies Finds Investor Relations Professionals Ready to Engage Investors with Mobile Technologies

IROs from Leading Companies Know Investors Want Mobile Communications; IROs Still See Barriers to Executing Mobile IR Strategies and Publishing Apps

NEW YORK, Feb. 19, 2013, Investor Relations professionals at public companies plan to embrace mobile technologies and incorporate them into their communications strategies this year, according to a survey conducted by theIRapp™, the investor relations app building technology platform that allows public companies to optimize their IR content for iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices.

As part of theIRapp’s™ work to help the IR industry understand and embrace new technology, the company surveyed more than 100 IROs during the course of January, 2013. theIRapp gathered opinions and thoughts on how these professionals view the importance of mobile technology to their work communicating with investors, and how they plan to incorporate it this year and in the future. The IR executives offering insight covered small, medium and large market capitalization companies across diverse industries. Notable names of companies responding to the survey include McDonald’s, Urban Outfitters, and Hewlett Packard.

Survey results showed:

  • 88% of IROs recognize the importance of mobile to their work as communications professionals and believe that public companies need to develop a mobile IR strategy in the coming year(s);
  • 57% of IROs believe investors now require faster access to IR content via mobile devices as compared to traditional sources.

Notwithstanding the above findings, more than 78% of companies currently do not use mobile devices for their IR communications.

With respect to their views on the landscape of mobile IR, the IROs surveyed said the following:

  • 91% believe the same amount or more companies will consider publishing an investor relations app this year;
  • 41% do not want to be first in their industry; they want to see other companies publish an IR app;
  • 21% want to follow the leaders; they want to see larger companies publish IR apps first;
  • 38% think investors are still tied to their desktops; they want to see deeper adoption of mobile devices across their investor base before embarking on a mobile strategy;
  • 67% think the SEC will react in the near future to the use of mobile technologies/apps for investor communications and for Reg FD disclosure purposes ;
  • 35% have not implemented a mobile strategy because of budgetary constraints.

Qualitatively, IROs surveyed believe that more companies will launch IR apps and mobile strategies in 2013:

  • Because they want to enhance their communications with investors and stay current with technological advances;
  • Because they are looking for ways to be more transparent;
  • When more prevalent and reliable wireless connectivity exists;
  • To expand their investor base, particularly with individual/retail investors.

Commenting on the survey, Jeff Corbin, co-founder of theIRapp, said, “The use of mobile technology and IR apps in communications is a new and emerging category. Companies are only beginning to recognize the power of mobile to shareholder engagement and communications as can be seen by the fact that today only approximately 100 native IR apps can be found in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Market. While these tend to belong to larger corporations like Walmart, Marathon Oil and Campbell’s Soup, companies with smaller market capitalizations are also starting to embrace IR apps as a way to communicate with their investors who increasingly are on the go and not tied to their office desktop.”

He continued, “We now find ourselves at a very exciting time in the IR industry. There is a complete paradigm shift underway with respect to how people communicate with each other. To the extent mobile technologies offer companies the ability to push information and engage directly with investors via their very personal mobile device, the IR industry must consider and rethink how investors are now consuming information.”

“In or around 2000, the IR section of the corporate website was a nice to have and was unregulated by the SEC. Now it is an accepted means through which to communicate and every company must have one. Given what we have seen over the past couple of years with the proliferation of mobile, and as was confirmed by theIRapp’s survey, no one can question that mobile devices and apps are here to stay and just as the IR section of the corporate website is now a must have, so too will be the case with IR apps.”

For more information on the survey, please visit www.theirapp.com or contact theIRapp at info@theIRapp.com or 212-896-1255 Media contact Joe McGurk jmcgurk@kcsa.com/ 212.896.1231.

About theIRapp™

theIRapp™ (www.theIRapp.com) is a turnkey mobile investor relations application building solution available to all publicly traded companies listed on all global stock exchanges. It enables a company’s investor relations information to be downloaded via Apple’s App Store on the iPhone and iPad as well as Google Play for Android devices. theIRapp is a simple way for investors to engage with critical company and stock information. theIRapp delivers easy sharing of content with colleagues and friends as a next generation IR solution for establishing transparency, building shareholder loyalty, and expanding an investor following.

By providing a company’s ticker symbol and logo, a public company can have its own customized app available as a free download for millions of investors in less than three weeks. Through theIRapp, retail and institutional investors have access to automated, real-time stock price information (via live data feeds), press releases, SEC filings, analyst coverage, corporate documents (fact sheets, presentations, etc.), videos, audiocast conference calls, upcoming events and other custom company information.

SOURCE:

theIRapp

Categories
Assets Business Corporate Finance Investing Loans Personal Finance Products and Services Shopping Spending

Annual Car Sales Strength Expected To Slow

Annual Car Sales Strength Expected To Slow Following Three-Year Trend Of Double-Digit Growth, According To Kelley Blue Book Analysts

Industry Sales Will Continue to Outpace Economic Growth; Affordable Pricing and Credit Environment Keeps Consumers Coming Back

IRVINE, California, Feb. 13, 2013, New-vehicle sales are expected to grow nearly 6 percent in 2013 to 15.3 million units overall, breaking the three-year trend of double-digit sales growth that has persisted since 2010, according to Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, the leading provider of new and used car information.

“Although the sales pace is expected to slow this year, automakers have demonstrated that they can generate solid profits with sales at current levels, which is a strong indication that they will remain disciplined by continuing to match production to meet demand,” said Alec Gutierrez , senior market analyst of automotive insights for Kelley Blue Book . “Sales growth won’t come easily, especially considering the challenges facing the industry in today’s economy. While economic growth is expected to arrive slowly in 2013, there are several indications that point toward solid auto industry sales growth in the years ahead.”

Among the various factors contributing to the ongoing recovery, Kelley Blue Book believes that pent-up demand, high used-vehicle values, improving credit availability and low interest rates all have played a direct role in the auto industry’s ability to outperform the economy. Each of these factors has been critical to-date and will continue to drive sales this year and beyond.

Kelley Blue Book: New-Car Sales to Hit 15.3 Million Units in 2013

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Annual Sales Volume   (Millions)

16.1

13.2

10.4

11.6

12.8

14.5

15.3

Auto Industry Sales Will Continue to Outpace Economic Growth
The economy has come a long way since nearly collapsing in late 2008, yet a long road to recovery remains. At the depths of the recession in 2009, the unemployment rate hit a 30-year high of 10 percent, new-vehicle sales hit a 30-year low of 10.4 million units, and the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index hit an all-time low of 25 (for perspective, in 1985 the index was at 100). Some feared the onset of a second Great Depression in 2009, and while a repeat of the 1930s doesn’t appear to be in the cards, the nation still has a long way to go before the economy is completely back on its feet.

Today unemployment remains at an uncomfortably high 7.8 percent, while consumer confidence is below 60, which is notably better than in 2009 but well below the 4.5 percent unemployment rate and 100+ consumer confidence readings from 2007. This is important to note since 2007 was the final year of a 10-year span in which the auto industry consistently posted sales of 16 million units or more. Although the economy has recovered slowly and still has a long way to go before unemployment and consumer confidence are back to levels last seen in 2007, Kelley Blue Book doesn’t see a reason why auto sales cannot continue to outperform the pace of the economic recovery.

“Looking at the historical relationship between unemployment and auto sales from the 1980s through 2007, unemployment would need to be below 6 percent to generate auto sales of 16 million units or more,” said Gutierrez. “According to estimates from the Federal Reserve, unemployment only will drop down to 7.4 percent in 2013 at best; a point that would historically justify sales of only 13 million to 14 million units. However, since 2010, new-car sales have outperformed their traditional relationship with unemployment, which means that sales in excess of 15 million units clearly are attainable.”

Auto sales also have outperformed their historical relationship to consumer confidence by a significant margin. Despite expectations for consumer confidence to remain well below levels historically required to justify sales of 15 million units or more, Kelley Blue Book believes auto sales will continue to grow as predicted provided that consumer confidence remains stable.

Pent-Up Demand Drives Growth Since 2010, Will Persist in 2013
While economic growth has remained relatively weak and only explains part of the auto sales recovery, Kelley Blue Book sees pent-up demand playing a more critical role in the rebirth of the industry. According to Polk, registered vehicles in the United States are 11 years old on average; the oldest ever recorded. The increase in vehicle age can be attributed to two key trends. First, vehicles have grown much older as consumers have opted to hold onto them longer, due to the weakened economy. Consumers have focused on deleveraging after the collapse of the real estate bubble, and unless they require a replacement or the model no longer meets the needs of its owners, many are choosing to hold on to their vehicle rather than acquire additional debt to purchase an all-new vehicle. This leads directly to the second major influence of increased vehicle age, which is improved vehicle quality.

Aging Vehicles to Continue to Generate Demand in 2013

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Avg. Registered

Vehicle Age

8.9

8.9

9

9.1

9.4

9.5

9.7

9.8

10

10.3

10.6

10.8

Source: Polk

“Vehicles produced during the past few model years are significantly higher in quality than those produced in previous decades,” said Gutierrez. “In the 1990s, consumers came to expect a vehicle produced by a Japanese manufacturer to last 100,000 miles and beyond. Now we can say the same about vehicles produced by all manufacturers. Whether shopping for a Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford or Hyundai, consumers can be reasonably assured that their vehicle will hit 100,000 miles with ease, and 200,000 miles or more with proper maintenance and care.”

With consumers delaying the purchase of a new vehicle due to economic hardship and improved vehicle quality, Kelley Blue Book expects the average age of vehicles on the road to continue to increase. As vehicles continue to get older and economic conditions slowly improve, buyers are expected to continue to return to market.

Leasing to Aid Sales Growth in 2013
When auto sales hit their low point in 2009, leasing all but dried up. The lack of lease returns during the past several years has played a pivotal role in the used-vehicle supply shortfall that has driven used-vehicle values to record highs. The reduced lease returns also have limited the number of consumers that traditionally would be seeking a new vehicle at the end of their lease term. While this reduced the number of in-market shoppers in recent years, Kelley Blue Book anticipates this trend to begin to reverse in 2013. Leasing bounced back in 2010, increasing nearly 700,000 units year-over-year. Kelley Blue Book believes that the return in leasing will generate as many as 300,000 additional in-market shoppers this year, a number that will increase in 2014 and beyond. With lease returns expected to approach more normal levels during the next few years, Kelley Blue Book anticipates new-vehicle sales to grow and used-vehicle values to soften.

Kelley Blue Book: Increase in Lease Returns to

Drive Boost in Demand for 2013

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Total

Vehicles

Leased

2,446,569

2,453,189

1,935,910

1,083,619

1,709,149

1,960,128

2,284,800

Source: Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights

Affordable Pricing and Credit Environment Keeps Consumers Coming Back
Consumers looking to purchase a new vehicle in 2013 will find affordable pricing on some of the best vehicles being produced today. On average, consumers can expect to find new vehicles priced at approximately 94 percent of MSRP, not including incentives. Not only are transaction prices quite favorable for consumers, but interest rates also remain at historically low levels.

“Consumers with a solid credit history should have no trouble obtaining a loan for 3 percent or less for up to 72 months,” said Gutierrez. “Many automakers continue to offer loans of zero percent for up to 60 months, as well as rock-bottom lease payments around $160 per month for a compact and only a few dollars north of $200 per month for a mid-size.”

Leases accounted for approximately 18 percent of all vehicles sold in 2012, returning to levels regularly seen prior to the collapse in industry sales in 2009. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that interest rates will remain near zero through at least 2015, so consumers looking for a new vehicle can expect to find affordable pricing on new models for several years to come.

The affordability of new vehicles has been made even more attractive by the high values maintained by used cars. Although approximately 8 percent below the all-time highs seen in 2011, late-model used-car values remain uncomfortably close to new-car transaction prices, influencing many consumers to purchase new rather than used. This phenomenon is most pronounced for high-demand vehicles such as subcompact, compact and mid-size cars. These vehicles all have been significantly upgraded in recent years and generate excellent fuel economy for an affordable price. As a result, they have maintained extraordinarily strong values in the used-car market. In fact, the difference between a five-year payment on a new car and a 1- to 2-year-old used model is as little as $30 per month apart in some cases. Kelley Blue Book expects used-car values to continue to ease from current highs, so this phenomenon likely will play less of a role in the years ahead.

Kelley Blue Book: New-Car Pricing Remains

Near Used-Car Pricing

MY2013
(New)

MY 2012 (Used)

MY2011

MY2010

MY2009

MY2008

Average Monthly

Payment for a Compact

$335

$302

$280

$253

$224

$202

Source: Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights

For more information and news from Kelley Blue Book ‘s KBB.com, visit www.kbb.com/media/, follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kelleybluebook (or @kelleybluebook), like our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kbb, and get updates on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+kbb/.

About Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
Founded in 1926, Kelley Blue Book, The Trusted Resource®, is the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the industry. Each week the company provides the most market-reflective values in the industry on its top-rated website www.kbb.com, including its famous Blue Book® Trade-In and Suggested Retail Values and Fair Purchase Price, which reports what others are paying for new cars this week. The company also provides vehicle pricing and values through various products and services available to car dealers, auto manufacturers, finance and insurance companies as well as governmental agencies. KBB.com provides consumer pricing and information on cars for sale, minivans, pickup trucks, sedan, hybrids, electric cars, and SUVs. Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of AutoTrader Group.

SOURCE:

Kelley Blue Book

Categories
Finance Investing Personal Finance Real Estate

Protect the Investment in Your Home

Allstate offers cold weather tips to protect your home

A few simple tips to help protect your home from the frigid temperatures

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Feb. 8, 2013, Arctic air is bringing blizzard conditions and hard freezes across parts of the Northeast and Northwest this weekend. But there are things you can do to protect your home and property during cold weather.

Freezing and bursting pipes can cause significant damage to homes and Allstate Insurance Company recommends homeowners prepare their homes for cold weather using a few tips.

Allstate and the Insurance Information Institute encourage residents to take a few simple steps to help prevent frozen pipes:

  • Keep the house heated to a minimum of 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the inside walls from freezing.
  • Identify the location for the main water shutoff in your home. Find out how it works in case you have to use it.
  • Open hot and cold faucets enough to let them drip slowly. Keeping water moving within the pipes will prevent freezing.
  • If you haven’t already, make sure all hoses are disconnected from outside spigots.
  • If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t wait for them to burst. Take measures to safely thaw them immediately, or call a plumber for assistance.
  • If your pipes burst, first turn off the water and then mop up spills. You don’t want the water to do more damage than it already has.
  • Make temporary repairs and take other steps to protect your property from further damage. Remove any carpet or furniture that can be further damaged from seepage. Save receipts for temporary repairs and take photos of any items that were unsafe to retain to share with your insurance company if you make a claim.

Most homeowners’ policies cover damage resulting from a freeze, but by protecting your home with these cold weather tips, you can avoid a lot of potential damage.

If homeowners encounter damage resulting from cold weather, Allstate encourages you to contact your agent and contact your insurance company.

The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, serving approximately 16 million households through its Allstate, Encompass, Esurance and Answer Financial brand names and Allstate Financial business segment. Allstate branded insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services are offered through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives, as well as via www.allstate.com, www.allstate.com/financial and 1-800 Allstate®, and are widely known through the slogan “You’re In Good Hands With Allstate®.” As part of Allstate’s commitment to strengthen local communities, The Allstate Foundation, Allstate employees, agency owners and the corporation provided $29 million in 2012 to thousands of nonprofit organizations and important causes across the United States.

SOURCE:

Allstate

http://www.allstate.com

 

Categories
Corporate Finance Financial Analysis Financial News Investing Products and Services Stocks

McDonald’s Global Comparable Sales Decrease 1.9% In January

McDonald’s Global Comparable Sales Decrease 1.9% In January

OAK BROOK, Ill., Feb. 8, 2013, McDonald’s Corporation today announced that global comparable sales decreased 1.9% in January. Performance by segment was as follows:

  • U.S. up 0.9%
  • Europe down 2.1%
  • Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa (APMEA) down 9.5%

“McDonald’s is focused on satisfying the needs of each and every customer visiting our restaurants in search of great-tasting food and beverages, outstanding service and everyday value,” said McDonald’s President and Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson. “While January’s results reflect today’s challenging environment and difficult prior year comparisons, I am confident that our unwavering commitment to delivering an exceptional restaurant experience will enhance our brand’s relevance and drive long-term results.”

January comparable sales increased 0.9% in the U.S. driven by a balanced offering of premium, core and compelling value options, including the addition of the new Grilled Onion Cheddar burger to the Dollar Menu. Results for the month also benefited from convenience and restaurant modernization strategies designed to provide customers with a better overall experience.

In Europe, comparable sales decreased 2.1% as positive results in the U.K. and Russia were offset by performance in Germany, France and other markets. Throughout Europe, McDonald’s remains focused on appealing to a broad range of customer preferences with seasonal food events and enhanced value and breakfast offerings along with extended operating hours.

In APMEA, January’s comparable sales decreased 9.5% due to ongoing weakness in Japan and negative results in China due primarily to the shift in timing of Chinese New Year and, to a lesser extent, the residual effects of consumer sensitivity around the recent supply chain issue in the chicken industry, which more than offset positive results in Australia.

Systemwide sales for the month increased 0.3%, or 0.7% in constant currencies. For the month of February, comparable sales will be negatively impacted by approximately 3 percentage points as prior year results included one extra day due to leap year.

Percent   Increase/(Decrease)

Comparable

Systemwide   Sales

Sales

As

Constant

Month ended January   31,

2013

2012

Reported

Currency

McDonald’s Corporation

(1.9)

6.7

0.3

0.7

Major Segments:

U.S.

0.9

7.8

1.9

1.9

Europe

(2.1)

4.0

3.8

0.6

APMEA

(9.5)

7.3

(8.6)

(5.1)

Definitions

  • Comparable sales represent sales at all restaurants, whether operated by the Company or by franchisees, in operation at least thirteen months including those temporarily closed. Some of the reasons restaurants may be temporarily closed include reimaging or remodeling, rebuilding, road construction and natural disasters. Comparable sales exclude the impact of currency translation. Comparable sales are driven by changes in guest counts and average check, which is affected by changes in pricing and product mix. Management reviews the increase or decrease in comparable sales compared with the same period in the prior year to assess business trends.
  • The number of weekdays and weekend days can impact our reported comparable sales. In January 2013, this calendar shift/trading day adjustment consisted of one less Sunday and Monday, and one more Wednesday and Thursday compared with January 2012. The resulting adjustment varied by area of the world, ranging from approximately -0.9% to 0.8%. In addition, the timing of holidays can impact comparable sales.
  • Information in constant currency is calculated by translating current year results at prior year average exchange rates. Management reviews and analyzes business results excluding the effect of foreign currency translation and bases incentive compensation plans on these results because they believe this better represents the Company’s underlying business trends.
  • Systemwide sales include sales at all restaurants, whether operated by the Company or by franchisees. While franchised sales are not recorded as revenues by the Company, management believes the information is important in understanding the Company’s financial performance because these sales are the basis on which the Company calculates and records franchised revenues and are indicative of the financial health of the franchisee base.

Upcoming Communications

The Company plans to release February 2013 sales on March 8, 2013.

McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with more than 34,000 locations serving more than 69 million customers in 119 countries each day. More than 80% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local men and women.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release contains certain forward-looking statements, which reflect management’s expectations regarding future events and operating performance and speak only as of the date hereof. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations are detailed in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, such as its annual and quarterly reports and current reports on Form 8-K.

SOURCE:

McDonald’s Corporation

http://www.mcdonalds.com

 

Categories
Assets Finance Investing Personal Finance Products and Services

Diamondere Launched – “Jewelry is a Deeply Personal and Timeless Asset”

Jewelers To The Royals Since 1890 Launch Diamondere

BY ELIMINATING MIDDLEMEN, EVERYONE GETS ROYAL TREATMENT AT AFFORDABLE PRICES

PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 24, 2013, Jewelry is in the very DNA of Anish Godha , 23 and Varun Godha, 28. The recent entrepreneurial graduates of Stanford and Cornell are finally providing public access to their family’s 122 years of jewelry design and manufacturing with the launch of Diamondere.com, an affordable made-to-order fine jewelry e-commerce platform. In the past, their family focused exclusively on signature jewelry for the royals, dignitaries, and celebrities, which required significant personalization. With the surge of technological innovations like 3D printing and computer-aided design (CAD), the Diamondere platform now offers the same level of individual attention for rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and cufflinks to everyone.

For any design, buyers can choose from a variety of colored diamonds, colored gemstones, precious metals and engrave their purchases for free – all online and instant. Unlike its competitors, because the firm manufactures and distributes the jewelry itself, there are no middlemen and Diamondere can guarantee prices at least 30% lower than other online retailers and at least 50% lower than traditional retail. Some designs featuring colored gemstones like rubies, emeralds and sapphires are priced up to 75% lower than traditional retailers since the family procures the best gemstones themselves!

“Jewelry is a deeply personal and timeless asset. Diamondere enables customers to tell their own story with made-to-order, signature jewelry at a fraction of the price charged by others,” states Anish.

What makes Diamondere different from its competitors? Representing over 7 generations of designers, their personal library features more than 65,000 jewelry designs, out of which about 600 have been handpicked for the site. Each of these designs can be treated as templates. For instance, the same ring design that costs $15,000 with a diamond will cost $1,500 with a sapphire.

Customers can also work with the Diamondere Design Team to make further modifications to any design or even submit their own creations to be manufactured.

Besides the obvious savings to customers, Anish’s father continues the family’s tradition of personally searching throughout the world to find the best stones mined at the most affordable prices. This gives the customer a vast range of colored diamonds and colored gemstones in addition to the traditional white diamond, which is also offered.

Before Diamondere, a person had to be a Royal to have this level of personalized jewelry… now with Diamondere everyone gets the Royal treatment!

http://www.Diamondere.com

Contact: Kelly Fogelman Group 415 388 8009

Michele Kelly mkelly@kfgroup.net, Ed Fogelman ed@kfgroup.net

SOURCE: Diamondere