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WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY
Will Disney post magical results?
The movie studio’s earnings are expected to be mixed after the successes of blockbusters Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2.
The entertainment titan is barreling toward its earnings report with solid momentum. Last quarter, revenue increased 9% year over year, earnings per share soared 30%, and EPS adjusted for one-time factors jumped 23%. Earnings surpassed many investors expectations, as they did in the first quarter.
After a tough fiscal 2017, Disney’s improved financial performance so far this fiscal year, along with investor optimism, has begun moving the stock in the right direction. Shares have returned 7% so far in 2018 through Friday, just about on par with the S&P 500‘s 7.4% return.
The headline numbers
Here are the year-ago period’s results to use as benchmarks:
|Metric||Q3 2017 Result|
|Adjusted earnings per share (EPS)||$1.58|
Disney doesn’t provide guidance. For some context — though long-term investors shouldn’t place too much weight on Wall Street’s short-term estimates — analysts expect the The House of Mouse will earn $1.96 per share on revenue of $15.32 billion, representing growth of 24.1% and 7.6% year over year, respectively.
However, Solo: A Star Wars Story could be the first Star Wars film to lose money The film, which made a disappointing debut in the US on May 25, could lose more than $50 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which cited estimates from a Wall Street analyst and industry financing sources.
Solo is expected to gross little more than $400 million worldwide at the box office during its full run, against an estimated $250 million production budget and multimillion-dollar marketing campaign, the publication reported. Thus far, the space Western centered on a young Han Solo has grossed about $264 million at the global box office, ComScore data show, after losing steam again during its second week in theaters.
A $400 million box office run would make Solo the worst performing original release of a live-action Star Wars film, based on Box Office Mojo data. The movie also had the worst reviews of Disney’s four Star Wars films, to date.
To be sure, Solo probably won’t hit Disney’s bottom line too hard, seeing as the studio is coming off the unbridled success of Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther this year. It’s next release, Incredibles 2, is also one of the most anticipated films of the summer. The studio could make up a Solo box-office loss with home entertainment, TV, streaming video, and other ancillary revenue streams—the precise terms of which are also unknown the Hollywood Reported noted.
But Solo is the first major Star Wars misstep since Disney acquired studio Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion—a sum its first three blockbusters combined easily earned back at the box office. Disney transformed the beloved franchise into a money-making machine as its record-setting films spurred sales of toys and other merchandise. The films also lead to the creation of two upcoming Star Wars-themed lands at the media conglomerate’s biggest parks. Franchise fatigue, poor timing following two major superhero releases, and a weak marketing campaign may all have contributed to Solo’ssurprisingly lackluster performance.
Rick Gates faces cross-examination at Paul Manafort’s trial.
In his first day of testimony, the government’s star witness told prosecutors that he broke the law in various ways on Manafort’s orders, including hiding foreign bank accounts. The legal team for Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, has tried to pin the blame for wrongdoing on Gates, and will probably get its chance to question him directly today.
Taking the stand on the trial’s fifth day, Gates admitted to helping Manafort doctor financial statements, hide foreign income and cheat on his taxes. He said he was aware Manafort was acting as an unregistered foreign agent in lobbying for Ukraine. He said he engaged in the wrongdoing at Manafort’s direction.
“At Mr. Manafort’s request we did not disclose foreign bank accounts,” Gates told the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia.
Manafort’s defense hinges on pinning the blame on Gates, who they accuse of embezzling millions of dollars from Manafort.
Gates, who first met Manafort working for him as an intern fresh out of college, has been described by witnesses as Manafort’s right-hand man in his multimillion-dollar political consulting business.Throughout his testimony, Gates largely avoided making eye contact with Manafort, who appeared to be watching him.
In addition to assisting in Manafort’s alleged crimes, Gates told the jury he had failed to report income he routed through his bank accounts in the United Kingdom and said he stole several hundreds of thousands of dollars from Manafort by filing false and inflated expense reports.
Colombia’s new conservative president is sworn in.
Iván Duque will take over from Juan Manuel Santos to become the country’s youngest elected head of state. Ivan Duque, the 42-year-old protege of a powerful right-wing former president, now faces the task of implementing the historic accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia that ended a half century bloody conflict, but which remains on shaky ground. He will also have to deal with burgeoning coca and cocaine production that has strained relations with key ally Washington and negotiate a peace with a holdout guerrilla army.
“The moment has come for all of us to unite to fight against illegal groups,” Duque said in his inauguration speech to more than a dozen heads of state, promising to get tough on crime, drug trafficking groups and other armed and rebel groups.
The new president said he believed in “the demobilization, disarmament and reinsertion of the guerrilla base” into society under the accord with the FARC. But he added that “we will make corrections to ensure that the victims receive truth, proportional justice, reparations and not a repetition” after a conflict that left at least 260,000 dead, some 60,000 missing and millions displaced.In another nod to conservatives who have demanded tougher negotiation terms with rebel groups, Duque said he will push for a constitutional reform that makes it impossible for the government to grant amnesty to individuals who have been involved in drug trafficking and kidnappings.
Duque will have to lead peace negotiations with the National Liberation Army, a guerrilla army of some 2,000 fighters that began talks with Duque’s predecessor, Juan Manuel Santos. He said the talks with the ELN will hinge on whether the group ceases its attacks on Colombia’s military and accepts international monitoring.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
US “snapback” sanctions against Iran took effect.
The sanctions target Iranian purchases of foreign currency and commodities, and ban US imports of pistachios and Persian rugs.The US sanctions will come in two phases, based on the 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods set by the US Department of Treasury.Counting from May 8, when Trump made his announcement, the first phase takes effect on August 7, after the 90-day wind down expires on August 6. The second and bigger phase, targeting Iran’s energy industry, will take effect on November 5.
The so-called “wind downs” are essentially grace periods given by the US government to companies, both American and foreign, to wrap up their business, terminate operations, and pull their money out of Iran.Companies including GE and Honeywell were among the US companies operating in Iran that had to pull back their investments because of the sanctions.
Major foreign companies such as the French energy giant Total, and the Danish shipping line Maersk also started operations in Iran after the 2015 nuclear deal. But because of their presence in the US market, they too had to withdraw after Trump’s announcement. Or else, they would have risked getting penalised by the US government as well.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned the United States”will hold those prohibited businesses in Iran to account”.
With the US sanctions against Iran in place, the following items and business transactions will be prohibited by the US as of Tuesday:
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani responded by calling the sanctions “psychological warfare” which aimed to “sow division among Iranians”.
The sanctions take aim at various sectors, with further punitive action planned against Iran’s oil trade.The European Union has spoken out against the measures, vowing to protect firms doing “legitimate business”.It follows the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, earlier this year.
The deal, negotiated during the presidency of Barack Obama, saw Iran limit its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.
Mr Rouhani said the US government had “turned their back on diplomacy” with the action.”They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation.” Mr Rouhani said. “Negotiations with sanctions doesn’t make sense. We are always in favour of diplomacy and talks… but talks need honesty,”
He also accused the Trump administration of using Iran as domestic political leverage ahead of November’s midterm elections in the United States.
Arsenal’s American owner bought out the club’s Russian shareholder.
Stan Kroenke, who also runs the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets, bought Alisher Usmanov’s 30% stake in the London-based Premier League soccer team, giving him total control of the club. The deal values the underachieving team at $2.3 billion.A fans’ group greeted Kroenke’s proposal to delist the publicly traded company with dismay, calling it a “dreadful day” since they will lose the chance to own shares in the club and make their voices heard at the annual meeting. With Usmanov’s departure, Arsenal also loses a shareholder who had pushed for the struggling club to spend more on buying star players.
Despite his shareholding, Usmanov was shut out of the process of developing strategy at Arsenal and didn’t have a seat on the board. He criticized Kroenke last year as the team struggled through a disappointing season, saying the majority owner was responsible for the team’s performance on the pitch.
Manager Arsene Wenger, who had led the club since 1996, stepped down at the end of the most recent campaign, in which the team finished sixth in the league and again missed out on the elite Champions League competition.
“I have decided to sell my shares in Arsenal Football Club,” Usmanov said in a statement confirming the agreement. “I wish all the best and great success to this wonderful football club.”A representative for Arsenal declined to comment.
A wildfire became the largest in California’s history.
Dubbed the Mendocino Complex, it’s made up of two separate conflagrations that merged, covering 283,800 acres. It has already destroyed 75 homes and forced thousands to flee. With more hot and dry weather expected, it is threatening to spread.
The blaze has surpassed the Thomas Fire, which burned 281,893 acres (114,078 hectares) in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in southern California last December, destroying over 1,000 structures.In the last two days, Trump has said California was letting water run into the ocean instead of using it to fight blazes and blamed California’s environmental policies for worsening the fires.
“We’re going to have to have some meetings about it because there are … things you can do to mitigate what’s happening,” Trump said at a dinner in New Jersey.
Ola geared up to enter into the UK.
The Indian Uber rival—which recently set up shop in Australia—said it has already obtained licenses to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester starting next month. It plans to be UK-wide by the end of the year.
Ola and Uber, which both count Japan’s SoftBank Group as an investor, have been competing in India’s $12 billion taxi market and in recent months have taken their rivalry overseas.
Ola is targeting high-booking markets in search of profitability because in India, less loyal consumers demanding low-cost rides makes competition more intense, said Neil Shah, research director at consultancy Counterpoint Research.
Japan’s wage growth hit a 21-year high.
It surged 2.8% in June from a year earlier, thanks in part to higher summer bonuses. Household spending fell 1.2%, less than the forecast of 1.6%, and household income marked the fastest gain in three years.
The figures come ahead of Friday’s release of second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data, which will likely show the economy expanded an annualized 1.4 percent after contracting in the previous quarter.
“Consumption has emerged from a soft patch in the first quarter and will underpin economic growth,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute.“Export growth is stagnating, so we may not see external demand drive the economy. But that will be offset by strong capital expenditure and improvements in consumption.”
Q-MHI OBSESSION INTERLUDE
Lily Zheng on the impossibility of curing implicit bias.
“Bias isn’t like an upset stomach that an individual can take an antacid to fix; it’s a chronic issue that affects entire organizations, industries, and even societies… The outcome of any implicit bias training shouldn’t be to cure people’s bias or make them more objective—it should be to make people bias-aware.” When people are bias-aware, they are able to act with less bias without fixating on being unbiased. Bias-aware people can do this by course-correcting their actions and decisions using knowledge about their own biases.How can you create and support a workplace that is bias-aware rather than bias-avoidant?
Frame diversity, inclusion, and equity work through a positive lens
Depicting diversity and inclusion efforts as “weeding out the bad apples” or otherwise assuming that only a few bad individuals are biased will fail to create a healthy work environment.
Withhold judgment while committing to accountability
Biased statements and decisions are almost always harmful to others. The negative impact of being stereotyped, insulted, or excluded due to bias cannot be overlooked in a bias-aware organization, and yet stigmatizing bias leads to bias-avoidant environments.
Pencil in time to talk about bias
Implicit bias is one of the most important topics for organizations to address. While it’s tempting for many of us (consultants included) to see bias as a lingering cold that we can banish with enough effort, this false advertising won’t help us or organizations in the long-term. Only by recognizing the biases within ourselves, bringing them out into the open and having genuine, uncomfortable, and powerful conversations about them can we use our biases for good.
MATTERS OF DEBATE
Orcas and humans grieve in the same way.
A “tour of grief” by a mother whale for her dead calf says a lot about our parent-child instincts.
While that aspect of the orcas’ mother-child bond is unique, killer whales also share some things in common with humans. For example, mother orcas tend to cradle their newborns on the left, like humans do. That’s because the position activates the right hemisphere of the brain, which controls communication and bonding functions.
Orcas are also one of just a few species that go through menopause. Scientists believe there’s a purpose to that: Older female orcas can then help provide for their families and make sure their genes are passed on to future generations. The value of having an older, post-menopausal matriarch in the family is known in humans as the “grandmother hypothesis.”
As Casey writes: The matriarchs serve as midwives, babysitters, navigators and teachers. Orca mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers pass on so much essential knowledge that calves removed from their influence are as ill-equipped for wild orca life as children raised by wolves would be if dropped into Midtown Manhattan.
Americans live in the ruins of the 2008 financial crisis.
Prosperity is undercut by broken institutions, from health care to law enforcement.It registered the crisis, though. The generation that came of age in the Great Depression was indelibly shaped by that experience of deprivation, even though what followed was what Henry Luce famously called, in 1941, “the American Century.” He meant the 20th, and, to judge from our present politics, at least — “Make America Great Again” on one side of the aisle; on the other, the suspicion that the president is a political suicide bomber, destroying the pillars of government — he probably wouldn’t have made the same declaration about the 21st. A decade now after the beginning of what has come to be called the Great Recession, and almost as long since economic growth began to tick upward and unemployment downward, the cultural and psychological imprint left by the financial crisis looks as profound as the ones left by the calamity that struck our grandparents. All the more when you look beyond the narrow economic data: at a new radical politics on both left and right; at a strident, ideological pop culture obsessed with various apocalypses; at an internet powered by envy, strife, and endless entrepreneurial hustle; at opiates and suicides and low birthrates; and at the resentment, racial and gendered and otherwise, by those who felt especially left behind. Here, we cast a look back, and tried to take a seismic reading of the financial earthquake and its aftershocks, including those that still jolt us today.
The planet could be entering an irreversible “hot house” state.
A new paper from leading scientists argues that positive feedback loops could mean our warming planet reaches a point of no return.This grim prospect is sketched out in a journal paper that considers the combined consequences of 10 climate change processes, including the release of methane trapped in Siberian permafrost and the impact of melting ice in Greenland on the Antarctic.
The authors of the essay, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stress their analysis is not conclusive, but warn the Paris commitment to keep warming at 2C above pre-industrial levels may not be enough to “park” the planet’s climate at a stable temperature.
They warn that the hothouse trajectory “would almost certainly flood deltaic environments, increase the risk of damage from coastal storms, and eliminate coral reefs (and all of the benefits that they provide for societies) by the end of this century or earlier.”“I do hope we are wrong, but as scientists we have a responsibility to explore whether this is real,” said Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “We need to know now. It’s so urgent. This is one of the most existential questions in science.”
Who does feminism look like?
Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour tells Quartz that, as a “stereotype-shattering muslim woman,” she is not an anomaly.One of the first executives at Facebook, Randi Zuckerberg knows first-hand the difficulty working as a woman in tech in Silicon Valley. Randi’s the sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but a successful entrepreneur in her own right: she created Facebook Live, founded a media company, authored four books, hosts a radio show, became an angel investor for female-founded companies, created a TV show, even briefly starred on Broadway. In an interview with Quartz, Randi discusses her unusual career path, how becoming a mother changed her view of technology, and why musical theater was the best training for a career in Silicon Valley.
Negative power prices are a thing now.
They’re most common when clean energy supplies spike at a time when demand is low—especially in Germany.“There is no time pattern for having negative prices in Belgium,” said Marleen Vanhecke, an official at the nation’s grid manager, Elia System Operator SA. “This phenomena is mainly determined by high wind generation in Germany and enough import capacity towards Belgium.”
The chart below shows the incidence of so-called negative power prices so far this year, indicating the biggest issue is in Germany, where the government has been working for more than a decade to shift the economy toward cleaner forms of energy.
WW2-era guns were found at a Japanese elementary school.
The weapons were discovered two meters underground during excavation work.About 1,400 firearms and 1,200 swords believed to be from the period of World War II were discovered buried at an elementary school in western Tokyo, city officials said Monday.
Grenades, bullets and cannonballs were also found one to two meters underneath the grounds of the Tanashi Elementary School in the city of Nishitokyo.
The discovery of the cache of weapons came during excavation work that began in July linked to the construction of a building, the officials said.
Cooperating with police and the Self-Defense Forces, the city on the outskirts of the capital removed the weapons from the school grounds, they said, adding they were possibly discarded after the end of the war in 1945.
In Japan, unexploded bombs and weapons are still sometimes found, even in residential areas. But it is rare for weapons used by the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army to be recovered in such a large quantity at one time.
Happiness hangovers are an evolutionary trait.
Hedonic hotspots in the brain release their own drug-like neurotransmitters.How exactly these hotspots turn on and off isn’t fully understood, but Berridge thinks it makes sense that they’d be related to happiness highs and the lows that follow. Happiness, he says, is a part of pleasure, and pleasure is something we only feel at certain times.
Back in 1980, psychologist Richard Solomon came up with an idea he called the “opponent process theory” (paywall). Broadly, this states that whenever you feel one emotion, you’re slated to feel the opposite next. This would explain why after feeling happiness, we feel slightly gloomy.
“[Opponent process theory] is a basic physiological phenomenon that the body reacts to any challenge associated with it, and often in a way to counteract the effects of that challenge,” says George Koob, a behavioral physiologist and the director the US National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
A Chinese electric car startup that has delivered zero cars is valued at $3.6 billion.
Alibaba-backed Xiaopeng Motors was founded four years ago. Xpeng is one of several high-profile EV startups to spring up in recent years thanks to China’s support of the new energy vehicles market, which includes pure battery vehicles and plug-in hybrids. The support, in the form of subsidies and other incentives, is part of the country’s effort to spur local innovation through its Made-in-China 2025 (paywall) plan, and to fight air pollution. Along with investments from tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent, companies such as Xpeng have taken their prototypes to world-class platforms like the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show. At the conference, Xpeng displayed the G3, which features a 360-degree camera on its roof that can take photos and videos, and a pollution monitor.
NIO, a Shanghai-based EV startup which filed for an IPO in the US earlier this year, had postponed delivery of its pure battery EV series ES8 from April to late May, when it delivered 10 (link in Chinese) of the vehicles. Backed by search engine giant Baidu and social media behemoth Tencent, NIO has a private valuation of more than $1 billion.
WM Motor, another EV unicorn based in Shanghai, has also said it will deliver 10,000 units (link in Chinese) starting next month. The company didn’t immediately respond to queries.
Time is ticking for the startups as China has been opening its relatively protected auto market this year. Many Chinese EV startups put their SUVs at a price range between 200,000 to 400,000 yuan($29,220 to $58,440). While that gives them an advantage over a Tesla Model X sold in China, which starts from 897,900 yuan ($131,000), that gap might narrow sooner than they’d like. Tesla is in the process of setting up a factory in China, which could allow its locally made cars to be exempt from import taxes, making them cheaper for Chinese buyers.
Starbucks coffee has more caffeine per dollar than McDonald’s.
7-Eleven provides even more bang per buck, while Dunkin’ Donuts trails well behind.When you shell out for coffee, you’re making an investment in yourself. So we set out to figure out how to invest wisely. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-Eleven, and McDonald’s all have locations within a block or two of the Quartz office in New York City. In descending order, their prices for a 16oz cup of performance range from $2.65 to $1.19.McDonald’s coffee is by far the cheapest cup of coffee. But, before you convert to the McCafe, take a look at the varying caffeine levels in each brand. (For reference, the Mayo Clinic advises that individuals should not consume more than 400 milligrams, “roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee,” in a day. The upper limit is probably good advice, but that estimate per cup clearly doesn’t refer to a 16oz bucket of coffee.)
You get what you pay for. Price and caffeine content correlate closely, but not perfectly. Milligrams of caffeine per dollar is the best way to see which brand is truly the best value.It’s worth noting that the caffeine content of any given cup of coffee is fairly variable, and also that brands’ listed numbers don’t always line up with their actual coffee. Still, with nearly 130 milligrams of pure performance per dollar, 7-Eleven coffee looks to be the savviest bet for pure caffeine fiends. At just under 125 milligrams of per dollar, Starbucks is the next best bet, with McDonalds at 121 coming close behind. Dunkin’, which barely cracked 100, came in last.