National News

Explaining stock buybacks

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 05:40

Stock buybacks are in the news again. Usually buyback stories are all about companies using their cash reserves to buy back their stock, but this week they’re all about companies stopping their buyback programs.

Viacom announced it’s going to curtail its buyback program until October. And Phillip Morris recently announced a suspension of its buyback program, barring a favorable change in currency fluctuations.

So what is a buyback, exactly?

Here’s a short video explaining how they work — using handbags.

Buybacks are pretty simple: when a company buys back its stock, it does exactly that: it goes into the market and buys its own stock. It can do this in one of two ways. It can simply buy the shares in the open market, just like everyone else. Or it can use a tender offer, where it makes an announcement to existing shareholders, telling them that it’s prepared to buy a certain amount of stock at a certain price.

Why do companies use buybacks? They do it to support their share price. Sometimes they do it to juice their share price. A company might feel that the market price of its shares may not reflect the real value of the shares. By buying some of those shares up, the company reduces the supply of shares on the market. That should increase demand, and therefore lift the price.

You may ask, why does a company want to spend money on buying back its shares when it could be spending that cash on growing the company, buying up competitors, expanding into new markets, hiring more people and helping the economy grow? That’s a good question. Companies that use buybacks are often criticized for sacrificing long-term growth on the altar of short term financial gain. But that’s a consequence on having a shareholder economy. Shareholders like it when their stock goes up, because that means they’re making more money (on paper, at least).

Founder Of Indian IT Giant Satyam Gets 7 Years In Fraud

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 05:15

B. Ramalinga Raju, the founder of the computer services company that collapsed in 2009, and two of his brothers were among those convicted of defrauding shareholders.

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Tentative Nuclear Deal In Hand, Iran Says All Sanctions Must Be Lifted

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 04:31

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that any arrangements must respect Iran's interests and dignity. And he questioned the need for talks, if they don't trigger the sanctions' removal.

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The Egg Baby Project: A Lesson In Sex Education

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 04:03

It is a sex ed rite of passage for teens across the country. But do egg babies really teach kids about the hardships of parenting?

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French Network TV5Monde Is Hacked By 'Cyber Caliphate' Group

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 03:47

The attack by what are being called cyber jihadists began Wednesday night, when screens showing TV5Monde went blank, with normal programming replaced by a message: "Je suIS IS."

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Weighing Privacy Vs. Rewards Of Letting Insurers Track Your Fitness

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 03:08

A major life insurer is offering lower premiums in exchange for policyholders sharing activity data. But privacy advocates worry such programs eventually will be used to deny coverage.

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PODCAST: Tell a story about your product

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 03:00

Airing on Thursday, April 9th, 2015: The people who control interest rates in America look at prices, they look at jobs. But we now know the Federal Reserve is also looking warily at the high U.S. dollar. We consult economist Diane Swonk to understand this key wrinkle in the economy here in the spring of 2015. Plus, a company called Oyster - with agreements from all five major publishers - has opened an eBook store. We look at whether it can compete with the Amazon's standing in the industry. Finally, digital audio downloads can enlighten and entertain. They can also sell things to you. Now, there's a growing sector of podcasting for companies. We learn more about how experts can build a podcast around a product.

Secret Service Supervisor Put On Leave After Assault Accusation

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:52

A senior manager is on leave from the Secret Service, after an employee he supervised reportedly told investigators that he assaulted her by making forceful and unwelcome sexual advances.

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Harvard's business women push

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

Harvard Business School is extremely selective — only about 12 percent of applicants are admitted. But even with such a large pool of applicants to choose from, the school still has a serious gender imbalance. Only 41 percent of the student body is female.

The school's new PEEK program is HBS' newest effort to reach out to women and encourage them to apply. For a $500 fee, women who attend women's colleges can experience the business school for a weekend. 

"They will immediately be in a classroom here doing a case," explained Dee Leopold, Harvard Business School's director of admissions. "They will have had a case sent to them before; they will be hitting the ground running."

Many business schools also have a gender imbalance, said Linda Scott, the DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Why? "Mostly, I think it's because the environment is fairly hostile," she said.

Business Schools are male dominated, and so are the faculty. Even the course material can be presented in a masculine way, Scott said.

"I think a lot of women just want to avoid that environment." 

A look at the "Social Progress Index"

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

You typically measure the economy by counting when dollars change hands. That's Gross Domestic Product. That means dollars spent on bad things, like fixing a car after a crash, count the same as good things, like buying a new tricycle for a kid.

One key alternate measure is called the Social Progress Index, which also looks at  health, education, safety, access to information, personal freedom and other measures across the globe.

This year's index is out as of Thursday morning. We spoke with Michael Green, executive director of the organization that compiles it.

Click the media player above to hear Michael Green in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

The world of e-books is your oyster

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

Oyster, a start-up which runs a subscription service for e-books (‘the Netflix for books’) announced today it will launch an online bookstore where users can also buy e-books. The big five major publishers are backing Oyster. We look at what’s behind this move – and to what extent publishers see this as leverage against Amazon.

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more. 

 

Ex Machina imagines a robot indistinguishable from man

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

Ex Machina, an independent film about artificial intelligence and deadly robots, hits theaters this weekend. And its release won't be without controversy.

One point of contention: the plot relies heavily on the well-known Turing Test, which is designed to test a robot's ability to mimic man's behavior to the extent that it is indistinguishable from a real human being. Without giving too much away, the movie questions what it would mean to create completely autonomous robots, and how it could potentially go very wrong.

"My interest in AI is to do with it superseding us. It's a sort of evolutionary way of looking at it. We are limited in our potential."

-Alex Garland, Ex Machina writer and director

Click the media player above to hear Ex Machina writer and director Alex Garland in conversation with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson.

The world of e-books is your oyster

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

Oyster, a start-up which runs a subscription service for e-books (‘the Netflix for books’) announced today it will launch an online bookstore where users can also buy e-books. The big five major publishers are backing Oyster. We look at what’s behind this move – and to what extent publishers see this as leverage against Amazon.

Click on the multimedia player above to hear more. 

 

Harvard's business women push

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

Harvard Business School is extremely selective — only about 12 percent of applicants are admitted. But even with such a large pool of applicants to choose from, the school still has a serious gender imbalance. Only 41 percent of the student body is female.

The school's new PEEK program is HBS' newest effort to reach out to women and encourage them to apply. For a $500 fee, women who attend women's colleges can experience the business school for a weekend. 

"They will immediately be in a classroom here doing a case," explained Dee Leopold, Harvard Business School's director of admissions. "They will have had a case sent to them before; they will be hitting the ground running."

Many business schools also have a gender imbalance, said Linda Scott, the DP World Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. Why? "Mostly, I think it's because the environment is fairly hostile," she said.

Business Schools are male dominated, and so are the faculty. Even the course material can be presented in a masculine way, Scott said.

"I think a lot of women just want to avoid that environment." 

Businesses tap podcasts to hone their brands

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 02:00

In the last decade, podcasting has created new ways to tell stories and disseminate content, from educational programming to documentary and news media.

Now, there’s a growing sector of podcasting among companies, whether their product is blue jeans, beauty care, or footwear.

For the past five years, Todd Mansfield, an audio consultant in Portland, Oregon, has been working with his wife Laura, a brand catalyst, to produce podcasts for companies – in virtually an untapped market. 

They say podcasts are about exploring the culture around a product, not necessarily selling.

“I really go back to educating and cool storytelling content, because that is what’s going to be the differentiator and actually going to position companies to really shine,” says Laura.

Clif Bar is a former client of Todd and Laura’s. Its podcast, called Clifcast, is a nutrition show for runners and endurance athletes.

“These are not considered advertisements, we are very conscious of creating content that’s unbiased,” says Ricardo Balazs, Sports Marketing Manager at Clif Bar and the host of Clifcast. “We’re sharing our expertise.”

Levi’s, another client of the Mansfields, created a podcast about the sustainability of its product.

“We went ahead and did an interview with an English gentleman from Levi’s who unveiled this entire story about ways to take better care of their jeans,” explains Todd.

Senior copywriter John Vieira of Nemo Design in Portland, says getting podcast subscribers is important for a company, because it creates a brand following.

“For a brand, that’s tremendously helpful, because you’re looped in,” says Viera. “But for a person, the reward has to be pretty big. So it has to be something you wouldn’t learn about otherwise.”

The key is creating exclusive content – because for most products, there’s an audience that wants to know every side of the story.

 

 

 

 





 

 



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Bill To Limit Vaccine Exemptions Moves A Step Closer In California

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 01:03

A bill that would require more children to get vaccinated is moving ahead in the California legislature. Though the state saw a large measles outbreak this year, the bill's final passage may be tough.

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Left your wallet at the airport?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-04-09 01:00
$615 million

This is the payment amount Greece made to the IMF today. Greece's government is caught between its promises to ease austerity, and the bills it owes international lenders. But this one milestone was just reached. However, the country's cash reserve may be running dry, according to Bloomberg

16

That's the ranking of United States on the Social Progress Index. This alternative measurement to GDP, conducted by the Social Progress Imperative, ranks the Unites States 16th out of 133 countries. Despite being the 5th in GDP per capita, the U.S. lags in areas such as health, safety, and even access to information. 

41 percent

That's the percentage of women in Harvard Business School's student body. The school has launched a new program to tackle this persistent imbalance. For a fee of $500, women can take a peek at the business school by trying it out for a weekend.

$31 million

That's how much a group of new Super-PACs associated with Senator and presidential hopeful Ted Cruz expect to raise by the end of the week, Bloomberg reported. It's the making of a huge war chest, and Cruz has a history of big fundraising with political action committees. That said, the numbers are early and coming from an associate of Cruz, so take them with a grain of salt or two.

15 percent

The maximum discount John Hancock Financial will give life insurance policyholders who wear fitness trackers. They're the first insurer to tie coverage to the growing wearables market, just in time for Apple's foray into smart watches later this month.

$638,142.64

That's how much travelers collectively left behind at airport security checkpoints in 2013, CNBC reported, and the change jar is growing. Any money left behind goes directly into the TSA's budget, and some airports have placed donation boxes for local charities in front of security so flyers can donate their spare change somewhere else.

Obama To Address Caribbean's 'Economic Achilles Heel' — Energy

NPR News - Thu, 2015-04-09 00:03

The president meets with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica Thursday — and a looming energy crunch in the region is high on the list.

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Suicides By Missouri Politicians Raise Questions About State Ethics

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 23:31

Two prominent Republicans in Missouri committed suicide within weeks of each other. Both men were openly upset about political attacks early in the state's primary.

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Doctors Make House Calls On Tablets Carried By Houston Firefighters

NPR News - Wed, 2015-04-08 23:30

Most calls to the Houston Fire Department are for health problems, not fires. All those medical calls strain the 911 system and make a career in firefighting seem more like a career in health care.

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