Apple and GE partner to make industrial analytics iOS-accessible

GE and Apple announced a partnership today that will pave the way for putting utility analytics software Predix on iOS devices. The Predix software development kit will allow 77 utilities that work with GE to manage turbines, condensers, boiler feed pumps, and more from iPads and iPhones.

That, GE says, will ensure “that real-time data is captured and shared with field workers and remote operations using iOS devices.”

As part of the program, GE has agreed to standardize iPhones and iPads as the primary work devices for its 330,000 employees. The industrial machinery company will also make Macs available to employees who prefer them, according to Reuters.

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Blue Apron is laying off hundreds of employees

 As Blue Apron approaches its next earnings report in a couple weeks, the company said Wednesday that it is laying off 6% of its staff as part of “a company-wide realignment of personnel to support its strategic priorities.” Blue Apron was one of the big — and most anticipated — consumer IPOs of the year, but it’s also now one of the companies that represent… Read More

Royal Bank of Canada shares join the $100 club, despite splitting four times

It may be just another number but Wednesday the share price of the Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest corporation with a market cap of $145 billion, reached a milestone: it traded above $100. In the same week, Onex Corp. also traded above $100 for the first time.

Having two issuers crack the ton in the same week is unusual because most companies tend to split their stock before it reaches $100.

In fact, since March 13 1981, Royal has split its stock on four occasions: accordingly, in un-split terms Royal traded at $1,600 this week. Apart from 1981, it also split in 1990, 2000 and 2006. For its part, Onex, which went public in 1987, has split its stock on two occasions: in June of 1999 and June of 2000. Accordingly, the $100 reached this week translates, in un-split terms, to $400.

Companies tend to split their stock because it allows greater participation by investors, particularly the average punter. In this way a board lot or the minimum amount that can be purchased is more affordable. (For shares above $1, a purchase of at least 100 shares is required.) And there is also an old investment theory that investors can do well if they buy shares of a company that announces a share split and holds them.

According to the TSX, 15 other companies have share prices above $100: Agrium; Canadian National; CIBC; Canadian Tire; Constellation Software; CP Rail; Dollarama; E-L Financial; Fairfax Financial; Intact Financial; Lassonde Industries; Molson Coors; Morguard Corp.; Premium Brands and George Weston Ltd. There are about 50 companies whose debentures trade above $100.

South of the border, high priced shares tend to be more common than in Canada. Berkshire Hathaway is the poster child for not splitting its stock and for a high share price: it closed Wednesday at US$281,290.

But Apple, the world’s largest company — with a market cap of US$825 billion — has no compunctions: in it’s time as a public company it has split its shares on four occasions with the most recent being in June 2014 when it split seven for one. A current share is now the equivalent of 56 original shares.

Carve-out comments

Two comments on bond carve-outs by provincial government borrowers.

New Brunswick: This week it raised $400 million of which $100 million was for a carve-out and placed separately with one investor. (This deal is the borrower’s second carve-out.) The rest of the issue was sold through a syndicate led by CIBC World Markets. In an emailed response the province’s finance department said the carve out, “allowed New Brunswick to grow the size of a public issue without materially affecting the distribution of bonds.”

Ontario: This province has become the big player in the carve-out world since following the lead set by Quebec in 2011. (Ontario calls its program the large order procedure.)

Since late 2011, the province has maintained fairly high levels for carve outs: a single borrower has to be prepared to purchase $600 million for borrowings for terms of less than 10 years; $500 million for borrowings with a term between 10 and 29 years; and $400 million for borrowings for terms of 30 years.

Despite those high minimums, the province has had no difficulty in completing bond offerings with carve outs. According to Harry Koza from IFR Markets, Ontario has completed two borrowings this year with carve outs: $2.25 billion has been raised of which $1.2 billion came via carve-outs. Ontario’s largest carve out is $1 billion (that was part of a 2013 deal that raised a total of $1.5 billion.)

Financial Post

bcritchley@postmedia.com

Canada’s Biggest Guilty Pleasure Is Eating Out: Survey

Canadians tend to go financially overboard when it comes to their guilty pleasures, at least according to a new survey.

The study, from Capital One Canada and Credit Canada, asked 1,510 random Canadians about their spending habits and how they make room for guilty pleasure purchases in their budgets.

The biggest guilty pleasure for the average person is eating out. Seventy-two per cent of people surveyed reported dining out and 71 per cent reported ordering takeout more than a few times per month. The typical Canadian spends a whopping $199 on eating out every month.

Other money sinks include coffee, shopping — both online and in person — and beauty services.

“It’s easier than ever to order in, hail a ride and shop online without ever opening your wallet, but you can lose sight of where your money is going if you’re not careful,” Brent Reynolds, chief customer experience officer for Capital One Canada, said in a press release. “To keep track, regularly review your credit card account statements or mobile app against your monthly budget. Ask yourself honestly if your guilty pleasure is getting out of hand, and if you need to re-evaluate how often you indulge to find a balance that works with your finances.”

To make room for these splurges, the study found that millennials were the most likely to use coupons, sell their own stuff, cancel subscriptions or find a second job.

On the flip side, millennials were also the most likely to say that they don’t have financial goals because they spend too much. Thirty-nine per cent of them admitted that, and another 27 per cent said they hid their spending habits from others.

Interesting stuff, considering that millennials are also the age group most likely to believe they have excellent financial literacy.

Capital One and Credit Canada recommended a few things to help get spending back in check. The companies recommend making a budget, tracking spending, and being mindful of where your money goes.

HuffPost Canada has tips for saving, too. Making a habit of putting aside loose change will add up quicker than you think. This blogger also recommends keeping a money diary and tracking your goals, daily spending, overall budget and — if you’re particularly business savvy — your next stock or career ideas.

Also on HuffPost:

Activision’s patented method to drive microtransactions with matchmaking

In a US patent filed in 2015 and approved yesterday, Activision outlines an online matchmaking system designed to “drive microtransactions in multiplayer video games” and “influence game-related purchases.”

Patent #9789406, for a “System and method for driving microtransactions in multiplayer video games,” describes a number of matchmaking algorithms that a game could use to encourage players to purchase additional in-game items. “For instance, the system may match a more expert/marquee player with a junior player to encourage the junior player to make game-related purchases of items possessed/used by the marquee player,” the patent reads. “A junior player may wish to emulate the marquee player by obtaining weapons or other items used by the marquee player.”

An Activision representative told Glixel (which first unearthed the patent) that the filing was merely an “exploratory” effort from a disconnected R&D team and that such a system “has not been implemented in-game” yet. But the patent itself shows a decent amount of thought being put into various ways to maximize the chances of players purchasing in-game items based on their online gameplay partners.

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United Airlines profit falls, sees margin decline this quarter

(Reuters) – United Airlines on Wednesday said its third-quarter net income fell slightly less than investors had feared as the third-largest U.S. carrier was hit by $185 million in pre-tax losses caused by canceled flights during the Atlantic hurricane season.