Tag Archives: Prepare

Retirement: Should You Prepare For The Next Downturn Now?
July 7, 2018 6:37 pm|Comments (0)

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How to Prepare for a Career That Does Not Yet Exist
June 8, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

By Adam Mendler, CEO of The Veloz Group.

The actor Steve Guttenberg once observed, “A career is a series of ups and downs, of comebacks.” There is no linear path to success and the only certainty is uncertainty. Regardless of the industry you are in, your career is in some way subject to forces outside of your control. Technological innovation has and will disrupt millions of careers, with a recent study from PwC suggesting that nearly 40 percent of American jobs will be automated by 2030. On the other side of the equation, businesses focused on developing and applying artificial intelligence in unique ways have and will drive countless new employment opportunities. You may not know what your career will be in the future because it may be a career that does not yet exist.

So how can you prepare for the uncertain professional road ahead? Tolstoy noted more than a century ago, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Follow these tips:

Develop a Broad-Based Skill Set

Some of the best advice I received early on is that we are likely to have five or six different careers over the course of our lifetimes and that we should prepare accordingly by developing a skill set broad enough to adapt to any new professional pursuit. It is important to build expertise to help distinguish yourself from the many others in your line of work, but it is also critical to create and retain flexibility so you are not at the mercy of the winds of change. No what matter what profession you are in, look for ways to learn new and adjacent skills. And no matter how successful you become, do not allow yourself to become complacent.

Build a Large and Robust Network

There is a famous saying about the importance of relationships when it comes to professional success: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I believe that both what you know and who you know will prove to be extremely valuable over the course of one’s career, so it is crucial to invest not only in building your skill set but developing your network. People like doing business with people they like, and when your career is upended by change, you will benefit greatly by having relationships with people at other companies who will be in a position to throw you a lifeline. In my career, I have found that I’ve gotten about half of the jobs and internships I have had strictly because of my credentials (I applied without knowing anyone in or connected to the organization) while I got the other half based on relationships with people who could vouch for me. Increase your odds by growing your network.

Stay on Top of the News and Trends

Even the most astute among us are often embarrassed trying to predict what will happen next. If we knew exactly what would happen tomorrow, sportsbooks would not exist. But we can get a feel for what is to come by staying informed, consuming the information that is available and having an appreciation for history and for trends. We know that history repeats itself, so take the time to understand what is going on around you and the impact it may have on what is yet to come. Fortunately, we live in an era where news and information have ever been more easily accessible. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to discern news from noise, and many sources are highly inaccurate, often by design. Listen to voices that have proven to be trustworthy and seek a wide range of perspectives.

Excel at Whatever You Are Doing

We only have so much time and energy, so don’t waste it worrying about things beyond your control. Instead, focus on what is within your purview and excel at whatever endeavor you are pursuing. No matter what you do next in your career, developing a reputation of excellence will help position you well. Employers look for a track record of success when hiring candidates. And because many of the jobs of the future will be brand new, the type of experience will matter less than the quality of the experience. Proving you can master a craft engenders confidence that you can master the next one, regardless of what it is, even if it does not yet exist.  

Adam Mendler is CEO of The Veloz Group and founder of Beverly Hills Chairs, Custom Tobacco and Veloz Solutions

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AT&T & Time Warner: Prepare For The Worst
March 12, 2018 6:08 am|Comments (0)

When news broke that AT&T (T) was purchasing Time Warner (TWX) in a cash and stock deal valued at $ 107.50 for Time Warner holders I felt very confident that the move would improve AT&T’s profitability and widen its moat. AT&T was (and remains) one of my largest positions, so the news was welcome as I previewed the prospective ecosystem where premium original content and provider flowed seamlessly together permitting AT&T to leverage both as a compelling consumer package.

AT&T has a lucrative history marketing ‘bundle deals’ via DirecTV/U-verse, phone and internet. Adding Time Warner’s content to the mix was like adding another weapon to their arsenal. The move would fortify their position in an era where content is king and the average American residence has nearly 3 TVs per household.

With more and more customers embracing OTT services like Netflix (NFLX) and ditching cable, AT&T recognized the writing on the wall and (potentially) acquired Time Warner to help mitigate the impact and diversify them away from their reliance on legacy telecom services.

Perhaps it was not only adding a weapon to their arsenal but adding a shield to insulate them from the evolving landscape. I credit the management team led by CEO Randall Stephenson for their proactive approach getting ahead of the curve.

Obviously Time Warner’s stock popped immediately on the news while AT&T’s gyrated as investors digested the antitrust risks and whether or not AT&T overpaid.

Let’s take a look at those risks now.

Did AT&T Overpay?

The buyout offer did not come cheap ($ 85B) and some analysts groaned that while Time Warner was a nice asset, it came at too high a cost. But obtaining regulatory approval would be no walk in the park and AT&T knew they were in for protracted litigation. Let’s look at the EPS and Revenue numbers for the last two FYs for Time Warner:

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You will note that on an EPS basis, Time Warner jumped about 9% year over year from $ 5.86 to $ 6.41. Time Warner grew EPS over 20% the year before that. When the $ 107.5 price tag was initially applied to the prior 4 quarters of earnings in October 2016, the P/E ratio stood at approximately 21.

That did look a bit steep.

However, the deal has not closed and when applying today’s earnings to the buyout price, the P/E ratio dips to 16.7. That looks much healthier. You have to tip your hat to AT&T’s management here since they had the prescience to realize that while the initial premium to Warner shareholders seemed lofty, it allowed them to garner unanimous approval from both boards by offering a rich enough premium to Warner holders while not seeming reckless to AT&T holders.

Stephenson and company knew earnings would continue to rise for the content king and before (IF) the deal closes, they will look like geniuses as earning would have grown into the multiple applied at the time of the offer.

Regulatory Risk

And that brings us to the elephant in the room: whether AT&T can out-litigate the DOJ in their pending antitrust case. President Trump has been vocal in his opposition to the buyout and may see it as fulfilling a campaign promise to defeat the deal. But Trump will not have the final word, it will be adjudicated in the courtroom not the political arena, however you would be naïve to believe that those worlds don’t intersect despite our system of checks and balances.

In the interim, AT&T has tried to curry favor with the Trump Administration by announcing bonuses to its employees and lauding the President for the tax bill. Nevertheless, the antitrust team is pushing ahead with bluster and bravado to paint the government as underdogs thwarting corporate strong-arming.

In November of last year I penned a post in the immediate aftermath of DOJ filing suit recommending purchasing shares of Time Warner during the turmoil called, “Time Warner: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”. In just two days TWX share price plummeted from $ 95 to below $ 87. I quickly logged into my brokerage account to pick up shares of Time Warner in the $ 80’s.

In the post I explained why the volatility generated a perfect arbitrage opportunity, in summary:

This remains mostly true today, however Time Warner’s share price has since rebounded near $ 95 thereby shrinking some of the potential returns if the buyout is approved. While I have contacts within the antitrust division of the DOJ from my Washington days, they are not at liberty to speak about the case and therefore I know only as much as the public announcements trickling out on a daily basis.

And it is my opinion that the deal looks less likely to succeed now than it did 4 months ago when I wrote that post. But that reminds me of a saying by Clive Davis:

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Prepare To Take Action:

During the previous dip, I was on vacation with my wife refilling the gas tank when I checked the market news to find out that Time Warner was selling off. We waited at that pit stop probably longer than she preferred so I could buy shares since I knew that the dip was an overreaction and would not last.

This time, I am planning ahead by placing limit buy orders at $ 85 and below that are good-til-cancelled in the scenario where the DOJ wins and/or impactful news hits the stock causing a knee-jerk reaction. In essence the hypothetical case looks like this:

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In the portion of the chart above circled, you will see a red candlestick where news adversely impacted a stock sending it cascading into free-fall. But you will also notice the rapid rebound where the stock recovered quickly above that price.

The window to pounce and take advantage of the dip was small. That is why I am preparing to maximize the opportunity if it presents itself again. I believe that owning Time Warner shares at $ 85 and below provides a margin of safety if the two parties are forced to go their separate ways.

Time Warner Flying Solo?

Will I be saddled with overvalued shares of Time Warner purchased at $ 85? I doubt it. Here’s why:

Growth for Time Warner shows no signs of abatement as each operating division increased revenue and profits in the latest quarter (yet again). HBO’s subscription revenues increased 11% and its unparalleled show Game of Thrones is not due back until 2019. I expect an even larger increase in the months building up to the premiere.

Additionally, on the heels (pun intended) of Wonder Woman’s success, and in the backdrop of the #metoo movement, I believe Warner Bros. has incentive to continue to produce content with powerful heroines. HBO produced an amazing women focused hit with Big Little Lies and it’s due back for a second season featuring Meryl Streep. HBO made a savvy move by riding the coattails of Reese Witherspoon’s success.

On the cable news front, CNN was rated the #1 network in primetime and total day viewership among young adults and tops in digital news as well (from their 4Q earnings release). Whether you believe the treatment of the Trump Administration is favorable or not, it has been favorable to the bottom line of CNN.

And those are just a few samples of the many reasons why I remain bullish on Time Warner.

No one knows for certain how the trial will shake out, but I am positioning myself for success no matter the outcome.

Disclosure: I am/we are long T, TWX.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Wall Street Breakfast: Investors Prepare For Earnings Tsunami
January 29, 2018 6:13 pm|Comments (0)

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Prepare Yourself for the Sweet, Sweet Luxury of Riding in a Robocar
June 26, 2017 5:40 pm|Comments (0)

Prepare Yourself for the Sweet, Sweet Luxury of Riding in a Robocar

The forces reshaping the nature of transportation are conspiring to shift focus away from the driver. The post Prepare Yourself for the Sweet, Sweet Luxury of Riding in a Robocar appeared first on WIRED.
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5 lessons from Amazon’s S3 cloud blunder – and how to prepare for the next one
March 20, 2017 12:30 am|Comments (0)

According to internet monitoring platform Catchpoint, Amazon Web Service’s Simple Storage Service (S3) experienced a three hour and 39 minute disruption on Tuesday that had cascading effects across other Amazon cloud services and many internet sites that rely on the popular cloud platform.

“S3 is like air in the cloud,” says Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti; when it goes down many websites can’t breathe. But disruptions, errors and outages are a fact of life in the cloud. Bartoletti says there’s no reason to panic: “This is not a trend,” he notes. “S3 has been so reliable, so secure, it’s been the sort of crown jewel of Amazon’s cloud.“

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5 lessons from Amazon’s S3 cloud blunder – and how to prepare for the next one
March 11, 2017 5:55 pm|Comments (0)

According to internet monitoring platform Catchpoint, Amazon Web Service’s Simple Storage Service (S3) experienced a three hour and 39 minute disruption on Tuesday that had cascading effects across other Amazon cloud services and many internet sites that rely on the popular cloud platform.

“S3 is like air in the cloud,” says Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti; when it goes down many websites can’t breathe. But disruptions, errors and outages are a fact of life in the cloud. Bartoletti says there’s no reason to panic: “This is not a trend,” he notes. “S3 has been so reliable, so secure, it’s been the sort of crown jewel of Amazon’s cloud.“

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5 lessons from Amazon’s S3 cloud blunder – and how to prepare for the next one
March 11, 2017 4:40 am|Comments (0)

According to internet monitoring platform Catchpoint, Amazon Web Service’s Simple Storage Service (S3) experienced a three hour and 39 minute disruption on Tuesday that had cascading effects across other Amazon cloud services and many internet sites that rely on the popular cloud platform.

“S3 is like air in the cloud,” says Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti; when it goes down many websites can’t breathe. But disruptions, errors and outages are a fact of life in the cloud. Bartoletti says there’s no reason to panic: “This is not a trend,” he notes. “S3 has been so reliable, so secure, it’s been the sort of crown jewel of Amazon’s cloud.“

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Cloud Project? Prepare for Failure
March 1, 2017 6:25 am|Comments (0)

You’ve been tasked with moving 50 applications and their data to the cloud. That’s a daunting task, even if you’ve done it before, but most such migrations are first-time efforts. There’s a big risk in your making a mistake or in the fundamental approach you’ve chosen.

Surveys from Innotas seem to indicate that the initial wave of transitions to the cloud has in fact increased the number of failures. In 2014, an Innotas survey of IT pros showed that 32 percent of their companies experienced at least one project failure in the prior year. In 2015, that percentage jumped to 55 percent. (Some good news: The percentage dipped to 50 percent in the 2016 survey.)

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