EU leaders to discuss infrastructure security after Nord Stream leaks

© Reuters. A gas leak from Nord stream 2 is seen in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic Sea in this picture taken from the Swedish Coast Guard aircraft on September 28, 2022. Swedish Coast Guard/Handout via TT News Agency/via REUTERS

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU leaders will discuss the security of their critical infrastructure next week, the head of the European Council said on Saturday, following damage to Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea that European leaders have described as sabotage.

“Sabotage of Nordstream pipelines is a threat to the EU. We are determined to secure our critical infrastructure. Leaders will address this at the upcoming summit in Prague,” Charles Michel, who chairs meetings of EU leaders, said in a tweet after talks with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.

EU country leaders are scheduled to meet in the Czech capital on Oct. 7.

Inflation, China Lockdowns Are Catching Up With Nike

Inflation and China lockdowns are catching up with Nike, making it hard for the athletic apparel giant to move inventory off the shelf.

On Thursday afternoon, Nike reported earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2023 that ended August 31, 2022, of 93 cents, just 0.01 cents better than analysts’ estimates. In addition, revenues came at $12.69 billion, $410 million ahead of analysts’ expectations.

Management saw these results as a good start for the new fiscal year and a confirmation of the company’s competitive strength.

“Our competitive advantages, including the strength of our brand, deep consumer connections, and pipeline of an innovative product, continue to prove that our strategy is working,” said John Donahoe, President and CEO, NIKE, Inc., in a statement accompanying the release of the Q1 financial results. “We expect our unrelenting focus on better serving the consumer to continue to fuel growth and create value like only NIKE can.”

Markets saw things differently, sending Nike’s shares sharply lower during Friday’s trading session, adding to the losses accumulated before the earnings release. Thus far, in 2022, Nike’s shares have lost close to 50% of their value compared to a 24% decline in the S&P 500.

Chelsea Wiater, Portfolio Manager at EFG New Capital, attributes the decline in Nike’s stock to an unexpected drop in profit margins due to an excess inventory build-up in North America.

“As a result of supply chain disruptions, Nike received certain shipments of seasonal apparel later than anticipated, meaning they missed the opportunity to sell these goods to customers,” she told International Business Times in an email.

Thus, the company would have to cut prices to move merchandise off the shelf aggressively.

Then there’s food and energy inflation that leaves minimal discretionary funds for other things like brand-name apparel.

And there are China’s lockdowns, which make it hard for Nike to do business in its second-largest market.

“Nike is not the only victim of inflation and China’s lockdown,” said Dr. Tenpao Lee, professor emeritus of economics at Niagara University, in an email to IBT. “All global companies are suffering in the unprecedented economic conditions. Specifically, the pandemic, the Ukraine war, and China’s zero-tolerance policies have significantly and negatively impacted all companies in all sectors.”

Aron Solomon, JD, Chief legal analyst for Esquire Digital, a marketing agency, thinks that Nike’s excess inventory problem is more severe than just the merchandise arriving late for the season.

“The big issue today for Nike is that they’re sitting on much inventory that their client base doesn’t want,” he told IBT. “Inventory is up 44%, but it’s not in the things people want – limited drops and colorways of popular items.”

Nike may be losing its magic with consumers as the competition closes in.

Solomon points to a 16% annual decline in China sales as evidence that Nike is overestimating the power of its brand as competition is catching up.

“There are other sneaker companies working harder and being more creative (New Balance, Puma, for example),” he adds.

Dr. Lee sees no quick solution to Nike’s problem. “The shift of supplies caused stagflation, and the global economy has no quick solutions. In the end, only companies with a competitive edge of innovative technologies will survive,” he said.

Disclosure: The author owns shares of Nike

Costco Faces Same Problem as Walmart, Target (But Has an Answer)

Before the pandemic, the average person probably rarely thought of the “supply chain” or even knew what it was. If you wanted anything — from toilet paper to a big-screen television — you either went to a store or jumped on your computer and bought whatever you needed.

Occasionally the exact thing you wanted was out, but having to buy a four-pack of paper towels instead of a two-pack hardly counts as adversity. Covid changed that as consumption patterns changed and retailers no longer knew exactly what to order. That caused both shortages and overages.

More Bitcoin news

Bitcoin price is trading above two crucial levels, suggesting a stable foothold. Combining this outlook with a bullish divergence signal, BTC holders should expect a favorable outcome. However, since the third quarter will end in a few hours, there is bound to be abnormal volatility in the market, which could trigger massive moves in either direction, so investors need to be cautious. 

US proposal would permit eagle deaths as renewables expand

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Biden administration on Thursday proposed a new permitting program for wind energy turbines, power lines and other projects that kill eagles, amid growing concern among scientists that the rapid expansion of renewable energy in the U.S. West could harm golden eagle populations now teetering on decline.

The Fish and Wildlife Service program announced Thursday is meant to encourage companies to work with officials to minimize harm to golden and bald eagles.

It’s also aimed at avoiding any slowdown in the growth of wind power as an alternative to carbon-emitting fossil fuels — a key piece of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda. It comes after several major utilities have been federally prosecuted in recent years for killing large numbers of eagles without permits.

The federal government already issues permits to kill eagles. But Thursday’s proposal calls for new permits tailored to wind-energy projects, power line networks and the disturbance of breeding bald eagles and bald eagle nests.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams said the new program would provide “multiple pathways to obtain a permit” while also helping conserve eagles, which she described as a key responsibility for the agency.

Bald eagle numbers have quadrupled since 2009 to about 350,000 birds. There are only about about 40,000 golden eagles, which need much larger areas to survive and are more inclined to have trouble with humans.

The number of wind turbines nationwide more than doubled over the past decade to almost 72,000, according to U.S. Geological Survey data, with development overlapping prime golden eagle territory in states including Wyoming, Montana, California, Washington and Oregon.

In April, a subsidiary of the Florida-based utility industry giant NextEra Energy pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to criminal violations of wildlife protection laws after its wind turbines killed more than 100 golden eagles in eight states. It was the third conviction of a major wind company for killing eagles in a decade.

Federal officials won’t divulge how many eagles are reported killed by wind farms, saying it’s sensitive law enforcement information.

Nationwide, 34 permits in place last year authorized companies to “take” 170 golden eagles — meaning that many birds could be killed by turbines or lost through impacts on nests or habitat, according to permitting data obtained by The Associated Press. More than 200 permits were in place to allow the killing of 420 bald eagles, according to the data.

For each loss, companies are responsible for ensuring at least one eagle death is avoided somewhere else.

Illegal shootings are the biggest cause of death for golden eagles, killing about 700 annually, according to federal estimates. More than 600 die annually in collisions with cars, wind turbines and power lines; about 500 annually are electrocuted; and more than 400 are poisoned.

Yet climate change looms as a potentially greater threat: Rising temperatures are projected to reduce golden eagle breeding ranges by more than 40% later this century, according to a National Audubon Society analysis.

“Birds tell us that climate change is the biggest threat they face,” said Garry George, director of the National Audubon Society’s Clean Energy Initiative. If it’s executed responsibly, he said the new program could strengthen protections for eagles as renewable energy expands.

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On Twitter follow Matthew Brown: @MatthewBrownAP

Stock markets move in cycles. Historically, bull markets last longer than bear markets, but both can last longer than investors expect. But inside bull markets and bear markets, there can still be volatile price changes in the opposite direction. And when the market does reverse direction, the biggest gains are made by investors that stay the course.

In a volatile market, one option for staying the course is to invest in quality blue-chip dividend stocks. Blue-chip stocks are companies that have a large market capitalization. That means there are companies in mature industries.

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View the “7 Blue-Chip Dividend Stocks That Won’t be Impacted by Rising Interest Rates”.

Big Health Insurers Will Expand Medicare Advantage To Hundreds Of New Counties For 2023

Health insurance companies that are big players in Medicare Advantage, including Humana, Cigna, CVS Health’s Aetna unit, Elevance Health and UnitedHealth Group are launching popular plans in several new states and hundreds of new counties for 2023.

Aetna, which is in 1,875 counties and 46 states plus Washington, D.C. with 3.2 million Medicare Advantage enrollees today is expanding to 2,014 counties and 46 states plus Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the UnitedHealthcare health insurance unit of UnitedHealth Group, says its “total individual MA footprint will grow by 184 counties – from 2,629 counties in 2022 to 2,798 counties in 2023 – across 49 states and the District of Columbia.” Elevance Health, formerly Anthem, said its affiliated plans are available in 732 counties in 24 states and Puerto Rico. “The company has more than 1.6 million Medicare Advantage enrollees and is expanding to include 210 new counties for next year,” an Elevance Health spokesman said.

Cigna said it will grow its Medicare Advantage “geographic footprint” for 2023 by 22%. Cigna, which is in 477 counties in 26 states and Washington, D.C., with more than 500,000 Medicare Advantage enrollees, is expanding and will be offered in 581 counties in 28 states and Washington, D.C. for next year.

And Humana will launch plans in two states and 140 new counties for 2023. With the expansion, Humana said its wide array of Medicare Advantage plans, which include health maintenance organizations and preferred provider organizations, can be accessed in 91% of the U.S. UnitedHealthcare is expanding “its service area to reach 95% of Medicare consumers nationwide.”

“More than 8.2 million people are currently enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans, and more than a third of all Medicare Advantage enrollment growth over the past five years, including 2022, has been through UnitedHealthcare,” the health insurer said.

All of this market growth is a sharp contrast from a few years ago when Medicare Advantage was unavailable in large swaths of the country.

But the program is one of the few areas of healthcare and U.S. policy in general that has bipartisan support in Congress.

Medicare Advantage plans contract with the federal government to provide extra benefits and services to seniors, such as disease management and nurse help hotlines with some also offering vision, dental care and wellness programs. And in recent years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has allowed Medicare Advantage plans to cover more supplemental benefits, adding to their popularity among seniors.

Across the country, health insurers have escalated expansions into new areas, pushing Medicare Advantage enrollment to record highs. Medicare Advantage plans added more than 2 million beneficiaries for this 2022 coverage year, boosting the program to 45% of all Medicare enrollment, according to a study earlier this year by The Chartis Group.

The more established health insurers like Cigna, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Elevance Health are more recently running into competition with regional Medicare Advantage plans and startups have been offering Medicare Advantage.

To better compete, the bigger plans are spending huge amounts to bolster their benefit offerings and provider networks. Humana, for example, earlier this year launched a $1 billion “Project Growth” initiative to strengthen its Medicare Advantage plans for 2023.

With the expansions, Humana Medicare Advantage plans will be in 49 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico and 2,877 counties. That compares with 47 U.S. States and Puerto Rico and a total of 2,737 counties.

Humana said its 2023 offerings — which will be listed along with other plans during open enrollment that begins Oct. 15 and lasts until Dec. 7 — will include “$0 premiums, dental and Rx benefit enhancements, new allowances, a USAA co-branded plan, and simplified access to prescriptions offer more options for beneficiaries.”

“When you sum up what Humana is offering this year, it’s as simple as this: Our members spoke, and we listened,” said George Renaudin, Medicare President for Humana. “We conducted extensive research to ensure our changes align with consumer wants and needs. This research resulted in investments focused on what consumers want, like dental coverage, which is consistently a #1 priority in supplemental benefits for our members.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2022/10/01/big-health-insurers-will-expand-medicare-advantage-to-hundreds-of-new-counties-for-2023/

EU agrees to tax windfall oil and gas profits amid ‘insane race’ to tame energy crisis | CNN Business


London
CNN Business
 — 

EU governments agreed Friday to tax the windfall profits of oil and gas companies and to cap the revenues of some electricity generators as the cost of Europe’s energy crisis spirals higher.

But energy ministers from the 27 EU member states failed to reach an agreement on a proposal by the European Commission to impose a price cap on imports of Russian natural gas. The energy crisis has largely been sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“We don’t yet have a consensus on this step,” Kadri Simson, the European Commission’s top energy official, said in a Friday press conference.

United Nations’ Secretary General António Guterres last week accused oil and gas giants of “feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while household budgets shrink and our planet burns.” He urged rich economies to impose windfall taxes to fund help for people struggling with energy bills and countries hit by the climate crisis.

Claude Turmes, Luxembourg’s energy minister, said Europe needed to find alternatives to the “insane race” between countries trying to outspend each other to protect consumers and businesses from painful increases in their bills.

He was speaking less than 24 hours after the German government said it would borrow €200 billion ($195 billion) to help bring down energy costs, including a cap on natural gas prices for households and companies.

“It sends the wrong signal because it looks like Germany is flexing its fiscal muscle to subsidize gas consumption in Germany at the expense of gas consumers elsewhere in Europe,” Jeromin Zettelmeyer, director at Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank, told CNN Business.

Germany’s borrowing adds to the €530 billion ($518 billion) European governments and the United Kingdom have so far committed to shield consumers against unaffordable rises to their bills, according to Bruegel.

That €730 billion ($712 billion) total covers spending commitments made since September 2021 — when global energy prices started to rise — and includes some measures taken to help with other cost-of-living pressures.

The United Kingdom is also planning a borrowing spree to contain the energy crisis. Last week, finance minister Kwasi Kwarteng said a plan to freeze energy bills for households and businesses would cost £60 billion ($66 billion) for the first six months alone.

But the total cost of the price cap — which will last for two years for households — could come to around £150 billion ($166 billion) according to some experts, a figure that was included in Bruegel’s analysis.

The price tag will be funded entirely through additional government debt, a spokesperson for the UK’s finance department told CNN Business on Friday.

The measures agreed by EU energy ministers on Friday include a mandatory electricity demand cut, a cap on the revenues of some electricity producers which don’t use natural gas, and a tax on the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies, which the Commission hopes will raise $140 billion.

Retail energy prices are expected to increase by 40.8% in September, up from 38.6% in August, across the 19 countries that use the euro, the EU statistics office said on Friday.

The wholesale cost of gas — which feeds directly into the retail price for heating and power paid by consumers — started to rise last fall as economies opened from their pandemic lockdowns, causing a spike in demand.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, and the resultant energy standoff between Moscow and the European Union, has pushed up the European benchmark price of natural gas by 327% from a year ago.

Soaring energy prices are pushing up costs across the economy and weighing on growth.

Eurozone inflation hit a record high in September, driven by the price of energy.

Consumer prices across the 19 countries that use the euro rose by 10% from the same month last year — the highest rate of inflation in the 25 years since the currency was introduced.

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by a record 0.75 basis points earlier this month in a bid to tame spiraling prices, and could do so again in October at its next meeting.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecasts that food and energy price shocks will reduce economic growth in Europe by more than 1.25 percentage points next year.

“This would push many countries into a full year recession in 2023, while GDP growth would also be weakened in 2024,” the OECD said in a report earlier this week.

— Eve Brennan, Xiaofei Xu and Livvy Doherty contributed reporting.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/09/30/economy/europe-energy-crisis-windfall-tax/index.html

Why Is F45 Training (FXLV) Stock Up 42% Today?

Source: Ivan Kurmyshov / Shutterstock.com

F45 Training (NYSE:FXLV) stock is taking off on Friday after the fitness company received a buyout offer from investor Kennedy Lewis Management.

Kennedy Lewis Management already holds a 14.6% stake in FXLV and wants to acquire it for $4 per share. That offer is in cash and represents a nearly 82% premium over the stock’s closing price on Thursday.

Kennedy Lewis Management argues that Mark Wahlberg’s F45 Training would be better off as a private company. The firm claims that this would allow for a “stronger position to maximize its resources and realize strategic value that enhances its operations and supports its stakeholders.”

The offer from Kennedy Lewis Management also has a condition that must be met. The investor is requiring that other large shareholders agree to roll their current equity in the company as part of the deal.

FXLV Isn’t Held to the Offer

This offer from Kennedy Lewis Management is non-binding and the firm is seeking approval from the Board of Directors. It wants to engage with other entities regarding the matter with the consent of the Board.

News of the buyout off has shares of FXVL seeing heavy trading on Friday. As of this writing, nearly 23 million shares have changed hands. That’s quite the increase over its daily average trading volume of 1.8 million shares.

FXLV stock is up 41.9% as of Friday morning.

Investors seeking out all of the hottest stock market news will want to keep reading!

We’ve got all of that ready to go in one place! For Friday, that includes what has shares of American Virtual Cloud Technologies (NASDAQ:AVCT), IonQ (NYSE:IONQ), and Micron (NASDAQ:MU) stock on the move today. You can read up on all of that news at the following links!

More Friday Stock Market News

On the date of publication, William White did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the biedexmarkets.com.com Publishing Guidelines.

What caused holes in Sue the T. rex’s jawbone? Scientists are stumped

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© Reuters. Paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor of the Field Museum in Chicago looks at the fossil skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex known as Sue in this undated handout image obtained Reuters via biedexmarkets.com on September 30, 2022. Katharine Uhrich, Field Museum/Handout via REUTERS

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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sue, the biggest and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever unearthed, no doubt was a fearsome beast when this predator prowled what is now South Dakota about 67 million years ago at the twilight of the age of dinosaurs.

But even this huge dinosaur, whose fossils are displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago, was not invulnerable. A prime example of this is the series of circular holes in Sue’s jawbone that continue to baffle scientists. New research seeking an explanation for these holes has managed to rule out one major hypothesis, though the answer remains elusive.

Researchers said a close examination of the eight holes – some the diameter of a golf ball – on the back half of Sue’s left lower jawbone, or mandible, determined that they were not caused by a type of microbial infection as some experts had proposed.

The holes were found to differ from bone damage caused by such an infection, said Bruce Rothschild, a medical doctor and research associate at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, lead author of the study published this week in the journal Cretaceous Research.

Sue, measuring 40-1/2 feet long (12.3 meters), represents one of the world’s best-known dinosaur fossils. Tyrannosaurus was one of the largest land predators ever, inhabiting western North America at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

Field Museum paleontologist and study co-author Jingmai O’Connor noted that about 15% of all known T. rex specimens have holes similar to Sue’s.

The researchers explored whether the holes had been caused by an infection involving microbes called protozoans. One common protozoan disease known to occur in birds, which evolved from feathered dinosaurs, as well as in people is called trichomoniasis, caused by a parasitic protozoan. Trichomoniasis in people, though not birds, is a sexually transmitted disease.

O’Connor noted that one falcon diagnosed with trichomoniasis had shown damage in its jaw, but it differed from Sue’s holes.

The bone around Sue’s holes showed signs of healing, indicating that whatever caused them did not kill the animal. Similarities were observed between Sue’s healing and the healed breaks in other fossilized bones as well as healing bone seen around holes made in the skulls of ancient Inca people in Peru.

The cause of Sue’s holes remains a puzzle.

Rothschild proposed the possibility of claw damage during mating, or as he put it: “mounting from back or top with claws striking the posterior mandible.” Sue has a feminine name – honoring the woman who discovered the fossils in 1990 – but the dinosaur’s sex is unknown.

“I honestly have no clue what formed them,” O’Connor said. “I really do not think they are bite marks or claw marks.”

“A pathology that commonly affected T. rex individuals, that caused large holes to open up in the jawbone but only in the back of the jawbone, but didn’t kill the T. rex because the holes started to heal, at least in Sue – it’s weird,” O’Connor added. “So many hypotheses have been put forth only to be shot down. It’s a good paleontology mystery – my favorite.”

The holes were not the only examples of damage endured by Sue, a dinosaur that lived about 33 years.

“Sue was quite old when it died and it shows numerous injuries and pathologies,” O’Connor said. “It had gout in its hands. It had fallen on its right side, busting its ribs – they healed, though. It had torn a ligament in the right arm – healing. It had a horrible bone infection in its left leg. It had arthritis in its tail. It would not have been a happy camper the last year of its life.”

(The story refiles to fix typo in paragraph 13, ‘shot down’.)

California care home sued over resident’s poisoning death

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — The family of a woman who died after she was accidentally served dishwashing liquid as drinking juice at a San Francisco Bay Area care home sued the facility on Thursday.

Trudy Maxwell, 93, was served an alkaline liquid “more toxic than Drano,” Niall McCarthy, an attorney for the family, said in a statement.

“When you place your loved one in a senior facility, you do not expect it to be one of the most dangerous places in the Bay Area,” McCarthy said.

The lawsuit, filed in San Mateo County Superior Court, alleges wrongful death, negligence and elder abuse and neglect.

Maxwell, who had dementia and couldn’t feed herself, was one of three residents who were sent to the hospital on Aug. 28 after drinking the liquid at Atria Park Senior Living Facility in San Mateo, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

The lawsuit alleges that workers waited more than 30 minutes before calling 911 and that the chemical “essentially melted the lining” of her digestive tract. It names the San Mateo facility and its Delaware-based corporate owners.

Another resident, 93-year-old Peter Schroder, also died and his family also has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence and elder abuse.

In a statement Thursday, Atria said a staff member, in violation of its procedures, “filled a pitcher with liquid dishwashing detergent that has a nearly identical consistency and color to cranberry juice, with the intention of dispensing the liquid into a commercial dishwashing machine.”

“Another staff member picked it up, mistaking it for juice, and served it to three residents,” Atria said.

“Our residents will always be our top priority. We devote significant resources to ensure our staff are thoroughly trained and able to meet our residents’ needs at all times,” Atria said, adding that it was working with authorities to review the incident.

Solar is one of the fastest growing sectors in the stock market. And the recent clean energy bill that passed through the U.S. Congress as part of the Inflation Reduction Act is likely to keep that growth going. By some estimates, solar installation may triple over the next five years.

But the bullish outlook for this sector is about more than the funding the industry will receive. The Biden administration announced in June that it was suspending tariffs on solar panel components from four countries. This will be a key step in helping to untangle the supply chain for the necessary components.

This two-pronged strategy will be key to the sector achieving the Biden administration’s goal of having 45% of the nation’s energy supply coming from solar by 2050. That’s up from the 4% the sector supplied in 2020.  

In this presentation, we’re highlighting seven solar stocks that stand to benefit as solar becomes an increasingly cost-effective option for consumers and for businesses.

View the “7 Solar Stocks Leading the Clean Energy Boom”.