Scott Black Buys 3 REITs in 2nd Quarter

Scott Black (Trades, Portfolio), chief investment officer of Delphi Management, disclosed this week that three of his new buys for the second quarter were Easterly Government Properties Inc. (NYSE:DEA), Granite Point Mortgage Trust Inc. (NYSE:GPMT) and Gladstone Commercial Corp. (NASDAQ:GOOD).

According to its website, Black’s Boston-based firm pursues a conservative investment strategy that emphasizes the fundamental performance of underlying companies. As disciples of the Graham-Dodd school of value investing, Black and his research team seek long-term capital appreciation through investments in securities that have low absolute valuation. Additionally, Delphi contacts management at every company in which the firm invests.


As of quarter-end, Delphi’s $111 million equity portfolio contains 93 stocks, of which nine are new positions. The top three sectors in terms of weight are consumer cyclical, financial services and technology, with weights of 21.22%, 20.63% and 17.84%.


Easterly Government Properties

Black purchased 28,346 shares of Easterly Government Properties, giving the position 0.46% equity portfolio weight. Shares averaged $18.22 during the quarter.

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The Washington D.C.-based real estate investment trust acquires, develops and leases commercial properties in the U.S. to government agencies. GuruFocus ranks Easterly’s financial strength 3.8 out of 10 on several weak signs, which include a low Altman Z-score of 1.01 and a cash-to-debt ratio that underperforms 82.49% of global competitors. Despite this, Easterly’s debt-to-equity ratio underperforms just 50.41% of global REITs.

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Granite Point Mortgage Trust

Black purchased 23,445 shares of Granite Point Mortgage Trust, giving the holding 0.40% equity portfolio weight. Shares averaged $19.04 during the quarter.

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The New York-based REIT focuses primarily on directly originating, investing in and managing senior floating-rate commercial mortgage loans and other debt-like commercial real estate investments. According to GuruFocus data, Granite Point’s debt-to-equity and equity-to-asset ratios underperform over 82% of global competitors, suggesting poor financial strength.

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Black purchased 19,948 shares of Gladstone, giving the position 0.38% equity portfolio weight. Shares averaged $21.24 during the quarter.

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The McLean, Virginia-based REIT invests in and owns net leased industrial, commercial and retail real property. Additionally, Gladstone makes long-term industrial and commercial mortgage loans.

See also

Black also established new positions in Chevron Corp. (NYSE:CVX), M&T Bank Corp. (NYSE:MTB), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE:GD) and Eaton Corp. PLC (NYSE:ETN).

Disclosure: No positions.

Read more here:

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Expensive sports cars 2019 –

Decades ago, it was hard to imagine that one day, cars would cost upwards of $10 million. Back then, automobiles were merely means of getting from one point to another. However, technological advancements, as well as an increase in the number of super-wealthy people, have led to the development of some pricey cars. The most expensive sports cars 2019 are a mix of street-legal and track-only sports cars that will set buyers back millions of dollars.

Expensive sports cars 2019

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Various well-known models make the most expensive sports cars 2019 list as well as some lesser-known brands. The likes of Lamborghini, Bugatti and Ferrari are familiar contestants while the likes of Zenvo and Lykan can be considered as relative newcomers.

What are the top 20 most expensive cars?

One common factor among most expensive car brands is not only the sky-high price but also the small number of production units available for purchase.

Most expensive car in the world of all time

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20. Lamborghini Centenario LP: $1.9 million

Lamborghini has always been among the most expensive cars brands in the motoring industry. The Lamborghini Centenario is an exquisite product of the company’s few-off manufacturing strategy. The Centenario was produced during Mr Ferruccio Lamborghini’s 100th anniversary. A total of 40 cars were manufactured (twenty coupes and twenty convertible models). The Centenario comes with a 770 CV aspirated V12 engine which catapults the vehicle from zero to a hundred kilometres per hour in a mind-blowing 2.8 seconds.

most expensive car brands

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With new cabin technology and a 6.5L V12 engine, the Centenario is any car aficionado’s dream. Various performance features come standard with the car. These include rear-wheel steering, wide-ranging connectivity and large brake pads. The Centenario is truly a breathtaking piece of engineering.

19. Zenvo TS1: $1.9 million

Zenvo is a Danish supercar manufacturer that you have probably not heard among names of expensive cars. The TS1 GT is a sleek sports car that was manufactured to mark the company’s tenth anniversary. It was preceded by the Zenvo ST1 which was priced at $1.2 million and only had fifteen units produced. Thanks to its 5.8-litre V8 flat-plane engine, the TS1 GT can move from 0-100 kilometres per hour in a mere 2.8 seconds. This puts its acceleration performance at par with more popular sports car models such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

Top 20 most expensive cars

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The TS1 makes use of LED technology on all its lights and features a fully enclosed underbody for maximum downforce. On the interior, Zenvo TS1 owners will get dual-zone climate control, wireless connectivity and a host of safety equipment. Motoring fans will agree that the TS1 looks fantastic, especially in the Fjord Blue colour. Typically, bright colours such as orange, red and in rare cases, pink, tend to look great on sports cars.

18. Koenigsegg Regera: $2 million

When it comes to the most beautiful cars ever designed, the Koenigsegg Regera frequently comes up. Koenigsegg is a foreign (Swedish) sports car manufacturer based in Angelholm. The Regera is hand-assembled as a pricier alternative to other Koenigsegg models. The company only manufactured 80 Koenigsegg Regera units making it quite rare as it is with expensive sports cars. The supercar is powered by a 5.0L dry-sump V8 engine which outputs 1500 horsepower.

most expensive car in the world 2018

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According to Koenigsegg, the Regera’s V8 engine is the most downsized homologated internal combustion engine in the world at 220hp per litre. Besides fuel combustion, the Regera is also equipped with three electric motors which combined, propel the Regera to a top speed of 400 kilometres per hour in less than twenty seconds. For added exclusivity, there is a special edition Regera that comes in what the company calls a 24-carat gold-leaf accent.

17. Lamborghini Sesto Elemento: $2.2 million

Sesto Elemento loosely translates to ‘sixth element’. The name is in reference to the atomic number of carbon due to the vast use of carbon fibre in its construction. The Lamborghini Sesto Elemento is an engineering masterpiece that boasts extremely low weight due to carbon fibre elements. The car weighs less than a thousand kilograms (curb weight).

Most expensive car in the world 2019

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The Sesto Elemento is powered by the same V10 engine in the Lamborghini Gallardo that is capable of moving the car from 0-100km/h in 2.5 seconds via the permanent all-wheel-drive configuration. The car comes standard with a six-speed semi-automatic transmission gearbox and a top speed of 336km/h. Lamborghini only manufactured 20 units of this car. It is worth noting that owners are not allowed to drive this car on the streets.

16. Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta: $2.2 million

The LaFerrari Aperta is a higher-end version of the LaFerrari. Ferrari produced only 209 units of the LaFerrari Aperta, 200 of which were sold via invitation only. The nine extra units were intended for company use. The most significant difference between the LaFerrari and the LaFerrari Aperta is that the latter gets a removable carbon-fibre top.

Most expensive car in the world of all time

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In terms of powertrains, the Aperta uses a 6262 cc V12 engine combined with an electric motor for a combined output of 960 CV. The car is equipped with the company’s active aerodynamics hybrid system for unrivalled performance and engagement. The V12 engine makes the Aperta capable of accelerating from 0-100km/h in 2.4 seconds. Top speed is limited to 349km/h. The Aperta was manufactured in 2017 as the company celebrated seventy years of operation.

15. Pagani Huayra Roadster: $2.4 million

According to Horacio Pagani, everything had to come together ‘as if the entire car was carved out of a block of Carrara marble’. The Huayra is a model by the Italian company Pagani. Huayra comes from the name of the wind god ‘Huayra-Tata’. The vehicle was named the hypercar of the year by Top Gear in 2012.

Top 20 most expensive cars

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A Mercedes Benz AMG engines power the Huayra Roadster with a displacement of 5980 cubic centimetres. The engine outputs 760hp and 1000 pound-feet of torque at 5500 revolutions per minute. The engine is mated to a seven-speed gearbox manufactured by xTrac. Only a hundred units of the Huayra roadster were manufactured, and all have since been sold.

14. Ferrari F60 America: $2.5 million

The Ferrari F60 is among the rarest Ferrari models ever made. The F60 was manufactured in 2014 to commemorate the company’s 60th anniversary in America. Only ten of these vehicles were ever manufactured. All ten were delivered to America with the first one belonging to a buyer in Florida. The F60 is powered by a 6.3L V12 engine that can rev to 8700 rpm.

top 20 most expensive cars

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According to Ferrari, the F60 can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 3.1 seconds and achieve a top speed of just over 320km/h. The F60 also features a removable soft-cloth top that can be used for speeds below 120km/h. Unlike most sports cars which are made out of carbon fibre, the F60 has an all-aluminium construction. Despite not being the fastest or the lightest Ferrari, the F60 received great reviews mainly for its striking looks and curvy design.

13. Bugatti Chiron – $ 2.7 million

The Chiron is one of the familiar faces in the sports car industry. The Bugatti Chiron is the fastest and most powerful sports car in Bugatti’s lineup. The car is the successor of the famous Bugatti Veyron. The Chiron was the vision of former Volkswagen mogul Ferdinand Piech who always demanded the fastest production cars from Bugatti.

Who owns the most expensive car in the world

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The car is powered by a fancy 8L W16 engine which is, in essence, a combination of two V8 engines. The engine feeds 1479 horsepower to the car’s drivetrain allowing it to reach 200km/h in less than seven seconds. The car can achieve a top speed of 420km/h. The distinctive quad LED lights also double up as air intakes for routing air to the front brakes. The Chiron has a combined fuel efficiency of 22.5 miles per gallon, but then again, sports cars are not exactly manufactured for fuel-efficiency. Five hundred units of the Chiron were manufactured and sold, a figure which is relatively high as compared to most rare supercars.

12. Ferrari FXX K: $2.7 million

The Ferrari FXX K is a production sports car designed by Marco Fainello and Evan Rodriguez. Similar to other sports cars, there were only forty units of the FXX K to be ever produced. A 1036hp V12 internal combustion engine powers the vehicle. The engine has been tuned for use on racing tracks through Ferrari’s HY-KERS system.

Most expensive car in the world 2019

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The FXX K has four driving modes, namely fast charge, manual boost, qualify and long run. The car is also equipped with various formula one based technology such as an electronic differential, traction control and racing antilock systems. Car fans can collectively agree that the FXX K is among the best-looking sports cars out there. It is worth noting that the FXX K is a track day car and not a street-legal model such as its predecessor, the LaFerrari.

11. Pagani Huayra BC: $2.8 million

One of the most expensive Paganis ever designed is the Huayra BC. The vehicle has a striking design that is particularly appealing to the younger generation. The BC designation stands for Benny Caiola, the first Pagani customer as well as the founder’s friend. Horacio Pagani dedicated the Huayra BC to Caiola, stating that he did it from his heart.

Most expensive car in the world of all time

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The BC is powered by a twin-turbo V12 engine that produces 790hp and 811-pound-feet of torque. The inbuilt hydraulic transmission combines perfectly with the electric motor for high-speed manoeuvres. The doors of the Huayra BC open sideways giving the car a luxurious feel. The extensive use of carbon fibre brings down the weight of the BC significantly as compared to similar aluminium-based sports cars.

10. Ferrari Pininfarina Sergio: $3 million

The top 10 Ferrari Sergio was introduced in 2013 as a concept car in memory of Pininfarina founder’s son. The Ferrari Sergio is among the rarest sports cars ever made. Ferrari only made six Ferrari Sergio cars making them some of the most coveted car models out there. The car’s design is based on the Ferrari 458 Spider, and at $3 million, it is one of the priciest production sports cars ever.

most expensive sports cars brands

Image:, @stokrod
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The car is powered by a 4.5L V8 engine that outputs 562hp directed to the rear wheels. In a somewhat rare exclusivity decision, each of the six vehicles made was sold to a person chosen by the car manufacturer. In terms of design, the Pininfarina Sergio features a carbon fibre frame which gives drivers a feel of comfortable open-air driving.

READ ALSO: Top 10 cars in the world you may dream about

9. Aston Martin Valkyrie: $3.2 million

Aston Martin uses the term otherworldly to describe the Valkyrie. It is easy to see why they would choose the word. Everything about the Valkyrie looks out of this world. The Valkyrie was built under the company’s president at the time, Andy Palmer. Under the hood, the car is powered by a naturally-aspirated 6.5L V12 engine. The extensive use of carbon fibre in the car’s construction allows the vehicle to have an excellent 1:1 power to weight ratio.

most expensive car in the world 2018

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The car’s engine outputs 1000hp and sprints from 0-100km/h in less than three seconds. The car achieves a top speed of 320km/h via seven-speed sequential transmission.

8. Bugatti Veyron by Mansory Vivere: $3.4 million

The Bugatti Veyron was the most potent production sports car when it was launched in 2005. Despite being later surpassed by the Bugatti Chiron, it is still among the most sought-after models by car collectors. The manufacturer only made 270 units of the original Veyron. For those looking for more exclusivity, the German firm, Mansory, was there to fine-tune a handful of them such as the rare Linea Vivere.

expensive cars brands

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There are only two Linea Vivere models in the world. The car features a quad-turbo 8.0L W16 engine that outputs 1200hp. The first car’s owner had it done in matte white with new carbon fibre rear and front bumpers. The customizing company also added daytime running lights, custom wheels and strikingly cool side skirts.

7. Lykan Hypersport: $3.4 million

The founder of W Motors, which manufactures the Lykan Hypersport describes the car as ‘a modern machine with a touch of humanity’. The car’s headlights feature 440 24-carat diamonds with specific light blades being made with 40-carat diamond varieties. The Hypersport cast the company into the limelight when it starred in the film Fast and Furious 7. W Motors only made seven units of this vehicle.

who owns the most expensive car in the world

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The Hypersport is powered by a 3.8L twin-turbo six-cylinder engine that produces 780hp and 960 pound-feet of torque. The car can sprint from 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds and is limited to a top speed of 395km/h. In a refreshing touch of exclusivity, the car’s carbon-fibre body is entirely hand-crafted. There are 440 diamonds in the car’s headlights.

6. Aston Martin Vulcan: $3.4 million

The Aston Martin Vulcan is a track-only car produced in 2015 and launched officially at the 2015 Geneva motor sow. The Vulcan is powered by a 7.0L naturally-aspirated V12 engine mounted on an aluminium chassis. The engine outputs 800hp. The Aston Martin Vulcan was designed by the company’s creative director, Marek Reichman.

Design-wise, the Vulcan features a two-seater 2 door configuration inspired by other models such as the DB-9, Vantage and the One 77. Aston Martin only manufactured 24 units of the Vulcan making it one of the rare sports cars out there.

5. McLaren P1 LM: $3.6 million

The top 5 section begins with the P1 LM which is the street-legal version of the track-only McLaren P1 GTR. British car firm Lanzante was responsible for converting the GTR into the street-legal version. It is not the first time that the after-market firm has converted track-only McLaren vehicles into street-legal models. The converted models are then sold to customers in Japan, the US, UK and the UAE.

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The car is powered by a 3.8L twin-turbo engine and is significantly lighter than the P1 GTR on which it is based. The P1 LM engine outputs 986bhp and 1000ps. There are only five units of the McLaren P1 LM in the world.

READ ALSO: Top 10 most expensive cars in the world 2019

4. Lamborghini Veneno Roadster: $4.5 million

According to Lamborghini, driving the Veneno ‘will feel like flying on the road’. The car’s name is Spanish for venom and true to its name, the vehicle looks stunningly menacing. The Veneno was designed as a commemoration of Lamborghini’s fifty years in operation. Under the hood, there is a 6.5L V12 engine coupled to a seven-speed manual gearbox.

who owns the most expensive car in the world

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The engine produces 740hp and propels the Veneno from 0-100km/h in 2.9 seconds. For exclusivity, the company manufactured only nine units of the model. The Veneno will almost always appear on most expensive car lists.

3. Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita: $4.8 million

Trevita is Swedish for ‘three whites’. The name comes from the nice carbon fibre weave pattern on the car’s bodywork. Using unique technology, Koenigsegg was able to achieve a diamond finish on the car’s carbon fibre surface. When sunshine hits the car’s surface, it seems like countless diamonds are embedded inside the car’s bodywork.

most expensive car brands

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The vehicle is powered by an aluminium 4.8L V8 engine which outputs 1018hp at 7000rpm. The car can accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds, placing it among the fastest accelerating production cars today. The Trevita’s top speed is capped at 410km/h. The manufacturer only made two units of this model, making it one of the rarest sports cars ever made.

2. Mercedes-Benz Maybach Exelero: $8 million

Which car is the most expensive in the world 2018? Short answer, the Maybach Exelero. The Exelero is the perfect blend of the most luxurious coupe and the sharpest sports car. The Maybach Exelero is powered by a 5.9L twin-turbo V12 engine that outputs 700hp at 5000rpm. Despite its age, the car still looks strikingly modern even today. According to Topspeed, rapper Birdman purchased the Exelero for $8 million. The Exelero was the most expensive car in the world 2018 before the introduction of the Bugatti La Voiture Noir.

most expensive car in the world 2018

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Now that we are done with the second most expensive model, which car is the most expensive in the world?

1. Bugatti La Voiture Noir: $12.5 million (before tax)

The La Voiture Noir tops the top 20 most expensive cars list. As one can tell from this top 20 list, Bugatti makes some quite costly sports cars. However, none of those models can come close to the price point of the Bugatti La Voiture Noir. It is the most expensive car in the world 2019 with an asking price of more than $18 million (after-tax). This also makes it the most expensive car in the world of all time (new vehicle).

who owns the most expensive car in the world

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According to the company, only one of these will be made and sold. Who owns the most expensive car in the world? Well, Bugatti has not revealed the identity of the La Voiture Noir buyer, but as you can guess, it must be someone who is quite rich and perhaps a prior relationship with the brand. The car’s name loosely translates to ‘black car’.

top 20 most expensive cars

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It is undeniable that the most expensive sports cars 2019 are also strikingly beautiful. While some people are lucky to come across some of them on the streets, fewer people have the luxury of owning these sports cars. The limited production quantities, as well as the substantial asking prices, have kept most people from owning these machines. Which of the vehicles fascinated you most?

READ ALSO: Highest car in the world – Top 5

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Tesla has started a new anti-fraud department, according to a recent job listing

Workers assemble cars on the line at Tesla's factory in Fremont.David Butow | Corbis News | Getty Images

Tesla is stepping up its efforts to detect and prevent fraud and waste within its ranks, according to a job listing posted to its own careers page on July 19th, and syndicated to LinkedIn about a week ago.

According to the recruiting ad, Tesla seeks a "Manager, Financial (Anti-Fraud) Analytics & Investigation," to helm a new group. Here's an excerpt:

"Global Fraud Management is a new team established to promote and foster a culture of ethical behavior and to mitigate fraud, waste, and abuse through prevention, investigation, and remediation. In this role, the ideal candidate would work with key stakeholders to build the global fraud strategy for Tesla and develop a world-class fraud prevention, detection, and response team.'"

The listing doesn't say what prompted the creation of this team.

However, Tesla's factories have been plagued by waste and disorganization in the past. For example, employees previously told CNBC that they had trouble tracking their project budgets and specific purchase orders within Tesla's disparate systems. Others told CNBC they engaged in quick fixes during Model 3 vehicle assembly which Tesla said were not in line with company's official procedures and policies.

CEO Elon Musk has also espoused the notion that Tesla is besieged by haters, some out to damage the electric vehicle and renewable energy company from within.

For instance, in June 2018, Musk sent a pair of e-mails around to all Tesla employees urging them to find and stop turncoats. In one e-mail, Musk asserted:

"A Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations."

It turned out Musk was referencing Martin Tripp, a former Gigafactory employee who claimed Tesla was using flawed battery manufacturing practices, and hiding relevant info from shareholders. Tripp is still embroiled in a legal battle with Tesla after taking his claims to press.

In that same e-mail, Musk told Tesla employees that they are in a battle that could be characterized as Tesla versus the world. He wrote:

"As you know, there are a long list of organizations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil and gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world—they don't love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power and electric cars."

In another e-mail that week, speaking of one of several paint shop fires that occurred at Tesla's Fremont, California factory throughout 2018, Musk said: "Could just be a random event, but as Andy Grove said, 'Only the paranoid survive.' Please be on the alert for anything that's not in the best interests of our company."

In November 2018, according to a Department of Justice statement, a former Tesla employee named Salil Parulekar was indicted for allegedly embezzling $9.3 million from Tesla by diverting payments from one supplier to another.

And in the first quarter of 2019, Tesla filed a pair of lawsuits against former employees at self-driving tech venture Zoox, and Chinese electric vehicle makers, Xiaopeng, alleging theft of trade secrets.

Tesla declined to comment for this story. In the past, the company has denied some media reports of waste and fraud in its operations.

WATCH: Inside Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory

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Max Life Insurance launches startup accelerator programme

Max Life Insurance Co. Ltd announced on Tuesday the launch of its startup accelerator programme – Max Life Innovation Labs. Under the Innovation Labs, the life insurer will invite disruptive startups and out of the box thinkers to partner with them in creating futuristic tech-based solutions for Max Life in a rapidly advancing life insurance industry.

As part of this Programme, the startups will help create solutions by leveraging new age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Big Data to facilitate a host of services such as intelligent data acquisition and processing generated from online/offline sources, intelligent underwriting, intelligent agent/seller hiring, financial management and more.

The final selection of startups will be made on the basis of relevance to the shared focus areas, innovativeness of the solution, its feasibility and availability of appropriate skill set in the startup team.

Speaking on the occasion, Amrit Singh, Sr. Vice President and Head of Strategy, Max Life said, “With less than 3% life insurance penetration in the country, the sector in India presents immense opportunity to insurers to grow. At Max Life, we have worked with a large number of startups through the past few years to enhance customer experience. We are now taking our commitment to the next level, by introducing the Max Life Innovation Labs programme. Through this initiative, we hope to develop robust solutions, mentor and collaborate with start-ups and build greater synergies between traditional and new age models in the life insurance industry.”

The selected startups will receive benefits such as best-in-class mentoring and knowledge workshops from Max Life CXOs, as well as insurance ecosystem leaders and experts.

Further, exclusive benefits such as dedicated innovation work space across top startup hubs, technology support and infrastructure in the form of APIs and cloud access will also be available for the selected startups. Additionally, Max Life may also partner with them for applying to IRDAI’s recently launched Regulatory Sandbox with relevant solutions.

This article was first published on

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Goldman Sachs, China’s Ping An back artificial intelligence firm

FILE PHOTO: A trader works inside the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange July 16, 2013. Goldman Sachs Group Inc said on Tuesday quarterly profit doubled, beating Wall Street estimates, boosted by returns from investing the bank’s own money. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc, China’s Ping An Global Voyager Fund and others have invested $72.5 million in, a rapidly growing artificial intelligence startup, the companies said on Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, California-based is a software company that aims to make it easier for companies that lack the skilled workforce or time to adapt to the rapidly changing artificial intelligence landscape, Chief Executive and founder Sri Ambati said in an interview.

Customers like Capital One Financial Corp, Wells Fargo & Co, Aetna and can use H20’s platform to automate model building, feature engineering and to pull valuable insights out of large amounts of the companies’ proprietary data, Ambati said.

H20 gives customers “recipes” to use that automate the entire process of building, training and deploying models, or it will help a company’s own employees to create their tailored models.

“Our mission is to make our customers AI companies … and (to reduce) the barrier for new data scientists to produce great models,” Ambati said.

At a bank like Goldman Sachs, that may mean H20 works with traders in the fixed-income and equities groups to improve processes related to bond pricing.

“The results we’ve got with H2O are promising, (and) we are now looking at wider adoption of the AI models across the equity trading floor for market making,” Erdit Hoxha, Goldman’s head of European equity trading, said in a statement.

Goldman’s principal strategic investments group and Ping An led the series D fundraising round, with Wells Fargo, NVIDIA Corp and Nexus Venture Partners continuing their investments. This brings the total amount of money H20 has raised to $147 million.

The company plans to use the money to expand its sales and marketing teams globally and to further build out its suite of products, Ambati said.

Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Paul Simao

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Morgan Stanley upgrades Ford, saying the stock’s recent dip is ‘a buying opportunity’

The Ford Motor Co. Mustang Shelby GT500 vehicle is displayed during the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan,.Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Morgan Stanley raised its rating of Ford's stock to overweight from equal weight on Tuesday, citing a "significant increase" in estimates for Ford earnings over the next three years.

Ford's recent stock dip is "a buying opportunity," as it is a "reset of [fiscal year 2019] expectations," Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note to investors.

Jonas said his firm likes Ford for three reasons: "Restructuring actions," "strategic actions" and "product mix enhancement."

"Our previous concerns over Ford's ability to maintain its dividend payment have largely subsided," Jonas added.

Ford shares rose 1.8% in premarket trading from its previous close of $9.23. Morgan Stanley increased its price target on Ford to $12 a share from $10. The stock has fallen nearly 10% in the past month, but is up about 21% so far this year.

– CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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UPDATE 1-Goldman CEO memo calls Apple Card ‘a beginning’ on launch day

FILE PHOTO: David M. Solomon, President and Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs, speaks at the Milken Institute’s 21st Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) officially became a credit-card lender on Tuesday by rolling out its first product with Apple Inc (AAPL.O), but the bank has aspirations to grow much bigger in consumer lending, its chief executive said in an internal memo viewed by Reuters.

The virtual credit card, which officially launched to all U.S. customers, is Goldman’s first, and it represents a big push by the Wall Street bank to build out its young consumer business.

“Apple Card is big, but it’s also a beginning,” Goldman’s CEO David Solomon wrote in an internal email to employees. “In the decades to come, I expect us to be a leader in our consumer business, just like we are in our institutional and corporate businesses.”

Solomon did not say whether the bank is looking for other partners to launch more co-branded credit cards, as it did with Apple.

But in describing the area at the bank’s New York headquarters where “the credit card business is being developed,” he said the employees working there embody the strategy Solomon hopes will drive the bank’s future growth: “collaboration of teams across the firm’s divisions…One Goldman Sachs.”

Goldman began selling consumer banking products to retail customers three years ago with the launch of Marcus, its online bank. Marcus now has more than $5 billion in loans and more than $50 billion in deposits from some 4 million customers in the United States and Britain.

Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio

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Porsche Consulting: Weber’s aftersales service pleases customers

Hans-Jürgen Herr, Weber’s president of the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa), 2019, Porsche Consulting GmbH

Small parts—big results: The grill maker delights its customers with premium service.

Hans-Jürgen Herr selects his company’s own “grill oasis” for the photo. It might also be called the company’s test lab. This terrace on the eighth floor of a building in the center of Berlin has a number of smoking charcoal grills. It also looks out over the capital city with a splendid view of the television tower on Alexanderplatz. There are surely other labs with less enticing locations. And with less sophisticated fare for their employees. Herr lifts a tomahawk steak with a pair of tongs. The meat and bone weigh a good 1,500 grams, and would easily make a meal for three people. The beef steak gets its name from the impressive-looking rib.

Just like with cars, there’s no limit to what technology can offer to Weber grills” Hans-Jürgen Herr

Barbecue aficionados might already guess that we are paying a visit to Weber, the world’s most famous manufacturer of grills. Anyone who values the practice will have a Weber in their yard. Or on their balcony. Today we are trying out the Summit charcoal grill. Hans-Jürgen Herr is Weber’s president of the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, Africa). Like so many other top executives, he is facing a transformation. He has a clear idea of what digitalization has in store for him and his company. For example, smokers that immediately upload measurement data to a cloud storage service and promptly notify owners when they should order replacement parts, or when a gas canister is just about empty. Which will be delivered, of course—in this case, in-house. Farewell to the frontier mentality of smoke and soot. And welcome to the new programmed world of grilling.

“Just like with cars, there’s no limit to what technology can offer to Weber grills,” says Herr. “I’m sure we’ll also be seeing fuel systems that go beyond gas and charcoal. Even more so than they do today. The only question is when.” As Weber’s president of the EMEA region, it is Herr’s job not to miss this point in time—like the perfect point at which to remove a steak from the grill. And he won’t miss it. Because to judge from past experience, he has a sense for the right products at the right time.

The barbecue lifestyle has since flourished

As recently as 2000 only a few people in Germany were willing to spend more than €39 for a grill. And most people who barbecued were ready to eat exactly the same sausages and steaks for all of their weekend dinners. Herr calls this the “disruptive low-price sector.” As he describes it, “We turned the conventional sales environment in the barbecue business upside down, with a strategy that focused 80 percent on specialized dealers. We wanted grilling to become a lifestyle—with everything that entails.” The fact that the barbecue lifestyle has since flourished everywhere from urban cottages to luxurious villa gardens can be traced to the idea of making grills into high-end products. Accompanied by recipes and food preparation ideas that encourage customers to experiment. And the idea has worked.

It has worked so well that Weber nearly lost a unique selling point, or what it called its 360-degree customer service promise. For every buyer. Basically an all-around package. With a quality guarantee based on well over half a century of grilling experience. After all, Weber has a tradition of creating the perfect barbecue ambiance. Back around 1950, company founder George Stephen was already dreaming of innovative globe-shaped grills with outstanding functional properties and long-life materials. Those quality standards have remained in place to this day. Including a plentiful supply of replacement materials available to every grill owner. That is just one of the reasons why barbecue fans in Germany compare Weber’s high-performance grills to Porsches in the automotive industry. These grills are status symbols.

For its part, the company consistently pursues both a down-to-earth approach and visionary ideas. That is the only way to combine more than 70 years of perfectionist practice with the barbecue experience of the future. A responsibility that Hans-Jürgen Herr has taken on for today. “The grill business has also always meant merging apparent opposites. We want to be a reliable partner for our customers. And as a premium maker, to guarantee the highest degree of flexibility in our customer service.”

“We’ve worked with Porsche Consulting’s experts a lot in the past to improve our service quality and shorten waiting times instead of ‘stamping out fires’ in unsystematic ways” Hans-Jürgen Herr

Weber seeks to design its processes with customers, business partners, and other companies as effectively as possible. That starts well before the phones on its customer service lines begin to ring. Although barbecuing has long since ceased to be a seasonal activity, more than six million Germans will fire up their stainless steel grills from March to September. But they frequently have to wait quite a while if their device is missing a part. That can happen. Delivery times for the small silver Phillips screws and hexagonal bolts can be considerable in the high season with its correspondingly high level of demand. Not because the delivery service as such takes so long, but because response times to customer queries are longer throughout nearly the entire grilling season. “We work with a very discerning clientele, which is willing to pay as much as €4,000 for a gas grill. So our customer service needs to have the highest possible levels of flexibility and dependability,” says Herr. To uphold these standards, Weber asked Porsche Consulting for support.

The specialists at Porsche Consulting were commissioned not only because they command classic methods but also because they could provide a customized set of instructions for improving customer service. One tailored specifically to Weber and all the applications on its European market. Which can differ widely. From customers in Denmark who fire up their grills along the country’s rocky coastline in winter or any weather, to occasional users in southern Italy who only roll out the smoker for a family gathering on the sunny terrace of their estate. David Blecher, a partner at Porsche Consulting, sketched out the project at the end of the high season, and three weeks later it began. The Porsche consultants carefully examined the situation, analyzed how Weber could shorten response times, and used the extensive data to derive a new customer service approach—including a new strategy to let barbecue fans keep their garden parties going even if problems should arise with their grills in summer. “We’ve worked with Porsche Consulting’s experts a lot in the past to improve our service quality and shorten waiting times instead of ‘stamping out fires’ in unsystematic ways,” says Herr. “As a grill developer with a long tradition, we place a priority on consistently improving customer satisfaction. Because you don’t become a leader on the market overnight.”

To put the new service concept into practice and to meet higher expectations for the barbecue experience, the Porsche consultants worked together with a team of Weber employees. The next barbecue season was fast approaching. In less than two months, Herr and his colleagues had a new system on hand to respond faster to customer queries. A standardized system. And one that could be used throughout Europe. Good planning has now measurably improved the results, and Herr has the figures to back it up. “Our new concept has enabled us to shorten response times to customer queries by 90 percent. Customers used to have to wait more than two weeks at the start of the barbecue season for a response and replacement parts, but we now solve every query within two days at most—with the same level of quality.” This was brought about by the new concept and an intelligent IT system that connects Weber employees at different sites and enables them to work together in providing the relevant services. The result is both digital and customer-friendly.

Back to Berlin. It’s one in the afternoon on the rooftop terrace. Herr lifts the lid of the black grill. Very slowly and carefully. The suspense is palpable. All eyes are on the steak. He cuts fine pink slices and serves them. Here too the service is superb. As is the timing.


Photo: Porsche Consulting GmbH

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Reality check: CHAdeMO fast-charging stations still outnumber CCS ones

Five years ago, a frequent matter of debate here at Green Car Reports was whether CCS or ChAdeMO would become the electric-car DC fast-charging standard of choice in the U.S.

Soon after that it became quite clear that CCS, with the weight of the European and U.S. auto industry behind it—and then the Korean industry joining later—was going to win.

And yet today, when you look at the actual numbers, as tallied by the U.S. government’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, you’ll find that even now, in the second half of 2019, there are still more places to fast-charge CHAdeMO vehicles than those with CCS.

CHAdeMO, CCS, and Supercharger – Alternative Fuels Data Center, Aug. 20, 2019

As of August 20, 2019, there are 2,140 charging stations and 3,010 connectors with CHAdeMO fast charging. CCS still lags behind CHAdeMO in the number of stations by more than 250, while it has about 500 more connectors. And Tesla has 678 Supercharger locations with 6,340 connectors. The Nissan Leaf lineup is the only one still on the market to primarily use the CHAdeMO standard.

When the first Combined Charging System (CCS) fast charging station finally arrived in the U.S. in October 2013, it was a couple of years behind the rollout of stations using the CHAdeMO standard championed by Japanese automakers and more than a year behind the first Tesla Superchargers.

In 2014 and 2015, Europe stormed ahead with CCS fast-charging infrastructure, and essentially moved to make it the dominant standard, while the U.S. lagged behind in deploying the hardware.

Chevrolet Spark EV at CCS fast charging station in San Diego.

Although the 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV was the first model available in the U.S. with CCS, GM stubbornly maintained that it wouldn’t fund CCS fast-charging sites for its Chevrolet Bolt. Meanwhile, Nissan helped subsidize the growth of a CHAdeMO network. So had early federal and state funding to build “electric highways” with carefully spaced fast chargers, that had been approved (and in some cases completed) before CCS even existed.

Part of the reason why CCS hasn’t gained ground is that, as called out in the Partial Consent Decree of the Volkswagen diesel settlement, Electrify America has to future-proof its stations by operating across different charging standards. Therefore, all public-facing fast chargers will include a CHAdeMO connector—just one, in most cases, running at 50 kw instead of the CCS connectors’ 150 kw or 350 kw.

It’s unlikely that CCS will take the lead for stations/locations this decade. Nationally, Electrify America’s Cycle 2 plan anticipates that just 40 to 50 of about 215 new 150-kw and 350-kw DC fast chargers will be operational by the end of 2019. Meanwhile, under an EVgo plan to install more 100-kw CHAdeMO hardware—jointly announced with Nissan earlier this month, will keep nudging both ahead, as that hardware will also be CCS-compatible.

Tesla Model S with CHAdeMO adapter

U.S. Tesla drivers also can opt for a CHAdeMO adapter, for access to those stations, which tend to be better-located for urban and suburban charging—as opposed to Tesla’s chargers, which tend to be at strategic points for road-trip potential.

Tesla drivers are again the winners. If it weren’t for the terms of the diesel settlement, Nissan and others might not have kept expanding the CHAdeMO network. Add the two standards together and Tesla owners have 2,818 charging locations and 9,350 connectors.

The higher-power CCS chargers (350 kw especially) will start influencing the market more eventually. But in this era of accessibility and cross-compatibility, it's now looking like both standards will be around for a long time.

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YouTuber sees racist link in knife crime warnings

A YouTube star, famous for his reviews of chicken shops, has criticised the government’s decision to feature knife crime warnings on takeaway boxes.

Elijah Quashie – better known as the Chicken Connoisseur – told BBC’s Wake Up to Money that the approach was too simplistic to solve a complex problem.

“I can see the racist connotation. I’m not sure if I’d say racist, or stereotype but it’s in that bracket.”

The government said its chicken shop adverts were part of a wider campaign.

Earlier this month, the government said more than 321,000 takeaway chicken boxes printed with anti-knife slogans would replace standard packaging as part of its #KnifeFree campaign.

It said it chose chicken shops because research by the agency that produced the campaign showed 70% of their customers were aged 16 to 24, an age group it wanted to target.

But Mr Quashie said the approach didn’t make sense: “There should be someone who has a deeper train of thought than: ‘Black people, they eat chicken we can intersect the black people who kill each other at a chicken shop, with the chicken boxes.”

“I don’t know what they think that’s really going to do.”

Mr Quashie rose to fame through his YouTube series the Pengest Munch, which has had 50 million views. Started in 2015, it features reviews of chicken shops in London assessing every detail from the seating, to the chips and how the burger is put together.

In each episode, he visits a different restaurant but always orders exactly the same thing: a chicken strip burger, wings and a portion of chips.

He now has more than half a million followers on YouTube and is the star of Channel 4’s new show Peng Life.

“There’s no particular diplomacy. If it’s good, it’s good if it’s not – I make sure people know,” the 26-year-old says.

‘Bossman doesn’t need to do anything’

He is just as direct in his assessment of the businesses behind the anti-knife crime campaign. Three of the UK’s biggest chicken chains are involved – Morleys, Dixy Chicken and Chicken Cottage.

“For a chicken shop to be recognised by a government body like the Home Office. They’re in the newspapers now. Maybe they weren’t before. The more marketing the merrier.”

“From their perspective it’s very easy. Just switch a box that’s it. Bossman doesn’t need to do anything different,” he said.

The agency behind the campaign, All City Media Solutions, said the chicken box campaign intended to resonate with “young people of all races and religions”.

“Making the presumption that any one strategy alone, however big or small can tackle an endemic problem such as knife crime is naive at best, and politicising an issue that’s ripping the heart out of this country is misplaced and counterproductive,” it said in a statement.

“If even one young vulnerable person is helped by this campaign, this would’ve all been worth it.”

‘It’s just a chicken box’

But Mr Quashie believes the government could do more.

“If something real happens, the chicken box unfortunately is not really going to weigh up.

“They would have at least thought maybe there’s a reason why people are doing it. Let’s look into the reason why.

“Or the circumstances people who commit knife crime are in and maybe we can do something to stop it at its infancy. It’s not really treating the symptoms either.

“It’s just a chicken box.”

PR stunt?

Earlier this month, the government announced an extra 10,000 prison places would be created with stop-and-search powers expanded as well. It said the £2.5bn programme showed it was “serious about fighting crime”.

So where does the Chicken Connoisseur see #KnifeFree chicken boxes fitting in.

“If it was a PR stunt that would work because the conversation begins. Or the conversation gets louder,” he says. “That is working.”

“But the aim was not the conversation. It seems like the aim was for the chicken boxes to make a difference in the streets.”

He shakes his head and laughs at the thought of it.

“Wow…chicken boxes.”

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