Cautious outlook for small businesses in 2017

first_img TAGSBrexitbusinessDonald Trumpsmall businessSMEUS Twitter Exercise With Oxygen Training at Ultimate Health Clinic Previous articleLimerick crime figures show increase in guns and weapons offencesNext articleICHAS Graduations held in the Castletroy Park Hotel Staff Reporter Shannon Airport braced for a devastating blow BusinessNewsCautious outlook for small businesses in 2017By Staff Reporter – January 11, 2017 753 Facebook Email Advertisement TechPost | Episode 9 | Pay with Google, WAZE – the new Google Maps? and Speak don’t Type! center_img Limerick businesses urged to accept Irish Business Design Challenge RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Enterprise Support Grant should include older self-employed people Linkedin WhatsApp Print SMALL businesses have a cautious outlook to 2017 with the mood reflecting the uncertainty that the next 12 months has amid Brexit and the change of leadership in the US.This week, the Small Firms Association (SFA) found in its ‘Small Firms Outlook 2017’ survey report that 50 per cent of owner-managers feel that the business environment is improving.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up However this figure is down from the 2015 number of 77 per cent and 2016s half yearly report of 66 in May. 18 per cent of those businesses surveyed felt that the economy is disimproving.Patricia Callan, SFA Director, said “2016 has been a challenging year for small business. The optimism that existed at the beginning of the year has given way to a much more cautious sentiment among small businesses, due to emerging wage demands, Brexit and downward revisions of growth forecasts. Still, 52 per cent of SFA members say their businesses are growing, with only 9 per cent declining. This shows that 2017 still has the potential to be a strong year, if the risks are managed effectively at firm level and Government level.”Asked what they see as the biggest opportunity for their business in 2017, domestic economic growth was highlighted by 32 per cent of businesses. Other positive factors included specific sectoral opportunities, bringing new products to market, new brand/marketing campaigns and exporting.One in three of survey respondents indicated their intention to recruit over the coming year, down slightly from a pre-Brexit survey in May. This strong job creation outlook was welcomed by Ms Callan.“Small firms already employ over half of the private sector workforce and almost two-thirds of our members will be hiring in 2017. Small firms have a crucial role to play in job creation around the country, reducing unemployment and attracting emigrants home to work.”The survey results, however, highlight a number of areas of concern for small firms. Ms Callan continued, “A number of risk factors for 2017 have been highlighted. These include wage inflation (#1 at 22 per cent), Brexit/Sterling exchange rate, domestic economic stagnation and cashflow issues. Many of these require decisive measures at Government level and the SFA will work with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and other departments to ensure the appropriate actions are taken.”In conclusion, Callan stated, “The fundamentals of the Irish economy are strong and economic growth and job creation are forecast to continue in 2017. If the specific concerns of small businesses are addressed, 2017 will be a very positive year for the sector, allowing the small business community to fulfil its potential in terms of job creation, enhancing local communities and driving economic progress. The Government must put small business at the heart of its policies by embracing the ‘Think Small First’ principle and ensuring that all policies are job-proofed.” Ann & Steve Talk Stuff | Episode 29 | Levelling Up last_img read more

Pest Control Training

first_imgThe University of Georgia Griffin Campus is hosting two intensive commercial Integrated Pest Management (IPM) training programs this spring, including a 1.5-day workshop on termite control and a 10-week Urban Pest Management Program course that will run from April to June.The courses are part of a wide-ranging training series available through the UGA Urban Pest Management Program, which provides education programs for pest control operators.The program includes commercial, school and home IPM workshops as well as workshops on termite control, bed bugs and general pest control education. All seminars, workshops and trainings provide continuing education credits for pest control operators.Several of these lectures are available for growers through the Getting the Best of Pests webinar program, To receive continuing education credits, growers can visit their local UGA Cooperative Extension office, watch the videos and sign a form. The UGA Extension agent will relay the form through UGA to the Department of Agriculture for credit.“We enjoy continuing the live-webinars for the Green Industry, but the recordings have the potential to be a huge resource for county agents,” said UGA entomologist Dan Suiter. “UGA faculty, who might sometimes need a filler lecture when they have to be absent, can utilize this resource as well.”The next continuing education accredited live webinar is set for March 21. To receive notifications of upcoming webinars, workshops or trainings, contact Beth Horne at [email protected] or Tami Boyle at [email protected] more information on the UGA Urban Pest Management program, visit the website at read more

No joy in Canada, Russia shocks Juniors

first_imgThere is definitely no joy in the Great White North after Team Canada squandered a 3-0 lead and lost to the Russians 5-3 in the gold medal game at the IIHL World Junior Hockey Championship in Buffalo, NY.The Russian win completed the biggest comeback in tournament history and was the country’s first gold medal at the juniors since 2003.It was the second straight year Canada has lost in the final.In 2010 Team USA defeated Canada 6-5 in overtime.Canada appeared to be in complete control leading by three after 40 minutes.Ryan Ellis, Carter Ashton, and Brayden Schenn each scored to chase Russian starting goalie Dmitri Shikin on 18 shots.But the contest took a dramatic about face as Artemi Panarin and Maxim Kitsyn both scored from close range just 13 seconds apart to stun the Canadians and the crowd to pull to within 3-2. Four minutes later, Vladimir Tarasenko wired a one-timer past Mark Visentin to complete the comeback.Russia scored twice in the final four minutes, Panarin with his second before Nikita Dvurechenski iced the game.The game marked the seventh time since 1999 that Canada and Russia met in the championship game at the World Juniors. Russia won three straight meetings in 1999, 2002, and 2003, while Canada won the next three consecutively between 2005-07.It was also the 10th straight time that Canada played in the gold medal game at the tournament. Canada’s last gold medal victory was in 2009, when they beat Sweden in Ottawa.OVERTIME: Three Canadians made the tournament all-star team. Ryan Ellis, Brayden Schenn, and Ryan Johansen were chosen, while Schenn was named the overall tournament MVP. Russians Dmitri Orlov and Yevgeni Kuznetsov were also selected.last_img read more

Hedge account confusion

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Jon Scheve, Superior Feed IngredientsThe first look at the ’18/’19 USDA supply and demand estimates are out.Corn yields are predicted to be 174. If this happens, U.S. carryout would be reduced from the current 2.1 billion to 1.6 billion next year, a 20% decrease. World carryout predictions were also reduced by nearly 20% as well. Both seem to be a long term potential positive for the corn market.Unfortunately the market didn’t react well to the bullish news. Some in the trade were suggesting that large carryout in U.S. and world wheat stocks were just too bearish and that those projections pulled corn down. Still, a weather scare over the next 60 days could shift the course for corn prices, because there is little weather premium in the market. However, if national yields approach 177+, a rally will be unlikely and prices could eventually fall well below $4 for Dec corn futures.Beans also had a little bullish news, as world carryout dropped 6% and U.S. carryout is predicted to decrease 20%. Still, tariff and export pacing uncertainty continues. As in corn, weather issues will be the biggest factor over the next 90 days. Hedge accountsI’m frequently asked how the gains and losses are reflected in my hedge account when I detail out my trades. Hedge accounts can be overwhelming to farmers when they first use them. I was confused the first time I saw how it was done. At first it can be unclear how all the different types of transactions will show up in a hedge account and how profits and losses will be displayed. For example some farmers may not realize that they need to account for the cash price of the check they receive from the end user.That’s why I don’t use my hedge account line items and summaries to determine the value of my corn. Instead, I prefer using spreadsheets where I track all of my trade detail to determine my final prices for the corn I sell. Doing it this way allows me to better understand how market carry, basis, futures and options affected my overall price position.The following illustrates my point. Below I show a summary of my current corn position broken out by futures, carry, basis and options. I then detail out how it would have shown up in my hedge account. Then I show the math of how one can use the hedge account summary to still get to a final cash price. Walking through the tradesI always start with my original sold futures price, the spread or market carry I collected, any premiums received from options trades and the basis value I sold to determine my final cash price.Following is my current 2017 corn positions (52% sold futures position) that I shared last week:Current Position$3.57 – Futures$0.05 – Average Market Carry From Dec to May futures$0.09 – Market Carry premium from May to July futures$0.64 – Options Premium$4.35 – Equivalent value against July Futures-$.42 – Basis verses the July futures picked up on the farm$3.93 – Final Cash Price picked up on the farmBasis history — I set my basis on 50% of my ’17 crop back in March to be picked up on my farm in June/July for -.42. When I set the basis with an end user I give them cash grain in June/July and they give me futures, July in this case, so both of our positions remain equal in our respective accounts.Side note: This is a very common transaction and how most big grain companies sell grain to one another. Instead of exchanging futures with an end user, I could have just bought my futures position back in the July contract. However, doing it this way assures that I won’t have any price risk between when I call the end user to price the grain and when I call my broker to buy the futures back. Either way of doing the trade will cost me the same amount in commissions. Dates and summaries of the above trades in my hedge account3/5/18 — I set my basis on 50% of my ’17 crop to be picked up on my farm in June/July for -42 cents. As stated above, when I exchanged futures with the end user, they gave me July futures at $3.93 (the July futures value on 3/5) because I was giving them cash grain. This means the end user will write me a check for $3.51 ($3.93 + (-.42) cents basis) after the grain has been picked up off my farm. My hedge account after the exchange showed that I was long July futures at $3.93.4/20/18 — Some of my options got exercised. I also had some sales already on from previous trades that were already short May futures at $3.57 futures + 5 cents of Market Carry from previous futures months that were eventually rolled to May futures. My account will show that I’m short May futures for $3.62.**The actual value in my account might have been a different value to get to that point, but I would have incurred a profit or loss in past trades up to this point that would have made the value of corn in my account this level.4/24/18 — I rolled my May position to July and collected 9 cents of market carry profit. That was done by buying the May futures back at $3.79 and selling July at $3.88. That transaction means that I’m buying my short May futures back and selling July futures. Because I was long July futures from the basis trade those contracts are offset and disappear from my hedge account as well as the May futures. How my hedge account looked after each trade3/5 — Exchanged futures with end user, causes long July futures at $3.934/20 — Options were exercised against the May, caused short May futures at $3.624/24 — Bought back May futures to collect carry, caused long May futures at $3.794/24 — Sold July futures to collect market carry, caused short July futures at $3.88 Hedge accounts aren’t always nice and neatAfter the 4/24 market carry trades, both my May and July positions disappeared from my account and it looked like the following losses happened:May futures that had been sold for $3.62 were bought back for $3.79 = 17 cent lossJuly futures which were given to me when I set my basis for $3.93 were sold for $3.88 = 5 cent lossThose two trades combined are a 22-cent loss that must be subtracted from my final cash price I’ll get from the end user in July. That means the value of my grain is worth $3.29 ($3.51cash price – .22 hedge loss). However, as I mention above in my positions, I still have 64 cents of options premium that I’ve collected in my hedge account along the way. I now need to add that value to the $3.29 price and it makes my true cash value for my grain $3.93.As you can see, by doing the long version of the math in the hedge account, the final results are the same, but it was more confusing getting there than the preferred way I showed above. Common hedge account confusion: Example market carryOne of the most common mistakes I see farmers make when they start doing their own hedging is that they get lost in the math and forget where or why the position is what it is. Following is an example of that.Let’s say a farmer sold some corn for $4 last July. Then in November they rolled their futures forward to March to capture carry. On 11/29/17 when Dec corn was $3.36 and Mar was $3.50, a farmer would receive 14 cents of carry premium. In this example a farmer has actually sold corn for $4.14 against March — the $4 original sale plus the 14 cents of carry.But two months later in January, panic sets in when the farmer is reviewing their hedge account statement and sees a sale of $3.50. How can this be? They never would sold at such a low level. They may think, “I must have made a mistake.”The farmer didn’t make a mistake, they just forgot that they bought back their $4 Dec future sale at $3.36 in late November and then sold March futures for $3.50 to collect carry. They made the right trade all along and profited from the carry, they just needed to add that profit in the hedge account to their current position. So, a $4 sale bought back at $3.36 is a profit of 64 cents. If they take their current position of $3.50 sale against the March and add that 64 cents of profit from the Dec trade in their account they arrive at $4.14 ($3.50 + .64)While capturing carry is relatively simple and low risk, it can trip up farmers when they review their hedge accounts in the future. The only thing that matters with carry is the spread level between the two months. The actual price of the two months doesn’t matter. Gains or losses from carry/spread trades don’t show up as a line item anywhere on the hedge statements. A farmer must keep detailed notes, otherwise it may be easy to forget these kind of details when reviewing trades or positions several months later. The importance of keeping detailed recordsI never open a hedge account statement and assume I know what my cash corn value is by looking at the values listed. Instead, I start with a very detailed spreadsheet that shows every trade I make with the following details:DatePriceWhat futures contractWhat % of productionWhich crop year it’s hedged forWhy I made the trade.Then when I roll my futures forward to collect carry, I enter each of those trades separately on their own line. That way I can see how much profit I made from carry/storage. I also detail out every basis trade so I can determine my final cash price.Finally I keep track of every options trade I make throughout the year, just like I do with futures. All profits and losses from options must be add (or subtracted) to determine my final cash price. Make the right trades and the math will work outMy top priority is making the right trades for my farm operation. I don’t worry if I have a positive or negative trade in my hedge account. My hedge account doesn’t always show the full story because it doesn’t include the cash price I get from the end users. Instead, I keep detailed notes of all my trade independently to ensure profitability and minimize risk.This process may sound complicated or overwhelming to some, but it’s necessary and gets easier with practice. I also suggest running the math on every equation at least two or three times to make sure you have accounted for everything. You may also consider finding someone knowledgeable in grain marketing to help you navigate your position and check your math as well. Jon grew up raising corn and soybeans on a farm near Beatrice, NE. Upon graduation from The University of Nebraska in Lincoln, he became a grain merchandiser and has been trading corn, soybeans and other grains for the last 18 years, building relationships with end-users in the process. After successfully marketing his father’s grain and getting his MBA, 10 years ago he started helping farmer clients market their grain based upon his principals of farmer education, reducing risk, understanding storage potential and using basis strategy to maximize individual farm operation profits. A big believer in farmer education of futures trading, Jon writes a weekly commentary to farmers interested in learning more and growing their farm operations.Trading of futures, options, swaps and other derivatives is risky and is not suitable for all persons. All of these investment products are leveraged, and you can lose more than your initial deposit. Each investment product is offered only to and from jurisdictions where solicitation and sale are lawful, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations in such jurisdiction. The information provided here should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research before making your investment decisions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC is merely providing this information for your general information and the information does not take into account any particular individual’s investment objectives, financial situation, or needs. All investors should obtain advice based on their unique situation before making any investment decision. The contents of this communication and any attachments are for informational purposes only and under no circumstances should they be construed as an offer to buy or sell, or a solicitation to buy or sell any future, option, swap or other derivative. The sources for the information and any opinions in this communication are believed to be reliable, but Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy of such information or opinions. Superior Feed Ingredients, LLC and its principals and employees may take positions different from any positions described in this communication. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. He can be contacted at [email protected]last_img read more

Mobile Payment App Square Pushes Forward With $27.5 Million Funding

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Square had a bit of a rough 2010, but it looks like things are turning around for the mobile payment company. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the company just closed a new $27.5 million round of funding, quadrupling its valuation and setting it up for the year ahead.Over the past year, Square, which was founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has run into a series of snags, from credit card dongles that didn’t work with the iPhone 4 to a lawsuit over the origins of that self-same dongle. While we commented that the temporary fix to the iPhone 4 dongle (a piece of paper) didn’t inspire confidence in a realm where confidence is already hard to come by, Sequoia Capital appears to see things different – to the tune of $27.5 million. The funding raises Square’s previous valuation of $45 million to around $240 million. As part of the funding deal, writes Pui-Wing Tam for the Journal, “Sequoia Capital venture capitalist Roelof Botha, a former CFO of PayPal and one of the investors who backed online video site YouTube, will join Square’s board.”When we first wrote about Square six months ago, the common refrain was “Who would trust using their phone to make payments?” Now, there are a number of other companies getting into the mobile payments game, as our own Sarah Perez surveyed earlier today, and the funding is indicating a confidence on at least one important end of the spectrum. According to the WSJ, Square has also seen anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 companies sign up to use the service since it opened its doors last October. With companies signing up, funding coming in the door, we only have to wonder one thing – how long will it be before we actually run into this thing in real life? Have you, for one, paid for anything using something like Square? Tags:#NYT#web mike melanson A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Energy Modeling Isn’t Very Accurate

first_imgEnergy consultants and auditors use energy modeling software for a variety of purposes, including rating the performance of an existing house, calculating the effect of energy retrofit measures, estimating the energy use of a new home, and determining the size of new heating and cooling equipment. According to most experts, the time and expense spent on energy modeling is an excellent investment, because it leads to better decisions than those made by contractors who use rules of thumb.Yet Michael Blasnik, an energy consultant in Boston, has a surprisingly different take on energy modeling. According to Blasnik, most modeling programs aren’t very accurate, especially for older buildings. Unfortunately, existing models usually aren’t revised or improved, even when utility bills from existing houses reveal systematic errors in the models.Most energy models require too many inputs, many of which don’t improve the accuracy of the model, and energy modeling often takes up time that would be better spent on more worthwhile activities. Blasnik presented data to support these conclusions on March 8, 2012, at the NESEA-sponsored Building Energy 12 conference in Boston.Blasnik has worked as a consultant for utilities and energy-efficiency programs all over the country. “I bought one of the first blower doors on the market,” Blasnik said. “I’ve been trying to find out how to save energy in houses for about 30 years. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at energy bills, and comparing bills before and after retrofit work is done. I’ve looked at a lot of data. Retrofit programs are instructive, because they show how the models perform.”According to Blasnik, most energy models do a poor job of predicting actual energy use, especially for older houses. And since large datasets show that the differences between the models and actual energy use are… This article is only available to GBA Prime Members Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to this article as well as GBA’s complete library of premium articles and construction details.center_img Start Free Trial Already a member? Log inlast_img read more


first_imgSouthern Districts Touch Football Association in Western Australia has been 1 of 10 Round One recipients of the 2006 Sportscover Sponsorship Fund (SSF) grants.The SSF is awarding a total of 20 x $1,000 grants to amateur sporting clubs and associations’ nation-wide.Over 1200 applications have been received by Sportscover so far, and with a further 10 x $1,000 grants to be awarded between now and December 2006, there is scope for other associations to apply to receive much needed assistance for the development of grass root level sports.Sportscover has been providing the SSF grants to amateur sporting clubs since 2004.Southern Districts Touch Association Administrator, Karon Boston, was thrilled to receive confirmation of the SSF grant allocation.“The grant’s use will be two fold. Our line marker is extremely temperamental, so we will invest half the money into assisting with the purchase of a new line marker for our eight fields – that will make life for our volunteers that much easier. The rest of the funds will go towards a junior development program to assist in expanding our junior competition. We are running AusTouch for the first time in conjunction with the juniors and we are hoping to increase membership substantially.” Karon said.Other sporting groups to receive funding include: Narromine Little Athletics Centre, Canberra Griffins Boat Club, Mt. Gambier Cycling and Triathlon Club, and Clearview Bowling Club.For additional information about the SSF including previous recipients and updates, please go to or contact Sportscover on 03) 85620100.last_img read more

Chinmayanand case repetition of Unnao episode Priyanka

first_imgLucknow: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said the alleged harassment of a woman student by ex-Union minister and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand in Shahjahanpur appears to be a repetition of the Unnao case. In a tweet, she alleged that in Uttar Pradesh, if a woman registers a complaint against a BJP leader her security is not guaranteed. Gandhi was referring to the rape charge made by a 19-year-old woman from Unnao against MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who was expelled from the BJP recently. In Shahjahanpur, Chinmayanand was booked on Tuesday under IPC sections related to abduction in order to murder, and criminal intimidation. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s media advisor Mrityunjay Kumar was quick in his retort advising the Congress general secretary not to create confusion and the police have taken all the steps in this regard. The Shahjahanpur police on Tuesday lodged an FIR against Chinmayanand after the student went missing following her allegation in a video clip that he had been harassing her. Her father had filed a complaint with the police accusing Chinmayanand of sexually harassing her, a charge refuted by the BJP leader’s lawyer who claimed it was a “conspiracy” to blackmail him. The woman’s father alleged that she has gone missing at the behest of the 72-year-old BJP leader, who heads Mumukshu ashram. She is a post-graduate student in one of the colleges run by the ashram. “In Uttar Pradesh, this matter appears to be repetition of the Unnao case. If a woman complains against a BJP leader, then she is not guaranteed justice, even her own safety is not guaranteed,” Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi with hashtag ‘EnoughIsEnough’. The 19-year-old rape survivor from Unnao and her lawyer suffered critical injuries in a car-truck collision in Rae Bareli district in Uttar Pradesh on July 28. Her two aunts died in the incident. The girl’s family alleged that the accident was an attempt to eliminate her. In another tweet, Gandhi said, “Not a single day passes in Uttar Pradesh when the BJP government manages to assure women that you are safe and you will get justice if anything happens with you.” She also tagged new reports of the case involving Swami Chinmayanand in support of her tweets. “Last year, the BJP government had withdrawn a rape case against accused (Chinmayanand). It’s clear where the government is standing. UP girls are watching,” Gandhi said in the microblogging site. “The girl, who raised voice is missing or deliberately being taken away. What is happening with her nobody knows. Till when this will continue?” she posed in another tweet. Reacting on Priyanka Gandhi’s comments, Mrityunjay Kumar took to the same platform to say, “Dont create confusion Priyankaji. UP police has taken all steps.” “FIR has been registered and the family has been assured of their security. Read newspapers and know truth and stop playing politics by showing sympathy. People know all. Your veil has slipped and the real face is out,” he said.last_img read more

Greeks see little cause for joy as 8year bailout era ends

first_imgATHENS, Greece – There’ll be no dancing in the moonlit streets of Athens.For all the official pronouncements that Greece’s eight-year crisis will be over as its third and last bailout program ends Monday, few Greeks see cause for celebration.Undeniably, the economy is once again growing modestly, state finances are improving, exports are up and unemployment is down from a ghastly 28 per cent high.But one in five Greeks are still unemployed, with few receiving state benefits, and underpaid drudgery is the norm in new jobs. The average income has dropped by more than a third, and taxes have rocketed. Clinical depression is rife, suicides are up, and hundreds of thousands of skilled workers have flitted abroad.After the end of the bailout Monday, Greece will get no new loans and will not be asked for new reforms. But the government has agreed to a timetable of savings so strict as to plague a future generation and a half: For every year over the next four decades, governments must make more than they spend while ensuring that the economy — that shrank by a quarter since 2009 — also expands at a smart rate.“Personally, I can see no hope for me in the coming years,” says Paraskevi Kolliabi, 62, who lives on a widow’s pension and helps out in her son’s central Athens silver workshop. “Everything looks black to me.”Pensioners face pre-agreed new income cuts next year, while a further expansion of the tax base is due in 2020. But tax collection remains scrappy in a country where compliance was never strong, and the taxman’s increasingly extravagant demands, coupled with often slapdash policing, only strengthened the sense of injustice.“My pension has been cut about thirty per cent since the start of the crisis,” Kolliabi said. “I have never in my life gone through such (financial) hardship as during the past two years. There were entire days when not a single customer would enter” the shop in the Monastiraki district.Greece’s once cheerfully spendthrift middle class, whose rapid growth before the state finances imploded drove a consumption-fuelled economy, has been squeezed hard by intense taxation, mortgages from the bygone days of easy credit, and job losses.“What I see is that the rich are becoming richer and the poor poorer,” Kolliabi said. “We used to cater to the middle class, and the middle class is dead, they can’t make ends meet.”Following one of the latest rounds of cutbacks, her son, Panagiotis, now sees more than 60 per cent of his income gobbled up by taxes, pension and social security contributions. That kills any ambition for growing the business.“The prospects for after Aug. 20 are not good,” he said. “There’s no way I will be able to make an investment … to expand my business.”In the northern city of Thessaloniki, Christos Marmarinos, 55, had to close his clothes manufacturing unit after 25 years in business due to lack of customers. Instead, he plunged what funds he had into something altogether different, a cafeteria and grocery store.“We found this way out, and employ ten people,” he said. But Greece needs more than cafeterias if the economy is to pick up again and modernize, he says. “We need real investments in manufacturing.”Part of the sufferings of Greece’s private sector are due to disastrous government attempts in the panicky first months of the crisis to shield from cutbacks the bloated public sector, which has traditionally been the political fiefdom and key source of votes for any ruling party.But while considerably smaller and poorer than before the crisis, the public sector remains largely ineffective and disgruntled, providing ever shoddier services.The one area of the economy that’s undoubtedly flourishing is tourism, contributing some 20 per cent of GDP, with officials projecting a record-high 32 million arrivals this year. Greeks, however, are finding it increasingly expensive to go on holiday in their own country, while a boom in short-term rentals in residential districts of Athens has driven rents beyond the reach of many locals.Even the governing coalition, which swept to power in 2015 promising to instantly end austerity and cancel Greece’s debt — only to reverse course and sign a new tough bailout program — is low-key about the end of the bailout era.“We’re not planning any parties,” said Costas Zahariadis, an official in the dominant leftwing Syriza party. “We don’t believe we should start celebrating as if a large section of Greek society didn’t have serious financial problems. But of course we won’t be shedding tears over Greece leaving the bailout era.”Financial analyst Manos Chatzidakis, who is head of research at Beta Securities, says much has been done over the past eight years, although the tax and judiciary systems need further work. He said that if future governments stick to agreed reforms and fiscal policy then gradually returning confidence will allow Greece to sell its bonds at affordable rates — even if investors initially demand high returns — and attract investment.The ability to tap bond markets is vital, because after the bailout program, Greece will have to finance itself, albeit initially assisted by a substantial cash buffer.“I think it’s all a question of commitment to the bailout program, to the privatizations, to everything that has been agreed” with Greece’s creditors, he said. “I’m definitely more optimistic than in the past. Things had reached a point (in 2015) where they couldn’t get worse.”Hatzidakis stressed that many of the bailout reforms were “unprecedented” for Greece, which took a long time to understand and implement them.“So we should not be strict and expect everything to happen fast,” he said. “It took time to reach this point and a lot of effort, which I think is starting to bear fruit.”___Srdjan Nedeljkovic in Athens and Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this report.last_img read more

WestJet profit down by twothirds due to fuel costs intense competition

first_imgSoaring fuel costs, labour unrest and steep competition at home and abroad have made for a turbulent third quarter for WestJet Airlines Ltd., which saw profits plunge compared to the same period a year ago.“Obviously, this year has not turned out the way we expected or wanted it to,” said chief financial officer Harry Taylor. “But we’ve hit a bunch of marks this year and executed.“We are not where we want to be financially. We need to get back on that path,” Taylor said on a conference call with investors Tuesday morning following the release of quarterly earnings.The Calgary-based company reported a third-quarter profit of $45.9 million, down 66 per cent from earnings of $135.9 million in the same quarter last year.Fuel costs climbed to 85 cents per litre, a 37 per cent spike from a year ago that amounted to the largest operating expense.In May, WestJet pilots voted in favour of strike action before the Air Line Pilots Association and the company agreed to a settlement process two weeks later. The initial threat scared off potential passengers and prompted discounted fare offers that cost the carrier “tens of millions of dollars” throughout the second and third quarters, said chief executive Ed Sims.Intense competition is another concern. A freshly expanded Flair Airlines, soon-to-launch Canada Jetlines Ltd., Air Canada’s low-cost Rouge and transatlantic players such as Iceland’s Wow Air and Norwegian Air are all crowding the budget airspace that WestJet has flown into with its four-month-old, ultra-low-cost Swoop.“We saw a dramatic increase in fares and then an even more dramatic decrease in fares. We’ve seen another low-cost entrant come in and double the size of their network,” Sims said, referring to the privately owned Flair.“The domestic market we do see as saturated in a way that WestJet’s capability to bring inbound leisure traffic from markets like Europe is not saturated,” he added, saying that its Boeing 767 wide-bodies are a “very effective weapon against that Rouge product.”Earlier this month, WestJet launched sales of non-stop flights from Calgary to Dublin, Paris and London’s Gatwick Airport with the first three of an expected 10 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in a bid for business passengers that challenges Air Canada’s transatlantic dominance.WestJet announced Tuesday it will add a Toronto-Barcelona route as well as a Calgary-Atlanta route, with sales starting immediately.“Typically it’s been very difficult to get into the southeastern U.S. for us in the West,” noted spokesperson Lauren Stewart, highlighting market access carved out by a joint venture with the Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines announced in July.Karl Moore, an aviation expert at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, sees WestJet in “transition” from a low-cost domestic carrier to a full-service, intercontinental airline.“I think they’ll always try to be the feisty Canadian competitor…somewhat rooted in the West,” Moore said. “But it becomes less David and Goliath and more Goliath and a big player.“High oil price is absolutely a problem. High competition is absolutely true. I think there’s a bit of bumpiness right now, but I think they’re positioning themselves very well to the future,” he said.Third-quarter profit amounted to 40 cents per diluted share for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $1.15 per diluted share a year ago, the airline said.Revenue totalled $1.26 billion for the quarter, which included the busy summer travel period, up from $1.21 billion a year earlier.Analysts on average had expected a profit of 33 cents per share for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.WestJet’s capacity — measured by available seat miles — in the quarter was up 9.9 per cent from a year ago, while traffic — measured by revenue passenger miles — in the quarter increased 8.6 per cent.Its load factor decreased to 84.6 per cent compared with 85.7 per cent a year ago.A resolution with the WestJet pilots is expected in December, with binding arbitration submissions wrapping up this month.Companies in this story: (TSX:WJA, TSX:AC)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version referred to WestJet as a Montreal-based airlinelast_img read more