Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

Cloud Hosting Technique

Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

Cloud Hosting is The Architecture of Cloud Computing Techniques

provides the hosting services in the form of a single virtual machine and is implemented through the use of cloud computing and cloud architecture. It dynamically distributes data and processes across the small servers of the system for processing. The cloud hosting system is divided into many virtual machines. The services offered by a loud hosting service provider are located at its premises and these can be accessed by using client software.

The cloud hosting allows the users to get their applications up and running much faster and enables the quick readjustment of virtual resources to meet the dynamic demands like increased data rate, traffic size and storage requirements. The users can assess the cloud using different client devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Some of the user devices require real time cloud computing for running their applications, while others can interact with a cloud application via web browsers. Some cloud applications only support specific client software dedicated for these applications. Some legacy applications are also supported through screen sharing technology. The internet giants such as Google and Amazon are using this state of art hosting technology successfully for their servers.

Cloud hosting can be offered in three different modes i.e. infrastructure as a service(IaaS) , platform as a service(PaaS) and software as a service(SaaS). The basic mode IaaS , offers the services in the form of physical or virtual machines ( computers & other processing devices), raw/block storage , firewalls , load balancing mechanism and networks .The IaaS mode services provider supply these resources from a large deployed pool of resources in data centers andthis also include provisioning of local area networks and  IP addresses. The PaaS mode cloud hosting services provider offers a cloud computing platform  that include an operating system, programming execution environment, database and server. The PaaS application software can be developed and run on a cloud platform and does not involve cost and complexity of buying and managing the hardware and software layers. The (SaaS) mode cloud hosting services provider  install and operate application software in the cloud and cloud users access the software from cloud clients and the cloud platform in this case is not managed by the clients. Clouds hosting can be physically deployed in the form of public cloud, personal cloud, hybrid cloud and community cloud.

Cloud hosting has greatly reduced the website operational cost. In older versions of servers, the clients used to pay for a specific bandwidth irrespective of the traffic on that server. The cloud hosting has tackled this problem through the skillful use of variable costing method, where the cost will increase with the traffic and as the load/traffic reduces the cost will be automatically decreases.

The cloud hosting has a great advantage in terms of its security, as it operates in isolated environment and only the host has the access to it. One of the biggest advantages of cloud hosting is that the cloud platform manageability, maintenance and upgrades can be easily and remotely accomplished, as it does not require any physical/hardware maintenance repair and replacement.

Talking About Your Failures Will Make Coworkers Like You More, According to Harvard Research

How do feel when you look at someone else’s perfectly curated Instagram feed? Does it make you seethe with jealousy?

Those feelings are not limited to social media. They can be just as pronounced in the workplace. When you’re in a meeting, you probably don’t enjoy listening to a colleague’s recounting their tales of unfettered professional success.

And yet, if you want to take on more responsibility, you have to convince your bosses that you can get the job done. Is there a way to do it without making your coworkers want to bring you down a peg?

Alison Wood Brooks, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, recently published a working paper that studied 1,546 people and formalized two kinds of envy: malicious and benign. Malicious envy projects an image of perfection that makes others want to tear you down. Benign envy provides new insights into success and failure and makes others want to pull themselves up.

Here are four ways to avoid malicious envy and begin cultivating benign envy.

1. Don’t brag in public.

There are times in the workplace when you have to list your accomplishments. That time comes before your employer decides whether to you give you more money and responsibility or urge you to seek employment elsewhere. If you list your accomplishments in public conversations in front of coworkers, you are sure to elicit malicious envy.

Keep such conversations between you and your manager. And when you have those private conversations, be open to questions about challenges you encountered and how you overcame them — managers can hurt you if you make them feel malicious envy.

2. Highlight your struggles. 

The Harvard working paper begins with an excellent anecdote: the story of a Johannes Haushofer, a Princeton professor who wanted to help a colleague who had not achieved a career goal. Haushofer posted a “CV of failures” on his professional website, which ended up receiving more attention that his entire body of work.

There are two takeaways from this story: for every success, there are far more failed attempts; and by admitting your failures, you bring yourself closer to other people, making you a better colleague.

In a few weeks I will start teaching again at Babson College. At the beginning of my first class, I introduce myself to students — starting off with an anecdote about how I failed in my career aspirations to be a poet, a concert pianist, an architect, and a CEO. I do this so they’ll know there’s nothing wrong with struggling to find the right career and they should not be afraid to ask me for advice if they feel the need.

3. Emphasize what you learned from failure and success.

Benign envy comes from talking openly about your failures and successes. Others appreciate learning about why you failed, and it makes them more willing to listen to a success story.

Max Levchin, one of the founders of what became PayPal, loved to write operating systems. He built one for the Palm Pilot, but that company cratered. Then he built an operating system for a digital wallet, which mostly failed — except for the part that let people pay electronically for eBay-bought goods. After six months of customer demands to develop that, Levchin gave in, and the rest is history.

In Levchin’s case, the takeaway is to do work that you love to do and do well — but to turn that into a successful business, you must also give customers what they want. If you’ve failed, tell others what you learned from it. And if you’ve succeeded, let them know why.

4. Be honest about the role of luck.

Luck plays a huge role in success, and most people are very reluctant to admit it. If it weren’t for luck, you would expect John Paulson, the hedge fund manager who made $4 billion betting against subprime mortgages in 2007, to keep making billions every year. In fact, by January 2018, one of his funds had lost 70 percent of its value in the previous four years and investors were asking for their money back, according to Bloomberg.

I like to point out that the best investment I ever made was based on pure luck. I put money into a startup that was acquired by a public company. That company was in turn acquired by another public company for stock — much of which I held onto. In the last several years the shares are up ninefold. I could not have planned that lucky outcome.

You’re in danger of making bad decisions if you think that your prior success makes you smarter than everyone else. To boost your odds of future success, you need to be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything and get the answers.

High Yield Retirement Income Strategy: Quality Over Quantity

Many Seeking Alpha investors are on the hunt for quality retirement income opportunities to build wealth and provide income so they can live comfortably in retirement. There’s a ton of names out there to choose from, but it can be challenging to figure out which ones will go the distance, and which ones might end in disappointment. Is the company stable? Is the dividend sustainable? Is management in good shape? Is the yield where I want it to be? These are all questions income-hungry investors might ask themselves before pulling the trigger and hoping the hard-earned money they’re investing will, eventually, net them more money down the road, especially if they’re looking to create a steady stream of income to last them throughout their retirement.

Seeking Alpha’s retirement income stalwart David Alton Clark has discovered quite a few quality high yielding retirement income opportunities during his near decade-long tenure on the site. Dave’s been dishing out dividend & income ideas since 2010 – so long he’s practically a household name within our dividend & income community – and he’s quite the retirement income aficionado. In March, he took the next logical step and launched a service on the Marketplace, called Discovered Dividends. He recently changed his approach on the service somewhat, so we wanted to check in with him to get the skinny on what he’s up to now.

Seeking Alpha: So Dave, I noticed you’ve refined your investment focus and added the word “Quality” to the High Yield Retirement Income Portfolio. Can you define what exactly you mean by “Quality?”

David Alton Clark: One of my primary investment mantras has always been “Quality over Quantity.” I look to invest in only in the “cream of the crop” high yield retirement income opportunities.

SA: Not everyone looks at high yield as quality, necessarily. Some people equate high yield with higher risk. How are you and Discovered Dividends members vetting high yield opportunities to mitigate risk?

DAC: When I refer to high yield retirement income as “quality,” it implies the retirement income opportunity meets all of the Discovered Dividends “Quality Criteria Benchmarks.” These are the factors that mitigate portfolio risk. The following are the Discovered Dividends “Quality” high yield income benchmarks:

Long-term growth story intact

Investing for me is a process of elimination for the most part. I start from the top. If I believe the long-term growth story for an investment is no longer intact, I will not invest in the security no matter how great the yield may be. You are basically playing Russian Roulette with your money at that point. I am now 55 years old and need to sleep well at night. You won’t find any 2x Leveraged ETNs like (LBDC) or REITs like (CBL) without much hope for future growth in the portfolio.

Dependable and predictable cash flow

We are laser-focused on discovering predictable and growing cash flows streams with adequate coverage. I like to see long-term contracts and and solid history of profitability and returning capital to shareholders in the form of dividends or distributions.

Adequate coverage

Sometimes a company’s business takes a hit and they cannot afford to pay the dividend any longer. This is a disaster for retirement income investors because you lose both the income and the principle. We dig deeper into the financial and look for potential stress points. Is the company financing distributions? Is the company’s debt profile within industry standards? etc.

Diversified income flows

Through relentless research and due diligence, we identify high yield quality income securities trading for attractive valuations from a diverse group of sectors. The benefits of diversification are three-fold. We maximize total return potential while simultaneously reducing risk and increasing our margin of safety.

Valuation Upside

Our innate instincts encourage us to depart a sinking ship. This survival tactic impacts the way we invest. As a contrarian, I believe certain crowd behavior among investors often leads to exploitable mispricings in securities. The hard part is figuring out if the crowd is actually right or not.

Nevertheless, you have to buy low to sell high. The question is… Is it a value trade or trap? In other words, is the steep discount unjustified or is it down for good reason? Myself and the members have done our best to separate the wheat from the chaff. We’re doing pretty well for ourselves – the results have been solid, as you can see. As of 8/17/2018, the Discovered Dividends portfolio contains 11 securities. The current yield is 8.61% with 11.44% capital appreciation since inception for a projected 36% Total Return (2018 Annualized).

SA: Okay, but what the heck happened with AT&T (T), and why have you chosen to invest in CenturyLink (CTL) instead? You just talked about this on your Financial Exchange radio interview. That was an abrupt switch for you, wasn’t it? You loved AT&T! Did something happen with the trial?

DAC: Working with so many great investors on my service has clarified my investment vision. I realized AT&T was not meeting that. The primary reason I sold out of AT&T was the opportunity cost of holding the investment. Let me explain.

AT&T was a favorite pick of mine for years. It’s a hometown stock for me and I’ve consulted for AT&T in the past. Yet Discovered Dividends members brought to my attention that the AT&T position was the biggest drag on the portfolio. I finally took off my rose-colored glasses and faced the following facts:

  • I realized I was in love with the stock, which was causing me to over look material issues.
  • I was wrong about the DOJ appeal; I felt I did not have a grasp of the issue.
  • The appeal process will be a cloud over the stock for an undetermined amount of time.
  • It’s not 100% that they’ll win the appeal if it goes forward.
  • AT&T has a decent yield, yet its long-term growth story is in question, and the DOJ seems intent on stopping them.

So there you have it. I think AT&T will continue to pay the dividend, yet there is little opportunity for capital appreciation and the U.S. government seems to have it out for them. If I was asked if I would recommend buying AT&T right now, I would say no. So logically, I should have sold the investment. It worked out well because I had much more courage in my convictions regarding CenturyLink (CTL). I had CenturyLink selected as my best of breed for the telecom sector with a 12% yield and major upside potential.

When I sold out of AT&T, it left a big hole in the portfolio’s capital allocation for the telecom sector. I had heavily weighed AT&T in the portfolio. I had my eye on CenturyLink with a small position in my personal portfolio. I felt as though the stock was severely undervalued.

Source: Finviz

The fact of the matter is most were underestimating how powerful the Level 3 acquisition would be for the combined companies’ fundamentals. When the company recently reported earnings, they knocked the ball out of the park. Level 3 is basically a cash cow at this point. Locking in a 12% yield with a 1.65 coverage ratio from solid predictable sources was a no-brainer.

SA: As a follow up, are there any other names you’ve been bullish on that your sentiment is turning on; or vice versa, anything you loved that you’re now not so fond of?

DAC: I took profits on my Bank of America (BAC), BOX (BOX), and Teva (TEVA) positions. Working with the incredible group of investors on the service helped to focus me in on what was important to them… Quality High Yield Retirement Income. And these stocks did not fit the bill. Bank of America was a dividend growth pick, BOX was a speculative growth play, and Teva was a deep value play. We decided to clean up the portfolio at the end of the first quarter and focus in on quality retirement income only. The prescient insights from members are the lifeblood of the service.

SA: Switching gears, do you think the Fed will follow through with all of the projected hikes that it promised? How does that impact how you’re looking at your investment strategy?

David Alton Clark: This is a timely question with Jackson Hole coming up next week. There is chatter on the street that we could be in for some volatility with the potential of the Fed discussing changing its policy on its balance sheet. The meeting is an academic event, yet the Fed does often float ideas. I think the Fed is will most likely come up a little short. Chairman Powell won’t want to be responsible for inverting the yield curve.

The portfolio is well positioned either way by being highly diversified. By diversifying into many sectors and structures, we increase the likelihood of capital preservation. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Capital preservation first, creation second.

SA: Is there a particular quality high yield investing idea you’re especially excited about right now, and what’s the story?

DAC: Discovered Dividends members usually get my freshest ideas, but I’ll share one that’s on my radar. I feel some of the beaten down retail sector plays are due for a comeback. I like Kimco (KIM). Kimco had a strong second quarter performance and made great progress on the execution of the transformation strategy. KIM has executed well on the number one priority of re-positioning the portfolio for the long-term growth and value creation. They met expectations last quarter and raised guidance. That is what i like to see.

2018 Full Year Guidance Raised

Technically Strong

The REIT looks technically solid.

50% upside over the next 12 months.

Appears undervalued

KIM appears undervalued on a P/FFO basis according to F.A.S.T. Graphs™

Source: FAST Graphs

I posit KIM is sitting right in the sweet spot for new investors at this time. Many are holding back because of the Toys-R-us bankruptcy. Yet KIM’s management team has been extremely proactive in dealing with tenant bankruptcies. KIM has 22 Toys R Us locations, making up only 90 bps of ABR. KIM quickly dealt with the bankruptcy news and has already signed leases and LOIs from other retailers ready to fill the space. With the re-positioning of the portfolio on track, yet the stock still stuck in the mud, I feel we have a buying opportunity on our hands. The next quarter will be crucial. If KIM does not live up to expectations, though, it could go down.

***

Thanks to David Alton Clark for joining us on the Roundtable! You can read more of his public work here, and check out Discovered Dividends for a portfolio consisting of high yield retirement income names, new ideas, and access to a community of 150+ income-minded investors. Currently, Dave is offering a Legacy pricing opportunity where the next 200 members can sign up at $49/month or $399/year.

Be sure to follow the SA Marketplace account for the latest and greatest Roundtable interviews, updates and news. We’re cooking with gas, and expect to have some solid authors join the platform real soon.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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

Additional disclosure: David Alton Clark is long CTL and KIM.

Robyn Conti is long T.

Still Not Much Momentum At Accuray

Small-cap oncology system manufacturer Accuray (ARAY) reported a decent fiscal fourth quarter, but it’s hard to see much momentum in the business or any real sign that this company is becoming a more disruptive force within the radiation oncology market. Although I continue to give management high marks for improving the underlying efficiency of the business and cleaning up the balance sheet, I just don’t see signs that Accuray is really gaining on Varian (VAR) (or even Elekta (OTCPK:EKTAY)) in any meaningful way, and I don’t see anything on the horizon that would drive a sudden shift in sentiment among customers.

Valuation remains undemanding, and I still believe the acquisition of Accuray by a Chinese or Japanese company is conceivable, but med-tech stocks most often trade on the basis of revenue growth and it looks like Accuray has a long row to hoe to generate enough revenue growth to get investors excited about the shares.

Like Many Quarters, Some Good And Some Bad In Fiscal Q4

Accuray reported stronger than expected revenue in the fourth quarter, with 2% growth driving a 5% beat. Outperformance was driven entirely by the service business (up 15% and about 13% above expectations), with product revenue down 10% and in line with expectations.

Although a higher than expected mix of service revenue did compress gross margin somewhat (and service margin declined 160bp year over year), product margin improved nicely (up over 600bp on an adjusted basis), helped by a richer mix of CyberKnife systems. Adjusted EBITDA declined 25% in the quarter, while operating income rose 10% and the company posted a minor miss at the operating line, but a small beat at the EPS line.

Orders were once again a source of disappointment. Gross orders rose 12%, missing expectations by around 10% despite what management characterized as “strong performance” in CyberKnife and a 26% improvement in orders from Asia. Net order performance was far worse, up 2% and almost 25% short of expectations as the company saw a significant increase in order cancellations – something that had been running at a fairly slow and steady pace.

Characterizing the orders, Accuray management said that 20% were replacement orders, 20% were competitive take-aways in established vaults and 60% were in new vaults. Although the company appears to be winning more business than it loses upon replacements, the pace of replacement orders has still been weaker than expected a couple of years ago.

Looking Back, This Wasn’t An Especially Great Year

I believe this is a reasonable time to look back at the guidance management gave a year ago for this fiscal year and see how things stack up.

On the revenue line, management exceeded initial expectations by a couple of percentage points relative to the midpoint of guidance and managed to exceed the high end of the initial guidance range. This came about from better-than-expected service revenue performance, though, as product revenue growth of 2% came in below the 5% to 10% growth guidance, with weaker sales to China tagged as the primary culprit.

Management met the gross margin target, but missed the adjusted EBITDA guidance range of $25 million to $30 million by a wide margin ($17 million reported), with the company electing during the year to spend more on developing the business (particularly R&D).

Gross order growth of 2% also missed guidance of 5%.

Looking Ahead

Management provided guidance of 4% to 8% product revenue growth for this next fiscal year, and overall revenue growth of about 4% at the midpoint – a level of growth that frankly doesn’t compare all that favorably to Varian or Elekta for a company that is supposed to be a share-gainer. Management is also no longer giving order guidance. While management claims this is due in part to its decision to focus more resources and attention on driving multi-system orders, which will be more volatile, I don’t view less guidance as a net positive, particularly from a company that has struggled to hit its own targets. I’d also note that the EBITDA guidance provided for the year ahead is lower than where expectations were going into the quarter.

Where’s The Spark?

I’m finding it harder to sustain the argument that Accuray has enough upside to be worth further patience, as the company just isn’t making the expected progress. While regulatory issues have held back sales in China and management claims to be “continuing to make progress” on finding a Chinese JV partner, the execution on the opportunity in China just hasn’t been there.

Likewise with the overall execution on Accuray’s opportunities in the market. Accuray has been unable to convince clinicians that CyberKnife or the Tomo platform offer meaningful treatment/outcome advantages over rival systems (particularly Varian). What’s more, while Accuray’s partnership with RaySearch (OTCPK:RSLBF) has helped it improve an area that was significantly deficient compared to Varian and Elekta (treatment planning software), the company has struggled to make a compelling “here’s why you should go with us” case that resonates with hospital purchasing managers.

And now there’s the added news that the company’s CFO of roughly three years is leaving to join a private med-tech. There was no couching this decision in terms of wanting to relocate to a particular geographic area or wanting to get back to a particular industry segment (the med-tech in question is a urology company), and I think investors should ask why the CFO would want to leave if great things were just around the corner.

To be sure, I’m not saying that Accuray is hopeless or that it cannot/will not continue to show improving margins and some level of ongoing product growth. Radixact has seen decent commercial interest and I still believe the Onrad system has potential in markets like China and Japan. Along those lines, I could also see Accuray having some possible acquisition appeal to a Chinese or Japanese acquirer, and I think Accuray’s small size and insignificant market share would help the deal approval process.

The Opportunity

After incorporating fourth quarter performance and guidance, I’m still looking for long-term revenue growth in the neighborhood of 3%. Although Elekta continues to struggle in the market, Varian seems to be benefitting the most from that. I do expect Accuray to be cash flow positive and generate better FCF margins in the coming years as the company slowly builds operating leverage on a growing revenue base. The biggest upside to those numbers, aside from some sort of unexpected shift among key opinion leaders that CyberKnife is must-have/must-use technology, would be more clarity in China and stronger sales execution in what should be a sizable long-term market opportunity for the company.

The Bottom Line

Accuray is not at all expensive, and I believe fair value remains between $4.50 and $5.50. Although announcing multiple multi-system wins could get some excitement back in the shares, as could the announcement of a meaningful partnership in China, the valuation argument is hampered by the reality that med-tech, and particularly small-cap med-tech, stock performance is typically driven by revenue growth and Accuray just isn’t likely to produce a lot of that. Consequently, investors need to at least appreciate the risk of this becoming/remaining a value trap and understand that it’s going to take time for the story to work.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ARAY.

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

The Healthiest Healthcare REITs

The U.S. Census Bureau categorizes Baby Boomers as individuals born between 1946 and 1964, and the effects of having to care for such a large group will be felt in many areas.

By 2029, when the last round of Boomers reaches retirement age, the number of Americans 65 or older will climb to more than 71 million, up from about 41 million in 2011, a 73 percent increase, according to Census Bureau estimates.

As Ventas CEO Debra Cafaro points out, “we know that the silver wave of the over 75 population will experience a net gain of 70 million individuals between 2020 and 2035, boarding well for our business and giving us confidence in the future while we manage through current operating condition.”

According to CBRE’s 2018 U.S. Real Estate Market Outlook, the aging U.S. population will be a significant tailwind for medical office demand in the years ahead.

We expect demand for medical office buildings to grow, fueled by a shift away from the delivery of patient services on hospital campuses, the adoption of new technology, the aging population, healthcare job growth, tight market conditions and the relative recession-resistance of these properties,” said Andrea Cross, Americas head of office research, CBRE.

The medical office market has performed well in recent years, registering a lower peak vacancy rate than traditional office properties during the 2008 recession and showing a steady decline in vacancy during the recovery. Net absorption has outpaced new supply in 24 of the past 29 quarters, with particularly large imbalances since 2015.

Gross asking rents have been stable, reflecting consistent user demand and long lease terms that limit tenant turnover. New medical space completions have also been low relative to pre-recession levels, and the amount of space under construction has decreased slightly from the Q2 2016 peak. Chris Bodnar, vice chairman, Healthcare, CBRE Capital Markets, explains:

“Investment trends reflect strong medical-office market fundamentals and a broadening pool of interested investors. While uncertainty about healthcare policy poses a risk to the medical office market, favorable demographic trends point to continued strong healthcare demand, regardless of any policy changes.”

The core business of healthcare is inherently driven by demand for patient care, providing a stable foundation to support investment in the sector. The need for more facilities and services to manage the chronic illnesses of this aging population will be a major driver for growth.

Despite the controversy around these and future changes to reimbursement, healthcare is a required service that will continue to need real estate assets, and REITs provide an excellent vehicle for healthcare providers to become more efficient by partnering with “healthy” capitalized companies.

(Photo Source)

The Healthiest Healthcare REITs

So, shoulders back, chin up, deep breath… here’s a handful of hearty and healthy healthcare REITs:

HEALTHY HEALTHCARE REIT #1: Ventas Inc. (NYSE:VTR)

The Big WHY: Champion, diversified healthcare REIT with deliberately constructed portfolio of more than 1,200 assets

Feathers in its Cap: Focused on high-quality real estate well located in attractive markets (with high barriers to entry). Partners with top operators in each asset class – sector leaders, well-positioned for growth. Properties in U.S., Canada, United Kingdom. Portfolio: Senior Housing 62%, Medical Office 20%, Life Science 7%, Health Systems 5%, IRFs/LTACs 2%, Skilled Nursing 1%.

Downsides: Though skilled nursing triple net is 1% of NOI, VTR experienced continued decline in Genesis’s (NYSE:GEN) performance given ongoing industry SNF headwinds.

Performance YTD: 1.2%.

Alpha Insider Management Update: The company’s investments across the healthcare real estate spectrum provide sustainable, growing cash flow during strong economic cycles and resilience during downturns.

Bottom Line: VTR has the absolutely best credit profile and balance sheet. Its net debt-to-EBITDA ratio now stands at an excellent 5.3x and debt-to-assets is also robust at 36%. Substantial dry powder ($3.1 billion on credit facility) for any M&A. Successful history of dividend performance, and growth profile, current yield 5.38%. Payout ratio 78% on FFO. STRONG BUY (as in “buy, and hold onto this one!”)

HEALTHY HEALTHCARE REIT #2: LTC Properties, Inc. (NYSE:LTC)

The Big WHY: Triple net leases primarily in senior housing and healthcare properties via joint ventures, sale-leaseback transactions, mortgage financing, preferred equity, mezzanine lending.

Feathers in its Cap: In business over 25 years. Enterprise value as of June 30 over $2.1 billion. Holds 199 investments in nearly balanced capital allocation: assisted living communities (102, includes independent living & memory care communities), skilled nursing centers (96), and behavioral healthcare hospital. Located in 28 states. Funds From Operations (FFO): $29.6 million for Q2-18, compared with $31.4 million Q2-17 (per diluted common share $0.75 and $0.79).

Downsides: Decreases in Q2-18 results mostly due to defaulted master lease on cash basis in third quarter 2017 and reduction in rental income related to properties sold the past year.

Performance YTD: 6.2%.

Alpha Insider Management Update: Sold portfolio of six assisted living and memory care communities at a net gain of $48.3 million. Completed acquisition of two memory care communities in Texas for $25.2 million with 10-year master lease and 7.25% initial cash yield. Entered into partnership for properties in Medford, OR, and opened new facility in Illinois. New unsecured credit agreement has the opportunity to increase to $1.0 billion.

Bottom Line: Rated as a STRONG BUY. Dividend payout ratio of 76%, yielding 5.09%.

HEALTHY HEALTHCARE REIT #3: Healthcare Trust of America, Inc. (NYSE:HTA)

The Big WHY: Largest dedicated owner and operator of 450 medical office buildings (MOBs) in the U.S. (33 states), across more than 24 million square feet. Over $7 billion invested.

Feathers in its Cap: Provides real estate infrastructure for integrated delivery of healthcare services in highly desirable locations, targeted to build critical mass in 20-25 leading gateway markets generally with leading university and medical institutions, to support a strong, long-term demand for quality medical office space. Q2-18 FFO increased 55.8% to $84.4 million (Q2-17 comparison), or per diluted share +33.3%, to $0.40. During Q2-18, new and renewed leases on approximately 1.0 million square feet (4.2% of portfolio). Tenant retention rate of 86%. Occupancy rate of 90.9%. The company just increased its dividend by 1.6% (payable October 5).

Downsides: MOB is out of favor with institutions, yet sector rotation can provide attractive opportunities for intelligent REIT investors.

Performance YTD: -1.0%.

Alpha Insider Management Update: (“BBB” balance sheet) Announced new development in key gateway market (Miami), and commenced two redevelopments, including on-campus MOB in Raleigh, NC. Sell agreements: Greenville, South Carolina MOB portfolio, $294.3 million. Total leverage 31.8% (debt less cash and cash equivalents to total capitalization). Total liquidity end of quarter $1.0 billion. During Q2, paid down $96.0 million on $286.0 million promissory note in Duke acquisition.

Bottom Line: Founded in 2006 and NYSE-listed in 2012, HTA’s returns have outperformed those of the S&P 500 and US REIT indices. 75% payout ratio, dividend 4.28%. STRONG BUY.

HEALTHY HEALTHCARE REIT #4: Welltower Inc. (NYSE:WELL)

The Big WHY: The operating environment for seniors housing remains challenging, but the benefit of owning a premier major urban market-focused portfolio is attractive. WELL’s operating portfolio continues to show the resiliency expected from the premier operators in top markets and submarkets.

Feathers in its Cap: The REIT’s Q2-18 closing balance sheet position was strong with $215 million of cash and equivalents and $2.5 billion of capacity under the primary unsecured credit facility. The leverage metrics were at robust levels, with net debt-to-adjusted EBITDA of 5.4x and net debt-to-undepreciated book capitalization ratio of 35.6%, while the adjusted fixed charge cover ratio remained strong at 3.5x. WELL increased the normalized FFO range to $3.99-4.06 per share from $3.95-4.05 per share prior.

Downsides: QCP, and partnering with ProMedica is a pretty unique transaction that provides integration and complexity risk.

Performance YTD: 5.9%.

Alpha Insider Management Update: Strong balance sheet with investment grade credit ratings from Moody’s (Baa1), Standard & Poor’s (BBB+), and Fitch (BBB+).

Bottom Line: 5.33% dividend yield, and we are updating from a HOLD to a BUY.

HEALTHY HEALTHCARE REIT #5: Physicians Realty Trust (NYSE:DOC)

The Big WHY: The most important factor in accessing the quality of a medical office building is the health system affiliation, credit quality to tenant, age of the building, occupancy, market share as a tenant, average remaining lease term, size of the building, and the client services and mix of services in the facility. Around 88% of DOC’s growth space is on campus and/or affiliated with a healthcare system.

Feathers in its Cap: DOC’s disciplined approach to investments continues to improve portfolio metrics, narrowing the gap with competitors at an aggressive pace. For example, the company has just 4.4% of leases expiring through 2022 (the peer average is 11.8%).

Downsides: Same as HTA – institutional investors have rotated out of the MOB sector. Also, DOC has yet to increase its dividend.

Performance YTD: -1.4%.

Alpha Insider Management Update: The REIT’s balance sheet metrics remain strong, with debt-to-firm value of 34% and net debt-to-EBITDA of 5.5x. DOC is extremely well-positioned in the rising rate environment. 99% of debt is at a fixed interest rate or is completely hedged, with no significant maturities until 2023.

Bottom Line: DOC’s dividend yields 5.36%, and it’s a STRONG BUY.

(Source: F.A.S.T. Graphs)

Note: We will be providing a detailed SWAN (sleep well at night) research report in the upcoming (September) edition of the Forbes Real Estate Investor.

Note: Brad Thomas is a Wall Street writer, and that means he is not always right with his predictions or recommendations. That also applies to his grammar. Please excuse any typos, and be assured that he will do his best to correct any errors, if they are overlooked.

Finally, this article is free, and the sole purpose for writing it is to assist with research, while also providing a forum for second-level thinking. If you have not followed him, please take five seconds and click his name above (top of the page).

Disclosure: I am/we are long ACC, AVB, BHR, BPY, BRX, BXMT, CCI, CHCT, CIO, CLDT, CONE, CORR, CTRE, CXP, CUBE, DEA, DLR, DOC, EPR, EQIX, ESS, EXR, FRT, GEO, GMRE, GPT, HASI, HT, HTA, INN, IRET, IRM, JCAP, KIM, KREF, KRG, LADR, LAND, LMRK, LTC, MNR, NNN, NXRT, O, OFC, OHI, OUT, PEB, PEI, PK, PSB, PTTTS, QTS, REG, RHP, ROIC, SBRA, SKT, SPG, SRC, STAG, STOR, TCO, TRTX, UBA, UMH, UNIT, VER, VICI, VNO, VNQ, VTR, WPC.

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

Want to Live Longer? Scientists Say They've Made 'Exciting' Progress in the Quest to 'Reverse Aging'

A team of scientists at a British university say their latest experiments have revealed “exciting” progress on the road to literally “reverse aging.”

I don’t want to oversell this. The scientists concede that a real life “anti-aging pill” is still far in the future. But, they say they’ve made noteworthy progress, by developing the ability to “revers[e] the aging of human cells,” which in turn, “could provide the basis for future anti-degeneration drugs.”

This kind of research is exactly what Silicon Valley billionaires, including Peter Thiel, Larry Ellison, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have been chasing with dollars–racing to stop the clock, and live longer, before they themselves grow too old to benefit. But now these British researchers might have beaten everyone else to the punch.

Here’s the science, the experiment, and the suddenly relevant questions about what life on earth would look like if at least some of us could live much longer–maybe even indefinitely.

Turning genes on and off

First, the experiment, and what it means. One theory about how aging works is that over time, we develop a growing number cells that don’t function as they are supposed to, and that also inhibit the correction functioning of other cells around them.

Harries and Whiteman suggest that the reason we generate these “senescent cells” is because our bodies lose the “ability to turn genes on and off at the right time and in the right place,” which thus create cells with incorrect characteristics.

That’s a very esoteric description, so Harries and Whiteman include a really basic analogy: a recipe for chocolate cake. 

Imagine you’re baking a cake, and that your decision whether to include chocolate is the equivalent of “turning on” a gene during cell creation. Add the chocolate, and you wind up with chocolate cake; if you don’t add it, you wind up with some other flavor.

And if you somehow were to lose the ability to decide whether to include chocolate or not, you’d wind up with some random flavored cakes. 

The key: hydrogen sulphide

Okay, so why would our bodies lose the ability to turn genes on and off? Harries and Whiteman suggest that it’s a matter of your body no longer being able to create a series of about 300 proteins called “splicing factors,” which impact that “on/off” decision. 

So, the theory goes, if you could restore the ability to create splicing factors, you could potentially correct the “on/off” gene decisions, which would then reduce the number of senescent cells, and thus counteract the aging process.

That’s exactly what Harries and Whiteman say their experiment did–by “treating old cells with a chemical that releases small amounts of hydrogen sulphide.”

Lo and behold, it worked: “We were able to increase levels of some splicing factors, and to rejuvenate old human cells.”

Granted, this is very tricky and in the early stages. Hydrogen sulphide is a naturally occurring substance in the body, but large amounts can be toxic. So the researchers focused on ways to deliver it in very small doses directly where they think it would do the most good.

“We are hopeful that in using molecular tools such as this,” they write, “we will be able to eventually remove senescent cells in living people, which may allow us to target multiple age-related diseases at once. This is some way in the future yet, but it’s an exciting start.”

But will Sergey Brin live forever?

Again, this all amounts to “exciting” progress, but it’s really Step One. There’s a real question whether any of this science, with experiment building upon experiment, will achieve results in time for anyone currently reading this article to benefit from it.

At Google, the head of the company’s anti-aging research writes that he thinks we “probably won’t solve death in time to make Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin immortal.”

But if we could ever pull this off, can you imagine the way it would change our society? I’m reminded of two quotes:

  • “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” –Steve Jobs
  • “Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”–Susan Ertz?

And that goes to why the people pushing for answers here hardest are individual, highly successful entrepreneurs with money to burn and a fear of death. Perhaps that’s the story for all of us, billionaires and mere mortals alike. We’re quite possibly the last generations to live, who believe it’s inevitable that we will one day die.

Exclusive: Amazon considering UK insurance comparison site – sources

LONDON (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) is sounding out some of Europe’s top insurance firms to see if they would contribute products to a UK price comparison website in what would be a major foray by the U.S. online retail giant into the region’s financial services.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo

Three industry executives told Reuters they had held talks with Amazon about the possible launch of a site. One said the talks were part of several discussions Amazon is having with insurers. A second said there were no imminent launch plans.

While it was not immediately clear what type of insurance would be sold on any Amazon site, home and motor policies are popular sellers on existing UK price comparison sites.

“As Amazon becomes a larger part of the home, whether it’s products delivered to the home, security monitoring, home services like Wi-Fi installation, you can make the case that insurance is the next logical step for this company,” said Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy.

The industry sources declined to be named as the talks are confidential. Amazon declined to comment.

An Amazon price comparison website for insurance products would be a potential challenge to existing UK sites given the U.S. company’s cutting-edge technology, reach and loyal customer base.

Two of the most high profile are comparethemarket.com which shows products from insurers including AXA (AXAF.PA), Hastings (HSTG.L) and eSure (ESUR.L); and GoCompare (GOCO.L), which lists insurance from firms such as Santander (SAN.MC) and LV= [LV.UL].

A UK insurance site would also build on Amazon’s existing products in Europe offering extensions to manufacturers’ warranties, a service known as Amazon Protect.

While Amazon’s loyal customer base and reach would probably prove attractive to some insurers happy to cede some of their premiums to Amazon to expand sales, the potential for premiums to be forced lower through competition could deter others.

One of the industry sources said the comparison site model fitted Amazon’s strategy of offering a range of products, as opposed to partnering with one firm.

A price comparison website in particular could also be used to help drive traffic to its other marketplaces, Hottovy said.

It was not immediately clear what financial arrangements Amazon would strike with insurers if it were to go ahead.

Tech-rival Google launched a financial services comparison site in the United Kingdom and the United States in 2016 but shut it down after only a year due to low traffic.

REGULATORY BURDEN

In the United States, Amazon has a joint venture with insurer Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) and JP Morgan (JPM.N) aimed at slashing U.S. healthcare costs. It also offers a small business loan program.

In Europe, Amazon has had a partnership with The Warranty Group since 2016 to offer the warranty extensions. It also offers co-branded credit cards in the United Kingdom and Germany although it does not lend money of its own.

In a sign of potential expansion plans, Amazon began to place job ads last year for staff for a new insurance business in Europe, without giving details.

While Chinese tech giants Alibaba (BABA.N) and Tencent (0700.HK) have large finance arms, leading Western tech firms have taken a more cautious approach to heavily regulated financial services, which often have hefty capital requirements.

A comparison site, however, would let Amazon give its customers access to insurance from a variety of providers while avoiding that level of regulatory burden, industry sources said.

The use of comparison websites to buy motor and home insurance is more prevalent in the United Kingdom than Europe or the United States.

Some insurers rely heavily on comparison websites for sales. UK insurer Hastings (HSTG.L), for example, told Reuters it sells 90 percent of its motor policies through such sites.

Rival car insurer Admiral (ADML.L) also relies on websites for sales and would be open to joining any Amazon site, its chief financial officer, Geraint Jones, said.

“If it establishes a comparison site then I suspect Admiral will be interested in being a member, potentially. Price comparison is the main source of distribution of our products and we’ll await with interest what they do,” Jones told Reuters.

Additional reporting by Sinead Cruise in London, Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru, Jeffrey Dastin and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; editing by David Clarke

How to Master the Art of Giving a Great Virtual Presentation

For online presentations, the first step is to get everyone on video (sometimes you have to insist). No more audio-only calls where all your audience members are just secretly multi-tasking. You can’t make an engaging presentation with slides and their disembodied voice. Get your face on video so people can see you and ideally you can see your audience too. This allows you to really connect with your audience, and see how they are reacting to you.

Also for online presentations, consider your environment. Spotty wifi with an unprofessional background and a poorly-lit face kills your presentation. I literally interviewed a candidate who had pile of dirty laundry behind him – not the best first impression. Zoom works great on wifi right down to 3G, but if you’re giving a big presentation, your best bet is hardwiring in. Then, make sure you are in a quiet space with no distractions. Clean up your background – just use a plain wall, or a nice plant – or try Zoom’s virtual backgrounds (sorry, shameless plug). Consider your lighting. Get there a couple minutes early to make sure it’s not too much or too little lighting. And check that you are lit from the front, not from behind you (i.e. don’t sit with your back to a window). It is distracting when cameras are too high or low or are angled so we’re only seeing part of someone’s face. Check that you are looking straight at the camera and your video feed is framing the upper part of your torso and your head – you want it to look as if you were sitting across the table from your audience.

And for both online and in-person presentations, you have to engage your audience. Don’t droning on for a long time, doing too many text-rich slides, and not matching your abstract to your presentation (this is actually a big one – people want to know what they’re getting in to). Instead, stop regularly to tell a (quick!) story, ask a question, take a straw poll, tell a joke, give your audience a small task, and so forth. Just keep them awake and interested! Also, you need adjust your presentation to your audience’s response. I have multiple large screens in my office so I can see all the participants in my meeting or presentation all at once and read their body language and facial expressions. If I see attention waning or some disagreement, I will switch things up.

Finally, a quick technical recommendation for online presentations. If you’re using Zoom, when setting up your meeting, select the “Mute upon entry” option. This makes sure that your participants join with their sound off, so you don’t get background noise that can disrupt the flow of your presentation.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

Foxconn profit below forecast on soaring operating costs, shares fall

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Foxconn posted second-quarter net profit well below expectations as a rise in component costs and unsold inventory weighed on the performance of the Apple supplier and world’s top contract electronics maker, analysts said.

FILE PHOTO: A shovel and FoxConn logo are seen before the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump as he participates in the Foxconn Technology Group groundbreaking ceremony for its LCD manufacturing campus, in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Hauck/File Photo

The company, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, reported net profit of T$17.49 billion ($567.25 million) late on Monday, 20 percent short of analyst expectations and slightly below the year-earlier results. Foxconn shares fell more than 3 percent on Tuesday.

Analysts said the results reflected concerns about a loss of momentum in global smartphone sales. Last week, Foxconn unit FIH Mobile Ltd posted a wider first-half loss and acknowledged that it faced a high risk of saturation in the smartphone market.

Foxconn’s results showed that its gross margin narrowed in the second-quarter in part owing to the cost of carrying unsold inventory of the iPhone X. Overall global smartphone shipments fell 3 percent to 350 million units in the April-June quarter compared with a year earlier, market research firm Strategy Analytics says.

However, Vincent Chen, an analyst at Yuanta Research, predicted a brighter outlook projected by Apple would benefit Foxconn and boost its margins in the third quarter.

Apple has forecast above-consensus revenue for later in the year, when it typically launches new iPhone models. Reports suggest these models will use OLED screens, which can display colors more vividly.

“We expect Hon Hai to be the main assembler of OLED version new iPhones and we believe the OLED iPhone model will see better demand in 2H18F,” Chen said in a research note.

The company’s report also illustrates its moves to diversify by pushing into new areas such as display screens – it bought Sharp Corp earlier this year – autonomous car startups and investments in cancer research.

Still, Foxconn earns most of its profits from manufacturing smartphones for Apple and other brands and from Foxconn Industrial Internet, a unit that makes networking equipment and smartphone casings, among other things.

“Investment in factory automation and component price hikes capped gross margin,” said Fubon Research analyst Arthur Liao.

Foxconn’s operating costs jumped 18.8 percent in the quarter.

Liao noted that Foxconn absorbed some expenses related to the Sharp acquisition this quarter, as well as development costs from setting up a factory in the United States, and taking Foxconn Industrial public in June.

Additional reporting by Chyen Yee Lee in Singapore and Yimou Lee in Taipei; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Neil Fullick

Vietnam's Vinfast in deal with Siemens for technology to make electric buses

HANOI (Reuters) – VinFast Trading and Production LLC has signed two contracts with Siemens Vietnam, a unit of Siemens AG, for the supply of technology and components to manufacture electric buses in the Southeast Asian country.

The headquarters of Siemens AG is seen before the company’s annual news conference in Munich, Germany, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

VinFast, a unit of Vietnam’s biggest private conglomerate, Vingroup JSC, said on Monday the deals will enable it to launch the first electric bus by the end of 2019.

“Electric buses are an essential element of sustainable urban public transportation systems,” Siemens Vietnam President and CEO Pham Thai Lai said in the statement.

VinFast will also produce electric motorcycles, electric cars and gasoline cars from its $1.5-billion factory being built in Haiphong City, it said.

In June, General Motors Co agreed to transfer its Vietnamese operation to VinFast, which will also exclusively distribute GM’s Chevrolet cars in Vietnam.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Himani Sarkar

This Viral Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant's Safety Brief is Hilarious. But There's 1 Big Problem

You’ll crack a smile at least when you watch the Southwest Airlines flight attendant’s safety brief that I’ve embedded below. It’s pretty funny, although she does talk quite fast.

But it’s time to ask a serious question: Would you remember any of what she said in an actual emergency? 

That’s the big debate right now, as airlines do whatever they can think of to make people pay attention to safety videos and briefings. And we’ve reached a point where yes, some of the messages are in fact quite funny.

(The Air New Zealand one with the naked flight attendants for example will make you laugh, and the new Turkish Airlines LEGO Movie one, which you can also see at the end of this article.) 

But while these are entertaining videos and briefings, they’re hiding a giant problem: Passengers often don’t actually remember what they’ve been told to do, in a high-stress, emergency situation. 

Southwest and Delta

In this age of social media and instant video, we see fast proof. Let me give you two quick, recent examples:

  • Southwest flight 1380 last April, the emergency landing in which passenger Jennifer Riordan died. Viral video and photos show that almost all of the passengers wore their oxygen masks wrong. They would have been useless if the pilot hadn’t descended quickly enough to get to breathable air.
  • Delta Air Lines flight 1854 the following month. Flight attendants I heard from were livid, as they watched passengers evacuate a smoke-filled cabin, but stop to get their carry on bags in violation of a major safety rule.

As Zoe Chance of Yale University explained to the Los Angeles Times recently, the airlines’ funny safety briefings are like the companies that spend millions on Super Bowl ads, only to learn that people loved their ads–but can’t remember what they advertised.

“Just having naked flight attendants doesn’t work if the passengers don’t remember the message,” she said. “They just remember the naked flight attendants.”

S-P-O-R-T-S

So what’s the solution? One idea might be if airlines at least passed some of the safety equipment around on planes occasionally.

It might be helpful, for example, if the first time most passengers ever see an airplane oxygen mask or an under seat flotation device, it’s not during the panic of an actual emergency.

However, some airline pilots and other employees have told me they don’t think that is practical, in this era of shaving seconds off turnaround times in order to meet on-time departure goals.

So barring that, I’d suggest looking to the the U.S. military, which has spent decades learning to teach people to execute complex procedures in highly stressful conditions. 

Quick example: It’s been 15 years since I fired an M16A2 rifle in the Army Reserve, but I remember what to do if one jams in combat, because of the mnemonic they drilled into us: S-P-O-R-T-S: SLAP the magazine, PULL the charging handle, etc.

The military understands that stress makes it really hard to concentrate and remember things. Under intense stress pressure, people will literally forget things like which side of a weapon is the dangerous side (“FRONT TOWARD ENEMY“). 

Same as people will forget, under intense stress, that you’re supposed place the mask “over your nose AND mouth.”

Passenger-proof

Air travel is safer than it’s ever been, so maybe we’ve been lucky, or maybe this is not as big a problem as it might seem. But it would be great if we could figure out memorable, stressed-out-passenger-proof ways to teach these safety instructions. 

That said, I do find a lot of these briefings funny, and I don’t think I’ve ever personally had a bad experience on Southwest Airlines or Delta. And I do want to give credit where it’s due for being entertaining.

So we’ll end with a few of the funnier safety briefings–including the most recent Southwest one to go viral, along with the classic Air New Zealand video, and the brand new Turkish Airlines one.

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