Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HP Inc. deliver double dose of good results

PALO ALTO — Whether it’s a symbol of the end of the Meg Whitman era, or the start of the reign of Antonio Neri, Hewlett Packard Enterprise got on the good side of Wall Street Thursday with better-than-expected quarterly results, and plans to return billions of dollars to shareholders due to the recent federal tax reforms.

HPE’s former business brother, HP Inc., was also having a good day following its own set of upbeat first-quarter results.

In its first quarterly report since Whitman stepped down as HPE’s chief executive Feb. 1, the business-technology giant turned in a first-quarter profit, excluding one-time items, of 34 cents a share, on $7.7 billion in sales, compared with earnings of 28 cents a share, on revenue of $6.9 billion in the same period a year ago. (HPE adjusted its year-ago sales to reflect the spinoff of its software business last year.)

Those results blew past the estimates of Wall Street analysts, who had forecast HPE to earn 22 cents a share, on $7.1 billion in revenue. The results gave HPE a huge boost in after-hours trading, as shares surged 15 percent, to $18.89.

HPE also said it would raise its quarterly dividend payment by 50 percent, from its current payment of almost 8 cents a share, return $7 billion to shareholders by the end of the year through dividends and stock repurchases, and increase its contributions to employee retirement plans due to the effects of the recently passed tax reform package.

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Meg Whitman goes Hollywood with new CEO job

HP, which took over the personal computer and printing operations from the former Hewlett-Packard when that company split in two in late 2015, was also pleasing investors following it first-quarter results. HP reported earnings of 48 cents a share, excluding one-time items, on revenue of $14.5 billion, up from a profit of 38 cents a share, on $12.7 billion in sales, during its 2017 first quarter.

In after-hours trading, HP’s shares climbed almost 8 percent, to $23.09, following the release of its results.

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Source:: East Bay – Business


Robert Mueller hits Paul Manafort and Rick Gates with 32 more charges

Special Counsel Robert Mueller levied 32 new charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on Thursday, the latest development in the Justice Department’s sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The charges against Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, and Gates, a former campaign aide and Manafort’s business associate, include multiple charges of tax and bank fraud.

The indictment, handed down Thursday by a federal grand jury, includes a litany of financial crimes, alleging the men filed false income tax returns and failed to disclose foreign accounts. One specific charge claims that Gates helped Manafort launder “more than $30 million in income,” Reuters reported. In October, Manafort and Gates were indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to launder money, in the first round of charges to result from Mueller’s probe.

The timing of the Thursday filing is notable, The Washington Post noted, because there is “significant uncertainty in the case about when a trial might happen, or even who the defense lawyers will be.” Gates’ three lawyers have all asked to be dismissed from the case.

Since October, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, and Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Last week, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies — including an infamous “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency — were charged with conspiracy for online efforts intended to influence the election, the first charges from Mueller’s office that concern election meddling specifically.

Read the full indictment against Manafort and Gates here.

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Source:: The Week – Business


Airbnb unveils new category of rentals rated by inspectors

SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb is dispatching inspectors to rate some of the properties listed on its home-rental service in an effort to reassure travelers they’re booking nice places to stay.

The Plus program, unveiled Thursday, is aimed at winning over travelers who aren’t sure they can trust the current, computer-driven analysis of reviews posted by past guests. The misleading pictures drawn by Airbnb’s rating system have become a big enough problem to spawn a website devoted to horror stories spanning from an overcrowded, dirty “hippy commune ” in Pasadena, California, to a Paris vacation ruined in a moldy, bug-infested apartment.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says the company’s internal surveys have found travelers willing to pay more for inspector-certified properties, allowing homeowners and apartment dwellers to recoup a $149 fee to participate in Plus.

Human inspectors will review properties based on a 100-point checklist covering everything from the speed of the Wi-Fi to the bedding. Properties that fail can still be part of Airbnb’s regular listings; the company will also offer advice on improvements to qualify.

The program will initially cover about 2,000 properties in 13 cities — Austin, Texas; Barcelona, Spain; Cape Town, South Africa; Chicago; Los Angeles; London; Melbourne, Australia; Milan; Rome; San Francisco; Shanghai, Sydney and Toronto. That’s a small fraction of the roughly 4.5 million properties listed on Airbnb in 81,000 cities worldwide. By the end of the year, Chesky foresees verifying 75,000 homes in 50 cities.

Airbnb is shaking things up at a time its growth has been slowing, a trend the company would like to reverse before it sells its stock in an initial public offering expected within the next two years. Despite its popularity, Airbnb remains unprofitable, with a loss of $75 million on revenue of nearly $2.6 billion last year, according to financial statements reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

At an event in San Francisco, Airbnb announced other steps to become more like a traditional hospitality company instead of an industry renegade that has siphoned business away from major hotels. Frequent travelers will quality for discounts and other perks. The company also is adding other rental categories, including bed-and-breakfast inns and boutique hotels.

A major hotel industry group slammed Airbnb’s expansion as a sham. “Airbnb’s latest scheme is just further proof the company is trying to play in the hoteling space while evading industry regulations,” said Troy Flanagan of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “If Airbnb wants to …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News