Wednesday, 23 April 2008


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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Virgin Comics

Stan Lee, the legend and co-creator of some of the world’s best-known superheroes including Spider-Man, X-Men and the Hulk, has been recruited to create a new line of characters for Sir Richard Branson’s upstart Virgin Comics.

The new venture will see the 85-year-old, former president of Marvel Comics, back as both a writer and editor, overseeing a line of new comics that will be launched next year, including a title he is writing himself.

Sir Richard Branson said "Stan Lee is a cultural icon and we welcome him to his new home, Virgin Comics, for this bold new chapter in his great legacy,"

Mr Lee ended his exclusive relationship with Marvel in the 1990s but still has ties to the company, including cameo roles in films Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. He trained some of the industry's most influential figures in the industry under a system called the ‘Marvel Method’. While not commonly used in the industry today, Mr Lee's process enables the writer and artist to sculpt the story together from the ground up in iterative stages, rather than writers just delivering a full script to an artist.

Virgin Comics launch in November 2005 saw Virgin Group enter a partnership with Gotham Entertainment Group, South Asia's leading comic publisher; Shekhar Kapur, the filmmaker, and Deepak Chopra, the author, to launch two companies, Virgin Animation in Bangalore and Virgin Comics in New York. (source: Timesonline) - Virgin Comics

Monday, 21 April 2008

World's Top Brands

Google - $86.1 billion
General Elecric - $71.3 billion
Microsoft - $70.8 billion
Coco-Cola - $58.2 billion
China Mobile - $57.2 billion
IBM - $55.3 billion
Apple - $55.2 billion
McDonald's - $49.5 billion
Nokia - $43.9 billion
Marlboro - $37.3 billion
Vodafone - $36.9 billion

Ephren W Taylor II - Youngest African-American CEO

Ephren W. Taylor II is the youngest African-American CEO of any publicly traded company ever City Capital Corporation (stock symbol:CTCC). Described as “walking history” by popular radio show host Tom Joyner, Taylor started his first business venture at age 12, when he began making video games. By age 17, he built a multi-million dollar technology company;

In 2007, at City Capital Corporation, Taylor started the Goshen Energy initiative; which focuses on producing alternative energy specializing in biofuels. Taylor’s commitment to green energy is part of his concept of empowering local communities with both profitable and socially-conscious investing and development. Through his action on green energy and philanthropy, Taylor is leading a new wave of CEO’s focusing on corporate social responsibility.
Taylor’s diverse business portfolio is quickly transforming him into a household name. He appears weekly on FOX News and has been featured on network shows such as ABC’s 20/20 and Montel Williams show. He also has regular appearances in print and radio media including PBS, Black Enterprise, and the Miami Herald.

Beyond his unprecedented accomplishments at an early age in business, Taylor is an author, inspirational speaker, and real estate mastermind. His first book, “Creating Success from the Inside Out”, is published by the world’s number one business publisher, Wiley and it recently ranked as the #1 best seller at CEO Read. The book serves as an expose of the mindset of today’s multi-millionaires while defining success as not only attaining wealth, but how to utilize it.

In celebration of their 170th anniversary, Taylor completed a specialized curriculum for high school-aged aspiring entrepreneurs at Cheyney University, America’s oldest historically black college and university. After providing a donation to get the program started, The Ephren Taylor Entrepreneur Academy opened in July 2007.

What Warren Buffet is for baby boomers, Taylor is for today’s generation X and Y a rapidly emerging premier financial expert; a true “wealth engineer”.

· Made first million by 16
· Youngest Black CEO of a Publicly Traded Company
· Oversees over 250 Million in Assets
· Starting Investment Clubs at schools across the nation
· Developing national business plan competition for university students
· Started business ventures at the age of 12
· Works with superstar entertainers such as Snoop Dogg and Fat Joe
· Diverse client list ranges from Stock Market Day Traders to Hip Hop Icons

· Getting P.A.I.D.
· Vision Driven Wealth
· Sow to Grow
· Investment U
· Becoming a Wealth Engineer
· Pennies to Billions
· Instant Entrepreneur
· Lessons from the Sandbox: How to raise a Millionaire

Friday, 18 April 2008

Google report profits

It appears as if Google, the internet search giant, is immune against the credit crunch as it reported better-than-expected financial results for the first three months of the year, igniting a huge rally in its shares.

Chief Executive of Google, Mr Eric Schmidt said “We are obviously very pleased with another strong quarter for Google. It is clear to us that we are well positioned for 2008 and beyond, regardless of the business environment that we find ourselves surrounded by."

The results came as a relief to investors, who were bracing for a big slowdown in Google’s business. The company issued its report after the close of markets, and its shares surged more than $76.42 (£39.59), or 17%, in after-hours trading, to end the day at $525.96 (£272.5).

Still, Google’s performance is not likely to ease anxiety among investors about the overall health of the online advertising business. The company relies almost exclusively on short text ads that appear next to search results and on other Web sites. Analysts say that because those ads are more targeted and are used by marketers to drive traffic to their sites, they are more impervious to a slowdown than banners and other graphical ads, which are intended to increase brand awareness.

Google, said net income grew 30%, to $1.31 billion (£678 million), or $4.12 (£2.13) a share, compared with $1 billion (£500 million), or $3.18 (£1.64) a share, in the first quarter of 2007. Revenue climbed 4%, to $5.19 billion (£2.68 billion), from $3.66 billion (£1,89 billion) a year earlier.

On average, Wall Street analysts were expecting Google to report revenue, excluding commissions to advertising partners, of $3.61 billion (£1.87 billion) and income, excluding the cost of stock options, of $4.52 (£2.34) a share.

Google said that DoubleClick, which it acquired in mid-March, had little impact on the company’s finances this quarter. Executives said they were working on integrating the two companies’ products. They said the integration would help growth in Google’s nascent display advertising business. (source: New York Times)

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Co-op to buy Somerfield & how John Paulson made billions from the credit crunch

The UK’s fifth largest supermarket chain, The Co-operative Group (Co-op), is in talks to buy rival Somerfield. Discussions are at an early stage between Co-op and the owners of Somerfield, Apax & Barclays Capital, but the Co-op said there would be a strong fit between the two companies. The news came after Co-op said it was investing £1.5 billion in an attempt to double its profits by 2010.

The Manchester-based Co-op is a mutual business, run on behalf of its 2.5 million members. It expanded in July of last year when it merged with fellow mutual United Co-operatives. With more than 4,300 retail outlets across the UK, it employs 85,000 people. Bristol-based Somerfield has 900 stores.

Dividend payments to its customer members have more than doubled from £22 million to £45 million. Apax, Barclays Capital and a private equity consortium led by property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz bought Somerfield for £1.1 billion in 2005. (source: BBC News)

It is a jarring comparison for the millions of American homeowners struggling with their soaring mortgage payments, but there is one man who has profited so much from the credit crisis that he is jumping a few rungs on the property ladder this year.

He is John Paulson (pictured), a previously obscure hedge fund manager from New York, who took home $3.7 billion (£1.9 billion) last year, after betting on a calamity in the mortgage market. This is the equivalent of a lottery jackpot every day for a year.

Mr Paulson bought a 10.4-acre lakefront compound in Hamptons, the upstate playground for New York's rich and famous, complete with staff quarters, two outhouses and ocean views for $41 million. His more modest seven-bedroom, three-acre "cottage" a mile down the road, is up for sale with a price tag of $19.5 million.

It has turned Mr Paulson into an industry legend overnight, courted by powerful bankers and politicians, anxious for insight on how bad the housing crisis in the US and the global credit crunch might still get.

Mr Paulson's story is rich with other ironies. Now 52, he learnt his trade in part during four years at Bear Stearns, the investment bank which lost billions in 2007 making optimistic bets on mortgages that were the mirror image of Mr Paulson's. Its collapse last month is the defining catastrophe of the credit crisis. He also shares a name with – but is no relation of – Hank Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, whose tenure has been spent trying to shore up the housing market.

John Paulson set up his hedge fund in 1994 and spent more than a decade as a middle-ranking fish in an increasingly crowded pond, until realising 18 months ago that the mortgage market was headed for disaster as millions of US homebuyers were signing up to loans they would not be able to afford. There would soon be a day of reckoning for borrowers and their profligate lenders, he calculated, and the multi-billion dollar market for mortgage derivatives was bound to collapse.

Putting his own money, his clients' money and billions of dollars of borrowed funds into the bet, he won big. Paulson & Co, his fund, had $6 billion under management at the start of 2007 and $28 billion at the end. The gains on his own capital and his cut of the fund's fees netted him $3.7 billion over the period.

That puts him atop Alpha's list of top earners ahead of George Soros, the veteran trader who has also been betting on economic calamity in the US and who took home $2.9 billion. A hedge fund manager had to earn $210 million to make the top 50. (source: The Independent)

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Tesco reported annual profits of £2.84 billion

Despite a the gloomy economic conditions, Tesco reported an 11.8% rise in underlying annual profits for 2007 of £2.846 billion. Group sales at Tesco rose to £51.8 billion, up 11%. Tesco said prices had risen by about 1.5% across the board, but increases in food prices masked price cuts in non-food items.

Online and non-food items helped to boost Tesco's UK business, while sales from its international stores also showed strong growth, up 25.3% in 2007. The supermarket group said it would create 30,000 new jobs worldwide this year, with about a third planned in Britain.

In the UK, like-for-like sales excluding petrol rose 3.5% during the year to February as Tesco battled a wet summer, a consumer slowdown and "recovering competitors". By the same measure, sales were up 4% in the first five weeks of its new financial year starting 23 February, helped by the early Easter break.

Tesco shares rose 7.29%, or 28.50 pence, to 419.50p at close of trade. (source: BBC News)

JJB Sports revealed a major blow to the high street today after it said it was shutting 72 stores with the loss of around 800 jobs. Details of the closure move emerged a day after discount clothing chain Ethel Austin went into administration and figures from the British Retail Consortium showed the first monthly sales drop for nearly two years.

It said the stores in question were unlikely to make any "significant contribution" to group profits and that many were already close to newer and larger stores in its estate. The sites will shut by the end of this month.

The moves were announced as JJB said adjusted profits fell 28% to £33.8 million in the year to January 27. A £25 million hit relating to the cost of closing the stores meant bottom-line profits fell 72% to £10.8 million. It said total revenues for JJB stores and fitness clubs for the seven weeks to March 16 were 3.5% lower than the same period last year, while margins also came under pressure as a result of the competitive trading conditions. (source: The Independent)