Virgin Galactic reports no quarterly revenue as it continues to plan for liftoff

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. reported no revenue in the second quarter and has collected less than $200,000 in 2020, as its valuation topped $5 billion and the company prepares to take tourists into space.

The space-tourism company reported second-quarter losses of $62.5 million, or 30 cents a share after posting losses of 19 cents a share on sales of about $600,000 in the same quarter a year ago. Virgin Galactic shares

declined about 3% in after-hours trading immediately following the release of the results.

Virgin Galactic was taken public late last year through a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, named Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings that was launched by venture-capital investor Chamath Palihapitiya, who remains chairman of the company. Shares have more than doubled since the SPAC merged with the space-tourism company to form a publicly traded entity, and the company was worth more than $5 billion as trading ended Monday with shares up 7% on the day.

“We are making substantial progress across many areas of the company as we continue to focus on our path to commercial launch and the steps we are taking to get there, including conducting our first powered spaceflight from Spaceport America this fall,” Chief Executive Michael Colglazier said in a statement Monday. Colglazier, a former Walt Disney Co.

executive, was named the new CEO of Virgin Galactic last month, while former CEO George Whitesides became chief space officer.

Earnings Watch: After Big Tech helped earnings look better, here comes Disney and Uber

Virgin Galactic has not set an exact date for when it will begin taking tourists into space, but did unveil the interior of its spaceship last week and detailed what customers will experience on their trip. Initial trips were sold for $250,000 apiece, and Virgin Galactic said Monday that it has received deposits for about 600 customers and faced “minimal” requests for refunds. A dozen customers entered into deposit agreements in the quarter, the company reported.

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This sector could have a half million job openings and opportunities for older workers

Although the coronavirus continues to rattle global markets and industries, some analysts expect to see greater demand for advanced manufacturing talent in the U.S. as the pandemic diminishes. That could create opportunities for older men and women, including white-collar professionals struggling to find jobs.

Before COVID-19, there were 500,000 manufacturing jobs open in the U.S., according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). “We’re going to have a need very quickly to ramp up on hiring in those facilities that may have been shut down during the crisis or that need to expand operations,” said NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons in a recent press conference.

“The fact that one can get a certificate in about nine months and totally re-career into a nearly guaranteed job is an incredible opportunity for an older worker.”

— Nora Duncan, Connecticut state director of AARP

As manufacturers frantically try to keep up again with demand for essentials and lifesaving PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for health care workers as cases rise across the country, their innovation and high-tech problem-solving could help dispel misconceptions that all manufacturing jobs are dirty and physically demanding, said Sara Tracey, project manager of workforce services for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association in Akron, Ohio.

Manufacturing jobs and what they pay

Entry-level manufacturing jobs in industries such as aerospace, technology and defense include CNC operators, set-up technicians and programmers, as well as inspectors, higher-end assembly technicians and quality assurance.

The pay typically ranges between $35,000 and $65,000, including overtime and benefits, said Richard DuPont, director of community and campus relations for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Conn. More experienced professionals can earn upward of $95,000.

80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

In Ohio, manufacturers have been training and moving some workers into higher positions so the companies can hire and train new candidates for vacated ones, Tracey noted. Resources such as the Making Ohio website let people explore careers in manufacturing, including robotics, automation and 3-D printing.

Industrial maintenance is an important career pathway these days, as well, Tracey said. This sector is expecting more retirements in the near future, which will create jobs from “traditional machine mechanics to troubleshooting state-of-the-art electronic or robotic processes,” Tracey noted.

Also see: Cannabis, whiskey, and mobile bike repair: These entrepreneurs are thriving in the pandemic

Connecticut, among other states, now offers training programs with community colleges, state manufacturers and other organizations.

From banking to precision tools

This kind of training helped Allison Clemens-Roberts, who is over 50, find work after losing her clerical job in the pensions department of a Connecticut bank in 2017. A severance package gave her time to look for work, but she couldn’t find even temporary employment. She blames age discrimination by white-collar employers.

“There’s no way to hide how old you are. They can ask when you graduated from school,” Clemens-Roberts said.

But while she was out of work, Clemens-Roberts received a postcard from AARP offering a 25% tuition scholarship on advanced manufacturing programs at Goodwin University, a career-focused school in East Hartford, Conn.

She wasn’t interested until her husband Frank saw a TV commercial touting the benefits of Goodwin’s manufacturing and other programs.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you think about changing careers?’” Clemens-Roberts recalled.

So, with several months left on her severance, she enrolled in a full-time, six-month CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machining, Metrology and Manufacturing Technology certification program. It would prepare her for a job working with automated machine tools which requires mathematical skills, attention to detail and critical thinking.

SectorWatch: 80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

Scholarships cut Clemens-Roberts’ tuition bill from $7,000 to $3,200. After a two-month paid internship at TOMZ, a manufacturer of precision components for major medical devices in Berlin, Conn., she was hired in April 2019. Six months later, TOMZ reimbursed Clemens-Roberts $1,500 for her education tab.

Clemens-Roberts said her family is now in a better financial position than when she was working in a bank, living paycheck-to-paycheck. Considered an essential worker, she has kept her full-time job through the pandemic, except for three days in March.

“I never thought I would go to college and participate in a graduation — in cap and gown,” Clemens-Roberts said. “That was a big surprise. And [actor] Danny Glover was the speaker. A bucket-list experience.”

There’s “obviously age discrimination, among other things, at play” for job seekers over 50, said Nora Duncan, Connecticut state director of AARP. “The fact that one can get a certificate in about nine months and totally re-career into a nearly guaranteed job is an incredible opportunity for an older worker.”

While AARP helped Clemens-Roberts pay for the tuition initially, the internship helped her get hired as a machine operator.

Older and younger manufacturing workers helping each other

The search for skilled manufacturing labor across the country is creating opportunities for workers of all ages, said DuPont. And older and younger generations working together are assisting each other.

The older students help younger classmates with life skills, while younger students can help with technology,” said DuPont. “Together, they make excellent teams.”

Don’t miss: How will the robots see you through the pandemic?

Just ask Fernando Vega, 62, who is now a quality inspector at Forrest Machine, in Berlin, Conn. It makes precision-machined parts and other components for the aerospace and commercial industries. In the 1990s, he was a quality inspector before recessions and outsourcing forced him to consider other careers.

He tried working for a nonprofit and though Vega found the work rewarding, it wasn’t financially sustainable.

So, Vega went back to school in spring 2018 to study advanced manufacturing at Goodwin.

“I was in a class of 18, and at first everyone kept to themselves. But when it came time to read blueprints, there was some panic and I said, ‘Don’t panic, I’ll show you.’ The [younger] students helped me with trigonometry, and then we started to work together.”

Vega has worked at his manufacturing job throughout the pandemic. At one point, he was putting in 50 hours a week, but that was reduced to 40 hours plus overtime.

Vega recalled promising his mother that he would go to college. “But that was a long time ago,” he said. His mother never got to see him graduate but Vega feels he’s fulfilled his promise — not only to her, but also to himself. “I love my job,” he said.

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Vanguard comes to defense of the 60/40 portfolio as it forecasts stock market returns for the next decade

The 60/40 portfolio has come in for its share of criticism recently, with Bank of America proclaiming its death last year.

A 60/40 portfolio has 60% invested in stocks, and 40% in bonds or other safe asset classes. In a new note to clients, index fund powerhouse Vanguard Group points out how well the portfolio did in weathering the storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

A 60/40 portfolio — with 60% in the MSCI All Country World index
and 40% in a dollar-hedged Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Bond index — weakened just 1.5% over the first half of the year.

“It is true that over a few days, the correlation between the global equity and bond markets was positive and that they moved relatively in tandem, but for the first half of 2020, a globally diversified bond exposure acted as ballast, helping to counter the riskier stock component of the portfolio,” says Joe Davis, global chief economist at Vanguard.

Vanguard is forecasting average annual U.S. stock-market returns between 4% and 6% over the next year, which isn’t dissimilar from a recent projection from Goldman Sachs. Vanguard says global stocks, to U.S. investors, will return between 7% and 9% a year. But despite Vanguard’s low return outlook for bonds — 0% to 2% for both U.S. and non-U.S. bonds — Davis says globally diversified fixed income will continue to play the important role of a risk diversifier in a multiasset portfolio.

Peter Dixon, senior economist at Commerzbank in London, is another who has come to the defense of the 60/40 portfolio. He points out that, over 20 years, it has generated higher returns than hedge funds once fees are taken into account.

“The current low rate environment means the returns from bonds are likely to look very poor for years to come. But investors tempted to overweight equities, which are likely to benefit as a consequence, run the risk of getting caught out by volatility as markets continue to question whether current price valuations are justified (we can expect quite a lot of that in the months ahead),” says Dixon. “Since the intention of 60/40 is to offset the extreme highs and lows of equities, it may be worthwhile sticking with it for a bit longer. It is, after all, a tried and trusted method and that is not a bad thing in our new, uncertain investment world.”

Strategists at Goldman Sachs disagree. In a note to clients this week, they acknowledge that over the last 30 years, there has been little benefit from diversification within equities or bonds, while diversification across assets was very effective.

But with bond yields closer to the effective lower bound, potential for further declines is limited, they say. As for stocks, equities are likely to be stuck in a “fat and flat” range, that is, below average returns with above average volatility.

They suggest an 80/20 portfolio with put protection, which they say outperformed a 60/40 portfolio significantly this year. Convertible bonds also look more attractive, they add.

The S&P 500

has rallied 46% this year from its March lows, and has gained a little over 1% this year. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury

has fallen below 0.60%, falling 1.3 percentage points on the year. Yields move in the opposite direction to prices. 

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‘Russian influence in the U.K. is the new normal,’ according to a powerful report by lawmakers

Russia sought to influence the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, according to a long-awaited intelligence report published on Tuesday, which also claims Russian influence in the U.K. is “the new normal.”

The cross-party intelligence and security committee published a 50-page report on Russian interference in British democracy, which also pointed to a lack of curiosity into possible Russian meddling in the Brexit referendum in 2016.

It called for an “analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum.”

The report says: “Open source studies have pointed to the preponderance of pro-Brexit or anti-EU stories on RT [Russia Today] and Sputnik, and the use of ‘bots’ and ‘trolls,’ as evidence of Russian attempts to influence the process.”

But in a separate statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a retrospective assessment of the EU referendum isn’t necessary: “We have seen no evidence of successful interference in the EU referendum.”

Read:Russia accused by U.S., Britain, Canada of hacking coronavirus vaccine trials

On the Scottish independence vote, the report went further saying: “There has been credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.”

The Kremlin has always denied that Russia has sought to interfere with the electoral process of another country, accusing the West of anti-Russian hysteria.

The report says the U.K. is clearly a target for Russia’s disinformation campaigns and political influence operations, but its antiquated paper-based voting system means it is impossible to rig elections.

“In terms of the direct threat to elections,” the report concludes “We have been informed that the mechanics of the U.K.’s voting system are deemed largely sound: the use of a highly dispersed paper-based voting and counting system makes any significant interference difficult.”

Read:Hillary Clinton criticizes British government for blocking Russian report

The committee comprises politicians from all parties and scrutinizes Britain’s intelligence agencies, but was under scrutiny itself last week over the controversial election of Julian Lewis MP as its chairman.

The government accused him of colluding with opposition MPs to get the top job and he was subsequently sacked from the Conservative Party.

The report had been sent to Prime Minister Johnson last October, who delayed its publication because of the December general election. Lewis’ first act as chairman was to release it.

Opinion:Boris Johnson hails his economic plan as a new ‘New Deal.’ Try ‘small deal’ instead

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President Trump says George Floyd’s death was ‘terrible’ but says ‘more white people,’ die at hands of police than Blacks in U.S.

‘So are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people’

That’s President Donald Trump during a CBS interview espousing the view that white people in the U.S. are killed by law enforcement more often than Blacks — a statement likely to be seen as particularly insensitive in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May, as well as Breonna Taylor two months earlier.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Trump is consciously focusing on racial and cultural divides during his re-election campaign, with the U.S. in the midst of an economically debilitating pandemic and unrest over social justice centered on a recent series of acts of racially charged actions and police brutality directed at Black Americans.

Floyd, a black handcuffed man, died on May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis officer, was captured on video driving his knee into his neck for nearly 9 minutes even as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and stopped moving. That action helped to catalyze a wave of civil unrest.

Trump’s recent remarks on Twitter and in interviews have led some to believe that his comments may have the effect of deepening racial rifts in the country.

In recent weeks, Trump has been seen by some as championing the Confederate flag, which is considered a symbol of the era of slavery in America. The 45th president of the U.S. criticized Black Nascar driver Bubba Wallace, after a noose was reported to have been found in his garage and also questioned a Nascar ban on the Confederate flag that was advocated by Wallace.

Trump has referred to the words “Black Lives Matter” as a “symbol of hate,” and criticized New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for allowing those words to be stenciled on the street in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan. That sign was vandalized on Monday.

On Tuesday, Trump told CBS’s Catherine Herridge that his support of the Confederate flag was on the grounds of freedom of speech. “All I say is freedom of speech. It’s very simple. My attitude is freedom of speech. Very strong views on the Confederate flag. With me, it’s freedom of speech. Very simple. Like it, don’t like it, it’s freedom of speech.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s claims of disproportionate police violence against white people has been challenged with data. CBS in its report, citing a late June Harvard research report, noted that the number of white people killed by the police between 2013 and 2017 was higher than any other demographic but notably because that demographic represents a larger portion of the population. That study, however, notes that Black people are three times more likely to be killed than Whites by law enforcement.

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