announced a massive buyback, by increasing its current stock repurchase authorization plan to spend $15 billion — a little less than half of its current market valuation of $32.1 billion, and three times its current proposed repurchases of $5 billion, announced last October. HP said it would fund the buyback with cash and by taking on more debt, one of the many issues that it has with Xerox’s
Yet at the same time, executives told MarketWatch on a call ahead of earnings that they would be open to talking to Xerox, and reiterated these comments on their conference call with analysts Monday.
“HP is reaching out to Xerox to explore if there is a combination that creates value for HP’s shareholders that is additive to HP’s strategic and financial plans,” HP Chief Executive Enrique Lores told analysts. But ultimately, it still appears to analysts and investors that HP is not willing to do a deal with Xerox as the buyer, for any price.
“It doesn’t sound like you’re open to being purchased by Xerox at any price, let’s say, $30 a share or more, simply because under any raise price you would still have the same grievances,” said Bernstein Research analyst Toni Saggonaghi on the call.
“We need to make sure that the resulting capital structure makes sense for the businesses where we will be operating,” Lores said.
Investors at least appeared to be buoyed by plans for the big buyback, but as the company’s call went on, its shares zig-zagged in extended trading. HP closed up 3.4% in the after-hours session.
HP also released its fiscal first-quarter results, which showed a business in decline, mostly due to printing, where sales dropped 10% in total units and 7% in its supplies business, mostly made up of ink, which is the biggest chunk of HP’s profits. Revenue at HP’s printer business has been gradually slowing in the past year and total fiscal 2019 revenue was $20 billion, down 3.9% from 20.8 billion in fiscal 2018. And in the first quarter, revenue in printing declined again 7% to $4.7 billion.
The outlook, even with all of HP’s restructuring efforts, is for sales in some parts of its overall portfolio to continue to decline, particularly in supplies.
“There’ll be parts of our portfolio that we continue to expect some declines, supplies being one of them,” HP Chief Financial Officer Steve Fieler told analysts.
Some analysts hinted at concerns about mounting debt at the PC and printing giant, as it tries to save itself from a reverse merger with the smaller Xerox. HP executives said they are establishing a new capital structure plan with a debt-to-EBIDTA ratio in a range of 1.5 to 2 times, while disparaging that very element of the Xerox offer, which they said will have the highest debt-to-EBIDTA ratio in the S&P 500 Hardware Index.
“Considering the nature of our business, which operates with a negative cash conversion cycle as well as a macroeconomic cycle, this level of debt creates significant unnecessary risk,” Lores told analysts, when describing the company’s issues with the Xerox offer.
The biggest issue, of course, is value.
“Simply put, their proposal has a number of fundamental problems….The Xerox proposal does not reflect the value of our company or the plan that we announced today,” Lores said.
In the next few weeks, investors will be hearing a lot more from both companies heading into the HP’s annual meeting, expected to take place in April, where Xerox is offering a new slate of directors for HP’s board. HP appears to be girding for a fight at that meeting, but it’s feasible it could also strike some kind of deal with Xerox ahead of time.
If the impasse lasts to the meeting, investors will be faced with a tough decision. They could stay with the status quo, which includes HP’s recent tradition of restructuring the business about once a year, while promising this will be the change that makes a difference. The other option is merging two declining businesses and tossing in a bucketload of more debt, with yet another new management team and a new board loaded with appointees from activist investor Carl Icahn, who is behind the hostile shenanigans and is unlikely to stop the restructuring.
Neither outcome sounds pleasing, and the fact that HP’s executives talk about talking to Xerox, but don’t seem willing to actually saunter down that road, sets up even more confusion for investors.
Evil connotations aside, that spirit plays well into what chief information security officers are demanding from their products: Resources are scarce and they’re trying to find ways of simplifying their information-security needs. But the analogy doesn’t play well for Cisco’s enemies in the cybersecurity industry, who in this case would be equivalent to the Marvel heroes who battle Thanos and risk their lives to save the universe from Thanos’s evil plan.
But which company would be equivalent to which superhero? As the security industry prepared for its annual RSA get-together this week in San Francisco, MarketWatch decided to assign heroes to some of Cisco’s biggest rivals in the security sector, and then shot emails to members of the ETFMG Prime Cyber Security ETF
even requested a telephone interview with Matt Chiodi, the public cloud chief security officer, so that he could argue his case for why the company deserved to be Captain America.
“Before Steve Rogers became Captain America he had to go through a transition, and this is extremely similar to what the company is going through now in their move to the cloud,” Chiodi said.
That wasn’t the hero MarketWatch had in mind for Palo Alto Networks, though. Here are the companies’ responses, as well as our picks for them, in rough order of market capitalization; uncredited statements came from spokespeople with no source listed.
Palo Alto Networks
MarketWatch’s choice: Iron Man. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark — the billionaire alter ego of Iron Man — is obsessed with putting a “suit of armor around the world.” That sounds appropriate for the company known best for putting firewalls around a company’s information. Palo Alto Networks also has the largest market capitalization of the independent security-only companies, which lines up with Stark’s status as the richest Avenger.
Company’s choice: As noted above, Palo Alto Networks preferred another prominent Avenger, who used a super-soldier serum to bulk up just as Palo Alto Networks has used mergers and acquisitions of late. “Since we started back in 2005, Palo Alto Networks has always taken a holistic approach to security and so just like Captain America, we’re both leaders who enable others to do their best work and so Captain America specifically fights for American ideals and at Palo Alto Networks we fight to protect our digital way of life,” Chiodi said.
MarketWatch’s choice: The big-data specialist has focused a great deal on security in recent years, as its software can give strong and smart visibility to users. Hence, MarketWatch went with Vision, an android with artificial intelligence developed by Stark.
Company’s choice: Oliver Friedrichs, the vice president of security products at Splunk
, instead went with the man who developed the AI that went into Vision.
“Two of the biggest buzzwords RSA attendees will hear once again this year are Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Security technology powered by AI is still in its infancy. True AI, like you’d see from Ultron, still doesn’t exist. Machine Learning, and automation, however, are already integrated into a number of technologies, including Splunk’s security portfolio. That’s why Splunk is the Iron Man of the Security Operations Center — our Data-to-Everything platform helps analysts automatically respond to threats in real-time, just like the Iron Man suit enables Tony Stark to constantly evolve and automatically combat bad guys in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd.
MarketWatch’s choice: For the Israeli cybersecurity giant, MarketWatch chose Thor, the incredibly strong Avenger from a distant land. Check Point
figured out how to shrink the Web, bringing people to the closest infrastructure necessary to perform tasks. Sounds to MarketWatch like Hank Pym, the original Ant Man, who invented technology that could shrink anything.
Company’s choice: Chief Security Officer Andy Ellis, who said he is an avid comic collector, chose an actual computer program.
“In the MCU, I think there’s a perfect character for Akamai: JARVIS (and later, FRIDAY). Like Jarvis, our role is to help someone else achieve their goals, and we provide the support infrastructure to enable our customers to get more done with their limited time and attention than they would have otherwise, by offloading the finer details of execution to us.
“Sometimes we tangle with the really advanced adversaries (“Age of Ultron”); other times we get to bring showy displays of distributed scale (House Party in “Iron Man 3”); mostly we just … get things done.”
also builds technology that makes the Web work better, MarketWatch gave them Scott Lang, the new-school Ant Man.
Company’s choice: Dr. Strange.
“He uses his powers for good and chooses to defend the world rather than capitalize on fortune. Cloudflare’s mission is to help build a better internet, and while we’ve built a strong business, we’ve also offered meaningful technology to anyone, for free, because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve been known for democratizing technologies like unmetered DDoS mitigation and Universal SSL, and two years ago announced 184.108.40.206, the world’s fastest DNS service, for free. Like Dr. Strange, we’re nerdy and doing our part to help (build a better Internet).”
is the security specialist that makes sure a network knows who is in it and exactly who they are. For MarketWatch, that screamed Happy Hogan, the chief of security for Stark Industries who is determined to make everyone wear their security badges.
Company’s choice: Okta wanted a much more powerful Marvel avatar — Captain Marvel.
“We would be Captain Marvel who goes from universe to universe protecting her people, not unlike a cloud identity provider. We provide security for any type of software or hybrid environment. Not to mention, in the most recent film, Captain Marvel protects her people from shapeshifting aliens that steal identities.”
was a specialist in protecting email from spam and other concerns, but has branched out to prove useful in other areas. Sounds a lot like Hawkeye, the world’s greatest archer who has proved capable of a great deal more than just shooting arrows in his time with SHIELD. and The Avengers.
Company’s choice: Just one hero wasn’t enough for Proofpoint.
“The Marvel Cinematic Universe characters that best represent Proofpoint in the infosec universe are a combination of Captain Marvel and Iron Man,” said Ryan Kalember, executive vice president of Cybersecurity Strategy for Proofpoint. “Like Captain Marvel, we also became a hero and stop attacks before they get to Earth. She started as a pilot, similar to our beginnings as an email security company, and became a superhero after a crash with an alien spacecraft just like we did when email became the number one threat vector and we transformed into a cybersecurity leader. Also, she’s out in the galaxy fighting threats before they get to Earth — the first stage of the attack chain — just like what we do in stopping attacks on people as the first line of defense. We are also like Tony Stark in that we heavily invest in R&D, we believe in AI (like JARVIS), and technical innovation as augmentations, but we always have the person at the center of what we do.”
is a young, flashy upstart (Generation Z, even!) in the cybersecurity industry, just like Spider-Man, who also likes to scale (walls).
Company’s choice: While the Fantastic Four is not (yet) part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Zscaler targeted that group for its choice. Given how excited at least one MarketWatch staffer will be when the Fantastic Four makes its debut in Disney’s Marvel universe, we allowed it.
“When it comes to superheroes, Zscaler is like Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. Not only is she able to make herself invisible, but she can extend that invisibility to other objects and people, protecting them the latest supervillain. Much like the Invisible Woman, Zscaler approaches security by making applications invisible to the bad guys. You can’t attack what you can’t see. Zscaler cloud security platform sits between users and their apps, keeping customers’ digital identity private while connecting authenticated users to business applications to securely accelerate digital transformation. Every firewall exposed to the internet is an attack surface and has been the source of some of the latest high-profile ransomware attacks and data breaches. By eliminating the need for legacy security appliances and firewalls, Zscaler helps companies eliminate their internet attack surface because when the bad guys can’t see you, whether they’re Doctor Doom or a hacker, they can’t attack you.”
, which is known for its ability to search for and find vulnerabilities in networks, a villain with similar powers: Ultron, an artificial-intelligence system that came to life and seeks to take down The Avengers.
Company’s choice: Qualys said that Chief Marketing Officer Dan Barahona consulted with his children before deciding that his company is “a blend of Dr. Strange and Vision.”
“Vision is known for his ability to see everything, even in the darkest, furthest reaches of the universe (or hybrid IT network). Qualys is all about vision. We help organizations see all assets in their network and know everything about them (type of device, what’s running on them, what vulnerabilities they have, their criticality, etc.). But it’s not enough to have vision, you need action. And that’s where we’re like Dr. Strange, who can immediately teleport to where danger exists and neutralize it. This is our mission as well. With vision we know where danger lurks, but, like Dr. Strange, we can immediately get there and deliver the counterpunch (patches, remediation) to make sure organizations stay safe.”
MarketWatch’s choice: This was the first one MarketWatch assigned, because it seemed obvious that the expert called in by even the most powerful companies to figure out what just went wrong would be Nick Fury. Fury is known as a spy with great knowledge of what is happening across the galaxy, while FireEye
was the first to detail the Chinese military’s link to hacker groups, and is still known as a strong source of international intelligence. Heck, FireEye and Fury even sound similar, and there’s the whole eyepatch thing …
Company’s choice: Sadly, FireEye did not see eye-to-eye with MarketWatch on this one.
“FireEye is Captain Marvel meets Iron Man. We bring the values of justice, fairness and doing what’s right with the power of technology enhanced by humans to protect our customers and the universe,” said
focuses on understanding and minimizing risk for cyber attacks, which sounds to MarketWatch like Iron Man’s more cautious pal, War Machine.
Company’s choice: Vision.
“The Marvel character that best represents Tenable is Vision — Tony Stark’s AI/machine learning software in superhero form. Formerly known as JARVIS, before being transformed into Vision, he helps Tony analyze all of the technical systems for potential risk and vulnerabilities before the team builds innovative tech that ultimately saves the world.”
was taken private after years of investment, then bundled with some other cybersecurity assets before suddenly reappearing on the public markets with an initial public offering last year. Sounds to us like the Winter Soldier, a U.S. soldier who was thought dead before reappearing with some new programming and a flash metal arm.
Company’s choice: The original Ant Man.
“When it comes to cybersecurity, Ping Identity would be Hank Pym because of his intellect and scientific-minded style. He’s one smart guy who was able to tackle a bunch of problems by assembling a skillful team and developing innovative new technologies. At Ping, we approach our work in the same way. We’re dedicated to providing simple identity solutions for complex problems to secure the global enterprise.”
SailPoint Technologies Holdings Inc.
MarketWatch’s choice: MarketWatch was actually having trouble choosing for Sailpoint
before Mike Kiser, senior identity strategist for SailPoint, sent in a response that was so much more complete and awesome than anything we could have done, that MarketWatch decided to just agree and present it unedited.
Company’s choice: Shuri from “Black Panther,” with the following reasoning.
“‘Guess what I call them? Sneakers!’
“While it might be tempting to choose a more prominent protagonist such as Iron Man or Captain America, this quote epitomizes why Shuri, the chief science officer for Wakanda in Black Panther, would be cast to represent SailPoint in the Marvel Cinematic universe.
“Shuri’s strong combination of unparalleled innovation, a concern for people using her inventions, a fierce commitment to her beliefs, and a sense of delight serves to illustrate SailPoint’s role within the cybersecurity industry.
“First, Shuri delivers unparalleled innovation — in the scene from which this quote is taken, she’s introducing a wide range of incredible technology for use by her brother, T’Challa, showing how far ahead she is than the rest of the world. She’s even been described as (gasp!) smarter than Tony Stark himself (does his suit collapse into a necklace? I think not.)
“This innovation is not for innovation’s sake, however. It is created with a user in mind. T’Challa’s suit, his communication gear — even the shoes that she mentions in the above quote — fit perfectly. (Whether these items would fit anyone or only T’Challa is an open question, but it is never wise to doubt Shuri’s prowess.) She knows that ease-of-use is king, and she eliminates anything that would prevent the use of what she’s created.
“Not merely a technologist, Shuri is also a woman of fierce convictions. Willing (and of course capable) to fight in combat — she takes on Killmonger by herself, who has replaced her brother as the Black Panther — and she more than holds her own. In doing so, she demonstrates commitment to what she believes is right.
“In each of these areas, Shuri mirrors SailPoint in cybersecurity. By rethinking our approach to identity, we are constantly driving ahead like Shuri. Knowing that technology is not an end in itself, SailPoint has approached identity with a user-centric mindset. Furthermore, SailPoint is fiercely committed to what we believe is right — ensuring that organizations are able to protect their identity infrastructure and the resources with which they have been entrusted.
“Perhaps Shuri’s best quality, though, is the delight that she brings. That she would call noiseless shoes ’sneakers’ is hilarious — and captures her excitement about possibilities that she alone can see. All too often in cybersecurity, the focus is exclusively on what can go wrong, on the next disaster looming around the corner. SailPoint is rethinking identity to see, like Shuri, the possibilities. What new ideas lurk nearby? What technology will solve existing problems and open up new opportunities? That optimism is what makes Shuri a fantastic character, and it is what SailPoint aspires to in cybersecurity.”
The mixed verdict drew mixed reactions from actors like Ashley Judd and Rosanna Arquette, directors like Judd Apatow and other members of the entertainment industry on social media Monday afternoon. Many showed support for the accusers who came forward and expressed gratitude that Weinstein was found partly accountable. But some also shared their frustration that Weinstein wasn’t convicted of every charge in the Manhattan criminal trial.
“While it is disappointing that today’s outcome does not deliver the true, full justice that so many women deserve, Harvey Weinstein will now forever be known as a convicted serial predator,” wrote the Silence Breakers, a group of women including Judd and Arquette, that was shared under the Time’s Up organization’s verified Twitter
account. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Mimi Haleyi, Jessica Mann, Annabella Sciorra, Dawn Dunning, Tarale Wulff and Lauren Young and all the Silence Breakers for their bravery and resolve as they faced this man in court. We continue to believe them — all of them — and continue to be in solidarity with them.”
BREAKING: A New York jury has found Harvey Weinstein guilty on two counts – criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. also tweeted from his verified account that, “These heroic women broke their silence to hold Harvey Weinstein accountable, and a generation of sexual assault survivors heard their every word.”
Here’s how Hollywood players and other notables are responding to the Weinstein verdict.
In the future, when people think back on Harvey Weinstein, I hope the first image that pops into their heads is that coward shuffling into court w his fake walker
Today’s outcome in Harvey Weinstein’s New York trial is the result of the decisions of multiple women to come forward to journalists and to prosecutors at great personal cost and risk. Please keep those women in your thoughts today.
I am so grateful to all the women who risked their safety and well being to tell the truth about Harvey Weinstein, his enablers and protectors. They are heroes. So are the people who tirelessly reported this story. I feared for the worst and am so glad to be wrong.
Gratitude to the brave women who’ve testified and to the jury for seeing through the dirty tactics of the defense .we will change the laws in the future so that rape victims are heard and not discredited and so that it’s easier for people to report their rapes
Netflix Inc. viewers, perhaps inspired by the big Oscar wins by “Parasite,” will get a chance to brush up on their appreciation of subtitles as a selection of international series launch in March 2020.
Those include Season 3 of Germany’s period mystery “Babylon Berlin” (March 1, after its original Feb. 28 release was pushed back); Season 3 of the Turkish magical action series “The Protector” (March 6); the Brazilian version of the hit reality series “The Circle” (March 11); Season 3 of the Spanish teen drama “Elite” (March 13); Season 2 of South Korea’s zombie action series“Kingdom” (March 13); and Germany’s “Unorthodox” (March 26), a miniseries about a young Jewish woman in Berlin who has fled an arranged marriage.
And there’s plenty more for those who don’t want to read their TV, including Season 3 of the dark crime drama “Ozark” (March 27), a standup comedy special, “End Times Fun,” from Marc Maron (March 10), and a trio of original movies — “Spenser Confidential,” a comedy-thriller starring Mark Wahlberg as an ex-Boston cop in the latest adaptation of the iconic character from the Robert B. Parker novels; “Lost Girls” (March 13), starring Amy Ryan, a grim crime drama that premiered at Sundance; and “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” (March 20), with Octavia Spencer starring as the first African-American self-made millionaire.
is adding “Goodfellas,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and “There Will Be Blood” (all March 1) and 2011’s excellent “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (March 16), while “Black Panther” is jumping to Disney+ on March 3 and the final two “Lord of the Rings” movies, “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King,” will leave at the end of the month.
What’s coming in March 2020
Go! Go! Cory Carson: Season 2 (Netflix Family)
Always a Bridesmaid
Beyond the Mat
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
He’s Just Not That Into You
Kung Fu Panda 2
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Life as We Know It
Looney Tunes: Back in Action
Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Resident Evil: Extinction
The Shawshank Redemption
The Story of God with Morgan Freeman: S3
There Will Be Blood
Velvet Colección: Grand Finale
ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band from Texas
Taylor Tomlinson: Quarter-Life Crisis (Netflix Comedy Special)
Lil Peep: Everybody’s Everything
Castlevania: Season 3 (Netflix Anime)
Mighty Little Bheem: Festival of Colors (Netflix Family)
Guilty (Netflix Film)
I Am Jonas (Netflix Film)
Paradise PD: Part 2 (Netflix Original)
The Protector: Season 3 (Netflix Original)
Spenser Confidential (Netflix Film)
Twin Murders: The Silence of the White City (Netflix Film)
Ugly Delicious: Season 2 (Netflix Documentary)
Sitara: Let Girls Dream (Netflix Film)
Carmen Sandiego: To Steal or Not to Steal (Netflix Family)
Marc Maron: End Times Fun (Netflix Comedy Special)
The Circle Brazil (Netflix Original)
Dirty Money: Season 2 (Netflix Documentary)
On My Block: Season 3 (Netflix Original)
Hospital Playlist (Netflix Original)
100 Humans (Netflix Original)
BEASTARS (Netflix Anime)
Bloodride (Netflix Original)
Elite: Season 3 (Netflix Original)
Go Karts (Netflix Film)
Kingdom: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
Lost Girls (Netflix Film)
The Valhalla Murders (Netflix Original)
The Boss Baby: Back in Business: Season 3 (Netflix Family)
Silver Linings Playbook
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The Young Messiah
Bert Kreischer: Hey Big Boy (Netflix Comedy Special)
All American: Season 2
Black Lightning: Season 3
Shaun the Sheep: Adventures from Mossy Bottom (Netflix Family)
Lu Over the Wall
Altered Carbon: Resleeved (Netflix Anime)
Feel Good (Netflix Original)
A Life of Speed: The Juan Manuel Fangio Story (Netflix Documentary)
Archibald’s Next Big Thing: Season 2 (Netflix Family)
Buddi (Netflix Family)
Dino Girl Gauko: Season 2 (Netflix Family)
Greenhouse Academy: Season 4 (Netflix Family)
The Letter for the King (Netflix Family)
Maska (Netflix Film)
The Platform (Netflix Film)
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker (Netflix Original)
Ultras (Netflix Film)
Tiger King (Netflix Documentary)
Sol Levante (Netflix Anime)
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Netflix Documentary)
Curtiz (Netflix Film)
The Occupant (Hogar) (Netflix Film)
Signs (Netflix Original)
YooHoo to the Rescue: Season 3 (Netflix Family)
7SEEDS: Part 2 (Netflix Anime)
Unorthodox (Netflix Original)
Car Masters: Rust to Riches: Season 2 (Netflix Original)
The Decline (Netflix Film)
Dragons: Rescue Riders: Hunt for the Golden Dragon (Netflix Family)
will release Warren Buffett’s eagerly awaited annual shareholder letter, the company’s annual report and its latest earnings around 8 a.m. Eastern on its website, where investors can also peruse the chairman and chief executive’s past missives.
Indeed, the company’s ever-growing pile of cash, which had swelled to $128 billion as of the end of the third quarter, is likely near the top of the list for many investors. Buffett has frequently addressed the topic in the past, noting the lack of reasonably priced, “elephant”-sized acquisition targets capable of moving the needle for a conglomerate the size of Berkshire. The last such elephant was the purchase of aerospace company Precision Castparts Corp., for $32 billion, a deal that was announced in 2015 and closed in January of 2016.
Two years ago, Buffett used his annual letter to lay out the numerous qualities Berkshire looks for when it goes shopping for stand-alone acquisitions, including “a sensible purchase price.” He then went on to compare acquisition-hungry managers to hormone-addled teenagers.
With the cash pile still growing, investors will likely be looking for any sign Berkshire is ready to be more aggressive in buying back shares. Berkshire changed its buyback policy in 2018, clearing the way to make repurchases if Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger determine shares are trading below their intrinsic value.
“Our calculation of intrinsic value would imply that Berkshire is trading [around] 25% below its true value,” wrote analysts at UBS, in a Jan. 29 note.
Berkshire had repurchased just $2.8 billion of shares over the first nine months of 2019, they noted. The UBS analysts penciled in around $3.8 billion of buybacks into their 2020 projections, but said they see “potential upside to these numbers if there are no meaningful acquisitions made in 2020.”
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