All posts by anggao2018

In Chicago, Apple unveils faster, cheaper iPad for students

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

Apple is returning to school with a new iPad and enhanced educational resources.

The new iPad costs $299 for educators and students, but $329 for everyone else, the same price as that of the iPad released last year. Unveiled at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep High School on Tuesday, with Apple CEO Tim Cook on hand, the new iPad boasts increased online storage for students of 200 GB, up from 5 GB, on its A10 fusion chip, with a faster speed and 10-hour battery life.

Tim Cook spoke at the event about Apple's educational efforts.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the event about Apple’s educational efforts.(Ang Gao/MEDILL)

The new iPad works with Apple Pencil, which previously could be used only with the expensive iPad Pro. The new stylus, Logitech Canyon, costs $49 for students, and may also be applied to iWork, including Numbers, Pages and Keynote.

“We deeply care about education,” Cook said, linking technology to the liberal arts. Continue reading

How college friends built a $100 million blockchain business

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

When China banned initial coin offerings, or ICOs, in September last year, a number of Chinese blockchain projects started looking for ICO opportunities abroad but encountered difficulties including foreign regulations, legal issues and language.

That was when Minhui Chen, who graduated from Columbia University in 2015 and was working as a consultant at Ernst & Young, sensed an opportunity.

“We saw a huge demand for consulting business at that time,” Chen said. “There were plenty of good Chinese projects with good technologies but lacked overseas experience.”

Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, or GBIC, founded by Chen and two friends from Columbia, started consulting for these projects and helping them connect with overseas cryptocurrency exchanges, investors and legal consultants. They also helped them in building token communities and expanding overseas.

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Sustainable investing has become mainstream

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

“Your capital can do more than generate returns.”

This used to be a slogan persuading investors to be more socially impactful. But now it’s a trend.

Sustainable, responsible and impact investing, or SRI, is an investment discipline that “considers environmental, social and corporate governance criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact,” according to US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, an association that advances SRI across all asset classes.

The total U.S.-domiciled assets under management using SRI strategies grew to $8.72 trillion at the start of 2016, an increase of 33 percent since 2014 and a 14-fold increase since 1995, taking up around 21.6 percent of total U.S. assets under management of $40.3 trillion, according to the latest data compiled by the association.

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Blockchain is creating prosperity, experts say

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

New York–The digital ledger platform blockchain is enabling a shift towards a safer, easier and more prosperous ecosystem by decentralizing assets and making peer-to-peer networks to govern all transactions, said blockchain experts, all Chinese, in a recent forum at Fordham University.

In a general sense, according to an article by Joss Everton on the Nasdaq website, decentralization means that no single entity has exclusive control over data or processes. Blockchain provides a basic level of decentralization because transactions are recorded by all users on the blockchain network, he stated. Continue reading

Twitter earns first profit, stock soars

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

Twitter Inc. earned a profit for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2017. The stock soared.

The San Francisco-based company reported net income of $91.1 million, or diluted earnings per share of 12 cents, up from a net loss of $167.1 million or diluted earnings per share of 23 cents in the same quarter of 2016. The quarterly results well exceeded the Wall Street estimate compiled by Bloomberg of $14.6 million net income and 2 cents diluted earnings per share.

Twitter earned a profit for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Twitter’s revenues grew to $731.6 million in the fourth quarter, an increase of 2 percent, beating the estimate of $686.4 million compiled by Bloomberg.

Twitter’s sales and profitability in the fourth quarter of 2017 were “a pleasant surprise,” said Michael Pachter, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities, in an email.

The company’s owned-and-operated advertising revenue was $593 million in the quarter, a year-over-year increase of 7 percent. This accounted for 92 percent of total advertising revenue of $644 million.

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Cognizant earnings beat expectations, revenues in line

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., based in New Jersey, is a leading provider of information technology, consulting and business process services.  Cognizant reported a loss of $18 million, or 3 cents per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with net income of $416 million, or 68 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2016. But adjusted earnings topped Wall Street’s estimate and the stock rose around 4 percent.

The net loss in 2017 included a one-time incremental tax expense of $617 million related to the U.S Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, according to the company’s press release. Without the tax charge, earnings per share were $1.03 in the fourth quarter, up from 87 cents per share in the same quarter of 2016, which beat the estimate of 97 cents per share compiled by Bloomberg.

Revenues rose to $3.83 billion in the quarter, up 10.6 percent from $3.46 billion in the quarter a year ago, which was in line with the estimate of $3.83 billion reported by Bloomberg.

“Consistent and solid execution throughout 2017, along with continued investments to further accelerate the shift to digital during the year, gives us confidence that we can deliver a strong 2018,” said Francisco D’Souza, the CEO of Cognizant, in a press release. “As companies that are already leaders in their industries integrate their domain knowledge with today’s tremendously powerful technologies like artificial intelligence, analytics and cloud, we see a new generation of digital heavyweights emerging.”

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Motorola Solutions tops estimates, stock rises

By Ang Gao
Medill Reports

Motorola Solutions Inc., based in Chicago, reported a loss of $575 million, or $3.56 per diluted share, down from a profit of $243 million, or $1.43 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2016. But adjusted earnings beat expectations and the stock rose 4 percent.

The loss reflected a one-time charge of $874 million related to recent U.S. tax reform, said Gino A. Bonanotte, Motorola’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, in an earnings conference call. Without the tax charge, earnings per share rose to $2.10 from $2.03 a year ago. The average estimate of five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was $2.03 earnings per share.

Quarterly revenues increased to $1.96 billion, up 4 percent from $1.88 billion a year ago, which exceeded the estimate of four analysts surveyed by Zacks of $1.95 billion.

“We finished the year with a very strong fourth quarter, capping a record year for revenue, operating earnings, cash flow and backlog driven by continued organic growth on strength in LMR solutions,” said Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions Inc., in a press release. “We are poised for continued growth in LMR and software and services.” LMR is a land mobile radio system, intended for use in vehicles or on foot.

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U.S. Home Prices Increased 6.2% in November

By Ang Gao

Medill Reports

The S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index rose 6.2 percent in November, up slightly from 6.1 percent in the previous month. The number is unadjusted without considering inflation.

A low inventory of houses in the market, especially a shortage of low-end houses, is putting pressure on home prices, said Bryce Gill, an economic analyst at First Trust Advisors.

Unsold inventory of existing homes for sale is at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 3.6 months a year ago and is the lowest on record since 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors website.

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