Walmart

Beastly earnings

The pandemic is producing clear winners and losers among Americas retailers





 

Nov 21st 2020 | words 548


 

 

 

HOW HAVE Americas retailers coped with covid-19? Were still learning, declared John Furner, who runs Walmarts vast American operations, on November 17th, as the supermarket giant reported third-quarter results. He is being too modest. Walmart, as well as a handful of other big firms such as Target, its smaller rival, and Home Depot, a DIY Goliath benefiting from housebound home-improvers staring at dingy walls and outdated kitchens, are thriving.

 

Paul Lejuez of Citigroup, a bank, described the three months to October as another stellar quarter for Walmart. Total global revenues increased by 5.2%, year on year, to $135bn. If anything, international sales, which grew by just 1.3%, dragged down strong performance in America, which accounts for the bulk of revenues; Walmart has said it will sell most of its flagging Japanese supermarkets. By contrast, domestic comparable-store sales, a standard industry metric, rose by 6.4%. Home Depots quarterly revenues shot up by 23% compared with a year ago, to $33.5bn, keeping up the previous quarters pace. Targets operating profit nearly doubled to $1.9bn.

 

Shining retail stars mask darkness elsewhere in the industry. American shoppers rebounded faster than elsewhere in the rich world (see chart). But retail sales grew by just 0.3% last month, compared with the one before, the slowest in half a year. They softened in most of the 13 categories tracked. As investors swooned over Walmart and Home Depot, Kohls, a middling retail chain, reported falling revenues. The distinction between the haves and the have-nots has gotten even sharper, says Simeon Gutman of Morgan Stanley, an investment bank.

 

 

 

Mr Gutman points to the successful firms superior management of diverse, global supply chains. This allows shoppers to satisfy most of their retail needs in one storeparticularly important in a pandemic, when people are keen to limit their outings. Walmarts customers make fewer trips to the store but spend more whenever they do, he notes.

 

The star retailers biggest edge, though, comes from e-commerce. Walmart in particular upped its e-game just in time to benefit from a pandemic surge in online shopping. A survey of American shoppers by McKinsey, a consultancy, found that kerbside pick-up has nearly doubled from pre-covid levels, and in-store click and collect sales have shot up by nearly 50% from last year. Walmarts digital sales leapt by nearly 80% in the latest quarter, year on year, to $10bn. That is still less than 8% of revenuesbut more than in the whole of 2016, according to Morgan Stanley. The fast-approaching holiday shopping season is likely to bring even more online sales than usual, says Mr Gutman.

 

By doubling down on digital, Walmart is taking on Amazons e-emporium. The tech giant is not taking this lying down. On November 17th it launched its long-awaited digital pharmacy. This threatens not just chemists such as Walgreens and CVS but also Walmart, which sells prescription drugs in over 4,000 of its big-box stores. When it comes to e-commerce, Mr Furners humility is fully justified. 






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Economist | Walmart has another stellar quarter

Residents take tests for coronavirus at Pudong International Airport on Sunday. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Airport

The local COVID-19 case discovered on November 9 who worked at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai and his colleague who was confirmed the next day in Anhui Province were infected with a virus strain similar to that from North America, Shanghai authorities announced on Monday.

After genetic sequencing, the genes of the two cases were found to be highly homologous and similar to the North American virus strain, indicating that the source of infection was likely imported, Sun Xiaodong, deputy director of Shanghai CDC, said during a press conference held on Monday morning.

On November 9, Shanghai found the first new local COVID-19 case in Pudong New Area, following months without any local infections. The two patients had no contact with any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases nor any imported cold-chain products or related environments 14 days before they displayed syndromes, said Sun. 

However, both of them entered and cleared an aviation container that returned from North America on October 30 without wearing face masks. It was a closed container with a large amount of shock-absorbing foam and humid internal environment, noted Sun.

Shanghai reported two new confirmed local COVID-19 cases as staff-wide nucleic acid testing in Pudong International Airport was conducted on Sunday, the Shanghai Health Commission said on Monday morning, meaning the total number of new locally transmitted cases amounted to six from November 9.

As of 9:30 am Monday, 11,544 people tested negative for the coronavirus at Shanghai Pudong Airport, which tested a total of 17,719 residents overnight on Sunday after at least seven cases were found to be related to a cargo business at the airport over the last two weeks.

At present, the temporary sampling point at Pudong airport has been removed, Shanghai Airport Authority announced on Monday, indicating that it's only a rumor that free nucleic acid testing is being conducted at the airport.

The two local cases are both close contacts of previous confirmed patients, with 52 close contacts now under medical observation as well. 

The airport will further strengthen prevention and control in the upcoming winter months, carry out regular testing for high-risk operators in the cargo area, and arrange for them to receive COVID-19 vaccines voluntarily, the authorities said on Monday.

Shanghai also immediately declared the neighborhood at 126 Shunhe Road in Pudong New Area's Zhangjiang town where one confirmed case was found as a medium-risk region on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, emergency response level was downgraded to low from medium risk for Yingqian village in Pudong New Area, where the first local COVID-19 case was reported. As of Monday, the village has reported no new cases for 14 consecutive days. 

The city has declared several regions in Pudong as medium-risk areas include Xinsheng community in Zhuqiao town and Mingtian Huacheng residential area in Zhoupu town. Residents have been asked not to leave Shanghai but those who must leave will have to submit a negative test certificate for COVID-19 taken within seven days. 


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COVID-19 found in China similar to North American virus strain


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Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Airport


Shanghai Pudong Airport started on Sunday night testing all staff after the airport found several cargo handlers and close contacts tested positive for the coronavirus over the past several days. 

Meanwhile, flights into Shanghai were largely cancelled on Sunday night. As of 11pm, 277 flights had been cancelled, according to figures compiled by airline data tracker VariFlight app. A video posted online shows the road to the airport was severely congested.

Shanghai reported two domestic COVID-19 cases on Sunday, including another cargo handler at the airport, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since Friday to five.

Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Airport


A staff member at the airport told the Global Times that workers had received a notice requesting all staff be tested for the coronavirus on Sunday, which began around 3pm. Most of the staff were gathering on Sunday night to be tested. Photos showing the nucleic acid testing was underway at the test area on Sunday night, were posted by the Shanghai police on its Weibo account. 

Numerous videos posted online show the underground parking lot at Pudong Airport filled with long queues of people waiting to be tested.

Shanghai had previously reported a cargo handler tested positive for the coronavirus on November 9.  

Anhui Province reported on November 10 that a cargo handler had also tested positive for the virus. 

Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Airport


In total there have been at least seven confirmed domestic COVID-19 cases among workers at the Pudong Airport. The risk of virus being imported through international logistics is of great concern to health authorities.

A notice circulating online shows that all staff in the two main cargo zones of the airport are required to complete nucleic acid tests at the P4 parking lot of Pudong Airport by midnight Sunday.

The airport authority didn't respond to a Global Times's request for more information as of press time.

As winter approaches, sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred in many parts of the country heightening public concern. Zhang Wenhong, a prominent Shanghai-based infectious disease expert, on Sunday said the current epidemic is under control, with no continuous second-generation cases appearing in communities. Epidemic prevention and control in all parts of the country has been very effective, he noted.

Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Airport


 


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Shanghai Pudong Airport starts testing all staff after ...

Residents take tests for coronavirus at Pudong International Airport on Sunday. Photo: Courtesy of Shanghai Airport

The local COVID-19 case discovered on November 9 who worked at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai and his colleague who was confirmed the next day in Anhui Province were infected with a virus strain similar to that from North America, Shanghai authorities announced on Monday.

After genetic sequencing, the genes of the two cases were found to be highly homologous and similar to the North American virus strain, indicating that the source of infection was likely imported, Sun Xiaodong, deputy director of Shanghai CDC, said during a press conference held on Monday morning.

On November 9, Shanghai found the first new local COVID-19 case in Pudong New Area, following months without any local infections. The two patients had no contact with any confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases nor any imported cold-chain products or related environments 14 days before they displayed syndromes, said Sun. 

However, both of them entered and cleared an aviation container that returned from North America on October 30 without wearing face masks. It was a closed container with a large amount of shock-absorbing foam and humid internal environment, noted Sun.

Shanghai reported two new confirmed local COVID-19 cases as staff-wide nucleic acid testing in Pudong International Airport was conducted on Sunday, the Shanghai Health Commission said on Monday morning, meaning the total number of new locally transmitted cases amounted to six from November 9.

As of 9:30 am Monday, 11,544 people tested negative for the coronavirus at Shanghai Pudong Airport, which tested a total of 17,719 residents overnight on Sunday after at least seven cases were found to be related to a cargo business at the airport over the last two weeks.

At present, the temporary sampling point at Pudong airport has been removed, Shanghai Airport Authority announced on Monday, indicating that it's only a rumor that free nucleic acid testing is being conducted at the airport.

The two local cases are both close contacts of previous confirmed patients, with 52 close contacts now under medical observation as well. 

The airport will further strengthen prevention and control in the upcoming winter months, carry out regular testing for high-risk operators in the cargo area, and arrange for them to receive COVID-19 vaccines voluntarily, the authorities said on Monday.

Shanghai also immediately declared the neighborhood at 126 Shunhe Road in Pudong New Area's Zhangjiang town where one confirmed case was found as a medium-risk region on Sunday. 

Meanwhile, emergency response level was downgraded to low from medium risk for Yingqian village in Pudong New Area, where the first local COVID-19 case was reported. As of Monday, the village has reported no new cases for 14 consecutive days. 

The city has declared several regions in Pudong as medium-risk areas include Xinsheng community in Zhuqiao town and Mingtian Huacheng residential area in Zhoupu town. Residents have been asked not to leave Shanghai but those who must leave will have to submit a negative test certificate for COVID-19 taken within seven days. 


Best Way to Get Free Advertising in 2020  Thewaijiao.com

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COVID-19 found in China similar to North American virus strain



With the COVID-19 pandemic dealing a severe blow to the world economy, China is expected to play its role as a key engine to rekindle global growth in the future, global observers said.


The leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has adopted proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.


China's new development plan proposals, which stress innovation, domestic demand, quality of development and high-level opening up among others, will provide more development opportunities and bring shared prosperity to the world, according to scholars and politicians at the Understanding China Conference which closed Sunday in Guangzhou.


Opportunities from higher-level opening up


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected the global economy will contract by 4.4 percent this year in its latest World Economic Outlook report released in October.


At the Understanding China Conference, Martin Jacques, a British scholar and political commentator, said the ongoing pandemic has a far bigger impact on the world than the 2008 financial crisis.


The attendees of the conference also expressed concerns about the structural problems facing the world economy and the anti-globalization approach taken by some governments in the world.


In its development proposals, China highlights its wider and higher-level opening up, which is in contrast to the headwinds of protectionism and unilateralism.

"As committed investors, we welcome China's ongoing policy of higher-level opening-up," said Merlin Swire, chairman of Swire Pacific Limited, citing the country's new foreign investment law which took effect on Jan. 1, and its negative list for foreign investment that is getting shorter, enabling greater access for foreign investment in a wider array of industries.


"Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose serious challenges to the global economy, we have all witnessed China's resilience during these difficult times," he said, adding that as an engine for economic growth, China's post-epidemic recovery will be critical.


Yun Mingqing with the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy said multinational companies will gain more opportunities in China's higher-level opening up and that mutually beneficial cooperation should be strengthened to jointly create new technologies, new industries, and new forms of business.


Confidence and collaboration


The Chinese economy contracted 6.8 percent in the first quarter but increased by 3.2 percent in the second quarter and maintained a steady growth of 4.9 percent in the third quarter, showing a "V-shaped recovery." According to the IMF, China is expected to be the only major economy globally to see growth in 2020.


China's manufacturing and service sector activities stood in expansion territory for eight straight months, the latest evidence that the economic recovery continued amid the government's pro-growth measures.


The extraordinary sales performance recorded during this year's Nov. 11 or Singles' Day shopping spree also indicated China's potential in consumption.


The Chinese authority has said China has effectively contained the virus and brought production and life back to normal, and the fundamentals sustaining the country's steady and long-term economic growth remain unchanged. China has full confidence and the ability to maintain stable economic performance.


The confidence is echoed by business circles who find massive opportunities in the country's new development paradigm.


Noted printer producer Jolimark is versed in manufacturing smart and high-quality machines, such as intelligent coffee art and nail art printers, aimed at middle-class consumers.


The company said it is greatly encouraged by China's efforts to expand domestic demand and tap the huge consumption potential of the middle-class.


In such a situation, Yohei Kono, President of the Japanese Association for the Promotion of International Trade, believed the two goals of "expanding domestic demand" and "innovating in science and technology" proposed in the communique of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee are most appropriate.


The Chinese government's policy of appropriately expanding domestic demand will not only address the imbalance of regional development but also ensure job opportunities for its citizens who are not subject to international uncertainties, he said at the Understanding China Conference via video link. 



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China's new five-year plan

 


German business

Pride and prejudice

Many guest workers become guest entrepreneurs




Nov 19th 2020 | words 949

 

 

 

TO THE CONSTERNATION of Ugur Sahin and zlem Treci, much of the couples coverage in the German press focused on their Turkish roots. Our world can be saved. From Mainz. By children of migrants, was a headline in Bild, Germanys best-selling tabloid. Their story certainly defies the clich of owners of doner-kebab stands and fruit-and-vegetable shopseven if Mr Sahin and Ms Treci, chief executive and chief medical officer, respectively, of BioNTech, would have preferred to read about the details of their firms discovery, in partnership with Pfizer, an American drugmaker, of a highly effective vaccine against covid-19.

 

There are other BioNTechs, says Rosemarie Kay of the IfM, a think-tank in Bonn. Migrants are much likelier than the average German to start a business (see chart). According to a recent survey by KfW, a state-owned development bank, one in four of the 605,000 founders of firms last year had foreign origins. They are not limited to groceries and gastronomy. Spotted, established by Nik Myftari, a refugee from Kosovo, is a dating website. Novum, created in 1988 by Nader Etmenan, who fled Iran, has become one of Germanys biggest chains of hotels.

 

 

 

Immigrants to Germany (like Mr Sahin) or those with at least one parent who was born abroad (like Ms Treci) number 19.6m, representing 24% of the population. A study from the Bertelsmann Foundation, another think-tank, found that members of this group own 773,000 businesses. Of these, 469,000 are sole traders. The rest are employers, mostly in construction, retail and services. Their numbers are growing. By comparison, the number of other Germans who own businesses declined by 275,000 in the period, to 3.2m.

 

Germans are averse to self-employment, says Armando Garcia-Schmidt of the Bertelsmann Foundation. Many graduates prefer a safe civil-service career to the vicissitudes of starting a business. The booming labour market of the past decade helped skilled and unskilled youngsters land a decent job without trying.

 

Options for migrants tend to be more limited. Some come from countries with strong entrepreneurial traditions and tend to pick successful entrepreneurs as role models. Various studies show that explicit or implicit discrimination makes the labour market, even in good times, much tougher for migrants. And many have qualifications from their country of origin that are not recognised in Germany, so creating a business is their only chance to earn more than the wage from a menial job.

 

Mr Garcia-Schmidt expects the labour market to become more difficult for everyone once the pandemic has abated and Germanys generous furlough schemes expire. Covid-19 has made 2020 a terrible year for founders of all stripes. As the country emerges from the coronavirus recession, more native Germans may opt for self-employment as an alternative to joblessness. They can learn a thing or two from their migrant neighbours. 









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Economist | Pride and prejudice

It's no secret that Apple's iPhone 12 Pro Max boasts a larger main camera, but it's now clear just how enormous that sensor really is. iFixit has posted a teardown of the iPhone 12 Pro Max that illustrates the camera size in vivid detail. While the cam itself is visibly larger, it's the sensor-shift stabilization that puts it over the top the full unit makes the regular 12 Pro's main shooter look dainty by comparison. Apple might have needed to make "compromises" to stuff that camera into the smaller phone, iFixit said.


Many other parts are larger, too. It's not surprising that the battery is the largest for any current iPhone at 14.13Wh (albeit smaller than the 15.04Wh from the 11 Pro Max). However, the speaker and Taptic Engine are also huge, at least compared to the compact parts inside the 12 mini. Apple knew it had room to breathe with the 12 Pro Max and took advantage of it, in other words.


The Pro Max is about as easy to repair as other iPhone 12 models, with the glass back and waterproofing representing the only major wrinkles.


iFixit's teardown reinforces the dilemma facing many iPhone buyers. After a brief lull, it's once again clear that you need to buy the largest iPhone to get the best camera tech in the lineup. This doesn't rule out upgrades to smaller models in the future, but the physical limitations are hard to ignore for the 2020 models.


Resource: engadget.com


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iPhone 12 Pro Max teardown reveals a truly huge main camera

Don't expect the OnePlus 8T's flat display to carry forward to the company's next-gen flagship. OnLeaks and Voice have posted what's claimed to be early renders of the OnePlus 9 Pro, and the design appears to maintain the curved display surface of the 8 Pro like it or not, the flashy screen may come back. It would reportedly be a slightly smaller 6.55-inch panel, though, so the 9 Pro might be easier to wield than its 6.7-inch predecessor.


You'd also get the Galaxy Note 20-like rear camera bump rumored to be coming to the base OnePlus 9, although the Pro would have as many as four cameras in that space.


The purported leak doesn't mention much about specs, although OnePlus is expected to use the next generation of Qualcomm's high-end Snapdragon 800 series chips. It might also boast updated camera sensors.


OnePlus is said to be introducing the 9 Pro in March. That would be consistent with OnePlus' usual half-year increment, if slightly ahead of the 8 Pro's one-year anniversary. We'd be cautious about making too many assumptions, though. The 9 Pro design could still change in the next few months, and the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated releases for more than a few companies. This is nonetheless in line with earlier leaks, and suggests OnePlus wont try to shake up its formula in 2021.


Resource: engadget.com


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OnePlus 9 Pro leak hints the curved screen is here to stay

While the slightly revamped controller that comes with Microsoft's new console slides in as a mostly seamless upgrade, it's not so simple if you're trying to use it with Apple devices. 9to5Mac points out that a support page listing compatible controllers reveals work is being done on the issue, with a message saying "Microsoft and Apple are working together to bring compatibility for the Xbox Series X controller to customers in a future update."


It's unclear why it doesn't work already, but the new controller adds Bluetooth Low Energy connections that should help it save battery life once it's working. There's no word on Sony's new controller, which does have support in recent versions of Steam's beta software on PC, but 9to5Mac notes recent iOS developer builds have suggested work is in progress to make the DualSense compatible for use also.


Resource: engadget.com


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Apple promises Xbox Series X/S controller support in a future

Google is testing an artificial intelligence system designed to help blind and vision-impaired people to run races by themselves. Project Guideline, which is an early-phase research program, is an attempt to give those people more independence. They wouldn't necessarily need to rely on a tethered human guide or a guide dog to help them around a course.


To use the system, a runner attaches an Android phone to a Google-designed harness that goes around their waist, according to VentureBeat. A Project Guideline app can use the phone's camera to track a guideline that's been laid down on a course. The app then sends audio cues to bone-conducting headphones when a runner veers away from the line -- the sound will get louder in one ear the further they stray to the side. The app doesn't need an internet connection to work, and it can account for a number of lighting and weather conditions.


Google developed the system with the help of Thomas Panek, president and CEO of Guiding Eyes for the Blind and an avid runner. It's looking to team up with other organizations to set up courses with painted guidelines in a number of communities. 


The company has rolled out a number of other features in recent years to assist blind and vision-impaired people. Detailed spoken walking directions in Google Maps may help them to move around town independently. Chrome's AI can recognize images and provide descriptions of what they depict. Google's Lookout app, meanwhile, can give users an audio cue if there's a possible obstacle in their path and read documents out loud.


Resource: engadget.com


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Google is testing an AI system to help vision-impaired people