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Shake Shack finds unwanted fans in Wall Street bears

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Lots of folks love Shake Shack’s burgers and fries, but the eatery has become a particular favorite among Wall Street bears.

Short sellers have been feasting on Shake Shack’s stock after the company reported disappointing sales growth while profit margins are squeezed by rising costs for labor and store openings. New York Stock Exchange data show that more than half of all tradeable Shake Shack shares have been borrowed from brokers and sold, a bet that pays off only when prices fall and investors buy back the stock at a lower price. The heavy level of what’s known on Wall Street as short interest is a sign that investors think more tough times loom for the popular burger chain.

Shake Shack, founded in 2004 by restaurateur Danny Meyer as a no-frills burger stand in Madison Square Park, has struggled to meet investor expectations since going public in 2015. Its stock rose to nearly $93 a share in the post-IPO euphoria but quickly sank and now trades for about $34.50. A new chief financial officer joined in May, and last month a board member resigned on the day of the company’s annual stockholder meeting. Shake Shack said the departure of the director, Evan Guillemin, who chaired the board’s compensation committee and served on its audit committee, wasn’t due to any disagreements.

The good news is the stock could rise quickly if the company can persuade investors that it’s on the rise again. If enough bears decide Shake Shack is on the way up, they would exit their positions, which means buying the shares and the rush for the exits would provide a powerful tailwind for this recently ground-down stock.

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Source: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170707/HOSPITALITY_TOURISM/170709952/shake-shack-finds-unwanted-fans-in-wall-street-bears

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WSJ: Cohen Under Investigation For Tax Fraud In New York

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Federal prosecutors in New York are homing in on possible tax fraud as part of their criminal investigation into the financial dealings of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

A person familiar with the probe told the Journal that the possible fraud violations center on whether Cohen underreported the income he earned from his taxi medallion business on federal tax returns. Those funds amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars Cohen received in cash.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office are also investigating whether employees at New York’s Sterling National Bank allowed Cohen to take out loans for that business without providing appropriate documentation, according to the report.

Cohen is under investigation for a host of financial crimes, including campaign finance violations and bank fraud. The former Trump Organization executive has signaled his willingness to cooperate with prosecutors and turn over information damaging to the president.

As TPM has reported, the once-lucrative taxi medallion business was a significant revenue stream for the Cohen family during the 2000s and 2010s. New York taxi moguls Simon Garber and Gene Freidman paid Cohen and his wife a monthly rate for managing the medallions the couple owned. The price of medallions plummeted in recent years thanks to the rise of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber.

The Journal reported that federal prosecutors have subpoenaed Cohen’s former accountant, Jeffrey A. Getzel, who also served as an accountant for Freidman. Freidman earlier this year agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors as needed as part of a lenient plea deal. The former “Taxi King” of New York pleaded guilty to one count of criminal tax evasion after an investigation into his own taxi businesses.

Source: https://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/michael-cohen-under-investigation-tax-fraud-new-york

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Cost Comparison Of EVs & Gas Cars: New Tool from Con Edison And National Grid Show “Clearcost” Of Owning An EV

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Electric vehicles cost more than conventional cars. It’s a scientific fact, as Homer Simpson might say. But is it true? Consolidated Edison and National Grid have both enlisted the aid of Enervee, a Los Angeles company that invokes “data-science, behavioral science, and digital marketing” to help utilities steer their customers toward the purchase of energy-efficient appliances. Now it has applied its skills to create a website for both utilities that compares the cost of purchasing an electric car directly to the cost of purchasing a similar vehicle with an internal combustion engine.

Enervee’s calculator rates just about every car sold in America, determines the base sales price, calculates the cost of fuel or electricity over time, figures in any federal, state, and local rebates available, and arrives at the bottom line, which it calls its “clearcost.” It also assigns an efficiency rating for each vehicle. The result? In many cases, the EV actually turns out to cost less to own then the gasmobile, as reported by Greentech Media.

For instance, a Volkswagen Jetta with the 1.8 liter engine lists for $31,463. The clearcost of a Hyundai Ioniq Electric? $26,675. But wait, you say, the Jetta lists for $23,245 and the Ioniq lists for $29,500. How can the Hyundai cost less? Simple. The Jetta will use an estimated $8,218 in fuel over five years. The Ioniq will consume about $2,818 in electricity over the same period of time. Also, the Ioniq is eligible for a federal tax credit of $4,543 and a New York State Drive Clean rebate of $1,100. The net result is the Hyundai will cost almost $5,000 less to own.

Want another example? Consider a Tesla Model X. This car costs $14,000 more than a Lincoln Navigator but ends up costing more about $3,000 less over five years when all is said and done. Part of that is the $11,744 in fuel costs the Lincoln will incur over 5 years versus $4,078 worth of electricity for the Tesla. Add in the full $7,500 federal tax credit (if still available) and the New York rebate of $2,000, and the electric car actually will cost the owner less over time.

Now, are some of these estimates a bit fluid? Yes, of course. Electricity rates vary across the country; tax credits and rebates may come and go; gasoline prices could go rise or fall. None of these factors are certain. However, what this indicates is that both utility companies are looking at demand for electricity that is either flat or falling and wondering how electrified vehicles might improve their business model. The cost comparison websites are identical for both companies except for the logo at the top of the home page. It’s possible other utilities might elect to get together with Enervee to help boost EV ownership among their own customers.

Fei Wang, a senior analyst at GTM Research, says the websites are an outgrowth of utility backed marketplaces that already exist. They began as a way for customers to process rebates on energy-saving devices more efficiently. “We have seen marketplaces adding features like scheduling contractors, signing up for demand response and additional utility programs, and now a platform to compare EVs and non-EVs,” Wang says. “These additional features show that utilities are testing ways to play the energy advisor role, exploring additional revenues (through revenue-sharing or referral fees), and improving the customer experience.”

So now when someone tells you that EVs cost more than conventional cars you have a way to show them online how that perception is simply no longer valid. Sure, the utility companies are doing this in the hopes it will boost their bottom line, but anything that helps promote the EV revolution is welcome news indeed.

Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2018/07/24/cost-comparison-of-evs-and-gas-cars/

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Daily News newsroom cut in half by Tronc as top editor is ousted

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The meeting lasted less than a minute. By the time it was over, reporters and editors at The New York Daily News had been told that the newsroom staff was being cut in half and that Editor-in-Chief Jim Rich was out of a job.

Grant Whitmore, an executive at Tronc, the media company that owns The News, presided over the meeting, which took place shortly after 9 a.m. Monday in the seventh-floor newsroom in lower Manhattan. About 50 members of the newspaper’s staff were in attendance. The group did not include Rich or Kristen Lee, the managing editor, who is leaving as part of Tronc’s aggressive plan.

The new editor-in-chief is Robert York, currently the editor and publisher of The Morning Call, a Tronc-owned daily newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

At 1:40 a.m. Monday, Rich went public with his displeasure in a Twitter post: “If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you.”

Since Tronc, which is based in Chicago, bought The News from New York real estate developer and media mogul Mortimer B. Zuckerman in September 2017 — for a reported $1 — it has been examining the asset. In a memo sent to the paper’s employees minutes after the quick Monday morning meeting, the company said that it had been working to transform the tabloid into a publication better suited to the digital age.

It was not the first time The News had made sweeping cuts. In 2015, under Zuckerman’s ownership, the paper laid off dozens of employees, including virtually its entire digital team. A company that once had hundreds of employees has over the years dwindled to a newsroom staff of approximately 75 to 100.

The latest layoffs were yet another blow to the tabloid, which was once a no-nonsense staple publication for New York’s working class and had the highest daily circulation of any newspaper in the country. In 1947, The News boasted a 2.4 million daily circulation, its highest figure.

In recent years, its print circulation numbers have fallen to roughly 200,000, while its digital reach over the past year is 23 million.

Source: https://www.inlander.com/spokane/daily-news-newsroom-cut-in-half-by-tronc-as-top-editor-is-ousted/Content?oid=11054868

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