Canada’s BCE reports rise in quarterly profit

Nov 1 (Reuters) – Canadian telecom services provider BCE Inc reported a 1.4 percent rise in quarterly profit on Thursday, as more subscribers signed up for its wireless services.

Montreal-based BCE’s net income attributable to shareholders increased to C$814 million ($620.76 million) or 90 Canadian cents per share in the third quarter, from C$803 million or 90 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

BCE, popularly known as Bell, said operating revenue rose to C$5.88 billion from C$5.70 billion. ($1 = 1.3113 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Debroop Roy and Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru Editing by James Emmanuel)

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Teva Pharm Q3 profit tops estimates, raises 2018 profit forecast

FILE PHOTO: A man cleans near the logo of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries at their plant in Jerusalem December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Awad/File Photo

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Israel’s heavily indebted Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA) reported a smaller-than-expected drop in third-quarter profit on Thursday and raised its earnings outlook for 2018.

The world’s largest generic drugmaker earned 68 cents per share excluding one-time items in the July-September period, down from $1.00 a year earlier. Revenue fell 19 percent to $4.53 billion.

Analysts had forecast Teva (TEVA.N) would earn 54 cents a share ex-items on revenue of $4.53 billion, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

For the full year it raised its forecast for adjusted EPS to $2.80-$2.95 from a previous estimate of $2.55-$2.80.

Reporting by Tova Cohen; Editing by Steven Scheer

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Brazilian airline Gol reports third quarter loss

SAO PAULO, Nov 1 (Reuters) – Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA (Gol), Brazil’s largest airline, reported a third-quarter net loss of 409 million reais ($110 million) on Thursday, reversing a net profit of 328 million reais in the same period of 2017.

The third-quarter results missed a forecast by three analysts for a net loss of $33 million, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv. ($1 = 3.7219 reais) (Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Dubai theme park operator working with Moelis & Co on debt restructuring -sources

DUBAI (Reuters) – Ilyas & Mustafa Galadari Group (IMG), the Dubai-based operator of the world’s largest indoor theme park, has hired Moelis & Co (MC.N) to advise it on a debt-restructuring, four banking sources told Reuters.

IMG has been in long-running talks with banks to extend the term and size of a 1.2 billion dirham ($326.7 million) syndicated loan taken in 2014.

The loan, led by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank ADIB.AD and including participation from Al Hilal Bank, Commercial Bank International CBI.AD, Noor Bank and Sharjah Islamic Bank SIB.AD, was partly used to build its Worlds of Adventure theme park.

IMG did not respond immediately to a request for comment, while New York-based boutique investment bank Moelis declined to comment.

Several theme parks have sprung up in the United Arab Emirates in recent years aimed at catering for the roughly 9 million population and the millions of foreign tourists.

IMG opened Worlds of Adventure in August 2016, with capacity for more than 20,000 visitors a day, and in December of that year announced plans to build IMG Worlds of Legends, based on children’s TV and gaming characters. At the time, there was no timetable for building the park.

($1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham)

Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by David Goodman

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Avon third-quarter profit surges on Brazil tax gain

The Avon Products headquarters is seen in midtown Manhattan area of New York, June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Avon Products’ (AVP.N) third-quarter profit surged as the U.S. cosmetics maker recorded a tax benefit in Brazil.

Net income attributable to Avon rose to $114.5 million or 21 cents per share in the three months ended Sept. 30, from $12.5 million or 1 cent per share a year earlier.

Total revenue remained flat at $1.42 billion.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru

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Neo4j nabs $80M Series E as graph database tech flourishes

Neo4j has helped popularize the graph database. Today it was rewarded with an $80 million Series E to bring their products to a wider market in what could be the company’s last private fundraise.

The round was led by One Peak Partners and Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital with participation from existing investors Creandum, Eight Roads and Greenbridge Partners. Today’s investment exactly doubles their previous amount bringing the total raised to $160 million.

Neo4j founder and CEO Emil Eifrem didn’t want to discuss valuation, calling it essentially a vanity metric. “We’re not sharing that. I never understood that. It’s just weird bragging rights. It makes no sense to customers, and makes no sense to anyone,” he said referring to the valuation.

Graph view of Neo4j funding rounds. Graphic: Neo4j

When you bring a company like Morgan Stanley on as an investor, it could be interpreted as a kind of signal that the company is thinking ahead to going public. While Eifrem wasn’t ready to commit to anything, he suggested that this is very likely the last time he raises funds privately. He says that he doesn’t like to think in terms of how he will exit so much as building a good company and seeing where that takes him. “If your mental framework is around building a great company, you’re going to have all kinds of options along the way. So that’s what I’m completely focused on,” Eifrem explained.

In 2016, when his company got a $36 million Series D investment, Eifrem says that they were working to expand in the enterprise. They have been successful with around 200 enterprise customers to their credit including Walmart, UBS, IBM and NASA. He says their customers include 20 of the top 25 banks and 7 of the top 10 retailers.

This year, the company began expanding into artificial intelligence. It makes sense. Graph databases help companies understand the connections in large datasets and AI usually involves large amounts of data to drive the learning models.

Two common graph database use case examples are the social graph on a social site like Facebook, which lets you see the connections between you and your friends or the purchase graph on an Ecommerce site like Amazon which lets you see if you bought one product, chances are you’ll also be interested in these others (based on your purchase history and what other consumers have done who have bought similar products).

Eifrem wants to use the money to expand the company internationally and provide localized service in terms of language and culture wherever their customers happen to be. As an example, he says today European customers might get an English speaking customer service agent if they called in for help. He wants to provide service and the website in the local language and the money should help accomplish that.

Neo4j was founded in 2007 as an open source project. Companies and individuals can still download the base product for free, but the company has also built a successful and growing commercial business on top of that open source project. With an $80 million runway, the next stop could be Wall Street.

Utility lines down in St Lucy

Utility lines down in St Lucy

The police are advising the public of fallen utility lines at Allendale St Lucy, the road is said to currently be impassable. (PR)

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Utility lines down in St Lucy

The police are advising the public of fallen utility lines at Allendale St Lucy, the road is said to currently be impassable. (PR)

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RPT-FOCUS-Japanese carmakers’ weapon of choice in Trump trade war: Flexible factories

 (Repeats to additional customers with no changes to text) By Nick Carey SMYRNA, Tenn., Nov 1 (Reuters) - At points along the
assembly line at Nissan Motor Co Ltd's largest U.S.
factory, workers wheel trolleys past shelves selecting parts
wherever they see a green or blue light. Nissan calls the system "pick to the light," and it helps
workers get the right part for whichever of six different
vehicles built at the plant, according to Ryan Fulkerson,
director of new model engineering during a walk along the line. "No matter which model comes down the line, the right parts
are waiting for it," said Fulkerson. Designing assembly lines to build more than one type of
vehicle dates back decades. But the ability to shift production
from one type of vehicle to another is now proving vital for an
automotive industry coping with multiple challenges. Consumers around the world are shifting rapidly away from
traditional sedans in favor of sport utility vehicles. The
recent rise in U.S. gasoline prices is a reminder that a more
serious oil price shock could make smaller vehicles popular
again. Trade tensions and tariffs threaten companies that ship
significant numbers of vehicles from one country to another. Weakening China sales, market stagnation in America and
fears of a full-blown trade war have only added to uncertainty,
spooking auto investors. For a graphic, click tmsnrt.rs/2EJOFSc Nissan and rival Japanese automakers Honda Motor Co Ltd and Toyota Motor Corp have been the best at
flexible manufacturing, auto experts and industry executives
said. Historically, Japanese automakers focused on
interchangeable processes and platforms out of necessity -
because one model for the Japanese market could not sustain an
entire factory. U.S. and European automakers have worked to catch up. For
example, Ford Motor Co's Kentucky truck plant makes some
of its best-selling pickup trucks and large SUVs on the same
platform, and is expected to hit full capacity this year. For a graphic, click tmsnrt.rs/2yxAj1O But General Motors Co illustrates some of the
pitfalls of relying on single models. While The No. 1
automaker's U.S. plants producing popular pickup trucks are
running around the clock to meet demand, others that make a
single car model are running well below capacity. At the GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, workers make only the
Cruze compact sedan, which has suffered a 26.5 percent sales
decline this year through September. The plant is running a
little over 30 percent capacity, on one shift. "We continuously look at our global operations to find ways
to drive greater efficiency and capacity utilization," GM said
in a statement. Workers at Lordstown are campaigning for GM to build another
vehicle at the plant to make it viable. The UAW has consolidated
two locals at the facility to simplify the negotiating process.
It also has agreed to allow outsourcing of some non-production
jobs and worked to significantly improve quality. Dave Green, UAW Local 1112 president, said his members are
on edge. "We're doing all we can to be competitive," Green said. "We
know that if we can't compete, we're out of business." "PEOPLE ARE MORE FLEXIBLE" Using one assembly line to build a variety of different body
styles requires careful coordination that starts with the
engineers who design the vehicles, and extends to the
construction of the tools used to weld and assemble them. Honda's assembly factory in Greensburg, Indiana started
operation in 2008 building Civic sedans, and later a small sedan
for the Acura brand. Last year, as sedan sales weakened and
demand for SUVs soared, Honda decided to add production of its
compact CR-V utility vehicle at Greensburg. Honda had designed the CR-V and Civic so they could be put
together on the same line, but engineers and workers at the
Greensburg plant had to make changes. Before the CR-V was introduced, Civic trunks and hoods were
welded together by one group of machines, or cell, in the body
shop. The metal pieces for the hood and trunk lid were placed in
an industrial-strength Lazy Susan and the same robots welded
them both. However, the tailgate of the CR-V is a bigger piece that
requires 37 more welds. The same system would not work for both
the Civic and CR-V. An entirely new welding line to handle the
CR-V work would be too expensive, and the plant had no space,
said Honda engineer Zach McCurdy during a tour of the plant. Instead, McCurdy and other engineers separated the hood
welding line from the Civic trunk and CR-V tailgate welding
system, reusing many of the robots. The plant bought 10 more
welding robots – fewer than originally proposed. During a
planned production week-long shutdown, workers reconfigured the
area of the welding shop. Honda has not pushed automation to the limit at Greensburg,
managers at the plant said. Workers load parts by hand into
fixtures that hold them in place so robots can weld them
together. Such repetitive work could be automated, said the
Greensburg plant's new model manager, Tom Hilfinger. But it does
not pay off. “People are more flexible,” he said. RUNNING AT A HIGH RATE The Nissan plant in Smyrna has two lines that can each
produce 60 vehicles an hour. The plant's 8,000-plus workers make
six different vehicles on two production lines here - three SUVs
and three cars, including Nissan's best-selling, higher-margin
Rogue SUV crossover. Last year Smyrna made 623,000 vehicles,
more than 97 percent of its capacity, and it is running over 90
percent now. Auto plants need to operate at 80 percent of capacity or
above to remain profitable. To keep Smyrna running at a high rate, Nissan last year
exported 100,000 vehicles to 70 countries. The automaker still
imports most of the Rogues it sells in the United States, to
avoid idle production lines at plants in Japan and South Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose auto
tariffs of up to 25 percent. That would be a direct hit to
companies such as Nissan, which imported two thirds of the
310,000 Rogues it has sold in America during the first nine
months of this year. Denis Le Vot, who heads Nissan North America, declined to
discuss the possibility of Trump's tariffs on imported vehicles. But when asked if Nissan could make those imported Rogues in
the United States if faced with a massive supply chain
disruption, Le Vot said: "Sure, we can." (Reporting By Nick Carey; editing by Joe White and Edward
Tobin) 

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ICR hires Park from Dimensional to help advise corporate boards

BOSTON (Reuters) – Financial public relations firm ICR will announce on Thursday that it launched a business to advise corporate boards on governance matters and hired fund industry veteran Lyndon Park to lead it, CEO Tom Ryan said on Wednesday.

Park, 44, joins ICR and its newly created Governance Advisory Solutions practice from Dimensional Fund Advisors where he was head of global corporate governance for the Austin, Texas-based investment firm. Earlier in his career Park was a vice president with investment giant BlackRock’s Investment Stewardship unit.

Park will aim to work with corporate boards on issues ranging from board composition to succession planning and what shareholders, including powerful index funds, expect from corporations in the areas of environmental, social and governance programs.

The creation of the new business signals that ICR, based in New York, is entering the fast growing business of advising corporations to protect against activist investors even before they come knocking.

Data from Lazard show that 145 activist campaigns were launched against 136 companies in the first half of 2018 alone, making them the two most active quarters ever. Elliott Management launched 17 new campaigns in the first half of 2018 and Starboard Value, Elliott and Carl Icahn accounted for nearly half of the board seats given to activist investors in the first half, Lazard data show.

ICR will be competing with firms like Sard Verbinnen & Co’s Strategic Governance Advisors, co-founded by Chris Cernich, a former top executive at proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), and PJT Camberview, founded by Abe Friedman.

Banks also offer activism defense banking services and advice to companies, a niche market currently dominated by Evercore (EVR.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), Lazard (LAZ.N) and Morgan Stanley (MS.N).

Park will help boards become more proactive and effective and brings “a deep understanding of activist tactics and motivations having led engagements and determined proxy outcomes for most of the key activist, hostile takeover, contentious M&A situations and other event-driven situations in recent years while at Dimensional and BlackRock,” said Phil Denning, a partner at ICR who leads the company’s special situations group which oversees the new unit.

As ICR built out its business it also hired Dan McDermott, a former senior associate at ISS, and former Houlihan Lokey banker Jake Noone in the last months, Denning said.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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GRAPHIC-From pharma to prisons, election-sensitive stocks that could swing

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Tuesday’s midterm U.S. congressional elections stand to have broad effects on federal government policies that could ripple through industries from healthcare and tech to gunmakers and prisons.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) near the close of market in New York, U.S., October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Investors are bracing for a split Congress, with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives and Republicans holding their advantage in the Senate, but are mindful that President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 surprised experts.

Taking a majority in even one of the chambers in the Nov. 6 elections would give Democrats a chance to more effectively oppose the Republican president’s agenda.

With tech leading the way in the Wall Street rally since Trump’s victory, here is a look at policies and stocks the elections should put in focus:

GRAPHIC: Soaring stock sectors since Trump elected – tmsnrt.rs/2P1Gm9n

HEALTHCARE POLICY: Perhaps no sector will be in the election spotlight as much as healthcare, which has been one of the top-performing S&P 500 sectors this year.

Policy efforts to lower prescription drug prices that have started under Trump could get more attention should Democrats gain control in Congress.

Democratic gains in particular could lead investors to anticipate expanded coverage or other changes related to the Affordable Care Act, possibly benefiting some insurer company and hospital shares.

Stocks to watch: Merck (MRK.N), AbbVie (ABBV.N), Amgen (AMGN.O), Mylan (MYL.O), CVS Health (CVS.N), Anthem (ANTM.N), Centene (CNC.N), HCA Healthcare (HCA.N), Tenet Healthcare (THC.N)

GRAPHIC: Healthcare’s run, from election to election – tmsnrt.rs/2CQkHtn

TRADE: Concerns over trade tensions between the United States and other countries, especially China, have roughed up manufacturers and other companies that depend on international markets, weighing in particular on the industrial sector.

One way the elections could be a factor: Trump’s newly forged pact with Canada and Mexico is not expected to be voted on until after the new Congress is seated in January, and there remains a possibility that it will not be approved if Democrats gain control of the House.

“We think headline risk is likely in early 2019 around possible NAFTA withdrawal that will be harmful to industries dependent on open trade across North America,” according to Height Capital Markets.

Stocks to watch: Caterpillar (CAT.N), Boeing (BA.N), Ford (F.N), General Motors (GM.N), Bunge (BG.N), DowDuPont (DWDP.N)

INFRASTRUCTURE: A boost in federal infrastructure spending on bridges, roads and other projects is one Trump agenda item seen as an initiative that Democrats potentially could support, should the two sides seek common ground in the event of Democratic gains in Congress, potentially boosting construction and materials stocks.

“The Democrats will have to balance the benefits of a real boost to infrastructure spending and the political risks of giving the president a win on that,” said Christopher Smart, head of macroeconomic and geopolitical research at Barings.

Stocks to watch: Granite Construction (GVA.N), Fluor (FLR.N), Nucor (NUE.N), Martin Marietta Materials (MLM.N)

TECH AND TELECOM OVERSIGHT: Scrutiny on Big Tech over antitrust and data privacy issues could pick up with Democrats leading the House, although “we do not foresee this scrutiny translating into actual policy,” according to Height Capital Markets.

That could spell more volatility for tech stocks, which have been the best performing sector since Trump’s election but have been battered in recent weeks.

“We see the Democratic party no longer as the unconditional defender of the tech sector,” Capital Alpha Partners said in a September report.

Height Capital analysts also see “headline risk” for telecom companies from any efforts by the House to address regulations related to equality on the internet, known as “net neutrality,” although the analysts see little risk of policy change if the Senate stays Republican.

Stocks to watch: Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O), Amazon (AMZN.O), Twitter (TWTR.N), Verizon (VZ.N), AT&T (T.N)

GRAPHIC: Taking stock of industry performance since Trump – tmsnrt.rs/2OZZQuR

REGULATION: If Republicans maintain their hold on both chambers of Congress, or perhaps expand their advantage, that could lift investors’ hopes for further deregulation of the financial industry and give a boost to stocks.

With Democratic gains, “headline risk for the banking industry would significantly increase as we anticipate numerous congressional hearings,” according to analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

Stocks to watch: JP Morgan (JPM.N), Wells Fargo (WFC.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N)

DEFENSE: Spending on national defense is one area that could come into focus for potential federal cuts, especially if Democrats make strong gains.

“A Republican surprise might well be helpful for defense stocks in the near term,” said Smart of Barings, adding that the near-term “expectation will be more tax cuts and fewer defense cuts.”

Stocks to watch: Lockheed Martin (LMT.N), Raytheon (RTN.N), Northrop Grumman (NOC.N), General Dynamics (GD.N)

IMMIGRATION: Should Republicans hold control of Congress, that could create expectations for harsher federal policies on immigration.

Such policies would also spark expectations for expansion of demand for detention center space, potentially helping to fill prison operators’ idle facilities or even generating the need for new ones.

Stocks to watch: CoreCivic (CXW.N), Geo Group (GEO.N)

GUN CONTROL: Democratic gains in Congress could pave the way for calls for more stringent legislation to control gun sales. But the prospect of stricter regulations on the firearms industry, paradoxically, could drive up shares of gun-makers.

Investors in the past have bid up shares of gun companies in anticipation of tougher rules, because investors predict gun owners will hurry to buy more firearms if they worry about impending restrictions. Indeed, gun stocks have struggled since Trump’s election, a time in which control of Congress and the federal government has been held by Republicans, who are seen as resistant to stricter laws.

Stocks to watch: American Outdoor Brands (AOBC.O), Sturm Ruger & Co (RGR.N)

GRAPHIC: Since Trump: Prison stocks soar, gunmakers struggle – tmsnrt.rs/2CUGosn

GRAPHIC: Interactive graphic: sector performance since Trump’s election – tmsnrt.rs/2OZZQuR

GRAPHIC: Interactive graphic: sector performance since Trump’s election – tmsnrt.rs/2PzLReG

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler

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