Oil Vey 2: The Wrath of Iran; Virtual Company with Real Billions; Dr. Pepper’s Outlook Fizzing Out

Double double oil and trouble…

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Image courtesy of jk1991/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Oil surged 6% today. Yay. It finally finally went above $30 a barrel today. Another yay.  But maybe you’re thinking that positively sucks as you notice that you have a quarter of a tank of gas left in your car. However, in the grand scheme of things, a very grand scheme which does not fit in this blog today, a gradual price increase in gas is a healthy economic indicator. Plenty of folks on Wall Street are attributing this healthy surge to some conversations that were held recently between OPEC and non-OPEC members. Namely, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Oh yeah, Qatar and Venzuela were also allowed to participate. The deal is that these oil producers will cap their crude production – just as long as other major producers follow suit. The last time an  OPEC/non-OPEC “deal” was made was 15 years ago. And like the one 15 years ago, this one is not expected to do much, except act as a starting point. How reassuring. Now, guess which country has NO plans to cap, curb or freeze oil production? Iran, of course.  Sure, the totalitarian-run country thinks it’s a bummer that oil prices are so low, but its leaders are so hell-bent on re-grabbing its market share after all those pesky international sanctions it had to endure for the last 30 years, that it has no intention of curbing production. By the way, conspicuously absent from any talks was Canada, a country that just happens to have the third largest oil reserves, and China, the world’s fourth largest oil producer. Hmmm. Wonder what we ought to take away from that?

All in a maze work…

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Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

At least virtual reality doesn’t bite. Swiss-based company MindMaze, a neural virtual reality platform – which is just as cool as it sounds – now has a pretty amazing valuation. After scoring $100 million in its latest round of funding, the company upped its valuation to over $1 billion. The company’s technology uses virtual and augmented reality and sells electronic headsets to hospitals in order to help rehabilitate stroke patients. The company also has plans to use its rehabilitation features for other injuries, and even amputations. Of course, since we are talking virtual reality, or VR as the cool kids call it, other versions will be available for video gaming as well. In an effort to boost profitability, the company is toying with the idea of selling the hardware separate from the software. It is the fifth start-up company of its kind, and joins the ranks of Oculous VR and Magic Leap. Apparently, investors dig the technology too, seeing as how they have dumped around $4 billion into various VR companies since 2010.

I’m not a Pepper…

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Dr. Pepper Snapple Group posted their fourth quarter earnings and there’s good news…and not so good news. Of course, the good news is the company’s profit. The beverage company, which also makes Canada Dry and A&W Root Beer, among other products, scored a $185 million profit, adding a buck per share and shooting down analyst estimates of 98 cents per share. Last year at this time the company earned $150 million with 77 cents added per share. The Texas-based company also pulled down $1.55 billion in revenue, a nice little boost from 2015’s $1.51 billion. But when we turn to the company’s outlook, we then find the not so good news. Despite people’s thirst, Dr. Pepper’s outlook is weak, expecting just a 1% increase in net sales. Even in 2015, the company took in a 3% increase. The company is figuring it’ll earn somewhere between $4.20 to $4.30 per share for the full year, even though predictions were for $4.34. Dr. Pepper may not be blaming the oil glut on the weak outlook, but there is another culprit – the ever blame-worthy strong dollar, which even managed to sully the beverage industry’s numbers.

Bill Gates’ Unappetizing New Venture; Have I Got a Jobs Report For You; Keurig Scores Dr. Pepper Snapple Exclusive

I’ll poop to that…

Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bill Gates latest philanthropic endeavor is nothing short of crappy as the Microsoft founder plans to take human waste and turn it into…potable drinking water. And electricity too. But clearly it’s the water part that’s got people scrambling for their bottled water. With the help of the Omniprocessor, conveniently designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wants to help prevent the spread of diseases caused by water contamination and improve the quality of life in many underdeveloped countries. Oh the irony. With Senegal getting first dibs on a plant, the process can take waste from 100,000 people and convert it into 86,000 liters of potable water and a net 250 kilowatts of electricity. Be sure to see the pic of Bill Gates drinking a glass of the poop water. “Having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.” That’s just…lovely.

Good Economic Synes…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ADP graciously informs us today that 241,000 jobs were created in the private sector in December, smashing conservative estimates of 235,000 and making it the fourth straight month of job growth over 200,000. And while unemployment is expected to stubbornly stay at its 5.8% perch, but perhaps dip ever so slightly to 5.7%, signs still point to an expanding economy and a positive report from the Labor Department, expected Friday. But what’s even better, is that for the year, the private sector added more than 2.5 million jobs. Would it be overly optimistic to hope that the economy might return to full employment next year? Hmmm.

I’m a pepper?

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Keurig Green Mountain just scored a sweet bubbly deal with Dr. Pepper Snapple to make individual capsules that will be used on Keurig’s cold beverage system, due out in the fall. The deal makes Keurig Green Mountain the exclusive provider in the US and Canada. Dr. Pepper Snapple, which also makes Sunkist and Hawaiian Punch, has been struggling along with its rival/competition soda makers to stay relevant in a market that is shifting away from sodas…and in some cases apparently, towards poop water. In fact, volume sales of carbonated soft drinks fell 3% in 2013. But for Keurig, based in Waterbury, Vermont, this was clearly seen as a positive move by Wall Street as shares of the company bubbled up more than 3% in pre-market trading.