Soaring energy prices and supply issues are leading to calls for the United States and other countries around the world to release more of their oil reserves.
Oil and natural gas prices continue to climb as Russian supplies are diminished in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
North American oil prices jumped to nearly $120 US per barrel on Monday, a sizable increase compared to $75 at the beginning of January and about $60 one year ago.
“There’s no cushion in the system as we get more interruptions from Russia,” said John Hess, the chief executive of Hess Corp., a New York-based oil company. He made the comments during one of the opening events of CERAWeek by S&P Global, one of the largest energy conferences in the world, which began Monday.
‘This is an emergency’
“This is an emergency. I think it’s time that the IEA (International Energy Agency) and the U.S. release 120 million barrels out of the strategic reserves and commit to doing another 120 million barrels next month and say more is coming if needed,” he said.
Last week, the U.S. and other member states of the IEA agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves to compensate for supply disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Hess said those volumes are inadequate.
The chief executive of Malaysian state oil firm Petronas echoed that sentiment.
“It’s bedlam, it’s just chaos. There are really no fundamentals now driving it,” Tengku Muhammad Taufik said about the climbing commodity prices.
Prices are especially volatile because of the uncertainty of how long the conflict in Ukraine will last and whether the U.S. and European countries will move to block Russian exports of oil.
Canadian oil production reached a record high in recent months and output from some American states such as Texas and New Mexico is increasing too. Still, global demand is rising for oil and natural gas as economic activity picks up from the depths of the pandemic.
There is a renewed focus around the world on energy security for the first time in decades, unlike anything seen “of this dimension since the 1970s,” said Daniel Yergin, vice-chair of S&P Global.
Investments in oil industry dropped during pandemic
Several oilpatch companies say they are increasing spending to increase production, but it’s not a quick and easy process to ramp up supplies.
“We’re working hard to make sure we’re maximizing production,” said Darren Woods, chief executive of ExxonMobil.
It’s a challenge though, he said, because investments in the industry dropped sharply during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, John Kerry, cautioned there is no immediate relief to high energy prices.
“Energy is turbulent right now. The volatility of price, supply and demand. It’s something we’re going to live with for a little while here,” he said.
In Ukraine, Russian forces continued to pummel Ukrainian cities on Monday, with no sign of the hostilities ending soon.
“I think that we are going to see increased Russian advances and semi-control over cities,” said Carlos Pascual, a senior vice president of global energy with S&P Global and a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
“If you’re wondering whether this is going to be over in a few months — I don’t think it’s going to be over in a few months. I think we’re facing something that could play itself out over, potentially, even years,” he said.
Just spoke to <a href=”https://twitter.com/sonyasavage?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@sonyasavage</a> in Houston about how it feels to hear the U.S. is speaking to Venezuela about supplying oil… considering the fate of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/KXL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#KXL</a> (which the AB gov’t was financially backing)<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CERAWeek?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CERAWeek</a> <a href=”https://t.co/AxebTBRdh6″>pic.twitter.com/AxebTBRdh6</a>
TD holds off on dividend hike; Beats Q2 profit estimates – BNN
The Toronto-Dominion Bank beat profit expectations in its latest quarter despite muted performances across its major divisions. It also became the only major bank thus far this earnings season to not raise its quarterly dividend.
TD said its net income in the fiscal second quarter, which ended April 30, rose three per cent year-over-year to $3.81 billion. On an adjusted basis, its profit fell to $2.02 per share from $2.04 a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected $1.93 in adjusted earnings per share. Overall credit quality improved sequentially, as TD set aside $27 million for loans that could go bad, compared to $72 million in the prior quarter.
Revenue and expenses in TD’s Canadian retail banking unit both rose nine per cent year-over-year, while profit inched up two per cent to $2.24 billion. Lending activity ramped up in the quarter, with the total personal loan book hitting an average of $402.7 billion, compared to $373.3 billion a year earlier, while business loans jumped 16 per cent to almost $101 billion.
A number of one-time items affected profit in TD’s U.S. retail banking unit. On an adjusted basis, net income in that business fell 10 per cent year-over-year to $769 million. TD said the downturn was caused in part by a much more moderate release of funds from loan loss provisions (US$15 million, compared to US$173 million a year earlier).
TD is awaiting final regulatory approvals to proceed with its US$13.4-billion takeover of Memphis, Tenn.-based First Horizon Corp. That transaction was announced in February; at the time, TD said the deal would make it a top-six bank in the United States thanks to the addition of First Horizon’s 412 branches and more than 1 million customers. It also said it hoped to close the deal in the first quarter of fiscal 2023, which is a period that ends Jan. 31, 2023.
Meanwhile, similar to many of its peers that reported earlier this week, TD’s wholesale banking unit (which includes capital markets activity) suffered profit erosion as net income fell six per cent year-over-year to $359 million.
“As we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic we face new economic uncertainties and growing geopolitical tensions. TD has proven its ability to adapt to changing circumstances and deliver performance and progress,” said Bharat Masrani, TD’s president and chief executive officer, in a release.
TD most recently announced a dividend hike (to $0.89 per share) in December; before that, the last hike was announced in February 2020. Shortly thereafter, Canada’s banks were told by their regulator (the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions) to hold off on dividend hikes and share buybacks due to the pandemic. That guidance was lifted in November.
Prior to OSFI’s intervention, TD regularly raised its dividend on an annual basis. However, Masrani has indicated dividend hikes aren’t on a pre-set schedule.
“It’s not a bad assumption that we like to look at this on an annual basis, and then hopefully we get into that cycle. But it doesn’t mean that we will not periodically look at it on a different cycle based on circumstance and the environment we might be in,” he said during a conference call with analysts on Dec. 2.
“Generally, our cycle has been annual and that has worked out reasonably well for us, but it will depend on the environment going forward.”
Broadcom Agrees to Purchase VMware Shaking Up the Industry – ServeTheHome
This is one of the more interesting acquisitions we have seen in years. Broadcom (formerly, and trading under the ticker symbol for Avago that purchased Broadcom) is traditionally a hardware player that is going to become a big software player overnight. This is part of the company’s shift to enterprise software after purchasing CA Technologies. It also follows a fairly predictable plan for the company’s leadership.
Broadcom Agrees to Purchase VMware
While the company is now Broadcom, it was previously Avago. Many longtime readers know that we have chronicled the business practices of Broadcom/ Avago for some time, even back to 2016 in the Business side of PLX acquisition: Impediment to NVMe everywhere. After Broadcom’s failed Qualcomm bid in 2018 due to anti-trust concerns, the company pivoted to add enterprise software. The company purchased CA Technologies and Symantec’s enterprise security business now building a software unit that VMware will fit into.
Many in the hardware industry that we cover know Broadcom-Avago’s game plan. They purchase companies like PLX that makes PCIe switches. These are usually the best components in markets with few if any competitors (Microchip is probably Broadcom’s biggest competitor in the PCIe switch space.) In these low competition markets, Broadcom raises prices and also puts heavy bundling burdens on hardware companies where supply or reasonable pricing are withheld.
This is not just done to small server makers. A great example where we saw this to the detriment of customers we saw in our An Important HPE ProLiant DL325 Gen10 Change Since Our Review piece. Here in the top center of the photo, you can see the pads and silkscreen for the “BCM5719” 1GbE NIC. On the right, you can see an Intel i350-t4 add-in NIC. This may seem confusing.
Here is the previous generation’s same area (but with the PCIe riser installed). Here you can see the NIC:
What happened to make HPE not place the designed-in Broadcom 1GbE controller is that Broadcom raised prices several fold on a fairly commoditized part for HPE servers. Quad-port 1GbE NICs are 4Gbps in an era where 200Gbps NICs were available making them the relatively low-value NICs in many servers. The value of these NICs is that Broadcom was designed into the ProLiant Gen10 line. HPE’s option at that point was to either capitulate and pay higher prices or do what we see in the above photo and move the NIC to an add-in card with an Intel controller. We strongly prefer the Intel i350 to Broadcom’s chips in this line, but that was not the point. Instead, the expansion slot had to be used for an additional add-in NIC and could not be used for higher-speed NICs. We had been deploying these servers with 40GbE dual-port NICs in this slot, and could not in this server because of the Broadcom move.
Not only was a massively increased pricing on a designed-in part an annoyance to HPE, and many of HPE’s customers, but it also meant another PCB had to be added to keep costs reasonable. Given the focus on environmental consciousness, adding another PCB is not what we would want to see. From rumors that we heard, keeping the Broadcom chip, given the pricing and HPE’s margins, would have likely meant a greater than $100 increase in price for the servers even the lower-end models that sell for $1000-$1300. This is on a relatively low-value chip. The Intel i350 at this time was in the mid-$20’s.
While this may seem like an isolated case, we have heard stories like PCIe switches getting 3x more expensive overnight post-PLX acquisition and to this day, server manufacturers often tell us about Broadcom’s heavy-handed business practices. These have happened beyond just PCIe switches and NICs and even with things like LSI controllers after that acquisition.
That is the company that is buying VMware. While we are discussing hardware lock-in due to being designed-in, VMware customers should be very cautious. Broadcom’s playbook is to push for higher pricing in its acquisitions and across its portfolio to customers that have little ability to switch, like with the NICs in the HPE server. Companies running VMware today have high switching costs, and so Broadcom likely knows that it can sell the same software and support for more without having many companies leave.
For Michael Dell and many of those that will have a liquidity event with VMware’s purchase, this is a great day. For customers of VMware, it may be worth thinking about contingencies if prices rise. Increased pricing may be fine but from the server hardware industry perspective, VMware customers should expect this under new leadership. Get ready for a big change in the industry.
Twitter investors sue Elon Musk over stock manipulation claims – Engadget
Elon Musk is facing yet another lawsuit over his planned Twitter acquisition. Reuters reports investors have sued the Tesla CEO for allegedly manipulating stock prices ahead of his $44 billion takeover bid. As in an earlier suit, Musk supposedly saved $156 million by failing to disclose that he’d bought more than a 5 percent stake in Twitter by March 14th, violating SEC rules. The investors said Musk only disclosed his investments in early April, when he revealed that he owned a 9.2 percent slice of the social network.
Musk’s post-announcement statements also amounted to manipulation, the investors said. They were particularly concerned about his claim that the deal was “on hold” until Twitter could prove that bots weren’t a major problem and represented less than 5 percent of accounts.
The plaintiffs in the case are hoping for class action status, and ask for unspecified damages if they’re successful. Twitter has declined comment, and Musk hadn’t responded to Reuters‘ requests for comment.
Musk’s hoped-for purchase has already sparked a flurry of legal action. In addition to the previously mentioned lawsuit from April, a Florida pension fund sued Musk for purportedly violating a Delaware law that would bar the merger until 2025. The SEC, meanwhile, is investigating Musk’s disclosure timing. There’s no certainty any of these actions will succeed, but they still pose serious challenges to Musk’s ambitions.
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