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The Tuesday Report

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November 1, 2005

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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Digital Signage Growing Due To Flexibility, Efficiency

Digital signage—those increasingly ubiquitous television and plasma-screen displays in shops, train stations, banks and other public spaces—is giving companies the ability to change messages quickly and target them more effectively than traditional ads.

While digital signage is a relatively new market it is expanding rapidly. Research and consulting company Frost & Sullivan estimates that companies spent about $148.9 million on displays, software maintenance and related costs, in 2004. They project that total reaching $490 million by 2011.

Digital signage is appealing for a variety of reasons:

  • The centralized control ensures that all promotional campaigns are guaranteed to start at the same time.
  • Materials can be created and distributed faster than through usual means.
  • Each digital display carries multiple advertisements, usually six although some carry more.
  • Companies can distribute new ads in minutes, whereas usual billboards take days.

The market for digital signs is expanding into diners, health clubs, arcades, bowling alleys as well as retailers...particularly clothing or home improvement stores. More digital media means greater barter opportunities in the marketplace as well.


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General Electric — World’s Largest Landlord

Famous for light-bulbs and jet engines, GE has quietly built one of the most profitable empires of office buildings, shopping centers, and apartment houses around the globe.

Last year the business, GE Commercial Finance Real Estate, earned more than $1 billion on its 7,500 properties, part of a portfolio valued at $29 billion. (This was seven times the profits of one of GE’s largest public rivals, developer Sam Zell’s Equity Office Properties Trust in Chicago, which has $25 billion in properties.)

GE has generated returns of more than 25% in each of the past 12 years, and their real estate business now accounts for 7% of GE’s bottom line.


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Competitiveness Study Shows Scandinavia Beats Out U.S.

Scandinavian countries, with Finland in the lead, have some of the world’s most competitive economies despite high taxes and extensive social security systems.

In the study, now into its 26th year, the Geneva-based World Economic Forum put the United States in second in its annual competitiveness league.

Four other Scandinavian nations—Sweden at third; Denmark, fourth; Iceland, seventh; and Norway, ninth—were in the top 10 in a table issued with the forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2005. Others in the top 10 were Taiwan, fifth; Singapore, sixth; Switzerland, eight; and Australia, tenth.

The U.S. enjoyed overall technological supremacy and had a “powerful culture of innovation,” the report said. It ranked low on contracts and law, “with particular concerns on the part of the business community about the government’s ability to maintain arm’s-length relationships with the private sector.”


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Clear Channel Ad Strategy Not Working

Last year Clear Channel Communications said it would run fewer advertisements on its radio stations, in an effort to win more listeners and increase prices for the remaining inventory. But the firm’s third quarter profits declined 21%, a clear sign that the much-trumpeted strategy to revive its radio and entertainment divisions has yet to pan out.

Revenue at Clear Channel’s entertainment unit, which includes its big live-concert operations, rose about 1% to $983.5 million. The outdoor division, which is preparing for a 10% initial public offering, increased revenue 11% to $668 million, in large part due to rising outdoor-advertising rates.

Overall, revenue rose 1.1% to $2.68 billion, from $2.65 billion a year earlier. Operating expenses climbed 3.7% to $2.01 billion from $1.94 billion. Clear Channel reported net income of $205.5 million or 38-cents a share compared with $261.2 million, or 44-cents a share last year.


Every barter company in the world is listed on our web site, click through to our Global List of Barter Companies.


BigVine Makes Strategic Merger With High-Profile Portal AllBusiness.com

Online barter company BigVine has propitiously taken advantage of an opportunity presented, merging with one of the highest profile small-business portals in yberspace—AllBusiness.com. It's a move that should pay big dividends down the road.

AllBusiness was founded in 1998 and provides business solutions to the small business sector. NBCi purchased AllBusiness last February for $225 million in stock. But, because AllBusiness was not yet profitable, the company's losses were a drain on NBCi's earnings...which affected its stock price.

It's assumed the spin-off of AllBusiness should allow NBCi to reach profitability faster. NBCi's stock is trading around $5 a share, down from its high of $106 in January.

The new stand-alone company, AllBusiness.com, will see BigVine's barter technology becoming the barter exchange platform which will reach a prospecting database of more than 1 million small businesses with 750,000 e-mail subscribers.

The merger is a coup for Bippy Siegel, BigVine's 36-year-old CEO. He will become the CEO of the new company, headquartered in San Francisco. And the former BigVine shareholders should be elated with the transaction, including venture capitalists Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, American Express, and buyout specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. Aggregately they will own 51%, with NBCi owning the other 49%. (General Electric holds a 39.3% interest in NBCi.)

Reportedly, NBCi will also put another $15-$20 million into AllBusiness, which will include on-air promotional time on NBC-TV and CNBC (NBC's cable outlet). This additional investment by NBCi matches the amount of money which has already been invested in the building of BigVine.


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Here & There...

  • Stephen S. Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley, says most Fed chairmen have been blindsided early on in their tenure and Ben Bernanke, he suspects, will meet a similar fate. (Alan Greenspan faced a stock market crash two months after he took over in August 1987.)

    Roach contends that the U.S. economy faces a far greater threat than inflation, namely, record account deficits (running at an annual rate of close to $800 billion in the first half of 2005) with the rest of the world.
    Foreign confidence could well be Bernanke’s biggest challenge when he takes over in January.

  • According to PKF Hospitality Research, for U.S. hotels the average ratio is 0.8 staffers per guest.

  • Nationwide mortgage debt has ballooned by about 70% since 1999 to nearly $8 trillion as lenders have relaxed credit standards. It’s estimated that a record $1 trillion in outstanding adjustable-rate mortgages could face payment increases in a year, up from $83 billion this year.

  • The federal goverment will pocket $116 million from the sale of stock options it received for an emergency loan package to the former America West Airlines after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

    That’s in addition to the interest and principal payments it will collect on the $429-million loan package the airline received as it struggled with a drop in travel after the attacks. The money comes after the carrier and US Airways recently merged under the US Airways name.

  • Have you signed up to receive a summary via e-mail of the Tuesday Report every week? If not, go to the top of this issue (right hand corner) and sign up!

  • Bill Gross, managing director at investment firm Pimco which oversees close to $500 billion in fixed-income assets, says the housing markets will cool, prices will fall, regulators will tighten lending requirement, and speculators will flee. That will cause consumer spending to be negatively affected and ultimately the economy.

    Gross is blunt, “Let me state categorically that the above sequence is barely questionable, almost inevitable, 99% unavoidable, and in modern parlance—a slam dunk.”

  • Want to become a Wal-Mart vendor? Stand in line...last year about 10,000 new suppliers applied to become Wal-Mart vendors. Only 200, or 2%, were ultimately accepted.

  • According to two University of Illinois accounting professors, the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, passed in 2002, is costing companies an enormous 120 million hours plus another 12 million hours by outside auditors—the equivalent of 66,000 people working for one year on nothing else. Estimated aggregate cost is about $15 billion per year.

  • If you've missed any of our weekly Tuesday Reports the past five years we have an archive of issues for you at the bottom of this letter...check it out!


We welcome your comments, questions, and observations.
Copyright BarterNews 2005. Redistribution of BarterNews content expressly prohibited without the prior written permission of BarterNews.

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