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La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Forel M.-B.,CNRS Center for Research on Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments | Crasquin S.,CNRS Center for Research on Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments | Bruhwiler T.,CNRS Center for Research on Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments | Goudemand N.,University of Zurich | And 3 more authors.
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology | Year: 2011

Lower to Middle Triassic ostracods from the Tulong section, south Tibet, are described here for the first time. Samples from the first two stages of the Early Triassic (Griesbachian and Dienerian) are barren of ostracods; the following stage (Smithian) revealed low diversity ostracod faunas; a substantial diversification in taxa began at the base of the fourth stage (Spathian) and developed into the first stage of the Middle Triassic (Anisian). Furthermore, exploration of additional feeding modes is developed in the Spathian and Anisian, with notable occurrence of filter-feeding taxa. High abundance of filter-feeding ostracods in Spathian and lower Anisian units indicates that benthic habitats became oligotrophic. These habitats typically harbored ostracod faunas of Mesozoic affinities, suggesting that the evolutionary turnover of ostracods was fostered by the declining input of nutrients from the Spathian on. Marked faunal similarities with other Tethyan areas, mainly the northern part of Tethys, are observed during Spathian and Anisian times. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. Source


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The about-face announced Wednesday opens another chapter in the dysfunctional drama that has been swirling around Yahoo for most of the past decade and raises more questions about the fate of websites and mobile applications used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Many of Yahoo's 10,700 employees may also be fretting about their job security, with CEO Marissa Mayer promising to announce plans for a cost-cutting reorganization late next month and many analysts speculating that the company's Internet business will be sold if the latest overhaul doesn't bear fruit quickly. The uncertainty and reshuffling threaten to cause more distractions at a time when Yahoo already is struggling to keep up in the race for digital advertising with bigger rivals such as Google and Facebook and nimbler startups. It also may raise more doubts about whether Mayer will be able to turn around Yahoo, even though company Chairman Maynard Webb said Wednesday that the board of directors remains in her corner after three-and-half years on the job. "The bottom line is the saga continues," Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a Wednesday note titled "The Never-Ending Story." The latest twists revolve around Yahoo's efforts to avoid paying taxes on a $1 billion investment that it made a decade ago in one of China's hottest Internet companies, Alibaba Group. That investment is now worth $32 billion, far more than the rest of Yahoo's operations. Yahoo began this year by drawing up plans to spin off the Alibaba stake into a separate holding company called Aabaco in what was supposed to be a tax-free move. But the Internal Revenue Service jeopardized the plan by refusing to guarantee the Alibaba spinoff would quality for a tax exemption. Under mounting shareholder pressure, Yahoo scrapped that spinoff Wednesday and said that it will instead try to break off everything but the Alibaba holdings into another company. That process could be even more complicated than the original spinoff and take more than a year before Yahoo shareholders get stock in a newly formed company that has yet to be named. "This means they have squandered an entire year and now it's going to take another year while the core business continues to get weaker," BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis said. With Yahoo hanging in limbo, prospective bidders could emerge for the company's Internet operations, which Wall Street has been valuing at next to nothing amid a decline in revenue. Analysts believe Yahoo's websites, mobile applications, ad services and well-known brand eventually could be worth $3 billion to $5 billion to a list of suitors that could include AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications, Comcast Corp., IAC/InterActiveCorp and private equity firms that specialized in buying troubled companies. Webb, though, emphasized there are no plans to sell Yahoo's Internet business. "We believe that we are tremendously undervalued and we think the best path to unlocking that value is by separating the Alibaba assets from our operating businesses and also turning around the performance in our operating business," Webb said during a Wednesday conference call. Those remarks seemed to disappoint investors hoping that Yahoo's latest change in course might be a precursor to a sale. Yahoo's stock fell $1.19, or 3.4 percent, to $33.67 in Wednesday's afternoon trading. As Wall Street's frustration with Yahoo's follies has grown, the company's stock has fallen by about 33 percent so far this year. Yahoo's board met last week to review Mayer's stalled turnaround attempts, as well as whether to move ahead with the previously planned Alibaba spinoff. Although the board unanimously voted in favor of dropping the spinoff, it emerged from last week's meeting with one less director. The company disclosed Wednesday that Paypal co-founder Max Levchin, a director recruited by Mayer, is resigning from the board to concentrate on running his latest financial services startup. Mayer said she believes Yahoo's Internet business in significantly better shape than when she arrived, largely because it is pulling in more traffic and advertising in the increasingly important smartphone and tablet market. Even so, Yahoo's net revenue declined by 8 percent from the prior year in the third quarter and an even steeper decline is forecast for the current quarter ending in December. When Yahoo announces those fourth-quarter results next month, Mayer also plans to unveil a shake-up that is supposed to jettison the company's least profitable products and likely will lead to layoffs. It will be the latest overhaul of a company that is now on its fifth full-time CEO in the past decade, all of whom have struggled to define what Yahoo's mission should be. In the backdrop, Yahoo also has had to ward off a hostile takeover bid from Microsoft Corp. and quell shareholder uprisings spearheaded by activist investors Carl Icahn and Daniel Loeb. Another activist shareholder, Jeff Smith of the New York hedge fund Starboard Value, had threatened to lead a mutiny if Yahoo's board hadn't backed off from the Alibaba spinoff. "The narrative around Yahoo and our valuation is complicated," Mayer said Wednesday during an appearance on the financial news channel CNBC. The handling of the Alibaba stake is crucial to Yahoo shareholders because of the money involved. If Yahoo is taxed on its gains from the fortuitous investment negotiated by co-founder Jerry Yang, the bill would exceed more than $10 billion. Yahoo also owns a stake in Yahoo Japan that's worth $7 billion to $8 billion. The revised plan calls for the Yahoo Japan holdings to move into the new company that will house its Internet operations.


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Activist investor Starboard Value launched a widely anticipated mutiny Thursday in a letter announcing its intent to overthrow Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and the rest of the company's board. It marks the opening salvo in a battle for control of Yahoo Inc. that could drag into the summer. This is the third attempted coup at Yahoo since 2008, all led by different shareholders fed up with different management teams' fruitless attempts to turn around the company. The two previous uprisings in 2008 and 2012 culminated in Yahoo giving board seats to the dissident shareholders. The unrest also contributed to the departures of two of Yahoo's previous CEOs, company co-founder Jerry Yang and Scott Thompson. Now, Mayer's job is in jeopardy as a prolonged revenue slump at Yahoo deepens nearly four years into her reign as CEO. "We have been extremely disappointed with Yahoo's dismal financial performance, poor management execution, egregious compensation and hiring practices, and general lack of accountability," Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith wrote in Thursday's letter. As part of a process known as a proxy fight, Starboard nominated nine alternative candidates to oppose Mayer and Yahoo's other current directors at the company's annual shareholder meeting in June. The list of alternatives includes Smith, who has been publicly skewering Yahoo for the past 18 months in an attempt to pressure Mayer into taking drastic steps that he believes will boost the company's stock price. Starboard, which owns a 1.7 percent stake in Yahoo, engineered a 2014 proxy battle that tossed out the entire board of Darden Restaurants Inc., the owner of Olive Garden. In a statement, Yahoo said it would review Starboard's nominees and respond "in due course." The Sunnyvale, California, company snubbed Smith's request for representation on its board two weeks ago when it appointed two directors with no ties to Starboard. The tussle with Starboard comes at a pivotal time for Yahoo. The current board is currently wrestling with a decision to sell Yahoo's Internet operations to a list of bidders that could include Verizon Communications, AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp., or stick to Mayer's latest plan to revive the company. Mayer is in the process of laying off 15 percent of Yahoo's workforce and closing unprofitable services, while trying to pull off a complicated maneuver that would spin off Yahoo's Internet operations into a newly created company. If the split is successful, Yahoo would then be left with highly prized stakes in China's Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan. Those holdings are the main reason that Yahoo's stock has more than doubled since the company hired Mayer away from Google in July 2012. But the stock has dropped by about 30 percent in the past 15 months, driven by a downturn in Alibaba's shares as well as a loss of investor confidence in Mayer. "I can't believe she is still there," said Phil Davis, CEO of PSW Investments, which sold its holdings in Yahoo in 2013. "They just make bad decision after bad decision over and over again. You almost think anybody else would be an improvement." After subtracting its ad commissions, Yahoo's annual revenue has fallen from $5.4 billion in 2008 to $4.1 billion last year with another decline projected for this year. The erosion has occurred even though advertisers have been steadily boosting their digital spending, but most of that money has been flowing to Google and Facebook. While continuing to back Mayer, Yahoo's board last month hired three investment banks to help evaluate potential bidders. Analysts have estimated that Yahoo's Internet operations, including popular email, sports and finance services, could fetch anywhere from $4 billion to $8 billion in an auction. BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis expects Starboard to push for the sale with the backing of most Yahoo shareholders. "A lot of people want to see Yahoo's value to be unlocked via a sale, but this board seems to lack some urgency in getting that done," Gillis said. "This (proxy fight) should help keep the board honest."


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Investors, who were already disappointed by low momentum under Mayer, were given more to worry about this week. A hedge fund with a stake in Yahoo urged the Internet giant Thursday to drop its planned spin off of its holdings in China's Alibaba. The hedge fund, Starboard Value, said the company should instead sell its "core" Internet operations. The request came with Yahoo on track to set up a new corporate entity holding its multi-billion dollar Alibaba stake in the coming months. "We have grown increasingly frustrated with your unwillingness to accept our help and your dismissive approach to our serious concerns about the current situation at Yahoo," Starboard said in a letter to Mayer. The Alibaba stake spin off plan has been clouded by concerns that it may not get tax-free status from US authorities, resulting in a hefty tax bill for Yahoo shareholders. Starboard said in the letter that the spin off of the entity called Aabaco Holdings "is not Yahoo's best alternative" and argued that "instead, you should be exploring a sale of Yahoo's core search and display advertising businesses." Based on current stock prices, Yahoo's market value is almost entirely from its stakes in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan, according to Starboard. The hedge fund was worried about the plan to transfer the Alibaba stake to the new company and distributing stock in what could amount to a taxable gift of some $30 billion to shareholders. Starboard would prefer that Yahoo, instead, split off its own Internet operations in a technical move apparently aimed at avoiding a tax bill. However the outcome would be the same: one company running Yahoo's core business and another handling the investment in Alibaba. "The important thing is for the spin off to happen one way or another," BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis told AFP. The original decision to split Yahoo's holding in Alibaba was seen as an attempt to calm restless shareholders, starting with activist fund Starboard which lobbied for the strategy. After slightly more than three years as Yahoo chief, the honeymoon seems to be over for Mayer, who is the latest in a line of chief executives who have tried to restore Yahoo to its former glory. Despite her lack of experience running a large Internet firm, investors embraced Mayer as a young engineer with proven credentials at Google and a fashionably glamorous image. She was welcomed as a savior after Yahoo was eclipsed by Google and left to wither in its shadow. On her watch, widely used products such as Yahoo Mail were modernized. Mayer also went on something of a startup buying binge, mostly using Alibaba money being pumped into Yahoo's coffers, in addition to launching a series of digital magazines. A promising entry by Yahoo into the fantasy sports games arena has caught the attention of law enforcement officials in New York. Yahoo was issued a subpoena in an investigation into whether daily fantasy sports games violate gambling laws, sources close to the case said Thursday. Like other fantasy sports sites, Yahoo allows participants to select players for a virtual team and then use the real-world performance of the athletes to win prizes. The companies claim they are games of skill rather than gambling operations. An array of senior Yahoo executives have jumped ship in recent months, and some industry observers question how much longer Mayer will remain at the helm. A headline "The last days of Marissa Mayer?" topped an article on Forbes magazine's website Thursday. If Yahoo's core business continues to deteriorate, "there is a good chance that in 12 months from now, Marissa Mayer may not be there," SunTrust analyst Bob Peck told CNBC. BGC Financial's Gillis added that "it's a difficult business to turn around." "It's a company that fundamentally needs to be restructured, and it's not her field of expertise." Several analysts, however, contend that just replacing Mayer will not right Yahoo's listing ship. "The job of the CEO is to innovate; to outsmart competition, to invest," Global Equities analyst Trip Chowdhry told AFP. "It is not her job to find a way to dodge paying taxes." Chowdhry saw Mayer as the right person for the job because she understands the technology. If someone needs to go, Chowdhry reasoned, it is chief financial officer Ken Goldman who is "not making the right decision." Silicon Valley analyst Robert Enderle faulted the Yahoo board, and not Mayer, for lack of turn-around momentum. "They knew she was going to have a steep learning curve and didn't back her up well at all," Enderle said. "The right board likely could direct Mayer more successfully and avoid the disruption and cost of replacing yet one more CEO."


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In the two months since my last "monthly" update, clean energy stocks fell precipitously in September and then recovered most of those losses in October, although not for the year.Income focused Yieldcos have been particularly badly hit, but my income heavy Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2015 model portfolio has done quite well in spite of this.  I attribute this resilience to my emphasis on current dividend income, rather than the dividend plus double-digit growth that many Yieldcos were promising before the collapse in their stock prices rendered the growth impossible.It now seems increasingly likely that we have seen the bottom for Yieldcos.  I first shared this opinion in an interview on October 14th, and followed it up in more detail in an article last week .  Clean energy stocks and the market in general seem to be following a similar, if less drastic pattern.By the numbers, the model portfolio was up 11.0% for October, and 3.0% for the year to October 31st.  Its benchmark (a 60/40 blend of YLCO and PBW ) was up 10.3% for the month but is still down 23.9% for the year to date.The six stock income subportfolio was up 5.8% in October and 12.5% year to date, compared to the Global X YieldCo Index ETF (NASD: YLCO ), which recovered 10.5% in October, but remains down 29.5% year to date.  The Green Global Equity Income Portfolio which I manage gained 5.3% for the month and is up 6.6% for the year.The four stock value and growth portfolio had a stellar month, up 18.9% in October but still down 11.3% year to date.  However, this portfolio is now outperforming its benchmark, the Powershares Wilderhill Clean Energy ETF ( NASD: PBW ), which gained 9.9% for the month but is down 15.4% year to date.The chart below (click for larger version) gives details of individual stock performance, followed by a discussion of the month's news for each stock.The low and high targets given below are my estimates of the range within which I expected each stock to finish 2015 when I compiled the list at the end of 2014. Alone among Yieldcos, sustainable infrastructure financier and Real Estate Investment Trust Hannon Armstrong retains access to the equity markets, a fact which it demonstrated with a secondary offering of 5 million shares at a price of $18.  The secondary offering and decline of the Yieldco sector knocked the price down a bit (if not nearly as much as other Yieldcos.)  As I wrote in the June 1st update, I was taking some profits when HASI was over $20, but I am holding on to my still very large position at current prices. Although the secondary offering knocked the price down, the offering was not dilutive to current shareholders when viewed through the lens of invested capital per share.  As I mentioned in a comment on Seeking Alpha last week, Hannon Armstrong had approximately $11.87 of capital to invest per share before the offering, and $12.57 of capital per share to invest after the offering.  So the offering should increase HASI's capacity to pay per share dividends by approximately 6%.  At the end of last year, HASI declared a $0.26 per share quarterly dividend generated by approximately $10.91 of invested capital.  If the company is as effective investing the new capital from the two secondary offerings since then, it should be able to declare a quarterly dividend of $0.30 per share for the coming year. At the current price of $18.01, that translates to a 6.7% annual dividend yield. International manufacturer of electrical and fiber optic cable General Cable Corp. reported that MM Logistics (MML) had failed to close on the second part of its purchase of BGC's Asian operations.  The first step netted the company $88 million for BGC's Thai operations.  General Cable believes that MML did not have the right to terminate the Purchase Agreement under the contract, and is "considering all of its options against MML under the Purchase Agreement, at law and in equity." Despite this news, the stock rallied strongly in October, perhaps because it had simply become extremely undervalued at the end of September. 3. TransAlta Renewables Inc. (TSX:RNW, OTC:TRSWF) 12/31/2014 Price: C$11.48.  Annual Dividend: C$0.84.   Low Target: C$10.  High Target: C$15.  10/31/15 Price: C$10.10. YTD Dividend: C$0.671  YTD Total C$ Return: -6.2%. YTD Total US$ Return: -16.8%. Yieldco TransAlta Renewables reported third quarter results in line with the company's previous guidance.  Weak winds in Eastern Canada were offset by strong hydropower and wind production in the west.  Despite this, the stock has continued its slow decline, perhaps because other Yieldcos (which have fallen much further) have become relatively more attractive. Canadian power producer and developer (Yieldco) Capstone Infrastructure received a somewhat favorable binding determination for its joint venture subsidiary, Bristol Water.  The determination partially reverses the former (very unfavorable) ruling by its regulator, OfWat.  The company again committed to maintaining its current dividend and reaffirmed its goal of bringing its payout ratio in line with its long term target of 70% to 80%. Leading North American bus manufacturer New Flyer again announced strong orders and backlog for the third quarter, and received 162 new orders for every 100 buses delivered over the last twelve months.  The backlog is now sufficient for the company to maintain its current production levels through the end of 2016.  Multiple analysts increased their price targets for the stock in response. Although I still consider the stock attractive, I trimmed my position (most of which was acquired in 2012 at a fraction of the current price) over the last two months to free up capital to invest in what I believe to be some very attractively priced Yieldcos such as Terraform Global (GLBL), 8point3 (CAFD) and Abengoa Yield (ABY). European bicycle manufacturer Accell Group continues to benefit from its leadership position in the rapidly growing electric bike market.  Like New Flyer, I continue to like the stock and its future growth prospects, but I took some gains to reinvest in undervalued Yieldcos. Biodiesel and specialty chemicals producer FutureFuel renegotiated its previously terminated contract to supply a bleach activator to Proctor and Gamble.  Analysts at Roth Capital believe that the new contract will allow FutureFuel to sell the formerly proprietary product to third parties, and believe that such sales will offset the decline in sales to P&G.  The stock jumped from around $10 when the deal was announced to above $15 today. Solar and rail Real Estate Investment Trust Power REIT has released little news as it awaits a final ruling in its civil case with Norfolk Southern and Wheeling & Lake Erie railways. Since the case has already gone badly against PW, I don't expect much further fallout. Energy service contractors Ameresco has been recovering from its previous low at the end of August, but I feel it remains significantly undervalued.  The company continues to sign large contracts, and has recently received upgrades from analysts at Oppenheimer and Northland Securities.  Vehicle and fleet management software-as-a-service provider MiX Telematics signed a contract to provide its fleet management and safety solutions to Halliburton's fleet of 15,000 vehicles in North America, a sign that the global company's two year push into the North American market is starting to bear fruit.  I continue to believe that MiX is massively undervalued on most metrics, especially in comparison to its North American competitors like Fleetmatics (FLTX.)Clean energy stocks and especially Yieldcos seem to be recovering from a bottom at the end of September.  Most Yieldcos remain at very attractive valuations, and so I expect their slow recovery to continue, especially since the prospects of more than token rate hikes from monetary authorities seem to be fading.  The weaker economic prospects which have been delaying rate hikes may take the wind out of the rally of many stocks, but income stocks such as Yieldcos and the first six on this list should benefit from continued low interest rates. DISCLAIMER: Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results.  This article contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice.  This article has been distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product.  Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.

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