News Article | May 4, 2017
DENTON, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SBH) (the “Company”) today announced financial results for its fiscal 2017 second quarter ended March 31, 2017. The Company will hold a conference call today at 7:30 a.m. (Central) to discuss these results and its business. Reported diluted earnings per share in the second quarter were $0.40 compared to $0.41 in the prior year’s second quarter. Adjusted diluted earnings per share, excluding $9.2 million of charges related to the restructuring plan announced by the Company in February 2017 (the “Restructuring Plan”), were $0.44 in the second quarter, up 7.3% vs. the prior year. Consolidated net sales were $966.5 million in the second quarter, a decrease of 1.4% from the prior year. A 2.0% decline in same store sales was partially offset by incremental sales from new stores. The Company lost a day of selling in the second quarter due to the prior year being a Leap Year, and gained a day of selling in the second quarter due to the shift of this year’s Easter holiday to April. The net result of these two calendar items negatively impacted reported same store sales growth in the quarter by approximately 60 basis points. Additionally, a stronger U.S. dollar negatively impacted reported revenue by $9.8 million, or approximately 1.0%. Gross margin for the second quarter was 50.5%, an increase of 80 basis points from the prior year, driven primarily by strategic pricing initiatives, decreased promotional activity and increased vendor allowances. Selling, General and Administrative (“SG&A”) expenses in the second quarter, excluding depreciation and amortization expense, were 34.3% of sales, a decrease of 30 basis points from the prior year’s adjusted SG&A. Reported operating earnings and operating margin in the second quarter were $119.0 million and 12.3%, respectively, compared to reported operating earnings and operating margin of $122.5 million and 12.5%, respectively, in the prior year. Adjusted operating earnings in the second quarter, excluding the $9.2 million of charges related to the Restructuring Plan, was $128.2 million, growth of 3.2% from the prior year’s adjusted operating earnings. Adjusted operating margin was 13.3%, up 60 basis points vs. the prior year’s adjusted operating margin. The Company repurchased (and subsequently retired) a total of 4.4 million shares of common stock during the quarter at an aggregate cost of $101.9 million. Share repurchases through the first two quarters of the fiscal year totaled approximately $169 million. “Our financial results in the second quarter reflect our teams’ sharp focus on gross margin management and operating expense discipline, both of which enabled us to deliver solid mid-single digit growth in adjusted operating income and even stronger growth in adjusted earnings per share,” stated Chris Brickman, the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Store traffic was especially challenging in January and February, but improved in the last month of the quarter. Additionally, revenue performance in April – the first month of our third fiscal quarter – was in line with the expectations that are included in the full year revenue guidance being communicated today. We are focused on ‘controlling the things we can control’ and, most importantly, on profitable growth. As such, I was very pleased with the earnings delivery in the quarter. “We executed on many of our most important initiatives in the quarter, including zone and tactical pricing, as well as the introduction of new brands to BSG and Sally. In early April, we launched the test of our new Sally Beauty loyalty program and early customer feedback has been very positive. Further, we seamlessly executed on the most significant components of the Restructuring Plan that we announced in early February. “We will continue to execute on our strategic priorities, while being financially prudent in order to protect earnings growth. We have many reasons to be confident going into the second half of the fiscal year and into 2018, despite the continuing challenging retail environment. We recognize there is work to be done, but we believe we are taking the right steps to accelerate growth in both revenue and profitability.” Interest expense in the fiscal second quarter was $26.8 million compared to $27.0 million in the prior year. The effective income tax rate in the fiscal second quarter was 38.2%, up 120 basis points vs. the prior year. The higher effective tax rate is due primarily to a non-recurring tax deduction in the prior year’s second quarter. Reported net earnings in the fiscal second quarter were $57.0 million, a decrease of $3.2 million, or 5.3%, from the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter was $158.5 million, an increase of $7.6 million, or 5.0%, from the prior year. Adjusted EBITDA margin was 16.4% in the quarter compared to 15.4% in the prior year. Inventory at quarter end was $917.3 million, up $16.0 million, or 1.8%, from the prior year. The increase was due primarily to new store growth and the addition of new brands, partially offset by the impact of a stronger U.S. dollar. Capital expenditures in the fiscal second quarter were $21.0 million, and fiscal year to date capital expenditures were $47.0 million, primarily for information technology projects, new stores openings and distribution facility upgrades. On January 26, 2017, the Board of Directors of the Company approved a comprehensive restructuring plan (the “Restructuring Plan”) for the Company’s businesses that included a wide range of organizational efficiency initiatives and cost reduction opportunities. The initiatives contemplated by the Restructuring Plan include a reorganization of Sally Beauty’s field and operations teams in the U.S. and Canada to better align with a best-in-class retail model; the consolidation of four remote BSG office locations into corporate headquarters in Denton, TX; the centralization of support functions in continental Europe; and headcount reductions across most corporate backroom functions. Approximately $9.2 million was recorded as restructuring charges in the second fiscal quarter, primarily for employee separation costs. During the second quarter the Company identified additional cost reduction and profit improvement opportunities to be executed over the remainder of the fiscal year as part of an expanded Restructuring Plan. These opportunities include additional organizational efficiency initiatives in European operations and a revised business model in an unprofitable international market. Including the new initiatives, the Company now expects total charges related to the Restructuring Plan in the range of $14 million to $16 million; annualized pretax benefits in the range of $19 million to $21 million; and fiscal 2017 pretax benefits in the range of $11 million to $12 million. The Company is revising its guidance for full year fiscal 2017 as follows: The Company is reiterating its guidance for full year fiscal 2017 as follows: On May 1, 2017, Sharon Leite, President of Sally Beauty U.S. and Canada, notified the Company that she was resigning from her position effective immediately. Chris Brickman, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc., will serve as the interim President of Sally Beauty U.S. and Canada until the Company appoints Ms. Leite’s successor. An external firm has been retained to assist with the search process. “I would like to thank Sharon for her contributions,” said Chris Brickman. “I will immediately assume responsibility for all operations of the Sally Beauty U.S. and Canada business. More importantly, I am excited to work directly with the team to execute on the plans that they have developed, and I feel more confident than ever that we have defined the right strategy for Sally going forward.” Conference Call and Where You Can Find Additional Information As previously announced, at approximately 7:30 a.m. (Central) today the Company will hold a conference call and audio webcast to discuss its financial results and its business. During the conference call, the Company may discuss and answer one or more questions concerning business and financial matters and trends affecting the Company. The Company’s responses to these questions, as well as other matters discussed during the conference call, may contain or constitute material information that has not been previously disclosed. Simultaneous to the conference call, an audio webcast of the call will be available via a link on the Company’s website, investor.sallybeautyholdings.com. The conference call can be accessed by dialing 800-230-1093 (International: 612-288-0337). The teleconference will be held in a “listen-only” mode for all participants other than the Company’s current sell-side and buy-side investment professionals. If you are unable to listen to this conference call, the replay will be available at about 9:30 a.m. (Central) May 4, 2017 through May 19, 2017 by dialing 800-475-6701 or if international dial 320-365-3844 and reference the conference ID number 422878. Also, a website replay will be available on investor.sallybeautyholdings.com Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SBH) is an international specialty retailer and distributor of professional beauty supplies with revenues of $4.0 billion annually. Through the Sally Beauty Supply and Beauty Systems Group businesses, the Company sells and distributes through over 5,000 stores, including approximately 182 franchised units, throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Chile, Peru, Colombia, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Ireland, Spain and Germany. Sally Beauty Supply stores offer up to 9,000 products for hair, skin, and nails through professional lines such as Clairol, L’Oreal, OPI and Conair, as well as an extensive selection of proprietary merchandise. Beauty Systems Group stores, branded as CosmoProf or Armstrong McCall stores, along with its outside sales consultants, sell up to 10,000 professionally branded products including Paul Mitchell, Wella, Sebastian, Goldwell, Joico, and Aquage which are targeted exclusively for professional and salon use and resale to their customers. For more information about Sally Beauty Holdings, Inc., please visit sallybeautyholdings.com. Statements in this news release and the schedules hereto which are not purely historical facts or which depend upon future events may be forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Words such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “project,” “target,” “can,” “could,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” or similar expressions may also identify such forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements as such statements speak only as of the date they were made. Any forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from the events or results described in the forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, risks and uncertainties related to: anticipating and effectively responding to changes in consumer and professional stylist preferences and buying trends in a timely manner; the success of our strategic initiatives, including our store refresh program and increased marketing efforts, to enhance the customer experience, attract new customers, drive brand awareness and improve customer loyalty; our ability to efficiently manage and control our costs and the success of our cost control plans, including our recently announced restructuring plan; our ability to implement our restructuring plan in various jurisdictions; our ability to manage the effects of our cost reduction plans on our employees and other operations costs; charges related to the restructuring plan; possible changes in the size and components of the expected costs and charges associated with the restructuring plan; our ability to realize the anticipated cost savings from the restructuring plan within the anticipated time frame, if at all; the highly competitive nature of, and the increasing consolidation of, the beauty products distribution industry; the timing and acceptance of new product introductions; shifts in product mix sold during any period; potential fluctuation in our same store sales and quarterly financial performance; our dependence upon manufacturers who may be unwilling or unable to continue to supply products to us; our dependence upon manufacturers who have developed or could develop their own distribution businesses which compete directly with ours; the possibility of material interruptions in the supply of products by our third-party manufacturers or distributors or increases in the prices of products we purchase from our third-party manufacturers or distributors; products sold by us being found to be defective in labeling or content; compliance with current laws and regulations or becoming subject to additional or more stringent laws and regulations; the success of our e-commerce businesses; diversion of professional products sold by Beauty Systems Group to mass retailers or other unauthorized resellers; the operational and financial performance of our franchise-based business; successfully identifying acquisition candidates and successfully completing desirable acquisitions; integrating acquired businesses; the success of our initiatives to expand into new geographies; the success of our existing stores, and our ability to increase sales at existing stores; opening and operating new stores profitably; the volume of traffic to our stores; the impact of the health of the economy upon our business; conducting business outside the United States; the impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and related or other disruptive events in the European Union or other geographies in which we conduct business; rising labor and rental costs; protecting our intellectual property rights, particularly our trademarks; the risk that our products may infringe on the intellectual property rights of others; successfully updating and integrating our information technology systems; disruption in our information technology systems; a significant data security breach, including misappropriation of our customers’, or employees’ or suppliers’ confidential information, and the potential costs related thereto; the negative impact on our reputation and loss of confidence of our customers, suppliers and others arising from a significant data security breach; the costs and diversion of management’s attention required to investigate and remediate a data security breach and to continuously upgrade our information technology security systems to address evolving cyber-security threats; the ultimate determination of the extent or scope of the potential liabilities relating to our past or any future data security incidents; our ability to attract or retain highly skilled management and other personnel; severe weather, natural disasters or acts of violence or terrorism; the preparedness of our accounting and other management systems to meet financial reporting and other requirements and the upgrade of our existing financial reporting system; being a holding company, with no operations of our own, and depending on our subsidiaries for our liquidity needs; our ability to execute and implement our common stock repurchase program; our substantial indebtedness; the possibility that we may incur substantial additional debt, including secured debt, in the future; restrictions and limitations in the agreements and instruments governing our debt; generating the significant amount of cash needed to service all of our debt and refinancing all or a portion of our indebtedness or obtaining additional financing; changes in interest rates increasing the cost of servicing our debt; and the costs and effects of litigation. Additional factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from the events or results described in the forward-looking statements can be found in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended September 30, 2016, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Consequently, all forward-looking statements in this release are qualified by the factors, risks and uncertainties contained therein. We assume no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures This news release and the schedules hereto include the following financial measures that have not been calculated in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S., or GAAP, and are therefore referred to as non-GAAP financial measures: (1) Adjusted EBITDA; (2) adjusted operating income and operating margin; and (3) adjusted diluted earnings per share. We have provided definitions below for these non-GAAP financial measures and have provided tables in the schedules hereto to reconcile these non-GAAP financial measures to the comparable GAAP financial measures. Adjusted EBITDA - We define the measure Adjusted EBITDA as GAAP net earnings before depreciation and amortization, interest expense, income taxes, share-based compensation, costs related to the Company’s previously announced Restructuring Plan, previously disclosed data security incidents, management transition plan and asset impairment charges for the relevant time periods as indicated in the accompanying non-GAAP reconciliations to the comparable GAAP financial measures. Adjusted Operating Earnings and Operating Margin – Adjusted operating earnings are GAAP operating earnings that excludes costs related to the Company’s previously announced Restructuring Plan, previously disclosed management transition plan, data security incidents and asset impairment charges for the relevant time periods as indicated in the accompanying non-GAAP reconciliations to the comparable GAAP financial measures. Adjusted Operating Margin is Adjusted Operating Earnings as a percentage of net sales. Adjusted Diluted Net Earnings Per Share – Adjusted diluted net earnings per share is GAAP diluted earnings per share that exclude costs related to the Company’s previously announced Restructuring Plan, previously disclosed management transition plan, data security incidents and asset impairment charges as indicated in the accompanying non-GAAP reconciliations to the comparable GAAP financial measures. Operating Free Cash Flow – We define the measure Operating Free Cash Flow as GAAP net cash provided by operating activities less capital expenditures. We believe Operating Free Cash Flow is an important liquidity measure that provides useful information to investors about the amount of cash generated from operations after taking into account capital expenditures. We believe that these non-GAAP financial measures provide valuable information regarding our earnings and business trends by excluding specific items that we believe are not indicative of the ongoing operating results of our businesses; providing a useful way for investors to make a comparison of our performance over time and against other companies in our industry. We have provided these non-GAAP financial measures as supplemental information to our GAAP financial measures and believe these non-GAAP measures provide investors with additional meaningful financial information regarding our operating performance and cash flows. Our management and Board of Directors also use these non-GAAP measures as supplemental measures to evaluate our businesses and the performance of management, including the determination of performance-based compensation, to make operating and strategic decisions, and to allocate financial resources. We believe that these non-GAAP measures also provide meaningful information for investors and securities analysts to evaluate our historical and prospective financial performance. These non-GAAP measures should not be considered a substitute for or superior to GAAP results. Furthermore, the non-GAAP measures presented by us may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies.
News Article | February 27, 2017
Smart ERP Solutions, Inc. (SmartERP), on Oracle Platinum Partner, announced that it is a major sponsor and will be showcasing at The Alliance Conference 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada from February 27 to March 2, to brief higher education and public sector organizations on how they can utilize SmartERP’s suite of solutions and services to achieve best-in-class performance. SmartERP will be presenting new and updated solutions and services from their suite of Oracle product offerings including Automated Employee Onboarding used by the U.S. State Department and efficient PeopleSoft consulting service s deployed at the University of California Office of the President. SmartERP will also be presenting specialized track sessions for attendees during the conference. As a Platinum level member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork and developer of solutions and services that enhance and support Oracle applications, the company is dedicated to delivering innovative and leading-edge solutions based on Oracle technology, including Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards applications as well as Oracle Cloud platform offerings. With proven experience in Oracle, the company aims to help organizations gain insights on ways to enhance business processes through the utilization of SmartERP technology and services combined with Oracle offerings at the upcoming Alliance Conference. Plan now to meet SmartERP’s Oracle expert team – book an appointment. SmartERP has Oracle Practices across multiple industries including Public Sector, Financials, Recruiting, Technology, Manufacturing, Construction and many more. These industries are leveraging SmartERP’s expertise in Oracle E-Business Suite, PeopleSoft, and JD Edwards (Employee Preboarding, Onboarding and Offboarding, Electronic Personnel Actions Forms, Business Intelligence and Analytics, Application Development, Enterprise Mobility, Security, Compliance and Segregation of Duties, E-Verify/I-9, Financials, CRM, Manufacturing, Order Management, Oracle PeopleSoft Human Capital Management, Oracle PeopleSoft (HCM, Financials, SCM, Campus Solutions, Asset Lifecycle Management, Enterprise Performance Management, Enterprise Portal, PeopleSoft Enterprise Tools & Technology), and Oracle Cloud. "As a unique organization in the Enterprise Business Applications space, providing software solutions and services, SmartERP enables organizations to develop optimized business processes and a superior user experience enabling increased productivity, cost reductions and a maximized return on their investment,” said Doris Wong, CEO, Smart ERP Solutions. “Our Oracle solutions and services go beyond end users' expectations at an affordable cost and we’re excited to be showcasing our new and updated solutions and services at Alliance.” SmartERP invites organizations to join them at their education sessions. Doris Wong will present a number of Cloud and internet technologies and solutions customers can and should leverage with their current PeopleSoft environments. This session will cover ways to gain efficiencies, reduce costs, increase functionality and enhance user experiences by leveraging Cloud/internet-enabled technologies and solutions available for PeopleSoft today. The second session will be presented by Jeffery Wong, Senior Applications Manager, PeopleSoft Systems Group - University of California System. Mr. Wong will be discussing the pragmatic approach the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) pursued for one of the world’s largest PeopleSoft HCM 9.2 implementations hosted by Oracle Managed Cloud Services, for the UCPath project (UC Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping & Human Resources). The third session will be presented by Lewis Hopkins, Senior Applications Consultant, Smart ERP Solutions, Inc. This session will focus on how organizations can manage their risks and automate reporting and controls over security within their PeopleSoft Application. While attendees visit the SmartERP booth, they can enter to win a GoPro HD video camera—winner to be announced on Wednesday, March 1 at booth # 623. Attendees can reserve a meeting time to discuss their organizations needs and goals - Click here to schedule. About Smart ERP Solutions Founded by Oracle/PeopleSoft veterans, Smart ERP Solutions® is a unique organization in the Enterprise Business Applications space providing innovative, cost-effective, and configurable solutions that efficiently extend the capabilities of ERP systems to meet specific business process needs. SmartERP enables clients to seamlessly integrate their people, processes, applications, and data, across an enterprise, enabling the organization to streamline its operations and support business growth. About Alliance 2017 The Alliance Conference is an annual user-driven conference of Oracle application users from all over the world. The conference includes 3500+ attendees, 100+ vendors participating in 400+ educational sessions in 21 tracks with topics covering the following:
News Article | March 2, 2017
Cytta is pleased announce that it is in the final stages of consummating a business development alliance with long standing Native American government systems integrator, Yona Systems Group Inc. Yona will be implementing Cytta’s VeriSmartPhone™ based remote medical monitoring EvrCare™ technology as a foundational component within Yona’s Native American Health Initiative (NAHI) which includes participation by the US Government and select technology providers. Mr. Jim Metcalf, President of Yona said, “We see an excellent immediate 'fit' within our positioning at the Department of Interior, and the Department of Health and Human Services as focused within the Indian Health Service. There are 160+ existing hospitals, and remote clinics, which need more than hospital information systems. They need enhanced patient outreach resources and Cytta provides a vital component of our integrated offering.” NAHI will be implemented via Yona Medical Systems, led by Dan Retter, who is also CEO of Yona Systems Group. He noted, “We recognize the ‘extra hardships’ faced by Native American patients who must travel long distances to receive monitoring of vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels and blood glucose. We believe that patient Quality of Service will be greatly enhanced by the Cytta/Doctor Directed technology implemented on smart phones. Patients and their Health care team will receive more timely and actionable patient information with much less patient travel.” Yona has a unique 'Dual Designation" of being Certified by the Small Business Administration as a minority-owned, '8a'-Native American U.S. Government Systems Integrator. Yona also is designated, under the Buy Indian Act, as being an ISBEE (Indian Small Business Economic Enterprise). Mr. Jerry Smith, Co-CEO of Cytta stated, “Yona’s unique combination of designations is relatively rare and provides multiple exciting opportunities to utilize the Cytta VeriSmartPhone™ based technology and the EvrCare™ platforms to significantly improve healthcare services within the Native American community.” Currently 229 of the 566 reservations spread across the nation are in remote areas only accessible by airplane or boat. Seeing a doctor for one visit, let alone a follow-up, therefore becomes inconvenient and costly. The Cytta/Doctor Direct remote monitoring mobile technology can bring modern medical care, supervised by a healthcare professional, to all rural communities, without the necessity of travelling miles to a clinic or physician’s office. Cytta Corp. has developed an IoT remote monitoring connectivity system and is known for its Cytta Connect open source WiFi, cellular and satellite VeriSmartPhone™ platform, a highly scalable and secure IoT two-way real time monitoring solution called EvrCare™. The Cytta VeriSmartPhone™ technology consists of an ‘intelligent’ android smartphone reprogrammed at the operating system level as an IoT control interface. This reprogrammed very smart device automatically connects all Bluetooth remote medical monitoring devices to the Oracle Cloud/IoT Platform, and from there to the designated recipients, creating two-way real time data, video and voice communication. The Cytta Connect technology automatically connects all remote monitoring devices to Oracle’s Cloud/IoT platform creating real time communication for all IoT market segments The Doctor Direct or ‘doctor directed’ model is Cytta’s initial, high risk, patient remote monitoring market offering. The technology is a Physician prescribable model for patients with two or more identified morbidities. It is now complete, live patient tested in clinical trials, and has been field deployed. The Doctor Direct segment of the EvrCare™ system is completely open source – Automatically connects any Bluetooth health or wellness devices (i.e. blood pressure, blood glucose, pulse oxygen, digital scale, etc.) to the VeriSmartPhoneTM to the Oracle IoT/Cloud and on to the caregivers anywhere, and anytime. Data is automatically received by VeriSmartPhoneTM, interpreted, assessed and recipients determined. VeriSmartPhoneTM transmits data in real time to the Dr., Nurse, Caregiver and/or family member along with determination of action level or importance. Dr., Nurse, Caregiver, or family member responds to patient via voice, video, SMS or email in real-time through a VeriSmartPhoneTM in the patient’s home. The Doctor Direct remote patient monitoring system, combined with the new billing/CPT codes for the service, has created the opportunity for real-time patient monitoring and a significant revenue stream to the Physician for providing better quality care. Statements included in this press release, which are not historical in nature, are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Statements relating to the future performance of the Company are subject to many factors including, but not limited to, the customer acceptance of the products in the market, the introduction of competitive products and product development, the impact of any product liability or other adverse litigation, working capital and availability of capital, commercialization and technological difficulties, the impact of actions and events involving key customers, vendors, lenders, competitors, and other risks. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the Company's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. When used in this press release, the terms "anticipate", "believe", "estimate", "expect", "may", "objective", "plan", "possible", "potential", "project", "will", and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this press release are made as of the date hereof, and we do not undertake any obligation to update any forward looking statements, whether as a result of future events, new information, or otherwise.
News Article | February 28, 2017
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Feb. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Windstream (NASDAQ:WIN), a leading provider of advanced network communications, today announced that for the second straight year it has climbed analyst firm Vertical Systems Group’s annual ranking of U.S. Ethernet providers. Each year, Vertical Systems Group issues its Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD rankings that include providers with the largest domestic market share. Windstream’s continued capital investments in its local and national fiber networks have resulted in strong market growth that has allowed the company to continue to move up the analyst firm’s ranking. “Windstream has made a commitment to invest in our technology, people and processes to deliver a best-in-class experience for all of our customers,” said Joseph Harding, chief marketing officer of Windstream. “A significant focus of that investment has been to increase the quality and availability of our Carrier Ethernet services, and Vertical Systems Group’s ranking is proof that we are making a positive difference that is recognized by our customers.” Vertical Systems Group’s Carrier Ethernet LEADERBOARD is the industry’s foremost benchmark for measuring Ethernet Service Provider market presence. The firm calculates port shares using the base of enterprise installations of Ethernet services, plus input from surveys of Ethernet providers. "We continue to see the demand for Ethernet services growing, especially in the segments of the market where Windstream is targeting its strategic services," said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems Group. "This is Windstream's second year on our LEADERBOARD, which confirms the company's continued investments in its fiber networks should put Windstream in a good position for the future." Windstream offers Ethernet services to carriers and directly to enterprise customers in a number of industries, including banking, financial services, education, healthcare, government, hospitality and retail. Windstream’s Carrier Ethernet service is MEF CE 2.0 certified, and it is architected to offer 1G and 10G ENNI ports, single- and multi-mode fiber interfaces, and end-user Ethernet speeds from 3M to 100G. Windstream delivers Ethernet connectivity over a number of access technologies including fiber, fixed wireless and copper, enabling broad reach and unique last-mile diversity solutions. For more information on Windstream and its Ethernet services, please visit www.windstreambusiness.com. About Windstream Windstream Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:WIN), a FORTUNE 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications and technology solutions for consumers, businesses, enterprise organizations and wholesale customers across the U.S. Windstream offers bundled services, including broadband, security solutions, voice and digital TV to consumers. The company also provides data, cloud solutions, unified communications and managed services to business and enterprise clients. The company supplies core transport solutions on a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 147,000 miles. Additional information is available at windstream.com. Please visit our newsroom at news.windstream.com or follow us on Twitter at @Windstream.
News Article | February 28, 2017
This example of a 3-D ladar point cloud shows a fully foliated field site. Color indicates elevation above the ground, with red tones indicating a higher elevation value (for example, tree tops and vegetation) and blue tones indicating lower elevation value (ground-level vegetation and the ground itself). Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology The United States shares 5,525 miles of land border with Canada and 1,989 miles with Mexico. Monitoring these borders, which is the responsibility of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is an enormous task. Detecting, and responding to, illegal activity while facilitating lawful commerce and travel is made more difficult by the expansive, rugged, diverse, and thickly vegetated geography that spans both often-crossed borders. To help mitigate the challenges to border surveillance, a group of researchers at MIT Lincoln Laboratory is investigating whether an airborne ladar system capable of imaging objects under a canopy of foliage could aid in the maintenance of border security by remotely detecting illegal activities. Their work will be presented at the 16th Annual IEEE Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security to be held April 25-26 in Waltham, Massachusetts. Requisite for effective border protection is timely, actionable information on areas of interest. Leveraging the laboratory's long experience in building imaging systems that exploit microchip lasers and Geiger-mode avalanche photodiodes, the research team developed and tested two concepts of operations (CONOPS) for using airborne ladar systems to detect human activity in wooded regions. "For any new technology to be effectively used by CBP, an emerging sensor must bring with it a sensible deployment architecture and concept of operation," said John Aldridge, a technical staff member from the Laboratory's Homeland Protection Systems Group, who has been working with a multidisciplinary, cross-divisional team that includes Marius Albota, Brittany Baker, Daniel Dumanis, Rajan Gurjar, and Lily Lee. The CONOPS that the engineering team focused on were cued examination of a localized area and uncued surveillance of a large area. To demonstrate the approach, the engineering team conducted proof-of-concept experiments with the laboratory's Airborne Optical Systems Testbed (AOSTB), a Twin Otter aircraft outfitted with an onboard ladar sensor. For cued surveillance, the use of an airborne ladar sensor platform (whether a piloted or unpiloted aircraft system) might be prompted by another persistent sensor that indicates the presence of activity in a localized area at or near the border. "The area of coverage for cued surveillance may be in the 1 km2 to 10 km2 range, and the laboratory has already developed and demonstrated sensor technology that can achieve this coverage in minutes," Albota said. Uncued wide-area surveillance sorties might be flown long distances and over timelines of days or weeks to establish typical activity patterns and to discover emerging paths and structures in high-interest regions. "The area coverage required under such a CONOPS may reach as high as 300 to 800 km of border, depending on the Border Patrol Sector and vegetation density," Aldridge explained, adding, "Although the current AOSTB's area coverage rate is limited by the aircraft's airspeed, the sensor can image such a region in a matter of hours in a single sortie." As a start to their field tests to assess their CONOPS, the team flew data collection runs over several local sites identified as representative of the northern U.S. border environment. The sites contained a variety of low-growing brush, thin ground vegetation, very tall coniferous-trees, and leafy deciduous trees. For the tests, the team positioned vehicles, tents, and other camp equipment in the woods to serve as the targets of interest. "We made 40 passes at an altitude of 7,500 feet to allow for a spatial resolution of about 25 centimeters," Dumanis said. "In between each pass, we moved the concealed items so that we could perform post-process analysis for change and motion detection," Baker added. In this post-processing stage, the team members enhanced the data captured during the flights so that human analysts could then inspect the ladar imagery. They digitally removed ground-height data to reveal the three-dimensional ladar point cloud above ground and then digitally thresholded the height (erased 3-D points above a certain height) to eliminate the foliage cover. The resulting images gave analysts Gurjar and Lee a starting point for approximating the locations of both the planted objects as well as objects that were already on scene. Searching through vast quantities of ladar data to spot areas for careful inspection is a labor intensive task even for experienced analysts who can recognize subtle cues that direct them to the possible presence of objects in the imagery. For the ladar data to be efficiently mined, an automated method of identifying areas of interest is needed. "One of the ways to alert analysts to potential targets is to track changes in the 3-D temporal data," Lee explained. "Changes caused by vehicle movements or alterations in a customary scene can indicate uncharacteristic activity." To begin a change detection approach to the discovery of potential targets of interest, the research team registered the before and after ladar data and then subtracted the before data from the after dataset. This process allowed some improvement in the visual identification of vehicles that appeared where there had been none before; however, even a skilled human analyst would find it difficult to spot the small changes that signaled the presence of a vehicle. A change detection approach, therefore, must compensate for the challenge posed by clutter in the ladar data. This clutter comes from the nature of ladar collection in densely foliated environment. As light travels through gaps between foliage, it bounces off a surface of leaves, ground, or human-made objects. The returned light is collected by the ladar sensor to form the 3-D point cloud. Because the motion induced by a flying platform causes each ladar scan to travel through different configurations of gaps between leaves, different parts of the canopy and shrubbery are sensed by the ladar. "Much of the clutter in our change detection output is from the different levels of canopy detected from different ladar scans," explained Gurjar. To make the ladar change detection data easier for analysts to search, the team looked to automated object detection, a well-established field in computer vision that has been applied to images and radar data. Since ladar data presents in three dimensions and has unique noise characteristics, the team had to enhance the established automated detection approach with a sum of absolute difference (SAD) technique that factors in the height differences used to construct 3-D ladar imagery. Trials of the SAD technique applied to simulated vehicles in a foliated environment demonstrated that the approach yielded high detection rates and has potential as an automated method for reducing the huge amount of ladar data analysts would have to scrutinize to discover objects of interest. "Looking forward, we hope to improve the capabilities of automated 3-D change detection to be more robust to natural temporal changes in foliage, expand the number of automatically detected object classes, and extend automated detection capability to full 3-D point clouds," said Lee, with Aldridge adding that they are also interested in exploring alternative aircraft for hosting the ladar system. In its strategic plan "Vision and Strategy 2020," the CBP has expressed the need to apply advanced technology solutions for border management. Continued development of Lincoln Laboratory's automated approach to using a low-cost ladar system for surveillance of foliated regions may in the future offer another tool that the Department of Homeland Security's CBP can deploy to monitor the growing volume of land border activity.
News Article | February 15, 2017
An enzyme-propelled nanorobot: urease-coated nanotubes turn into a propulsion system in a urea-containing liquid because the enzyme breaks down the urea into gaseous products. Since the tubes always have small asymmetries, the reaction products generate a current in the fluid which propels them out of the tube like a jet. Credit: MPI for Intelligent Systems Nanorobots and other mini-vehicles might be able to perform important services in medicine one day – for example, by conducting remotely-controlled operations or transporting pharmaceutical agents to a desired location in the body. However, to date it has been hard to steer such micro- and nanoswimmers accurately through biological fluids such as blood, synovial fluid or the inside of the eyeball. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart are now presenting two new approaches for constructing propulsion systems for tiny floating bodies. In the case of one motor, the propulsion is generated by bubbles which are caused to oscillate by ultrasound. With the other, a current caused by the product of an enzymatic reaction propels a nanoswimmer. Jet aircraft have led the way. They burn fuel, eject the combustion products in one direction and as a result move in the opposite direction. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart do it in a very similar way - albeit on a much smaller scale. Their underwater-nanorobot is a single-walled nanotube made of silicon dioxide, a mere 220 nanometres (billionths of a metre) in diameter. A particle of that nature would not normally be able to propel itself in fluids. The scientists therefore coated either only the inner or the inner as well as the outer surface or of the nanotube with the enzyme urease which breaks down urea into ammonia and carbon dioxide. If a nanotube prepared in this way is introduced into a fluid containing urea, this urea is broken down at the urease-coated internal wall. The reaction products generate a current in the fluid which propels them out of the tube like a jet. As such a nanoswimmer either is thinner at one end than at the other or the the urea is not distributed homogeniously over its surface, this results in a thrust, so that the micro-swimmer experiences propulsion in the opposite direction – as in a jet aeroplane. The nanojets reached speeds of 10 micrometres per second, i.e. almost four centimetres per hour. The smallest jet engine in the world Admittedly, coating a nanorobot to achieve a chemical drive is by no means new. However, the tube now presented, with its 220 nanometre opening, represents the smallest jet propulsion system so far constructed in the world. "Our previous record, which is still in the Guinness Book of Records, was around three-times bigger", explains Samual Sanchez who leads the Smart NanoBioDevices Group at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart and at the same time holds a professorship at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia in Barcelona. And there is another new aspect of the nanojet which scientists from the Harbin Institute of Technology in Shenzhen in China also helped to develop: for the first time, all the materials and reaction partners used are fully biocompatible. "Previous chemical drives of this kind were usually based on a metallic catalyst at the surface of which hydrogen peroxide was broken down into hydrogen and oxygen molecules", says Sanchez. Oxygen bubbles are created in the process, which creates a thrust in the opposite direction. Both the hydrogen peroxide and the gas bubbles would have disadvantages if used in the human body. But this is not the case with the urease-coated version with its water-soluble – and therefore bubble-free – reaction products. "Urease occurs anyway in the human organism", Sanchez explains. The researchers now want to test the biocompatibility more precisely – and in the process examine whether they can succeed in implanting such micro-tubes into individual cells. "That would be necessary, of course, in order to bring drug molecules to their destination, for example", says Sanchez. While gas bubbles were still unwanted in the approach specified, they form the very centrepiece of a entirely new principle of propulsion for minirobos, which colleagues at the Institute in the Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems Group led by Peer Fischer propose. However, here the gas bubbles are not bubbling freely through the fluid and therefore cannot damage the organism. Rather, the researchers enclose the micro-bubbles in small cylindrical chambers along a plastic strip. To provide the drive, therefore, the gas bubbles expand and contract cyclically because ultrasound causes them to oscillate. As the pulsating bubbles are in chambers open on one side, they only expand through this opening. In the process, they exert a force on the opposite wall of the chamber which propels the plastic strip. In order to achieve propulsion worth mentioning, the researchers arranged several chambers with air bubbles in parallel on their polymer strip. A notable aspect: the sound wave frequency required to cause them to oscillate depends on the size of the tiny bubbles. The bigger the bubbles, the smaller the corresponding resonant frequency. The researchers used this connection to cause their swimmer to rotate alternately clockwise and anti-clockwise. To do so, they placed bubbles of different sizes on the two halves of the four, long cuboid faces divided lengthwise. Two different sound frequencies were then used in a liquid to each cause all the bubbles of one size to oscillate. In this way, the scientists generated thrusts exclusively on one-half of the cuboid face which caused it to rotate on its own axis. This small acoustically driven rotation motor with longitudinal areas each five square millimetres in size achieved up to a thousand rotations per minute in the process. "The variation in the size of the bubbles thereby enables a mini-swimmer to deliberately steer in different directions", says Tian Qiu, who also conducts research at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart and played an appreciable role in the study. According to Qiu, a further benefit of the new principle of propulsion is that even swimmers with a complicated geometric structure can be coated with the wafer-thin strips together with chambers for the bubbles. He goes on to explain that the use of ultrasound is also suited to optically impenetrable media such as blood. Light waves, which are also a potential control instrument for micro-drives, can achieve nothing in this case. The researchers now want to use tests in real biological media to check whether the new drive principle is also able to make the most of its advantages in practice. More information: Xing Ma et al. Bubble-Free Propulsion of Ultrasmall Tubular Nanojets Powered by Biocatalytic Reactions, Journal of the American Chemical Society (2016). DOI: 10.1021/jacs.6b06857
News Article | February 28, 2017
EyeLock LLC, a market leader of iris-based identity authentication solutions, will be showcased at the inaugural Converged Security Summit (CSS) themed, “Protecting What’s Important” to be held on March 1, 2017 at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EyeLock's iris authentication technology represents a breakthrough in proprietary software, security, algorithms and optics, and delivers the most secure, reliable and user-friendly capabilities available in the market today. EyeLock’s technology looks at more than 240 unique iris characteristics, making it the most proven way to authenticate one’s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock is one of the only biometric companies in the world to own and control the entire software and algorithm stack, providing dual-eye authentication, an unmatched security architecture and anti-spoofing technology. Hosted by GC&E Systems Group, CSS is a one-day, comprehensive program that will bring together experts in information and physical security to discuss best-practice countermeasures to safeguarding IT infrastructure and information assets, as well as proven solutions for perimeter security, intrusion and personal safety in public and private sectors. Bringing together approximately 200 IT and security professionals; more than 20 best-of-class security and IT vendors; and industry recognized leaders to speak and provide their insight on the constantly evolving state of information and physical security, CSS is the not-to-be-missed event of 2017. Through the convergence of security and IT professionals, speakers, and vendors, CSS provides the perfect opportunity to network, share ideas, and learn from industry subject matter experts and other industry professionals on ways to better manage and mitigate risks associated with information and physical security assets. For more information, contact Mr. Jim Mann by calling (770) 448-3908 or by emailing CSS@gcesg.com. EyeLock LLC, a majority owned subsidiary of Voxx International Corporation, is an acknowledged leader in advanced iris authentication for the Internet of Things (IoT), providing the highest level of security with EyeLock ID™ technology. Iris authentication is highly secure because no two irises are alike and the iris is the most accurate human identifier other than DNA. The company's significant IP portfolio, including more than 75 patents and patents pending, and proprietary technology enables the convenient and secure authentication of individuals across physical and logical environments. EyeLock's solutions have been integrated and embedded across consumer and enterprise products and platforms, eliminating the need for PINs and passwords. Corporations across the Fortune 500 recognize the level of security EyeLock provides due in part to its extremely low false acceptance rate, ease of use, and scalability. As a sponsor member of the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a safer and more secure digital presence for consumers, EyeLock is dedicated to advancing digital privacy and next generation security. For more information, please visit www.eyelock.com.
News Article | February 15, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Vital Images, Inc. (Vital), a Minneapolis-based advanced medical imaging and informatics company is inviting guests to take a brief, tranquil break and immerse themselves in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony during the highly energetic pace of a major conference in February. Vital will present “The Way of Tea” on Monday, February 20, 3:00-4:00 p.m. at their exhibit during the annual conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to be held February 19 – 23 in Orlando, Florida. HIMSS is a global, not-for-profit organization devoted to better health through information technology. This year’s conference at the Orange County Convention Centre will attract more than 40,000 health IT professionals, clinicians, executives, and vendors from around the world. Dating from the ninth century, the tea ceremony is elaborate and refined, and is meant to demonstrate respect through grace and good etiquette. It is a ritual that represents mindfulness, harmony and tranquility. Playing a vital role in the Japanese ceremony will be John Halamka, MD, MS, a medical information technology visionary and cultural enthusiast. Dr. Halamka is Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network; Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee; Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and a practicing Emergency Physician. Dr. Halamka will begin as part of the larger audience observing the ritual, which includes a series of precise hand movements and graceful choreography, in a serene "Tatami Room" within the Vital exhibit on the conference floor. Following the ceremony, Dr. Halamka will share some of his experiences with Japanese culture and health IT. “Vital is a Toshiba Medical company, and we want to celebrate our Japanese heritage at a global tradeshow,” says Paul Markham, PhD, Vice-President of Marketing for Vital. “This event allows guests to enjoy a moment of peace at a unique ceremony. It will be a rare and special moment during the hectic pace of a major conference.” Conference attendees can register for “The Way of Tea” here: http://www.vitalimages.com/himss-2017/. About Vital Images, Inc. Vital Images, Inc., a Toshiba Medical Systems Group company, is a leading provider of diagnostic imaging and enterprise informatics solutions to help healthcare organizations deliver exceptional care while optimizing resources across multi-facility organizations. The company's solutions are scalable to meet the unique needs of hospitals and imaging centers and are accessible throughout the enterprise anytime, anywhere. For more information, visit www.vitalimages.com or join the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
News Article | February 13, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 13, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Vital Images, Inc. (Vital), a Minneapolis-based advanced medical imaging and informatics company will be demonstrating new image sharing capabilities for current Vital customers. The solution allows users to share images from different types of media between providers, hospitals and patients. “Image sharing capability is becoming a core expectation of an enterprise imaging architecture,” says Tim Dawson, VP of Technology at Vital Images. “The inefficient workflows tied to patients carrying CDs or clinicians having to physically go to different workstations are simply no longer acceptable. Too many studies are still being repeated due to missing or unavailable images at time of treatment, leading to added expense and radiation dose. Vital’s DICOMwebTM-driven Vitrea Enterprise Viewer is the perfect delivery mechanism for viewing these image sets in almost any setting, and on any device.” About Vital Images, Inc. Vital Images, Inc., a Toshiba Medical Systems Group company, is a leading provider of diagnostic imaging and enterprise informatics solutions to help healthcare organizations deliver exceptional care while optimizing resources across multi-facility organizations. The company's solutions are scalable to meet the unique needs of hospitals and imaging centers and are accessible throughout the enterprise anytime, anywhere. For more information, visit www.vitalimages.com or join the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Vitrea is a trademark of Vital Images, Inc. Marks not owned by Vital Images, Inc. are the property of their respective holders.
News Article | February 17, 2017
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 17, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Vital Images, Inc. (Vital), a Minneapolis-based advanced medical imaging and informatics company announces the introduction of Vitrea VNA connect deployment. The connect deployment allows a hospital based PACS system to recognize relevant comparisons in other non-affiliated image locations such as a regional repository or disparate PACS system. The technology allows for either ad-hoc or automated query retrieves of patient images, and localizes the metadata to the format used by the requesting PACS. “Vitrea VNA connect deployment builds on our concept of providing a seamless, longitudinal patient image record through federation without requiring an expensive ‘big bang’ migration,” says Mike LaChance, VP of Enterprise Solutions at Vital Images. About Vital Images, Inc. Vital Images, Inc., a Toshiba Medical Systems Group company, is a leading provider of diagnostic imaging and enterprise informatics solutions to help healthcare organizations deliver exceptional care while optimizing resources across multi-facility organizations. The company's solutions are scalable to meet the unique needs of hospitals and imaging centers and are accessible throughout the enterprise anytime, anywhere. For more information, visit www.vitalimages.com or join the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Vitrea is a registered trademark of Vital Images, Inc. Vitrea VNA connect deployment is manufactured by Karos Health.