Category Archives: Business

Office life can be greatly improved by exposing people to the natural world

There is a growing body of thought that posits that office life can be greatly improved by exposing people to the natural world, even in small ways. The Good Life Project is currently searching for companies to participate in a study on the effects of increased access to nature in the office. Could incorporating nature into our office designs have positive impacts on our health and well-being at work?

The Good Life Project “aims to provide evidence-based and cost-effective solutions to the benefits of nature in making businesses happier, healthier and more profitable”. It is one of a growing number of qualitative and quantitative studies of this subject, but this study will also measure the effects of specific tactics, including having workers help care for an indoor herb garden, encouraging them to spend time outdoors during the day, and providing nature-themed wall art.

The Good Life study comes after years of concern that increasing hours spent in enclosed spaces, under artificial light, and under stress to boot are contributing to our overall lack of health. In addition, 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas. With the increased access to jobs and services, however, has come increased incidence of mental health issues, which are exacerbated by work-related stress and, it seems, by the actual environments in which we spend so much of our time.

In 2015, researchers at Stanford University published a study focusing on rumination, which in the mental health context refers to a focus on the negative aspects of one’s life. They reported: “Through a controlled experiment, we investigated whether nature experience would influence rumination … a known risk factor for mental illness. Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment. These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.”

It does make intuitive sense: So much of our lives are now spent working – the much-anticipated short workday and workweek are just words in book titles for most people. For many, most of their waking hours are spent at work, and it stands to reason that good office design could go at least part of the way toward alleviating our stress. In other qualitative studies, workers report feeling more satisfied with their workplaces when they had greenery, natural light, and colours that reflected natural spaces. The research and advocacy organization Human Spaces has published considerable literature on what people want in their workplaces and the benefits of design that incorporates nature.

The evidence is growing, and we can only hope that companies and commercial office space designers start taking it to heart – it will be good for people and good for the bottom line.

A vacation rental is to increase its profitability potential

For most people, the aim when listing a vacation rental is to increase its profitability potential. Nowadays, there are various methods whereby a person can do this, such as offering the place on sites like Relaxation on the Beach where thousands of travellers would be interested. By placing the rental on this site, one would image the money should start rolling in from vacationers, right? Not exactly. For a listing to be a success, it is necessary to treat it in a certain manner and take various considerations into account.

For any vacation rental to be a success, it is recommended you treat the place as you would a small storefront. In addition to the home, the customer requires high-quality service for you to receive any amount of profitability. If you are new to this area of the business arena, do not fret. This article will point out some top tips on how to manage a vacation rental like a small business entrepreneur.

  1. Evaluating And Understanding Risks

The first step to successfully managing a vacation rental is to outline and cover any potential risks. All small business owners take the time to understand any possible causes for a profit loss; thereby finding practical solutions to cover each before it occurs. When reviewing the risks, it is recommended you list the concerns first and then pair each concern with a prevention measure. The prevention measures could be various items including additional security, contract modifications, or specialty insurance. Always take the time to research the issue and find the measures with the highest potential for reducing any uncovered risks.

  1. Investing In Security

Security is a critical aspect as it will ensure the safety of the customers. This is true in all industries; however, it is particularly important for individuals in the hospitality industry. It is often seen that homeowners will fail to note the significance of a home security system; therefore, while they may have one they do not use it. You may have a preference when it comes to your personal residence, but you should not treat the rental location as you would your home, rather treat it as a business. By investing in a business security system, you will be able to reassure the guests that they will experience a comfortable and secure vacation. The system will also protect the rental from break-ins or dishonest house guests.

  1. Thinking Of The Client’s Needs

The successful businessman is one that is constantly considering ways in which they can improve their service to meet consumer needs. One of the most effective methods to achieve this goal is to view the situation from the client’s perspective allowing you to gain a better idea of what they may need during the stay. Consider what you would appreciate during a stay and how these items can be made accessible to the current guests.

Marketing the space well is also important and the site you choose to showcase your property on should be clear, have a solid marketing strategy and also showcase the strengths and amenities of the space. Look at how these Gulf Shores vacation rentals are presented to get an idea of what it looks like when it is done well.


Companies have compelling stories that will drive their stocks

Ahead of Jefferies’ 2016 Consumer Conference next week, its consumer sector equity analysts named top picks within the sector.

“Broadly, Dan sees three things that can drive the stock higher from here, namely: sustained improvements in Walmart U.S. comp store sales, a reacceleration in eCommerce growth and an improvement in International operations,” the report said.

Jefferies analyst Kevin Grundy has a buy rating on Procter & Gamble (PG) . Grundy also has a price target of $95 on the stock.

“Kevin expects P&G’s slimmed down portfolio, better focused on geographies and categories where the company can (and should) win, to drive a return to 3.5% organic sales growth by FY18, in-line with the industry but ahead of (consensus) 2.5-3% expectations, and up from 1% average growth during FY15-16e. A positive inflection in organic sales growth and EPS upside (+2% vs. Street in FY17/18) are likely catalysts to restore P&G’s premium multiple,” the report said.

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Procter & Gamble is a holding in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Cramer and Action Alerts Plus Research Director Jack Mohr wrote in a recent weekly roundup:

Shares continued to trade higher this week on little news. We would be buyers under $80, and while we are not in PG for meaningful share appreciation, we consider it a safe income investment (3.3% yield) amid a low-rate environment. We like to view PG as an “equity bond” — a stock that can be viewed akin to a bond due to the stable and predictable nature of its underlying operations. We continue to view PG as a solid long-term investment at a reasonable price and reiterate our $85 price target.

Colleges and universities are helping out students

This article has been updated from its original publication on June 17 with information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s proposal for affordable tuition as well as information regarding the U.S. Military Academy. The newest slide is first on the list. 

College student debt is soaring, as many recent graduates are well aware. It follows, then, that prospective students would be making the affordability and profitability of their education a priority when selecting their future school.

The notion of free college tuition has made it to the presidential campaign trail. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders proposed free tuition at all public colleges and universities. Hillary Clinton has come out with her own tuition affordability proposal, under which students from families earning $85,000 or less would be eligible for free tuition at four-year public colleges and universities. The threshold would expand to families making $125,000 or less by 2021.

“American families are drowning in debt caused by ever-rising college costs and it is imperative that the next president put forward a bold plan to make debt-free college available to all,” Clinton said in a statement, as cited by The Wall Street Journal.

In the short term, some colleges and universities are already looking to alleviate the financial burdens many students are subjected to after graduation.

Some schools, including members of the Ivy League, are looking to increase their competitiveness in recruiting and enrolling undergraduate students by making it more affordable for low- and middle-income students to attend — namely by replacing needs-based loans with grants or scholarships as well as covering the entire cost of tuition for some based on family income.

There are also some small colleges that offer free tuition and cover the cost of other expenses for all of their students. The catch? These schools tend to be super-specialized or based on Christian values. Some of these schools are considered Work Colleges, which is a group of seven colleges in the U.S. that integrate part-time work as part of a student’s total education.

But just because a college covers tuition doesn’t mean that all expenses will be covered. It varies widely what each school will and won’t cover.

Vijay Bhagavath expects these five stocks to outperform major indices

Networking and communications companies may not be the first stocks that come to mind when investors think of “hot” technology stocks, but opportunities arise as these companies capitalize on the booming trends in cloud computing, Wireless communication, big data and the Internet of Things.

Deutsche Bank equity analyst Vijay Bhagavath named five telecom and networking stock winners in a note to clients on Monday.Bhagavath expects these stocks to outperform major indices over the next one to two years, he wrote in the June 13 note.

“The core insight underlying our rerating call on CSCO is the accelerating transition we note from ‘Box’ to ‘Systems,’ based on a secular shift to Software and Recurring Revenues,” he wrote Monday. “CSCO’s gross margin inflecting to mid-60s and low-to-mid-30s operating margin, albeit at below consensus topline (due to the Software/SaaS mix shift), is the key to rerating the multiple in FY17/18.”

Bhagavath has a price target of $35 on Cisco. He expects the stock to trade at a price-to-earnings ratio of approximately 13 based on 2017 earnings estimates (and closer to where Oracle (ORCL) is trading), he said.

“The core insight underlying our rerating call on CSCO is the accelerating transition we note from ‘Box’ to ‘Systems,’ based on a secular shift to Software and Recurring Revenues,” he wrote Monday. “CSCO’s gross margin inflecting to mid-60s and low-to-mid-30s operating margin, albeit at below consensus topline (due to the Software/SaaS mix shift), is the key to rerating the multiple in FY17/18.”

Bhagavath has a price target of $35 on Cisco. He expects the stock to trade at a price-to-earnings ratio of approximately 13 based on 2017 earnings estimates (and closer to where Oracle (ORCL) is trading), he said.

Bhagavath has a price target of $36 on CommScope, which implies a 20% stock outperformance.

“ACIA is thematically ‘disrupting’ the status quo optical component value chain by introducing Moore’s Law economics in Optical Networking. ACIA is our Top Idea on double-digit growth trends in 100G+ Optical rollouts at Web 2.0s and Telcos (+$3B opportunity for ACIA; +30% CAGR).”

 Bhagavath has a price target of $50 on Acacia Communications.
 The company does not pay a dividend.