​The U.S. Army has ordered its troops immediately to stop using drones made by China’s Da-Jiang Innovations Science & Technology, better known as DJI. The company manufactures the world’s most popular consumer drones in a variety of camera- and non-camera-equipped devices for hobbyists.

According to a report at Defense One, which has seen a memo dated August 2 from the Army’s deputy chief of staff for plans and operations, the DJI drones “are the most widely used non-program of record commercial off-the-shelf [unmanned aerial vehicles] employed by the Army.”

The memo cited “increased awareness of cyber vulnerabilities associated with DJI products,” but Army officials did not elaborate on that description.

Army personnel have been instructed to “cease all use, uninstall all DJI applications, remove all batteries/storage media from devices, and secure equipment for follow on direction.”

Defense One cited one soldier who said, “I wonder how DJI camera stabilizers (which have no memory) can send information back to mainland China.”

The memo covers “any system that employs DJI electrical components or software including, but not limited to, flight computers, cameras, radios, batteries, speed controllers, GPS units, handheld control stations, or devices with DJI software applications installed.”

The Army’s most widely used tactical drones are manufactured in the United States by Aerovironment.

DJI drones are available at Amazon.com at prices ranging from around $100 to $3,000. Best Buy also sells a number of DJI drones ranging in price from $500 to $3,000.


Daniel Cullinane CPA

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MBA Taxation

Daniel Cullinane CPA

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Falling inventories, stable rig counts and now a potential crisis in Venezuela all combined last week to push up gasoline prices across much of the United States. As of Monday morning, the national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline rose by four cents to $2.31 week over week.

Crude oil prices briefly touched $50 a barrel very early Monday morning, but they have since fallen back to around $49.40 for West Texas Intermediate crude oil to be delivered in September.

The price of crude oil rose by nearly 9% despite reports that OPEC was having difficulty keeping its members in line with the planned production cuts. GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan commented:

The upward climb at pumps across the country has largely continued as crude oil prices rallied and stand within striking distance of $50 per barrel. The rise in oil has come due to unrest and concern over the political outlook in Venezuela, a major supplier of crude oil to the U.S., due as well to Saudi Arabia’s export cut to six million barrels per day. Add on top of it U.S. oil inventories that have declined over 50 million barrels from March and you have a recipe for a continued rally in gasoline prices in much of the country. Watch for some volatility in oil and gasoline prices in the weeks ahead, especially with what’s going on in Venezuela. August will likely feature the summer’s highest gasoline pric

Among the states, gasoline is cheapest in South Carolina ($2.02 a gallon), Alabama ($2.03), Mississippi ($2.03), Oklahoma ($2.06) and Missouri ($2.06).

The five states where residents are paying the most for gasoline on Tuesday are Hawaii ($2.992), California ($2.931), Washington ($2.805), Alaska ($2.721) and Oregon ($2.650).

States where pump prices rose the most last week included Ohio (11 cents), Michigan (10 cents), Indiana (nine cents), Florida (eight cents), Illinois (eight cents), Kentucky (eight cents), Maine (five cents), West Virginia (five cents), New Hampshire (four cents) and Massachusetts (four cents)

Last week’s decision by Saudi Arabia to cut oil exports was a factor in the weekly rise, as was the ongoing political turmoil in Venezuela, which will be closely watched moving forward as the Trump administration threatens sanctions against Venezuela if Venezuelan President Maduro wins elections to expand his power to rewrite the constitution and install more of his supporters into power.




​So far 2017 has been a rough year for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. At least this is what analysts are saying. The stock is down nearly 10% year to date, while the U.S. broad markets that have gained more than 10% in 2017.

Nomura downgraded Ford to Neutral from Buy and lowered its price target to $11.60 from $14.80, but that still implies upside of 6% from the most recent closing price.

Ultimately, the firm noted that sport utility vehicles from competitors will pose a threat over the coming year and Ford could lose out on some potential sales. Accordingly, Nomura expects to see Ford U.S. sales to drop by between 1% and 4%.

Nomura’s Anindya Das detailed in the report:

Strong branding had allowed Ford to gain share and stave off competition in midsize SUVs, despite aging products. Going forward, we see competitors succeed in gnawing away at Ford’s lead in the segment. In full-size pickups, we expect the model cycle to start to turn against Ford in 2019.

A few other analysts have recently weighed in on Ford:

Piper Jaffray has a Buy rating with a $14 price target.
Deutsche Bank has a Hold rating with a $14 price target.
Guggenheim has a Neutral rating with a $13 price target.
Merrill Lynch has a Buy rating with a $12.50 price target.
Berenberg Bank has a Sell rating with a $10 price target.
Wolfe Research has a Market Perform rating.
Morgan Stanley has an Underweight rating with a $10 price target.

Shares of Ford were last seen down 0.5% at $10.88, with a consensus analyst price target of $12.42 and a 52-week range of $10.67 to $13.27.

German car maker Volkswagib Ag faces fresh legal pressure over its emissions cheating scandal after European Union authorities for the first time recommended fraud charges against two company officials.  The EU's antifraud officek known as OLAF, has been investigating since November 2015 whether Volkswagen knowingly misued loans it was given by the EU finance arm, the European Investment Bank. The probe, which has come to focus on two officials at the company, began after the EU passed on its concern about the loan. At least one manager has left the company and is under investigation, according to people familiar with the case.

The allegations center on a $470 million loan the EIB granted Volkswagen in 2009 with the intention of promoting the company's environmental performance The loans have been repaid Volkswagen denied any wrong doing connected to the loan."We reiterate our position that all funds received by Volkswagen from the European Union were used for the desingated purpose. The antifraud office said it had made a judicial recommendaton to the public prosecutor's office to pursue legal action against officials. The german prosecutors are conducting several investigations into former top Volkswagen executives on suspicion of fraud, centering on who knew what and when about the emmissions cheating

We see inflation remaining relatively tepid for a number of key reasons: Energy costs are not likely to pick up soon. Inventories of crude are bloated and that will put off a pickup in gasoline and jet fuel prices, benefiting consumers.  Prices of new and used vehicle are edging downward. Ample inventories of new cars plus many used cars coming off lease are keeping prices in check. The cost of groceries and eating out remains palatable. Strong market plays by Amazon and Lidi are keeping overall food and restaurant prices under control. E-commerce sales are limiting hikes on back to school and other apparel. Prices being charged for doctor visits are declining though hospital administrators did not get the memo. Hospital costs are still climbing. Rent gains are slowing even as house prices are going up in many citiies because of a scarcity of homes to buy. Builders are still putting up many apartments

Look for overall inflation to check in at 1.3% for 2017 as a whole, well below 2016's rise of 2.1%  Over the course of 2018, inflation will register 1.8% Core inflation which excludes food and energy will hit 1.75 this year.  Perhaps the biggest wrinkle in the inflation forecast is workers' wages. Employers, especially ones desperate for skilled workers, expect to have to pay more to get help they need though many are counting on low commodity prices and stronger sales to mitigate higher labor costs. Businesses will bolster efforts to retain valued workers and add automation where feasible to temper hiring costs. There is little reason to fear a sudden pickup in inflation from pay hikes. Costs for material inputs, including energy and many steel products are easing while profits for many businesses are decent. Both trends offset rising pay pressures.

​Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP) reported second-quarter 2017 results after markets closed Thursday. The local business guide company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.25 on revenues of $208.9 million. In the second quarter of 2016, Yelp reported EPS of $0.01 per share on revenues of $173.43 million. The consensus estimates for the quarter called for a net loss of $0.03 and $204.93 million in revenue.

On a GAAP basis, Yelp posted EPS of $0.09 per share compared with the year ago EPS of $0.01.
Yelp blew past consensus estimates and its own revenue guidance given at the end of the first quarter. For the third quarter the company expects revenues in a range of $217 to $222 million and adjusted EBITDA of $32 to $35 million. For the full year the company expects revenues of $855 to $865 million and adjusted EBITDA of $143 to $153 million. That’s an increase of $5 million on the low-end estimate.Yelp revised its number of unique desktop visitors for each of the past 3 quarters, but said it does not believe the adjustments are material to its total traffic for the affected periods.In the second quarter, approximately 28 million unique devices accessed Yelp via the mobile app on a monthly average basis, an increase of 24% compared to the same period in 2016 and up from 26 million in the first quarter of 2017. Paying advertising accounts rose by 18% year over year to about 148,000.

CFO Lanny Baker said:
Our second quarter financial performance reflects the overall health of our business. We are pleased to sell Eat24 at a price that we believe demonstrates the value we’ve created over the past two years. We are also announcing a share repurchase that reflects confidence in the business and commitment to efficient management of shareholder capital.The repurchase plan calls for the buyback of $200 million in the company’s common stock with no time limit.Shares closed at $31.37 Thursday and rocketed nearly 18% to $36.87 after hours in a 52-week range of $26.93 to $43.41. The consensus price target on the stock was $31.63 before this afternoon’s report.

Automakers face an unfamiliar problem this year after enjoying seven years of sales gains. A market that is shrinking and not growing. Auto sale will clock in around 17 million, a banner year by most measures, but shy of last year's record 17.5 million sales and the first downturn since the recession  in 2009. Demand is finally easing , now that most folks who put off replacing old vehicles during the recession or the uneven recovery have finally pulled the trigger. All those deferred purchases were a powerful tailwind for the industry for years, driving steady sales growth. The market will contract again in 2018. Figure on about 16.4 million sales still a lofty total but again well off the blistering pace seen recently.

Inventories are bloated, about 20% higher than normal,as car production outruns demand. Used vehicles are flooding dealer lots. A jump in leasing that started several years ago means more late model autos coming off lease now. Moving all that medal will require hefty discounts to lure away some buyers who might have normally bought new instead of used. Manufactureres have no choice but to slow production lines. GM, Ford and Honda have already announced short term plant shutdowns. 

Slowing sales and excess inventories will put car shoppers in the driver's seat when haggling over prices. Automakers are already boosting their financial incentives to keep sales up. Industrywide discoounts and other sweetners now average $3,55o up 10% from a year ago. The Big Three, BMW, Mercedes and Nissan exceed $4,000.  Expect deals to get even better in the second half of 2017. Bigger markdowns are certain. The offers will apply to more models. Deals on sedans and compacts, which are selling poorly are already common. Soon you will be seeing juicy offers on sought after pick ups and SUVs as well. They are not selling so fast now. Look for new models to offer more features and amenities to win buyers. Crisper in dash screen, nicer cabin materials etc. Without any major new technology  or other gee whiz upgrades ready to roll out, automakers will focus on the little things. Tire makers are also mululling enhancemets belts make of Kevlzr instead of steel, built in sensors to monitor road conditions environmentally friendly compounds. The auto industry as  a whole is in for slimmer profits as sales downshift. It is not doom and gloom Most sutomakers are leaner than they were before the Great Recession and will have little trouble adjusting to the down turn