Amazon.com Inc. knocked Microsoft Corp. off the podium on Wednesday, to take over as the third-largest U.S. company by market capitalization for the first time in its history.

Amazon’s stock 2.6% to a record close of $1,451.05, lifting its market value by $17.69 billion to $702.46 billion. Meanwhile, Microsoft shares climbed 1.6% to increase its market cap by $10.78 billion, but only to $699.22 billion.

Amazon has been busy since it reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings in early February, announcing that it will be working with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. on improving employee health care. The company also said it would start offering free two-hour delivery of Whole Foods groceries via its Prime Now service. Investors also appear excited about bigger projects that might be on the company’s horizon, following media reports that Amazon is interested in entering the hospital-supply business, building its own shipping service, and designing an artificial-intelligence chip to speed up the response time of its voice-controlled products.

Amazon is still well behind Google-parent Alphabet Inc. which currently sits in second place at $745.47 billion. First-place Apple Inc. has a big lead with a market cap of $849.24 billion.

Although Amazon made its move today, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, chief executive and largest shareholder, made his months ago, when he passed Microsoft founder Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man. Bezos is currently worth about $118 billion, while Gates is worth about $90.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Entrepreneurs partner with Talley LLP and its affiliates to take advantage of our wide range of services, such as technology-oriented accounting solutions, financial reporting, tax planning, and estate planning. Talley can help you design and execute fully customizable solutions to fit the unique needs of your business.

 

Source: Marketwatch 2/16/18.

As the world descends upon South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics, business professionals across the United States will have their eyes peeled on Pyeongchang. Less discussed: U.S. businesses can expect a $1.7 billion loss in productivity due to employees watching the Olympics at work, according to an Office Pulse study.

More than half of business professionals plan to follow the action in Pyeongchang this month. During work hours, about a quarter of employees will spend up to an hour watching the Olympics, and an additional 12 percent will watch for over an hour, the study shows.

Fortunately, this Winter Olympics is not expected to decrease productivity nearly as much as the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. That year, businesses lost $5.4 billion as a result of a massive productivity drop.

There are those who argue that encouraging people to watch the Olympics together at work can actually increase productivity. Margot Ross-Graham, a workplace columnist at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), explained that some companies provide TVs in common areas so employees can watch the Olympics together. The “camaraderie of sports” serves as a good bonding opportunity, she said.

Integrating the Olympics into the workplace also encourages people to take lunch breaks, which actually increases productivity, Ross-Graham reported. Research shows that getting up from your desk and taking a break in the middle of the day improves your concentration, creativity, and efficiency.

So while we shouldn’t let the action in Pyeongchang distract us from work, it highlights how organizations need always stay on the lookout for ways to improve workplace performance.

For over 25 years, Talley has provided clear, knowledgeable and applicable financial data and analysis solutions to our clients, enabling management to intelligently track performance, progress, and profits. To determine whether your business is taking advantage of all the metrics available to make the most informed decisions for future success, schedule a time to talk with us today.

 

Depending on where you call home, you may have noticed Amazon’s fleet of plain white trucks delivering packages around town.  Amazon is experimenting with a new delivery service intended to make more products available for free two-day delivery and relieve overcrowding in its warehouses, which will push the online retailer deeper into functions handled by longtime partners UPS and FedEx.

Amazon will oversee pickup of packages from warehouses of third-party merchants selling goods on Amazon.com and their delivery to customers’ homes, cutting into the work that is now often handled by UPS and FedEx. Amazon could still use these couriers for delivery, but the company will decide how a package is sent instead of leaving it up to the seller.

The project underscores Amazon’s ambitions to expand its logistics operations and wean itself off the delivery networks of UPS and FedEx. A rush of last-minute holiday orders in 2013 forced Amazon to issue refunds to shoppers who didn’t get gifts in time, highlighting the perils of being overly dependent on partners for an integral component of its business pledge — quick, reliable delivery. Taking over some responsibility for delivery enables Amazon to protect that edge as rivals like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. enhance their own delivery operations.

Amazon’s latest move should not surprise many, as the company has demonstrated its ability to disrupt industries time and time again.

With over 25 years’ experience consulting with industry-leading companies, Talley understands the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction or capital raise, Talley is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.

Millions of Americans took in a historic moment Monday when a total solar eclipse swept the country from coast to coast. The rare celestial spectacle was only seen in America along a 70-mile-wide band that started in Oregon and ended in South Carolina. While employees stared into the heavens, U.S. companies paid the price with millions of dollars lost in productivity.

Per a recent analysis by outplacement firm Challenger, Grey & Christmas Inc., American employers could see at least $694 million in missing output for the roughly 20 minutes workers took on Monday, Aug. 21, to stretch their legs, head outside the office, and gaze (hopefully with protective eyewear) at the nearly 2½ minute eclipse.

Challenger’s analysis found that the areas, particularly busy cities, along the eclipse’s path of totality could see almost $200 million in lost productivity. While all of North America saw a partial solar eclipse, the total eclipse touched parts of 14 states, beginning in Lincoln Beach, OR at 10:16 a.m. PST and concluding near Columbia, SC. at about 2:44 p.m. EDT.

There’s very few people who are not going to walk outside when there’s a celestial wonder happening above their heads to go out and view it,” Challenger said, estimating that 87 million employees would be at work during the eclipse.

The law firm used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and calculated average hourly wage data and the number of full-time employed workers, 16 and over, to come up with their results.

The productivity disruption caused by this week’s solar eclipse pales in comparison to other annual distractions in the workplace like March Madness or Cyber Monday, but it highlights how organizations need always stay on the lookout for ways to improve workplace performance.

For over 25 years, Talley has provided clear, knowledgeable and applicable financial data and analysis solutions to our clients, enabling management to intelligently track performance, progress, and profits. To determine whether your business is taking advantage of all the metrics available to make the most informed decisions for future success, schedule a time to talk with us today.

Has the thought ever crossed your mind that smart devices are becoming too smart? It turns out that iRobot, the company that makes the popular robot vacuum cleaner, Roomba, has been collecting more than just dust bunnies. Reuters recently reported that your robot vacuum cleaner has been amassing data on your home, as well as the crumbs and stray pet hair on your floor.
For a robot vacuum cleaner to do its job well, it needs to familiarize itself with your floor plan. In Roomba’s case, the machine does this by building a map of your home by bumping into objects, reversing its direction, and ultimately navigating its way around objects, such as your couch and coffee table.
iRobot’s CEO, Colin Angle, feels that there are many benefits to be gained by using this information outside the confines of the robot vacuum industry. Angle stated, “There’s an entire ecosystem of things and services that the smart home can deliver once you have a rich map of the home that the user has allowed to be shared.”
The most important word of Angle’s statement is, of course, the term “allowed.” After all, this is your private residence we’re talking about here. Privacy concerns are likely to be a point of contention for most consumers.
When asked if maps of their customers’ homes gathered by Roomba’s sensors would be sold to other companies, such as Amazon, Google, or Apple, in the future, Angle clarified his statement. He noted that this information would not be sold to third parties, but could potentially be shared pending customer consent.
Nevertheless, how this data could be used is still being explored. At the very least, this information could be used to operate other appliances in the home. For example, smart lights could turn on or off automatically during different times during the day, or even in parts of the house that don’t receive much natural light. Furthermore, a sound system could reconfigure itself when it receives information that a room layout has been altered to ensure the best acoustics.
Now more than ever, the small to mid-sized business owner has the ability to develop the same Big Data analysis as larger corporations—an important step in achieving a competitive position in your industry.
From technology-based accounting solutions to management information, analysis, and reporting, Talley LLP is the premier business consulting firm for entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses. For more information on how to leverage your business’s data technology, contact Talley today.

Working remotely is increasingly becoming more popular and widespread, as employers have taken advantage of modern technological advances that allow teams of employees to collaborate in a remote environment, as wells as employees finding flexible work options more desirable. In something like a backlash against this shift, several high-profile companies have started to roll back remote work options for employees.  IBM, considered one of the first corporations to fully embrace remote work, is now calling its employees back to the physical office.

As reported by Quartz, IBM decided to “co-locate” its U.S. marketing department of approximately 2,600 people, meaning that all teams would now work “shoulder to shoulder” from one of six different locations: Atlanta, Raleigh, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and New York. Employees who worked remotely or from an office that was not on the list would be required to either move or look for another job.

The list of remote work’s touted benefits is long and varied, ranging from a better balance work and home life for employees, stronger personal relationships, to increased productivity. That last point is probably the most attractive for employers, but IBM needs to focus on something other than productivity right now. As some of its core businesses, like technology services and systems, face challenges from cloud-based vendors, the company’s strategy has been to reinvent itself around new businesses like artificial intelligence and its own cloud-computing operations. In simple terms, IBM is placing a bet on its future -that innovation will trump productivity.

In a somewhat ironic move, IBM is trying to innovate by returning to an older, more traditional workplace model. While most would agree that a balance needs to be struck between face-to-face interaction and the ability to work remotely, the benefits of finding that right balance are too great to shy away from the challenge.

Talley and its affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, keep clients on track with how to properly leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses.  From outsourced accounting solutions to management information, analysis and reporting, we are the premier business consulting practice to entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses.

Contact Talley today to see how technology can be an asset to your business and not just an expense.

March Madness is one of the biggest gambling events of the year: Americans bet $9.2 billion last year on the tournament through office pools, offshore sites and bookmakers, according to the American Gaming Association. But few people realize that if they get lucky, the IRS gets lucky too.
While there are a lot of eyes on Warren Buffet’s employee bracket competition, the battle wages on for millions of others who’ve placed friendly bets in pools that carry much better odds, though of course for much smaller amounts of money. Yet we’re willing to wager that few (if any) of them have been thinking about how winning would impact their taxes. Of course, here at Talley, you know we do just that. That’s because whether there’s $1 million per year for life at stake or $100, March Madness bets are classified as gambling, and gambling is taxable. 
Like with any day at the track, outing to a casino, or purchase of a lottery ticket, cash and non-cash winnings from March Madness bets are taxable. All winnings should be reported on Form 1040 as “Other Income” (line 21). In addition, you may be required to pay an estimated tax on your gambling winnings.  
Special paperwork comes into play only if your winnings are over $600 or 300 times the wager (lucky you, if that’s the case). Gambling winnings in excess of $5,000 could also be subject to a tax withholding requirement before the winning payout is made to the recipient. If luck wasn’t on your side, take heart-some gambling losses can also be deductible if you itemize and keep good records.
If you enjoy the entertainment making a trip to Vegas to try your luck at the slots, or in the rare instance that you make a living as a professional gambler, detailed win-loss records are a must.  
Talley offers a broad spectrum of services to fulfill the needs of high net worth individuals, entrepreneurially driven companies and their owners. Whether you are considering an M&A transaction or experiencing a financial windfall event, the professionals at Talley & Company can make the most of both your earnings and winnings.

While most of the retail industry is focused on scaling back their brick-and-mortar presence, Target said earlier this week that their stores, both existing stores and small-format stores to come, will be critical to the growth of the company’s core business.  Given the current trend of shopper’s focusing more and more on e-commerce websites to satisfy their shopping demands, many analysts wonder if the company should consider first shutting down of its low performing assets to free up funds for the many ambitious projects the retail giant has planned.

During the company’s financial community meeting, Target outlined its strategy for the future, which includes a $7 billion investment over the next three years. In that time, the company plans to revamp more than 600 of its approximately 1,800 locations, and open more than 100 small-format stores.

The small-format stores will be focused on metropolitan areas with large populations and college campuses. Thirty of these stores will open in 2017. Target began rolling out smaller stores in cities in 2012, and opened 13 of them in places like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia in 2016. The company is also revamping its supply chain and the way merchandise moves across its network.

The focus on growing stores is a departure from the store closures we’ve heard from major retailers like J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Sears.   While analysts are generally supportive of the changes that Target outlined, some believe a few closures could be a good thing:

“We do have some concerns that Target should consider more aggressively seeking to prune lower productivity stores despite the fact that they are likely cash flow accretive and profitable on a four-wall basis,” said Cowen & Co. in a note published Tuesday. “If this is conducted thoughtfully, store pruning/closing can drive a better overall brand experience, free up capital investment for more productive stores, and improve resource allocation.”

With over 25 years’ experience consulting with industry-leading companies, we understand the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction or capital raise, Talley is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.

Shares of United Parcel Service (UPS) suffered earlier this month their biggest one-day selloff in two years, as disappointing fourth-quarter results revealed that UPS was still having trouble adapting to the surge in online holiday shopping. The results were also a clear lesson that not all business is good business.
To the surprise of no one, E-commerce business increased sharply during the holiday season, but by a lot more than UPS had anticipated. Chief Financial Officer Richard Peretz said that the normal percentage of business-to-consumer (B2C) revenue to total revenue is 55%, and that spiked to 63% in December, marking the biggest swing in 10 years.
While it might seem like that would be a good thing, B2C shipping is a lower-revenue, narrow-margin business, so it came at a cost to the company’s profits. Peretz said approximately two-thirds to three-quarters of the earnings miss was a result of this big shift in revenue source.
While UPS noted that they are in the early stages of a multiyear effort to adapt operations to meet those challenges, the quarter’s results reflect “more work needs to be done.” Peretz said UPS is increasing capital expenditures in 2017 to $4 billion from nearly $3 billion in 2016, in an effort to speed up its multiyear effort to adapt to e-commerce challenges by increasing capacity and efficiency, including through expanded automation.
With over 25 years’ experience consulting with industry-leading companies, we understand the challenges facing entrepreneurs with generating and protecting income. Whether you’re looking to improve your profitability, build your brand through a business transaction or capital raise, Talley is the consulting and financial services firm dedicated to strategic business solutions that deliver meaningful results.

Amazon first disrupted book stores, then retail chains and electronic stores. Who would they go after next? Earlier this week, in a move that most likely surprised few, Amazon revealed its new vision for the future of grocery stores: Amazon Go. The new service offered by the online retail giant allows customers to walk into the store, grab what they want and simply leave the building, skipping the lines and without pulling out your wallet or purse.

Amazon says the company brought together the most advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to eliminate cash registers in a new 1,800-square-foot store located at 2131 Seventh Avenue in Seattle. The store is currently open to Amazon employees and is scheduled to open to the public in early 2017.

As seen in a video released by the company, shoppers use their Amazon Go app on their smartphones to login at a kiosk and then proceed to pick up items. The virtual system automatically registers every time a customer picks up or puts down an item and accounts are only charged once someone leaves the store with an item. According to Amazon, the store only offers a selection of ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, as well as essentials such as bread and milk.

Reaction to the Amazon’s latest foray into grocery stores is split between people who welcome the added convenience and those concerned by what this means for cashier workers’ jobs. If this innovation is broadly accepted over time by retailers, it would without a doubt change the landscape of the retail industry, and in a big way.

Talley & Company and its affiliate, Group 11 Advisors, keep clients on track with how to properly leverage technology to meet the needs of their growing businesses.  From outsourced accounting solutions to management information, analysis and reporting, we are the premier business consulting practice to entrepreneurs and their closely-held businesses.

Call Talley & Company today to see how technology can be an asset to your business and not just an expense.


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