Oil Bear Market

OPEC’s Biggest Supply Boost Since ’11 Spurs Bear Market

OPEC increased oil production by the most in almost three years, helping to drive prices toward a bear market. Iran and Saudi Arabia offered their oil at the deepest discounts since 2008, adding to speculation that members of the group are competing for market share.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which supplies 40 percent of the world’s oil, increased output by 402,000 barrels a day in September to 30.47 million, the group’s Vienna-based secretariat said in a monthly report. Iran matched Saudi Arabia yesterday by cutting the price of its main export grade to Asia by $1 a barrel, according to two people with knowledge of the pricing decision.

Brent futures, the international benchmark, traded at a four-year low today. Saudi Arabia told OPEC it raised output 11 percent last month, adding to speculation it will seek to preserve its share of export markets. Crude production is mounting in the U.S., Russia and Libya, while the pace of demand growth is lower as the economy slows in China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer.

“It’s a fight for market share out there at the moment,” Ole Sloth Hansen, an analyst at Saxo Bank A/S, said by e-mail today. “OPEC will have to come up with something otherwise the market will view it as a free invitation to carry on selling.”

Libyan Return

OPEC production last month climbed by the most since November 2011 and was the highest in more than a year, the group’s data show. Libya bolstered supplies by 250,600 barrels a day to 787,000 and Iraq added 134,500 to 3.164 million, according to secondary sources cited by the report. That more than compensated for an estimated drop of 50,400 barrels a day in Saudi output to 9.605 million.

Saudi Arabia’s own communications to the group showed an increase of 107,100 barrels a day to 9.704 million in September, according to separate data in the report.

Price cuts announced last week by Saudi Arabia, matched by Iran yesterday, fueled speculation it may let oil fall rather than cut production and cede market share. OPEC members in West Africa are also showing signs of greater competition, said Julian Lee, an oil strategist at Bloomberg First Word in London. Nigerian sales of crude for November have been slower than usual after Angola moved more quickly to reduce prices, he said.

Saudi Pressure

Brent for November settlement slid to $88.11 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange today, the lowest in almost four years. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark, dropped as low as $83.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the least since July 3, 2012.

OPEC’s September production increase contributed to the fall of more than 20 percent in both grades from their June peaks, said Saxo Bank’s Hansen. A drop of that size meets a common definition of a bear market.

“Saudi Arabia is leaning back a bit to force better co-operation” from other members on production cuts, Thina Saltvedt, an analyst at Oslo-based Nordea Markets, said by phone. “The demand side is getting weaker and weaker. It doesn’t look good if OPEC isn’t willing to tighten things up.”

OPEC’s output in September was about 300,000 barrels a day higher than the daily average of 30.2 million the group expects is needed in the fourth quarter. Its 12 members will probably cut either their output or formal production target of 30 million barrels a day when they next meet on Nov. 27 in Vienna, said 11 of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News yesterday. Estimates ranged from a reduction of 500,000 to 1 million barrels a day.

The organization kept unchanged annual forecasts for global oil demand, and the amount of crude OPEC will need to provide, for this year and next.

“The recovery in gasoil consumption for industry and transportation use, along with emerging winter demand” will support the market in coming months, it said.

Monsanto Company : Update Target Price $149

 

MON : NYSE :

US$109.73 BUY 
Target: US$149.00 ↓

Company Description

Monsanto is a leading global provider of seeds,
biotechnology traits, and glyphosates. The company
operates two segments: Seeds and Genomics and
Agricultural Productivity. The seeds and genomics
segment consists primarily of soybeans, corn, cotton, and
vegetable seed brands, as well as biotechnology traits
that help control weeds and insects. The agricultural
productivity segment consists of crop protection,
including glyphosates.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Agriculture — Biotechnology
Q4/F14 RESULTS MOSTLY IN LINEAND F15 GUIDANCE IS REITERATED

Investment highlights
 Monsanto reported adjusted Q4/F14 EPS of US$(0.27) versus our
and consensus estimate of US$(0.24). F2015 annual guidance was
provided at US$5.75-6.00 versus our original estimate of US$6.04
and consensus of US$6.01. This guidance is in line with
management’s prior comments of double-digit to mid-teen growth
in F15 EPS.
 Operationally, we expect further improvement in Seeds & Genomics
in F15, with our expectation of YOY gross margin growth of 11.7%.
We expect to see a continued lift in the product portfolio (a
laddering-up, if you will), with farmers seeing an increased bill (a
benefit to Monsanto) but being offset by increased yield to the
farmer (a benefit to the farmer). As the fiscal year unfolds, we
anticipate confirmation of the 10-12M acres of Intacta and a good
(although delayed) order book for the US spring, both of which we
see as comforting highlights for investors through a more
challenging commodity price environment
Valuation
We continue to rate the shares of Monsanto a Buy but have lowered our
target price to US$149 (from US$155 previously) based upon a 21.5x
multiple (from 22x previously) to our F16 EPS. The reduction in our
multiple is due to the general commodity pricing environment and
investors’ increased conservative approach towards agriculture equities.

Splunk – Analyst Day Update Target Price $68

SPLK : NASDAQ : US$57.25
BUY 
Target: US$68.00

Technology — Enterprise Software — Infrastructure
ANALYST DAY TAKEAWAYS: STILL PLENTY OF ROOM FOR GROWTH

 
With the 26% increase in SPLK shares since the firm last reported results at the end
of August, the stock is again sporting a top decile valuation, at more than 11x
C2015E EV/revenue. While this may be hard for some to stomach in today’s skittish
tape, we continue to believe that continually increasing use cases will drive capacity
expansion (and revenue growth) beyond what current estimates capture. An upside
estimate bias combined with the scarcity value of being the only public company, big
data pure play on the “Internet of Things” warrants a premium valuation. Our call on
SPLK continues to be that we anticipate revenue growth to more than outpace a
gradual multiple compression so that investors can expect 15%+ gains over the next
9-12 months. Reiterate BUY.

Analyst day.

On Tuesday SPLK hosted an analyst day in conjunction with its 5th
Annual Worldwide User’s Conference in Las Vegas.
 Splunk Enterprise 6.2. From a product standpoint, news centered on the firm’s
end of October release of the latest version of its machine data analytics
platform. Highlights include: enhanced event pattern detection to make the
software more intuitive to less technical users, simplified onboarding of any
machine data, and efforts aimed at reducing total cost of ownership through
increasing concurrent user capacity and eliminating shared storage
requirements (reducing underlying infrastructure investments).
 Evolving to a segment-focused sales model. This area of continued investment
will focus on augmenting normal field reps with subject matter and industry
vertical experts – not only will this help to drive new customer adoption, but it
should also increase horizontal expansion (i.e. new use cases) within the firm’s
nearly 8,000 customer installed base.

 What’s it mean for the numbers?

An increase in ratable bookings, while tough
to predict in the near-term (~25-35% of deals, up from 10-20% at the time of
IPO), will drive improved revenue visibility over time. Longer-term, SPLK
continues to manage the business towards a 20-25% operating margin, the
timing of which will be determined by the pace of top line growth.

WestJet Airlines Ltd.

WJA : TSX : C$30.15
HOLD 
Target: C$34.00

Disclosure : I fly westjet whenever possible – great service from Canada’s version of Southwest

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
WestJet is Canada’s leading low-fare airline and is based
in Calgary, Alberta. WestJet employs about 6,600 full
time equivalent employees, and carries roughly 15
million guests to its 71 destinations across North
America and the Caribbean. WestJet is publicly traded on
the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbols WJA and
WJA.a.
All amounts in C$ unless otherwise noted.

Transportation and Industrials — Airlines and Aerospace
Q3/14 PREVIEW: GOOD QUARTER EXPECTED
Maintaining HOLD
We are maintaining WJA at a HOLD due to the combination of moderate
implied return to our target and forecast uncertainty. We remain
uncertain about WJA’s RASM prospects (guidance of positive but lower
than Q2/14) and this could provide downside risk.
Good Q3/14 expected sales growth on margin expansion
We project a 38% increase in EPS for WJA in Q3/14 from better sales and
profitability from the company’s initiatives.
Key drivers should include further benefits from WJA’s Plus premium
economy, Encore regional and cost-cutting initiatives. In addition, we
expect a much less severe CAD/fuel headwind than in H1/14.
But, as noted above, WJA’s RASM picture remains fuzzy. There may be
downside risk to our Q3/14 EPS estimate due to RASM. We estimate each
1% reduction in RASM growth from our 3.1% forecast would result in a
$0.05 reduction in our Q3/14 EPS forecast.
Continue to use moderate valuation multiple
We continue to value WJA at a moderate 5.5x EV/NTM EBITDAR (5.5x
Q2/15E EV to Q3/15E – Q2/16E EBITDAR) valuation multiple. This
multiple is close to the industry valuation average and our $35.81 DCF
valuation.

CalAmp Update Target price $28

MP : NASDAQ : US$16.50
BUY 
Target: US$28.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
CalAmp supplies tightly integrated M2M hardware with its
COLT M2M Application Enablement Platform (AEP) cloud
to add cellular and GPS connectivity solutions into
several M2M verticals including: fleet management,
asset/trailer tracking, vehicle finance/recovery/remote
start, rail, and smart energy. In its legacy business,
CalAmp supplies outdoor reception/amplification and
indoor network products for DBS satellite TV application

Technology — Communications Technology — Wireless Equipment
SOLID Q2/F’15 RESULTS AND H2/F’15 GUIDANCE
Investment recommendation:

 

CalAmp reported solid Q2/F2015 results, with
sales consistent with and pro forma EPS above our estimates. Consistent
with our expectations for stronger H2/F2015 Wireless DatacCom sales
versus H1/F2015 levels, CalAmp issued H2/F2015 guidance basically
consistent with our estimates. We believe CalAmp’s Wireless DataCom
business is well positioned to drive strong H2/F2015 and F2016 sales and
earnings growth trends driven by strong initial sales to Caterpillar that
started in September, growing insurance telematics opportunities, improving
international sales, increasing product offerings and customers in the
pipeline, and anticipated steady growth of higher-margin recurring revenue
sales. We maintain our BUY rating and $28 price target.
Investment highlights
 Q2/F’15 sales of $59.2M were consistent with our $59.2M estimate, with
CalAmp reporting Wireless DataCom sales of $50.2M and Satellite
division sales of $9.0M versus our $50.9M/$8.4M estimates. Stronger
gross margin and slightly lower operating expenses resulted in pro
forma EPS of $0.21 versus our $0.18 estimate.
 Q3/F’15 guidance of $63M in revenue and pro forma EPS of $0.23 at the
range midpoints were slightly below our $65.7M/ $0.25 estimates.
However, full-year F2015 were in line with our estimates. Consistent
with our expectations for stronger overall H2/F’15 trends due to strong
initial sales to Caterpillar ($10M+ in H2/F’15E), solid core MRM trends
with international growth and steady UBI hardware sales, management
guided F2015 sales of $253M and pro forma EPS of $0.91 at the range
mid-points. This guidance was basically consistent with our
$256M/$0.91 estimate. We anticipate the strong H2/F’15 trends should
create a foundation to drive steady long-term sales and earnings growth
in F2016 and beyond.
 With H2/F2015 guidance basically consistent with our estimates, we
maintain our F2015 pro-forma EPS estimate of $0.91 and slightly
increase our F2016 pro forma EPS estimate from $1.11 to $1.12.
Valuation:

Our $28 price target is based on shares trading at roughly
25x our F2016 pro forma EPS estimate.

Avago Technologies Limited iPhone Upgrade Target price $97

AVGO : NASDAQ : US$83.47
BUY 
Target: US$97.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Avago Technologies Limited is a designer, developer and
global supplier of analog semiconductor devices. Avago
offers products in three primary target markets: wireless
communications, wired infrastructure, and industrial and
automotive electronics. Applications for Avago products
include smartphones, connected tablets, consumer
appliances, data networking and telecom equipment, and
enterprise storage and servers.

Technology — Communications Technology — Semiconductors
RAISING ESTIMATES BASED ON STRONG IPHONE 6 CONTENT SHARE AND INCREASED IPHONE 6 ESTIMATES
Investment recommendation: Based on our analysis, industry
conversations, and recent iPhone 6 teardown reports, we believe Avago has
roughly doubled its dollar content in the recently launched iPhone 6/6 Plus
smartphones versus the iPhone 5s/5c models and has the highest RF dollar
content share among the RF suppliers. With our recent surveys indicating
extremely strong demand for the new iPhone 6 products, we anticipate very
strong Q4/14 iPhone sales and high-end smartphone market share gains for
Apple versus high-tier Android OEMs, particularly Samsung. Given Avago’s
strong dollar content in the new iPhones and our recently raised iPhone
estimates, we are raising our Avago estimates. We reiterate our BUY rating
and raise our PT to $97.
Investment highlights
 Our recent surveys and analysis indicate very strong iPhone 6 demand,
and we anticipate a record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle. Please see our
separate Apple note, published Sept. 22, titled “Monthly surveys
indicate record iPhone 6 upgrade cycle, strong market share gains,” for
our updated iPhone estimates.
 We estimate the RF front-end content in the iPhone 6/6 Plus increased
to roughly $15.25-15.50 per device versus $11.25-11.50 in the iPhone
5s/5c models due to increased LTE band support and features such as
envelope tracking and carrier aggregation. Due to the increased
number of higher-frequency bands supported that require FBAR filters,
we believe Avago increased its RF dollar content to roughly $6/iPhone 6
models versus roughly $3 in the iPhone 5s/5c.
 While we believe Avago has growing dollar content in other flagship
Android smartphones such as Galaxy Note 4, Avago has stronger dollar
content share in the iPhone 6 devices given Android smartphones tend
to support more regional LTE SKUs. Therefore, we believe Avago will
benefit from strong iPhone 6/6 Plus sales despite our recently lowered
Android estimates due to share losses to the iPhone 6 products.
 Given these trends, we raise our F2014/15 Wireless business sales
estimates, resulting in our F2014/15 pro forma EPS estimates
increasing from $4.63/$6.35 to $4.65/$6.45
Valuation:

Our $97 price target (was $95) is based on shares trading at
roughly 15x our F2015 pro forma EPS estimate.

Oracle : Analyst Day Update

ORCL : NASDAQ : US$38.27

BUY 
Target: US$48.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Oracle develops, licenses and services database and
middleware software, applications software, and
hardware systems worldwide. The firm is the world’s
second largest application software firm, and a top five
systems vendor. Oracle was founded in 1977 and is
headquartered in Redwood City, CA.
All amounts in US$ unless otherwise noted.

Technology — Enterprise Software — Infrastructure
A MYTHBUSTER-THEMED ORACLE ANALYST DAY
Investment thesis
Our view on Oracle is simple: the company is not as troubled as the stock’s
valuation reflects. There are enough good things – new products, new
markets, new business models – coming down the pipe that we expect ORCL
shares to see a 1-2 multiple point expansion over the next year, which implies
10-20% upside from here. For a large cap stock, that is more than sufficient to
justify our BUY rating.
Investment highlights
  Oracle’s analyst day as part of its OpenWorld
User Conference. A couple hundred financial types were in the room.
 Incremental takeaways. The firm outlined and explained multiple
attributes that are better than consensus opinion – in other words, Oracle
was busting myths. The firm’s near-term ARR cloud pipeline tops $2
billion and is growing 30%+, meaningful upgrades in the firm’s core,
highly profitable database are on tap, and financial engineering in terms
of share count repurchases will remain material and fairly aggressive.
 Why the stock works. One way to make money in stocks is to buy shares
of companies on which investors soften too bearish opinions. This is the
crux of our BUY rating on ORCL. Yes, Oracle has vibrant competition, but
the firm simply is not as endangered, at least in the next year or so, as
hyperventilating cloud competitors assert. We have seen meaningful
rallies for Microsoft and HP as investor perception went from dire to at
least neutral. We believe a similar transformation awaits ORCL shares.
Valuation and price target
Our unchanged $48 price target is based on a 13x multiple applied to our
F2016 non-GAAP EPS estimate of $3.26 plus approximately $5.00 in
prospective net cash per share

Gold Action/ Direction Continues Down : Braggin’ Rights To JAB Part 2

You can review my past articles to confirm my calls:

1) BUY when gold was below $ 900

2) Steady reductions in all positions for Jack A. Bass Managed Funds

from $ 1800 til today.

Friday morning Oct .3 gold fell $20 an ounce – our accounts are smiling – gold bugs are crying conspiracy 

 

THIS Is What We Wrote Last Week

 

Now What ?

We continue to see more downside risk in the next several days

 

: ” as the next major level of support is 1,180 & if that price level is broken prices could slide rather dramatically. Gold prices settled last Friday at 1,216 finishing slightly lower for the trading week as volatility has certainly increased as prices were up $20 a couple of days back on the news of the coalition & the United States bombing ISIS but then prices came right back down as I still think lower prices are ahead as there’s no reason to own gold right now especially with a very strong U.S dollar so continue to play this to the downside making sure you place your stop above the 2 week high.”

No stocks are being spared .

In my book ” The Gold Investors Handbook” – available on Amazon – I pick B2Gold ( BTO) as my top junior . It moves lower and is so very tempting but there is no way to call a bottom. Wait and buy when there is a turn rather than catch all the falling knives.Use the book to develop your own gold watchlist . In the meantime there are so many better places to earn money with less risk.

The ever lower prices for Yamana are almost painful to watch – but there is less pain in the sideline compared to watching your portfolio wither away.

It is criminal in my less than humble opinion the Sprott and Peter Schiff continue to urge investors to buy into the conspiracy theory of manipulation of the commodity price. The printing press in the U.S. runs at full speed 24 hours a day – but the fact is there is still no inflation and no inflation on the horizon. This undermines a central argument for owning gold. Mining costs continue to escalate and thus pressure mining returns at lower commodity prices.

Even the Ukraine and Middle East turmoil and have not proved to be much of a factor to boost gold as a safe haven in times of trouble. Gold bugs are reduced to hoping the stock market stops its advance and the economic recovery in the U.S. runs out of steam.Right now dividend paying stocks in a recovery are more attractive than the gold sector.

The Challenge – a guarantee of a minimum of 12 % for your annual investment return

Investors and pensions need efficient methods to screen, research, perform due diligence and monitor managers in their quest to deliver returns. They need to know the data they are using is accurate and fresh — and represents the best options available worldwide across every asset class. They must take into account their own assets and liabilities and the impact to portfolio risk while screening strategies and tracking exposures. They also need polished reports and presentations to provide evidence of a sound, inclusive selection processes for regulators and committees.

Placing these decisions in Jack A. Bass Managed Accounts removes the work from your hands to ours .

Meeting the Challenge

Jack A. Bass Managed Accounts offers a comprehensive suite of solutions for screening and monitoring, as well as risk assessment leveraging the data of the most important databases. In fact, 89% of surveyed clients agree that Jack A. Bass Managed Accounts helps them save their time during the due diligence process, while 75% of pension clients agreed .

The answer to When? – is always NOW ! – not tomorrow.
Contact Information

Information must proceed action and that is why we offer a no cost / no obligation inquiry service if you are not already a client.

Email info@jackbassteam.com OR

Call Jack direct at 604-868-3202 Pacific Time 10:00- 4:00 Monday to Friday

( Same time zone as Los Angeles)

BlackBerry’s Passport will win fans — but mostly among the faithful (review

Love it or hate it, you have to hand it to BlackBerry — the Passport is different.

Whether it’s a good kind of different or a bad kind of different is still being hotly debated, but at least the company that has been roundly criticized for doing a poor job of playing me-too to Apple, Samsung and others, is attempting to break free of the pack and blaze its own trail. You have to respect that.

The real question is, can we respect the Passport, with its odd, square-ish shape, heavy weight, and its unusual implementation of the physical keyboard? Perhaps. Here are the top good and bad aspects of the latest BlackBerry.

The Good

The Screen

Though it lies at the heart of the Passport’s atypical dimensions, the 1,440 x 1,440 screen is superb. Not only does it provide plenty of contrast, brightness, and off-angle visibility, its pixel density (at 453 ppi) is better than that of the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and the Samsung Galaxy S5. It’s so good that, even though it’s a phone, you’re tempted to view the desktop version of websites (something the browser lets you choose if you want).

Unlike typical rectangular screen phones, there’s no real-estate benefit to rotating the Passport sideways because it’s a perfect square, but since the keyboard is touch-sensitive and can be used to scroll, a sideways orientation allows for scrolling without impeding your view of the screen which is a nice touch.

The Passport’s extra wide and super-high ppi screen means desktop web page design is viewable with few compromises.

 

The Speaker

BlackBerry made a big deal about the Passport’s internal speaker at the launch event, claiming it had significantly better specs than both the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5. There’s no doubt about it, it sounds good — really good. It’s easily the best BlackBerry speaker so far. Which is to say it’s now as good as the iPhone 5s.

 

The Keyboard

Let’s assume for the moment that you actually like physical keyboards, because if you don’t, you probably wouldn’t even consider the Passport. If you do like them, you will — with a little bit of learning curve — like the Passport’s keyboard a lot.

Its three-row layout takes some getting used to, as does the fact that extra keys appear on-screen immediately above it along with predictive word suggestions. But as with all other BlackBerry keyboards, the tactile feel is superb, as is its responsiveness.

But the part you will learn to love is the way BlackBerry has made the keyboard touch-sensitive, allowing it to respond to gestures. While typing, swipe up with your thumbs to select suggested words as they appear, or swipe to the left to delete an entire word. When on a scrollable screen, swiping up and down scrolls the content. None of this is groundbreaking — these are the same gestures BlackBerry has used on its Z10 and Z30 BB10-based devices — but it marks the first time a physical keyboard has been more than just a keyboard.


The Camera
I’ve always felt a little sorry anytime I’ve seen another parent trying to snap photos or video of their kids with a BlackBerry. I just know they’re not going to be super happy with the results. That changes with the Passport. For the first time, a BlackBerry now has a camera that is equal — and in some cases superior — to any smartphone on the market. The specs just can’t be denied: 13 megapixels, OIS (optical image stabilization), a 5-element lens, f-2.0 aperture (a full f-stop faster than even the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus), and backside illumination. Compared to the iPhone 5s, the Passport produces photos with greater detail, richer color, and better contrast.

Amazon App Store

Though it was possible to access Android apps via the Amazon App Store prior to the Passport and its 10.3 version of BB 10, it wasn’t officially supported. Now it is, and it works well. For the first time, BlackBerry users can dispense with the awkward “side-loading” technique for installing Android apps. Of course, the degree to which these apps are compatible may vary, but at least BlackBerry verifies that every app downloaded via Amazon has been checked for viruses and malware, which goes a long way to making BlackBerry users feel secure. And we know you like security!

 

BlackBerry Blend

This might just be the most exciting thing BlackBerry has produced since the original BlackBerry Bold. BlackBerry Blend is a software suite that lets you access the contents of your Passport from any PC, Mac, or tablet (iOS and Android) with a free app — a brilliant way to bring your phone’s capabilities onto a bigger screen and to provide productivity-insurance for those times when you accidentally leave your device at home or the office. Blend will let you access your Passport from anywhere in the world. You can also manage and transfer files to and from the Passport. The software isn’t bullet-proof yet, but it will be, and it’s amazing.

The Bad

The Size

Let’s just state the obvious: The Passport’s dimensions make it among the least pocket-friendly phones on the market. And while it’s steel-I-beam-inspired construction pretty much guarantees it won’t bend in your pocket, that’s not going to be much help if you can’t get it into your pocket in the first place. It’s just too wide to make it into the front pocket of most pants or jeans, and even if you were to cram it in there, its squared-off shape means that it won’t be able to shift around as you move to accommodate standing vs. sitting positions, which most rectangular phones do automatically.

Interestingly, this is the first BlackBerry I’ve ever seen that doesn’t come with some kind of holster or protective sleeve. Maybe BlackBerry figured the Passport was big enough without making it bigger still with an accessory. The bottom line is, if you don’t carry a purse, where the heck are you going to keep this thing? The inside breast pocket of a jacket seems to be the most logical choice, but how many buyers wear a jacket all of the time?

 

The Weight

If you like your devices to feel super meaty, the Passport’s curb weight of 196 grams — which is 13 percent heavier than even an iPhone 6 Plus — might be a good thing. However, given how much time we spend holding these things, I’m going to argue that lighter (all else being equal) is better.

Slim Port

So far, all of BlackBerry’s devices that have run BB 10, including the PlayBook, have come with two ports: USB (for data and charging) and Micro HDMI for video output. The Passport is the first to eschew the multi-port design for a single USB-based Slim Port. Slim Port is similar to MHL in that it can use the Micro USB port to output video via one of three adapters, but it can’t act as a device access link the way MHL does. In other words, you can’t browse the contents of your Passport via your TV’s navigation system. Slim Port certainly works as well as the cable-based solutions that attach to the iPhone’s Lightning dock connector, but MHL would have made a lot more sense.

The Keyboard

Yes, I know I put this in the “good” category, but the design is so radical that it may irritate even long-time BlackBerry users. Though the keys are well designed, backlit, and very accurate, there are only three rows, which means there are plenty of times when the OS has to supplement the physical keys with soft keys on-screen. This hybrid approach may be the logical way to preserve as much screen real estate as possible, but from a usability point of view, it’s painful – at least until you get used to it. After playing with the Passport for five days straight, I am still far from used to it.

 

Bottom Line

The Passport probably won’t win over many converts from the iPhone or Android camps, but it won’t be for lack of trying. This BlackBerry does more to address the shortcomings of previous handsets than any model so far. The size, shape, and weight will no doubt give many buyers pause, but those who take the plunge will be rewarded with the best BlackBerry experience the company has ever created.

Simon Cohen | October 2, 2014

WTI Oil Seen Falling – Continuing Downward Trend

West Texas Intermediate crude is poised to extend its slump below $90 as consumption slows and supplies climb from the U.S. and Libya

, according to the most accurate forecaster of prices of the grade in the second quarter.

Crude is under pressure because of signs of easing demand in emerging markets, said Jason Kenney, an equity analyst at Banco Santander SA. Prices are also falling because of “comfortable supply” as U.S. shale oil production booms and Libyan crude output rebounds, he said. WTI fell below $90 a barrel today for the first time in 17 months, extending this year’s decline to 9.9 percent.

Surging output from shale deposits has turned the U.S. into the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum, cutting its need for imports just as the pace of global demand is slowing. U.S. crude output rose to the most since 1986 last month, while OPEC pumped at the highest level in a year.

“I think it’s reasonable to stay cautious rather than bullish on oil prices,” Kenney said in a phone interview from Edinburgh. “The challenge in oil pricing globally at the minute is weak consumption trends across northeast Asia and also in the Middle East and Latin America.”

WTI will average $97.50 a barrel this year, dropping to $86 in 2015, according to Santander. The U.S. benchmark traded $2.06 lower at $88.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 11:47 a.m. London time. Brent crude, the European benchmark, fell 20 percent from its June peak to trade at $92.24 a barrel today on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Demand Trend

“The global oil demand trend showed clear signs of weakening” last quarter, as demand growth from the same period a year earlier fell to 480,000 barrels a day, the lowest in two and a half years, according to a Sept. 11 report from the International Energy Agency in Paris. The adviser to 29 industrialized nations also trimmed its demand forecast for next year to 93.8 million barrels a day because of a “weaker outlook for Europe and China.”

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries probably won’t react immediately to the oil price slump by reducing production because “they can probably withstand Brent prices between $80 to $85,” Kenney said.

OPEC output increased by 413,000 barrels a day to 30.935 million in September as Libyan production rebounded to the highest level in more than a year, according to a Bloomberg survey.

Saudi Arabia yesterday dropped its official selling price for crude oil to Asia to the lowest level since 2008 amid speculation it was seeking to gain market share in the fastest-growing region for petroleum demand.

Bloomberg ranked energy forecasters based on the accuracy of their predictions for the most recent eight quarters ending on June 30, 2014. Kenney’s average margin of error of 4.11 percent was the lowest.

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