S&P 500 Stock Plunges 24% After Brutal Q1 Loss Stuns Investors

By CCN: Stocks are broadly tanking today, but Fluor, Inc., a Texas construction outfit, is leading the charge, with a roughly 24% loss by press time. The company lost 48 cents per share and announced the resignation of its 8-year CEO David Seaton. Fluor reported quarterly losses of over $54 million, an increase of 200%, compared with this time last year.

S&P 500 Company’s Earnings Report Triggers Immediate Sell-Off

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This stock’s 24% plunge headlined the S&P 500’s Thursday pullback. | Source: Shutterstock

Fluor was the S&P 500’s worst-performing stock today, as investors couldn’t get out fast enough. For the previous five days, the stock had been trading at around $40, with low volume – indicative of comfortable shareholders.

However, today’s volume spiked and the price dropped by more than $9 as the news of projected losses and the CEO’s departure spread. Fluor’s official earnings report reads, in part:

“The first quarter was a net loss attributable to Fluor of $58 million, or $0.42 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $18 million, or $0.13 per diluted share a year ago. Earnings attributable to Fluor were negatively impacted by $39 million, or $0.28 per diluted share, as a result of restructuring charges, foreign exchange losses, and related tax impacts. Excluding these items, adjusted earnings attributable to Fluor for the first quarter was a net loss of $19 million, or a loss of $0.14 per diluted share. Consolidated segment profit for the quarter was $47 million compared to $52 million a year ago. First quarter revenue was $4.2 billion compared to $4.8 billion last year.”

Holdout S&P 500 traders may take some comfort in the fact that Fluor has reportedly secured several new contracts, in the multiple billions, saying:

“New awards for the quarter were $3.4 billion, including $1.3 billion in Mining, Industrial, Infrastructure & Power, $1 billion in Energy & Chemicals, $810 million in Diversified Services and $331 million in Government. Consolidated ending backlog of $39.3 billion compares to $29.1 billion a year ago.”

Translation: the company took in $10 billion more in new contracts than this time last year. These new contracts may explain why Fluor pulled no punches in delivering the bad news.

Change In Leadership, New Contracts, Part of Strategy to Recover Stock Price

Further insights may be drawn from this morning’s conference call, where incoming Executive Chairman of the Board Alan Boeckmann, who joined the company in 1974, introduced the bad news by saying, mostly, he feels the company is going to do just fine.

Carlos Hernandez, formerly vice president and chief legal officer for the company, is taking over the CEO position. He said in the conference call this morning that everyone is “very disappointed” with the results.

Hernandez spoke of an offshore project that can be credited with the quarterly losses. Due to the “unique” nature of the project, engineers had to overhaul designs and, consequentially, reorder components. All told this led to a project adjustment of around $53 million. Hernandez said:

The forecast […] reflects the redesign required as a result of client input and detailed engineering reviews and the subsequent impact on material quantities, equipment specifications, and construction schedule. […] I want to also point out that the client is in the process of providing additional financial support.

The company also had to charge off $31 million to an unnamed client in the same division, but Hernandez believes there will be no further issues with that client.

The meeting was held at 8:30 am ET, just before the markets opened up. However, traders didn’t have the same faith in the company as its board. Fluor stock dropped over $9 on the S&P 500 by the end of the trading day, offering either a buy opportunity or reliable sell indicator.

Fluor’s five-year high was over $80 back in 2015, but the stock hasn’t seen anything like that for years. Today’s prices are the lowest since December, when traders apparently dumped and then rebought through the first quarter, only to be disappointed today.

That cycle could repeat itself, or Flour could find itself downgraded by another $10 for some time to come.

World Gold Council Blinks, Claims Bitcoins No Replacement for Gold

By CCN: Gold may have a value of $7.8 trillion, but it isn’t happy about giving any of that up to bitcoin, the latter of which has a market cap of $97.2 billion. A day after Grayscale unleashed its “Drop Gold promotion, a TV commercial that garnered 100,000 views in less than 24 hours, the World Gold Council is clapping back. Gold’s reputation as a store of value has gone pretty much uncontested for thousands of years – until bitcoin, which has earned the reputation as digital gold in addition to its use case as a currency.

In a tweet, the Council stated:

“Cryptocurrencies are no replacement for gold.”

The team at the World Gold Council probably didn’t know what hit them when the phones most likely started ringing off the hook with calls from people wanting to learn more about this digital gold called bitcoin.

David vs. Goliath

The World Gold Council didn’t stop there and published a blog outlining the features differentiating the precious metal from cryptocurrencies. They state:

“Although cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology look promising as a whole, they clearly do not represent a substitute for gold either in theory or in practice.”

Basically, they suggest gold is better for the following reasons:

  • less volatility
  • greater liquidity
  • a more “established regulatory framework.”

Touche. Yet they acknowledge bitcoin only has a 10-year history while gold has been around since 600 B.C. Bitcoin’s share of the store-of-value pie is only going to expand. Meanwhile, volatility remains a function of the extreme views surrounding the digital currency, both for its ascent and its demise.


| Source: World Gold Council and Bloomberg

Hitting the Council Where It Hurts

By acknowledging crypto as a competitor to gold, however, the Council just revealed that it considers bitcoin as a threat. Some in the crypto community believe that bitcoin and gold can coexist. Nonetheless, Grayscale is hitting the Council where it hurts with its “Drop Gold Campaign.

Grayscale Managing Director Michael Sonnenshein was featured in an interview on Cheddar, where he explained that bitcoin’s uncorrelated nature to other asset classes is a home run for investors seeking to diversify their portfolio. He points to a “shift in wealth” that will see some $68 trillion passed down from baby boomers to younger generations.

“The way that money is currently postured won’t stay the same as it moves down to younger generations. We believe some portion of that will flow into digital currencies like bitcoin,” he said.

The “Drop Gold” campaign has clearly struck a nerve with the World Gold Council. But gold isn’t going anywhere. There’s room for the digital version of gold, bitcoin, and the precious metal to coexist, both in investors’ portfolios and on TV.

Dow Plummets as Oil Price Decline Spills Into Stock Market

By CCN: The Dow and broader U.S. stock market extended their slide on Thursday, as plunging oil prices and a defiant Federal Reserve weighed on the major indexes.

Dow Falls Triple Digits; S&P 500 Slides Further from Record Highs

All of Wall Street’s major benchmarks traded lower, reflecting a tepid pre-market for Dow futures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by as much as 250 points before paring losses later in the session. It was last down 132 points, or 0.5%, at 26,297.80.

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Dow Jones Industrial Average records second straight triple-digit loss. | Chart via Yahoo Finance.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 0.3% to 2,915.88. Eight of 11 primary sectors fell, with energy shouldering the heaviest losses.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.3% to 8,027.56.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX declined slightly on Thursday but continued to hold near five-week highs. The so-called “fear index” edged down 1% to 14.65 after climbing nearly 13% on Wednesday.

Equity markets began their slide late Wednesday after the Federal Reserve brushed aside the possibility of an interest rate cut. Following the decision to leave interest rates unchanged, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters that there was no compelling reason for rates to change anytime soon.

Oil Prices Plummet, Adding Further Pressure to Stock Market

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Plunging oil prices are weighing on stock markets Thursday. | Source: Shutterstock.

Crude oil’s decline accelerated on Thursday, which spilled over into the stock market. The West Texas Intermediate (WTI) benchmark for U.S. crude futures fell $2.06, or 3.2%, to 61.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international benchmark, declined $1.82 or 2.5%, to $70.36 a barrel.

Oil is down in five of the past seven sessions after President Donald Trump called on OPEC to stop artificially inflating prices. The selloff hastened on Wednesday after U.S. government data showed a sharp rise in commercial crude inventories. Commercial stockpiles surged by more than 9.93 million barrels in the week ended April 26, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Saudi Arabia has pledged to increase oil production after the Trump administration started banning all crude exports from Iran on Thursday. However, as The Wall Street Journal reports, the United States and its Saudi allies are potentially at odds over how many extra barrels will kingdom produce.

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average price chart.

House Democrats May Hold William Barr In Contempt After He Bailed On Mueller Hearing

Attorney General William Barr refused to show up to a House Judiciary Committee hearing or provide a full copy of special cou

Attorney General William Barr refused to show up to a House Judiciary Committee hearing or provide a full copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report even after a subpoena.

WASHINGTON ― House Democrats signaled they’d move towards holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress after the nation’s top law enforcement official refused to show up to a House Judiciary Committee hearing or provide a full copy of Robert Mueller’s special counsel report in response to a subpoena.

Barr had previously agreed to appear before the House committee, but the Justice Department objected when Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) indicated that, in addition to questions from members of the committee, a staff attorney would question Barr for an extended period. A Barr spokeswoman called the plan “unprecedented and unnecessary” and “inappropriate.”

Democrats had also issued a broad subpoena seeking the full Mueller report and its underlying evidence. But the Justice Department said that the House Judiciary Committee “lacks any legislative purpose for seeking the complete investigative files.”

“It is one thing for the Attorney General to disclose a written report of prosecutorial decisions, but quite another thing to open up the entirety of the investigative file to congressional review,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote in a letter to Nadler Wednesday evening.

Nadler, speaking in front of an empty chair where Barr was supposed to sit on Thursday, indicated that the next step could be to hold Barr in contempt.

“We will have no choice but to move quickly to hold the attorney general in contempt if he stalls or fails to negotiate in good faith,” Nadler said.

“The attorney general of the United States is sworn to uphold the Constitution as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer. He has an obligation to do everything in his power to warn the president of the damage he risks and the liability he assumes by directly threatening our system of checks and balances,” Nadler said.

“Sadly, the attorney general has failed in that responsibility,” Nadler continued. “He has failed to check the president’s worst instincts. He has not only misrepresented the findings of the special counsel. He has failed to protect the special counsel’s investigation from unfair political attacks. He has himself unfairly attacked the special counsel’s investigation. He has failed the men and women of the department by placing the needs of the president over the fair administration of justice. He has even failed to show up today.”

Why Pharma Stock ABIO Skyrocketed a Mind-Blowing 100%

By CCN.com: Biopharmaceutical company ARCA biopharma (NASDAQ: ABIO) led the stock market yesterday with a mind-blowing 98.64% gain on the day.

The ABIO stock price rocketed following an announcement that the company had a critical research paper published in JACC: Heart Failure, part of the Journal of American College of Cardiology.

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ABIO stock nearly doubled in just a single day of trading. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Why Is This Publication Important?

ARCA biopharma is currently working on treating cardiovascular diseases with genetically-targeted therapies. Their lead product candidate is GencaroTM (bucindolol hydrochloride), a beta blocker and mild vasodilator that could potentially treat atrial fibrillation in heart failure patients. Because ARCA is a pharma company, the success of ABIO stock depends on getting this product to market.

The paper, “GENETIC-AF: Bucindolol for the Maintenance of Sinus Rhythm in a Genotype-Defined Heart Failure Population,” outlines some of the results of the current phase two trials that ARCA researchers have been conducting.

Overall, those results were positive. Dr. Piccini, the lead author on the paper, notes,

“…the majority of patients in this trial demonstrated a more favorable response to genetically-targeted bucindolol compared to standard beta-blocker therapy. These data are very encouraging and merit further investigation in future Phase 3 trials.”

With encouraging results like that, it’s no surprise that the ABIO stock boomed as it did.

Will Phase 2 Trials Rescue Plunging ABIO Stock?

Driven by the publication announcement, the ABIO stock price grew from $5.21 to $10.28 – in just one trading day. Even with yesterday’s doubling, though, the company has certainly seen better days. In the past five years, the ABIO stock price has fallen over 90 percent. Even this month, the price was flatlining at around $6 until the announcement.

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ABIO stock has not performed well over the past five years. | Source: Yahoo Finance

But, ABIO’s bitter past doesn’t necessarily mean that it has a bleak future. Even getting only one product through clinical trials and into the market would bring a significant payday to everyone involved, including investors.

The performance of pharma stocks is mainly dependent on the results of their trials. As an investor, timing your investments around these announcements could prove lucrative. Just last week, another pharma company, Tiziana Life Sciences, surged 50 percent in a single day.

Now that ARCA’s bucindolol product has a successful phase two trial under its belt, ABIO stock is worth keeping an eye on. Completion of the promising phase three trials could bring a similar ROI as phase two did.

Eureka! Tesla Targets $2 Billion in Capital Raise, TSLA Shares Fly

By CCN: Maybe Tesla could be a $4,000 stock after all. Elon Musk has unlocked the formula for gains in the Tesla (TSLA) share price. Tesla’s stock soared as much as 5% after the company unveiled details about a much-needed capital raise in which Musk kept his cards close to the vest during the company’s recent earnings call. The electric vehicle company is looking to raise $2.3 billion from a series of stock offerings that includes Elon Musk purchasing $10 million in common stock, or roughly 42,000 TSLA shares. He already owns more than $12 billion worth of Tesla shares, CNBC reports. The offerings include:

  • “$650 million of common stock”
  • “$1,350 million aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due in 2024”

Tesla has been up against rough headwinds in 2019 and now it finally has the wind at its back, or at least so it seems. The stock has taken off from recent lows and has joined the 2019 stock market bull run that it has been sidelined from until now, as evidenced by a 30% drop in TSLA shares year-to-date prior to today.

Tesla’s stock advanced 5% at the market open against a backdrop of uncertainty in the broader stock market amid Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s recent “transitory inflation” remark.

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| Source: Yahoo Finance

Elon Musk on the company’s most recent earnings call addressed a share buyback, saying:

“I don’t think raising capital should be a substitute for making the company operate more effectively. At this point, I do think there’s some merit to raising capital. But this is sort of probably not the right timing.”

What a difference a couple of weeks can make, as that earnings call was on April 24. Gene Munster of Loup Ventures tells CNBC that “six months ago we would not have expected this.” So what’s changed? The catalysts for the capital raise are two-pronged.

  • Model 3 demand has weakened
  • Autonomous vehicles are in the spotlight with Lyft and Uber, and Tesla capitalized on that momentum with its “Autonomy Day”

What Demand Problem?

Tesla bulls are convinced that this influx of capital into the company will continue to fuel gains in the TSLA stock as the company pursues growth such as the Shanghai Gigafactory 3 planned for September. And while Elon Musk doesn’t look to the capital raise to replace efficiency in the business, the fact that he’s tapping the capital markets for cash could stoke some fears about waning demand.

“The debate’s going to continue to rage on, no doubt…But I think this does effectively derisk the business,” said Munster.

The Tesla bull points to the company’s war chest of $2.2 billion in cash that coupled with the roughly $2 billion from the capital raise – if it’s a success – “doubles” their working capital. Making “robot taxis” is a capital intensive endeavor, and Elon Musk has just given the company some cash cushion. The Tesla bulls are loving it, so at the very least Musk has bought the stock some time.

House Democrat Mocks Absent William Barr With KFC Chicken: Hes Here!

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) brought a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken and a ceramic chicken figurine to the hearing, which featured an empty witness chair and a name card with Barr’s name. Barr said after Wednesday’s contentious Senate hearing that he wouldn’t attend the House session.

Cohen later placed the chicken figurine at the attorney general’s empty seat.

“Chicken Barr should’ve shown up today and answered questions,” Cohen said, holding up the chicken at a press conference, where other House Democrats bashed Barr for not showing up. 

Democrats pilloried Barr at Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for his vigorous defense of President Donald Trump by obfuscating and mischaracterizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference and Trump.

Dow Flails After Fed Defies Trump & Shocks Stock Market

By CCN: The Dow floundered on Thursday as the US stock market struggled to mount a convincing recovery from Wednesday’s triple-digit pullback. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve continues to flex its independence, with Chair Jerome Powell refusing to bow to President Trump’s presumptuous demand that he cut interest rates.

Dow Quakes After Fed Defies Trump Rate Cut Demand

Powell’s move rattled the stock market and continued to weigh on major indices on Thursday morning. As of 9:37 am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost 29.81 points or 0.11%; the DJIA last traded at 26,400.33. The S&P 500 traded sideways, while the Nasdaq rose 0.09% to 8,054.52.

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The Dow failed to recover after Fed Chair Powell shocked the stock market by defying Trump’s rate cut demands. | Source: Yahoo Finance

On Wednesday, the US stock market took a significant step down during the afternoon session. The Dow slid by 162.77 points or 0.61% to 26,430.14. The Nasdaq dropped 0.57% to 8,049.64. The S&P 500 fared worst, sinking 0.75% to 2,923.73.

Today, Wall Street remains on edge following the latest Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, after which Fed Chair Powell clapped back at the assertion that lagging inflation would force the Federal Reserve to initiate interest rate cuts.

“We suspect transitory factors may be at work,” Powell said. “If we did see inflation running persistently below, that is something the committee would be concerned about and something we would take into account when setting policy.”

Donald Trump and his advisors had placed severe pressure on the Fed to cut rates. Earlier this week, the president tweeted that the economy could “go up like a rocket” and set “major records” if the Fed would reverse the rate hikes it implemented earlier in his administration.

Many on Wall Street expected the Fed to cave to Trump’s wishes, much as it seemed to do in late 2018 following the rapid stock market sell-off that wiped the Dow and its sister indices off their all-time highs.

Thus Powell’s power move shocked the markets, sending the previously-buoyant Dow into a tailspin ahead of the closing bell on Wednesday.

How Will Trump Respond?

Trump has not yet commented on the Fed’s analysis that low inflation is “transitory” and should not trigger near-term rate cuts. However, it’s unlikely that the surprise announcement will do much to improve his contentious relationship with the bank or its current chair – a man that, lest we forget, he appointed.

It’s no secret that Trump desperately desires to expend every effort to pump the stock market even further into record territory ahead of the 2020 election, irrespective of the long-term fallout from those economic policies.

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Donald Trump appointed Jerome Powell as Fed chair, and he’s regretted it ever since. | Source: REUTERS / Carlos Barria

Unable to pressure Powell into doing his bidding, Trump will almost definitely amp up his attacks on the Fed, which he has frequently used as a scapegoat when the economy has failed to reflect positively on him. That much won’t be surprising.

However, could Trump, enraged at Powell, resurrect his fantasies about booting the Fed chair from office? It’s not like he hasn’t pondered it before, at least according to reports from late 2018.

Firing Powell would be an unprecedented move, but Trump’s an unprecedented president. Does he loathe the Fed chief enough to initiate a constitutional crisis – and potentially rattle the stock market during a heated reelection campaign – by attempting to replace him?

We’ll soon find out.

Click here for a real-time Dow Jones Industrial Average price chart.

Bolivar to Bitcoin Volumes Hit All-Time High as Venezuela Crisis Intensifies

By CCN.com: As the political and economic crisis in Venezuela escalates, citizens of the South American country are taking refuge in Bitcoin.

In the final week of April, a record amount of Venezuelan bolivars were spent buying bitcoin per Coin Dance. Specifically, bitcoin worth more than 36.5 billion bolivars were purchased last week.


Venezuelan Bolivar to Bitcoin Volumes | Source: Coin Dance

The previous record was bitcoin worth 31.3 billion bolivars which were purchased earlier last month.

The record purchase of bitcoin coincided with a rise in political tensions in the Latin American country. Earlier this week opposition leader Juan Guaido urged the country’s military to join civilian protestors in ousting President Nicolas Maduro.

Will the United States intervene militarily in Venezuela?

This was Guaido’s third attempt to topple Maduro and so far has not achieved the anticipated success. The opposition leader has the support of 50 countries including the U.S., the U.K. and a host of South American countries. Maduro, on the other hand, has the support of China, Russia, Cuba, Turkey and other countries traditionally considered U.S. foes.

When the much-publicized uprising failed to topple Maduro earlier this week, Trump blamed Cuba.

Maduro may still be reigning but Guaido has vowed to continue adding pressure till the regime falls. With the protests and strikes only likely to increase the unrest as ugly violent confrontations become the order of the day, chances of bitcoin trading volumes in Venezuela increasing further are high.

This is because bitcoin can serve as a buffer against the runaway inflation in the country. Last year inflation levels spike to over 12,000 percent.

sure, bolivars to bitcoin volumes are at a record high but what about the petro?

Objective data on the national Venezuelan cryptocurrency Petro is hard to come by. However, Amberes, one of the exchanges sanctioned by Venezuela’s National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP) to sell the altcoin has indicated that sales are growing steadily, according to Decrypt.

Per the exchange, trading volumes of the petro to bitcoin pair have been on the rise. Some of the buyers are merely speculating while others are purchasing out of curiosity.

SUNACRIP also sells the Petro/Bolivar pair at its offices and this has given rise to informal trading. Most of this trading is taking place online with buyers and sellers interacting over social media. Besides Amberes, other exchanges that have been authorized by SUNACRIP include CryptoEx, Cryptia, Bancar, Afx, Criptolago and CriptoMundo.

Bitcoin to Cannabis: Chinese Crypto Investor Pivots to Chase Higher Yields

By CCN.com: The widespread adoption of blockchain is taking longer than expected. The slow recovery pace of the cryptocurrency industry is forcing blockchain investors to look for alternative sources of revenue to keep their business afloat. Some blockchain investors are now turning to cannabis to diversify their revenue stream.

Tough times call for greener solutions

Hong-Kong listed blockchain investor, Grandshores Technology, is diversifying its investment portfolio to include cannabis with a 40 percent investment in Hangzhou Yupu Trading. The demand for cannabis is likely to increase shortly as more countries legalize the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis. Among its crypto ventures, the firm recently raised $12.5 million to back a Chinese yen-pegged stablecoin.

Industrial hemp is currently the only type of cannabis being grown in China, and it is restricted to two provinces- Heilongjiang and Yunnan.

For industrial and medicinal use, Industrial hemp has the right components that meet these demands. Cannabidiol, the active pharmaceutical ingredient in cannabis, can be extracted from Industrial hemp while the rest of the plant is used for industrial purposes.

Grandshores Technology has partnered with Heilongjiang hemp research institute which has given them access to high-quality hemp seeds which contain a high percentage of cannabidiols compared to other strains.

With high-quality raw material, Grandshores Technology may control the supply of cannabis right from the source. The cannabis market goes beyond recreational and medicinal; the industrial use of cannabis may be its ‘Holy Grail.’

Grandshores Technology had previously announced plans to issue a new stablecoin.

Will China bow to the pressure?

China is in fierce competition with the US to control a more significant portion of worldwide economic trade- as currently witnessed in the increasingly fractious trade wars. The growth in the cannabis industry could very well become another aspect of the trade, in which both countries would like to dominate.

China is conservative with the government controlling the moral conduct of its citizens. The use of marijuana is highly prohibited in China with prison detainment guaranteed for possession or use of the recreational drug.

The dilemma for the Chinese government may come in the form of the economic impact cannabis may have. Using the US as a case study, the cultivation and sale of cannabis have led to the creation of permanent jobs in the industry, generating billions in US dollars in the process.

With recorded incidences of Chinese tourists traveling to Amsterdam for recreational use of cannabis, China may find itself in a difficult spot.

The market for recreational use of cannabis is enormous in the Asian region. Creating a legalized system will likely result in positive results as it has done in states that have legalized recreational use of cannabis in the US. If China takes the lead to legalize cannabis in Asia, it will give them an economic advantage in the region.

China may be forced to compromise on their strict laws to keep up with the cannabis wave that is rising from the West. With the influence pop culture has over millennials and generation Z, the recreational use of cannabis is only going to increase.

The younger generation is redefining investment and business. The popularity of blockchain and cannabis signifies the change of guard taking place in the world. Though not entirely accepted, these two products and their related services are the future of business in the world.