IBM gets a boost from low taxes and cloud computing

It’s a question fit for IBM’s artificial intelligence platform Watson. Is the worst finally over for Big Blue?

IBM reported Tuesday that sales and profits topped forecasts. The stock surged 9% on the news Wednesday morning, helping to lift the Dow more than 100 points and pushing it past 23,000.

But IBM is still down 4% this year, making it one of the Dow’s worst performers — and with good reason.

Sales were better than analysts’ expectations, but they still fell slightly from a year ago to $19.2 billion. That’s the 22nd consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue declines for IBM — not a streak that any company wants.

What’s more, IBM’s profits continue to be lifted by a super low tax bill. It paid just an 11% tax rate globally in the third quarter.

IBM critics argue that the company is benefiting from various tax loopholes to justify its lower rate and thereby boosting earnings in the process.

In other words, the earnings growth would be much lower if IBM paid a tax rate closer to what many other companies pay. That could be as high as 39.1% in the U.S. when factoring in current federal and state tax rates.

The company has continually pointed out that it has operations around the world where corporate taxes are much lower.

CFO Martin Schroeter said during a conference call with analysts on Tuesday that it does business in 162 countries. That is a key reason why its tax rate is so low.

But President Trump and Republicans in Congress are hoping to push that rate lower in order to entice companies like IBM to bring cash it has sitting overseas (which is usually taxed at a lower rate) back to America.

IBM ended the third quarter with $11.5 billion in cash. It uses a chunk of its cash every quarter to buy back stock and pay a dividend to shareholders. So it’s possible IBM could boost the dividend and buybacks further if it is taxed at an even lower rate.

That could anger activists who already think that IBM is benefiting too much from low global tax rates.

Still, there is undeniably good news for IBM beyond its relatively puny tax bill.

The company, which has struggled in the past few years because of a shift in the technology landscape, is finally starting to benefit from investments it’s made in cloud computing and other more dynamic and rapidly growing areas of tech.

IBM’s revenue from cloud computing businesses grew by 20% in the quarter to $4.1 billion. Cloud revenue now accounts for more than 20% of Big Blue’s overall revenue.

There also continues to be slow and steady growth in its Cognitive Solutions unit, which includes Watson applications for health care companies and financial firms. Revenues rose 4% in the quarter to $4.4 billion.

Continued growth from the cloud, Watson, security software (where revenues surged 51% in the third quarter) and older businesses like mainframes and storage could help IBM finally end its ignominious streak of falling sales in the fourth quarter.

Schroeter said during the conference call that sales could be $2.8 billion to $2.9 billion higher in the fourth quarter than they were in the third quarter. That works out to $22 billion to $22.1 billion. Big Blue’s sales in the fourth quarter of 2016 were $21.8 billion.

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Manso: Heat heading to NBA Playoffs with better seed than you think

The Heat ended the 2016-2017 season wishing they had played even more basketball.  To a man, every player in Miami’s locker room felt they could have made some noise in the playoffs and had more to prove with this team.They’re finally …

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Worker falls onto roof of building at Miami International Airport

A worker was airlifted to a hospital Wednesday morning after falling onto the roof of a building at Miami International Airport, authorities said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokeswoman Erika Benitez said several units responded to the scene at 7:55 a.m. and used a stokes basket to rescue the worker.

Benitez said the worker was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he is listed in critical condition.

It’s unclear whether the worker was on the roof of a taller building or somewhere else when he fell onto one of the airport building’s roofs.

Benitez said authorities do not yet know what led to the fall.

The victim’s identity has not been released. 

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Cancer drugs grown in chicken eggs may lower their cost

Researchers in Japan may have found a way to use chicken eggs to produce cheaper drugs that could be used to treat a range of diseases.

They have successfully genetically modified hens to produce eggs containing large amounts of interferon beta protein, a protein used to treat various illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and cancer.

The protein is very expensive, costing between $300-$1000 for just one microgram, according to pharmaceutical company Cosmo Bio, which co-led the research.

For treating MS, for example, the interferon dosage can start at 30 micrograms and increase from there.

The research was jointly conducted by scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization and Cosmo Bio.

According to Mika Kitahara, a spokesperson for Cosmo Bio, this technology will reduce the price of cancer drugs at least by 90% if proven successful in further trials.

The conventional production of interferon needs large aseptic (sterile) facilities, but eggs work as a protein-producing aseptic system, said Kitahara.

Isao Oishi, chief researcher from the cell and molecule mechanism research group at AIST said the research was conducted to test whether the eggs from genetically modified chickens can be used for cheap production of these proteins.

A range of biological systems can be used to try and create drugs, such as bacteria, yeast and some mammalian cells, but “some proteins just don’t suit these systems,” said Professor Helen Sang from the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. For those that don’t quite work, “making protein from egg-white is relatively easy,” she told CNN.

“Interferon was discovered as a cell-signaling protein molecule in the body which acts against viruses,” said Dr. Robert Bermel, director of the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis at the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute. Later it was used to treat auto-immune diseases — where a person’s immune system attacks their body — like multiple sclerosis, he adds.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the brain, spinal cord and eyes, resulting in a range of symptoms, such as vision problems, numbness and difficulties walking.

Bermel explained that interferon protein molecule is expensive because manufacturing it is a tedious process requiring strict quality control.

“Interferon for MS can be manufactured from bacteria like insulin or from Chinese hamster ovary cells.” The quantity of interferon produced this way, however, is very little. “(The new research) sounds like a relatively inexpensive way to mass produce it,” he says.

Previously, the Japanese scientists tried to produce the modified protein by inserting the required genes into chicken chromosomes using a virus as a vector, but said this produced an “irregular result.” The new method aims to more accurately and stably produce the protein by knocking in edited genes, using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR. The researchers are currently writing up their findings for academic publication.

More research is needed and the interferon beta protein will need safety clearance through trials before it can be used to treat patients.

However, Sang explained it’s not as simple as modifying these chickens to get endless supplies of the drug at a lower cost.

“You’ll have to show (the drug) is exactly the same as the drugs that have gone through all the clinical trials,” said Sang, whose own team has been working on transgenic chickens for over a decade. As well as simply making the drugs in the eggs, they will also need to be purified and validated through additional research, she said.

If this new source of interferon is shown to be the same, structurally, “then there is a lot of advantage in terms of scale,” said Sang. You can start with a few hens then scale up quickly, she said.

One drug, Kanuma, produced using modified chickens has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency, a rare inherited condition where the body does not produce enough of a protein that helps the body break down fatty material.

The immediate hope is for the cancer-battling medicine to result in affordable medical products. The team is looking forward as well, with research underway to produce human antibodies using the same method.

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Gretchen Carlson speaks: ‘The floodgates have opened’

When Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, it sent shock waves through the industry and spurred other women at the network to share their own stories of assault and sexual misconduct.

Now, as claims of sexual assault and harassment pile up against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the former news anchor thinks we’re in a historic moment.

“The floodgates have opened,” Carlson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in a new Boss Files podcast. “Everyone is talking about this now. And more and more women every day are saying, ‘Oh, my gosh. If they did it, I can do it, too.'”

“If I had anything to do with that, I am immensely proud,” she added.

Carlson, who received a reported $20 million in a settlement deal and an unusual public apology from 21st Century Fox, never expected to become the face of sexual harassment.

But when she took legal action against Ailes, she began speaking for the countless women who have experienced harassment or assault. Ailes, who died in May 2017, left Fox weeks after Carlson made her allegations.

Carlson said she started hearing from women across the country who wanted to share their story. So many women reached out that Carlson said there were stacks of letters “that were starting to become higher than the chair I was sitting on.”

“The two prevailing things that these women said to me, besides their stories of shame and pain, were ‘Thank you for being our voice because nobody ever heard us,'” she said. “They felt a sense of victory through my story being so public.”

Carlson says there’s a big reason most sexual harassment cases are never brought to light: Forced arbitration clauses that prevent employees from taking disputes or grievances to a court of law. Instead the employee must submit them to a private arbitration forum where they will be heard and an outcome decided. By signing the clause, the employee also waives the right to sue the company or participate in a class action.

“Hypothetically, if a woman’s being sexually harassed and she has an arbitration clause in her contract, she’s given up her Seventh Amendment right to sue in an open court,” Carlson said. “So nobody ever knows about her story, ever.”

Carlson now wants Congress to make forced arbitration clauses illegal.

She has teamed up with several Democratic senators including Al Franken, who is from her home state of Minnesota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and other co-sponsors to help introduce the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2017.

The bill would get rid of mandatory arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, civil rights and antitrust cases.

So far, it has failed to garner GOP support. “It’s essential and crucial to me that I get a bipartisan bill,” Carlson told Harlow. “I have been meeting with Republicans on this and I’m very optimistic about it.”

She also hopes that she’ll be able to convince President Trump to get on board.

“Wouldn’t it be great if he actually signed the Gretchen Carlson Mandatory Arbitration Bill that got rid of secrecy?” she said. “That would certainly be showing that he respects women.”

Doing away with secret arbitration meetings would also help other women who have been sexually harassed feel less isolated, Carlson added. “Once it’s public, other women within that company also find out that somebody else has filed a complaint,” she said. “You’re not thinking, ‘It’s just me.'”

In her new book “Be Fierce,” Carlson offers her advice on how to fight sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

She warns that human resources departments aren’t always there to advocate for employees. “People who work in HR departments are getting their paychecks from the company,” she explained. “That’s one thing that people always told me as I worked my way up.”

But that doesn’t mean women shouldn’t speak up. “You have to find a couple of trusted colleagues that you can share [things with] so you have witnesses,” Carlson said. “That’s crucial.”

Keeping a running log of incidents is also essential, she added. “The most important thing really is to document what’s happening to you. And make sure you keep that documentation at home.”

Finally, Carlson said, women should consider the help of an attorney. Organizations like Legal Aid or BetterBrave, a group that helps set up victims with lawyers, are a good resource.

Carlson has created the Gift of Courage fund, which offers financial support to charities that help women and girls. She also put together a nine-city tour that will offer a series of workshops that provide underserved women with counseling and guidance on domestic violence and sexual harassment.

Carlson also encourages men to help effect change as well.

“We need you to honor women more in the workplace,” Carlson tells Harlow. “We need you to give us promotions. We need you to pay us fairly. We need you to talk about sexual harassment and set the ideals from the top down that it’s not going to be tolerated.”

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Gretchen Carlson speaks: ‘The floodgates have opened’

When Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes, it sent shock waves through the industry and spurred other women at the network to share their own stories of assault and sexual misconduct.

Now, as claims of sexual assault and harassment pile up against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the former news anchor thinks we’re in a historic moment.

“The floodgates have opened,” Carlson told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in a new Boss Files podcast. “Everyone is talking about this now. And more and more women every day are saying, ‘Oh, my gosh. If they did it, I can do it, too.'”

“If I had anything to do with that, I am immensely proud,” she added.

Carlson, who received a reported $20 million in a settlement deal and an unusual public apology from 21st Century Fox, never expected to become the face of sexual harassment.

But when she took legal action against Ailes, she began speaking for the countless women who have experienced harassment or assault. Ailes, who died in May 2017, left Fox weeks after Carlson made her allegations.

Carlson said she started hearing from women across the country who wanted to share their story. So many women reached out that Carlson said there were stacks of letters “that were starting to become higher than the chair I was sitting on.”

“The two prevailing things that these women said to me, besides their stories of shame and pain, were ‘Thank you for being our voice because nobody ever heard us,'” she said. “They felt a sense of victory through my story being so public.”

Carlson says there’s a big reason most sexual harassment cases are never brought to light: Forced arbitration clauses that prevent employees from taking disputes or grievances to a court of law. Instead the employee must submit them to a private arbitration forum where they will be heard and an outcome decided. By signing the clause, the employee also waives the right to sue the company or participate in a class action.

“Hypothetically, if a woman’s being sexually harassed and she has an arbitration clause in her contract, she’s given up her Seventh Amendment right to sue in an open court,” Carlson said. “So nobody ever knows about her story, ever.”

Carlson now wants Congress to make forced arbitration clauses illegal.

She has teamed up with several Democratic senators including Al Franken, who is from her home state of Minnesota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and other co-sponsors to help introduce the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2017.

The bill would get rid of mandatory arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, civil rights and antitrust cases.

So far, it has failed to garner GOP support. “It’s essential and crucial to me that I get a bipartisan bill,” Carlson told Harlow. “I have been meeting with Republicans on this and I’m very optimistic about it.”

She also hopes that she’ll be able to convince President Trump to get on board.

“Wouldn’t it be great if he actually signed the Gretchen Carlson Mandatory Arbitration Bill that got rid of secrecy?” she said. “That would certainly be showing that he respects women.”

Doing away with secret arbitration meetings would also help other women who have been sexually harassed feel less isolated, Carlson added. “Once it’s public, other women within that company also find out that somebody else has filed a complaint,” she said. “You’re not thinking, ‘It’s just me.'”

In her new book “Be Fierce,” Carlson offers her advice on how to fight sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

She warns that human resources departments aren’t always there to advocate for employees. “People who work in HR departments are getting their paychecks from the company,” she explained. “That’s one thing that people always told me as I worked my way up.”

But that doesn’t mean women shouldn’t speak up. “You have to find a couple of trusted colleagues that you can share [things with] so you have witnesses,” Carlson said. “That’s crucial.”

Keeping a running log of incidents is also essential, she added. “The most important thing really is to document what’s happening to you. And make sure you keep that documentation at home.”

Finally, Carlson said, women should consider the help of an attorney. Organizations like Legal Aid or BetterBrave, a group that helps set up victims with lawyers, are a good resource.

Carlson has created the Gift of Courage fund, which offers financial support to charities that help women and girls. She also put together a nine-city tour that will offer a series of workshops that provide underserved women with counseling and guidance on domestic violence and sexual harassment.

Carlson also encourages men to help effect change as well.

“We need you to honor women more in the workplace,” Carlson tells Harlow. “We need you to give us promotions. We need you to pay us fairly. We need you to talk about sexual harassment and set the ideals from the top down that it’s not going to be tolerated.”

Follow this story