Evaluating stocks involves two types of analysis: fundamental and technical. The former is all about number crunching while the latter uses up-and-down squiggly lines to chart a stock’s course. In the end, it’s all about being right more often than wrong. Investment professionals are constantly looking for that slight edge over the competition. One place they might easily overlook (but shouldn’t) is within the realm of qualitative analysis, a subjective area that is sometimes referred to as soft metrics. This refers to aspects of a public company that aren’t quantifiable or easily explained by numbers. In general, it’s an underappreciated and underutilized side of fundamental analysis.

When conducting qualitative analysis of a company, most investment professionals look at the business model, competitive advantage in the industry, management and corporate governance. This helps to determine how a company makes money, its uniqueness versus the competition, which people are making the decisions and how they treat ordinary shareholders. Gathering all of this data can provide a better idea of how a company intends to grow its business while rewarding shareholders. However, it isn’t the entire picture. Touchy-feely subjects like satisfying the customer, rewarding employees and maintaining excellent supplier relationships matter.

Understanding the qualities that make a company great involve more than a simple SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats)–that’s business school 101 stuff. To evaluate a company’s intangibles, one must dig below the surface and beyond the 10-K. Satisfaction is the key here and successful businesses have it in abundance.

If a company fails to satisfy employees, suppliers and customers, in this order, it’s only a matter of time before its stock price implodes. Arguments exist for both sides of the discussion. Some academics believe that customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction aren’t mutually exclusive. Just because employees are happy doesn’t guarantee customer loyalty.

Any company that’s truly interested in customer satisfaction must first meet the needs of its employees; otherwise, it’s putting the cart before the horse.

Employees are the face of any brand. The quickest way to destroy brand equity is to disrespect them. Once you’ve lost trust, it’s only a matter of time before you lose the customer. Without customers, you have no business! “If you treat employees as if they make a difference to the company, they will make a difference to the company … At the heart of this unique business model is a simple idea: Satisfied employees create satisfied customers.” Public companies are no different.

No matter how vertically integrated your company is, you will always have suppliers of one kind or another and those relationships can positively or negatively impact the quality of your final product or service. The marketing profession has tried for years to quantify customer satisfaction in a way that lends itself to clarifying a brand’s equity or worth, companies that please their customers are shown to create four times the wealth.

Investors tend to spend most of their time worrying about quantitative analysis. Ratios like price-to-earnings and price-to-book get all the attention while numberless intangibles like customer satisfaction are left to annual surveys that are quickly swept under the carpet, never to be seen again. Let’s face it: we live in a quantitative world. Everything we do revolves around top 10 lists of one kind or another. We want a shortcut and lists meet this need. Qualitative analysis, on the other hand, is tricky stuff, and most Warren Buffett wannabes find it too subjective. However, any business whose stock price has risen consistently over time has surely satisfied all its stakeholders.

Expensive, yes, but London is still Europe’s top-ranked place to locate a business. Others are gaining, though, but real estate and labor costs are pushing many to make their homes in smaller and farther-flung European cities

Many companies doing business in Europe have long considered it essential to have a prestigious and pricey address in London, Paris, or another major capital. But with big-city real estate and labor prices soaring, some companies are now taking a closer look at smaller regional centers.

Geneva, Switzerland; Manchester, England; and Lyon, France, were the biggest gainers in this year’s annual ranking of Europe’s “top cities to locate a business,” by the Cushman & Wakefield real estate firm. London, Paris, and Frankfurt still hold the top spots in the survey, based on interviews with representatives from 500 of Europe’s largest companies. But one-third of those interviewed said they might relocate operations to another city to offset rising costs.

Smaller cities also are getting savvier about marketing themselves. They’re networking tirelessly and spiffing up their Web sites to highlight their strong points—not only lower costs, but also the availability of highly skilled workers, upgraded infrastructure, and state-of-the-art telecommunications.

Manchester, which jumped from 21st to 18th place in the rankings, has opened a business center called Spinningfields that boasts 30% to 40% lower property and labor costs than larger agglomerations such as London’s Canary Wharf and Paris’s La Défense. The northern English city is now encircled by fiber optic cables for a “broadband capacity that’s unthinkable in most other places,” says Colin Sinclair, who heads Manchester’s economic development agency.

Cities on Europe’s eastern rim are attracting interest from budget-conscious companies, too. Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest rank ahead of Vienna, Copenhagen, and Rome on the Cushman & Wakefield survey, largely because of lower property and labor costs. Indeed, some 22% of the companies surveyed said they already had relocated or outsourced some activities within the past 12 months, with 51% choosing a location in Central or Eastern Europe and only 35% choosing Western Europe.

But corporate decisions aren’t based on price alone. Despite having relatively high costs, Geneva jumped from 20th to 12th place in the rankings, largely because it got high marks for quality of life and for its convenient location in the center of Europe.

Moscow, another pricey metropolis, attracts business because it’s the hub of a fast-growing market. Of the 500 companies surveyed, 63 had plans to open offices, manufacturing sites, or retail outlets in the Russian capital within the next five years—more than in any other European city.

And London still ranks No. 1, even though it has some of the highest real estate and labor costs in the world. “London benefits from its location because of its time zone, the availability of labor, and international accessibility,” says Cushman & Wakefield’s Rossall. “The cost of staff becomes less of an issue.”

Enrique Luis Sardi Humard designer Delemont Georges Humard swiss precision

L’entreprise propose à ses clients des presses hydrauliques de haute précision et des systèmes d’automation dans le but d’augmenter la productivité
et la facilité d’utilisation des installations industrielles.


Enrique Luis Sardi Matija Maticevic Stefano Ghiglione Silvio Marangoni sardi design team
Le design innovant des Servo’ Presses hydrauliques CNC HUMARD ® allie productivité élevée et ergonomie

HUMARD Automation SA, Delémont, a été créée en 1995 par les frères Georges et Raphaël Humard, tous deux directeurs généraux. Georges est responsable de la partie commerciale alors que Raphaël dirige la R&D et la production. L’entreprise a débuté en développant des solutions de robotisation pour les presses hydrauliques et, aujourd’hui, HUMARD Automation SA est spécialisée dans la conception, le développement
et la fabrication de machines hautement automatisées ou robotisées. Son assortiment compte six lignes de produits, à savoir les presses hydrauliques de grande précision, les systèmes d’automatisation de la production, les robots de manutention, les automates de palettisation, les décolleteuses de haute précision ainsi que les accessoires et dispositifs divers. Tous les produits sont conçus pour accroître la productivité des installations industrielles, véritable défi pour les entreprises en Suisse qui se doivent de produire à très haute valeur ajoutée pour rester concurrentielles.

Si HUMARD Automation SA a su se forger une belle réputation, c’est grâce à des valeurs sur lesquelles aucune concession n’est envisagée. En 1er lieu, la qualité et la fiabilité des machines livrées chez le client et, ensuite, une solide capacité d’innovation, à travers un bureau de R&D d’une quinzaine de personnes (près de 30% de l’effectif  total), animées d’une véritable capacité d’observation et d’anticipation du marché.

Des systèmes sur mesure et modulables

A l’aide de modules standardisés, HUMARD Automation SA combine les éléments pour réaliser des solutions sur mesure, adaptées aux besoins spécifiques du client. L’interchangeabilité des modules offre en outre une grande flexibilité ; une chaîne de montage peut ainsi être modifiée en tout temps, et avec une interruption de travail minimale.

Trois entreprises complémentaires

Georges et Raphaël Humard font preuve d’un véritable esprit d’entrepreneurs, ne refusent aucun défi, mais sont attentifs à une évolution maîtrisée de leur société. Pour  soutenir le développement, deux entreprises ont été acquises, offrant synergies et complémentarité.

En 2002, New Ingenia SA, distributeur exclusif « Bosch Rexroth » pour la Suisse romande, a été rachetée et transférée à Delémont. Elle conçoit, monte et vend des installations complètes intégrant des profilés en aluminium telles que postes de travail, systèmes de convoyage et châssis d’installations diverses.

Seuret SA, spécialisée dans la révision de machines, notamment à cames, a, quant à elle, été reprise en 2011. Le mariage entre la force industrielle de HUMARD Automation SA et les compétences microtechniques de Seuret SA a permis la commercialisation d’un tour automatique de haute précision
combinant savoir-faire ancestral et technologies de pointe.

Enrique Luis Sardi designer milano suisse switzerland svizzera Schweiz high quality swiss made hydraulic press
Gros plan sur la zone de travail spacieuse de la Servo’ Presse hydraulique

Les clients d’HUMARD Automation SA sont issus de l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, l’électronique, le médical, l’alimentaire ainsi que l’automobile. HUMARD Automation SA est très bien implantée en Suisse et une expansion vers certains marchés étrangers ciblés est en cours. Pour abriter ses activités, l’entreprise a bâti quatre usines dans la zone industrielle La Communance à Delémont. Une 5e halle, destinée à Seuret SA, est opérationnelle
dès cet automne. Côté personnel, une septantaine de collaborateurs travaillent pour l’ensemble du groupe, y compris des apprentis dessinateurs sur machines et automaticiens.

HUMARD Automation SA, qui avait obtenu le soutien de la Promotion économique lors de son démarrage est aujourd’hui un fleuron de l’économie jurassienne.


Humard Innovation and Design team

Source: EnPlus

This week in Paris the world’s luxury automakers will show off their best new work.

The Mondial de l’Automobile 2014 (Paris Auto Show) opens to the public on this Saturday, October 4, primed to dovetail perfectly with the final catcalls of Paris Fashion Week. And like the fashion designers before them, automakers will be doing their best to scatter their own catwalks, as it were, with style. (Or in the case of Stella McCartney’s wrapped Jaguar XEs, employ fashion stars directly.)

These days, with consumers more educated and demanding than ever, they’ve got to.

“I don’t think there’s any separation between architecture, interiors, art, music, fashion anymore — they all blend together,” said Keith Baptista at breakfast in Soho last week. The co-founder of MADE Studios had just finished his company’s run of Lexus-sponsored New York fashion shows. “In order for automakers to reach those luxury customers, they have to be there. They have to be involved in those worlds.”

While it’s not as influential as the shows in Detroit and Los Angeles, the Paris Auto Show is a crucial opportunity for luxury automakers to flex some of their considerable muscle in their own backyard. And for foreign automakers like Citroen, Renault, Skoda, Vauxhall, and Peugeot that sell primarily in Europe and Asia, it’s vital.

World Debuts

One crucial debut is Lamborghini’s Asterion, a brand-new plug-in hybrid electric concept. The car has 910 horsepower and will go 31 miles (50 km) on pure electric energy before engaging its motor. CEO Stephan Winkelmann called it a ‘ground-breaking, crucial step’ for the Volkswagen AG-owned company.

Another VW subsidiary, Audi, will show off a brand-new A4 sedan and its next-generation R8 Supercar; MINI will debut its Superleggera Vision Concept; and Land Rover will introduce the athletic Discovery Sport. Ducati is showing its novel Scrambler motorcycle, an update to a classic frame.

Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz AMG GT will finally show its face to the public along with a handful of other Mercedes-Benz offerings (S-Class Hybrid, C-Class Wagon). Infiniti’s stunning two-door Q80 Concept and Volvo’s charming next-generation SUV, the XC90, round out a strong group of luxury oriented new cars.

Convertible Life

The Ferrari 458 Speciale A is the most powerful Ferrari convertible in history, hitting 60 mph in 3 seconds on a 605-horsepower V8 engine. Nearly as quick is its retractable aluminum hard top, which takes just 14 seconds to deploy and adds only 50kg (110 lbs) over the coupe version. Source: Ferrari
The Ferrari 458 Speciale A is the most powerful Ferrari convertible in history, hitting 60 mph in 3 seconds on a 605-horsepower V8 engine. Nearly as quick is its retractable aluminum hard top, which takes just 14 seconds to deploy and adds only 50kg (110 lbs) over the coupe version. Source: Ferrari

Shown in Geneva as a “design preview,” Alfa Romeo’s stylishly tiny 4C Spider is leading the pack of cool convertibles on show. In addition to the allure of its hot Italian body, it is also light, weighing just over 2,000 pounds. That’s less than half what the primo luxe sedans from Rolls-Royce and Bentley weigh. So when you pair that flyweight with the 1.75-liter turbo four-cylinder engine, you get a sporty and relatively efficient 237 horsepower and 258 pound-foot of torque.

Elsewhere in drop-top world, BMW has a turbocharged 2-Series convertible that hints at a larger brand pivot: targeting buyers who want something compact and cheaper. (The company’s bread-and-butter 3-Series has maintained its size and heft since its 1975 debut.) The 2-Series is more driving-focused than its 4-Series counterpart, with a lighter fabric roof and choice of a 240 hp four-cylinder or 320 hp six-cylinder engine. No other brand will have a rear-wheel drive convertible of similar size and at a (relatively) lower MSRP; final pricing yet to be announced.

Ferrari, on the other hand, has no such qualms about appearing immodest. This week in Paris it will show the 458 Speciale A, a limited edition series celebrating the various versions of the 458. (That model is famous for winning, among other races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.) It’s the most powerful Ferrari convertible in history, hitting 60mph in 3 seconds on a 605-horsepower V8 engine. Nearly as quick: its retractable aluminum hard top, which takes just 14 seconds to deploy and adds only 110 lbs. (50 kg) over the coupe version. That’s quite a feat for the stereotypically heavy and stiff convertible body.

Luxe Lifers

The Aston Martin Vanquish Carbon Editions comes in monochrome white or black, but buyers can also add highlights of color throughout on items like brake calipers or accent stitching. They’ll have two-door coupe body style with 2+0 seating or Volante body style with 2+2 seating. Each will have a carbon fiber-bonded body with bi-xenon headlamps with integrated LED side lights and direction indicators; LED light blade tail-lamps; and an exposed Carbon Fibre splitter, diffuser, and sill blade. Source: Aston Martin
The Aston Martin Vanquish Carbon Editions comes in monochrome white or black, but buyers can also add highlights of color throughout on items like brake calipers or accent stitching. They’ll have two-door coupe body style with 2+0 seating or Volante body style with 2+2 seating. Each will have a carbon fiber-bonded body with bi-xenon headlamps with integrated LED side lights and direction indicators; LED light blade tail-lamps; and an exposed Carbon Fibre splitter, diffuser, and sill blade. Source: Aston Martin

The Aston Martin Vanquish Carbon Black and Carbon White — other extremely limited editions of an existing model — will also make an appearance. Aston calls the black version a ‘perfect accentuation’ of the GT nature of its V12 sports car, as witnessed by its strong dark theme: black window surrounds, 10-spoke glossy black alloy wheels, an exposed carbon fiber roof, mirror caps and arm (black black black). The white version is an essay on contrast as its “Stratus White” paint plays against the dark carbon trim.

Each of these monochrome Vanquishes (also offered in the convertible Volante) comes with the ability to add highlights of color on, say, an accent brake caliper or an accent stitch or welt. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Finally, Bentley will show its 2015 Mulsanne Speed sedan, which will go on sale in 2016. True, a forthcoming SUV will be the hype-getter — it’s due out in 2016 — but don’t overlook that twin-turbo Speed. It houses Bentley’s classic six and three quarter V8 and is the most powerful luxury sedan of its kind ever, with 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, up from the 505 hp and 752 pound-feet of its predecessor, and considerably faster. Bentley is trying to promote the Mulsanne as not just a touring sedan but as a powerful modern driver, so the steering and suspension have been improved; speed will hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before it tops out at 190mph. That is impressive considering the car weighs nearly 6,000 pounds.

By Hannah Elliott


Girod Tast, Girod Instruments, Swiss made, Marie-Christine Bouduban, lever-type dial indicators
Girod-Tast lever-type dial indicator.

In 2014, Girod Instruments, one of the best Swiss quality provider of metrology solutions, will kick-off a celebration to commemorate 50 years of precision measuring success.

Girod Instruments was founded in 1964 as family business. Today it is still managed by the same family and this gives their customers the possibility to work really closely and to share tasks and responsibilities.

The company’s speciality are Girod-Tast lever-type dial indicators.

Girod Tast, Girod-Tast, Girodtast, gyrod tast, Girod Instruments, Swiss made, Marie-Christine Bouduban, lever-type dial indicators

Special events will be scheduled for Girod Insturments’ valued customers, suppliers, and employees throughout the year at various locations to allow Girod Instruments the opportunity to personally thank the companies and individuals for their on-going support and commitment over the past half century.

Girod Tast has prospered only because of the dedication and support received from our customers, suppliers and employees throughout the years. That’s why we want everyone who has been a contributor to our success to share in celebrating with us”, said Marie-Christine Bouduban CEO of Girod Instruments.


Hewlett-Packard is headed for a third straight annual sales decline amid lackluster demand for its PCs, printers and servers (Photographer-Vivek Prakash-Bloomberg)
Hewlett-Packard is headed for a third straight annual sales decline amid lackluster demand for its PCs, printers and servers (Photographer-Vivek Prakash-Bloomberg)

Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman, still struggling to turn around Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), is opting for more job cuts, a move that boosted shares the most in six months.

After reporting an 11th straight quarter of declining sales, Whitman is propping up profit by paring as many as 16,000 more employees, on top of 34,000 already announced. While she has stabilized Hewlett-Packard after years of management upheaval and presided over a 39 percent share climb since taking over in 2011, the company is facing its third straight drop in annual revenue.

Consumers are buying fewer personal computers and printers as they embrace smartphones and tablets, and companies are opting to use more software via the Internet or building their own machines. By shedding workers, Whitman is lowering expenses, which will free up cash for investment in new businesses and enable her to report better profit.

“It clearly gives them more cushion to work on the revenue growth,” said Abhey Lamba, an analyst at Mizuho Securities USA Inc., who has the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock. “It’s going to be challenging to deliver that revenue growth.”

Profit excluding certain costs in the period ended April 30 was 88 cents a share and revenue fell 1 percent to $27.3 billion, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in a statement yesterday. Analysts had on average predicted profit of 88 cents and sales of $27.4 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Seeking Growth

Hewlett-Packard shares gained 5.5 percent to $33.54 at 11:46 a.m. in New York, the biggest intraday increase since Nov. 27. Through yesterday, the stock had been up 14 percent so far this year, compared with a 2.4 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

Net income in the fiscal second quarter rose 18 percent to $1.27 billion, or 66 cents a share, from $1.08 billion, or 55 cents, a year earlier. The company’s one percent year-over-year revenue decline in the second quarter was the closest it’s come to growing since 2011.

The company’s 1 percent revenue decline in the second quarter was the closest it’s come to growing since 2011. Sales shrank 1 percent in the first three months of the year and analysts are predicting they will fall by the same amount again in the current period.

“We want to become a growth company — this is the second quarter of basically flat revenue,” Whitman said in an interview yesterday.“While you may say that’s not very exciting, it’s way more exciting than the historical declines we’ve had for the last eight quarters. The fact that we’re stabilizing revenue is encouraging and positions us well for the future.”

Final Cuts

The job cuts announced yesterday don’t reflect worsening demand for the company’s products, the CEO said on a conference call. Whitman said she doesn’t anticipate the need for further cuts. Hewlett-Packard had 317,500 employees at the end of October.

For the third quarter, Hewlett-Packard forecast that profit, excluding amortization, restructuring charges and other costs, will be 86 cents to 90 cents a share. That compares with the average analyst estimate for 90 cents.

Industrywide global PC shipments dropped in the first three months of 2014 as consumers in emerging markets opted for smartphones and tablets, while corporate demand helped slow the pace of decline. Quarterly shipments fell 4.4 percent to 73.4 million units, IDC said. Hewlett-Packard’s market share rose to 16 percent, making it the No. 2 vendor after Lenovo Group Ltd., Gartner Inc. said last month.

Real Gains

Second-quarter revenue in the personal-systems unit, which includes PCs, rose 7.4 percent to $8.18 billion, boosted by sales of business computers. Printing-division sales fell 4.3 percent to $5.83 billion.

One of Silicon Valley’s oldest companies, the manufacturer’s product range spans from PCs and home printers to the servers, networking gear and software used by corporations. Hewlett-Packard has fallen behind in mobile computing at a time when consumers have migrated to smartphones and tablets made by Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

Hewlett-Packard’s enterprise-computing unit, which includes servers, had sales of $6.66 billion. Within that division, revenue from servers based on Intel Corp. technology rose 0.8 percent. Storage sales were down 5.7 percent, while networking revenue climbed 6.5 percent.

The enterprise-services division posted a 7 percent decline in sales to $5.7 billion.

“I don’t know that we’ve seen much that makes one feel that they can actually grow again,” said Rob Cihra, an analyst at Evercore Partners Inc. He has the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock.
By Ian King

Source: Bloomberg

Morning mist surrounds GDF Suez Australian Energy’s Hazelwood coal-fired power station in Morwell, Australia (Photographer-Carla Gottgens-Bloomberg)

Australia’s program to rein in pollution is losing momentum, the latest in a series of setbacks for the international effort to tackle global warming.

With the highest per-capita fossil fuel emissions among industrial countries, Australia’s participation in United Nations-led climate talks is seen as crucial to sway China and India to step up pollution controls even as developed nations backslide. Now, Australia’s environmental stance is undergoing an about-face as the country’s new government and its political opponents haggle over the best way to dismantle earlier regulations.

The shift in Australia comes just ahead of a series of global climate talks set for later this year. The UN is aiming to craft an agreement in 2015 that would include 190 nations. That pact would limit emissions in both industrialized and developing nations for the first time. Yet China and India have signaled their reluctance to join without broad participation from richer industrial nations, including Australia.

“It feels like a 180-degree turn for Australia,” said Jake Schmidt, director of international climate policy at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council. “That’s the hardest thing for the international community to take.”

Closer to home, environmentalists worry that the new government’s stance will set back years of effort to rein in pollution.

‘Fundamental Challenge’

“There is a likelihood of Australia becoming a climate policy wasteland,” said John Connor, chief executive officer of The Climate Institute in Sydney. The country’s unforeseen budget crunch, leading to proposed spending cuts and a levy on higher incomes, is hurting the goverment’s popularity, he said. “The budget drama is significantly diminishing the authority of

the goverment and emboldening opponents across the spectrum.”

The Australian government sees things differently. Yes, it wants to do away with world’s highest priced carbon permits, which allow companies to emit greenhouse gases. The A$24.15-a-ton ($22.28) fee is levied on more than 300 companies from Chevron Corp. to Rio Tinto Group (RIO) and is almost four times the charge for allowances in Europe.

Yet Prime Minister Tony Abbott, fulfilling a campaign promise, has vowed to replace the levy with an alternative that he says would still effectively reduce emissions. His plan, though, is under attack by Clive Palmer, the mining magnate turned politician who controls three critical seats in Australia’s senate. While Palmer also wants to do away with the carbon levy, he is opposing Abbott’s program, arguing it’s a waste of money.

Carbon Vote

“Uncertainty about the carbon price is increasing as we get closer to the new Senate being seated in July,” said Martijn Wilder, head of the climate-change practice at Baker & McKenzie in Sydney. “Palmer and others will use this as a bargaining chip, when there really should be a serious debate about Australia’s fundamental climate policy.”

Abbott’s alternative to the carbon price, called Direct Action, consists mainly of taxpayer funded grants to companies and projects that reduce emissions. Greg Hunt, Abbott’s environment minister, sees the plan as a cost-effective way to meet Australia’s promised 5 percent reduction in emissions by 2020. The government has budgeted funds to start Direct Action on July 1, Hunt said in an e-mail.

“We won’t stop until the carbon tax is repealed and Direct Action is implemented,” Hunt said.

While companies have questions about how Direct Action would work and whether it will be approved, many will consider applying for funds, said Peter Castellas, CEO for the Carbon Market Institute in Melbourne, a group with about 60 members seeking market-based solutions.

Global Effort

At an information forum this month in Melbourne, all six company representatives on one panel said they will consider participating in the Emissions Reduction Fund that would be set up under Direct Action, Castellas said.

“Australia is expected by the UN and its trading partners to be proactive in climate negotiation,” said Castellas. “That has raised expectations that Australia will actually be contributing to the global effort. There will definitely be scrutiny.”

Scientists warn that the Earth is on track to warm more than 2 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution, the fastest shift since the last ice age ended about 10,000 years ago. Japan and Canada have renounced greenhouse gas limits under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which applied to only industrial countries. Countries such as Germany and Poland are burning more of the dirtiest form of coal.

Now the push is on to get global climate change policy back on track. Abbott’s plan is in the spotlight because he’s hosting meetings of the Group of 20 nations this year. The November G-20 leaders summit in Brisbane comes two weeks before envoys from around the world gather in Peru for the annual UN climate talks.

G-20 Agenda

The U.S. has encouraged Abbott to include climate change on the G-20 agenda. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked world leaders to bring plans for action on climate to a summit in New York in September. The U.S. and China, the world’s two biggest polluters, have started diplomatic coordination on the issue, and Europe is expanding the world’s biggest carbon market.

“Australia risks being embarrassed by global leaders who are determined to take action, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama,” said Kobad Bhavnagri, the Sydney-based head for Australia research at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Even some prominent members of Australia’s business community are urging Abbott to stay the course on tough greenhouse gas emission standards.

“Australia is now being positioned very definitely on the wrong side of history,” said Ian Dunlop, former chairman of the Australian Coal Association and former CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. “Paying polluters to reduce their emissions is morally and ethically flawed.”

By Mike Anderson

Source: Bloomberg

enrique luis sardi if product design award 2014 winner tornos swissnano
IF design award ceremony

Marking the 61st iF design awards, a total of 75 iF gold awards in all three iF design awards were presented tonight at BMW Welt in Munich.

iF CEO Ralph Wiegmann hosted the ceremony in BMW’s spectacular architecture and presented the 75 happy winners with their coveted trophies designed by Herbert H. Schultes. After the glamorous ceremony, some 2,000 guests from the areas of design, business, culture, politics and the media enjoyed a relaxed get-together.

enrique luis sardi if product design award 2014 winner tornos swissnano
IF design award ceremony

This year’s iF design awards saw a total of 4,615 entries. Consisting of international design experts from various areas, the jury recognized 1,626 entries with the iF label: 1,220 in the iF product design award 2014, 311 in the iF communication design award 2014 and 95 in the iF packaging design award 2014. Participants from 55 countries competed in the awards.


if design awards 2014 gala enrique luis sardi product design prize winner
Enrique Luis Sardi and Miss Moldavia

Once more, the prestigious iF design awards night took place during Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW), which, from 22 February to 2 March, offered a top-class programme featuring important themes in design.

Among the winners there is Enrique Luis Sardi. His design for the Tornos SwissNano industrial machine was awarded the prize for the best design of a industrial machine.

Source: IF Design Award

GENEVA — A decade ago, Nick Hayek, chief executive of the Swatch Group, and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, introduced in New York a new kind of watch called the Paparazzi. It was presented as the pioneer of the so-called smartwatch, giving the wearer access to news, stock quotes and other data via Microsoft’s MSN service.

But the Paparazzi proved a flop. And the joint venture between the world’s largest watch maker and the software giant was broken off.

Since then, watchmakers have been biding their time. They have stood on the sidelines over the past year as consumer electronics companies like Samsung and Sony rolled out smartwatches that enabled people to read text messages and emails, and in some cases make phone calls and take photos, directly from their wrists.

Last week, Google introduced a new version of its Android operating system software made for smartwatches, amid speculation that Apple was also set to enter the wrist wars soon with a product that industry followers have already dubbed the iWatch.

Growing interest in smartwatches by consumers and technology companies might seem a perfect opening for the industry that really knows watches: the makers of fine Swiss timepieces. But for various reasons, none of the Swiss industry leaders seems committed thus far to combining diamond bezels with digital bits.

Even following Google’s announcement last week, Mr. Hayek sounded wary — and certainly not keen to revive the kind of alliance struck with Microsoft, which he said left Swatch with plenty of unsold Paparazzis.

The smartwatch products developed by Google and others, in Mr. Hayek’s view, raise several problems compared with traditional mechanical watches. The drawbacks, he said, include their limited battery life and the fact that they are “trackable” by the National Security Agency and other intelligence services.

“People don’t want these complications,” Mr. Hayek said during a news conference last week. Instead, he said, “watches remain a piece of jewelry.”

The watch industry gathers in Basel, Switzerland, on Wednesday for the weeklong Baselworld watch and jewelry convention. So if any surprise smartwatch announcements are imminent, that might be a logical forum.

So far, however, watch executives have been noting the price gulf between smartwatches that sell for hundreds of dollars, and luxury-brand mechanical watches that generally cost thousands — even if some of those same executives welcome the idea that products like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, introduced last September, are making people focus more on wristwear.

“The arrival of Samsung and others will not hurt the luxury watch sector, and there is in fact room for everybody,” said Richard Mille, founder of the watch company that bears his name.

Mr. Mille drew an analogy with the car market. Electric engines and other technological advances, coupled with efforts by governments to limit speed and fuel emissions, had not reduced demand for gas-guzzling sports cars.

“With all these speed and other restrictions, it should have made it much harder to sell such cars,” Mr. Mille said. “But I don’t see that people have decided to stop buying Ferrari, Porsche or Maserati.”

About 1.9 million smartwatches were shipped worldwide last year, almost two-thirds of which already operated on Google’s Android system. That was up from 300,000 in 2012, according to research from Strategy Analytics, a technology consultancy based in Boston.

Matt Wilkins, director of Strategy Analytics, said the smartwatch market was “starting to take shape” with “huge scope” for growth.

Traditional watchmakers, however, say it is too soon to predict seismic changes for their part of the industry.

“It’s the young people of today who will decide tomorrow whether the traditional watch really is in danger or not – and it’s very easy to get that forecast wrong,” said Jean-Marc Jacot, chief executive of Parmigiani Fleurier.

As an example of a miscued forecast, Mr. Jacot said that “the arrival of the snowboard was supposed to kill traditional skiing, but that’s clearly not what’s happened.”

In fact, some watch executives contend that their super wealthy clients are reaching a saturation point in embracing new technologies — similar to the way they are looking to eat artisanal organic food amid concerns about agricultural industrialization.

“We’re arriving at a stage where people are getting tired of technological machines, because I think they are invasive,” said Philippe Léopold-Metzger, chief executive of Piaget. “If I go out at night or am invited to a dinner, I don’t take my phone with me.”

Christian Knoop, the chief designer of IWC, another watchmaker, said “people are seeking a counterbalance to abstract digital products and are instead fascinated by a product that is made in factory that has been there more than 140 years, by craftsmen who are sometimes from the second or third generation.”

Mr. Knoop, who previously designed aircraft interiors, consumer electronics and furniture, said that “people have really got a lot of trends wrong because however good the technology gets, there is still a lot of human behavior and psychology involved.” Headsets, for instance, offer “clear functional advantages,” he said, “but haven’t replaced the behavior of actually touching and using a phone.”

The watchmakers’ wariness may have something to do with their industry’s turbulent history in recent decades. In the 1970s, Japanese companies flooded the market with quartz watches that pushed the Swiss watch industry to the brink of collapse — including Swiss makers that unsuccessfully attempted to switch to the cheaper quartz timepieces.

But Mr. Hayek’s father then took over and merged two struggling manufacturers and revived the whole Swiss industry with the introduction of the inexpensive Swatch watch. The fashion frenzy generated by the colorful plastic Swatches in turn required the group to develop mass volume production, also making it the dominant player in watch component manufacturing.

These days, the Swatch Group has a broad product line that still includes its inexpensive Swatch brand but also luxury brands like Breguet and Blancpain. Last year, Swatch made its biggest acquisition to date by buying the watch and jewelry business of Harry Winston for $1 billion.

Given Swatch Group’s breadth, some other prestige-brand watchmakers say the company may be well poised to jump into the smartwatch segment.

“Swatch has got massive development potential, great labs, so I’m surprised they’re not somehow competing with Samsung,” said Mr. Jacot, the chief executive of Parmigiani Fleurier.

But Swatch is still smarting from its Microsoft experience. “We don’t try again to be the first one to go out there,” Mr. Hayek said.

Jon Cox, a watch analyst at Kepler Cheuvreux, a brokerage firm, said it was hard to see this first generation of smartwatches hurting Swiss watches that retail for more than $1,000 — which is 90 percent of the Swiss industry.

But in the longer term, Mr. Cox suggested that Swatch could change tack again if the second generation of smartwatches triggered a consumption boom.

“If the market takes up, you can bet Swatch will get involved,” Mr. Cox said.

Few other Swiss brands are likely to follow, though.

Jean-Claude Biver, a former Swatch executive who now heads the watches division of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton — which owns TAG Heuer, Zenith and Hublot — said the problem for Switzerland’s watch industry was not uncertainty over the growth of smartwatches but the fact that this nascent sector was incompatible with the marketing and production strategy that underpinned the luxury watch industry.

“It’s not surprising that almost nobody in this country is talking about the smartwatch,” Mr. Biver said, “because its development is fundamentally opposed to the big Swiss obsession, which is to keep control on Swiss-made production.

“We can’t talk about our craftsmen working by hand,” he said, “and at the same time talk about the electronics of the future, which has nothing to do with our line of business and Switzerland.”

By Raphael Minder
Source: The new York Times