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A Beer Tale: Pilsner Urquell’s formula for success; How the iconic brand won back U.S. fans by making the product more exclusive — and better tasting.

A Beer Tale: Pilsner Urquell’s formula for success

July 22, 2013: 8:28 AM ET

How the iconic brand won back U.S. fans by making the product more exclusive — and better tasting.

By Beth Kowitt, writer

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FORTUNE — The Pilsner Urquell brewery in the Czech Republic is a regular stop for beer aficionados. Visitors make their way down to the cellars to drink beer out of wooden barrels. It’s a place where people fall in love with the beer, says Pilsner Urquell brand manager, Chad Wodskow. The problem for SABMiller (SBMRF), which owns the brand, is that people would come back to the U.S., buy a Pilsner at their local bar, and accuse the company of bringing over a different brew. SABMiller is one of the parent companies of MillerCoors, which imports the beer into the U.S. Read more of this post

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Amazon versus your public library; Will consumers buy as many e-books when they can borrow them?

Amazon versus your public library

July 22, 2013: 10:13 AM ET

Will consumers buy as many e-books when they can borrow them?

By Verne Kopytoff, contributor

FORTUNE — Amazon’s dominance in digital books is under perpetual attack by Google and Apple. Now you can add another threat to the list: the public library. That’s what an analyst from Barclays suggested in a recent research report. Consumers will likely avoid buying e-books if they can borrow them from the library for free. “As e-reader users become more familiar with the library’s system’s free alternative, and as libraries reduce the friction associated with borrowing e-books, we believe digital content revenue growth at Amazon may soften,” said Anthony DiClemente, a Barclays analyst. Read more of this post

The Sinodependency index: Is exposure to China still a good thing?

The Sinodependency index

Declaration of Chindependence

For an American multinational, is exposure to China still a good thing?

Jul 20th 2013 | SYDNEY |From the print edition

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BEFORE the global financial crisis, emerging economies like China aspired to “decouple” themselves from the rich world, hoping that local demand and regional trade would sustain them even if Western markets faltered. After the crisis, rich economies aspired to couple themselves with China, one of the few sources of growth in a moribund world. Carmakers in Germany, iron-ore miners in Australia and milk-powder makers in New Zealand all benefited enormously from exports to the Middle Kingdom. Every company needed a China story to tell. But as China slows and America gradually recovers, those stories are becoming less compelling. Some of them are turning into cautionary tales. Exposure to China does not always endear a firm to investors, as GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical giant embroiled in a corruption scandal in the country, is now discovering. As a rough gauge of multinational exposure to China, The Economist in 2010 introduced the Sinodependency index, a stockmarket index that weights American multinationals according to their China revenues. The latest version of the index includes all of the members of the S&P 500 index that provide a usable geographical breakdown of their revenues. The weight of each of these 133 firms in the index reflects their market capitalisation multiplied by China’s share of their revenues. A company worth $100 billion that derives 10% of its revenues from China has the same weight as one worth $20 billion deriving half of its revenues from China. Where firms report their revenues for Asia-Pacific but not for China, the index assumes that China’s share of regional revenues matches its share of regional GDP. The biggest members of the index are Apple, with an 11% weight in 2013, followed by Qualcomm (8.3%) and Intel (7%). Most of the firms in the index are more dependent on China now than they were. China accounted for 11.2% of their revenues on average in 2012, compared with 9.8% in 2009. Read more of this post

Banks big and small are embracing cloud computing

Banks big and small are embracing cloud computing

Jul 20th 2013 |From the print edition

“I’VE only got one IT guy,” says Segun Akintemi, the chief executive of Renaissance Credit, a Nigerian moneylender that opened for business in October 2012 and signed up about 3,000 customers in its first six months. “Whenever I walk past his desk he is surfing the web.” That the firm has just one bored computer specialist is not a sign of backwardness. On the contrary, Renaissance Credit is ahead of its time when it comes to technology. Its information processing takes place in the “cloud”, the term for software and services delivered over the internet. The emergence of cloud-based banking promises to affect banks big and small. Banks are expected to spend almost $180 billion on IT this year, according to Celent, a consultancy. For the moment cloud-based services make up a tiny fraction of this amount, but by some estimates spending by financial-services firms on the cloud will total $26 billion in 2015. This increase should lower barriers to entry for newcomers, which can rent modern IT infrastructure at monthly fees of less than $10,000 rather than having to invest tens of millions of dollars upfront to build their own secure data centres. And it should also enable big banks to become much more cost-efficient. Read more of this post

Investors Struggle With Cash Conundrum: Respected investment pros are scouring the world for cheap stocks and bonds, and coming up empty. They are left holding cash, preferring to dilute returns rather than risk buying near the top

Jul 21, 2013

Investors Struggle With Cash Conundrum

By E.S. Browning

Charles de Vaulx has an investment idea: cash.

That may seem an odd choice, since cash earns less than inflation, making it a money-losing proposition. But Mr. de Vaulx, who oversees $17.8 billion as chief investment officer at International Value Advisers in New York, has been boosting his cash position. He is having trouble finding stocks he considers cheap and won’t buy overvalued stocks. He considers bonds even more overvalued than stocks, leaving him perched on a lumpy cash pillow. Other value-oriented investors have made similar choices, led by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRKB +0.29% chief executive Warren Buffett. Mr. Buffett is sitting on $49 billion, his biggest cash hoard ever, according to Berkshire’s latest quarterly report. It is an odd spectacle. Teams of respected investment pros are scouring the world for stocks and bonds they can buy on the cheap, and coming up empty. They are left holding some cash, telling their investors and shareholders they prefer to dilute their returns now rather than risk losing a lot by buying near the top. Read more of this post

Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It

Your Career Won’t Be Predictable, And That’s A Good Thing

WRITTEN BY: MITCH JOEL

There is no gold watch in your future. Careers just aren’t as predictable as they once were. Here’s how you can manage.

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This is an excerpt from Mitch Joel’s Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends On It. © 2013 by Mitch Joel. Reprinted by permission of Business Plus. All rights reserved

To be an effective business leader (and this is, without question, the goal for those of us who want to still be employable moving forward) requires you to not only personally embrace a digital-first posture but to also look microscopically at your career to date and where it is headed.

I’m fascinated by successful people and their career paths. Do you know what I never hear when I listen to a successful businessperson speak or when I read a biography of someone I respect? I never hear a story that goes like this: “I always knew that I wanted to be in marketing. There was never any doubt in my mind. All through elementary school, all I could do was daydream about marketing campaigns and working on a company’s overall strategic vision. While other kids were outside playing, I was busy drawing up logos for imaginary companies. In high school, I started the marketing club and could not wait until our economics teacher touched–ever so slightly–on the topic of marketing. Right after high school graduation, I interned at an advertising agency and could not wait to pursue my MBA with a focus on marketing.” Read more of this post

Hong Kong Brokers Drive Cabs as Competition Forces Locals Out

Hong Kong Brokers Drive Cabs as Competition Forces Locals Out

Hong Kong, Asia’s second-biggest stock market, may see 25 percent of its local brokerages close as trading and fees plunge, and competition from banks intensifies, a securities association said.

The number of local broking firms may decline to 300 from about 400 in the next five years, Mofiz Chan, a spokesman of the Hong Kong Securities & Futures Professionals Association, said in a telephone interview. Read more of this post

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