|Bid||177.50 x 800|
|Ask||177.70 x 900|
|Day's Range||176.66 - 183.13|
|52 Week Range||123.02 - 208.66|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||1.25|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||30.06|
|Earnings Date||Oct 28, 2019 - Nov 1, 2019|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||232.33|
(Bloomberg) -- Australia will establish a mechanism for internet providers to quickly and effectively block websites hosting terror attacks in the wake of the Christchurch shooting, according to an emailed statement.The government is also creating a center to rapidly detect and shut down the sharing and live-streaming of the violent material as an attack takes place, according to the statement. They are recommendations from an industry and government body established after a man in March live-streamed the killing of more than 40 people in two Christchurch mosques.“The shocking events that took place in Christchurch demonstrated how digital platforms and websites can be exploited to host extreme violent and terrorist content,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in the statement. “That type of abhorrent material has no place in Australia and we are doing everything we can to deny terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes, including taking action locally and globally.”Read More: Facebook, Twitter Pressed to Help Prevent Domestic TerrorismTo contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Burgess in Melbourne at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org, Linus ChuaFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Central bankers from around the world are gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual retreat.This year’s meeting occurs against a backdrop of volatile financial markets, rising fears of recession and global trade tensions. On Friday, the trade war between the world’s biggest economies escalated further as China announced that it would levy retaliatory tariffs on another $75 billion of U.S. goods. President Donald Trump quickly tweeted that he’ll respond later in the day.Markets gyrated as the U.S.-China news unfolded and as comments emerged from Jackson Hole, headlined by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell who said the U.S. economy was in a favorable place but faced “significant risks.”Here’s a running summary of news and commentary from the gathering.Fed’s Clarida: 4:25 p.m.Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida says the U.S. economy is in a good place, but the global outlook has worsened and policy makers will take that into account when they meet next month.“We adjusted policy at our July meeting. We take our policy decisions one meeting at a time,” he tells CNBC in an interview at Jackson Hole. “But as we’ve indicated, we will do what we need to, to put in place the appropriate policies and we’ll act as appropriate to keep the economy in a good place.”“We run monetary policy for the U.S., but we have to take into account global developments,” he said. “They impact exports, they impact inflation, and we are going to factor that in.”BOE’s Carney: 3 p.m.A collapse of Brexit talks resulting in the U.K. leaving the European Union without a transition agreement would likely prompt the Bank of England to loosen monetary policy, Governor Mark Carney said in a speech at the symposium.Carney, who is a few months away from stepping down as BOE governor, also laid out a proposal for an overhaul of the global financial system that would eventually replace the dollar as a reserve currency with some form of global digital currency -- similar to Facebook Inc.’s proposed Libra.Read more about Carney’s remarks here.Choose a Rule: 12:55 p.m.Former Federal Reserve Economist and European Central Bank policy maker Athanasios Orphanides renewed the argument for central bankers to set interest rates by following a formulaic policy rule.“Monetary policy is most effective when it is formulated in a systematic manner, following a clearly communicated monetary policy rule,” Orphanides wrote in the third paper presented Friday at Jackson Hole.A long-time proponent of policy formulas, Orphanides argued that choosing a simple rule as a benchmark would help the Fed communicate its reasons for interest-rate movements and shield it from the perception that it was influenced by political pressure. That’s a timely point as the Fed has been under relentless pressure from Trump to slash rates.Orphanides, who is now an economics professor at MIT, recommended a so-called first-difference rule, which would adjust the benchmark interest rate according to changes in near-term projections for inflation and growth. He and New York Fed President John Williams co-authored a paper on the concept in 2002.World’s Central Bank: 11:55 a.m.Powell and his colleagues don’t want the Fed to be viewed as the world’s central bank, but their monetary policy has huge ripple effects on economies in Europe and Asia, according to the second paper presented Friday at Jackson Hole.University of Maryland economist Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, in a review of policy implications, found that Fed interest rate changes have “large spillover effects” on emerging markets, affecting capital flows, domestic borrowing and exchange rates.Developing countries can mitigate the impact of U.S. rate change in part by having a flexible exchange rate and by strengthening institutions to reduce corruption and ensure the rule of law, the economist wrote in the paper “U.S. Monetary Policy and International Risk Spillovers.”Riders on the Storm: 10:30 a.m.Central bankers are like “riders on the storm,” their policies buffeted by global forces beyond their control. That was the argument made in a paper by that name which was the first presented Friday at Jackson Hole.In it, economists Oscar Jorda of the San Francisco Fed and Alan Taylor of the University of California, Davis argue that central banks that ignore global interest rate trends risk generating imbalances and credit dislocations in their own economies.The research has some relevance for Fed officials today, as they struggle over what policy changes, if any, to make in response to weakening economies and falling interest rates overseas, and a rising dollar.Much of the paper deals with the so-called neutral interest rate that neither spurs nor restricts a nation’s economy.Powell Speaks: 10 a.m.Fed Chairman Jerome Powell says the U.S. economy is in a favorable place but faces “significant risks” as growth abroad slows amid trade uncertainty, keeping another rate cut on the table when officials meet next month.“We will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2% objective,” Powell said in the text of his remarks to the conference.“We have seen further evidence of a global slowdown, notably in Germany and China. Geopolitical events have been much in the news, including the growing possibility of a hard Brexit, rising tensions in Hong Kong, and the dissolution of the Italian government,” he said.Fed’s Harker: 9:45 a.m.Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker weighed in with the hawks in a Jackson Hole interview, saying lower rates wouldn’t boost the economy when the concern is a trade war.“Right now, we are where we need to be,” Harker told Bloomberg Television. “There are clearly downside risks to the economy. We would have to act as appropriate if those look like they are coming to fruition.”“If business investment is not being held back by the cost of capital, us reducing interest rates will have no effect,” he said. “What is holding you back is uncertainty around policy, particularly trade policy.”Fed’s Mester: 9 a.m.Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland President Loretta Mester says she will probably favor keeping rates on hold when policy makers gather in September, but she has an “open mind” about the argument for further cuts.“At this point, if the economy continues where it is, I would probably say we should keep things where they are, but I am very attuned to the downside risks of the economy,” Mester said in interview Friday with CNBC television.Mester isn’t a voter on the Federal Open Market Committee this year. Several of the Fed’s policy makers have voiced their resistance this week to the notion that the U.S. economy needs lower interest rates.The Cleveland official told Bloomberg’s Michael McKee Friday that China’s latest plan to impose additional tariffs against the U.S. just adds to the uncertainty surrounding businesses’ plans.“If we were ever data-dependent before, we have to be uber-data dependent now,” she said.As Mester spoke from Jackson Hole, U.S. President Donald Trump resumed his tweets pressuring the Fed. He’s repeatedly called for the central bank to slash rates more aggressively.Fed’s Kaplan: 8:40 a.m.Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, who is not an FOMC voter this year, also sounded hesitant about cutting at the next Fed meeting, set for Sept. 17-18.“Even though I am open to an adjustment either in September or the next few meetings, I prefer not to have to make an adjustment,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg Television Friday, because it encourages risk taking.“The fulcrum or center of gravity of U.S. economic today policy is not monetary policy. It is trade uncertainty, it is probably immigration policy to some extent, it is policies that relate to improved skills training, infrastructure spending,” he said. “That is the center of gravity.”Fed’s Bullard: 8 a.m.Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said Friday that the central bank needs to take out additional “insurance” in lowering interest rates, and hinted he might be willing to support a cut larger than a quarter point.“I think there will be a robust debate about 50, so I think it’s creeping on to the table here, but obviously the markets have a base case of 25 basis points,” Bullard said in a Bloomberg TV interview with Michael McKee from Jackson Hole.Bullard said the Fed needs to be cushioning against the impact of a global manufacturing slowdown and U.S. trade war with China. He compared the situation to the mid-1990s, when a Fed led by Alan Greenspan reduced rates 75 basis points to keep the expansion going.“That’s what they did in the 1990s, I don’t know where we will end up,” Bullard said.Insurance Cut: 7:30 a.m.“How much risk are we facing from the fact that we’ve got a global manufacturing contraction going on?,” Bullard asked in an earlier interview Friday with CNBC television. “There is some downside risk, and I would like to take out more insurance against the downside risks.”One of the most dovish members of the Federal Open Market committee, Bullard said low inflation and the unusual dynamic in the U.S. Treasuries market also provide policy makers justifications to cut.“The yield curve has inverted,” he said, referring to the fact that yields on longer-dated debt have fallen below yields on short-term securities. He also noted that the federal funds rate is high relative to Treasury yields. “We have one of the higher rates on the yield curve. That is not a good place to be.”\--With assistance from Vince Golle, Michael McKee, Christopher Condon, Steve Matthews and Brian Swint.To contact the reporters on this story: Rich Miller in Jackson Hole at email@example.com;Craig Torres in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Margaret Collins at email@example.com, Alister BullFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The $100 million fine that Facebook Inc. agreed to pay last month over claims that it misled investors about business risks tied to Cambridge Analytica’s use of account holders’ private data wasn’t supported by all of the members of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.Robert Jackson Jr., who occupies a Democratic seat at the regulator, voted against the settlement, according to a tally of commission votes posted on the agency’s website.Key DetailsOn Thursday, a federal judge signed off on the agreement between Facebook and the SEC.The settlement was approved in a 3-1 vote, with SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and two Republican commissioners supporting it.Jackson, who was only commissioner in Democratic seat at time of the June vote, declined to comment.The SEC announced the settlement on July 24.Facebook separately agreed to pay a $5 billion penalty levied by the Federal Trade Commission in a related case stemming from data obtained by Cambridge Analytica.The FTC’s two Democratic commissioners opposed that agency’s settlement, arguing it was too weak.Read MoreFacebook to Pay $100 Million SEC Fine Over Cambridge Data UseTo contact the reporter on this story: Ben Bain in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s kinda, sorta funny, I suppose, that Patrick Byrne resigned Thursday as chief executive of Overstock.com Inc. a week after issuing a bizarre press release bragging about his romantic entanglement with a Russian spy while also being involved with the “deep state” and the “Men in Black.” Just as it’s kinda, sorta funny that President Donald Trump canceled a state visit to Denmark because its prime minister told him she wouldn’t discuss his “absurd” idea of selling Greenland to the U.S.Except that Byrne (like Trump) has been prone to saying and doing unhinged things since at least the mid-2000s. What’s more, as Bloomberg Opinion’s Barry Ritholtz pointed out Thursday on Twitter, “He was a terrible CEO of a not very good company.”I began paying attention to Byrne in 2005, six years after he took over an online retailer and renamed it Overstock. That year, he held the looniest conference call I’ve ever heard. He claimed that there was a vast conspiracy to drive down Overstock’s shares orchestrated by someone he called the “Sith Lord.” He wouldn’t name the Sith Lord, but described him as “one of the master criminals of the 1980s.” He titled the conspiracy “the Miscreants Ball.”(1)At the same time — and this is what caught my attention — Overstock filed a lawsuit against Gradient Analytics, a research firm, and Rocker Partners, a hedge fund run by David Rocker and Marc Cohodes — yes, the very same Marc Cohodes who was the subject of my columns this week about MiMedx Group Inc. — that specialized in short-selling. Byrne claimed in the lawsuit (as I wrote at the time) “that they were acting in concert to hurt the company and manipulate its stock price.”It wasn’t long before Byrne was including certain financial journalists in the conspiracy. When a television interviewer asked him if he was accusing Herb Greenberg,(2) the great former MarketWatch reporter, of “helping others front-run” the company’s stock, he replied, “That’s correct.” His “thesis” was that Greenberg was taking orders from Rocker.That wasn’t the worst of it. Byrne became convinced that an illegal practice called “naked short-selling”(3) was Wall Street’s dirty little secret, and he devoted himself to rooting it out and exposing it. (Barron’s once described naked short-selling, rather aptly, as “the grassy knoll of the equity markets, denounced by crackpots, devotees of penny stocks, and troubled companies eager to divert attention from their failings.”)Overstock’s director of communications, Judd Bagley, would “friend” Byrne’s critics on Facebook, then publish the names of their friends on a website, especially those friends who could serve as “evidence” of a conspiracy. (I’m one of the journalists this happened to.) Byrne started a conspiracy-minded website called Deep Capture, the purpose of which was to smear his critics, myself included.If the purpose of all this was to silence us, it worked. I wrote three columns about Byrne, and then moved on. So did most of the other journalists who had once covered him and Overstock. Rocker, the rare short-seller willing to talk to reporters on the record, stopped giving interviews. The journalist (and my friend and former co-author) Bethany McLean once told an interviewer that in effect, Byrne had won, because his tactics had caused his critics to stop writing about him.Since his Deep Capture days, Byrne has found a different means to distract people from Overstock’s lousy performance: In 2015, he announced the formation of a company that would issue a cryptocurrency called tZero. For a while, at least, it worked. Between July 2017 and January 2018, the Overstock share price went from around $20 to almost $87. But it couldn’t last. With the company’s free cash flow negative $168 million in 2018, and its net income negative $169 million,(4) the stock sank back down to earth, bottoming out at $9.40 a share in June.Yet when he finally stepped down, it wasn’t because the company was losing money, or because the tZero effort was faltering, or because, as usual, Byrne was too busy with his side ventures to focus on the company he was supposed to be running. It was because he wrote a bonkers press release.On Thursday evening, Byrne was interviewed by CNN’s Chris Cuomo. Byrne claimed that FBI agents — including James Comey! — had instructed him to “rekindle” his relationship with the Russian spy, Maria Butina. Later that evening, as Cuomo discussed the interview with another CNN host, Don Lemon, he defended Byrne. “He’s not some lunatic or something like that,” he said.Clearly, Cuomo should have had a seat on the Overstock board.(1) Byrne later told me that his Sith Lord conference call was “one of the 10 proudest moments of my life.”(2) Alas, Greenberg has since left financial journalism and now runs his own investment research firm, Pacific Square Research.(3) Don’t ask.(4) According to Bloomberg data.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stacey Shick at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Blank-check company Legacy Acquisition Corp. has agreed to purchase a global digital marketing company to be renamed Blue Impact Inc., clearing the way to grow organically and through M&A. Legacy, which raised $300 million almost two years ago, is led by former Procter & Gamble executive Edwin Rigaud but the new company will be […]
DICK'S Sporting (DKS) posts better-than-expected second-quarter fiscal 2019 results driven by solid same-store sales performance. Also, it raises its bottom-line view for fiscal 2019.
This week, we learned about ongoing efforts to end the political crisis in Venezuela. We think that tech companies could benefit if the talks are successful.
Christoffer O. Hernæs Contributor Christoffer O. Hernæs is chief digital officer of Sbanken, Norway's first digital-only bank and leading challenger bank. "On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog," was stated in the legendary New York Times cartoon that captured the spirit of privacy and anonymity in the early days of the internet. With the rise of online banking, social media, e-commerce and peer-to-peer services, a verified digital identity is a crucial ingredient in making any digital platform succeed.
(Bloomberg) -- Google said it disabled 210 YouTube channels involved in “coordinate influence operations” around the Hong Kong protests, following similar measures earlier this week by social media companies Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc.The Alphabet Inc. unit didn’t specify which channels were shut down in Thursday’s blog post announcing the decision. But the post said the company discovered accounts “consistent with recent observations and actions related to China” from Facebook and Twitter.The social media companies said earlier this week that they had removed hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government that were pushing messages meant to undermine the legitimacy of the protests in Hong Kong. Twitter also blocked advertising from state-controlled media. Facebook and Google have not made similar moves on advertising.YouTube, like Google search and other social media services, does not operate in China.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew Pollack, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR) are yet again the center of attention over claims of propagating disinformation, this time for the Hong Kong protests.
It seems Libra may not have the smooth path to becoming a global currency Facebook had hoped for. Now European regulators are voicing concerns.
Facebook is facing another housing discrimination lawsuit. A group of users have sued it to seek compensation for alleged discriminatory housing ads
A Yahoo Finance investigation reveals a lobbying campaign on behalf of big tech to stop data privacy bills this year in at least 13 states.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- This is the second of two columns about MiMedx and the short-sellers. Read the first here.Most of the time, Eiad Asbahi, the 40-year-old founder of Prescience Point Capital Management, is a short-seller.According to its website, the firm, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, specializes “in extensive investigations of difficult-to-analyze public companies in order to uncover significant elements of the business that have been overlooked or ignored by others.” Such investigations usually lead to the discovery of problems that will cause the stock to fall once they become known.“But every now and then,” Asbahi says, “we find a company that is incredibly hated and where the shorts have it wrong.” SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., which has been hammered for its treatment of its whales and dolphins, was one such company. Two years ago, Asbahi bought the stock, believing that “the mispricing was extreme.” He was right. Since it bottomed out in November 2017, SeaWorld’s shares have more than tripled.On Jan. 8 of this year, Prescience Point released a report about its latest big investment idea: MiMedx Group Inc., a company that was under siege by Marc Cohodes and a handful of other short-sellers. After six months of research, Asbahi concluded that the thesis developed by the shorts — which had helped push the stock from $18 to $1.15 — was wrong.Contrary to what Cohodes et al were claiming, Prescience Point’s research suggested that MiMedx products were “legitimate and sustainable”; that it had positive cash flow; and that, while “channel stuffing” to improperly boost revenue at the end of the quarter had taken place, the company’s critics had “failed to produce any smoking guns to support their claims of massive fraud.”“In our view MDXG is one of the largest mispricings we have ever identified,” the report concluded. At the time it was issued, MiMedx stock was at $2.16. Prescience Point predicted that it would quadruple.When I spoke to Asbahi a few weeks ago — by which time the stock had topped $5 — he went further in his criticism of Cohodes and the other short-sellers. In his view, MiMedx’s stock had tanked in 2018 as much because of what the shorts had gotten wrong as what they had gotten right.“What we found,” Asbahi said, “is that they had some credible channel stuffing allegations” — and then they made a series of additional, less credible accusations. There was never any bribery or Medicare fraud, Asbahi said. And MiMedx’s products, often maligned by the shorts, were considered “best in class” by many doctors. “It is not a short activist campaign they’re running,” Asbahi concluded. “It is a smear campaign.”Cohodes’s initial allegations were serious enough that the MiMedx board hired a law firm to investigate. That investigation led to the discovery of the channel stuffing and the dismissal of several top MiMedx executives, including chief executive Parker Petit. But as I noted Monday, even after Petit and the others resigned, Cohodes kept MiMedx in his crosshairs, vowing to take down the company “if it’s the last thing I do.” Once Asbahi released his MiMedx report, Cohodes added Prescience Point to his list of targets.Within days of the report’s release, Cohodes was tweeting that it was “false & misleading” and that Prescience Point “will be ruined.” He has kept up a steady drumbeat of criticism ever since. Just a few weeks ago, he called Prescience Point a “pump-and-dump operation,” a charge he’s made several times before.This last allegation is ludicrous. Prescience Point is MiMedx’s largest shareholder, with 7.7% of the stock. In May, it launched a proxy fight that led to the company agreeing to add six new board members. Three of them were Prescience Point’s nominees.When I asked Cohodes what proof he had to back up the pump-and-dump charge, he replied (via email) that it was his understanding that Prescience Point had purchased the stock at between $6 and $10 a share — and was now “obviously attempting to generate positive interest to make back its investment.” He also said that Prescience Point had sold MiMedx stock after publishing “glowing information about the company.”In truth, Prescience Point bought the stock at an average price of about $2.60 a share, a fact that can be easily found in government disclosure documents. Although the firm sold some stock, it did so only to avoid triggering the company’s poison pill. Once the proxy fight ended — and the poison pill was a nonissue — Prescience Point bought more stock. “We set up a single-idea fund to invest in MiMedx with a two-year lockup,” Asbahi told me. “Does that sounds like a pump-and-dump scheme?”Today, MiMedx is a very different company from when Petit was running it. Of Petit’s 16 top executives, 13 are gone. Its new chief executive, Timothy Wright, has been a top level executive at a number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, the big generics manufacturer.Among the new directors is Richard Barry, a respected health-care investor. He is so bullish about MiMedx’s prospects that he bought 3% the stock. All of this information is readily available. Yet Cohodes and his allies refuse to acknowledge that MiMedx has changed. Instead they are making the same allegations they’ve been making all along — except louder and more insistently.Why?Cohodes gave me two reasons. The first, he said, was that the company was still engaged in “criminal activity.” “Doctors have been bribed by MiMedx. And all the perps who carried out the fraud are still there doing it,” he told me.The second reason, he said, was that MiMedx’s products are deeply flawed. “This is a public health deal. This stuff is so bad, and they are taking advantage(1) of veterans. I have to speak out.”Let’s examine the bribery issue first. One doctor the shorts have targeted — including online — is Brandon Hawkins, a podiatrist in Bakersfield, California. He is a major buyer of MiMedx’s primary product, a wound graft made from placental tissue called EpiFix. Indeed, Hawkins told me he is probably the fourth or fifth biggest user of EpiFix in California. He has been paid by MiMedx to give occasional lectures, a common practice in medicine, which he discloses. His brother-in-law is a MiMedx salesman. And he lives quite well, something one can glean from the family’s Facebook page.The MiMedx critics have linked these facts to claim that Hawkins is on the take. But Hawkins says he uses EpiFix for a perfectly sensible reason: It works better than competing wound grafts. “Wounds that would normally heal in 12 to 20 weeks sometimes heal in four weeks with EpiFix,” he said. He added that there is a high incidence of diabetes in Bakersfield, and EpiFix has been an important tool in healing the foot ulcers that often develop in diabetics.Matthew Garoufalis,(2) a Chicago podiatrist, explained that diabetics are often “so immunocompromised” that their ulcers don’t heal. Studies show that some 20% of diabetics who develop foot ulcers will eventually have part or all of a leg amputated below the knee. But the placental-cell formula used in EpiFix “stimulates the wound healing cycle” even with ulcers that are not responding to other healing products, Garoufalis said. He also told me there are lots of good data affirming the efficacy of EpiFix. A 2016 study published in the International Wound Journal concluded that the technology used by EpiFix “is superior to standard care” in healing foot ulcers. After my first MiMedx column was published Monday, several of Cohodes’s short-selling allies took to Twitter, saying they had proof that MiMedx was guilty of bribing doctors. As Bloomberg News reported last year, three employees of a South Carolina Veterans Affairs hospital were indicted for accepting payments and other inducements from the company that resulted in “excessive use of MiMedx products.” One of the three was a doctor. The indictment, however, does not allege any wrongdoing by MiMedx. You see, MiMedx had contracts with the three VA employees — just as it has contracts with doctors all over the country. And MiMedx itself didn’t play a part in the conduct that got the VA employees into hot water. The employees were supposed to get the contracts approved by the hospital. But apparently that didn’t happen. The case wasn’t about bribery; it was about violating government rules. Within five months of the indictments, prosecutors had concluded that the case wasn’t worth going to trial over. The three employees agreed to “pretrial diversion,” meaning that if they paid the money back — about $3,500 in two cases, and about $20,000 in the third — the indictments would be dismissed. That happened in April. What about Cohodes’s charge that MiMedx’s products are creating a public health hazard? This should also raise an eyebrow (or two). The product he is primarily criticizing is AmnioFix. It also uses placental tissue, but it’s processed in such a way that it can be injected. AmnioFix’s primary purpose is to relieve degenerative joint and tendon pain — pain that is currently difficult to treat. It’s a relatively new product, and many of those who are long MiMedx stock think it has blockbuster potential.Cohodes, however, says that AmnioFix has never been proved effective for anything, and that it hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. “MiMedx was and is selling unapproved products to an unsuspecting and vulnerable public,” he said in an email. “People in pain often search for solutions in the unapproved drug world when they have run out of options. MiMedx has exploited that vulnerability and that is tragic.”Let me offer an alternate take. In December 2017, the FDA issued new guidelines for injectable tissue — and gave companies three years to come into compliance and get approved indications for their products. With a year and a half to go, MiMedx is in the middle of a Phase III trial for the use of AmnioFix to relieve plantar fasciitis, and a Phase II trial for osteoarthritis. MiMedx bulls think it will have the indications approved by the December 2020 deadline.Studies indicate that the technique MiMedx is pioneering with AmnioFix works: One showed that three months after an injection, 91 percent of patients felt significant pain relief. And the FDA is on record as saying that AmnioFix “has the potential to address unmet medical needs.” My exchanges with Cohodes left me with the distinct impression that he views AmnioFix as some kind of rogue drug, operating outside the FDA system. Based on everything I've learned, it’s not.Digging into Cohodes’s claims, I concluded that Asbahi is probably right: The short-seller and his allies are conducting a smear campaign intended to damage the company. I say this with a heavy heart. I’ve written in the past about companies Cohodes and his former partner David Rocker exposed, and I’m a big believer in the importance of short-sellers. Investors need to listen to skeptical voices as well as bullish ones. As a general rule, those who bet against companies are performing a service for all investors.But it’s also important that short-sellers tell the truth about what they find and have an open mind if a company, say, changes its tactics and its senior management. Stretching the facts to push a stock down is as bad as stretching them to push a stock up. And flogging a misguided narrative about products that could help millions of patients is just wrong. Campaigns like Cohodes’s against MiMedx give short-sellers a bad name.In an email, I asked Cohodes why he remained so obsessed with MiMedx. “You call it ‘obsessed,’ he replied, “but that’s the wrong word. I am committed to truth and always have been.”There was a time when I would have believed him. Not anymore.*****A postscript: On Monday afternoon, Bloomberg and I received a lengthy letter from Cohodes’s lawyer, David Shapiro, claiming that my first MiMedx column was “false and defamatory” and demanding a retraction. The letter reminded me of how this all started for Cohodes: with a presentation at a 2017 investment conference in which he denounced MiMedx and its then-CEO Petit for having sued three of the company’s critics. “Quit intimidating the shorts, the critics, the free speakers,” Cohodes said then. “It has to stop.”Apparently, Petit isn’t the only one willing to use intimidation tactics to quiet his critics.(1) Bloomberg’s standards regarding foul language prevent me from repeating his actual words.(2) I spoke to a third doctor, Raymond Otto of Boise, Idaho, who also praised EpiFix as a superior wound product. I should note that all three doctors have given lectures on MiMedx’s behalf. Garoufalis told me that the typical lecture fee is $1,500 or less.To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stacey Shick at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook's unveils results of its conservative bias audit. The roughly year-long conservative bias audit was conducted by former Sen. Jon Kyl and his team at the law firm Covington and Burling. It included interviews with approximately 133 conservative lawmakers and groups.
Since August 14, Amazon (AMZN) has risen 3.4%. In the same period, the SPDR S&P; 500 ETF (SPY) has risen 3.0%. Let's see why AMZN outperformed.
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. removed hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government this week meant to undermine the legitimacy of Hong Kong protests. It also said it would no longer allow state media to purchase ads on its platform.What Twitter didn’t mention in its series of blog posts this week was the increasing number of Chinese officials, diplomats, media, and government agencies using the social media service to push Beijing’s political agenda abroad. Twitter employees actually help some of these people get their messages across, a practice that hasn’t been previously reported. The company provides certain officials with support, like verifying their accounts and training them on how to amplify messages, including with the use of hashtags.This is despite a ban on Twitter in China, which means most people on the mainland can’t use the service or see opposing views from abroad. Still, in the last few days, an account belonging to the Chinese ambassador to Panama took to Twitter to share videos painting Hong Kong protesters as vigilantes. He also responded to Panamanian users’ tweets about the demonstrations, which began in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to China.China’s ambassador to the U.S. tweeted that “radical protesters” were eroding the rule of law embraced by the silentmajority of Hong Kongers. The Chinese Mission to the United Nations’ Twitter account asked protesters to “stop the violence, for a better Hong Kong,” while social media accounts of Chinese embassies in Manila, India and the Maldives shared articles from China’s state media blaming Westerners for disrupting the city. “Separatists in Hong Kong kept in close contact with foreign elements,” one story says above a photo of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.“We know China is adept at controlling domestic information, but now they are trying to use Western platforms like Twitter to control the narrative on the international stage,” said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre.It’s unclear if any of these diplomats were set up on the service by Twitter, but the state-backed attempt to discredit Hong Kong protesters continues to reach millions of global Twitter users. In many cases, the Chinese officials are promoting views similar to those in 936 accounts Twitter banned on Monday.The practice of supporting Chinese officials who use Twitter to spread the Communist Party agenda highlights how difficult it is for the social media company to balance its commitment to root out disinformation and allow the expression of varying opinions. It also raises concerns around why Twitter is helping Beijing make its case to a global audience when the service is banned in China, where dissenting voices are prohibited and officials sometimes detain users accessing the platform through virtual private networks.Twitter’s recent effort to curtail China’s government-directed misinformation campaigns, which provoked outrage from state media, seems at odds with continuing to welcome pro-Beijing accounts that attack Hong Kong protesters, said Wallis.“There’s a clear tension for Twitter here having seen that Beijing is willing to use the platform in deceptive and manipulative ways, whilst desiring to use the platform for state diplomacy,” Wallis said.The tweets are part of a broader campaign by China to reshape the narrative over Hong Kong, particularly in Western nations more sympathetic to the democratic aspirations of protesters. China this week also sent a 43-page letter to senior editors at foreign news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg.Twitter says it works with public officials and politicians around the world, not just in China, and that everyone deserves a voice in the public discourse, as long as they follow its rules and policies. The company has used the same argument to defend hosting tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump, which some users have questioned. Twitter has said it aims to “advance global, public conversation” and that public figures “play a critical role in that conversation because of their out-sized impact on our society,“ in a blog post last year.On Monday, Twitter said in a blog post that it would block more than 900 accounts because they appeared to be part of a “coordinated state-backed operation” to “sow political discord in Hong Kong.” Some of the accounts accessed Twitter from unblocked IP addresses within mainland China, it said, suggesting the state condoned their activities. Twitter also said it would stop accepting advertising from state-controlled media: “Any affected accounts will be free to continue to use Twitter to engage in public conversation, just not our advertising products.”Twitter’s embrace of Chinese officials on the platform also highlights how some American tech companies try to make inroads in the enormous market, despite government restrictions on their services. Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has repeatedly expressed a desire to enter China. Twitter oversees the China business from offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.Like Google, Facebook and other sites blocked in China, Twitter sells advertising to Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. that are trying to reach overseas users. Before Twitter’s policy change this week, it had also sold ad space to Chinese state media companies that used them to push the narrative that Hong Kong protests were orchestrated by foreign forces and angry mobs unrepresentative of the city’s majority.Facebook said it has trained Chinese state media entities to use its services, but declined to comment on whether it also works with government officials. “We provide a standard set of guidance and best practice training to groups around the world including governments, political parties, media outlets, and non-profits so they can manage their Facebook Pages,” the company said in a statement, noting that their guidance is publicly available online.YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc., doesn’t have a specific policy that bars state-funded media, but the company’s ad policies require government-funded channels to be labeled as such. This week, state media including the Global Times published videos about the Hong Kong demonstrations, including an interview with a police officer who said he was “critically injured by violent protesters.” The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.Both Twitter and Facebook have established programs to make sure public figures around the world sign up for their sites and understand how to use them effectively. The idea is that people who have a following — athletes, actors or singers — will create interest for their other users in the website. For years, the work has extended to politics, with the social networks signing up and training political figures. For example, Facebook has embedded staff with or trained Trump; Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, known for encouraging extrajudicial killings; and Germany’s anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in how to most effectively use the platform, Bloomberg News has reported.Twitter and Facebook have implemented terms of service that ban certain practices, including bot accounts that appear to be real people and promote misinformation. But government officials and state media still have wide latitude to say what they want.“If Trump is going to use Twitter to deliver his message to the Chinese government, then it makes perfect sense China should be using this medium to send signals back,” said Samm Sacks, cybersecurity policy and China digital economy fellow at think tank New America. “But then we get into this coordinated state misinformation domain and it raises problematic questions around what is propaganda and what is misinformation.”(Updates with Facebook’s comment five paragraphs from the bottom.)\--With assistance from Mark Bergen, Kurt Wagner and Daniel Ten Kate.To contact the reporters on this story: Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sarah Frier in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.