The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) and the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) on Wednesday claimed that they found an Austrian-based private-sector offensive actor (PSOA) exploiting multiple Windows and Adobe 0-day exploits in “limited and targeted attacks” against European and Central American customers.
For the unversed, PSOAs are private companies that manufacture and sell cyberweapons in hacking-as-a-service packages, often to government agencies around the world, to hack into their targets’ computers, phones, network infrastructure, and other devices.
The Austrian-based PSOA named DSIRF, which Microsoft had dubbed Knotweed, has been linked to the development and attempted sale of a malware toolset called “Subzero”.
DSIRF promotes itself on the website as a company that provides “mission-tailored services in the fields of information research, forensics as well as data-driven intelligence to multinational corporations in the technology, retail, energy, and financial sectors” and have “a set of highly sophisticated techniques in gathering and analyzing information.”
The Redmond giant said the Austria-based DSIRF falls into a group of cyber mercenaries that sell hacking tools or services through a variety of business models. Two common models for this type of actor are access-as-a-service and hack-for-hire.
MSTIC found that the Subzero malware was being circulated on computers through a variety of methods, including 0-day exploits in Windows and Adobe Reader, in the years, 2021 and 2022.
As part of its investigation into the utility of this malware, Microsoft’s communications with a Subzero victim revealed that they had not authorized any red teaming or penetration testing, and confirmed that it was unauthorized, malicious activity.
“Observed victims to date include law firms, banks, and strategic consultancies in countries such as Austria, the United Kingdom, and Panama. It’s important to note that the identification of targets in a country doesn’t necessarily mean that a DSIRF customer resides in the same country, as international targeting is common,” Microsoft wrote in a detailed blog post.
“MSTIC has found multiple links between DSIRF and the exploits and malware used in these attacks. These include command-and-control infrastructure used by the malware directly linking to DSIRF, a DSIRF-associated GitHub account being used in one attack, a code signing certificate issued to DSIRF being used to sign an exploit, and other open-source news reports attributing Subzero to DSIRF.”
In May 2022, Microsoft detected an Adobe Reader remote code execution (RCE) and a 0-day Windows privilege escalation exploit chain being used in an attack that led to the deployment of Subzero.
“The exploits were packaged into a PDF document that was sent to the victim via email. Microsoft was not able to acquire the PDF or Adobe Reader RCE portion of the exploit chain, but the victim’s Adobe Reader version was released in January 2022, meaning that the exploit used was either a 1-day exploit developed between January and May, or a 0-day exploit,” the company explained.
Based on DSIRF’s extensive use of additional zero-days, Microsoft believes that the Adobe Reader RCE was indeed a zero-day exploit. The Windows exploit was analyzed by MSRC, found to be a 0-day exploit, and then patched in July 2022 as CVE-2022-22047 in the Windows Client/Server Runtime Subsystem (csrss.exe).
The Austrian company’s exploits are also being linked to previous two Windows privilege escalation exploits (CVE-2021-31199 and CVE-2021-31201) being used in conjunction with an Adobe Reader exploit (CVE-2021-28550), all of which were patched in June 2021.
In 2021, the cyber mercenary group was also linked to the exploitation of a fourth zero-day, a Windows privilege escalation flaw in the Windows Update Medic Service (CVE-2021-36948), which allowed an attacker to force the service to load an arbitrary signed DLL.
To mitigate against such attacks, Microsoft has recommended its customers to:
Besides using technical means to disrupt Knotweed, Microsoft has also submitted written testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Hearing on “Combatting the Threats to U.S. National Security from the Proliferation of Foreign Commercial Spyware.”
Andvari Associates, an investment management firm, published its second-quarter 2022 investor letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here. For the first six months of 2022 Andvari was down 30.9% net of fees while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF was down 20.0%. Go over the fund’s top 5 positions to have a glimpse of its finest picks for 2022.
In its Q2 2022 investor letter, Andvari Associates mentioned Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) and explained its insights for the company. Founded in 1982, Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) is a San Jose, California-based multinational computer software company with a $188.0 billion market capitalization. Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) delivered a -29.13% return since the beginning of the year, while its 12-month returns are down by -35.79%. The stock closed at $401.90 per share on July 22, 2022.
Here is what Andvari Associates has to say about Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) in its Q2 2022 investor letter:
"We added to our positions in other current holdings and we also started a new position in a company we have known for decades: Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE). Adobe is a software company that has been around for nearly 40 years. We are intimately familiar with the company. Andvari’s own founder and Chief Investment Officer started using Adobe products over 25 years ago. Adobe is also one of several companies featured in an Andvari white paper about business lessons learned from the evolution of the desktop publishing software industry.
There are many reasons why Adobe is a high quality company, but let’s first outline what the company does. The company divides its offerings into two groups: Digital Media and Digital Experience. The Digital Media segment contains the products with which most people are familiar, such as Photoshop for photo editing, Illustrator for digital illustrators, and Acrobat for creation, editing and signing of documents in Adobe’s own ubiquitous PDF file format..." (Click here to see the full text)
Our calculations show that Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) fell short and didn’t make it on our list of the 30 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds. Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) was in 93 hedge fund portfolios at the end of the second quarter of 2022, compared to 94 funds in the previous quarter. Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) delivered a -2.05% return in the past 3 months.
In June 2022, we also shared another hedge fund’s views on Adobe Inc. (NASDAQ:ADBE) in another article. You can find other investor letters from hedge funds and prominent investors on our hedge fund investor letters 2022 Q1 page.
Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.
The University of Wyoming College of Law provides an annual resume book of students interested in providing contract research and support to practicing attorneys throughout the region. This book is provided free of charge to any Wyoming attorney.
Please note that while the Office of Career Services and Professional Development collects and provides this resource, we have a strict policy against making any specific recommendations for or against a particular student. This is to protect both interested students as well as practitioners from a candidate selection which may not be best suited for a particular research need. Should an attorney prefer to post a formal position they are welcome to do so through our standard job posting form.
Please see Rule 9 for any questions related to the use of a student for research.
Please fill in the below form to request a resume book tailored to your specific needs. If you have any questions or need any assistance, please contact Ashli Tomisich, Director of Career Services and Professional Development at (307) 766-4074 or firstname.lastname@example.org
According to the National Institute for Aging, quackery is at an all-time high. American consumers are exposed to an overwhelming sea of advertising for dietary supplements and homeopathic products. Many consumers assume that some government entity, such as the FDA, has ruled these products safe and effective before allowing the ads to be broadcast and printed. Many people do not realize, however, that the products are not proven safe for use. This widespread misconception has resulted in the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars for products whose efficacy has not been validated by clinical trials. In effect, many consumers are placing their trust in products promoted by manufacturers who do not invest the funds to carry out research to prove the safety and efficacy of these products.
Products promising to enhance sexual performance have been promoted for over a century, dating back to the patent medicines of the 1800s; these products were characterized by wildly exaggerated claims and sold to the public by unscrupulous manufacturers, without evidence of safety or effectiveness. The 1906 Pure Food and Drug Law was an attempt to eliminate this pernicious practice, and for many years Americans were somewhat better protected from unproven products. However, the passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, championed by Utah's Orrin Hatch, allowed manufacturers to market products without FDA approval of safety and efficacy.
During andropause, the male's serum testosterone levels fall, leading in many cases to erectile dysfunction. Males cannot achieve an erection or cannot sustain one for a sufficient time to complete sexual intercourse. The penis may gradually disengorge during intercourse. Legitimate medical interventions include testosterone, Viagra, Caverject, and devices inserted into the penis. Patients undergoing andropause often do not choose these therapies, opting instead to try dietary supplements. As millions of baby boomers are currently experiencing andropause, marketers offer hundreds of products allegedly beneficial in reversing impotence and enhancing male sexual performance.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a government agency charged with preventing fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and with helping educate consumers to avoid them. The FTC issued a consumer alert entitled The Truth About Impotence Claims. The agency clarified several issues and disspelled a great deal of manufacturer hype:
Products advertised as effective for treating impotence without a physician's prescription should be ignored, as they cannot cure the condition.
Products advertised as "breakthroughs" in the treatment of impotence mandate double checking with a physician for legitimacy.
Some manufacturers create phony "clinics" and fake "institutes" solely to promote bogus impotence cures. Consumers should check with a physician to verify the legitimacy of these organizations.
Some manufacturers of impotence cures claim that their product is "scientifically proven" to work. When a consumer sees the phrase "clinical studies prove it works," caution is in order, as these claims are often false. Furthermore, claims providing very high rates of success are often bogus.
When impotence cures are said to be "herbal" or "all natural," the product should be ignored. There is no herb or "all natural" substance proven to cure impotence.
The agency also urges consumers to consult a qualified practitioner for treatment of impotence, rather than placing one's trust in their bogus remedies.
In the fight against fake impotence and sexual enhancement products, the FDA revealed in 2006 that it had completed a groundbreaking survey in which it analyzed 17 "dietary supplements" promoted on the Internet for erectile dysfunction or enhancement of sexual performance. The FDA explained that some of these products (Zimaxx, Libidus, Neophase, Nasutra, Vigor-25, Acta-Rx, and 4EVERON) were promoted and sold as dietary supplements but were actually illegal drugs containing potentially harmful, undeclared ingredients, such as sildenafil or analogues of sildenafil or vardenafil. The agency concluded that the claims made for these products were claims made for the undeclared nondietary supplement components, making them illegal drugs. The FDA sent warning letters to the marketers explaining the illegal nature of their activities, halted shipment of some of them into the United States, and threatened to take additional actions.
In June 2007, the FDA announced a final rule establishing regulations for the current good manufacturing practices (CGMP) of dietary supplements, partly due to the 2006 study of sexual enhancement/impotence products.[7,8,9,10,11] Henceforth, the FDA's new CGMPs will ensure that supplements are produced in a quality manner, do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled. The rule is effective as of August 24, 2007, for large businesses and somewhat later for small businesses. Watchdog groups immediately pointed out that supplement manufacturers have never been required to prove their products are safe and effective, and the new regulations also fail to require this fundamental evidence of quality. An expert quoted by ABC News stated, "Knowing you have pure and well-made useless crap is a little better than having impure useless crap, but not by much."
While many marketers are in steep competition to capture a share of this lucrative business, one has managed to rise above the others, with its ubiquitous "Smiling Bob" Enzyte ads. This marketer has capitalized on the current thinking that an unproven dietary supplement can easily cure or treat a serious medical condition such as impotence. Early ads promised that Enzyte would add as much as three inches to the length of the user's penis. Web site testimonials also claim such benefits as allowing stronger, firmer, and easier-to-achieve erections, assisting in maintaining a fully hard erection, providing full and satisfying erections, and reversing the normal erectile problems of aging.[15,16,17,18,19] Enzyte contains many ingredients, none of which is FDA-proven to be safe or effective in accomplishing its advertised purposes. These ingredients include niacin, zinc, copper, Korean red ginseng root, ginkgo, pine bark, Tribulus terrestris, arginine, Avena sativa, horny goat weed, maca root, muira puama, saw palmetto, and Swedish flower pollen.[20,21]
The Cincinnati-based marketer of Enzyte, Berkeley Nutraceuticals, was reported in 2004 by a Cincinnati newspaper to be the subject of over 3,700 consumer complaints. In early 2006, Berkeley and its subsidiaries reached a settlement with the attorneys general of 18 states and Washington, D.C. in which it would pay $2.5 million and provide restitution to customers for unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of their products.[23,24,25] The $2.5 million settlement was a burden easily borne by the company, as it may have reaped as much as a quarter of a billion dollars in 2004 alone through sales of Enzyte and 14 other unproven supplements. Later in 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted the company and six individuals (including the president and owner) for bilking Americans of at least $100 million. Fraudulent business practices included sending consumers supplements they did not order, charging their credit cards without authorization, laundering the money, and mislabeling a product known as Rovicid. Despite the indictments and settlements, the company continues to advertise and sell its products to a public seemingly unaware of the controversy.
When research on dietary supplements intended for sexual enhancement appears, it must be scrutinized closely to assess the soundness of the methodology employed. Two such studies explored the abilities of KyoGreen powder (barley, wheat grass, seaweed) for sexual dysfunction in men and women and ArginMax (herbs, vitamins, minerals) to enhance sexual function in males.[28,29] While both studies seemed to show positive results, they are rendered virtually useless because neither study used a control group that was administered a placebo for a valid comparison. Unfortunately, much of the research on dietary supplements is hampered by profound flaws such as this that would cause the research to be rejected by the FDA if it were to be submitted through the legitimate new drug application process used for new medications.
Lack of evidence about the safety and efficacy of dietary supplements exposes the consumer to unknown health hazards, as these products use ingredients that are of unknown therapeutic benefit. Marketers of these supplements have been known to engage in fraudulent and deceptive practices. Marketing hype and high profits should never override the pharmacist's professional responsibility to demand proof of safety and efficacy in the products we recommend. Patients experiencing andropause deserve a pharmacist who will refer them for legitimate medical care rather than selling them products that lack proof of efficacy and safety.
When possible, courts interpret statutes based on the plain meaning of the law. However, when the plain meaning of the law is ambiguous, a court tries to determine what the legislature intended in writing the statute. This requires gathering official background information and discussion leading up to a law's enactment, that is, the legislative history. Familiarity with the legislative process is important in this search.
|Introduction of bill or resolution by a legislator||Bills are introduced into one or both houses of Congress by their sponsor. If a bill is not passed before the session of Congress ends, it dies. It will have to be reintroduced for another chance to become law.|
|Assignment of a unique bill number||Bills are numbered sequentially. H.R. for House bills and S. for Senate bills; H.J. Res. and S.J. Res. for joint resolutions. For bills introduced in both houses, two numbers are assigned.|
|Referred to committee or subcommittee||
Committee considers whether to recommend passage; if not, the bill dies.
Committee Reports are generally considered one of the most useful documents in a legislative history. They include the purpose and scope of the legislation, reasons for enactment, section-by-section analysis, a discussion of changes which will occur to existing laws, amendments proposed and adopted to original proposal, and executive documents.
In Hearings, witnesses supply prepared statements and answer questions of the committee members. Hearings may include exhibits of interested parties and the text of the bill. Hearings are not held on all legislation or may have been heard during a previous session of Congress. Hearings are generally less important than committee reports. If the bill is recommended, a Committee Report is produced.
Committee prints are background information, statistics, historical, scientific or social data on specific subjects prepared for use of the committee members.
|Subcommittee reports to full committee; Committee reports to full legislative body||Floor debates are discussion from the floor of Congress when the bill is out of committee. Floor debates are not weighted very heavily as persuasive material. Sponsors and committee members may correct misleading statements from the floor. Suggested amendments that may not have been previously considered in committee may appear here for the first time as well as additional discussion for and against the proposed legislation.|
|Referred to conference committee||If a bill is passed by both houses in significantly different versions, it is referred to a Conference Committee. Conference committee reports are produced when both houses pass a bill but can't agree on some issues. This report reconciles the differences between the two bills and gives a statement explaining the effect of the actions. It is a key legislative history tool.|
|President signs or vetoes||When the President signs a bill into law or vetoes a bill, he frequently makes comments about the law itself. These statements are published as Executive Documents or Presidential Signing Statements.|
|Assigned a public law number||Results in slip law or public law. These are published in consecutive order in the Statutes at Large.|
The documents that are produced during the legislative process are available through a variety of resources. Most of them are in microfiche in our collection, and some are in print. Westlaw and Lexis both have legislative history information, for example, bills, public laws, congressional hearings, and floor debates back to the mid-1980s or early 1990s. For some types of legislation, they have full databases providing subject access on specific subject areas like tax and the environment.
For those affiliated with the University of Wyoming, one of the best sources for legislative materials is ProQuest Congressional. It has a wide collection of congressional documents dating back to 1789. Resources include committee prints, hearings, House and Senate documents, congressional journals, executive documents, treaties, and selected legislative histories. It is searchable by subject and by document number. You may access this resource from our Databases page.
HeinOnline has several databases that are useful for federal legislative histories: U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Congressional Documents including the Congressional Record and hearings, and U.S. Federal Legislative Histories with histories of legislative actions on many federal statutes.
There are some good Internet sites from which to access current and selected historical government documents, too.
GovInfo.gov has PDF files of government publications available through the Government Publishing Office, including bill texts, committee reports, Congressional Record, congressional hearings, and other congressional documents.
Congress.gov has bill texts and summaries, public laws, major legislation, committee reports, Congressional Record, and links to committee home pages since 1995. Legislative history summaries are available since 1973 as well as some selected older materials.
In addition to those available in HeinOnline, some extensive compilations on a single legislative act are published as treatises. This means that someone else has already done the work of searching out the relevant documents. It will save immeasurable time if you can find a legislative history already compiled. Check the online catalog for Law and UW Libraries using your statute title and "legislative history" in a keyword search.
To search for legislative histories in other libraries, initiate a search in WorldCat. WorldCat is a collection of materials that have been catalogued by libraries throughout the country and the world. Link to it from our Databases page. Use the same search terms you used in our library catalog above.
Occasionally, published legislative histories are mentioned in the annotations of the United States Code Annotated. It is worth a review of the Library References portion of your statute annotations to identify these sources.
Before giving up, try a bibliography of legislative history materials such as:
Nancy P. Johnson, Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories: A Bibliography of Government Documents, Periodical Articles and Books 1st Congress-113th Congress (1979). Reference KF 42.2 .J64 2014.
Eugene Nabors, Legislative Reference Checklist: the Key to Legislative Histories from 1789-1903 (1982). KF 49 .L43 1982.
Bernard D. Reams, Federal Legislative Histories: An Annotated Bibliography and Index to Officially Published Sources (1994). Reference KF 42.2 .R4 1994.
U.S. Federal Legislative History Library, HeinOnline
Norman J. Singer, Statutes and Statutory Construction, (8th ed. 2018). KF 425 .S56 2018.
Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C., Federal Legislative History Research: A Practitioner's Guide to Compiling the Documents and Sifting for Legislative Intent.
Steps to developing a legislative history
Location in the Law Library
Find the public law number, bill number, and year of passage of your Act. The bill number and public law number will be your most useful tools in formulating a legislative history as most sources are organized by either one or the other, though you may perform keyword searches in the electronic databases.
United States Code Service or United States Code Annotated
Citations to public laws appear at the end of the statute along with a brief list of enacted legislated changes. The text of the public law can be found in:
Statutes at Large U.S.C.C.A.N.
Both of these titles have a short legislative history at the end of the public law that gives the bill number and dates of consideration and passage.
Reference M-C-6 through M-C-8 (also available in Westlaw and Lexis)
Identify the documents that were created in the legislative process.
ProQuest Congressional is the most comprehensive tool for this. Use the most specific information you have. If you have the public law number of bill number, use Search by Number. The results will link to you other documents from the legislative process that are available electronically. Expect to find bills, committee reports, floor debates, hearings, executive documents (presidential statements), and committee prints. Access ProQuest on our databases page.
The Congressional Record table "History of Bills and Resolutions" goes back to the 19th century.
Committee Reports and Hearings:
Some are published individually as pamphlets and catalogued as part of the collection. Check our online catalog.
Conference Committee Reports:
Published in the Congressional Record.
Our holdings begin in 1977. The main library’s collection begins with 1789.
If the documents are not available in the electronic resources as full-text, you may have to seek out other formats. Record the citations for future retrieval. The Superintendent of Documents cites for congressional materials begins with Y.
The microfiche materials are arranged by Congress. We have microfiche sets going back to the 99th Congress, 1986.
U.S.C.C.A.N., in addition to printing the full text of the public laws, also published some selected reports and executive documents in its legislative history volumes for each Congress.
Basement and Microfiche cabinets
To search in non-electronic resources, try these.
Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1966-2001. Older issues and papers since 2001 are republished in: Public Papers of the President.
Can also be found in Federal Register, if you have the date, and in title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The current year is located in M-N-11. Older issues are in in the Basement in B56-58.
Also, some selected executive documents are republished in U.S.C.C.A.N.
Microfiche cabinets (labeled by Congress)
The Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at UMass Lowell prepares individuals for entry into the profession of physical therapy. The fully accredited program requires a baccalaureate degree for admission and a three-year full-time commitment, including part of each summer.
The curriculum provides a comprehensive foundation in the art and science of physical therapy. Methods of instruction include classroom lecture and discussion, small group / problem-based learning, and skill development during laboratory and clinical experiences. Emphasis is placed on the development of clinical decision-making and critical inquiry skills across the curriculum.
The clinical education program consists of three extended clinical education experiences one (10-week and two 12-week) for a total of 34 weeks. Students experience a variety of practice settings and patient populations in preparation for general practice.
The faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy & Kinesiology believe that individuals have intrinsic worth and a right to optimal health and function. Function is defined as those activities identified by an individual as essential to support physical, social, and psychological well-being and to create a personal sense of meaningful living.
Physical therapists provide services to patients/clients with alterations in body structure and function, activity and participation restrictions or changes in physical function and health status resulting from injury, disease, or other causes. Physical therapists utilize prevention and wellness strategies in individuals at risk for developing a reduction in physical function.
The physical therapist is professionally educated in a program that synthesizes graduate study with undergraduate knowledge, and experiential learning. The graduate of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program is prepared to function as an ethical and competent practitioner who management include examination, evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, intervention and outcomes. The graduate is prepared to interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals, provide prevention and wellness services, consult, educate, and engage in critical inquiry. Finally, the graduate is prepared to direct and supervise physical therapy services, including support personnel. Graduate are expected to assume a leadership role in health care and to practice autonomously and cooperatively in a variety of practice settings such as: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, extended care facilities, schools, sports medicine clinics, community health and private practices, and industrial or workplace settings.
Students are active participants in the education process. The relationship between students and faculty is one in which there is mutual respect, understanding, and interchange of ideas. As experienced professionals, the faculty serve as a resource, mentor and role-model for the developing professional. The faculty are facilitators of the learning process. Students are expected to demonstrate commitment to learning as the basis for continued personal and professional growth, effective interpersonal and communication skills, problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and appropriate professional conduct. Effective use of time and resources, feedback, and stress management strategies are also important components of the behaviors of the successful student.
*** Must be taken in a traditional (on-campus/classroom) setting.
Additional Program Requirements
For additional, DPT program-specific, information regarding our admission requirements, please contact:
Keith W. Hallbourg
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Department of Physical Therapy
University of Massachusetts Lowell
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view any pdf files. It can be download for free from the Adobe website.
Read the UMass Lowell General Regulations for Graduate Students.
Completed Application Deadline: November 1.
Please submit add documents in support of your application to our Office of Graduate Admissions.
Of the infinite number of possible stock-picking strategies, one that we particularly like can be summed up in three words: The pros know. In other words, ask the experts what stocks they're buying and you're likely to come up with some pretty good ideas. Last year, we asked seven top portfolio managers to name their favorites, and their 22 choices returned an average of 29% to May 14, well ahead of the 18% gain of Standard & Poor's 500-stock index (for more details, see Our Team Gains 29%).
Now we've rounded up a new group of outstanding managers using the same simple criteria we used to pick last year's bunch: They all have produced superior records, over both the short term and the long term. When these folks discuss their best investing ideas, it's worth listening in.
Many a mutual fund manager has bolted to the free-wheeling, less-regulated, potentially more lucrative hedge-fund world. Whitney Tilson and Glenn Tongue have done almost the reverse. They launched their first hedge fund in January 1999 (it returned an annualized 11%, after fees, to May 1, compared with an annualized gain of 4% for the S&P 500). Then in March 2005 they unveiled Tilson Focus, a concentrated mutual fund that invests in undervalued companies of all sizes. It returned 20% over the past year.
Tilson and Tongue look for safety, low price and rapidly growing value when they shop for stocks. If this reminds you of a certain investor in Omaha, it's for good reason. "We admit to being loyal Buffett disciples," says Tilson.
No surprise then that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) is Tilson Focus's largest holding. Tilson and Tongue see safety in Buffett's triple-A-rated holding company: "Its balance sheet is Fort Knox-safe," says Tongue. The value of Berkshire's operating companies in particular, such as Geico, Gen Re and Shaw Industries, is compounding at a furious pace. Tilson says that pretax earnings of Berkshire's operating companies swelled by more than 30% a year from 1995 through 2006.
And Tilson and Tongue reckon that the shares are still cheap. When they apply a modest price multiple to the operating businesses and add the value of Berkshire's cash, bonds and big stakes in publicly traded companies, such as Coca-Cola, Moody's and American Express, they arrive at an intrinsic value of $150,000 a share for Berkshire, a 36% premium to the stock price of $110,000 (Berkshire Class B shares change hands for a mere $3,668).
The story with McDonald's (MCD) is different. This is a remarkable turnaround that Wall Street has consistently underestimated. The stock price has tripled since Tilson and Tongue first bought shares for their hedge fund in December 2002. A stream of successful new-product launches, such as McGriddles, salads and premium coffee, has produced more revenues (sales at stores open at least one year surged a tasty 8.2% in March) through a fixed asset base, resulting in rapidly expanding profit margins. Tilson thinks the stock, recently $51, is worth at least $60 a share.
Mueller Water Products (MWA) is a more traditional deep-value pick. Spun off from Walter Industries late last year, Mueller is the leading maker and provider of water-infrastructure products, such as fire hydrants, valves, couplings and transmission pipes. The stock, which sells at a small premium to book value (assets minus liabilities), has been depressed by the housing recession. But the water infrastructure in the U.S. is in urgent need of repair or replacement, so Tilson thinks it's just a matter of time before Mueller's flow of profits increases. He sees more than 50% upside in the stock, recently trading at $16.
Since launching Causeway International Value fund in 2001, Sarah Ketterer hasn't been afraid to go against the grain. She favors companies that are attractively priced because of temporary difficulties, and she will take large positions in a country or sector if the fund's strict stock-picking regimen determines that's where the values are. With a $5-billion portfolio of large-company stocks, the fund seemingly has lots of room to grow. Yet Ketterer closed it to new investors to retain the flexibility to move back into midsize companies when prices in that segment moderate. Investors who got in before the doors were locked have been rewarded with a 17% annualized return over the past five years, which was achieved with relatively low volatility.
One of Ketterer's top picks, Sanofi-Aventis (SNY), illustrates how she achieves those low-risk returns. Shares of the Paris-based drug giant have fallen about 9% since July 2006 because of concerns about generic competition and delays in the launch of its anti-obesity product, Acomplia. But a rich pipeline of 65 potential drugs should ensure strong earnings growth in coming years. Meanwhile, says Ketterer, the company should generate a staggering $55 billion in free cash flow (cash left over after paying bills and reinvesting in the business) over the next five years, which should support the share price, recently $46. The company could use the cash to repurchase shares and to bolster its dividend. "The downside is practically nil, barring the unexpected," Ketterer says.
A somewhat riskier pick is Ericsson (ERIC), which built the infrastructure that handles 40% of the world's mobile-phone calls. The Swedish telecom-equipment giant should benefit from strong expected growth in mobile traffic over the next few years. But it operates in an inherently volatile business, and the declining value of the dollar hurts profits earned in the U.S. and in Asian countries with currencies pegged to the greenback. Still, "the stock is too undervalued to ignore," says Ketterer. The shares, at $38, could return 15% to 20% annually over the next couple of years, she says.
HSBC (HBC), the London-based banking giant, has taken its lumps from a subsidiary involved in the foundering U.S. subprime-mortgage business. But with a price-earnings ratio of 13, says Ketterer, it's "quite a bargain for a company that operates globally and with a strong Asia business that is expected to produce earnings growth of 20% to 30% a year." What's more, she adds, the bank is overcapitalized, meaning there's plenty of cash available for paying dividends and buying back stock. Even now, the shares yield a generous 4.3%.
Nicholas Kaiser has steered Amana Trust Growth fund to market-beating performance over the past ten years, even though he is, in effect, working with one hand tied behind his back. The fund invests according to Islamic principles, so it must avoid financial stocks and companies with high debt (because of a prohibition against collecting or paying interest) as well as businesses associated with liquor, gambling and pornography. As a result, about half of the U.S. stock market is off-limits. Despite these restrictions, Kaiser has delivered excellent returns: an annualized 14% over the past decade, compared with 8% for the S&P 500.
One of Kaiser's favorite picks is Apple (AAPL). He began buying the computer and iPod maker several years ago at $14 a share, and he still likes it at $109. Yes, the shares look pricey at 30 times expected 2007 earnings, but the P/E has actually been falling as Apple's bubbling product pipeline has churned out one hit after another. Apple's earnings in the first quarter of 2007 soared 85% over the same period a year earlier, well beyond analysts' expectations.
Kaiser believes the company can keep up this impressive performance. He cites the release this year of a new generation of power-hungry digital-design-and-imaging software programs from Adobe. The software, he says, will provide a major boost to sales of Apple's high-end Mac Pro workstations, which start at $2,500. "Every media desktop jockey is going to want to have one of those things," he says. This summer's release of the long-awaited iPhone and the fall debut of the Leopard operating system are further hits in the making, he says.
Kaiser holds a slew of transportation stocks in the fund, and one of his favorites is UPS (UPS). Although its U.S. package-delivery business provides nearly two-thirds of revenues, it faces fierce competition. What excites Kaiser is UPS's logistics business, which offers services ranging from consulting to running a company's entire shipping program. Although it generates just 17% of UPS's revenues, "it's the growth engine," says Kaiser. A $1.68 annual dividend provides a nice 2% yield on UPS's shares.
Clean energy is not one of Amana's mandates, but that doesn't stop Kaiser from endorsing FPL Group (FPL), a Florida utility that's one of the world's largest producers of electric power from wind. Although Kaiser views the utility's emphasis on renewable energy as a plus, he is mainly attracted by its growing customer base, which encompasses about half of Florida's population, and its unregulated wholesale business, which sells low-cost power generated from nuclear plants and other sources. FPL has a "good, steady flow of earnings, an increasing dividend, and it's something we know makes money," he says. The $1.64 dividend has grown nearly 10% annually over the past three years and provides a 3% yield.
Most of the high-flying funds that returned 100% or more in 1999, the last year of the tech bubble, have long since crashed and burned. One exception is Turner Emerging Growth. The fund, which focuses on small, fast-growing firms, followed a 144% leap in 1999 with gains of at least 10% in every year except 2002, when it lost 20%. Its annualized 14% return over the past five years easily beat that of the Russell 2000 Growth index. (The fund is closed to new investors.)
Manager Frank Sustersic looks for companies with annual revenue growth of at least 10%, scrutinizing them for weaknesses in their business models. He's also sensitive to price; he dislikes P/Es that are higher than a company's growth rate. That kept the fund out of trouble when the tech bubble burst.
One of Sustersic's top picks is Parexel International (PRXL), among the world's largest providers of clinical research for pharmaceutical and biotech firms. The industry is experiencing "phenomenal growth," in part because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requiring more clinical tests, says Sustersic, a health-care analyst by training. Parexel, based in Waltham, Mass., operates in 36 countries and has a backlog of orders totaling more than $1 billion. Its U.S. operations have historically been unprofitable, but Sustersic says that's about to change -- one reason he likes Parexel despite its high P/E of 27 times this year's expected earnings.
Another firm benefiting from a hot market is Ladish Co. (LDSH), a maker of jet-engine parts and other aerospace products. The industry is experiencing a burst of growth, spurred in part by major new jetliners from Boeing (787 Dreamliner) and Europe's Airbus (A380). Like Sustersic's other favorites, Ladish has a healthy backlog -- more than $500 million worth of business. Its shares stumbled, though, after an earnings disappointment in the fourth quarter of 2006 that Sustersic attributes to a plant-maintenance closing that lasted longer than expected. As a result, the shares are selling for a relatively modest 18 times estimated 2007 profits.
Sustersic's third pick, Bucyrus International (BUCY), also made our list last year. The South Milwaukee, Wis., company manufactures large-scale excavation equipment for the surface mining of coal, copper, oil sands and other minerals. Weakness in coal prices has hung over the shares for the past year. But the long-term demand for coal is robust, and the firm has an order backlog of nearly $900 million, up from $659 million a year earlier. "I love firms that have good earnings visibility from a stable or growing backlog," says Sustersic. The stock trades for about 22 times this year's expected earnings, and analysts expect profits to grow by 33% this year and 28% in 2008.
Although most growth managers have been mired in a severe slump the past several years, Alex Motola, of Thornburg Core Growth, has maintained a high batting average. During the past three years, his growth fund, which invests in companies of all sizes, has returned an annualized 22%, more than twice the performance of the benchmark Russell 3000 Growth index. Motola says he searches for highly sustainable, growing franchises that are selling at reasonable prices and that are not subject to constant technological innovation or price competition.
His largest position is in Amdocs (DOX), a billing-software and customer-care provider for the telecommunications industry. Clients such as Sprint Nextel and Bell Canada hire Amdocs to install software and operate billing and customer-care applications. Between Amdocs' rising profit margins and recovering stock values in the telecom sector, Motola still sees good upside in the shares, which trade at 17 times estimated profits.
In Las Vegas Sands (LVS), Motola says he's making the rare exception of paying up for a pricey stock: The casino operator sells at 55 times estimated 2007 earnings. Motola anticipates a rising tsunami of earnings and cash flow starting in 2008. "The value is wrapped up in licenses and in Sands' ability to execute," he says.
Sands' founder and controlling shareholder, Sheldon Adelson, is successfully exporting his brand and expertise to Asia, Motola says. The septuagenarian hit the jackpot with Sands Macau. Las Vegas Sands will own or operate seven of ten new properties on the Cotai Strip, a Macau landfill project under construction. "Chinese have a high propensity to gamble," says Motola, who calculates that one billion people live within three hours' flying time of Macau.
Motola also likes the global footprint and powerful brand recognition of Western Union (WU), the venerable money-transfer outfit. A exact spinoff from First Data, Western Union has an unmatched network of 260,000 agents around the world and leadership in a highly fragmented industry. Motola says the company is a play on immigration and the increasing global migration of labor; Mexican immigrants use the network to send money back home, Filipinos working in the Persian Gulf send savings back to the Philippines, and so on. A strong cash generator, Western Union trades for 19 times this year's expected earnings.
If Alex Motola is one of the best young growth managers in the mutual fund business, David Winters is one of the top young value-investing practitioners. Winters learned his craft at Mutual Series, at the feet of a master, Michael Price. A couple of years back, Winters left his post as chief investment officer of Mutual Series to start his own fund, Wintergreen. Over the past year, Wintergreen returned 20%.
Winters says he's on a "global shopping expedition" and is finding the best deals overseas. One of his favorites is U.K.-based Anglo-American (AAUK), "an incredible treasure trove of assets that can't be duplicated." Winters enthuses over Anglo-American's rich diamond and platinum deposits. The metals-and-minerals giant holds a 45% stake in privately held DeBeers, which "has done a spectacular job convincing women, and the men who love them, that they need diamonds," he quips. Winters figures that hundreds of millions of aspirational Chinese women, trading up from jade jewelry, are potential diamond customers.
An adept numbers-cruncher, Winters looks for undervalued assets and an alluring discount to his assessment of a company's true value before he purchases a stock. But he also zeros in on quality of management. "People matter," he says. "In general, the best investments and worst investments are because of people." Winters looks for executives who focus on building a business's value.
Winters loves the management of Canadian Natural Resources (CNQ), a petroleum company with a large stake in the oil sands of Alberta. Led by Murray Edwards, a team of managers has acquired large oil reserves cheaply. If oil prices don't budge, Winters figures Canadian Natural will still do fine. Plus, managers own $1 billion of company stock. "They're in the boat pulling the oars in the same direction as shareholders," notes Winters.
He also admires the managers of Imperial Tobacco (ITY), which has "done a spectacular job for shareholders." A spinoff in 1996 from Hanson, a British conglomerate, Imperial has made intelligent acquisitions of cigarette brands and consistently returned capital to shareholders through higher dividends and share repurchases. Winters doesn't smoke, but he seems to have an addiction to tobacco stocks, which accounted for 21% of Wintergreen's portfolio at the end of 2006.
Sector funds tend to be streaky and volatile. Mark Greenberg's AIM Leisure is an exception. Over the past decade, it returned more than 15% annualized, nearly double the market's return, with impressive consistency. Greenberg, who started following the leisure business -- what he calls "all the fun stuff in life" -- in 1983, picked an alluring sector. In the U.S., Europe and Asia, consumer spending on such non-necessities as travel, alcoholic beverages and movies routinely grows faster than the overall economy.
One of Greenberg's favorite stocks is Diageo (DEO), the largest owner of liquor brands, including Smirnoff and Tanqueray. "When you're at the bar, you say 'Captain Morgan,' not rum; 'Johnnie Walker,' not Scotch," says Greenberg, who worked as a hotel bartender while in college in Milwaukee. "When liquor is mixed, you can't even tell what you're drinking." It doesn't cost much more to distill branded liquor than generic, but Diageo can sell Johnnie Walker for several dollars more per bottle. The difference shows up in Diageo's robust cash flow and steadily rising dividends.
No matter what you think of Rupert Murdoch's politics, there's no denying that he runs a potent media shop in News Corp. (NWS) Greenberg says Murdoch has been particularly adept at seizing international opportunities and harnessing the Internet (MySpace was a clever acquisition) for cross-marketing purposes. Fox has the highest profit margins of any Hollywood studio, says Greenberg, and the Fox Network churns out popular TV hits with global appeal, such as The Simpsons and American Idol. Shares of News Corp., which has disclosed that it wants to buy Dow Jones, recently traded at 17 times Greenberg's forecast for 2008 earnings.
His final pick exemplifies the discretionary spending of a leisure society: the fast-growing pet-store chain PetSmart (PETM). "It's amazing how much people love their dogs and cats," says Greenberg. The pet industry is growing twice as fast as the economy, and Americans pamper their little friends (dog-and-cat hotels are one of PetSmart's expanding businesses). PetSmart and privately owned Petco are the category-killers in this industry, elbowing aside tiny neighborhood pet shops.
Healthcare Learning Management System Market: Introduction
Transparency Market Research delivers key insights on the global healthcare learning management system market. In terms of revenue, the global healthcare learning management system market is estimated to expand at a CAGR of ~22% during the forecast period, owing to numerous factors, regarding which TMR offers thorough insights and forecasts in its report on the global healthcare learning management system market.
It is extremely necessary for doctors and healthcare practitioners to stay updated about advancements and developments within the healthcare industry. Electronic learning, or eLearning, is arguably the most significant change to occur in nursing education. With the help of learning management systems, healthcare and medical practitioners can easily enroll for online training and courses, and access the software on any device for learning.
The rise in the demand for high quality training among healthcare professionals is anticipated to propel the healthcare learning management system market during the forecast period. As a result, the healthcare learning management system market is anticipated to witness healthy growth during the forecast period.
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Healthcare Learning Management System Market: Dynamics
Based on the current scenario, the healthcare sector has a fairly positive impact on the healthcare learning management system market, owing to increasing use and adoption of healthcare learning management systems during COVID-19. The spread of COVID-19 has forced the healthcare sector to drive both a stronger online presence and discover new ways to provide training and distance learning. Hence, end users are adopting learning management solutions to overcome learning or training challenges. This is increasing spending on healthcare learning management systems across the globe.
Healthcare Learning Management System Market: Prominent Regions
The healthcare learning management system market in North America is expected to expand during the forecast period, owing to the high rate of adoption of eLearning tools, technological advancements in learning methodologies, and presence of major market players in the region. Furthermore, state governments of the region are emphasizing on partnerships and investments to fuel the growth of the healthcare learning management market. The healthcare learning management system market in Europe is projected to witness favorable growth during the forecast period, due to significant adoption of various Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), which indirectly boosts the market in the region. The Asia Pacific market is likely to expand at a high CAGR during the forecast period, owing to widespread availability of Internet services in the region, which aids the growth of eLearning and subsequently, the healthcare learning management system market in the region.
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Healthcare Learning Management System Market: Key Players
Key players operating in the global healthcare learning management system market are Adobe Systems Inc., ADP Inc., Articulate Global, Inc., Canvas Network (Instructure, Inc.), Cerner Corporation, Elsevier, GE Healthcare, HealthcareSource HR, Inc., HealthStream, Inc., Infor Inc., Oracle Corporation, PeopleFluent, SAP SE, Trivantis Corporation, Absorb LMS Software Inc., Accord LMS, CD2 Learning, CertCentral Inc., CoreAchieve, DLC Solutions, Docebo, Escalla Ltd., EthosCE, Gyrus Systems, InfoPro Learning, Inc., Interactyx (TOPYX), iSpring Solutions Inc., Kallidus Ltd., Litmos, Mindflash, NetDimensions Limited, Paradiso Solutions, Skillsoft, SkyPrep Inc., Thought Industries, and Tovuti, LLC.
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Global Healthcare Learning Management System Market: Segmentation
Healthcare Learning Management System Market, by Component
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