Managing cash, balancing this out with your liabilities and obligations, knowing your market dynamics, and equally, having a good understanding of where the future growth lies, are all essential for managing any healthy business.
It is then by utilizing robust research and development projects, combined with an acquisition strategy that augments growth, management creates sustainable and evolving business model.
These are the hallmarks of effective leadership. through managing your future development, mostly through research and development, that when combined with a sound acquisition strategy, that you believe will augment your present internal growth, so as to look to sustain the business, longer-term, becomes your contribution as a leader. These are the bedrock of good corporate management. It seems within GE, all of these have been forgotten or collapsed. Why, I mean how can that have happened?
For a company reputed to have a good management discipline and focus, yet this year, 2017, for GE, it seems all of these are lying in tatters, or some parts will lose out as a consequence, into the future. What has gone wrong at GE?
The last few months have been some of the most shocking ones in GE’s history. GE has been around since 1892 and was one of the corporate titans of the 20th Century. Since the crisis of 2008, GE has been struggling to fully regain its position but all its actions were regarded very highly as “making good progress” as it maintained a relentless momentum of shedding and acquiring operations, as well as pursuing a buying back of its shares, and paying out the beloved GE dividend. This certainly provided a highly dynamic environment for managing the business. There has been a consistent muttering that this was not fast enough or clear enough. Well, GE faces a very different set of realities today.
Today, GE is in a very dark place at this moment. It is managing a full-blown set of crisis, that has investors highly spooked and demanding answers. Its share price is hovering around $17 per share, whereas, in February of this year, it was ranging in the $31- 32 price. Its market valuation, once over $400bn, is now closer to $150bn.
This is a long read, as the story itself is only just emerging and is a complex one. I simply have to step outside my own innovation comfort box to try to get to grips with the breaking GE story. It has shaken me. I assume you already have some awareness of what is happening in a company that has been held up over so many years, as a model of good management.
So let’s jump in and try to find some answers to the GE story unfolding in front of our eyes, it is one that has more to come and a finish that is less than clear. Is it too big to fail? A Kodak moment? Will GE eventually break up? Or is this a set of crisis overhyped and those attempting to manage the complexity of this turnaround will simply put it back in good order in the next eighteen months. I just wonder if it does hold more ‘spin’ yet to be discovered?
Whatever, it is a big story happening in front of our eyes and it is generating more coverage by investors than you can possibly read. So here’s my take on it, so far:
Past transformation activities were not enough within GE, the cash has been running out!
Jeff Immelt who ran GE for the past 16 years, attempted to radically transform the business, he really did. GE was beyond the classic conglomerate, it had such a massive financial arm, GE Capital that at one point in that financial crisis of ’08 it had been determined as “systematically to be deemed as an important financial institution to be allowed not to fail”. In preceding years, Immelt stripped away as much of the tangled web of GE Capital to refocus the business on its core industrial business. GE Capital is certainly a tangled web and still might become central to any further crisis.
Yet GE stayed locked into the classic conglomerate structure, where Immelt chose the shaping of this by taking the high road of acquisition and spending, to be his attempt to reshape the business. In Immelt’s view, he was achieving a strategic transformation, yet it seemed he also relied far too much, in recent years, on the significant ramping up of the digital arm, now Digital GE, that equally required lots of cash. GE made a $4 billion bet on connecting industrial equipment via the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytical software with a suite of products called the “Predix Cloud”. This has a significant place in the future but it was not able to alter the conditions that radically changed in the marketplace GE are facing today.
The complexity of the GE transformation is unique and unfinished
This complexity of transformation, when you operate within any heavy industrial asset world, is a significant challenge, especially today when technology is fast displacing dated business models, technologies and ways of work at an ever-increasing pace. A world where others, far more nimble and agile, are able to respond as they are more laser-focused.
Yesterday’s models of the world, especially the conglomerate, has to be equal to the same task of responding to the short-term nature of our stock exchanges and increased returns. Our stock exchanges are still not recognizing the value or rewarding innovation in a time when companies need to be innovative more than ever. There is such misalignment in time for innovation to emerge. This impatience goes far beyond companies and investors, it is hurting the economy and society as a whole as well. Each company, big or small needs to be nimble, agile and highly focused, on what will return a market premium, or the investor drives your business down even more. GE has been caught in this for some time. Time is not on your side in this world of immediate return. I wonder if GE will follow its rival, Siemens in moving towards more of a holding structure of separate entities?
With all Immelt’s selling off of those slower-growth, lower-tech, and non-industrial businesses, over the years, he just simply stayed with too much of the core business model as central, being managed centrally. He was ignoring the shifts taking place within the marketplace, or perhaps he had the feeling he could shape them accordingly, simply by GE’s actions and rhetoric. More of his businesses were far more vulnerable than he realized to the changes taking place in these markets.
Even though he doubled the GE investment in R&D progressively, the innovations emerging from the businesses were not transformational enough to counterbalance all the negative positions developing in market shifts, although it produced some significant breakthroughs and advances on what went before.
A slowing growth, a rapid shifting of market sentiment, from fossil fuel to renewables, also went faster than expected. Other more focused companies were re-working their core business models where digital played a part. In retrospect it seemed in GE, it increasingly became the only growth game, in his view, besides acquisitions to bolt on to existing industrial business areas. Digital became overwhelming in management attention, to find and sell digital solutions.
Then came 2017 and the roof caved in on GE
Immelt kept faith on the existing core industrial business, he even recently decided to double down on the fossil fuel industry and you can question seriously was he ignoring the realities of where the sentiment in the market was going. He had a greater belief this was a time to consolidate within core businesses reliant on fossil fuel.
Until this year, a constant stream of GE buying back its own shares, paying out a good, solid and reliable dividends and profit returns has kept the investment market from deeper questioning. Coupled with a consistent upbeat stream of management views has projected GE as a well-run and highly effective, highly optimistic organization. There was a growing denial set in by all that steady reassuring news. Well not anymore, GE recently in its 3rd quarter review revealed its chronic cash position. In reality, its free cash flow can’t pay its obligations. Its recent acquisitions were not achieving the synergies expected and especially GE power was in deep trouble. Could this have been foreseen?
In 2012 GE free cash flow (FCF) was $16.2bn, in 2015 this was down to $12.6bn, then in 2016, this started to drop significantly with it really “hitting the rocks” in 2017, with some suggesting a negative of $3bn predicted for this year, although the urgent action currently was undertaken, might pull this back into positive territory, partly due to the dividend being cut in half, allows for this saving to flow through. Some in the markets still view the latest GE predictions with caution, as too optimistic. In late January 2018, they will be announcing their 4th quarter and end year results, to confirm the full 2017 performance and that will determine, much of the future, and determine even more immediate action. Presently the GE position is that they will claw back too $6- 7bn (FCF) in 2018, although many in the market are predicting this might be tough as well. Suddenly they have had to be faced with a cash-starved reality.
So the cash to fund the bets, fund the dividend, keep paying into a pension scheme, keep pushing the digital solution began to unravel, as the main business units generating the cash, built on fossil sources, dropped through the floor. Oil, gas, and power that GE had put ongoing bets on, have become significant cash consumers at unhealthy rates. The other parts of GE, especially healthcare and aviation could not bail them out.
Obligations mounted. Dividend cuts (50% ) have caused significant anguish for the longer-term smaller investor who was partly reliant on that consistent dividend pay-out. The dividend policy is still up for potentially more cutting, the share buyback is highly questionable (if you have no spare cash) and any M&A program suddenly becomes shrunken dramatically, down to small tweaks. Ouch!
Immelt retired and his vice chairs headed also for the exit door
Immelt made a series of expensive big bets that especially investors did not share as winners. The synergies were hard to extract on his promises. So in mid-2017, the writing was on the wall, Immelt needed to go. He resigned or was retired in June 2017 as CEO and it seemed quickly departed as handover Chairman, once the 3rd quarter results come out.
GE was heading for a full-blown crisis and the new CEO, John Flannery, quickly became also the Chairman and undertake a massive review “across the board”. Three vice chairs in Beth Comstock, Jeffrey Bernstein, and John Rice also decided the time was right. In Flannery’s opening discussion with investors, he outlined a dismantling of the legacy of his predecessor as he began with his comment “we need to make some major changes with urgency and depth of purpose”
So what has caused this radical shift to turn GE into a full-blown crisis?
Running out of cash, bad investments in recent big acquisitions, paying out of a dividend that GE’e earning could not sustain and the collapse of its GE Power division and coupled with the continued lackluster of the oil and gas business, transportation, and its lightening business has become the crisis. The business model was broken and was in a real urgent need to be fixed, markets were not performing and GE was becoming even more complex with the layering on of digital to every business, to shift the focus from product and service into product + service + digital.
GE had gone for a doubling down on fossil fuels when the world wanted solar, wind and all other renewable sources of energy, as well as the global customers seemingly determined to keep extending the life of the existing asset and not invest in the new, however much, GE tried, in its selling.
GE was attempting to unwind a very complex beast. It goes back actually a long way. Even in Jack Welch’s time but in the tenure of Jeff Immelt the GE stock fell by about half. Its stock is trading well below where it was 20 years ago. In 2017, so far, GE is the worst performing stock on the Dow Jones Industrial average. The trouble was GE was unable to make a complete strategic transformation, it got caught up in supporting its old business model, just by adding new digital clothes.
Renewable energy versus fossil fuel- a reality check
As solar and wind power costs have plunged, this has been challenging the traditional model of the industry. Mr. Immelt decided to bet the other way by investing in 2015 on Buying the power business of Alstrom for $10bn, a company specifically strong in coal plant designs.
Then he went and paid $7.4bn to merge with Baker Hughes that has an oilfield and gas manufacturing and services business, that has been in seriously difficult market conditions for a long time. This created a merged company where GE retains 62.5% stake. I have heard that In the past the attitude between GE and Baker Hughes in the marketplace was antagonistic to each other. Not ideal for a friendly merger and already the profits of that business for the first nine months of 2017 were down 41%, excluding restructuring costs. The synergies were not materializing in downturn situations.
The Gas turbine market, a significant part of the GE power division, for example, has fallen through the floor, along with the usually highly lucrative improving gas-fired plants has dropped away as the shift to alternative sources of energy continued. GE is not alone on this rapid decline and bad forecasting, Siemens, the other titan founded also in the 19th century, Siemens in 1847, GE in 1892, has been equally scrabbling to drive down costs dramatically in their power and gas divisions. It does seem Siemens has been well ahead in spotting this trend, warning of the risks within the hydrocarbons- based power, a lot earlier.
Both Siemens and GE are having to deal with some rapid adjustments and downsizing. Inventory needs to be run down so the demand/supply is rightsized and any healthy return to positive financial results for GE might not show through until 2019 at the earliest, most even are predicting 2020, draining GE of much of its management attention.
There is going to be a very painful adjustment in their GE Power, as well as their Baker Hughes division, and related GE Energy Connections business, in adjusting to the present and near-term realities of today’s markets, one of the reduced demands for power and oil solutions. Is this cyclical or permanent? In GE’s case, they will be hoping for some shift in really tough market conditions, presently facing them as they have been placing really big bets in recent investments that fossil fuel will still be needed to satisfy the world’s power needs.
GE divested their Water business a while back due to concerns that the deal would not be approved by the US government. Not only was the Water business highly profitable, but it was a segment that would almost certainly have led to large profits in the future. Selling the water business was, in retrospect perhaps a poor business decision for pivoting away from being reliant on fossil fuel.
The confluence of issues came into reality also in 2017 for GE- a lack of cash finally hit home!
With the power division in so much trouble, on its own, it might be contained but GE’s troubles don’t just end there. The opaqueness of how GE managed its conglomerate has been a source of worry for investors over the years. Until this year a constant stream of buying back its own shares, paying out a good, solid and reliable dividend has quietened the market, along with a consistent upbeat stream of management views. There was a growing denial set in. Not anymore, GE recently in its 3rd quarter review revealed its chronic cash position. In reality, its free cash flow can’t pay its obligations. Suddenly as I stated earlier, they have had to face up to a cash-starved reality.
Also, the pension fund has been grossly underfunded for some time, where some regard a fair value of the GE Pension fund to be $63b, benefit obligations of $94b and GE’s pension shortfall of $31b, the largest underfunded pension plan in the US. GE has been forced to borrow in new debt $6b to pre-fund some of its immediate obligations in 2018 to 2020. This becomes a real red flag as these obligations only continue to build and will constantly drag down share price for the dividend or shareholder return with this level of obligation. According to one analyst, this obligation of $31b equates to $3.50 each share. So GE is shifting more to debt but needs to address this pension obligation, in the future.
Finding cash to fund obligations makes for a very uncomfortable position. To have its major business, Power, caught in a severe, possibly consistent declining market, reliant on fossil fuels, makes for a double whammy.
The pressure to save money; to delay payments, to renegotiate supply conditions, to reduce expenditure, all need a high sense of operating awareness, sensitivity and observation of possible consequences, as each changing action has its negative impacts when you are managing to extract cash or delay your spend or payment.
Yet the worries continued unabated.
Until the management of GE resolves the opaqueness that many still feel is surrounding GE. There will always be a feeling by many investors, that “they are spinning a good story,” something laid at the previous managements door of over hype and promise, under delivery. Here Mr.Flannery has been far more open, signaling the problems he is finding
The real opaqueness lies in GE Capital, it needs to become transparent.
There is a growing view that GE has billions of dollars of obligations from reinsurance agreements with other insurers. Each time GE was caught in a bid for contracts on any significant scale, GE Capital took on a portion of the carriers responsibilities of paying and helped in having access to more favourable rates of borrowing, due to its near- bank status (recall the designation some years back of “systematically important financial institution to big to allow to fail”.
Thankfully there is a set of actuaries examining GE’s long-term care reserves, many in the market believe these might be deficient. If there are any skeletons found here then GE would be very much down on its knees. No spare cash, struggling major portions of its business and a lack of growth in many markets is a very uncomfortable position to be in.
So why do I say that the enemy is already within?
Firstly we have the very real shift in the investors in GE. The secured dividend kept its stock as a large retail one, made up of pensioners, portfolio funds and individuals looking to have this guaranteed dividend come to them. There is growing fear the dividend might have to be cut again, or deferred in the possible near future. That takes GE out of one set of shareholders that held their shares due to the dividend, these shareholders made up a healthy part of the long-term investor. GE still sees its dividend as part of a new “balanced capital allocation mix” of R&D, CAPEX, the dividend and the company’s underfunded pension fund. I wonder. This is ever more reliant on free cash flow.
The other investor, the large institutions, more looking for short-term gain, are always looking for rising share prices, attractive assets, good management providing strong returns. They are critical, fickle and demanding. At this moment, we are on the downside of many of these “needs” they expect by holding GE shares.
The type of investor attracted to GE is changing even more. In 2015 Trian Partners, known as activist investors, brought $2.5bn of GE stock, which was about 1.5% of the company. They campaigned immediately on how GE was undervalued and believed Immelt and his management team would not do the necessary things to deliver both a higher stock price and dividend.
“Activist investors” are regarded as the modern day “corporate raiders” of the 20th century. They are part of a group of investors searching to unlock hidden value and increase shareholder value and have collectively, at their disposal, enormous assets of $120b or more, looking to invest in where they see opportunity. Their goal is clearly to increase their assets full stop.
They set about getting the management of the company to change strategy, they seek seats on their board, organize proxies and draw on the broader sentiment of the investor market to their side of the argument to maximise their position.
Trian Partners has recently achieved a seat on the GE board. They will be a part of a revamped board, that will shrink from 18 to 12, and three of these will be new directors. Recently the board might have been sleeping at the wheel, not seeing the problems as starkly as they have been painted in recent months. One can ask the question: why did they fail in their oversight and fiduciary duties? No wonder many are bailing out.
When you have more “activist investors “they often seek removal of the present company management or demand changes that are a radical shake-up as part of their belief of unlocking value.
The value of such an activist is he does prod a management into a more radical transformation, something GE should have achieved within themselves. It forces a very hard internal look at itself, one that is now being undertaken. The board itself wakes up and becomes the activist. The top management is put on notice.
It remains within, that the problems still lie and all is clearly still to do.
GE, through its new Chairman & CEO, John Flannery has been responding. He undertook a 100-day review of the business he has taken over and presented his opening view in late November. The reaction has been muted as the market and investing community was expecting far more but there is a growing opinion of greater transparency than in the past.
The present portfolio is in need of a reset with a new guiding set of GE principles. The lighting business they have badly failed to refresh, transportation is in need for some radical rework and change in its market conditions before it shows growth. Both are likely to be sold, without some major redesign. The mergers they have made, have badly failed in generating the synergies or returns expected.
The renewable energy division is in a less than dominating market positions, something GE always prided itself on achieving, in “we must be No. 1 or No. 2 in market share” and their Digital and Additive business divisions are disruptors of ‘future’ promise but not yet of the substance to offset and absorb some of the other internal problems coming from declining profits and market conditions.
The two stars in the GE stable, are Aviation and Healthcare but these are in danger of being “swept up” in the same house cleaning need of greater rigor and fiscal tightness, to extract the essential cash needed for the group to fully function.
GE is restating what makes a GE business.
Its financial, operational and strategic characteristics need to be robust. There are presently far too many businesses caught out that need to prove themselves.
Mr. Flannery has promised to exit $20b of assets over the next 1 to 2 years, these will include transportation, industrial solutions, current and lighting and a host of 10 plus other transactions. This $20b promise is around 5% of the $365b on the books last year, that does not seem much does it? Selling off assets can also add to your problems as competitors “sniff” bargains and push down prices and markets don’t reward those that “blink first”.
His top team going forward is made up of 40% in new positions. The concern is they are all internally appointments and you worry that the same myopic view of the business might still prevail. Flannery said he would change GE’s culture to hold managers more accountable, demand better performance from the businesses and reduce the complexity of GE’s portfolio.
Why have so many “bright” executives (150 top executives) on the inside, why did they not spot some of this “storm”? With much of the same management caught up in this over last few years, coming through to replace some of the past ones they had been working for, are we honestly going to get the necessary challenging and fresh perspectives that Flannery suggests? Questionable.
Flannery promises to radically change the compensation plan for his top 5,000 employees with a higher equity mix and move from 20% to 50% of their compensation. This movement away from cash, into equity, aligns the top managements fortune to the shareholder’s expectations of share price and performance. They are at least working the same oars if the boat is to make headway.
The culture is expected to change.
Will it go back to the days of Jack Welch of stack-ranking, firing the bottom 10%, that would be a disaster. GE has never shed this Machiavellian culture in all the years of Immelt, as much as he felt he had tried it never trickled down through the management levels in a way that GE so needed to transform their culture.
As GE go through significant cost-cutting, reducing investments, research and development will we see a choking off of innovation? I fear so. What happens if the research and development dollar is radically cut or the talent within this area, senses threat and pressure. What does this do to the creative working environment?
As Mr. Flannery attempts to instill his planned “Accountability, Transparency, Rigor and Consistency” and his call for “getting back to basics” we will see a very different GE emerge. They are targeting $2 to $3b in cost-cutting. That is nothing on what it will have to be before the rescue is achieved. Already moves are currently underway to eliminate 1,500 jobs from the Head Office, and a suggested 4,500 from the European organization in the GE Power business. So many, many more to come, cutting into both professional and production staff. Maybe 15 to 20,000 in the months ahead. Will we see operation plants equally shut down with GE Power soon?
Job-cutting sends such a ‘chill’ message throughout the organization for a “flight or fight” reaction. The talent they have attracted might simply ‘melt’ away if they deem the culture goes back to the old GE type. This needs a light hand, not a heavy bringing down of the ax.
Are we about to enter “the death by a thousand cuts period” as internal managers view bold action differently, not experienced in a managing out of the normal, and fail to really respond to the multiple crises on hand that point increasingly to radical surgery? I fear we might.
Remember that “the enemy lies within” when you have to make a dramatic turnaround involving 280,000+ employees, spread out in a global business, that have been fed a very different message on their ‘dominating’ position. I feel they are more than likely about to learn what “agile and lean” might mean in the new GE way, and let’s see how they ‘react’ and how it is managed, will determine real, lasting change, or simply, reluctant acquiescence, waiting for further management evolution.
It is all very much to do, and GE has little “wiggle” room it seems
There is an enormous set of “What if’s” in GE, over the coming months. Nothing is certain, ever thing is uncertain, everything is to still do. The jury is out but many will want a guilty verdict if fresh evidence of change is not forthcoming. New evidence of problems will make it even harder. Everything has come into play. What is being undertaken is one of the most complex, difficult turnarounds in modern business.
Lacking any proven turn around executives that will find this unrelenting in its pressures for the next 18 to 24 months. Execution has never been the strongest at GE, they have bounced from idea to idea, layering on their version of change before it has filtered down to the rank and file. This time it has to be very different.
A turnaround needs to be a strategic transformational one
A culture of turnaround need is as demanding as anything that comes towards you as a manager. It is life changing as it seems in GE’s case, it is life-threatening. Jeff Immelt in his farewell view of “How I remade GE” commented: “I led through recessions, bubbles, and geopolitical risk. I saw at least three “black swan” events. New competitors emerged, business models changed, and we ushered in an entirely new way to invest. But we didn’t just persevere; we transformed the company. GE is well positioned to win in the future”
What he never stopped to question as deeply as he should have done, was the enemy within, those that resist change, those that chose to interpret it in their way. He should have appointed a Vice Chair of Change, who drove the change he wanted, in transforming GE, all the way through the GE organization. He had within himself this “Be All In” or “Game On” or “Let’s Go” with an enormous sense of competitiveness but he felt it was his to do, perhaps ego got in the way, so for others to follow it never was “full on” or that deep organizational commitment I felt.
In that remarkably ill-timed departure article over at HBR of “How I remade GE” his final words tell a story of promise yet to come:
“It will take years for GE to fully reap the benefits of the transformations. But as I contemplate my departure, I love where the company is positioned. I love what we’re targeting. The company in 2001 was certain that the future would look like the past. The company in 2017 is ready for any future. I’m confident that I’m handing over a company that will flourish in the 21st century. Some people at GE feel that the stock market doesn’t fully appreciate what we’ve accomplished. But I look at it this way: Our task now is just to perform, to execute, and let the market make its own judgment”.
Judgment time is here, the clock is ticking down. To flourish in the 21st century the new management tasked with this turnaround, really will need to challenge everything as the market and GE investors are certainly not in a friendly mood.
Self-belief or Delusional- we are still facing the volatile time
Immelt held a view that what people were calling GE, the 125-year-old start-up was his achievement, well that was a little delusional. They were and are slowly transforming into a digital industrial company that is defining the future of the internet of things but is it changing the very nature of the product businesses that GE are in? Nice vision, only part way there. and certainly, his claim “Change is in our DNA” was perhaps only skin deep. No one doubted his self-belief. He made the opening comment in that (farewell) article for HBR: “remaking a historic and iconic company during an extremely volatile time” seems to be exactly where we are today. The difference is that this is of GE’s own making, this time they can’t blame others, it is theirs alone to turnaround.
Turning the page with difficulty, whats next?
As we turn the page with some difficulty, I’m optimistic at the strength that lies within the cores of GE; in its people, in its research, innovation, and real resolve to forge ahead. I’m certainly pessimistic at present, I worry that there is not going to be more “bad news” discovery when Flannery not just opens up the cupboards but starts working through the piles of issues he will find that need to be unraveled and reshaped.
Will it get even uglier, not just for investors but for the employees, for the customers to worry over? Well Yes, is my feeling, in all that I have read as it gets vicious as you spiral down, with less and fewer options. Everything seems to diminish. If GE starts pairing back R&D, they will begin to see their talent leave and their renown innovation spirit dry up.
It is far from that all doom and gloom, GE has incredible products and dedicated talented employees
I want to come back and focus on GE and its incredible potential in another post soon. At present, I’m still working on my shock. GE is clearly in the middle of a storm and like anyone caught up in this, it takes time to regain your footing and beliefs, mine as an admirer, included. No, GE in its real core, its product, is far, far, too good to fail.
As it slowly attempts to dig itself out of its own hole with a new strategy, let us see if it is enough to bring it back to health. Much is returning to the basics but recognizing that the recent business model needs a radical overhaul. The hard days to turn it around are still ahead.
Like many, I have a store of goodwill and sentiment for GE. I want to see them come out the other side, recognizable. I really wish I could help as I just feel they, the management, are ill-equipped for managing relentlessly a turnaround of this complexity and magnitude.
They do need all the help they can get and some good luck that sentiment; by investors, by the markets, by their customers. all the vested stakeholders, or their own employee’s, to not make the present position that GE finds itself in, even worse. Don’t hold your breath in the coming months, it will be a tough period.
It is theirs to do, they need to fight much within themselves, open themselves up to healthy questioning internally as well as externally seeking help. As I said, the floodgates are open, will GE survive but in what eventual shape?
***My research for this offering my personal assessment was drawing down from the GE material released in recent months, from management transcripts, numerous investor and analysts assessments and many views; especially countless articles on http://www.seekingalpha.com and in trade-related papers, or individual viewpoints that I found made a contribution to my own knowledge and understanding. Errors and omissions are clearly down to me.
*** some amendments or new editing was made on 7th December 2018