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Opening Bell: 8.16.16

Investors dip toes back in Iraq; Elon Musk can't top setting lofty goals, failing to achieve them; Cops say woman repeatedly kicked boyfriend in face after he refused to have sex with her; and more.
By Heisenberg Media (Flickr: Elon Musk - The Summit 2013) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

Musk Sets Lofty Goals at Tesla, Often Falls Short (WSJ)
“I have never set a goal which I know is unrealistic, unless I have specifically said I know it’s unrealistic,” said Mr. Musk, 45 years old, in an interview. Earlier this month, he committed to boosting Tesla’s weekly output more than 50% by the end of this year compared with the first half of 2016. Few chief executives aim as high or push as hard as Mr. Musk, also the chairman and largest shareholder of Tesla, which is growing faster than General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. and is worth $34 billion in stock-market value. That’s about one-third of the two traditional auto makers combined. In the past five years, though, Tesla has fallen short of more than 20 projections made by Mr. Musk, ranging from car-production output to financial targets, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. The company missed 10 of his stated goals by an average of nearly a year.

Tesla will have 40 rivals by 2021: Tesla bear (CNBC)
"Tesla has absolutely nothing sustainably proprietary, nothing," said Mark Spiegel of Stanphyl Capital on Monday's edition of "Closing Bell." "Yet it is losing a massive amount of money with zero direct long-range electric car competition." And soon it will have direct competition for every product it has, from charging, to Autopilot, to battery technology to cars, he said. By 2018 or 2019, Mercedes will roll out four electric cars, Porsche and Audi will both have two, and Jaguar and Bentley will have one each, Spiegel said. On the mass market end, Ford is expected to have two models; Volkswagen, five; Hyundai, two. "By 2021 every single manufacturer will have" an electric car, Spiegel said. "Tesla will go from zero direct competitors to 40 direct competitors," he said.

Some International Investors Cautiously Return to Iraq (WSJ)
After disruptive anti-corruption protests earlier this year, a degree of stability has returned to parliament. Weak oil prices that sapped its economy have staged a fragile recovery. And Iraqi forces have beaten back Islamic State to just a few pockets in the country, most recently driving them from Fallujah and Ramadi. Since then, interest in the country from serious investors has increased, said Mudher Salih, a former senior central bank official who advises Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on financial policy. “After Fallujah and Ramadi everything changed,” he said. Part of that change is foreign capital, and deal-scouting executives are cautiously returning to Iraq and improving its business outlook.

Icahn Calls on EPA to Fix ‘Mother of All Short Squeezes’ (Bloomberg)
A surge in government-backed ethanol blending credits has billionaire investor Carl Icahn worried that independent refiners like CVR Energy Inc., in which he owns an 82 percent stake, will be bankrupted by the “rigged” marketplace. "The RIN market will cause a number of refinery bankruptcies," Icahn wrote in an Aug. 9 letter to Environmental Protection Agency administrators Gina McCarthy and Janet McCabe obtained by Bloomberg. “The domino effect of this will be that ‘big’ oil will sop up the bankrupt refineries, causing an oligopoly resulting in skyrocketing gasoline prices.”

Brazilian divers allegedly split after one kicks other out of room to have marathon sex session with canoeist (NYDN)
Ingrid Oliveira and Giovanna Pedroso won’t compete together again after 20-year-old Oliveira kicked her partner out of their Olympic Village room for an alleged late-night sex session, according to Brazilian paper O Globo. Pedroso, 16, was reportedly booted from their shared room so Oliveira could spend the night with Brazilian canoeist Pedro Goncalves. The pair finished in last place the next day in the 10m platform competition, more than 70 points behind China, and Pedroso dumped her partner soon after. “After the Olympics, I will focus on my individual,” she told O Globo. “It's good because I will not need to depend on anyone. Then I will be able to improve and evolve more.”

SEC halts trading of Neuromama on 'potentially manipulative' transactions (Reuters)
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said on Monday it had halted trading in shares of Neuromama Ltd (NERO.PK) because of certain concerns including "potentially manipulative" transactions. The SEC also cited "the identity of the people in charge of the company", as well as the "accuracy and adequacy of information in the marketplace" as reasons for halting the stock. The company, which distributes inflatable games and water slides, has a market value of about $35 billion.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Increases Bet on Apple (WSJ)
Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway sharply increased its bet on Apple Inc. during the second quarter, bringing its stake in the iPhone maker to roughly $1.5 billion.

Central Banks Could Be This Market’s Pets.com (WSJ)
The theoretical justification for higher prices now, as it was then, comes from the dividend discount model. This states that the value of a stock is the total of all future dividends, discounted back into today’s money. The bubble mentality of the dot-com era made earnings forecasts all but redundant, but the hope was for big profits one day, which eventually translate into dividends to justify the price. Something radically different is under way at the moment. Pessimism has depressed bond yields, reducing the discount rate and so making even fairly stagnant future profits look more attractive in today’s money. Higher prices are justified, without needing much in the way of earnings growth.

Cops: Woman, 34, Repeatedly Kicked Boyfriend In Face After He Refused To Have Sex With Her (TSG)
According to an arrest affidavit, Jennifer Furguson, 34, sought a 6:30 AM tryst Wednesday with her beau inside the couple’s Port St. Lucie residence. The victim, who has been in a relationship with Furguson for two years, told police that “Jennifer became upset at him when he refused to have sex with her this morning.” After being rejected, Furguson began kicking her boyfriend in the face “while he was laying on the bed,” investigators charge. Responding officers noted that the man had “significant swelling to his right cheek bone and redness to his left cheek bone.”

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