Interface (IFSIA): 4Q'10 Update

On 2/23/11, Interface Inc. (IFSIA) reported a decent 4Q'10, meeting analysts' consensus expectations of $0.21 (actually beating them ever slightly).   Press Release

Overall, we have few issues with the company, so will report only key points...
  • Backlog was good (+15% Y/Y) but less than the previous quarter (+20% y/y).  This was due to inclement weather, as we're all too familiar w/ this winter.

  • The company's customer diversification strategy is tracking well.  For example, sales outside of traditional offices (such as retailers, education) picked up during the quarter.

  • Raw material costs rose about 5%, and the company is likely to raise prices.  However, given the still-weak US Consumer Economy, we don't expect the company will be able to continue such a strategy in 2011/12 unless economic growth accelerates.  Also, raw prices are likely to remain high, given Mideast Turmoil and high demand for most commodities in Emerging Markets.

  • The Chinese plant opened, but is still not profitable (as expected).  We still think this is the key plant and market to watch.  So far, both are tracking well.  While small, Emerging Markets are continuing to grow quickly and show that Interface made a wise decision to invest in a new Chinese plant.

  • However, these new investments are keeping Free Cash Flow at bay.    FCF was just $10MM for full year 2010.  As a result, FCF for 2011 may be a bit lower than I had predicted in my original Analysis (the above is due to simultaneous increase in Capex and lower operating cash flow than expected).

Note that the company reported Non-GAAP numbers, but we are of the belief that such numbers are valid given that the company had a one-time Bond Refinancing that is truly a non-recurring event.

Conclusion:  A good quarter for IFSIA, would have been even better, if well, Mother Nature was in a better mood.  Looking forward to continued momentum on existing trends.

Crowdsourcing for Congressional Fairness


Blow the Whistle, a campaign to expose a senator who manipulated congressional rules to thwart the legislative process, combines crowdsourcing with traditional grassroots political activism. The joint effort of NPR program On the Mediaand the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Blow the Whistle is a response to a secret hold placed on The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act just hours before the 111th session of congress ended. The bill–which protected government employees who reported “illegality, waste and corruption”–had been back in the Senate awaiting reconciliation after passing in both the House and the Senate. Because the congressional session was about to end, the hold effectively killed the bill. It would have to be reintroduced and moved through the entire legislative process again in order to pass.

In an attempt to ferret out the anonymous senator, On the Media published the contact information for all 87 active US senators, and challenged listeners to contact representatives to ask point blank, “Did you kill this bill?” Listeners were to report back with any response they received, which the radio program then published. As of January 29th, On the Media confirmed that, thanks to emails from hundreds of participating listeners, 55 senators had publicly stated that they were not responsible for the secret hold.

Meanwhile, the Senate, perhaps motivated by the onslaught of calls and emails from constituents, took matters into its own hands. After reconvening in January, the Senate voted 92-4 in favor of reforming the rules for secret holds, making it harder to use them to sabotage the legislative process. Now, a senator must take credit for a hold on the Congressional Record within two days of placing it. If a hold goes unacknowledged, “the hold would then automatically be attributed to the party leader” or another senator suspected of placing the hold “at a colleagues’ request.”

Though Blow the Whistle continues, it may never catch the slippery senator. Nevertheless, the campaign did demonstrate how crowdsourcing could be successfully used in political activism. In what other way could crowdsourcing galvanize the public into political action? What made Blow the Whistle so successful at getting listeners to take action? What other activist campaigns have successfully employed crowdsourcing?

While British government cuts and restructures foreign Aid - Obama and Susan Rice have no plan what to do with American Foreign Aid

UK 'to end direct aid to 16 countries'

The UK is to stop direct aid to 16 countries, including Russia, China and Iraq, papers seen by the BBC suggest.

A draft copy of a government review of its £7.8bn overseas aid budget - to be published this week - also reveals assistance for India will be frozen.

But, overall, the international development budget will rise by a third in this parliament, it says.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said spending would be a "good deal better focused".

The government's draft report states that aid spending is good for Britain's economy and safety.

Malaria deaths

It also outlines plans for greater transparency and accountability, with an emphasis on funding programmes that deliver greater results and which, specifically, help girls and women.

Resources will be concentrated on the 27 countries that account for three-quarters of the world's maternal mortality and malaria deaths, such as Ghana and Afghanistan.


  • Angola
  • Bosnia
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Gambia
  • Indonesia
  • Iraq
  • Kosovo
  • Lesotho
  • Moldova
  • Niger
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Vietnam
  • Source: Department for International Development document seen by BBC

By 2014, 30% of UK aid is expected to go to war-torn and unstable countries.

India is currently one of the biggest recipients of UK development aid, and there have been media campaigns in the UK suggesting an economy growing at nearly 10% a year simply does not need British assistance.

But others point out that nearly half a billion people in India are still desperately poor, and efforts to reduce global poverty will not progress without significant aid.

Mr Mitchell told BBC One's Politics Show: "The fact is that, if we want to reach our Millennium Development Goals, which we have set for 2015, we have to operate where poverty is greatest.

"We think that the international aid projects can be a good deal better focused."

Mr Mitchell said there were no plans at present to supply aid to Libya, as the country, while in political turmoil, was not facing a "humanitarian crisis".

But supplies would be available at "six hours' notice", if needed, he added.

While other departments saw their budgets cut in last autumn's spending review, the Department for International Development was spared.

However, Labour claims it has had to contribute to areas outside its remit, including picking up £2m of the bill for the Pope's visit to the UK last year.

Shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman said: "We don't either want to see them subsuming aid activities into military activities and neither do we want to see other government departments that are feeling the spending squeeze using the Department for International Development as the hole-in-the-wall like they did for getting money for the Pope's visit."

On Saturday, it emerged that the UK is threatening to switch funding away from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization - which focuses on longer-term projects, such as providing seeds and tools for agriculture - unless its performance improves.

Instead, more funding could go to the World Food Programme, which deals with emergency food aid around the globe.

Obama's Contribution climb to 27.14% for Financing peacekeeping at the United Nations

While decisions about establishing, maintaining or expanding a peacekeeping operation are taken by the Security Council, the financing of UN Peacekeeping operations is the collective responsibility of all UN Member States.

A female peacekeeper wearing a blue helmet standing in front of a UN airplane.

UN Photo/Marie Frechon

UNAMID holds a ceremony in Nyala, Sudan, to celebrate the arrival of five tactical helicopters from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Pictured is one of the long-awaited helicopters.

Every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share towards peacekeeping. This is in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations.

The General Assembly apportions peacekeeping expenses based on a special scale of assessments under a complex formula that Member States themselves have established. This formula takes into account, among other things, the relative economic wealth of Member States, with the five permanent members of the Security Council required to pay a larger share because of their special responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The General Assembly reaffirmed these and other general principles underlying the financing of peacekeeping operations inresolution 55/235 PDF Document (23 December 2000)

More on how UN Peacekeeping is financed.

See the scale of assessments applicable to UN peacekeeping operations in the selected General Assembly documents.

How much does peacekeeping cost?

The budget for UN Peacekeeping operations for the fiscal year 1 July 2010-30 June 2011 is about $7.83 billion [A/C.5/65/15] PDF Document.

By way of comparison, this is less than half of one per cent of world military expenditures in 2009.

The estimated cost of all UN Peacekeeping operations from 1948 to June 2010 amounts to about $69 billion.

The top 10 providers of assessed contributions to United Nations Peacekeeping operations in 2011-2012 [A/64/220] PDF Document are:

  1. United States (27.14%)
  2. Japan (12.53%)
  3. United Kingdom (8.15%)
  4. Germany (8.02%)
  5. France (7.55%)
  6. Italy (5.00%)
  7. China (3.93%)
  8. Canada (3.21%)
  9. Spain (3.18%)
  10. Republic of Korea (2.26%)

Many countries have also voluntarily made additional resources available to support UN Peacekeeping efforts on a non-reimbursable basis in the form of transportation, supplies, personnel and financial contributions above and beyond their assessed share of peacekeeping costs.

Although the payment of peacekeeping assessments is mandatory, as of 31 January 2011, Member States owed approximately $3.72 billion in current and back peacekeeping dues.

Approved resources for peacekeeping operations in selected General Assembly documents.

How are resources budgeted?

Budgets of peacekeeping operations are based on the missions’ mandate from the Security Council. As such, they are strategic documents aligning resources to achieve the overall objectives of the operation.

Each peacekeeping operation has its own budget and account which includes operational costs such as transport and logistics and staff costs such as salaries.

The peacekeeping budget cycle runs from 1 July to 30 June. This cycle is rarely aligned with the Security Council mandate; however budgets are prepared for 12 months based on of the most current mandate of the operation.

The Secretary-General submits budget proposal to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). The ACABQ reviews the proposal and makes recommendations to the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee for its review and approval. Ultimately, the budget is endorsed by the General Assembly as a whole.

At the end of the financial cycle, each peacekeeping operation prepares and submits a performance report which shows the actual use of resources. This report is also considered and approved by the General Assembly.

More on the process of establishing peacekeeping operation budget.

How are peacekeepers compensated?

The UN has no military forces of its own, and Member States provide, on a voluntary basis, the military and police personnelrequired for each peacekeeping operation.

Peacekeeping soldiers are paid by their own Governments according to their own national rank and salary scale. Countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a flat rate of a little over US$1,028 per soldier per month, as most recently approved by the General Assembly in 2002.

Police and other civilian personnel are paid from the peacekeeping budgets established for each operation.

The UN also reimburses Member States for providing equipment, personnel and support services to military or police contingents.

Selected General Assembly documents regulating the scale of assessments applicable to United Nations Peacekeeping operations
31 December 2009Implementation of General Assembly resolutions 55/235 and 55/236 - AddendumA/64/220/Add.1
23 September 2009Implementation of General Assembly resolution 55/235 and 55/236A/64/220*
6 July 2007Report of the Committee on ContributionsA/62/11(Supp)
27 December 2006Implementation of General Assembly resolutions 55/235 and 55/236A/61/139/Add.1
6 September 2006Implementation of General Assembly resolutions 55/235 and 55/236 - Corr.1A/61/139/Corr.1
13 July 2006Implementation of General Assembly resolutions 55/235 and 55/236A/61/139
27 June 2006Report of the Committee on ContributionsA/61/11
17 December 2003Implementation of General Assembly Resolutions 55/235 and 55/236 - AddendumA/58/157/Add.1
15 July 2003Implementation of General Assembly Resolutions 55/235 and 55/236A/58/157
1 March 2001Information on the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 55/235 and 55/236A/C.5/55/38
30 January 2001Scale of assessments for the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations Peacekeeping operationsA/RES/55/235
29 January 2001Voluntary movements in connection with the apportionment of the expenses of United Nations Peacekeeping OperationsA/RES/55/236
Selected General Assembly documents relating to the approved resources for UN Peacekeeping operations
7 February 2011Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011A/C.5/65/15
13 July 2010Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011A/C.5/64/19
22 January 2010Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010A/C.5/64/15
4 August 2009Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010A/C.5/63/26
1 May 2009Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009A/C.5/63/23
31 January 2008Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008A/C.5/62/23
15 January 2007Approved resources for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007A/C.5/61/18

* All documents above are in PDF format.

United Nations, UNDP, Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua the only places where Gaddafi's still a friend

MEXICO CITY—Most of the world's leaders have condemned Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi for unleashing a brutal repression that has killed hundreds of his fellow countrymen. But he is still being supported by Latin America's most autocratic leftist leaders, with whom he has longstanding ties.

Cuba's retired dictator Fidel Castro said this week it was too early to criticize Libya's government and warned of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization invasion of Libya he claimed was being orchestrated by U.S. "imperialism."

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the former Sandinista revolutionary, has been telephoning Mr. Gadhafi to express his solidarity against Libyan rebels.

The ...


The ABC's of TED's Mission

TED is a non-profit and social venture that has captured a lot of excitement and interest around the world.  Thousands of individuals, businesses, philanthropy, education and causes have benefited from TED's mission of spreading knowledge, information and ideas.  Many social entrepreneurs have spoken at TED and companies like Socks For Happy People, which we have profiled here, promote the TED talks, as a source of inspiration. The TED Fellows program helps support innovators  from all around the world in pursuing their projects with the goal of helping them achieve more impact in changing the world.

I was having lunch the other day with a friend who is a licensee for TEDxYouth. She was about to go to the pre-conference for licensees before the big TED conference 2011 in Long Beach, which starts Feb. 28th and runs through March 4th. We were brainstorming ideas about how to describe the value of TED, more specifically the value of  "Spreading Ideas", and even more specifically the value to young people, who are being exposed to ideas everyday in schools already. We were throwing around a bunch of different words, like "inspire others", "change the world"- although very true, but somewhat stereotypical and overused.

So I decided to ponder this question some more and started to brainstorm a list of reasons why I think the ideas at TED conferences are truly worth spreading.

Their mission, that of "Ideas Worth Spreading"  does so much more than spread just ideas, it spreads everything from-well-from  A to Z.

Action. More and more people are crediting TED for their taking action and helping them to start a career, a business, a non-profit, or a movement. Check out the TED conversation: Has TED Talk ever influenced you? 
Brains. There is scientific evidence that learning something new develops new neural pathways in brains.
Creativity. Many of the talks at TED are about the creative process and truly inspire others in their creative endeavors. Elizabeth Gilbert's talk is one of the most popular TED talks of all time, certainly one of mine, and has personally changed my relationship with my creative process.

Discovery. The world has so many wonders that not even all the TED conferences can bring them to light, but it is a great place to go find them.
Energy. A really good idea generates energy that builds momentum around it and spreads like wildfire. 
Fun. Yes, let's have more fun, and see others have it too! Gosh I couldn't stop smiling when I watched the young Bollywood dancers at the TEDxYouth conference I attended.
Genius or Greatness. ( it's a tie) There is something special about being in the presence of greatness. It really does rub off a little.
Health. Bill Gates keeps coming back to speak at the TED conference about his idea of eradicating malaria- Ideas truly can help save lives of millions of people.
Influence. A good idea can influence important people or masses of people to create change.
Joy. Pure joy of feeling alive and part of the wondrous world.
Knowledge. By definition, knowledge is the acquisition of facts and ideas. So by spreading ideas, TED also gives the opportunity to gain knowledge.
Love.What's love got to do with it? Well philanthropy is the love of mankind and you can just feel the love for humanity and for what it can be at TED.
Motivation. Motivation, the drive that keeps people going in spite of obstacles, after they get inspired.
Newness. Bringing together ideas that are new and fresh that spark innovation.
Opportunities. Opening up all the possibilities that any one person can do.
Power. Ideas give people the power to take action. Look at the power of democracy.
Questions. The more you learn the more you ask questions, and the more you learn.
Results. Ideas are provocative in that they motivate people to achieve results.
Society. Great societies have been built on great ideas. Just think about the United States and how it was founded based on some fundamental ideas and principles.
Truth. Embedded in ideas are truths that are fundamental to life.
Understanding . How the world works and what humanity is about.
Well-being. Studies have shown that well-being around the world is based on such factors as freedom, learning, health, work, security. TED helps spread ideas about well being around the world and how to achieve it. 
Values. Many of topics at TED touch upon important values like peace, kindness, and helps spread them.
X-explore. Ideas give the opportunity to explore the world and to learn about ourselves and others.
Yes! Positive attitudes like enthusiasm and excitement for new ideas. As the world seems to become increasingly more cynical, its wonderful to see enthusiasm for such a broad range of ideas.
ZZZ's You can sleep better at night knowing that there are people out there doing amazing and wondrous things to make the world a better place to live.

Thank you TED for making the world a better place to live by spreading ideas that are worth spreading-and so much more, even if you have heard it a thousand times.

Italy drops Gaddafi


Helen Clark's slogans cannot change reality of the Organization, which remains corrupt and a tool for dictators.

@ @ - Fantastic words - but you haven't been able to prove them in reality. You've failed to institutionalize CHANGE.