Does Homeopathic Medicine Work?

Have you ever heard of homeopathy? You probably have, but have no idea what it really is. Homeopathy is a system of medicine that treats an illness or condition with highly diluted concentrations of natural ingredients that mimic the symptoms of the condition being treated. It seems like an odd premise, but in spite of the unusual mechanism behind it, it is a very effective method for treating disease.

How do you cure someone of an illness by giving that person a tiny concentration of something that actually causes the illness? According to proponents of the science, homeopathy not only works, but works better than conventional medicine. They say that somewhere along the line the pharmaceutical industry got involved in medicine, at which point natural remedies were abandoned in favor of chemical formulations.

If you browse through your local pharmacy, you will notice that there are actually quite a few products in the Cold & Flu aisle that are homeopathic. The easiest way to to find out if a product you are interested in is homeopathic is to read the label on the back and take a look at the ingredients. In homeopathy, all of the ingredients are diluted, so each ingredient in a homeopathic product has the letter X or C after it.

So, if one of the ingredients is Zinc 20X, that means the product contains Zinc that has been diluted 20 times. One of the most popular cold medicines on the market, Zicam, is actually a homeopathic remedy that consists of nothing more than homeopathic zinc in a nasal gel. Most people that use Zicam do not even realize that it is a homeopathic product.

There are homeopathic remedies available for almost any condition you can think of. Cold, flu, allergy, even bedwetting; there is a homeopathic remedy available for almost every condition. Homeopathy is universally recognized as being safe because the ingredients are always natural substances diluted many times over.

The big drug companies claim that any relief felt from the application of a homeopathic medicine can be attributed to the placebo effect. And, because the FDA does not require homeopathic products to undergo a clinical trial before being sold to the public, the detractors feel that homeopathy is junk science. So, is homeopathy a bunch of hodgepodge, or does it really work?

In my opinion, it works. There have been several clinical trials done over the years to test the efficacy of homeopathic products. Liddell Laboratories makes a product called Vital HGH which contains homeopathic HGH. Vital HGH is designed to treat the symptoms of aging and/or a rundown condition. In a small clinical trial performed years ago, a group of test subjects who were deficient in human growth hormone, ranging in age from 45 years and up, were given the Vital HGH formulation.

The results speak for themselves. During the five month clinical trial, the levels of HGH in the blood increased in every test subject, and more than doubled the average level of HGH. I personally have used homeopathic remedies to treat my allergies, and not only do they work, but they seem to prevent the symptoms from returning for an extended period of time.

The main reason why big drug manufacturers try to downplay the effectiveness of homeopathic medicines is so they will not have to make them. Most homeopathic products are incredibly cheap to manufacture and the profit margins are extremely small. A prescribed conventional medicine costs a lot more.

If the public began demanding natural, homeopathic remedies for their ailments, drug companies would have to make these kinds of products to stay in business, and then their revenues would tumble and their profits would shrink.

Imagine if Pfizer had to stop manufacturing Viagra, which they sell at $20-$30 per pill, and instead make a homeopathic product that would retail for only $20 for a one month supply. That is why drug companies often spend significant money to debunk claims that homeopathy works, using misinformation tactics to instill a belief in the public that homeopathy is a sham. This simply is not true. Homeopathy works, and is much more affordable.

Conventional medicines are still necessary because sometimes homeopathy does not work for each and every individual. But, next time you go to the pharmacy, take a look at some of the homeopathic brands on the shelf and give them a whirl. For common ailments that are not life threatening, homeopathy is probably a cheaper and more effective alternative.

Jim Pretin

New Study: Strong Growth in the Polypropylene Market

The body of the new Smart “Fortwo” is, for the first time, being manufactured entirely from Polypropylene (PP), and similarly, the bumpers and dashboard of the new Fiat 500. This most versatile of plastics is constantly being used in an increasing amount of applications. Whether used in ice-trays, drinking straws, washing machines, furniture, sporting goods, luggage, diapers, or syringes; polypropylene is everywhere. As a light, easily recyclable material, it saves weight and is often environmentally friendly. PP is increasingly being used as a substitute for other, relatively expensive plastics. 

Asian Pacific is Growing Rapidly

Especially in China and India, new factories are constantly being developed: Within the next five years, manufacturing capacities in both countries will be expanded by more than 7.5 million tons. Despite rising prices, the strong demand from the packing and automotive industries, as well as from other growing sectors, such as the construction industry, has led to a continuous increase in the consumption of PP.

The Middle East is Becoming a Major Supplier

Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States want to become suppliers of more than just raw materials. Large PP production facilities are being constructed in order to provide high-priced end products. PP manufacturing capacities will more than double within the next five years. Although domestic demand within the Arab nations continues to remain low, export values will be superior. The Middle East is progressing to become one of the most important suppliers of PP. 

Challenges for North America and Western Europe

Throughout Canada, the United States, and Western Europe, small PP factories with capacities of less than 200,000 tons will continue to be closed. As a result of this, over the next few years the importance of these countries as PP exporting nations will continue to diminish. Since market prices are higher as compared to China or Saudi Arabia, for example, traditional PP manufacturers are faced with significant challenges. In order to develop innovative products, they need to improve the efficiency of production through better manufacturing methods, expanded distribution networks, a greater range of services for customers, and closer cooperation with the manufacturing industry.

Worldwide Growth

As the newest study from Ceresana Research shows, in recent years, the worldwide PP market carried a volume of 45 million tons and a value of approximately 65 billion US-Dollars (47.4 billion Euros). During the next few years, there will be a considerable increase in PP capacities and an improved supply of the preliminary product, propylene. However, cost pressures are rising as a result of higher prices for raw materials, energy, and transportation. The market research company is expecting that PP revenues will more than double by 2016, on account of higher prices and greater sales volumes.

The polypropylene market study provides 900 pages of essential data on this rapidly growing market. It offers 100 company profiles for current and future manufacturers around the world, and development within 64 nations is clearly detailed in specific country profiles. Additionally, it provides information about technical characteristics and application areas with regard to the different varieties of PP, and also gives an overview of relevant laws and environmental regulations. The market report is now available in English or German, exclusively from Ceresana Research:


About Ceresana Research

As an independent market research company, we are among the worldwide leading specialists for commodities as well as the chemical and manufacturing industries. Our multi-user market studies and individually commissioned reports provide the foundation for strategic decisions for our clients. Through the combination of competence, experience, innovation and quality, our customers receive high-value knowledge on which to base their decisions. Our clients from more than 40 countries include well-known retail and industrial companies in the most diverse markets as well as renowned institutes and organisations.

Further information:

Ceresana Research

Blarerstr. 56, 78462 Konstanz, Germany

Tel.: 49 7531 94293 0, Fax: 49 7531 94293 27

Press contact: Martin Ebner, M.A.,

Visit us at 

Martin Ebner

Why Your Business Should Consider Forum Publishing

Forums are one of the most popular things on the web today. There are many reasons why you might consider Texas web designers to do forum publishing for you as a part of your marketing plan. This can help you with your site ranking, create relevant content for your site, and create many links back to your online business.

Forums are places where people who use the Internet today like to go to discuss issues that they think are important. They provide a place for people to meet other people who are interested in the same things they are. Forums are places where people actually read the information posted and they are allowed to make comments and post what they think on them too. Texas web designers have recognized that a forum is the best place to go when marketing efforts need to take place to help a business.

Forum publishing is when you post articles and content about your business inside of the forum. The articles usually include direct links that will take the readers straight to your website so they can see what you are all about. Users want direct links because they are convenient. You have a better chance of a user clicking on a link inside of an article than you do opening a search engine and searching for you. A direct link provides exactly what the user wants to see because they can quickly decide if they like your site or not.

Forum publishing is an excellent way to improve your site ranking. Texas web designers know which forums are the right ones for your business. When the right forums are targeted the correct audience is being reached. This is an audience who already has an interest in the products and services that you offer. This means you have a better chance of users clicking on the integrated links. This will increase the traffic to your online business. When you increase your traffic, you improve your site rank significantly. A better site rank means you will be trusted more by the online communities also.

Relevant content for your site is very important. It adds keywords that people type into search engines which will bring users back to you. If you have irrelevant content you might have people who are searching for Christmas trees end up at your candle retail site. Relevant content means interested users. That also means an increase in revenue too. Users can comment on your articles in the forums which will add to the content too.

Texas web designers is an excellent place to go if you are looking for one of the newest marketing technologies on the web; forum publishing. They know how to create the best content that is relevant and will attract users to click on the links. You will experience higher traffic, better ranking, and higher revenues. This is the newest way to market a business at a very low cost and it is proving to be extremely successful.

Jordan FeRoss

New Study From Ceresana Research: Change in the Global Hdpe Market

Whether in carrying bags, bottle caps, or buckets: We use high density polyethylene (HDPE) daily. One third of all toys are manufactured from this thermoplast. Less often seen, but nevertheless vital goods produced from HDPE include water pipes, gas mains, oil tanks, and geomembranes. The lightweight, non-toxic material is easily recyclable and is increasingly being utilized as an alternative for less environmentally friendly substances. A new study from Ceresana Research now closely examines this important plastic market.

The Growing HDPE Market

During the past year, the global HDPE market reached a volume of more than 30 million tons. This is after attaining 22 million tons in the year 2000. Worldwide demand for HDPE is primarily influenced by rapidly growing industries, especially those of packing and construction. Even though North America and Western Europe continued to account for about 44% of global demand during 2007, the Asia-Pacific region is constantly propelling more worldwide growth, and will, in large part, drive future HDPE revenue increases. East European countries (especially Russia) are benefiting from substantial growth rates and currently possess a market volume of approximately 2.5 million tons. Ceresana Research expects HDPE revenues to nearly double by 2016, as a result of increased sales volumes and higher prices.

The Asian Pacific is Expanding Market Share

The Asian Pacific’s share of worldwide HDPE demand has risen from 31% in the year 2000, to more than 35% in 2007. China’s manufacturing industry comes in first place followed by those in India, Japan, and South Korea. Producers of HDPE in the region profit from rapidly growing Asian markets, even in relatively smaller countries, such as Malaysia, and from export opportunities in North America and Western Europe. The HDPE manufacturing industries in previously established nations are migrating more and more to fast growing and cost effective countries in Asia. One anomaly is the production of fibers: Only about 5% of global HDPE demand fell on this sector, but it is principally concentrated in the Asian Pacific region.

The Middle East Aspires to Reach the Top

Throughout the Middle Eastern countries, demand for plastic is consistently increasing, along with production: The Gulf States no longer want to exclusively export petroleum, but also want to offer global market products with a higher added value. Since the year 2000, production of HDPE has increased more than 20% per year, whereby a large portion was accounted for by Saudi Arabia. There is no end in sight for this rapid development: Until the year 2013, projects are planned throughout the Middle East with a total capacity of 6.9 million tons. These developments are expected to make this region the most important supplier of HDPE in the world. 

What will Become of Western Europe and North America?

In contrast to the Middle East, only minor expansions in capacity are planned for Western Europe and North America, whereby most new production facilities will replace older ones. Smaller factories will increasingly be abandoned here, but also within the remaining regions. In the future, established manufacturers of HDPE need to create more innovative products and efficient production technologies in order to compete with new suppliers. 

Many HDPE Application Areas are Growing

SubstantiallyMilk bottles and other hollow goods manufactured through blow molding are the most important application area for HDPE – More than 8 million tons, or nearly one third of worldwide production, was applied here. Above all, China, where beverage bottles made from HDPE were first imported in 2005, is a growing market for rigid HDPE packaging, as a result of its improving standard of living. In India and other highly populated, emerging nations, infrastructure is being expanded – not without pipes and cable insulation made from HDPE. The environmentally friendly material has benefited from discussions about possible health and environmental problems caused by PVC, or as the case may be, its advantages over glass, metal and cardboard.

The Most Comprehensive Worldwide Market Study for HDPE

The Polyethylene Market Study – HDPE offers 900 pages of quintessential information on this rapidly growing market. It provides 100 company profiles for current and future manufacturers throughout the world, and shows detailed development of 65 Nations with several country profiles. In addition, this valuable composition informs the reader about technical characteristics, manufacturing, and recycling for this plastic. The Study explains, in detail, a variety of application areas for HDPE and gives an overview of relevant laws and environmental regulations. This market report is available immediately in English or German, exclusively from Ceresana Research:

About Ceresana Research

As an independent market research company, we are among the worldwide leading specialists for commodities as well as the chemical and manufacturing industries. Our multi-user market studies and individually commissioned reports provide the foundation for strategic decisions for our clients. Through the combination of competence, experience, innovation and quality, our customers receive high-value knowledge on which to base their decisions. Our clients from more than 40 countries include well-known retail and industrial companies in the most diverse markets as well as renowned institutes and organisations. 

Further information:

Ceresana Research

Blarerstr. 56, 78462 Konstanz, Germany.

Tel.: 49 7531 94293 0, Fax: 49 7531 94293 27

Press contact: Martin Ebner, M.A.,

 Visit us at

Martin Ebner

Image Sun Tanning Centers Bring a Glow to Your Skin and Your Bank Account

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) November 23, 2008 – Looking our best is more than a trend as more and more people have taken a greater interest in their personal health appearance. No longer just a matter for individual longevity, but as a way to giving yourself an edge in an ever increasingly competitive market place whether it’s to get the job in the first place or jump ahead for the promotion.

Just as a fashionable suit or tailored dress can make the difference in superiority of your looks, a healthy looking tanned skinned body tells the world you are vibrant, in top form and look like success.

Image Sun Tanning Centers have been providing an oasis of indoor tanning beds that cater to the person who understands to look your best, will make you do your best. At Image Sun you can find a wide variety of equipment to give you a beautiful and friendly tanning experience. Set in a clean, up-scale atmosphere, the Image Sun Tanning Center locations bring the best part of the sun right where you want it; in a comfortable and sand-free salon that pampers your body the way it should be.

The tanning industry has never been better as the need for convenient and clean tanning beds and centers have grown each year. Even in tough economic times people still need to look and feel good about themselves and nothing says inner peace like an outer glow.

Taking a look at the numbers it’s easy to see why owning an Image Sun Tanning Center franchise make good business sense. Let’s start with the market itself.

Over the last decade the tanning salon business has risen in both locations and revenues. The industry has jumped to over $7 billion dollars and is one of the biggest growth industries in the United States. Recent projections for small businesses have shown that the tanning bed businesses are going to continue to streak upwards hitting over 50% of increased production by the end of the century. Tanning bed salon businesses are just one of the many small businesses in this country that are the hallmark of the American Dream and represent 40% of all retail sales accounted for in the consumer market.

Owning a business, whether it’s an original concept store or franchise can be a daunting task. The people at Image Sun Tanning Centers have perfected the art of the franchise by creating a system that incorporates all the ingredients to make a successful business. From site selection to operational procedures, Image Sun knows what it takes to build a business and keep it successful.

The vision of tanning bed salon franchise ownership can be a reality but there are numerous things to consider. This is why Image Sun takes each perspective owner through an entire course to understand and become educated in the areas of location evaluation, construction principles, lease negotiations as well as getting into the details of the day to day operations.

Proper planning makes for perfect execution. Every small business that has failed has done so more because of a lack of pre-meditated business forecasting. Image Sun Tanning Centers have taken the guess work and inexperience out of the equation of owning and operating your very own tanning bed salon.

Every Image Sun Tanning Center salon is more than just a small business; it becomes part of the community and just as important, part of the Image Sun Tanning Center family.

For more information about owning and operating your very own Image Sun Tanning Center business click on their web site at or contact them direct at 888-LOOK-GR8.


How do retail/commercial banks make money?

It would be great if you could also add what percentage of their revenue comes from each segment. I just feel like I’m not getting something beyond that they lend money at a higher rate than they pay you for storing it. Thanks!

Banks do so much more than lend and store money. Services offered also plays a role in how a bank makes money. In the bank I worked for the money maker was the Trust and Investments Department. Peoples pay big bucks for financial management. Not only are they responsible for making sound investments for the customer but they are also responsible for making sure every aspect of the customers life is taken care of. I even picked out the clothing someone was buried in.

Banks also make money off of each other. Smaller rural banks only exist due to the larger banks. The rural banks don’t have the capital to support most lending and most be backed by a larger financial institution. It’s called correspondent banking.

Other money makers include return check fees, lock-box services, business accounts, retirement planning services, farm management services. There are really many income sources, especially for a larger bank. Hope that helps.

What is a Self Funded Proposal?

A well structured self funded proposal is a self sustaining marketing tool that generates profits for a business. These profits can be used to off set the cost of marketing, allowing the business to advertise and grow.

Creating a properly structured self funded proposal is not something a beginning marketer should attempt, however. The best way to deploy a self funded proposal is through a proven and established network marketing system that has already been thought out and refined. There are a lot of moving pieces to a fully functional self funded proposal, and if any of those pieces are out of whack, the whole system breaks down.

The self funded proposal somewhat resembles what a bricks-and-mortar retail business calls a loss leader, an inexpensively priced item that lures customers into the store, where they will (in theory at least) continue to spend money on other, more expensive items. The hurdle that a loss leader tries to overcome in a bricks-and-mortar setting is location. People have to get in their car and physically visit the business. A compelling loss leader entices them to do this.

Internet marketers, however, face other challenges, the most serious of which is credibility. The first time a person visits a website, they may not be ready to part with their hard earned cash, especially for relatively expensive information products. In a well-executed self funded proposal, site visitors hit the landing page and then a capture page where their personal information is submitted. From there they receive an offer they can’t refuse, an inexpensively priced offer that’s chock full of value. Done correctly, this builds sufficient confidence for the customer to spring for what is called the back end sale, the primary product or service that the business offers.

In a well-executed marketing system, there should be a very high percentage of site visitors who buy the first, or front end, product. This front end revenue, almost like up front commissions, allows the marketer to put some money in the bank and continue marketing the back end, higher profit products. The concept is basic but the application can be difficult. Getting all of the pieces in place requires outstanding copywriting skills and significant internet marketing expertise. For this reason, beginning network marketers should consider an affiliation with a proven and profitable network marketing system that can begin generating revenues immediately.

Eduardo Hernandez

Great Plains Partner Newsflash: Frx Reporting

Microsoft Dynamics GP ERP is very popular in USA, Canada, South and Central America, Caribbean among midsize businesses in Manufacturing, Services, Distribution, Pharmaceutical, Wholesale and Retail, Healthcare, Placement, Project Organization, Non-profit and other industries.  It supports both ERP and MRP functionality, where its production modules suit fits to discrete manufacturing.  Light manufacturing could be implemented directly in GP bill of materials module.  There are several reporting tools, recommended for Great Plains: Report Writer, SQL Server Reporting Services, Crystal Reports, and of course, if you need powerful link to General Ledger, FRx reports is recommended.  In this small publication we would like to give you FRx introduction:

1.       Installing FRx.  For Great Plains Dynamics GP version 10.0 you will need to install FRx 6.7 with Service Pack 9.  Please download Service pack from your Dynamics GP Partner Source for your customers.  Please, note – FRx installation media is separate CD and you can not find it on Great Plains CD #1 and 2.  FRx requires its own registration keys: Serial Number, Authorization and Registration Number(s).  Keys are your organization name and number of users dependent, so please change them according to your purchased license

2.       Building the most popular first report.  In our opinion, the first report you will be excited to design in Profit and Loss Statement for the current year with monthly summaries, probably compared to the budgets, if you are larger firm.  In order to build such a report, please open FRx designer, and create new Row Format.  Here click Edit, Add rows from chart of accounts and in the selection window change all your segments to All &&& and in the Account Range Start and Account Range End put your Revenue accounts ranges.  This will make the first section – revenue.  Repeat the same procedure for Cost of Goods Sold, Expenses, Other Income and Other Expenses.  For each section you should also add section description, such as Revenues and summary (TOT), such as Revenues Total.  Next step is Column Layout creation.  Here you need to add DESC on the column A, then GL, Actual, YTD on the column be and reporting periods one through twelve to represent January through December.  Please note that this first report doesn’t deploy companies consolidation, reporting tree (where you could of trace P&L by department, product or sales territory)

3.       FRx troubleshooting.  One of the most popular errors, you could encounter with is “Invalid path specified for work drive”.  This is likely to happen when your install FRX as domain administrator and then you are trying to activate it for restricted security wise users.  Please, open FRx, click Admin, processing options and change Optional Work Drive to the folder available to all your domain users.  Other files and places to check.  If you are moving SysData folder, where all FRx reports specs are located, please be sure to have it available for users to read and write, in some situations

4.       FRx support on Customer Source.  If you are current with Microsoft Dynamics GP annual maintenance program, then you should be able to open the case on your customer portal with MBS GP support team.  If you are not current in annual enhancement program, then still you could appeal to Dynamics GP and FRx technical support, however your case cost charge will be higher

Andrew Karasev

An Analysis Of Lenox (LNX)

Below is a letter from Mr. John L. Morgan, beneficial owner of approximately 7% of Lenox (LNX), to Ms. Susan E. Engel, Chairwoman and CEO of Lenox.

Dear Susan,

When your board offered me a directorship on September 18, 2006, we discussed the reasons that made it unacceptable. At that time, I reiterated that I could best serve the shareholders of Lenox Group by assuming a leadership role on the Board of Directors and playing an active role in formulating and guiding the strategic direction of the Company. Furthermore, I expressed my intention to not make changes in the management or Board of Directors. My views were based on information I had at that time.

The Board’s rejection of my offer to help the Company create a successful strategy has given me a different perspective. I now feel that the Board has decided to pursue a course of action that is not in the best interests of the shareholders and is a continuation of the strategies that have failed to create value over the past ten years.

The management team and Board of Directors continue to behave like the Company is a large, successful Company that has margin for making more mistakes. I do not agree. My offer to assist the Company in changing its strategy to benefit shareholders has been rejected although I proposed to work with the existing management and Board of Directors. You have made your position clear and I hope this letter will do the same for me and other likeminded shareholders.

Very truly yours,

John L. Morgan

The Ownership Situation

First, let me explain the ownership situation. The reporting persons are John L. Morgan, Kirk A. MacKenzie, Jack A. Norqual, and Rush River Group. Rush River Group is a limited liability corporation (LLC) of which Morgan, MacKenzie, and Norqual are members.

Rush River was formed in December 1998 in Minnesota and “its principal business activities involve investing in equity securities of privately owned and publicly traded companies, as well as other types of securities.” As far as I can tell, the only members of Rush River are the three aforementioned men: Morgan, MacKenzie, and Norqual.

According to a recent SEC filing, Morgan beneficially owned 6.1% of the outstanding shares of common stock in Lenox, Rush River owned 0.79%, MacKenzie owned 0.07%, and Norqual owned 0.07%.

Please keep in mind that this 7% stake in Lenox is controlled by Mr. Morgan; but, not Winmark Corporation (WINA), a publicly-held franchisor of retail stores. This is an important distinction to keep in mind (especially since Winmark is a public company).

Morgan is the Chairman and CEO of Winmark; MacKenzie is the Vice Chairman. However, their stake in Lenox has nothing to do with Winmark. In fact, last time I checked, Winmark did not have any material investments in marketable securities.

The reported position amounts to 989,300 shares of Lenox. Shares of Lenox last closed at $6.23 a share. So, the position would be worth a little over $6.16 million. Since Winmark only has a market cap of $126 million, I want to make it clear Winmark does not have a position in Lenox – Morgan does. He just happens to be the Chairman and CEO of Winmark. I hope this clears up any possible confusion about Winmark.


Now, I can move on to discussing the truly interesting aspect of this news, Lenox itself.

Lenox is the result of a September 2005 merger between Department 56 and Lenox Incorporated. Prior to the merger, Department 56 was known for its “Village Series of collectible, handcrafted, lighted ceramic and porcelain houses, buildings and related accessories that depict nostalgic scenes”. That last sentence was taken directly from the company’s 10-K, simply because I couldn’t write a better description myself. I assume most of you have seen the series. Even if you haven’t, I’m sure you can imagine the concept of a little porcelain Christmas scene.

Obviously, the Lenox name is much better known than the Department 56 name. Therefore, when Department 56 acquired Lenox, it changed its name to Lenox.

In its 10-K, the company calls the Lenox acquisition a “transformational event”. This term is too often applied to mergers that are far from transformational. In this case, however, it’s a perfectly accurate description.

Whether the transformation is for better or worse is debatable; however, the fact that the merger has transformed the company is not debatable. To put the size of this transaction in perspective, consider this: Today, Lenox (the combined company) has a market cap of $88 million. In September 2005, Department 56 paid $204 million to acquire Lenox Group. Immediately, this should tell you two things. One, the acquisition was probably quite large relative to the existing business. Two, the combined company’s stock price has tanked.

Both of these statements are true. Even when shares of Department 56 were a lot more expensive, the Lenox acquisition was very large relative to the existing business when considered from the perspective of market cap, enterprise value, sales, and just about any other meaningful measure of the size of a business.

Obviously, the combined company’s stock price has been falling hard since the merger. After all, the enterprise value of the entire company is not much greater than the amount Department 56 paid for the Lenox business.

The market is assigning a value of close to zero to the newly acquired Lenox business. This is remarkable considering the fact that Department 56 rarely traded at a lofty multiple when it was a stand alone business. In fact, the company’s shares often traded at a P/E multiple in the high single digits or low double digits throughout the past decade.

The New Business

You probably already know what Lenox does. If you don’t, a quote from the company’s 10-K does a good job of explaining what the newly acquired business does:

“The company sells dinnerware, crystal stemware and giftware, stainless steel flatware, and silver-plated and metal giftware under the Lenox and Gorham brands. Dansk is the company’s contemporary tabletop, houseware and giftware brand. The company sells premium causal dinnerware and fine china dinnerware, giftware and collectibles under the Lenox trademark, and sterling silver flatware and sterling silver giftware under the Gorham and Kirk Stieff trademarks. The company believes that it is the largest domestic marketer of fine tabletop products.”

I’m sure you noticed a bad omen in the above paragraph. One of the company’s brands (Dansk) is described as the company’s “contemporary” brand to differentiate it from the other two brands. Obviously, having fine products that are not considered contemporary is a bit of a problem.

In fact, it may be a very large problem in the years ahead. Overall, it seems the market is moving away from formal dinning and towards more upscale casual dinning. This is not a new phenomenon; nor, is it likely to be a short-lived one.

On the other side of the scales, you do have the simple, undeniable fact that the company has one of the best brand names in its industry. It is also a big player in a very small industry. Those are both advantages that are difficult (if not impossible) to duplicate. For a $200 million business, Lenox has a lot of history – and perhaps, a lot of potential.

The Old Business

A big part of the problem with the performance of the company’s shares (both over the short-term and the long-term) has been the performance of Department 56. In 2005, sales from Department 56’s Village Series declined 21%, “which was consistent with the longer term trend” according to the company’s 10-K. In fact, sales had clearly been declining each and every year from 1999-2005. Furthermore, sales in 2004 were substantially less than sales in 1996. So, even though there wasn’t a continuous, straight-line decline in sales over the past ten years, the general trend for sales of the Village series has been decidedly negative for a full decade now.

To combat the “substantial attrition of the Gift and Specialty channel” the company has settled on two strategies intended to both “offset the decline of the Village business” and “to grow revenues long term”. Those strategies are “expanding the company’s channels of distribution outside its traditional Gift and Specialty channel” and “expanding the company’s product offering to include year-round gift products.” The former strategy sounds promising; the latter strategy sounds implausible.

Lenox is already moving to implement both strategies. In fact, the company made a small acquisition that should help expand Lenox’s year-round product offerings. But, I remain highly skeptical of attempts to transform the gift products business into anything other than a highly seasonal business.

The Acquisition

At the time it was announced, I thought the Lenox acquisition sounded like an interesting move for the company. Department 56’s operations looked lean; the operations at Lenox did not. Furthermore, the price paid for Lenox didn’t look unreasonable, especially when compared to the kinds of prices many public companies have often paid to make such large (“transformational”) acquisitions.

In September 2005, Department 56 acquired Lenox in a $204 million deal (including $7.6 million in transaction costs). Department 56 funded the acquisition “through a $275 million senior secured credit facility consisting of a $175 million revolving credit facility and a $100 million term loan”.

As mentioned earlier, the combined company adopted the more recognizable Lenox name.


As a result of the merger, the company closed approximately half of the stores belonging to its new Lenox subsidiary. In total, the company closed 31 Lenox retail stores. As of February 1st, 2006, this left the company with only 36 retail stores. Six stores were operated under the Department 56 name; the remaining 30 stores were operated under the Lenox name.

After the merger, the company consolidated some of its operations. For instance, Lenox sold its Langhorne, Pennsylvannia facility when it moved certain operations to Bristol, Pennsylvannia. The company has used the cash proceeds of such sales to pay down debt incurred in the Lenox acquisition.

New Concept Stores

Lenox plans to launch a new mall-based chain of stores that will sell all of the company’s brands (Department 56, Lenox, Gorham, and Dansk). The company plans to open three “All The Hoopla” stores during 2006. A fourth store will be opened in 2007.


The combination of Department 56 and Lenox presents several interesting opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, there’s the hope that Lenox will become a leaner operation. Aside from any cost-savings made possible by the merger, there is also the simple fact that Department 56 was always a leaner operation than Lenox, and that the management at the new company might be more adept (or more determined) to keep costs down.

There is also some promise to the idea of selling all of the company’s brands together. To a large extent, the distribution channels are similar. The “All The Hoopla” concept proves the company is committed to this bundling of its products. However, it’s hard to see how the company’s products are going to be much of a draw on their own. Is there really enough demand for these Lenox operated retail stores? The company’s current plans call for a very limited launch. So, the price of failure would not be very great. Obviously, a success here would greatly benefit the company in the long run.


Lenox is an interesting opportunity. The business looks very cheap based on averages of past sales, EBIT, pre-tax earnings, etc. However, Lenox is now an entirely different company. The old Department 56 business faces rapidly declining sales. Neither Lenox nor Department 56 looked like a very promising business at the time of the merger. Today, they don’t look a whole lot more promising together.

On the other hand, it’s important to look past the company’s recent results (which include a large write-off). It will take time to see the full effects of the merger. At present, it’s difficult to judge either company independently, because of the acquisition.

Still, this is clearly a cheap business by most measures. There are problems at Lenox (as there were problems at Department 56). But, if the business can be run right, it should reward shareholders who buy at today’s extraordinarily low levels.

Morgan’s letter presents both the hope that there will be change and the realization that such change will not be easy. Clearly, the company’s past performance has been unacceptable. The stock has never been as cheap as it is today; but, the problems have been just as bad.

Lenox offers an interesting opportunity for patient investors. Nonetheless, being a Lenox shareholder is certain to frustrate you even if it does eventually reward you.

Geoff Gannon

New York International Auto Show Impacts City’s Economy

In the auto industry, one marketing strategy is the showcasing of one’s cars in a motor show. These events provide car manufacturers with a venue to unveil their new or redesigned vehicles to get them noticed by the public. And one such event is the New York International Auto Show – the largest of its kind in the United States in terms of the number of attendees.

Aside from being benefiting car manufacturers and auto enthusiasts, the event also greatly benefited the city where it is held. Recently, the organizers of last year’s New York International Auto Show reported that the event generated over $181 million for the Big Apple. The amount was revealed after BBC Research and Consulting conducted a study on the impact of the event on the city’s economy as commissioned by the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association (GNYDA).

Mark Scheinberg, the president of the GNYDA, has this to say after the result of the study was revealed: “For over 106 years, the New York International Automobile Show has been a vital component of New York City’s economy, and today, we’re proud to announce that the 2006 event surpassed all expectations and positively impacted our city’s economy more than ever.” Furthermore, according to Scheinberg, more than 1,200 workers are needed to ensure that the event will be properly set.

Aside from the wages of these workers, the attendees, exhibitors, and press people adds to the revenues of the city’s economy by staying on the city’s hotels. “Creating a valuable marketing event for our industry and providing an economic boon for this city have always been a top priority of ours,” added Scheinberg.

According to the study conducted, the direct impact of the show to the city’s economy is $112 million. This amount is generated by attendees’ spending money on lodging, entertainment, parking, eating and drinking, transportation, and retail by attendees and exhibitors. Since last year’s event has more than 1.2 million people in attendance throughout the show, the amount they spend on the aforementioned areas is not surprising.

Aside from the $112 million direct impact that the event had on the economy of the city, indirect impact accounts to $69 million. Indirect impact pertains to show related spending which generates $620,000 for the city for every million spent by the exhibitors.

With last year’s show positively affecting the city’s economy because if its success, experts expect that this year’s installment of the event will generate even more revenues for the city. With more and more car makers looking to showcase their automobiles at the country’s largest motor show, it would seem that the Big Apple’s economy will once again benefit from the event as much as a Ford engine benefits from a Ford cold air intake system.

Lauren Woods