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For the first time, the Miami auto show is canceled. Blame it on Irma

For the first time in almost 50 years, the Miami International Auto Show was canceled this year due to Hurricane Irma.

The 47th annual auto show was scheduled to run from Sept. 9 through Sept. 17 at the Miami Beach Convention Center but the opening was postponed as the storm approached. There were hopes it would simply open later, but ultimately Miami Beach city officials canceled it.

The show’s organizers said Friday it will not be rescheduled.

“It’s important at this time that our community focus all of its energies on providing assistance to those impacted by this monster storm,” Cliff Ray, the auto show’s coordinator, said in a statement. He added that the effects of the hurricane made it impossible to consider rescheduling the event.

“We understand and fully support the decision to cancel, which was made by leaders in the city of Miami Beach.”

The South Florida Automobile Dealers Association, which comprises more than 190 dealerships in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties, hosts the Miami International Auto Show, which launched in 1971.

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Sights and sounds from the 2016 Miami Auto Show

The 46th annual Miami International Auto Show cruises into the Miami Beach Convention Center this weekend, offering a peek into the latest models. The show is two months earlier than usual.

Matias J. Ocner

The Miami Herald

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Scope the Future of Driving With 7 Electric Concepts

Ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz bossman Dieter Zetsche said the automaker will offer an electric version of every car it makes by 2022. The Concept EQA previews the inevitable compact SUV that will carry a battery and the three-pointed star. The four-seater comes packed with touch screens, can recharge its 60-kWh battery wirelessly, and offers a range of nearly 250 miles.

If Jaguar’s i-Pace doesn’t look much like a concept, that’s because it’s meant to preview the production version of the all-electric baby SUV that will hit dealer lots in 2018. Jaguar’s first fully electric drivetrain will deliver more than 500 pound-feet of torque and 400 horsepower from a 90-kWh battery pack.

It may look like the cheapo ride your parents drove in the 80s, but the Urban EV Concept highlights Honda’s push toward an electric future. The Japanese automaker has announced it will offer electrified versions of every model it launches in Europe, including the production version of this concept, set to debut in the next two years. Only time will tell if the suicide doors and the unusual bench seats (meant to give the car the feel of a lounge) make it all the way to production.

Mini’s bid for the future is its simply named Electric concept, which pays tribute to the Mini E, an early, small-scale experiment in electric driving. If you’re into the 1960s style and don’t care for gasoline, you can pick this one up in 2019.

Of course, the future’s about more than electricity. Audi talked up the age of autonomous driving with the Aicon, a fantastic, definitely-not-going-into-production concept. The sleek four-door looks almost normal from the outside, but inside you’ll find nary a steering wheel or pedal. This being the future, Audi promises a range of nearly 500 miles per charge.

For five years, Tesla has had sole ownership of the all-electric luxury sedan market. Now, BMW is among the automakers elbowing its way in. That’s why it built the i Vision Dynamics concept, previewing a soon-to-arrive production car with 373 miles of range and a top speed of 120 mph. Elon, you’ve been warned.

Despite their tiny nature, Smart’s cars have never been all that fuel efficient, at least not when compared to the many hybrids on the market. That’s all in the past: The Daimler-owned brand has announced it won’t offer cars with internal combustion engines after 2020. Thinking even further ahead is the fully autonomous Smart Vision EQ Fortwo concept, which has two seats but no steering wheel or pedals. And for those into this sort of thing Smart says the car, meant for ridesharing, will pair you with travelers who match your interests. Cool?

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Best Cars of the 2017 Frankfurt Auto Show

The massive Frankfurt Auto Show once again displayed the might of the German auto industry. Mercedes-Benz put a Formula 1 engine in a sports car and announced a self-driving EV (two birds, one stone). BMW unleashed a half-dozen new models. Audi announced a self-driver with “AI” in its name. Porsche chipped in a new Cayenne.

Frankfurt 2017 still brought in dozens of key new cars from Europe, the US, and Asia. This is the most important show. There were many new electric vehicles and self-driving concepts. Here’s our top 10 cars of the biennial Frankfurt Auto Show (IAA), which runs through Sept. 24.





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Cramer Remix: Why the ‘auto slowdown’ thesis is kaput

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Cramer Remix: Why the auto slowdown thesis is kaput

Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller makes speech during the Apple launch event on September 12, 2017 in Cupertino,California. Apple Inc. unveiled its new iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus, and the Apple Watch Series 3 at the new Apple Park campus.

Cramer is convinced that analysts who weren’t thrilled about Apple’s new iPhone release are missing something, and it may have something to do with age.

“I think one of the reasons why there was so little ‘Wow, got to have it’ about the new iPhone, at least among the analyst community, is that the analysts themselves might be too old to get their heads around the way younger people see these products. When new technology comes out, millennials, who tend to be too young to be senior analysts, are far more likely to figure out how to use them and how to adapt to them,” Cramer said.

Analyst reports from Credit Suisse, Canaccord Genuity, JPMorgan and Piper Jaffray were tepid, saying the product launch met expectations, while KeyBanc analysts were “disappointed” with the iPhone X.

But Cramer argued that younger people are likely to create buzz around new product features, download key apps and use the phones to engage with and document the experiential economy.

A Best Buy store in New York City.

Brick-and-mortar retailers may be feeling the heat from Amazon, but Cramer is keen on one chain that’s been thriving despite the online giant’s domination: Best Buy.

“Five years ago, it looked like this electronics retailer was roadkill, and it was regularly dismissed as merely being a showroom for Amazon. Remember that? You’d go into Best Buy, you’d look at the televisions, computers [or] speakers, then you’d order them off the web for a lot less money. Then Hubert Joly took over as CEO in September of 2012, and ever since then, Best Buy has come roaring back, with the stock nearly quadrupling over five short years,” Cramer said.

The stock has been so strong that Cramer was surprised when Best Buy shares fell nearly 12 percent after its latest earnings report. Investors fled the stock after management issued some cautious commentary on the conference call, a reaction Cramer saw as overblown.

“Of course, Best Buy has already started bouncing back, but the stock is still down $5 from its highs and it’s got a lot of big catalysts coming up in the next few weeks. That’s why I think it’s not too late to buy the stock of BBY,” Cramer said.

Brunswick Corp Sea Ray SLX  W230.

Then, Cramer spoke with Mark Schwabero, the chairman and CEO of Brunswick, the largest manufacturer of recreational boats in the world.

Hurricane Irma took a toll on the coast of Florida, which is home to a large boating community. But Schwabero told Cramer on Thursday that boats are far from Florida residents’ first priority.

“If you go back and look at Hurricane Matthew, you look at Sandy, Katrina and now the most recent one, typically, the boat aspect is delayed about 12 to 18 months. The priorities are getting your home, the roof, your life back to normal, getting the checks from the insurance company, all those things,” Schwabero said. “The other part is some people return to boating through used boats. They’re not all new replacements.”

As a company partly devoted to making boat components, Schwabero expected to see owners making repairs to their boats first rather than purchasing new ones.

“I think the first thing we’ll see is we’ve got a huge parts and accessory business, about 25 percent of the company. You’ll start seeing some of that as people repair boats, and then over time we’ll pick up the new boats,” Schwabero said.

Brixmor Property Group CEO Talks Retail Strategy

Finally, Cramer sat down with Brixmor Property Group’s new President and CEO, James Taylor Jr. As the head of a retail-oriented real estate investment trust, or REIT, Taylor told Cramer on Thursday that retailers are starting to realize the most effective strategy for staying in business.

“I think what the retailers who are thriving in this environment get is that it’s really an integrated approach to serve the customer. And internet is part of the businesses that are going to thrive, but not necessarily a replacement for the physical presence of a store,” Taylor said.

The CEO pointed to Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods and said it sent a key message to the entire retail sector.

“The read-through on that, and a very important point, is that in [Amazon's] obsession to serve the customer, they think the store is important,” Taylor told Cramer. “And when you see these retailers who are pulling stores away, they lose their online sales.”

Liz Gurdus

Cramer’s New Book


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US retail sales dipped 0.2 pct. in August as auto sales fell

Consumers cut back on their shopping in August by the largest amount in six months as declining auto sales offset gains in other areas.

Retail sales fell 0.2 percent last month after a 0.3 percent gain in July, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the biggest one-month drop since an identical decline in February. Auto sales sank 1.6 percent, the most in seven months.

Excluding autos and gas, which tend to be volatile from month to month, sales dipped 0.1 percent in August after having risen 0.5 percent in July.

Analysts said the weaker-than-expected August sales were weighed down in part by the initial disruptions from Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf Coast. Another factor, they said, was some pay-back from July, when sales had been boosted by the Amazon Prime Day sales promotions.

Economists also noted some downward revisions to previous months, with sales in July downgraded to a 0.3 percent gain, just half the initially reported increase. But they said they remained optimistic about consumer spending in the coming months, thanks in large part to a still-solid job market.

“With consumer confidence close to record highs and the labor market continuing to improve … we doubt this is the start of a more sustained downturn and expect retail spending to bounce back over the coming months,” said Andrew Hunter, U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Sales rose last month at general merchandise stores, a category that includes big-box retailers such as Target. Rising gasoline prices also boosted sales.

The overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, grew at a robust 3 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, more than double the lackluster 1.2 percent rate in the first quarter. Analysts generally predict that growth in the current July-September quarter will remain in a solid range of 2.5 percent to 3 percent, with a key boost coming from consumer spending.

The consumer sector, which contributes to 70 percent of economic activity, is benefiting from the lowest unemployment rates in 16 years and continued strong hiring.

For August, gasoline sales were up 2.5 percent, the biggest jump since last December. But that increase reflected in large part rising prices.

Sales at general merchandise stores, which includes big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target, were up 0.2 percent although sales at department stores including Macy’s, edged down 0.1 percent. Sales at non-store retailers, a category that covers booming online sales, dropped 1.1 percent in August after a 1.8 percent gain in July.

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Build batteries or lose jobs, auto bosses tell Europe

By Emma Thomasson and Georgina Prodhan

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Europe shouldn’t rush to abandon the combustion engine and must build up its own production of electric car batteries to compete with China, auto suppliers and manufacturers said at the Frankfurt motor show.

The comments come as the future of the car has become a hot topic in campaigning ahead of Germany’s Sept. 24 election, especially after Britain and France announced plans to eventually phase out combustion engines to try to cut pollution.

Roberto Vavassori, president of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), warned a headlong rush to electric cars would hand business to China, which along with South Korea and Japan dominate battery production for such vehicles.

“We need to provide a sensible transition period that doesn’t give unwanted gifts to our Chinese friends,” he said, estimating European automakers were paying 4,000-7,000 euros ($5,000-8,000) to China for batteries for every electric car.

Vavassori called for a European drive to develop the next generation of battery cells. He said carmakers and politicians should look at other ways of cutting vehicle emissions too, such as more efficient engines and synthetic fuels.

Germany’s Daimler (DAIGn.DE) and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) both announced plans on the eve of the Frankfurt show to accelerate their shift to electric cars.

The head of Volkswagen’s core auto division said on Wednesday that European industry should come together to create a regional supplier of batteries.

“For the initial phase, I still feel in good hands with the Korean suppliers, but I would appreciate if competition were to grow and a European consortium would emerge,” VW brand Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Reuters.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel has raised the possibility of state support to bring chip and battery production back to Europe and her Social Democrat challenger Martin Schulz has also called for investment in cell production in Germany.

The stakes are high, with the auto industry as a whole providing around 12.6 million jobs in the European Union, or about 5.7 percent of the total.

Trade unions have been putting pressure on manufacturers to make electric cars in existing factories and invest in battery production in Europe, rather than outsourcing the work to Asia.

“Self-contained value chains are a central pillar of our industrial model and play a big role in the success of the German economy,” Joerg Hofmann, president of the IG Metall union, told steel and car industry members on Wednesday.

CLEPA’s Vavassori said Europe was lagging behind in the production of sensors and microchips, as well as batteries, and there was a risk in relying on Chinese supplies given geopolitical instability.

“We need production in Europe for vehicles of the future, or we put all Europe at risk,” he said.

Many in the car industry want governments to focus on setting targets to bring down carbon dioxide emissions, rather being prescriptive about quotas for electric cars.

“Mandating certain percentages of certain technologies doesn’t take us to the best solution,” said Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche, who currently chairs ACEA, the main European carmakers’ association.

On Wednesday, ACEA offered to further cut CO2 emissions by 2030, albeit dependent on uptake of electric cars.

Germany’s Robert Bosch, the world’s biggest auto supplier, is keeping its options open, optimizing the combustion engine and also exploring synthetic fuels, which could use existing filling stations and engines.

“This is a faster way of limiting global warming,” said Bosch chief executive Volkmar Denner. “We are doing this alongside electric vehicles.”

(Additional reporting by Laurence Frost, Edward Taylor and Andreas Cremer; Editing by Keith Weir and Mark Potter)

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Colorado Auto Stop Called ‘Get Your Fix’ Sold Meth To Drivers …

Storefront reportedly for Get Your Fix Automotive in Pueblo, Colorado. Photo: Google Maps

Here’s a double entendre for you: An auto shop in Colorado called “Get Your Fix Automotive” would not only fix your car, but also sell you meth, heroin or cocaine while you waited, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

Authorities looked into the shop after determining the owner, 30-year-old Daniel Vasquez, had four prior felony convictions, including three drug charges, according to an affidavit submitted in court, which you can view below.


Between March and August of this year, the affidavit says, undercover FBI agents arranged multiple purchases of heroin, meth, and even a purple handgun. During visits to the shop, authorities took videos and photos, which showed Vasquez holding bags of drugs and a rifle with a scope attached hanging at the location.

After executing a search warrant last month, authorities recovered a 9mm Glock allegedly belonging to Vasquez, which an FBI agent, Jeremy Mathews, said violated federal law, given his prior convictions. .

A three-count indictment was issued on Tuesday, charging Vasquez with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.


“I further submit probable cause exists to believe on or about August 31, 2017, in the State and District of Colorado, DANIEL VASQUEZ, having been previously convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, did knowingly possess a firearm in and affecting interstate commerce, in violation of [federal law],” Matthews wrote.

Vasquez’s court-appointed attorneys didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Jalopnik.

The case was initially reported by The Denver Post. Vasquez pled not guilty in court on Wednesday. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a max $250,000 fine.

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Armed robbery suspect shot by customer at Dolton auto parts store – WLS

A suspect was shot Wednesday night during an attempted armed robbery at an auto parts store in south suburban Dolton. A customer said the suspect ran at him with a weapon, so he opened fire.

The 20-year-old man with a gun walked into the Advance Auto Parts store in the 800-block of East 147th Street around 8 p.m. and tried to rob the store, police said.

He ran out of the store and toward a customer, who told police the suspect had a gun. The customer pulled out his own weapon and shot the suspect at least once.

One of the front doors was shattered during the shooting, covering the ground with shards of glass. A handgun appeared to have fallen on the sidewalk.

The 20-year-old was transported to St. Bernard Hospital, where he underwent surgery and is listed in critical condition.

Police said the customer has a concealed-carry permit. The shooting remains under investigation.

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“Get Your Fix Automotive” provided auto repair, illegal drugs


A Pueblo automotive shop called “Get Your Fix Automotive” would fix your car and load you up with baggies of crystal methamphetamine, heroin or cocaine while you waited.

It apparently was a thriving business until FBI agents and members of the Southern Colorado Safe Streets Task Force arrested its owner, Daniel Vasquez, 30, for possessing two guns including a purple Pavona Witness .38-caliber handgun.

The business’ name may have been a clever play on words but after Vasquez’ four felony convictions including three for illegal drug charges, it caught the attention of the FBI and task force members. They set up a series of stings between March and August.

Vasquez was arrested Friday. He faces up to 10 years in a federal prison and a $250,000 fine on two charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Documents filed in U.S. District Court indicate task force members collected video evidence of Vasquez selling various quantities of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

During various visits to the automotive garage, agents surreptitiously took video of different stages of the drug operation including of him weighing heroin in a drawer of a desk and of a rifle with a scope attached.

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, an undercover agent met Vasquez at his shop at 2040 E. 4th St. in Pueblo. He was the one wearing the T-shirt emblazoned with his first name, Daniel, for easy identification. He sold them 52.9 grams of heroin and the purple handgun.

Agents got a blurry picture of Vaquez displaying a plastic baggie filled with crystal cubes that he identified as “clear,” or methamphetamine and holding a purple handgun.

Task force agents executed a search warrant on Aug. 31. They recovered a Glock 19 9mm handgun from the bedroom.

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Rifco – Small-Cap Auto Lender With Heavy Insider Ownership Trading At A Significant Discount To Fair Value

Investors have dumped Rifco shares (CVE:RFC) after the Company reported a decline in loan originations and an increase in credit losses. Rifco shares are down 79.8% from their peak in 2013. I believe investors have over-sold this small cap, Alberta based, auto lender.

The thesis for Rifco is straightforward. Rifco presents investors with an asymmetric downside/upside bet. The Company has little downside with significant upside potential. Rifco’s downside is protected by a strong management team with heavy insider ownership, combined with improving business fundamentals. The upside of Rifco stems from the significant discount to fair value and acquisition potential.

Business Overview

Rifco has been in the auto financing market since 2002, providing auto loans to customers with sub-prime credit ratings through its dealership partners. In Canada this is a $4 billion market dominated by two large banks, TD and Scotiabank. Rifco aims to compete in this market by providing a higher service level to its dealership partners than can be provided by the larger banks. Due to its smaller size the Company is often able to assign a specific account manager to its dealership partners. This results in faster response times and greater flexibility for the dealerships’ customers (the individuals purchasing the vehicles). Rifco benefits from these closer working relationships since its dealership partners are more likely to choose Rifco to provide the financing to its customers where possible. Rifco generates income primarily through interest on its loan portfolio, as well as through securitization proceeds.

Investment Thesis

1. Strong management and improving business fundamentals

Over the last several years’ management has had an outstanding track record. Rifco has been profitable every year for the last 11 years, including during the 2008-2009 recession. In its peak years from 2012 to 2014 the Company was generating returns on equity between 44%-61% (Source: Capital IQ). Return on equity has since declined to around 9% (Source: Capital IQ) due to a decline in the Alberta economy and an increase in competitive pressures (which management claims to be due to unsustainable pricing of risk by competitors). Despite these recent developments management appears to be managing the business rather well. Since 2015 management has significantly reduced the percentage of Alberta based loans its portfolio. Alberta based loans previously comprised half of the loan portfolio, while today these loans comprise only a third of the loan portfolio. In addition, loan originations appear to be increasing once again, in 2017 loan originations were $100.1M for the year and $29.4M in Q1 2018 (approximately $117.6M annualized) (Source: Rifco Financial Reports).

2. Management’s interests are heavily aligned with shareholder interests

Management currently holds 23% of the Company (Source: SEDI Filings). The CEO, Bill Graham, as well as other directors and officers of the Company not only hold a stake in the Company in their personal accounts, but also in the accounts of their children and spouses through RESPs, spousal RRSPS and spousal TFSAs. The heavy vested interest by management significantly reduces the risk of management taking on riskier loans when their competitors are pricing risk more aggressively. In the short run such a strategy results in lower loan originations and a reduction in market share, but in the long-run I believe this strategy will prevail as competitors begin to feel the after effects of underpricing risk.

3. Rifco’s reported book value per a share is severely understated and the Company is actually trading a significant discount to net fair value per share.

The following graph shows the historical share price compared to the reported net fair value per share (NFVS) and reported book value per share:

(Source: Rifco Financial Reports)

Accounting standards require Rifco to carry all finance receivables for its auto loans, including those that have been securitized, on its balance sheet. These finance receivables are not recorded at their fair market value, which has resulted in the reported book value of the Company being severely understated (see the above graph for the NFVS compared to Book Value). As at June 30, 2017 the Company’s reported Book Value per share was $1.55, while management’s reported net fair value per share (NFVS) was $3.61.

The NFVS is management’s best estimate of the Company’s equity value today. Accordingly, I will compare the NFVS to the Company’s share price. As shown in the above graph Rifco began to trade below NFVS after September 2014 (from June 2013 to September 2014 the Company was actually trading at approximately a $1.94 to $4.05 per share premium to NFVS). Prior to September 2014 Rifco was picked up by many growth investors for the significant growth the Company had been experiencing and its high ROE. Naturally, these same investors were quick to dump Rifco when the Company began to report a decline in annual loan originations and an increase in credit losses. The result was a collapse in the Company’s share price. I believe this sudden sell off by investors caused Rifco to be over-sold.

Today investors can pickup Rifco for only $1.41 per share, which implies some pretty significant upside if management’s reported NFVS is accurate. The two key risks an investor faces are:

A. Errors in management’s reported NFVS, causing the NFVS figure to be overstated: At the current trading price of $1.41 Rifco provides a significant level of margin of safety for any overstatement in management’s reported NFVS, while still providing a handsome return. At the current trading price of $1.41 Rifco is trading at a 156.0% discount to management’s reported NFVS! Even fairly sizable errors in management’s reported NFVS would provide a decent return to investors.

B. Future value destruction: This does not appear to be a major concern given management’s heavy insider ownership and the recent performance of the Company in fiscal 2017 and Q1 2018.

4.) Rifco is a prime acquisition target

The industry has seen numerous acquisitions in the last few years. The most recent of which occurred in 2014 when Banco Santander S.A. purchased Carfinco (another Alberta based sub-prime auto lender) for 4.1x book value (Source: Capital IQ), while Rifco currently trades at only 0.93x book value. In multiple investor presentations management has made note of other transactions which have occurred in the industry and the significant premium paid (including the acquisition of VFC by TD in 2006 and the acquisition of Travelers Leasing Corporation by Scotiabank in 2007). This combined with the fact that management holds 23% of the Company leads me to believe there maybe a possibility for investors to cash-out along side management at a significant premium in the future through an acquisition by a competitor.


  • Management’s reported NFVS is significantly overstated due to estimation errors (including future credit losses and prepayments).
  • Persistent weakness in the Alberta economy and the Company not being able to adequately diversify its loan portfolio.


  • Industry consolidation.
  • Continued improvement in business fundamentals as the Alberta economy recovers from the oil downturn.


Rifco is trading at a significant discount to net fair value and maybe a prime acquisition target, providing investors with some significant upside potential. The downside seems to be adequately protected through a strong management with heavy insider ownership and recent trends in business fundamentals. The catalysts for value realization appear to be medium to long-term, making this investment highly rewarding for those with a longer term investment horizon.

Disclosure: I am/we are long RFC.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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