A 14% Yield With Upside Potential On A Pure-Play Trust

Where do you think the price of crude oil will be in the coming quarters – up, down, or sideways? The US Energy Information Administration (the EIA) sees oil prices continuing to stay at better levels in 2017 and 2018:

(Source: EIA.gov)

The futures market seems to agree with this assessment, and shows prices which are a bit higher – in the ~$ 51-52 range over the next 12 months:

(Source: CME Group)

One narrative which we’ve heard from seasoned Energy Patch hands is that the market isn’t pricing in the possibility of possible disruptions, which, given the tensions in some production areas, could potentially cause further upward pressure.

If you’re looking for exposure to the price of oil, there are some trusts out there which can accomplish that and pay you an attractive distribution yield. We just dipped our toe in the water with MV Oil Trust (NYSE:MVO), a pure play trust which gets over 98% of its income from oil. We’d like to hear from you about your favorites.

Profile

The Trust was formed on August 3, 2006, under the Delaware Statutory Trust Act pursuant to a Trust Agreement among MV Partners, LLC, a Kansas limited liability company, as trustor, The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A., as Trustee, and Wilmington Trust Company, as Delaware Trustee.

The Trust was created to acquire and hold a term net profits interest for the benefit of the Trust unitholders pursuant to a conveyance from MV Partners to the Trust. The term net profits interest represents the right to receive 80% of the net proceeds from production from the underlying properties. The term net profits interest consists of MV Partners’ net interests in all of its oil and natural gas properties located in the Mid-Continent region in the states of Kansas and Colorado. The underlying properties include approximately 1,000 producing oil and gas wells.

The net profits interest is passive in nature, and the Trustee has no management control over and no responsibility relating to the operation of the underlying properties. The net profits interest will terminate on the later to occur of (1) June 30, 2026, or (2) the time when 14.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (“MMBoe”) have been produced from the underlying properties and sold (which amount is the equivalent of 11.5 MMBoe with respect to the Trust’s net profits interest), and the Trust will soon thereafter wind up its affairs and terminate (Source: MVO site).

MVO issues a 1099 at tax time. There is further information about OID at the end of this article.

(Source: MVO site)

Distributions

MVO pays a variable quarterly distribution, which fluctuates with the price of oil (BOE = one stock tank barrel of oil equivalent, computed on an approximate energy equivalent basis that one Bbl of crude oil equals six Mcf of natural gas and one Bbl of crude oil equals 1.54 Bbls of natural gas liquids).

MVO pays in a January-April-July-October cycle. Distributions are generally paid by the 25th day of the month following the end of a calendar quarter.

As oil prices improved in 2017, MVO’s payouts jumped dramatically from a $ .12 to $ .16 range in Q3-4 ’16 to a $ .225-.25 range in Q1-2 ’17:

The Trust’s expenses tend to range in the $ 200-222K range, and averaged ~9% of cash proceeds available over the past four quarters.

MVO should go ex-dividend soon, probably around 10/12/17, with a payout on 10/25/17. It’ll probably announce the Q3 ’17 distribution this week.

You can track MVO’s current price and yield in our High Dividend Stocks By Sectors Tables (in the Basic Materials section).

Since MVO’s quarterly distributions are tied to the price of oil, we put together a table which ties the distribution ranges to oil price ranges over the past eight quarters.

The Trust paid out $ .20-.25 when oil was in a $ 44.50 to $ 47.50 range, but dropped all the way to $ .03 when oil was bottoming out in the mid-$ 20 range.

Overhead – There are some outlier quarters, such as Q4 ’16, when operating costs rose to $ 5.88M, and dropped net profits to $ 1.997M vs. $ 2.577M in Q3 ’16.

“As is customary in the oil and natural gas industry, MV Partners pays an overhead fee to Vess Oil and Murfin Drilling to operate the underlying properties on behalf of MV Partners. The operating activities include various engineering, accounting and administrative functions. The fee is based on a monthly charge per active operated well, which totaled $ 3.2 million in 2014, $ 3.2 million in 2015 and $ 3.0 million in 2016 for all of the underlying properties for which MV Partners was designated as the operator. The fee is adjusted annually and will increase or decrease each year based on changes in the year-end index of average weekly earnings of crude petroleum and natural gas workers.” (Source: MVO 10-K)

These Q4 ’16 figures are from MVO’s Q4 press release, which is typical of the figures the trust issues each quarter. It also files quarterly and annual SEC reports, with more information – particularly in the annual reports:

(Source: MVO site)

Total volume has been pretty steady over the past seven quarters and averaged ~192K for the past four quarters.

Q2 and Q1 ’17 had substantial improvements in gross proceeds, net profits, and total cash available for the Trust, thanks to big jumps in oil prices – average BOE prices jumped 72% in Q1 and 24% in Q2, continuing to improve after oil bottomed out in February 2016:

These TTM figures reinforce the importance of oil pricing to MVO – prices jumped by 15.69% over the past four quarters, which resulted in a 22% rise in gross proceeds, a whopping 89% jump in net profits, and ultimately caused a 72% rise in distributions/unit. Trust expenses, which are relatively steady, subsequently shrank from 15% to 9% of cash proceeds available. The Trust maintains 11.5M units, of which MV Energy, LLC owns 25%, and VAP-I, LLC owns 12.5%.

(Source: MVO ’16 10K)

Risks

The two big gorillas in MVO’s cage are future oil prices and reserves.

Reserves: On the 2016 annual report, it listed the results of a study done by CG&A, independent petroleum and geological engineers:

“As of December 31, 2016, the underlying properties produced predominantly oil from approximately 1,000 wells, and the projected reserve life of the underlying properties was over 50 years.”

“Based on the reserve report, CG&A estimated that the trust would terminate June 30, 2026 based on the calculation that 14.4 MMBoe would have been produced from the underlying properties and sold (which amount is the equivalent of 11.5 MMBoe in respect of the trust’s right to receive 80% of the net proceeds from the underlying properties pursuant to the net profits interest) prior to this date.” (Emphasis ours)

“OK, doc, give it to me straight, how much longer have I got? We assembled a table that attempts to answer this question. The annual report said that, “As of December 31, 2016, cumulatively, since inception, the trust has received payment for approximately 7.4 MMBoe of the trust’s 11.5 MMBoe interest.”

That means that the trust was entitled to the proceeds of 4.1M additional BOE as of 12/31/16. The trailing BOE production volume was 767K, which meant that MVO got paid on ~614K BOE.

If this production rate is maintained, there should be over six years left of future payouts, before MVO has received its entire 11.5M BOE interest. This may happen as early as 9/1/2023.

Of course, this is merely a projection, and the final date will be impacted by well depletions, volume from newer wells, and improved technology, among other things. The trust does spend funds on capex in order to maintain and improve its wells. We’ve listed the capex figures at the end of this article.

MVO’s Reserve statement shows that 81% of its oil wells were “proved developed” wells as of 12/31/17:

It also provided a net Present valuation of estimated future Net Cash Flows from the trust’s net profits interest – NPI.

(Source: MVO 2016 10-K)

Oil Prices

This five-year chart details how closely MVO’s price/unit is tied to the price of oil. When oil was up around $ 100 in 2013, MVO was $ 21.52. As oil bottomed out in early 2016, MVO went as low as $ 3.19, and has since recovered to ~$ 5.50, as oil is at $ 52.14.

MVO has underperformed both WTI oil and the market over the past year and year-to-date, but has outperformed over the past month:

Valuations

We wanted to get a sense of how MVO’s valuations compared to another similarly sized energy trust, so this table compares it to VOC Energy Trust (NYSE:VOC). VOC has a very similar market cap, but it does get a wee bit more income from natural gas, ~4.4% in 2016.

MVO is getting a premium price/book valuation vs. VOC, but the market is demanding a higher dividend yield and a lower P/E.

Financials

One of the reasons for that higher yield is probably the closer termination date for MVO – 2026 vs. 2030 for VOC. VOC has very similar, low trust expense levels – both trusts have operating margins of ~90% and no debt. MVO shows much higher ROA and ROE levels.

Options

MVO’s option yields aren’t currently that attractive, but you can see details for over 25 other income-producing trades in both our Covered Calls Table and our Cash Secured Puts Table.

Trust Assets

Capex

“As substantially all of the underlying properties are located in mature fields, MV Partners does not expect future costs for the underlying properties to change significantly as compared to recent historical costs other than changes due to fluctuations in the general cost of oilfield services. MV Partners may establish a capital reserve of up to $ 1.0 million in the aggregate at any given time to reduce the impact on distributions of uneven capital expenditure timing. As of June 30, 2017, $ 1,000,000 was held by MV Partners as a capital reserve.”- (Source: MVO Q2 ’17 10-Q)

Definition: Original Issue Discount (OID) is a type of interest that is not payable as it accrues. OID is normally created when a debt, usually a bond, is issued at a discount. In effect, selling a bond at a discount converts stated principal into a return on investment, or interest.

Summary

We rate MVO as a speculative buy, based upon the potential for attractive distributions over the next six quarters. Given the mid-$ 5 valuation, if MVO is able to pay out distributions of $ .22, you’re looking at a 16%-plus yield. Even a $ .15 quarterly distribution would approach an 11% yield. However, if you don’t want exposure to oil prices, MVO is definitely not for you.

All tables furnished by DoubleDividendStocks.com, unless otherwise noted.

Disclaimer: This article was written for informational purposes only, and is not intended as personal investment advice. Articles posted on SA aren’t meant to be all-inclusive white papers, by any means. Please practice due diligence before investing in any investment vehicle mentioned in this article.

Disclosure: I am/we are long MVO.

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

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $ 1 per share and/or with less than a $ 100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

Tech

Three Keys To Driving Business Growth

Business development is crucial for any new start-up, without it, your business will struggle to survive let alone thrive.

When it comes to developing your business, and let’s be clear about what we mean by this, we mean increasing your revenue.

And simplistically speaking there are only three ways that you can do that, and these are: sell more, sell to more, and sell for more.

Too often we overcomplicate things, but in terms of revenue growth, these are the only options and the clearer that we can see them the easier it is to address them, and all of your efforts should be directed to these three tasks.

Your business should have strategies for all three of these opportunities because if you don’t then, you are missing opportunities and potentially leaving the business on the table for your competitors to profit from.

Sell More

The easiest way to grow your business is to sell more products or services to your existing customers. Your existing customers already have a relationship with you, they probably already know you, like you and trust you, so it should be fairly easy to sell additional items to them.

Some studies have shown that it costs seven times as much to add new customers than it does to sell to existing customers.
That means that there are bigger profits to be made in selling additional products and services to existing customers as you have already borne the customer acquisition cost previously.

So what other products and services can you offer to your existing customers. These might not even be services that you produce; these could be complimentary services where you take a small percentage from a partner. Look at airlines who look to offer additional services like car hire, hotels, etc., etc. as they look to maximise the revenue from their customers.

You also need to have customer satisfaction high on your agenda, because for every customer you lose it will cost you significantly to replace them.

You need to have strategies for increasing your revenue per customer.

Sell to More

This is probably the area that most businesses focus on, attracting new customers and increasing market share and penetration. You need more customers if you want to dominate your market and also to drive efficiencies and economies of scale which can help increase profits. But you need to be smart about how you go about this, and to look to keep your customer acquisition costs as low as possible.

One of the cheapest ways to attract new customers id through referrals from existing customers. If your existing customers are happy with your products and services how can you encourage them to become your advocates and to recommend you?

How can you set up win-win arrangements so that both of you benefit?

Remember, if it costs seven times more to acquire a new client than it does to sell to an existing client when clients are recommended to you much of this cost is saved and could be used to reward those who recommended you.

Affiliate programs take a similar approach, where you let someone else bear the cost of finding you new customers for a percentage of the sale.

There are many options for finding new customers, and you need to have strategies that best fit your business model, and also optimize your profitability.

Sell for More

I am always amazed at the number of clients I work with that undervalue the services that they offer. There are often several reasons for this: they lack confidence and so underprice; they don’t understand what the market can bear, or they don’t see the real value in what they are offering.

This last one can come from too much familiarity, which can lead to a form of contempt for our own goods or services which then leads us to lower the price.

Price increase is probably one of the easiest ways to increase revenue, but it does come with risk. Raise the prices too high, and we could lose business and customers.

But the same is true when our prices are too low, if you do not see the value in what you offer, then why should someone else.

One client, I worked with, we doubled her pricing. As she rightly predicted it lost her some customers, but it also attracted new customers who were both able and willing to pay the higher price, and she actually increased overall demand and revenue.

If you have a quality product then you need to sell it for premium prices, if you seel it at budget prices, it will be deemed a budget product.

There are only three ways to increase revenue, sell more to your existing customers, sell your products and services to more people, and to sell them for more money. By having strategies for all three of these will allow you to maximise your business potential.

Ignoring one or more of these just leaves more money for your competitors to take.

Tech

Spotify’s New Playlist Is Full of Personalized Throwback Jams. Here’s How to Find It

Spotify just came out with a playlist that lets you reminisce to all of your favorite throwbacks.

The new “Your Time Capsule” playlist is meant to be “personalized playlist with songs to take you back in time to your teenage years,” according to the Spotify page. The streaming site says the playlist has a track list that lasts two hours. But, you’ll need to find it first. It’s also only available for users over 16, according to The Verge, otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a throwback.

There are three ways to get your Time Capsule playlist.

Browse Decades

Unlike other customized playlists like “Release Radar,” “Your Time Capsule” doesn’t come up under than main browse section. You can use that page to find the “Decades” playlist section. Among all the other time-based playlists, you’ll see the Time Capsule.

Go to the Time Capsule page

If you’re using the browser version, you can get to your playlist by going to timecapsule.spotify.com.

Search Time Capsule

If you plug in “time capsule” in Spotify’s search bar, the personalized playlist will should be one of the first results.

Tech

‘I Can’t Think of Anything More Exciting.’ Elon Musk Wants to Colonize Mars in 2022

Elon Musk is bullish about colonizing Mars, maybe even sooner than anyone thought.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, South Australia, Musk unveiled plans to launch SpaceX’s (spacex) BFR rocket and begin its Mars rendezvous by the year 2022, first sending two cargo missions to scout water sources and build a fuel plant. Then the city-building begins.

Musk said he’s “confident” the plan will be under way within five years.

“I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars,” Musk said, adding that he thinks SpaceX has figured out a way to make it affordable by using revenues from the company’s satellite launches, service missions to the International Space Station and by making smaller, more efficient rockets that are mostly reusable.

Nine years after SpaceX’s first successful launch — its fourth ever — Musk said his engineers are now perfecting propulsive landing. He believes the BFR rocket can carry out missions to the moon and back without producing propellant, enabling the establishment of a lunar space station.

“It’s 2017, we should have a lunar base by now,” Musk said to applause. “What the hell is going on?”

For more on space travel, watch Fortune’s video:

Travel to and from Mars will, however, require a propellant production plant. Current rocket prototypes provide cabin space suitable for about 100 people per mission, he said. Following the two projected missions in 2022, Musk said SpaceX plans to send four more rockets to the red planet during the next available window in 2024. Once colonization is under way, then begins the task of “making it a nice place to be.”

Founded by Musk in 2002, SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches spacecraft and advanced rockets toward the ultimate goal of enabling human life on other planets.

But Musk, who also co-founded and serves as CEO of Tesla Motors (tsla), remains grounded in his ambitions. SpaceX could potentially change the way we travel around the globe, he said, making it possible to get anywhere on earth in less than hour. “If we’re building this thing to go to mars,” Musk asked, “why not go to other places on earth as well?”

Tech

Ikea’s Latest Acquisition Will Help Assemble Your Ikea Furniture

One of the most popular jobs on TaskRabbit, a service that lets you hire workers for quick gigs, is assembling Ikea furniture. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the Swedish retail giant has reportedly acquired the startup for an undisclosed price.

TaskRabbit has only a few dozen full-time employees, but it is a platform for a large number of independent contractors who help customers with all sorts of errands, handymen tasks and, of course, furniture assembly.

According to tech news site Recode, Ikea will treat TaskRabbit, which is reportedly profitable, as an independent subsidiary and keep on its CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot. Recode sees the deal as a strategic acquisition at a time of rapid change in the world of retail and home delivery:

The purchase of TaskRabbit was fueled by Ikea’s need to further bolster its digital customer service capabilities to better compete with rivals likes Amazon, which has stepped up its home goods and installation offerings. The purchase is Ikea’s first step into the on-demand platform space.

TaskRabbit had already struck a pilot partnership with Ikea around furniture assembly in the United Kingdom and also had marketed its workers ability to put together Ikea items in the U.S. and elsewhere.

TaskRabbit has received investments from a number of prominent venture capital firms, including Shasta Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Founders Fund.

Currently, customers are able to hire “rabbits” in around 40 U.S. cities.

TaskRabbit is one of the most high profile of the so-called “gig economy” companies, which connect customers with workers on an independent contractor basis. Other such companies include home cleaning service Handy, and the car-hailing services Uber and Lyft.

The “gig” business model is popular with investors because it can grow quickly, and allows companies to try to avoid the costs and legal entanglements of hiring staff. In recent years, however, workers on such services have won several court challenges claiming they are not contractors, but are instead employees.

Ikea did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the acquisition.

Tech

In France, Snap's Discover news feature gets 10 million monthly users

(Reuters) – Snap Inc, searching for ways to reinvigorate a slowing growth rate and increase advertising revenue for its Snapchat messaging app, said this week it has racked up 10 million users for its Discover news and video feature in France a year after launching there.

The figure, which has not previously been reported, is equivalent to about 15 percent of the country’s population.

Internationally, the Snapchat app has 173 million daily active users, the company said in August, while rival Instagram, owned by Facebook Inc, said this week it has 500 million daily users.

Snap’s partners in France such as Le Monde and Cosmopolitan, which supply video and news for the Discover feature, were getting “significant” revenue from ads, Nick Bell, Snap’s vice president of content, told Reuters, without giving an exact figure.

Snap, which generates revenue from advertisers, shares that revenue 50-50 with its publisher partners.

The company has yet to turn a profit since its messaging app launched in 2012. Since its initial public offering in March, its shares are down almost 18 percent, to around $ 14 per share.

France was the first international launch of Discover. It has also been released in Germany, the Middle East and North Africa, but the company is taking a slow, deliberate approach to expansion as it works at developing strong partnerships with publishers, said Bell.

Reporting By Jessica Toonkel; editing by Anna Driver and Rosalba O’Brien

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Everything You Need to Watch on TV This Fall—From 'Orville' to 'Punisher'

Ah, fall. A wonderful time of football, things inexplicably getting pumpkin spice flavoring, and way more new TV than anyone could ever possibly watch. Seriously, there are a gajillion channels and streaming networks now, how can anyone dream of knowing what to turn on? Between all the superheroes, strictly-for-adults animated programs, and 1990s reboots out there it’s impossible to keep up. But we have some ideas. Below are WIRED’s picks for what you should watch (or at least DVR) this season—and one or two suggestions for what you can easily skip.

The Orville (Fox)

By far the funniest part of this science fiction adventure comedy is when the opening credits say “created by Seth MacFarlane,” because longtime Star Trek fans will immediately recognize everything else as the DNA (and proteins, bones, musculature, and central nervous system) of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It might be the weirdest thing on television—produced by a Trek stalwart, Brannon Braga, The Orville is a gleaming exploratory starship that seeks out weirdly foreheaded aliens with moral quandaries. Just find-and-replace the preachiness with a little snark. And you know what? It works. I liked TNG, and flying aboard the Orville feels like coming home. —Adam Rogers

Watch: Thursdays, 9pm/8pm Central

American Horror Story: Cult (FX)

By now, you know if you’re an American Horror Story person or not. Now in its seventh installment, FX’s anthology series has collected many devoted acolytes. If you’re in that camp, Cult is here and waiting for you, complete with all of the usual Ryan Murphy players: Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Billie Lourd, etc. If you’re not on the AHS train, though, its latest incarnation likely won’t make you a convert. A twisted look at life in America after the 2016 election, it’s got all the usual scares and camp, but—as Entertainment Weekly rightly noted—it can occasionally devolve into muddled satire. Perhaps not as strong as the series’ highpoints like Asylum or Hotel, Cult has its moments (or at least has in its first few episodes), but isn’t yet totally firing on all cylinders. But give it time, it could come around. If nothing else, it’ll be there for everyone to binge when they finally join the AHS movement. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Tuesdays, 10pm

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC)

Less than two years after FX’s Emmy-winning The People v. O.J. Simpson, NBC makes its own journey to the era of peak tabloid-TV with a limited series focusing on the brutal 1989 double-murder of wealthy Los Angeles couple Jose and Kitty Menendez. The prime suspects? Their own rich-kid sons, Lyle and Erik, whose subsequent trials—full of tales of big spending, and allegations of abuse—would rattle LA and fuel a gazillion episodes of A Current Affair. Edie Falco plays defense attorney Leslie Abramson, alongside a that cast includes Josh Charles, Lolita Davidovich, and Heather Graham. Expect plenty of of cross-examinations, a perhaps a few tent-sized double-breasted suits. —Brian Raftery

Watch: Tuesdays, 10pm/9pm Central

Big Mouth (Netflix)

After Nick Kroll and John Mulaney became kinda-household names with improv-show-turned-recurring-sketch-turned-Broadway-sensation Oh Hello, they took their talents where so many other comedy vets have been as of late: Netflix. Rather than starring as crusty old Manhattanites all over again, this time the pair voices hyperhormonal proto-teens coming of age in the New York suburbs—with all the basketball-playing-penises fantasy sequences that entails. Friend-of-every-pod Jason Mantzoukas is a regular, along with Jordan Peele and enough SNL alums for a “Californians” episode, so if your dream stream is a mashup of Comedy Bang Bang, Freaks and Geeks, and Bojack Horseman, get your Emmy write-in pencil ready. —Peter Rubin

Watch: September 29

Inhumans (ABC)

If you were one of the handful of people who paid to see The Inhumans in IMAX, then you already know: This show is pretty bad. Like, not campy, comic-book-adaptation bad, actually hard-to-watch bad. And if you didn’t pay to see it in IMAX, then you probably still know it’s not great because you’ve seen, well, any of its production stills and/or Friday night time slot. Set simultaneously on Hawaii and the moon colony Attilan (just go with it), it sets up the kind of us-vs.-them dynamic that has been at the core of any story about people with special abilities, except it seems to do it with little or no blood in its veins. It’s hard to place exactly where it goes off the rails—is “everywhere” an acceptable answer?—but when it does, it’s not worth following. Also, most of its heroes’ superpowers aren’t that super. (See here.) Not everything to come out of the Marvel TV universe has been knock-down stellar, but coming from the same family that produces Jessica Jones and even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s pretty inhumane. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Fridays, 8pm/7pm Central, starting Sept. 29

Punisher (Netflix)

The beauty of the Marvel Netflix shows has always been that they can get away with everything the summer tentpole movies and ABC shows can’t: Sex! Drinking! Cursing! Punisher promises to turn that up to 11. Based on the trailer alone, the show has more blood and gunplay than any of the Defenders’ shows have offered up so far. Starring Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal as the titular antihero, Punisher goes deep and dark on the story of Frank Castle, a man who becomes a vigilante after the death of his wife and children. Sure it’s another “gritty crime show in New York,” but, hey, if you haven’t tired of those yet, why start now? Also, based on his fired-up appearance at Comic-Con International this year, Bernthal is ready to go all-in and all-out on this one. It’ll be fun to watch. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Date TBD

Ghosted (Fox)

Clearly, Adam Scott and Craig Robinson had their eyes on each other during the Parks and RecreationThe Office softball games on the NBC lot, because they’ve eloped to one of the weirder paranormal comedies that TV has. Co-created by Scott and his wife Naomi, the show stars the two ensemble vets as strangers recruited by a—stop me if you’ve heard this one—clandestine government agency in order to investigate the disappearance of another agent. The odd-couple dynamic feels forced in the pilot, but the two actors have enough experience and chops to develop things further. Even if things err toward the broad and kinetic early on, it’s probably worth a close encounter of the second kind, if not the third. —Peter Rubin

Watch: Sundays, 8:30pm/7:30pm Central, starting Oct. 1

The Deuce (HBO)

David Simon, architect behind HBO’s cult favorite The Wire, creates with the flair and patience of an attentive carpenter—which is to say it’s all in what he sees. Thematically, Simon has always had a creative fetish for how institutions work: the way, say, a school system operates or a city government falls apart. With The Deuce, Simon sets his sights on a nascent 1970s porn boom and prostitutes who stalk the sidewalks of Times Square. With frequent collaborator George Pelecanos, and veterans like Michelle McLaren and Richard Price attached to the project, Simon gathered the precise blend of ingredients for a slow-simmering, high-stakes drama. There’s crime and porn and drugs and the atmospheric charm of a disco-era period piece. James Franco plays the part of twin brothers, Frankie and Vincent, whose fates are eternally intertwined; there’s also Gbenga Akinnagbe’s slick-tongued Larry Brown, a hard-nosed pimp with a heart, and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Candy, a sex worker and single mother with big dreams. There’s corrupt cops, soulless mobsters, wayward college students, and women just trying to survive the lure of a New York City night. The show’s sleek prowess is a sure credit to Simon & Co.’s deliberately downplayed thesis; it never over explains or feels like cultural voyeurism. The Deuce simply says: This is Vincent and Larry and Candy. And this is how they live. (Davis Simon pro-tip: Wait until the show concludes and binge watch the series over the course of a weekend—it’s more delectable in one long bite.) —Jason Parham

Watch: Sundays, 9 pm

The Gifted (Fox)

Super-powered mutants go on the run in a world that hates and fears them. But because The Gifted is on Fox, owner of the rights to the X-Men, this Marvel Comics-based show actually gets to use the word “mutant,” and the characters are a delightful scrape of the X-books. Hey, it’s the teleporting Blink! And Polaris, Mutant Mistress of Magnetism! But let me sweeten the pot: Garret Dillahunt is the bad guy. Genially hilarious in Raising Hope, laconically terrifying in Justified and Deadwood … Dillahunt is the best. And the showrunner is Matt Nix, whose show Burn Notice was the spy version of MacGyver, and if you hate that, we’re not friends. —Adam Rogers

Watch: Mondays 9pm/8pm Central, starting Oct. 2

Lore (Amazon)

The first ever podcast-to-Prime adaptation, Lore is a six-episode anthology series based on Aaron Mahnke’s hit horror show, bringing together re-enactments and archival footage to dramatize (supposed) real-life tales of spookiness. The cast includes ex-X-Files star Robert Patrick and Teen Wolf‘s Holland Roden, but the real star might be the trailer’s creepy, dead-eyed doll, who looks kind of like a Motherboy costume come to life. Arriving just in time for Halloween, Lore will at least give folks something new to dig into after they’ve rewatched A Nightmare on Elm Street for the gazillionth time. —Brian Raftery

Watch: Oct. 13

Back (Sundance Now)

Even if comedy duo David Mitchell and Robert Webb hadn’t given us the absurd perfection that is “Numberwang,” they’d still deserve a lifetime achievement award for sitcom Peep Show, which lasted for nine seasons of perspective-shifting bliss. (Seriously, everyone, watch Peep Show.) And now, they’re back! The new sitcom—in which a beleaguered man (Mitchell) is reunited with a long-lost, and insufferably smarmy, foster brother (Webb)—reprises the superego-vs-id dynamic the pair is so beloved for. Granted, it’s on Sundance’s streaming platform, Sundance Now, meaning you’d have to pony up for yet another subscription, but if you have a VPN you can watch it for free on the site for UK network Channel 4. And if not … well, what would Superhans do? —Peter Rubin

Watch: Nov. 5

Future Man (Hulu)

Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg have taken on just about every genre out there, from disaster movies (This Is the End) to comic-book adaptations (Preacher) to animation (Sausage Party), but it’s taken them until now to bring their filthy comedic lens to sci-fi. A janitor (Josh Hutcherson) finds out his favorite video game is actually a recruitment tool—and now he’s conscripted by the game’s heroes (Eliza Coupe and Derek Wilson) to put those skills to use, time-hopping through his family’s history in a bid to stave off global disaster. At least, that’s the masturbation-joke-free version; the real version is exactly what you’d expect, if Rogen and Goldberg had shared a Back to the FutureLast Starfighter-psilocybin smoothie. —Peter Rubin

Watch: Nov. 14

The Runaways (Hulu)

Super-powered teenagers go on the run in a world that hates and fears them. But because The Runaways is on Hulu and made by Disney-Marvel, this Marvel Comics-based show does not have mutants or X-Men. Nosiree. Maybe some Inhumans. Thing is, the comic was created by Bryan K. Vaughan, and its X-Manly premise is that the millennial kids find out their Gen-X parents are super villains. Which seems right. Like the Netflix Marvel shows, Runaways is nominally set in the same universe as the Avengers, but, shyyeaah, whatever. Oh, remember James Marsters, who was so yummy as bad boy Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Well, he’s the dad now, so let that sink in. —Adam Rogers

Watch: Nov. 21

She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix)

Movie-to-TV remakes are one of the hardest gambles in television. Which is not to say there haven’t been successes; Fargo and Friday Night Lights are as equally beloved as their cinema archetypes. It’s just that it can be difficult to live up to the film’s original glory. (The cynic in me would do away with TV remakes altogether; creators have a duty to construct modern ideas not rework used concepts). Spike Lee’s episodic update of his 1986 debut feature falls somewhere in the middle. It’s got a phenomenal score, mouthfuls of beautiful camera work, and emerging talents like Anthony Ramos as Mars Blackmon, who is nothing but electricity and charisma. But it’s still a 2017 Spike Lee joint, which means the seasoned auteur is regrettably going to rely on some of his old habits—mainly, the heavy-handed approach to storytelling. He rarely lets the viewer do any of the labor, or arrive at their own conclusions. Even so, She’s Gotta Have It is a treat to watch, especially its small, digressive conversations about gentrification or white privilege or sexual hypocrisy. It’s here, in the intimate space between lovers and friends, where Lee hits his stride. —Jason Parham

Watch: Nov. 23

Happy! (Syfy)

Of all the Grant Morrison comics you can imagine as a TV show, Happy—his 2013 miniseries about a cop-turned-hitman who changes his ways when he finds himself saddled with a tiny imaginary talking blue unicorn—might be the last. Then again, you’re not Syfy. With Chris Meloni as the hired gun in question, and Patton Oswalt as the titular unicorn, this one is poised to be a holiday miracle. Assuming it’s a faithful adaptation, hope you don’t mind some psycho Santas and sex crimes with your eggnog! Not for the faint of heart, but it might be just the thing to get you in the state of mind for some time with the family. —Peter Rubin

Watch: Dec. 6

Will & Grace (NBC)

It’s been 11 years since Will & Grace went off the air. But after the cast reunited for a get-out-the-vote video during last year’s election, America—or rather, NBC and show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick—decided it was time to bring Will (Eric McCormack), Grace (Debra Messing), Jack (Sean Hayes), and Karen (Megan Mullally) back to TV. Although the showrunners have promised W&G v. 2.0 will address the current political climate the way its previous Bush/Cheney-needling seasons did, they’ve also sworn it won’t be all-Trump-jokes-all-the-time. A lot has changed in the queer rights movement and in the TV landscape since Will & Grace ended in 2006, and its hard to tell if the show can be as revolutionary now as it was when it first aired in 1998. But even if it doesn’t change the world, watching it reclaim its magic will be a hoot. —Angela Watercutter

Watch: Thursdays, 9pm/8pm Central

Tech

Ford, Lyft will partner to deploy self-driving cars

DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co said on Wednesday it will collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride services company’s network in large numbers by 2021.

Ford and Lyft teams will begin working together to design software to allow Ford vehicles to communicate with Lyft’s smartphone apps.

Ford self-driving test vehicles will be connected to Lyft’s network, but at first, customers will not be able to use them, Sherif Marakby, Ford’s vice president for autonomous vehicles and electrification, told Reuters. Ford will put human-driven vehicles on Lyft’s network.

He did not say when Ford and Lyft expect to offer the first rides in self-driving cars.

“We’re not building prototypes for the sake of building prototypes,” Marakby said, adding Ford intends to ultimately put thousands of self-driving vehicles in use.

Ford’s new Chief Executive Jim Hackett is scheduled to meet with investors on Tuesday to outline the Dearborn, Mich. automaker’s strategy for boosting profitability. Ford shares are down 1.65 percent so far this year, while Detroit rival General Motors Co’s shares have risen 15.6 percent, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV shares are up 71 percent.

Hackett’s plans to compete for revenue from mobility services, which include car sharing and ride-hailing, will be one area of focus for investors. The Lyft partnership fills in a piece of the puzzle.

Ford also is testing delivery services using self-driving vehicles and a van shuttle service. The self-driving vehicles Ford will deploy through Lyft will use software developed by Argo AI, a company in which Ford is investing $ 1 billion over the next five years.

The company has said it will invest $ 700 million in a factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, to make it capable of building electric and self driving vehicles.

Lyft has said it will offer an open platform for companies to deploy self-driving vehicles on its network, and has partnerships with self driving vehicle technology startup Drive.ai and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self driving car unit.

GM has a 9 percent stake in Lyft, acquired for $ 500 million in January 2016. “Our relationship with GM has always been a non-exclusive relationship,” Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer, told Reuters.

GM is also assembling the assets necessary to launch its own ride services using self-driving cars, building its Maven car-sharing unit and preparing to launch mass production of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric cars at a factory in suburban Detroit.

Reporting By Joseph White; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

UK inventor James Dyson to launch electric car by 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – James Dyson, billionaire inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, said on Tuesday his company was building an electric car which will launch by 2020, the latest firm to challenge traditional carmakers in a burgeoning market.

Tesla has already shaken up the sector around the world and Dyson said it would now spend 2 billion pounds ($ 2.7 billion) on solid-state battery technology and vehicle design.

Dyson had been developing new battery and electric motor technology for its vacuum cleaners and other products for the past 20 years, he said.

“Battery technology is very important to Dyson, electric motors are very important to Dyson, environmental control is very important to us,” Dyson, aged 71, said at his company’s flagship shop on London’s Oxford Street.

“I have been developing these technologies consistently because I could see that one day we could do a car.”

Dyson told staff in an email that the company finally had the opportunity to bring all its technologies together into a single product.

“Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential,” he added.

Dyson said a 400-strong team of engineers had already spent 2-1/2 years working on the secret project in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, developing the batteries that will power the in-house designed electric motor for the car.

The firm has yet to decide on where the vehicle would be manufactured, although it has ruled out working with any existing auto companies, Dyson said.

Last year, the government said in a report it was helping to fund a new battery electric vehicle at the firm, which will secure 174 million pounds ($ 233 million) of investment in the area and create over 500 jobs.

The entry was quickly changed and Dyson declined to comment at the time in a sign of the secrecy shrouding the project.

Dyson said the firm needed to make the announcement on Tuesday because it was becoming hard to talk to subcontractors, government and potential new employees.

Writing by Paul Sandle and Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Alibaba raising stake in Cainiao to majority, investing $15 billion to grow logistics

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is raising its stake in logistics affiliate Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd to 51 percent from 47 percent by investing 5.3 billion yuan ($ 801.21 million), Alibaba said on Tuesday.

Alibaba also said in a statement it will invest another 100 billion yuan ($ 15.12 billion) in the next five years to expand its global logistics network.

The additional investment will be used in research and development of Cainiao’s logistics data technology, and smart warehousing and smart delivery development, among other things, it said.

Alibaba co-founded Cainiao in 2013, with partners including department store owner Intime Group, conglomerate Fosun Group and a few logistics companies.

Reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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