Report: Document Shows Apple Knew iPhone 6 Was More Likely to Bend

Apple knew ahead of time that its iPhone 6 was “more likely to bend” than other iPhones, according to tech news site Motherboard.

A lawsuit filed in 2016 claims Apple knew about defects with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, including so-called “touch disease” — or problems with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus touchscreen responsiveness, which can happen if the phone is bent.

While documents submitted by Apple in this case are under seal, U.S. District Court judge Lucy Koh made some information public in a procedural ruling on the case on May 7. In it, she said that “Apple’s internal testing ‘determined that the iPhone 6 was 3.3 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s (the model immediately prior to the subject iPhones) and that the iPhone 6 Plus was 7.2 times more likely to bend than the iPhone 5s.”

She continued: “Underscoring the point, one of the major concerns Apple identified prior to launching the iPhones was that they were ‘likely to bend more easily when compared to previous generations’ something that Apple described as ‘expected behavior.’”

Koh also wrote that Apple began adding reinforcement to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in May 2016 that caused malfunctions. (Koh also presides over a long-running patent infringement case between Apple v. Samsung).

After the premiere of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in 2014, some customers complained about the phones bending, leading media outlets to give the problem the nickname “bendgate.” Following those reports, Apple released a statement that minimized the problem:

“Our iPhones are designed, engineered and manufactured to be both beautiful and sturdy. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus feature a precision engineered unibody enclosure constructed from machining a custom grade of 6000 series anodized aluminum, which is tempered for extra strength. They also feature stainless steel and titanium inserts to reinforce high stress locations and use the strongest glass in the smartphone industry. We chose these high-quality materials and construction very carefully for their strength and durability. We also perform rigorous tests throughout the entire development cycle including 3-point bending, pressure point cycling, sit, torsion, and user studies. iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of our high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use.

“With normal use a bend in iPhone is extremely rare and through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus. As with any Apple product, if you have questions please contact Apple.”

Apple, according to Motherboard, has argued that bending cannot cause “touch disease” “unless the phones had already been repeatedly dropped on a hard surface.”

Fortune contacted Apple for more information about Motherboard’s report and will update as necessary.

Tesla shares seen rising despite 'fever pitch' of bad news: analyst

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Negative news stories about Tesla Inc have hit “fever pitch”, but the electric carmaker’s stock price is likely to surge as output of its Model 3 sedan improves, according to an analyst research report.

FILE PHOTO: A Tesla dealership is seen in West Drayton, just outside London, Britain, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

Following the publication of Baird Equity Research analyst Ben Kallo’s note on Wednesday, Tesla Chief Executive chimed in with a series of tweets critical of journalists’ coverage of his company.

Musk said on Twitter that he would create a website where readers could score the truth of news stories.

“Problem is journos are under constant pressure to get max clicks & earn advertising dollars or get fired. Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers,” Musk tweeted.

Tesla’s stock rose 1.48 percent to end at $279.07.

Kallo said news reports about factory accidents, employee turnover, and production pauses have contributed to investor pessimism but sentiment would likely recover as the company fixes factory bottlenecks and increases output of its Model 3.

“Sentiment is as negative as we have experienced around Tesla, and we want to lean into the fever pitch,” wrote Kallo, one of nine analysts who recommend buying Tesla’s stock, according to Thomson Reuters data.

He called the rise of negative Tesla headlines over the past month “increasingly immaterial.”

Another eight analysts recommend selling Tesla, and nine have neutral ratings.

Shares of Tesla remain down 7.0 percent since the Silicon Valley company reported quarterly financial results on May 2, when Musk refused to answer questions from analysts about the electric vehicle maker’s capital requirements, saying “boring, bonehead questions are not cool.”

Musk has repeatedly missed targets for Model 3 production, which Tesla is banking on to establish itself as a mass market seller of electric cars. Tesla’s stock has lost over a quarter of its value since closing at a record high last September.

A series of fiery Tesla car crashes and executive departures have also worried investors.

After Consumer Reports said on Monday that the Model 3 had “big flaws”, including braking slower than a full-sized pickup truck, Musk responded on Twitter that Tesla would fix the car’s braking system with a software update.

The mean analyst price target for Tesla has dipped to $289 from $326 a month ago. Kallo’s target of $411 is about 50 percent higher than Wednesday’s price.

On Tesla’s recent quarterly results conference call, Kallo commented that the flow of negative news stories about Tesla was making it difficult for even “believers” to own the company’s stock. Musk responded that investors worried about volatility should steer clear of Tesla’s shares.

GRAPHIC – Tesla Timeline: reut.rs/2GMQM3K

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Bill Berkrot

Elon Musk Suggests Big Oil Is Behind Critical Media Coverage of Tesla

Journalists may be critical of electric-car maker Tesla Inc. because oil and traditional auto companies are some of the biggest spenders on advertising, according to Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk.

Riled up by a Robert W. Baird analyst report that said “increasingly immaterial” headlines were dominating Tesla news cycles, Musk went on a Twitter attack Wednesday afternoon, saying the public no longer respects the media because of “holier-than-thou hypocrisy” and lies. Distrust of news outlets was the reason President Donald Trump got elected, he wrote.

“Problem is journos are under constant pressure to get max clicks & earn advertising dollars or get fired,” Musk tweeted in another post. “Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.”

Acer to unveil new Chromebooks, next step in Google's business pitch

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Acer Inc will unveil its first line of high-end laptops running Google’s Chrome OS on Wednesday, an executive told Reuters, as the computer maker looks to help Google in its effort to win over business users after taking the U.S. education market by storm.

FILE PHOTO: A shop attendant sits in an Acer booth in a computer mall in Taipei, March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang/File Photo

Chromebooks, as the devices are called, are known for running cloud-based applications and storing data online. Simple, cheap and with long-lasting batteries, they have become a popular option for students and children.

Devices made by Acer, HP Inc, Dell Inc and others, including Google itself, have taken nearly 60 percent of the U.S. grade-school market in the seven or so years since they appeared.

The new Acer machines are part of the latest step in Google’s long-term strategy to conquer the lucrative business market, where personal computers running Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system still account for 90 percent of the market.

Google, a part of Alphabet Inc, is pushing Chromebooks because they help draw customers to its cloud computing services and G Suite workplace software bundle – a rival to Microsoft’s Office – both of which are key to the company’s efforts to diversify revenue.

Chromebooks’ difficulties running complex applications have so far limited their appeal to businesses, but that could change soon.

“Chromebook from the gate has been that just-good-enough for your grandma device,” said Linn Huang, research director at technology advisory firm IDC. “They are still leaps and bounds behind, but this year and next year Google will make massive corrections to close the gap.”

Acer, which IDC estimates was the No. 2 Chromebook vendor in the United States last year, will outfit its new line with large, hardened screens, aluminum bodies and Intel Corp’s top-flight 8th Generation processors, said Gregg Prendergast, president of Acer Pan America.

He declined to specify prices, but said they would be higher than the typical $300 Chromebooks aimed at students.

Google, which makes its own $1,000-and-up Pixelbook, is working with other hardware manufacturers to launch other top-tier Chromebooks this year. Since August, Google has charged businesses $50 per laptop per year for a management license. Its education plan costs $30 annually.

Chromebooks’ adoption in schools has shown businesses that the devices are easy to secure and manage, according to Huang, but their “low horsepower” has limited use to fast-food outlets, shops, banks, health clinics and similar situations where a single lightweight and mobile device is shared by many employees.

Google has upped the capabilities of its software and increased the number of its authorized sales partners by 25 percent over the last year in an attempt to persuade business users that Chromebooks can handle more complex tasks.

Last year, more Chromebooks began supporting Google’s Android apps, which provide offline functionality and enable companies to make specialized software more accessible. Double-sided printing now works, though printing securely with identity badge scanning and printing multiple pages on one are still under development.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Bill Rigby

Former Uber engineer sues company alleging sexual harassment: law firm

(Reuters) – A former software engineer at Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] sued the ride-hailing service on Monday, claiming that she was subjected to sexual harassment during her employment but that her complaints were ignored, the law firm representing the plaintiff said.

FILE PHOTO: The Uber logo is displayed on a screen during the Women In The World Summit in New York City, U.S., April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

The law firm, Outten & Golden, said in a statement that Ingrid Avendano, who worked at Uber from 2014 to 2017, believes Uber displayed an “entrenched disregard” for the rights of female employees, and retaliated against her by denying her promotions and raises and giving her negative performance reviews.

Avendano filed her complaint with the California Superior Court in San Francisco, the law firm said. A copy of the complaint was not immediately available. Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York

Tesla Model 3 fails to get Consumer Reports nod due to 'big flaws'

(Reuters) – Influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports will not recommend Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) Model 3 sedan, saying on Monday it braked slower than a full-sized pickup truck, taking the shine off a day of gains for shares in Elon Musk’s electric car company.

The Tesla Model 3 is displayed during a media preview of the Auto China 2018 motor show in Beijing, China April 25, 2018. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Musk had driven shares in Tesla as much as 4 percent higher with weekend tweets showing the Silicon Valley company was aiming initially to deliver higher-priced, more profitable fully-loaded editions of the Model 3.

The car is seen as crucial to Tesla’s profitability at a time when it is battling to reverse production shortfalls, confronting reports of crashes involving its vehicles and facing increased skepticism over its finances.

On Twitter, Musk said the fully-loaded Model 3, with all-wheel drive, a dual motor and a 310-mile (499-km) range – but excluding its vaunted Autopilot feature – would cost $78,000. The company has not yet begun to make the $35,000 base price version that Tesla originally claimed would make it a mass-market vehicle.

Consumer Reports, however, declined to recommend the Model 3 and criticized it for having overly long stopping distances and a difficult-to-use center touchscreen.

The magazine, which provides an annual rating of vehicles sold in the United States, said even though its tests found plenty to like about the Model 3 and it was a thrill to drive, it had “big flaws.”

Tesla’s stopping distance of 152 feet (46 m) when braking at 60 miles per hour (100 km per hour) was “far worse” than any contemporary car tested by the magazine and about seven feet longer than the stopping distance of a Ford (F.N) F-150 full-sized pickup, it said.

Tesla said its own testing had found braking distances of 133 feet on average using the 18” Michelin all season tire, and as low as 126 feet with all tires currently available.

“Unlike other vehicles, Tesla is uniquely positioned to address more corner cases over time through over-the-air software updates, and it continually does so to improve factors such as stopping distance,” Tesla said.

“LOSE MONEY AND DIE”

Research firm Berenberg also helped give Tesla shares a boost on Monday, after it raised its share price target to $500 from $470 on Friday.

Its forecast, the highest among over two dozen analysts tracked by Thomson Reuters, is now more than $200 above the stock’s price, which has fallen $100 from September’s peak.

Musk, whose refusal to answer analysts’ questions on a call this month also hurt company shares, said in his weekend tweets that Tesla had to focus first on delivering Model 3s that were priced higher than the base version, or it would “die”.

“With production, 1st you need achieve target rate & then smooth out flow to achieve target cost. Shipping min cost Model 3 right away wd cause Tesla to lose money & die. Need 3 to 6 months after 5k/wk to ship $35k Tesla & live,” Musk tweeted.

The new Model 3 version’s price was similar to the BMW M3, “but 15 percent quicker & with better handling,” Musk added, without giving details.

Also over the weekend, a Model S sedan crashed and killed the driver in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of a recent spate of crashes, some of which involved fire and some of which took place while the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot technology was engaged.

In the latest case, the car launched off a rural county road into a nearby pond more than 60 feet from the road, state and local law enforcement said.

The car appeared to be going faster than the posted 35 mph limit, but authorities had not yet determined its speed and whether Autopilot was engaged, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

Tesla said it did not yet know the facts and had not yet received data from the car, but was cooperating with local authorities.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was gathering information and would “take action as appropriate.”

On Friday, proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) backed a shareholder proposal to separate Musk’s current chairman and CEO roles, suggesting that shareholders would be better served by having Musk focus on running the company.

Tesla shares closed up 2.8 percent to $284.49 on the Nasdaq.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma and Sonam Rai in Bengaluru; Writing by Alexandria Sage; editing by Patrick Graham and Lisa Shumaker

Bottom Fishing Again For A 9% Yield On Qualified Dividends

We’re returning to a very different theme for us – unlike most of our other articles, this is an article about a stock with no common dividends.

“Historically, we’ve chosen to use our cash to de-lever and to grow the business rather than pay dividends. One of the terms of our refinancing in the fall of last year is that we are unable to pay dividends on common stock until January 2021 unless we raise equity capital.” (Source: Q1 ’18 earnings call)

But don’t despair; Global Ship Lease (GSL) has a preferred series with a very attractive 9.13% dividend.

Profile:

Global Ship Lease is a containership lessor publicly traded since 15th August 2008 on the New York Stock Exchange. GSL is a Marshall Islands Corporation with administrative offices in London. It owns a fleet of high-quality, well-maintained containerships that are leased out under fixed-rate time charters.

GSL was created through a $1 billion spin-off from CMA CGM, the third-largest liner operator in the world, effected by a merger in August 2008 between the CMA CGM-owned entity and Marathon Acquisition Corp. (Marathon), a listed special purpose acquisition corporation (SPAC). Marathon was established by Michael Gross, chairman and CEO of investment firms Solar Capital (SLRC) and Solar Senior Capital (SUNS) and a founder and former senior partner of Apollo Management L.P, a leading private equity firm. Mr. Gross is GSL’s chairman of the board. (Source: GLS site)

(Source: GSL site)

CMA is one of the world’s largest shipping lines, with well over 2.5M TEU.

(Source: GSL site)

Earnings:

It’s sounding sort of good so far, right? But take a look at GSL’s earnings trailing growth stats – not too inspiring. Q3 ’17 had some positive numbers, but that’s about it:

GSL’s revenue, operating and net income and EBITDA have trended down since Q3 ’17, but the big black eye is that -$99.82 in negative net income in Q4 ’17:

This stems from GSL’s yearly review of its vessels from which it has taken large, non-cash impairments over the past three years:

(Source: GSL 2018 20-F)

Preferred Dividends:

We took a look at how this affects GSL’s preferred dividend coverage over the past three years. We adjusted net income by adding back the non-cash impairments and deducting preferred distributions. The preferred coverage averaged 5.68X over the past three fiscal years.

We also looked at preferred coverage from a cash flow perspective, via deducting vessel improvement and drydocking costs. This method shows a very robust coverage factor of 18.89x for 2017 and a three-year average coverage factor of 20.94X:

In addition, net cash provided by operating activities was $20.4 million in Q1 ’18, vs. just $8.2 million in Q1 ’17.

GSL’s preferred B series shares, GSL.PB, are cumulative, meaning that GSL must pay you for any skipped dividends. They should go ex-dividend again ~6/22/18. They have no maturity date, but the call date is on 8/20/19, leaving time for five more quarterly payouts:

Another plus is that, at $23.95, they’re $1.05/share below their $25.00 call value. Even though these shares have no maturity date, the table below details a scenario in which GSL redeems these shares on their 8/20/19 call date. Since they’re selling at a discount, their annualized yield to call date yield of 12.54% is much higher than their current yield.

You can track GSL’s preferred shares in our High Dividend Stocks By Sector Tables, in the Services section.

(Source: Quantumonline)

Industry Tailwinds:

Management gave numerous comments on the Q1 ’18 earnings call about the uptick in vessel rates, caused by a very low excess supply. The orderbook-to-fleet ratio has fallen from 60% in 2007 to just 12.6% in 2017.

“In the midsize of smaller categories vessel demand growth outpacing supply growth aren’t the same and multiyear basis exemplified by a significant reduction in the idle fleet, which is now fallen to below 1.5% on a capacity basis. This supply demand tension is driving upward pressure on short-term market rates and on asset values. Net fleet growth in most mid-size and smaller fleet segments was either negative or neutral in 2017, continuing a trend established in 2016.”

The Q1 ’18 spot market index was up 41% vs. Q1 ’17, but still near cyclical lows:

(Source: GSL site)

Here’s why this matters. Much of GSL’s fleet is chartered on lower rate contracts which are due to expire in 2018-2020.

“All but one of the vessels, which we expect to renew in the short-term market over the next 18 months or so, already is in that markets at relatively low rates, reflecting the state of the market at the time. The current rate for such a vessel is in excess of $20,000 per day, up significantly over the last 15 months.” (Source: Q1 ’18 earnings call)

(Source: GSL site)

Management signed a charter extension for the OOCL Qingdao in February at $14,000 per day, “up significantly from the $11,900 per day rate achieved by her sister ship just one month earlier, and well up on the approximately $8,000 per day market rate from a year ago. I’m pleased to say that this upward trend has continued and has in fact accelerated with the current prevailing rate for comparable vessel, an 8000 TEU ship in excess of $20,000 per day.” (Source: Q1 ’18 earnings call)

As rates are rising, vessel expenses are remaining stable – GSL’s average operating cost per ownership day was just under $6,500 per day, which is broadly in line with the prior year period.

Risks:

Vessel Impairments/Recontracting – We’ve shown how GSL’s non-cash impairment charges have hurt its net income in Q4 ’16 and in the past. If its market flips back to another downturn, it could hurt future recontracting rates and trigger more vessel impairments.

Valuations:

These valuations relate to GSL’s common units, which have risen ~20%, since we first wrote about them in January 2018. At $1.46, GSL has very low valuations for price/book, price/sales, and EV/EBITDA, but no common dividends.

Financials:

Those negative numbers for ROA, ROE, and operating margin are caused by GSL’s big non-cash vessel impairments. GSL’s Debt/Equity ratio is roughly in line with industry averages, whereas its net debt/EBITDA of 2.91X looks generally lower than other leverage valuations we’ve seen in the shipping industry.

Debt and Liquidity:

As of 3/31/18, GSL had $91.3M in cash and total assets of $689.1M, of which $592M were vessels. Its debt was $414.8M, with $360M of senior secured notes, plus $54M under its super senior secured credit facility.

Here’s a breakdown of liabilities, as of 3/31/18 (left column), and 12/31/18 (right column):

(Source: GSL site)

Options:

GSL has options available, but there are no bids on the call options, and the lowest put strikes are deep in the money, at $2.50 and $5.00.

However, if you’re interested in selling covered calls, we maintain daily a table of over 30 other trades in our Covered Calls Table.

We also have a similar size table of Cash Secured Puts, which is updated throughout each trading day.

Summary:

We rate the GSL.PB preferred shares a buy based upon their discount to call value, cumulative status, attractive yield, and very strong coverage.

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. Please practice due diligence before investing in any investment vehicle mentioned in this article.

We publish exclusive articles each week with investing ideas for the HDS+ site that you won’t see anywhere else.

Our strategy is working in 2018 – the HDS+ portfolio is outperforming the market handily, and has an average dividend yield of over 8%.

Disclosure: I am/we are long GSL.PB.

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.

A Security Flaw in a Free Web Service Let Anyone Anonymously Track U.S. Cell Phones

A bug in the free demo version of a service called LocationSmart made it easy for a moderately savvy attacker to anonymously track the location of nearly any U.S. cell phone, before the bug was identified by a security researcher. The flawed tracking portal has since been shuttered, but the incident is a scary reminder that cell phones can be a major risk to personal security and privacy.

LocationSmart allows location tracking of phones on networks including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. It normally requires that a phone’s owner consent to being tracked, and the company markets its service primarily to companies who want to keep track of their own workers, resources, or consenting customers.

But this week Robert Xiao, a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, told the security site KrebsOnSecurity that he had discovered a huge flaw in a demo tool that LocationSmart provided to potential customers. While the demo tool was supposed to require consent from the user being tracked, Xiao told KrebsOnSecurity that with “minimal effort” the tool could be used to “track most peoples’ cell phone without their consent.”

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Xiao and Krebs tested the exploit on several cell phone users, including one in Canada. In addition to finding the phones’ location to within 100 yards without the targets’ consent, the data could be plugged into Google Maps to determine the tracked phone’s direction of movement. (The tests were performed only after targets gave permission outside of the LocationSmart system). The exploit, which reportedly hinged on an insecure API feature, did not require that an attacker provide any of their own identity information.

In response to the report, LocationSmart issued a statement Friday saying that it has “resolved” the vulnerability and disabled the exploitable demo. The company also claims “the vulnerability was not exploited prior to May 16th and did not result in any customer information being obtained without their permission.”

The flaw was discovered, though, following reports that connected LocationSmart to another scary cell-tracking incident. On May 10th, the New York Times reported that a former Missouri sheriff had used a service provided by Securus Technologies to track the locations of private citizens without a court order. ZDNet then discovered that Securus was getting its data from LocationSmart.

At Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes Didn’t Work Alone

Theranos, the disgraced, collapsing, and allegedly fraud-rife blood-testing startup, is most often associated with its founder and CEO, Elizabeth Holmes. But a new profile by indefatigable Theranos watchdog John Carreyrou sheds light on another major figure, suggesting some of Theranos’ worst sins weren’t Holmes’ doing at all.

Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani was 37 years old and already a multimillionaire when he met Holmes, then 18, at a Stanford University language-learning program in China in 2002. According to reporting in the Wall Street Journal by Carreyrou, who has spearheaded efforts to uncover deceptive practices at Theranos, Balwani helped defend Holmes from bullies during that sojourn, and soon became her mentor. Within three years, Balwani had divorced his wife and was living with Holmes.

Though Holmes founded Theranos in 2004, Balwani was not directly involved until 2009. That’s when Balwani guaranteed a $12 million loan to keep the capital-intensive company going, and became president and COO. Former employees told Carreyrou that Balwani was both a flashy and overbearing presence, driving exotic cars and frequently berating employees. Balwani also reportedly fired Theranos employees so often that they were referred to as being “disappeared,” a phrase normally associated with despotic political regimes like those of Augusto Pinochet and the Nazi Gestapo.

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In particular, Balwani and Holmes fired or marginalized employees who raised concerns about the company’s working conditions, test results, or product claims. Balwani reportedly leaned on labworkers to reveal which of them had written a negative note about the company on the jobs site Glassdoor, while also ordering the company’s HR staff to write fake positive reviews on the site.

Though Holmes played a direct role in many of the most notorious episodes in the Theranos story – including displaying a fake laboratory to Vice President Joe Biden – it was Balwani who left the company after the depth of its problems became clear. Though the departure was framed as voluntary at the time, a source close to Holmes told Carreyrou that the CEO actually fired Balwani.

Balwani has denied charges from the SEC alleging fraud, including wild exaggerations of its revenue. He and Holmes are, unsurprisingly, no longer a couple.

Trump urged U.S. Postal Service to double package rates for Amazon: Washington Post

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has personally pushed the postmaster general to double the rates the U.S. Postal Service charges Amazon.com and other companies to ship packages, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing three unnamed sources.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is pictured inside the company’s office in Bengaluru, India, April 20, 2018. Picture taken April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa/File Photo

Postmaster General Megan Brennan resisted Trump’s suggestion in private conversations in 2017 and 2018, telling him that package delivery rates are set by contract and reviewed by an independent commission, the sources said, according to the newspaper.

She also told Trump, using a set of slides that showed other companies besides Amazon that partner for deliveries, that the arrangements have helped the financially challenged Postal Service, the Post said, citing the sources.

Trump has repeatedly said without evidence that deliveries for Amazon were costing the service money.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Amazon and the Postal Service declined to comment.

Trump has criticized both Amazon and Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of the online retailer. Bezos also privately owns The Washington Post, which has published stories that have angered the president.

Trump has repeatedly said without evidence that deliveries for Amazon were costing the service money. Last month, he ordered the creation of a task force to study the Postal Service and its financial difficulties.

Big increases in its parcel delivery rates could cost Amazon and other businesses billions, leading to higher prices for consumers.

Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Nick Zieminski