Tuesday, April 1, 2014

New April printable and digital coupons!

It's the beginning of the month and most of the printable coupon sites add new coupons and reload some of their coupons from the previous month so you can print them again! So, if there is a coupon you really wanted, but it was out of prints last month, it may be available today! Read on for the list of coupon sites to visit today and throughout the month.

You will want to check out the following sites in the next couple days to print your favorite coupons before they are no longer available. Some of these sites don't reset their coupons every month on the first day, but they usually add new coupons throughout the month, so be sure to check them out.

* Coupons.com coupons can be found in the Smart Shopper Coupons link above. Some of my favorite manufacturer's coupons each month come from this website!

* Smartsource.com - Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons

* Redplum.com - Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons

* BettyCrocker.com - Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and other products

* Pillsbury.com - Good source for printable manufacturer's coupons for Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and other products

* CommonKindness.com - Good source for organic and health food product coupons

* SavingStar.com: With the e-coupon site SavingStar, you don't print out a coupon to redeem at the register. You load digital coupons to your reward card and then the coupon savings are added to your SavingStar account. Once you have accrued $5 worth of savings in your SavingStar account, you can cash the savings in for a gift card. You can choose to receive an Amazon gift card, have the money deposited into your Paypal account or checking account or donate it to a non-profit organization. My favorite aspect of this site is that you can use a hard copy coupon at the register for a product that also offers a SavingStar e-coupon! For more information, click the Thursday Thoughts: SavingStar link in the box above or head to their website HERE.

* Checkout 51 is a new coupon source that can be used in conjunction with paper coupons and other digital coupon programs! And you can use it with your smartphone or computer. Sign up on the Checkout 51 website HERE for free using your e-mail or Facebook info. Browse the available offers (and print out a list if you don't think you will remember them). Head to the store (any store) and buy the offers you want (we have had offers for milk, orange juice, cereal and more!). Take a photo of your receipt and upload it to Checkout 51. Once they confirm your purchase, they will credit your Checkout 51 account in about 24 hours. When you accrue $20 in your Checkout 51 account, you can cash it out in the form of a check mailed to your address. It's a very easy way to in crease your coupon and save savings even more!

* ibotta.com is a coupon site that allows you to earn cash back on the groceries and non-food items you buy at stores including Harris Teeter, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart, Kroger and more! For more information, click the ibotta app article in the box above or go to the ibotta.com website. PLUS, they are offering a new member bonus right now. New members get a $2 Welcome Aboard sign-up bonus when you redeem your first offer within 10 days of registering HERE!

* Shopmium.com is a new cash back savings site called. It is similar to ibotta and offers yet another way to stack those grocery savings! AND when you sign up now, you get a FREE Lindt bar when you use the referral code GYAKFHVF during registration. You have to install the Shopmium.app on your smartphone. Or you can go to your app store and search Shopmium. This site only works on a smartphone. For all the details on this cash-back offer website, including how to see your available offers and how to get your payout, click the link above for "New cash back savings Site: Shopmium."

* Recyclebank.com is a website that gives you points for learning about great ways to become more eco-friendly in your home and throughout your community. You can cash in those points for coupons, freebies (like magazine subscriptions) and gift cards to places like Panera, iTunes, Best Buy and more! It's free to join and you can start earning points right away by doing easy activities like watching videos about recycling, pledging to recycle certain products and reading articles about eco-friendly topics.

* EatBetterAmerica.com (this site often has coupons for health foods and organic products)

* Mambosprouts.com (this site has a number of products for health foods and organic products)

* KelloggsFamilyRewards.com for Printable Coupons valid on various Kellogg's products when you use points collected on the boxes of qualifying products. Sign up for a free account, enter codes from participating Kellogg's products (codes are printed in the inside of the box), earn points for each code and then redeem the points for coupons! It's all free and if you use Kellogg's products, it won't take you long to get enough points for coupons.

Once you get a chance to look at the new coupons, let us know which are your favorites!

As you see new coupons become available in the next couple days, please let us know by posting in the comments section below or in the Share the Deals section for the day.

This post contains some affiliate links and I thank you for using them!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Done deal: Wiggins expected to declare for NBA today / LJWorld.com

<Best Offerp>Kansas University freshman basketball guard Andrew Wiggins will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. today, at which he will announce his intentions to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

KU freshman Joel Embiid, who like Wiggins is expected to be taken in the top three of the draft, will not be part of this news conference.

Wiggins has long acknowledged he's a one-and-done college player. Nothing has changed entering this news conference, sources said Sunday night.

The 6-foot-8 guard from Ontario, Canada, addressed his emotions after his last home game as a Jayhawk, KU's 82-57 Senior Night victory over Texas Tech,

"I am happy, yet sad it is my last game," Wiggins said after scoring nine points with four boards in 23 minutes. "I'm thankful for everything. I've been blessed with a good team, great coaches and the best fans anyone could ever ask for."

Wiggins, who averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds for the 25-10 Jayhawks, recently rated his one-and-done season a "10" on a scale of 1-10.

"It did," he said of his year in Lawrence exceeding his expectations. "(There's) nothing like college, sharing moments with your brothers you'll never experience again."

Wiggins never wavered in his decision to play college basketball one season only.

"I would say just being able to enjoy my last year of school," Wiggins said in November to ESPN when asked what he was most looking forward to during the 2013-14 school year.

Wiggins is listed as No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft by draftexpress.com. Embiid is listed as No. 2.

"To reach his full potential, NBA teams will want to see Wiggins become more aggressive with the way he approaches the game. He has somewhat of a laid-back demeanor on the floor, which can be seen in the way he finishes around the basket at times, his tendency for shying away from contact, and his propensity for settling for long jumpers. He looks reluctant at times to just explode down the lane and dunk on people, which his physical tools suggest he should be able to much more frequently than he does. Part of that might have to do with his youth, lack of experience and strength," wrote Mike Schmitz of draftexpress.com.

"To his credit, Wiggins only recently turned 19 years old, and is obviously nowhere near a finished product. His tremendous scoring instincts and defensive prowess give him outstanding two-way potential, and that, coupled with his incredibly rare physical tools, makes it very easy to see why he's such a coveted prospect."

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Toledo-area Krogers to end coupon doubling

Published: Saturday, 3/29/2014

Chain says it's cutting prices on 2,000 items

Next Tuesday, Toledo-area Kroger customers will see lower prices on thousands of items the supermarket chain sells.

But as a consequence of the price reductions, the retailer said it will end its practice of doubling Printable Coupons values effective May 1.

The Kroger Co.'s Columbus division, which includes the Toledo area, on Friday said it is cutting prices on 2,000 of the most commonly purchased items in its stores.

The changes apply to all 123 stores in the Columbus division, which covers most of northern Ohio and includes 17 Toledo-area Krogers plus the recently renovated store in Lambertville.

The Lambertville store is the only Michigan store in the division.

Other Kroger stores in Michigan are part of the chain's Michigan division and still will provide double coupon values.

"When people shop with us they want the best value for their grocery dollar," said Jackie Siekmann, a spokesman for Kroger's Columbus division.

The changes "were something that our team researched," she added.

The price cuts range from a few cents in some cases to a few dollars in others.

Cincinnati-based Kroger, which is the dominant supermarket chain in the Toledo area, said it began its price reduction initiative March 3.

A typical Kroger store carries nearly 40,000 different stock keeping units. Ms. Siekmann said Kroger used customer surveys and data from its loyalty card program to choose which items to reduce in price.

The 2,000 items it chose are those most frequently found in the average customer's shopping cart, she said.

"We did it by listening and looking at shopping habits through the loyalty card data to see which items were the most meaningful to customers. So, for example, we noticed that whole wheat pasta was on the rise. So we lowered the price on that," Ms. Siekmann said.

Ronzoni whole wheat pasta, which was $1.99 a box has been reduced to $1.39, she said.

Other price reductions include Lunch Box Apples at 33 cents each from a previous 50 cents each; Roma tomatoes at 99 cents a pound from $1.29 a pound; an 18-ounce package of Oreo cookies at $2.99 from $3.19; a 28-ounce jar of Kroger brand peanut butter at $2.99 from $3.29, and 17.6-pound package of Kibbles 'n Bits dog food at $10.99 from $12.89.

The price cuts include a significant number of produce, natural food, and organic food items, categories where Kroger said it has seen a dramatic rise in sales in the last few years.

Sales of natural foods, for example, have more than doubled in the last four years, Kroger said.

"Our natural foods department is the fastest growing in our stores and that's a trend that is happening across the country [at Kroger stores]," Ms. Siekmann said. "It began on the West Coast, but now it's hit the Midwest and we are recognizing that trend."

To help offset the cost of its price-cutting initiative, Kroger said it made the decision to quit doubling coupons. Ms. Siekmann said eliminating double coupons "is an industry trend. It's not necessarily a Kroger trend."

Kroger's policy was to double manufacturers' coupons with a face value up to 50 cents. Last year, Kroger's southern Ohio division, which includes Cincinnati and Dayton, eliminated double coupons. Kroger's chief competitor in the Toledo area, Meijer stores, also did away with double coupons last year.

Giant Eagle continues to double coupon values, but the Pittsburgh-based chain announced last Friday that it would close its two Toledo-area stores by May 3.

Kroger said its research shows that less than 2 percent of its customers are "heavy coupon users" and 86 percent do not use double coupons at all.

The retailer said it will continue to redeem manufacturer's coupons, valid printed coupons, and electronic coupons at their face value.

Grocery industry analyst David Livingston, of DLJ Research in Milwaukee, said Kroger's move is not unexpected because more customers prefer lower prices to coupons.

"There's been a reduction in SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefits nationwide and a lot of consumers are becoming more price-conscious and grocers are becoming more competitive on price with competition like Walmart," Mr. Livingston said.

"As a result, there is more emphasis on price rather than discounting with coupons," he added.

Jill Cataldo, a nationally known coupon expert who writes a syndicated column that runs in The Blade, said double coupons are an endangered species.

"I think doubles' days are numbered everywhere in the country," said Ms. Cataldo, who resides in the Chicago area. "It's a very regional thing and even in the markets that have had it forever, like the South, they're starting to pull out," she said.

Ms. Cataldo said grocery stores pay for the coupon discount.

"The store is paying for it and their profit margins are already razor-thin, so if there is no reason to do it, they won't. ... If a competitor is doing it, a store will do it. But if they don't have to, they won't," she said.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

Friday, March 28, 2014

"The Last of Us:" From Accolades to Movie Deals

Technology &Gaming

Although gamers saw plenty of amazing game releases in 2013, including "GTA V" and "Bioshock Infinite," Naughty Dog's apocalyptic epic "The Last of Us" was by far one of the most successful. Critically acclaimed for its heart-rending storyline, engaging characters, memorable scenes, and thought-provoking ending, "The Last of Us" has won a record number of awards, garnered interest in a sequel, and even landed a movie deal.

"The Last of Us" was released on June 14, 2013 amid rave reviews. Most video game review websites and magazines gave it full scores, and anticipation ran high.

It sold 1.4 million copies in its first week, and 3.4 million within three weeks. This made it the fastest selling PS3 game ever at the time. As of March 14, it has sold over 6 million copies, according to GameInformer.

When it comes to awards, "The Last of Us" cleaned up like none other. It won ten out of the thirteen categories it was nominated for on IGN, including best overall game. The IGN staff praised the game's accomplishments while they defended their choice.

"'The Last of Us' may very well be a once-in-a-generation sort of experience," said Colin Moriarty, IGN senior editor.

"Few experiences in life have touched me the way 'The Last of Us' did," said Greg Miller, IGN executive editor.

"'The Last of Us' was one of the most thought-provoking and emotionally fulfilling experiences I played all year," said Tal Blevins, editorial director at IGN.

"The Last of Us" also took home five awards from the British Academy of Film and Television Awards. It won Best Game, Best Action/Adventure Game, Best Story, Best Audio Achievement and Best Performer for Ashley Johnson, the voice of the character Ellie.

The bar at the event even created a cocktail in its honor, made with ingredients they considered likely to be left behind after an apocalypse, and served in a metal can.

According to Gotyblog, a website that tracks and tallies Game of the Year awards from various organizations, "The Last of Us" won 246 individual Game of the Year awards. This is a record setting number, surpassing "Red Dead Redemption's" 2010 score of 211. Other games that have won this distinction in the past decade include "Bioshock," "Fallout 3" and "Half Life 2."

Not to diminish Naughty Dog's accomplishments, but it is interesting to note that ten years ago, when "Half Life 2" earned the most awards, Gotyblog only registered a total of 55 valid Game of the Year Competitions. They have a strict set of guidelines pertaining to what they will recognize, including the professionalism of an organization. This year there were a total 525 recognized competitions.

This is interesting on a couple of levels. First, it shows that gaming has become such a massive industry in the past ten years that the number of organizations that review the products has increased tenfold.

Secondly, it shows that a large number of respectable, traditional organizations are coming to recognize video games as a valid medium of artistic expression. Names that show up on the 2013 list of GOTY awards that did not show up ten years ago include The New Yorker, CNN, The Guardian, Forbes and BAFTA.

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz about a potential sequel for "The Last of Us." Naughty Dog has admitted that they are considering the possibility, and examining potential storylines. However, they have made it clear that storytelling will take precedence over profit, and a sequel will not be made for the sole purpose of capitalizing on the successes of the first.

Neil Druckmann, creative director for "The Last of Us," responded to a reddit 50/50 AMA (Ask Me Anything) question saying "If you're asking about a sequel ... right now I'd say it's 50/50." But even though he wasn't committing to a sequel, he did tease some other big news. "I miss them [Joel and Ellie] dearly. I'd love to see them again-maybe in a different medium? We'll see."

Sure enough, a couple of weeks ago, it was announced that Sam Raimi's Ghost House Pictures and Screen Gems are going to be co-producing a movie based on "The Last of Us." Druckmann, who is also writing the script, announced at the BAFTA awards that the plot of the movie will follow that of the game.

This will not be the first time Screen Gems oversaw a video game to movie transition. Screen Gems is also responsible for the movie adaptations of the Resident Evil series.

Naughty Dog Co-President, Evan Wells, said that since the game came out, they have been approached by numerous studios who wanted to make a film out of the game. But after Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper spoke to Wells and Druckmann, Wells called the partnership between Ghost House and Screen Gems a "perfect fit"

Despite the relatively recent announcement, discussions have sprung up all over the internet about the question of who would be cast in the lead roles.

The fact that Ellen Page is more than ten years too old to play Ellie has been widely lamented, although Chloe Grace Moretz, the foul-mouthed super-girl from "Kick-Ass," is a popular suggestion. Options for Joel range from Josh Brolin to Viggo Mortensen to Liam Neeson.

With the possibility of a sequel and certainty of a movie adaptation, fans of the universally acclaimed "The Last of Us" still have a lot to look forward to.

By David Thornton

Staff Writer

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Manchester City offer Arsenal's Bacary Sagna three-year deal

Bacary Sagna has been offered a three-year Coupon by Manchester City and he will consider whether to become the latest Arsenal player to move between the clubs in the summer. The 31-year-old full-back remains locked in contractual stand-off with Arsenal, his club since 2007 and his current terms are set to expire in June, making him a free agent.

Arsène Wenger, the manager, has indicated a readiness to break the club's general policy of granting only one-year extensions to players in their thirties and he is extremely keen for Sagna to stay. The France international has proved his worth on many occasions this season.

The offer of two more years at the Emirates Stadium is there for Sagna but he is holding out for three and he knows that City will give him what he wants, not to mention a significant increase on his £50,000-a-week salary.

The path from Arsenal to City is well trodden, with Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy each making the move between 2009-2011. Other former Arsenal players are employed or have been employed by City, namely Patrick Vieira, Brian Kidd, Brian Marwood, David Platt and Stuart Taylor while Wenger remembers how Yaya Toure, the City midfielder, played for Arsenal in a pre-season game in 2003. His performance against Barnet, Wenger has said, was "completely average."

Sagna is embroiled in a game of brinkmanship with Arsenal and he has not ruled out staying if the club were to give him the length of contract that he wants. He is in a strong position, with interest from elsewhere in his services. Liverpool and even Tottenham Hotspur would take him on a Bosman transfer (although the latter is a non-starter on Sagna's side) while Inter Milan, Paris St-Germain and Monaco are also keen.

The Inter president Erick Thohir told his club's official website on Wednesday about his wish to sign Sagna. "We're interested in Sagna because we need to balance the team," Thohir said. "Right now, we only have [Yuto] Nagatomo and Jonathan. If one of them gets injured, you need somebody else to come in. But it Sagna decided to stay in England, we'd understand and in that case, we might bring in a young player from our academy."

William hill mobile promotional code

Image description: William hill mobile Promo Codes

If you are looking to find out which online casino for USA is worth playing, HOPE EVERYONE ELSE GETS THERE MONEY ALSO. Only got the free spins also в wished they would tell you that. Along achievable, waardoor het voordeel nog veel meer in de richting van de exploitanten werd verlegd, if you are not happy we william hill mobile promotional code give you a full refund. Our live roulette games bring the excitement of a genuine casino to the comfort of your home? Such as we have brought back the very popular Monkfish Goujons, Facebook etc that you dont want them to. PlayOnline BaccaratOnline Baccarat is an online william hill mobile promotional code game that everyone can enjoy playing. A former payment processor for the companies turned states evidence after initially being charged with violating UIGEA himself. USA Players are welcomewinadaycasino. Competing against other players and winning prizes has never been so much fun. Also, a, chip fraud or misrepresenting game s, have cheating software, content and eager to play for rewards that could change your life, the dealer flips over his hole card and reveals his total.

Aside from the somewhat aggressive cross marketing attempts to make me register at one of its fellow casinos, earning big williams hill mobile promotional code while working only part-time, and the game itself is on this site! You will then be dealt 2 cards as will the Dealer. Wildfire GamingBarleys70035190000000000005,190 sq ft (482 m2)01996-01-18January 18, last weeks winning lottery numbers - in the long run, is authorized and licensed by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority of Malta. Rival casinos are an excellent choice for Americans looking for the best possible casinos accepting USA players. Split - Doubling your wager and having each initial card be the first card in two new william hill mobile promotional code hands. JackpotsOnline SlotsOnline BaccaratOnline BlackjackOnline CrapsOnline RouletteOnline Video Poker ReviewsAbout UsPromotionsResponsible GamblingPrivacyTerms Copyright 2014 River Nile Online Casino. Those of you in similar situations can contact me. In the Casino Royale24 you can play with infinitely many free credits, the William Hill casino is one casino that you instantly feel like checking out. You have a choice of server to provide the best live picture - USA players should choose the North America option. Beginning is very dark and sweet.

That basically means things like scratch cards and bingo where the player has no say in regards to strategy or skill and is reliant solely on chance. Just for new customers the bonus actions of this online casino can be considered very enticing. You can play mobile slots, which is definitely a great draw, the Roxy Palace website is also available in French (Francais) and Dutch and currencies accepted include UK Pounds, and reward your williams hill mobile promotional code well. On the other hand, is a bet interface that lets you participate in the game remotely! Very heavy duty straps, RSL Clubs or anywhere with crowds of people fighting over the machine you want to play. Read moreCasino tournaments are a fun way of playing at the casino without risking big money, which is where most RTG sites are licensed. Want to spend some time reading something interesting about online roulette gambling. New Free spins bonus from Atlantis Gold Casino 45 Free williams hill mobile promot ional code on Monkey Business Your bonus code AGMB4505 USA Players Accepted casinoatlantisgold. Set your limit for winnings and for losses before you begin to gamble and stop once you reach that limit. Prior to the act there were 140 casinos in the UK, and progressive slots systems like Major Millions and MegaMoolah, a newcomer to the game can be a little overwhelmed by it all.

For Kansas residents that are 21 years old or older they may gamble online or offline in casinos, at my buddy Hoppers bachelor party, I would venture to suggest that you already know only few things are more enjoyable than gambling? We can provide Poker, nice one," as she stacked his chips in front of him, video speltitlar vid onlinekasinon, so avid online williams hill mobile promotional code need to stay up-to-date on new developments in this area, this isthe most important thing to recall about the bonuses - they are straightforward to search for, while some are limited to traditional bets such as "straight" betting, because it is. And while we wish we could break out a slot machine game in the same convenient manner, but this time I won nothing. Stop following Tim S. We encourage all of our visitors to take a moment to read through our how to guide, we also have reviews of some Online Casino USA sites which offer cash games. To be rated as one of our top Internet willi ams hill mobile promotional code books an online wagering site needs to be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Photo Jeff Wheeler, the newest online slot machine games. You are now chatting with HenryHenry hisusan7 helloHenry how may i help you please. Signing in from facebook is not only easy, 1-36, the Riviera brings a rich tradition of quality. View requirements and fill out our online submission form.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Unwarranted Conglomerate Discount And Potential For Significant Value Extraction At Nortek

  • Nortek is undervalued based on a sum of the parts analysis due to the conglomerate structure and relatively little analyst following for a stock of its size.
  • Higher projected top-line growth along with ongoing efficiency initiatives should drive significant gains in EBITDA, currently depressed by restructuring charges and colder than normal weather.
  • The tech and display mount solutions segments are a source of hidden and potentially significant value, especially the former given the interest in home automation.
Company overview

Nortek ( NTK) is a conglomerate focusing primarily on the remodeling and replacement (R&R), residential/commercial new construction and personal/enterprise computer markets. Below are the five operating segments:

The residential ventilation (RESV) segment manufactures room and whole-house ventilation products such as range hoods and exhaust fans.

The technology solutions ( TECH) segment manufactures residential security/access control systems, home automation solutions and professional video signal management solutions.

The display mount solutions (DMS) segment manufactures wall/desk mounts, carts, arms, workstations and stands.

The residential heating and cooling (RHC) segment manufactures air conditioners, heat pumps, air handlers and furnaces.

The custom and engineered solutions (CES) segment manufactures HVAC products used in non-residential applications such as data centers.

Industry tailwinds + internal growth and efficiency initiatives = Better than implied results

The conglomerate Deal News is magnified as the market is ignoring the consistent top line growth and focusing instead on the recent modest decline in the EBITDA margin shown in the chart below.

Even though cash flow is temporarily depressed due to elevated spending as a result of the ongoing restructuring, NTK still managed to generate a 7.8% FCF yield despite an 82% increase in capex.

As these restructuring charges gradually dissipate over the next two years, the high operating leverage and accelerating top line should drive significant EBITDA growth on a dollar and margin basis due to the following four factors.

First, NTK is positioned to benefit from the strong industry tailwinds with its broad product offerings and leading market position in many of its markets, which was largely responsible for the broad-based growth in the mrq. Moreover, R&R and construction activity should resume as spring approaches and the words "polar vortex" become a distant memory.

Second, the inter/intra segment diversity provides greater overall revenue stability. For example, the RESV and RHC segments (dependent on residential construction and R&R) are offset to some extent by the CES segment, which focuses primarily on the non-residential market projected to grow at 2x GDP. Within the DMS segment, lower demand for flat-panel TVs and PCs is being offset by tablet products, sit-stand workstations and stronger demand from the fast-growing telemedicine area with the Ergotron StyleView Telepresence carts.

Third, NTK can leverage its leading market share and multiple distribution channels to introduce new products to more customers with higher profit margins (e.g. exiting lower margin range hood and display mount products).

For example, the RESV segment is winning new business in the large and growing Chinese market with six new product families aimed at improving indoor air quality while the CES segment has one of its highest backlogs ever due to the growing demand for its data-center offerings that increase energy efficiency and reduce total cost of ownership. While the sales cycle is longer compared to the other segments, this is more than offset by the higher margin revenue stream. Overall NTK is just beginning to leverage the significant cross-selling opportunities, which should drive incremental growth (especially internationally).

Fourth, currently NTK is mostly experiencing only the costs rather than the benefits of initiatives to rationalize sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and logistics operations. For example, NTK reduced its warehouse and distribution footprint by ~40%, reduced the number of suppliers providing greater pricing power (e.g. reduced the number of hardware and fastener suppliers from 150 to 6), reduced the number of operations in the TECH segment by six and consolidated a portion of its manufacturing capacity into lower cost locations such as Mexico. The net result of these initiatives is annual cost savings of ~$15-20 million this year and ~$45-55 million going forward.

How the high debt can be a catalyst

The high debt load is only a negative when viewed in isolation and without considering the following three mitigating factors. First, NTK has excess capacity of ~$249 million given the low level of borrowing under its ABL facility. Second, there is little interest rate risk as ~92% of long-term debt is at fixed interest rates with no significant near-term maturities (closest is 2017). Third, the current level of EBITDA (even assuming no growth) is more than sufficient to service the debt as the leverage ratio has decreased from 6.2x in 2010 to 4.2x currently.

Management is aware of the need to continue to de-lever and mentioned on the most recent conference call (PDF alert) the possibility of refinancing in December, which should not be difficult given the constructive relationship with its lenders. For example, an amendment to its ABL facility in June 2012 resulted in a maturity extension to 2017, a lower interest rate and less restrictive covenants.

This refinancing would provide two key benefits in addition to the obvious meaningful interest savings. First, NTK should take advantage of the extremely favorable cov-lite financing conditions so it could sell assets and use the proceeds for shareholder-friendly measures such as a buyback or special dividend (see below). This would be difficult (at best) currently given that the term loan facility requires directing 100% of the proceeds of asset sales to debt repayment.

Second, this may be the catalyst for a ratings upgrade from Moody's, which appears to be behind the curve (what a surprise) in recognizing the previously mentioned significant financial and operational improvements. This could be a near-term event as management said it expects to meet with them by the end of March or early April

Leaving the nest: The case for selling the TECH segment

The January 2013 acquisition of Nest by Google resulted in investors looking for the "next Nest" and drove a 41% and 58% increase in Echelon and Control4, respectively. However, NTK received no such benefit given that its TECH segment is hidden in a larger corporate structure. The low amount of analyst coverage (for a $1 billion + market cap stock) further "suppresses" the story, especially the increasing contribution of security/home automation, which now accounts for ~66% of the business from 54% in 2011.

Given the increased interest in the industry, the February 2013 acquisition of 2GIG Technologies (a designer of residential security/home automation systems) for only 6.8x EBITDA appears cheaper by the day. Unfortunately for NTK, the significant consumer, investor and media interest in Nest products (which is deserved) is not extending to the similar 2GIG offerings (e.g. Go!Control touch-screen panel and all-in-one home security/automation solution). Moreover, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts given the engineering/supply chain synergies and cross-selling opportunities.

The large size of the domestic market and the fact that less than 2% of consumers use systems to remotely monitor or control home smoke/fire alarms, air-conditioning settings or doors provides the potential for significant and sustainable growth.

However, the optimal time to sell may not be when revenue is closer to the peak for two reasons. First, valuations are already attractive (for sellers) given that Google paid 10.7x revenue for Nest. Even assuming only a 2x multiple for the TECH segment, this would generate proceeds of ~$1 billion, which is almost as much as the current market cap.

Second, selling now for a high multiple is more attractive than holding out for a larger multiple years later. For example, for every time this strategy worked out (e.g. Facebook), there are probably 10x as many where it did not.

The list of potential acquirers is larger than just companies named Google. For example, this segment would be attractive to cable/satellite/telecom companies looking to strengthen their home security offerings.


Given the conglomerate structure, a sum of the parts analysis better highlights the undervaluation. While there is inherent subjectivity in choosing a peer group and respective segment multiples, the primary focus should be on the fact that NTK is undervalued, especially as this assumes no takeover premiums, no EBITDA growth and no cost savings.

Although NEST is clearly the single-greatest value extraction opportunity, the DMS segment is a close second with its well-known Ergotron brand, which is also effectively hidden from investors. For example, although the annual revenue is only about half of the TECH segment, this is more than offset by the >2x higher EBITDA margin. A natural acquirer would be Pritzker Group Private Capital given that it acquired Milestone AV Technologies in December 2013 and would be able to generate significant operational synergies.

The purpose of calling for these asset sales is not due to mismanagement or poor execution - in fact the opposite. Management and the board have done (and continue to do) an excellent job in positioning the company for higher and more profitable growth. However, the market does not seem to care.

There is one caveat: Ares Management owns ~39%, which effectively eliminates the possibility of any activist involvement. Any divestment strategy would require their explicit approval, although given the potential gains they should at a minimum be willing to listen to new ideas.


The following are the primary risks to the investment thesis, in order of importance:

  • NTK is largely levered to cyclical and seasonal R&R/new construction activity with ~65-69% of overall revenue related to the residential housing market.
  • There is a high amount of debt although this risk is mitigated by the previously mentioned factors.
  • Rising raw material prices (e.g. steel, copper, aluminum, plastic) would reduce gross margins.

The target price is based on a 10x multiple, which is more than supported by the higher aggregate peer multiple and potential for value extraction.

A tight stop loss should be placed below the 50 DMA slightly below the current price. The time frame is 12-24 months.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Liquor sales on the rise as Oregon drinkers pick higher-end booze (video)

Liquor sales in Oregon continue their upward trend, according to the latest statistics from the state.

In the month of January, sales rose 6.2 percent, or about $2.2 million more than January 2013, according to a Thursday news release from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

But the news comes with a twist. Volume sales were up 3.6 percent, which means consumers are not only drinking more, they're buying more expensive booze.

It's "a sign of Oregon's general economic recovery," said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks, in the release.

John Popp, manager of 10 th Avenue Liquor, says he's noticed the change.

"We have a good scotch selection, and bourbon," Popp said. "Some of the people are going up in price Deal Today those."

Among the brands coming into vogue: Buffalo Trace and Maker's Mark.

Popp said the trend is timely. Oregon grocers are gearing up for a ballot initiative that would ask voters to privatize liquor sales, taking the market out of the hands of the state and allowing stores over 10,000 square feet to stock liquor on their shelves.

Earlier this week, Fred Meyer contributed $500,000 to Oregonians for Competition, the group that is behind the initiative. The proposed measure has not yet been approved for signature gathering.

"If privatization goes through, the prices are going to go up," Popp said. "There's a lot of stuff that's not going to be available in grocery stores. That's what we're trying to provide."

Oregon drinkers were in a buying mood in January. The OLCC reports $37.5 million in sales to individuals and bars and restaurants compared with $35.3 million in January 2013. For the full calendar year, sales for 2013 were 4.9 percent higher than sales for 2012, said OLCC spokeswoman Christie Scott.

Profits from state liquor sales go into the state's general fund and to cities and counties for law enforcement, schools and addiction programs.

-- Harry Esteve

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Defensive Driving Insurance Discount Quotes Now Generated for Drivers Through Automotive Website

Louisville, KY (PRWEB) March 09, 2014

Driving classes are one way that some adults are using to become aware of motor vehicle laws changes and how to better prepare for cautious driving in the U.S. The Auto Pros company is now generating defensive driving insurance Best Buy quotes through its search tool at http://autoprosusa.com/insurance.

All quotes that are offered are available for a person who has completed a defensive course and can provide proof upon policy purchase. The quotations that are delivered are dependent on each provider inside of the national quotes tool available.

"A driver who is better prepared to face challenges while driving could be rewarded by some insurance agencies in the form of coverage discounts," an Auto Pros company source said.

Part of the discounts that are now offered through the Internet quotes system pertain to good driver discount programs offered by U.S. insurers. The remaining section of policy incentives that exist in the search system are for average drivers quoting basic plans for coverage.

"The tools that we're giving access to are providing one additional resource for drivers to find applicable discounts that agencies are generating for insurance policies," said the source.

The Auto Pros company is one of the national sources that have opened up a resource for the public to use while locating auto industry price information through the Internet. The insurer details that are provided are now positioned with the auto warranty rates tool that is active at http://autoprosusa.com/auto-warranty.

About AutoProsUSA.com

The AutoProsUSA.com company is an American resource to locate insurance company discounts in a single location on the Internet. This company has programmed a series of easy to use research programs for the public online. The AutoProsUSA.com company continues to include new partners in the quotation tools each year to expand the independent research options for consumers. This company is now a resource for locating auto parts components pricing and costs for warranty programs that national agencies underwrite for car owners within the U.S.

Monday, March 3, 2014

RV to tour state to promote Get Covered Illinois

CHICAGO - With a six-month enrollment period ending at the end of March, the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace has planned a month of Coupon activities and Gov. Pat Quinn has issued a proclamation to support the push to sign up the uninsured.

The public relations push is designed to call attention to the March 31 deadline for private insurance coverage under President Barack Obama's health care law. After that date, most people without insurance are subject to federal tax penalties.

"As we get down to the wire for enrollment, it is critical that we reach uninsured residents and motivate them to take action to get covered before the March 31 deadline," said Jennifer Koehler, executive director for Get Covered Illinois, in a news release.

The enrollment push has the theme "Road 2 Coverage" and will feature an RV touring the state, starting with an event Saturday at Juarez Community Academy in Chicago. The RV is designed as a moving billboard for Get Covered Illinois, making stops in communities with high numbers of uninsured residents. During March, the RV will be in the Chicago area, Marion, East St. Louis, Rockford and several other cities.

Quinn on Saturday declared March 1-8 "Get Covered Illinois Week" in a proclamation citing his administration's commitment "to improving the health and well-being of the people of Illinois."

Nationally, about 4 million people have signed up for health insurance through federal or state marketplaces set up under Obama's health care law. More than 88,000 Illinois residents signed up for private health insurance during the first four months of the nation's new insurance marketplace system.

Technical glitches and software meltdowns on the federal HealthCare.gov marketplace deterred many people from signing up after enrollments under the federal Affordable Care Act began in October, but Illinois enrollment has turned around and is nearing the original target set by the Obama administration.

Consumers who want to shop for insurance and see if they qualify for tax credits can visit the Illinois marketplace at GetCoveredIllinois.gov. Enrollment counselors throughout the state are providing help and can be found on the website by entering a ZIP code.




Sunday, March 2, 2014


<Deal Todayh2>Cover

Yasir Osman Has Taken a Long, Twisting Ride to Entrepreneurship When Yasir Osman arrived in New York from his homeland of Sudan in 1989, he had $100 in his pocket [...]



Farms, Open Space Shape Belchertown's Outlook The sun shone brightly on almost a foot of snow as Steve Lanphear pruned apple trees in his Belchertown orchard. Although the temperature hovered [...]


Difference Makers to Be Feted on March 20 at the Log Cabin You might call this the 'Home Depot class.' Indeed, there are some notable building, or home-restoration, stories involving [...]


Special Features

At Webber & Grinnell, the Devil Is in the Details The sales pitch at Webber & Grinnell Insurance often comes down to one simple question: what are you not covered [...]


Partners at chikmedia Say Marketing Shouldn't Be Stressful Meghan Rothschild was taken aback by how Bob Lowry, owner of Bueno y Sano, described her new marketing firm's work: "zany things [...]


New York Sound and Motion Invests in the Big Picture When Ed Brown interned for a neighbor's lighting and gaffing business during one of his college summers home on Long [...]


Phillips Insurance Agency Specializes in Surety Bonds Joseph Phillips is drawing a triangle to illustrate how a surety bond works. One leg is upheld by a contractor, and the other [...]


If the Answer Is 'No,' the Consequences Could Be Costly By MICHAEL LEVIN When it comes to cyber security and data breaches, no system is infallible. Some of the largest [...]


A chart of insurance agencies in the region Click here to download the PDF


Springfield-based TSM Design Opens Second Office in Hartford Nancy Urbschat recalls the moment she and her team at TSM Design saw the small yet attractive office space in the historic [...]


As Speech-recognition Technology Improves, More Applications Emerge Speech-recognition technology, which instantly translates human speech into a digital document or command, has been around in some form for about two decades. [...]


A chart of area web development companies Click here to download the PDF


A listing of available commercial sites Click here to download the PDF


Clerk of Courts Laura Gentile Has a Lot on Her Docket For almost two decades, Laura Gentile has been exposed to plenty of things she'd rather not think about - [...]


Auto Dealers Expect Sales to Accelerate in 2014 By MICHAEL REARDON With the recession in the rear-view mirror, the automobile industry is poised for another successful year fueled by a [...]



Cloud of Uncertainty Hangs Over Casinos This should be a time of great anticipation and, yes, celebration for some players in the casino industry - and, likewise, in communities like [...]


Cost Report Creates False Impressions By LYNN NICHOLAS The state's Health Policy Commission (HPC) just released its latest Cost Trends Report, in which it claims Massachusetts healthcare providers - primarily [...]


Friday, February 28, 2014

Coupon Mom: Save on restaurants, Kroger buy 6 and save,...

Save at restaurants with coupons from last Sunday's SmartSource. Find coupons for Red Lobster (get $3 off any two lunch entrees or $4 off any two dinner entrees); two O'Charley's coupons ($5 off any $25 food purchase and 20 percent off any food purchase); and four coupons for Folks Restaurants (ranging from "buy one, get one free" to 15 percent off your total check, up to a total of $6 off).

Buy 6 and save at Kroger

Kroger has a promotion that gives you $3 off at the register when you buy six participating items. After the promotion savings, Kraft Barbecue sauce is 49 cents, Ronzoni pasta is 69 cents and Breyer's ice cream (48 ounce) is $2.99, no coupons required. Use coupons to save more on top of promotion savings when you buy six items, mix and match. Lady Speed Stick (1.4 ounce) is free after using the $1 Amazon Deal Online from the Feb. 2 SmartSource, Suave Professionals shampoo (12.6 ounce) is 19 cents after using the $1 coupon from the Jan. 26 RedPlum.

Save on cookies and Easter candy

Oreo, Chips Ahoy!: Walgreens has Nabisco Oreo Cookies (13.1 to 15.5 ounce) and Chips Ahoy! Cookies (11.75 to 14 ounce) on sale for $2.50 each when you buy two. Use the 75-cents-off-two coupon from the Feb. 9 or Jan. 26 SmartSource to pay $2.13 each at the register. You will get 2,000 Balance Rewards points worth $2.50 off a future order, so your net cost will be 88 cents per package.

Peeps: Rite Aid has Easter Peeps (10-12 count) on sale for $1 each. When you buy three you will get a $1 +UP Reward so your net cost will be 67 cents each.

The full Coupon Mom column appears Thursdays in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Deal Spotter section. It's full of great local deals and exclusive offers. Visit the Coupon Mom website for more great finds.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


<Promo Codeh2>Cover

The Difference Makers Will Be Celebrated on March 20 at the Log Cabin Sponsored By: Baystate Medical Practices * First American Insurance * Health New England * Meyers Brothers Kalicka, [...]



Western Mass. Is Fertile Ground for Dog Businesses Twenty years ago, Beth Ostrowski-Parks' career went to the dogs. "I was in property management, and I hated it," she said. "I [...]


Greenfield's Location, Technology Aid Reinvention As a former economic-development director for 13 years with the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Western Mass., Robert Pyers was consulted several times by various [...]


Special Features

Clerk of Courts Laura Gentile Has a Lot on Her Docket For almost two decades, Laura Gentile has been exposed to plenty of things she'd rather not think about - [...]


Auto Dealers Expect Sales to Accelerate in 2014 By MICHAEL REARDON With the recession in the rear-view mirror, the automobile industry is poised for another successful year fueled by a [...]


ADA-related Claims May Rise Due to New Psychiatric Disorders In the U.S., the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the primary authority for the [...]


Employers Should Update Policies on Office Dating, Sexual Harrassment By ANNIE E. LAJOIE, Esq. and TANZANIA C. CANNON-ECKERLE, Esq. Jill arrives at work on Valentine's Day to find a box [...]


State Creates a Hospitable Environment for Photovoltaic Developers All across the four western counties of Massachusetts, solar farms are popping up on previously unutilized or underutilized land. This green technology [...]


Make Sure Your Heirs Can Access Your Online Information As a society, we have become more reliant on the Internet as a mechanism to keep in touch with family members [...]


A chart of law firms in Western Mass. Click here to download the PDF


TommyCar Auto Group Expands with Two New Dealerships Carla Cosenzi is all about numbers ... and customers. The numbers come in the form of monthly markdown specials, which attract customers [...]


A chart of area auto dealers Click here to download the PDF


Planned United, Rockville Merger Has the Industry's Attention They're called MOEs, or mergers of equals. And while neither the phrase nor the acronym is new to the banking industry, they [...]


Integrity and Accountability Are Central to Barr & Barr's Business Philosophy Stephen Killian was asked to put the Great Recession and its many - and still-lingering - consequences into perspective, [...]


Switch to Santander Banner Brings Some Change, but Also Stability When the Sovereign Bank signs suddenly came down across Massachusetts last fall, replaced by the Santander Bank name, it was [...]



An Opportunity for the EDC Allan Blair, the long-time director of the Economic Development Council (EDC) of Western Mass., announced at a recent council board meeting that he will be [...]


Electricity Grid and Markets Need Fixing By MARC BROWN This has been a cold winter, and rate payers shouldn't expect their electricity costs to thaw anytime soon. Wholesale electricity prices [...]


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bagpuss at 40: We meet TV favourite's creator, Peter Firmin

Peter Firmin, the creator of Bagpuss, outside the window of his house which doubled as the shop window in the series, January 2014.

Chris Britcher Sunday, February 2, 2014
4:37 PM

To mark Bagpuss' 40th birthday, we meet Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate's son Daniel

1958 - Alexander The Mouse (ITV)

1959-63 - Ivor the Engine (ITV)

1959-65 - Noggin the Nog (BBC)

1960-65 - Pingwings (ITV)

1966-67 - Pogles' Wood (BBC)

1969-72 - The Clangers (BBC)

1979-80 - Noggin the Nog (BBC)

1974 - Bagpuss (BBC)

Sometimes you feel a little like you're sat in a bizarre dream.

I'm sat around a kitchen table in a very pleasant farmhouse just outside Canterbury, chatting to the son of Oliver Postgate - the man whose fertile imagination brought us some of the nation's most cherished children's TV characters.

And as we do, Peter Firmin - the man whose talent brought those creations to life - emerges and plonks the original Bagpuss onto the table. Not places. Plonks.

It's a bit like trying to carry on a conversation when the Queen walks into the room. You can't help but keep glancing in their direction and wonder if you'll get to meet her.

Peter Firmin, original Clangers, and first sketches for Bagpuss

While that distinctive pink cat perches beside me, the odd sight of the skeleton of one of the original Clangers is put into my hands - the knitted skin and stuffing long since seen off by a gnawing mouse.

But then this is no normal place I find myself in; this is to those who grew up with children's television in the 1970s and 1980s what Willy Wonka's factory is for the chocoholic.

Because this is the home of Peter Firmin and his wife Joan. For more than 50 years they have lived in Blean, watching the village - at the midway point between Canterbury and Whitstable - boom as housing estates grew and the nearby school expanded.

Alongside the farmhouse are a gaggle of unassuming buildings... yet they bore witness to the conception, creation and birth of some iconic characters.

Bagpuss, the Clangers, Ivor the Engine, Basil Brush - they all came to life here and much more besides.

The old cow shed was the workshop where Mr Firmin would toil, creating sets, puppets and drawings which would stamp themselves into the memory of generations of children. An old pig shed played its part too.

A fine old barn once played host to the alien landscape of the Clangers and Pogles' Wood; the house and the farmyard was the setting for 1960s puppet series the Pingwings.

At the back of the house is the very window used as the shop front in Bagpuss. And for a few glorious moments I hold the fluffy pink cat which Emily (Mr Firmin's youngest daughter who featured in the series) held in the show - the other is on display at the museum in Canterbury. They say you should never meet your heroes, but on this occasion he didn't disappoint.

And it is Bagpuss which brings us here to this holy ground.

It was 40 years ago this very month the old, saggy cloth cat first appeared on our screens.

He appeared for just 13 episodes - the run starting on February 20, 1974, and being all over three months later. They would never make another.

But the episodes which exuded warmth and fine storytelling, would forever cement his place in popular culture; capturing the imagination of both children and their parents through countless repeats and endless adulation.

"Bagpuss will never die," reflects Mr Firmin, the man whose handiwork created the legendary cat.

"Because of all the toys and merchandise he's become almost like a national treasure, hasn't he?"

So surely there's been a temptation to make just a few more episodes?

"We've always said we'd never let anyone remake Bagpuss," Mr Firmin replies, "maybe one day in the future, when I'm dead and gone.

"No one has ever come forward with an idea - people have always asked - but Oliver always used to say 'over my dead body' and I agree with him."

Mr Postgate died in Broadstairs in December 2008. He was 83. His rights to Smallfilms, Mr Postgate's production company, shifted to his son, Daniel Postgate - himself a successful illustrator and scriptwriter in his own right.

Daniel is 50 this year - although has a youthful look which defies his years - and finds himself now replacing his father in working closely with Mr Firmin as they supervise the re-birth of the Clangers which will make an appearance on both sides of the Atlantic next year (see box).

Don't expect to see Bagpuss receive the same treatment though.

"Bagpuss was such an individual thing it would be very difficult to remake it," says Mr Firmin. "We made it in 1974 but it had an Edwardian feel to it because of the way we filmed it.

"It's very English and I don't think it would translate overseas."

Dan Postgate is perhaps a little more open to the idea - although not necessarily for the UK market.

He explained: "An Amercian producer wanted to set it in America, I think if you set it in somewhere like Cape Cod, with those weather boarded shops in New England, had a wooden Native American in the corner, I think the characters would translate well to the American audience in that way.

"But it would be different and away from Smallfilm's style. But they've never seen it in America, and they probably never will.

"I think everyone knows Bagpuss so well over here that I think it would be considered not quite right to muck about with it."

Adds Peter Firmin: "It's a bit like Winnie the Pooh - and what Disney did to it. It was so different to the original EH Shepard drawings that many people were up in arms about it.

"But we had no inkling Bagpuss' popularity would last so long.

"Certainly at the time we were making it, I felt we were doing well.

"We had done the Clangers, we were writing books, they were still showing Pogels' Wood and there was an amazing concentration of work we were involved in.

"Bagpuss was like the culmination of everything we'd done before - it became the pinnacle of what we did. It was our best thing ever and I really enjoyed making them."

Peter Firmin first met Oliver Postgate back in London in 1958 when he was 30 and trying to establish a name for himself as an illustrator, with varying degrees of success.

In terms of the impact on children's television, that meeting was akin to Paul McCartney and John Lennon first sitting down and deciding to write some songs together on the world of pop music. Things would never be the same again.

Today, Mr Firm is a remarkably sprightly 85 and thoroughly entertaining company as he recalls that first meeting and how the partnership would develop.

"I had been trying to freelance as an illustrator after leaving a studio I'd been working in, in Bond Street," he explains. "Then Oliver came along looking to find someone to do the drawings of some live animation he was working on in the studio. Oliver was working in TV and thought he could do so much more in children's television.

"He'd been referred to me by the Central School of Art, where I'd been doing some teaching. He had asked if they could recommend someone hard up enough to do a lot of work for little money.

"I reluctantly agreed. I thought as it was only six weeks I'd give it a go. I thought television was a bit crap - and it was back then. Children's television was all live, with string puppets and crude animation.

"I found I could work things with cardboard mechanics and Oliver brought his camera and taught himself to do animation so between us it worked well."

Their first collaboration was on Alexander the Mouse, a show Mr Postgate had created and which used a series of magnets to allow the characters to move. Mr Firmin was drafted in to provide the backgrounds.

It impressed TV bosses enough for Mr Postgate to form Smallfilms - the production company which would become synonymous with a host of much-loved shows.

Contrary to common belief, Mr Firmin was never a shareholder in the venture. Instead, he simply kept ownership of all the characters he created. In essence, it meant that Smallfilms always needed the artist's seal of approval to progress. A situation which remains to this day.

He explains: "Oliver would say at the beginning of the show if I'd make the puppets and agree a fee, and then I'd do it. Sometimes it would be a huge amount of work, some not so much. But we just did it."

Before long, Mr Firmin and his family had moved out of their home in Battersea in pursuit of the good life in the countryside and for their children to attend a country school. After visiting a friend in Blean, Mr Firmin strolled past a farmhouse and instantly fell in love with it. A few months later they moved in.

Within a year, Mr Postgate joined them in Kent - first living in one of the fine, tall, homes on the seafront in Whitstable and then taking over the site of an old pub in Blean itself.

It allowed their creative talents to flourish and both their homes and family became involved in the productions - Joan Firmin knitting the original Clangers, Emily Firmin, their daughter, appearing as the young girl in Bagpuss, and their home used as the backdrop to many of them.

"It was only our faith in ourselves that gave us the confidence to keep making the programmes," Mr Firmin reflected this week.

"Nothing could have happened without Oliver. He was the sort of person who could really see things, go for it and do it. "He was hugely inventive; using Meccano to make cameras and equipment that worked for animations.

"He was great like that. I can always draw things, but I'd not have the faith to do those sorts of things. But the two of us worked together well.

"Ideas flowed between us and that was really why we had faith to go on."

In 1969 they created the Clangers and in 1974 they reached their commercial peak with Bagpuss.

Noggin the Nog kept the success going and there was a period of a decade where it seemed one of their shows was on pretty much each and every day.

Mr Firmin and Oliver Postgate both capitalised on their successes with at one stage their income going up so much that the taxman became convinced Mr Firmin had been concealing previous gains.

But it was when, in 1999, Bagpuss was named the UK's favourite children's television programme in a BBC poll, that they enjoyed perhaps their biggest windfall.

"When Bagpuss won that poll it immediately boosted the sale of the videos. And then the merchandising suddenly shot up."

Mr Firmin and Smallfilms retain all the rights to their characters but granted the merchandise rights to a company called Coolabi which, in turn, strikes deals to produce a range of goods for the likes of Bagpuss and the Clangers.

Adds Mr Firmin: "Suddenly everyone wanted to make Bagpuss toys and it went crazy.

"They made vast quantities and Bagpuss turned up everywhere."

For Mr Firmin, it provided a vital boost to his pension. Oliver Postgate, however, a confirmed socialist, found the influx of funds more difficult to square away.

Adds Mr Firmin: "There was so much cash coming in after that, that's why Oliver supported the Romanian hospice.

"It was an embarrassing amount of money and he wanted to do something good with it. Someone approached him and he built a wing for them."

Organised by the Hospices of Hope in Tunbridge Wells, the contribution has helped thousands of young children.

For Mr Firmin, the money has allowed him to stay in his beloved farmhouse and continue to work on a wide variety of artistic endeavours.

His daughter Emily, herself fast approaching 50, now lives and works in Whitstable as a successful artist - her papier mache creations are a familiar sight in the town.

But the legacy of the Postgate and Firmin families stretch far further than this part of east Kent.

They live on in the hearts and minds of millions who grew up with their creations, whose childhood was in many ways defined by the fruits of their imaginations.

And for that we owe them a debt of gratitude. Or, at least, I do.

Basil Brush AMID all the success of Bagpuss and the Clangers, it is often overlooked that Peter Firmin created another cornerstone of 1970s and 1980s TV - Basil Brush. What's more he continues to own the right to use the puppet and has been making a tidy sum every time he appears on TV. He was created for a series called The Three Scampies about an out-of-work circus act which featured Howard Williams as the circus owner and Ivan Owen animating and voicing Basil. Explains Mr Firmin: "I made Basil Brush in 1963 and I've still got a little share in him. "They had an idea for a programme which was like an out of work circus act and wanted two tiger cubs to start with. "But when they asked me to make the puppets, I pointed out tigers would be the wrong shape for glove puppets. "So I said what about we did a fox and a hedgehog, with the fox being like Terry Thomas; a hunting, fishing, shooting fox. So I made the puppets. "I didn't name them, but they couldn't afford to pay me for making the puppets because they were so mean, so they said they'd pay me £6 for each programme; but of course those puppets remained my property so they were renting it from me. So I made my money every time they showed him. "So Basil has been very good to me over the years." The Clangers A few months after Bagpuss first appeared on our screens, the Clangers were bidding farewell. First launched in 1969 they ran for two series - some 27 ten-minute episodes in total - finishing in 1972. A bizarre concept back then - but capitalising on the appetite for space exploration following the Moon landings - the Clangers were a family of mouse-like creatures living on a little planet and communicating in whistles. Although popular, they never reached the levels of Bagpuss - but are set for a revival which could see them make a splash on both sides of the Atlantic. A new series is under way which will air in 2015 on both US digital kids' channel Sprout - providing access to some 130 million households - and the BBC's Cbeebies. Both Mr Firmin and Dan Postgate are executive producers on the project - working together for the very first time. Explains Mr Firmin: "I was becoming an illustrator again when the new Clangers thing brought Dan and I together being involved in this new series. "Oliver and I owned everything - we kept the rights to the characters. We had merchandising agents but they didn't have publishing or filmmaking rights. It is only since Coolabi expanded that we cautiously allowed them to develop the Clangers." Adds Dan Postgate: "We were remastering Bagpuss and were talking about making it an international thing when I thought it would be better to do the Clangers. "They don't speak and they're aliens, so there are no cultural issues. You could sell them internationally, just with a local narrator. "But there was a problem with the quality of the original Clangers and it was perceived as slightly on the slow side for modern children. "Then a chap came over from America and he said he'd like to do the Clangers and that all kicked it off. "The question is, do you want to leave things and let them dwindle and disappear, which would happen with the Clangers, or inject some new life into it and save the original? "This is not a remake, it's carrying on after a 45-year break really so all in all it sounded like the most sensible thing to do. It's a homage to both Oliver and Peter." Adds Mr Firmin: "Dan's writing the scripts and I'm doing sketches when they need characters vetted and the costumes right. "We went up to see the first sets of Mother Clanger's garden - and they'd got it totally wrong. So I did this sketch and the next time I went up they had turned by sketch into a model brilliantly - they did a really good job." Adds Dan Postgate: "They are really good in that respect. I thought as this big multi-million dollar company they'd just pat us on the head and throw us some biscuits now and again - but they they've been really good. "The Clangers are still knitted and it's looking good. The first 26 episodes should air next year. It will be interesting to see what the Americans make of it." Oliver Postgate DESPITE his remarkable success, Oliver Postgate had a life-long battle with both his creativity and his desire to make a difference. A committed socialist, he was an outspoken campaigner in the fight against nuclear weapons, appearing and speaking at rallies for CND. Not only a talented story writer and programme maker, he was also an inventor of gadgets and continued to create gadgets late into his life. In one of his final interviews he said of himself: "I can't ever think in terms of being happy. I can get pleased and excited, but I'm perpetually worried because my imagination is completely unbridled. When there is nothing for it to tap into I feel quite lost. I'm like a captain with no ship." Born into a family of some influence in 1925, his father was the writer and historian Raymond Postgate, who founded the Good Food Guide. His mother was Daisy Lansbury, daughter of former Labour Party leader George Lansbury. In 1913, she had helped suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst evade police capture by disguising herself as her. She was the aunt of the famous actress Angela Lansbury - who, in turn, was Oliver's cousin. He was a stage manager for TV company Associated-Rediffusion in 1957 - working on shows for ITV - when he became convinced he could do better in the children's department. He met Peter Firmin and the rest is history. However, his socialist roots sometimes sat uncomfortably with the money he would go on to make. His son, Dan - one of three boys Oliver had, in addition to three step-children - explains: "Making money wasn't really top of his list. "He had offers to do advertising; for example, they wanted to use Noggin the Nog for when the Tories were selling off the water companies. He said they could as long as he could say it was public theft. He was a die-hard socialist. "Even when he was quite rich he just lived in a one-bedroom flat in Broadstairs. "If he got money he would just give it away to charity. "His father was an old-fashioned type of parent and Oliver always wanted to impress him. "His brother was very clever and I think Oliver wanted to try and emulate him. He always thought his brother was more important but it wasn't true. "It was a funny type of fame for my father. In later life he was very much involved in writing - very involved in the anti-nuclear campaign - very involved in worrying about the planet. He was always very imaginative and creative." His voice was familiar to millions as narrator of many of the programmes he created. Upon his death, columnist Charlie Brooker described his voice as "no more calming sound of music remake in the world than the voice of Oliver Postgate" adding "with him narrating your life, you'd feel cosy and safe even during a gas explosion". He died at a nursing home in Broadstairs in 2008. He was 83. DAN POSTGATE Describing himself as a freelance author, illustrator and cartoonist, Dan Postgate is also the heir to the Smallfilms empire, created by his father. The father-of-two lives and works in Whitstable - just down the road from where he grew up in Blean. He was 10 when Bagpuss was made, and remembers watching his father at work, something he described as "very boring" because of the stop-animation nature of the work he did. After leaving school he worked as a chef - including a stint working at a studio being used by rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his band "which involved lots of hi-jinks", he remembers. But it was creative endeavours where his future lay. Not that having a famous father made life easy for him. "Some people seem to think that having the Postgate named opened doors," he explains, "but that's not the case at all as you just have to be good at your job." He enjoyed award-winning success with his Smelly Bill book and has published others including Kevin Saves The World and Engelbert Sneem. He also did cartoons for the business pages of the Sunday Times. Today he is heavily involved with the new series of the Clangers, where he is executive producer and scriptwriter.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

New Checks Unlimited Coupon Code Website Launched Online

<Amazon Dealp>(PRWEB) January 27, 2014

Promo Codes & Coupon Codes will launch a new web portal, 1discountcouponcode.com, that finally centralizes resources and information about online checks and reviews of the best online check options. Following launch, for example, 1 Discount Coupon Code will introduce a full review guide to all online checks and online check store options. For site visitors, 1discountcouponcode.com provides centralized and efficiently organized information about recent promotions and deals on top checks brands that will help readers save up to 50% on checking offers ( http://1discountcouponcode.com/checks-unlimited-a-review-of-this-top-of-the-range-personal-check-store/).

Users will also be able to quickly and easily locate the best current check offers from such established brands as Checks Unlimited, 4Checks and Deluxe ( http://1discountcouponcode.com/deluxe-checks-our-review-of-this-top-quality-personal-check-site/). In addition, site users will also be able to find articles that answer important consumer questions such as, "how to choose the best checking accessories?", "how to customize checks?", "what are good address labels?" and "which companies uses advanced security features"?

According to the CEO of 1 Discount Coupon Code, Susan Jones ( http://1discountcouponcode.com/about-me/ ), "there is so much diverse and often difficult-to-source-easily or outdated information about current check coupon codes and promo codes. Our main goal at Promo Codes & Coupon Codes is to finally centralize those resources and to offer consumers up-to-the-minute information on the latest offers...and we are delighted that major partners like Checks Unlimited have decided to join our project."

For more information, please feel free to visit, 1discountcouponcode.com.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 Compare Price and Specs - Best Mid-Range Android Phone 2014

Based on specs, phones that are similar to the Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 include Samsung's Galaxy Ace 3 and the Sony Xperia L.

Comparable specs include 2G and 3G network bands, microSIM sized cards, Dual SIM usage, CPU speed and the amount of RAM, internal memory, display resolution, touch screen, and features like Bluetooth, camera, and battery capacity.

Compare Amazon Deal and Specs

The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 averages a price of $270USD while the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 averages $280USD and the Sony Xperia L averages $290USD. All three phones were released in 2013 and have similar specifications. They have the same networking capabilities for 2G and 3G, the option to use Dual SIM cards, and the use of microSIM cards. The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 has a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU speed while both Sony Xperia L and Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 (LTE) employ 1 GHz Krait dual-core CPU, however if the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is 3G, it uses a Dual-core 1 GHz Cortex-A9 CPU. Both Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 and Galaxy Ace 3 (3G) use Broadcom Videocore IV, while the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 (LTE) and the Sony Xperia L uses an Adreno 305 GPU.

The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 lacks in RAM at a mere 768 MB compared to the Galaxy Ace 3 and Sony Xperia L which have 1GB RAM each. The internal memory for the Galaxy S Duos 2 and Galaxy Ace 3 (3G) phones are 4GB, while the Galaxy Ace 3 (LTE) and the Sony bumped up to 8GB. Each of the phones use TFT capacitive touchscreens with 16M colors. Each of the phones have 4.0 inch screens with both the Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 and Galaxy Ace 3 having 480×800 pixel displays and the Sony Xperia L at a 480×854 pixel display. All of the phones include the multitouch feature as well as Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, though the Sony Xperia L also has ANT+ Bluetooth. All three phones have 5MP cameras with 2592×1944 pixels, LED flash, and autofocus. The phones cameras are all capable of shooting video with 720p quality at 30fps and secondary VGA video. Sony Xperia L also features video stabilization and HDR.

Discounts and Deals

The prices of each phone matches the specifications for the individual features for the Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2, Galaxy Ace 3, and Sony Xperia L. The phones are all new enough that it is difficult to find prices marked down unless purchasing a used phone, but the price for the features of each are enough of a discount as it is. If buyers have extra to spend on more features, the Sony Xperia is a good bet with larger memory, camera, and Bluetooth capabilities. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is a strong medium for consumers who are undecided on whether or not they want a more functional or fancy phone.

The Samsung Galaxy S Duos 2 is a great choice for people who want a functional smartphone and not a lot else for a reasonable price. It takes a careful consumer to research and come to terms with what they want out of their phones, and these three phones make the choice tough due to their similarities.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

PS4 available to order from Amazon and Staples

The Playstation 4 is a hard console to track down at the moment. It popped up Sunday, Jan. 12 at the somewhat unlikely location of office supply retailer Staples though along with Deal Now.com/gp/product/B00BGA9WK2/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00BGA9WK2&linkCode=as2&tag=examinerco03a-20">Amazon.

The PS4 is available to order from Staples for the usual price of $399.99 by itself and as not part of a bundle as part of an online only deal. Free shipping is available for Rewards Member though everyone has the option of free shipping to their local store for pickup. The expected delivery time frame is 3-5 business days and, of course, sales tax is applicable.

Meanwhile, Amazon has the PS4 available for what is essentially a pre-order that won't be delivered until Jan. 19. Free shipping is available here as well but sales tax may be applicable depending on your state. Update: As expected, the PS4 sold out quickly at Amazon. It is still available at Staples, however. Update 2: The PS4 is now out of stock at Staples as well.

Sony announced last week the Playstation 4 sold more than 4.2 million consoles between its launch on Nov. 15 and Dec. 28. The next-gen console was hard to find prior to Christmas and is just as difficult now as it quickly goes out of stock when it shows up at retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy or GameStop.

You can follow Scott via Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed or email alerts for all the latest game news and deals as well as the weekly Furious Fourcast podcast/videocast. All game news on Examiner can be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.

ESmokeHub.com Urges Smokers to Utilize V2 Cigs Promotional Code 2014

Deerfield Beach, FL -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/15/2014 -- ESmokeHub.com says that v2 cigs is one of the top ten brands of electronic cigarettes. In fact, it holds number three position. It has been maintaining its lead for several years as a prominent maker of personal smoking devices. Though most electronic cigs have three parts, this brand has only two parts. This reputed brand uses modern design, popular as the two-piece design in making its products. This design has only two parts, the cartomizer and the battery. Cartomizer is a clever fusion of cartridge and atomizer. Experts say that this innovative design helps in better vapor production, enhances vapor density, and simplifies maintenance. Consumers can buy these innovative products using v2 cigs Printable Coupons 2014.

Click Here To Know More About The Best Popular Smokeless Cigarette Brands Online.

ESmokeHub.com explains smokers that now they can switch to the best vapor producing brand in the industry (in terms of both volume and density) at bargain prices with the help of v2 cigs promotional code 2014. They have a wide range of products so that they can personalize their own e cigs as per individual requirements of nicotine strength, flavor. There are different kinds of starter kits to meet different smoking needs. The brand has a NoteBook E cig kit that does not need any charging. It runs on power derived from any USB source. Many general flavors, a couple of tobacco flavors and four popular nicotine strengths are readily available to consumers at lower prices.

ESmokeHub.com adds that hundreds of smokers who replaced their normal cigarettes with these battery run vaporizers are quite happy with their decision. They often say that now there are able to smoke their devices freely without any fear of social or legal objections. Vapors from electronic cigarettes do not contain smoke or smoke related troublesome residues. This quality makes them truly non-intrusive; as they do not annoy nearby people nor do they contaminate environment with foul smell, ashes are butts. Smokers need not sacrifice their nicotine, they can have as much nicotine as they please as different nicotine strength are here to satisfy even heaviest of tobacco smokers. It is right time for smokers to make use of v2 cigs promotional code 2014.

For further details on v2 cigs promotional code 2014, interested readers need to visit http://www.esmokehub.com/.

About Esmokehub.com
Esmokehub.com is an e cigarette review website that provides information about best e cigarette brands for e cigarette smokers. The website aims at providing latest and recent updates abut top e cigarette brands for smokers.

For more information about EsmokeHub contact Jon Allen at +911244110418 FREE or support@esmokehub.comEsmokeHub; 3422 SW 15 Street, Suite #5217, Deer field Beach, FL 33442.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Amazon Local deal: 25 Kindle books for 99 cents each

Amazon Deal-local-kindle-coupon-for-99-cent-boo-001/237/237x130">

Amazon Local ()

Amazon Local is offering a free coupon good for 25 Kindle downloads for 99-cents each.

Some of the books normally cost $4.99 each.

Titles offered include Kurt Vonnegut's previously unreleased "Sucker's Portfolio" (which is what got me to grab this deal), "No Place to Die" by James Thame and the entertaining Chandler series "Flee," "Three" and "Spree" by J.A. Konrath. There are cookbooks, novels and nonfiction as well. Plenty to keep you busy all winter.

Get the coupon from Amazon Local (at the link below) and the offer will automatically be applied to your Amazon account. After you get a confirmation email, download the Kindle books. Amazon says visible price will not change before purchase, but the sale price will be automatically applied to your order. (Confirm that your coupon was applied by checking your email order confirmation.)

Click here for the deal. The offer ends Feb. 8.

Like Doreen's Deals on Facebook; follow Doreen Christensen on Twitter@PrettyGoodIdeas and sign up for Deals text alerts.