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To: VinnieBagOfDonuts who wrote (158107)5/31/2019 3:37:37 AM
From: VinnieBagOfDonuts
1 Recommendation   of 164515
 
mspoweruser.com nreal mixed reality glasses will cost just $499, shipping later this year by Pradeep
May 30, 2019 at 17:15 GMT
(I guess 3 DoF may be a disadvantage and it looks like it needs a USB-C line in from the phone or other device, but they only weigh 3 ounces, look normal and run off of a Snapdragon 845)

(<--- see the black USB cord behind her left ear, extending toward her shoulder)

Early this year, a young startup called named nreal announced its first mixed reality glasses (link mspoweruser.com and posted below). Unlike Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap One, nreal light mixed-reality glasses looked attractive. They resemble regular sunglasses and it weighs just 85 grams allowing anyone to wear it for hours at a time.

nreal today announced that consumer version of nreal will be available for just $499 later this year. The developer edition is launching today for $1199. To use the nreal light consumer version, you need to own an ‘XR optimized’ devices powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Mobile Platform. You can connect the glasses with your device through an USB-C cable.

“We’re excited to finally make nreal light available to consumers, which at just $499 has dramatically lowered the barrier to adoption and introduces a new opportunity for mixed reality devices that are finally within the reach of an average consumer,” said Chi Xu, CEO and Founder of nreal.

nreal is also partnering with world-leading carriers including China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, EE, KDDI, KT, LG Uplus, Softbank Corp. and Swisscom for streaming 5G content to nreal glasses.

“nreal light Developer Kit” comes with three things: nreal light glasses, a 3 DoF controller and nreal’s proprietary computing pack. If you are interested in developing apps for nreal glasses, you can apply for the dev kit at nreal.ai.

Earlier story... (similar Bill Wolf post here Message 32042448 )

mspoweruser.com nreal’s new mixed reality glasses offer better FoV than Microsoft HoloLens by Pradeep
Jan 8, 2019 at 12:48 GMT

nreal, a young startup working on mixed reality technologies, today announced nreal light, its first mixed reality glasses. Unlike Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap One, nreal light resemble regular sunglasses and it weighs just 85 grams allowing consumers to wear it for hours at a time.

Just like Magic Leap, nreal has separated the compute system from the glasses. You need to carry a companion computing pack powered by the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform. According to nreal, despite its small form factor, light can offer accurate and realistic interactions between digital avatars and the real world using Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm and two onboard cameras.



nreal light will offer better Field of View of 52 degree when compared to Microsoft HoloLens’ 35 degree. It will also support spatial sound, voice commands and haptic-feedback controllers. nreal light will support interchangeable prescription lenses from the start. And you can charge the companion computing pack using standard USB-C port. You can also use the port for plug and play content from most USB-C compatible devices including laptops and desktops.

nreal light features:
  • Lightweight Form Factor – The featherweight of its class, nreal light weighs in at just 85 grams, only slightly heavier than sunglasses and comfortable enough to be worn for hours
  • Sleek Design – Ready-to-wear and meticulously designed, nreal light resembles sunglasses
  • Vivid Optical Display – nreal light’s high-resolution proprietary display at 1080p with 52º FoV brings a wide-screen view that showcases vivid graphics
  • Environmental Understanding – Designed with groundbreaking efficiency, nreal light uses just two cameras and sensors, which combined with SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) algorithms track the environment to make virtual objects interact seamlessly with the real world, with minimal computing power wastage
  • Cross Platform Compatibility – nreal’s external computing pack is powered by the Snapdragon 845 Mobile VR Platform, but also cross-platform compatible with most USB-C devices including laptops and desktops
  • Integrated Spatial Sound and Voice Control
– For a fully immersive experience, visuals are augmented by 360° spatial sound through dual speakers, while dual microphones offer control of your virtual environment through voice inputsWireless Controller

– With up to three degrees of freedom, nreal’s controllers offer haptic feedback with a responsiveness that’s intuitive to navigate a mixed reality



You can learn more about nreal light here.

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To: engineer who wrote (158131)5/31/2019 5:53:43 AM
From: slacker711
17 Recommendations   of 164515
 
Notice last name here. Also VERY KOREAN...…..as I said there is a lot of the Korean sentiment in many of the Koh rulings. Far too many to not show bias. Now we have all the OTHER Koreans weighing in on the case, complaining about how they got robbed.

Expect a huge pattern of this by the Korean community.





There is only one word for ascribing fifth columnist sentiments to people of a certain ethnicity....racist.

Timothy Lee is white and Koh has korean ancestors but they are both Americans.

Slacker

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To: Maurice Winn who wrote (158138)5/31/2019 7:24:21 AM
From: carranza2
7 Recommendations   of 164515
 
Mq, no.

Federal appellate tribunals are generally three in number, randomly selected. The panel has not been selected, so it is impossible to guess at this point what might happen solely on the basis of the identity of the judges who will hear the case, or their politics.

An appellate judge’s viewpoint can be predicted on a very rough basis by reading previously issued opinions in similar cases. However, the facts and the law count far more than anything else (including politics) at that level, not to mention something very technical that probably influences an appellate result more than anything: the applicable standard of review. This is in essence the methodology the appellate court is required to use in reviewing the trial court’s work. Depending on the case, it can be de novo in which the court reviews the case as if it were the trial court, evaluating evidence, etc. The standard can also be more deferential to account for the fact that the trial court heard the witnesses and could assess their credibility far better than an appellate court that only reads a cold record.

I don’t know what standard of review will apply here, but I did note that the Judge’s comments concerning Q’s witnesses’ credibility. She found many of them not credible. Unless there are serious errors made by the Judge in interpreting the various legal standards applicable to the case, that lack of credibility will undoubtedly hurt Q on appeal because appellate courts generally cannot overturn a court’s credibility determinations and findings of fact. Tons of cases exist in which the appellate court explicitly states that it disagrees with the trial court’s factual findings and credibility determinations, but is compelled by the pertinent standard of review to accept them.

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To: carranza2 who wrote (158145)5/31/2019 7:39:15 AM
From: Jeff Vayda
6 Recommendations   of 164515
 
Re: I don’t know what standard of review will apply here, but I did note that the Judge’s comments concerning Q’s witnesses’ credibility. She found many of them not credible. Unless there are serious errors made by the Judge in interpreting the various legal standards applicable to the case, that lack of credibility will undoubtedly hurt Q on appeal because appellate courts generally cannot overturn a court’s credibility determinations and findings of fact.

She obviously knows that and played heavily on it as a major tenet of her revisionist opinion. I take comfort in the fact the assembled panel will not likely share her zeal and will look at the structure of the law to weigh the evidence and reach a different opinion.

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To: Jeff Vayda who wrote (158146)5/31/2019 7:41:46 AM
From: carranza2
   of 164515
 
Exactly.

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From: Bill Wolf5/31/2019 7:46:53 AM
6 Recommendations   of 164515
 
Qualcomm has strong argument to win reversal of U.S. antitrust ruling: legal experts
[Reuters]
Reuters•May 31, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

(Reuters) - A rare public call by a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) official for one of the agency's courtroom victories to be reversed, in a case of anticompetitive business practices by chipmaker Qualcomm Inc, charts a strong course for a judge's ruling to be overturned on appeal, some legal experts said.

FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson, an appointee of Republican President Donald Trump, wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the May 22 ruling against Qualcomm "radically expanded a company’s legal obligation to help its competitors" and was based on a strained interpretation of a 1985 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California said that Qualcomm's licensing practices had strangled competition in parts of the computer chip market, harming rivals, smartphone makers, and consumers. She ordered the San Diego-based company to renegotiate licensing agreements at reasonable prices, without threatening to cut off supplies, and ordered that it be monitored for seven years to ensure its compliance.

The Qualcomm case has been controversial since it began in the final days of Democratic President Barack Obama's administration, with the lone Republican FTC commissioner at the time saying it should not be brought.

The op-ed by Wilson, one of five FTC commissioners, will not have any legal weight as Qualcomm appeals Koh's decision but foreshadows strong arguments the company has to win on appeal, Geoffrey Manne, director of the International Center for Law and Economics, and several other antitrust lawyers said.

Other experts, however, said the decision was well reasoned and relied on detailed factual findings and determinations of witness credibility that appeals courts would be reluctant to second-guess.

FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said the agency declined to comment.

The judge has not yet ruled on Qualcomm's request to put her decision on hold as it plans an appeal. The ruling sent Qualcomm shares tumbling and shaved $10 billion off the company's value.

Under U.S. antitrust law, companies generally can decide who they want to do business with. Even monopolists do not have a so-called "duty to deal" with competitors.

'ASPEN SKIING' U.S. SUPREME COURT CASE

But the Supreme Court created an exception to this rule in the 1985 case, known as "Aspen Skiing," holding that exiting a profitable, time-tested business arrangement could be an violation of competition law.

As Koh's ruling points out, Qualcomm once licensed its patents on industry-standard technology to rival chip makers, though the ruling does not make clear how extensive the practice was. Qualcomm abandoned the practice entirely in the early 2000s and began only licensing those patents to companies that make consumer devices such as smartphones, which contain chips.

Koh said Qualcomm's about-face was "motivated by anticompetitive malice" and was the sort of conduct prohibited by Aspen Skiing.

In Aspen Skiing, a ski resort operator backed out of a profitable, long-standing agreement with a rival to jointly sell a combination lift ticket package.

The Supreme Court said the company appeared to be sacrificing immediate profits in hopes of stomping out a competitor in the long run.

Qualcomm argued at trial that it never granted so-called "exhaustive" full licenses to other chip suppliers. Requiring it to grant them now, as Koh has ordered, would force it into a new business arrangement, rather than require a return to a previous one, the company argued.

The FTC's Wilson wrote that Koh had misapplied the Supreme Court case. Under the judge's logic, "Aspen Skiing now means that if a company ever sells any product to any competitor, it then could have a perpetual antitrust obligation to sell every product to every competitor," Wilson said.

Jonathan Barnett, a law professor at the University of Southern California, agreed that Koh's decision was in danger of being overturned by an appeals court.

The exception created by Aspen Skiing was supposed to be "very narrow," Barnett said. In a 2004 case involving Verizon Communications Inc, the high court cast doubt on Aspen Skiing, saying it was "at or near the outer boundary" of antitrust liability.

Manne said Koh erred in comparing Qualcomm's change in licensing practices to the conduct in Aspen Skiing.

The shift to device-level licensing "hardly originated with Qualcomm" and made a great deal of business sense because it was much more lucrative, Manne said.

But some legal experts said that Koh's heavy reliance on factual determinations, particularly findings that Qualcomm executives lacked credibility on the witness stand, made her ruling harder to challenge.

Appeals courts will not set aside a trial judge's factual findings unless there is "clear error" - a high standard that is difficult to meet.

Koh, for example, said in her decision that "many Qualcomm executives’ trial testimony was contradicted by these witnesses’ own contemporaneous emails, handwritten notes, and recorded statements to the Internal Revenue Service."

One Qualcomm in-house lawyer "pretended not to recall" details of a 2012 meeting until the FTC's lawyers played a recording from it, Koh said. And Qualcomm executives often responded with "fast and practiced narratives" when questioned by their own lawyers, Koh said.

"It was embarrassing and probably really damaging on appeal that Koh carefully documented the Qualcomm executives pretty clear lies in testimony," said Christopher Sagers, a professor of antitrust law at Cleveland State University.

Qualcomm said in a statement that it believes "a thorough examination of the evidence and the proper interpretation of the law will result in a reversal by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals."

Manne said that even under the deferential approach taken by appeals courts, Koh's decision was on thin ice.

"I definitely think she is incorrect on the law with respect to the duty to deal and Aspen Skiing, and she’s vulnerable to reversal on appeal," Manne said.

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe and Diane Bartz in Washington; additional reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

finance.yahoo.com

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From: Bill Wolf5/31/2019 7:48:50 AM
   of 164515
 
China Threatens Sweeping Blacklist of Firms After Huawei Ban
Bloomberg News,Bloomberg•May 31, 2019
China Threatens Sweeping Blacklist of Firms After Huawei Ban

(Bloomberg) -- China said it will establish a list of so-called “unreliable" entities it says damage the interests of domestic companies, a sweeping order that could potentially affect thousands of foreign firms as tensions escalate after the U.S. blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co.

China will set up a mechanism listing foreign enterprises, organizations and individuals that don’t obey market rules, violate contracts and block, cut off supply for non-commercial reasons or severely damage the legitimate interests of Chinese companies, Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said. Details of the list were not immediately available, though more will be announced “soon.”

The U.S. government has moved to curb Huawei’s ability to sell equipment in the U.S. and buy parts from American suppliers, potentially crippling one of China’s most successful -- but controversial -- global companies. That step has helped broaden the tariff war into a wider confrontation between China and the U.S., at a time when negotiations between the two sides have broken down.

The vague wording of the Chinese state media report opens the door for Beijing to target a broad swathe of the global tech industry -- from U.S. giants like Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. to even non-American suppliers that have cut off China’s largest technology company. Those run the gamut from Japan’s Toshiba to Britain’s Arm.

“Surely companies that have announced cutting supplies to Huawei, such as Panasonic and Toshiba, would be under threat,” said Michelle Lam, Greater China economist at Societe Generale SA in Hong Kong. “It could be very damaging to multinational companies.’’

The tariff conflict is set to ratchet up this weekend as the U.S. locks down higher duties on about $200 billion of goods arriving from China and Beijing implements its own retaliation. Talks between the two sides stalled earlier after U.S. President Donald Trump accused China of backing out of a deal that was taking shape and saying that China reneged on an agreement to legislate various agreed reforms.

China’s blacklist threat “sends pressure to Washington as the ban (on Chinese companies) from the U.S. side goes wider,” said James Yan, a Counterpoint Research analyst. “China may pick a few ‘bad examples’ to punish, but it’s unlikely to hit everyone in the supply chain.”

Chinese state media has floated potential retaliatory measures in recent days. Bloomberg News reported Friday that Beijing has readied a plan to restrict exports of rare earths to the U.S. if needed, according to people familiar with the matter. The measures would likely focus on heavy rare earths, a sub-group of the materials where the U.S. is particularly reliant on China.

(Updates with more details throughout.)

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Xiaoqing Pi in Beijing at xpi1@bloomberg.net;Miao Han in Beijing at mhan22@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey Black at jblack25@bloomberg.net, ;Daniel Ten Kate at dtenkate@bloomberg.net, Sharon Chen

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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From: Bill Wolf5/31/2019 7:56:43 AM
1 Recommendation   of 164515
 
Companies Like Apple That Depend on Rare-Earth Metals Have Nowhere to Turn
By Sophia Cai
May 30, 2019 6:30 a.m. ET

China’s threat to clamp down on exports of rare-earth metals poses problems, because those exports account for more than 80% of U.S. rare-earth imports, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. China not only mines the minerals but also has most of the world’s processing capacity.

Because the need for rare earths cuts across a range of industries—they are necessary in products including smartphones, glass, electric vehicles and jet engines—it is hard to pin down which companies have the most exposure to rare earths. But here are a few names that are very much dependent on Chinese supply.

Apple (AAPL) and other tech firms might take a hit. Trade tensions took their toll on Apple stock at the end of last year and in the latest escalations. Shares tumbled around 40% in the final 3 months of 2018 and nearly 16% since the beginning of May, and may drop even further if rare earths become the latest casualty in the trade war. Apple stock was down 0.48% to $177.38 on Wednesday.

Goldman Sachs analysts wrote last week that Apple is likely getting ready for its annual ramp-up of new iPhone production, to prepare for fall introductions, “so even a short term action affecting production could have longer term consequences for the company.”

Defense companies such as Raytheon (RTN), down 0.6% to $177.53, would also be in hot water if rare earths were in short supply. The metals are used in sensors and guidance systems for missiles, night-vision equipment, and gyroscopes in jets.

Manufacturers of electric vehicles would also have to figure something else out. Tesla (TSLA), for example, up 0.61% to $189.86, has been supplied with magnets by Chinese producer Beijing Zhongke Sanhuan High-Tech Co. since 2016.

As for alternatives to China, California’s Mountain Pass mine, operated by MP Materials, is the only rare-earths facility in the U.S. and one of only a few in the world with the potential to step in. But the raw material has to be sent to China for processing, where a 10% tariff has been imposed. And Beijing is set to increase that to 25% in June.

In anticipation of the possible shortage, the Australian mining company Lynas (LYC.Australia), up 26.32% to $2.16, announced on Monday that it would partner with the U.S. chemical company Blue Line to develop a processing plant for the industry in Hondo, Texas. However, that may take more than a year to complete.

Recycling isn’t an answer, either, because so little of the metal is used in any given application it can’t be effectively extracted from the used products.

Comments? E-mail us at editors@barrons.com

barrons.com

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From: Bill Wolf5/31/2019 7:58:49 AM
   of 164515
 
There’s a Lot Riding on Apple’s Next Keynote. Here’s What to Expect.
By Eric J. Savitz
May 31, 2019 5:30 a.m. ET

Apple ’s latest keynote address could hardly come at a more opportune time. Apple stock (ticker: AAPL) has sagged 18% since May 1 to a recent $178, trimming the company’s market cap by almost $150 billion. Investors are primarily concerned that iPhone sales could be muffled by the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

This Monday, at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, CEO Tim Cook and his colleagues will try to turn the page. The executives will take the stage at 1 p.m. ET on Monday in front of investors and fanboys alike who flock to San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center to learn about the latest versions of software for phones, Macs, Apple Watches, and Apple TV.

Those announcements could serve as a counterpoint to the trade-war worries. There are other concerns for the tech giant, though: Apple revenues fell 5% year-over-year in the March quarter, with revenue from the iPhone business down 17%, as consumers hang on to their phones longer. The saturated market is awaiting the likely arrival of 5G iPhones in 2020.

In particular, investors worry that China’s consumers will respond to U.S. sanctions on Huawei Technologies with a display of nationalist pride and a shift away from the iPhone to domestic phone brands. Citigroup analyst Jim Suva last week slashed his outlook for near-term iPhone sales in China by 50%, and Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty on Thursday warned that fallout from the China situation could possibly chop Apple’s fiscal 2020 profits by 20% or more.

The China issue has muted investor enthusiasm around Apple’s recent unveiling of multiple service offerings, including a credit card, the News+ app for reading newspapers and magazines, the Apple Arcade videogaming service, and Apple TV+, a new streaming service.

But now, for a few days at least, attention will turn to the company’s software platforms, all of which are due for substantial overhauls.

As per usual, Apple remains The Leakiest Place On Earth, and the gadget blogs are filled with informed guesses on what we’ll see. Here’s a brief rundown on some of the highlights:

Phones

Apple hardly ever uses WWDC for hardware announcements, so you won’t hear much about new phones. But you can expect to hear about what will likely be called iOS 13, the new version of the operating system software for iPhones and iPads. Expect a refreshed home screen, a new Dark Mode for better nighttime viewing, improved parental controls and better interactivity with MacOS. Major updates to the Apple Health app are anticipated. Expect updates to iMessage, Books, Maps, Mail and Find My iPhone.
Macs

Again, it’s not the usual venue for hardware news, but there is suspicion that Apple could use the event to launch a new version of the Mac Pro. What’s certainly coming is an updated MacOS, which is expected to feature the ability to run iPad apps on laptops and desktops. Eventually, Macs should also be able to run iPhone apps.
Watches

The Apple Watch reportedly is getting its own app store, a Books app, a calculator app, and updated health apps, plus new watch faces. You can never have enough watch faces.


TV

The question on TV is whether Apple discloses new information on its plans for the pending Apple TV+ streaming service. To date, Apple hasn’t provided details on pricing or bundling. That stands in contrast to Walt Disney ’s (DIS) announcement for its new streaming service, which included specifics on both pricing and subscription level targets.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives expects Apple to fill in some details on its various new service offerings, in particular TV+, where he thinks Apple can reach 100 million viewers within three years.


The 5G Question

5G is unlikely to be much of a focus next week—analysts don’t expect a 5G iPhone before 2020. But Ives thinks Apple at least needs to nod to the eventual adoption of 5G, given that the company is running behind Android—you can expect to see 5G Android phones on the market before the end of 2019. “5G has been one of the biggest disappointments for both Apple consumers and developers,” he said in an interview. “There’s risk of market share loss.”

Ives remains an Apple bull, with a Buy rating and $235 price target. He contends that roughly a third of Apple’s installed base of about 900 million iPhones is at least three years old and likely to be replaced in the next 12 to 18 months. He says about 20% of those older phones are in China giving Apple the potential to sell 60 to 70 million phones in that time period.

Ives thinks the doomsday scenarios for Apple in China are likely overstated, given the large number of people there who work on iPhone manufacturing. Says Ives: “I’m not in the camp that says this is the beginning of the end of Apple in China.”

Write to Eric Savitz at eric.savitz@barrons.com

barrons.com

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To: Bill Wolf who wrote (158150)5/31/2019 8:02:39 AM
From: Bill Wolf
1 Recommendation   of 164515
 
Trade Worries Over Rare Earths Are Overblown. Here’s What You Need to Know and More.
By Al Root
May 30, 2019 2:11 p.m. ET

Rare-earth metals are back in the news. China dominates the production of these obscure elements and investors are asking a lot of questions because of the escalating U.S.-Chinese trade war.

What if exports are restricted? What will that mean for costs? Will production of technology goods collapse?

The most dire forecasts are, most likely, fantasy. Barron’s believes the debate over rare-earth elements is a big nothingburger. But all knowledge is useful, so Barron’s will tackle the rare-earth question as best we can.

What happened back in 2010 and 2011?

The Chinese government put in place export quotas and prices for rare-earth minerals surged.
Rare Earth Prices Spiked In the PastYttrium oxide price per metric ton in ShanghaiSource: Bloomberg

Chinese export quotas were cut from 31,310 metric tons in 2009 to 14,446 in 2011, a reduction of 46%. Eventually, the Chinese backed off and the 2012 export quota was 30,996 metric tons.

The volatility irked U.S. officials, who brought and won a World Trade Organization complaint against China. In 2015, about 4 year later, the WTO said Chinese export quotas were inconsistent with its rules.

Did Companies Freak Out in 2011?

Not really. In fact, almost no one mentioned rare-earth metals on earnings conference calls, investors presentations or in regulatory filings.

The last time, for instance, a defense prime contractor mentioned rare-earth metals was Lockheed Martin (ticker: LMT) in a 2014 environmental, social and governance filing.

“When selecting suppliers we aim to ensure operational capabilities, quality and financial stability,” reads Lockheed’s document. “The many factors we take into account include…rare earth elements and specialty materials dependencies.” That’s all the industry has to say.

Rare-earth metals are used in chemical refining, petroleum refining and automotive exhaust catalysts, and catalysts makers were forced to address the issue in 2010 and 2011.

“As you know, the Chinese Government reduced their export quotas for rare earth in July. And, published market prices for rare earth have risen significantly since then,” Fred Festa, former CEO of chemical conglomerate W.R. Grace (GRA), said in October 2010. “Our portfolio includes formulations that contain varying amounts of rare earth, and some with no rare earth. The breadth of the product portfolio and our deep understanding of our customer requirements, will allow us to meet their changing needs.”

When companies face inflation or rising prices they often can substitute materials.

Tech executives also fielded some rare-earth questions. Former ATMI CEO Doug Neugold called it a nonissue. ATMI was purchased by Entegris (ENTG) in 2014.

The only company to quantify the impact of higher prices, that we could find, was Albemarle (ALB). “Full-year 2010 saw $78 million in raw material costs inflation, roughly half of that was in metals and rare earths used in our refinery catalyst products,” explained former CEO Mark Rohr. “Rare earths as you know have increased dramatically in value over the past year from under $10,000 a ton to over $60,000 per ton.”

Half of the inflation, or $39 million, works out to about 2% of total 2010 company costs and 9% of 2010 operating income. That’s not insignificant, but Albemarle adjusts pricing when raw materials rise.

What have companies said recently?

Johnson Matthey (JMAT.London) is a catalyst maker and addressed rare-earth metals in a presentation on Wednesday.

“[In] 2011 we did have quite a big impact when the prices went up enormously,” explained CEO Robert Macleod. “We always managed to access the rare earths we needed. And I don’t think there is any difference this time. Although we’ve learned the lessons from that. So we’ve now got…multiple sourcing options, multiple sourcing routes, as well as if prices go up we’ve got the price escalator in our contracts.”

“Our total global spend in North America is relatively small,” added John Walker, sector chief of clean air for Matthey. “We are in pretty good shape.”

That’s about it for current comments. Most companies Barron’s reached out to either declined to comment or didn’t have the data readily available.

What is Wall Street saying?

Not much. UBS defense analyst Myles Walton tackled the issue in a Thursday research report. He noted there are 920 pounds of rare-earth elements in each F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Walton is referencing an Air Force Magazine article, but the article doesn’t say what the metals are for.

Those rare-earth elements are probably for magnets. So, in a catastrophic scenario, Lockheed would have to use different magnets in motors and drives. Lockheed wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“Bottom-line,” Walton concludes, “The rare earth element is something to watch for the U.S. defense market.”

What are rare-earth metals?

They are 17 obscure elements at the bottom of the periodic table that show up in a variety of industrial and tech applications. Here’s a list:

Light rare earths: lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium and samarium

Heavy rare earths: yttrium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium

Some other related elements: zirconium, hafnium, niobium and tantalum
What are rare-earth metals used in?

Some of the uses have been mentioned above, but rare-earth minerals turn up in refining and chemical catalysts, glass, metal alloys, magnets, batteries, lasers and ceramics.

We can be a little more specific:

Praseodymium, neodymium samarium terbium, dysprosium end up in magnets. Magnets are in computer hard drives, consumer electronics, hybrid-vehicle electric motors, wind turbines, cordless power tools, and MRI machines.

Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium end up in batteries. Batteries such as these end up in phones and hybrid cars.

Europium, yttrium, terbium, lanthaum and cerium end up in energy efficient fluorescent lamps and LEDs.

Lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium and neodymium end up in oil refining catalysts.

Cerium, lanthanum and neodymium are used widely—in oil production, polishing powders for microchips, automotive catalysts and glass making.

Erbium, yttrium, terbium, europium are found in fiber optics for signal amplification.

Anything else?

Don’t forget, not all U.S. industrial and technology assets are in the U.S. Many are in China. Export restrictions would have to amount to a total ban to significantly derail an industry. And a tariff would only increase costs. The majority of rare-earth elements that China produces are consumed inside the country and end up in products that go somewhere else.

What is going to happen with rare-earth elements?

Not much. This isn’t the most significant weapon in China’s trade arsenal. And businesses adjust. Platinum, for instance, is another automotive catalyst and it gets recycled because it’s valuable. Platinum is sold by the troy ounce and it goes for about $26 million per metric ton. Recycling isn’t economic for most rare-earth metals, unless of course prices rise.

Of course, higher rare-earth prices are a boon for small-cap mining stocks and the VanEck Vectors Rare Earth ETF may be a good investment, for a time. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. economy has a rare-earth issue.

Write to Al Root at allen.root@dowjones.com

barrons.com

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