Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amazon Can Expect Good Q4 On Holiday Sales

Best Offer UK (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

We expect strong revenue growth accompanied bya slight improvement in margins as Amazon releases its Q4 2013 results on January 30. Although the retail sales during the holiday season showed mild growth, e-commerce benefited from the cold weather as buyers preferred shopping online rather than visiting stores. We expect Amazon's sales to grow faster than that of the online retail industry, due to its market leading position and supply chain efficiency. In addition, we expect some support from the continued expansion of web services, the Amazon Prime service and Kindle sales during the holiday season. The retailer stated that Kindle Fire saw strong demand during the quarter, leading to highest ever holiday sales for the device.

Our price estimate for Amazon stands at $338, implying a discount of about 15% to the market.

See our complete analysis for AmazoneBay's Results Suggest A Strong Quarter For Amazon Despite Concerns Around E-Commerce Growth

eBay's marketplaces revenues were up by 13% in the fourth quarter, roughly in line with the full-year growth. The growth sustained despite the company's warnings during its Q3 2013 earnings announcement regarding a slowdown in the U.S. e-commerce market, which materialized to some extent during the fourth quarter. While the holiday retail sales continued to grow for the fourth consecutive year, online retail sales grew by 10% during the period of November-December. This was below 14% growth forecast by comScore and 15% growth forecast by e-marketer. Some of this stemmed from the fact that retailers had to give deep discounts in order to drive sales. But the fact that eBay attained a higher growth rate than the overall market, implies that it took some share from other e-commerce retailer. This suggests that market leaders are likely to outperform the overall market. Therefore, we expect Amazon's quarterly revenue growth to remain high, and more or less in line with what we have seen in recent quarters.

Growth In Web Services And Amazon Prime To Aid EBITDA Margin

One of the risks that Amazon's stock has entailed for a long time is the company's low EBITDA margin, which makes it vulnerable to price fluctuations, supply chain disruptions and competition. However, the retailer has successfully pushed its web and cloud services in recent quarters, which is a very high margin business and will aid its profits going forward. The company defeated IBM in a bid to build a private cloud for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), and could add meaningful value to its stock if it can bag more such deals. Evercore Partners has pegged the segment's market potential at around $50 billion, which is huge given the company's current revenues mostly stem from its high margins on this business.

In addition to this, the continued expansion of Amazon Prime service will add to the bottom line. Currently, the service has more than 20 million members worldwide, which implies annualized revenues of close to $1.6 billion at membership fee of $79 per year. While the revenues earned from the Prime service account for just 2% of the company's total sales, the margins are much higher. Even if we assume Amazon earns a 30% EBITDA margin (higher than that for Netflix but still lower than that for many media companies) for its Prime service, it implies that Amazon Prime's EBITDA will amount to close to $500 million, thus accounting for nearly 10% of the company's total EBITDA. However, the importance of Amazon Prime extends beyond these numbers. According to a report, Prime customers tend to buy twice as much as the regular customers and overall accounted for 10% of the purchases in 2012. This proportion could increase going forward as Amazon continues to invest in the streaming content to lure in more buyers.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

New Checks Unlimited Coupon Code Website Launched Online

(PRWEB) January 27, 2014

Promo Codes & Promotional Codes Codes will launch a new web portal,, 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, 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 (

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 ( 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 ( ), "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."

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tanaka chooses Yankees in $155 million deal

(Reuters) - Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has signed a seven-year, $155 million Deal News to join the New York Yankees, the team reported on Wednesday, making the Japanese ace the fifth highest paid pitcher in all of Major League Baseball.

Tanaka, who Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said had been on the team's radar for eight years, was a perfect 24-0 with the Japanese Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season and regarded as one of the prize catches of the off-season.

He was reportedly pursued by a dozen major league teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

But it was the big-spending Yankees, looking to return to the World Series after missing out on the post-season last year, who got his signature.

"We started evaluating him back in 2007, so clearly we have been scouting him over in Japan for quite some time," Cashman told a conference call, adding that negotiations were extremely private, "Certainly we paid close attention to him in the 2009 WBC (World Baseball Classic) where we were first able to evaluate him against major league hitters.

"He's just gotten better-and-better and it seems like the bigger the game, the more he would step up.

"In an individual game he would dial it up. The one thing that resonated consistently is the competitive side of this particular player."

The total cost of the deal was a $175 million with the Yankees also paying out a $20 million posting fee to his former-Japanese league club and includes an opt-out clause that Tanaka can exercise after the fourth year.

Tanaka will receive an annual salary of just over $22 million making him the highest paid Japanese import of all-time in MLB.

Dodgers Cy Young winning pitcher Clayton Kershaw tops the list having agreed to a massive seven-year $215 million contract last week.

"I was told, we were the highest and it was very competitive and the other teams were in the vicinity of our team," said Cashman. "It's the cost of doing business.

"When you want to acquire some of the best talent in the world, whether it is coming from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the United States or Japan, the highest talent costs a lot of money.

"The efforts of clubs to try to improve themselves creates that bidding environment that produces large contracts for rare talent."

A two-time winner of the prestigious Sawamura Award as Nippon Professional Baseball's best pitcher, Tanaka went 99-35 with 1,238 strikeouts in 175 career games over seven seasons with the Golden Eagles. His resume also includes 53 complete games and 18 shutouts.

Tanaka, an eye-catching 53-9 over the last three seasons, joins a Yankees starting rotation that includes his compatriot Hiroki Kuroda as well as CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.

With Kuroda and Tanaka, the Yankees become the first major league team since the 2004 Dodgers to have two Japanese pitchers in their starting rotation.

"There are risks with pitchers from Japan," admitted Cashman. "The work load for starters is different, strike zones are different, lineups are different. So there is a lot of risk working through those variables.

"At some point you have to make a call.

"We obviously believe in that talent...those risks will be answered here shortly."

Tanaka played for Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as two World Baseball Classics, winning the title in 2009.

The 25-year-old becomes the seventh player born in Japan to wear the famed Yankee pinstripes, joining Hideki Irabu (1997-99), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Kei Igawa (2007-08), Hiroki Kuroda (2012-13), Ryota Igarashi (2012) and Ichiro Suzuki (2012-13).

The signing is the latest in another Yankees off-season spending spree that has seen the club splurge on free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; editing by Julian Linden)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Xbox One finally gets a price cut - buy it cheap now

<On Salesp>Did you survive Christmas without buying a next gen console? This may be your cue. has slashed the Xbox One's price to £409.99 - a whopping (not really) £20 off the RRP. Hopefully, it's the snowball that starts the avalanche.

The offer doesn't include a game, so you may wish to pick up a bundle instead. We posted a round-up of the best Xbox One bundles in December, which is probably rather out of date by now, but could be worth a glance. I'll update it soon.

Thanks for noticing, Videogamer.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Amazon Local deal: 25 Kindle books for 99 cents each

Promo Code-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.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Coupon Queen: Are you going 'clipless' or cutting everything?

I want to save with coupons. I read your column and know that those who Deal Now are saving a great deal of money. But I can't shake the idea of how much time it would take me to cut and carry all those coupons around. The idea of it just makes me cringe. I don't have any time to do that, but I also am not a coupon app person, as I don't use my phone for that. If I'm going to do this it will be with paper coupons. Help convince me this is something I can do without becoming one of those coupon people who everyone rolls their eyes at in the checkout. - Dina K.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Megos given 10 days to decide on plea deal


A New London Superior Court judge gave Norwich businessman Zane Megos what she termed the final continuance Wednesday, allowing him 10 days to decide whether to accept a plea offer on several larceny charges stemming from allegations that he took deposits for apartments in Norwich and New London that never became available.

Megos, 56, of 31 Dellwood Road, Norwich, faces six larceny charges and a related third-degree assault charge in a related incident when an alleged victim sought a refund on the deposit.

Judge Hillary B. Strackbein said the new Jan. 27 court date would be "the last day for a decision" by Megos to accept the plea offer.

During a court appearance in October, Strackbein said the plea Amazon Sales would reduce felony charges to misdemeanors and give Megos a suspended sentence.

The six larceny charges all arose from separate claims in 2012 by alleged victims that Megos took deposits for condemned or unavailable apartments or houses in Norwich and New London.

Megos was arrested again this past November by Norwich police on a charge that he violated a court order to refrain from taking new deposits after police conducted an undercover investigation.

Strackbein said the proposed resolution would not prevent Megos from "doing legitimate business" if he accepts the plea offer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ASOS posts bumper Christmas sales as data shows online shopping boom

Online fashion store ASOS enjoyed a bumper rise in sales in the last four months of the year as a swathe of new figures from retailers emphasised the growing influence of the internet.

Sales at Asos - which has become a top destination for fashionable teen and twentysomething shoppers in countries ranging from China to the United States - jumped a better than expected 38% to £336m in the four months to the end of December. Sales in the UK, Asos' biggest market, increased 37% to £134m.

Nick Robertson, Asos chief executive, said: "We have been benefiting from a structural shift online for 10 years. By constantly improving the offer to our fashion-conscious twentysomething customers they are rewarding us with more sales."

The British retailer said it was planning to double the size of its distribution centre in Barnsley by the end of this year, creating at least 300 more jobs, and open a new facility in northern Europe within the same time period as it battles to keep up with soaring demand.

"With all the opportunities we have we think we will continue to grow at these sort of rates," said Nick Robertson, who founded the business to sell celebrity lookalike fashions - As Seen Discount Screen - 13 years ago.

However, shares in the company slid 3% to £66.44 after touching a high of more than £70 last week, as some analysts said ASOS sales in Australia had been slightly disappointing partly because of currency changes. There was also a slowdown in growth in the US. Robertson admitted: "We are not fully formed in the US."

Meanwhile, shares in men's outfitters Moss Bros soared 22% as the company said it had enjoyed a near-13% rise in underlying sales in the five weeks to January 11, while gross profits had also lifted. The company said it would be increasing its dividend payments for the year more than fourfold to 5p a share. Analysts credited the better than expected trading at Moss Bros to improvements to its website which had helped it clear unwanted stock quickly online rather than through stores.

Karen Millen, the privately-owned premium fashion chain, said that its sales had also been lifted by its online performance over Christmas. Its UK, Republic of Ireland and online sales rose 12% for the three weeks to January 4. However, sales growth in newer markets including Spain, France and Denmark was stronger.

The influence of the internet on supermarkets was underlined with new data showing online grocery sales soared 22% in the 12 weeks to January 5, compared with the same period a year before, according to analysts Kantar Worldpanel.

Ed Garner, director at Kantar, said supermarket group Morrisons' lack of an online store was a key factor in its 1% slump in grocery sales during the period. Garner said the figures did not back up Morrisons chief executive Dalton Philips' claim that the chain had been hit harder by competition from discount chains Aldi and Lidl than its major rivals such as Tesco or Sainsbury's. He said the evidence was that Morrisons was suffering because of its focus on large supermarkets. "Morrisons barely has any convenience stores and has only just gone online so in effect it was not in the two fastest grocery channels," he said. Garner said the latest figures indicated that both Tesco and Asda saw sales fall in their large stores, although Sainsbury's continued to see growth. Morrisons finally launched its internet service in Warwickshire on Friday in partnership with Ocado, hoping to reboot sales after a dismal festive season forced it to issue a profit warning last week.

Kantar figures made clear that discounters Aldi and Lidl were the big winners over Christmas. Aldi grabbed nearly 1% more market share compared with a year before as sales rose by nearly 30% while Lidl's sales rose 17.5% and tiny Farm Foods, the frozen food chain, achieved a stellar 41.9% growth rate.

Sainsbury's was the only one of the major supermarkets to hold its share of the market year-on-year as strong growth online and at its large chain of convenience stores as well as a good reputation on food quality helped it fight back against the discounters.

As more shoppers choose to buy bulky goods online and then top up at handy local stores, convenience store group McColls also said it had enjoyed a good Christmas. Underlying sales rose 1.5% at the retailer which is tipped to float on the stock market this year.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Deals of the day- Mergers and acquisitions

** French utilities Electricite de France SA and GDF Suez SA have agreed to invest 600 million euros ($819.21 million) in the Tihange 1 nuclear reactor near Liege in Belgium as part of an upgrade to extend the reactor's lifespan, French newspaper Les Echos said.

** Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd has agreed to raise its stake in Bank of Ningbo Co Ltd to 20 percent from 15.34 percent for about S$383 million ($303 million), the latest step in a drive to extend its footprint in China.

** Drugmakers Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc , Actavis Plc and Mylan Inc have all expressed interest in buying Pfizer Inc's branded generics business, but no active discussions are going on at this time, according to three people close to the matter.

** Exchange operator Nasdaq OMX Group and index provider S&P Dow Jones Indices said they are interested in acquisitions to grow their index businesses, in a sign the sector could see a wave of deals as investors pour tens of billions of dollars into portfolios that track benchmarks.

** Shares in German drugs distributor Celesio AG dropped 5 percent after suitor McKesson Corp failed to garner enough shares for its takeover bid to succeed.

** Indian state-run producer Oil and Natural Gas Corp Ltd is seeking a strategic partnership with Kuwait Petroleum Corp in two upcoming petrochemicals projects, its chairman said.

** Indian energy major Reliance Industries is looking to pick up an 11 percent stake in Venezuela's Petrocarabobo project that was recently surrendered by Malaysia's Petronas, and is eyeing exploration assets in Mexico, a company official said.

** The Indian government has invited bids from nine investment bankers to sell around three-fifths, or 12 percent, of the 20.72 percent stake it owns in Axis Bank, India's third-largest private bank by market value, two people with direct knowledge of the development said, The Economic Times reports.

** Activist investor Jana Partners LLC increased its stake in oil producer QEP Resources Inc and said it plans to nominate candidates to the company's board. It increased its stake to 9.5 percent from 7.6 percent.

** China's Bright Food (Group) Co Ltd said it had agreed to buy Australian dairy company Mundella Foods through its Australian subsidiary, expanding the state-owned conglomerate's overseas reach and boosting its exposure to the growing dairy market.

** Charter Communications Inc on Monday formally offered to acquire larger rival Time Warner Cable for $37.3 billion, sparking what is likely to be a contentious battle for control of the No. 2 U.S. cable operator.

Time Warner Cable's board rejected the offer. Charter now plans to take the Deal Now directly to Time Warner Cable shareholders, Charter's Chief Executive Tom Rutledge said in an interview.

** Brazilian energy company Cosan SA Industria e Comercio said on Monday its Rumo Logistica unit is in preliminary talks to purchase the country's largest railroad operator, America Latina Logistica SA, or ALL.

($1 = 0.73 euros)

($1 = 1.27 Singapore dollars)

(Compiled by Shivani Mody in Bangalore)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Good Morning Snore Solution Coupons 2014: 20% off Promo Code + Free Shippin

Fargo, ND -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/08/2014 -- Good Morning Snore Solution is one of the best solutions for a peaceful sleep for people who snore. This new equipment developed by top sleep researchers uses the tongue displacement technology, unlike other commonly available mouthpiece, which holds the jaw in place. This clinically tested device allows its users a comfortable night, while the easily adjustable device can be cleaned without much effort. Users can now use this mouthpiece on a 30 day trial basis and have their money refunded if they don't like the effects of this revolutionary equipment. The mouthpiece can be easily cleaned by using the Denture/orthodontic appliance cleaning solution/tablets, which are easily available at any local pharmacy. This next gen mouthpiece is way better than numerous age old devices, pillows, mouth guards or chin straps as it allows the users to enjoy a comfortable sleep without any side-effects. Numerous satisfied users testify its efficiency, while many industry veterans claim it as the most easy to use stop snore solution. Just wear this mouthpiece as directed and see how fast it cures the snoring disorder. Here are few things one would like to know before buying this amazing equipment.

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OoHey keeps on updating shopping deals and coupons periodically and every time users go on to the website to look for coupons for any online store, they would find different deals. The store currently features two shopping coupons for Good Morning Snore Solution, which are the $10 off coupon code, and the 15% off coupon code. The first coupon allows shoppers to avail a flat discount of $10 on purchase of a mouthpiece from the website, while the other coupon allows shoppers to save 15% of the total amount spent on the online store. The coupon codes for these coupons have to be copied back to the space provided to add promotional coupons on the checkout window of the online store. Shoppers can also avail a couple of shopping deals for this online store, which includes the 20% off deal on all orders placed at this web based store. So order now and enjoy a snore free sleep with Good Morning Snore Solution!

Friday, January 10, 2014

CNN: Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders -

cnn headline">Former basketball star Isiah Thomas responds to the investigation and discusses the state of black male college athletes on The Lead with Jake Tapper, today at 4 ET.

(CNN) -- Early in her career as a learning specialist, Mary Willingham was in her office when a basketball player at the University of North Carolina walked in looking for help with his classwork.

He couldn't read or write.

"And I kind of panicked. What do you do with that?" she said, recalling the meeting.

Willingham's job was to help athletes who weren't quite ready academically for the work required at UNC at Chapel Hill, one of the country's top public universities.

But she was shocked that one couldn't read. And then she found he was not an anomaly.

Soon, she'd meet a student-athlete who couldn't read multisyllabic words. She had to teach him to sound out Wis-con-sin, as kids do in elementary school.

And then another came with this request: "If I could teach him to read well enough so he could read about himself in the news, because that was something really important to him," Willingham said.

Student-athletes who can't read well, but play in the money-making collegiate sports of football and basketball, are not a new phenomenon, and they certainly aren't found only at UNC-Chapel Hill.

A CNN investigation found public universities across the country where many students in the basketball and football programs could read only up to an eighth-grade level. The data obtained through open records requests also showed a staggering achievement gap between college athletes and their peers at the same institution.

This is not an exhaustive survey of all universities with major sports programs; CNN chose a sampling of public universities where open records laws apply. We sought data from a total of 37 institutions, of which 21 schools responded. The others denied our request for entrance exam or aptitude test scores, some saying the information did not exist and others citing privacy rules. Some simply did not provide it in time.

See the details of our findingsAcademic vs. athletic scandal

As a graduate student at UNC-Greensboro, Willingham researched the reading levels of 183 UNC-Chapel Hill athletes who played football or basketball from 2004 to 2012. She found that 60% read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Between 8% and 10% read below a third-grade level.

"So what are the classes they are going to take to get a degree here? You cannot come here with a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade education and get a degree here," she told CNN.

The issue was highlighted at UNC two years ago with the exposure of a scandal where students, many of them athletes, were given grades for classes they didn't attend, and where they did nothing more than turn in a single paper. Last month, a North Carolina grand jury indicted a professor at the center of the scandal on fraud charges. He's accused of being paid $12,000 for a class he didn't teach.

When Willingham worked as a learning specialist for athletes from 2003 to 2010, she admits she took part in cheating, signing her name to forms that said she witnessed no NCAA rules violations when in fact she did. But the NCAA, the college sports organizing body, never interviewed her. Instead, it found no rules had been broken at Chapel Hill.

UNC now says 120 reforms put in place ensure there are no academic transgressions.

But Willingham said fake classes were just a symptom of the bigger problem of enrolling good athletes who didn't have the reading skills to succeed at college.

"Isn't it all cheating if I'm sitting at a table with a kid who can't read or write at college level and pulling a paper out of them? Is this really legitimate? No," Willingham told CNN. "I wouldn't do that today with a college student; I only did it with athletics, because it's necessary."

NCAA sports are big business, with millions of dollars at stake for winning programs.

In 2012, the University of Louisville earned a profit of $26.9 million from its men's basketball program, according to figures that schools have to file with the Department of Education and were analyzed by CNNMoney. That's about 60% more than the $16.9 million profit at the University of North Carolina, whose men's hoops team had the second-largest profit.

Willingham, now a graduation adviser with access to student files, said she believes there are still athletes at UNC who can't do the coursework.

UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham told CNN the school admits only students it believes can succeed.

"I think our students have an exceptional experience in the classroom as well as on the fields of competition," he said.

Anecdotally, NCAA officials admit there are probably stories that are troubling, but they also say the vast majority of student-athletes compete at a high level in the classroom.

"Are there students coming to college underprepared? Sure. They are not just student-athletes," said Kevin Lennon, vice president of academic and membership affairs at the NCAA.

But he said the NCAA sees it as the responsibility of universities to decide what level athlete should be admitted to their schools.

"Once the school admits them, the school should do everything it can to make sure the student succeeds," he said. "(Universities) don't want a national standard that says who they can recruit and admit. They want those decisions with the president, provost and athletic directors. That is the critical piece of all of this."

Scarce information

The NCAA admits that almost 30 athletes in sports that make revenue for schools were accepted in 2012 with very low scores -- below 700 on the SAT composite, where the national average is 1000. That's a small percentage of about 5,700 revenue-sport athletes.

However, the NCAA did not share raw data. The U.S. Department of Education does not track statistics on the topic, nor do the conferences.

In fact, CNN only found one person in addition to Willingham who has ever collected data on the topic. University of Oklahoma professor Gerald Gurney found that about 10% of revenue-sport athletes there were reading below a fourth-grade level.

So, after consulting with several academic experts, CNN filed public records requests and concluded that what Willingham found at UNC and Gurney found at Oklahoma is also happening elsewhere.

The data CNN collected is based on the SAT and ACT entrance exam scores of athletes playing the revenue sports: football and basketball.

In some cases, where that information was not available, CNN then asked for aptitude test scores administered after the athlete was accepted by the university.

Based on data from those requests and dozens of interviews, a CNN investigation revealed that most schools have between 7% and 18% of revenue sport athletes who are reading at an elementary school level. Some had even higher percentages of below-threshold athletes.

According to those academic experts, the threshold for being college-literate is a score of 400 on the SAT critical reading or writing test. On the ACT, that threshold is 16.

Many student-athletes scored in the 200s and 300s on the SAT critical reading test -- a threshold that experts told us was an elementary reading level and too low for college classes. The lowest score possible on that part of the SAT is 200, and the national average is 500.

On the ACT, we found some students scoring in the single digits, when the highest possible score is 36 and the national average is 20. In most cases, the team average ACT reading score was in the high teens.

"It is in many ways immoral for the university to even admit that student," said Dr. Richard M. Southall, director of the College Sport Research Institute and a professor at the University of South Carolina.

Scores aren't the whole story

Officials at the universities from which CNN collected data all said they recognized the low scores -- and gave several possible reasons for them:

-- Some athletes don't aim for high scores when taking entrance exams, looking only to score high enough to become NCAA eligible.

-- Many times, low scores are indicators of learning disabilities.

-- Entrance exams are just one factor taken into consideration when deciding whether to accept a student-athlete.

The officials also said they believe excellent tutoring and extra attention from academic support allows these athletes to excel off the field as well as on, and many cited the high graduation rates of athletes.

Robert Stacey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, said the conversation should be about the achievement gap -- the difference between the academic levels of the athletes and their nonathlete peers at the same university.

"We know how to close the achievement gap. It's just very expensive," he said. "A student who scored a 380 on his or her (SAT) critical reading is going to face tremendous challenges, won't be able to compete the first year with a student who has a 650 or 700. But with intensive tutoring -- and I'm not talking about cheating, I'm talking about tutoring -- by the time they get to be juniors, they're competing. But it's a very expensive process. It takes intensive work."

But some of the universities from which CNN sought data didn't even have remedial classes for student-athletes to attend. Athletes, many times, take the field before they even get to a classroom. And even if, over time, they can be brought up to speed, how are they getting through the first few semesters?

We found one plausible explanation at Iowa State -- where the achievement gap between students and student-athletes was fairly low.

There, any athlete who is specially admitted -- they would not have gotten in on academics alone -- is mandated to start school in the summer term, where they are given remediation.

Tom Hill, senior vice president for student affairs, said it's done partly because the school recognizes that it is simply too much to ask athletes to jump into a tough schedule of practice and games, plus keep up classwork, especially if they are already academically behind.

"We'll provide them with support and help to begin the process to shore up deficiencies," Hill said. "It's not just throwing them in there."

Hill also said that Iowa State -- a land-grant university that takes many students from small, rural towns across the state -- doesn't separate academic support for athletes from the rest of the student population. Anyone can get the same tutoring as an athlete does.

Hill, who has a long background as an administrator in college athletics, said he is well aware of the practices of pushing athletes through at more competitive schools. And he is blunt about what he thinks of it.

"Those people who do that should be arrested," Hill said. "We should make it against the law. I know it happens. I've spent time in athletics."

Former and current academic advisers, tutors and professors say it's nearly impossible to jump from an elementary to a college reading level while juggling a hectic schedule as an NCAA athlete. They say the NCAA graduation rates are flawed because they don't reflect when a student is being helped too much by academic support.

"They're pushing them through," said Billy Hawkins, an associate professor and athlete mentor at the University of Georgia.

"They're graduating them. UGA is graduating No. 2 in the SEC, so they're able to graduate athletes, but have they learned anything? Are they productive citizens now? That's a thing I worry about. To get a degree is one thing, to be functional with that degree is totally different."

Hawkins, who says in his 25 years at various universities he's witnessed some student-athletes fail to meet college reading standards, added: "It's too much for students reading below a college level. It's basically a farce."

Gurney, who looked into the situation at the University of Oklahoma, put it bluntly: "College presidents have put in jeopardy the academic credibility of their universities just so we can have this entertainment industry. ... The NCAA continually wants to ignore this fact, but they are admitting students who cannot read.

"College textbooks are written at the ninth-grade level, so we are putting these elite athletes into classes where they can't understand the textbooks. Imagine yourself sitting in a class where nothing makes sense."

Risks and rewards

All of the university representatives we talked to deny that their tutors do too much work for student-athletes who come in at such low reading levels.

"I lose sleep about a lot of things; I don't lose sleep about writing tutors. We are extremely strict," said Brian Davis, associate athletics director for football student services at the University of Texas, acknowledging there were, of course, challenges.

"You have to minimize the risk as much as you can. If you're signing 20 (recruits), you can't have 30 to 50% extremely at risk. It puts way too much pressure on the system. That's when you get into more nefarious issues, and I'm very proud of how we've addressed the risk factors," Davis said.

There are anecdotes of student athletes who do succeed. Christine Simatacolos, the associate athletics director for student life at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, talks of a student whose low scores fell below the college literacy threshold but who graduated from Louisiana State University and is now in medical school.

But far more anecdotes of failure were recounted to CNN during our monthlong research.

Kadence Otto, who once taught at Florida State University, recalled one situation where an academic support tutor would call every week to check up on a starting player.

"I would say, 'He's not doing well. He can't read and write.' And (the tutor) said, 'Well, we'll see what we can do,'" Otto said. That stopped with a career-ending injury. "He's worth nothing to the team, and I never once heard back from the academic support adviser. He never showed up to class again, either."

Otto, who now teaches at Western Carolina University, says that experience had a big impact.

"That's one of the reasons I got into working in corruption in college sports. Sending messages that maybe they don't really care about the athletes as people," she said. And as for claims by institutions that they can bring poor readers up to speed with tutoring, she said: "Honestly, it feels to me it's like trying to turn a Little League Baseball player into a pro."

Periodically since the 1980s, stories have surfaced of athletes who could not read.

-- Former basketball player Kevin Ross told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" about his struggles at Creighton University in the 1980s.

-- In 1989, football player Dexter Manley told Congress that he got through college and into the pros without ever learning to read.

-- Dasmine Cathey's compelling story of struggle at the University of Memphis was recounted by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012.

And as far back as the 1980s, faculty and staff have spoken up about illiterate athletes who are pushed through with passing grades to keep up their eligibility to play, while their reading was little addressed.

Linda Bensel-Meyers, who worked for Tennessee until 2003, said a university-hired psychologist would diagnose learning disabilities in athletes and put them in a program without the graduation requirements set for other students.

"Many of the records I looked at revealed that these athletes came to us essentially illiterate and still left the school functionally illiterate," Bensel-Meyers told CNN.

When contacted by CNN, Tennessee did not answer questions.

Then there was Brenda Monk. In 2009, the former Florida State University learning specialist told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that she was forced to resign from the university as a cheating scandal surfaced in which the NCAA said that tutors were writing papers for athletes and giving them answers to test scores.

Monk denied the allegation that she did too much work for athletes, but she said she saw some of them reading at second- and third-grade levels.

The NCAA levied sanctions against Florida State in 2009, including vacating wins and reduced scholarships.

Florida State did not provide CNN with records in response to our request.

Change ahead?

In December, the Drake Group, which pushes for academic integrity in collegiate sports, organized a lobbying trip to Washington to push for an amendment to the College Education Act of 1965. Director Allen Sack said he wants to see a College Athlete Protection Act -- legislation that would keep athletes on the bench as freshmen if they are academically more than one standard deviation lower than the average student admitted to the university.

"That's unconscionable, to bring in a young athlete who does not fit in the general profile of the student body and have them play football on national television before they've entered the classroom for the first time in the fall," Sack said.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania introduced legislation in the House last year that calls for a complete overhaul of the NCAA. When he talked to CNN, he cited the lack of consistency in the way recent NCAA investigations into various improprieties were handled at Auburn, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Ohio State and Penn State.

"I think (the NCAA) needs to be looked at. I think they need to be reined in," Dent said.

Mary Willingham went on the trip to Washington and said she came back feeling that they could make some progress in bringing change.

Others aren't so confident that a beast as big as collegiate athletics can be tamed.

CNN's Brian Rokus contributed to this report.

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'Veronica Mars' TV Series To Stream On Amazon Prime

Promo Code and Warners Bros Domestic TV Distribution have inked a deal to stream the Veronica Mars TV series exclusively on Amazon Prime. The series, starring Kristen Bell, will be available starting today, ahead of the March 14 premiere of the Veronica Mars movie, famously funded by a history-making Kickstarter campaign. The announcement comes a day after CBS and Amazon announced an exclusive streaming deal for upcoming CBS summer series Extant starring Halle Berry. The TV series,created by screenwriter Rob Thomas, first premiered in 2004. The show is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and follows a high school student (Bell) who moonlights as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father. The movie reached its Kickstarter goal of $2 million in just 10 hours back in March. At the end of the 31-day campaign, fans contributed $5.7 million, making Veronica Mars the number one funded project in the film category and the third-highest funded project in Kickstarter history. Here's today's full release:

SEATTLE-Jan. 9,, Inc. today announced that Prime Instant Video will be the exclusive online-only subscription home for streaming the TV series Veronica Mars in a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Beginning today, Prime customers can enjoy all three seasons of the popular Warner Bros. Television series starring Kristen Bell, and get caught up just in time for the March 14 debut of the Veronica Mars movie.

"The Veronica Mars series has been popular on DVD and Amazon Instant Video for years, so we know how much Amazon customers love this iconic television show," said Brad Beale, Director of Digital Video Content Acquisition. "We are excited to become the exclusive subscription streaming home for Veronica Mars and to be able to offer the entire TV series to Prime members to enjoy at no additional charge. With the movie coming on March 14, both die-hard fans and new viewers can easily catch-up on this great show."

"We are thrilled to have Prime Instant Video as a digital distribution outlet for the Veronica Mars TV series," said Ken Werner, President, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. "Digital distribution platforms such as Amazon's and licensing deals such as this allow the consumer great opportunities whether they're die-hard fans who just can't get enough or a new consumer turned fan who has discovered a fabulous show with dozens of new episodes."

The Veronica Mars movie is coming to select theaters nationwide on March 14th and was made possible by a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign driven by fans of the television show. Launched by Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell, the Kickstarter campaign unleashed an unprecedented level of fan enthusiasm and support, reaching the project goal of $2 million in just 10 hours. At the end of the 31-day campaign, fans contributed $5.7 million, making Veronica Mars the number one funded project in the film category and the third-highest funded project in Kickstarter history. It is the most widely supported Kickstarter campaign ever with more than 91,000 backers, who have remained engaged throughout production with frequent behind-the-scenes updates from Thomas and the film's cast and crew. Amazon Payments handles all the payment processing for funds raised on all Kickstarter projects in the United States.

Veronica Mars is an American television series created by screenwriter Rob Thomas, which first premiered in 2004. The series is set in the fictional town of Neptune, California, and follows a high school student (Kristen Bell) who moonlights as a private investigator under the tutelage of her detective father.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Ebay Promotional Codes in January 2014 Announced by

<Amazon Deal Onlinep>

New York, NY -- ( SBWIRE) -- 01/08/2014 -- In uncertain economic times, consumers are turning to age old practices reengineered for the digital world. Gone may be the days of clipping coupons from magazines, but couponing, and the thrifty mindset, is anything but history. That's why more shoppers than ever are turning to

Launched 2013, is designed to supplant other online coupon and discount providers. Where before consumers had to jump through hoops for their discounts, now they have a streamlined option in

For 7 years, the site's CEO closely monitored other digital couponing tools. His research allowed for the creation of a smooth platform, where no gimmicks that stand in-between shoppers and discounts. And not a moment too soon. strives to give consumers a free concise method to access the best available popular deals and discounts such as ebay promo codes, without the headache. The simplicity lies in the fact that the top deals are directly based on customer feedback. Offers which are the most frequently voted for and commented on show up at the top of the page. Truly a site of the people, puts the power in the purchaser's hands. And continual updates, taking into account the most recent data, ensure it stays that way.

According to PSSmarketing, an online publication for "marketing, branding, sales and advertising specialists," online couponing is on the rise. "Digital couponing has been growing in leaps and bounds recently, a trend that is expected to persist for the next few years," said their mobile marketing division.

They also cited an eMarketer survey which indicated that over 92 million people redeemed digital coupons in 2012. By 2014, that number has soared to over 100 million.

To ring in the New Year, is now promoting its new collection of deals on EBay, as well as a whole list of free samples. Individuals can try dozens of products from familiar companies including, Philips Norelco, Hormel, MARS Chocolate and other everyday brands.

Unlike at competing sites, patrons of will be spared the tedious process of building profiles and surrendering mountains of personal information. Instead they need only enter their name an email if they want to leave a comment. And if they only wish to vote on a particular deal? No information is required at all. Not only is more efficient than other deal websites, it is far safer.

Coin conscious shoppers should see where they can save by checking:

Additional information is available on the site's YouTube videos, which offer quick how-to lessons:

Despite the shifting sands of physical commerce, the dependability of finding online discounts is stable. Nowhere is this truer than at The site that consumers have come to trust will continue to deliver throughout the coming year, and beyond.

Contact Information:
Jesus Sanchez
Ph: 408-471-8047