Swiss Market Offers Up Fascism With Coffee; GM Earnings Put the Brakes on Recall Issues; Airline Industry Earnings Show No Signs of Ebola

How do the Swiss say “Oops”?

Image courtesy of amenic181/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of amenic181/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Migros, a major Swiss supermarket, is having a bad, embarrassing week. All because of some coffee cream containers. Except they weren’t just any coffee cream containers, unless of course you’re used to seeing Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini gracing food packaging. “Usually the labels have pleasant images like trains, landscapes and dogs,” a spokesperson said. Yeah. Just not today. I guess someone’s getting fired. Migros called it an “unforgivable blunder” when customers began to complain about the portraits of murderous fascists glaring back at them faces as they poured cream into their coffee. Migros, however, is blaming a subsidiary that designed the series of 55 motifs that ended up in scores of restaurants, cafes and kiosks.

Recall debacle? What recall debacle?

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite its disastrous mess of a year, thanks to its ignition switch recall, auto company GM still managed to crank out some insanely impressive earnings. Apparently the U.S. and China are either very forgiving or willing to look past the all company’s scandals and recalls because strong sales in those regions helped GM rake in $1.38 billion or $0.81 per share. Those numbers are nearly double the $698 million $0.45 per share earnings the company hauled in last year at this time. Over 880,000 GM vehicle were sold in North America alone. Russia and Europe weren’t feeling the love for the US car company but no worries because worldwide the company sold close to 2.5 million vehicles. But it’s those trucks I tell you, that consumers are totally digging as GM carries a 24% market share of those babies.

You are free to roam about the cabin…

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Their passengers may not always be healthy but their profits sure are. Indeed the airline industry as a whole has been seeing solid earnings across the board and it’s not their lucky stars they can thank but rather the price of fuel, which as I mentioned yesterday has been going down. JetBlue, Souhwest and United Airlines all rocked their earnings announcements. Even American Airlines added another record quarter of  $942 million, way over the $289 million it pulled in last year at this time. The airline also reported a staggering $11.1 billion in revenue. Considering my awful experiences on American Airlines, those numbers are nothing short of miraculous. As for Ebola scaring off travelers? Well, it’s not. ‘Nuff said.

 

Inflation Elation; Home Sweet Home Loans; Feeling 1.7 % More Secure

Get your motors running…

Image courtesy of kongsky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of kongsky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now that the numbers are telling us how stuff like inflation and the cost to live on this planet, at least our part of it, didn’t really change, as in go up, down etc. Well, it did. Slightly. But nothing that would require any action from those money experts at the Federal Reserve. This means interest rates get to stay nice and low.  For now, anyways. But it should be duly noted that the Feds would prefer to see inflation actually go up. A bit, anyways. Because apparently that would be healthier for the economy, according to people who qualify as experts. What has also become a rather pleasant occurrence is the price of gas these days, which has been going down to an average of $3.09 per gallon. Now who doesn’t love a drop in gas prices? Never a bad thing, in my most humble opinion.

The rates are falling! The rates are falling!

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Look out for new neighbors with mortgage rates falling down all over the place.  According to the very insightful index of the very insightful Mortgage Bankers Association, or MBA for those in the know, all these new nifty low borrowing costs have resulted in a major increase in mortgage applications. We’re talking an 11.6% increase in applications. Numbers that big haven’t been seen since January. The week before saw a 5.6% increase. Thinking of going for the plunge on a 30 year fixed loan? Well those rates went down to 4.1%. Or perhaps you are mulling over a 15 year fixed rate mortgage? The interest rates on those babies dropped to 3.28%.

Social security butterfly…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you will be wondering (and why wouldn’t you be?) what happened to over 6.2% of your paycheck towards the end of fiscal 2015, look no further than the Social Security tax. Around 10 million Americans will be shelling out over $7,300 towards that “fund” next year. The cap on that figure, by the way, is $118,500 for 2015. Fret not, taxpayer as that is but a mere 1.3% increase over 2014’s $117,000 cap. But wait, there’s more. The millions upon millions of retirees receiving social security benefits will receive  1.7% fatter checks in 2015 thanks to the Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA , for those in the know (and not to be confused with any beverages, mind you). For the average retiree, that amounts to about $22 more per month on a monthly check of $1,328. If you think that number is, shall we say, unimpressive, then consider the fact that in 2010 and 2011 there was a 0% increase. Z-E-R-O.

Breach of Staples; McBummer Earnings; Coke’s Earnings Fizzing Out

You can’t take my stapler…

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Now let us welcome Staples into the not-so-exclusive-ranks of the breached – data breached, that is. The world’s largest office supply supplier becomes the latest corporate cyber-attack victim. The company is currently conducting an investigation after banks began noticing a strange pattern of fraudulent activity among a specific group of consumers, presumably ones who have swiped their plastic at Staples. Before Staples, Sears was making headlines for its data breach. But no word yet if this breach will be as epically huge as those that Home Depot and Target had to endure.

This meal’s not so happy…

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite its best efforts to wage breakfast wars and valiant campaigns against pink-slime infested meat, McDonald’s third quarter earnings had no beef to stand on. Revenue, shares and all those fiscal details that make up a Big Mac were nothing short of dismal with earnings tanking 30%. The fast food chain pulled in a $1.07 billion profit which might seem nice, at first. But when you consider that McDonald’s earned $1.52 billion a year earlier then it’s easy to see why the earnings were particularly McLousy. CEO Don Thompson also blamed “unusual events” in Europe and Asia for the bummer quarter. Perhaps he was referring to that pesky “expired meat” issue in China. Or maybe all that stuff with Russia. But let’s not forget to also point the finger at those Millennials who have the nerve to prefer healthier, higher-quality alternatives like those being offered up at Panera and Chipotle (which, by the way, had a really great quarter).

Cola’s going flat…

Image courtesy of Naypong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Naypong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apparently not enough consumers are sharing a Coke as evidenced by Coa Cola’s just released earnings that seemed to have lost their bubbles. In fact, it’s lost the most in six years. Profits fizzed out 14% with net income down to $2.1 billion. A year ago people were still drinking Coca Cola to the net income tune of $2.4 billion. Revenue was but a mere $11.97 billion. Sounds like a lot, huh? Well, Wall Street would have preferred more. Like more than $2 billion.  So what gives? Apparently consumers are turning to healthier alternatives and Coca Cola is still in the midst of improving and expanding its healthier alternatives.

IBuMmer; Icahn/Andreesen Billionaire Smackdown; Valeant/Allergan Smackdown

 Big Blue-boo…

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Perhaps you recall IBM?  Perhaps you don’t. The once powerful company that sat at the forefront of technology is now at the forefront of…nothing as the company just released its very disappointing earnings. The once mighty maker of chips – and I don’t mean potato (though we might be seeing better earnings if the chips were indeed of the potato variety), has sold that portion of its business. Revenue was down 4% to $22.4 billion which might seem like a nice beefy number except that analysts were expecting $1 billion more than that. And the company’s revenue has been going down for a few years now.  Analysts expected  the company to at least pull in $4.32 per share. It didn’t. Instead, profits for IBM took a 10% dive earning $3.68 per share.  Oh well. There’s always next quarter.

Love doesn’t live here anymore…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s official. Marc Andreesen and Carl Icahn are not friends. And I don’t think they ever can be. At least not anymore after Mr. Icahn said in an interview that Andreessen is “what’s wrong with corporate America” and Andreesen telling CNBC that Carl Icahn lies and “makes stuff up.” Where is the love gentlemen? In any case, the latest episode in the Icahn/Andreessen saga is that Marc Andreesen has bid a not-so-fond farewell to the board over at EBay. It seems the extremely prescient Silicon Valley billionaire, Andreesen, and activist investor, Icahn,  got themselves tangled in yet another kerfuffle which has probably something to do with the kerfuffle they had earlier where Mr. Icahn accused Mr. Andreesen and fellow board member, Scott Cook, of having conflicts of interests where PayPal and EBay are concerned. I shall spare you the lurid details. Mr. Andreesen and Mr. Cook vehemently disagreed with Mr. Icahn’s accusation. But alas, it matters not as PayPal is no longer one with EBay. As for hopes of Mr. Andreesen and Mr. Icahn burying the corporate hatchet (or whatever it is that insanely wealthy executives do), don’t hold your breath.

A wrinkle in plans…

Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Perhaps you may recall pharmaceutical giant Valeant? Perhaps you recall how this pharmaceutical giant wanted to take over another pharmaceutical giant by the name of Allergan, notable for perennial fan fave Botox? And perhaps you recall that Allergan would prefer if Valeant would just go away? Well, it looks like that’s not going to happen anytime soon as Valeant just released some very impressive earnings, easily trumping analysts’ expectations. Except that Valeant also had good earnings. But no matter because Valeant really wants very badly to scoop up Allergan even though Allergan very badly does not want that to happen. Activist investor Bill Ackman, and his Pershing Square Capital Management LP, who is gunning for an Allergan takeover, just might make that even likelier and hostile-r because of Valeant’s newly announced, financially robust numbers, since numbers like those will allow him, together with Valeant, to up the ante to buy out the fabulous Botox maker.

 

Converse: Back the Chuck Off!; BofA Bummer; Whole Foods: I’ll Give That Tomato a 6

Chuck it…

20141015_091405

Converse, the force behind one of the most iconic shoes ever, not to mention my favorite pair of kicks, is heading to the courts. The legal courts, that is. The Massachusettes-based shoe company, a subsidiary of Nike, is suing 31 other companies for trademark infringement which basically means those companies have allegedly been ripping off the way cool, timeless design that has found their way onto famous feet since 1908. The company has reportedly spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting the shoe and, in my most humble opinion, if there were/is such a thing as a shoe hall of fame, then Chuck Taylors ought to be inducted in to it. Just saying. Among the companies being sued are Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Skechers, not to mention Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch. I might add that I wear my Chuck Taylors regularly except I don’t think that’s going to help bolster Converse’s case. Converse is also filing a complaint with the International Trade Commission hoping to prevent counterfeit look-alikes from making their way onto our shores.

Hind quarters…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

BofA has surely had better quarters. The second largest bank (by assets, mind you) had a net income of $168 million losing $0.01 per share. A year ago at this time BofA earned $0.20 per share on $2.2 billion. Ah well, the past is in the past. But at least it’s not as bad as the $0.09 loss per share predicted by analysts. BofA can thank Uncle Sam for its quarterly losses as BofA had to shell out about $16.65 billion to the DOJ in settlement fees for the bank’s prominent, unappreciated role in the 2008 financial crisis and all those awful mortgages.

On a scale of 1 to 10…

Image courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pixomar/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whole Foods is getting in on the ratings game.  Next time you stop in at one of their 400 plus stores, check to see if that head of lettuce falls under the “good,” “better,” or “best” category. Yes, your produce will now be categorized because the organic wholesaler wants you to know to what degree your chosen produce is affected by pesky pesticide and less than pleasing farming methods. Other factors that will be taken into consideration when scoring your produce include the amount of energy and water used. Indeed, several environmental factors can and will directly impact the score of that apricot you’ve been eyeing. No word yet if those environmental impacts will have an “impact” on your wallet but Whole Foods might also want to consider a scoring system for the price of its produce and flowers. For instance, it could rate its merchandise as “cheap,” “expensive,” and “I’m about to blow half my paycheck on a pineapple.”

Bank On It; “Raising” Hell at Wells Fargo?; The Domino’s Pizza Effect

Bank’d…

Image courtesy of sheelamohan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sheelamohan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you missed it, the BIG three banks all announced earnings their earnings. The biggest of them all, JP Morgan Chase was expected to rake in $1.38 a share. Instead it took in $1.36. Sure it’s just two cents. But when you’re JPMorgan Chase it isn’t just two cents, but so much more. However, the bank still pulled in way more revenue than expected, surpassing those surly estimates by over a billion dollars.  Citi is up next with earnings of $1.15 per share but yet again, not as much as everybody would have liked. Citi, the third largest bank (by assets, mind you) is also ditching its consumer banking divisions in Japan, Egypt and 11 other countries that just couldn’t cut the fiscal mustard. Which brings us to Wells Fargo which picked up $1.02 per share and $5.7 billion  – a 3% increase over the same time last year. Precisely what analysts predicted.  As for revenue, the San Francisco-based bank pulled in over $21 billion and a 4% gain over last year.

Can you cc me on that?

Image courtesy of digital art/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digital art/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But it’s not just Wells Fargo’s earnings that have everybody talking today. For that story we mosey on over to Oregon, far beyond the clutches of Wall Street and Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. It seems Wells Fargo employee Tyrel Oates recently emailed an idea he had for Mr. Stumpf. Mr. Oates kindly suggested that the bank’s 260,000+ employees should receive a $10,000 raise that could be taken from all those profits the bank has been earning, including this quarter’s $5.7 billion. The thirty year old Oates feels it would be a fine way to reduce income inequality. Mr. Oates currently earns $15 per hour and works a forty hour week. Mr. Stumpf will make over $19 million this year. A Wells Fargo spokesperson said that employees receive “market competitive” compensation. It’s a good thing Mr Oates made sure to “cc” a couple hundred thousand of his fellow employees on it, otherwise how would we have known all this?

By the pie…

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who else beat analysts’ expectations? I’ll give you a hint: How fast do you like your pizza delivered? Domino’s Pizza gave a smack down to Wall Street expectations of its third quarter earnings with profits 16% higher than the same time last year. Net income for the international pizza chain came in at $35.62 million. The Michigan-based pizza chain pulled in $446.57 million in revenue, easily trumping analysts’ estimates of $434.8 million. And if all that isn’t appetizing enough, how about that $0.25 per share quarterly dividend the company is going to shell out?

Yahoo for Snapchat?; Why SodaStream Fizzled; The Container Store Coming Up Short

Make it snappy…

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s an expensive little rumor going around that Yahoo is about to plunk down a hefty $20 million to become a part of the magic we call Snapchat. However, the app that has around 100 million users, and doesn’t generate much in the way of revenue, has got some wondering what exactly Snapchat sees in Yahoo. After all, Snapchat already dissed offers from both Google and Facebook. Snapchat, whose valuation is currently pegged at a not-so-modest $10-$20 billion, depending on whom you ask, is getting ready to prance around its latest offering, Snapchat Discovery. In case you hadn’t heard, that service is for professionally produced content, and like regular Snapchat, the content would still disappear after a certain period of time. Good thing Yahoo has been scooping up scads of professional producers to come up with new content. And let’s face it, Yahoo does have a certain knack for distributing all kinds of entertaining and useful content, apps and of course, the all-important ads, which is something from which Snapchat could surely benefit. As for Yahoo, well it needs something to do with all that money it made off of Alibaba Group.

Fizzled out…

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just because you’ve got Scarlett Johansson shilling for you, doesn’t mean your earnings are going to be just as star-studded. Case in point: SodaStream, the Israel-based company that went public in 2010, and which just saw its shares plunk down to a new low. Shares of the soda machine-maker fell below $23.00 for the first time. Ever. The company’s own predictions forecasted a 13% hit in its revenue, falling to a paltry $125 million. Certainly, the fact that Coca Cola, together with Green Mountain Coffee, are parading out its own version of a soda-making machine aren’t helping matters. So like every other company with food and beverage offerings that has taken a fiscal punch, SodaStream has made the decision to shift its focus to “health and wellness.”

Contain yourself!

Image courtesy of graur razvan donut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur razvan donut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With a name like “The Container Store” you can’t go wrong. Or can you? Shares of the company took a big a harsh 11% hit after reporting its second quarter earnings. It seems  the company failed to sell enough “containers” and such. Even though it earned over $193 million in revenue, it was several million short of Wall Street predictions. However, all was not lost as the company still managed to pull in an $0.11 per share profit.