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.

Oui Oui Disney; Bitcoin’s Being a Downer; HP is Happily Doing the Splits

Who needs Versailles anyways?

Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnnic]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnnic]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apparently going to Disneyland in France is tres outré as the theme park is seeing less and less people coming to strut their stuff at the happiest place on earth…in Europe. But if you were just thinking that a walk along the Seine and a visit to the Eiffel Tower would not be complete without a trip to EuroDisney then fear not mon ami. Disney has decided to whip out $1.25 billion to help save EuroDisney…from itself. The park hasn’t exactly been the Disney epicenter of the world since it opened its doors in 1992, yet Disney alleges that it is the number one tourist destination in Europe. Who knew?

A bitcoin of a drag…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bitcoin has reached yet another milestone but its nothing of which to be proud as the crypto-currency just hit a new low. In fact the virtual coins have been experiencing a steady decline since December of 2013 when its high reached an impressive $1,147.00 per coin. There is nothing impressive about the $290.00 mark it saw this weekend. Some experts think the drop in value has a “bit” to do with the fact that because more businesses have begun to accept the currency, more bitcoins are being generated and circulated. Of course, the more something becomes the available, the less valuable it becomes. Then there are those pesky regulatory hurdles that are also cramping bit coin’s style, but mostly its value. Others feel there are other more complicated reasons and explanations – the details of which I will gladly spare you. One of those “others” is Garrick Hileman, an economic historian with the pish-posh London School of Economics, who graciously informs us that “approximately 3,600 new bit coins” are welcomed into the world each day.

It’s not you, it’s me… 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s splitsville yet again in the magical realm of corporate as HP has now decided to break up…with itself. It’s no secret (especially since it’s a publicly traded company) that HP’s computer and printer divisions were no match for its corporate hardware and services division. I can attest to this on a personal level for having recently junked out of an HP laptop that had a litany of “issues” which a six month old computer should not possess. But I digress. It’s true the corporate and hardware services division was/is growing a lot quicker and when that happens in a company, at least lately, companies decide to split ‘em up. Case in point, last week’s not surprising announcement by eBay and its plans to bid adieu to PayPal. As for the shareholders, well now they’ll own shares of two companies. How very lucky for them. Not lucky, however, for the additional 5,000 employees who will need to brush up on their LinkedIn skills. The company employs over 300,000 people and rakes in $110 billion in revenue. Oh and by the way, HP is currently in year four of its five year turn around plan, in case you were wondering.

Twitter Gets Schooled at MIT; Warren Buffet, Car Salesman?!; Hooray for Shorter Lines at the Unemployment Office

Twi-gifted…

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

MIT got a nice little gift from Twitter recently. Well, maybe little isn’t the right word for the $10 million dollars that the social media company is giving to one of the world’s most important academic institutions. The money is to be used for the advancement of…wait for it…social network research. The Laboratory for Social Machines, or LSM for those in the know, housed at MIT’s Media Lab, will seek to explore how people use social media networks and figure out new beneficial ways to use these tools. The researchers will have access and get to slog through every single archived tweet and real-time tweets too. Lucky them. The research should take about five years and will be headed by Twitter’s very own media scientist, Deb Roy, who also conveniently happens to be an associate professor at this extremely distinguished media lab. Roy hopes to, among other things, find ways to “…act on pressing societal problems.” How very useful.

Vroom vroom…

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Oracle of Omaha has welcomed yet another new company into the exclusive and pricey Berkshire Hathaway fold. This time, the lucky seller is the Van Tuyl Group. In case you were wondering, because I know you were, the Van Tuyl group just happens to be the largest privately-owned auto-dealership in all the land, with 78 locations and revenues in the $8 billion range. No word yet on how much Warren Buffet paid for his latest acquisition. Naturally, shares of Berkshire Hathaway went up on the news (seriously, do they ever go down?) of the purchase. By the way, if you’d care to purchase some Berkshire Hathaway stock, it’ll only set you back about $206,000 – per share.

Stake your claim…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

And in keeping with the spirit of yesterday’s exciting and gripping news from ADP about all that job growth, the Labor Department came out with its latest report that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits dropped by 8,000. Which is just what I (and by “I,” I do mean those very intelligent economic experts) suspected would happen. Oh, wait a minute…our very intelligent experts actually predicted that the number of applicants for jobless claims would rise. Whoops. Whatever. The number of claims being filed haven’t been this low since June of 2006, way before that odious Great Recession began to wreak havoc on our fiscal sensibilities. By the way, expect President Obama to take some (maybe more) credit for those promising numbers (whether you agree with that assessment, or not).