Latest Lousy Jobs Report; Wendy’s Is Losing its Buns. Sort of; Are Commercial Drones Finally Taking Flight

Book of jobs…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The private sector added 169,000 new jobs but that’s nothing to celebrate. Well those 169,000 people who will now be collecting paychecks can celebrate but that’s about it. While that number seems significant, and in some ways it is, it is actually the lowest number we’ve seen since January of 2014. Experts expected growth of up to 224,000, as last month’s job growth came in at 175,000. Celebrating occurs only when the numbers go up. Drops like these don’t necessarily mean the economy is about to head south, but it can suggest periods of sluggish growth are on the horizon. This gloomy news is brought to us by ADP, the largest private payrolls processor in the United State and they’ve got the dirt on the digits. But we’re still waiting on the U.S. Labor departments figures, due Friday, which are apparently more detailed and include both the public and private sectors, and may even supply us with better figures. And on the bright side, April’s growth rate wasn’t nearly as abysmal as March’s growth of just 126,000 jobs. So there’s always that heart-warming fact to fall back on.

Where’s the buns? 

Image courtesy of  atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wendy’s restaurants just came out with its earnings and announced it will be selling 640 restaurants. Taking a page from McDonald’s playbook, Wendy’s is hoping that franchising costs will help the chain take in between $400 million to $475 million. The restaurant plans to sell 380 restaurants in this year alone. So if your lifelong dream is to own a Wendy’s, this might be your chance. Wendy’s is definitely having a better quarter than McDonald’s, as the company, famous for its freckle-faced braided redhead, and I guess its food too, took in first quarter earnings of $27.5 million and 7 cents a share, just barely beating analysts expectations of 5 cents a share. However, revenue was down almost 11%. Oh well. Maybe next quarter. Wendy’s also announced that it’s selling its bakery operation in Zanesville, Ohio, which conveniently supplied the chain’s buns. While the folks in Zanesville might not be thrilled, the folks on Wall Street were and sent shares up over 7%. Shares of the company are up over 30% in the last twelve months so clearly someone over there knows what they’re doing.

Droning on and on…

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Drone enthusiasts, rejoice! FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the FAA is going to figure out how drones and other aircraft can share all that airspace safely. At the Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference, Huerta said, “Integrating unmanned aircraft into our airspace is a big job, but it’s one the FAA is determined to get right.” This exciting mission will be done through the Pathfinder Program, which will study commercial drones and all the great and lucrative ways they can be used. For instance, CNN wants to see how to gather news with drones in heavily populated areas. A company called PrecisionHawk wants to test it out for the agricultural industry to see how drones can help monitor crops. Then there’s Berkshire Hathaway company, BNSF, a railroad company, that wants to use drones to inspect tracks. Such clever usage. Surprisingly mum on these new developments was Amazon, who has long wanted to use drones to make deliveries. Amazon, if you recall, wasn’t too happy about the FAA’s rules that were proposed in February and let the FAA know it. And if you think the use of drones will take jobs away from actual human beings, then check out the reports from the  Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International which estimates that thousands of jobs would be created and  generate hundreds of millions of dollars. And judging by last month’s Labor report, this drone “thing” just keeps sounding better and better.

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Bill Gates’ Unappetizing New Venture; Have I Got a Jobs Report For You; Keurig Scores Dr. Pepper Snapple Exclusive

I’ll poop to that…

Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bill Gates latest philanthropic endeavor is nothing short of crappy as the Microsoft founder plans to take human waste and turn it into…potable drinking water. And electricity too. But clearly it’s the water part that’s got people scrambling for their bottled water. With the help of the Omniprocessor, conveniently designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation wants to help prevent the spread of diseases caused by water contamination and improve the quality of life in many underdeveloped countries. Oh the irony. With Senegal getting first dibs on a plant, the process can take waste from 100,000 people and convert it into 86,000 liters of potable water and a net 250 kilowatts of electricity. Be sure to see the pic of Bill Gates drinking a glass of the poop water. “Having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.” That’s just…lovely.

Good Economic Synes…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

ADP graciously informs us today that 241,000 jobs were created in the private sector in December, smashing conservative estimates of 235,000 and making it the fourth straight month of job growth over 200,000. And while unemployment is expected to stubbornly stay at its 5.8% perch, but perhaps dip ever so slightly to 5.7%, signs still point to an expanding economy and a positive report from the Labor Department, expected Friday. But what’s even better, is that for the year, the private sector added more than 2.5 million jobs. Would it be overly optimistic to hope that the economy might return to full employment next year? Hmmm.

I’m a pepper?

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Keurig Green Mountain just scored a sweet bubbly deal with Dr. Pepper Snapple to make individual capsules that will be used on Keurig’s cold beverage system, due out in the fall. The deal makes Keurig Green Mountain the exclusive provider in the US and Canada. Dr. Pepper Snapple, which also makes Sunkist and Hawaiian Punch, has been struggling along with its rival/competition soda makers to stay relevant in a market that is shifting away from sodas…and in some cases apparently, towards poop water. In fact, volume sales of carbonated soft drinks fell 3% in 2013. But for Keurig, based in Waterbury, Vermont, this was clearly seen as a positive move by Wall Street as shares of the company bubbled up more than 3% in pre-market trading.

Labor Pains and Gains; Microsoft is Nook’d Out; Merry Mortgage Rates

We can work it out…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanksgiving might be over, but there is yet more for which to be thankful: The number of people filing for unemployment benefits dropped once again to under 300,000. The week prior,  the Labor Department reported, much to our collective chagrin, that 314,000 people applied for jobless claims. So you see now, employers really are graciously hanging onto their workforce and the job market is not “cooling” as last week’s numbers rudely suggested. But time for the downer: 2.36 million people are getting jobless benefits. However, unemployment is expected to stay at its annoying 5.8% perch – which is not totally awful since its the lowest since July of 2008.  In fact, the 4 week average for claims being filed even plunked down 9% during the year. If that doesn’t make you merry, well then, that’s your problem. Then there’s that cheery little fact that 229,000 jobs were added, on average, per month over the last year. Still not jumping out of your seat? Well you should because last year that number was a ghastly 194,000. ADP even graciously reported that 208,000 jobs were added just this past November.

Thanks for the virtual memories…

Image courtesy of cuteimage/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cuteimage/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Barnes & Noble and Microsoft can officially change their Facebook status to “no longer in a relationship” ending a two and a half year partnership that saw mostly loss. Microsoft initially plunked $300 million into the relationship involving the once highly-touted Nook, and oh the hopes – such high hopes that with Microsoft’s tech prowess, the Nook would emerge as a formidable force in the tablet wars. But it was not to be as Microsoft did not do what others had hoped for and even went on to introduce its own tablet – The Surface. Combined with the sensation we call the “iPad” and, of course,  the Kindle Fire, the forlorn Nook was left in the digital dust.  This quarter saw revenues drop to $64 million, a staggering 41% decrease over last year, with sales down 60% for the year. Now it is up to Samsung, to help repair those shattered hopes and dreams for Barnes & Noble, as the bookseller writes out a $62 million check to buy back its stake from Microsoft.

Rated: Awesome

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re thinking now would be a good time to buy a new house, my virtual friend, you just might be right as 15 and 30 year mortgage rates have fallen yet again. In fact,  those rates are at their lowest in a year and a half. This week you could get yourself a sweet deal on a 30 year at a rate of 3.89%. Last week that rate was hovering at 3.97%.  Looking to score a 15 year? How does 3.1% sound? I’ll tell you how it sounds – better than last week’s 3.17%. These rates, by the way, are coming just in time as home values are creeping up on us. October saw a 6% rise in values. Good news for sellers, anyways. Not so much for buyers.

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).

Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto Join the Reddit Fray; Jobs They are Aplenty; Soda Delivery Right to Your Door

Reddit already?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reddit, the website billed as “The Front Page of the Internet” is itself making headlines for having raised $50 million in funding. Of course, the usual Silicon Valley suspects whipped out their wallets to get a piece of the Reddit action but they weren’t the only ones. Hip-hop icon Snoop Dogg and oh-so-pretty-Oscar-winning-actor Jared Leto wanted in on the Reddit pie too. Reddit, whose content leaves some tongues wagging and other tongues gagging, plans on using that $50 million for all sorts of neat things like hiring more staff, improving its mobile offerings and, of course, ads. Reddit CEO Yishan Wong also has big convoluted plans to give back 10% –  in money, that is –  to the users who so valiantly scourge the internet to find the right stories that drive the traffic which entertains and sometimes horrifies its visitors. However Wong fully admits “that this plan could tally fail.” Totally. We mustn’t forget to mention that unfortunate incident when nude celebrity photos were leaked onto the site. Many thought the leak was extremely uncool. The site was launched back in 2004 and boasts 133 million users.

Sweet September…

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just in case you were feeling bummed about the economy, because I know that was your first thought when you woke up this morning, then here’s some good news. According to Automatic Data Processing aka ADP, aka those three letters that help decorate your paycheck, just released new data telling us that 213,000 jobs were added in the month of September. That marks the sixth month in a row that job gains are up. It’s especially good news since job gains over the 200,000 mark have a special little way of making the unemployment rate head a wee bit south. And these numbers are just from the private sector which, by the way, gained in all industries. Just wait till you see what numbers the public sector posts. Ooh. I can hardly stand the excitement. Now if the Bureau of Labor Statistics would graciously back up those numbers then all would be right with the world. Almost. Because less people are filing for jobless claims, which happen to be at a seven year low, more and more spending occurs, which leads to more and more economic growth, which leads to…well, you can figure it out from here.

Amazon quench…

Image courtesy of kraifreedom/FreeDigitaPhotos.net

Image courtesy of kraifreedom/FreeDigitaPhotos.net

Thirsty? Then you better log onto Amazon. Quick. That is if you are jonesing for PepsiCo’s latest beverage offering, PepsiTrue. What’s true is that this drink can only be purchased, for now anyways, via the e-commerce website – in 24 packs. What is also true is that it still has calories in it, except 30% less of them. As for the hotly contested high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners? Those ingredients have been scrapped as a way to win back Millenials who seem to prefer beverages sans those items and have been shifting away from soda for the last several years. And, by initially selling the product on Amazon, PepsiCo, apparently, will be able to gauge the response for the new cola. Now can someone tell me what PepsiCo would have done if this were 1984? Anyone?

 

This Burger’s Got Pride, Target-ing Firearms and ADP Jobs Report = Best. Month. Ever.

No shirt, no shoes, no firearms no service…

Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Next time you run out to Target, don’t worry if you forget to bring your assault rifle at home. The Minneapolis-based company just posted a friendly little announcement that says “…starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target.” Which is sort of a relief because they can really weigh a purse down. Target feels that guns are “at odds” with the family shopping atmosphere at the store. An organization called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense started circulating a petition to get Target and its nearly 1,800 stores to ban open carriers of firearms which drew 400,000 signatures.  Chipotle took similar actions against firearms as guns kind of put an uncomfortable damper on the Chipotle dining experience.

Royally proud….

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Burger King has a new item on its menu, “The Proud Whopper” presented in a rainbow colored wrapper. But once you bite into the sumptuous hamburger, you wont be able to distinguish it from classic perennial fave “The Whopper.”  Can you guess the moral of the buger? We are all the same inside. A beautiful but also tasty message. Fernando Machedo, Senior Vice President of Global Brand Management at Burger King said, “It shows how we, as a brand, believe in self-expression.” Burger King also believes it needs a little fiscal lift and hopes this move will attract millennials who tend to appreciate – and open their wallets to – socially conscious business establishments.” The Proud Whopper” sets you back $4.29 – the same as a regular Whopper, except proceeds go to the McLamore Foundation. You can also check out the YouTube video made to introduce the burger (and raise a little social awareness, I suspect).

Payrolling up…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The excitement can hardly be contained over the latest jobs report from human capital management company, ADP. No that was not oxymoronic! Job growth didn’t just merely increase. Job growth didn’t just surpass expectations. What jobs growth did do was put the forecast to shame as over 280,000 jobs were added in June. Expectations by really intelligent economists predicted job growth of 213,000. Last month, jobs grew by 179,000. It’s even better news if only because numbers like that tend to signal impending wage increases. And who doesn’t love a little (and big) wage increase? This month every single industry had jobs growth, even the pesky, fickle, temperamental housing market. But the big winner was small business (50 employees or less) that gained a whopping 117,000 jobs. Now we just have to keep our collective fingers crossed that the report from the Labor Department due tomorrow confirms all this with growth of 200,000 jobs. But considering ADP has over 400 clients that employ 24 million people, there seems to be little doubt on Wall Street that tomorrow will disappoint.