Wild Things at the ECB Conference; Google Gets Antitrust Slapped by EU; Smith & Wesson’s Shares Shoot Up

Think you’re having a bad day?

Image courtesy of noppasinw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of noppasinw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank just might be having an even worse day than you, this April 15. And he didn’t even have to file his taxes. As Mr. Draghi was speaking at a conference in Frankfurt, Germany today when a female protester literally jumped onto the table from which he spoke and threw a stack of papers and confetti at him screaming, “End ECB dictatorship!” Now folks have been known to take intense issue with what they consider to be measures that are just a bit to harsh for fiscally challenged European countries, especially Greece and Spain, but if I didn’t know any better, I’d say Ashton Kutcher was somewhere in the room telling Mario Draghi he’d just been punk’d. But…Ashton wasn’t there. Alas, if only the rest of the conference had been as exciting. Instead the ECB President went on to discuss the less riveting topics surrounding the state of the European economy, how it’s allegedly improving and that the $1.2 trillion quantitative easing program is apparently working. In case you were wondering just what on earth is quantitative easing, or QE, as the cool kids call it, it’s a super special type of monetary policy used when the regular one doesn’t seem to be working properly (the details of which I will not delve so as to maintain my audience). As for the protester, Josephine Witt, who managed to pass through multiple security checks posing as a journalist, she gleefully tweeted: “I would say, the #ecb ‘s security service is just as good as putins.”

Speaking of Europe…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Google’s not having the best day in Europe either. The all-mighty search engine is getting called out by the European Union for abuses of power. The EU is handing Google a “Statement of Objections,” with an antitrust complaint that accuses the company of favoring and promoting its own services and products over competitors in user search results and comparison shopping. Google has a 90% share in Europe’s search engine market and 35% of Google’s ad revenue comes from Europe. The United States also began a similar investigation but dropped it after Google graciously agreed to make some changes. The changes, however, weren’t enough for companies like Microsoft, Yelp, Expedia etc., who are happy about this probe since they feel that Google’s search engine dominance is making for a very uneven playing field. The EU is also investigating whether Google forces mobile device companies to use them and whether or not those companies are even allowed to tweak Android software.

Shoot ’em up…

Image courtesy of Surachai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Surachai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Firearms: Love ’em or hate ’em matters not when there’s money involved. Shares of gun maker Smith & Wesson saw a 13% increase on shares today as the company announced that orders for firearms are picking up.  In fact, the stock hit a high today of $14.75 and is up over 50% since the beginning of 2015. Last year the company took in over $626 million in sales, a record for the company. Even though sales aren’t expected to come close to that figure this year, Smith & Wesson is still expected to rake in between $546 – $550 million dollars –  and no one seems to be taking issue with that. Well, at least not on Wall Street.

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Hey God, Make Room for Über; Feeling the JetBlues; Target Is Spot On

Üps…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Über is finding itself in a bit of a tangle, gaffe, pickle (insert any number of words) after it got busted using the company’s “God View” tool to keep tabs on a customer’s vehicle location. Except it wasn’t just any customer, but a journalist. Über general manager Josh Mohrer, who is now apparently under internal investigation, said to the reporter as she arrived at Über headquarters, “There you are. I was tracking you.” A big no-no, at least according to Über’s freshly posted privacy policy. “God View” it seems, is intended to be accessed for “legitimate business purposes.” Tracking that reporter did not comply with those rules. Über’s affections towards journalists previously came to light when when its SVP of business, Emil Michael, suggested the company find a way to get unflattering personal information on them. Über doesn’t like criticism, from journalists, anyway, especially considering that the company is in the midst of trying to raise another $1 billion to get a $30 billion valuation. It’s a good thing for Über that Ashton Kutcher sympathizes with its plight. “What is so wrong about digging up dirt on shady journalist?” the dashing actor recently tweeted. Did I mention that Kutcher’s A-Grade Investments is invested in Über?

Not a classy move…

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just when we thought JetBlue was the cool new kid on the airline playground, it went and did the unthinkable. It became a follower. A conformist. Just like the others. Blah. Take note when you book your next flight with JetBlue that baggage fees are now part of the JetBlue experience. That is, if you booked the cheapest class of ticket. The company is on a tear to generate $400 million in revenue to get better profits. Baggage fees are one of the odious tasks on that “to do” list of its master plan. But if you’re one of the privileged few who already spent the equivalent of a down-payment on a house for your ticket, then you can sit back and relax. Well, maybe scrap the part where you “sit back.” JetBlue is adding 15 seats to its A320 jets which means less legroom for you no matter what you paid. Happy flying!

Unstoppable?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Not only did mega-retailer Target beat expectations, but it even showed Wal-Mart a thing or two. Well maybe just one thing – and that is that its sales grew faster than Wal-Mart’s. (Yes it is a competition.)  Target pulled in an impressive $0.54 per share on $17.56 billion in revenue. Analysts had Target pegged at pulling in $0.47 per share. It’s impressive because the company is still recovering from its mega-gaffe/data breach which is coming up on its one year anniversary. And because the verdict is still out on Target’s adventurous and fiscally questionable Canadian foray, those earnings are like an early Christmans/Hanukah gift. However, we musn’t overlook the fact that those earnings per share were still two cents less than what they were exactly a year ago.