Jack Ma’s One Singular Sensation; Google Gets New Lease on…Space; Best Buy’s Gobble Gobble

You’re celebrating what?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you despise Valentine’s Day you might want to consider moving to China where November 11, as in 11/11, the holiday known as Singles day, was jubilantly and fiscally celebrated. Started in 1993 by group of Chinese students who decided to celebrate their singledom every year on 11/11, retailers savvily recognized a highly lucrative opportunity and now slash prices on this day in honor of “eligible” shoppers splurging on …themselves. It’s like Cyber-Monday and the opposite of Valentine’s Day all rolled into a neat little discounted package. E-commerce giant Alibaba and its CEO Jack Ma were certainly feeling the Singles Day love as his company hit a record-breaking $9.3 billion mark in sales. And even though Americans might not have been rejoicing in the retail festivities taking place in China, some American retailers, like Costco and Calvin Klein, still got to participate and reaped some good fortune.

The real estate in this town, I tell ya…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures is dishing out over $1 billion for some real estate. That’s not to mention the $200 million more it will pay just to fix up the joint. But at  least it’s a sixty year lease, so that’ll give it plenty of time to make it feel like home…or work, I guess. The real estate in question is actually the famous Hangar One at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley (where else?), built in the early 1930’s by the Navy and later transferred to NASA. In case you were wondering what Google plans to do with a massive 350,000 hangar that comes with two runways and a golf course (yes, a golf course), then wonder no more. Google’s looking to broaden its horizons – and portfolio, no doubt – into robotics, drones, balloons and, of course, space. Naturally, there are detractors, like Consumer Watchdog, which feels Google will use the land as it pleases, and not necessarily for the good of mankind. But others, including Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, argue that it provides a great opportunity to restore famed Moffettt Field. Besides, now NASA doesn’t need to to pay over $6 million a year for all those irritating maintenance fees.

Another one bites the turkey dust…

Image courtesy of hin255/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hin255/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the lack-of-Thanksgiving-spirit, Best Buy becomes the latest relatailer to spoil family time and a tryptophan high by serving its Black Friday deals on Thursday as in, Thanksgiving. You can get going on your chaotic Black Friday shopping as early as 5pm, just as you begin to digest your poultry. How convenient. Then you waddle it iff as you meander through aisles and aisles of discounted electronic offerings, until 1 am. Surely with over 1000 stores in 47 states, you’ll able to score a bunch of merchandise at some great prices. But if you just don’t want to destroy the spirit of a national holiday devoted to sitting down at an actual meal with your loved ones and offering thanks for all that you have, Best Buy will still be offering discounts on the actual Friday for which “Black Friday” is aptly named.

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Sauced Out, Not Exactly the Best-est Buy and Housing Springs Forward

They don’t got the sauce…

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apparently Unilever (UL) likes their pasta plain. The company just sold their Ragu and Bertolli pasta sauce brands to Japanese food manufacturer Mizkan for $2.15 billion. Despite the fact that Ragu is the best-selling pasta sauce in the United Stated, Unilever, like many other companies are focusing on what they do best  – in this case it’s personal hygiene products. Which is just as well I suppose as the maker of and Axe body spray decided its food products would find a much more loving family in the arms of a 210 year old Japanese company that makes things like mustards and rice wine.

Mediocre Buy…

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Best Buy (BBY) wasn’t looking its best today. Sure it beat expectations earning $0.33 a share instead of the predicted $0.20 a share. But revenue fell and the company isn’t expecting that to change much. The electronics chain reported sales of $9.04 billion. But analysts pegged their hopes for it at $9.22 billion. And like every other company, they are blaming factors outside the company – in this case, the electronics manufacturers. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Best Buy said companies need to crank out more products with bigger tricks and maybe then Best Buy sales will improve. Best Buy also spoke of “softness” (which is just another way of saying lousy sales) in the mobile phone market where it says consumers are eagerly awaiting the next best things so they can sleep on a sidewalk  outside a store three days before a product hits the shelves just to have the dubious distinction of being among the first to own a product that will be obsolete in six months.

Housing numbers and housing bummers…

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The economy is looking slightly (remember, I said slightly) less awful today as new numbers are out indicating that the housing market is improving. Slightly. In fact, April was the first time it rose in 2014. While it was a 1.3% increase from March, it still was 7% below April 2013’s numbers. But two good things to note: There are more homes and there are better prices  – not that those two things are always mutually exclusive. The median price of a home was up 5.2% from a year ago to $201,700. But leave it to the Federal Reserve to be the ever reliable buzzkill and remind us that the pace of the housing recovery is still too slow and just isn’t good enough in the grand economic recovery scheme of things. Got all that?

Hail to Retail, Janet Yellen’s In the Hot Seat and Lego’s Leg Up

A tale of retail….

Courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m guessing you did a lot of shopping in the last few months, huh?  No? Not you? Well somebody around you did.  Actually a lot of people around you did. A lot. Retail stocks shot up beating forecasters expectations.  Companies like Sears and JC Penney, which took some big hits in recent months, rebounded with better than expected earnings.  And Best Buy?  It’s like whoa! Up 7% as I write this. Sadly you weren’t feeling the love for Chico’s.  What’s that all about? It was the glaring exception to this upward trend whose shares dipped an unflattering 8% after disappointing earnings.  Yikes.

Everything’s coming up chilly…

Photo courtesy ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Arguably one of Wall Street’s biggest It people, Janet Yellen, took center stage today before the Senate and yes, she is a sensible central banker. Phew. Glad we got that out of the way.  And she thinks just like you do when you were surveyed by the consumer index, which, btw,  speaks volumes to both of yours intellect – namely that the economy is recovering. But darn be that chilly weather, she says, that keeps messing everything up (though it’s difficult to say just how much) – from the economy right on down to my very own driveway. Among her other important statements (none of which included anything about my driveway) she repeated the Fed’s promise to keep interest rates low as long as unemployment is still above 6.5%.  Does that make the situation a win/win or a no win?  Well that depends, I suppose on whether or not you are gainfully employed.

Go Go Lego…

Courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you still haven’t seen The Lego Movie you’re missing out. But Lego’s not too worried.  While the toy flick stayed #1 at the box office for the last three weeks and continues to pull in some impressive digits worldwide, it’s their other brands like Chima and Lego Friends that has this toymaker pulling in about $4.65 billion in 2013.  And while those numbers are nothing to sneeze at (yes, that ended in a preposition and ironically I did just sneeze )  it’s still second to Mattel with its $7.1 billion worth of Barbies and Fisher Price line.