Crumbs Has Gone Stale, Rolls Royces Are Everywhere (Almost) and Banks Behaving Badly (Again)

Crumbled…

Image courtesy of YaiSirichai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of YaiSirichai/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

America just isn’t that into them anymore…cupcakes, that is. A sure sign the cupcake craze has officially arrived at a screeching halt comes with the news that Crumbs Bake Shop has shuttered all of its 65 bakes shops. All. Of. Them. The first store opened in March 2003 and  the company then went public in 2011. But a taste for the confection went south, as did the bakery’s sales. In 2013, the company choked down close to $20 million in losses. Last week Nasdaq suspended trading of the not so sweet stock after it failed to meet the minimum $2.5 million in shareholder equity. And it is with bitter and not at all sweet sorrow, that the stock has been officially de-listed.

Rolls with it…

Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sharron Goodyear/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you were wondering why you keep seeing Rolls Royces wherever you go (or maybe you don’t wonder about it, or even see them all over the place), there’s a very reasonable explanantion. Lots more people are buying them. Sales for the car (but is it really just a car?) which can go for several hundred thousand dollars are up 33%. But just who are these people that are buying them, since you, unfortunately, are not one of them (or maybe you are). Well if we take peek over the pond, sales of the ultra-luxurious automobile are up in Europe over 60%. Motorists really seem to dig the Rolls in the Middle East and the Asian Pacific too. Even in the good old U.S. of A, sales climbed well into the double digits. Over 1900 Rolls Royces were sold since the beginning of the year. BMW, which owns Rolls Royce also went up about 10%.

Next up…

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Move over BNP Paribas, there’s a new naughty bank in town. Actually two. Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank have become the latest European banks to face the wrath and pricey penalties from the United States Department of Justice. Both banks are accused of playing nice with countries blacklisted by the US government, including Iran and Sudan. The banks allegedly transferred money for the offending and offensively ruled countries through US operations. Deutsche Bank, which already had to pay about 500 million euros in fines swears that all its dealings with Iran were totally legit. After all, how could they not be when dealing with Iran and Sudan? Commerzbank is Germany’s second largest bank and is 17% government owned. However some are wondering and concerned that this not-so-little issue is going to put a crimp in the beautiful and somewhat harmonious relationship between the US and Germany. Let’s hope the expected $500 million settlement to forego criminal charges will assuage that.

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Michael’s Makes a Crafty Return, Au Revoir $8.9 Billion and Swoosh Go the Earnings

So crafty…

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Arts & crafts chain Michael’s (MIK) made its rather subdued return to Wall Street today with its $472 million IPO. After going private in 2006, the company returned offering up 27.8 million shares for $17.00 a pop, priced at the lower end of its predicted range. The Texas based company is the largest art& crafts chain counting Aaron Brothers amongst its holdings. With over 1200 stores in the US, Michael’s had a net income of $243 million, an increase from $200 million. Apparently the crafts industry is quite popular. While the company is valued at $3.45 billion, it’s also carrying a $3 billion debt, which is why Wall Street wasn’t giving it the big warm welcome it gave to other IPO’s like yesterday’s GoPro debut.

Busted…

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of anankkml/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

France’s biggest bank, BNP Paribas, is copping a guilty plea to the tune of $8.9 billion. The official announcement is expected to come Monday. BNP helped countries including Iran, Sudan and Cuba, major human rights violators, avoid US sanctions and assisted tyranny by helping to facilitate $30 billion worth of transactions. Tres uncool. Apparently 12 employees are making an exit from the bank with no charges against the individuals. And while the bank should technically lose its license to operate in the US, the government is instead going to punish them (besides the multi-billion dollar fine) by not allowing the bank to do dollar clearing – an essential component for dealing with international clients. While that seems minor, it actually puts a huge dent in their oil and gas divisions, which is just as well, since those divisions were the ones primarily involved in the illegal transactions.

Swoosh…

Image courtesy of kibsri/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of kibsri/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nike announced its earnings yesterday and raced way past expectations. While growth was seen in most of its divisions, it was its men’s football (or as us heathen Americans call it, soccer) division that really soared. Men’s football gear saw an 18% gain, certainly with a little help from its soccer…uh I mean football shoe dubbed Nike Mercurial Superfly (which to me sounds more like something you’d order in a bar). Shares of Nike rose over 3% in after-hours trading to $79.37. Nike is particularly popular with our neighbors across the pond who account for a majority of Nike’s growth. And while the athletic brand isn’t a World Cup sponsor, you’d never know it because it’s sponsoring more teams than any other brand, including, of course, the men’s US Soccer team.

Oracle Goes Shopping, More Drug Drama and BNP Paribas Has a Tres Big Fine to Pay

What a bargain…

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Oracle spent a few bucks today. Actually a billion bucks today. The company that is now making a big push towards cloud services just picked up Micros Systems for $5.3 billion or about $68 per share. It was Oracle’s biggest shopping day since 2010 when it scooped up Sun Microsystems. Micros Systems makes technology for the hospitality and retail industries, two sectors in which I don’t spend nearly enough money. The move caused shares of both companies to go up a teeny bit. But every little bit helps. Especially for Oracle who just released earnings on Thursday and disappointed Wall Street analysts by earning just $.80 per share instead of a much hoped for $.83 per share. Oh well.

Reject!

Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As we return to the Valeant/Allergan pharmaceutical saga, Allergan has been urging shareholders to reject Canadian based Valeant’s insulting $53 billion bid. Really, if you’re going to try and buy the company that makes Botox you better bring it. Allergan is eager to point out that a hostile takeover like that is simply not in the best interest of the company, especially for the board members who will no doubt be booted from their positions if this takeover does indeed transpire. Partnering with Valeant on this bid is activist investor Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management who already made an offer for the company back in April. According to Allergan’s board members that $53 billion figure seriously undervalues the company – and not just any company but the company responsible for freezing many celebrity faces.

And that’s what you get…

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like French bank BNP Paribas is about to get slapped with a nasty little fine to the tune of almost $10 billion. But don’t feel so bad for them considering they were helping out Iran, Sudan and other countries led by people who have no sense of humanity. It’s rumored the bank will plead guilty for having violated US sanctions by hiding about $30 billion in transactions. The bank allegedly violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That basically means they very nicely assisted very evil people to do very bad business. BNP Paribas is the second major European bank to plead guilty this year. Credit Suisse pled their guilt a few months ago and coughed up a $2.6 billion fine for hiding US assets from the IRS.

Tweeting Bad, CEO Is No Longer On Target and Are Banks Headed for the Slammer?

When tweeting goes bad…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s bad enough cursing out your colleagues. But cursing them out on twitter takes an extra special dose of messed up. Just ask former Paypal Director of Strategy Rakesh (Rocky) Agrawal. That is, if you can find him. On Friday night the then Paypal executive released a number of expletive laden tweets presumably directed at his fellow executives. In one, he called a VP of Global Communications a useless middle manager. Much of what he tweeted was incoherent and made absolutely no sense – for which he conveniently blamed a “new keyboard.” In fact the only coherent parts of the tweets were the expletives. Agrawal says he had already resigned from the company before the tweets escaped his fingertips yet shortly after they started circulating and gaining attention @Paypal tweeted: Rakesh Agrawal is no longer with the company. Treat everyone with respect. No excuses. PayPal has zero tolerance.

Way off target…

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The fact that Target (TGT) CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s resignation was announced today isn’t quite as shocking as the fact that he waited this long to do it. After a colossally expensive and embarrassing data breach that compromised the credit card and personal information of millions – no wait – make that tens of millions of people during the past holiday season, the now former CEO said in a statement that he holds himself personally responsible. Oh well. Maybe if he had had the good sense to try and mitigate the circumstances when the breach was first detected – before any data was even taken – instead of waiting as long as he did, then perhaps Steinhafel’s thirty-five year career at the $40 billion corporation might not have come to such a screeching halt. But he’s probably not too stressed about job hunting. The $55 million he’s rumored to be getting in severance should tide him over for a couple of years.

Don’t bank on it…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just when you though banks could no wrong…Actually, they do plenty of wrong. And now Attorney General Eric Holder wants everyone to know that although some financial institutions are Too Big To Fail, “There is no such thing as too big to jail” either.  Banks like Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas are staring down the wrong end of recent efforts by the US government for violating all kinds of rules. Credit Suisse was ticking off the US with their illegal tax shelters. The US has become less than fond of BNP Paribas for violating US sanctions against countries like Sudan and Iran. Some might find it shocking that a bank would want to assist countries whose gross human rights violations have come to be a part of the fiber of their existence. But to banks – big and small – money is money.  And to AG Holder, the law’s the law. And if it gets broken, he’s got some not-so-inviting cells waiting to house the offenders.