AmEx Wants to Know What Your Loyalty is Worth; How Do You Say Opel-ease in Russian?; FedEx’s Hit and Miss

Where’s your loyalty?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Maybe membership does still have its privileges. AmEx is trying to make a comeback following its breakup with powerhouse retailer, Costco, and rumors of an impending break-up with JetBlue. To soothe it’s broken fiscal heart, the company is making plans to offer a rewards program called “Plenti.” Catchy, huh? Joining forces with Macy’s, Exxon, RiteAid, AT&T and a few other companies, AmEx is offering a loyalty program where American consumers get to cash in points earned on their AmEx cards, and then redeem the points at these retailers. I say Americans, because AmEx already has loyalty programs in other parts of the world, including Germany and Italy. Fill up your car at Exxon and then run over to Macy’s and buy yourself a shirt. Or some vitamins at RiteAid. Or insurance. Yes, I did say insurance since Nationwide Insurers is one of the partners. As is Hulu. Cool, huh? . Noticeably absent from the list of participants is a national grocer and home improvement retailer. But fear not, oh faithful spender, as rumor has it those slots are just about to be filled. If you’re wondering how AmEx benefits, it’s simple: AmEx gets a fee from its partners-in-retail. Clever indeed.

No more vroom…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

GM is coming to a screeching halt in Russia after taking a 74% hit in sales there with an 86% hit on its Opel brand alone. Hence, GM has put the kibosh on Opel production altogether and will be drastically slowing down production on its Chevy lines, chalking it all up to a $600 million loss. The collapsed ruble and dropping oil prices have dealt a major blow to the Russian economy, with car sales especially down 38%. So GM decided to make a run for it. However, if you find yourself in Russia and jonesing for a Corvette, then no worries. Because Corvettes are imported, they will still be making their way into the country, together with Tahoes and Camaros. Can’t you just picture Putin cruising the Kremlin in a Camaro? Oddly enough, or not, the automobile company is still looking to up its Cadillac game in Russia. The luxury auto has yet to catch up to the popularity of European automobiles BMW and Audi. Tragically, only 72 of them have been sold in Russia in the first two months of the year.

Special delivery…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

FedEx released its earnings report, regaling Wall Street and the world with news of its prosperous third quarter. One of the fiscal highlights was the $11.7 billion in revenue the company took in. Not a major difference than what experts forecasted, and a modest 4% gain over last year, but the number did hit its target so nobody was necessarily complaining on that front. The big exciting numbers, though, came courtesy of FedEx’s impressive profits. At $580 million and $2.01 per share, the company’s net income was a whopping 63% higher than last year at this time. Analysts only predicted a profit of $1.88. It’s kind of nice when analysts are wrong. Just saying. And for that very impressive feat, FedEx can thank low fuel prices. Of course there were a few other reasons too, but fuel could definitely be crowned the star of this one. But then its shares took a bit of dip today on the news of its less than impressive outlook. The company expects to pull in between $8.80 – $8.95 per share for the year but analysts much prefer to see $8.98 per share. FedEx’s performance tends to hint to Wall Street what we can expect from our fickle economy. So if FedEx is feeling a bit too fiscally modest and only moderately ambitious, it makes The Street a little edgy.

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A Vrooming Good Time in November; #GivingTuesday – Think Black Friday for a Cause; The CEO’s Knows

No-vroooomber!!!!!

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The automotive industry had a great November, especially toward the end with all those Black Friday and other holiday promotions. Companies posted some very merry sales. Well most of them, anyway. Chrysler Group rocked the month of November with a 20% jump thanks in big part to its ever-lovable, perennial fave Jeep Brand which had a record month and a 27% increase in sales of its Jeep brand cars. GM took in a very hearty 6.5% sales increase – a particularly impressive feat since its Cadillac brand took a huuuuge 18.7% plunge. But man oh man –  knocking 20% of sticker prices on Buick and GMC Brands certainly helped GM sell over 225,800 cars. Ford, however, told a very different tale as its sales took a 1.8% beat down. Apparently drivers are eagerly waiting for the newly redesigned 2015 F-150’s and Mustangs. After analysts finish adding up their numbers, it’s expected that 1.27 million vehicles will have been sold this November.

Give it up for Tuesday…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As we bid adieu to the Blackest of Fridays and the Cyber-est of Mondays, let us usher in #GivingTuesday. Conceived in 2011 by a group of folks from the 92nd Street Y in New York City, the group started out with about 2,500 non-profit organizations participating in 2012. Today, over 20,000 non-profit partners are getting in on the action with thousands more worldwide asking you to give back with money, clothing, food, or volunteering that most precious of all things – your time.  Give a donation, and in plenty of instances, your donation will be matched. Tons of other organizations will even double or triple your donation. Don’t believe me? Go see – and give – for yourself. #GivingTuesday

Well if a CEO said it…

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What happens when you survey 129 CEO’s to talk about the economy? Well for one, they don’t always agree with economists. Hmm. Case in point, the top CEO’s in the country, surveyed by an association called the Business Roundtable, feel the economy will grow by 2.4%. Economists beg to differ (okay, so maybe there was no begging) that the economy will grow at a higher rate of 3%. Potatos. Puh-tatoes. So who’s your money on? The Business Roundatble (BRT), by the way, “is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy,” according to its highly  informative website. Other insights from the CEO’s: 74% of them expect their companies’ sales to go up. They also expect a nice little rise in their employment within the next six months. All good things, of course.