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.

Priceline Pays a Premium, Online Gambling Stateside? And GM Has Recall Deja Vu

Book this…

Image courtesy of smarnad/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of smarnad/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Priceline.com is making big headlines and believe it or not it has nothing to do with William Shatner. Or Kayley Cuoco. Instead, the online hotel booking giant just picked up online restaurant reservation company, OpenTable, to the very hearty price of $2.6 billion. Priceline Group, which also owns Booking.com, Kayak and other companies, paid approximately $103 per share, a 46% premium in an all cash deal. Shares of of OpenTable shot up 40% from Thursday’s closing price. OpenTable makes reservations for approximately 15 million diners a month to over 31,000 restaurants worldwide. Restaurants pay a fee to OpenTable for the service.

Bet on this…

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Speaking of selling businesses, the world’s biggest online poker company, PokerStars, has found a buyer. Canadian-based Amaya Gaming (AMYGF), a gambling equipment supplier,  is betting on the site to the tune of $4.9 billion. Of course, with gambling comes certain regulatory issues and other laws that sometimes make it difficult for online gaming sites to operate. Well in the US, anyways. PokerStars already had to shell out $731 million to settle some money laundering issues. Apparently, the company circumvented a few internet gambling laws, so the Department of Justice isn’t that enthusiastic about the company making its entrance back into the US. In fact its founder, Isai Scheinebrg, is currently under indictment in the US. But the timing of the deal shows signs – maybe subtle in their own special way – that the US is looking to deregulate the pastime.

Not a total recall…

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of suphakit73/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While GM CEO Mary Barra is getting set to return to Washington next week, the auto company has announced yet another recall. Make that recalls. Many many recalls. Over 500,000 vehicles are being recalled. If only GM could run a tab for recalls…It had a staggering 38 of them this year. This time GM is recalling Chevy Camaros, Saabs and Buick LaCrosses. It seems that in a Camaro, when a driver’s knee bumps the key fob, it can cause the key to move out of the “run” position and lose power.  Definitely problematic. Just a week ago GM was accused of “incompetent negligence.” The company had to hand over a $35 million fine for its aforementioned “incompetent negligence.” Fifteen people were finally fired over the previous recalls involving the ignition switches. Which hardly seems like much considering that those involved knew of the problem for thirteen years. Yes. Thirteen years. Not days. Not weeks. Not months. YEARS.