Are You There Shareholders? It’s Me, Warren (2015); Forbes’ Magazine Names the A-Listers; Costco: AmEx Out, Visa and Citi In

Best Regards, Warren…

Image courtesy of  Boians Cho Joo Young/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boians Cho Joo Young/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Warren Buffet’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders arrived over the weekend, regaling us –  I meant them – with so many insights and wisdom about the economy and the ways of the investment Samurai. Among the many pearls, Mr. Buffet wanted to let folks know that “America’s best days lie ahead.” Things might have been a bit shaky the last few years, but darn be the naysayers  and things can and will only get better. Mr. Buffet also wished to remind people that “Market forecasters will fill your ear but will never fill your wallet.” Aw, Warren. There’s something very moving about the way the Oracle of Omaha advises people that all these financial experts surrounding us are good for nothing. He also offered some poetic words regarding his failed investment in British supermarket chain, Tesco: “In the world of business, bad news often surfaces serially: You see a cockroach in your kitchen; as the days go by, you meet his relatives.” The venture ultimately cost him a whopping $400 million and the Oracle attributes the loss, to among other things, not being decisive and fast enough about pulling out of the investment. Meanwhile, during an interview on CNBC, Warren Buffet said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) should be “less angry and demonizing” and should be more open to compromise. Ouch. I guess those two won’t be hanging out together anytime soon.

Speaking of Warren…

Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Omaha’s most famous resident made it to the number 3 spot on Forbes’ list of billionaires. Microsoft’s Bill Gates claims the top spot – again –  with a net worth of $79.2 billion while Mexico’s Carlos Helu Slim comes in for second. There are 1,826 billionaires on the list who have a combined total net worth of $7.05 trillion. However, the average net worth of the billionaires is actually down by $60 million this year to $3.86 billion. I know, how sad.  Seventy-one of those billionaires are breaking onto the list of the very first time. Among those first-timers is basketball great Michael Jordan who makes his big billionaire list debut this year with a little help from having increased his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets. But his restaurants, deals with Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, etc…allow him to claim the 1,741st spot with a net worth of about $1 billion. Forty-six of the billionaires are under the age of 40 with Snapchat’s Evan Spiegel having the distinction of being the youngest billionaire on the list.

Well hello, pardner…

Image courtesy of stock images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stock images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Club goers rejoice! Costco has officially entered into agreements with Citigroup and Visa to become the wholesaler’s partner in credit. In the meantime, the retailer is bidding a not-so-fond farewell to American Express, who for the last 16 years had an exclusive deal with the chain. Citigroup will be putting out a Costco/Citi credit card with perks and generous rewards aplenty, in keeping with the Costco spirit, of course. Unfortunately, Costco shoppers must wait until April of 2016 to whip out the new plastic. However, debit cards know no bounds – or labels – and those will continue to be warmly accepted regardless of the issuer, at Costco’s 674 warehouses worldwide. And while AmEx is expecting to take some type of beating on Wall Street for the next two years, shares of Visa hit an all-time high today over this very exciting fiscal news.

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Bank On It; “Raising” Hell at Wells Fargo?; The Domino’s Pizza Effect

Bank’d…

Image courtesy of sheelamohan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of sheelamohan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you missed it, the BIG three banks all announced earnings their earnings. The biggest of them all, JP Morgan Chase was expected to rake in $1.38 a share. Instead it took in $1.36. Sure it’s just two cents. But when you’re JPMorgan Chase it isn’t just two cents, but so much more. However, the bank still pulled in way more revenue than expected, surpassing those surly estimates by over a billion dollars.  Citi is up next with earnings of $1.15 per share but yet again, not as much as everybody would have liked. Citi, the third largest bank (by assets, mind you) is also ditching its consumer banking divisions in Japan, Egypt and 11 other countries that just couldn’t cut the fiscal mustard. Which brings us to Wells Fargo which picked up $1.02 per share and $5.7 billion  – a 3% increase over the same time last year. Precisely what analysts predicted.  As for revenue, the San Francisco-based bank pulled in over $21 billion and a 4% gain over last year.

Can you cc me on that?

Image courtesy of digital art/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digital art/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But it’s not just Wells Fargo’s earnings that have everybody talking today. For that story we mosey on over to Oregon, far beyond the clutches of Wall Street and Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. It seems Wells Fargo employee Tyrel Oates recently emailed an idea he had for Mr. Stumpf. Mr. Oates kindly suggested that the bank’s 260,000+ employees should receive a $10,000 raise that could be taken from all those profits the bank has been earning, including this quarter’s $5.7 billion. The thirty year old Oates feels it would be a fine way to reduce income inequality. Mr. Oates currently earns $15 per hour and works a forty hour week. Mr. Stumpf will make over $19 million this year. A Wells Fargo spokesperson said that employees receive “market competitive” compensation. It’s a good thing Mr Oates made sure to “cc” a couple hundred thousand of his fellow employees on it, otherwise how would we have known all this?

By the pie…

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Who else beat analysts’ expectations? I’ll give you a hint: How fast do you like your pizza delivered? Domino’s Pizza gave a smack down to Wall Street expectations of its third quarter earnings with profits 16% higher than the same time last year. Net income for the international pizza chain came in at $35.62 million. The Michigan-based pizza chain pulled in $446.57 million in revenue, easily trumping analysts’ estimates of $434.8 million. And if all that isn’t appetizing enough, how about that $0.25 per share quarterly dividend the company is going to shell out?