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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President Obama Tells CEO’s How to Invest (it’s true); Tesla Electrified Owners; Hershey Welcomes Back Sugar

 Oh and by the way…

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I mentioned yesterday, the Business Roundatble got together to dish out its thoughts and projections for the economy. If you recall, the BRT is a group of CEO’s “of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy.” I’m down with that. Not to be outdone, President Obama, who is not a CEO, told the BRT group, who by the way, represent around $7.4 trillion in annual revenue, that they should invest in infrastructure which apparently is a fabulous “foundation for growth.” It should be duly noted that this business advice is coming from the same person who is responsible for the very unaffordable Affordable Healthcare Care Act. Just saying. President Obama also went on to say that the thorn in his executive side, the bane of his Presidential existence, also known as Republicans, would be sure to challenge any source of funding if it meant new taxes. And just when I was looking forward to paying more taxes together with my unaffordable health care, darn it! Hence, according to Mr. President, you needn’t hold your breath for any new infrastructure bill to pass. And while private investment in infrastructure is no new concept, especially in other countries, here in the United States, legal and tax issues don’t exactly scream, “Invest in infrastructure!”

Zap to it…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Can Tesla do no wrong? Well it can but apparently not when it comes to Consumer Reports, which just reported that the Tesla Model S is so beloved amongst its owners that 98% of them would repurchase the vehicle (But what of the other 2%?). The car which goes for close to $70,000 is even a fave with the team over at Consumer Reports. Other cars that owners loved were the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and the Subaru Forester. Apples and oranges, I know. The Kia Rio, sad to say (actually ambivalent) failed to impress its owners. However, it was the Nissan Versa that found itself at the bottom of the list. And while life is good at the top for Tesla, it best be warned: BMW is nipping at its shiny bumper. Especially with its i3.  While Tesla’s superchargers across the country (and beyond) can be used only with Teslas, BMW is about to put out its own series of superchargers that will be compatible with other models. Except for Teslas. And Nissans (especially that Versa).

I know this sounds corny but…

Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of artur84/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

High-fructose corn syrup beware! You’re on the chopping block having gotten a bad rep over the last several years by getting blamed for a rise in obesity and diabetes. While there isn’t enough evidence that corn-syrup is exclusively to blame,  The Hershey Co. has still decided to kick that ingredient out of its delectable confections.  Instead it will once again use perennial favorite , and old time classic, sugar, instead of the high-fructose corn syrup/sugar cocktail it had been using for so many years. Sugar, that formidable staple which holds a prominent place in my own personal food pyramid, will once again reign supreme for Hershey confections.  However, there is no official time-frame for the switch –  only an acknowledgement that consumers, my self included, much prefer sugar over high-fructose corn syrup.  One of the many groups not pleased by this turn of events are those involved in corn futures. Refiners have even cut costs just to compete with sugar. But seriously, can you really compete with…sugar?