Uber Revs Up for a Big U.N. Campaign; Credit Suisse Says Auf Wiedersehen to CEO; Barnes and Noble Books Not Terrible Earnings

Put the pedal to the metal…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Über is stepping on the p.r. gas and teaming up with U.N. Women for a big campaign. There is probably a joke in there somewhere about irony but I’ll let you come up with it. In honor of the twenty year anniversary of the Beijing Declaration – a provision promising global gender equality – Über wants to help foster and facilitate economic growth for women through the “Step It Up For Gender Equality” program. The idea is to employ 1 million women as Über drivers by 2020. But here’s the tricky part: Both Über and U.N. Women need to be present in a region. U.N. Women is only present in 48 countries while Über is allowed to operate in 55 countries, and the two don’t always coincide. Sadly, Über is more globally successful than gender equality. But that’s for another blog. Of course, it’s also hard to ignore all the scandals and issues Über has been having with not just female passengers who have been victims of violent drivers, but female drivers who have been harassed by passengers, as well. Currently, 14% of Über’s 160,000 drivers are women. This latest initiative, though no doubt noble and sincere, tends to also suggest that Über’s got some major fiscal growth plans up its tailpipe – continuing to intrigue investors who can’t seem to stop throwing billions of dollars Über’s way.

Nein…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan has announced he will be leaving the Swiss bank in June and giving the position over to Prudential’s Tidjane Thiam. Dougan, who had been at the post since 2007, said the decision to leave was mutual. Of course it was. For a while investors had wanted Dougan to cut back on the investment arm, but the CEO resisted. His resistance did not pay off. Combine that with the $2.5 billion Credit Suisse had to pay U.S.authorities for helping its clients evade taxes and, well, here we are today, discussing Dougan’s resignation. As the first American selected to be CEO of Credit Suisse, the Swiss media just wasn’t that into him from the start. His loyalty was questioned and he took heat for his pay packages. Also, Dougan doesn’t speak German, which apparently didn’t sit well the Swiss media either (and presumably, many many others). News of the impending change sent the stock climbing.

 Book it….

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Barnes & Noble’s quarterly results are in and the word is that revenue is down 1.7%  to $1.96 billion. This ought to surprise no one. And if it does surprise you then I have one word for you: Nook. The e-reader has been nothing but a giant money pit for the bookseller even with Samsung trying to come to its rescue by putting out the first new tablet for Nook in two years. What ought to surprise everyone is that B&N didn’t do nearly as bad as many thought it would all because of books. And toys. But definitely books. Actual books printed on (hopefully) recycled paper. I kid you not. It helped B&N rake in 93 cents per share in profits and helped store sales increase by 1.7%. Sure it wasn’t the forecasted $1.23 per share, but hey, Barnes & Noble will take it. Also, college books proved to be a big help in the fight against horribly missed earnings, with revenue coming in 7.2% higher. Barnes & Noble has plans to spin spin off its college books division in the summer. And now, instead of closing 20 stores this year, Barnes & Noble only plans to close 13 stores.

Advertisements

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.

Bad Credit Suisse, Dick’s Not Feeling Sporty and Home Depot Has Room For Improvement

Plea…pretty pretty plea!!!

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s official. Credit Suisse (CS) entered a guilty plea for assisting – or perhaps the word is abetting? – Americans with avoiding paying Uncle Sam. Or as the Feds call it, Tax Evasion. The Swiss bank has been engaged in this troublesome little activity through 2009. Now it has to fork over $2.6 billion to the Federal Government and New York Financial regulators. One glaring omission from this long-awaited plea agreement was a list of names of the alleged evaders. But no dice even though their fellow Swiss banking institution, UBS, (UBS), did have to give up a list of names of their alleged perps/client list when it pled its guilt back in 2009. It also had to pay a fine of over $780 million in penalties (but really it was handing over that list of names that put a crimp in their operation). Credit Suisse now holds the dubious distinction of being the largest financial institution in twenty years to enter a guilty plea. Classy.

Not exactly par for the course…

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) wasn’t playing around when they announced their earnings today. Dick’s, which also owns Golf Galaxy blamed its golf and hunting sales that threw its shares down almost 15%. Since the start of the year Dick’s watched the value of its shares fall 23%. And while they were hoping for their value to bounce back the opposite happened and they kept falling and falling and… While it earned $1.44 billion in sales which was an almost 8% jump over the same period last year, it still missed the Street’s mark of $1.46 billion. Dick’s currently has 566 stores in the US.

Never stop improving…

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Home Depot (HD) sales didn’t exactly nail Wall Street’s expectations but don’t expect anyone to get too worked up over it. Analysts predicted $19.97 billion. But oh well. The home  improvement outfitter only delivered $19.69 billion. Which, by the way was almost a 3% increase over last year. Naturally, it wouldn’t feel right if the word “winter” wasn’t mentioned in the context of how it affected their fiscal quarter and was responsible for its missed expectations. So for good measure I’ll say it. Winter. There. That particularly nasty little season that, like a very rude guest, refused to leave quietly, apparently affected the start of the spring selling season. But the Atlanta based retailer called its May sales “robust” which, in my most humble opinion is quite a fitting adjective for a company like Home Depot.

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.

 

Flying the Pricey Skies, Tesla’s Going Ga Ga For Giga, and Swiss Diss

What’s your loyalty worth…

Photo courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“A new model for earning miles will increase rewards for those who spend more as well as differentiate the SkyMiles frequent-flier program for our premium travelers,” says Jeff Robertson, the Delta Vice President who oversees the airline’s loyalty operations.  But just how loyal are you going to feel towards Delta? If you spent a big chunk of time racking up frequent flier miles on Delta, you might want to start cashing them in.  In about ten months they’re making some big changes to their rewards program that you might not find so rewarding.  Delta’s not gonna care how much you’ve flown and how much time you’ve spent on their aircraft – only how much cash you shelled out to have the privilege of flying with them.  Yep.  Mileage reward based on actual miles traveled will be a thing of the past.  If you’re looking to get rewarded your gonna have to pony up. While they’re not the first company to that, they are the first of the bigger airlines to do it.

The excitement is electric…

Photo courtesy digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s good to be Elon Musk these days.  The Tesla Chief Executive is gearing up to build a gigafactory.  Now what on earth is a gigafactory, you ask?  You could say it’s a battery factory.  But that would be like saying a Tesla is just a car, which – let’s be real-  is so much more.  Because Morgan Stanley is just as stoked,Tesla’s market value went above $30 billion.   And if you were on the fence about acquiring the sweet battery-powered ride, know that it just became the first US car to receive  “best overall pick” in Consumer Reports magazine.

Yodel-ey-hee-boo-hoo…

Photo courtesy bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Doesn’t look like Credit Suisse will be yodeling a happy tune any time soon.  Switzerland’s second largest bank acknowledged misconduct by a small group of private bankers.  Well that’s a relief  – just not a tax relief. Credit Suisse Chief Brady Dougan  – who happens to be a US citizen  – deeply regrets “that some Credit Suisse bankers appear to have violated US law.”  Rest assured that the bank’s management had allegedly no knowledge that nearly 22,000 US customers were hiding $10-12 billion in assets with them.  But you really gotta wonder what that says about their management skills.