Bit-drama; Sports Authority Strikes Out; Uber’s New Bosses

Bit-scam?

ID-100170731

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An Australian man by the name of Craig Wright is claiming to be Bitcoin’s illustrious creator. But as much as he wants people to believe him and embrace him as creator-extraordinare of the crypto-cuurency, there’s plenty of reason not to bite. Insisting he’s Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym behind the currency’s creator, Wright, a computer scientist, decided that it was time for him to reveal his true identity and correct all of the misinformation out there. Wright explained, “I didn’t take the decision lightly to make my identity public and I want to be clear that I’m doing this because I care so passionately about my work and also to dispel any negative myths and fears.” How…gallant. According to Wright, he substantiated his own claim by showing that he had access to blocks of bitcoin that could only have been created by the actual bona fide creator. How very convenient. But naysayers say he’s nothing more than a con man who used some blocks that had already been around and just copied them. Incidentally, Wright’s home was raided by police back in December as a result of a tax investigation conducted by the Australian Tax Office. Though Bitcoin launched in 2009, its creator, who is reported to hold about $450 million worth of bitcoin, fell off the virtual grid in 2011. There are a reported 15 million plus Bitcoins currently in circulation. Wright said he believes that Bitcoin can be used to make the world a better place and is set to release research on the massive potential of the crypto-currency. Awww! Can it cure cancer too?

Game over?

ID-100372845

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like it’s game over for Sports Authority, as the retailer will shutter its 463 stores after failing to reorganize itself following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing back in March. Initially, the chain had big plans to shut down just 140 of its stores. But now the chain will liquidate and very unglamorously auction itself off. There’s a hearing scheduled for May 16 but in the meantime, the flailing company is hoping somebody shows a little fiscal mercy in the way of a generous offer. Problem is, the offers it already had wouldn’t even be enough to cover the $100 million worth of administration and liquidation costs. Of course, there’s also the whopping $1.1 billion that Sports Authority owes to its creditors. Apparently Dick’s Sporting goods was catering the thought of scooping up Sports Authority, but don’t bother checking to see if Dick’s would keep the old sign in place. Because it wouldn’t. It has no intention of bringing on any negative associations. Fact is, Sports Authority and Dick’s were rivals with Sports Authority having the upper hand. But then Dick’s brought its “A” game and began presenting its merchandise better while also offering way more in the tech arena. Hence, Dick’s is not in the downward spiral in which Sports Authority finds itself with one analyst even calling it the only game in town now. Ouch. Perennial brick-and-mortar killer Amazon and friends also had a passive hand in Sports Authority’s demise. But ironically enough, deeply discounted merchandise at Sports Authority, as a result of liquidation attempts, have been hurting sales at Dicks and other sporting goods chains. Lately, anyway. But that fiscal dent will be minor and short-lived, especially when you consider that shares of Dick’s surged a bit today on the news of Sports Authority’s losing uphill battle.

Riding it out…

ID-10043843

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About 1,000 Uber drivers in New York are going all out by forming an association (read: union) to take on Uber management. Calling itself the Amalgamated Local of Livery Employees in Solidarity, or Alles for short, this new association is, ironically, forming just as Uber celebrates its fifth anniversary this week in the Big Apple, where there are some one million active Uber riders. Alles was formed to protect and provide security for its members against all sorts of entities including insurance firms and car companies, just like unions protect employees. Except that Uber drivers are not considered employees but rather contractors. This comes after the ride-sharing app agreed to a $100 million settlement over expense claims in Californian and Massachusetts. The money, if approved by a San Francisco Federal judge, will be divided according to how many miles each Uber driver drove for the company. And while the $100 million settlement is still waiting approval from a San Francisco fedeal judge, lawyers in Florida and Illinois have filed two more class-action lawsuits against Uber claiming that the ride-sharing app violated the Fair Labor Standard Act. That’s in addition to the numerous other lawsuits staring down Uber all over the country.

Advertisements

Is it Formally Formaldehyde From Lumber Liquidators; Adidas Who? Carrie Underwood Kicking the Right Game for Dick’s; Best Buy’s Electricfying Earnings

Wood you mind?

Image courtesy of scottchan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of scottchan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just a day after a scathing “60 Minutes” report that accused Lumber Liquidators of selling products containing excessively high amounts of formaldehyde, the stock rallied today. Just not as much as the 25% hit it took yesterday. The company stands accused, by “60 Minutes” anyway, of selling Chinese-made flooring containing formaldehyde at much higher levels than what is acceptable and, for that matter, legal. The company, however, said the claims are “overblown” and went on to cast doubt on the “60 Minutes” report, pointing out that no victims were “highlighted,” no feedback was provided from regulators and the piece “relied on anonymous Chinese factory workers making accusatory statements.” Hence, analysts were able to send the stock rallying today. Lumber Liquidators has 318 stores in the U.S. and Canada. Incidentally (or not), the Department of Justice may also be filing criminal charges against the company for violating import laws.  Naturally, Lumber Liquidators said, “We stand by every single plank of wood and laminate we sell around the country.” Aw. Now if we could just know for sure if those planks are gonna kill us or not.

Losing your stripes…

Image courtesy of woravit.w/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of woravit.w/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some big changes are in store for Dick’s Sporting Goods come Thursday and they’ve got Carrie Underwood’s name written all over them. Literally. The American Idol winner and country music superstar is launching her very own “athleisure” brand, “Calia by Carrie Underwood.” And yes, “athleisure” is a real thing. However, in order to give the athletic apparel line the attention it deserves, Dick’s will be chucking its Adidas and Reebok lines (remember that one? Adidas owns it). While sales of women’s athletic apparel has been outpacing men’s, Adidas’ sales have been taking a big hit in the United States for some time now. People just aren’t digging the brand’s traditional looks that it keeps churning out. So goodbye Adidas. Hello Carrie! Or Calia!

Take that Amazon!

Image courtesy of patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Best Buy had a rockin’ good quarter thanks to people shelling out tons of money for big screen televisions and mobile phones. The electronics retailer reported its overall fourth quarter revenue was up 1.3% to $14.2 billion. Analysts were actually expecting $14.34 billion but for that minor failing we look no further than the strong U.S. dollar and some store closures in Canada (almost makes you think of Target, doesnt it?).  So why exactly was it rockin’? The company picked up a 77%  profit increase at $1.47 per share when analysts only expected a $1.35 gain per share. Even better, shareholders get to rake in a 51 cent per share dividend some time in April.  In case you were wondering where that mysterious “installation” charge on your bill came from, well, just take a look at Best Buy’s 3.2% revenue increase in the U.S. alone, not to mention its $519 million profit and voila – your phone bill financed Best Buy’s impressive digits by spreading out your mobile payments. Clearly, Best Buy didn’t have this lucrative little plan in place last year as it only pulled in $293 million. But hey, at least you get an upgrade soon, right?

Bieber Fever Doesn’t Smell Like Profit; Home Depot Keeps Improving on Wall Street; and Dick’s Sporting Goods Scores Without Golf

What’s that smell?

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like Justin Bieber isn’t as marketable as previously thought. Oddly enough neither is Taylor Swift. And Nicki Minaj and…Celebrity fragrances put a major crimp in sales at Elizabeth Arden causing its shares to drop 24% on news of its stinky earnings. In fact, the company hasn’t seen earnings this bad since August of 2010. Hmmm. How old was the Beebs then? The drop in sales for celebrity fragrances was even bigger than expected. While the company pulled in $191.7 million in sales, expectations were over $241 million. That’s a big stininking gap, alright. Shares of Elizabeth Arden dropped $1.04 per share which was almost three times the loss that was predicted. That’s on top of the fact that shares already dropped 58% this year. Yikes. But the comapny has plans this year to focus on stabilizing its business – which I can only assume means less Justin Bieber.

Earnings beat…

Image courtesy of Kookkai_nak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Kookkai_nak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On the heels of yesterday’s good news about the improving  housing sector, Home Depot came out with earnings today that easily beat analysts’ expectations. The nations largest home improvement company pulled in $23.8 billion in second quarter revenue, an almost 6% increase from this time last year. Wall Street expected a mere $23.5 billion. The company also pulled in net income of $2.1 billion, gaining $1.52 a share, and coming  in $.08 above expectations. By George,  that’s more than a 22% increase over the same time last year. While some feel that Home Depot’s earning’s success is tied to improvements in the housing market, others feel Home Depot would have gone up no matter what. So there.

Fly away birdie…

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Gualberto107/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dick’s Sporting Goods announced its earnings with some mixed results. The company pulled in $1.7 billion in second quarter revenue, which happens to be a 10% increase over the same time last year. The company also scored a $69.5 million profit. Sounds pretty good, right? Unfortunately that figure was more than 17% less than the same time last year. However, the sporting goods chain did gain $.67 per share, instead of the predicted $.65 per share. So where is all this money coming from anyways? Well it’s not coming from golf. And hunting. But definitely not golf.  It is coming from women’s and youth apparel.  The company consolidated its golf division which also includes its Golf Galaxy chain, and yeah, some people were given their walking papers with this “restructuring.” But at least it will free them up a little to play some profit-sucking golf while pondering their next career move.

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.