A New Chapter for American Apparel; U.S. Scores a Perfect Triple “A”; Will Italy Say Bonjourno to Domino’s Pizza?

Bust…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While American Apparel brass continues to tussle with ousted founder Dov Charney, the company still found quality time to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Not that this bankruptcy announcement is surprising. The company was bleeding cash for a while now, with Mr. Charney’s questionable behavior and sexual misconduct allegations just one slice of the sloppy fiscal pie. But not to worry over that American Apparel tank top you’ve been meaning to get. The stores, over 200 of them worldwide, won’t be closing there doors anytime soon. Well, at least that’s not part of the plan. In 2014 those stores hauled in $600 million in net sales. So clearly, not everybody was so grossed out by Mr. Charney’s alleged exploits and ad campaigns. The company is hoping to reduce its debt from a staggering $300 million to about $135 million and pinning its hopes on some major cash infusions from creditors is just the start. From there, American Apparel hopes to swap out some of that debt in exchange for company stock. America Apparel also wants to amp up its e-commerce by hiring some talent who can pull off such a feat. Add to that some brand rebuilding and a new look, because, let’s face it, America Apparel hasn’t really changed since, well, ever. There’s also lots of talk about whether it’s in the company’s best interests to keep its manufacturing base in the United States, specifically, California. It’s not exactly cost effective and it’s the reason why almost every other American company sets up shop somewhere in Asia. But bankruptcy or not, American Apparel is adamant that its brand be American-made. Otherwise it might have to change it’s name to Asian Apparel. Duh. If you were thinking of scooping up some shares, don’t bother. Trading of the company’s stock has officially been suspended.

AAA is for awesome…

Image courtesy of fantasista/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of fantasista/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In yet another un-shocking story, Moody’s Investor Service announced that the United States really truly deeply deserves its AAA rating. Unshocking, if only because Moody has never changed that rating. But maybe one day, the ratings service warned. Potential threats could knock down one of those pristine A’s. The insane amount of spending that goes into social programs has Moody’s singing the ratings blues. The company doesn’t care for that habit and is hoping Uncle Sam will figure out soon how to curb that spending. Also, Moody’s wasn’t pleased about that government shut down that almost happened weeks ago. Stuff like that do not a triple “A” rating make. And if Moody’s should someday decide that, alas, a prestigious rating is no longer deserved, it wouldn’t (couldn’t? shouldn’t?) happen before 2020. But that’s a big IF. Because however menacing those threats might seem, it’ll still be difficult to diminish the awesomeness of the United States’ gross domestic product growth, (as in GDP). In fact, growth in the U.S. surpassed that of other triple “A” rated economies (yes, it’s hard to believe but there are other triple “A” rated economies). Awesomeness also abounds because U.S. dollars and treasuries are the global reserve currency and bond market benchmark.  And if that’s not triple “A” worthy, then I don’t know what is.

The ultimate litmus test…

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Domino’s Pizza, believe it or not, still has yet another market to crack: Italy. While to some, opening a Domino’s Pizza shop in Italy, is tantamount to bringing your own sandwich to a restaurant, this Domino’s franchise is aiming for some Italian authenticity. Franchise owner Alessandro Lazzaroni plans to use his own genuine Italian pizza recipe, replete with locally sourced wheat and other native Italian ingredients. A novel approach to pizza, no? After all, according to Domino’s research, Italians chow down on pizza approximately seven times a month and 70% of Italians prefer Margherita pizza (which is plain pizza, mind you). But the pizza company still has a long road ahead as no major American pizza brand has succeeded in the pizza motherland we call Italy. Just make sure that if you absolutely need to eat Domino’s Pizza – in Italy – you’ll have to be in Milan to do so. And how does Wall Street feel about Domino’s latest move? Well earnings are out tomorrow but the stock closed up at $108.03 per share.

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?