FAA Wants to Get to Know Your Drone$; Green Monday Momentum; Yahoo Shareholder’s Big Plans for CEO

Just put it on my tab…

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It was just a matter of time before the FAA started making some cold hard cash off of those drones that have only just begun to captivate your attention. If you happen to own one of those expensive high-flying devices, then you have until February 19 to register your remote-controlled toy. Look for a brand-spanking new website, to be unveiled by the FAA on December 21, telling you all the info you need to register your drone with the agency. Be prepared to shell out a whopping…$5. But if you do it within the first thirty days – by January 20 – you’ll get your whole $5 back. At least that’s what the FAA says.  The fee, however, only applies to drones weighing between .55 lbs and 55 lbs. So don’t worry about shelling out tons of money if you have some junior pilots in your household who have a tendency to decorate your yard by flying their much smaller drones into tall trees. If you do decide to buy yourself a new drone  in time for the holidays, know that your drone wont be taking flight until it’s registered.  It’s the agency’s way of trying to get drone fliers to recognize and educate themselves about the very serious responsibilities and safety issues that come with operating a drone. After all, who wants to see another drone crashing onto the White House grounds? Certainly not the Secret Service.

Going green…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you stayed in on Black Friday and avoided your computer on Cyber-Monday then you’re in luck.  In case you hadn’t heard, today is not just any Monday. Oh no. Today is Green Monday and it’s apparently the third biggest shopping day of the year. Wal-Mart didn’t want you to feel left out if you failed to make the rounds on previous momentous shopping days so it is making sure you still get in on those deals. After all, Christmas is only two weeks away. Looking to score a great deal on the PlayStation 4 Star Wars: Battlefront bundle? Wal-Mart’s got one for just $299. But Wal-Mart’s not the only game in town cashing in on the Green Monday deals. From Target to Gap, to J.C. Penney and Toys R Us, they’ve all got a coupon or discount for you. Of course Amazon has also got your back. It’s just that the e-commerce giant is simply calling it Day 9 of Amazon’s “12 Days of Deals.”

Will heads roll?

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Looks like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is losing some shareholder fans. New York-based investment firm SpringOwl presented its own turnaround plan to the Yahoo board and its first order of action would be to oust Ms. Mayer. But she’s not the only one who would find herself out of a job. The plan also calls for reducing Yahoo’s workforce from 12,000 down to 3,000. The problem for SpringOwl is that Ms. Mayer would get a very generous $25 million severance compensation payout, a check that Yahoo’s board would prefer not to write. Besides, Mayer is on maternity leave and I’m pretty certain there are some major HR issues when you try and fire somebody who just had a baby – or two in this case. SpringOwl also does not agree with most of the other board members who feel that the best course of action is to sell off its main internet biz.  But SpringOwl Managing Director Eric Jackson wants to lose some of those pesky board members anyway, while going back to the old Yahoo logo in the process. As for those 9,000 employees, maybe losing their jobs wouldn’t be the worst thing since Mr. Jackson would also like to get rid of the $450 million in employee perks.

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Latest Lousy Jobs Report; Wendy’s Is Losing its Buns. Sort of; Are Commercial Drones Finally Taking Flight

Book of jobs…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The private sector added 169,000 new jobs but that’s nothing to celebrate. Well those 169,000 people who will now be collecting paychecks can celebrate but that’s about it. While that number seems significant, and in some ways it is, it is actually the lowest number we’ve seen since January of 2014. Experts expected growth of up to 224,000, as last month’s job growth came in at 175,000. Celebrating occurs only when the numbers go up. Drops like these don’t necessarily mean the economy is about to head south, but it can suggest periods of sluggish growth are on the horizon. This gloomy news is brought to us by ADP, the largest private payrolls processor in the United State and they’ve got the dirt on the digits. But we’re still waiting on the U.S. Labor departments figures, due Friday, which are apparently more detailed and include both the public and private sectors, and may even supply us with better figures. And on the bright side, April’s growth rate wasn’t nearly as abysmal as March’s growth of just 126,000 jobs. So there’s always that heart-warming fact to fall back on.

Where’s the buns? 

Image courtesy of  atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wendy’s restaurants just came out with its earnings and announced it will be selling 640 restaurants. Taking a page from McDonald’s playbook, Wendy’s is hoping that franchising costs will help the chain take in between $400 million to $475 million. The restaurant plans to sell 380 restaurants in this year alone. So if your lifelong dream is to own a Wendy’s, this might be your chance. Wendy’s is definitely having a better quarter than McDonald’s, as the company, famous for its freckle-faced braided redhead, and I guess its food too, took in first quarter earnings of $27.5 million and 7 cents a share, just barely beating analysts expectations of 5 cents a share. However, revenue was down almost 11%. Oh well. Maybe next quarter. Wendy’s also announced that it’s selling its bakery operation in Zanesville, Ohio, which conveniently supplied the chain’s buns. While the folks in Zanesville might not be thrilled, the folks on Wall Street were and sent shares up over 7%. Shares of the company are up over 30% in the last twelve months so clearly someone over there knows what they’re doing.

Droning on and on…

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bplanet/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Drone enthusiasts, rejoice! FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced that the FAA is going to figure out how drones and other aircraft can share all that airspace safely. At the Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference, Huerta said, “Integrating unmanned aircraft into our airspace is a big job, but it’s one the FAA is determined to get right.” This exciting mission will be done through the Pathfinder Program, which will study commercial drones and all the great and lucrative ways they can be used. For instance, CNN wants to see how to gather news with drones in heavily populated areas. A company called PrecisionHawk wants to test it out for the agricultural industry to see how drones can help monitor crops. Then there’s Berkshire Hathaway company, BNSF, a railroad company, that wants to use drones to inspect tracks. Such clever usage. Surprisingly mum on these new developments was Amazon, who has long wanted to use drones to make deliveries. Amazon, if you recall, wasn’t too happy about the FAA’s rules that were proposed in February and let the FAA know it. And if you think the use of drones will take jobs away from actual human beings, then check out the reports from the  Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International which estimates that thousands of jobs would be created and  generate hundreds of millions of dollars. And judging by last month’s Labor report, this drone “thing” just keeps sounding better and better.

Kraft Ketch-es Up; Amazon Wants FAA to Start Droning Around; Lumber Liquidators’ Slight Rebound

Ketchin’ Up…

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

HJ Heinz, as in, ketchup is teaming up with Kraft foods, as in Mac & Cheese and Philadelphia Cream Cheese, to become the world’s fifth largest food and beverage company. And just who is behind this master plan for food domination? None other than everybody’s favorite (and only) Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffet – well, Berkshire Hathaway really, and Brazilian Venture Capital firm 3G. The two entities are throwing $10 billion at the deal, which seems like a relative bargain since the merger is expected to generate $28 billion in annual revenue.  Of course, federal regulators still need to give their seal of approval, along with Kraft shareholders. But considering that the stock went up a whopping 32% on the news I’m guessing they won’t mind. Plus, if you are one of the lucky shareholders, then look out for a cash dividend of $16.50 per share, not to mention a 49% stake in the new venture.

 Droning on and on…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Amazon is taking on the FAA, telling them they lack the “impetus” to develop drone policies in a timely manner – said in the nicest possible way, of course. The e-commerce giant wants the agency to move quicker on issuing permits for drone testing. Like a lot quicker. Like before the model drones Amazon plans to use for its Prime Air Delivery Service become obsolete. Oops. Too late. Even Senator Cory Booker agreed with Amazon saying that if the FAA had been around during the time of the Wright Brothers, then commercial flying would have literally never taken flight. Then there are all those restrictions associated with the testing. For instance, drones can’t fly higher than 400 feet, and in some cases 200 feet, and the drones must also always be in view of the pilot. Where’s the fun in that? Amazon, and several other companies are wondering why it takes so long for the U.S., on average, six months longer to issue these permits when in other countries it takes about 1-2 months?  The drone industry is also irritated by it all seeing as how drone delivery is apparently way more economical, faster and cheaper with the added bonus of less traffic and pollution? Who doesn’t like that? But to be fair, the FAA has some not-so-minor concerns about the potential for drones to collide with commercial carriers carrying passengers. Not to mention the potential loss of link between a drone pilot and the drone.

Lumbering on…

Image courtesy of  Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lumber Liquidators stock went up today by 8%, which actually came as somewhat of a surprise since the stock is down 59% for the year after a scathing “60 Minutes” report that found high levels of formaldehyde in its laminate flooring from China. The reason for its little upswing is presumably because the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has entered the fray by launching a federal investigation into the claims, also involving the EPA, CDC and Federal Trade Commission. Lumber Liquidators is said to be fully cooperating in the investigation. No kidding. But don’t bother holding your breath for results – they won’t be in for several months. Lumber Liquidators, by the way, says “60 Minutes” used a test that is considered unreliable, by Lumber Liquidators standards anyways. The company, which has 350 locations throughout the United States, has graciously offered to come test the flooring in your home. If high levels of formaldehyde are found to be present, then rest assured…Lumber Liquidators will do more testing. If those tests keep coming back positive then yeah, they’ll finally agree to replace the questionable, carcinogenic flooring.

Everything Really Is Awesome for Lego; Southwest Gets Grounded; Target’s Earnings Hit and Miss;

Everything is awesome…

Image courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Lego Movie movie might have been very rudely snubbed at this year’s Oscars but that didn’t stop Lego CEO Joergen Vig Knudstorp from belting out the hit tune “Everything Is Awesome” to reporters recently.  That’s because for him everything really is awesome. The privately held Danish company released its yearly earnings report and the consensus is that Lego is in demand. My basement, however, could have told you that. Demand in China, Russia, France, etc is only getting stronger and this year’s release of “The Lego Movie,” which earned a staggering $468 million, helped propel that awesome demand precipitously upward. Lego’s profits were 15% higher this year hitting about $1 billion. I can truly say I contributed considerably to that figure. Revenue for the company came in at $4.3 billion and move over Mattel because Lego has become the number one toy company in the world. There’s also a Lego Movie sequel in the works set to be directed by Rob Schrab with a 2018 release date. But if the Oscars snubs Lego again, it’ll have to answer to the forces of Ninjago, not to mention Batman,  whose Lego movies are set to be released in 2016 and 2017.

Yeah…that could be a problem…

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everything is not awesome over at Southwest as the airline had to ground 20% of it’s fleet. In case you were wondering that is about 128 of its planes. Apparently Southwest missed inspections and immediately notified safety regulators, according to an airline spokesperson. How very diligent of them. Eighty flights bore the brunt of this gaffe but fear not intrepid traveler, as the FAA and Southwest have figured out a way to get those flights up into our friendly skies until all the aircraft can get properly inspected. How very reassuring.  In case you were still wondering, the part of the aircraft that requires immediate inspection on all these airplanes is the backup hydraulic system. It helps control the aircraft…in the event of a  main system failure. Awesome. The bulk of inspections ought to be completed by now and if you happen to be on one of the few remaining aircraft that have yet to be inspected? Well, then have a nice flight.

Oh Canada!

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Bill Longshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Target reported its earnings this week and the good news is that it lost $2.6 billion. That amounted to a loss of $4.10 per share. It’s good news because it’s a one-time loss from closing up shop, literally, on its disastrous foray into our neighbor to the north. But if you take into account that Canada is now officially off the Target grid, then you can calculate that the mega-retailer actually pulled in $1.50 a share. Which is really great news because analysts only thought that the retailer would gain about $1.46 per share. So you see, there is a bright side here. Somewhere. Sort of. Listen it’s not Canada’s fault. Canadians are really lovely people. Some of my best friends are Canadian. But they just didn’t appreciate all those empty shelves at their 133 stores, not to mention some annoying pricing discrepancies – among other issues, mind you. But back on our turf, Target’s sales increased to $21.8 billion – almost $2 billion more than last year, Canadian failure and all.

Hamas Terrorists/Murderers Win Big Over the FAA, Boeing Not Up Up and Away and Facebook Sooo High Up

Yes, the terrorists have won…

Image courtesy of FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FrameAngel/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It looks like the murderous terrorist Hamas organization scored a major victory against the world, and the US commercial airline industry as it got the FAA to ban flights to Israel. All major carriers including Delta and United Airlines have canceled flights because they are concerned that bloodthirsty Hamas will bring down aircraft with its never-ending supply of missiles obtained with lots of assistance from its nuke-happy friends in Iran. It’s a curious ban since there isn’t one in place for Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen – which begs the question as to whether or not the ban was really born out of safety concerns or just blatant run-of-the-mill anti-Semitism and sympathy for terrorists. Hmmm. The ban is expected to reduce revenue for airlines by tens of millions of dollars –  if not more. A major coup for Hamas, no doubt. But at least former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who knows a things or two about money and politics, showed some major falafel balls by coming to Israel on an El Al flight to show solidarity for a country that is under constant attack by butchers whose sole purpose in life is to murder every single Jewish person on the planet.

Not exactly taking off?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Aerospace and defense company Boeing released its earnings today and all I can say is: Wow. “Wow” for two very distinct reasons. Reason number one is that the Chicago, Illinois-based company pulled in a profit of over 50% with a net income of close to $1.7 billion and $2.24 earnings per share. Boeing didn’t just beat the Street’s estimates it pummeled them. As for “wow” reason number two: The stock isn’t soaring, flying high or (insert any number of aviation-related analogies here) despite its amazing profits. That’s because Boeing’s $22.04 billion revenue was lower than Wall Street’s $22.3 billion estimate. Potatoes. Puhtatoes, I know, but still, when Wall Street has expectations, you best meet them. The company delivered 181 new aircraft this year – a 7% increase –  with over 780 more in the works. It’s all very promising but Wall Street wasn’t as smitten with the fact that the company got a one-time $524 million tax-cut that helped bring in that profit. It probably also didn’t help that Malaysia Airlines flights 370 and 17 were both Boeing jets.

“Like”

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But guess who did soar? Facebook. Okay so that’s not exactly shocking news. Maybe just a little bit to the investors who were a tad bit skeptical over Facebook’s lack of mobile ad revenue. But it looks like this quarter cleared up those concerns as the social media giant is up over 60% propelled by those very ads and the cash they are bringing in – even as I write this. Analysts expected sales of $2.8 billion but hellooooo – this is Facebook we’re talking about and it pulled in more – $2.9 billion, naturally. Net income was up over $790 million and $.30 a share. That’s way more than double from a year ago. And with 1.5 million advertisers, and over 1.3 billion users, Facebook and its investors have a lot to “like.”

 

Spacing Out Thanks to the FAA, Will France Say Adieu to $10 Billion? True or False: $59 Fares

Cleared for liftoff…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sir Richard Branson and his impending fantastic space voyage are good to go as far as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is concerned. Virgin Galactic, co-owned by Branson and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments mapped out an agreement with the FAA over how the intergalactic adventure will work with US airspace. It hopes to launch its first flight on SpaceShipTwo by the end of 2014. Hundreds of people have already signed up for a flight that only sets them back about $250,000 – and is, of course, payable via super-cool and super un-regulated bitcoins.

Au revoir, BNP?

Image courtesy of 1shots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 1shots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

France’s biggest bank, BNP Paribas, is already in some tres hot water over violating US sanctions against unpleasant countries like Iran and Sudan. The Justice Department has been conducting its investigation for quite a while and feels the time has come for BNP Paribas to finally pay for its wrongdoings to the hefty sum of $10 billion. What’s so special about this figure, besides its enormity is that it would be the biggest fine ever imposed on a misbehaving bank –by fives times as much. BNP, however, feels it should only have to pay around $8 billion. But Attorney General Eric Holder has even bigger plans as he is eager to remind the banking industry that none of them are “too big to jail.” He wants to bar BNP from even trading assets ( or as it’s called on The Street, dollar clearing) besides throwing the responsible individuals into the less than illustrious ranks of the unemployed.

Southwest. Oops. They did it again. And Again…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Southwest was in a whole heap of trouble yesterday and had to pay some embarrassing and avoidable fines (hey, just like BNP will likely do, almost). The trouble began when Southwest posted $59 fares on its website flying from Atlanta to LA, Chicago and New York. Of course those fares were too good to be true. Would be travelers were told that those fares were not available and were a mistake and never meant to be part of the sale even though they were heavily advertised. Hmmm. The US Department of Transportation didn’t care for this show of false advertising and let them know it. Lucky, for the airline it only had to pony up $300,000 which is probably what it earns in the time it takes you to read this paragraph. Despite its questionable sales tactics, shares of the airline have gone up over 40% this year. Another hmmm.