Unfit IPO Debut for Planet Fitness; Lost That Lovin’ Feeling…For Shamu?; If it Looks Like an Engineer, and Quacks Like an Engineer…

Fit to be fried…

Image courtesy of marcolm/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marcolm/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Planet Fitness made its New York Stock Exchange debut but it looked more like Planet Fizzle as the stock, which tried to open at the high end of its range, stumbled on its very first day of trading. The company, notable for its $10 gym membership fees, offered 13.5 million shares and managed to raise $216 million despite its less than impressive open. The company, however, tried to give a good showing on Wall Street today, cleverly handing out all sorts of yummy, unhealthy goodies while engaging the crowds with games like musical hand chairs. That was not a typo. Laugh all you want, but Planet Fitness has over 7 million members, 1 million of whom joined within the last twelve months. Its membership is up over 24% from last year. There are very few companies who pulled that off recently. By the way, the company has 33 straight quarters of growth under its svelte fiscal belt, and saw $280 million in revenue. Add that to its 976 stores in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. and that 9% hit the stock took today doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Was it something I said…

Image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Liz Noffsinger/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things just keep getting fiscally uglier for Shamu and all his water-loving pals as Seaworld Entertainment cranks out yet another soggy quarter. Despite big promotions and a whale of a marketing campaign, attendance at the marine theme parks continued their downward slide. Brass at the company admitted they are continuing to deal with “brand challenges” which is basically code for the negative publicity the company suffered as a result of the very unflattering 2013 documentary “Blackfish.” And just how bad is attendance? Under 6.5 million people stopped by to hang out with the sea creatures, which was a 2% drop from the same time last year. Revenue, which was $391.6 million, is also down 3% from a year ago. But it’s the 85% plunge in profit, down to $5.8 million, that’s really got me questioning if people just don’t dig acrobatic dolphins and comedic sea lions.

If looks could kill…stereotypes…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So what exactly does an engineer look like? Just ask 22 year old Isis Wenger. She’s got big plans to show the world on a billboard in San Francisco after some very rapid, enthusiastic crowd-funding. It all started when some people naively felt Wenger didn’t look like a “traditional” engineer. She then started the buzz-worthy hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer only to discover that there was a whole universe of engineers who also…look like engineers. 75,000 tweets later, including one from engineer and GM CEO, Mary Barra, not to mention a slew of other high-ranking female engineers from some of the world’s top companies, Wenger, together with engineer Michelle Glauser, started an Indiegogo campaign to put up a billboard in San Francisco featuring the diverse engineering community and its stereotypical misconceptions. Hoping to raise $3,500, they instead raised over $7,800…in less than 24 hours.

McDonald’s Turnaround Plan Needs Salt; Warren Buffet Likes His Sugar; Chevy Volt Wants to Electrify

Would you like to supersize that?

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook finally revealed to all who were maybe mildly interested about his big plan is to steer McDonald’s back towards fiscal awesomeness, all in the course of a 23 minute video. The world’s biggest burger chain wants to re-franchise 3,500 of its stores. Because franchising offers “stable and predictable cash flow” from collecting fees, it will supposedly save the company about $300 million a year.  And who doesn’t like saving $300 million. Then, Easterbrook wants to make the company’s corporate structure and bureaucracy less “cumbersome” by dividing the company up into four neat little parts. Well, maybe not little. But certainly neater.  The first part is all about U.S. stores. International markets like, Australia and the U.K make up part number two. The third part is labeled high growth markets  – think China and Russia. Then, all those other countries in the world make up the fourth group.  Of course, no master revival plan would be complete without incorporating a customer-focused approach and the ever-menacing prospect of…accountability. But hey whatever works. And something needs to after the company posted a 2.3% drop in sales and revenue that was way too short of its target. Despite detailing this new plan Mc Donald’s couldn’t get Wall Street excited enough to send shares up, even a little.

Enjoy a Coke with Warren Buffet…

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you couldn’t make it to the the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting this weekend, also known as Woodstock for Capitalists, here are but a few of the pearls from that auspicious event. Wells Fargo, Coke, IBM and AmEx rock, at least according to the Oracle of Omaha. Mr. Buffet clearly knows a thing or two of what he speaks since his company has a market value of a staggering $350 billion. When he discussed Coca Cola and the $16 billion stake his company owns in it, the debate about the adverse health effects of sugar didn’t seem to concern him. He feels that people enjoy Coke and thus, it apparently makes them happy. Unlike Whole Foods, which he said, “I don’t see smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods.” No doubt Whole Foods was not happy about that comment. He was also asked about his involvement with 3G Capital with whom he is now buying Kraft Foods. People have taken issue with 3G over its practice of buying companies and then laying off many of its employees. Mr. Buffet, however, said, “I don’t know of any company that has a policy that says we’re going to have a lot more people than they need.”  How charming. As for naming a successor, well, he didn’t.

Low-voltage…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even though gas prices are pretty low, making gas-guzzling SUV’s that much more appealing, that’s not stopping car companies, like GM, from parading out its latest eco-friendly models. The 2016 Chevy Volt model is making its debut and what is supposed to be so electrifying about it is that it’ll be around $1,500 less than the 2015 model. It’ll also get 30% more mileage from a single charge than the 2015 model. It’s a bit redesigned and there’s even a $7,500 federal income tax credit. But to be fair, it’s not a fully electric vehicle because if you find yourself coasting along  the highway – or any road, for that matter – and the battery juice runs out, the Volt becomes just another regular gas guzzler.  If that doesn’t bother you – and why should it – then consider that Chevy is offering 0% financing for 72 months for qualified buyers. Unqualified buyers should take the bus. California’s even offering a $1,500 rebate which pretty much means that GM doesn’t think there’s going to be a waiting list for this particular automobile. Because let’s face it, a Tesla it’s not.

GM Earnings Not So Revved Up; Wall Street Goes Dunkin’ DoNUTS ; Its Girl Scout Cookie Time – All the Time

Unstoppable?

Image courtesy of olovedog/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of olovedog/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

General Motors came out with its quarterly earnings and you’d hardly know all the fiscal trouble it was dealing with just a year ago. Except for the fact that it reported a glaring $1.7 billion drop in revenue, not to mention all those charges to compensate victims of the recall debacle. The auto company earned $945 million and 86 cents a share this quarter when a year ago GM was staring down the wrong end of a $1.2 billion recall and a paltry profit of just $125 million. GM, incidentally, missed expectations by 11 cents. Try not to get too worked up over that. The automaker did pretty well in the U.S. as fuel prices continued their downward trend sending subliminal messages to consumers that it’s okay to buy all those hunky trucks and SUV’s. But those numbers would have been much higher were it not for a pesky higher tax rate and a strong U.S. dollar. Of course, it wouldn’t be right not to mention Russia and all the fiscal problems it has been causing GM in that part of the world. So there, I mentioned it.

Sweet tooth…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dunkin’ Donuts also released earnings which were positively scrumptious. Well, duh. Have you been in one of their stores lately. I have. This morning, as a matter of fact. And, as usual, I had to wait on a long line. So there. Anybody who patronizes their donuts shops could have told you those donuts were gonna pull off some impressive earnings. So what were those magical numbers, you might be wondering. Dunkin’ Donuts pulled in 40 cents per share, easily topping analysts’ estimates of 35 cents per share. Not bad for a company that sells donuts for a little over a dollar each. As for revenues, well those sugary confections pulled down close to $186 million, once again beating predictions of $180.65 million. Apparently, much of that success was attributed to the wildly caloric and ridiculously tasty croissant donuts.  Dunkin’ Donuts Chief Nigel Travis said the chain managed to pull off these impressive digits despite a nasty winter. But I suspect, in my most humble, unprofessional opinion, that perhaps, those numbers were because of it. Think about it: a hot beverage and a sweet treat. What better way to spend a wintery morning? Well, flying to Hawaii is one way, but I digress. If its earnings weren’t sweet enough for you, then how about the fact that the donut chain also raised its outlook on revenue growth from a previously estimated 5% – 7% to a revised 6% – 8%. Can we say sprinkles on top?

Sweeter tooth…

Image courtesy of  pupunkkop/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pupunkkop/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No need to wait anymore for one of your co-workers to hit you up to buy Girl Scout cookies from their daughters on the same day you start your diet. Now you can sabotage your diet goals all year round as the Girl Scout Organization has announced it will be offering a Do-It-Yourself version, easily accessible from your local Wal-Mart, Target or Toys R Us stores beginning this summer.  In fact, it’s so easy, 8 year olds can do it. By themselves. Literally. The Easy-Bake Oven it is not, as Hasbro has the licensing deal for that one. But this new toy is sure to give Hasbro a run for its money as the Girl Scouts of America teamed up with Wicked Cool Toys to offer the latest way for small children to learn the fine art of capitalism. And baking And just eating cookies. The oven toy will sell for about $60 a pop and and comes with one pack of cookies. But just how this new enterprise will affect the 200 million boxes of cookies sold each year remains to be seen.

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.

GM is Looking to Outclass Tesla: Über is Finally Making Friends Again; Job Market is Looking Even Better Than Our Wildest Dreams – Sort of

Tesla? Tesla who?

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The US auto industry sold some 16.5 million vehicles this year. Yet only 120,000 of those were of the electric and hybrid ilk even though it seems like everyone and their mother drives one. Interestingly enough (or not), some 20 electric/hybrid models have made their presence felt in the automobile market. With oil prices dropping, the appeal of these anti-gas guzzlers are dropping too. So what better time than for GM to announce that Tesla needs to uh…step aside and make way for not one, but two electric/ hybrid vehicles it plans to officially churn out by 2017. But Tesla’s are so cool, what’s to worry? Well, for one, GM’s Chevy Bolt (such an adorable name I can’t stand it and it even rhymes with the Chevy Bolt) boasts a range of 200 miles on a single charge. If that’s not electrifying then I don’t what is. Oh wait, yes I do. The price tag will be $30,000, $5,000 less than Tesla’s Model 3 also due out in 2017. To be fair, no word on how options will affect those digits. By the way, if you find yourself cruising the streets of Palo Alto, you might just notice quite a bit more Chevy Volts tooling around than…dare I say it, Teslas. Just saying.

Wanna borrow my notes?

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Über is finally making headlines for not getting shut down. Well, almost. The ride-sharing app made a deal with Boston officials to share its “smart data” all in the name of goodwill. And maybe some good press, too. While protecting the privacy of its riders and drivers, Über and Boston officials hope to solve some of the city’s problems like easing traffic congestion and improving local infrastructure. Fills you with warm fuzzies, doesn’t it? It was seen as a particularly surprising move for two reasons: one, last month saw the arrest of a Boston area Über driver on assault charges. Two, Über didn’t hand over its “smart data” to officials in New York City even though they asked for it too. In fact, New York’s mighty and powerful Taxi & Limousine Commission managed to shut down all but one of Über’s operations for not coughing up the data. However, Über continues to operate pending the results of an appeal. Rumor has it that Über is in talks with New York City officials, much to the discontent of the TLC, who denies “talks” are even taking place with the competition. By the way, Über announced lower fares in 48 cities. New York City isn’t one of them. As a matter of fact, nor is Boston. Go figure.

Labor Market High…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Job openings in the US hit a 14 year high in November. When the job market posts such impressive digits, you know what that means, dontcha? It means that great numbers are expected for 2015. No seriously. It really does. November saw job openings increase by 2.9% to 4.97 million jobs. That’s a lot of benefits. Not since January 2001 has the job market been such a pleasant topic of conversation. All this hiring gets employers thinking that they’re going to need even more peeps to help churn out all those goods and services which we apparently need and cannot go without. So, provided that all this fabulous job hiring continues we might just be able to look forward to…dare I say it…wage increases. But that’s experts talking. Not me. Just saying. Then there are all those quitters. A good job market loves quitters. For real. Because when quitters quit it means they have moved onto better jobs/careers/life changes. So there.

GM Says Nyet to Russia Deliveries; Start Spreading the News: Gov Cuomo Bans Fracking; Kraft-y New CEO

Rubles the wrong way…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his annual hours long press conference where he discussed the plunging ruble. He said the economic recovery could take up to two years and, of course, he made sure to point his country’s finger (presumably the middle one) at the US and the EU because he says plunging oil prices and economic sanctions are to blame. Oh and also the central banks messed up too because they apparently didn’t respond fast enough to economic issues as they arose. Darn central banks! Then GM went ahead and suspended deliveries to Russia, becoming one of the latest western companies to do so. And who can blame them. After all, when currencies drop, the companies lose big bucks.  But considering GM only sold 170,000 vehicles in Russia so far this year  – it sells more than that in a single month over here – its sure not to put any major crimp in their business. Apple also shut down operations while other companies, like BMW, took the route of raising their prices to make up for the drop in the ruble rate. Why his love life came up during the press conference is a mystery, but at least now we know that Vladimir Putin is in love –  and somebody even loves him back –  according to him anyway.

Frack off…

Image courtesy of xedos4/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of xedos4/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has made it official: New York has become the first state to ban the ever-controversial fracking process, a decision that puts a major chink in the oil and gas industry. The process, which involves tapping into natural gas by using high-pressure water blasts and, of course, chemicals, has been under a moratorium in New York State since 2008 after it was felt that more research was needed to see just how bad the process is for the environment and our health. At a press conference, Governor Cuomo handed the reins over to health and environmental officials who said the issues are too great to allow it to happen and conveniently had several studies on hand to back up their claims. Now if they could just do something about those traffic jams…

Nothing cheesy about it…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In a move that shocked analysts, who generally make it a habit of predicting things, Kraft CEO Tony Vernon, who is but 58 years young, announced that his retirement from the company will officially take place on December 27. Vernon has been at the post since October of 2012 and will stay on as an adviser until March. His replacement will be John Cahill, who already has Pepsico  gracing his resume. Kraft, the intrepid force behind Velveeta cheese and the ever-malleable Jell-O, said that it needs to make big changes quickly if it wants to keep up with the constantly changing needs of the food industry. Sounds fair, considering Kraft saw an 11% drop in its third quarter profits.

 

A Vrooming Good Time in November; #GivingTuesday – Think Black Friday for a Cause; The CEO’s Knows

No-vroooomber!!!!!

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The automotive industry had a great November, especially toward the end with all those Black Friday and other holiday promotions. Companies posted some very merry sales. Well most of them, anyway. Chrysler Group rocked the month of November with a 20% jump thanks in big part to its ever-lovable, perennial fave Jeep Brand which had a record month and a 27% increase in sales of its Jeep brand cars. GM took in a very hearty 6.5% sales increase – a particularly impressive feat since its Cadillac brand took a huuuuge 18.7% plunge. But man oh man –  knocking 20% of sticker prices on Buick and GMC Brands certainly helped GM sell over 225,800 cars. Ford, however, told a very different tale as its sales took a 1.8% beat down. Apparently drivers are eagerly waiting for the newly redesigned 2015 F-150’s and Mustangs. After analysts finish adding up their numbers, it’s expected that 1.27 million vehicles will have been sold this November.

Give it up for Tuesday…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As we bid adieu to the Blackest of Fridays and the Cyber-est of Mondays, let us usher in #GivingTuesday. Conceived in 2011 by a group of folks from the 92nd Street Y in New York City, the group started out with about 2,500 non-profit organizations participating in 2012. Today, over 20,000 non-profit partners are getting in on the action with thousands more worldwide asking you to give back with money, clothing, food, or volunteering that most precious of all things – your time.  Give a donation, and in plenty of instances, your donation will be matched. Tons of other organizations will even double or triple your donation. Don’t believe me? Go see – and give – for yourself. #GivingTuesday

Well if a CEO said it…

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cooldesign/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What happens when you survey 129 CEO’s to talk about the economy? Well for one, they don’t always agree with economists. Hmm. Case in point, the top CEO’s in the country, surveyed by an association called the Business Roundtable, feel the economy will grow by 2.4%. Economists beg to differ (okay, so maybe there was no begging) that the economy will grow at a higher rate of 3%. Potatos. Puh-tatoes. So who’s your money on? The Business Roundatble (BRT), by the way, “is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote sound public policy and a thriving U.S. economy,” according to its highly  informative website. Other insights from the CEO’s: 74% of them expect their companies’ sales to go up. They also expect a nice little rise in their employment within the next six months. All good things, of course.

Swiss Market Offers Up Fascism With Coffee; GM Earnings Put the Brakes on Recall Issues; Airline Industry Earnings Show No Signs of Ebola

How do the Swiss say “Oops”?

Image courtesy of amenic181/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of amenic181/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Migros, a major Swiss supermarket, is having a bad, embarrassing week. All because of some coffee cream containers. Except they weren’t just any coffee cream containers, unless of course you’re used to seeing Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini gracing food packaging. “Usually the labels have pleasant images like trains, landscapes and dogs,” a spokesperson said. Yeah. Just not today. I guess someone’s getting fired. Migros called it an “unforgivable blunder” when customers began to complain about the portraits of murderous fascists glaring back at them faces as they poured cream into their coffee. Migros, however, is blaming a subsidiary that designed the series of 55 motifs that ended up in scores of restaurants, cafes and kiosks.

Recall debacle? What recall debacle?

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite its disastrous mess of a year, thanks to its ignition switch recall, auto company GM still managed to crank out some insanely impressive earnings. Apparently the U.S. and China are either very forgiving or willing to look past the all company’s scandals and recalls because strong sales in those regions helped GM rake in $1.38 billion or $0.81 per share. Those numbers are nearly double the $698 million $0.45 per share earnings the company hauled in last year at this time. Over 880,000 GM vehicle were sold in North America alone. Russia and Europe weren’t feeling the love for the US car company but no worries because worldwide the company sold close to 2.5 million vehicles. But it’s those trucks I tell you, that consumers are totally digging as GM carries a 24% market share of those babies.

You are free to roam about the cabin…

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Their passengers may not always be healthy but their profits sure are. Indeed the airline industry as a whole has been seeing solid earnings across the board and it’s not their lucky stars they can thank but rather the price of fuel, which as I mentioned yesterday has been going down. JetBlue, Souhwest and United Airlines all rocked their earnings announcements. Even American Airlines added another record quarter of  $942 million, way over the $289 million it pulled in last year at this time. The airline also reported a staggering $11.1 billion in revenue. Considering my awful experiences on American Airlines, those numbers are nothing short of miraculous. As for Ebola scaring off travelers? Well, it’s not. ‘Nuff said.

 

GM Gets Buffet-ed, Great Earnings Are Beautiful and Missed Earnings = Score for Killer Whales

Warren Buffet auto know…

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s no denying GM had nothing short of a disastrous year. Not quite as disastrous as it was for the victims of their faulty ignition switches, of course. But as far as Wall Street was concerned their earnings were a fiscal nightmare (and deservedly so for not being on its safety “A” game). But despite GM’s lousy earnings and even lousier – make that non-existent profits – Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) holding company picked up 3 million shares of the embattled auto maker, according to an SEC regulatory filing. Laugh all you want but they don’t call him the Oracle of Omaha for nothing. The stock is at what you would call a “discount” and Warren Buffet loves himself a good discount. The man knows a thing or two about investing, seeing as how his company’s stock just hit  $200,00 a share. He also happens to think GM CEO Mary Barra is friggin’ awesome. Just don’t expect a quick turn-around as Mr. Buffet is known for holding onto stocks for the long-term. And in this case, that term might just be longer than usual.

Make-up retail wake-up….

Image courtesy of keakguru/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of keakguru/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apparently the quest for beauty is well…priceless. Estée Lauder Companies Inc. released really good and very attractive earnings, especially considering lots of other retailers posted less than glamorous earnings and the US Department of Commerce reported that July retail sales were virtually flat, effectively spooking plenty on Wall Street. Estée Lauder Companies Inc. also owns MAC, Clinique and La Mer (famous as much for the cost of its products as it is for the products themselves). The $28 billion make-up company pulled in $2.73 billion in revenues. Wall Street clearly underestimated the love for make-up and had pegged estimates at $2.66 billion. As for net income – it more than doubled coming up to $257.7 million. The company’s guidance also expects some nice growth hopefully adding a little height to a very unsightly, flattened retail graph.

A whale of tale…

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalsPhotos.net

Nothing like some bad earnings to get killer whales some new and much bigger digs. Following its really bad earnings the other day, with shares of SeaWorld falling 35%, the amusement park company is pledging $10 million for killer whale research and ocean health. Its CEO is also hoping that doubling the size of its Orca tanks will attract more people to its park and boost revenue. SeaWorld attributed some of its losses to the unflattering film “Blackfish” which SeaWorld called a “propaganda film. Two California lawmakers are hoping get a ban on killer whale performances. Of course PETA entered the fray telling whoever that a “bigger prison is still a prison.”

GM and Ford Release Their Very Different Earnings, Morgan Stanley Feeling “Settled” and Amazon’s Confusing Earnings

Compare and contrast…

Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of arztsamui/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Ford and GM announced their second quarter earnings. Guess who fared better? Here’s a hint: Recalls. GM’s profits got massacred by its massive recall issues in its second quarter pulling in only $190 million. While that seems like nothing to scoff at, it is when it’s an 85% drop from the same period a year ago. Ford pulled in a profit of $1.31 billion –  a 6.3% increase. GM on the other hand had a $1.2 billion charge over its recalls – about 22 million of them. In the meantime, the company has set aside a fund with $400 million in it (so far) for victims of the faulty vehicles while it undergoes both Federal and Congressional investigations. But not Ford, whose numbers were lifted with a little help from Europe – which saw a profit for the first time in three years.

Case closed?

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nothing like a $275 million settlement with the SEC to put a damper on the day – well for Morgan Stanley, anyway. But after all, the settlement was over fraud allegations, never a flattering thing for a company, especially when it’s the second largest investment bank in the country. Apparently Morgan Stanley committed these fraudulent acts over some mortgage-backed securities when it misled investors about the delinquency status of loans. It gets a bit more convoluted than that but basically it’s a big Federal no-no when banks don’t bother to disclose delinquency information. The SEC said Morgan Stanley did it on purpose so that it could get out those sub-prime loans to borrowers with, shall we say, sub-prime credit. The $275 million will be paid back to those investors who lost money over Morgan Stanley’s allegedly fraudulent actions.

Prime miss. Or prime diss? Hmmm.

Image courtesy of franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Amazon is not having a good day, we assume, as it came out with earnings which were a colossal Wall Street miss. What does a colossal miss look like? Well, when a giant online company like Amazon posts $0.15 earnings per share when Wall Street expected a $0.27 per share gain then you’ve got yourself a colossal miss. However, many experts (me not being one of them – an expert, that is) attribute that loss to the launch of its new “Fire” smartphone which makes its auspicious and apparently very expensive debut on Friday. Also, it should be duly noted that the company also pulled in $19.34 billion in sales – a 23% growth, so investors and those “experts” aren’t too worked up over that earnings per share miss. If you do find yourself jonseing for one of those new Amazon “Fire” phones it’ll only set you back $649, that is, if you don’t want a contract. If you don’t mind the whole strings attached/contract concept, you’ll only need to shell out $199 for AT&T to provide you with the phone. Either way, Amazon’s going to throw in a one-year “Prime” membership.