Volvo’s Heads for U.S. Shores; Etsy’s Coming Unglued; Apple Looks for Greener Pastures…in China?

They’re boxy…but safe…

Image courtesy of  Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Volvo’s got big news. Yes. Volvo. Big. News. The car once known for its safety record, not to mention, its boxy style, is setting up shop on American shores. The Swedish auto manufacturer, which is now owned by Chinese company Geely Holding Group, will be plunking down $500 million for a facility in South Carolina.  Apparently, the master plan to is to rekindle the love Americans once had for the car, which has seen its market share in the US dwindle steadily. In fact, the new American Volvo plant is expected to be able to roll out some 100,000 cars a year – which seems a bit high considering the car maker only managed to sell about 56,000 of them in the last year. The new plant is expected to create some 2,000 jobs and you can start driving your American-made Volvo by 2018. But the move has got a lot of people scratching their heads as to why Volvo opted to go to South Carolina as opposed to Mexico where it’s so much cheaper to produce…well, everything. But South Carolina doesn’t seem to be complaining about it and apparently it’s the place to be as the state is home to some 250 car makers. So welcome to America, Volvo.

Not so crafty after all…

Image courtesy of  franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of franky242/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It made for a bedazzling IPO, but Etsy’s glitter is not gold as a Wall Street analyst said that as many as 5% of goods on the crafty website could be fakes. So just how many items is that exactly? About 5 million, give or take. Can you guess where the stock went after that damning little analysis? The stock made its much-heralded IPO opened last month at around $30. As I write this, the stock is hovering at $20.67, down about 9% just from today.  Researchers over at Wedbush say that NFL, Louis Vuitton, Disney and Chanel (to name, but a few) could theoretically make some very ugly copyright infringement cases against the online retailer. That’s more than enough to send investors running. Even though analysts say there’s a chance Etsy could avoid getting directly blamed, the issue of fakes could still make big, bad, fiscal problems by causing reduced fees, the big Etsy money generator. As for that stock price, which had many wondering if it wasn’t just a bit too high to begin with, well Wedbush seems to think that the stock is going to come down a lot and settle in to a more realistic price point of $14 per share.

Cupertino, it ain’t…

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apple is teaming up with the World Wildlife Fund and has plunked down an undisclosed amount of money for…forests…in China. As part of an environmental initiative on Apple’s part  – not necessarily China’s – the company behind the iPhone and iWatch wants to “power all its operations worldwide on 100 per cent renewable energy.” That is so friggin’ noble.  As you sit there playing Candy Crush on your iPad, the powerhouses behind that electronic marvel will be busy protecting about 1 million acres of forest in an effort to responsibly manage a geographical area that houses all kinds of useful natural materials that everyone needs.  And it’s all so ironic considering that China isn’t exactly a beacon of light for environmental causes. In fact, it holds the dubious distinction of being the number one environmental offender in the world. But since most of Apple’s products are manufactured there anyway, it made sense to take part in such an endeavor. Well, sort of.

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Labor Pains and Gains; Microsoft is Nook’d Out; Merry Mortgage Rates

We can work it out…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thanksgiving might be over, but there is yet more for which to be thankful: The number of people filing for unemployment benefits dropped once again to under 300,000. The week prior,  the Labor Department reported, much to our collective chagrin, that 314,000 people applied for jobless claims. So you see now, employers really are graciously hanging onto their workforce and the job market is not “cooling” as last week’s numbers rudely suggested. But time for the downer: 2.36 million people are getting jobless benefits. However, unemployment is expected to stay at its annoying 5.8% perch – which is not totally awful since its the lowest since July of 2008.  In fact, the 4 week average for claims being filed even plunked down 9% during the year. If that doesn’t make you merry, well then, that’s your problem. Then there’s that cheery little fact that 229,000 jobs were added, on average, per month over the last year. Still not jumping out of your seat? Well you should because last year that number was a ghastly 194,000. ADP even graciously reported that 208,000 jobs were added just this past November.

Thanks for the virtual memories…

Image courtesy of cuteimage/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cuteimage/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Barnes & Noble and Microsoft can officially change their Facebook status to “no longer in a relationship” ending a two and a half year partnership that saw mostly loss. Microsoft initially plunked $300 million into the relationship involving the once highly-touted Nook, and oh the hopes – such high hopes that with Microsoft’s tech prowess, the Nook would emerge as a formidable force in the tablet wars. But it was not to be as Microsoft did not do what others had hoped for and even went on to introduce its own tablet – The Surface. Combined with the sensation we call the “iPad” and, of course,  the Kindle Fire, the forlorn Nook was left in the digital dust.  This quarter saw revenues drop to $64 million, a staggering 41% decrease over last year, with sales down 60% for the year. Now it is up to Samsung, to help repair those shattered hopes and dreams for Barnes & Noble, as the bookseller writes out a $62 million check to buy back its stake from Microsoft.

Rated: Awesome

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re thinking now would be a good time to buy a new house, my virtual friend, you just might be right as 15 and 30 year mortgage rates have fallen yet again. In fact,  those rates are at their lowest in a year and a half. This week you could get yourself a sweet deal on a 30 year at a rate of 3.89%. Last week that rate was hovering at 3.97%.  Looking to score a 15 year? How does 3.1% sound? I’ll tell you how it sounds – better than last week’s 3.17%. These rates, by the way, are coming just in time as home values are creeping up on us. October saw a 6% rise in values. Good news for sellers, anyways. Not so much for buyers.

Citigroup Just Can’t Handle the Stress, Microtastic! and Turning Lululemon Into Lemonade

Citigroup fail!

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shares of Citigroup fell 5% today because it failed the Federal Reserve’s “Stress Test.” The US government feels Citigroup has “a number of deficiencies” and wouldn’t be able to handle another economic downturn, like the one from 2008 that keeps rearing its ugly face. The Fed also doesn’t want to have to bail Citigroup out  – again. The Fed has what they call “qualitative concerns” about Citigroup and some other banks that have over $50 billion in assets. For people like you and me that means they need more money on which to fall back should economic disaster strike and they need to up their business practices A game. They have ninety days to fix these problems. Or else….I don’t know what else. I guess they just get another deadline. Other banks that also failed the stress test include HSBC North America, RBS Citizens Financial Group and Santander Holdings USA.

iPad…therefore iMicrosoft…

Image courtesy of twobee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of twobee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

iPad users the world over can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Microsoft Office for the iPad has arrived. Phew! Microsoft chief Satya Nadella finally FINALLY made the big announcement today. But apparently Wall Street knew way before and was very excited because shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) began climbing last week. Probably the $1.4 billion in projected revenue helped the Street’s enthusiasm. You can go to the Apple App store and get the free download. But if you actually want to create and edit, you’re going to have to purchase an Office 365 subscription.

These lemons aren’t so sour after all…

Image courtesy of lamnee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of lamnee/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Lululemon Athletica clearly has some great karma. Despite hitting a major snag this year with see-through yoga pants, the athletic wear company struck its best warrior pose and beat Wall Street’s fourth quarter estimates by going up 7%. Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) sales hit $521 million when it was expected to only reach $515 million. Newcomer CEO Laurent Potdevin, who also worked at TOM’s and Burton Snowboards, has big plans for bringing Lululemon to the rest of the world. Wall Street loves talk of expansion, especially global expansion. And it also loves it when companies beat expectations.