Twitter’s Getting Its Game On, We Hope; Amazon Buries the Hatchet with Hachette; Job Quitters Are Getting the Feds Excited

About that “strategy statement”…

Image courtesy of africa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of africa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Twitter did its very best to impress investors by telling them all the new strategies it plans to implement to help the social media company rake in $11 billion in the next 5-8 years. I guess it worked as the stock went up by 7.5%. Twitter’s got all sorts of exciting plans mapped out. Among them are an instant timeline where you don’t even have to share to be a follower. How reassuring. Also really smart people are developing algorithms to figure what users would want to know. Then Twitter wants you to be able to “record, edit and share video.” A dream come true for so many. And because the social media site would hate for you to feel like you’ve missed out on anything, like for instance, today’s photos of Kim Kardashian – or rather, her backside –  then fear not, oh faithful tweeter, as there will be a “what you missed” function. How very useful. Now if Twitter could just figure out how to word a “strategy statement” that doesn’t exponentially exceed 144 characters.

Is that the library calling?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Because compromise is the hallmark of strong relationships, Amazon and Hachette publishers have finally done just that, ending a months-long fight over e-book pricing control. Hachette will now have control to price its e-books however it pleases, but apparently Amazon is going to provide the  publisher with enough incentives to keep those prices low. Which must be a relief for a bunch of its esteemed (and not-as-esteemed) authors, like Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. Rowling, whose ebook, The Silkworm, was going for a whopping $14.99 on Amazon. The average price of a best-selling ebook hovers around $7.60. Sometimes they reach a $9.99 price point. That’s what I call “statement pricing.” Anyways, several authors took major fiscal hits from the feud. The whole “dispute” also got many people wondering if maybe Amazon has just a wee bit too much power over publishers. Hmmm.

I’ll quit to that…

Image courtesy of jumpe/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jumpe/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Americans are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate in six years and that is, in fact, awesome news. About 2.8 million Americans walked out on their jobs, which apparently means that they are confident that they will (or already have) new jobs lined up in time to make their mortgage payment. So I guess it helps that hiring rates are also up. However, jobless claims also rose by 12,000, to 290,00, a bigger than expected climb, but still under the the 300,000 mark, which is really nothing to worry about – except, of course, for those who need to pay their mortgage. Jobless claims, though, are at a 14 year low and Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is loving (okay, not her exact words) the jobless claims number and “quit rate”  since they point to a recovering labor market. Besides, did you know that high quit rates are good for wages? It’s true, I tell you.

Yellen at Congress, JP Morgan Chase-ing Earnings and Johnson & Johnson Sits Pretty at the Top

Cooing Wall Street…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen graced Congress today with her presence and arguably dovish remarks during her semi-annual report on monetary policy. True, her comments  may not have been the stuff HBO series are made of but they did rattle Wall Street and sent its stocks and indexes south for a bit. The Fed Chairwoman wouldn’t offer up a time-table on any plans to raise short-term interest rates and still wants help from the Central Bank. “The economic outlook is very uncertain,” she said. Ugh. Not exactly the words you want to hear from the Fed. She also was not moved by the improving unemployment numbers yet she wasn’t too concerned about the slightly increasing inflation. “We have seen false dawn,” Yellen said, probably not meaning to be as dramatically poetic as the statement sounded. She’salso not too happy about the housing sector and again inadvertently sounded slightly poetic when she referred to the biotechs and social media sector as “stretched.” She apparently feels their stock values are very un-poetically inflated.

Bank’d

Image courtesy of 2nix/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of 2nix/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The country’s second largest bank (by assets), the almost indomitable JP Morgan Chase graced the world with its second quarter earnings today. It beat Wall Street’s predictions. Yay! But wait a minute…its earnings and revenue both took a dive this year with an 8% decline in second quarter profit which I know has you all broken up inside. The bank’s shares gained $1.46 a share when Wall Street predicted $1.29 but its revenue fell $5.99 billion from $6.5 billion a year ago. Just like its banking pal Citigroup – who also released its earnings yesterday and also reached a multi-billion dollar settlement with the Department of Justice over its bad mortgage practices – JP Morgan Chase saw its trading revenue fall.

Unbeatable?

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I double dare you to go to your local pharmacy/supermarket with your full shopping list in hand and try NOT to walk out with a brand that isn’t part of the Johnson & Johnson family. Or then again, don’t bother because it simply is not possible. The company owns…well everything. Almost. Which explains why its second quarter earnings trumped Street estimates jumping 9% in its revenue to $19.5 billion and gaining 13% on its profits. Sure sales of stuff like Tylenol and baby oil helped. And don’t forget about Neutrogena and Aveno (yeah, it owns those as well). But Johnson & Johnson also made some nice chunks of cash with help from its Hepatitis C drugs Olysio and Sovarid. Yeah it has those too.

Tiffany: Bling It On, Janet Yellen Graduates and Missed Target

Shine on…

Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tiffany & Co. (TIF)  and its iconic little blue box had a very luxurious quarter. They just might be the only company who didn’t take issue with the particularly infuriating winter. Even if that nasty little season did toy a bit with the company’s northeast stores nobody probably wants to hear about it considering its net income rose about 50%. In fact, not only did it beat the Street’s expectations, it shattered them. Analysts thought the ultra luxury retailer would pull in about $953 million dollars. But oh no. They came in at a whopping $1 billion. Ironically, a much of that success stems from the less-expensive collections. Yes. Tiffany & Co. does believe itself to have a less expensive collection. Now please collect yourself. But to be fair, consumers were also taking a shine to their colored diamonds as well. And well who doesn’t like a diamond no matter what the color?

 Class act…

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Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen received her degree. Okay so it was an honorary one from NYU. But it will look awfully pretty next to the one she received from Yale where she earned her PhD in economics many years ago. Before a crowd of graduates and their kvelling families gathered in Yankee Stadium, she delivered an address to the class of 2014 in which she said ability is good but it’s how much grit you have that will ultimately determine your success. “You wont succeed all the time. I hope you can find joy in the lives you choose.” Words of a wisdom from a genuinely wise woman. She also gave props to her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. The first female to head the Federal reserve, she was joined by fellow honorees Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Yankees pitching great Mariano Rivera and legendary singer Aretha Franklin.

Missing the mark…

Image courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Target can’t seem to shake that pesky mark on its back after coming out with earnings that tanked 16%. Of course that massive fiasco of a data breach that cost the company $26 million is still looming large and certainly contributed to its disappointing – though not unexpected – performance. But then there was Canada! Oh Canada. The foray to our friendly neighbors to the north didn’t work out quite the way Target hoped. Those embarrasing inventory shortages were not exactly the stuff successful expansions are made of and so the president of its Canadian operations was shown the door.

 

Tesla Doing the Electric Slide – Downward, Whole Foods Not Looking Too Wholesome and Woe Is the Housing Sector!

Electric power struggle…

Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Paul/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It might be a Consumer Reports top pick, but for Tesla Wall Street had a very different reaction. While the luxury electric car company did beat the analysts’ expectations, it also reported a loss of almost $50 million this quarter. Not exactly electrifying news for the company which at this time last year boasted its first profit. As a result, the stock was more fizzle than sizzle. Productions delays of the their Model X car didn’t exactly leave the Street brimming with enthusiasm over the company either. But CEO Elon Musk is not crying himself into a corner as he’s got great big plans for Tesla including building a massive battery factory – or what they’re calling a “gigafactory” – with Panasonic. Musk is also taking the wonders of Tesla abroad with China already having received deliveries of the Model S. Now if he could just figure out a way around those pesky car salesmen in New Jersey…

A whole lotta of food competition…

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whole Foods (WFM) is looking a little wholesome these days as the stock lost almost 17% of its value. It missed analysts’ predictions through no fault of their own. Sort of. After all, who can really compete with the likes of Krogers (KR) and perennial powerhouse retailer, Wal-Mart (WMT), both of whom are offering up organic fare for considerably cheaper prices. So rather than attempt a futile price war with these grocery behemoths, Whole Foods is going to try improving the customer experience instead. What that means for you is that Whole Foods will institute new  – and faster – payment and check out procedures. If they really want improve the customer experience, they might want to provide some babysitting so that parents can roam the stores freely without opening up half the grocery packages before they even get to checkout. That’s just my humble opinion. Currently they have 373 stores in the US, Canada and UK. Yeah, I didn’t know about the UK either.

Housing is a bummer…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just when you were getting excited for spring and all the new fiscal excitement it brings, Janet Yellen goes ahead and kills that buzz by reporting that the housing sector…well…it’s just not really not doing its part to assist with the economic recovery. The amount of filings for building permits fell and those are pretty decent barometers of how the housing sector is doing. As for existing home sales, they seemed to have flat-lined. Those not-so-minor details combined with the fact that the rate of recovery took a veritable stall is leaving the Fed less than enchanted with prospects for a stepped up recovery. The Fed Chairwoman also wouldn’t divulge when low short term interest rates would go back up. If you’re in the market for a cheap mortgage or other type of loan, you better hope they stay low. But Janet Yellen is still holding out for a higher rate of recovery and even expects unemployment numbers to go down, albeit slower tha we would like. Currently, the unemployment rate is holding at a very unflattering 6.3%. Pre-recession that rate was between 4% and 5%.

Hail to Retail, Janet Yellen’s In the Hot Seat and Lego’s Leg Up

A tale of retail….

Courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’m guessing you did a lot of shopping in the last few months, huh?  No? Not you? Well somebody around you did.  Actually a lot of people around you did. A lot. Retail stocks shot up beating forecasters expectations.  Companies like Sears and JC Penney, which took some big hits in recent months, rebounded with better than expected earnings.  And Best Buy?  It’s like whoa! Up 7% as I write this. Sadly you weren’t feeling the love for Chico’s.  What’s that all about? It was the glaring exception to this upward trend whose shares dipped an unflattering 8% after disappointing earnings.  Yikes.

Everything’s coming up chilly…

Photo courtesy ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy ponsulak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Arguably one of Wall Street’s biggest It people, Janet Yellen, took center stage today before the Senate and yes, she is a sensible central banker. Phew. Glad we got that out of the way.  And she thinks just like you do when you were surveyed by the consumer index, which, btw,  speaks volumes to both of yours intellect – namely that the economy is recovering. But darn be that chilly weather, she says, that keeps messing everything up (though it’s difficult to say just how much) – from the economy right on down to my very own driveway. Among her other important statements (none of which included anything about my driveway) she repeated the Fed’s promise to keep interest rates low as long as unemployment is still above 6.5%.  Does that make the situation a win/win or a no win?  Well that depends, I suppose on whether or not you are gainfully employed.

Go Go Lego…

Courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Courtesy of ArtJSan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you still haven’t seen The Lego Movie you’re missing out. But Lego’s not too worried.  While the toy flick stayed #1 at the box office for the last three weeks and continues to pull in some impressive digits worldwide, it’s their other brands like Chima and Lego Friends that has this toymaker pulling in about $4.65 billion in 2013.  And while those numbers are nothing to sneeze at (yes, that ended in a preposition and ironically I did just sneeze )  it’s still second to Mattel with its $7.1 billion worth of Barbies and Fisher Price line.