Wells Fargo Banking on More Headaches; Tonka Christmas Present Sparked – But it Wasn’t Joy; Tyson’s Not Feeding Enough of You Like Family

Leash tightening…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Wells Fargo’s spanking seems to be far from over. Regulators are looking to make life utterly miserable for the bank by placing on it all kinds of restrictions that weren’t initially required as part of September’s $190 million settlement. For instance, if Wells Fargo wants to hire or make changes to senior level management and executives, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency is requiring a 90 day heads up and ultimately gets the final say. If the OCC doesn’t care for a person’s “competence, experience, character or integrity” then they’re out. As for those illustrious “golden parachutes” afforded managers who leave the company, the OCC gets to ban them if it sees fit. And unlike so many other banks, the OCC will no longer grant Wells Fargo expedited treatment for branch openings, and instead any new application for a branch opening will be subject to careful review. It’s not clear why the OCC changed its mind about the additional restrictions and a lot of experts thinks it’s nothing short of weird. Some speculate that the OCC is worried that they appeared soft on Wells Fargo and therefore imposed the restrictions. But others suspect this has more to do with the fact that the OCC didn’t handle the scandal well. The fact that former employers insist the over two million fake account openings occurred well before the 2011 point that regulators suggest, is just one reason. Then there’s the glaring issue of all those whistleblowers who were terminated after calling the Wells Fargo ethics hotline. Over 5,000 low-level employees were fired, yet mysteriously, higher-level execs went unscathed.

Dreaming of a fiery Christmas…

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Image courtesy of John Kasawa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Black Friday is still a few days away, yet there will be one less toy crowding the shelves this holiday season: The Tonka Truck 12v Ride On Dump Truck. The battery powered mini-vehicle seats two and the Harden family of Washington thought it wold make a great present for their grandson. Only problem is, driving home from Toys “R” Us, the ride-on toy caught fire in the back of Mr. Harden’s truck. Mr. Harden quickly pulled over to extinguish the flames and proceeded to drive back to Toys “R” Us to return the darn thing. Except the toy truck reignited, only this time it also set the grown up’s truck on fire as well. A Toys “R” Us spokesperson said that the incident appeared to be an isolated one and decided against issuing a full recall. Yet the toy company still went ahead and yanked the item from the shelves and its website as it attempts to investigate with the manufacturer, Dynacraft, what exactly went wrong. Incidentally, the toy received mostly bad reviews on Amazon and the Toys “R” Us website, with most people citing battery problems as the reason. As for the Hardens they got a full refund and a horrifying start to their holiday season.

Hard to swallow…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Investor appetites were not whetted today by Tyson’s earnings. The announcement that it would be changing CEO’s sent shares tumbling a very unappetizing 15%. But that’s not all. Profit came in at $391 million with $1.03 added per share, earning the company a 52% increase over last year at this time. To me that sounds like a respectable number, however, to Wall Street it was nothing short of a disappointment as expectations were for a $462 million profit. Tyson, purveyor of Jimmy Deans Sausages and Ball Park Hot Dogs, also reported a 13% drop in sales. Sales fell from $10.5 billion last year to a meager $9.2 billion, all while estimates called for $9.4 billion. To be fair, food prices had fallen, giving the company sales figures that were hard to digest. Tyson is looking to make between $4.70 and $4.85 per share for the year, but that’ll do little to cheer up investors who were initially expecting to see full-year earnings of $4.98 per share. Tyson’s troubles don’t seem to be going away anytime soon either with animal-right activists hounding the company because they take issue with Tyson’s supply chain practices. Throw in a class-action suit accusing the company of collusion and price-fixing and you’ve got yourself a company that spooks investors more than it feeds them.

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Who’re You Calling Chicken? “X” Marks the $10 Million Spot and Burgers and Lattes and Beer, Oh My

Appetizing mergers…

Image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s been a lot of talk of pilgrims today even though Thanksgiving is still six months away. That’s because food corporation Pilgrim’s Pride, a Colorado based company that sells chicken products made a very meaty offer to buy Hillshire Farms for about $6 billion. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hillshire Farms, the company behind Jimmy Dean Sausages and the ubiquitously advertised Ball Park hot dogs announced similar plans of its own to buy Pinnacle Foods from Blackstone Group LLP. But my how the (dinner) tables have turned and Pilgrim’s Pride said that unless Hillshire chucks its plans to buy Pinnacle, then it can keep its sausages. However, if Hillshire does indeed decide to go ahead and eat up Pilgrim’s Pride offer, then the poultry product producer will fork over $163 million to pay Pinnacle Foods’ termination fee.

Ahoy Amazon…

Image courtesy of Pong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you thought buried treasure is just for movies these days, then you might want to check out Amazon (after you finish reading this blog, of course). Tonight 1,400 19th century coins are being auctioned off on the site. The coins were discovered by a couple who were out walking their dog on their own property. While there was no “X” marking any spot, there was a suspicious looking canister making its way out of the ground. All the coins of $5, $10 and $20 denominations are, at face value, worth about $28,000. But because the coins, dated from 1847-1890 are rare, old and in “mint” condition –  the coins are set to fetch about $10 million. And no you can’t go digging in other people’s property.

Lattes and burgers? Be still my beating heart…

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re jonesing for a burger to complement your mocha chai latte ( I don’t even know if that’s a real thing) then Starbucks might just have the solution. The Seattle based coffee mega chain is buzzing with plans to open a La Boulange eatery in Los Angeles. Starbucks picked up the bakery chain almost a year ago for $100 million. The last time Starbucks tried to enter the gourmet food arena, customers weren’t exactly eating it up. This particular establishment, however, set to open June 11, lets customers build their own burgers and it’s offering alcohol. Sounds like a win-win to me.