Louisville Slugger is “Finnished”; eBay’s Big Changes; Housing Bummers

Take a swing at this…

Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of vectorolie/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It seems like only yesterday when John Hillerich carved out the iconic wooden baseball bat that would eventually become the Louisville Slugger. Actually it was closer to 1884, but details, my friend. Since then, more then 100 million Louisville Sluggers have been sold and it is the official bat of Major League Baseball. It’s been used by 60% of the ball players including Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle. Now,  Hillerich & Bradsby descendant, John A. Hillerich, announced he’s selling the company to Wilson, a company owned by a larger Finnish company, called Amer Sports. Not finish – as in , wood finish, mind you. That would make more sense. I wrote Finnish. As in Helsinki. As in, do they even have baseball in Finland? The reported cost for selling off this iconic brand to a company based nowhere near Kentucky, or the United States  for that matter, is about $7o million. Louisville Slugger, alone, raked in $75 million in revenue in a $2.4 billion global baseball and softball industry. The U.S. is responsible for $1.4 billion of that. The move will cost 52 employees their jobs.

Board to tears…

Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of iosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things are heating up at eBay as it gets set to bid adieu to PayPal later this year. If you recall, investor Carl Icahn wanted eBay and PayPal to do the splits. Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen was not down with that idea at all. Considering that Carl Icahn is the largest shareholder in eBay, he managed to get his way. Thus, Andreessen said buh-bye back in October and a whole new crew is set to run the show. For now we only know a few of them. Devin Wenig will be the new eBay CEO while Dan Schulman takes the CEO spot at PayPal. So where does that leave current eBay CEO John Donahoe? Good question but one to which I have no answer. But the exciting news today is the announcement of two new board members added to eBay. GoPro president and former Skype exec Tony Bates joins the board along with American Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern. McGovern becomes the third woman to join the board, by the way.

Housed…

Image courtesy of phanlop88/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phanlop88/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As if we don’t have enough aggravation from this never-ending winter and unusually frigid March, leave it to the National Association of Realtors to disappoint us over sales of pre-existing homes. According to the NAR, February was less than spectacular. A lot less. While sales didn’t necessarily go down, they barely went up, by 1.2% to 4.88 million. That was especially annoying because January was no great shakes in terms of sales either. The median price of a home in February was $202,600, up from 2014’s $188,4000. So who’s to blame? Well, weather always plays its mean little part. But Mother Nature wasn’t the only factor toying with our fiscal emotions. Home values are going up way faster than paychecks are. That tends to put a damper on things. Also, there’s a lot less inventory out there. Part of that problem is that so many people owe more on their homes than their homes are actually worth. So, basically, they stand to lose by selling their homes. But luckily, there is still a chance to reverse the fiscal tide. The busiest time of the year for selling homes is just around the corner and with credit rules easing and an improving job market, there’s no need to fret. Yet.

 

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Board Members Smackdown, Darn That Weather and Netflix Has Its Own Drama

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/freedigitalphotos.net

If you’re looking for a good fight today then look no further than Carl Icahn vs. eBay.  The activist investor who owns about 2% in eBay stock said that CEO John Donahoe “was completely asleep, or even worse, either naïve or willfully blind…” Yikes.  Icahn is peeved because he feels that some eBay board members have commitment issues and wants eBay to spin off its PayPal unit.  So what does this mean for you, o’ faithful consumer of online goods and services? Well probably not much.  At least for now…

Maybe it wasn’t that awful tie after all…

The money guys say, chillax.  It’s not your lousy interview skills or your beer-stained tie that (probably) cost you the job.  Blame it on the totally annoying Polar Vortex instead.  Though economic data proved to be much worse than what was originally predicted in both housing and hiring,  the investors are blaming it on Mother Nature and the nasty weather she’s been dumping on us.

Image Courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

If that is in fact the case, does this mean we can expect to see some growth in those sectors as the weather warms up (if it ever does)? Hmmm.

Big Netflix fan, are ya?

Well let’s see just how big a fan you really are?  Are you willing to pay even more for the service.  If you answered yes then guess what…it’s entirely possible that you might MIGHT in fact get the opportunity to prove your customer loyalty and fandom now that Netflix has agreed to pay Comcast to stream its content way smoother than in recent months.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

It’ll all be worth it, wont it?  After all, that means that those pesky little pauses and other snags reported by subscribers are soon to be a thing of the past…it is hoped…