Doggy Doo Quarter at JPMorgan Chase; No December Retail Magic; Carnitas Crisis at Chipotle

Dog poo days…

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the biggest bank by assets, is not having a very good day, it seems. Mr. Dimon said the bank will “try to avoid stepping in dogs**t.” A highly technical term coming from the mouth of one Wall Street’s most powerful (and presumably, potty-mouthed) bankers. I guess when you have had better fiscal quarters, “stepping in dogs***” seems an adequate description. Sure the bank pulled in $1.19 per share. So yeah, it made money. There are a ton of companies who would be thrilled to pull in earnings like that. But the bank missed expectations. When you’re JPMorgan Chase and analysts expect you to pull in $1.31, well then, missing analyst expectations is more than a bit of a drag. It also suggests that its competitors will fare similarly. JPMorgan Chase took  a 6.6% hit in its quarterly profit. A $1 billion plus legal bill, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s litany of investigations, is certainly partly responsible for putting a crimp in those earnings.  “Banks are under assault,” says Mr. Dimon when asked about all those legal fees. And I’m sure you’re hurting for him. But let’s face it, that $1 billion is nothing compared to that $13 billion settlement JPMorgan Chase ponied up back in 2013 over its less than desirable role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

Not so merry after all…

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ratch0013/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The most wonderful time of the year was not the most wonderful, fiscally speaking. Far from it, in fact. The Commerce Department and the National Retail Federation regaled us with the lousy news that December showered us with bad tidings of a .9% drop in retail from the previous month. Sales hit $616 billion, which seems awfully jolly. It was even a 4% increase over the same period last year. But again, I reiterate – a .9% drop, month to month. Is it too late to say bah humbog? I think not. Interestingly enough, some of that drop in consumer spending was actually because not as much money was being spent on gas. Dropping oil prices made holiday driving a bit more fiscally festive, just not lucrative. Fun fact: About 10% of retail sales comes from gas purchases. But those steep discounts from retailers, as they desperately attempted to lure shoppers, actually proved to be a major downer for those retail numbers. Hence, there is no good fiscal cheer to be had. But we’re not supposed to get too worked up over this drop since it marks the first time since 2011 that holiday sales even increased by more than 4%. So carry on then.

Big problemo…

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chipotle has put the kibosh on its barbecued pork offerings at about 600 of its eateries after it was found that one of its major pork suppliers was not acting with integrity i.e. not complying with animal welfare standards. So uncool on so many levels.  Chipotle’s policy of serving “food with integrity” should do much to strengthen the beautiful bond between diners who appreciate the sentiment  and the restaurants that seek to uphold it . But alas, it’s not known if and how badly this carnitas crisis will affect Chipotle’s quarterly sales and profits.

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Cyber-Monday Madness; Move Over George Clooney, There’s a New Robot in Town; Cyber-Cookie Scouting

Monday cyber blues…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cyber-Monday is expected to be a little less cyber and a lot more Monday thanks to promotions that started a lot earlier than Monday and are lasting a whole lot longer past Monday. The National Retail Federation is expecting 127 million shoppers to log on and purchase some of their holiday shopping from their computer. That may seem like a huge number except that last year saw 131 million people doing some of their shopping online. Some of this has to do with the fact that a lot of deals can be had in stores as well as online. This past Thanksgiving weekend saw 5.3% fewer shoppers with 11% less money spent. However, do not despair, as this Cyber Monday alone is expected to rake in some $2.5 billion (though to be fair, it is going to be a “Monday” that lasts several days).

Mr. Roboto…

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Continuing the cyber-Monday theme, Amazon.com expects this to be its biggest cyber-Monday yet. Last year the online marketplace shipped off 36.8 million items worldwide, which comes out to 426 items per second. This year the company expects to surpass that. So it’s a good thing it’s employing a fleet of 15,000 robots that it purchased (presumably not from Amazon.com) from Kiva Systems a few years ago for $775 million. The robots will be used to “pick and pack” and are expected to reduce shipping time from hours to mere minutes, according to a company spokesperson. But it’s not just Amazon that has hopped on the robotic train. Just ask George Clooney – who has been unceremoniously replaced by a robot charmingly called Pepper to become the new “face” of Nespresso in Japan. Approximately 1,000 stores across the country are expected to get their very own “Pepper.” I guess that was harder to achieve with George Clooney. It seems the robots’ artificial intelligence have expanded their conversational ability by actually listening to what customers say. Apparently the same could not be said for Mr. Clooney.

The sweetest things…

Image courtesy of SOMMAI/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SOMMAI/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl Scouts of America just got a whole lot more adorable now that they are getting a bit more tech-savvy as they embark on their Digital Cookie Program. Yeah. That’s right. The cookie fundraiser, meant to teach the girls a bit about entrepaneurship have upped their cookie game. They will be setting up online shops – each girl scout will get her own digital cookie website – to market their cookies and track sales. There are 2 million girl scouts milling about the country. That adds up to a lot of Thin Mints. The girls tend to sell about 200 million boxes of cookies a year which fund not just the organization, but camps and trips as well. Creeps and weirdos need not apply as consumers will need to get pre-approved by the scouts’  parents in order  to purchase the delicacies. So how does that help someone if they don’t know anybody who has a child who is a girl scout? The cookie websites will sync with Facebook pages. Surely via Facebook they’ll be able to gain access to those delightfully delectable boxes. But f that still doesn’t help, and that certain someone has no Facebook friends connecting them to girl scout cookies then perhaps it’s just the universe’s way of telling them to lay off the cookies.