VW Still Writing Checks for its Bad Behavior; Lululemon’s Sour Outlook; Economy Shows Some Impressive Muscle

Putting this baby to bed…

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Image courtesy of nirots/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like Volkswagen will be handing over $157 million to ten U.S. states to settle environmental claims over the auto company’s notorious diesel emissions scandal. Among the lucky – if you can call it that – recipients of these funds are New York, which snagged $32.5 million, Connecticut which took in $20 million, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, which all took in various amounts of the remaining settlement.  Incidentally, that $157 million was well below what the states originally sought. There was already a previous $603 million settlement with 44 other states, but this latest one is separate from that. In fact, the German car company has agreed to spend up to $25 billion to settle claims and make buyback offers. Just wondering if that means it will actually hit that figure or will the company try and do their best to come in as under as possible.  As part of this latest ten-state settlement, VW now has to offer three new electric vehicles in those states. Two of those vehicles need to be SUV’s. Which to me, looks like a bit of a win for VW, but hey, what do I know. In the meantime, as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice, VW pleaded guilty to fraud, obstruction of justice and falsifying of documents in a district court in Detroit earlier this month. The company can also look forward to major audits, oversight and monitoring for the next three years. Sort of like what Wells Fargo has to go through as payback for its fraudulent account scandal. Am I seeing a pattern?

Soured…

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Image courtesy of khumthong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fancy trendy yoga apparel maker Lululemon was upsetting Wall Street’s zen today after announcing that its first quarter sales marked a “slow start” to the year. Which is  really just CEO code for “Yikes! Our quarter sucked.” And with that news, shares of the company took a very ugly 23% plunge to $51 a pop, a stock price the company hasn’t seen since December of 2015. This news was especially weird because Lululemon did better in holiday sales than most other clothing retailers. Yet now, this quarter now becomes the very first one in seven years to see same store sales go down. The company took in almost $790 in revenue with a $136 million profit that added 99 cents per share, even though analysts were expecting that figure to be closer to $784 million with a $1.01 profit per share. Last year at this time the company made off with a $117 million profit that added 85 cents per share. Competition from Nike and Under Armour definitely turned up the heat on the super-pricey Lululemon, with their vast offerings and more affordable selections. But CEO Laurent Potdevin blamed the company’s neutral offerings instead, arguing that they lacked  “depth and color for spring” that consumers are apparently craving. That’s got to be it, right?

Yes, you need to know this…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There was a lot of spending this quarter. A lot. In fact, consumer spending was so strong that it caused the economy’s GDP to grow at a 2.1% rate, more than what was thought in initial estimates. In the process, that impressive growth rate even made up for areas of the economy that didn’t perform up to snuff, like trade and business investing. In fact, for all of 2017, analysts are actually expecting to see a 2.3% rate of growth. Of course, the fact that the labor market is strong, with higher incomes and wages, helps with all that consumer spending as well. Naturally. That 2.1% rate is a major upward shift from last year at this time when that rate stood at 1.6% and had the dubious distinction of being the weakest period of growth in five years. This next bit may cause you to cringe, but one of the reasons for this anticipated impressive growth rate is President Trump. He’s got plans, in case you hadn’t heard, for tax cuts and spending. Say what you will, but moves like that help economies. And who doesn’t like a little economic boost.  However, if it makes you feel any better, Trump thinks he can get that rate up to 4%, and economists are laughing on the inside at him for even thinking he can pull off that feat.

Will Anyone Care if Indiana’s Economy Tanks?; It’s Go Time for GoDaddy; New Craft Beer Gets Crowned

The consequences of actions…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Indiana’s economy just might tank but…oh well. Ever since its Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act six days ago, basically giving businesses a “license to discriminate” against gays, lesbians etc…corporate CEO’s, businesses, politicians and celebrities have gotten involved, mostly to voice their anger and disgust with the action. Nine CEO’s wrote an open letter to Gov. Pence over their objections to the bill. Apple CEO Tim Cook called it a “very dangerous … wave of legislation.” Indiana literally ticked off Apple. Is there any state that would want to be on Apple’s bad side? Seriously. Angie’s list had plans for a $40 million expansion in Indianapolis. That’s on hold over this bill, as well. The NCAA is majorly “concerned” and analyzing the situation carefully, wondering what to do ahead of next week’s Final Four. Several mayors have already banned city-funded travel to Indiana and 49 governors nixed unnecessary travel to the state. Hashtag #BoycottIndiana has been making the rounds getting upwards of 200,000 hits. Seeing as how the backlash has only gotten precipitously worse, Gov. Pence said he wants a clarification and a fix. Just so we’re clear, that doesn’t mean he wants to get rid of the bill. Perhaps once the state’s economy is in the toilet, he might reconsider.

Who’s your GoDaddy?

Image courtesy of mistermong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of mistermong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s time to welcome GoDaddy to the ranks of the New York Stock Exchange. The web-hosting, domain name registration company just came out with its IPO this morning to a much larger than expected debut. Under the ticker symbol “GDDY,” GoDaddy offered up 23 million shares at $20 a pop. But then, lo and behold, it opened over 30% higher at $26.15 per share. Not bad for a company that’s not profitable. Yes, I did just write that. GoDaddy took a net loss of $143.4 million in 2014 and also has about $1.5 million in debt. To be fair, however, the company’s revenue went up 23% to $1.39 billion. This is not the first time the eighteen year old company attempted an IPO. Back in 2006, Go Daddy was all set to make its big Wall Street debut, only to then decide otherwise, saying the market was in a bad place. However, there are those who think there were internal factors and management shake-ups that affected GoDaddy’s decision to go public. If you’re wondering who the next pretty face will be to grace the company’s campaigns, don’t bother. After stints with race car driver Danica Patrick and Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, the company is looking to revamp its image.

Foamy…

Image courtesy of Photo by Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Photo by Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Samuel Adams is out. Yuengling is in. The Brewers Association has crowned Pottsville, Pennsylvania’s Yuengling as this year’s number one craft beer, taking out the Boston Beer Co. who makes Samuel Adams. So how did America’s oldest brewery finally manage to nab top honors? Actually it had nothing to do with anything the beer companies did or didn’t do. Rather, the Brewers Association slightly altered the criteria for what can be considered a legit craft beer. It gets technical so I’ll leave the complicated stuff to a beer-savvy blogger. What I can tell you is that Yuengling was considered a non-traditional beer, because corn is one of the ingredients used to brew the beer, and therefore not eligible for the beer crown all these years. As for overall U.S. brewers, Anheuser-Busch, Miller-Coors and Pabst took the top spots. Yuengling and Boston Beer Co. rounded out the fourth and fifth place spots. Unlike regular beers, craft beers sales are up and have a 19% hold on the beer market. In 2014, $19.6 billion worth of craft beer was sold, up 14% from 2013.