Starbucks Betting on $10 Coffee; Trump Ready to Dump on Pharmaceuticals; Trump’s June Stock Dump

Jolted…

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down from his post in April with plans to build a Starbucks’ prestige brand where he will serve as its Executive Chairman. The idea is that by going upscale Starbucks will be able to raise its profile with those pesky millennials. Besides that, the company needs to compete with a number of other upscale rivals that keep rearing their gourmet heads all over the place. One thousand “Reserve” brand stores are slated to set up shop with another 30 large Reserve Roastery (expect to find that word added to a dictionary near you) and Tasting Rooms expected to open up all over the globe. In case you were wondering what one orders from this new prestige brand, you might consider purchasing a $10 cup of coffee that you can sip daintily from a glass siphon.  Or perhaps you’re up for paying $50 for an 8 oz. bag of an exotic, small-lot coffee? I’m sure you’ll find something worth depleting your funds.  In any case, Starbucks also announced plans to open another 12,000 stores –  that’s in addition to its already existing 25,000 stores –  in the next five years.  Five thousand stores are slated just for China. The company also plans to annually boost revenue by 10% while adding between 15% – 20% to its shares, and increase its focus on its food offerings since the coffee giant is convinced it can double its growth in that area.

What a pill…

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Donald Trump’s latest executive plans involve bringing down drug prices and the pharmaceutical companies that keep increasing them with seemingly reckless abandon. Which is kind of ironic since pharmaceutical stocks saw a huge surge following Trump’s election. And here they thought they had an ally. Hah! A Kaiser Family Foundation survey leading up to the election found that people felt drug prices were the number one healthcare issue for the next President. Well, I guess the President-elect is ready for it then. Sort of. Trump has yet to outline any concrete plans on how he is going to achieve this goal. But during his campaign, Trump did say that he is all in favor of consumers having their meds re-imported. He also wants Medicare for the elderly to renegotiate drug prices directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers. That should be fun to watch, especially because both the industry and many many Republicans are vehemently against that idea. Stay tuned for that drama. Just today, Pfizer Inc. and Flynn Pharmaceutical Ltd. were slapped with some massive record fines in the UK after raising drug prices by…wait for it…2,600%. Now, Pfizer will cough up about $106 million, while Flynn will fork over approximately $6.5 million. I guess they should be happy that they were busted in the U.K. and still have time to clean up their act in the United States before Trump-dom takes effect. In the meantime, Allergan Plc. CEO Brett Saunders is bracing himself for the new president’s impact and said Trump could end up being more “vicious” on pharmaceuticals and their drug pricing than Hillary Clinton might have been. But he also pledged to limit price increases to less than 10% per year. Or perhaps he did that lest Trump unleash his Twitter wrath on Allergan, just like he’s done to several other individual companies including Carrier Corp., Ford and Boeing.

Under-stocked…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday, President-elect Donald Trump’s team announced, with no explicable reason as to the timing, that he sold off all of his stocks back in June. Don’t hold your breath for proof of that sell-off as none was provided. While being interviewed today on the “Today” show by host Matt Later after being named Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” Trump explained that he decided to unload his stock holdings in order to avoid any conflicts of interest. How very gallant of Mr. Trump.  And even though the press was not made aware of it until yesterday, Donald Trump insisted that everybody already knew. We just don’t know who “everybody” is. Mr. Trump went on to say that he sold off his stocks since he knew he would win the election and would be making deals for the United States that could affect various companies in all sorts of different ways. That was indeed very thoughtful of him. He also said he didn’t even own that much stock.  Which is debatable at best since a recent filing from December of 2015 valued his holdings at $40 million. But in all fairness, his stock market holdings pale in comparison to his real estate holdings which apparently make up the bulk of his net worth.  Ethics experts, however, are suggesting those real-estate holdings might also be a conflict-of-interest as well. Just saying. It’s worth noting that since his sell-off, the S&P 500 went up over 10% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit some very impressive all-time highs. Since Trump’s victory, many stocks have also hit all-time highs and, of course, he’s taking credit for it.

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George Soros, Golden Boy; Home Run for Home Depot; Pandora’s Streaming Away From Profits

Just because George Soros is doing it…

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

George Soros just put a whole lotta money in gold. Lucky for him. However, the non-George Soroses of the world are supposed to take note, because, after all, he is, “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England.” And also because, since his net worth according to Forbes is $25 billion, he knows a things or two. Or a billion. In any case, according to a very recent regulatory filing that folks like him have to file (it’s called a 13F, and you are welcome that I am sparing you the boring details), Mr. Soros has sold off about 37% of his stock holdings. He then whipped out $387 million to buy lots of gold, including picking up a hefty 19 million shares in Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer. It seems Mr. Soros is a more than a bit freaked out by the state of the global economy, and especially the slowdown in China. He feels the fiscal climate is reminiscent to him of 2007 – 2008 period just before the fiscal crash we are all still trying to forget. Not everyone agrees with Soros and his decision for his Soros Fund Management, but hey, he is the one who, back in 1992, bet against the British pound and made $1 billion off that bet – in a single day. I bet he’s real popular there. Anyway, it’s no secret that gold has always been a strong performer on Wall Street, as well as other places, mind you. The precious metal is up 21% for the year. But, just so ya’ know,  Soros still has plenty of other cash in plenty of other places. Like eBay and Apple. And Yahoo. And Gap…well, you see where I’m going with this. In fact, he’s got $80 million invested NOT in gold. In case you’re wondering what stocks he did ditch, some of those include Alibaba Group and Pfizer. Also, TripAdvisor and Expedia are out of his portfolio. Though, he did keep airline United Continental Holdings. Go figure.

Home improvement…

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Image courtesy of Kookkai_nak/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the warm weather brutalized plenty of retail outfits lately, (sorry, Macy’s, Nordstrom), Mother Nature knocked it out of the park for Home Depot. In turn, Home Depot warmed our hearts by boosting its sales and profit forecasts after regaling us with the news of its better-than-expected earnings, courtesy of Mother Nature. And as we all know, Wall Street loves nothing better than better-than-expected earnings. Except when investors feel that shares have hit their potential, for the moment anyway, which explains why shares of the home improvement chain were a wee bit down today. But no worries. A good housing market and fabulous weather added some $250 million in sales for Home Depot in the quarter, with February being the sweetest month, fiscally speaking. For the year, Home Depot is up about 20%, posting a profit of $1.8 billion a $1.44 per share. That was a 14% boost over last year, not to mention that it trumped analysts predictions of $1.36 per share. The company also saw $22.76 billion in sales, again stomping on predictions of $22.39 billion. The earnings also showed that consumers are actually spending their hard-earned cash, as opposed to hoarding it under mattresses (okay, banks too), unlike what was previously thought because of the generally poor performance in the retail sector. Spending money is good for the economy and now economists aren’t so worried anymore because they realize where all that hard-earned cash went. For the full year the retailer thinks it’ll pull down $6.27 per share for the year. And Spring has hardly sprung!

Closing the box…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pandora Media has had better years. Even better decades. Founded in 2000, the company had its IPO in 2011 and has about 80 million active users. While it was amongst the first crop of music streamers, the company’s stock is now down about 40% for the last twelve months, having never caught the same momentum as some of its competitors, including Apple and Spotify. Enter activist investor/Carl Icahn protégé Keith Meister, who feels that the time has come for Pandora to put itself on the market. Keith Meister’s Corvex Management has some very strong feelings about how much better – and profitable – Pandora can be and seeing as how he’s got 22.7 million shares, giving him an almost 10% stake in the company, he’s entitled to more than just his opinion on the matter. As the largest shareholder in the company, Meister wrote in a recent letter how he has “become increasingly concerned that the company may be pursuing a costly and uncertain business plan, without a thorough evaluation of all shareholder value-maximizing alternatives.” Basically, he’s wondering if the folks in charge, namely CEO and co-founder Tim Westergren, knows what they’re doing. Wall Street certainly seemed to be agreeing with Meister, as it sent the stock up today as much as 7% at one point.

Obama Dashes Pfizer/Allergan Inversion Dreams; Oil-Vey: The Wrath of the DOJ; Verizon Gets Awesome(ness);

Breaking up is hard to do…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pfizer can kiss its $160 billion merger with Allergan goodbye all thanks to some new treasury rules that seemed to have been designed just with this particular deal in mind. President Obama unveiled the new rules that make it harder for corporations to do inversions and basically make them not fiscally worth it. The rules make sure to target “serial inverters” which are foreign companies that became corporate giants by buying up American companies for tax reduction purposes. President Obama and the Treasury are trying to end corporate inversions and calls the practice “one of the most insidious tax loopholes out there, fleeing the country just to get out of paying their taxes.” Plenty of American companies have moved parts of their operations to countries where the corporate tax rates are more hospitable and essentially reincorporate in those places. The Pfizer/Allergan deal would have been the largest deal of its kind and would have effectively knocked off a $1 billion chunk of change from Pfizer’s corporate tax bill. Which explains why Pfizer was so eager to do its deal with Ireland-based Allergan. According to President Obama, global tax avoidance is a “huge problem.” So is climate change and the roster of presidential candidates, by the way, but Obama was only able to do something to curtail inversions. Just saying. Now experts suspect other foreign companies with large American operations will fall under the microscope and things could get ugly for them as well. Pfizer will now have to pay Allergan $150 million to reimburse the company for expenses from the deal that wasn’t. At least its not as much as the $1.6 billion AbbVie had to pay Shire back in 2014 when that $55 billion deal fell apart. Why Congress can’t make the corporate tax rate just as hospitable in the United States as it is in other countries, and maybe even attract foreign companies to come here and pay billions in taxes is a mystery to me. If someone has an answer, I’d love to hear it.

Oil drink to that…

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Image courtesy of renjith krishnan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pharmaceutical Corporations aren’t the only ones displeased the with the U.S. government today. Enter two of Big Oil’s biggest players who have some unkind thoughts for the Department of Justice. Halliburton and Baker Hughes happen to be the second and third largest oil companies and control 15.8% of the market share. Together, the two companies pulled down a combined revenue of $39.3 billion. Halliburton alone scored over a $5 billion profit for 2014. But in 2015, the oil giant didn’t fare nearly as well and instead posted a $165 million loss with a major decline in revenue. The drop in oil prices have left dozens of oil companies filing for bankruptcy as hundreds of thousands of people in the industry are now without jobs. Halliburton and Baker Hughes think a merger would help keep both of them from going under but the DOJ is not buying it. The DOJ says anti-trust is written all over this deal, calls it anti-competitive and feels it would make the newly-formed entity way too powerful. The DOJ argues that the deal would lead to much much higher prices and consumers would be at the mercy of the companies. But maybe Baker Hughes can console itself with the $3.5 billion break-up fee it gets to collect from Halliburton now that the deal won’t be going through. At least for now…

Everything is awesome…

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As wireless companies hunt for new ways to make money, Verizon figured out one way to do it – through the very hip and very lucrative teen demographic. So like any eager telecom giant, it found a business to buy that it hopes will help them pull in some of more cash. Enter AwesomenessTV, a company that’s home to some of YouTube’s most popular channels and features all sorts of short videos, from dating advice to celebrities. Verizon plunked down $160 million for a 24.5% stake in the company that boasts 3.6 million subscribers. DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc already owns a 51% stake while Hearst Corp owns the remaining stake. DreamWorks Animation was prescient enough to buy AwesomenessTV back in 2013 for the bargain price of just $33 million. This new deal puts AwesomenessTV’s latest valuation at a very cool $650 million. Part of the deal includes Verizon creating a mobile video service for the endeavor and it will be a part of Verizon’s go90 mobile video app – which of course, will be exclusive to Verizon.  Double boom for Verizon because there tends to be lots of juicy revenue in mobile video that comes from both data usage and advertising. AwesomenessTV already had an exclusive deal with Verizon to provide content for go90 so this new development ought to fit in nicely. DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg must also be pretty stoked about the deal since he expects annual revenue for AwesomenessTV to double because of it.

In: Tax Inversions, Out: Pres Obama’s Opinion on Them; Tyson’s Earnings Nothing to Cluck at; Wal-Mart is Shaking Up the Calendar

Invert this…

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Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Pfizer and Allergan are thisclose to becoming the world’s largest pharmaceutical company through a $160 billion merger. Even though Pfizer is substantially bigger, with a $200 billion market cap to Allergan’s $122 billion market cap, Pfizer wants Allergan to “buy” it, in a structured reverse merger all in the name of a tax inversion. It’s a practice that President Obama, unironically, calls unpatriotic and the Treasury Department has even set rules to make it difficult to execute them. Yet, the corporate tax rate in the United States is the highest in the industrialized world so that no matter how difficult the Treasury Department tries to make the practice, big corporations have too much incentive to overcome the obstacles and move their entities overseas, in this case Ireland. Pfizer CEO Ian Read argues that the U.S. corporate tax rate leaves U.S companies competing with overseas companies “to fight with one hand tied behind our back.” Once the merger is finalized, the newly formed company can expect to pay a corporate tax rate of 17% – 18% in the first year. That rate will go up to about 20%. But even at 20%, that rate is nothing compared to the 25% rate it would have to pay in the United States. It’s expected to be a savings of  billions of dollars that would go into research and development of drugs instead of the governments coffers. Of course, shareholders still need to weigh in with their votes but given the billions at stake, it’ll most likely pass.

Who you callin’ chicken?

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It’s the largest meat processor in the U.S., so why shouldn’t it see its highest intra-day jump in 22 months. And that’s exactly what happened when Tyson Foods Inc. announced its earnings and beefed up its projected forecast for the year. The company now expects to earn $3.50 – $3.65 per share, even more than what analysts had predicted. Those numbers were helped a lot by poultry, chicken especially. Beef? Eh. Not so much, as that division took a $33 million operating loss compared with an operating income this time last year of $153 million. Apparently, there’s a lot more demand for chicken lately. But Tyson’s earnings were also helped by the fact that the food the chickens eat, very uncreatively called feed, has gone down in price. (In case you were wondering, chicken feed is made up of corn and soybean.) Even though, Tyson missed profits by a nickel, coming in at 83 cents per share, it beat sales estimates posting $10.5 billion, a 4% increase over last year and $300 million more than what was projected for the quarter.

Cyber showdown…

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Forget Cyber Monday. Wal-Mart’s wants you to start your cyber-holiday shopping on Sunday night instead, which is just so…2014. Wal-Mart doesn’t feel its necessary to limit Cyber Monday to just Monday. According to Wal-Mart Chief Executive Fernando Madeira, “now everyone has internet.” As in, the high-speed kind. Consumers now have access to high speed internet and no longer need to wait until the official “Black Monday” to use their employers high-speed connections. So why, Wal-Mart argues, wait until then to take advantage of all those smoldering deals, right? To make your cyber Wal-Mart shopping experience more enticing, the world’s largest retailer will attempt to lure you in with bargains including a Microsoft Surface Pro for $599, and a 48” Samsung 4K TV for $598. But those are just a few of the expected 2,000 deals (last year there were only a paltry 500 deals) that are expected to start rolling out online beginning at 8pm on November 29. Expect to see three times as many Star Wars toys, lots of drones and 3D printers to make a nice showing. Besides, the retailer needs to up its “A” game on e-commerce giant Amazon. Last year, $2 billion was spent just on Cyber Monday. But with 21 million visitors expected, Cyber Monday sales could hit $3 billion. So why not start the experience the sooner the better?

No-GoPro on Earnings; Could a Pfizer/Allergan Merger Become the Next Big Thing?; Wal-Mart Offers NO Free Shipping (limitations apply)

Worst. Day. Ever….

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Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

GoPro released its earnings yesterday only to tell us that it did not nail them. This came as a surprise to…no one.  Wall Street echoed its disappointment by sending shares down. Very down. So down, in fact, that the stock is hovering too close to its IPO price of $24 from back in 2014. GoPro miraculously managed to score $400 million in revenue, adding 25 cents per share. Too bad predictions called for almost $434 million and 29 cents per share. Meanwhile, the stock is down 67% for the year and the company is looking to buy back company shares, hoping to increase their value. While GoPro saw second quarter sales kick up by 72%, third quarter sales only increased by 43%. And the picture only gets grimmer as the company actually thinks sales will shrink during the ever-fiscally critical holiday season.  Part of GoPro’s problem is that it can’t seem to figure out how to transform itself from a product for a niche market to a product that spews mass appeal. Then we turn to GoPro’s Hero4Session. Besides the fact that the company initially charged too much for the product, GoPro also insists that the marketing budget for the already too-high priced product wasn’t large enough. Analysts aren’t too optimistic that they are gong to see much, if any, growth in GoPro’s camera unit in 2017. However, they are forecasting $500 million worth of revenue for GoPro’s other products. Go figure.

Erin Go Bragh…

Image courtesy of Pansa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pansa/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today’s latest tax inversion plans are brought to us by Pfizer and Allergan Plc who are in “friendly talks” to create the world’s largest drug maker.  While no actual agreement has been reached, the deal would have Pfizer heading towards Ireland where corporate tax laws are far more favorable there than they are here. Can’t you just smell the politics that are about to invade this deal? Tax inversions happen when huge companies set up shop overseas in countries where they don’t get as brutally taxed as they do here. For instance, while Pfizer has the pleasure of shelling out a 25% tax rate to Uncle Sam, Ireland-based Allergan only has to deal with a 15% tax rate. The prohibitive tax rate can put many U.S. companies at an unfair advantage, they argue. Democrats think these companies should just suck it up and stay put. They also think drug companies should simply slash their high prices. However, these drug companies say they can’t do that with such high tax rates imposed. Republicans want those tax laws changed to make them more favorable for these big companies so that they’ll stay put because they want to. Not because they are being forced to. If any deal goes through, it will likely be the biggest deal. Ever. Estimates for Pfizer to buy Allergan range from about $113 billion to $157 billion. But isn’t it worth every cent if it means adding everybody’s favorite aesthetic filler into your drug fold?

No such thing as ‘free shipping?’

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Image courtesy of SundayMorning/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you can’t beat ’em…well do something they can’t do.  And that’s exactly why Wal-Mart is scrapping free shipping this holiday season on items that are less than $50. The idea is to instead offer free shipping – for in-store pick up. After all, there are approximately 4,600 Wal-Mart stores from which to choose. Besides, Wal-Mart’s hoping that while you’re picking up an ordered item, you’ll impulsively pick up some other items.  And companies love impulse shoppers.  To entice you to use this method, Wal-Mart is even allowing you to check-in at the store with your smart phone for expedited service. Wal-Mart’s hoping that this new shipping policy will help its profit margins, which have taken a bit of a hit, in part, because of shipping costs. And with 210 million consumers expected to use Wal-Mart’s mobile app, the giant retailer is banking that in-store pick-up will reverse those hits.

Obama Plans, Republicans Laugh; Lululemon Not Sour that Chip Wilson’s Out; Meg Whitman’s Salary Goes Up While HP Headcount Goes Down

Dude, where’s my iPad?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Obama may not be getting his complimentary iPad any time soon. Plans for his ambitious $4 trillion budget have been unveiled, much to the chagrin of everyone, but especially the tech titans of Silicon Valley. Obama’s plan, he says, is “designed to bring middle class economics into the 21st century.” Aw. Sweet. But to do that, Obama’s plan requires higher taxes on the wealthy, but hey, screw the wealthy, right? This $4 trillion plan calls for all sorts of nifty tax credits and education initiatives, child care, paid leave, and even a $478 billion public works program. Why, even the Pentagon gets about $534 billion. This pricey little plan would also smack a one-time 14% tax on off-shore earnings in addition to a 19% tax on future off shore corporate earnings. So where does Silicon Valley come in? Some of the money Obama would like to use to finance his little project would come from his tech friends and their overseas earnings. About $2 trillion in foreign earnings are currently wafting happily along all over the world, carefully avoiding Uncle Sam’s coffers and the President’s eager to get his claws on them through these taxes. Companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Pfizer would lose a bunch cash – in some cases roughly $10 billion – if Obama gets his way.  But he probably won’t because Republicans are not down with his plan, and since they control the House and the Senate, it’s safe to say they’ll do their very best from letting it become reality.

Lemonade…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Alas, the unfiltered founder of Lululemon Athletica, Chip Wilson, has finally thrown in his see-through Yoga towel and resigned as board member of the apparel company, much to the delight of…well…probably everyone. Perhaps it was the lasting effects of his unappreciated comments about how Lululemon Athletica’s apparel was not suited for women who had a little more…shall we say, bass. Perhaps it was the ongoing jokes about the accidental see-through yoga pants, (again, blaming a more full-figured clientele) and other design flaws in the pricey yoga wear that finally did him in. Or perhaps it is true that the man who founded the brand back in 1998, and saw it grow into over 250 stores all over the world, really is stepping down so that he can devote more time to the new luxury line he founded, Kit & Ace. Wilson won’t be completely out of the picture as he still owns 7.8% of the company with about a $650 million value attached to that. Now if he could just learn to think before he speaks…

What’s in a number?

Image courtesy of nongpimmy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nongpimmy/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just because 15,500 Hewlett-Packard employees lost their jobs this past year does not mean that Chairman and CEO Meg Whitman shouldn’t get an 11% compensation raise. I mean helloooo? The fact that HP’s earnings and revenues are also down, compared with last year’s numbers, should also have no bearing on Meg Whitman’s pay going up from $17.6 million to $19.6 million. Of course, that pay includes her salary, stock options and other benefits – hmm, I’m sensing a private jet and maybe even health insurance. Those 15,500 people really needed to go if HP’s much-touted five-year “turn-around plan” is going to work. Part of that turn-around will split HP into two separate publicly traded companies, HP Enterprise and HP Inc. Thankfully, Whitman’s paycheck was not affected by this “turn-around plan.” Phew. To be fair, Ms. Whitman only received a measly one dollar salary back in 2012 – and over fifteen million measly dollars in compensation, as well. The board over at HP feels her efforts are, in fact, paying off and she deserves all that (and more), especially when you consider that HP stock is up around 38% this year.

Spring Is In the Economy, British: The Americans Are Coming! and Romancing Rupert Murdoch

Spring boom…

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Spring is definitely in the air at the…Bureau of Labor Statistics, anyways. It reported that a whopping 288,000 jobs were created in April, springing way past analysts estimates of 210,000. That’s the highest number in two years. Figures like that mean people are hiring other people! Which means that when people get jobs, they get money. When they get money, they spend it. Then…Well you get the picture. And this despite the irritating news that the number of people filing for unemployment grew for the third straight week. Even unemployment hit a nice 6.3% low, which hasn’t been seen in six years! The economy isn’t just stable it’s…vroom vroom vroom accelerating.  A word that is music to any stagnant economy’s metaphorical ear.

Pfreakin Pfizer…

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Image courtesy of amenic181/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You might think $106 billion dollars is a lot of money. Actually it’s an astronomical amount of money! But British drug company AstraZeneca (AZN) doesn’t think so. At least when its being offered to them by its New York based competition, Pfizer (PFE). In its very British way AstraZeneca said the amount was “inadequate” and then added that the terms in the proposal “substantially undervalue AstraZeneca and are not a basis on which to engage with Pfizer.” Man, that was proper. Pfizer, known for drugs like Viagra and cholesterol reducer Lipitor, wants to buy out its rival who it feels its offer is actually quite generous. Potatoes. Puhtatoes. If this takeover, hostile or otherwise, should occur, it would be the biggest foreign takeover in drug company history. Yes “drug company history” is a real thing. But the Brits are not cool with any takeover, especially of its crown jewel, AstraZeneca because they feel it would put a nasty crimp in their economy. Coincidentally, Pfizer’s chairman and CEO, Leif Johansson, is a British chap himself.

Newsie romance…

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You know Harlequin Romance novels? It’s those books you’d never admit to reading. But clearly you do since Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NWS) saw that it was worth buying its company, Harlequin Enterprises, from Canada’s Torstar Corp. for $415 million…in cash. Harlequin Enterprises must have a huge following (and I’ll bet the farm you’re part of it) since they are published in 34 languages in over 100 international markets. With approximately 1300 authors spinning out 110 titles a month, the company pulled in $372 million in revenue last year. And that’s how you spell romance.