The List of Best Companies is Here; Sports Authority Calls it a Game, Files for Bankruptcy; Angie’s List Free as a Bird Now

In good company…


Image courtesy of biosphere/

Because there’s nothing like a list to grab your attention these days, Fortune Magazine just published its latest list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For.”  For the seventh year in a row, Google tops the list. And how could it not? After all, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson did make a movie about being interns there, so how could it not be the best company to work for? The Container Store takes the 14 spot. As a customer, I already spend inordinate amounts of time in their stores fantasizing about how organized I could become. Hmm. Maybe I should check the company’s job board. Recreational sporting goods company REI snags the 26th spot. If you recall, they made Glassdoor’s list of companies with the best perks.  Good perks make for happy employees who vote for their own companies to win big on these lists. Publix Supermarket came in at 67. As the largest employee-owned company, Publix has extremely low-turnover and plenty of perks that keep employees satisfied for decades. You might want to check if your company is on the list. If not, then consider tidying up your LinkedIn profile as there are currently over 100,000 job openings at these companies that are just waiting to be filled.

Disregard for authority…


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Sports Authority has gone bust and is set to start closing its doors at about 140 locations as early as tomorrow, including 25 stores in Texas and 19 in California. Sports Authority managed to rack up $1.1 billion debt as it failed to keep up with current consumer trends. There’s a chance that another company will pick up Sports Authority’s debt-riddled pieces and give the sporting goods company a second profitable chance. But if April comes along and Sports Authority has no buyer, it will throw in the proverbial fiscal towel and close down its remaining locations. If you have any gift cards for Sports Authority, you might want to use ‘em up NOW while Sports Authority still honors them. Need to return or exchange merchandise? Good news! You still can…as long as you’re near one that didn’t close. Warranty related issues keeping you awake at night. No worries. Sports Authority can still service those items. Sports Authority is even carrying on with its customer loyalty program (there’s a joke in there somewhere) – at the locations that are still open anyway.

Free ‘em up…


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Angie’s List will now be free for the masses. Sort of. The review site will now allow visitors to read reviews and ratings…without having to fork over the security codes on their credit cards. However, tiered subscription services will be offered to those looking for a few extra benefits not included in freemium subscriptions. There’s going to be a $24.99 silver subscription and a $99.99 gold subscription. While those offers might seem a little pricey, they come with big benefits like an emergency service hotline and fair price guarantees. A small price to pay for some big peace of mind. Even though the company went public way back in 2011, it didn’t churn out its first annual profit until 2015. But today, shares went up almost 4% on the news, especially because this freebie subscription idea was all part of a bigger plan to help the company grow and make it more profitable. It’s also a major reason why the site dissed IAC’s HomeAdvisor’s bid last year. Angie’s List found the $512 million, $8.75 per share bid a lowball offer and said it undervalued the site. According to CEO Scott Durchslag, who has held his post for just six months, the current model made it harder for the company to grow. Besides, the company felt that millennials aren’t going to bother paying for reviews and it does seem to be all about those pesky millennials lately, doesn’t it? Angie’s List did have to revise its full year guidance and now expects to take in between $345 million and $355 million when analysts were expecting numbers closer to $362 million. The reason being is that 20% of the company’s revenue comes from those subscriptions. However, the company now figures that, going forward, it will be able to hit $750 million by by 2020. Angie’s List brass are expecting to “see traffic explode” under this new model.” The site currently has approximately 3.3 million subscribers but expect that number to catapult real soon.

Comcast: Streaming Video is so Last Year; Holy-Moly Guacamole, Chipotle is Losing Dinero; The Ultimate Biz Perks List



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If online streaming video services are phasing out cable, you’d never know it judging by Comcast’s latest earnings. The company actually picked up 89,000 new subscribers – more than any other quarter in the last eight years. It was a particularly remarkable feat considering that last year at this time, the largest U.S. cable operator in the country only gained 6,000 subscribers. This means that for the year, Comcast only lost 36,000 subscribers. And yeah, that’s really good news. It’s really good because in 2014 Comcast lost over 194,000 subscribers. Time Warner Cable also announced it had picked up new subscribers. But Comcast did so well that it decided to raise it’s dividend by 10% to $1.10 – which was awfully generous of them. The nation’s leading high-speed internet operator managed to give a decent beating to analysts expectations earning $19.25 billion in revenue- an 8.5% increase over last year – instead of the projected $18.76 billion.  Comcast’s profits were up 5.2%, coming in at $2 billion, and adding 81 cents per share – just a teeny tiny penny below predictions. Oh well, maybe next time. Knowing that it’s future is/was on the line, Comcast has been trying to stay relevant in an age where streaming online video is all the rage. The company has been whipping out its fiscal A-game, offering better customer service, set-top box enhancements and smaller, more enticing bundles for current and prospective subscribers. Apparently it’s working.

The plot thickens…


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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the fiscal Chipotle waters, along comes a subpoena, courtesy of a federal criminal probe stemming from a noro-virus outbreak in sunny California. Chipotle now needs to cough up documents going all the way back to January of 2013 and that’s not all. While Chipotle thought the worst was behind it, following the incredibly brutal E.Coli outbreak in some of its restaurants, the company announced that this year will be muy mal for investors. With huge marketing efforts in the wings, along with Herculean efforts to become the gold standard in food safety, Chipotle should be able to stay afloat. But it wont be pretty. The company’s fourth quarter earnings were pretty dismal with sales down more than a third and a whopping $10 billion shaved off its market cap. Apple and Alphabet  it is not. And with any bad news on Wall Street, particularly where there’s a subpoena involved, shares tumbled almost 3% and closed at 461.92.

Very perk-y…


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Glassdoor has served up yet another list to remind you just how badly you need to find a new place to work. This time, the company is ranking other companies according to how friggin’ awesome their employee perks are. For instance, does your current place of employment offer you “Yay Days”? Didn’t think so. But, if you score a position at REI, you get two of ’em – that’s two paid days off to spend on an outdoor activity. Does your boss currently give you $500 to use towards travel? Didn’t think so again. In which case, you ought to check Airbnb’s job board because that company gives you that much money towards travel every quarter so long as that cash is used on Airbnb accommodations (otherwise, no dice).  Burton, purveyor of fine snowboards and accompanying gear, gives its employees season passes to the local slopes. Then there’s software provider Epic Systems that generously gives its employees a four-week paid sabbatical every five years. If you want to feel even worse about where you work, visit Glassdoor for the rest of the list top ranking companies and the amazing perks they offer.



No Slowing Down Alibaba; REI VS. Black Friday; Rumor Has it Walgreens is Going Shopping

Slowdown? What slowdown?

Image courtesy of  jesadaphorn/

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/

There might be an economic slowdown in China, but judging by Alibaba’s recent earnings, you’d never know it. China’s largest e-commerce site easily topped Wall Street predictions, adding 57 cents per share on $3.5 billion in revenue. Forecasts were for 54 cents on $3.35 billion. The company saw a 32% increase with a lot of help from major growth in mobile revenue. Mobile revenue alone pulled in a staggering $1.66 billion, triple last year’s figures, and accounting for more than 60% of the company’s retail sales. And its monthly mobile active users only continue to grow, up 57% over the same last year, an easy feat for Alibaba, yet something hundreds of other companies wished they could do. Yahoo also came out a winner today, as well, since it owns a 15% stake in Alibaba.  The company also plunked down about a $1 billion for some cloud computing investments which could see some big returns. Now Alibaba is gearing up for Singles Day, as in November 11, as in 11/11, one of the countries biggest shopping days. Last year, the company hit a record $59 billion in sales on that day and chances are it might just break that record again this year. Now about that downturn..

Take it outside…

Image courtesy of  marcolm/

Image courtesy of marcolm/

Don’t bother getting on line at 5 am on Black Friday outside of any one of REI’s 143 locations. Don’t bother looking for any Black Friday coupons, discounts or promotions from REI either. REI president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, announced today that its stores will be CLOSED on what is considered one of the most important shopping days of the year. Stritzke is giving his 12,000 employees a paid day off “so they can do what they love most—be outside.”  The company, which brings in annual sales of $2.2 billion, is hoping that consumers will follow suit instead of spending the day spending money. The company has set up a special website,, that among other things, recommends hiking trails, that will presumably remind you of all the gear you need to go and buy at REI once the stores re-open. That’s no joke. As far as PR goes, this is one tactic that is sure to help the company rake in more sales this holiday season than in year’s past. Considering that in 2014, sales from Black Friday weekend actually declined 11%, staying closed on Black Friday, doesn’t seem so insane after all, even though the day has always ranked as one of REI’s ten best sales days, And if you’re jonesing to spend some money online at REI on Black Friday, don’t hold your breath as your order won’t even get processed until Saturday.

Keeps growing and growing…

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography/

The Wall Street rumor mill is all abuzz with talk that Walgreens Boots Alliance is about to scoop up smaller competitor Rite Aid for upwards of $10 billion. That might be a very generous offer considering that even after shares of Rite Aid jumped 36% to $8.27, the company’s valuation was still only around $8.7 billion. But again, this is all just rumor. For now. Until today, shares of Rite Aid were down 29% since it announced last month that it was lowering its profit and revenue forecast. The move will up Walgreen’s game in the $ 263 billion drug distribution industry where it currently holds 31% of the market share to CVS’s 58%. Rite Aid’s share is but a paltry 10%.  Profits from this industry are a very lucrative $10.3 billion. So who can blame Walgreens for wanting to stake out a bigger share. Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina recognizes the United States’ government’s ever-growing role in the pharmaceutical industry all because of the Affordable Care act aka ObamaCare, and he thinks consolidating U.S. pharmacies could yield some massive returns. Of course, Walgreens and CVS still have to contend with competition from online, mail-order and wholesale pharmacies, but for now, they’ll satisfy themselves with bigger fry. Incidentally, Walgreens is supposed to report its fourth quarter results tomorrow.