Jumping the Twitter Ship; Coffee, Tea or Nukes? Air Iran Might Be Headed Our Way; McD’s CEO Really Does Deserve a Break Today

And then there were six…

ID-10084715

Image courtesy of pixtawan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Twitter just got a whole lot lighter – except not in a good way. Four top executives are jumping ship from the social networking site, in addition to a top member over at Twitter-owned Vine. The news was tweeted (naturally) last night when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted that all five people had “chosen” to leave and “will be taking some well-deserved time off.” That’s awfully sweet but it still begs the question as to why those folks chose to leave in the first place – especially because those four executive departures constituted 40% of Twitter’s top brass. Don’t bother looking up any job postings for the newly vacated positions. Dorsey seems to have at least one of them filled, apparently by a high-profile executive in the media industry. No word yet on the other positions but rumor has it they’ve also been filled. Not that any of this is news to those at Twitter. When Jack Dorsey returned to the top spot he did, after all, say that the board will eventually have to be replaced. Incidentally, upon Dorsey’s return, shares of Twitter have fallen about 50%.  Shares are now hovering below the IPO price as the company continues to struggle to find ways to attract more users.

Blackout dates…

ID-100357053

Image courtesy of ammer/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Because nothing says romantic vacation getaway like hopping on a plane to Tehran, Iran is on a mission – not even a nuclear one! – to boost tourism and get back in the good graces of just about every country in the western hemisphere. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is in Europe this week and just might strike (no pun intended) a deal with Airbus to purchase some 500 aircraft so that you can book your next vacay to the radically ruled country. Rumor has it that Boeing might also supply Iran with some aircraft too, and it would mean that it’d be the first time in 36 years – ever since that pesky Islamic revolution – that travelers could hop on a direct flight to a country that’s hostile to United States citizens. Looks like British Airways is itching to be among the first of the commercial airlines to start taxiing on an Iranian tarmac. Apparently, some analysts are expecting a bona fide economic boom – I SAID ECONOMIC! – to occur in Iran now that sanctions have been lifted in exchange for shelving its nuke fantasies.  And because banking sanctions have also been lifted, Iran will even be able to pay for the aircraft. And so much more…

Comeback kid…

ID-100375883

Image courtesy of lekkyjustdoit/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Attention naysayers: McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook’s turnaround plan seems to actually be working. How ’bout that. McDonald’s served up some tasty earnings with a special boost from its all-day breakfast offerings.  A big show of gratitude also goes to China where, as it turns out, diners continued to opt for the Golden Arches’ fast-food fare despite the nasty food safety scandal that erupted during the summer of 2014. Same store sales took a 5.7% jump and wouldn’t you know it, shares jumped on the news, especially because, after two years of little to no growth, the company finally experienced that wonderful sensation, posting its best quarter in four years. McDonald’s pulled down a profit of $1.21 billion, an almost 10% increase, while adding $1.28 per share. That’s a nice little smack down to analysts’ estimates of just $1.23 per share. And while a strong dollar did send revenue a bit south to $6.34 billion, it was still above and beyond expectations of $6.22 billion. The only bummer in the earnings was in France, where terrorist attacks have kept too many would-be McDonald’s patrons from enjoying the cuisine.

Advertisements

Golden Earnings for the Golden Arches; European Bitcoin Victory; Say It Ain’t So: Lego Brick Shortage

You deserve a break today…

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook’s job looks pretty secure for the foreseeable future now that McDonald’s posted some awesome third quarter earnings. The numbers were so good that shares of the company jumped 8% and took the Dow Jones Industrial Average up more than 250 points as well. Sales in the U.S. brought a nice little surprise of a 1% increase. And even though wage raises and benefit improvements did take a big chunk out of the Golden Arches operating costs, the company still earned $1.31 billion and $1.40 per share. That was a 23% jump over last year’s $1.07 billion with $1.09 added to shares, and marked the first time in two years that McDonald’s saw improved sales.The much-hyped turnaround plan is actually working with thanks in part to McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast and the introduction of the Premium Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Deluxe Sandwich. Try saying that one five times fast. Or even three. Some franchises, however, are’t digging this all-day breakfast because, besides adding many more menu items, those breakfast items tend to be cheaper and negatively affect sales at some stores. Revenue fell to $6.62 billion, but it was only a 5% drop from last year’s $6.99 billion. And considering that Wall Street expected  McDonald’s to pull in only $6.41 billion and $1.27 per share, nobody’s too upset over that 5% dip.

VAT do you want already?

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Score one for Bitcoin as the virtual currency is considered tax-free. Well, in Europe, anyways. Just like plain old, regular, not-so-virtual cash. Europe’s highest court ruled that  Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are on par with real money and European citizens can scoop up as much of the virtual stuff as they want without having to pay VAT – a  tax that presumably taxes the nerves of anyone who has to pay it. This piece of Bitcoin drama began with Swedish Bitcoin operator David Hedqvist who felt that the currency should not be taxed. However, the Swedish tax authority, Skatteverket, disagreed vehemently and brought the issue to EU’s highest court. And while David Hedqvist is no doubt celebrating this recent victory, there is still one aspect about Bitcoin that has yet to be determined: is it legal tender? To be continued…

Everything is not Awesome…

Image courtesy of  nonicknamephoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nonicknamephoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Scary news from the world’s largest toymaker, Lego. It seems the Danish plastic brick manufacturer might not have enough brick’s to go around. But rest assured, that here in the States, our plastic brick supply is safe. For now. With The Lego Movie, Star Wars and The Avengers all part of the Lego family, the company can’t seem to make enough toys to keep up with the demand. In just the first half of the year, sales for the toys were up a whopping 18%. To help alleviate some of the shortage, Lego will be expanding three factories in Mexico, Hungary and, of course, Lego’s hometown in Denmark. The company even has plans to expand in China. But everything may still not be awesome in certain parts of Europe, as they are likely to be affected by this very tragic plastic brick shortage.

Deutsche Bank CEO’s are Leaving Early and No One is Shedding Tears; McDonald’s Numbers Not Totally Horrible; Smack Talk at the G7 Summit

You’re Fitschen kidding me…

Image courtesy of biosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of biosphere/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you were wondering how Wall Street feels about Deutsche Bank’s outgoing co-CEO’s Anshu Jain and Juergen Fitschen, then just look at the company’s stock price. Shares of Deustche Bank gleefully shot up over 8% at one point, on the news that the two men would be ditching their digs even earlier than planned. However, those gains weren’t just from the sheer joy of those early departures but also because investors totally dig their replacement, British banker John Cryan, who also happens to have a pretty decent track record. Cryan is what the cool kids call a “takeover specialist” which is something Deutsche Bank could use now more than ever seeing as how Jain and Fitschen couldn’t seem to stem the tide of legal issues that have been plaguing the bank, including a massive $2.5 settlement claim the bank had to fork over after some traders very rudely – and illegally, I might add – rigged some benchmark interest rates. In fact, most of Deutsche Bank’s troubles and scandals seemed to to come out of its investment bank, which coincidentally, was/is under Jain’s watch. The question remains as to whether or not Cryan can pull the largest German bank out of its funk. Except, first he’s got to come up with a plan. At least he speaks German. So score one for Cryan.

You deserve a break today…

Image courtesy of  atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things at McDonald’s weren’t nearly as bad as everyone thought they were going to be. They weren’t great but we’ll get to that. The Golden Arches saw same store sales drop .3% , which is definitely not good. However, at least those sales didn’t drop by .9%, the figure expected by all those super-educated analysts. To that I say booyah.  And then there was Europe. While everywhere else on the planet McDonald’s saw sales fall, McDonald’s needs to give much danke to Germany, France and the UK who showed the burger chain some major love in the form of a 2.3% gain. Analysts only expected Europe to bring in a tres  modest .6% gain. So you see, Chipotle, Panera and Shake Shack haven’t taken over the fast-food world. Yet. McDonald’s is in the midst of bringing about a “turnaround plan” which apparently includes offering breakfast all day. Except that’s only in – where else? – Southern California. Also, as part of the plan to reclaim its rightful place in the fast-food kingdom, CEO and President Steve Easterbrook has big lofty plans to rebrand McDonald’s as “a modern, progressive burger company.” Did you get all that?

Back at the G7 Summit…

Image courtesy of bplanet/Freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of bplanet/Freedigitalphotos.net

There seems to be a bit of confusion coming from the G7 Summit. A French official told reporters that President Obama said the strong dollar is a “problem.” Then, the dollar slid against the euro. However, President Obama insists, “I did not say that.” But, still, the dollar still slipped, for the first time in three days, against the euro. In any case, other important stuff was presumably discussed at the conference where world leaders from the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and even Canada talked about fiscal issues that are plaguing the world. But who doesn’t love a good “he said, he said,”  especially during a super important meeting between the world’s most powerful people. I could really see this one playing out on South Park.

McDonald’s Turnaround Plan Needs Salt; Warren Buffet Likes His Sugar; Chevy Volt Wants to Electrify

Would you like to supersize that?

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook finally revealed to all who were maybe mildly interested about his big plan is to steer McDonald’s back towards fiscal awesomeness, all in the course of a 23 minute video. The world’s biggest burger chain wants to re-franchise 3,500 of its stores. Because franchising offers “stable and predictable cash flow” from collecting fees, it will supposedly save the company about $300 million a year.  And who doesn’t like saving $300 million. Then, Easterbrook wants to make the company’s corporate structure and bureaucracy less “cumbersome” by dividing the company up into four neat little parts. Well, maybe not little. But certainly neater.  The first part is all about U.S. stores. International markets like, Australia and the U.K make up part number two. The third part is labeled high growth markets  – think China and Russia. Then, all those other countries in the world make up the fourth group.  Of course, no master revival plan would be complete without incorporating a customer-focused approach and the ever-menacing prospect of…accountability. But hey whatever works. And something needs to after the company posted a 2.3% drop in sales and revenue that was way too short of its target. Despite detailing this new plan Mc Donald’s couldn’t get Wall Street excited enough to send shares up, even a little.

Enjoy a Coke with Warren Buffet…

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In case you couldn’t make it to the the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting this weekend, also known as Woodstock for Capitalists, here are but a few of the pearls from that auspicious event. Wells Fargo, Coke, IBM and AmEx rock, at least according to the Oracle of Omaha. Mr. Buffet clearly knows a thing or two of what he speaks since his company has a market value of a staggering $350 billion. When he discussed Coca Cola and the $16 billion stake his company owns in it, the debate about the adverse health effects of sugar didn’t seem to concern him. He feels that people enjoy Coke and thus, it apparently makes them happy. Unlike Whole Foods, which he said, “I don’t see smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods.” No doubt Whole Foods was not happy about that comment. He was also asked about his involvement with 3G Capital with whom he is now buying Kraft Foods. People have taken issue with 3G over its practice of buying companies and then laying off many of its employees. Mr. Buffet, however, said, “I don’t know of any company that has a policy that says we’re going to have a lot more people than they need.”  How charming. As for naming a successor, well, he didn’t.

Low-voltage…

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Even though gas prices are pretty low, making gas-guzzling SUV’s that much more appealing, that’s not stopping car companies, like GM, from parading out its latest eco-friendly models. The 2016 Chevy Volt model is making its debut and what is supposed to be so electrifying about it is that it’ll be around $1,500 less than the 2015 model. It’ll also get 30% more mileage from a single charge than the 2015 model. It’s a bit redesigned and there’s even a $7,500 federal income tax credit. But to be fair, it’s not a fully electric vehicle because if you find yourself coasting along  the highway – or any road, for that matter – and the battery juice runs out, the Volt becomes just another regular gas guzzler.  If that doesn’t bother you – and why should it – then consider that Chevy is offering 0% financing for 72 months for qualified buyers. Unqualified buyers should take the bus. California’s even offering a $1,500 rebate which pretty much means that GM doesn’t think there’s going to be a waiting list for this particular automobile. Because let’s face it, a Tesla it’s not.

Not-So-Happy Meals; To Your Credit: Reporting Agencies (Finally) Agree to Play Nice; Ethical Corn Flakes

Just not that into you…

Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Looks like things keep going south for the Golden Arches. McDonald’s, the world’s largest food chain and private employer, took a major hit with global sales tanking 1.7%.  Since it’s only CEO’s Steve Easterbrook’s second week on the job, no one is blaming him…yet.  While the chain’s 36,000 restaurants took a hit as whole, in Europe, sales actually went up 0.7%….for the month. Too bad things in Japan things were precipitously worse, as McDonald’s took a $186 million loss for 2014. Apparently diners there didn’t appreciate finding things in their food that weren’t supposed to be in food. China and other parts of Asia also dealt with problems, including shifty meat suppliers. McDonald’s mentioned that “consumer needs and preferences have changed” and then there’s that issue of “ongoing aggressive competitive activity.” Which is basically saying that people would rather eat someplace else, like at Panera and Chipotle, which have certainly taken big bites from McDonald’s sales. But in an effort to pump some fiscal juice back into its portfolio, customers at some 2,000 locations will get to customize their own burgers with its “Create Your Taste” program. Now if only there was a “Create Better Sales” program…

A debt of gratitude…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It all started with an investigation back in 2012 by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Actually it all started way before that when credit reporting agencies decided to make life difficult on consumers by making them jump through hoops if – heaven forbid – they had the audacity to dispute their credit reports. Following many many many complaints to the AG’s office, Schneiderman began his investigation followed by a lawsuit that led to an agreement which consumers are sure to appreciate (probably more so than the credit reporting agencies). The three biggest credit reporting agencies, also known as Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, who happen to report credit scores for a whopping 200 million Americans, have graciously agreed to behave a lot nicer and make things easier and quicker for consumers to dispute their reports. Since half of all debt reported comes from medical bills as a result of late insurance payments, the agencies will now give consumers 180 days to pay those bills. If you have other disputes, rest assured the process is about to get considerably easier. Under the new agreement, victims of fraud and identity theft should also have an easier time clearing things up. The agencies, however, were given three years to implement these new practices, so you might not want to hold your breath.

Not exactly the Oscars?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You may have never heard of Wipro but if you’re in the market for a global information and technology consulting company, you might want to remember that name, as Wipro was just named 2015’s World’s Most Ethical Company. Every year Ethisphere Institute, a business consulting firm that focuses on best business practices, puts out its own list of “most ethical companies” with Wipro claiming the top title this year. So who else made the list? Gap Inc., H&M and Levi Strauss took home the top Ethical Prizes for “Apparel.” Hasbro and Mattel made the list for the “Toys and Games” category while Google took home the top spot for “Computer Services.”  Kellogg Co. made it onto the top five most Ethical “Food and Beverage companies for the seventh time, mind you, with The Hershey Company a few spots behind it. Petco took the number two spot for “Retail” while Starbucks Coffee Company took the top spot in the “Specialty Eateries” category. For the complete list of this year’s winners click on the link http://ethisphere.com/worlds-most-ethical/wme-honorees/

 

A&F Earnings Are Out of Fashion; McDonald’s Biotic Changes; Target-ing Change

Teen-y tiny…

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Teen-centric apparel company Abercrombie & Fitch took a fourth quarter beating. One of the (many) reasons seems to be that the fickle adolescent community got tired of advertising the A&F logo on their chests and butts. And like so many other companies, the strong U.S. dollar also seemed to be putting a crimp in the retailer’s numbers, especially considering that a third of the company’s revenue comes from outside the country.  Same store sales also decreased by 10%. Then there’s the part about how teens have been spending less money on clothing than in recent years, yet they are increasingly looking to outfit themselves through the likes of H&M, Forever 21 and Zara. Those chains tend to offer “fast fashion” that kids today totally dig at much better prices. Does that make A&F’s fashions slow? Hmmm. Oddly enough, American Eagle, one of A&F’s competitors actually beat the street with its earnings and even hit a 52-week high. Net sales of Abercrombie & Fitch fell 14% to $1.12 billion with  profits coming in at $44.4 million and 63 cents per share. Analysts expected $1.15 per share on $1.17 billion in revenue.  To add insult to injury, Abercrombie & Fitch is looking to unload its company jet , a relic from the days when big mouth CEO Michael Jeffries ruled the A&F empire.

Cured!

Image courtesy of  Idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re not into chicken seasoned with antibiotics, then you’re in luck. McDonalds has decided to scrap that special feature from its poultry menu, except it’s going to take approximately two years to fully get there. Steve Easterbrook, who took over as CEO just three days ago, did promise some major changes at the the Golden Arches. The fast-food company has become increasingly concerned over “superbugs” that have caused about 23,000 deaths per year. McDonalds will still allow ionophores in its chicken products. Yum. But don’t sweat it too much. Ionophores are antibiotics meant for our feathered friends – not for humans. Phew. The chicken change will affect the 14,000 eateries in the United States, but don’t expect to see any changes in the 22,000 McDonalds restaurants abroad. At least not yet, anyway. While Chick-fil-A already did away with antibiotics-laced chicken a year ago, the fact that McDonald’s is set to make these changes is rather epic, being the largest fast food chain and all. Once McDonald’s gets its distributors and processors to alter the food (for the better, of course), it will make it substantially easier for smaller chains to follow suit. So, here’s to antibiotic-free chicken! Bon appetit!

About those unemployment benefits….

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Big changes are in store for Target and it’s safe to say some of them won’t be welcomed. The giant retailer, who is in the process of literally closing up shop in Canada, is also in the process of trying to cut $2 billion in costs. Part of that cost-cutting includes job-cutting. Several thousand people will need to polish up their reumes and update their LinkedIn accounts as Target looks to cut most of those positions from its corporate headquarters and some position in India, as well. But Target’s got other big ideas that don’t involve applying for unemployment benefits. It’ll be running a huge Hispanic millennial campaign – apparently the first of its kind – and part of it involves teaming up the CW’s “Jane the Virgin” together with Target’s baby department. Then Target’s also looking to open up 15 more stores, however, eight of them will be CityTarget and TargetExpress stores which – you guessed it – will be taking an urban approach seeing as how they will be geared toward an urban crowd in a presumably urban location.