GM Invests in US. Trump Takes All the Credit (Again); Tiffany & Co. Credits Trump for Quarterly Loss; No Trump-ing Mattel with New CEO

Pressure cooker…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

GM just announced that it is throwing a whopping $7 billion into several of its U.S. plants in order to bring back thousands of jobs, in addition to the 56,000 hourly workers it already employs here. Naturally, Trump is taking credit for these actions and it’s kind of weird that he would since GM said these plans were already in place for months. Who you choose to believe doesn’t matter because Trump already tweeted about it:”With all of the jobs I am bringing back into the U.S. (even before taking office), with all of the new auto plants coming back…I believe the people are seeing ‘big stuff.'” Nothing says POTUS quite like the term, “big stuff.” But just so you know, GM didn’t exactly deny that Trump didn’t have something to do with its newly announced plans either. Although, General Motors did mention something to the effect of “this was good timing.” Feel free to read into that however you want since it’s no secret that Trump was gunning for GM over its manufacturing of the Chevy Cruze south of the border, and then bringing it back into the country tax-free. Incidentally, GM CEO Mary Barra is part of a panel of CEOs who are advising Trump on economic policy. Also incidentally, Mary Barra is expected to attend the President-elect’s inauguration.

Good fences?

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Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Guess who else is not happy with Trump? Okay, I guess that list is kind of long so I’ll just tell you: Tiffany & Co. The jeweler, which happens to own a flagship store that is adjoined to Trump Tower, reported a 14% drop in sales at that very store on Fifth Avenue. To be fair, the iconic jeweler was expecting a drop thanks to Trump. Only this one was worse than expected, citing “post-election disruptions.” Roughly translated, that means that in addition to the many many anti-Trump protesters, potential shoppers also had to contend with heightened security, courtesy of the secret service and NYPD, not to mention journalists and hoards of tourists eager to see if they could catch a glimpse of the President-elect. So just how bad were Tiffany & Co.’s sales? Well, in the US, those numbers only came in at $483 million, with comparable store sales down 4%.  And the luxury retailer isn’t very hopeful about those numbers going up in 2017.  But because Trump isn’t everywhere, global sales of Tiffany & Co. came in at $966 million, which was just a tad bit higher than last year at this time.

Don’t toy with her…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Barbie is getting a new boss as Mattel gears up for its second CEO since 2015. Enter Margaret “Margo” Georgiadis, whose last gig, for the past six years, was over at Google. She was President of Google Americas and oversaw commercial operations and ad sales for the U.S., Canada and Latin America. So, it’s safe to say she’s (over?) qualified for the job. She is among just 27 top ranking female executives at Fortune 500 companies. Georgiadis, who also worked at Groupon and Discover Financial Services, begins her role at Mattel on February 8, where she will also sit on the board of the company. She’ll be tasked with coming up with new, and hopefully ingenious ways to boost sales in a climate that has kids hypnotized by mobile devices. Unfortunately, these nefarious electronic gadgets have been putting a dent into the sales of not only Mattel, but Hasbro and Lego as well. However,  given that Georgiadis has a reputation for successfully building brands, boosting sales of Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels and the American Girl line should be easy as pie. Well, hopefully.

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How Trump Is Dulling Tiffany & Co.’s Sparkle; Just Another Multi-billion Dollar Monday; Oil Vey! OPEC Squabbles Over Oil Cuts

Occupying 5th Ave…

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Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Despite occupying some of the the best real estate in the world, Tiffany & Co.’s New York flagship store is having some sales troubles no thanks to president-elect Donald Trump,  whose nearby police barricades, protests and secret service detail have taken a big chunk out of the store’s traffic. And that’s a huge problem, especially because the U.S. is Tiffany & Co.’s biggest market, and its Manhattan store accounts for 8% of the company’s sales. At least there’s China and Japan, whose currency fluctuations allowed consumers in those regions to take advantage of a strong yen that had them picking up all kinds of nifty goods from the iconic jeweler. Mainly because of that, the company posted a surprise 1.2% sales increase – the first sales rise in eight quarters. Same store sales didn’t fare as badly either, even though experts thought they would. Instead of declining an expected 2.8%, they fell just 2%. In the United States, presumably in locations where Trump does not reside, Tiffany & Co. experienced a smaller than expected drop, falling just 2% compared to last year at this time. The luxury jeweler scored a $95 million profit, pulling down 76 cents per share on sales of $949.3 million. Analysts only expected 67 cents to be added to shares with sales totaling $923.7 million.

Shattered…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Move over $3.36 billion. Move over $3.39 billion. The original sales estimates for cyber-Monday proved no match for the actual numbers. Adobe Digital Insights whipped out the results for this year’s post-Thanksgiving shopping extravaganza, which blew estimates out of the water and came in at a whopping $3.45 billion – over a 12% increase from last year’s cyber-Monday purchases. But what’s super weird is that apparently there were less deals on cyber-Monday than on Black Friday. However, Black Friday’s numbers were looking awfully green as well, setting a record with a 22% increase over last year and coming in at just $110 million less than cyber-Monday. Some analysts were a bit concerned that the abundance of web sales on Thanksgiving would put a dent in cyber-Monday’s digits. But wouldn’t you know it? That didn’t happen. Purchases made using Wall-Mart’s app jumped 150% while Amazon is expecting to report its best cyber-Monday. Ever. But you’re just going to have to take their word for it. As for losers, look no further than Macy’s. Perhaps it was karma for opening its doors at 5:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day, but the company experienced outages on its website that kept a lot of shoppers from making a lot of purchases on the company’s site. The amount of money the retailer likely lost was probably not enough to offset the fact that it opened its doors on Thursday. Boohoo.

Why can’t we oil just get along?

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Image courtesy of Rawich/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, also known as OPEC, is having a big fancy meeting in Vienna tomorrow. At issue is the problem that there is way too much oil floating around all over the world. This oil glut is making oil prices low which makes for really good prices at the pump. However, the countries that produce all this oil don’t like that one bit and are trying to agree on how to fix it so that prices go up again and they can start making cold hard cash. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq are the biggest oil producers and the logical step would be for each country to cut their production. But none of them want to do that. There’s a lot of ego involved. It’s like color war, but with actual valuable commodities at stake, besides national pride. Saudi Arabia is proposing cuts of 1.2 million barrels per day. However, Iran’s not down for making any cuts because it feels it needs to make up for lost time from all those years of Western sanctions it faced – and totally deserved – and still does deserve. Iraq is using ISIS as a very convenient, if somewhat legit excuse since it is, after all, fighting a war against a psychopathic terrorist organization, and the money it gets from selling oil helps fund that lofty endeavor. Rumor has it that Iran and Iraq are coming around but no word on whether Saudi Arabia will play ball. So stay tuned to see if and when more OPEC drama plays out, and how this drama will affect your wallet and your green car aspirations.

 

Can’t Cap the Apple; Let It Go, Barbie. There’s A New Disproportioned Blond In Town; Tiffany & Co.’s Luxe Earnings

In case you missed it…

Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apple can breathe a sigh of relief now that it is officially king of the world. Sort of. The tech company has officially surpassed the $700 billion mark of its market capitalization meaning it is now the most valuable company in the world. Make that universe. ExxonMobil, on the other hand, is not-so-prominently perched at the number two spot.  What this all means is that Apple’s outstanding shares are worth way more than all of ExxonMobil’s outstanding shares – by $300 billion. To put it in perspective, a tech company whose gadgets many people do not even own, is more valuable than an energy company whose commodity is consumed constantly by nearly every single person on the planet. Sitting in third place is Microsoft, with Johnson & Johnson nipping at its heels in fourth.

Let It Go?

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Could it be? Is Barbie’s rock star status taking a hit? According to the National Retail Federation, the original, plastic, disproportioned blond has been unseated by “Frozen.” Anna, Elsa and company have become the number one go-to gift this holiday season putting Barbie in second place. The survey has been conducted for the last eleven years and this is the very first time in the survey’s history that Barbie is not  provocatively posed at the number one spot. The whole “Frozen” phenomenon has thus generated about $1.3 billion in sales, globally. Good news for Disney, bad new for Mattel, the company behind Barbie. What’s even worse news for Mattel is the fact that in 2016, Hasbro picks up the license for the “Frozen” dolls. If you happen to be  wondering what the number one toy boys will be getting, look no further than the Lego aisle.

Little blue boxes…

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just as I chucked my Tiffany & Co. catalog into the recycling bin, the luxury retailer posted its third quarter earnings. Unlike myself, apparently, many of you are not only not chucking the catalog in the recycling bin, but you are actually going into the pricey retailer and plunking down major wads of money for its very expensive merchandise – just not so much for their cheaper silver lines, interestingly enough.  In fact, here in America, sales were up 10%. Which is especially good since Asia doesn’t seem to be sharing America’s enthusiasm for the luxe jeweler where sales there were down 12%. Revenue did rise 5.2% to $957 million and $0.76 per share. However, analysts were expecting the company to rake in $0.77 per share on $969 million. Maybe the holiday season will help add a little more brilliance to Tiffany & Co.’s fourth quarter.

Tiffany: Bling It On, Janet Yellen Graduates and Missed Target

Shine on…

Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tiffany & Co. (TIF)  and its iconic little blue box had a very luxurious quarter. They just might be the only company who didn’t take issue with the particularly infuriating winter. Even if that nasty little season did toy a bit with the company’s northeast stores nobody probably wants to hear about it considering its net income rose about 50%. In fact, not only did it beat the Street’s expectations, it shattered them. Analysts thought the ultra luxury retailer would pull in about $953 million dollars. But oh no. They came in at a whopping $1 billion. Ironically, a much of that success stems from the less-expensive collections. Yes. Tiffany & Co. does believe itself to have a less expensive collection. Now please collect yourself. But to be fair, consumers were also taking a shine to their colored diamonds as well. And well who doesn’t like a diamond no matter what the color?

 Class act…

Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen received her degree. Okay so it was an honorary one from NYU. But it will look awfully pretty next to the one she received from Yale where she earned her PhD in economics many years ago. Before a crowd of graduates and their kvelling families gathered in Yankee Stadium, she delivered an address to the class of 2014 in which she said ability is good but it’s how much grit you have that will ultimately determine your success. “You wont succeed all the time. I hope you can find joy in the lives you choose.” Words of a wisdom from a genuinely wise woman. She also gave props to her predecessor, Ben Bernanke. The first female to head the Federal reserve, she was joined by fellow honorees Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, Yankees pitching great Mariano Rivera and legendary singer Aretha Franklin.

Missing the mark…

Image courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ddpavumba/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Target can’t seem to shake that pesky mark on its back after coming out with earnings that tanked 16%. Of course that massive fiasco of a data breach that cost the company $26 million is still looming large and certainly contributed to its disappointing – though not unexpected – performance. But then there was Canada! Oh Canada. The foray to our friendly neighbors to the north didn’t work out quite the way Target hoped. Those embarrasing inventory shortages were not exactly the stuff successful expansions are made of and so the president of its Canadian operations was shown the door.

 

Tiffany Is Not Feeling Blinged, Lost and Found and A Shot With Your Espresso?

Swatch out!

Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Boykung/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tiffany & Co. and their little blue boxes suffered a major blow to their bling today following a spectacular third quarter. Their pretty yellow diamonds and $1.3 billion in revenue weren’t enough to outshine the losses they suffered this quarter. Because what began as a $200 million profit quickly turned to a $100 million loss owing to a gigantic settlement with Swatch. Tiffany & Co. CEO Michael Kowalski said, “We are proud of our performance this past year. Sales and operating earnings (excluding the arbitration-related charge) rose to record levels.” Uh-huh. Back in 2007, the two companies started a joint venture that went south four years after. Swatch sued. Tiffany & Co. counter-sued. They went for arbitration. $473 million later, Tiffany & Co. has to pony up to Swatch. Talk about killing time.

Mt. Gox marks the spot?

Image courtesy of stoonn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stoonn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Don’t you just love it when you find an old wallet and there’s still money in it. The same thing happened with Mt. Gox recently and now the former bitcoin exchange is slightly less bankrupt today. 200,000 bitcoins were (not so) mysteriously “discovered” in disused electronic wallets. The coins, which were originally thought to be stolen are worth approximately $120 million.  Now if they could just figure out where those other 650,000 coins went…

Barista or bartender? You decide…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.netH

If you already love Starbucks now, you’re about to love it a whole lot more. Come for the coffee stay for the alcohol. The coffee seller is gearing up with a new concept called “Starbucks Evenings” where they will be offering a variety of alcoholic beverages and gourmet food to complement them. Spokesperson Lisa Passé explained, “The concept is a natural progression for Starbucks Corporation as we seek to create a new occasion for customers to gather, relax and connect with each other in the evenings.” That just might be the case but this new concept also has to do with the fact that Starbucks is aiming to hit the $100 billion mark in market value and offering up alcohol is sure to do the trick. Whatever the motive, I, for one, can’t wait.