Archive for January, 2012

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate rises to 9.4 percent in December

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent in December from 9.2 percent in November, the state labor department said Thursday.

A year ago, the jobless rate was 10.1 percent.

Unemployment increased from November because there were layoffs in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services, the labor department said.

For the core metro counties, Clayton posted the highest rate at 11.8 percent. Fulton was next with 9.8 percent, followed by DeKalb (9.7 percent), Cobb (8.5 percent) and Gwinnett (8.4 percent).

In the city of Atlanta, the jobless rate rose to 10.6 percent in December from 10.3 percent in November. A year ago, it was 11.3 percent.

Last week, the labor department reported that Georgia’s jobless rate declined in December for the third straight month, dropping to 9.7 percent from 9.8 percent in November. The jobless rate was 10.4 percent in December 2010.

Both the metro area and state …

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Wal-Mart ending late-night greeters

Those late-night greeters who are as much a part of the Wal-Mart experiences as the retailer’s big shopping carts soon will be a thing of the past.

The world’s largest retailer is moving those greeters to more high-traffic hours earlier in the day, according to Bloomberg News, citing a Wal-Mart spokesman.

The move will save money and ensure Wal-Mart has greeters when and where it needs them the most, according to spokesman David Tovar.

The greeters’ job is “to ask people if they have receipts. We also make them feel welcome and safe,” one told Bloomberg.  They will continue to do that, but not between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., the retailer’s third shift.

At least one analyst, David Strasser of Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, thinks the move is risky.

“Consumers have been going to Wal-Mart for years, and greeters have become an expectation. To a degree it defines Wal-Mart,” Strasser told Bloomberg.

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T.O.: Broke, lonely, “in hell”

Atlanta-connected former famous footballer Terrell Owens is in the news again.

Of course, it’s not good news.

T.O.’s got money problems, among other troubles, according to a piece in GQ.

The once-electric wideout earned $80 million over a career marked by both accomplishment and controversy, but now, he says, he’s broke.

He’s also friendless and apparently despondent, living in an apartment in L.A.

Those money troubles, he says, stem from bad business decisions _ investments made at the suggestion of those presumed to be knowledgeable and operating in his best interests.

T.O. says he was never a big spender himself.

Now 38, he’s still aching for a comeback, on and off the field.

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German auto supplier bringing 178 jobs to Dublin

A German automotive supplier plans to build a metal stamping plant in Dublin and create 178 jobs in the process.

Erdrich Umformtechnik  GmbH & Co. KG expects to invest $39 million in the 130,000-square-foot project in Laurens County.

It would be Erdrich’s first U.S. location. The family-owned business makes metal parts and sub-assemblies for the auto industry.

CEO Georg Erdrich said, “This very pro-business community met our requirements with respect to logistics to our customers, access for our suppliers, operating costs, workforce and quality of life.”

The planned opening is in 2013.

Walter Huber, in charge of the company’s U.S. operation, added, “We are anxious to grow our customer base in Georgia and the Southeast …”

Chris Cummiskey, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said, “Georgia has a range of assets for advanced manufacturers that keeps our state top of mind for international companies and others deciding to expand or set up new locations. …

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Apple sold 37 million iPhones in 3 months

Apple, which launched its iPhone 4S just in time for Christmas, sold 37 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011, possibly catapulting the company to becoming the largest maker of smartphones and overtaking Samsung Electronics, according to an Associated Press report.

The number of iPhones sold in the company’s fiscal first quarter was double what Apple sold during the same holiday period in 2010, the company said. It also shipped 15.4 million iPads.

Apple’s earnings results far exceeded what Wall Street analysts expected, with a profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per share, up 118 percent. Revenue was up 73 percent to $46.33 billion. They were the first quarterly results without co-founder Steve Jobs, who died last year.

Apple is also benefiting from a defection of some of its competitors’ customers.

In a study released by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners and reported by CNET, a third of iPhone 4S buyers said they previously had Android, BlackBerry …

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Claim: Rich Russians bought lifeboat space on Costa Concordia

And you thought Wall Streeters made conspicuous use of their wealth.

Now there are reports that rich Russian passengers paid cash _ lots of cash _ to obtain space on lifeboats as the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia was sinking.

“Italian officials have reportedly taken evidence from other cruise passengers that the expensively-dressed holidaymakers stuffed wads of cash into the hands of eager crewmen to secure an early seat as the holed ship began to capsize,” according to a dispatch in The Sun.

Women and children first?

Nyet!

Prosecutors are on the probe.

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Gas prices inch up 6 cents in one week in metro Atlanta

Motorists, have you noticed?

Gas prices have inched up 6 cents a gallon during the past week in metro Atlanta, averaging about $3.45 a gallon on Sunday. But experts say we should expect prices to stay relatively unchanged  for now.

“Retail gas prices will likely remain relatively unchanged this week as demand remains below par,” said Jessica Brady, AAA spokesperson, The Auto Club Group. She explains that the price of a barrel of oil closed below $100 for the second week in a row. Oil prices fell after the U.S. Energy Department reported gasoline consumption dropped to 8 million barrels a day –  the lowest level since 2001. U.S. stockpiles of gasoline increased 3.7 million barrels last week to 227 million — a 10-month high. Oil prices settled Friday at $98.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange — 24 cents less than the prior week.

“The demand fundamentals remain weak both in the U.S. and abroad, a main factor keeping oil prices below $100,” said Brady. “China’s …

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Interest up in Atlanta’s Georgia Gulf

Ah, M&A action: It’s fantastic.

A week or so ago we reported that Atlanta-based Georgia Gulf Corp. was the subject of an unsolicited purchase offer from a Houston company, Westlake Chemical Corp.

Georgia Gulf, which has about 60 employees at its Perimeter-area headquarters _ a minute fragment of its 3,600-employee workforce _ didn’t like it and rejected the offer.

Now,  “North America’s largest maker of vinyl construction products is poised to secure the biggest takeover price increase in the U.S. as signs grow that the housing slump has bottomed,” Bloomberg contends.

The company’s stock was trading at 15 percent over the recent offer price, the report notes,” the widest gap of any pending U.S. takeover.”

Business bottomed out when the housing construction industry cratered _ the company makes vinyl siding and window frames. But with home building fortunes on the upswing, things are looking bright.

Rival Westlake offered $30 a share in cash, which it said was a 51 percent …

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Volkswagen Super Bowl tease already a YouTube sensation

Super Bowl 46 in Indianapolis is not until Feb. 5 but Volkswagen is ready to take the multimillion-dollar advertising dogfight to its competitors.

Just like last year, the German automaker will continue its “Star Wars” theme. But instead of a child in a Darth Vader suit trying to use “the force” to raise objects, including a Passat, Volkswagen is relying on a chorus of dogs to preview its move to the “bark side.”

The canines, already a YouTube sensation, bark to the tune of the “Imperial March” from the popular George Lucas movie series, and it comes complete with a Chewbacca-like howl.

While it isn’t revealing its Game Day ad yet, Volkswagen promises the YouTube clip, already seen by more than 3 million, “will all make sense” eventually. The automaker says an “epic Game Day invitation is about to be dispatched across the galaxy.”

As Times magazine’s website notes, when Volkswagen leaked last year’s “Star Wars” commercial it ended up being the year’s top viral ad …

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Some of the best places to work right here in metro Atlanta

With signs both nationally and locally pointing to more hiring, if you’re lucky enough you might end up at one of the best companies to work for in Georgia, as ranked by Fortune magazine.

The best places to work include grocery giant Publix Super Markets, insurer Aflac, technology company Cisco, gas station chain QuikTrip and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Rounding out the list are the law firm Alston & Bird, Intercontinental Hotels Group, PCL Construction, Ultimate Software and auto dealership CarMax.

What makes them so great? Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta gets kudos for how management tries to stay connected to workers, with senior leaders, for example, holding frequent parties with employees. At Publix Super Markets, the largest employee-owned company in the country, workers get generous annual stock infusions, and Intercontinental Hotels Group, the parent of Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and other properties, has the most generous 401(k) plan in its …

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