Archive for May, 2012

Nike selling off Cole Haan, Umbro

Nike is kicking its Cole Haan and Umbro brands to the curb.

The world’s largest athletic shoe maker is selling the two subsidiaries to cut costs and focus on its core and several other brands, according to an Associated Press report.

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Nike bought Cole Haan, which sells pricey shoes, luggage and other leather goods,  in 1988 for about $95 million. It purchased its Umbro soccer clothier in 2008 for $582 million to help it compete in Europe with Adidas, the world’s largest soccer company.

While no potential buyer was identified for either Cole Haan or Umbro, Nike hopes to have them off its books sometime next year. According to Bloomberg, Cole Haan and Umbro together accounted for 3.6 percent of Nike’s $20.9 billion revenue in 2011.

In addition to its flagship Nike brand, the company said the divestment will allow it to focus more attention to its Jordan, Converse and Hurley subsidiaries.

Nike said it’s decision was not in response to an announcement in …

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Prepaid iPhone on the way

(John Spink, jspink@ajc.com)

(John Spink, jspink@ajc.com)

(Update at 4:44 p.m.)

A prepaid iPhone?

Apple has taken another step toward putting its popular smartphone in the hands of more users by striking a deal with Cricket wireless, according to CNET.

Leap Wireless’ Cricket will offer the prepaid iPhone 4S alongside other prepaid phones beginning June 22. The $55 no-contract plan will include unlimited calling and texting, and 2.3GB of data.

The plan, however, isn’t entirely cheap. Cricket will sell the 4S 16GB for $499.99 and the 8GB for $399.99. That’s still cheaper than the non-commitment price of $649.99 the other major iPhone carriers want for the 4S 16GB.

With a prepaid phone, you simply use the phone until you run out of minutes. When that happens, you have the option of buying more minutes.

Prepaid phones are generally targeted to consumers whose credit history is less than stellar, to those who don’t want to lock into a two-year contract and to consumers who want a no-frills phone. …

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Layoff announcements surged in May

Employers announced plans to lay off 61,887  workers in May, the most since last September, the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in in its latest job-cut report.

The May total was 53 percent above the April figure, which was 40,559, and 67 percent higher than the number in May 2011. That marks the fourth year-over-year increase in announced layoffs this year, a sobering trend.

This year, employers have announced 245,540 layoffs, up 20 percent from the first five months in 2011. The total for 2012 is, however, below what it was for the  first five months in 2010 and in 2009.

The big job cuts last month came in the computer industry, largely due to Hewlett-Packard’s announcement of more than 27,000 layoffs.

John Challenger, CEO, said more job cuts in the computer sector may be coming.

The food industry also experienced a high number of layoffs in May.

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Do retailers respond to your tweets?

Have you ever tweeted a complaint or concern to an online retailer and waited an eternity for a response?

(Special)

(Special)

While STELLAservice, which measures and rates online customer service performance, isn’t saying which retailers are the worst offenders, it is heralding the most responsive, and Zappos.com and LLBean,com are at the top of the list.

Zappos and LLBean answered 100 percent of mystery customers’ tweets within 24 hours, during a 45-day period that started in April, according to the STELLAservice study, which was reported by CNET.

Overstock.com and Dell.com responded to 98 percent of tweets, while Best Buy answered 89 percent of tweets. Other companies among the top 25 online retailers responded to an average of just 44 percent of customers’ concerns.

“By failing to take Twitter seriously as a customer service channel, companies may be inadvertently ignoring some of their best customers at their own peril,” the research company’s chief executive officer, …

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Facebook founder Zuckerberg’s worth drops by $5 billion

(Associated Press via Facebook)

(Associated Press via Facebook)

(Updated at 6:23 p.m.)

At least the wedding went off without a hitch.

Since Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg offered a piece of  his social networking company to the public and tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Priscilla Chan two weeks ago, his personal fortune and that of his company have taken sizable hits.

Facebook’s stock has plunged since the public began buying shares May 18, and the drop has shaved at least about $25 billion from the $104 billion valuation placed on the company. The stock was down again Wednesday.

The stock, which was priced at $38 for the initial public offering, is down nearly 26 percent since the IPO, extending its spirial Wednesday to close at $28.19, down 65 cents, or another 2.25 percent from Tuesday’s close. That means the value of Zuckerberg’s holdings is also down, by nearly $5 billion as of Tuesday and in just two weeks, according to Bloomberg’s daily ranking of the world’s richest people.

As a …

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Whistleblower gets $14.5 mil

A former appraiser sang like a canary. Now, he’s a multi-millionaire.

Kyle Lagow, who blew the whistle on the sordid business practices of subprime lender Countrywide Financial,  which was accused of inflating appraisals on government-insured loans,  is getting $14.5 million as part of a lawsuit, his lawyers said.

Lagow’s suit prompted a probe into mortgage fraud charges at Countrywide and led to a $1 billion settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and Bank of America which bought Countrywide four years ago.

A Reuters story notes that Lagow’s was one of five whistleblower complaints that made up the $25 billion national mortgage settlement that state and federal officials reached with Bank of America and four other lenders this year. The amount of his settlement had not been disclosed.

“The complaints were brought under a whistleblower provision in the U.S. False Claims Act, which allows private individuals with knowledge of wrongdoing to bring suits on behalf of the …

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Facebook’s shares continue to tumble

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Shares of Facebook, the most talked about initial public offering in recent years, closed below $29 Tuesday for the first time, shaving about $25 billion off the company’s valuation since it went public two weeks ago.

Facebook closed Tuesday at $28.84, down $3.07, or nearly 10 percent for the day.

Facebook was valued at $104 billion after its shares were priced at $38 for the IPO.  The stock opened on Nasdaq at $42 on May 18. Since the stock plunge, the company’s value has dropped to less than $80 billion.

Several developments weighed on the stock Tuesday, including rumors that Facebook was thinking about buying the Norwegian Opera Web browser and Face.com, an Israeli-based face-recognition technology company. The price tag for Opera could be at least $1 billion and the tag for Face.com could be up to $100 million, according to news reports.

Facebook already has agreed to buy San Francisco photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion, but that price will …

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Man rams Taco Bell over missing 99-cent taco

Taco Bell employees working a drive-thru Tuesday morning were the latest to feel a customer’s wrath after getting an order wrong.

According to police in Huber Heights, Ohio, a 23-year-old man was so incensed that he was missing a 99 cent taco after pulling off from a Taco Bell drive-thru that he returned and rammed an entrance with his pickup truck.

The man, who was not identified, first drove back to the drive-thru, yelled at employees for making the mistake and snatched the taco from an employee after one was made for him, according to a report by ABC 22. The customer then sped off but not before smashing a side entrance.

Police were able to follow a trail of fluid from the smashed truck and arrest the customer, who was charged with felony vandalism after admitting to the destruction, police said.

Two weeks ago, two men were arrested in Murfreesboro, Tenn., after throwing a brick and piece of concrete through a McDonald’s drive-thru window after ordering …

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IntercontinentalExchange CEO: ‘We don’t beat people up for making mistakes’

Successful business people take advantage of change. Jeff Sprecher saw energy deregulation in California some 25 years ago as an opportunity to develop power plants there. He saw globalization as a catalyst to start IntercontinentalExchange, an Atlanta-based operator of electronic trading exchanges for investors around the world.

As co-founder and CEO, Sprecher, 57, built the company to $1.3 billion in revenue, partly through about a dozen acquisitions. But two that got away — failed attempts to buy the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade — grabbed far more headlines than the successful purchases. Sprecher talks about how he deals with the wins and losses, his initial lack of expertise in the trading arena and how he finds business ideas.

Q: You run a business that performs an important but complex job in the financial system. What is your elevator speech?

A: We host the trading of commodities and derivatives that are based on commodities on an electronic …

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GM recalling Malibu Ecos over faulty airbags

 

Got a brand new Chevy Malibu Eco? Your airbag might be faulty.

General Motors Co. said Thursday it is recalling 4,304 Chevrolet Malibu Eco cars to reprogram a module that controls the deployment of airbags.

GM said in rare cases under extremely aggressive turning, the roof rail airbags in some 2013 model year Malibu Ecos might inflate. It also said the airbags and safety belt pretensioners might not deploy in even rarer cases.

The automaker plans to send letters to car owners on June 1 with instructions to have the reprogramming done at a dealer at no cost.

Read more about in Automotive News.

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