What financial reports reveal about entertainment - Austin American-Statesman What financial reports reveal about entertainment - Austin American-Statesman

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What financial reports reveal about entertainment - Austin American-Statesman

What financial reports reveal about entertainment - Austin American-Statesman

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Here is a summary of recent financial reports for selected entertainment companies: April 12: Coinstar Inc. raises its first-quarter and full-year revenue guidance on the popularity of its Redbox movie business. Coinstar says recent price hikes didn't ...

Stocks Advance, Led by Energy; FB Down 5% - CNBC

Stocks extended their gains Tuesday, following a three-day holiday weekend, as investors seemed to temporarily shrug off worries over the euro zone and despite some tepid economic reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied, led by Alcoa [AA  Loading...      ()   ] and BofA [BAC  Loading...      ()   ], after logging its best week in May. Still, the blue-chip index has yet to see a two-day win streak this month.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also climbed. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded below 22.

Despite the day's rally, all three major averages are on track for their biggest monthly drop since last September.

All 10 S&P sectors were in positive territory, led by materials and techs.

Home prices eked out a gain of 0.1 percent in March, according to the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas. Economists expected a gain of 0.2 percent. Still, the major indexes ended the first quarter at new post-crisis lows, according to the report.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence declined to 64.9 in May, falling to its lowest level in four months. Economists were expecting a reading of 70.0 in a Reuters poll.

"The disappointing consumer confidence number is a direct result of higher gas and food prices, which has decimated the household balance sheet," said Todd Schoenberger, managing principal at The BlackBay Group. "Factor in a miserable labor picture, and confidence continues to erode."

U.S. markets were closed for Memorial Day on Monday.

European shares closed higher, but worries over Spanish banks kept a damper on gains. Egan-Jones downgraded Spain's rating for a second time since last week, this time to "B" from "BB-" with a negative watch. The euro briefly dropped below $1.25 following the report.

Meanwhile, investors were encouraged by polls in Greece over the weekend that pointed to support for the pro-bailout party over the leftist organization ahead of the June 17 election.

Shares of Opera Software [OPESF  Loading...      ()   ] surged amid market talk that Facebook [FB  Loading...      ()   ] is in discussions to acquire the Norwegian firm for its advanced mobile phone software technology. Meanwhile, Facebook slumped more than 5 percent to trade near $30 a share.

Chesapeake Energy [CHK  Loading...      ()   ] jumped after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a 7.6 percent stake in the natural gas producer and called on the company to replace at least four directors.

JPMorgan Chase [JPM  Loading...      ()   ] has sold an estimated $25 billion of profitable securities in an effort to prop up earnings after suffering losses connected to the bank's now-infamous "London Whale" trader, compounding the cost of those trades.

Samsung Electronics launches its Galaxy S smartphone in Europe, with the third generation model expected to be even more successful than its predecessor. The phone has helped the South Korean company topple Apple [AAPL  Loading...      ()   ] as the world's top smartphone maker.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals [VRTX  Loading...      ()   ] plunged almost 20 percent after the company released a corrected report of its cystic-fibrosis treatment. Initial results had exceeded expectations earlier this month.

China's biggest banks have accelerated lending toward the end of the month as Beijing starts to fast-track its approval of infrastructure investments in an effort to stem sagging growth, according to the Shanghai Securities News, citing unidentified sources.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

WEDNESDAY: Mortgage apps, pending home sales; Earnings from TiVo
THURSDAY: Challenger job-cut report, ADP employment report, GDP, jobless claims, Fed's Pianalto speaks, corporate profits, Chicago PMI, oil inventories, chain-store sales, Zipcar shareholders mtg; Earnings from Joy Global
FRIDAY: Non-farm payrolls, personal income & outlays, ISM mfg index, construction spending, auto sales, Wal-Mart shareholders mtg

More From CNBC.com:

CANADA STOCKS-TSX rallies on China stimulus hopes - Reuters

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Is it time to start your own business? - Daily Telegraph

If you use your car for business, invite clients into your home, offer advice or are the main breadwinner for your family, then you need the appropriate cover. Home-based firms are vulnerable to business disruption, legal claims and damage to property just like site-based ones.

But the message is clear. If you can start a lean business, attract clients and cover yourself against the worst-case scenario, now could be the best time yet to take the plunge into self-employment, regardless of the choppy waters.

What AXA can do for you

AXA’s new website for businesses — axainsurance.com/business — allows start-ups to assess their insurance needs and buy cover in a clear and simple way.

Business owners who want to keep an eye on what they spend can strip out the add-ons and be safe in the knowledge that they have the basics sorted, while others can select add-ons appropriate to their structure and the service they provide — all at the click of a mouse.

Customers decide their own premium and can see at a glance how much various elements of cover cost. This modular approach, written in plain English, is a quick and pain-free way to protect your business, giving you more time to concentrate on your big idea. And for customers who want the comfort of knowing they have all the bases covered at the right level, AXA’s helpline operators are on hand to give you the best advice around the clock.

Stocks jump on hopes for China stimulus - MSN Money

TheStreetImage: Wall Street sign (© Corbis/SuperStock)By Andrea Tse

Stocks shrugged off worse-than-expected consumer confidence numbers and rose Tuesday morning on signs of an improving housing market and quelling of eurozone fears.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was up by 147.8 points, or 1.2%, at 12,603. The S&P 500 ($INX) was up by 15.8 points, or 1.2%, at 1,334, but still down nearly 5% in May and heading towards its biggest monthly loss since September. The Nasdaq ($COMPX) was rising by 37.5 points, or 1.3%, to 2,875.

The S&P Case/Shiller Home Price Index of 20 cities for March fell 2.6% from a year ago, as expected by economists surveyed by Reuters, after a 3.5% decline in February. But month-over-month, home prices rose in most major U.S. cities for the first time in seven months, up a modest 0.09%.

"The Case-Shiller home price index is pointing to further improvement in housing market activity, consistent with other housing market indicators," said Millan Mulraine, senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities.

The Conference Board said that its read on consumer confidence for May fell to 64.9, the lowest of the year, from a downwardly-revised 68.7 in April. Economists expected a reading of 70. This, as Americans became less hopeful about  labor market and business conditions.

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All 30 Dow stocks were rising, led by Caterpillar (CAT), Alcoa (AA) and Intel (INTC).

For every six stocks rising on the New York Stock Exchange, one was falling. For every four stocks gaining on the Nasdaq, one was declining. Energy and materials were the sector winners.

In Europe, political parties supporting austerity measures mandated by the European Union were shown to be receiving growing support in Greek opinion polls, with one of the pro-bailout parties coming in at the top in six polls published over the weekend.

London's FTSE was up 0.6%, and the DAX in Germany was rising 1.2%.

“I think that Greek elections will favor the nation staying in the euro," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "The market needs to believe that.”

The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong settled up 1.4% and Japan's Nikkei closed up 0.7% after reports that China's top planning agency has given the green light for construction of a number of new steel plants.

“Any time you have stimulus entering the picture, it’s a positive and an arrest of the current declining economic activity," said Cardillo.

Commodities also got a lift, with the July crude oil futures up 38 cents at $91.24 a barrel and the June gold contract rising $4.30 to $1,573.20 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 8/32, lowering the yield to 1.718% and the greenback was down 0.2%, according to the dollar index.


In corporate news, Facebook (FB) is reportedly in talks to buy Opera Software, a Norwegian maker of Internet browsers, for a potential price tag of more than $1 billion.              

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has sold about $25 billion of profitable securities to try to offset losses related to its massive derivatives trading loss.

Patriot Coal (PCX) named Irl Engelhardt as the company's new CEO, replacing Richard Whiting who has been CEO and president since 2007.  Bennett Hatfield was named new president in addition to his current role as chief operating officer.

Sanderson Farms (SAFM), the chicken processor, reported second-quarter net income Tuesday of $23.9 million, or $1.04 a share, on net sales of $595 million. Analysts were expecting the company to post profit of 95 cents a share on revenue of $591.25 million.

Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook will kick off the D10 technology conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. Tuesday evening.

Europe stocks climb on hopes of fresh ECB measures - Reuters UK

PARIS | Tue May 29, 2012 4:36pm BST

PARIS May 29 (Reuters) - European stocks ended higher on Tuesday, hitting a one-week closing high, boosted by talk of further steps by the European Central Bank to support the region's banks as well as by hopes of fresh measures from China to cushion a slowdown in growth.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares unofficially closed 0.8 percent higher at 991.39 points, adding to a tentative recovery rally started last week.

Spain's IBEX index lost 2.3 percent but managed to end the session off a nine-year low hit during the day, helped by speculation that the ECB could soon unveil measures to help the euro zone's ailing banks.

"The rumour mill has been busy, with talk of an ECB press conference about bank recapitalisation, supporting the euro and giving euro zone stocks upside momentum. We do not believe in it, for the record," said Saxo Bank Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen, in Copenhagen.

"Spain is now the main focus, it's on the brink of collapse. Just look at 10-year bond yields...for now, I still think the stock market's low will come in July or August, with some 'hope rallies' in between."

Mining stocks were among the top gainers on Tuesday, with Rio Tinto up 2.4 percent and Xstrata up 2.3 percent. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; editing by Simon Jessop)

Stocks open lower as Europe overshadows jobs data - Yahoo Finance

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks slipped in early trading Thursday as unease over Europe overshadowed an encouraging report on unemployment claims and good results from big retailers including Wal-Mart Stores.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 48 points at 12,548 in the first half-hour of trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell seven points to 1,317. The Nasdaq composite fell 19 points to 2,854.

The Labor Department reported that applications for unemployment benefits held steady last week, a sign that layoffs are not increasing.

Wal-Mart stock rose 5 percent after reporting a 10 percent jump in first-quarter income, beating Wall Street expectations. It was a big turnaround for the retailer, which had suffered during the economic downturn as low-income customers were hit hard by joblessness and home foreclosures.

Despite positive news from the U.S., investors continue to fret about developments in Europe and whether Greece might be forced to exit the euro bloc, something that investors fear would cause turmoil on global markets.

Greece's caretaker Cabinet was sworn in Thursday and will hold power at least until next month's election. In the recently-held elections Greeks didn't given any party a majority, but they did give strong support to politicians who rejected the tough austerity measures that came with the country's financial bailout.

Without that rescue package, Greece will likely default and be forced to leave the 17-country euro zone, which would destabilize other countries that use the euro. German, French and Spanish stock markets all fell more than 1 percent.

Collateral economic damage is already being felt by other members of the euro bloc.

Spain was forced to pay sharply higher interest rates to raise $3.18 billion in a debt auction Thursday. And shares of Bankia, which Spain nationalized last week, plunged 20 percent on a report from the newspaper El Mundo stating that depositors have withdrawn over $1 billion since last Wednesday.

Oil prices continued to trade lower, falling below $93 a barrel on Thursday, extending a sharp two-week sell-off, as traders worried about the potential impact on global growth from the European crisis. Crude oil has plummeted about 12 percent from $106 two weeks ago.

Energy companies traded lower. Chesapeake Energy fell 4 percent, while WPX Energy declined 6 percent.

Among other stocks making big moves:

— GameStop fell 9 percent after the world's largest video game retailer reported its first-quarter profit fell 9.8 percent, as fewer customers visited its stores and bought new games and systems.

— Sears Holdings rose 7 percent after the beleaguered retailer turned a profit in the first quarter, benefiting from a gain on the sale of some stores.

Prosperity Network of Advisors merges with Olde Canal Financial - The Business Journal

Jim Linderer

Prosperity Network of Advisors LLC is merging with Olde Canal Financial Inc., the companies announced Tuesday.

The combination of the companies, which are based in Overland Park and Chillicothe, Ohio, respectively, joins more than 100 independent financial planners, advisers and support professionals, Jim Linderer, Prosperity branch director and partner, said in a release.

The release did not disclose financial terms. The companies will remain in their locations and keep their names and leadership, but they’ll share resources.

Prosperity was founded in 1994 by President and CEO Paul Ewing. Now, the 70-plus member network of independent financial planners and advisers is the top branch office for financial service and product provider Multi-Financial Securities Inc.

Olde Canal has more than 35 adviser members and was Multi-Financial’s second-largest branch office.

The merger “brings complementary knowledge and skills to the table that will benefit each member of both firms — and the value-added benefit in attracting talented new members is impossible to measure,” Linderer said.

Olde Canal President Shirley Ratcliff said they’d looked at merging for a while.

The companies have “had lots of opportunities to assess the impact on our parent organization, Multi-Financial, as well as on our adviser membership and on the people those members represent,” she said in the release. “The merger will bring more enlightened experience to bear on the decisions we make and the assets we manage than ever before.”

Suzanna manages Web coverage.

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Booming business in China helps Jaguar Land Rover to £1.5bn profit - The Guardian

Jaguar Land Rover, a business that was considering a government bailout three years ago, has reported record annual sales and a 35% increase in pre-tax profits to £1.5bn on the back of booming business in China.

JLR's Indian owner, the Tata conglomerate, was in talks with ministers over a taxpayer rescue in 2009 and was considering the closure of a plant with the loss of thousands of jobs. However, those plans were abandoned as demand from emerging economies led by China and Russia saw the business come roaring back to health.

JLR revealed on Tuesday that it sold 314,433 cars in the year to 31 March – an increase of 29% on last year – with the Range Rover Sport its biggest seller, followed by the recently launched Range Rover Evoque. The best-selling Jaguar model was the Jaguar XF.

Ralf Speth, JLR's chief executive, said: "The announcement of JLR's financial results is a positive reflection of the continued level of consumer confidence in both of our brands. These record earnings, driven by strong product demand and operating efficiencies, give JLR the financial impetus to sustain its ongoing investment programme."

The results crown another successful month for a UK car manufacturing industry that is overwhelmingly foreign-owned and undergoing an investment boom. On top of production announcements by Nissan, Toyota, BMW and JLR, General Motors announced a fortnight ago it would preserve the Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port, saving 2,100 jobs and adding 700 more. Boosted by demand from emerging economies for luxury brands, the British car industry produced 1.34m vehicles last year – an increase of nearly 6% on 2010.

China remains a source of exponential growth for JLR, recording a 76% leap in sales to more than 50,000 vehicles, JLR's third largest market. Russia was its fourth biggest, growing by 38% to more than 16,000 vehicles. The UK is still JLR's biggest market, but was the slowest grower among the top five countries, increasing sales by 3% to 60,000 vehicles, followed by a resurgent US which recorded a 15% increase to 58,000.

Mark Fulthorpe, an analyst at IHS, said the Range Rover and Land Rover brands were outperforming competitors in old and new markets. "These are positive signs because they are growing their presence in emerging markets and they are proving to have a sustainable business for their vehicles in some of their mature markets."

Tata bought JLR from Ford in 2008 for a reported $2.65bn and was soon locked in negotiations with the Labour government over funding assistance as the credit crunch hit western Europe. At one stage the company considered closing one of its production sites in Solihull or Castle Bromwich in Birmingham, but abandoned those plans and also stepped back from seeking state help. Since then it has announced a series of hefty investments in the UK, including plans to build the new F-type Jaguar convertible at Castle Bromwich and adding 1,000 jobs at the Solihull factory, where it produces the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Discovery and Defender.

Financial crisis: UK can't afford its shopping addiction anymore - Daily Telegraph

It did at one point cross my mind, clutching my three-for-two Christmas ribbon and Per Una underwear on my way to the wine section, that even with 20 per cent off the price of things, that still left 80 per cent to pay.

No matter; I stayed and queued and saved the grand total of £12.50.

When was it that shopping did become a leisure activity, taking over from family, sport, religion, dogs and loafing around with a book as the way people spend their time? More to the point, why did it?

The author Neil Borman, whose book Bonfire of the Brands documented his flight from brand addiction, has released a spoof film about indiscriminate shopping, The Good Consumer.

The voiceover at the start of it declares: "The good consumer is always buying new products. When he is not buying, he is earning money so that he can fund his consumption, or looking for purchases that he can make in future."

Yes, it's heavy handed. But it doesn't feel like a spoof so much as a sober account of the condition of England, recession or not.

A few weeks ago, the retail sector raised a couple of fingers to the credit crunch with the opening of the Westfield shopping centre: two miles worth of expensive shops in a part of London previously known for its proximity to Wormwood Scrubs prison.

The opening was a riot. Another two multi-billion-pound shopping projects kicked off this year – at Liverpool One and Bristol's Cabot Circus – on top of 10 rather smaller shopping-centre openings elsewhere.

And the retail spread is not stopping any time soon; the Westfield developers will be opening another shopping centre on the same scale in Stratford, East London, in 2012.

The recession has clipped our wings, but we're still buying things – although more and more of it is from Primark and Aldi.

Where does it come from, this almost hormonal drive to go shopping, to buy and own more things? Why do we do it?

Men hate it. Children hate it. The shoppers you see in department stores don't give any discernible sign that they're enjoying themselves – bookshops apart. There's something dead around the eyes.

But families will still take themselves off to Bluewater to spend their day of rest – theirs, if not the assistants'.

And if wandering from WH Smith to Scribblers to Boots to Debenham's makes them look like zombies, a working definition of hell would be the shopping centre Christmas sales.

Women queue up at five in the morning to save 50 quid at the Brent Cross Next sales. Why?

The social psychiatrist Oliver James, in his book, Affluenza, squarely attributed much of the high rates of mental illness in Britain and the US to consumerism.

"The Affluenza virus," he says, "is a set of values which increase our vulnerability to psychological distress: placing a high value on acquiring money and possessions... My explanation... is that the virus promotes Having over Being and the confusion (through advertising) of wants with needs."

It wasn't always thus, you know; shopping isn't part of the human condition.

The other week, I was in Walsingham in Norfolk, famous for its shrine to the Virgin Mary. We pottered around the shops after church and before the pub opened – but, this being Sunday, most shops were shut.

And as we browsed the teddy hospital for reclaimed bears and the children's charity shop and the little retail section at the entrance to the priory – three packs of Christmas cards for a pound! – it dawned on me what was missing.

There weren't any chain stores; all the shops appeared to be independent or at least without identical branches in London, Glasgow and Manchester.

The retail equivalent of the M&S discount day will be tomorrow when the Catholic church holds its Christmas (sorry, Advent) Bazaar and the going price for most things will be around two quid.

But then in Walsingham, there is a life that doesn't revolve around shopping: you've got religion, riding, pubs to go to, walks to go on, Women's Institute meetings to attend. Lots of places were once like that.

Funny; it crossed my mind then that the super-luxe section of shops in Westfield is called The Village. Except that village is a parody of the real one.

Tamasin Doe, the former fashion director of Instyle magazine, pinpoints the start of shopaholicism around 25 years ago, during the Eighties, when shopping malls, which had already been around for a decade, began to spread and become a place for the young to hang out. The malls stimulated the collective shopping gland.

"You began," she said, "to be defined by how you shop, and everything else was depleted by it. Everything was defined by acquisition. Shopping became a way to recreate yourself."

The fashion cycle shortened; built-in redundancy became the essence of it, at least for women. The rise of low-cost production in China meant it became cheaper to buy new manufactured goods than to have the old ones repaired.

In fact, for some durables, such as computers, it wasn't actually possible to fix old models; they had to be replaced.

Politics came into it too, notably the 1994 Sunday Shopping Act, which lifted the curbs on Sabbath trading.

It had conscience clauses to prevent people being forced to work on the day of rest, but if you want to hear a not very nice laugh, ask your department-store manicurist or perfume saleswoman whether she can turn down work on Sunday.

At the same time, we got the cult of celebrity. Obviously, there have been pin-ups for the masses – society beauties and cult actors – for well over a century.

But Hello!-style celebdom, being famous for nothing at all, is a comparatively recent phenomenon.

And what celebrities do is shop and be seen to shop and give their endorsement to products that the rest of us can shop for. It's hard to think of images of Wayne Rooney's wife, Colleen, without armfuls of carrier bags.

The symbol and apex of the trend were the It Bags – big, phenomenally ugly handbags that cost from about £300 to £1,500 and had a life cycle of about six months.

Once Britain took to consumerism, it went all the way. Over the past 20 years, the retail sector absorbed 88 million square feet of new space – the equivalent, for those who think in terms of football pitches, of 1,200 of them.

Obviously, you can't have a shopping habit without paying for it – eventually. Because of the liberalisation of credit over the past couple of decades, personal indebtedness is higher in Britain than anywhere in Europe: consumer debt totals £1.5 trillion.

There was a time when, if you wanted to buy something, you had to save up for it. Ten years ago that was seen as almost risibly quaint. Now it looks like rather a sensible thing to do. The demutualisation of the building societies added to the problem.

Don't think I'm being snooty about all this. I was right in there and the upshot in my case is that I have, oh, six credit cards, which cost more to maintain than the baby.

Plainly, the recession has changed things. But only up to a point. One retail analyst, Verdict, estimates that retail-sector growth will fall to 2.4 per cent in 2008 – but that's after 10 years during which average annual growth was about four per cent.

Of the £228 billion we're likely to spend in the shops this year, an estimated £128 million is classed as non-essential, indulgence spending. Even if there's a fall in spending, it's from a very, very high base.

What's the solution? Well, how about going with the grain of the recession, of making do and mending? How about not shopping on Sundays?

Keeping perfectly good clothes even when the fashion roundabout has moved on? Spending time with the family at home? Saving up to buy things?

At the end of all this, we may come to remember that we're more than the sum of our possessions. And that would be a good thing.

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