Wal-Mart to Settle 63 Labour Suits for up to $640M

Wal-Mart has announced today it will settle 63 labour lawsuits against the company to the tune of $352-$640 million. The charges will be representative in Q4 statements. Wal-Mart says most of these suits were filed years ago and are simply not representative of the company today, or an indication of any wrong doing. Wal-Mart has been accused of forcing employees to work through breaks, among other labour related violations. Wal-Mart more recently settled a 10 year old labour action for $54.25 million which alleged the company cut employee and worker break times in Minnesota. Wal-Mart, who is the world’s biggest retailer, continues to perform well against other retailers during this tuff economic period.

Palm Secures $100M Investment, Continues to Struggle

Handheld computer maker Palm has announced a $100 million investment from its largest equity provider Elevation Partners who owns at least 25% of the company. The funds will be used to expand Palm’s new upcoming operating system and operations. Palm is expected to unveil its new mobile OS at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which runs near the end of Jan 2009. Palm continues to struggle with sales as competition stiffens from Blackberry and the iPhone. Palm will also unveil its own App Store, Continue Reading

Pfizer Ordered to Pay $38M for Stealing Trade Secrets

Pfizer has been ordered to pay $38 million in restitution for misusing and stealing trade secrets from San Bruno based Ischemia, a leading not for profit medical research firm. The suit was initially brought against Pfizer in 2002 that alleged Pfizer made a side deal with statistician Ping Hsu after the two companies could not reach a mutual agreement as to how Pfizer could use statistical and other information relating to an arthritis drug that was discontinued over adverse health concerns. The suit alleges Pfizer used proprietary data for the development of its own drug. On Jan 16, 2009, the courts will consider if additional damages, including, without limitation, punitive damages, can be added to the suit. Reports indicate that amount could exceed $100 million. Pfizer will appeal the verdict.

GM, Financial Crisis Roundup 2008

We’ve experienced a lot in the past year with the economy including record job losses across diversified industries, record foreclosures, record lows in demand especially in expensive goods such as cars, the near collapse of the world credit financial systems, bankruptcies, you name it…we saw it.

It was certainly a historical, yet very interesting year. One of the most interesting and controversial industries we all watched was without a doubt the auto-sector, with the near collapse of GM, Chrysler, and Ford which would have caused irreparable economic dislocation, I know, tuff words, but it’s the truth.

A lot has happened, so in this article, I chronologically highlight significant events related to GM in 2008. I also provide some insight into other significant events that occurred in 2008 and a bit of 2007 in the financial world. You can also read my thoughts on bailing GM out here. I also provide my thoughts as to why the financial crisis started at the end of the post, my complete article can be found here.


Significant Financial Events in 2008—————————————-

December 22 2008
GM CAW Boss said today the union might have to take wages and benefit cuts

December 19 2008
Russia Unveils Plan to Help Its Automakers Continue Reading

Apple Invests $4.8M in Imagination Technologies

Apple has made a significant $4.8 million investment (8.2 million shares) in UK based Imagination Technologies Group, a company that produces consumer electronics (including radios, Ultra Mobiles Personal Computers, TVs, etc) and semi-conductors for mobile devices. Apple also licenses patented technologies/processes from Imagination Technologies. The investment which could serve as a hedge against future changes to its existing agreements. The Imagination Technologies Group stock is up $5 or 10% following the news overnight.

How to Become a Better Marketer

You just launched your business. You make all the operations, finance, and marketing decisions. But how well do you really know your market? Are you doing everything you can to maximize ROI from your campaigns? Many people think they know their market all too well, unfortunately, that is not the case. In this post, I will discuss the various steps you should consider to better understand your market and hopefully maximize your return. The biggest pitfall is lack of planning because people don’t take the time to layout a map of what they need to do. That is why I’ve developed an outline for you to consider when planning for your own business.

Step 1 – Know Your Environment
The first thing you should do is prepare a situation analysis. You should firstly start by looking at past business and marketing plans. The whole point to this step is to analyze your environment. This includes identifying competitors, the various macroeconomic factors that impact your environment and the various driving forces behind these changes. Typically, the driving forces affect legal, technological, and market related factors, so you should be aware of how these changes will affect your environment Continue Reading

Russia Unveils Plan to Help Its Automakers

Russian PM Putin today in Naberezhniye announced Russia’s plan to encourage sales of Russian made vehicles to help its domestic troubled car makers. Under the proposed plan, the Russian government wants its people to only purchase domestic cars, and would fully cover the costs to ship domestic cars across Russia to make them readily accessible. Under the plan, the government would also subsidize loans on cars less than USD $13,000. The plan has been criticized as the plan is too expensive and it simply doesn’t make economic sense to move vehicles across all of Russia. There are also concerns about the heavy government involvement in people’s lives. According to a recent report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, less than 50% of cars sold in Russia were domestically made. Recently, the Russian government also introduced prohibitive tariffs on imported cars which have resulted in many protests. Aggregately, car sales in Russia are expected to drop by as much as almost 50% in 2009 because of the economic crisis and high unemployment.

RIM Q3 Earnings up 8% to $2.78B

RIMBlackBerry maker RIM today released Q3 08 earnings and provided insight for Q4. Q3 total revenue was up 7.9% to $2.78 billion and up 66.3% from the same quarter last year. Impressively, 2.6 million new subscribers were added in Q3. According to RIM, the revenue breakdown for Q3 was about 81% for devices, 13% for service, 2% for software and 4% other revenue. “We are pleased to report record revenue results for the third quarter and we have entered the fourth quarter with strong momentum despite the challenging general economic conditions. In fact we have enjoyed our best ever start to the holiday buying season over the past few weeks,” said Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO at RIM. The company also said that the new BlackBerry Storm is Verizon’s best seller in the US and strong sales are expected to continue despite increased competition from the Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and Google.

Bush approves $17.4B automaker bailout

gm-ceoThe Bush Administration today has approved an emergency bail out for the Big 3 US Automakers to the tune of $17.4 billion. Bush said “it would worsen a weak job market and exacerbate the financial crisis,” if a bailout was not implemented. President-elect Barack Obama also praised the bailout. $13.4 billion will become available within the next two weeks or ago, while the remainder will become available in Jan. There are reports an additional $4 billion could become available in Feb 09. GM will get the most out of the plan with $9.4 billion; the rest will be split evenly between Ford and Chrysler, who will get $4 billion each. The Big 3 need to particularly reduce labour costs and build better vehicles to sustain their companies in the future, otherwise, we run the risk of more bailouts, and ultimately the insolvency if these fundamental problems are not addressed. I personally believe we all needed this bailout as the collapse of the automakers would have caused significant and irreversible harm to everyone particularly in the US and Canada. Please see this report that highlights possible job losses if the automakers went under, and my article that highlights my thoughts on a GM bailout.

FedEx Lowers 2009 Expectations

fedexFedEx has lowered its expectations for 2009 as company CEO Fred Smith said FedEx is experiencing some of the worst economic conditions in the company’s history. Right now, FedEx has a hiring freeze in place, and has stopped 401(k) contributions for one year. Upper management will also get a 10% pay decrease starting in January and CEO Fred Smith will see a 20% decrease in his salary. I also firstly reported on Dec 9 that FedEx already decreased expectations for 09 and increased its rates to offset costs. The FedEx stock is up over 1% as FedEx met Q4 08 expectations with a higher net profit as costs were offset by lower fuel costs. Interestingly, crude is now trading at $38.5 a barrel as shown on the sidebar.

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