Starbucks profit climbs as sales increase in US Asia but sales fall

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Candice Choi, The Associated Press Posted Apr 25, 2013 4:33 pm MDT Starbucks profit climbs as sales increase in US, Asia but sales fall short NEW YORK, N.Y. – Americans may not feel optimistic about the economy but they’re still spending more at Starbucks.The world’s biggest coffee chain said Thursday that its profit rose in its fiscal second quarter as a key sales figure climbed in the U.S., its biggest market. New drinks and food, such as its sandwiches and pre-packaged lunch boxes, helped lift sales.A 7 per cent sales bump at U.S. cafes open at least 13 months came despite the broader industry’s struggles to grow at a time when other fast-food companies say people are being more careful with money. McDonald’s and Burger King saw sales decline during the first three months of the year and even Chipotle, which has grown rapidly in recent years, said sales at established restaurants grew just 1 per cent.Earlier this month, an Associated Press-GfK poll found only one in four Americans expects his or her financial situation to improve over the next year.Starbucks has been evolving its mix of food and drinks and expanding overseas as it faces intensifying competition at home from fast-food chains, which are offering more lattes and frozen coffee drinks. For example, the company recently started rolling out Evolution bottled juices in its cafes and new baked goods from a San Francisco bakery chain are expected in all stores by the end of 2014.Chief Financial Officer Troy Alstead said the hope is that Starbucks will become more of a lunch destination. He noted that traffic was growing in the afternoon hours, when traffic is generally slower than the morning rush.The company also is making a big push behind its loyalty program, a move that’s expected to get people to come back more often and spend more when they visit. A recent offer for a $5 gift card for joining the program resulted in 1 million new registered members, the company said.Starbucks, which has 18,000 locations around the world, said global sales at established cafes rose 6 per cent during the period. That included an 8 per cent increase in Asia, where the company has been focusing its expansion efforts.But the figure fell 2 per cent in Europe, where Starbucks has struggled to compete with local chains. The company also says the economy has made its turnaround push particularly difficult.“It just continues to be a tough environment for us — and for everyone,” Alstead said.To improve results in the region, the company is shifting to more of a licensing model that lowers overhead costs and hands over control to local partners who may be more adept at adapting to local tastes.Based on the momentum seen through the first half of the fiscal year, Starbucks said it was raising its outlook for 2013. But total sales came in shy of Wall Street expectations and its shares fell in afterhours trading.For the quarter, Starbucks earned $390.4 million, or 51 cents per share. That’s up from $309.9 million, or 40 cents per share, a year ago. Not including one-time items, it earned 48 cents per share, in line with analyst estimates.Revenue rose 11 per cent to $3.56 billion. But that was shy of the $3.58 billion Wall Street expected, according to FactSet.Shares of Starbucks fell 3 per cent to $58.75.The company says it now expect full-year earnings of $2.12 to $2.18, up from the previous forecast of $2.06 to $2.15 per share. read more

Foreigners bought 12B in securities in March StatsCan

OTTAWA – Statistics Canada says non-resident investors acquired $1.2 billion of Canadian securities in March, led by investment in government bonds.The agency says the purchases of bonds were largely moderated by continued reductions in foreign holdings of money market instruments.It says Canadian investors added $3.8 billion of foreign securities to their holdings in March, following a $4.3 billion acquisition in February.Foreign investment in Canadian bonds slowed for a second straight month, reaching $5.2 billion in March.Overall, foreign investors accumulated $25.2 billion of Canadian bonds in the first quarter of 2013.Foreign portfolio investors sold $600 million worth of Canadian equities in March, following an $11.6 billion reduction in their holdings in February that was largely attributable to merger and acquisition activity. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Foreigners bought $1.2B in securities in March: StatsCan by The Canadian Press Posted May 16, 2013 8:41 am MDT read more

Rio Tinto abandons sales of Pacific aluminum assets over market conditions

Rio Tinto says weak market conditions have forced it to abandon a nearly two-year effort to sell a portion of its aluminum assets.The mining giant announced Thursday that divestment of its Pacific aluminum assets “is not possible in the current environment.” The six assets in Australia and New Zealand will be reintegrated into the Montreal-based Rio Tinto Alcan division.“We continue to make good progress to transform our businesses through divesting or closing non-core assets, business improvement and targeted investment,” said chief executive Sam Walsh.“But we need to do more to improve performance and returns.”Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) said its net earnings plummeted to US$1.72 billion in the first half of the year, from $5.88 billion a year earlier.Adjusting for one-time items, earnings fell 18 per cent to US$4.2 billion, it said.Revenue decreased to $26.6 billion from $27.8 billion a year ago.Despite the declines, the company has increased its interim dividend 15 per cent to 83.5 cents US per share.Rio Tinto said it has cut US$1.5 billion in costs and cut 2,200 net positions over the past year after adding 1,800 new jobs to support its iron ore expansion.Walsh said the medium-term economic outlook remains volatile, with many outcomes possible. Chinese economic growth has slowed and is unlikely to recover significantly in the second half.“We do not expect a hard landing,” he said.“This global economic volatility only serves to highlight the need to build a stronger and more resilient business.”The results were announced less than a day after Rio Tinto Alcan said weak metal prices forced it to close its smelter in Shawinigan, Que., more than a year ahead of schedule.Half the aluminum production will be immediately curtailed, with the remaining 50,000 tonnes stopping by the end of November.About 60 workers in the casting house will remain employed through the end of 2014. All 425 employees will continue to receive salaries for a year in accordance with collective agreements. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press Posted Aug 8, 2013 6:07 pm MDT Rio Tinto abandons sales of Pacific aluminum assets over market conditions read more

Rio de Janeiros mayor dreams of making his city South Americas answer

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Jenny Barchfield, The Associated Press Posted Sep 30, 2013 12:06 am MDT RIO DE JANEIRO – For Mayor Eduardo Paes, it’s not enough that Rio de Janeiro is both an Olympic and a World Cup host city. He’s determined to turn Rio into a Woody Allen city, too, and has gone to extraordinary lengths to persuade the director to shoot a movie here, meeting with Allen’s sister, dispatching him handwritten notes and even pledging to underwrite 100 per cent of production costs.Allen hasn’t taken Paes up on his offer, but the mayor continues to lobby hard. Scoring a film by the legendary director would help cement Paes’ vision for the city: to turn Rio into a cinema hub, the Los Angeles of South America.While Hollywood needn’t watch its back just yet, there’s no doubt that Brazil’s film industry is booming, as the Rio film festival that runs through Oct. 10 puts on display.The country is on track to make 100 feature films this year, up from 30 in 2003, and it’s increasingly sought out by foreign productions cashing in on the government’s generous subsidies and incentives. New studio complexes are in the works, and cinemas are mushrooming across Brazil to keep pace with ever-growing numbers of movie-goers, many of them new members of the middle class who were pulled out of poverty by a decade of booming economic growth.“The big shift is that now many more people have disposable income,” said Adrien Muselet, chief operating officer of RioFilme, the city government’s film finance company. “Once you’ve covered your basic necessities, bought your fridge and your washing machine, what do you want next? Fun. And for many people, that means the movies.”The new viewers have helped push Brazil’s box office gross from $327 million in 2008 to $737 million last year, according to the trade publication Filme B. That puts Brazil among the top 10 movie consuming countries in the world, said Muselet, and the industry is taking note.With its population of 204 million, this South American giant is increasingly factoring into the major United States studios’ strategic calculations.“When you take an American blockbuster and you set it here in Brazil, even for just a couple of scenes, it just explodes in the box office here,” said Muselet, pointing to “Breaking Dawn,” part of the “Twilight” series of teen vampire movies, which was filmed partially on location in Rio and the coastal colonial city of Paraty. Brazilians flocked to the movie, and the country ended up being the film’s second biggest market.Other big Hollywood productions such as “Fast Five” of the “Fast and Furious” franchise and the Sylvester Stallone vehicle “The Expendables” were also partially shot here in recent years. “Billy Elliot” director Stephen Daldry’s “Trash” is currently rolling.Rio officials also hope movies made here will help burnish the image of a city mostly notorious for its grinding poverty and drug-fueled violence, particularly as Rio gears up to host next year’s soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.In a bid to attract more foreign productions, Rio’s state government created an agency to walk teams through Brazil’s Byzantine bureaucracy, helping them get the dizzying number of permits and permissions needed to shoot. The Rio Film Commission also hopes to increasingly help foreign productions find Brazilian investors, allowing them to qualify for the government subsidies and incentives that make up the lion’s share of practically all movie budgets here.Producer Aaron Berger, an American who works in both Rio and Los Angeles, said the subsidies helped get things rolling for his series “Gaby Estrela,” which is about to premier on Globo TV’s kids cable channel Gloob. “It was a tremendous boost for us,” he said.Over the past decade, the federal government has spent more than $450 million on films, and many state and city governments also invest in movies made locally, provided they meet requirements that typically include hiring at least a certain number of local employees. And since Brazilian law allows corporate tax write-offs for cultural projects, companies such as petroleum giant Petrobras and cellphone provider Claro often underwrite movies.Brazilian films have made inroads internationally in the last five years, notably the “Elite Squad” films probing gang violence and political corruption in Rio. Other domestic fare includes smart comedies and smaller budget films aimed at the art-house circuit.The industry also got a boost from a 2011 law requiring all cable television channels to show at least 3 1/2 hours of independently produced local content each week during prime time.“All of a sudden there’s a huge demand for this sort of content,” said Steve Solot, president of the Latin American Training Center, a Rio-based audiovisual consultancy. “It’s a fantastic new market.”The industry’s sudden growth has caused shortages of qualified technicians, such as electricians, camera operators and sound people, and RioFilme is scrambling to fill the gap through training courses.“We wouldn’t be seeing this kind of shortage if there weren’t a lot of demand,” said the agency’s president, Sergio Sa Leitao. “In a strange way, it’s a really good thing.” Rio de Janeiro’s mayor dreams of making his city South America’s answer to Hollywood read more

US consumer sentiment jumps to 8year high on greater hiring and lower

AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email by Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press Posted Dec 23, 2014 8:51 am MDT US consumer sentiment jumps to 8-year high on greater hiring and lower gas prices WASHINGTON – A survey finds U.S. consumers are more optimistic about the economy than at any other time in the past eight years, buoyed by more jobs and falling gas prices.The University of Michigan says its index of consumer sentiment has jumped to 93.6 from 88.8 in November. That’s the highest level since January 2007, nearly a year before the Great Recession officially began.Americans may finally be shedding some of their anxiety about the economy. Half the respondents expect the U.S. to avoid a recession in the next five years, the most in a decade.Americans are also more optimistic about pay: They expect a wage gain of 1.7 per cent in 2015, the highest since 2008. Higher expectations about pay typically suggest that Americans are more likely to demand raises. read more