- Rick Newman at The Exchange1 hr ago
If you want to stump a car buff, ask what the Acura RLX, Dodge Dart, Ford Fusion, Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz SL roadster have in common. When there’s no answer, explain that all have been recalled for fixes during the past few months — for problems that occurred early in the lifespan of the vehicle.
- Chris Nichols at The Exchange2 hrs ago
If McDonald's (MCD) focus for the months ahead were to be described in a word, "core" would suffice, for both its menu and its markets.
The world's biggest restaurant chain measured by sales indicated Tuesday that four of the largest countries in its system — including the U.S. — along with its best-known items will get considerable attention from the corporate office as it bids to restore customer growth and keep the menu workable.
In addition to the United States, "stabilizing key priority markets" of Germany, Japan and Australia will be critical to staving off competition, whether from Burger King (BKW) or Chipotle (CMG), either at home or abroad. The U.S. is Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's most saturated market, with more than 14,000 stores. However, the top four countries together accounted for 56% of total global locations, making up 19,830 of the 35,429 restaurants McDonald's had at year end.
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange1 day ago
Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings learned the hard way that announcing a big price increase can blow up into a huge controversy. So for his latest effort to charge more, he’s moving slowly – very slowly.
Along with Monday’s quarterly earnings release for Wall Street, Hastings said the cost of Netflix would go up $1 to $2 a month for new customers, depending on the country. Current customers will be “generously grandfathered” for at least a year, maybe two. Hastings had foreshadowed the increase on January’s earnings call as well, confirming that Netflix was testing different price points.
But at the current popular price of $7.99 a month, Netflix is growing like mad and expanding worldwide. It gained almost 12 million paying members over the past year and revenue was up 24%. So why the need for a price increase?
Further, there's obviously some risk for Hastings with this tactic. Back in 2011, his plan to spin off DVD operations into a new unit called Qwikster and raise prices 60% had immediate consequences, as Netflix lost one million subscribers and its stock plunged almost 80% in a few months.
No bold surprises
- Yahoo Finance at The Exchange1 day ago
Charlie Bilello, CMT is the director of research at Pension Partners, LLC. He's responsible for strategy development, investment research and communicating the firm's investment themes and porfolio positioning to clients. Follow Charlie's smart Twitter stream here > @MktOutperform.
One of the most misused and destructive phrases in the investment world is the notion of a “stock picker’s market.” In a relentless uptrending market, investors become highly confident in their ability to pick stocks and almost any name they buy is going “up and to the right.” We saw the most extreme example of this in 2013, which set a record in terms of breadth with 93% of stocks in the S&P 500 finishing positive on the year. Never mind the fact that a blindfolded monkey throwing darts was likely to pick a winning stock last year; most investors came out of 2013 believing they were the next Warren Buffett.
- Rick Newman at The Exchange2 days ago
Is it working?
After six months of partisan drama over the Affordable Care Act, there’s finally enough reliable information to assess whether the law is doing what it was supposed to do. The qualified answer seems to be yes.
There have been too many controversies over the ACA to count, and it will be a long time before it becomes clear whether Obamacare, as it’s known, is smart, cost-effective policy. But the law is fulfilling its main purpose: To provide health care for more people and reduce the portion of Americans without health insurance. “What’s pretty amazing is the number of people who seem to have gotten coverage, even with all the problems,” says analyst Gary Claxton of the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.
Most of the attention has been focused on the politically charged question of whether enrollment through one of the exchanges created by the law would hit thresholds predicted before the ACA went into effect. So it was a victory of sorts for President Obama when he was able to announce recently that 8 million people have enrolled in Obamacare, considerably more than earlier predictions of 6 million to 7 million.
- Yahoo Finance at The Exchange2 days ago
is a free open online platform that allows users to contribute their own financial forecasts. By tapping into the wisdom of the crowd, Estimize has created a data set that is more representative of actual market expectations and is more accurate than the traditional Wall Street consensus up to 69.5% of the time.
- Rick Newman at The Exchange4 days ago
“America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.” That’s the startling claim in a provocative new study by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University. Many of us like to believe that popular opinion influences policymakers, at least indirectly. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. “The general public has little or no independent influence” on policymaking, the two political scientists found. Instead, Gilens and Page found that “economic elites” have a “quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy.” Groups representing business interests are the next most powerful influence on policymakers. Sometimes, those two groups are aligned on an issue—they both tend to prefer low taxes, for instance--which generates the highest likelihood of government action. The complex study examined 1,779 public policy issues between 1981 and 2002, including the policy preferences of middle-income people, the wealthy, and interest groups such as lobbying organizations, unions, and membership associations like AARP. The researchers then isolated instances when a policy change actually took place, to figure out who, essentially, got their way.
- Rick Newman at The Exchange5 days ago
You can point out how rich the 1% are, or pound home how hard it is to keep up these days. But whatever you do, don’t act like there’s a “recovery.”
That’s the advice from a prominent public-policy firm to Democratic politicians running for reelection this year. Democracy Corps, founded by Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg, recently conducted a series of polls to determine how candidates can best connect with voters as they campaign for the 2014 midterm elections in November. The results show just how disheartened many Americans are about their economic prospects, even though the recovery is technically entering its fifth year.
By some measures, the economy is getting back to normal. The unemployment rate is down from a peak of 10% in 2010 to 6.7% today. In aggregate, Americans have regained all the wealth lost during the twin housing and stock-market busts, and then some. After six years of extraordinary intervention, the Federal Reserve is beginning to back away from the super-easy monetary policies it adopted to nurse the economy through dark times.
- Aaron Pressman at The Exchange6 days ago
Controversial Internet television service Aereo is much like other popular high-tech entertainment products that courts have found to be legal, the company’s chief executive, Chet Kanojia, maintains.
The service, available in 11 cities so far, lets customers watch over-the-air broadcast channels via the Internet for $8 to $12 a month. Broadcasters have sued, saying Aereo is distributing their programming without paying the licensing fees required by copyright law.
But Kanojia, in an interview with Yahoo Global Anchor Katie Couric, explains that Aereo dedicates a tiny television antenna to each customer and then streams the signal over the Internet to the customer’s phone, computer or TV set.