|April 14, 2009||Gas to stay "cheap" this summer||no comments|
|April 14, 2009||China's plan for executive pay||no comments|
|April 13, 2009||Gatorade or Powerade?||1 comments|
|April 13, 2009||Lesson 1: Piracy doesn't always pay||3 comments|
|April 13, 2009||Circuit City looking to sell brand||no comments|
|April 10, 2009||Report: Ethanol raises food costs||no comments|
|April 10, 2009||Honda goes to the dogs||no comments|
|April 10, 2009||Stanford Financial workers fired in Antigua||no comments|
|April 09, 2009||Report: ForeFront Golf to lay off workers||1 comments|
|April 07, 2009||Guinness touts new stout in U.S.||no comments|
The brainiacs at the Energy Information Administration said today that gasoline for the summer driving season should stay relatively cheap – averaging about $2.23 a gallon now through September.
The EIA said the average is expected to peak at about $2.30 a gallon.
By comparison, last summer, gas prices averaged about $3.81 a gallon, hitting above $4 for a while.
But, this warning, according to the AP:
The EIA report projects crude oil prices to average $53 a barrel this year, but to increase by about $10 a barrel in 2010. But it said a stronger-than-expected economic recovery, lower global production or “more aggressive action to cut production” by the OPEC oil cartel “could lead to a faster and stronger rise in oil prices.”
Iran just the other day said oil at around $75-$80 would be about right. So, I'd add about 50 cents to the average price for a gallon of gas if that happens. And you know our "friends" in OPEC will certainly do their best.
China has rolled out its plan to cap executive pay, something that a socialist country would be expected to do with state-owned enterprises. It could never happen in the U.S. because ... there ... is .... no ... socialism ... here ...
From the AP:
Beijing said last week that it will limit the pay of senior executives at state-owned firms, such as banks and insurance companies, as part of efforts to quell public resentment at corporate high-fliers during the economic crisis.
Compensation packages for top executive during the recently completed business year must not exceed 90 percent of what they earned in the prior business year, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement posted on its Web site Thursday.
Executives at companies that posted drops in operating profit last year would see their compensation levels reduced to 80 percent of what they earned in 2007.
The ministry said executive salaries have been increasing at a rapid clip in recent years, and some compensation packages were excessive.
“The pay cut is conducive to equitable distribution of social income and to the interests of the nation and shareholders,” Agence France-Presse cited an MOF statement as saying.
“Individual financial institutions have paid excessively high compensation to their executives, the income gap between the executives and the average level of the society and other internal staff has widened noticeably,” the statement said.
The Ministry of Finance also instructed companies to put in place salary ceilings for other employees.
PepsiCo, maker of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Gatorade, is suing Coca-Cola for what it calls Coke's false claims about its new version of Powerade.
Personally, I go between the two, whichever is handy. But more often than not, plain ol' water is just fine.
In the never-ending war between Pepsi and Coke, this is yet another battle.
From the AP:
PepsiCo Inc. sued rival Coca-Cola Co. on Monday over ads for a new version of Coca-Cola’s sports drink Powerade, saying the campaign makes false claims that could hurt its Gatorade brand. The Purchase, N.Y.-based company asked the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York to stop Coca-Cola’s campaign.
PepsiCo said the ads for Powerade ion4 are false in saying it’s the “complete” sports drink, better than Gatorade because that drink is missing two electrolytes — magnesium and calcium. It said there was no evidence the new Powerade is better than Gatorade and that the Coca-Cola-made drink has the extra electrolytes only in trace amounts anyway.
Scott Williamson, a spokesman for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola, said the company supports Powerade. “We stand by our product and are prepared to defend the role that Powerade plays in hydrating consumers,” he said.
Gatorade, which PepsiCo acquired as part of its purchase of Quaker Oats Co. in 2001, is an important one for the company, said John Sicher, editor of the trade publication Beverage Digest.
PepsiCo is the second-biggest soft drink maker behind Coca-Cola. But in the sports drink category, Sicher said, Gatorade dominates with a 77.2 percent share of the category’s volume and was a big reason PepsiCo bought Quaker.
“Gatorade has driven a lot of PepsiCo’s North American beverage growth for many years,” he said.Powerade is a distant No. 2 player, with a market share of 21.7 percent last year. The sports drink category was worth about $7.6 billion in retail sales in 2008. By comparison, the entire U.S. carbonated soft drinks market was worth than $72.7 billion in retail sales last year.
Kudos to the U.S. Navy SEALS who "took care of business" and freeing the U.S. captain from the Somali pirates. Now that we've flexed some well-needed muscle, maybe those boneheads won't try it again with another U.S. ship. And maybe other countries also will show some teeth, although it should be noted that French commandos stormed a French ship that had been pirated. Two pirates and one hostage were killed, and four French citizens were freed.
The ship company said this morning that piracy needs a multinational solution. Here are excerpts from the AP report:
The president of Mobile-based International Shipholding Corp., which manages the M/V Maersk Alabama for owner Maersk USA, said Monday a multinational coalition must respond to Somali piracy.
ISH President Erik L. Johnsen said one country cannot stand alone against pirates like the ones who raided the Maersk and held its American captain hostage. He said piracy calls for a multinational response from seafaring nations.
“There’s a risk out there and we have to address it,” Johnsen told The Associated Press in an interview in his office overlooking Mobile’s harbor.
Johnsen said he had not had time to put any recommendations for dealing with piracy in writing to any government or industry group because the hostage-taking had just ended Sunday.
Johnsen said “vital trade lanes” must be protected, but he declined to say whether the coast of Somalia should be avoided completely.
As for providing weapons to the small crew, he said, “It’s more involved than simply arming the crew.”
I don't know what the solution might be either, but finding those pirate "mother ships" and blowing them out of the water is a good start.
Circuit City – or what's left of it – is hoping to sell its brand, trademarks and e-commerce business to Systemax, the Associated Press reports. Systemax bought CompUSA's intellectual property last year, the AP said. Or, if you have money to burn, Circuit City can become all yours - all bidders welcome.
Here's the rest of the AP report:
According to bankruptcy court filings, the Richmond-based company has entered into a so-called stalking horse agreement with Systemax for $6.5 million. A stalking-horse bid is an initial offer on a bankrupt company’s assets from an interested buyer chosen by the company.
The agreement also includes payments of a scaled percentage of revenues coming from the site.
Other companies should have an opportunity to bid on the assets, if a federal bankruptcy court judge grants a motion for a May 11 auction at a hearing Tuesday.
Circuit City closed its remaining U.S. stores last month and has laid off about 34,000 workers since filing for bankruptcy protection in November.
Just in case you missed a little brief we had in this morning's paper regarding the cost of ethanol, here's more from the story from the AP:
Food stamps and child nutrition programs are expected to cost up to $900 million more this year because of increased ethanol use.
Higher use of the corn-based fuel additive accounted for about 10 percent to 15 percent of the rise in food prices between April 2007 and April 2008, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That could mean the government will have to spend more on food programs for the needy during the current budget year, which ends Sept. 30. It estimated the additional cost at up to $900 million.
The CBO said other factors, such as skyrocketing energy costs, have had an even greater effect than ethanol on food prices. CBO economists estimate that increased costs for food programs overall due to higher food prices will be about $5.3 billion this budget year.
Ethanol’s impact on future food prices is uncertain, the report says, because an increased supply of corn has the potential to eventually lower food prices.
Roughly one-quarter of corn grown in the United States is now used to produce ethanol and overall consumption of ethanol in the country hit a record high last year, exceeding 9 billion gallons, according to the CBO. It took nearly 3 billion bushels of corn to produce ethanol in the United States last year — an increase of almost a billion bushels over 2007.
The demand for ethanol was one factor that increased corn prices, leading to higher animal feed and ingredient costs for farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers. Some of that cost is eventually passed on to consumers, since corn is used in so many food products.
Several of those affected groups have banded together to oppose tax breaks and federal mandates for the fuel. They said Thursday that the report shows the unintended consequences of ethanol.
Ethanol producers asked the Environmental Protection Agency last month to increase the amount of ethanol that refiners can blend with gasoline from a maximum of 10 percent to 15 percent, which could boost the demand for ethanol by as much as 6 billion gallons a year. They said raising that cap would create thousands of new jobs.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he believes the administration could move quickly to raise the cap to at least 12 percent or 13 percent, but the EPA has not yet decided.
The report also looked at ethanol’s effects on greenhouse gas emissions, concluding that over time ethanol’s benefits over gasoline could diminish. The report says the use of ethanol reduced gasoline consumption by about 4 percent last year and reduced the gases blamed for global warming from the burning of gasoline by less than 1 percent. But the clearing of cropland and forests to produce more ethanol could more than offset those reductions.
Honda Motor Co. introduced an Element SUV that the company says is dog-friendly. No more slobbering pooches hanging their heads out the window - or, gasp, possibly sitting in the back of a pickup? Say it ain't so.
Here's some of the AP report:
A new offering from Honda Motor Co. may get dogs more interested in checking out the inside of their ride rather than hanging their heads out the window.
The Japanese automaker showed off a “Dog Friendly” version of the Honda Element SUV at the New York International Auto Show on Thursday. The concept features a cushioned pet bed with safety restraints in the cargo area, a spill-resistant water bowl, and even a ventilation fan to keep canines comfortable. A folding ramp gives animals an easy way to get in and out.
In the back seat, there’s an integrated pet carrier and machine-washable seat covers to make it convenient and safe to carry smaller pets. The rubber floor mats feature a toy-bone pattern, and paw-print emblems on the side and back of the vehicle draw attention to its pet-friendly status.
Honda says it’s still finalizing the features, but the Dog Friendly Element will be available this fall.
The new Element may help Honda find a powerful niche market to revive sales of the Element, which are down 61 percent in the first three months of this year.
Pricing for the Dog Friendly Element hasn’t been disclosed, but standard versions of the vehicle start around $21,000, including destination charges.
It's been a while since we've heard from our Stanford friends. Here's the latest from the Associated Press, regarding company employees in Antigua getting the boot:
Receivers appointed by an Antiguan regulatory body said Thursday that dozens of employees of Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford’s tropical empire have been dismissed to slash costs as it deals with the fallout of an alleged offshore investment fraud.
Nigel Hamilton-Smith, a representative of a British firm appointed as receiver by Antigua’s banking regulatory commission, said 77 workers of ailing Stanford International Bank Ltd. and Stanford Trust Company Ltd. were sent home Wednesday.
“Unfortunately, we have had to reduce staff levels,” said Hamilton-Smith of Vantis Business Recovery Services. “The operations of both companies have been significantly scaled back to deal solely with investor inquiries.”
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit in February accusing Stanford and his top officers of running a massive pyramid scheme that defrauded investors of about $8 billion.
Stanford has denied the allegations. In an ABC interview that aired earlier this month, he denied running a Ponzi scheme and said he has the assets to back up his businesses.
Antigua’s banking regulatory commission said it appointed the British firm as receiver to protect “the reputation and integrity” of its banking sector. Officials here have said they hope to keep the embattled billionaire’s Antigua businesses in operation.
Stanford’s Antigua enterprises also include a newspaper, two restaurants, a development company and the ornately landscaped Stanford cricket grounds, where he shook up the staid world of professional cricket last year by bankrolling the purse in a $20 million winner-take-all match.
Stanford Development Company laid off more than 30 workers in Antigua last week.
WTVA, citing a report from the Booneville Banner-Independent newspaper, says ForeFront Golf in Baldwyn will be letting go its approximately 50 employees sometime in the future, perhaps July.
The facility, which opened last August, serves as a distribution center for the golf supply company, which is headquartered in Tennessee.
The company's CEO said he was unaware of the report and could not comment on it.
However, he did say this: "We're continuing to take the operations on a day-to-day basis."
That says a lot without saying a lot, doesn't it?
Asked if there was any truth to the report, he repeated the statement.
The general manager at the Baldwyn facility, when reached by phone, said he'd prefer all statements come from the Tennessee folks. He did say, however that the plant was operating, has been operating and "we're shipping out stuff today."
More details to follow.
I'm not a big Guinness Draught fan, but I know there are many who love the stuff. And for your drinking pleasure, the company is launching a new one in the U.S. Enjoy!
From the Associated Press:
The makers of Guinness are touting a new stout beer in the U.S., a maltier, fizzier version of its older, creamier sibling, the world’s best-selling stout.
“This is more about refreshment and zing,” said Guinness master brewer Fergal Murray, who created the new carbonated brew.
The limited-edition Guinness 250 Anniversary Stout celebrates Arthur Guinness’ signing of a 9,000-year lease in 1759 at St. James’s Gate Brewery in Dublin, still the company’s flagship brewery.
When it arrives in U.S. bars and stores April 24, the anniversary brew will be the first new stout Guinness has exported to the U.S. since it brought over Guinness Draught in the mid 1960s.
Guinness Draught, first brewed after Arthur Guinness decided to stop making ales and start making porters in 1779, became synonymous with Ireland over the centuries. More than 1.8 billion pints are consumed in 150 countries each year.
The anniversary stout will be available only in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, according to Diageo PLC, owner of Guinness and the world’s largest liquor producer. The company’s other brands include Johnnie Walker and Baileys.
The beer is expected to be available for about six months, said Patrick Hughes, brand director for Diageo Guinness USA. A big marketing campaign, complete with advertisements and promotions at bars, launches late this month.
“The brand is one of sort of strength, staying power and authenticity,” Hughes said. “We think consumers are really going for brands with that strength and trusted authenticity.”
They also want something new to taste, which this new beer delivers with carbonation, two types of malt and triple hops, Murray said.