The anti-Twitter IPO that's just as popular
Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.
If there's any doubt that the IPO market has blossomed this year, Container Store's opening pop should settle the debate. Shares doubled on Friday to $36 from an offering price of $18. The Coppell, Texas-based company is not some sexy techie, either. It sells mundane items like laundry baskets and luggage. The company, which has 63 stores in 22 states, prides itself on top-notch employee relations and training. It hires only 4 percent of applicants and repeatedly lands on Fortune's list of best companies to work for. It plans 10 percent annual growth in square footage, to eventually have 300 stores.
"Talent's the whole ball game. ... Our most important foundation principle is [that] one great employee can do the work of three good employees. So one equals three is the most important thing we do."—Container Store CEO Kip Tindell
"When people don't buy bigger or better houses they feel the need to make better use of their existing space, which benefits a company like this."—Jay Ritter, a finance professor at the University of Florida
The world's biggest bathtub toys lose luster
It used to be the surefire way to show you'd joined the super-rich: buy a yacht, the bigger the better. Since World War II, yacht sales have gone up and down with the stock market. But not anymore. Despite the market's surge, sales of super-yachts, those at least 30 meters long, fell to 169 last year, versus 261 at the peak in 2008. Prices are down about 20 percent since then. Uncertainty over market conditions may be partly to blame, but, in addition, displays of wealth have become less fashionable while so many ordinary folk are feeling the pinch. These toys cost $30 million to $40 million.
"Right now, the wealthy are being vilified in the media. No one wants to become a target."—John Dane III, CEO and president of Trinity Yachts
What's next? Christmas sales on Labor Day?
When artificial Christmas trees and other holiday goods started popping up in home centers before Halloween, you might have thought, gee, isn't Black Friday the holiday kickoff? Traditionally yes, but retailers have been jumping the gun this year for two reasons. First, they're worried shoppers will be thrifty. One forecast projects the lowest holiday sales growth since 2009. Second, this year's late Thanksgiving makes for an unusually short holiday shopping season. Wal-Mart launched its online holiday deals today, a month earlier than usual. It's offering free shipping on almost all online purchases over $50, compared to just 15 percent of those sales last year. Toys R Us and Target are also sweetening their holiday deals.
"We have had the debt-ceiling crisis and payroll tax increases. There has just been a lot of pressure on the customer all year along."—Joel Anderson, president and chief executive of Walmart.com U.S
Big banks in the unwelcome spotlight, again
Seems like there's no end of troubles for big banks. Early today JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup announced that government agencies are now taking a broader look at their activities, focusing this time on international operations. JPM said the Justice Department and other agencies are looking at the Hong Kong hiring practices that are already under SEC scrutiny, and Citi said various authorities are looking at its foreign exchange trading. In the Citi case, regulators are concerned that various banks may have manipulated currencies. JPM has been under scrutiny for Hong Kong hiring that possibly was designed to curry favor, potentially violating anti-bribery statutes.
Insurance cancellation: not the end of the world
If you have a small business without a big, fancy corporate health-insurance plan, you may be a tad concerned over all this talk of policy holders getting dumped because of Obamacare. Well, the smoke is beginning to clear, and the situation doesn't look as dire as it might have seemed. Many people with individual insurance plans have indeed received cancellation notices, but it's often because their bare-bones plans are just too lousy to meet the minimum requirements under Obamacare. Experts say most of those getting coverage will be able to get new policies, often better ones at less cost. People getting cancellation notices should check to see if they are in fact grandfathered, which applies to many policies in effect before March 23, 2010. Also, keep checking on your state's insurance exchange or, if your state doesn't have one, HealthCare.gov, the troubled federal site expected to gradually get on its feet.
"Don't panic. You have some time, lots of choice, and people to help you find what you need. You have a lot of new options—a lot more than last year if the same thing had happened to you."—Commonwealth fund analyst Sara Collins
—By Jeff Brown, special to CNBC.com