Call this the tale of two brands going in opposite directions. One knows its core market and continues to roll out hot models that win over fans. The other is drifting with sales slumping and serious questions mounting about its future. When I look at the July sales, I'm struck by the numbers at Buick. How bad was it? Sales dropped 29 % and every single model was down at least 17%. Think that's bad?
I can't help but comment on Viacom's earnings. On Thursday, the media giant beat Wall Street estimates, thanks largely to the filmed entertainment division's profit quadrupling. But the studio (Paramount and DreamWorks) is a much smaller part of the company than the 'Media Networks' division, which includes MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon, Spike TV, etc. I'd say Viacom's largest challenge moving forward is growing its ad revenue on these cable networks...
On a regular basis, I hear from bloggers who think I'm pushing Toyota and would like nothing more than to see the Big 3 implode. In fact, I got an e-mail to that effect yesterday after blogging about the possibility of Chevy and Ford being outsold by the Toyota brand. For the record, Toyota has passed Ford, but still trails Chevy by a slight margin.
Think of the best teacher you ever had. What made him or her great? It likely wasn't their knowledge or diction or their wardrobe. It was very likely the passion they brought to the art of teaching. Shelby Futch is THAT kind of teacher. Futch is the CEO and founder of the Scottsdale Golf Group, which includes the John Jacobs Golf Schools. Jacobs, who is English, was an early partner of Futch's. A renowned golfer in his own right in his time, Jacobs is in his 80's now and lives in England.
I think that things are going to get worse before they get better in the retail. I took a look at short interest in a few big retail names today and was surprised to see just how many investors were betting AGAINST the stores that cater to the mass market consumer right now.
One of the most surprising things about being here in Beijing is the absence of Yao Ming. I thought he'd be everywhere. Sure, he made his name in Shanghai, but I thought he was the pride of China. Well, apparently not. Aside from a Coca Cola ad on an occasional billboard and a wildlife poster, Yao isn't a force here.
A hospital in Pittsburgh is banning Crocs, the comfy rubbery shoes with holes in them. Hospital officials call them a hazard, fearing a nurse might drop a syringe on his or her foot and, bingo! One nurse tells the AP that's a croc. "I mean, I can get a needle stuck in my arm or my leg."
When the July auto sales come out later today, the most interesting numbers to watch may be those for Chevrolet and Toyota. Halfway through this year the two were neck and neck in the battle to be America's top selling brand. I know some of you will read this and think, "who cares?". Well, the long list of people who care stretches from Detroit to Tokyo, and for good reason.
CBS announced second-quarter earnings that disappointed on the top line, beat expectations on the bottom line, and landed flat with growth-hungry Wall Street. Revenue disappointed--down 3% to $3.37 billion on a loss of TV revenue from shutting down UPN and the timing of the NCAA basketball tournament.
So Star Jones finally admits she had gastric bypass surgery. Really? People, it's like denying you had a facelift, collagen, or breast augmentation. WE KNOW. 177,000 people had gastric bypass last year, nearly double from 2003, making it one of the fastest growing plastic surgery procedures. So is PhotoShop. Check out Kelly Osbourne--I'll have what she's having.
When I sat down to talk with GM CEO Rick Wagoner this morning on "Squawk Box," I was expecting to see a man, beaming over the better than expected second quarter earnings. Instead, I saw the Chairman of a company who looked cautious. Why? Well, maybe it's because General Motors' glass is half full, and filling it up even more will be a challenge. Certainly the second half of this year will be tougher than the first half.
This past weekend, I attended the annual SuperSaturday event in Water Mill, New York. Well-known in the fashion world and to vacationers in the Hamptons, this is essentially a high-end tag sale/sample sale of designer goods to raise money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
This job really does beat working for a living. I've just had the opportunity to drive a car worth, gulp, $435,000. That's about twice the price of your average home in the U.S. these days. The car is a new Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe (pronounced coup-AY). Drophead is a fancy name for convertible. The car will start selling in September, and the first year is pretty much sold out. Yeah. Sold out.
It sounds like a Hollywood script. Futuristic looking car generates the type of buzz needed to become a star: but it never shines as predicted, flames out amid scandal, and years later its devoted fans pine and plan for the icon's revival. It's only fitting I see this story in the Los Angeles Time this weekend. The star car in question is the DeLorean. The famed sports car that has achieved greater popularity since its limited production finished in 1982.
I'm here thanks to a long plane ride, during which I watched "Blades of Glory" twice and read two books on the history of China. You thought the Boston Celtics were a dynasty? Imagine being dominant for 300 years! Anyway, I've come all this way so that I can bring you all the important business stories of the '08 games on the year-out anniversary on Wednesday, August 8 and actually throughout next week on CNBC.
It's not a word I think of often or use much: impresario. But it is the word that came to mind about 1 minute into my conversation with Bob Sillerman. Sillerman is the CEO and Chairman of CKX, the NASDAQ-traded--for now--company that owns "American Idol." Next time you watch it, even if you say you don't, hang around to the very end. You'll see the little logo 'CKX'. Of course you also saw it, if you were able to make it to the end, on the Victoria Beckham (Posh Spice) 'special' on NBC recently.
As many of you know, yesterday I called for Nike to dump Michael Vick. They sort of did that minutes ago, when they suspended his contract. My prediction? They'll never reactivate it. It's a really good move. They were never going to use Vick again, so there was no reason to stand by him. I'm not ignorant enough to think that they my writing did anything.
The buzz about Fox's "The Simpsons Movie" has been so hot--and tracking of knowledge of the film so broad--that Fox is expanding the film's debut to 3,922 theaters and about 5,700 screens. Fox is cautiously expecting to hit the mid $30 million dollar range, but the average prediction for the $70 million budget film's opening weekend is over $57 million dollars, and it's sure to take the top spot.
I wandered on to NFLShop.com to do my daily check on everything Michael Vick and I noticed something strange. I couldn't find Michael Vick No. 7 jerseys anywhere. So I called the NFL and asked them why they had made this decision. "We have suspended sales of Vick-related merchandise on our official league e-commerce site, NFLShop.com," said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. "This includes Vick jerseys and collectible items such as autographed balls and other memorabilia."
At the end of June, I announced my worst athlete ad contest. I received many entries of athletes in all sorts of ads from my readers, but I really didn't have any trouble picking a winner. Congratulations to reader Joe Gudema who sent me Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon doing ads for 125 Auto. Thankfully, it's on YouTube for your viewing pleasure.