Covering a range of topics — from auto sales and health care to the New York Jets and the price of gasoline — CNBC's anchors, reporters, editors and contributors make calls on what 2013 will bring. Click ahead for predictions to help you plan ahead for the year to come.
Posted: 6 Dec. 2012
Gasoline prices will continue to vary widely depending on where you live. But an improving supply picture will help alleviate any price increases in the national average next year. In 2013, the return and restart of major refinery units from the East to West coasts, and particularly along the Gulf of Mexico, will enable the production of more gasoline and keep pump prices from topping the $4 mark.
With Windows 8 a disaster, and the Surface tablet not close to meeting original internal projections, Steve Ballmer's days at Microsoft in 2013 are ... over. The bigger surprise: Chairman Bill Gates returns as interim CEO in a last-ditch effort to do the impossible: re-engineer Microsoft to its former glory. Perhaps the only bright side: To keep investors engaged, Microsoft more than doubles its regular dividend.
Hewlett-Packard: All the king's horse and all the king's men (and CEO Meg Whitman) realize Hewlett-Packard cannot be put back together again. Before the end of 2013, the company is restructured, with the spinoff of its PC and printer business as HP makes a last-ditch effort to be like IBM.
He wrote in his 2011 letter to Berkshire shareholders that his "elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy" for a multibillion dollar acquisition. It hasn't happened so far. Buffett revealed that two possible big buys "that were plus and minus" $20 billion didn't get done this year because he couldn't get the price he wanted. Berkshire won't borrow money to do a deal, unlike competing buyers who use cheap money to "bid pretty aggressively." Still, in an October CNBC interview, Buffett told us he's "salivating" for another big acquisition and I think he'll finally bag one with a big chunk of the $40 billion in cash now burning a hole in Berkshire's pocket.
Medical device makers like Medtronic, Stryker and Boston Scientific face a 2.3 percent excise tax on revenues starting in 2013 under Obamacare. The expected drag on profits has been a headwind for the sector. It's unlikely the industry will succeed in getting the tax overturned in the current budget negotiation environment. But if device makers succeed in getting a partial rollback, the sector could see a lift. Over the next couple years, watch for consolidation among device makers as costs rise due to the new tax, but continued competition could prevent firms from raising prices.
They've been at GM's heels for the last year, but in 2013 Toyota and Volkswagen will finally pass General Motors in global sales. Toyota will ride the wave of booming sales in the U.S. and Southeast Asia while VW will flex its muscles in China and Europe to pass GM. Fortunately for GM fans (and investors), the company is more focused on profitability than on market share. So even though the largest automaker in the U.S. may fall behind in the global race, it will post one of its most profitable years ever in 2013.
Nike still owns the shoe business, but if UnderArmour can get things going with its sneaker business, it will make a huge move to the upside. Its apparel has more cache with young Americans, and the growth trajectory has UA on a collision course with the sports icon from Oregon. My prediction is that UA profits and stock price will outperform Nike for the year.
As the New York Jets franchise continues in disarray, season ticket holders will stop showing up at games. As a result, this will force Woody Johnson to rethink his ownership of the team. Longtime fans hope Mark Cuban is the buyer.
India could experience a major corporate bankruptcy in 2013 that could hurt investor confidence. Many companies have taken out foreign currency loans and are feeling the heat as the rupee weakens. At the same time, growth is slowing, some industries are locked in brutal competition (look at aviation and telecom) and input prices are rising. A downgrade for India's sovereign rating looks likely, and that could have a knock-on effect, raising funding costs for corporates further and pushing the weak ones finally over the edge.