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Apple Most Valuable by Market Cap
Apple Most Valuable by Market Cap

As Apple Inc. (AAPL) shares hit an all-time record high on Monday, positioning the company as the most valuable ever by market capitalization. As the one-year anniversary of Steve Jobs’s death approaches on October 5, investors and Apple gurus are soon going to be inundated with stories about how Apple has changed under current CEO Tim Cook. As investors scramble for ideas on how to trade Apple ahead of the iPhone 5 launch, there are several other issues to take into consideration - on top of Apple’s still relatively low price-to-earnings ratio. The new R&D campus for Apple - the proposed iconic spaceship-like building / campus - which was designed under the realm of Steve Jobs, continues to generate extensive debate over its design, as construction moves forward. Apple's patent infringement case against Samsung is expected to go to a jury this week. While top designers and engineers at Apple are always trying to stay ahead of the curve with the next new hot product, a potential win on the lawsuit would be a huge positive for Apple, in all aspects for the conglomerate. Apple continues to work on simplifying the TV - a project that was in the works while Jobs was at the helm.

Best Buy Co. (BBY) reported a 91% decline in its fiscal Q2 profits and suspended its earnings guidance for the year as the struggling consumer-electronics chain continues to report decreasing sales. In a statement from the company, they aren't providing a forecast due to the 'uncertainty associated with several key product launches' later this year as well as the appointment of new chief executive Hubert Joly. Best Buy expects to generate free cash flow of $1.25 billion to $1.5 billion this fiscal year. Best Buy shares hit a nine-year low on Tuesday, ending the trading session off by a little over 1% at $17.91. In pre-market trading on Tuesday, Best Buy led S&P 500 (SPX) decliners, amid heavy selling pressure for a second consecutive day. The company is on track to lose a fifth of its market value in just two days. The retailer blamed the suspended view on lowered expectations for industry wide sales, uncertainty surrounding several key product launches expected and the arrival of the new chief executive next month. Same store sales fell 3.2% in latest period, being the eighth time in the last nine quarters that Best Buy's comparable sales have dropped. In the U.S., same-store sales fell 1.6%. Computing and mobile phones, the retailers biggest category, showed continued steady same-store sales growth domestically, which is a bright spot considering other retailers' reports that shoppers are biding time on PC purchases ahead of new Windows OS in fall. Company strength is noted based on tablet and mobile phone sales. Key consumer electronics sales met a domestic drop by 9.6%. For the quarter ended August 4, Best Buy reported a profit of $12 million or four cents a share, versus $128 million or 34 cents a share in 2011. The latest results include a $91 million restructuring charge, primarily related to store closure costs. Stripping out one-time items, the company's per-share profit was 20 cents versus 39 cents a year ago with revenue falling 2.8% to $10.55 billion.

School clothe shopping just got a bit more expensive, thanks to Nike. Nike Inc. (NKE) announced they will charge in the range of $315 for a pair of their new LeBron X basketball sneakers - as part of an overall price hike for its athletic shoes. In the face of increased costs for labor, materials and shipping, Nike will raise shoe and clothing prices from 5% to 10%. An interesting question is - what country produces these shoes as well as, other Nike items? Its difficult to imagine costs rising that much, if production occurs outside the USA, allowing the maker to simply charge enormous prices for their products associated with sports figures names. The new LeBron X shoe, named after LeBron James who led the Miami Heat to win the NBA title in June, will feature motion sensors that measure how high the wearer jumps. The LeBron 9 PS Elite basketball shoe currently sells at retail for $250.

Shares of Groupon Inc. (GRPN) were under the gun again today, ending the trading session down by almost 2.5% at $4.54 after Barclays cut its rating to underweight from overweight. "Considering that Groupon's business model could be undergoing a meaningful transition that persists and creates uncertainty, we're now taking a more pragmatic approach to our forecasts," analyst Mark May said in a note. On a recent, per day basis, Groupon continues to strike new, 52 week lows.

Gold futures settled at their highest on Tuesday, a feet not seen in more than three months, on hopes of more central-bank intervention in Europe. Gold for December delivery (CNS:GCZ2) advanced $19.90 or 1.2%, to end at $1,642.90 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange at the highest settlement for a most-active gold contract since May 4. Silver led gains among metals with the September contract (CNS:SIU2) up 84 cents or 2.9%, to settle at $29.43 an ounce.

Jay Leno, host to late night 'Tonight Show' should win the 2012 Chief Executive Officer of the Year award. Leno volunteered to his bosses at NBC and parent Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) to take what the Los Angeles Times termed 'a significant reduction in pay' in an attempt to save employees’ jobs - a move that all over CEO's should take heed from. Amid restructuring, nearly two dozen staff members for the 'Tonight Show' lost their jobs. Although the 'Tonight Show' remains at #1 in late night TV, it is merely at a break-even financial level. Leno’s salary is reported to be some where between $25 million to $30 million and with his offer, he stands to forfeit millions of dollars. By Hollywood standards, Leno is an eccentric figure in one regard as he famously prefers to put his NBC compensation in the bank and live off his annual earnings from stand-up appearances. Few can argue that Leno, who might be regarded as the top executive at 'Tonight Show', is taking a refreshing stand in tough economic times, by not forgetting about the little people behind the scenes who help him, to be what he is today.


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Aug 21, 2012


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