“They’re all connected and they all form a web of terror, insecurity, and a high level of vulnerability for workers” — International Coordinator of the Asia Floor Wage Alliance (AWFA), commenting on a recently released AFWA report putting H&M, Gap and Wal-Mart on the hot seat for a plethora of unfair working conditions employees face at the factories of these companies.
- Contrasting a quiet end to May for U.S. stocks, Chinese stocks soared, marking their biggest one-day gain in three months after rumors circulated that Chinese stocks would soon be added to MSCI’s Emerging Markets Index. This would channel billions of dollars into its economy
- Cliffs Natural Resources skyrocketed 41% after it reached a supply agreement with ArcelorMittal that would supply it with between seven and 10 million tons of iron ore
- Shares of Disney fell a bit after a rare box office flop from Alice Through the Looking Glass, which was crushed over the weekend by X-Men: Apocalypse
Two Peas in a Pod
Hedge fund manager Carl Icahn and current Allergan CEO Brent Saunders have been day one homies, dating back to Icahn’s activist days on the board of Forest Labs (where Brent Saunders was CEO as well). Icahn and Saunders were able to steadily grow shareholder value then, so what worked then can work now, right? Yesterday, Icahn disclosed a “large position” in Allergan’s stock. Before you hop on the bandwagon, know that Saunders asserted that he has no reason to believe the position is meant to influence the company; but, given Icahn’s activist track record, you know how these things can go.
Volkswagen Posts a Profit?
This one goes out to the haters: Volkswagen posted positive first quarter earnings. It’s a start for the battered emissions-rigging auto giant, but net profit was still down 20% from last year. It’s been a tough road for VW this year: falling market share in its biggest market (R.I.P. China), severed brand loyalty and investor revolts are just a few of the fun obstacles VW has faced. Fun fact: Audi and Porsche make up 40% of the company’s revenues, but a full 70% of its profit. In other words, it’s tough to invest in a company called Volkswagen. It’s a bit easier to go for a side brand with a less-hated name.
Starbucks’ Summer Potion
Starbucks lovers, prepare yourselves for the summer drink invention that fulfills your every desire. Straight from your coffee dreams, S-Bux is debuting a line of cold coffee drinks dubbed “Nitro Cold Brew.” The new concoction infuses nitrogen (yes, nitrogen) into the cold brewing process. The result: a smooth, creamy, sweet taste. We’re suckers and Starbucks knows it; the product launch is perfectly timed to take advantage of growing demand for iced coffee (consumption has grown 75% over the past decade), and just in time for the summer. Look out for the new drinks in Chicago, New York, San Francisco and four other major cities across the U.S.
India’s Shady GDP
India posted its first quarter GDP growth yesterday, and boy was it crazy…perhaps a bit too crazy. There’s concern over the credibility of the 7.9% year-over-year growth figure, as analysts were expecting 7.5% (for context: if the U.S. reaches 2% this year, that would be a good sign). What exactly is India up to? Last year, after suffering slowing GDP, India revised its calculation method, which just so happened to fix the slowdown. On top of this, economists claim that the figure doesn’t add up, especially when compared to other measures of the Indian economy, like capacity utilization (a measure of actual productivity to potential productivity) and private investment levels, which are low. The Brew has got its eye on you, India.
- Over 300 million Myspace accounts hacked before Memorial Day
- Valeant’s former CEO to receive $9 million severance payment
- Instagram officially announces new business tools
- Great Plains Energy acquires Kansas Utility for $8.6 billion
- Monday: U.S. Markets Closed (Memorial Day)
- Tuesday: Personal Income and Outlays (+); Consumer Confidence (-); S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index (+)
- Wednesday: Michael Kors, Box, Cracker Barrel Earnings; ISM Manufacturing Index; Auto Sales; Private Employment Report; Construction Spending; Beige Book
- Thursday: Weekly Jobless Claims
- Friday: May Employment Report; ISM Non-Manufacturing Index; Factory Orders; International Trade
TNT BALLS OUT
Monday’s Game 7 of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, which saw the Golden State Warriors defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder to advance to the NBA Finals, did not disappoint. But who got the most fired up? The avid fans? Nah. The dedicated players? Still nah. We’re giving this one to the cable company with the rights to air it: TNT. Let’s drive to the paint:
- The highly-anticipated game brought in 15.9 million viewers for Time Warner’s TNT. What does the number mean? It makes Game 7 the most-watched NBA cable telecast of all time and the most-watched program in TNT’s 27-year history.
- 30% of homes in both the Bay Area and Oklahoma City tuned in to watch Curry and Durant light up the scoreboard. Even The Bachelorette took a back seat for the legendary showdown.
- Who watches postgame shows anyways? Apparently millions of people do, as “Inside the NBA” earned a 4.8 rating, the postgame show’s highest rating ever. Let’s be honest though: who can resist Shaq’s timeless charm?
- The NBA Finals, which pits the Warriors against the Cleveland Cavaliers, begins Thursday and is set to destroy even more records. The 2015 NBA Finals averaged 19.9 million viewers for ABC. Ball is life.
INTERVIEW QUESTION OF THE DAY
How much dirt is there in a hole that measures two feet by three feet by four feet? (Answer)
BUSINESS TERM OF THE DAY
Laissez-Faire — The doctrine or system of government with non-interference in the economy, unless necessary to maintain economic freedom. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were great believers in laissez-faire economics.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners bought Dell Inc. for $24.9 billion in 2013. Yesterday, a Delaware judge ruled that the buyout was underpriced by 22%. This means tens of millions of dollars are heading to investors who opposed the deal. Which activist investor was behind the lawsuit? Who else? Carl Icahn.
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