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The collars on the shirts and blouses of some United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) changed from white to blue last week as the company sent some of its office staff out to the company’s warehouses to help sort, load, or deliver the flood of holiday packages.
UPS continued Saturday deliveries yesterday including in some markets where the service hadn’t even been fully rolled out according to a report at Fox News. Sunday delivery is also possible in some areas “if there are exceptional events.”
A UPS spokesman said that the company asks for volunteers for its “ready teams” weeks ahead of the busiest delivery periods. This year, however, the company had to assign office staff to help with deliveries on little notice. Some staff are even using their own vehicles to deliver packages.
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Spokesman Steve Gaut told Fox News:
In some cases people were asked to change clothes and go to a local site that day or the next day because incoming volume tendered in trailer loads to specific sites was beyond the plan level. UPS wanted to ensure we avoided getting behind.
Using office staff to deliver packages is due in part to high volumes from online sellers and in part to a tighter than expected market for seasonal workers. UPS originally planned to hire 95,000 seasonal employees this year and Gaut, who did not say if they met that goal, did say that hiring was “more competitive in some markets.”
UPS has hired about the same number of seasonal employees in each of the past two years even though the company expected a 5% increase in package volume this year. The company said it was able to do that thanks to more automated equipment and more staff hired earlier in the year.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) shares surged when the company announced earnings. The stock has not given back any of that rally during the most heated part of the holiday season. The Walmart success story has legs.
Walmart’s shares are up 43% this year to $99, compared to a 19% improvement in the S&P 500 to 2,400. The price is slightly better than flat since Thanksgiving. Over the same period, shares of arch-rival Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) are down slightly to $1,152.
To believe the Walmart story, investors have to be convinced that its e-commerce efforts can finally hold off Amazon and perhaps fight it to a draw. In a typical quarter in the past year, Amazon revenue has risen about 25% year over year. (The number is misleading because of the surge in sales at AWS, its industry-leading cloud services division, makes its e-commerce growth less impressive.) Walmart does not supply enough earnings data to show if its e-commerce has kept pace with Amazon, or will in the near term. However, executives at the company have strongly hinted online sales continue to be robust. And Walmart has bought e-commerce companies to bolster what it sells via Walmart.com.
The second argument for the continued improvement in Walmart’s stock is that it is eating away at the revenue from other large, national brick-and-mortar retailers. This includes J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP); Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD), which owns the Kmart and Sears brands; and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT). If the earnings of these companies are a fair indication, Walmart may indeed be gaining revenue at their expense.
Walmart’s store count of 4,700 gives it proximity to most of the U.S. population. By itself, this gives the country’s largest retailer an edge as people rush to shop before the end of the year.
Walmart has enough advantages that its stock price likely will continue rising.
The U.S. government claims Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) allowed employers to target potential workers by age. According to Reuters:
Several U.S. employers engaged in age discrimination by placing recruitment ads on Facebook targeting younger workers, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday by a communications industry labor union.Companies including T-Mobile US Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Cox Communications Inc imposed age limits on who could see recruitment ads, limiting some only to people younger than 38, according to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco by the Communications Workers of America.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) throttles back performance of old iPhones to keep them from turning off. According to The Wall Street Journal:Apple Inc., facing questions from users and tech analysts about reduced performance in older iPhones, acknowledged Wednesday that its latest software curtails the computing power of some models to prevent unexpected shutdowns.It was a rare statement from the company that shed light on how Apple internally dealt with a growing user complaint.
The statement came two days after John Poole, founder of the computer-performance testing group Geekbench, wrote a blog post illustrating how iPhone computing performance slows as battery health declines on iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 devices.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said it would give workers $1,000 each once the new tax bill is passed assuming it financial situation will improve substantially.Uber may have a new, major competitor. According to the Financial Times:Didi Chuxing raises $4bn as it plots overseas push
Expansion of Chinese ride-hailing group comes at testing time for key rival Uber
Audi will have a huge recall in Europe. According to MarketWatch:
Volkswagen AG’s luxury car maker Audi AG is recalling 875,000 vehicles in Europe due to a potential heater problem that could result in fires, the car maker said late Wednesday.Of the total, Audi is recalling 330,000 vehicles in Germany, the company had said earlier on Wednesday.The problem relates to an electrical connection for the vehicles’ auxiliary heater, a spokesman said.The vehicles affected are A4, A5, A5 cabriolet and Q5 models produced between April 2011 and May 2015.
E*Trade will let clients trade bitcoin futures. According to Bloomberg:
Cboe futures are “now available,” the New York-based online brokerage wrote on its website late Wednesday. A spokesman confirmed the move.Cboe and CME Group Inc., two of the largest U.S. exchange operators, introduced futures based on bitcoin over the past two weeks. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. and Ally Financial Inc.’s Ally Invest already said they will let users invest in contracts. Interactive Brokers Group Inc. facilitates both long and short positions, letting clients bet prices may rise or fall.
DECEMBER NEWSLETTER 4
Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) share price added less than half a point last week but it was not for lack of good news. With just a week to go in 2017, the aerospace giant is a sure thing to close out the year as the best performing stock among the 30 stocks that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). Shares gained $1.76 last week to boost the year-to-date gain to nearly 90%.
Of the three other Dow stocks closest to Boeing’s yearly gain, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) rose by about 6.2% to a gain of nearly 68% for the year, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) added about 0.6% to close the week up just over 51% for the year to date, and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) dropped about 1% to lower its annual gain to just over 44%.
Boeing’s week began with a final determination from the U.S. Department of Commerce on Boeing’s complaint against Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier for dumping the company’s CS-100 at below cost in the United States. The agency reiterated its 300% duty on imported Bombardier planes seating 100 to 150 passengers.
The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will now rule on whether Boeing was harmed by Bombardier’s sale. If not, the complaint and the tariff disappear unless Boeing appeals. If the ITC does conclude that the sale harmed Boeing, Bombardier’s CS-100 planes imported into the United States will be charged the duty fees. Bombardier will certainly appeal.
On Thursday Boeing signed a firm order with UAE-based flydubai airlines for 175 of the company’s 737 MAX jets. The airline committed to the order at the Dubai Air Show last month, but the firm order adds the planes to Boeing’s backlog.
Boeing also confirmed on Thursday that it has discussed a “possible combination” with Brazil’s Embraer S.A. (NYSE: ERJ), a response to the deal Bombardier struck with Airbus in which the European company took control of Bombardier’s C Series program. A deal between Boeing and Embraer is no sure thing, mainly because the Brazilian government holds a controlling interest in Embraer.
On Friday, Boeing announced that it has sold a KC-46 refueling tanker to Japan on fixed-price contract valued at $279 million. This could be a big deal because it is the first KC-46 Boeing has sold to a non-U.S. buyer.
The U.S. Air Force also awarded Boeing a contract to sell 36 F-15 fighter jets to Qatar in a deal worth $6.1 billion. The sale had originally been set at 72 aircraft with a contract value of more than $21 billion.
Boeing stock closed at $295.10 on Friday, up less than 0.1% on the day, in a 52-week trading range of $154.96 to $97.37. The high was posted Friday morning. The 12-month consensus price target is $299.33, down about $7.80 from last week’s target. The low price target is $203 and the high is $350.
In a patent application first filed in 2015, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) described a navigation system for self-driving (autonomous) vehicles that allows the car to find its own way to a destination by monitoring the route and developing a characterization of it. The application was published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).
In the application, Apple downplays the effectiveness of map-based navigation — a la Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google Maps and its own mapping program —saying that the development of such maps requires too much cost and time.
Apple’s proposed system drives the car “independently of any data received from any devices external to the vehicle, and any navigation data stored locally to the vehicle prior to any monitoring of navigation.”That independence is a result of what Apple calls “virtual route portion characterization” that can be “independent of any overall route” and used by the autonomous navigation system to “autonomously navigate a vehicle along one or more various routes.”
These virtual characterizations can be developed “while the vehicle is navigated through one or more roadway portions” and then subsequently be used to allow the vehicle to autonomously navigate through the characterized portions.Whether or not Apple ever develops the technology only time will tell. Based as it is on building a virtual image of a route from, say, your home to your children’s school using sensors and processors to build and refine that image every time you (or the car) make the drive, it is significantly different from available navigation systems. So far, though, it’s just a big idea.
The full patent application is available at the PTO website.
WINS AUTO PATENT
Americans are ordering more than ever from Amazon.com Inc this holiday season but they may have fewer boxes on their doorsteps. Amazon is trying to ship each order on one correctly sized package instead of multiple boxes, responding to rising shipping costs and consumers' concern about about the environmental impact and general nuisance of all that cardboard . That means adding bubble envelopes tweaking algorithms and negotiating with manufacturers to make smaller packaging specifically for online sales not store shelves. There is a lot of pressure to come up with solutions that eliminate a box said Ken Chrisman of Sealed Air Corp, which designs packaging materials for retailers, manufacturers and logistics firms. Amazon has been working to improve algorithms that help decide which size bos t use and how many items should be packed together in each shipment. the algorithms use machine learning to test out new combinations, for example, shipping a breakable item in smaller box with less cushioning. The algorithm can scan customer reviews and other data to see if it worked and adjust as needed.
ALL HANDS ON DECK