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Ford Brings New Android and Apple Features to Cars
Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), in an attempt to keep up with the competition in the smart car market, has added two new features to its suite. Each is an upgrade to Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) products that the company already uses.
According to Ford the new features are:
Ford SYNC 3 software update brings support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to model-year 2016 vehicles
Customers can update by downloading the software to a USB drive, visiting a dealership or over-the-air via a Wi-Fi connection
This is Ford’s first software update via Wi-Fi and offers a convenient and automated alternative to existing upgrade methods
The Android software covers devices with the 5.0 version or higher. It includes often-used products like Google Maps and Android phone features like voice control. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 or later version phones of with iOS 7.1 or higher. It includes hands-free text, Apple music and connections to many iPhone products.Ford has had trouble keeping up with competition in sales. It is considered the weakest U.S. car company. Its shares trade near a 52-week low. Ford recently laid off many of its nonunion workers in North America and Asia. Some outsiders wonder if CEO Mark Fields will keep his job.
Virtually all new cars sold in the United States have a number of smart car features. Often among these are navigation with verbal directors, hands-free phones, lane departure and collision warnings, and diagnostics that tell the driver if the engine or other critical car parts have problems.However, many drivers do not like the features because they are complicated. Research firm J.D. Power found, in a 2012 survey, that people disliked Ford advanced technology that in many cases they say negatively affected quality.
Ford’s new initiative adds some fairly basic software features to some of its cars. None of them have features that are uncommon, so Ford is keeping up with the competition, but not moving ahead.
MAY NEWSLETTER 2
Good odds Congress will halt several pro-labor actions by the NLRB, National Labor Relations Board. Business groups are pressing Republicans to deny funds in the upcoming appropriations bill for the "quickie election" rule, which decreases the run up time before union elections, among other things. Also to be put on ice: Any enforcement actions or litigation for both recent standards for smaller bargaining units and a broadening of the definition of joint employer. The actions will be overturned late this year, after Republicans gain control of the NLRB.
The Trump administration is likely to propose a revised overtime pay rule before the year is out. Alexander Acosta, the labor secretary signaled the move as his senate confirmation hearing. The threshold for overtime pay will be hiked from the current $23,660 per year to about $33,000. The Obama administration rule, which was going to set the threshold at $47,476 has been mired in court challenges. The new rule will particularly benefit workers in retail, hospitality and leisure as they work more than 40 hours aweek. The revised rule will not adjust for inflation. The earliest it could take effect is 2018
TABLET SALES DECLINE
Food processors will win delays in federal nutrition labeling regulations. In fact, rules from the Food and Drug administration , set to take effect next year for large food firms, could be in limbo for three years or more. Processors do not want to change labels to reflect new federal nutrition guidelines, revamped information about serving sizes, sugar, potassium and calorie content, in the face of still pending requirements on labeling genetically modified organisms. Firms say having to relabel foods twice within a few years would cost them billions, an argrument that will trump nutrition advocates call for immediate transparency
Food concessions at baseball parks are getting more diverse than ever, but hot dogs and sausages still rule in a strong nod to tradition. Major League Baseball fans this season will consume almost 19 million hot dogs and more than 4 million sausages, washed down with plenty of beer. Los Angeles Dodgers fans lead the majors in eating hot dogs, followed by fans of the Texas Rangers. The San Francisco Giants will lead all teams in the sale of sausages, although only in Milwaukee will sausages outsell hotdogs.
BUFFETT DUMPS IBM
Global shipments of tablet devices fell by 8.5% year over year in the first quarter of 2017. That marks the tenth consecutive quarter where year-over-year shipments have declined. Worse, in the most recent five quarters, the declines have sunk into the double digits.
The data were reported on Thursday by IDC, which splits the tablet market into two categories: slate devices such as the iPad from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and detachable keyboard devices like the Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) Surface.
The bad news for Apple is that shipments of slate tablets peaked in 2014 and are now in “steep decline.” Demand for detachable keyboard devices continues to rise, which is good news for Microsoft.
IDC executive Ryan Reith said:
As far as most are aware, the tablet market was created in 2010 with the launch of the original iPad, despite unsuccessful product attempts by other OEMs in the years leading up to this. The rate at which the tablet market grew from 2010 to 2013 was unlike many other consumer-oriented device markets we’ve seen before. However, it appears for many reasons consumers became less eager to refresh these devices, or in some instances purchase them at all. We continue to believe the leading driver for this was the increased dependency on smartphones, along with rather minimal technology and form factor progression.
Convertible devices such as the Lenovo Yoga 910 also figure into shipment totals. IDC research director Linn Huang noted:
To date, detachable shipments have dwarfed those of convertibles, but growth of the former has slowed a bit. In IDC’s 2017 U.S. Consumer PCD Survey, fielded over the previous two months, detachable owners held slightly more favorable attitudes towards their detachables than convertible owners did for their convertibles. However, owners of both were far more likely to recommend a convertible over a detachable.
IDC believes that shipments of detachables will far outpace shipments of convertibles, even with the improving favorability of the convertibles in the marketplace.
Here are the top five tablet vendors ranked by first-quarter 2017 shipments and their year-over-year shipment growth in the quarter:
Apple: 8.9 million units shipped; 13% decline in shipments
Samsung: 6 million units; 1.1% decline
Huawei: 2.7 million units; 31.7% increase
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN): 2.2 million units; 1.8% decline
Lenovo: 2.1 million units; 3.8% decline
Apple is expected to launch a refreshed iPad line soon and Microsoft, which is included in the “Other” category in the IDC survey, should be coming out with a new version of the Surface later this year.
Warren Buffett told CNBC that he had dumped part to his International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) holdings. Earlier in the week, Moody’s Investor Services downgraded IBM debt. CEO Ginni Rometty’s turnaround has never happened. The board needs to get a new chief executive before more of Wall Street abandons the company.
Buffett told CNBC:
I think if you look back at what they were projecting and how they thought the business would develop I would say what they’ve run into is some pretty tough competitors. IBM is a big strong company, but they’ve got big strong competitors too.
He has to be referring to Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) at the very least. They have trounced IBM in the cloud computing business. IBM’s artificial intelligence business, called Watson, is barely a shadow, at least insofar as the company will not break out its revenue. IBM’s quarterly revenue continues to fall. Sales of Rometty’s products and services cannot keep up with erosion in the company’s older line operations.
f the Buffett rebuke is not enough, according to 24/7 Wall St.:
After multiple analysts chimed in after earnings, now IBM is even taking a credit rating downgrade. Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the senior unsecured rating of IBM to A1 from Aa3. Its rating outlook has now been changed to stable after having been negative.After multiple analysts chimed in after earnings, now IBM is even taking a credit rating downgrade. Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the senior unsecured rating of IBM to A1 from Aa3. Its rating outlook has now been changed to stable after having been negative.
Moody’s does think IBM can grow what its calls its “strategic initiatives.” However, what the company will need to spend will weaken its financial position.In the first quarter of this year, IBM’s revenue fell 3% to $18.2 billion. Earnings fell 11% to $1.85 per share. Rometty said:In the first quarter, both the IBM Cloud and our cognitive solutions again grew strongly, which fueled robust performance in our strategic imperatives,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. “In addition, we are developing and bringing to market emerging technologies such as blockchain and quantum, revolutionizing how enterprises will tackle complex business problems in the years ahead.”
That is about what she has said for each quarter for over five years. It hasn’t helped.
Buffett’s news on Friday is a mixed bag for the fate of Rometty as chief executive of IBM. It would be easy to argue that she was given a gutted company just in time for the explosive growth of Amazon’s AWS and Microsoft’s rekindled cloud growth under Nadella. The problem is that her efforts to grow the strategic initiatives have not created a transformational move like we have seen elsewhere. She also has continued with the financial engineering for IBM’s buybacks, dividends and earnings per share.
On the flip side, if Buffett said that he only sold 30% of the stake held by Berkshire Hathaway, then he is still endorsing IBM 70% as much as he was six years ago. That might not seem too bad on the surface, but the 81.2 million share stake was last seen at 8.54% of the outstanding shares, and Berkshire Hathaway was the largest holder by far, with Vanguard’s 57.8 million shares being a 6.1% stake and with State Street’s 51.0 million shares being almost 5.4% of the shares outstanding. BlackRock was the number four holder of IBM shares at just a 2.5% stake.
Buffett entered the confessional booth on his IBM share sale. He did of course leave the door open to buy shares again if the price were drop enough, but Buffett can also sell more shares or shrink his position to zero — he is not a 10% stakeholder.
As far as whether Buffett would really buy more IBM shares, his history has proven that he would rather be unpredictable and that he likes to be in control. His history of selling a big stake has usually been to sell more shares rather than go out in purchase more at lower prices.
As far as more commentary out of Buffett, he pointed toward earnings and selling or buying more shares. Buffett told CNBC:
Well no I wouldn’t say the specific earnings disappointed me but I would say that I don’t value IBM the same way that I did six years ago when I started buying it. I mean overall I think the 6 years that I’ve revalued it somewhat downward and a matter of fact when it got up over $180 we actually sold a reasonable amount of stock.
I don’t think we will be selling. in fact we could buy. I mean I continuously look at what they do, I look at the price of the stock when it was over 180 and I looked at what was happening and everything, they’ve run into some very tough competition.
Buffett also told CNBC that Rometty asked if he had sold shares, as she had gotten reports that Buffett was selling his shares. Buffett then told CNBC that he didn’t tell her how many shares had been sold, nor the rationale or the share prices. Buffett said:
Ginni Rometty was out a few weeks ago and actually they had had some stock watch. I don’t know your viewers are probably familiar with it but there are some stock watch firms. I don’t even know their names, I don’t know how many there are but they a lot of big companies use them. … Berkshire does not use them, and they report to management who they think is buying and selling. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even read a story on them or anything. I think it would be very interesting just to know who they are, how much they charge, how they get their information because we’ve had that happen 4 or 5 times that a management will say that they kind of wonder or they are sort of hearing or something of the sort that we might be buying or selling and like I say I don’t know quite how they get the information.
IBM’s stock was down 2.5% after nearly a $4 drop after about an hour and a half of trading. IBM has a 52-week range of $142.50 to $182.79, and it has a consensus analyst price target of $166.70.
FORD ADDS SMART CAR FEATURES