Posts Tagged ‘Warren Buffett’

The Week Unpeeled

Amid a backdrop of ongoing investigations in motives and scope of the alleged Boston Marathon bombers and the NRA annual convention, the US economy showed ongoing signs of moderate growth with the jobs report showing the unemployment rate declining to 7.5 percent in April and non-farm payroll adding 165,000, better than expectations.  That news propelled the Dow to a record high, closing up 143 points on Friday at 14,973, briefly topping 15,000.

Elsewhere:

  • The disaster at a Bangladeshi apparel factory is forcing manufacturers to reconsider their productions and brand images tied to poor workplace safety conditions/records, with Disney already pulling out of the country; No doubt consumers will become a different type of label conscious as where clothes are made;
  • Warren Buffett hosted its annual investor hoopla, curious to see what he says about his recent buying spree in newspapers; Meanwhile, Berskhire’s profits jumped 51 percent;
  • While circulation has been on the decline for most US newspapers, circulation rose at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for the six months ended March 31, because of digital subscribers: WSJ held onto its rank as largest daily with average weekday circulation at 2.4 million and NYT at 1.9 million, with a Sunday total of 2.3 million;
  • JC Penney launched a big ad/digital campaign after its downfall and CEO shuffle, in a mea culpa of “It’s No Secret,” illustrating on some levels admit errors upfront;
  • Apple sold $17 billion in corporate bonds, the largest deal in history that was met with strong investor demand;
  • Making front-page headlines nearly everywhere, NBA player Jason Collins comes out as the first major league sports player (during Tony Awards announcements week, no less!); and
  • Favorite Orb wins the Kentucky Derby. End of Story
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Warren Buffett with the late Katharine Graham of the Washington Post at his 50th-birthday party in 1980. Image courtesy: Warren Buffett as seen on Fortune

Warren Buffett with the late Katharine Graham of the Washington Post at his 50th-birthday party in 1980. Image courtesy: Warren Buffett as seen on Fortune

The most recent issue of FORTUNE features an essay by Warren Buffett entitled, “Warren Buffett is bullish ... on women.”* In it, Mr. Buffett contributes his own thoughts to the recent dialogue taking place around women and work in the U.S., characterizing the unfortunate fact that barriers still remain.

Despite our track record as a nation, Mr. Buffett writes, “America has forged this success while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country's talent.”

Ultimately, Mr. Buffett’s FORTUNE essay issues a call to action not only to the men who continue to lead the majority of our corporations and occupy nearly all of the seats on our corporate boards, but also to those men who manage employees at any level.

Mr. Buffett states:

“No manager operates his or her plants at 80% efficiency when steps could be taken that would increase output. And no CEO wants male employees to be underutilized when improved training or working conditions would boost productivity. So take it one step further: If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn't you want to include its counterpart?”

While I don’t wholly agree with Mr. Buffett’s assessment on certain points (I’m sure he won’t lose any sleep over that), I did find his argument to be compelling. It also made me take a moment to look at the public relations profession in light of the argument that embracing the ascension of women to executive roles and directorships within companies, in addition to providing greater opportunity, mentorship and promotion of women through all levels of business makes business sense. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Week Unpeeled

The jobs picture turned a little sour last week with growth well below expectations because of a non-farm number at only 88,000 and an unemployment rate down to 7.6 percent in March, mostly because of folks leaving the workforce. That put a damper on the market, which has been on a tear.  The Dow ended pretty much unchanged for the week at 14,565, and other indicators were mixed, reflecting the divergent opinions on the direction of the economy and outlook for this rally.  In other markets, bonds continued to show signs of weakness with the closely watched “Agg” or Barclay’s US Aggregate Bond Index declining 0.12 percent in the first quarter, its first decline for that period (WSJ, Apr 3) in about seven years.

Elsewhere:

  • The SEC “blessed” the use of social media for corporate America to announce market-moving news (Warren Buffett’s BusinessWire opted not to “like” by objecting to the decision, no surprise really because it can make those dissemination services obsolete);
  • North Korea continued its bully tactics asking embassies to prepare evacuation plans;
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook used the apologia app and said sorry to China for certain customer service policies;
  • Facebook released what seems to be a super phone app called Home for Google’s Android operating system;
  • Developing signs of bird flu in China started to make headlines;
  • Roger Ebert, famed movie critic of thumbs up or down, died; and
  • Jay-Z, ever-morphing, this time into sports agentEnd of Story
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The Week Unpeeled

Well, the budget deadline passed and automatic sequester cuts were forced into place late last week, pushing “the nation’s economy into unchartered waters” (WSJ, Friday, March 1).  Even so, the Dow managed to end the week on a high note, with the blue-chip average climbing within striking distance of its all-time high, ending on Friday at 14,089 on Friday.

Elsewhere:

  • Warren Buffett released his highly read and folksy annual letter to shareholders calling his company’s $24 billion increase in net worth “subpar” (it did trail the S&P 500 by 200 basis points at 14% in 2012) and focusing a bit on his buying “spree” of newspapers, acquiring 28 dailies over the last 15 months;
  • Groupon fired its CEO with a “lead parachute” (CNBC) package of 378.36 (that is a correct number) after extremely disappointing quarterly results;
  • JP Morgan Chase is shedding 17,000 jobs by the end of next year;
  • Pope Benedict XVI hung up his Prada papal slippers and bid adieu;
  • All the Obit News Fit to Print:  In a New York Times obituary last week, an Israeli-born local resident said that he “loved his family, his birth and adopted countries, finance . . . Loved everything about NYC except The New York Times”:
  • Not yet an obit: The State of Michigan said it will appoint a financial manager to oversee Detroit in a tough turnaround assignment for a city $14 billion in debt; and
  • WTF on WFH: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer put the kabosh on “working from home,” which was revealed in a leaked email message that got – no surprise – lots of media coverage, from bloggers who no doubt were.
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The Week Unpeeled

Media Navel GazeThe year started with quite a bit of news, with markets a bit confused over fiscal cliff next steps and reaction to closely followed US employment news, with employers adding 155,000 jobs in December (called “tepid” by WSJ) and the jobless rate at 7.8 percent.  The equities markets rallied hard last week, with the Dow closing at 13,435 amid its biggest weekly point gain in a year.  Elsewhere:

  • Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings agreed to spend up to $2.5 billion on what was called the largest solar photovoltaic operation, giving a big boost to alt energy;
  • Google got the all-clear from the US on its search engine after an anti-trust investigation, paving way no doubt for more aggressive competition;
  • Transocean (operator of Deepwater Horizon) agreed to a $1.4 billion settlement with US Dept of Justice from Gulf of Mexico gulf-rig disaster;
  • US car sales soared 13 percent, fastest growth in 20 years;
  • Al-Jazeera, the pan-Arab news outlet, bought Al Gore’s Current TV, which will increase its US distribution to 40 million homes;
  • Andrew Sullivan announced plans to leave Daily Beast to go solo on his own subscription website, a move that will be watched closely as the high-profile blogger goes the subscription route;
  • Hugh Hefner at 86 marries his “runaway bride,” 26; and
  • The Daily Telegraph reports that Brad and Angelina also got hitched on Christmas. End of Story
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