Frozen Leads Disney To Strong Earnings
Disney, led by CEO Bob Iger, reported a nearly 30% gain in fiscal second quarter earnings to $1.9 billion on a 10% jump in revenue to $11.65 billion, both well ahead of analysts estimates. The gains were owed to the strong performance of its film studio unit, where revenue swelled 35% to $1.8 billion, and the box office success of animated movie Frozen, in particular.
After years of grooming, Mark Fields, 53, officially was handed the keys to the CEO suite at Ford Motor Thursday. He takes over for Alan Mulally, who has led Ford for the last eight years, taking the automaker from a government bailout to an expected profit of upwards of $7 billion this year.
After being usurped by Comcast to acquire all of Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications managed to save face by inking a deal to buy and swap some cable systems with Comcast in a complex, three-step, roughly $20 billion deal. As a result, Charter, whose biggest shareholder is cable industry pioneer John Malone, will become the second-largest cable distributor in the country, trailing only the combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable.
Morgan Stanley's Merger Might
The investment bank, led by CEO James Gorman, reported a 56% profit gain to $1.46 billion in the first quarter. The gain was owed in part to its investment banking business, where Morgan Stanley topped the rankings in global mergers and acquisitions advising during the quarter.
Stock Smackdown For WWE
Shares of WWE, led by founder Vince McMahon, are getting body-slammed by investors after the company reported less than expected subscribers to its new streaming TV service. Just over 667,000 people subscribed to the WWE's $9.99 per month online video service in the first month. Analysts were projecting upwards of 800,000 subscribers.
Felonies For Financial Firms?
Wall Street's chief enforcement agent, Preet Bharara, said in a speech before the Security Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) that it won't be too long before "a significant financial institution will be charged with a felony or be made to plead guilty to a felony." Bharara has been a leading advocate for holding institutions themselves, and not just people, accountable for crimes and has aggressively been going after financial firms and white-collar criminals in particular.
Just over two months into her tenure as GM Chief Executive, Mary Barra is faced with perhaps the biggest crisis the automaker has faced since its bailout. GM had recalled 3.15 million cars for various safety failures and said it would take a $300 million charge this quarter. Further, the company had been criticized for its tightly-controlled press management of the crisis.
eBay CEO John Donahue faced a fresh attack from billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, who nominated two directors to the retailer's board and accused Donahue of "inexcusable incompetence." Icahn wants eBay to spin off its PayPal unit, a move the company is against.
Bond King Takedown
Bill Gross, founder of the world's largest bond fund, PIMCO, was the subject of a devastating article in The Wall Street Journal that questioned his management style and recent investment performance, laying much of the blame for the recent departure of CEO Mohamed El-Erian at his feet.
The proposed $45 billion mega-merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable put the spotlight squarely on Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. The FCC and Department of Justice will conduct the merger review, looking at such factors as market concentration, pricing power, and broadband access, among other issues, to determine approval or rejection.
Left Out In The Cold
Comcast's surprise deal to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion leaves Charter Communications, led by CEO Tom Rutledge, with few options. Charter had been pursuing Time Warner Cable for months.
Despite beating analysts revenue and earnings expectations in its first quarter as a public company, investors sent Twitter shares down sharply because of poor user growth. The company only added a disappointing 9 million new subscribers in the quarter.
Remember when investors were worried about Facebook's transition to mobile? Well, they aren't anymore, as the social networking company reported a blowout fourth quarter, bringing in $2.6 billion in total revenue. More importantly, about 53% of Facebook's advertising revenue now comes from mobile.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg officially became a billionaire this week after the company's shares, which account for the bulk of her fortune, closed at a new high of $58.51, according to Bloomberg's "Billionaires Index."
Charting A New Course
Cable company Charter Communications, in which John Malone's Liberty Media holds a 27% stake, made an unsolicited $61.3 billion bid for larger rival Time Warner Cable. The move marked the beginning of what is expected to be a protracted battle that could reshape the nation's cable landscape.
Sorry, Not Sorry
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel is facing fallout from both the hacking of the usernames and phone numbers to about 4.6 million users and the company's snarky response to the hacking incident. He has yet to apologize for the incident, which happened on Christmas Eve.
To Taper Or Not To Taper
Ben Bernanke will chair the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting of his career tomorrow , where the focus will be on whether or not he will begin reducing the government's $85 million of month in bond repurchases, a possibility he has talked about for much of the year but not yet done.
Federal agencies voted Tuesday to approve the so-called "Volcker Rule," a key provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law. The "Volcker Rule" bars banks from trading for their own gain and limits the amount they can invest in hedge funds, which theoretically will curb risk-taking.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made a surprise announcement during a segment on 60 Minutes Sunday, saying the company is hoping to deploy drone delivery for items under 5 pounds within 4-5 years. Before the service, dubbed PrimeAir, can take off, however, Amazon first needs to secure FAA approval.
Bloomberg, led by CEO Dan Doctoroff (below), has had a rough couple of weeks, with layoffs and accusations of spiking news stories to protect business interests. The company's challenges come as founder Michael Bloomberg is set to return.