Movie studios: A not-so-blockbuster season
Summer box-office tallies are falling short of last year’s $4.4 billion record, adding pressure on Hollywood studios to earn more from their holiday fare to avert a third year of declining sales. With flops including Universal’s Battleship and Tom Cruise’s Rock of Ages from Warner Bros. (TWX), studios are on track to end the summer with $4.27 billion in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales, down 3 percent from 2011, estimates researcher Hollywood.com Box Office. Studios are pinning their hopes on major holiday releases, including a new James Bond flick from Sony (SNE) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Hobbit from Warner, and the final installment of the Twilight series from Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF).
Yelp: A lockup ends and the sky doesn’t fall
Yelp’s (YELP) growth prospects trumped concerns over a possible flood of shares on Aug. 29, when a ban on stock sales by early investors expired. The online reviewer’s stock surged as much as 23 percent, to $22.40, defying expectations that Yelp would follow Facebook (FB), Groupon (GRPN), and Angie’s List (ANGI), whose shares all sank to record lows after lockups ended. Yelp is adding mobile features and working with Apple (AAPL) to put its reviews into the iPhone and iPad—moves that may help drive the 63 percent sales increase analysts expect this year.
Beverage makers: Energy drinks under scrutiny
Makers of energy drinks are being investigated by the New York attorney general, according to a person familiar with the probe. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed PepsiCo (PEP), Monster Beverage (MNST), and Living Essentials to determine whether their energy drinks are being improperly marketed as dietary supplements and don’t fully disclose their true caffeine content. Monster and Living Essentials had disclosed in regulatory filings that they were subjects of an unspecified state investigation. Pepsi and the AG’s office declined comment.
Airbus: Closing in on sales goals
Airbus (EAD:FP) may reach its annual order target of 600 planes as soon as September after rebounding from a muted first half. The European planemaker had secured just 301 orders through the end of July, fewer than half of the 736 booked by Boeing (BA). But upcoming deals should allow Airbus to close in on its rival. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s China visit was expected to yield an order for 100 planes, while AirAsia says it would like to sign for as many as 100 Airbus planes at this month’s Berlin air show.
Amazon.com: Zappos piggybacks on Pinterest
To parlay the popularity of social sharing into e-commerce sales, Amazon.com’s (AMZN) Zappos online store has launched a service called PinPointing. Customers who use their Pinterest usernames to log on at a new Zappos Web page will get recommendations on products such as shoes, dresses, and swimsuits similar to items they’ve pinned from other sites. While Zappos got approval from Pinterest, the companies aren’t officially teaming up or sharing revenue.