Apple: Still Thriving in the post-Jobs era
Apparently, Apple (AAPL) can still perform without Steve Jobs. The company says profit more than doubled in the quarter ended Dec. 31—the first full quarter of results released since Jobs died in October—as consumers worldwide snapped up iPhones, iPads, and other iGizmos over the holidays. Investors seemed to shake off worries that CEO Tim Cook might lead the company astray, sending shares up 6.2 percent on Jan. 25. Sales rose 73 percent to $46.3 billion in the period, and earnings surged to $13.1 billion. Apple sold 15.4 million iPads in the quarter, topping the 13.5 million projected by analysts, easing fears that Amazon’s (AMZN) new Kindle Fire would sap tablet sales.
Starbucks: Make my Chardonnay a Grande
After experimenting with alcohol sales at six West Coast stores, Starbucks (SBUX) says it will sell beer and wine in as many as 25 locations by year-end. The move is part of a broader experiment to find ways to get customers in the door during slow periods of the day, especially afternoons and evenings. The new stores in Chicago, Atlanta, and Southern California will be larger and seat more patrons than regular Starbucks cafes. At outlets that now sell alcohol, in Seattle and Portland, Ore., beer is $5 and a glass of wine runs $7 to $9.
Federal Reserve: More clarity in its crystal ball
For the first time, the Federal Reserve has released details on what individual policymakers believe will happen to the benchmark interest rate, which has remained near zero for more than three years. Nine of the 17 members of the Federal Open Market Committee expect short-term borrowing costs to remain below 1 percent at the end of 2014, with six officials saying rates could remain that low into 2015. In a separate statement, the Fed on Jan. 25 said it will keep its target “exceptionally” low until at least late 2014 to spur lending.
Allergan: A Botox boost in Ireland
A small town in western Ireland is getting a Botox injection. Allergan (AGN), the maker of the wrinkle-smoothing treatment, says it’s spending as much as $350 million to expand an existing plant in Westport, County Mayo. The facility will ultimately employ about 1,050 people; the town has a population of just 6,000. Allergan’s investment is confirmation that, despite the acute crisis, Ireland’s 12.5 percent tax rate and supply of English-speaking workers have continuing appeal for international companies.