IBM: A Nanotech Venture in New York
Five computer chipmakers, including IBM (IBM) and Intel (INTC), plan to create a hub for nanotechnology in New York, committing $4.4 billion over five years for the venture. One part of the project, led by IBM, will spend $3.6 billion to develop two next-generation computer chips that are used in supercomputers and consumer devices. The other part focuses on the silicon wafers used to create microchips. The venture hopes to develop technologies to increase the size of standard wafers, which would double the number of chips cut from wafer and lower prices. For New York, the investment by the companies will result in 6,900 jobs either retained or created.
General Motors: Reversing Its Course with OnStar
General Motors’ (GM) OnStar vehicle navigation service said it won’t collect data on the driving habits of customers who cancel their subscriptions, reversing a policy that drew protests from three U.S. senators. OnStar, which delivers navigation and security features via a car’s global-positioning system, had previously told its 6 million customers in an e-mail that it would continue collecting information from vehicles of subscribers who drop the service. Customers would have been required to contact OnStar to halt the data collection.
Bridgestone: Rolling on Record Tire Sales
Tiremakers are seeing record demand as the Chinese auto market remains hot and Japanese car production rebounds after the earthquake and tsunami in March. Bridgestone (BRDCY), the world’s biggest tiremaker, has more orders than it can handle, eroding rubber inventories just as rain delays threaten supplies from Thailand, the largest producer. The Tokyo-based company raised prices for truck and bus tires in Japan twice in 2011 and plans on raising some prices in the U.S. and Canada later this year.
Nike: New Funding for Startups
Nike (NKE) is setting up a venture capital offshoot to back startups focused on alternative energies and efficient manufacturing. The technologies could help Nike produce its products more sustainably and cheaply. The move takes a page from Silicon Valley, where technology companies have started venture arms. With research budgets getting cut, a wider range of companies are now looking to startups to help them maintain innovation. Nike’s effort, called Sustainable Business & Innovation Lab, hasn’t made any investments yet.
Berkshire Hathaway: Capitalizing on the Market Slump
Warren Buffett’s Bershire Hathaway, which has shunned buybacks for four decades, will repurchase shares for as much as 110 percent of their book value, saying the stock is undervalued after falling 17 percent this year. The Omaha-based company, which was sitting on nearly $48 billion in cash as of June 30, has traditionally used the firm’s profits to buy companies and stocks, instead of offering buybacks or issuing dividends. Berkshire said it would not buy back shares if it had less than $20 billion in available cash.