General Motors: A truck overload
The best year for U.S. auto sales since 2007 hasn’t been enough to boost General Motors’ share price, in part because its dealerships have too many trucks parked on their lots. GM said it entered July with more than five months’ inventory of full-size pickups, the most since April 2009. This isn’t accidental: GM stockpiled new trucks to ensure dealers had enough supply while factories retooled to make redesigned pickups next year. The plan could backfire if sales keep running below the company’s initial estimates.
Online Poker: Settling money laundering charges
Online gambling sites PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker are paying at least $731 million to settle charges they tricked U.S. banks into processing payments for offshore gambling sites. In the deal, PokerStars will acquire Full Tilt and pay $547 million to a compensation fund run by the U.S. Department of Justice. It’ll also repay $184 million Full Tilt owes foreign players and will continue doing business. A third site, Absolute Poker, reached a settlement with prosecutors to forfeit all its assets. None of the parties admitted wrongdoing.
Breweries: Taking control of joint ventures
The world’s biggest beer makers are buying out their joint venture partners in emerging markets to keep them from falling into the hands of rivals. Brewers have announced 45 acquisitions valued at $35.6 billion this year, $7.8 billion more than in all of 2011. That includes Anheuser-Busch InBev’s $20.2 million deal to buy the rest of Mexico’s Grupo Modelo. Beer volume in Asia and Latin America is set to grow 6 percent a year from 2012 to 2016, says Nomura Securities, vs. a 1 percent decline in Europe and no growth in North America.
HSBC Holdings: An apology for compliance lapses
HSBC Holdings apologized to investors for compliance failings and set aside $2 billion to cover the costs of fines and redress. The lender made a $1.3 billion provision in the first half of this year to compensate British clients who were wrongly sold payment-protection insurance and derivatives. It also earmarked $700 million for U.S. fines after a Senate committee found the bank allowed terrorists and drug cartels to access the U.S. financial system. Stuart Gulliver, who assumed the CEO job in 2011, said new leadership is tightening controls.
Coach: More competition for handbags
Coach’s track record of frequently beating Wall Street estimates hit a bump when its North American sales missed analysts’ predictions as well as its own. Sales at stores open at least a year advanced only 1.7 percent in the quarter ended June 30, compared with a gain of 10 percent the year before. Women have been channeling more of their fashion dollars into handbags and accessories, a trend that has lured designers Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and others to pile into a market Coach has long dominated.