Company News: GE, Michael Kors, Virgin America, General Motors, Walt Disney

General Electric gets out of solar panels; Michael Kors looks great to Wall Street; and more

• After more than half a decade, General Electric is giving up on its plan to make solar panels. It sold its solar-power technology to competitor First Solar in exchange for a 1.8 percent stake in the company worth $82 million. The sale doesn’t mean GE is getting out of sun power altogether—it will market First Solar’s products to companies looking to build large-scale renewable energy plants, including wind turbines and solar installations.

• Michael Kors just doesn’t seem to go out of style on Wall Street. The luxury-apparel maker beat estimates yet again, as profit jumped 82 percent, to $125 million, in the most recent quarter. Even in economically struggling Europe, Kors more than doubled sales.

• Virgin America, Richard Branson’s low-fare U.S. carrier, is considering a 2014 initial public offering, says Chief Executive Officer David Cush. The company focuses on ferrying jet-setters from coast to coast; the limited number of routes requires a smaller fleet. That cautious approach helped the carrier on Aug. 7 post its second quarterly profit since its launch six years ago.

• General Motors cut prices on its Volt plug-in car by $5,000, joining competitors including Nissan Motor, which sliced $6,400 off the price of its Leaf model in January. The discounts are bringing electric car prices closer to hybrid vehicles such as Toyota Motor’s Prius.

• Walt Disney’s growing amusement park empire and its sports cable network ESPN barely helped compensate for the expensive summer flop that was The Lone Ranger. Third-quarter profit at the company’s media networks rose by 8.2 percent, while theme park income surged by 9.4 percent. Profit at Disney’s film studios was down by 36 percent, as the company spent heavily to market the western.

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