Ford Motor: Carmaker Posts Record Profit
Ford Motor (F), the only major U.S. carmaker to avoid bankruptcy, reported record third-quarter net income of $1.69 billion and said it is paying down debt faster than planned. The result topped its previous third-quarter high of $1.13 billion, set in 1997. CEO Alan Mulally has revived Ford by improving quality and expanding offerings of the namesake brand to lure buyers with higher incomes. New models such as the Fiesta subcompact and Super Duty pickup trucks lifted Ford's share of U.S. light-vehicle sales to 15.1 percent for the quarter, up from 13 percent two years ago. Buyers of Ford's cars and trucks paid an average of $30,636 per model in September, a 10 percent increase from five years ago.
UBS: Swiss Bank Posts a Surprise Loss
Switzerland's UBS (UBS) booked $1.2 billion in new investment inflows in the third quarter, the first net increase since 2008. Despite the improvement at the wealth management unit, UBS still reported a pretax third-quarter loss of $418 million because of a slump in trading at its investment bank. Clients began defecting two years ago as UBS piled up record losses and became engulfed in a U.S. investigation over customer tax evasion. The U.S. Justice Dept. on Oct. 22 dismissed its case against the bank.
PayPal: Unveils New Smartphone Services
PayPal, the online-payment processor owned by eBay (EBAY), has introduced a mobile version of its checkout software. The company is racing Visa and MasterCard (MA) to capitalize on surging smartphone use and continued growth in mobile commerce, which analysts say will reach $119 billion by 2015. PayPal has about 10 percent of the online payments market. Facebook has endorsed the new software, saying it will use it on its site as well as to pay developers.
JetBlue, Alaska Air, and AirTran: Adding Jets and Flights
Analysts and investors are concerned that JetBlue Airways (JBLU), Alaska Air (ALK), and AirTran (AAI) will imperil the industry's nascent recovery with plans to add jets and flights. New York-based JetBlue intends to expand its fleet by nine jets next year after boosting capacity by roughly 10 percent this quarter. Alaska will increase capacity by 9 percent, and AirTran may expand by 4 percent as it prepares to be acquired by Southwest Airlines (LUV).
Mail.ru: Facebook-backer Readies for IPO
Mail.ru Group, a Russian company that owns stakes in three closely held U.S. Internet properties, has drawn orders for all the stock on sale at its upcoming $876 million initial public offering in London, say sources with knowledge of the talks. Mail.ru's holdings in Facebook, Zynga Game Network, and Groupon may be worth a combined $900 million, figures Goldman Sachs (GS), which is among the banks arranging the sale. A final price for the stock is expected to be set during the week of Nov. 8. Mail.ru's owners, among them Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and South African media company Naspers, may reap as much as $792 million from selling their stakes.
On the Move
— Banorte: Former Mexico Central Bank Governor Guillermo Ortiz appointed chairman
— Office Depot (ODP): Chairman and CEO Steve Odland steps down
— Morgan Stanley (MS): Ex-Caterpillar (CAT) CEO James Owens named to board