Company News: Toyota, GM, Sears, OGX Petróleo e Gás, Goldman Sachs, Apple
• Toyota Motor has once again taken the lead in the race for the global sales title. The Japanese carmaker sold 2.5 million vehicles in the latest quarter, bringing its 2013 tally to 7.4 million. General Motors is close behind with 7.3 million. Toyota’s Camry, however, took a hit from Consumer Reports, which dropped it from its most-reliable list.
• Sears, desperate for cash and rifling through its closet of brands, said it might sell or spin off Lands’ End, a 50-year-old apparel line it bought in 2002 for $1.9 billion. To spur sales, which have not grown much in the past decade, the clothier has introduced slimmer fits and trendier styles.
• OGX Petróleo e Gás, the oil company controlled by Brazilian billionaire Eike Batista, is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection. About 16 months ago, OGX admitted that its much-hyped oil field off the coast of Brazil was only a collection of mediocre wells. Meanwhile, the debt it took on to fund exploration ran deep. If its bankruptcy plan is accepted, the company will have 60 days to restructure.
• Goldman Sachs is getting soft—on rookies at least. The notoriously demanding investment bank is encouraging its junior bankers to take weekends off, in an effort to reduce burnout and make itself a more attractive workplace to top prospects. The bank last year began making analysts full-time employees from the start rather than putting them on two-year contracts.
• Apple said its sales growth this holiday season would be its smallest in five years, projecting a modest 1 percent increase. On the upside, its profit margin is stabilizing and demand for the latest iPhone is ahead of expectations.