Top Headlines - part 61

Apple World's Most Valuable Company Worth $500 Billion

Apple World's Most Valuable Company Worth $500 Billion

FINANCE

  • Apple shares worth over $540 per share
  • Apple exceeds second place corporate giant Exxon by nearly $100 billion
  • Apple CEO receives $378 million in payment package

Apple recently became one of only six US companies to ever reach the $500 billion level in market value – although none of its predecessors have managed to maintain that status for long.

Investors, however, remain hopeful after Apple's last quarter report showed over $46 billion in revenue, marking one of the largest quarterly gains in the history of any technology firm.

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Who Ordered The First Passenger Boeing 747-8?

Who Ordered The First Passenger Boeing 747-8?

BUSINESS

  • Unnamed buyer thought to be from Middle East
  • Plane to receive modifications to turn it into “jewel of the sky”
  • Boeing behind schedule for delivery of 747-8s

Boeing Co., the world’s second-largest airplane manufacturer, handed over its first passenger 747-8 Intercontinental to a secret VIP customer who is having the aircraft modified into a “jewel of the sky”.

The buyer, who is unnamed, is thought to be from either the ruling families of Qatar or the United Arab Emirates or the royal family of Kuwait.

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Middle East Attracts Major Hotel Investment

Middle East Attracts Major Hotel Investment

BUSINESS

  • Hotels in Dubai, Saudi Arabia outperforming other markets in Middle East 
  • 9 Starwood brands to branch out to Middle East in next 3 years
  • Hyatt to open 3 hotels in Saudi Arabia in next 4 years

Hotels in Dubai and Saudi Arabia outshined other markets in the Middle East last year and are continuing to drive revenue, room rates, and occupancy says Ernst & Young (E&Y) in its recent Middle East Hotel Benchmark Survey.

“Dubai and Saudi hotels have held their own and continue to improve their RevPar [revenue per available room, an industry benchmark], occupancy and room rates,” Yousuf Wahbah, Partner and Head of MENA Transaction Real Estate, told Gulf News.

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US Retailers Struggle With Financial Losses

US Retailers Struggle With Financial Losses

BUSINESS

  • Sears loses $2.4 billion, to close 120 stores
  • Target records profit margin down 28.4%
  • Gap sees profit drop 40%, will close 189 stores

Major American retailers Sears Holding Corp., Target Corp. and Gap Inc. reported losses as high as 40% in the fourth quarter as they attempted to attract price-conscious shoppers.

Sears lost $2.4 billion, marking its largest quarterly loss in nine years. Heavily dependent on malls stores, Sears announced in December it was closing up to 120 under-performing locations.

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Will GM and Peugeot Form A Manufacturing Partnership?

Will GM and Peugeot Form A Manufacturing Partnership?

BUSINESS

  • Car makers would share manufacturing and parts
  • Alliance aimed at cutting European revenue losses
  • Automobile industry has poor history of alliances

The world’s largest automaker General Motors Co. and PSA Peugeot Citroen, Europe’s second-biggest automaker after Volkswagen AG, are in talks to form what the French Labor Ministry calls a strategic partnership.

The goal of the alliance is to cut losses both Peugeot and GM’s Opel division are facing due to a decrease in demand. This year is expected to be the fifth consecutive year where deliveries have dropped. After the alliance is completed, both automakers would share manufacturing and engine development.

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Walmart Becomes Majority Shareholder in Chinese Online Retailer Yihaodian

Walmart Becomes Majority Shareholder in Chinese Online Retailer Yihaodian

BUSINESS

  • Walmart increases ownership in Yihaodian to almost 51%
  • Yihaodian hopes to better meet customer needs with Walmart’s expertise
  • Walmart sees fourth-quarter profit margins fall due to its lower retail pricing strategies

Walmart Stores Inc has increased its shares in Yihaodian, a fast-growing B2C e-commerce website in China, to bring Walmart's total ownership stake to almost 51% – nearly one year after it purchased a minority share in the same e-retailer.

Yihaodian offers over 180,000 products and runs logistics centers in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu, along with delivery stations in 34 cities across China.

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Fortis Ventures Into US Utility Market With CH Energy Group Buy For $1 Billion

Fortis Ventures Into US Utility Market With CH Energy Group Buy For $1 Billion

BUSINESS

  • Deal marks first steps for Fortis into regulated US gas and electricity market
  • Fortis to gain control of distribution in 8 New York counties
  • Fortis expected to buy more US utilities

Canada’s largest investor-owned distribution utility Fortis Inc plans to purchase New York-based energy distributor CH Energy Group for around $1 billion.

In the all-cash deal, Fortis will offer shareholders $65 a share; it will also take on $500 million in debt from CH Energy.

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New York City Hotel Transaction Volume Hits Record High

New York City Hotel Transaction Volume Hits Record High

BUSINESS

  • 18 hotel transactions worth $3.5 billion traded in 2011 for 150% increase over 2010 
  • Manhattan most liquid city for hotel transactions globally in 2011
  • REITs own approximately 20% of room stock in New York
  • NYC expected to continue 2012 as most active hotel transaction market in US

Driven by Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), the volume of hotel transactions in New York City reached an all-time record high last year, according to preliminary results from Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in its report called Hotel Intelligence New York.

Eighteen transactions making up nearly $3.5 billion in assets were traded in 2011, which represented a 150% increase over 2010 volume. About 50% of the city’s acquisition volume was driven by REITS last year, says Jones Lang.

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Prices Rise, Consumer Spending Remains Low in US

Prices Rise, Consumer Spending Remains Low in US

ECONOMY

  • Prices up 0.2% last month, lower than predicted
  • Core inflation expected to rise 1.6% but remain below 2%
  • Prices likely to stabilize as employment increases

Consumer prices in the US increased by 0.2% last month, a figure slightly lower than expected.

The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is the broadest of three price gauges by the US Labor Department and includes both goods and services. The current rise in consumer prices is due to higher gas, food, rent and clothing prices.

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Encana Selling 40% Stake in Gas Fields to Mitsubishi

Encana Selling 40% Stake in Gas Fields to Mitsubishi

BUSINESS

  • Mitsubishi to pay for $2.9 billion for stake in Canadian natural gas fields
  • Sale helps alleviate Encana’s $251 million fourth-quarter loss
  • Encana joint venture deal with PetroChina fell through last June

Calgary-based Encana Corp. is selling part of its stake in Canada’s natural gas fields to Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp. for $2.9 billion.

The sale will help Encana shore up its balance sheet in the wake of fourth-quarter losses.

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