(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ___
Can Apple maintain its shine
NEW YORK (AP) _ For many investors, Apple's best days are behind it. Competitors are catching up, they believe, and the latest iPhone is stumbling.
The company's doubters have backed their conviction with billions of dollars. Last week, the stock fell below $500 for the first time in 11 months. Since Apple's stock peaked at $705.07 on Sept. 21 _ the day of the iPhone 5's release _ it has fallen nearly 30 percent, cutting Apple's market capitalization by nearly $200 billion.
On Wednesday, Apple _ still the world's most valuable public company _ gets a chance to rebut the skeptics as it reports financial results for the holiday quarter. But the report could also end up confirming beliefs that the company is losing its edge as an arbiter of innovation and a pacesetter in sales growth.
Wal-Mart warns suppliers on stricter measures
BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has alerted its global suppliers that it will immediately drop them if they subcontract their work to factories that haven't been authorized by the discounter.
Wal-Mart's stricter contracting rule, along with other changes to its policy, comes amid increasing calls for better safety oversight after a deadly fire at a Bangladesh factory that supplied clothing to Wal-Mart and other retailers. The fire in late November killed 112 workers at a factory owned by Tazreen Fashions Ltd. Wal-Mart has said the factory wasn't authorized to make its clothes.
In a letter sent Tuesday to suppliers of its Wal-Mart stores as well as Sam's Clubs in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, the company says it will adopt a "zero tolerance" policy on subcontracting without the company's knowledge, effective March. 1. Previously, suppliers had three chances to rectify mistakes.
What holds energy tech back The infernal battery
WASHINGTON (AP) _ As 21st century technology strains to become ever faster, cleaner and cheaper, an invention from more than 200 years ago keeps holding it back. It's why electric cars aren't clogging the roads and why Boeing's new ultra-efficient 787 Dreamliners aren't flying high.
And chances are you have this little invention next to you right now and probably have cursed it recently: the infernal battery.
Boeing is the first company to make extensive use in an airliner of technology's most advanced battery _ lithium ion. But a Jan. 7 battery fire aboard a Dreamliner in Boston, followed by a similar meltdown in Japan, led authorities around the world to ground the fleet this month, highlighting a longstanding safety problem that engineers have struggled with.
In 2006 and 2007, more than 46 million cellphone batteries and 10 million laptop batteries _ all lithium ion _ were recalled because of the risk of overheating, short-circuiting and exploding. Additional safety features have been installed since then on lithium ion batteries used in consumer electronics.
Google's 4Q earnings rise 7 percent
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Google's fourth-quarter earnings rose 7 percent as online advertisers spent more money in pursuit of holiday shoppers.
The financial results announced Tuesday were a mixed bag. While the company's earnings topped analyst estimates, an accounting quirk caused net revenue to fall below the projections that guide investor expectations.
The most recent quarter didn't provide an apples-to-apples comparison to the previous year because the latest results included Motorola Mobility. Google didn't own Motorola Mobility in 2011, having completed its $12.4 billion acquisition of the handset maker eight months ago.
CEOs head to Davos more pessimistic about 2013
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) _ As high-powered CEOs flock to the snowy Swiss resort of Davos, they are loaded down with baggage _ not just skis and iPads but concerns about the global economy, public mistrust, disappearing jobs and a heap of other challenges.
New survey results Tuesday showed a steady drop in the number of CEOs worldwide who are "very confident" that their companies will grow this year. The number fell from 48 percent in 2011 to 36 percent this year.
Amid this pessimism, most of them are carefully sticking to a few investments in tried-and-true markets, according to the survey by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
US home sales dip in Dec.; 2012 best in 5 years
WASHINGTON (AP) _ U.S. sales of previously occupied homes dipped in December from November, in part because of a limited supply of available homes. But for all of 2012, sales rose to their highest level in five years.
The National Association of Realtors said Tuesday that sales declined in December to an annual rate of 4.94 million. That's down from a rate of 4.99 million in November, which was revised lower but was still the highest in three years.
Total sales last year increased to 4.65 million. That's 9.2 percent higher than 2011 and the most since 2007. Sales finished below the roughly 5.5 million that are consistent with a healthy market. Still, most economists say home sales are improving steadily and that the gains should continue this year.
J&J 4Q profit jumps on higher sales, lower charges
Higher sales of prescription drugs and medical devices helped Johnson & Johnson post a much bigger fourth-quarter profit than a year ago, when a slew of charges depressed results.
However, consumer health product sales dipped and the company again pushed back its timeline for returning recalled products to stores. In addition, J&J's 2013 profit forecast, for $5.35 to $5.45 per share, is below the average analyst estimate of $5.49.
The New Brunswick, N.J., company said Tuesday that net income was $2.57 billion, or 91 cents per share, up from $218 million, or 8 cents per share, in 2011's fourth quarter.
Delta Air Lines clings to $7 million profit in 4Q
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Delta Air Lines Inc. said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit was nearly wiped out by Superstorm Sandy and special charges.
The storm forced airlines to cancel more than 20,000 flights. The impact was bigger at Delta because Sandy also slowed down operations at its new oil refinery near Philadelphia.
Delta's goal in restarting the refinery was to maximize jet fuel production and reduce its fuel bill. But Sandy slowed the refinery's restart. The refinery lost $63 million for the quarter and added 7 cents per gallon to the price of Delta's jet fuel. Delta said it expects the refinery to be profitable in the current quarter.
Verizon posts record 4Q loss on pension adjustment
NEW YORK (AP) _ Verizon strengthened its position as the top dog of the wireless industry in its latest quarter by raking in new subscribers and selling millions of iPhones, but also posted a record loss.
The loss of $4.23 billion, or $1.48 per share, for the fourth quarter was mainly due to adjustments to the value of its pension funds and obligations, an annual routine for Verizon Communications Inc.
But even excluding the pension effects, the New York-based phone company missed Wall Street's earnings expectations when reporting Tuesday because of the cost of repairs after Superstorm Sandy and "aggressive" advertising and price cuts on smartphones.
It's cowboys v. showgirls in Coke's Super Bowl ad
NEW YORK (AP) _ Most people will be cheering for the San Francisco 49ers or Baltimore Ravens during Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.
But Coca-Cola is asking viewers to cheer for three very different groups in an interactive marketing blitz during the big game: a troupe of showgirls, a band of cowboys and a biker-style gang of "badlanders" _ all on a quest for a thirst-quenching Coke in a desert.
The campaign, which will include TV spots as well as a Web site and interaction with consumers on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, is the world's largest beverage maker's latest attempt to capture interest of people who watch the Big Game with a second screen such as a tablet or smartphone nearby. With Super Bowl ads costing around $4 million for 30 seconds, it is increasingly important for marketers to make that investment count, extending Super Bowl campaigns online before, during and after the game.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 62.51 points, or 0.5 percent, at 13,712.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 6.53, or 0.4 percent, to 1,492.51. The Nasdaq composite average rose 8.47, or 0.3 percent, to 3,143.18.
Benchmark oil rose 68 cents to $96.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international varieties of oil, was up 71 cents to $112.42 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Natural gas fell about 1 cent to $3.55 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline advanced 3 cents to $2.83 per gallon. Heating oil rose 2 cents to $3.07 a gallon.
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