THE WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS

These are items that I found interesting but were given little press – thus, we’re including in weekly highlights – wouldn’t want their import to be missed:

1 – GM sold Opel and the British Vauxhall to Peugeot last August, after trying without success to pull the unit out of losses.  In less than a year, Peugeot and its CEO Carlos Tavares have turned the unit around, sporting an operating profit in the year’s first half and causing shares of Peugeot to jump 11%.  The results were accomplished by launching an ambitious restructuring of Opel with Tavares aiming to repeat the success at rejuvenation that he has had with Peugeot.  Definitely a turn-around artist.

2 – Apple’s MacBook Pro keyboard is called its third generation “butterfly”keyboard – quieter and with a performance boost backing it up that is supported by Intel’s latest chips.  Not for the faint of heart – the cost for the MBPro is somewhere between $2,400 and $6,700 depending on the added options.

3 – Amazon has logged record profits – $2 billion – on the services it has been offering.  These services are offered to sellers through its cloud computing business, advertising offerings and other services such as the ability to sell products on the Amazon website.  The company website includes 53% of its offerings by independent sellers; Amazon collects 15% on those sales and has the advantage of using the third party sellers’ storage facilities rather than having to hold its own inventory on those items.  Very clever business plan.

4 – WiFi is now generally more available on airline flights, but Gogo, Inc., who offers more than half of the world’s in-flight WiFi networks, has never turned a profit.  And the same difficulty is experienced by the other in-flight WiFi providers.  The problem currently lies in the relatively low cost of the services offered to in-flight customers ($28/day), whereas equipping each aircraft with the latest high-speed connections can cost upwards of $500,000.  Perhaps the airlines, themselves, should buy out the internet providers and shoulder that responsibility – certainly, they would be able to gain the advantage of bulk purchases, merchandising.

5 – And, an end piece on Marchionne – the workaholic who “saved Chrysler,” as the WSJ’s Holman Jenkins mentioned in his column.  Marchionne was known for his long devotion to his job – working almost 24-hour days, sleeping on planes, seldom seeing loved ones.  Marchionne’s willingness to work hard and his constant availability were the critical factors that made the Obama administration decide to give Chrysler one last try, rather than to close it down.  By that time, Marchionne had already shown his turn-around brilliance in his work with Fiat, but Chrysler “was his masterpiece of industrial and political engineering” as Jenkins puts it.  Marchionne effected a feint by promising the administration to bring Fiat-type small cars to Chrysler, while never intending to do that(one will remember that that administration wanted all Americans to stuff themselves into small, unsafe cars).  Instead, he focused Chrysler’s success on providing big cars to be sold to big Americans.

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