Apple Made Boatload of Money, But Not Enough

Jul 25, 2012 8:08am

Apple may be a victim of its own expectations. iPhone sales fell during the spring compared to very strong numbers in the first quarter of this year. Looks like many consumers are holding off – waiting to buy the iPhone 5 expected in the fall. Still, many companies would love to have this problem. Apple reported $8.8 billion in profits – a 21 percent gain over a year ago. Sales came in at $35 billion, up 23 percent from a year earlier.  But Wall Street was expecting even more. Apple shares plunged 5 percent in after-market trading.

Standing in long checkout lines is the worst part of shopping. For years Apple stores have featured mobile checkout, where roving clerks with mobile devices check you out on the spot. Now Nordstrom, Costco, and Sam’s Club have started using mobile checkout. JC Penney is aiming to eliminate traditional checkout registers by the end of next year. Brick and mortar stores, stung by the rise of online retailers, are looking at ways to make shopping more convenient.

New moves are afoot  to make consumers pay state sales taxes when they shop online. More governors are asking Congress to help states recover an estimated $20 billion in sales taxes that go uncollected by out-of-state online merchants every year. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam told the House Judiciary Committee that it isn’t fair to local businesses to exempt online purchases from state sales taxes. Other Republican governors, such as Chris Christie of New Jersey, have endorsed a bill to make out-of-state Internet merchants charge and collect state taxes.

The Federal Reserve may be getting ready to help the faltering economy. According to published reports, top officials are moving closer to taking new steps to boost economic growth. This may include expanding the Fed’s holdings of mortgage backed securities. A new round of quantitative easing – the first since 2010 – is expected to be discussed when the Fed’s policy-making committee meets next week. Both The Wall Street Journal and New York Times say some members want immediate action while others favor delaying the decision at least until September. Interest rates are already at record lows. The 10 year Treasury note, a benchmark for fixed rate mortgages, is now at 1.4 percent.

The debate over a Fed stimulus at a time of weakness for the US economy, caused largely by deep problems in Europe. A new survey of business confidence in Germany – Europe’s biggest economy – slid more than expected, falling to a two-year low. A new report finds the UK economy moved deeper into recession in the 2nd quarter. Global stock markets have been down for most of the past week.

Were you treated unfairly by America’s biggest bank? JP Morgan Chase has agreed to pay $100 million to settle a lawsuit brought by customers who claim the bank improperly increased minimum payments on their credit card bills. The proposed settlement would end a three-year-old case against Chase for raising the cardholders’ minimum payment to 5 percent of account balances from 2 percent in 2008 and 2009. Cardholders claim Chase did it to make extra money on fees it charged to people who couldn’t meet higher payments.

The settlement was disclosed in a filing with the federal court in San Francisco. In the court document, Chase argued that increasing the monthly payments was a reasonable and sensible response to unprecedented economic turmoil and impending regulatory changes. Last week, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced its first enforcement action, targeting Capital One for deceptive marketing. About 2 million Capital One customers are expected to get refunds.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio twitter.com/daviesabc

 

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