Is Google This Year’s Apple?

May 16, 2013 8:05am

Morning Business Memo…

Google’s stock market value is now more than $300 billion. In recent months its shares have been soaring and closed above $900 for the first time, gaining more than 3 percent Wednesday. In the eyes of many investors, Google is making all the right moves – similar to how Apple was viewed this time last year when its shares were surging. Now things are very different. Apple shares tumbled 38 percent since reaching a peak last September, and dropped 3.4 percent in yesterday’s trading.

Google wowed the web, announcing a brand new streaming music service called All Access that blends songs users have already uploaded to their online libraries with millions of other tracks. The service charges a $10 fee and puts Google in competition with Pandora, Spotify and Rhapsody. Apple has yet to break into this part of the digital music market. Google also announced upgrades to its widely used maps and games services. READ OUR FULL COVERAGE OF GOOGLE’S BIG EVENT HERE.

The National Retail Federation – the largest US retail organization – has criticized a legally binding global agreement to improve safety conditions in Bangladesh, backed by mostly European retailers. All but a handful of US firms refused to sign it. Wal-Mart, Gap, Target and J.C. Penney had been urged by labor groups to sign the document after last month’s factory collapse that killed more than 1,100 clothing workers. Few details of an alternative voluntary US plan have been offered, but the industry says it’s more flexible.

According to The National Retail Federation, “The Safer Factories Initiative calls for buyers to work in conjunction with the Bangladeshi government, Bangladeshi factory owners, and Bangladeshi workers to develop and implement an industry standard on fire and building safety and conduct assessments of all factories based on those standards.” More than two dozen overseas brands have agreed to sign on to a five-year contract that requires that they help pay for fire safety and building improvements in Bangladesh. Most US firms are missing from the pact, with the exception of PVH, the New York-based parent company of Tommy Hilfiger, and Abercrombie and Fitch.

Wal-Mart (WMT) is reporting a slim 1.1 percent increase in first-quarter profit.  US sales declined 1.4 percent “impacted by a delay in income tax refund checks, challenging weather conditions, less grocery inflation than expected and the payroll tax increase,” the world’s largest retailer said in a statement. Wal-Mart’s results fell short of Wall Street expectations for earnings.

Cisco (CSCO) says quarterly profit rose 14 percent, which is stronger than forecast. Its performance is often seen as a sign of how the tech industry is doing. Cisco sells routers, switcher software and services to corporate and government customers.

Gold prices tumbled this morning below $1,400 an ounce for the first time since last month’s plunge. The drop came after a US report showed wholesale prices dropped in April after declining in March. The findings suggest inflation is not a problem right now.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesabc

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