Morning Money Memo…
We’re watching TV almost everywhere, including the bathroom. A new Nielson study says more than ever consumers are watching TV programs on their own schedule, not when the shows are broadcast. In the past year, U.S. viewers’ time-shifting grew by almost two hours to 13 hours each month. Television still remains central to media consumption, the Nielson study found, despite the increase in time-shifting viewing and streaming video through a computer or smartphone. On average, American consumers own four digital devices. The majority of households have high-definition TV sets, Internet-connected computers and smartphones, while nearly half also own digital video recorders and gaming consoles. It found tht 40 percent of 18 – 24 year olds use social media in the bathroom, according to the study.
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013. And they’re not the only ones who are giving more. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual list of the 50 top philanthropists, Zuckerberg and Chan topped the list with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than $970 million, to a Silicon Valley nonprofit in December. The Chronicle’s editor says the most significant fact was the amount of money coming from living donors, which totaled about the same amount as the two previous years combined. That’s a sign the economy is getting better.
Another finding suggests improvement for the business economy. The current earnings season has been strong. About three in four S&P 500 firms have reported quarterly sales and profits. According to Fact Set Research, more than 70 percent had better-than-expected earnings.
What a difference a week makes for jittery investors. After the doom and gloom of last Monday when the Dow Jones Index plunged 326 points, financial markets may be on stronger ground. Last week’s averages closed higher, thanks to a two-day rally on Thursday and Friday.
Stock gains came despite negative chatter about the January jobs report, which was not nearly as bad as Friday’s early reaction suggested. Yes, the payroll report numbers were gloomy.113 thousand new jobs added by employers were a disappointment, especially on the heels of 74,000 for December. Economists had been forecasting nearly 200,000. But the Labor Department’s household survey, which uses a different sample, was much stronger. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 5-year low of 6.6 percent. The number of people who said they had jobs rose, and the government also announced annual revisions that added 369,000 jobs to payrolls last year.
Troubles in toyland. Hasbro’s fourth quarter earnings fell slightly compared to the previous year. Sales were flat during the holiday shopping season. Last month Hasbro’s big rival Mattel’s fourth-quarter results missed analysts’ estimates as sales of toys like Barbie and Fisher-Price preschool items dropped.
Lego is still a huge favorite. The film version of the 70-year-old snap-on toys was a big draw at the box office. During the first week end $69.1 million ticks were sold. Lego’s movie debut surprised industry analysts. Lego “follows Transformers and G.I. Joe as toys that made the successful leap from shelf to screen,” says USA Today. Expect the toy invasion at theaters to continue. Among the new movie projects in production: Oija, based on the spooky board game, Monopoly, and Candy Land.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow