Barbie Sales Slump, Soda Loses Fizz, Google Stumbles

(Photo Credit: Michael Stewart/Getty Images)

Morning Money Memo:

The corporate earnings season is still young, but the latest reports are already revealing some striking trends. Troubles in toyland are among them.

Mattel's report reveals that weak Barbie sales are one reason for its unexpected first-quarter loss. Toymakers are facing problems globally, largely because of fierce competition from tablets and other electronic gadgets.

Mattel, the largest U.S. toymaker, says it lost $11.2 million in the first quarter of this year. Sales dropped 5 percent. Barbie dolls, Hot Wheels cars and Disney Princess dolls are among the best known of hundreds of Mattel toy brands.

Americans are drinking less soda, but PepsiCo Inc. reported a stronger-than-expected, first-quarter profit. The company slashed costs and sold more snacks, energy drinks and orange juice. Earnings rose more than 10 percent compared with the previous year.

Is Google starting to stumble? After years of roaring success with rapidly rising profits and sales, the Internet's most influential company turned in a disappointing quarterly earnings report.

A downturn in online advertising prices put a dent in profits. Google also spent more money to hire employees and invest in a range of new product ideas.

Although it remains among the world's most profitable companies, Google is struggling to adjust to a shift away from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets.

The upheaval is lowering Google's ad rates because so far marketers haven't been willing to pay as much to pitch consumers who are squinting at the smaller screens on mobile devices. Company revenues rose 19 percent from last year, but that was below analyst forecasts. Google's share price fell 3 percent in after-hours trading.

Most big companies have announced better-than-expected earnings numbers. The Dow, Nasdaq and other stock averages had a third straight day of gains Wednesday after jitters and declines last week.

Here's an eye-popping number: Yahoo's recently fired chief operating officer, Henrique de Castro, left the Internet company with a severance package of $58 million despite lasting just 15 months on the job.

De Castro had been recruited from Google and was then let go after disappointing ad sales at Yahoo.

Many consumers may not know this, but the largest cost of owning a car is depreciation.

According to new research from the auto price valuation firm ALG, the process begins on day one. Consider a new car or SUV that sells for $30,000: "on average you lose almost $5,000 literally driving it off the dealer lot," ALG President Larry Dominique says.

"Typically, after three years the vehicle is worth about half what it was when you first purchased the car." Most motorists pay attention to gas and insurance costs but "the number one thing we see with cars over time is the depreciation whether you own that car three years, four years, seven years."

A nearly new car loses value at a much faster rate than an older vehicle.

Smartphone theft is on the rise. A Consumer Reports survey finds that more than 3 million devices were stolen last year, nearly double what was stolen in 2012.

You should always use a screen lock and backup your data often, the magazine says. Another recommendation: Write down your phone's unique identification number, a 15-digit number that can be used by law enforcement to track down the device. You can usually find the number on the box the phone came in or in the phone's settings menu.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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