Tag Archives: sales

Nestle Nigeria to triple sales to $2.2bn in ten years: CFO

LAGOS: Nestle Nigeria plans to triple its revenues in Nigeria to 351 billion naira ($2.2 bln) over the next ten years, its chief financial officer told Reuters.



Martin Kruegel earlier said the food manufacturer would invest 100 billion naira over a ten year period to achieve its sales target.


“Our aim is to triple our Nigerian sales over the next ten years from 117 billion naira currently,” he said, adding that the additional investment would drive that target.


Hewlett-Packard sees sales fall 6%

21 February 2013 Last updated at 22:10 GMT Hewlett-Packard logo HP is in the middle of a turnaround plan The world’s largest maker of personal computers, Hewlett-Packard, has seen a 6% drop in first-quarter sales as demand for PCs continued to shrink.

Net sales in the three months to the end of January fell to $28.4bn (£15.3bn), while net profit fell 16% from the previous year to $1.2bn.

But the results beat forecasts and HP shares rose 6% in after-hours trading.

Chief executive Meg Whitman has said she will turn HP around but has warned it may take several years.

Earlier this week, rival PC maker Dell reported an 11% drop in revenue and a 31% fall in quarterly profit.

Both companies have struggled to grow sales as they battle the surge in popularity of smartphones and tablet computers.

‘Gaining traction’

In May last year, HP revealed plans to cut 27,000 jobs by the end of 2014.

It said this would reduce costs by up to $3.5bn a year.

“While there’s still a lot of work to do to generate the kind of growth we want to see, our turnaround is starting to gain traction as a result of the actions we took in 2012 to lay the foundation for HP’s future,” Ms Whitman said in a statement.

HP said it had returned $511m in cash to shareholders in the quarter through dividends and share buybacks.

It also said it had improved its net debt position for the fourth quarter in a row by over $1bn.

It forecast earnings per share of 80 to 82 cents in the second quarter, higher than the average Wall Street forecast of 77 cents.

“Our primary focus is to deliver on the full-year outlook, and I feel good about the rest of the year,” Ms Whitman said.

Wal-Mart warns of sluggish sales

21 February 2013 Last updated at 22:31 GMT Walmart Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart said sales were slow at the start of the month and warned they would remain sluggish throughout the February to April quarter.

The caution came as it posted a rise in fourth-quarter profits, after reaping the benefit of US tax credits.

Shares in the retailer closed up 1.5% as it hiked its dividend payout for the current financial year by 18%.

Net income rose 8.7% to $5.88bn (£3.85bn) in the three-month period ending 31 January.

Wal-Mart’s UK subsidiary Asda posted flat like-for-like sales excluding petrol in the same period.

Wal-Mart in its earnings statement said: “Due to the slower sales rate in the first few weeks of this year’s first quarter, we are forecasting comparative sales for the 13-week period from 26 January to 26 April 2013 to be around flat.”

The expiration of payroll tax cuts and a delay in processing tax returns are thought to have held back consumption in February.

Last week, leaked emails from executives described February sales figures as a “total disaster”.

Continue reading the main story “In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, wrote in a 12 February email to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales.

“The worst start to a month I have seen in my seven years with the company,” he added.

In the fourth quarter, sales at Wal-Mart rose 3.9% to $128bn. Over the full fiscal year, revenues rose 5% to $469bn from the previous year and net income rose 8.4% to $17.7bn.

Overall, Wal-Mart US sales grew 2.6% in the fourth quarter to $75bn, while its international sales grew 6.9% to $37.9bn.

UK Christmas

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart president Doug McMillon said that Asda had had its strongest online Christmas season.

He said that more than half of its online general merchandise customer base regularly shopped at Asda, with total online sales increasing 18.8% in the three months to 31 January compared with a year earlier.

Asda is expected to expand delivery capability of its George clothing in Europe this year and will be fully operational in 24 countries by the end of the third quarter, the company said.

But Asda’s chief executive Andy Clarke warned: “This is no time to be complacent. It’s likely to be a challenging and uncertain year ahead and so we will continue to focus on the customer and adapt the business to their needs.”

Property sales see winter lift

22 February 2013 Last updated at 10:25 GMT Houses January is traditionally a slow month for house sales in the UK Property sales in the UK were slightly higher in January than during the same month a year earlier, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures show.

There were 64,490 completed sales during the month, up from 60,530 in January 2012.

This was well down on December, although there is always a drop in the first month of the year.

However, seasonally adjusted data shows that activity was similar to levels in December.

Mortgage difficulties

The figures have already shown that house sales in the UK rose by 5% in 2011 to the highest level since 2007.

The revival has been partly due to the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which has started to increase the flow of mortgage funds and make mortgages cheaper as well.

But many first-time buyers are still finding it difficult to get a foothold on the property ladder, as lenders demand high deposits.

Figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) earlier in the week showed that any signs of mortgage market revival stuttered in January.

New mortgage lending of £10.4bn in January was down 9% on December, and by 3% compared with January 2012.

Dell sales fall ahead of buyout

Dell laptop PC maker Dell has struggled as consumers have turned to smartphones and tablet computers Computer maker Dell has reported quarterly profits and revenues ahead of expectations, in what could be its last set of results as a public company.


The world’s third largest PC maker said net profit in the fourth quarter fell 31% to $530m (£345m) compared with the same period a year ago.


Revenue fell 11% to $14.3bn, hurt by a shrinking consumer business, but still beat analysts’ forecasts.


Founder Michael Dell has offered to buy the business for $24.4bn.


But his attempt to turn it back into a private firm has faced opposition.


Dell’s largest independent shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management, said the offer “grossly undervalues the company”, while reports suggest other large investors also oppose the deal.


In recent years Dell has struggled to compete with cheaper Asian rivals, as well as the boom in smartphones and tablet computers, and has focused more on corporate needs and less on the home consumer.


For the full year ending 1 February 2013, net profit fell 32% to $2.37bn, while revenue fell 8% to $56.9bn.


Dell said that it was not providing an outlook for the 2014 fiscal year or for the first fiscal quarter, given the proposed merger agreement to take the company private.


Shares in Dell edged up 0.5% in after-hours trading in New York to $13.87.

Retail sales hit by heavy snowfall

Shopper in the snow in January Heavy snowfall put people off from going out to the shops, the ONS suggests UK retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, confounding economists’ expectations for a rise.


Volumes fell 0.6% from December 2012, hurt by heavy snowfall, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.


Volumes also fell 0.6% from a year ago, the first annual fall in 17 months.


The ONS highlighted weak sales in the food sector, which dropped 2.6% year-on-year to the lowest level since April 2004. It also said small stores had fared worse than large stores.


Smaller retailers in the food sector suggested that the heavy snow seen in the second half of January had affected sales.

Continue reading the main story Jonty Bloom Business correspondent, BBC News

Icy conditions across much of the country in January hit many smaller shops with some forced to close altogether; that pushed down food sales quite dramatically and the weather also hit sales of fuel.


But this drop in High Street spending cannot all be blamed on the weather – there was also a sharper than expected fall in spending in the run up to Christmas.


Overall household spending has failed to increase over the last year. That has forced several high-profile store groups to close and many others to cut prices in an attempt to drum up business.


It all suggests that higher inflation and slow wage growth are squeezing household incomes and that is being felt in the UK’s shops.

In contrast, larger retailers suggested that some of the increase they saw came from a rise in online sales.


The amount spent online accounted for 10.1% of all retail spending, excluding fuel.


In the food sector, the proportion of online sales rose 27% on the year. That meant that online sales now make up a record 3.7% of all food sales.


The data for December, which had previously shown a 0.1% drop in monthly volumes, was also revised to show a steeper 0.3% decline.


The ONS data had an immediate impact on sterling, with the pound falling by more than a cent against the dollar to $1.5477.

Inflation impact?

By value, retail sales fell by 0.4% on the month and were unchanged on the year.


The ONS said that sales at petrol stations were the biggest contributor to the drop in the amount spent.

Kate Davies, ONS: “Small stores have affected the figures, large stores have fared much better”


Analysts were disappointed with the figures.


“If you define Christmas sales as the November to January period, this has been the second worst performance over the festive/sales period over the past 15 years,” said George Buckley, chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank, adding that 2009-10 was the worst.


But he noted that other surveys had held up better. For instance, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that like-for-like retail sales in January rose 1.9% compared with January 2012 – the biggest rise in more than a year.


“Perhaps some of today’s weakness reflects higher inflation, which has risen by 0.5 percentage points over recent months,” he said.

Prospects for the economy

The retail data raises concerns about the strength of the UK economy, which shrank by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012.


Some analysts had already feared that it could contract again in the first quarter of 2013, which would mean the UK would slip back into recession.


“This probably brings the question of ‘triple-dip’ back on the table again,” said Rob Wood, economist at Berenberg Bank.


“If this is the sort of disruption we see from snow and it’s reflected in output in the rest of the economy, then it could be bad news for Q1,” he added.


But Chris Williamson from Markit said that while the snow had clearly had an impact on sales, the decline was not as severe as that seen in previous years.


“For example, the 0.6% decline in January compared with a 1.9% monthly fall in December 2010, when the country was also hit by heavy snow.


“The data therefore add to other survey evidence which suggests the economy got off fairly lightly from snow disruption, further allaying fears of a weather-related ‘triple-dip’ recession.”

Canada factories see biggest sales drop since May 2009

canadian factoriesOTTAWA: Canadian manufacturing sales recorded the biggest decline in about 3-1/2 years in December, due mainly to weaker auto production but also on lower sales across most other industries, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

Factory sales tumbled 3.1 percent in the month, the sharpest fall since May 2009 in seasonally-adjusted terms, compared with market forecasts for a 0.8 percent decline. The setback more than erased the 1.9 percent gain in November, revised from 1.7 percent previously.

Excluding the auto sector, sales fell 1.8 percent as 16 of 21 industries reported decreases, with the biggest downward pressure coming from chemicals, energy products and fabricated metals.

In volume terms, overall sales sank 3.8 percent.

The Canadian dollar weakened to C$1.0047 versus the US dollar, or 99.53 US cents.

Manufacturers have been hard hit by a strong Canadian dollar and weak US export market, and although the overall economy has long recovered from the 2008-09 recession, manufacturers have yet to see sales climb back to pre-crisis levels.

The dismal data for December rounded off a mediocre year for the sector. In 2012 as a whole, factory sales rose 3.4 percent, less than half the 7.8 percent growth of 2011.

In December, sales by motor vehicle assembly plants plummeted 15.4 percent. While that sector normally undergoes temporary plant shutdowns in the final month of the year, Statscan said the decline in December 2012 was greater than usually observed.

New orders for manufactured goods fell 4.4 percent in December while unfilled orders increased by 2.6 percent.

Inventories fell 1 percent and the inventory-to-sales ratio — a measure of how many months it would take to exhaust stock — rose to 1.34 from 1.32 in November.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

DJs exits DVDs, music, games on sales slip


David Jones will stop selling DVDs, music and games, after falling electronics sales dragged down its overall sales results.


The upmarket department store reported total sales revenue of $590.1 million for the second quarter of its current financial year, which covered the crucial pre and post-Christmas trading periods.


Sales were down 1.4 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier, with the company’s chief executive Paul Zahra laying the blame squarely on electronics.


“We are pleased with the performance of our high margin fashion and beauty categories (such as womenswear, beauty, menswear, accessories and shoes) which delivered sales growth in the second quarter and first half of financial year 2013,” he noted in the report.


“Our sales performance during this period was, however, adversely impacted by our home categories, in particular electronics, which continued to be challenging and subject to ongoing deflationary pressure.”


David Jones says it has shifted its focus from selling more goods to increasing the profit margins on what it sells.


The decision to exit DVDs, music and games is part of that push, as they are segments subject to strong competition from other stores and online, which has pushed prices continually lower.


“Our fashion and beauty business is doing very well and it’s actually in good shape and we are dragged down by the home categories and, particularly, electronics, which would include TVs,” Mr Zahra explained in a media briefing.


“Historically we’ve had a split of about 55/45, fashion and beauty 55, 45 being home and food – we’re currently at about 65/35 split.”


Paul Zahra says David Jones will also look to reduce the number of products on sale and the size of the discounts.


“We also continue to reduce the depth and breadth of our promotional discounting events and continue to work on changing our category mix to increase focus on higher margin categories,” he added.


Investors were not impressed by the company’s sales, which missed the lower end of analyst forecasts ranging between $593-602 million according to a survey by Bloomberg.


David Jones shares were down 2.2 per cent to $2.62 by 10:56am (AEDT).


Rival Myer also saw its shares dragged lower, also down 2.2 per cent $2.62.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, retail, company-news, australia

First posted February 14, 2013 11:08:11

Record Apple sales disappoint investors

Updated January 24, 2013 15:52:41

The US technology giant Apple has posted a record first quarter profit of $US13.1 billion ($12.4 billion).

The company’s quarterly revenue hit $54.5 billion ($51.6 billion), which was very slightly below average analyst estimates.

Apple sold almost 48 million iPhones in the quarter, which is a record, but Wall Street was hoping for sales of around 50 million.

Sales of Apple’s iPad came in at 22.9 million, which was roughly in line with forecasts.

The outlook has also concerned investors; Apple expects revenue to slip to around $US41-43 billion (circa $40 billion) in the second quarter as the initial boost from the iPhone 5′s release fades.

“These results were OK, but they definitely raised a few questions. Gross margin trajectory looks fine, so that’s a positive, and cash continues to grow, but I think investors are going to want to know what Apple plans to do with [that] growing cash balance,” Shannon Cross, an analyst with Cross Research, told Reuters.

“And other questions are going to be around innovation and where the next products are coming from, and what does [Apple's CEO] Tim Cook see in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Apple boss Tim Cook’s rhetoric remains upbeat, despite the concerns about iPhone sales and their popularity in Asian markets.

“We could not be happier with that. In terms of the geographic distribution, we saw our highest growth in China and it was into the triple digits, which was higher than the market there,” he told investors.

The results came out after the main market closed, however Apple shares fell 10 per cent in after-hours trade to $US463, wiping $US50 billion off the company’s value.

Apple shares are now down by around a third from a record high in September, wiping around $US227 billion from the company’s value since then.

Analysts say Apple risks slipping behind in its two-horse race with main rival Samsung.

“It’s going to call into question Apple’s dominance in the space. It’s still one of the strong players, the others being Samsung and Google. It’s still a two-horse race, but Android continues to grow rapidly,” Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu told Reuters.

“If you step back a bit, it’s clear they shipped a lot of phones, but the problem is the high expectations that investors have. Apple’s conservative guidance highlights the concerns over production cuts coming out of Asia recently.”

Topics: company-news, business-economics-and-finance, electronics, multinationals, united-states

First posted January 24, 2013 09:52:31

Microsoft fails to wow with Windows 8 sales

Updated January 25, 2013 09:47:44

The world’s largest software maker, Microsoft, has met expectations with its latest profit report.

Net income declined from $US6.6 billion to $US6.4 billion ($6.1 billion), or 76 US cents per share, but that beat analyst forecasts that centred on 74 cents a share in net earnings.

The company’s sales rose 2.7 per cent to $US21.5 billion ($20.5 billion), in line with expectations.

Analysts say a mass corporate switch over from the 12-year-old Windows XP operating system – still used by many organisations because of its stability and reliability – to the newer (but not latest) Windows 7 software, because Microsoft is ending support for XP, is helping to boost sales.

“One of the biggest stories in 2013 is the business transition from Windows XP to Windows 7,” Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at market research firm IDC Corp, told Bloomberg.

“There are a staggering number of machines still running Windows XP. The IT guys have to pull the plug on those and upgrade, and most will do that by buying new machines.”

However, sales were dented by a 10 per cent fall in Microsoft Office revenue, as customers await the release of the latest 2013 version, expected in the next few weeks.

Microsoft shares eased to $27.06 in after-hours trade following the report, after having closed at $27.63 on the Nasdaq.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, company-news, electronics, software, united-states

First posted January 25, 2013 09:39:02

India set for worst car sales in decade

NEW DELHI: India’s once-booming passenger car sector looked set to post its worst annual performance in a decade, an industry group said Monday, after reporting a 12 percent plunge in auto sales in January.


Car sales viewed as an important barometer of overall economic health slid by 12.45 percent to 173,420 units in January from the same month in 2012, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) said.


“We now think passenger car sales growth for the (2012-13 financial) year will be in negative figures,” SIAM deputy director general Sugato Sen told AFP, adding “the last time we had a negative (figure) was in 2002-03″.


“The industry is in tough times,” Sen said.


India’s weak figures come as vehicle sales in China, the world’s largest car market, shifts back to higher growth. Passenger vehicle sales surged 48.7 percent to 1.73 million units in January from a year earlier, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said late last week.


India’s car sales grew by a breakneck 20-to-30 percent in the previous decade prompting foreign carmakers such as Ford, Renault-Nissan, GM and other firms to make a beeline for the country as they sought to boost sales globally.


But passenger sales growth in India, the sixth-largest car market worldwide, has been in decline since 2010 with the nation’s expanding middle classes steering clear of auto showrooms as the economy has slowed.


India, Asia’s third-largest economy, is forecast to grow by five to 5.5 percent this financial year its weakest pace in a decade.


Increased ownership costs, such as costlier fuel and steep interest rates, have also deterred buyers.


“People aren’t getting the right vibes from the economy and are delaying their car purchases,” Deepesh Rathore, India-based expert of industry forecasting group IHS Automotive, told AFP.


“Car buying in India is still a very emotional business,” he added. “Even if buyers need a car they will probably wait until they feel good about the economic situation.”


SIAM had already slashed its passenger car sales growth forecast for the fiscal year to March 31 to zero-to-one percent from an initial 10 to 12 percent.


Sen said there would be no further official revision but added the group did not expect a recovery in car sales in the final financial quarter.


Sales for April to January were down around two percent from the same period a year earlier, Sen said.


Rathore said India’s passenger car sector was expected to gain traction in the next financial year, growing by six to seven percent, as long as the rest of the economy also picked up speed.


Total sales of trucks and buses another key pointer to economic vitality slumped by 9.51 percent to 63,218 units in January from a year ago.


The SIAM official said there was “still major headroom there for growth” in the car sector longer-term thanks to a highly under-penetrated market. Just one in 11 households in cities and one in 50 in rural areas own cars, SIAM said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

China auto sales hit record in January

aotu-chinaSHANGHAI: Auto sales in China, the world’s largest car market, hit a record 2.03 million vehicles last month, driven by robust demand ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, an industry group said Thursday.

Auto sales tend to pick up before the holiday, which starts Sunday, as people spend their New Year bonuses.

“There was evident growth of demand in the passenger vehicle market,” the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement.

Vehicle sales surged 46.4 percent year-on-year in January to set a record for any month, the group said, but added the strong rise was also attributable to five fewer working days in January last year.

Sales of passenger vehicles alone jumped around 48.7 percent from a year earlier to 1.73 million units, it said.

China’s annual auto sales rose only 4.3 percent year-on-year to 19.31 million units in 2012, hit by limits on numbers imposed by some cities to ease traffic congestion and cut pollution.

A dispute between Beijing and Tokyo also hurt sales of Japanese cars, but other foreign brands have fared better due to customers’ perceptions of higher quality.

US auto giant General Motors said earlier this week that its January sales in China surged 26 percent year on year to 310,765 vehicles, setting a company record for any month.

Its sales in China grew 11.3 percent in 2012 from 2011 to a record 2.84 million vehicles, despite the country’s slower economic growth, the company has previously said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

Daimler says 2012 profits up on record revenue, unit sales

Daimler 400FRANKFURT: German automaker Daimler said on Thursday that its net profit rose by 8.0 percent to 6.495 billion euros ($8.8 billion) in 2012 on the back of record unit sales and revenues.

 

“The past financial year was overall a strong year for Daimler. We achieved new records for unit sales and revenue at both the group and Mercedes-Benz Cars,” said chief executive Dieter Zetsche. Revenues rose by 7.0 percent to 114.3 billion euros and the group sold a total 2.198 million vehicles worldwide, 4.0 percent more than in the previous year.

 

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013


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Banking Review 2012

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Retail sales shrank in lead-up to Christmas


Retail sales shrank in the lead up to Christmas, but the news was better for fashion and department stores.


Bureau of Statistics data for December showed sales across all retail sectors fell 0.2 per cent, seasonally adjusted.


The result disappointed analysts, who had expected sales to climb a modest 0.3 per cent.


However, the disappointing overall figures masked an improvement for some sectors that have been struggling in recent times.


Footwear and personal accessory retailing led the gains, with a 4.2 per cent rise, while clothing turnover climbed 1 per cent.


The gains in these areas flowed through into department store sales, which increased 0.8 per cent, seasonally adjusted.


The long suffering electronics retail sector also had a small pre-Christmas gain, with sales rising 0.2 per cent.


Hardware, building and garden supplies was another sector that had a strong December, up 2.1 per cent.


However, the news was bad for newspaper and book sales, which slumped 7.5 per cent.


Ben Jarman, a senior economist at JP Morgan, says it is a sign that people are increasingly buying some gifts, like books, online.


“So, if a lot of people are buying those online from offshore providers as Christmas gifts rather than going into conventional shopfronts to buy them, that’s going to turn up as a very big but temporary drag in the numbers, so I think that’s where the big downside was today,” he said.


Pharmaceutical, cosmetics and toiletries also recorded a 2.8 per cent seasonally adjusted drop in sales.


The previously strong cafe and restaurant sector dropped 1.5 per cent, with takeaway food down 0.7 per cent.


Food retailers also saw weak sales – with specialised food sellers seeing turnover slump 4.6 per cent and supermarkets seeing just 0.1 per cent sales growth, but Australians were still on the turps this festive season, with liquor retailing up 1.9 per cent.


Ben Jarman says household consumption remains in the doldrums.


“This is despite of course a couple of RBA rate cuts which we got over the quarter,” he observed.


“So, for a central bank that’s watching how the consumer’s playing out, this will not give them any sense that the rate cuts so far are resulting in a dramatic boost in household consumption, so there’s probably scope for, we think, further easing to come on the basis of these numbers.”


However, CommSec’s chief economist, Craig James, says further interest rate cuts may do more harm than good for retail sales.


“The interesting point is that retail spending seems to have softened since the Reserve Bank started cutting rates in mid 2012, not accelerated,” he wrote in a note on the data.


“Given that there are more term and “other” deposits in the economy than owner-occupier home loans, the people that rely on interest income may have curtailed their spending to a greater extent in response to rate cuts than home buyers have lifted spending.”


The poor overall sales result drove the Australian dollar lower to 103.55 US cents by 2:05pm (AEDT), as currency traders increased their bets on another interest rate cut in the next few months.


Craig James says, when adjusted for inflation, retail spending over 2012 was actually the strongest it has been in five years.


He says the 3.1 per cent per cent headline growth was below the decade average of 5 per cent, but the weakness was due to lower prices not fewer transactions.


“The bottom-line is that 2012 wasn’t a bad year at all in terms of retail spending,” Mr James noted in response to the ABS data.


“That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t tough for retailers. Retailers were forced to trim margins and cut prices to move stock, but generally it worked; growth in spending was faster than the average growth pace recorded over the past five years.”


Mr James says, when price reductions are factored out, many retail sectors enjoyed a bumper year of sales growth, with a 1.9 per cent increase in the number of goods sold at department stores the best rise since 2007.


“Supermarkets also recorded the best real growth in spending in eight years – growth of 4.3 per cent in 2012 was the strongest since 2004,” he observed.


“Specialised food outlets like butchers and fruit and vegetable shops recorded the strongest calendar year growth in five years (5.3 per cent real growth); electrical good retailers had the best year in four years (6.2 per cent growth); and pharmacies recorded the strongest growth in three years (10.3 per cent).”


However, while strong real growth indicates consumers are still buying goods, the fall in prices for many products and services has reduced profit margins for a large proportion of retailers.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, retail, money-and-monetary-policy, australia

First posted February 06, 2013 11:35:10

German new car sales weak, down 8.5pc

socialqBERLIN: German new car sales dropped 8.5 percent in January to 192,000 vehicles, the VDIK auto industry association for import brands said on Monday, noting demand may pick up in coming weeks as Europe’s largest economy bounces back from contraction last year.


 


Copyright Reuters, 2013



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Banking Review 2012

Economic Indicators Market at Close Annual2011/12 Foreign Debt$65.562bn Per Cap Income$1,372 GDP Growth3.7% Average CPI10.08% MonthlyDecember Trade Balance$-1.703 bln Exports$1.969 bln Imports$3.672 bln WeeklyJanuary 24, 2013 Reserves$13.705 bln  Top Traded Advancers Decliners NO_IFRAMES   BUSINESS RECORDER:Pakistan NewsWorld NewsBusiness & Finance NewsMarket NewsSports Newse-PaperAAJ TV:Latest NewsWorld NewsNational NewsExclusive NewsBusiness NewsKHISTOCKS:Market today liveTop 25 LiveBRIndex RulesKSE30 MovementPLAY TV:Entertainment NewsProgramsVJsVideosHomePakistanWorldBusiness & FinanceMarketsMarket DataSportsEntertainmentsCopyright Business Recorder. All rights reserved.

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German December retail sales fall

Shoppers mill around KaDeWe in the snow The December drop in German retail sales appears to conflict with reports of steady Christmas sales Shopping in Germany and France was unexpectedly subdued in December, official data has indicated.


German sales fell a surprise 4.7% from a year ago, the biggest drop since May 2009 at the depth of the recession.


It meant sales for the whole of 2012 were down by 0.6%. German retailers’ trade body HDE said it expected a further modest fall this year.


Meanwhile, in France consumer spending in December fell 0.1%, as shoppers cut back on clothing and manufactures.


The month did see a 4.6% jump in French car sales compared with November, ahead of a new tax on high-emission vehicles that took effect on 1 January, although December car sales were still down 3.8% from a year earlier, reflecting a terrible year overall for the European car market.


While the French data were only mildly disappointing for analysts, the drop in German retail sales came as something of a shock and appeared to contradict anecdotal evidence from the German High Street.


“The retailers did not report sensational Christmas sales,” said Alexander Koch, economist at Italian bank Unicredit. “But they were broadly satisfied. It’s hard to reconcile this with the strong decline we’ve seen here.”

Jobs joy

The retail sales figures are well-known for their volatility and despite its unusual size, analysts said the December dip in Germany could well correct itself in January.


The main components of spending to fall in Germany were foods, drink and tobacco (down 4.1%) and clothing, shoes and textiles (down 6.5%).


But German unemployment data, also released on Thursday, was more encouraging.


The number of people unable to find work fell unexpectedly by 16,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 2.9 million, reducing the unemployment rate to 6.8% of the workforce, close to its lowest level since German reunification in 1990.


The construction and health sectors added most of the jobs, and both are said to suffer from skills shortages.


The construction industry in Germany – almost uniquely in the eurozone – is enjoying a modest upturn as mortgage interest rates in the country have fallen steadily during the eurozone’s financial crisis and property prices have risen.

Nintendo cuts Wii sales forecast

Shopper shows off her Wii-U purchase Recent sales of its DS, 3DS and Wii-U consoles have fallen well short of expectations Nintendo has cut the sales forecast for its new Wii-U console, but still expects to make an annual profit thanks to the weaker yen.


It now predicts it will sell only four million Wii-Us in the year to March, down 27% from its previous forecast, after sales disappointed.


Nonetheless, the Japanese firm increased its annual net profit forecast to 14bn yen ($154m; £98m) thanks to gains from its weakening home currency.


A year ago it made a loss of 43bn yen.


For the first nine months of its year, the firm reported a 14.5bn yen profit, compared with a loss of 16.4bn yen a year earlier.

Tablet competition

The results, which came after the end of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, provide mixed signals for stock analysts.


The apparent failure so far of the Wii-U to take off versus competition from tablet and smart phone game applications may bode ill for the company’s long-term growth prospects.


Nintendo also cut its full-year sales forecasts for its other games consoles, with 3DS sales expected to reach 15 million by March (down 14% from its previous forecast), and DS sales to total 2.3 million (down 8%).


Perhaps the biggest shock will come from the firm announcing that it now expected to make an overall operating loss of 20bn yen for the year, whereas previously it had foreseen a 20bn-yen operating profit. Financial analysts had expected a 12bn-yen operating profit on average.


The company said that the new forecasts took account of the evident turnaround in the yen with the election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has taken a much more aggressively expansionary stance towards both government spending and the central bank’s monetary policy.


The weakening currency provides a two-fold benefit to the company – increasing the value of its foreign currency assets in the short-term, and reversing its steady loss of price competitiveness against foreign rivals in the longer-term.

Annuity sales to be probed by FSA

Pension file Nearly 400,000 new pension annuities were bought in 2011 The way annuities are sold is being investigated by the City regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA).


Annuities are the annual pension that many people buy with their private pension pots when they retire.


The FSA will look at whether or not people are given enough encouragement and information to shop around.


The long-standing worry has been that people get a bad deal by just taking the annuity offered by the insurer which has been investing their money.


The FSA made it clear that there was a problem that needed investigating.


“An annuity purchase is an important one-off decision that has long term consequences for individuals if they get it wrong,” said Nick Poyntz-Wright of the FSA.


“We want to understand the level of the potential detriment for consumers if they do not shop around to see if there are ways to make this market work better for consumers.”

Lost income

Last year, the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) complained that the way annuities are sold might be costing half a million retirees each year as much as £1bn in future pension income.

It pointed out that the failure of someone to shop around – or being unaware they were able to do so – might reduce their annual pension income by a third.


The insurance industry then agreed to reform its practices, and in March this year insurers will have to conform to new guidelines set down by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).


These will require insurers to:

Provide clear and consistent information, including details on how to shop around for an annuityHighlight the details of enhanced annuities – the higher pension income available to those with shorter life expectancySignpost customers to external advice and support that is availableGive a clear picture of how their products fit into the wider annuity market.

However, the FSA is clearly not satisfied that this will go far enough and wants, initially, to estimate how much people are losing in potential income.


Tom McPhail, of annuity firm Hargreaves Lansdown, pointed out that insurers have been obliged since 2002 to draw their customers attention to the fact that they can shop around for an annuity at the point of retirement.


“The ABI code of conduct is a big step forward, however it is flawed in that it could result in insurers performing a very limited shopping around process for their customers,” he said.


“This could result in investors getting a slightly better deal than they would have done in the past, but still not as good a deal as if they shopped around the whole market.


“Hopefully the FSA review will determine whether the ABI code of conduct is acting effectively to improve consumer outcomes,” he added.

Lack of knowledge

Hargreaves Lansdown said that, according to industry figures, 399,000 new pension annuities were sold in 2011 by insurance companies.


The average sum used to buy one was £27,600, and the difference between the best and worst income offered after shopping around was between 10% and 20%.


Billy Burrows, of the annuity broker the Better Retirement Group, said: “It is all very well encouraging people to shop around, but many people do not know what they are shopping for.


“Getting the best rate is just the tip of the iceberg because they are many important issues below the waterline which if ignored could have a bigger detrimental effect on annuity income than not getting the absolutely best rate.”

Woolworths posts ‘solid’ $15b quarterly sales


Woolworths has increased its sales by 2.2 per cent across the range of its retail businesses.


The supermarket giant’s key Australian food and liquor division increased its sales by 4.8 per cent in the 14-week period to December 31 when compared to the same period a year earlier.


In total, the domestic food and liquor division pulled in revenue of $10.35 billion, while the entire supermarket division (including petrol) made $13.2 billion across Australia and New Zealand, still comfortably ahead of Coles’s sales of $9.9 billion in the quarter.


However, sales growth of 2.5 per cent in the food and liquor division, when new stores are excluded, was less than the 3.3 per cent reported by rival Coles yesterday.


Woolworths managing director Grant O’Brien says it was a difficult quarter with a strong finish.


“We had a terrific December, with record sales for the week leading up to Christmas and a record Christmas Eve,” he said.


“With cost of living pressures top of mind for customers, it’s true to say that the Christmas customer remained a cautious one and we had to work hard in the lead-up to Christmas to deliver the results.”


Petrol sales from Woolworths outlets fell 0.9 per cent, with a 3.2 per cent decline in the quantity of fuel sold partly made up for by higher prices.


The retail giant’s Big W discount department store chain continued to struggle, reporting 1.6 per cent sales growth to $1.35 billion for the quarter.


The biggest jump in sales came from Woolworths’s expanding home improvement business, which saw 48.2 per cent sales growth to $332 million, as the company opened 10 new stores in the last six months.


The company’s hotels business also saw a rapid rise in revenue, up 21.4 per cent in the quarter compared to the same period a year earlier.


Woolworths says growth was driven by the acquisition of another 29 hotels in New South Wales, two in Queensland and one in Western Australia, as well as gambling regulation changes in Victoria.


However, Woolworths’s total sales were dragged down by the sale of its Dick Smith Electronics business in Australia and its Indian electronics business.


Excluding the fall in sales resulting from exiting these businesses, Woolworths would have had a 4.9 per cent rise in sales across its various retail outlets to $15.3 billion.


The company’s managing director, Grant O’Brien, says it is a “solid result”.


“This solid first half result is a reflection of the sharpened focus on our core businesses and better meeting our customers’ needs,” he noted in the report.


“The growth our businesses are achieving while pursuing a transformational path for Woolworths is pleasing. However, there is
still a great deal more to do.”


Investors have given a cool reception to the results, with Woolworths off 0.6 per cent to $31.46 by 10:52am (AEDT) in a broader market that was relatively flat.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, company-news, retail, australia

First posted January 31, 2013 10:58:59

New home sales rise for three straight months


The Housing Industry Association’s monthly survey of Australia’s largest residential builders shows new home sales rose 6.2 per cent in December.


It was the third month in a row that sales of new dwellings increased, meaning 3.3 per cent more new homes were sold in the December quarter than in the three months to the end of September.


Sales of new detached houses improved in December, but HIA economist Geordan Murray says apartments still had a much better year in 2012.


“Detached house sales were weak throughout the year and compared with 2011 were down by 22.7 per cent,” he noted in the report.


“On the other hand, multi-units sales were the star performer of 2012 – they recovered from the record lows endured in 2011 and increased by 24.1 per cent over 2012.”


New South Wales witnessed a turnaround in the December quarter, with sales of new detached houses rising 14.4 since the state government more than doubled the first home buyers’ grant for new homes to $15,000 and abolished it for established properties.


South Australia (+9.3 per cent) and Western Australia (+2.5 per cent) also recorded growth in new house sales over the last three months of 2012.


However, sales fell in Victoria (-8.4 per cent) and Queensland (-5.5 per cent).

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, building-and-construction, housing-industry, australia

Coles nears $10b in quarterly sales

Updated January 30, 2013 11:36:05

Wesfarmers has recorded another strong quarter of sales growth for Coles, and its discount department stores have also started reporting a modest sales increase.

The conglomerate’s food and liquor division saw sales rise 5 per cent in the 14-week period to December 30, compared to the same period a year earlier.

The company’s convenience division, which includes its petrol business, saw sales up 5.8 per cent.

In total, the Wesfarmers-owned supermarket, liquor, convenience and petrol business made almost $9.9 billion in sales during the quarter.

Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder says the result is the latest in a long run of growth for the supermarket business.

“The December quarter represented the 15th consecutive quarter of growth in comparable sales and sales density,” he noted in the report.

Wesfarmers has reported that food and liquor price deflation eased, with fresh food prices falling less than previously, but it says prices still declined by an average of 0.9 per cent in the quarter.

The company says it sold 4.4 per cent more fuel in the December quarter this year than last, with customers responding to its supermarket fuel discount campaigns.

The Bunnings hardware chain also continued its strong sales growth, with a 6.6 per cent increase in quarterly sales taking its revenue to $2.2 billion for the 14-week period.

There was also a less spectacular, but positive, result for the Kmart discount department store chain, which saw sales rise 3.8 per cent to $1.4 billion.

However, the conglomerate’s other discount department store group, Target, continued to struggle, with sales up a very modest 0.6 per cent.

The company’s Officeworks business also stagnated, with sales up just 0.3 per cent despite the opening of four new stores.

Wesfarmers blames the glacial sales growth at both Officeworks and Target on continued deflation in technology product prices.

Investors have given the sales result a cool welcome, with Wesfarmers shares down 1.4 per cent to $38.27 by 11:36am (AEDT) in a generally rising market.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, company-news, retail, australia

First posted January 30, 2013 09:42:33

Microsoft fails to wow with Windows 8 sales


The world’s largest software maker, Microsoft, has met expectations with its latest profit report.


Net income declined from $US6.6 billion to $US6.4 billion ($6.1 billion), or 76 US cents per share, but that beat analyst forecasts that centred on 74 cents a share in net earnings.


The company’s sales rose 2.7 per cent to $US21.5 billion ($20.5 billion), in line with expectations.


Analysts say a mass corporate switch over from the 12-year-old Windows XP operating system – still used by many organisations because of its stability and reliability – to the newer (but not latest) Windows 7 software, because Microsoft is ending support for XP, is helping to boost sales.


“One of the biggest stories in 2013 is the business transition from Windows XP to Windows 7,” Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at market research firm IDC Corp, told Bloomberg.


“There are a staggering number of machines still running Windows XP. The IT guys have to pull the plug on those and upgrade, and most will do that by buying new machines.”


However, sales were dented by a 10 per cent fall in Microsoft Office revenue, as customers await the release of the latest 2013 version, expected in the next few weeks.


Microsoft shares eased to $27.06 in after-hours trade following the report, after having closed at $27.63 on the Nasdaq.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, company-news, electronics, software, united-states

First posted January 25, 2013 09:39:02

US new-home sales best since 2009

US home for sale Falling unemployment means more people are confident enough to buy property, economist say US new-home sales slowed in December, but that did not take the shine off the market seeing its best year since 2009.


The Commerce Department said new-home sales fell 7.3% month-on-month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 369,000 units.


For the year, sales were up almost 20% to an annual rate of 367,000, but below the 700,000 level economists see as healthy for the housing industry.


Sales of previously-owned homes rose to 4.65 million, the most in five years.


Last year’s rise came on the back of more stable employment data and record-low mortgages. The Commerce Department said that the average price of newly-built homes rose slightly, which may have contributed to December’s fall.


“This [fall] should prove to be a temporary blip as the US housing market continues its gradual recovery,” said Andrew Grantham, an economist at CIBC World Markets.


The US National Association of Homebuilders estimates that each new house built creates an average of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 (£57,000) in tax revenue.


It is roughly five years since the US housing market bubble started to deflate, helping to tip the economy into recession and exposing the extent of the sub-prime mortgage scandal in which many people took out loans that they had little prospect of repaying.


Strong employment levels and confidence about job prospects are crucial for a healthy housing market, economists say. The US unemployment rate, at 7.8%, is forecast to improve during 2013, but not dramatically. And GDP growth is expected to remain in low single digits.

Record Apple sales disappoint investors


The US technology giant Apple has posted a record first quarter profit of $US13.1 billion ($12.4 billion).


The company’s quarterly revenue hit $54.5 billion ($51.6 billion), which was very slightly below average analyst estimates.


Apple sold almost 48 million iPhones in the quarter, which is a record, but Wall Street was hoping for sales of around 50 million.


Sales of Apple’s iPad came in at 22.9 million, which was roughly in line with forecasts.


The outlook has also concerned investors; Apple expects revenue to slip to around $US41-43 billion (circa $40 billion) in the second quarter as the initial boost from the iPhone 5′s release fades.


“These results were OK, but they definitely raised a few questions. Gross margin trajectory looks fine, so that’s a positive, and cash continues to grow, but I think investors are going to want to know what Apple plans to do with [that] growing cash balance,” Shannon Cross, an analyst with Cross Research, told Reuters.


“And other questions are going to be around innovation and where the next products are coming from, and what does [Apple's CEO] Tim Cook see in the next 12 to 18 months.”


Apple boss Tim Cook’s rhetoric remains upbeat, despite the concerns about iPhone sales and their popularity in Asian markets.


“We could not be happier with that. In terms of the geographic distribution, we saw our highest growth in China and it was into the triple digits, which was higher than the market there,” he told investors.


The results came out after the main market closed, however Apple shares fell 10 per cent in after-hours trade to $US463, wiping $US50 billion off the company’s value.


Apple shares are now down by around a third from a record high in September, wiping around $US227 billion from the company’s value since then.


Analysts say Apple risks slipping behind in its two-horse race with main rival Samsung.


“It’s going to call into question Apple’s dominance in the space. It’s still one of the strong players, the others being Samsung and Google. It’s still a two-horse race, but Android continues to grow rapidly,” Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu told Reuters.


“If you step back a bit, it’s clear they shipped a lot of phones, but the problem is the high expectations that investors have. Apple’s conservative guidance highlights the concerns over production cuts coming out of Asia recently.”

Topics: company-news, business-economics-and-finance, electronics, multinationals, united-states

First posted January 24, 2013 09:52:31

Apple hit by disappointing sales

Continue reading the main story Shares in computing giant Apple have fallen 10% after sales figures announced late on Wednesday failed to meet investors’ high expectations.


Flat profits and record quarterly revenue of $55bn (£35bn) were not enough to overcome disappointment over sales of the company’s new iPhone 5.


Analysts said the company was in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.


Earlier, shares in some of Apple’s key Asian suppliers also fell.


LG, which provides displays for Apple products, fell 3.1%, and Hon Hai, which assembles iPhones and iPads, dropped 3.2%.

Great expectations

Apple was unable to repeat its usual growth in profits, which were unchanged from a year earlier at $13.1bn.


The firm said it had sold more iPhones (47.8 million) and iPads (22.9 million) in the final three months of last year than in any previous quarter, but investors had expected more.


Shares in the firm have fallen by a third since September over concerns the company may be losing its edge over increasingly confident competitors.


In particular, the iPhone’s once dominant position is being challenged by Samsung and other makers of Android-based devices, which now make up a far greater percentage of overall smartphone sales than the iPhone.


Nokia, once itself the leading mobile phone manufacturer, reported on Thursday a return to profit in the final quarter of last year, with strong sales of its new Lumia smartphone, its first major product launch since the company teamed up with Microsoft.


Samsung is due to announce its results on Friday, and investors will be keen to find out how its successful Galaxy smartphones sold in the final quarter.

‘New products’

With Apple no longer seen as the market leader in innovation, some analysts believe it may now have to rethink its core strategy, which is based on focusing on a handful of premium products.


“Apple’s modus operandi to date has been to cream the high-end off each market, but as the company’s grown it may now need to target more of the mainstream,” analysts at Evercore Partners said.


Normura’s Stuart Jeffrey agreed: “To re-accelerate growth, Apple likely needs to launch new products, yet few seem likely before June”.


Others, however, argue that investors’ expectations are wholly unrealistic, and the company remains hugely successful.

Audi says plans to double Middle East sales by 2020

Audi-Logo-1DUBAI: German luxury car maker Audi plans to double its Middle East sales to at least 20,000 vehicles a year by 2020, helped by investment in showrooms and service centres, its local chief said.


“It is the minimum target. You have to have buildings, you have to have capacity,” Trevor Hill, managing director of Audi Middle East, told Reuters on Monday following a presentation on its 2012 sales in Dubai’s sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel, a symbol of the emirate’s expansion in the last decade.


“Already those investments have been signed off, most of them have been made already … So half the battle is already won (in) creating capacity and now we have to work in terms of volume improvement and in terms of quality,” he said.


Audi, a Volkswagen AG unit which booked a 16.4 percent sales jump to a record 9,155 units in the Middle East in 2012, aims to sell at least 10,000 vehicles in the region in 2013, Hill told the presentation.


Together with its local partners, Audi has seven major construction projects on the way, including showrooms and after-sales service facilities in the UAE, Oman and Qatar. The brand needs to double its workshop capacity in the region, Hill said.


Globally Audi plans to boost deliveries to more than 2 million cars and sport-utility vehicles by 2020, as it aims to snatch leadership of the luxury car market from BMW.


The Volkswagen division expects sales in the premium segment sales to surge by between 12 and 15 percent in the Middle East this year, while the overall passenger car market could see a rise of 6 to 8 percent from an estimated 1.1 to 1.2 million vehicles sold in 2012, Hill told Reuters.


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Unrest in the Arab world since early 2011 may have helped to boost Audi’s sales in the UAE, its top market in the region, as the country benefited from its safe-haven status, drawing in businesses and expatriates.


“Dubai is growing quite rapidly so that will create a lot more opportunities for us to sell. There is a lot of wealthy people living in Dubai right now,” Hill said.


The UAE made up 41 percent of Audi’s total sales in the region, with 3,819 units sold in 2012, up 21.7 percent. Saudi Arabia, the Gulf’s biggest market for volume rather than premium passenger cars, followed with a 26 percent jump.


Audi, which has suspended operations in civil war-torn Syria, did not see sales being hit in neighbouring Lebanon, and in Jordan, which has also seen social unrest.


“We have not seen that much slowdown in Lebanon. Lebanon is hitting the targets, Jordan is hitting its targets, so there are no real spillovers for us in those markets,” Hill said. “I think it (sales) will keep growing (this year).”


Ingolstadt-based Audi expects to increase annual sales of luxury cars and sport utility vehicles to 1.5 million earlier than the planned 2015 target date, its CEO said this month.


On Sunday, US-based Ford Motor Co, which has a 7.5 percent market share in the Middle East, reported record sales of over 75,000 vehicles in the region for its Ford and Lincoln brands in 2012, a 10 percent rise. It saw sales soar 55 percent in the UAE, while Saudi Arabia and Lebanon were stable.


That is still behind Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp, which has a dominant share across the region and reported a 30 percent jump in sales to 650,000 units in 2012, local media reported.

Copyright Reuters, 2013

Thailand’s 2013 auto sales may fall 16pc: Toyota

toyota-motorBANGKOK: Toyota Motor Corp’s Thai unit said on Monday it expected Thai automotive industry sales to drop 16 percent to 1.2 million vehicles in 2013 after an 80 percent surge in 2012 that was fuelled by a government subsidy for buyers of first cars.


 


Industry sales in 2012 totalled 1.43 million vehicles, President Kyoichi Tanada told a news conference.


Copyright Reuters, 2013

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Menswear purchases boost holiday sales

Posted January 02, 2013 13:16:35

Men on the hunt for new suits and ties have helped retailers achieve the best pre and post-Christmas sales result in several years.

The Australian Retailers’ Association says retailers have experienced an increase in sales of almost 4 per cent across the board.

The association’s executive director Russell Zimmerman says that does not match the increases retailers enjoyed a decade ago, but it is a welcome change from recent retail stagnation.

“Ten years ago we would have been looking at a 6 or 6.5 per cent increase year-on-year, so obviously this is not as strong as it was some seven or eight or 10 years ago,” he said.

“Looking forward, we would expect our trends to be around 3, 3.5 per cent.”

Mr Zimmerman says menswear in particular has been a standout during the sales.

“In the lead up to Christmas we felt there was probably a lack of trade in some areas of the perfumes, the cosmetics area, but that certainly was picked up in the post-Christmas sales,” he observed.

“The other thing that was a very strong standout in the post-Christmas sales was men’s apparel and in particular men’s dress wear, business suits and shirts and ties.”

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, retail, australia

UK retail sales fall in December

Many retailers saw record Boxing Day sales following a quiet run-up to Christmas UK retail sales fell at a seasonally-adjusted 0.1% in December from the month before, official figures suggest.


Compared with a year earlier, the quantity of goods sold rose a worse-than-expected 0.3%, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).


This was the slowest annual growth rate for a December since 1998 – except for December 2010, when sales were hit by heavy snow, the ONS said.


Clothing and food sales did notably badly, but online retailers did well.


The ONS said that while sales continued to be higher than a year ago – a trend that began in August – this growth had lost its momentum.


In the bigger picture, sales have stagnated since mid-2007. The December 2012 figure was only 2.4% higher than the volume of sales recorded in December 2007.

Kate Davies, Office for National Statistics: “The year-on-year growth was the slowest since December 1998″


The value of goods sold in December was 0.1% lower than November, and 0.7% higher than a year ago, indicating that the price rises faced by shoppers came to a halt at the end of the year – although this could also reflect consumers trading down for cheaper versions of the goods they want.

Shopping from home

The figures came as a surprise to some analysts, who had been expecting stronger growth.


Many High Street retailers had reported a last-minute surge in shoppers the last weekend before Christmas, and bumper Boxing Day sales, following what had otherwise been a fairly quiet run-up to Christmas, not helped by the rain.


The ONS data confirmed that online retailers continued to increase their share of business. About 10.6% of sales were carried out online during the month, up from 9.4% a year earlier.


That share was down just 0.1 percentage points from November – a much smaller fall than usually occurs as this time of the year, when more shoppers typically head for the High Street for their Christmas purchases and for the Boxing Day sales.


The data tallies with figures from research firm Experian that suggested the number of visits to retail websites rose 86% on Christmas Eve, 71% on Christmas Day and 17% on Boxing Day compared with a year earlier, as many chains began their online sales before Christmas.


Total online sales were up 15.5% from a year earlier, led by a 36% increase by websites of department stores such as John Lewis.


“This was a very online Christmas,” Rahul Sharma, retail analyst at Neev Capital, told the BBC.

Economist Jeremy Cook: “Peoples’ pockets are still being pressured by price rises”


“People want to be able to compare prices online. They like the ability to shop online, maybe picking up in the store, and the retailers who can adapt to that the best are the ones who are really going to win.”

‘More to come’

Weak sales, and the migration of business to online competitors, have felled a number of big High Street names in recent weeks.


Electricals chain Comet and camera retailer Jessops have ceased trading, while music vendor HMV and video rentals firm Blockbuster face uncertain futures, having gone into administration.


“For all that we’ve had very strong trading statements from the likes of Dixons, Argos and John Lewis, there is a soft underbelly of the likes of HMV, Jessops, etc,” said Mr Sharma. “I suspect there’s more of those.”


With more people shopping online, it seems fewer felt the need to use their car. The volume of petrol and diesel sold in December fell 6.6% from a year ago, despite ticking up 1.8% compared with November.


Stripping out the effect of these lower car fuel sales from the data, total sales rose a more respectable 1.1% from a year ago.

Continue reading the main story Other sectors to suffer included predominately food stores, where sales volumes fell 1% from the year before, and textiles, clothing and footwear stores, where sales were down 3.5%.

Weak pound

The weak sales data “will scotch any hopes of a consumer-led recovery, and are another strong hint that the economy is contracting again,” said currency trader Chris Redfern at Moneycorp.


He said it would add to fears that the UK may be on the verge a triple-dip recession, following a strong rebound in activity over the summer.


Next week, the ONS is widely expected to confirm that the UK economy shrank in the last three months of 2012.


If the economy also shrinks during the current quarter, it would mean the country had experienced its third recession in a row without recovering to its peak level of activity recorded in 2007.


The poor sales figures also strengthen the case for more money creation by the Bank of England, as well as a possible change in its inflation target to allow for higher price rises – changes that would likely weaken the pound further.


The pound has already been falling sharply in recent days, reaching a nine-month low against the euro, on fears over the state of the UK economy and a possible bust-up with the EU.


“The markets had been primed on Friday for a gutsy speech from the Prime Minister about Britain’s relationship with Europe,” said Mr Redfern. “Its cancellation has left them searching in vain for other good news.”

Strong Christmas sales at Dixons

 Dixons Retail owns Currys and PC World Dixons Retail, owner of Currys and PC World, has reported robust sales growth over the Christmas period.


Ignoring the effect of store openings and closures, sales in the 12 weeks to 5 January were up 7% from last year.


UK and Ireland sales rose 8%, despite the lure of fire-sale prices at Comet, the electrical retailer’s main rival which collapsed just before Christmas.


Dixons said profits would be in line with market expectations, laying to rest rumours of a profit downgrade.


Full-year profits would be £75m-£85m, the firm said.

Mixed fortunes

Dixons did concede that its profit margins had been squeezed during the reporting period, but attributed this to a change in the mix of products that customers were buying, rather than rising costs or price discounts.


The retailer continues to face problems with its continental business.


Sales in southern Europe – including Italy and Greece – fell 8% but remained profitable, while in northern Europe they rose 11%, reflecting the mixed fortunes of the various eurozone economies.


Sales fell 25% at Dixons’ troubled French online retailer Pixmania. Dixons bought out the remaining shares in Pixmania last year in an attempt to turn the business around, and has been forced to write off much of the value of its investment.


“The single-channel operation Pixmania was disappointing, but we are making good progress in our restructuring plans, which are designed to put the business on a better financial footing,” said chief executive Sebastian James.

eBay shares rise as sales jump

 EBay’s PayPal arm saw the biggest jump in revenues EBay’s sales for the last three months of 2012 topped analysts’ forecasts as the online marketplace saw strong trading over the Christmas period.


Sales rose 18% to $3.99bn (£2.5bn) in large part due to growth in the use of smartphones to trade on the site.


“Mobile continues to rewrite the commerce playbook,” eBay chief executive John Donahoe said.


Profits fell 62% to $757m, but the comparable 2011 figure was inflated by proceeds from eBay’s sale of Skype.


According to eBay’s statement, the PayPal payment division generated the greatest growth. Fourth-quarter revenue from the payment service totalled $1.54bn, a 24% increase from the previous year.


The marketplaces division, where most of the shopping occurs on eBay, saw fourth-quarter revenue of $2.05bn, up 16% from the 2011 quarter.


EBay charges a fee for each item sold, and receives a fee for each payment processed by PayPal.


On Cyber Monday in November, traditionally seen as the start of holiday shopping season, sales transactions on eBay’s mobile applications more than doubled from the year before. The volume of mobile payments via PayPal almost tripled.


EBay shares rose 1.2% to $53.53 in after-hours trading following the announcement.

EU car sales fell 8.2% in 2012

Car sales saw double-digit falls in some countries New car registrations in the European Union fell by 8.2% in 2012, hitting their lowest level since 1995, according to the region’s biggest carmakers.


Carmakers across the 27 EU countries saw 12.05 million new registrations last year, said the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association.


Of the major markets, the UK was the only one to grow, up 5.3% from 2011.


But Spain, France and Italy saw double-digit declines in car sales.


Figures for December were particularly bad, exacerbating the overall annual decline.

Steep falls

“In December, new car registrations declined by a sharp 16.3% in the EU, continuing a downward trend commenced 15 months ago,” the association said.


“The decline is the steepest recorded in a month of December since 2008.”


Germany – the largest economy in Europe and one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world – saw its car sales drop 2.9% in 2012 compared with the previous year.


But sales in Spain fell by 13.4%, in France they fell by 13.9%, while in Italy they declined by 19.9% from 2011.


Car registrations in Greece – which has been bailed out twice and is in deep recession – dropped 40.1% from 2011.


The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association is made up of 18 car, truck and bus manufacturers, including premium carmakers such as Germany’s BMW and budget manufacturers such as South Korea’s Hyundai.

Tennent’s sees sales volumes fall

  Although sales volumes of Tennent’s fell, revenues increased. The drinks brand, C&C Group, has reported that sales volumes of its Tennent’s brand fell in the UK in the nine months to end of November.


Sales volumes dropped by 5.5% in the UK, but revenue increased during the period by 7.5%.


C&C Group, whose brands include ciders Bulmers and Magners, described its Scottish beer’s performance as “solid”.


The company said the trading environment for its various products was “challenging”.


It said its full-year profits would be at the lower end of its range as previously stated.


C&C, which is based in Dublin, said international sales volumes of its beer and cider grew by 28% in the three months to the end of November.


In the Republic of Ireland, volumes of Tennent’s increased by 22% in the same period, although the group said that this was from “a small base position”.

November retail sales disappoint with a fall

Updated January 09, 2013 13:36:43

Retail sales have surprised analysts by falling in November, after a flat month in October.

The Bureau of Statistics retail trade figures show turnover fell 0.1 per cent in the crucial pre-Christmas month of November, seasonally adjusted, despite a rate cut the month before.

Economist forecasts had centred on a rise of 0.3 per cent, according to a survey of analysts by Reuters.

The largest contributors to the fall in sales were a 0.9 per cent slump in household goods retailing, a 0.6 per cent slide in clothing, footwear and accessories, and a 0.4 per cent fall in department store sales.

More specifically, there was a large 1.8 per cent fall in hardware, building and garden supplies, a 1.6 per cent slide in furniture and floor coverings, a 2 per cent slump in footwear and personal accessories, and a 0.4 per cent fall for cafes and restaurants.

These falls were partially offset by a 1 per cent rise in “other retailing”, a 0.2 per cent increase in clothing sales, a 0.2 per cent rise in electronics, and a 1.2 per cent jump in takeaway food sales.

The rise in other retailing was mostly driven by a rise in sales in stores that did not fit into any of the ABS categories, although it also included a 1.3 per cent rise in newspaper and book retailing and a 0.8 per cent increase in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and toiletry sales.

UBS economists Scott Haslem and George Tharenou say, even within categories of retailer, there has been a notable distinction between the performance of large and small shops.

“Interestingly, large retailers (5.0 per cent year-on-year) are clearly outperforming small retailers (-0.8 per cent year-on-year), which may explain why listed companies report ‘decent’ sales,” they noted in a report on the figures.

There was also a significant divergence between states, with the Northern Territory (-0.9 per cent), South Australia (-0.6 per cent), Western Australia (-0.3 per cent) and New South Wales (-0.2 per cent) recording declines, while the ACT (+1 per cent), Victoria (+0.3 per cent) and Tasmania (+0.1 per cent) saw sales increase.

Despite the November decline, Western Australia continues to lead national retail sales growth over the medium term.

Westpac’s economists say the figures show the Australian economy ended last year with a whimper.

“All in all, it seems best to characterise this outcome as a further indication of disappointingly weak retail activity in Q4 [the fourth quarter],” they wrote in a note.

“The trend monthly pace of growth is now just 0.05 per cent, 3.1 per cent year-on-year.”

The Australian dollar fell around a quarter of a cent to 104.95 US cents on the weaker than expected figures.

On the share market, Myer fell sharply by 3.4 per cent after the figures came out, while David Jones lost just 1 cent to $2.39, and Harvey Norman dropped 2.3 per cent on the weakness in furniture and other household goods.

Other retailers benefitted from the data, with JB Hi-Fi up 1 per cent on the modest rise in electronics sales, while the major supermarket owners Wesfarmers and Woolworths were both higher on the continued strength in food and liquor sales.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, retail, hospitality, australia

First posted January 09, 2013 11:42:34

Christmas sales up ahead of last-minute rush

Updated December 24, 2012 11:37:23

The Australian Retailers Association says spending over the Christmas season is expected to be about 4 per cent higher than last year.

Some major shopping centres around the country have stayed open all night and a busy day is expected as people do some last-minute gift buying.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman says it has been a pretty good Christmas retail period after what has been another tough year for the industry.

“The total spend in the six weeks leading up to Christmas, we believe, will be around $41.2 billion, and that’s about a 3.9 per cent increase from where we were last year,” he said.

“We’re reasonably comfortable with that.”

Mr Zimmerman says men are expected to account for the bulk of today’s last-minute Christmas shoppers.

He says anecdotally men tend to leave their gift buying until Christmas Eve.

“There’s around about 12 per cent that are going to finish our Christmas shopping today, and I guess a lot of that will be food, but the other area will be the men in particular who do the last-minute gifts for their partners,” he said.

“So expect to see a lot of men out and I suspect in the cosmetics area of the major department stores will be where a lot of them will be.”

Mr Zimmerman says some major department stores are launching their Boxing Day sales early for online customers.

He says while the traditional specials will still be available in stores, retailers are encouraging early spending by making their sales available online from 9pm on Christmas Day.

Mr Zimmerman says retailers recognise not everyone wants to battle crowds to take advantage of the sales.

“It’s at all levels, whether it’s with an iPhone an iPad online or at the bricks and mortar, you’re finding retailers are engaging at every level and that’s exactly what we wanted our retailers to do,” he said.

“I think it’s probably fair to say that retailers in Australia are a little bit slow in taking that up, but they now realise the importance of it and retailers are really engaging at that level with their customers.”

Topics: retail, australia, nt

First posted December 24, 2012 08:24:15

Shoppers queue up for Boxing Day sales

Updated December 26, 2012 20:28:15

Thousands of shoppers have descended on stores around the country for the annual Boxing Day sales.

Retailers are predicting that Australians will spend about $2.5 billion today alone.

Hundreds of people lined up outside the major department stores to be first in for the post-Christmas bargains.

In a break from tradition, major retailers Myer and David Jones launched their Boxing Day sales online yesterday.

The Australian Retailers Association’s Russell Zimmerman says many shoppers are buying their goods online, even on Boxing Day .

“I think it’s great to see retailers getting into an omni-channel space,” he said.

“Obviously for consumers who are time-poor, it allows them to get through, have a look at those goods that they would normally have to rush out to the shops and look at.”

But the manager of Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping centre, Daniel Sutton, says many shoppers still enjoy coming in to touch and feel products before they make a purchase.

“I think the whole Christmas period including Boxing Day is a very important period for retailers,” he said.

“Generally they’ll make up [around] 20 per cent of their annual turnover in this month.”

Myer and David Jones in Melbourne and Sydney opened their doors at 5.00am, with some shoppers queuing since 6.30pm yesterday.

The two retail giants are expecting to sell more than a million men’s shirts each and hundreds of thousands of women’s shoes.

Topics: retail, sydney-2000, melbourne-3000

First posted December 26, 2012 07:19:30

Car sales accelerate away from economic gloom

Updated January 04, 2013 14:35:00

A strong Australian dollar and robust competition have led to record national vehicle sales, which the industry has described as astonishing.

Despite the weakness in several parts of the economy in 2012, new vehicle sales rose 10.3 per cent to more than 1.1 million.

The previous record of 1.05 million was set in 2007.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries chief executive Tony Weber says carmakers are pleasantly surprised by the result.

“10 per cent is actually an astonishing number,” he exclaimed.

Mr Weber says the strong Aussie dollar helped make imported cars cheaper.

“I think the increase in sales reflects the fact that the market in Australia for cars is so competitive, prices are so low and it’s probably the best time in a very long time to buy a car in Australia,” he said.

“The price index shows that it is actually cheaper in 2012 than it has ever been before to buy a car.”

Mr Weber says the high Australian dollar helped intensify competition, but locally made cars also performed well.

“Three of the top 10 selling cars in Australia in 2012 were actually produced in Australia,” he added.

Passenger cars were still the most popular type of vehicle, although Mr Weber says SUV sales surged 25 per cent with over 300,000 sold.

“A lot of SUVs now have diesel technology which reduced their fuel consumption quite dramatically,” he observed.

Toyota secured the largest share of sales, with nearly 220,000 new vehicles hitting the roads last year.

Holden, Mazda, Hyundai and Ford rounded out the top five.

Topics: automotive, business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, australia

First posted January 04, 2013 12:39:13

US retail sales beat expectations

US shoppers Shoppers were out in force over Christmas despite uncertainty about the so-called fiscal cliff US retail sales rose in December by more than analysts had expected as Americans spent more on cars and home furnishings, figures show.


Sales totalled $415.7bn (£259bn) in the month, up 0.5% on the previous month, the Commerce Department said.


Compared with a year earlier, sales rose 4.7%.


With consumer spending accounting for about 70% of US economic activity, analysts said the figures were good news for the economy.


Sales of cars and car parts rose by 1.6% from November, while sales of furniture and personal care products were 1.4% higher.


“[The figures] suggest a resilient consumer in the face of the fiscal cliff debates,” said Joe Manimbo at Western Union Business Solutions.


“It offers a favourable sign for fourth-quarter growth.”


Policymakers spent much of December trying to agree a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, which would have seen tax rises and spending cuts kick in at the beginning of January.


They eventually agreed to postpone a deal pending negotiations on the size of the cuts and tax rises.


Analysts said that consumer spending could suffer when the measures are implemented.

Burberry shares up on sales rise

 Burberry models at a recent catwalk show Burberry said the global trading environment remained “challenging” Burberry shares have risen 5% after it reported a strong increase in revenues for the final three months of 2012.


Total sales at the fashion house – famed for its camel, red and black check pattern – increased by 9% to £613m in the three months to 31 December, up from £574m a year earlier.


Sales were driven by sales of coats, scarves, men’s tailoring and accessories, the company said.


Same-store sales, which pulls out the impact of new shop openings, grew 6%.


However, Burberry saw its wholesale sales fall 5%, which it blamed on weak trading conditions in Europe.


Burberry’s wholesale arm, which supplies other retailers, recorded sales of £120m, down from £130m a year earlier.


Total retail sales at Burberry – those from its own shops and concessions in department stores – rose 13% to £464m.


European woes


Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts said: “We expect the external global environment to remain challenging.”


The rise in sales comes as Burberry continues its recovery since it issued a profit warning last September, when it warned of weaker global trading.


On a regional basis, its retail sales saw the biggest rises across Asia Pacific, led by Hong Kong and mainland China. By contrast, its European retail sales were “broadly unchanged”.


Wholesale sales grew in Asia, the US and emerging markets, but fell in Europe, where Burberry said small, independent fashion shops were suffering.


Clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) also warned about tough European trading on Tuesday.


The Swedish company, which has most of its business in Europe, said its same-store sales fell 2% in December.


However, H&M’s total sales increased by 8%, beating market targets.

Russia breaks car sales record in 2012

car-sale-


MOSCOW: Russian sales of cars and light commercial vehicles hit a record high level, climbing 11 percent in 2012, although this year’s outlook holds little promise, a closely-watched study said on Tuesday.


The Association for European Businesses said that Russians purchased 2.935 million cars and LCVs (vans and trucks) last year, a strong number that was hampered by a poor December, when sales went up by only one percent.


This flattening demand is likely to continue in 2013, the report cautioned, noting that the year “holds little promise for a quick return to growth.”


The association forecasts 2013 sales to reach 2.95 million units.


The old sales record was established in 2008, the year Russia entered a recession which was followed by a slow recovery driven by consumer demand.


Foreign car makers have converged on Russia since the economic crisis, expecting sales to eventually eclipse those of current European market leader Germany.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

SAP reports sales records in 2012

sapFRANKFURT: German software giant SAP said on Tuesday it achieved record sales last year, beating its full-year forecasts, even though acquisition costs hit earnings.


“2012 was an outstanding year where we set many new records. We continued our double-digit growth momentum and exceeded our revenue guidance,” boasted co-chief executives Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe.


SAP said in a statement it booked a 14-percent increase in overall revenues to 16.22 billion euros ($21.6 billion) in 2012.


Software and software-related sales were up 16 percent at 13.16 billion euros, exceeding expectations for an increase of 10.5-12.5 percent.


At the same time, operating profit fell by 17 percent to 4.06 billion euros, impacted by acquisition-related charges, the group explained.


SAP completed its acquisition of California-based cloud computing company Ariba for $4.3 billion at the beginning of October.


Growth was set to continue this year, too, SAP said.


“We are perfectly positioned to continue our growth momentum in 2013,” said co-CEOs McDermott and Hagemann Snabe.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

US retail sales rise in December

us-retail-marketsWASHINGTON: US retail sales in December rose more than expected, official data released on Tuesday showed, suggesting solid consumer spending despite an ongoing debate in Washington over the fiscal cliff.


Retail and food service sales adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday differences jumped 0.5 percent in December from the November level, according to data released by the Commerce Department. Analysts had projected an increase of just 0.2 percent.


Sales of automobiles were particularly strong, rising 1.6 percent from the November level. Also higher were sales of clothing and clothing accessories, up 1.0 percent from the November level.


However, sales at gasoline stations were 1.6 percent lower than in November, while sales of electronics and appliances fell 0.6 percent from the level in the prior month.


Retail sales are a major component of consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic activity.


The December sales came during a heated debate in Washington over taxing and spending policies that was resolved only on Jan. 1. More fighting is expected in the weeks ahead as the two political parties contend with a debate on raising the debt ceiling.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

Volkswagen sales hit record high

New VW cars on a rail transporter VW saw strong sales growth in Asia and North America Volkswagen says its group sales hit a record high last year despite slowing sales in Western Europe.


The German carmaker sold 9.07 million cars last year, up 11% from 2011.


Sales in North America and Asia-Pacific rose 26.2% and 23.3% respectively, helping to offset a 6.5% drop in sales in Western Europe, excluding Germany where sales were up 1.9%.


Volkswagen said it was optimistic for this year despite the economic problems in the eurozone.


“Tough challenges lie ahead. The Volkswagen Group has everything it takes to face these challenges and to play a leading role on world markets,” said Volkswagen chairman Dr Martin Winterkorn.


However, sales at Volkswagen are still expected to lag those at rival Toyota, which has forecast a 22% jump in sales last year to 9.7 million vehicles.


Toyota has not yet released its official global sales figures for 2012.


At Volkswagen, its passenger cars remained the most popular, recording sales of 5.7 million last year.


Sales of sports car Porsche, which Volkswagen took over last August, were 59,500 between August and December.


The economic turmoil in the eurozone, which has seen several countries including Greece, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland need international financial help, has hurt car sales in the region.


Last week, Peugeot Citroen reported worldwide sales down 16.5% for 2012, which it blamed on “the crisis affecting the European automobile market”.


Meanwhile, Honda revealed plans to cut 800 jobs at its Swindon plant which it also blamed on weak demand in European markets.

Style, luxury and performance in Detroit as auto sales boom

Auto-showDETROIT: Stand-out styling, performance and luxury dominated the Detroit auto show Monday as carmakers jostled for position amid booming sales and renewed optimism after a deep downturn.


“Wow, what a difference three years make,” Fred Diaz, head of Chrysler’s Ram brand said as he accepted the truck of the year award for the Ram 1500 pickup truck.


GM, which like Chrysler was restructured under bankruptcy protection in 2009, was awarded the car of the year for its Cadillac ATS sedan.


US sales are expected to rise to between 15 and 16 million vehicles this year after jumping 13 percent to 14.5 million vehicles in 2012, the biggest yearly gain since 1984.


The Detroit Three carmakers are raking in huge profits again after years of painful restructuring and a renewed focus on the product side of their business.


Their Asian and European counterparts are also investing heavily in the United States, as they jostle for position in the highly competitive market and look for a place to boost sales amid a slowdown in China and Brazil and the collapse of European demand.


“The product is the best consumers have seen in a long time,” Jesse Toprak, an analyst with the automotive site TrueCar.com, told AFP.


GM’s new Corvette was the most hotly anticipated of the show.


The muscular and sculpted Corvette Stingray shares a name with the iconic 1963 model but is an entirely new vehicle, sharing only two parts with the previous generation Corvette.


“The soul of our company is sitting right here in Corvette,” GM North America president Mark Reuss said.


“This car is the reason I work at GM.”


Daimler also offered a sneak peak at an entirely new car, the compact, stylish — and lower priced — Mercedes CLA coupe which is aimed squarely at the youth market.


“The CLA is a style rebel,” Mercedes design chief Gordon Wagener said.


“The dynamic design idiom is manifested in breath-taking proportions, muscular, flowing contours and sculptural surfaces.”


Both vehicles will have to compete with luxury sports cars from Audi, BMW and a new muscle car from specialty carmaker Shelby.


Pickup truck fans will also have plenty of new models to feast their eyes upon, with the new Chevy Silverado and a concept (or pre-production) truck from Ford ahead of the 2015 launch of the next version of its top-selling F-series.


Honda will be testing out a concept for a smaller sport utility vehicle, as did Ford’s luxury Lincoln brand. There will be plenty of new hulks on the floor as well, especially from Chrysler’s Jeep and Dodge brands.


And even the more down-market vehicles are going to be decked out with features that were once reserved for luxury brands, like collision avoidance technology and heated side mirrors.


“Those features tend to be fairly profitable because once they get into the mass market they’re not that expensive to install and consumers will pay fairly well for them,” said Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of automotive site Edmunds.com.


Drivers looking for improved fuel economy will have a wide range of options as automakers push hybrids, diesel and electric vehicles, and boost the efficiency of standard gasoline engines ahead of upcoming tough new government standards.


But with hybrids and other alternative powertrains still only making up about three percent of the US market, carmakers are going to have to work harder on their green car pitches.


Meanwhile, Toyota on Monday regained the global sales crown lost when the 2011 Japanese tsunami devastated its supplies as US rival General Motors saw its share of the global market shrink.


Toyota first overtook GM as the world’s biggest carmaker in 2008, a position GM had held for 77 consecutive years.


While the largest US automaker is once again making record profits, its sales have been hit by a deep downturn in Europe, the reduction in its offerings and a decision not to chase market share with costly incentives and low-margin fleet sales.


“As I said last year, I didn’t necessarily want to be number one in sales as I wanted to be number one in profitability — that’s what we focus on,” GM chief Dan Akerson told reporters on the sidelines of the auto show.


More than 50 new models will be revealed on Monday and Tuesday as automakers vie for the attention of some 6,000 journalists from around the world. The show opens to the public on Saturday and runs through January 27.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

Apple’s China sales ‘to beat US’

 A member of staff talks to customers at an Apple store in China Apple now has 11 stores across China Apple expects China to overtake the US as its biggest sales market, the company’s chief executive has told China’s state news agency.


“China is currently our second-largest market, I believe it will become our first,” Tim Cook told the Xinhua News Agency.


Mr Cook’s comments came on a visit to Beijing to meet Chinese regulators and bosses of mobile network China Unicom.


Apple currently has 11 stores across China.


The company saw its Chinese sales double in both 2010 and 2011, but the growth rate slowed last year.


Mr Cook did not say when he expected Apple’s Chinese sales to surpass those in the US.


Its iPhone is supported by China Unicom, and when the latest version of the iPhone was launched in China in December, Apple sold more than two million handsets in three days.


However, sales of its phones in China trail rival handsets from the likes of Samsung that use Google’s Android operating system.


Earlier this week it was revealed that Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles Apple products in China, was being investigated by Chinese authorities over bribery allegations.


The Xinhua News Agency reported that Mr Cook said Apple enforced a strict code of conduct on its suppliers.


View the original article here

Apple’s China sales ‘to beat US’

A member of staff talks to customers at an Apple store in China Apple now has 11 stores across China Apple expects China to overtake the US as its biggest sales market, the company’s chief executive has told China’s state news agency.


“China is currently our second-largest market, I believe it will become our first,” Tim Cook told the Xinhua News Agency.


Mr Cook’s comments came on a visit to Beijing to meet Chinese regulators and bosses of mobile network China Unicom.


Apple currently has 11 stores across China.


The company saw its Chinese sales double in both 2010 and 2011, but the growth rate slowed last year.


Mr Cook did not say when he expected Apple’s Chinese sales to surpass those in the US.


Its iPhone is supported by China Unicom, and when the latest version of the iPhone was launched in China in December, Apple sold more than two million handsets in three days.


However, sales of its phones in China trail rival handsets from the likes of Samsung that use Google’s Android operating system.


Earlier this week it was revealed that Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles Apple products in China, was being investigated by Chinese authorities over bribery allegations.


The Xinhua News Agency reported that Mr Cook said Apple enforced a strict code of conduct on its suppliers.

Nokia sales better than expected

10 January 2013 Last updated at 22:10 GMT Continue reading the main story Nokia shares have risen sharply after the Finnish group said mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter exceeded its own expectations.

Nokia said it sold 86.3 million devices in the last quarter, with revenues totalling 3.9bn euros ($5.2bn; £3.2bn).

It said its mobile phone business had achieved underlying profitability, thanks to better-than-expected sales of its Lumia smartphone.

Nokia shares closed up 11% in Helsinki and 18.7% higher in New York.

The firm sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the third quarter.

It also sold 2.2 million Symbian smartphones and 9.3 million of its lower-priced Asha full-touch smartphones.

Nokia said it was also helped by lower-than-forecast operating expenses.

But it expects seasonality and a competitive environment to have a negative impact on the handset division’s profitability in the first quarter of 2013.

Nokia has been losing ground to rivals Apple and Samsung in recent years.

Redeye analyst Greger Johansson said it was still too early to call it a turnaround.

“They will have to prove a lot more until you can say that,” he said.

“I’m not still convinced that they are going to manage to succeed with those new smartphones. They have to sell a lot more in volumes until you can say that.”

Apple’s China sales ‘to beat US’

 A member of staff talks to customers at an Apple store in China Apple now has 11 stores across China Apple expects China to overtake the US as its biggest sales market, the company’s chief executive has told China’s state news agency.


“China is currently our second-largest market, I believe it will become our first,” Tim Cook told the Xinhua News Agency.


Mr Cook’s comments came on a visit to Beijing to meet Chinese regulators and bosses of mobile network China Unicom.


Apple currently has 11 stores across China.


The company saw its Chinese sales double in both 2010 and 2011, but the growth rate slowed last year.


Mr Cook did not say when he expected Apple’s Chinese sales to surpass those in the US.


Its iPhone is supported by China Unicom, and when the latest version of the iPhone was launched in China in December, Apple sold more than two million handsets in three days.


However, sales of its phones in China trail rival handsets from the likes of Samsung that use Google’s Android operating system.


Earlier this week it was revealed that Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles Apple products in China, was being investigated by Chinese authorities over bribery allegations.


The Xinhua News Agency reported that Mr Cook said Apple enforced a strict code of conduct on its suppliers.

Nokia sales better than expected

Continue reading the main story Nokia shares have risen sharply after the Finnish group said mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter exceeded its own expectations.


Nokia said it sold 86.3 million devices in the last quarter, with revenues totalling 3.9bn euros ($5.2bn; £3.2bn).


It said its mobile phone business had achieved underlying profitability, thanks to better-than-expected sales of its Lumia smartphone.


Nokia shares closed up 11% in Helsinki and 18.7% higher in New York.


The firm sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the third quarter.


It also sold 2.2 million Symbian smartphones and 9.3 million of its lower-priced Asha full-touch smartphones.


Nokia said it was also helped by lower-than-forecast operating expenses.


But it expects seasonality and a competitive environment to have a negative impact on the handset division’s profitability in the first quarter of 2013.


Nokia has been losing ground to rivals Apple and Samsung in recent years.


Redeye analyst Greger Johansson said it was still too early to call it a turnaround.


“They will have to prove a lot more until you can say that,” he said.


“I’m not still convinced that they are going to manage to succeed with those new smartphones. They have to sell a lot more in volumes until you can say that.”

Apple’s China sales ‘to beat US’

A member of staff talks to customers at an Apple store in China Apple now has 11 stores across China Apple expects China to overtake the US as its biggest sales market, the company’s chief executive has told China’s state news agency.


“China is currently our second-largest market, I believe it will become our first,” Tim Cook told the Xinhua News Agency.


Mr Cook’s comments came on a visit to Beijing to meet Chinese regulators and bosses of mobile network China Unicom.


Apple currently has 11 stores across China.


The company saw its Chinese sales double in both 2010 and 2011, but the growth rate slowed last year.


Mr Cook did not say when he expected Apple’s Chinese sales to surpass those in the US.


Its iPhone is supported by China Unicom, and when the latest version of the iPhone was launched in China in December, Apple sold more than two million handsets in three days.


However, sales of its phones in China trail rival handsets from the likes of Samsung that use Google’s Android operating system.


Earlier this week it was revealed that Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles Apple products in China, was being investigated by Chinese authorities over bribery allegations.


The Xinhua News Agency reported that Mr Cook said Apple enforced a strict code of conduct on its suppliers.

Nokia sales better than expected

10 January 2013 Last updated at 22:10 GMT Continue reading the main story Nokia shares have risen sharply after the Finnish group said mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter exceeded its own expectations.

Nokia said it sold 86.3 million devices in the last quarter, with revenues totalling 3.9bn euros ($5.2bn; £3.2bn).

It said its mobile phone business had achieved underlying profitability, thanks to better-than-expected sales of its Lumia smartphone.

Nokia shares closed up 11% in Helsinki and 18.7% higher in New York.

The firm sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the third quarter.

It also sold 2.2 million Symbian smartphones and 9.3 million of its lower-priced Asha full-touch smartphones.

Nokia said it was also helped by lower-than-forecast operating expenses.

But it expects seasonality and a competitive environment to have a negative impact on the handset division’s profitability in the first quarter of 2013.

Nokia has been losing ground to rivals Apple and Samsung in recent years.

Redeye analyst Greger Johansson said it was still too early to call it a turnaround.

“They will have to prove a lot more until you can say that,” he said.

“I’m not still convinced that they are going to manage to succeed with those new smartphones. They have to sell a lot more in volumes until you can say that.”

Emerging debt sales in for another bumper year; shy of 2012 boom

dollaweLONDON: Asian firms and African governments will lead emerging borrowers hoping to tap into buoyant appetite for high-yield assets in 2013 although issuance levels and investor returns may fall short of last year.

The new year has already got off to a flying start investors lent Turkey cash repayable in 10 years at a cost of 3.47 percent, the lowest it has ever achieved in the dollar debt market.

This comes hot on the heels of a year in which the emerging bond sector saw record sales and almost 20 percent returns.

Issuers as well as investors benefited in 2012, with the collapse in US yields slashing borrowing costs for emerging entities and allowing them to sell a total $411 billion in bonds, according to estimates from JP Morgan.

That’s a jump of more than 30 percent from 2011 levels.

Bond buyers, meanwhile, enjoyed robust premia over zero-yield German and US debt, shovelling a record $94 billion in new cash into the sector and earning equity-like returns on dollar bonds as well as on emerging currency debt.

On some segments such as Venezuelan dollar bonds, returns were as high as 45 percent.

“Demand for emerging markets fixed income remains strong, fuelled by the on-going search for yield, as well as a supportive economic backdrop in many regions and the likelihood that currency volatility will remain subdued,” HSBC says.

But HSBC analysts warn: “But there is little scope for a repeat of 2012 returns, given a starting point of tighter spreads and much lower yields.”

The premium paid by emerging borrowers over US Treasuries as measured by the leading EMBI Global index compressed 161 basis points over 2012. That of corporate bonds fell 142 basis points.

Analysts at HSBC expect 4 to 7 percent returns in external bonds, while local currency debt is expected to provide 8 percent. JP Morgan, which runs the most-used emerging debt indices, expects sovereign dollar bonds to return 5-6 percent this year, versus 18.5 percent in 2012.

Issuance is also set to fall back, in part due to a hangover from the borrower-friendly conditions seen in 2012.

The fall in US yields allowed emerging issuers to raise capital cheaply, with many taking advantage by pre-financing 2013 needs. Sovereigns are also reckoned to have a lower net financing need than last year.

JP Morgan says companies will issue $281 billion in dollar debt, down from last year’s record $329 billion. It predicts $78 billion in sovereign sales, a touch under 2012.

Inflows, too, should moderate to $70 billion, JPM reckons, after last year’s 150 basis point yield spread compression.

The environment may be turning less bond-friendly. If global growth continues to pick up, more cash could rotate into equities, while higher US yields may also pose a challenge. US 10-year yields jumped to 8-month highs this week on signs of economic recovery and fears of an inflation bump.

On the other hand, developed world central banks are still pumping liquidity, with monetary easing from Japan now expected to push another wave of cash into emerging assets.

Nick Darrant, who heads the CEEMEA debt syndicate desk at BNP Paribas, says a structural shift in the global investor base is bringing in more and more non-traditional buyers of emerging market bonds.

“Some of the barriers are being broken down, some who only looked at OECD countries before have dropped that criteria,” he said, referring to the group of 34 industrialised countries.

CORPORATE, FRONTIER BOOM

A few themes stand out – corporate debt, Islamic bonds and debt from poor, so-called frontier markets. Their success in today’s yield-scarce environment is unsurprising – companies for instance pay a 60 basis point yield premium over sovereign bonds.

The corporate bond boom can also be attributed to the lockdown in the syndicated loan market, due to banks’ needs to comply with tighter regulations on capital buffers.

“Cross-border bank lending will be modest compared with historical levels. Syndicated loans are expensive and lending to lower-rated corporates requires even higher capital adequacy ratios. This suggests bond markets will take up the slack,” said Jeremy Brewin, a fund manager at Aviva Investors.

Chinese property firms’ debt sales in the first two weeks of the year alone are already running at nearly half of total 2012 dollar issuance, analysts note.

Analysts see CCC-rated Chinese developer Hopson’s recent $300 million bond as a harbinger of more junk issuance iReuters

“This year we will see a move down the credit spectrum, a move from quasi-sovereign to the private sector, people will look geographically where they did not look in the past, will go further down the capital structure, and to deals that are smaller than benchmark,” BNP’s Darrant said.

On frontier debt, Zambia’s Eurobond last year was 17 times subscribed. That may encourage other potential debut borrowers such as Kenya, Bangladesh, Angola, Uganda and Tanzania.

JP Morgan predicts frontier issuance of $9.3 billion, double last year’s levels.

Islamic debt, or sukuk, volumes last year doubled from 2011 levels to almost $20 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data, testifying to the appetite of cash-rich Gulf investors.

There are worries too. Hungary, keen to evade IMF aid and with the equivalent of $6.7 billion in external debt maturing this year, wants to tap capital markets soon but will likely be forced to pay a hefty premium. Egypt, grappling with a currency crisis, must also refinance around $2.5 billion in 2013.

Another possible flashpoint is Argentina, which escaped default in December via a court reprieve until March.

But defaults are expected to be lower than 2012, which kicked off with a $2.1 billion crash from Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank.

Copyright Reuters, 2010

Nokia sales better than expected

Continue reading the main story Nokia shares have risen sharply after the Finnish group said mobile phone sales in the fourth quarter exceeded its own expectations.


Nokia said it sold 86.3 million devices in the last quarter, with revenues totalling 3.9bn euros ($5.2bn; £3.2bn).


It said its mobile phone business had achieved underlying profitability, thanks to better-than-expected sales of its Lumia smartphone.


Nokia shares closed up 11% in Helsinki and 18.7% higher in New York.


The firm sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones in the fourth quarter, up from 2.9 million in the third quarter.


It also sold 2.2 million Symbian smartphones and 9.3 million of its lower-priced Asha full-touch smartphones.


Nokia said it was also helped by lower-than-forecast operating expenses.


But it expects seasonality and a competitive environment to have a negative impact on the handset division’s profitability in the first quarter of 2013.


Nokia has been losing ground to rivals Apple and Samsung in recent years.


Redeye analyst Greger Johansson said it was still too early to call it a turnaround.


“They will have to prove a lot more until you can say that,” he said.


“I’m not still convinced that they are going to manage to succeed with those new smartphones. They have to sell a lot more in volumes until you can say that.”


View the original article here

UK retail sales flat in November

20 December 2012 Last updated at 15:12 GMT BRC’s Helen Dickinson: “We will see a flurry of activity as Christmas approaches”

UK retail sales failed to grow in November, adding to fears that consumers are reining in spending ahead of Christmas.

Sales volumes were flat in November compared with October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

They had been expected to bounce back after October’s shock 0.8% fall.

The one bright spot was in household goods stores, where sales rose by 3.8% on the month, including consumer electrical items.

The pick-up in electrical sales may in part reflect a rush to buy discounted stock at the failed Comet chain, which closed its doors for the final time earlier this week.

In contrast, sales of both food and clothing (including shoes) registered a 0.1% drop from the month before.

Visa added to the bleak picture, announcing that the total value of sales using its payment system in the week to Sunday, 16 December – the penultimate week before Christmas – was down by 2.9% from a year ago.

‘Last-minute rush’

The picture over the course of the last 12 months remains one of painfully slow growth, with the ONS reporting that the volume of sales in November up 0.9% from a year ago.

By value, sales in November fell 0.1% from the month before – reflecting price cutting by retailers – but increased 1.5% on the year.

The volume of retail sales has more or less stagnated since 2008. Prior to that, sales had grown at an average rate of about 3.7% each year since the ONS first began keeping records in 2000.

While sales by volume measures solely the quantity of goods sold, sales by value also takes into account the effect of inflation on prices. The ONS said the estimated prices of goods sold increased by 0.5% compared with November 2011.

Consumer spending accounts for about two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP) in the UK.

The ONS figures provide more evidence that the UK economy may contract in the last three months of 2012, something the Bank of England has already said is likely.

This year has seen a number of casualties on the High Street, the latest being Comet.

British Retail Consortium director-general Helen Dickinson, said that the coming weekend would be crucial for retailers.

“With Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year, this weekend will be the critical one – I’m expecting a last-minute rush, but overall in sales terms it will be neither a bumper Christmas nor a disaster.”

‘Chaotic’ Sunday

Meanwhile, there are growing calls for the government to extend opening hours on Sunday, 23 December, the last trading day before Christmas.

Supermarket chain Morrisons warned in a letter to Business Minister Michael Fallon last month of “chaotic scenes” as shoppers seek to cram their Christmas food shopping into the reduced hours available.

Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose have also lent their support.

“I think that Sunday is going to be a real challenge for our customers and for our partners,” Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose, told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, calling for an extra two to three hours to be made available.

“The 23rd is always the busiest shopping day for food. Last year we had 14 hours to serve our customers on that day, this year we’ve got six hours. Clearly that’s going to be difficult.”

He also played down concerns over weakening consumer spending, saying that while it was true that in-store shopping was declining, in large part this was due to the shift to internet shopping.

“There has been a huge switch online this year,” he said, noting a sharp rise in take-up of the firm’s click-and-collect service and of its online store, which provides home delivery.

The Waitrose boss’s experience was also reflected in the official ONS data, which showed that the proportion of sales made online in November had increased to 10.8%, from 9.4% a year ago.

“Feedback from retailers suggests that this increase is a result of their investment into their internet sites, as well as promotions held online only and not in store,” said the ONS.

With overall sales growth almost stagnant, it meant that consumers had actually reduced the volume of goods they purchased in shops.

Visa likewise reported that the value of online sales that it recorded in the week to Sunday, 16 December had risen 2.3% from a year ago, even though overall spending was down.

US home sales hit three-year high

20 December 2012 Last updated at 16:23 GMT US home for sale Falling unemployment means more people are confident enough to buy property Sales of previously owned US homes rose in November to their highest level in three years, figures have shown.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said sales rose 5.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million last month.

Meanwhile the economy grew faster than previously thought in the third quarter, at an annualised rate of 3.1%.

The Commerce Department had previously estimated that growth hit 2.7% in the three months to September.

However economists still predict much slower growth in the final three months of the year.

Rising prices

The NAR said that there was “healthy demand” in the housing market.

“Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

The US unemployment rate fell to a four-year low of 7.7% in November, and has been steadily falling from its recent peak of 10.1% in October 2009.

“With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favourable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes,” Mr Yun added.

However the rate of 5.04 million is still well below the peak of mid-2005, when it topped 7 million.

Home prices rose year-on-year for the ninth consecutive month.

The national median existing home price for all housing types was $180,600 (£111,000) in November, up 10.1% on November 2011.

‘Cliff’ uncertainty

Stronger exports and higher government and consumer spending helped boost growth in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said.

Spending by state and local governments rose 0.3% over the period, while consumer spending grew at an annualised rate of 1.6%.

The US states its growth in annualised terms, meaning that its quarterly growth rate is extrapolated as if it was growing at that pace for the whole year.

Economic growth in the final quarter of 2012 is expected to have been harmed by uncertainty over “fiscal cliff” talks.

Disruption caused by Superstorm Sandy is also likely to have hit productivity, and economists are broadly predicting a growth rate of closer to 1.5% for the final quarter.

Looking ahead, many economists, including Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, have said that growth could accelerate next year if Congress and the White House can reach agreement to solve the fiscal cliff and avoid the steep tax rises and sharp spending cuts that would take effect in January.

Apple denied Samsung sales ban

Apple and Samsung phones Apple and Samsung have been involved in a legal battles in a number of countries A US judge has rejected Apple’s plea to ban sales of Samsung’s smartphones that violate its patents.


Apple had requested the ban after a jury ruled earlier this year that some Samsung products had infringed Apple’s patents.


Samsung was also ordered to pay $1.05bn (£650m) in damages, a ruling the South Korean firm has since challenged.


However, the judge said there was not enough evidence that the infringed patents had hurt Apple’s US sales.


“The phones at issue in this case contain a broad range of features, only a small fraction of which are covered by Apple’s patents,” District Judge Lucy Koh said.


“Though Apple does have some interest in retaining certain features as exclusive to Apple, it does not follow that entire products must be forever banned from the market because they incorporate, among their myriad features, a few narrow protected functions.”

Losing steam?

Since winning $1.05bn damages in August this year, Apple has suffered setbacks in its various legal clashes with rivals.

Continue reading the main story
The momentum that Apple had gained in the wake of the big billion-dollar judgement seems to be losing its steam”

End Quote Manoj Menon Frost & Sullivan Last month, Apple was asked to disclose the details of its patent-sharing deal with HTC to Samsung.


It has also lost an appeal against a UK ruling that Samsung had not infringed its design rights.


The US technology firm was also asked by a UK High Court to publish a statement on its website admitting that Samsung had not infringed its designs.


Meanwhile, sales bans sought by Apple against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the US were also lifted in October.


In November, a judge in the US dismissed a case brought by Apple alleging that Google’s Motorola unit was seeking excessive royalty payments for patents.


“The momentum that Apple had gained in the wake of the big billion dollar judgement seems to be losing its steam,” Manoj Menon, managing director at consulting firm Frost & Sullivan told the BBC.


“It appears that Apple will find it increasingly difficult to convince courts around the world that it has been hurt by alleged patent infringements.”

Patent sharing

The smartphone market has seen tremendous growth over the past few years and Apple and Samsung have emerged as two of the biggest players in the sector.


The success of Apple’s iPhone has been a key driver of its growth, while Samsung has reported record quarterly profits helped by the popularity of its Galaxy range of smartphones.


However, as their market share has increased, so has the intensity of their legal battles with each other.

HTC phone Apple and HTC have signed a licence agreement that ended their legal battle

The two firms have filed legal cases against each other in more than 10 countries, each accusing the other of violating its patents.


However, analysts said that it was time the two companies sat down together and agreed on an amicable solution to their tussles – a move that has also been suggested previously by a judge in the US.


Mr Menon of Frost & Sullivan said that as manufacturers look to develop even more advanced phones, they will eventually need to use technologies, the patents for which may not belong to them.


“What we are seeing is a convergence of different technologies into one device,” he said.


He explained that for innovation to continue in the sector it was key that various companies agreed to licensing terms for their patents.


Last month, Apple agreed such a deal with Taiwanese phone-maker HTC as it signed a 10-year licence agreement that ended their legal battle over patents.

Rank deal may mean casino sales

Roulette Wheel Rank and Gala are two of the three largest casino operators in the UK Rank Group may have to sell some casinos in order to win approval for a takeover of Gala Casinos, the Competition Commission has said.


In a provisional ruling, the commission said a merger could damage competition in six areas of the UK.


As a result, Rank may have to sell, or be prevented from buying, casinos in these areas for the deal to go through.


Under the deal announced in May, Rank planned to buy Gala’s 23 casinos and licences to operate three more.


However, the takeover was referred by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Competition Commission in August, with the OFT citing “concerns the merger will substantially reduce competition in the casino sector”.


Although the takeover offer lapsed in September, Rank said at the time that the two firms were continuing discussions over a tie-up.


The Competition Commission noted that Rank and Gala were two of the three largest casino operators in the UK. If the merger goes through, there will be just two national casino chains – Rank and Genting.


The commission said there were five areas where there were worries that competition could be hit by Rank’s takeover of Gala – Aberdeen, Liverpool/New Brighton, Stockton-on-Tees, Bristol and Cardiff.


In addition, there was also concern over the impact in Edinburgh, where Rank holds a licence to develop a new casino.


Professor Martin Cave, chairman of the Rank/Gala Inquiry Group and Competition Commission deputy chairman, said: “Our concern is that with two of the national players merging, this will leave a number of areas with much reduced competition where casino customers could consequently lose out through a poorer casino offer.


“We are now going to look at the most effective way to preserve competition in these areas and whether this can be achieved in a way that allows an amended version of the deal to go ahead.”

Japanese car sales in China rocket 72pc in November

car-indBEIJING: Japanese passenger car sales in China soared 72.2 percent in November, an industry group said Monday, after demand slumped in a furious territorial row between the world’s second- and third-biggest economies.


The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said the month-on-month rise came after falls of 29.5 percent in September and 38.2 percent in October — but Japanese sales were still 36.1 percent down on November 2011.


“Compared with October, sales of Japanese passenger cars started to have clear increase last month,” it said in a statement, without giving an absolute figure.


Overall vehicle sales in China — the world’s largest car market — rose 8.2 percent year-on-year in November to around 1.79 million units, a sharp increase in momentum, the industry group said. In October growth had stood at 5.3 percent.


A bitter dispute flared in mid-September after Tokyo nationalised East China Sea islands also claimed by Beijing, sparking huge protests across China and calls for boycotts of Japanese products.


Analysts say the row over the islands, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan, has affected Japanese automakers operating in the country and helped boost demand for other foreign brands.


Japan’s top three carmakers — Toyota, Honda and Nissan — all manufacture in China and scaled back production as sales slumped.


But as anti-Japanese sentiment begins to dissipate they have revved up production and tried to boost sales by offering discounts on new cars — along with compensation for owners of vehicles damaged during the protests.


“Sales of Japanese cars will improve month by month.


They will be better in December and January,” Harry Chen, Shenzhen-based analyst with Shenyin Wanguo Securities, told AFP.


“This is mainly because of the restoration of production and the promotions offered by Japanese car makers. I think sales will return to the 2011 level by February.”


Japanese carmakers’ market share in China stood at 16.6 percent last month, lower than the 23 percent recorded before the protests erupted, according to CAAM data.


For the first 11 months of the year, total auto sales increased four percent to 17.5 million units, with full-year sales expected to exceed 19 million units, it said.


China’s vehicle sales reached 18.51 million units last year, a rise of just 2.5 percent, down from an annual increase of more than 32 percent in 2010, as the government scrapped buying incentives and cities put limits on car numbers.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

Scots newspapers see sales slump

7 December 2012 Last updated at 13:42 GMT By Jamie McIvor BBC Scotland correspondent A selection of newspapers Sales of most newspapers have fallen substantially in recent years, north and south of the border Sales of several major Scottish newspapers have fallen substantially in the past month, according to the latest circulation figures.

The Sunday Mail, the Sunday Post and Scotland on Sunday all saw their sales drop below key milestones: The Sunday Mail’s circulation fell below 300,000, the Post’s below 250,000 and Scotland on Sunday’s below 40,000.

The Scotsman and the Daily Record both recorded their lowest weekday sales figures in modern times.

The figures come as the debate continues over how the press should be regulated in the wake of the Leveson Report and whether separate regulation in Scotland is practical or desirable.

Sales of most newspapers – north and south of the border – have fallen substantially in recent years and the trend shows no sign of ending.

Amongst the Scottish titles, the most symbolic falls in November concern the Sunday papers.

The Sunday Post saw its sales fall below a quarter of a million for the first time in living memory. Between October and November its sales dipped nearly 8% from 268,000 to just under 247,000.

Quality market

The Sunday Mail also fell below a milestone. It dropped 5% in a month from 308,000 to 293,000.

Annual comparisons are misleading though as the popular newspaper market last autumn was distorted during the period between the closure of the News of the World and the launch of The Sun on Sunday. Last month, the Scottish edition of The Sun on Sunday sold just over 203,000 copies.

At the other end of the market, Scotland on Sunday dipped below 40,000. It’s sale of just over 39,250 is down from 49,000 last November.

On weekdays the Daily Record fell close to 253,500 – down 15,000 in a month and 25,000 in a year. The Sun sold 286,000 in Scotland. Its sales are also down on the year but the gap with the Record remains broadly similar.

In what the industry defines as the quality market, The Scotsman’s circulation fell to below 33,000 against 39,000 last November.

But an analysis of the figures reveals that between Monday and Friday, the number of copies actively bought by readers drops to around 28,500.

The headline average is affected by a significantly higher sale on Saturdays and some 2,500 so-called multiple copies which are given away free to the public in, for instance, hotels.

Monthly sales figures are no longer issued for either The Herald or the Sunday Herald. Their next set of sales figures – covering the whole of the second half of 2012 – is expected in February.

Game sales ‘dip’ despite launches

7 December 2012 Last updated at 12:27 GMT Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Two of the world’s bestselling first-person shooter franchises launched a week apart in November Strong sales of the latest Call of Duty and Halo sequels were not enough to prevent a drop in annual US video game sales, according to research firm NPD.

It suggests sales of hardware and software sold by retailers were down 11% on the year in November.

Nintendo’s Wii U also launched that month and Assassin’s Creed 3 had just gone on sale. The figure does not include digital downloads.

NPD linked the drop to weaker sales of titles outside the top five.

“Despite an overall retail video game decline of 11%, November had the smallest year-over-year decrease we have seen for dollar and unit sales so far this year,” it said in a statement.

“Overall entertainment software units decreased by 15%, however, when comparing the performance of the top five titles from this year to last, we see a rise in unit sales of 5% – games outside of the top five sold less, leading to overall declines.”

Figures may also have been depressed by the fact there were fewer releases this November than a year earlier when Uncharted 3, Skyrim, Lego Harry Potter 5-7 and Modern Warfare 3 were among titles that went on sale.

Blockbuster sales

Activision, Microsoft and Nintendo have all been touting the success of their new products over recent days.

Continue reading the main story

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

2. Halo 4

3. Assassin’s Creed 3

4. Just Dance 4

5. Madden NFL 13

6. Skylander Giants

7. Need for Speed: Most Wanted

8. NBA 2K13

9. WWE 13

10. Fifa Soccer 13

(Source: NPD)

Black Ops 2 – the first in the Call of Duty series to be part-set in the future – topped $1bn (£624m; 773m euros) worth of global sales in its first 15 days of release, said Activision Publishing.

It said it had achieved the milestone a day quicker than the movie Avatar did in 2009 – albeit with fewer individual units sold.

Microsoft has not provided a comparable figure for its Xbox-exclusive Halo 4, but has said that more than 50 million games in the franchise had now been sold.

Based on the firm’s earlier announcements, that suggests about four million copies of Halo 4 were sold worldwide over its first 30 days.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has revealed that it sold 400,000 Wii Us and its bundled touchscreen controller during their first week of release in the US.

That compares to 600,000 units of the original Wii console during its first eight days on the market in North America.

The Japanese company has a target of 5.5 million Wii U sales worldwide by the end of its financial year in March.

Digital downloads

While NPD’s figures provide a useful snapshot of console and disk-based games sales, critics have pointed out that they may not offer a true reflection of the wider market.

Wii U Japan’s Nintendo launched its Wii U in the US ahead of other countries

The Penny Arcade website ran an editorial last month describing Valve’s online Steam store – which sells PC games – as a “blind spot”.

It also noted that sales of smartphone and tablet games were missed out.

However, NPD does provide a separate estimate for non-traditional game sales including downloads, subscriptions, mobile apps, and used and rented games,

The research firm suggested this grouping accounted for $410m of sales in the US in November, taking the month’s tally to more than $3.1bn.

Volkswagen sees record sales in 2012 after strong November

vwFRANKFURT: Volkswagen, Europe’s biggest carmaker, said Friday it already sold more cars in the 11 months to November than the record number seen in the whole of 2011.


VW said in a statement that total vehicle sales rose by 11.7 percent to 794,500 in November, bringing the total for the year to date up by 10.4 percent to 8.29 million units.


In 2011, the carmaker had sold a total 8.27 million vehicles worldwide.


“We have already delivered more vehicles after 11 months than during the whole of last year.


That is an outstanding achievement, particularly in view of the continuing difficult situation on some European markets,” said VW’s sales chief Christian Klingler.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2012**

Brazil auto sales up but output down in 2012

SAO PAULO: Auto sales in Brazil rose 4.9 percent in 2012 compared with the previous year but production fell 1.5 percent, the first decline in the past 10 years, industry data showed Friday.


“In general it was a positive year although we experienced many difficulties. The sector showed major growth, undoubtedly with lower profitability but with prospects of continued growth next year,” said Cledorvino Bellini, president of the National Association of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (ANFAVEA).


He told a press conference that sales got a boost from measures adopted by the government to stimulate sluggish economic growth, including a reduction of taxes on industrialized goods.


Brazil boasts the world’s fourth largest car market after the United States, China and Japan.


Meanwhile the Central Bank has cut its inter-bank lending rates to boost growth and consumption in this country of 194 million.


ANFAVEA said 3.8 million units were sold this year, up from 3.6 million in 2011 while production was projected to fall from 3.4 million last year to 3.3 million in 2012.


Bellini explained the decline saying Brazil’s production is for both the domestic market, which rose, and for exports, which failed to expand.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

China car sales on track for record 2012: GM

General-Motors-LogoSHANGHAI: US auto giant General Motors (GM) said Thursday that its full-year sales in China, the world’s biggest car market, will surpass last year’s 2.55 million and set a new record.


In the first 11 months, sales of GM and its ventures in China surged 10.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.59 million vehicles, more than the total for the whole of last year, GM said in a statement.


For November alone, GM sold 260,018 vehicles in China, up 9.7 percent from 2011.


China’s overall auto sales growth slowed last year after the government scrapped purchasing incentives and limited car numbers to ease traffic congestion and cut pollution.


In 2011 sales rose just 2.5 percent to 18.51 million units, compared with an increase of more than 32 percent in 2010, but growth has recovered slightly this year.


Nonetheless foreign manufacturers have bucked the slowdown with stronger brand recognition and perceptions of better quality among domestic consumers, although Japanese brands have been hurt by a territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

Storm delays lift already strong US auto sales

Detroit: Superstorm Sandy gave an extra boost to US auto sales, making November the best month for carmakers in nearly five years.


Toyota, Volkswagen and Chrysler were among the companies posting impressive increases for November, which is normally a lackluster month because of colder weather and holiday distractions. Only General Motors was left struggling to explain yet another month of weak growth.


Industry sales rose 15 per cent from a year earlier to 1.1 million, according to AutoData. That was their fastest pace since January 2008. US sales would reach 15.5 million this year if they stayed at November’s rate, far higher than the 14.3 million rate in the first 10 months of this year.


Americans are more confident in the economy, a key driver of auto sales. Home values are rising, hiring is up and auto financing remains readily available. And besides just feeling better, people need to replace aging cars or vehicles damaged by Sandy.

Article continues below


“Everything is kind of moving along almost in concert now,” says Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, a Detroit-area industry consulting firm.


Sandy added 20,000 to 30,000 sales industry wide last month, mostly from people who planned to buy cars during the October storm but had to delay their purchases, Ford estimates.


People who need to replace storm-damaged vehicles are expected to drive sales for several more months. GM estimates that 50,000 to 100,000 vehicles will eventually need to be replaced.


Even so, carmakers warned that uncertainty over the “fiscal cliff” could undo some of the gains.


The term refers to sharp government spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to start January 1 unless an agreement to cut the budget deficit is reached between Congress and the White House. The cuts and tax increases, if enacted, could push the US economy back into a recession and could derail the industry’s recovery.


Alec Gutierrez, a senior market analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said a household making $100,000 per year would pay $160 more per month if the payroll tax goes up 2 per cent. That’s about the same amount as a lease payment on a compact car. For that reason, Gutierrez suspects some buyers are waiting to see if an agreement is reached before investing in a new vehicle.


But for now, most Americans seem comfortable buying.


At Toyota, sales rose 17 per cent in November, partly due to post-Sandy demand. Honda was up 39 per cent thanks to strong sales of the new Accord sedan and clearance deals on the outgoing Civic, which was replaced by a new 2013 Civic at the end of the month. Volkswagen’s sales rose 29 per cent on the strength of the Passat sedan.


But at General Motors, sales rose just 3 per cent.


GM’s biggest brand, Chevrolet, reported flat sales over last year despite new products like the Spark minicar. Silverado pickup sales fell 10 per cent.


GM’s sales have been trailing the industry all year. They were up 4 per cent through October, compared to the industry-wide increase of 14 per cent.


Kurt McNeil, GM’s US sales chief, and other GM executives tried to explain the automaker’s disappointing performance.


GM said its competitors resorted to higher-than-usual incentives last month to get rid of 2012 model-year trucks. GM, which had more 2013 trucks on its lots, was offering $500 less per truck than the industry average. GM has been trying to hold the line on costly incentives, which can hurt resale value and brand image.


“We want to be known for great products, not great incentives,” McNeil said.


But some analysts think GM will be forced to offer more deals in December to clear out inventory.


At Ford, sales were up 6.5 per cent on the strength of the F-Series pickup. Ford also saw strong sales of its new C-Max hybrid wagon and of the Ford Focus small car.


Asian brands also got a boost from some unusually big discounts, said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for automotive pricing site TrueCar.com. TrueCar estimated that Hyundai and Kia, which were admonished by the US government in late October for overstating gas mileage, increased incentive spending by nearly 30 per cent. Nissan spending was up 45 per cent to $4,273 per vehicle, by far the highest incentives in the industry.


Luxury cars saw their usual year-end surge as holiday commercials started crowding the airwaves. Porsche’s sales rose 71 per cent to 3,865, a record month for the automaker. Infiniti, Acura, BMW and Lexus all reported big gains.


Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell said luxury brands have historically targeted their customers at this time of year because of holiday bonuses. That’s no longer a driving factor, she said, but it’s still a good time of year for people to buy 2012 model-year luxury vehicles because dealers are trying to clear them out.


Gutierrez said about 70 per cent of the vehicles on dealer lots are now 2013 models, so buyers should act quickly if they want a deal on a 2012 model.


If industry-wide sales end up at 15 million for the year, it would be a vast improvement over the 10.4 million during the recession in 2009. Sales would still fall short of the recent peak of around 17 million in 2005.


Other automakers reporting sales on Monday:


— Chrysler’s sales were up 14 per cent. Ram pickups were up 23 per cent, while sales of the Fiat 500 minicar more than doubled.


— Hyundai’s sales rose 8 per cent, led by the Sonata midsize car and the Elantra compact. TrueCar said Hyundai increased incentives by 30 per cent. It was admonished by the US government in late October for overstating gas mileage.

Greene King toasts rise in sales

4 December 2012 Last updated at 11:52 GMT Chief executive Rooney Anand: “We have doubled our food turnover since the credit crunch began.”

Pubs, restaurants and hotels business Greene King has said that its focus on offering “value for money” helped it to report a strong rise in sales.

In the half-year to 14 October its like-for-like sales, which strip out the impact of new openings, rose 4.3%.

Pre-tax profits at the company, which owns the Loch Fyne and Hungry Horse chains, increased by 7.1% to £82.7m.

The Suffolk-based business employs 22,000 people, and has more than 2,298 pubs, restaurants and hotels.

Revenues rose 7.3% to £566.2m and the firm said it had also focused on keeping a “tight control of costs”.

Its chief executive Rooney Anand said: “While we continue to see a challenging environment for the UK consumer, our strategy has been tailored for these conditions – we provide our customers with ‘everyday treats’ and value for money.”

Douglas Jack, analyst at brokers Numis Securities, said Greene King’s latest results was “a good performance given that it occurred during a record wet summer”.

Retail sales flatline despite rate cut

Updated December 03, 2012 14:16:52

Official figures show retail sales were flat in October after two months of growth, despite the Reserve Bank cutting interest rates that month.

The Bureau of Statistics numbers show turnover was steady at $21.6 billion in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising in August and September, bringing the annual rate of sales growth down to 3.1 per cent.

The result was lower than anticipated – economists had expected a rise of 0.4 per cent.

Food retailing was the only sector to see better conditions, with sales up 0.9 per cent, and the ABS says this category has seen the strongest performance, rising every month this year.

The largest decline came in sales of household goods, which fell 1.6 per cent.

JP Morgan economist Tom Kennedy says the figures should concern traditional retailers, as they highlight consumers’ increasing preference to spend their money on services rather than in the shops.

“Discretionary retail sales have performed poorly over the past year, with the annual run rate slowing to 1.7 per cent on year average,” Mr Kennedy said.

“To put this in perspective, the average 2007 pre-crisis growth rate for consumer discretionary spending was 7.8 per cent on year average, highlighting the shift in preferences over the past five years toward saving and services consumption.

“These structural changes appear likely to remain a drag on traditional retail over the next few years.”

The figures continue to highlight the mixed nature of Australia’s economy – retail sales were strongest in the mining states of Western Australia (up 0.9 per cent) and the Northern Territory (up 1.5 per cent), with smaller gains in Queensland and New South Wales.

But turnover went backwards in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, with the steepest fall in the ACT, where sales decreased by 2.2 per cent.

There are hopes that sales could pick up for the crucial pre-Christmas shopping season – last month, figures from Westpac showed consumer confidence had jumped to its highest level in more than a year and a half.

The Australian National Retailers Association has joined its counterpart, the Australian Retailers’ Association, in tipping a better Christmas this year, forecasting that Australians will boost their spending to $32 billion this season, or more than $1,400 each.

The Australian dollar slipped after the retail sales figures were released and at 12:35pm (AEDT) was trading at 104.07 US cents.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, economic-trends, retail, australia

First posted December 03, 2012 12:04:11

French car sales drop 19.2% in November

Paris: French new car sales plunged by 19.2 per cent in November on a monthly basis and by 13.8 per cent in the first 11 months of the year, data from the French automobile manufacturers’ association CCFA showed on Monday.

The CCFA said it expected French new car sales to be down by about 14 per cent for 2012 as a whole.

In November, a total of 144,694 new cars were registered in France, the association said in a statement.

French carmakers were among those that suffered the biggest drops, with sales by PSA Peugeot Citroen, the second-biggest European auto manufacturer, down by 22.9 per cent, and those by the Renault group posting a plunge of 33.5 per cent.

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Foreign brands fared somewhat better, with a only a 7.9 per cent decline overall. South Korea’s Hyundai-Kia posted a 20.5 per cent gain in sales, followed by Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart, with a 13.8 per cent increase.

Apple, Microsoft to steal market share in MEA smartphone sales

Smartphone market share numbers in the Middle East and Africa are going to be distorted in the fourth quarter due to the timing of product introductions like Apple’s iPhone 5 and Windows Phone 8.

“Apple will make a strong comeback in this quarter as the new iPhone 5 is going to be launched in the certain markets of the region. Nokia’s Lumia 920 will not sell in huge volume because of the high price but Lumia 820 is priced reasonably and coupled with HTC’s windows phones will gain market share for Microsoft,” Annette Zimmermann, Principal Analyst at Gartner Deutschland, told Gulf News in an exclusive of interview.

She said RIM and Symbian will lose market share further. Android’s market share will slip as Apple and Microsoft will take some market share from Google’s operating system.

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Total mobile phone sales in the region are expected to rise 6.52 per cent to 49 million in the fourth quarter compared to 46 million in the third quarter. Out of this, around 20 per cent are going to be smartphones.

In the third quarter, market grew really fast with smartphones growing seven per cent quarter on quarter.

Nokia still leads the overall market with more than 43 per cent market despite its smartphones market share falling to 10.8 per cent in third quarter from 16 per cent in second quarter.

Samsung grew close to 50 per cent in the smartphone sales while registering 23.4 per cent in the overall sales. Samsung contributes around two third to the growth in Android platform.

RIM held steady at 17.2 per cent in smartphone category.

“Apple lost most of its market share in third quarter as consumers are waiting for iPhone 5 to be launched in the region. Its market share fell from nine per cent in second quarter to two per cent in the third quarter,” she said.

Countries with high income groups like Saudi Arabia and the UAE are waiting for the new Apple to be launched.

“Samsung is also going to be a big contributor for Windows’ growth as they can profit from the Galaxy brand. The big question is can they compete with a good ecosystem of Nokia and that is what Samsung lacks. That is where Samsung needs to work on in the future,” she said.

White box manufacturers sold around four million units in the third quarter.

“RIM, once very strong in the Middle East is losing its market share. But it is gaining market share in Africa. People in Africa still like the qwerty keyboard of BlackBerry despite the world going for touch screens,” she said.

Even launching BBM 10 in the first quarter of next year “will not save RIM as it very late to the market. We are doubtful whether they will stay strong in the Middle East and Africa,” she added.

For the year, around 196 million units are expected to be sold in the region. Out of this around 20 per cent are going to be smartphones.

Australian retail sales disappoint

Sydney: A flood of Australian data on Monday showed a disappointingly flat month for retail sales, lacklustre labour demand and tame inflation, a combination that only added to expectations for a cut in interest rates this week.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed retail sales were unchanged in October at A$21.6 billion (Dh82.6 billion) as consumers cut spending on household goods. Analysts had looked for a rise of 0.4 per cent and the soft result knocked the local dollar down a quarter of a cent.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) holds its monthly policy meeting on Tuesday and investors are betting heavily it will cut the cash rate by a quarter point to 3 per cent, so matching the record low reached during the global financial crisis.

“The market has moved pretty quickly over the past week to pretty much fully discount a move tomorrow and these data aren’t really going to change any perceptions about that,” said Michael Turner, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

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A clear majority of analysts in a Reuters poll expect the RBA to pull the trigger, in large part to help offset a coming cooldown in the country’s red-hot mining sector.

Interbank futures put the chance of an easing on Tuesday at three-in-four, while swap rates put it at 88 per cent. Markets are also leaning toward a further cut to 2.75 per cent some time next year.

The RBA has already cut rates by 100 basis points since May, citing a slower global economy, a softer labour market at home and lower prices for some of Australia’s major resource exports.

The pullback in prices has led some miners to rein in their more ambitious spending plans such that the RBA now believes the boom in resource investment will peak earlier than previously expected, around the middle of next year.

As a result, policymakers are trying to stimulate other sectors of the economy, and particularly home building, to fill any hole left by the eventual pullback in mining spending.

So far, lower rates have had a limited impact on cautious consumers who prefer saving and paying down debt.

That has been tough for the A$260 billion retail sector which accounts for around 18 per cent of Australia’s economic output and is the second-biggest employer after the health industry, with 10.5 per cent of all jobs.

It is also one reason analysts expect unemployment to creep higher from the current 5.4 per cent.

A survey of job advertisements from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed a drop of 2.9 per cent in October, the eighth month of falls and an ill omen for hiring.

“Further easing is necessary to assist the economy in its transition towards a lower dependence on mining investment growth,” said ANZ’s head of Australian economics, Ivan Colhoun. “We continue to expect a 25 basis points cut at the RBA Board meeting tomorrow and for the Bank to maintain a strong easing bias in 2013.”

Analysts see plenty of room to ease monetary policy given Australia’s Labor government is tightening its purse strings while domestic inflationary pressures remain benign.

A private gauge of inflation out on Monday showed a 0.1 per cent dip in November, thanks to falls in prices for fruit and vegetables, petrol and holiday travel.

The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute’s measure of annual consumer price inflation stood at 2.5 per cent, right in the middle of the RBA’s long-term target band of 2 to 3 per cent.

Ford, Chrysler extend strong gains in US auto sales

CHICAGO: Ford and Chrysler posted solid gains Monday as an overall improving economic outlook and high demand for replacement vehicles following the devastating Hurricane Sandy boosted US auto sales in November. Automotive website TrueCar.com forecast that total US auto sales will rise 13 percent in November and the sales pace will reach an adjusted, annualized rate of 15.2 million vehicles.


“November was a strong month for new car sales and the impact from hurricane Sandy helped to boost auto sales to its highest since February 2008,” said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for TrueCar.com. “Import automakers got the biggest lift due to some increased incentive spending building momentum heading into next year. We don’t expect any major impact on auto sales from the ongoing fiscal cliff discussions.”


Ford posted its best November since 2005, as sales rose six percent to 177,673 vehicles. The results were drive by strong demand for its small cars, which posted their best November in 12 years.


“November represented a strong month for the industry, and Ford sales performed well across the board,” said Ken Czubay, head of Ford sales. “We saw sharp increases in demand for Ford’s fuel-efficient small cars, our best-ever month for electrified vehicles and growing demand for our fuel-efficient and capable F-Series pickups.”


Chrysler’s sales grew by 14 percent to 122,565 vehicles for the best November performance since 2007. It has now posted 32 consecutive months of sales gains and its sales are up 22 percent for the year to date. “Even with all the talk of a looming fiscal cliff, Chrysler Group is well positioned for a strong sales finish to the year,” said sales chief Reid Bigland. “We are expecting a strong December as the industry continues to recover from the East Coast hurricane and consumers continue to respond to our popular year-end Big Finish event.”


More results were expected later Monday.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012

Nokia seeks Blackberry sales bans

28 November 2012 Last updated at 13:41 GMT Blackberry handsets Blackberry devices could be forced off shop shelves if it does not agree to pay licence fees Nokia has asked courts in the US, UK and Canada to block sales of rival Blackberry smartphones.

It follows a patent dispute between the Finnish company and Blackberry’s parent, Research In Motion (RIM).

Nokia says an earlier ruling means RIM is not allowed to produce devices that offer a common type of wi-fi connectivity until it agrees to pay licence fees.

All current Blackberries would be affected. RIM had no comment.

It is the latest legal distraction for the Canadian company as it prepares to launch an operating system that could determine its survival.

Share drop

Nokia’s action comes two months after an arbitration ruling by the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce in Sweden.

The organisation had been asked to act as an arbitrator in a dispute over RIM’s use of handsets and tablets featuring wireless active network (WLAN) connections to the internet.

Nokia phone Nokia says more than 40 companies license its mobile-phone patents

RIM had argued that an earlier licensing deal with Nokia meant it should not have to pay a separate fee for the technologies. However, the tribunal disagreed.

After news of Nokia’s latest action was revealed by Computerworld magazine, RIM’s shares fell more than 10% in after-hours trading in New York.

When contacted by the BBC, Nokia confirmed it had taken action “with the aim of ending RIM’s breach of contract”, adding it would also continue to pursue a separate case against RIM in Germany involving antenna, email and navigation technologies.

Nokia noted it had licensed its intellectual property rights to more than 40 other companies. The revenue from such deals helps justify its current $11.8bn (£7.4bn) market valuation.

Patent wars

RIM is also fighting several other patent lawsuits at this time.

They include a dispute with Washington-based patent portfolio owner SoftVault Systems, which alleges RIM has infringed its anti-piracy DRM (digital rights management) technologies.

RIM is also involved in a case against California-based Lochner, which is suing a number of big-name tech firms over the way their devices play videos streamed over the internet.

RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins talks through the Blackberry 10 system

RIM has itself sued others in the past over patents, including Motorola – before the handset division was bought by Google – and the instant message software Kik,

However, the timing of the clash with a big-player like Nokia could be particularly troubling as it comes less than three months before RIM plans to release its first Blackberry 10 handsets.

“RIM has had a tough time losing market segment to other smartphones. And the future of the business is now going to be based on the success of its new operating system, which itself has been delayed,” said UK-based patent attorney Andrew Alton, from Urquhart-Dykes & Lord, who has previously acted for Apple.

“Anything else that diverts attention from getting that out there and products shipped and bought is going to be detrimental for the business.”

Car dealers expect growth in sales in 2013

Dubai: Local car dealerships are expecting up to 30 per cent growth in auto sales next year as new models enter the market and increasing interest in used cars, they said.

Customers who enter a leasing deal on a new car, end up opting for used cars at the end of their lease term, dealerships say.

The used car business has grown so dramatically. The financial crisis has caused lots of people to opt for used cars,” said Stathis I. Stathis, managing director of Al Batha Automative Group, the parent company of AGMC.

It projects about 15 per cent sales growth for used cars next year, he said.

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AGMC is targeting 10 to 15 per cent sales growth in 2013 as it introduces new models to the market including the BMW M6 sports car, added.

It is set a sales target of 700 MINI cars in 2013 compared to the 500 units a year it has achieved this year, he noted.

“It’s become a lot tougher to sell units, so there’s a focus on after-sales satisfaction,” Stathis said.

Liberty Automobiles, which sells Chevrolet and Cadillac models, is aiming for 12 to 15 per cent growth next year — almost double its expectations of the overall auto market growth, said Rajesh Krishnan, general manager of sales and marketing at the company.

“We want to capitalise on our new products,” he said, referring to the Cadillac XTS and ATS models as well as the Chevrolet Trail Blazer and Camaro ZL1 2013 models that were introduced to the UAE at the International Automobile show on Wednesday.

The announcement of the Mohammad Bin Rashid City earlier this week signals to traders a “return of the market” that encourages investment and the auto market is likely to see about 20 to 30 per cent growth next year said Adel Al Khajeh, government and VIP relations manager at Gargash Enterprises.

Thanksgiving sales ‘up sharply’

Macy's Macy’s opened its store in New York at midnight and 11,000 shoppers turned up US shoppers went to town over the Thanksgiving weekend, with retail spending up sharply on last year, a survey suggests.


A record 247 million people visited stores and websites between Thursday and Sunday and spent a total of $59.1bn (£36.9bn), 13% more than last year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.


The average shopper spent $423 over the weekend, up from $398 last year.


Surveys suggest Americans also plan to spend big on so-called “Cyber Monday”.


“Millions of Americans found time this Thanksgiving to make the most of retailers’ promotions and enjoy a special family holiday,” said NRF chief executive Matthew Shay.


“To keep their customers excited about holiday shopping, retailers will continue to offer attractive promotions through December, and provide strong consumer value with low prices, enhanced mobile and online offerings, and unique product assortment.”

Online sales

Retailers, which make a large portion of their annual revenue during the November/December festive period, made special efforts to entice shoppers over the weekend, with a number of stores opened early to make the most of the sales rush.


Online sales also jumped sharply.


According to data company Comscore.com, online sales rose by a quarter on so-called “Black Friday” to break the $1bn mark for the first time, while online sales on Thanksgiving were up by a third.


The company also expects shoppers to spend $1.5bn online on Monday, 20% more than last year.


Despite the jump in sales over the weekend, there are concerns that the rise in spending over the festive period as a whole will be weaker this year.


The NRF has forecast a 4.1% increase in retail sales during November and December, less than the 5.6% jump recorded last year.

Home insurance sales spike after JLT fire

Dubai: The number of people seeking to buy home contents insurance in Dubai has soared by about 2,000 per cent since this week’s fire that ripped through a tower in the Jumeirah Lakes Towers district.

Home insurance has been a hard sell for many providers in the UAE, but this week Axa Insurance Gulf and Royal & Sun Alliance (RSA) Middle East, confirmed to Gulf News that they have noticed a massive spike in insurance enquiries and sales since Sunday.

In the last few days since the incident, Axa’s website registered a 1,900 per cent increase in home insurance enquiries and a 1,050 per cent increase in the number of policies sold.

“We have the same trend at our call centre this week [where] we did ten times more quotes than last week and we have sold three times more policies than last week,” said Alexis de Beauregard, chief officer, marketing and retail product offering at Axa Insurance Gulf.

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RSA Middle East has seen a similar bump in sales. “We have noticed a 2,000 per cent increase in home insurance quotations for the last two days with a conversion rate of 53 per cent,” said Nilanjana Ghosh, head of marketing and communications at RSA Middle East on Tuesday.

Industry sources said the sales spike is a “knee-jerk reaction” to the fire incident and is unlikely to continue after a couple of days.

“It’s the biggest fire we’ve seen in Dubai in recent years and it seems to have heightened everyone’s awareness on the need to insure their valuables against any eventuality,” says another source at an insurance company.

The need to insure personal belongings is one that most residents ignore. Hundreds of tenants have been left homeless in the recent spate of fires that destroyed several flats across the country.

De Beauregard said the penetration rate of home insurance in the UAE only stands at around five per cent “due to lack of awareness and understanding of who needs to cover what.”

“The clear message from the [recent] tragedy is that tenants understood that landlord’s insurance does not cover tenants at all. Therefore, we have seen a very strong increase in the last days in the number of quotes and number of policies sold on our website,” De Beauregard said.

A recent study by Souqalmal.com, a financial products comparison website, claimed that 86 per cent of the country’s residents are without home contents insurance. “While 95 per cent of those surveyed claimed to see the value in insuring the contents of their home, 10 per cent claimed they did not know how to get contents insurance,” Souqalmal.com said.

Dubai Duty Free’s ten month sales up by 11%

Dubai: Dubai Duty Free is looking to achieve double digit sales growth for the year as sales up to the end of October reached Dh4.71 billion ($1.29 billion), representing an 11 per cent increase over the same period last year. The latest sales figures put the operation on track for year-end sales of an estimated Dh6 billion ($1.6 billion).

The Perfumes category, which accounts for 15 per cent of total sales at Dubai Duty Free, retained the No 1 spot as sales rose to Dh727 million ($199 million) in the ten-month period.

All sales figures have been recorded across all three Terminals for both departing and arriving passengers: year to date (YTD) Terminal 1 has recorded a 9 per cent increase, while Terminal 2 has shown an impressive 16 per cent increase. Terminal 3, which is dedicated to Emirates airlines, has seen sales grow by 12 per cent while arrival sales across all Terminals is up by 15 per cent.

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Russia’s retail sales growth slumps

Moscow: Russian retail sales growth unexpectedly slumped in October after unemployment increased for the first time since January and slower-than-estimated gains in wages and incomes curbed consumer purchasing power.

Receipts at merchants rose 3.8 per cent from a year earlier, the slowest pace since February 2010, after a 4.4 per cent increase in September, the Federal Statistics Service in Moscow said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. The median forecast of 16 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for 4.5 per cent. The jobless rate rose to 5.3 per cent from 5.2 per cent.

Faltering domestic demand poses risks to the world’s largest energy exporter, which has relied on household confidence to insulate the economy from Europe’s debt crisis and slowing growth in China. Smaller gains in consumption are also hurting companies such as X5 Retail Group NV, Russia’s largest food retailer by sales, which today reported third-quarter profit that missed analyst estimates.

The economic figures “can be linked to slower growth in incomes, wages and a relatively high level of the inflation rate,” Alexander Morozov, chief economist for Russia at HSBC Holdings Plc in Moscow, said by phone.

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Russian equities fell, heading for the biggest drop in a week, with the Micex Index losing 0.3 per cent to 1,393.99 by 5.47pm in Moscow. The ruble is the top performer among more than 20 emerging-market currencies tracked by Bloomberg on Monday, gaining 0.5 per cent against the dollar. “The Russian consumer’s financial position deteriorated further in October,” Johannesburg-based Tradition Analytics said in an emailed research note. “It is evident that rather prominent inflationary pressures are weighing on the consumptive sector as inflation eats into the disposable income of consumers.”

The pace of price growth has surged past the central bank’s target of 5 per cent to 6 per cent this year, forcing policy makers to raise interest rates in September. The inflation rate unexpectedly fell to 6.5 per cent last month from a year earlier, compared with 6.6 per cent in September. Real average wages increased 5.2 per cent in October from a year earlier, missing the median estimate of 6.1 per cent, the service said.

Disposable incomes advanced 2.4 per cent, below economists’ forecast for 4 per cent growth. Fixed-capital investment unexpectedly jumped 4.9 per cent from a year earlier and surged 14.4 per cent on a monthly basis.

Economists forecast a per cent decline from 2011. “The acceleration of investment is seasonal and relates to the fact that toward the end of the year investment programmes are implemented more actively,” Dmitry Kharlampiev, director for macroeconomic research at OAO Petrocommerce Bank in St. Petersburg, said by email.

US breaks $1b in online Black Friday sales for first time

 Image Credit: REUTERSShoppers crowd Macy’s store in New York on Friday. Black Friday, the day following the Thanksgiving Day holiday, has traditionally been the busiest shopping day in the United States.

New York: US shoppers spent heavily online on the crucial Black Friday shopping day, for the first time topping a billion dollars in online sales in a single day, analysts and retailers said.


The four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the kickoff to the US holiday shopping season, and Black Friday has long been considered the critical day that turns retailers’ books from red to black.


Consumer spending makes up more than two-thirds of US economic activity. So the short but busiest consumer sales season has a huge importance to the US economy for the whole year.


This year, online shoppers spent a grand total of $1.042 billion on Friday, surpassing last year’s Black Friday haul by 26 per cent, according to the consulting firm Comscore.

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A total of 57.3 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, representing an increase of 18 per cent versus a year ago, the firm said.


It pointed out that Amazon.com ranked as the most visited online retail site on that day.


“Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel — particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores,” said Comscore chairman Gian Fulgoni.


Another study by IMB Benchmark Digital Analytics saw an increase of 21 per cent in Internet sales, with a surge in orders of mobile devices and tablet computers, in particular.


But the new record might be short-lived.


Coming next is “Cyber Monday,” the day Americans go back to work and online retailers launch heavy promotions to reel in more shoppers.


“According to norms we’ve observed over the past three years,” retail analyst ShopperTrak said, the Monday after Thanksgiving “should be the heaviest online shopping day of the season with sales approaching $1.5 billion or even higher.”


Across the four-day weekend, US shoppers spent $59.1 billion, a jump of 13 per cent over the previous year, the National Retail Federation announced.


“It’s phenomenal,” NRF director Mathew Shay told reporters at a press conference, saying the numbers bode well for the holiday season despite the still-struggling economy.


American consumers spent an average of $423 this weekend, compared to $398 last year, the group reported.


However, the NRF did not revise its prediction for the US holiday shopping season as a whole, keeping it at a 4.1 per cent increase year on year, arguing that consumers remain cautious about the economy.


The looming threat of the “fiscal cliff,” which could send taxes soaring if Republicans and Democrats do not reach a compromise on reducing the deficit before the end of the year, also had the retailers worried.


And despite the good numbers overall, sales at brick-and-mortar locations were sluggish on “Black Friday:” in-store traffic increased by 3.5 per cent on Friday with more than 307 million visitors, but total sales actually went down compared to the previous year by 1.8 per cent, according to ShopperTrak.


Some of the biggest numbers went to the stores that opened early on the Thanksgiving holiday itself — a growing trend, especially among large chain stores, that is turning the traditionally family-based holiday into a commercial event.


“Opening on Thanksgiving was a big win,” the NRF’s Shay said, noting that 35 million people went shopping, a 40 per cent surge over the previous year.


Comscore also noted a jump in online Thanksgiving day sales, up 32 per cent over 2011, with $633 million in sales, though the IMB Benchmark Digital Analytics survey saw a more modest gain of 17.4 per cent.


But ShopperTrak noted that the Thanksgiving day shopping may have undercut spending usually meant for Friday, without increasing the overall numbers.


$1.04b


Amount spent by US online shoppers on Black Friday this year.


57.3m


American consumers visited online retail sites on Friday.

Retailers predict growth in Christmas sales

Updated November 23, 2012 16:54:19

The state’s peak business lobby is predicting West Australian consumers will spend more than $3 billion over the Christmas period.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry is predicting that retail sales will hit $3.4 billion next month, an increase of almost eight per cent on last year’s spending.

Chamber spokesman John Nicolaou says it is a positive sign and is due to a number of factors including low unemployment, population growth and a stronger economy.

“WA consumers are earning more money, real wages are rising, the economy is operating at very close to full employment levels and there is a growing number of consumers in Western Australia compared to 12 months ago,” he said.

“These results do suggest that consumers are looking to spend more in WA retail outlets over the coming Christmas period and that should be welcome news.”

Topics: retail, perth-6000

First posted November 23, 2012 10:07:08

DJs shares slump on anaemic sales

Updated November 21, 2012 15:33:44


David Jones has posted a modest rise in sales, but not enough to recover from a big fall last year, causing its shares to slump.


The upmarket department store has recorded a 0.3 per cent rise in sales during the three months from the end of July to late October.


David Jones’s total sales were $415.6 million for the period.


It is the first time in two years that the company has grown sales in a quarter rather than seen them shrink.


David Jones chief executive Paul Zahra says that positive trend is continuing into the current quarter.


“We have seen a continued improvement in sales tracking quarter on quarter since the first quarter of 2012,” he noted in the report.


Mr Zahra says the company’s core, high profit margin fashion categories are the best performers.


“Particularly pleasing is the fact that our high margin categories (womenswear, menswear, beauty, accessories and shoes) all delivered positive sales growth in the quarter,” he observed.


“Our Home and Electricals categories on the other hand continued to be challenging.”



We were completely overwhelmed, the site simply went into meltdown and could not cope with the traffic which caused the outage.

David Jones CEO Paul Zahra on the retailer’s website crash

David Jones says Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria all recorded sales growth, while Queensland sales were affected by the refurbishment of a key store.


City Index chief market analyst Peter Esho says David Jones’s sales growth is not impressive given that the quarter it is compared to last year saw a sales slump.


“Comparable sales growth is positive but by a negligible 0.3 per cent, which is not only less than Myer’s 0.8 per cent, but inadequate given the 11 per cent in the same period last year for David Jones,” he wrote in a note on the figures.


“The market is expecting a flat revenue and earnings number this year, so there aren’t too many ambitious growth assumptions built in, but we would have thought with the recent interest rate cuts and government handouts flowing through the market, David Jones would be able to recover more than just 0.3 per cent of the declines in comparable sales from last year.”


Other investors seem to agree with Mr Esho’s analysis, with David Jones shares relatively steady early before dropping 6.6 per cent to $2.40 by 3:33pm (AEDT).


The retailer says the first few weeks of second quarter sales are tracking in line with the improvement seen last quarter.


Paul Zahra says the department store has reduced the length of its sales, and is trying to sell more full-priced stock.


“In line with our decision to reduce the duration of our Half Yearly Clearance in June we also decreased the duration of our October event by two weeks,” he said.


“This is consistent with our strategy to improve the profitability of sales generated by the business by reducing the length of our discount events and focusing on full margin, new season stock as well as phasing out low productivity categories and expanding high margin categories.”


David Jones says customers have embraced its new webstore, launched on November 6, however it did not quantify traffic or sales through the site.


Mr Zahra says online traffic has doubled or tripled since the website launch, but surged well beyond expectations during a major online sale yesterday.


“We were completely overwhelmed, the site simply went into meltdown and could not cope with the traffic which caused the outage,” he said.


“It’s a capacity issue, that’s all. I say that’s all [because] it’s fixable, we know what we need to do, and we’re working both locally and internationally to get that fixed as quickly as possible.”


The company says a trial of its new point of sale system in three Sydney stores has been successful, and a full roll-out will take place next year.