Nokia Peeks Upward, Ford Inches Forward
Nokia predicts higher profit margins, but investors want more. Ford books its first profit in 12 months, but Japanese automakers do better. And EBay is reentering the Japanese market.
EWS AT A GLANCE
Nokia raises profit margin forecast
Mobile phone giant Nokia said today it expects operating profit margins to rise slightly to 16 or 17 percent in the next year or two, but its stock dropped more than 4 percent as investors were looking for more. Nokia forecast that the entire cellphone industry would grow 10 percent in 2008, even as phone prices drop. (MarketWatch) Nokia also said it had reached a deal with Universal to offer its entire music catalog free for 12 months to purchasers of Nokia music phones. “It seems the record labels have decided to bet on Nokia as a means to add competition to Apple’s dominant position in digital music,” said CSS Insight analyst Paolo Pescatore. (Reuters)
Ford, joining Japanese automakers, posts gain
Ford reported a modest 1.3 percent gain in sales in November, ending a 12-month streak of losses, while Japan’s Big Three had their best November on record. For the second time this year, domestic car makers sold fewer cars in the U.S. than their foreign rivals. With their greater fuel efficiency and reputation for reliability, “there’s an inherent advantage for Japanese brands in this environment,” said Edmunds analyst Jesse Toprak. (The New York Times, free registration required) General Motors posted an 11 percent loss and Chrysler a 2 percent shortfall. Toyota eked out a 0.3 percent gain, Nissan a 6.1 percent uptick, and Honda a 4.7 percent rise. (MarketWatch)
EBay, Yahoo partner in Japan
EBay is reentering the Japanese market, which it abandoned five years ago, in a partnership with Yahoo Japan. The joint venture will create a single marketplace for Japanese and U.S. eBay users—a Japanese-language site will be set up in the Yahoo Japan portal by next March, and English-language users will be able to bid on Japanese auctions later in the year. (AP in BusinessWeek.com) In the meantime, the two companies launched a new site called Sekaimon, or “gateway to the world,” that translates eBay items into Japanese and facilitates cross-border purchasing. (Reuters)
Sharing one for the team
Overall business travel costs are expected to rise 6 to 8 percent next year, and businesses are looking to cut expenses. One way, according to a survey by Orbitz for Business, is to make employess share rooms on business trips—24 percent of business travelers age 18 to 65 report sharing quarters. Hotel prices in New York have risen 14 percent since last year, to $318 a night, and rates are rising faster in other cities. Garret Meyer, 42, says he understands why he is asked to room with a coworker. “Obviously, bunking up with someone else cuts the cost in half,” he said. Still, “it would be more convenient not to,” he adds. (The New York Times, free registration required)
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