Home Depot hit by housing slump
Home Depot, the world’s No. 1 home-improvement company, reported a 27 percent drop in quarterly profits, to $671 million, missing analysts’ estimates. (MarketWatch) Home Depot’s bottom line was hurt by a slump in demand as the housing market slowed. “Consumers are still buying masking tape and light bulbs, but the need to do a kitchen remodel is obviously getting pushed out,” said analyst Laura Champine at Morgan Keegan. (Bloomberg) In more bad news for housing, RealtyTrac reported today that home foreclosures rose 57 percent in January, versus a year earlier, to a nationwide rate of one in every 534 homes. (AP in
Siemens to cut 6,800 jobs
German industrial conglomerate Siemens said it will cut up to 6,800 jobs worldwide at its corporate telecommunications unit, as it continues to restructure the business with an eye to selling it. (Reuters) The enterprise communications unit is one of the last remaining telecom assets at Siemens, founded as a telegraphy service 160 years ago. It has been up for sale since Siemens created a network partnership with Nokia in 2006. Siemens said it is shifting from hardware to software and consulting services. “Something had to happen, as the unit just doesn’t fit into the company’s portfolio anymore,” said analyst Michael Bahlmann at M.M. Warburg. (Bloomberg)
UAW strikes America Axle
The United Auto Workers went on strike at midnight at parts supplier American Axle & Manufacturing, after contract talks hit a wall. The strike includes about 3,600 workers at American Axle plants in Michigan and New York. (Detroit Free Press) American Axle stockpiled parts in anticipation of a strike, which will avert a quick stoppage at General Motors, its largest client. (MarketWatch) The company is seeking steep cuts in wages and benefits, to levels it says are comparable to UAW contracts with its competitors, like Delphi. “They threw a proposal on the table and they wouldn’t negotiate,” said veteran employee Carl Jackson. (Reuters)
Citizen paparazzi shooting for gold
Normal people with digital cameras and cellphones are joining the ranks of the celebrity-chasing paparazzi, and the old guard is not happy. For one thing, the glut of photos from these “citizen paparazzi” has driven down the price for run-of-the-mill celebrity shots—a photo that once would have fetched hundreds now only gets $50. And amateurs are even crowding the red carpet now. Agencies like Buzz Foto and Scoopt will sell these novice contributors’ photos to tabloids and celebrity magazines. “People hear about the videos of Britney crying somewhere getting $30,000,” said full-time paparazzo Brian Ach. “It’s kind of like the gold rush.” (The Wall Street Journal)