The Exchange
  • Whole Foods Market's (WFM) shares were sinking Wednesday after the natural-foods grocer missed analysts second-quarter estimates and, even worse, decreased its forecast for the fiscal year yet again.

    In recent premarket trading, the Texas-based company's stock was dropping 17.8% to $39.40, setting it up for what likely will be one of its worst days ever in 22 years of trading. It had lost 0.7% to $47.95 by Tuesday's close, and for now, it has a 52-week range of $45.43 to $65.59.

    The selling was prompted by Whole Foods saying it earned 38 cents a share in the latest quarter, on sales of $3.32 billion. According to FactSet, Wall Street was expecting 41 cents and revenue of $3.34 billion. Same-store sales were up 4.5%, though Whole Foods indicated comparables would have risen 5% if not for Easter's date. Still, analysts were looking for 5.1% growth.

    For the full year, the company now expects sales to increase 10.5% to 11%  its third revision lower in a matter of months. Previously, Whole

    Read More »from Whole Foods dives after cutting outlook again
  • Buying a car? You may want to avoid the newest models

    Exclusive analysis done for Yahoo Finance shows newly introduced models may be more prone to problems.

    If you want to stump a car buff, ask what the Acura RLX, Dodge Dart, Ford Fusion, Ford Escape and Mercedes-Benz SL roadster have in common. When there’s no answer, explain that all have been recalled for fixes during the past few months for problems that occurred early in the lifespan of the vehicle.

    Auto recalls have gotten a lot of attention lately on account of the General Motors (GM) flap involving 2.6 million recalled vehicles with faulty ignition switches that can turn deadly. Yet that recall, which involves cars dating to 2003 and spans at least nine model years, is far from typical. More common are cars recalled early in their life, when the design is relatively new, as automakers work out bugs that occur when a model is first assembled.

    Analysis conducted for Yahoo Finance by Stout Risius Ross, an auto-industry financial advisory firm, suggests more things go wrong with newly introduced or redesigned cars than with models that have been on the road for a few years. These

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  • Despite $3 billion haul, Zuckerberg avoids toys of the super rich

    Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, may be among the richest people on the planet but (at least so far) they’ve stayed away from buying mega yachts, desert islands and other trappings of the ultra rich.

    According to a Facebook filing this week, Zuckerberg pulled the trigger on some 60 million shares worth of options at the end of last year, netting a profit of about $3.3 billion. He immediately turned around and sold more than 41 million shares while turning over 18 million, worth almost $1 billion at the time, to his favorite charity, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

    After paying capital gains taxes, what might Zuckerberg and Chan do next?

    No toys

    Despite the occasional wild speculation $90 million for the penthouse of towering New York City skyscraper One57, anyone? the Zuckerbergs haven’t gone in for much conspicuous consumption.

    Facebook charters a jet for the Zuck and he’s not known to have purchased a big boat, fancy cars or a Damien Hirst

    Read More »from Despite $3 billion haul, Zuckerberg avoids toys of the super rich
  • Here’s a great problem to have: What to do with billions of dollars of personal wealth.

    Bill Gates and Larry Page, worth more than $100 billion combined, had some notable thoughts on the pressing economic matter at this year’s TED conference in Vancouver. Gates, the founder of Microsoft (MSFT), elaborated on prior claims that he’d leave most of his $75 billion to his foundation rather than his three kids. When asked if he would at least bequeath enough to his kids to make them billionaires, Gates answered, “Nope, they won’t have anything like that. We want to strike a balance so they have the freedom to do anything, but not a lot of money showered on them so that they can go out and do nothing.”

    Page, Google’s (GOOG) CEO and co-founder, is notoriously protective of his private life and didn’t address inheritance plans for his two kids. But he did muse about putting Elon Musk in his will. Page quipped that, rather than leaving his $30 billion fortune to some cause or nonprofit group, he’d

    Read More »from Here’s what some billionaires plan to leave their kids
  • Battery-short iPhone users 'wall huggers,' says Blackberry CEO

    It seems new BlackBerry (BBRY) chief executive John Chen can give as good as he gets, adding a breath of fresh air in an era when too many corporate leaders stick to bland talking points.

    Chen, who got into a tiff with famously outspoken T-Mobile (TMUS) CEO John Legere last month, was at it again at the Oasis Montgomery conference in Santa Monica, California, on Thursday.

    Asked about Apple’s (AAPL) popularity, Chen belittled iPhone users whose batteries run down before the end of the day, forcing them to search for power outlets. “I call you guys wall huggers,” he quipped.

    He was also in a joking mood when asked why he left private equity firm Silver Lake to take the difficult turnaround job at BlackBerry. “I wanted to do something where I could wake up every day and worry,” he answered, adding “and I have fulfilled my dream,” as the room burst into laughter

    So far, investors seem to be impressed with Chen’s plain talk and fast action. He’s already outsourced handset manufacturing to

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  • Premature rejection: Google Glass is pointing the way to the future

    Despite what its detractors might say, Google (GOOG) is onto something with its Glass project  something big. Though currently only available to a tiny audience as an “alpha” project, the computer in glasses format addresses unmet consumer needs better than existing solutions.

    Most of the tech punditry have already declared Glass a joke and a failure, the Apple (AAPL) Newton of the 21st Century. Last week, well-known tech blogger, author and Glass user Robert Scoble declared Glass is doomed, at least for 2014, while another writer, not a user of the current product, called Glass “physically grotesque and glaringly obtrusive.”

    But it’s all too easy to look at this early version of the product, with its high price tag and less-than-stellar appearance, and peg it as a loser. It’s also meaningless, like declaring a rough draft or scale model inadequate to meet the standard of a final product.

    As Glass gets closer to being a real consumer product, many of the elements that offend will

    Read More »from Premature rejection: Google Glass is pointing the way to the future
  • Coming soon: Train your smartphone as you would your dog

    Is your smartphone waking you up with late-night callers? Tell that phone it's a “bad phone” and someday, in the not too distant future, it may learn on its own not to do it again.

    Want a special alert whenever your boyfriend texts? A little nudge of “good phone” may teach that device a few new tricks.

    The technology industry is taking a cue from the natural world to make devices smarter, modeling new computer processors after the design of biological brains. In just a few years, you may be able to train a device with a Zeroth chip from Qualcomm (QCOM), for example, just like you train your dog.

    “We’re looking at a processor more adept at processing sensory information, recognizing patterns and making predictions,” says Anthony Lewis, lead engineer on the Zeroth project.

    Qualcomm's Matt GrobQualcomm's Matt Grob

    Promising new directions

    Computer scientists have been playing with brain-like neural networks for decades, mainly as complex software simulations running on massive supercomputers. But advancing research in both chip

    Read More »from Coming soon: Train your smartphone as you would your dog
  • Secret web searches: Here's what North Americans are hiding

    Using the internet

    By now most of us know that everything we do online – every blender we search for on Amazon, every article we read about Miley Cyrus -- leaves a trace. But two-thirds of Americans say they’ve searched for something online that they’d want to keep private, according to a new survey.

    The most sensitive searched information was about medical conditions and new careers, according to the survey, done by Harris Interactive for About 38% of respondents said they had searched about medical conditions they wanted to keep private, while 30% did job searches and 25% looked for sexual content.

    Another 16% wanted to keep private searches about weight loss and 14% had looked up the status of former girlfriends or boyfriends.

    The survey didn't cover the techniques people actually used to hide their tracks, which could range from simply erasing a browser's history to using special software that hides nearly all digital traces. And people aren't just covering up their web searches. One of the

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  • In what can only be described as a masterstroke of public relations, McDonald's (MCD) has laid out a brilliant plan to neutralize its critics and simultaneously keep the risks to its business at an absolute minimum. Investors, stand up and applaud: This is Don Thompson's finest hour as CEO.

    McDonald's new menu marketingThe Oak Brook, Ill., yogurt and salad seller, long derided as effectively representing everything that's wrong with both the world's food supply and consumer culture, is ceding ground to its enemies by saying it will ensure easier access to healthier menu offerings, especially when it comes to kids.

    Recapping what McDonald's announced late Thursday, the company will:

    • Allow customers to get a side salad, fruit or vegetable instead of fries with value meals.
    • Promote water, milk and juice as the drinks for Happy Meals on its menus and in ads (this doesn't mean you aren't allowed to buy a Coke for junior if you choose).
    • Use Happy Meal and other packaging "to generate excitement for fruit, vegetable,
    Read More »from The Absolute Genius of McDonald’s Veggie Gambit
  • Huge sales of Apple’s ‘boring’ new iPhones stun skeptics

    Apple (AAPL) sold a record-breaking 9 million new iPhones over the weekend, smashing expectations of 5 million to 7 million with its launch of new models that some analysts had yawned over.

    Once again, it seems the skeptics missed the company’s ability to drive sales and capitalize on its industry-leading customer loyalty with just a few key improvements.

    “Apple this weekend emphatically refuted the idea that it is a weakened brand,” says Ken Hyers, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics. “It’s clear that there still exists significant pent-up demand for new iPhones.”

    The new 5S grabbed more than three-quarters of the opening weekend sales, according to data from Localytics. Sales of the 5C — basically last year’s model dressed up in colorful, plastic exteriors — were a bit less impressive.

    Doubters had said the new iPhones, unveiled on September 10, lacked compelling fresh features in a market saturated with cheaper phones running Google’s (GOOG) Android software. But they missed the

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  • Quick: Name a wealthy, North American country that values self-reliance, individual freedom and personal ambition.

    Sure, you could take the easy way out and say the United States. But you’d be just as accurate if you said Canada. In fact, new research shows the American Dream — the ability to improve your prospects through hard work, personal initiative and grit — is more vibrant in Canada than its native land.

    Most ordinary Americans know it’s getting harder to get ahead. And since the Great Recession that ran from 2007 to 2009, there’s been a growing body of economic research proving what millions of people see around them every day: The rich are getting richer, while the middle class is struggling and lower earners are increasingly falling behind.

    Now, some new research helps explain what might be causing the growing gulf between the rich and the rest. In a paper published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Miles Corak of the University of Ottawa compared the way people get ahead

    Read More »from The American dream Is alive and well — in Canada
  • By Brian Sozzi

    “Everything happens for a reason.” Remember carving that into a giant rock back in high school when a beau kicked you to the curb? (Full disclosure, I can certainly recall breaking a couple Swiss Army knives mid-carving session!) This classic saying used amongst scorned tweens, oddly, is easily applied to investing. If a company produces a bad stretch of quarters that leads to a dismal year, chances are that day in and day out the decisions of highly paid executives are putting the business in a position to lose. Sometimes the truth hurts, and that is no joke.

    Apple’s (AAPL) now distant third quarter earnings release from July left a bad taste in my mouth, but not due to the obvious (that would be older pieces of overhyped plastic eating away at profit margins). The company’s sales from its global product meccas, the retail stores, were “approximately” flat compared to the prior year quarter. In executive jargon, that means sales were fractionally down. That definitely is

    Read More »from Apple’s stores are lame, tired, and emotionless
  • Apple’s most important new product isn't a wristwatch

    Rumor has it that Apple (AAPL) is working on a television set, a wristwatch and even its own cable TV service.

    But the most important product in Apple’s stable this year is the same one that’s been critical to the company’s success for the past five years – the iPhone.

    Since its introduction in 2007, the iPhone has grown rapidly to dominate sales at the company that started out making Macintosh computers and grew huge with the iPod music player.

    So far this year, 54 cents out of every dollar of sales brought in by Apple has come via the iPhone – and analysts say the smartphone brings in an even greater proportion of profits.


    But now iPhone sales growth is slowing. For the past nine months, sales have gained just 16% — versus a 71% jump in 2012 and gains of around 90% in prior years.

    One problem is that Apple hasn’t updated its star product since the iPhone 5 launched last September, a 10-month eternity in the world of smartphones. And to try to entice bargain shoppers, Apple is offering the

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  • Are there cracks in the facade of Barbie's Dreamhouse?

    Mattel's (MAT) second quarter earnings report did not, on the surface, tell a pretty tale regarding the iconic fashion doll's global sales, down 12% in a fourth straight quarter of declines. The leading toymaker, whose brands also include Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends and American Girl, saw its overall net income drop by 24%, hit by the slide in Barbie sales as well as a $14 million write-down on its Polly Pocket line. Overall sales managed a 1% gain year-over-year, at $1.17 billion. Mattel shares sank 6.8% in the trading session following the report, closing at $43.16.

    Does the recent losing streak in sales speak to fatigue regarding the eternally youthful, improbably proportioned yet always well-dressed Barbie, who celebrated her 50th birthday amid great fanfare four years ago?

    As CEO Bryan Stockton noted on the analyst call, Barbie, which still reigns as the largest doll brand in the world and is sold in some 150

    Read More »from Is Barbie's legendary allure on the wane?
  • 3 Myths about Self-Driving Cars

    There’s a lot of hype surrounding them. But where are they?

    Driverless cars seem poised to be the next big thing in the auto industry, or maybe the next big thing after that. Google (GOOG) routinely turns heads on California roads with its famous driverless cars, which have logged half-a-million miles with barely an incident. California, Nevada and Florida have passed special laws allowing self-driving cars, with more states sure to follow. The federal agency that regulates car safety recently issued new guidelines for automated vehicles and might even begin to require some driverless technology that could significantly improve safety.

    Piper Jaffray (PJC) analyst Gene Munger estimates that driverless car technology could ultimately mushroom into a $240 billion industry, which would be roughly three times the size of the cloud-computing industry that will supposedly transform data storage. Yet there’s a lot of confusion about what self-driving cars are, who’s likely to build them, and

    Read More »from 3 Myths about Self-Driving Cars
  • Set up an emergency fund. Diversify your portfolio. Reduce your debt load. Bring your lunch to work once in a while. So goes the conventional finance wisdom consumers have heard so often that they tune it out.

    You can be taking homemade turkey sandwiches to work everyday, clipping coupons and maxing out your 401(k) plan, but still not really be in tip-top financial shape.

    Last month we wrote about the tell-tale signs you’re living above your means (your mortgage payment is more than one week’s salary was one example). On the other side of that equation, how do you know if you’re really on the right track money-wise?

    We spoke with a few certified financial planners to get their thoughts on what kinds of benchmarks people can use to gauge their financial health. One caveat: It’s important to note that everyone’s situation is unique and it’s not very useful to apply a blanket rule across all age groups. (Also note this list is by no means exhaustive. There are surely other ways to measure

    Read More »from 7 Signs You’re a Paradigm of Financial Health
  • By Shane Schick, Yahoo! Finance Canada Insight

    People love to have a sense of closure, but don’t kid yourself: the FBI’s arrest this week of three men in connection with a computer virus called Gozi that stole money from thousands of people is by no means the end of this story.

    The narrative arc of a computer virus incident has become so consistent it is almost predictable: early reports induce panicked headlines in the media, with scant details about the actual impact. Eventually, if someone is apprehended, the world moves on, even though the other big culprits never wind up in prison. I am referring, of course, to the people whose computers were affected by the virus. IT security breaches are the one time when it is almost always fair to put at least some of the blame on the victims themselves.

    The Gozi virus is also known as a Trojan. It infiltrated businesses the way a certain legendary wooden horse rolled easily into Troy. The wooden horses, in this case, are the employees of

    Read More »from Why the Gozi Virus Should Never Have Spread So Far


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