Tag Archives: News event

Fed

The next Fed concern: Inflation and interest rates

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Maybe the worry is confusing investors, or maybe the Fed is anxious about it’s plans to change the stimulus package. Whatever it is, reporters picked up on several themes in the latest Fed’s minutes.

Jon Hilsenrath’s story for the Wall Street Journal ran under the headline that the Fed was worried about inflation:

Federal Reserve officials are growing concerned the U.S. inflation rate won’t budge from low levels, the latest sign of angst among central bankers about weakness in the global economy.

The Fed began 2014 hopeful that a strengthening U.S. economy would push very low inflation from 1% toward the 2% level that officials associate with healthy business activity. Three months into a year marked by unusually harsh winter weather, which appears to have damped economic growth, there is little evidence of such movement.

Fed officials expressed worry about the persistence of low inflation at a policy meeting last month, according to minutes of the meeting released by the central bank Wednesday. They discussed at the March 18-19 meeting whether to make a more explicit commitment to keeping short-term interest rates pinned near zero until they saw inflation move up, but chose instead to take a wait-and-see approach.

Low inflation is high on the agenda of global central bankers and finance ministers gathering in Washington this week for semiannual meetings of the International Monetary Fund. Bank of Japan officials are trying to overcome more than a decade of on-again-off-again deflation, and inflation in Europe is running close to zero.

“We think there is also a risk of deflation, negative inflation. And we think that if this were to happen, this would make the adjustment both at the euro level, and even more so for the countries in the periphery, very difficult,” IMF chief economist Olivier Blanchard said of Europe on Tuesday, after the IMF released updated economic projections. “We think that everything should be done to try to avoid it.”

On its face, flat consumer prices sound like a blessing that holds down household costs. But when tepid inflation is associated with small wage gains, excess business capacity and soft global demand, as now, economists see it as a sign of broader economic malaise that restrains investment and hiring. Exceptionally slow wage and profit gains also make it harder for household and business borrowers to pay off debt.

The New York Times story by Binyamin Appelbaum led with the Fed’s decision about when to start raising short-term interest rates:

The meeting, which the Fed described for the first time on Wednesday, underscores the complexity of the decision to replace the Fed’s guidance about when it might begin to raise short-term interest rates — which emphasized a specific unemployment threshold — with a vague description of the central bank’s economic goals.

Fed officials felt that markets understood the old guidance, and they were reluctant to disrupt that understanding, according to the minutes. But they concluded that the scheduled March meeting was an opportune moment to make the change, which was necessary at some point as the unemployment rate, currently standing at 6.7 percent, fell toward the Fed’s threshold level of 6.5 percent.

The account of the two meetings, which the Fed published on Wednesday after a standard three-week delay, said that most officials agreed that the Fed should move to a weaker form of guidance rather than trying to substitute a new threshold based on the unemployment rate or some other specific target.

While both stories are talking about the same issue, what is interesting is the framing. One chose to focus on inflation and the economic model, the other decided to turn a spotlight on how to communicate the new moves. Bloomberg’s story by Jeff Kearns and Craig Torres focused on the market’s reaction to the minutes:

U.S. stocks rallied the most in a month while Treasuries pared declines after the minutes eased concern about the timing of future interest-rate increases. Even after rates rise, officials said last month, they might have to be kept at levels considered below normal for longer because of tighter credit, higher savings and slower growth in potential output.

The minutes reinforce Janet Yellen’s message at her debut press conference as chair last month that the interest-rate forecasts of policy makers — which are displayed as a series of dots on a chart — are less important than the Fed’s post-meeting statement.

“She was pretty blunt about it, saying ‘Pay attention to the statement, don’t look at the dots,’ ” said Josh Feinman, the New York-based global chief economist for Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, which oversees $400 billion. “They knew this could be a source of confusion with the dots moving up, and they were thinking about how to manage that.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 1.1 percent to 1,872.18 to close at the high of the day. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed one basis point to 2.69 percent.

Treasury yields jumped last month after policy makers predicted that the benchmark rate would increase faster than previously forecast and Yellen said rates might start to rise “around six months” after the Fed ends its bond buying.

Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir wrote for Reuters that the minutes didn’t actually clear up anything:

The minutes shed little new light on what might prompt an eventual policy tightening after the Fed ends its bond-buying program, which most policymakers thought would be completely wound down in the second half of 2014.

After its March meeting, the Fed said in a statement that it would wait a “considerable time” following the end of its bond-buying program before finally raising interest rates.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen played down the “upward shift” in Fed officials’ rate forecasts in her post-meeting press conference, saying that the “dots” are not the Fed’s primary way to communicate policy.

But what drew the most attention from financial markets was Yellen’s definition of “considerable time” as “around six months,” depending on the economy.

What’s interesting about the coverage is that many of the major news organizations didn’t find the same things in the minutes. Often agencies give guidance, shaping the coverage for the day, but in this case many of the stories were different in their focus. While the policy minutes contain much information and no one was inaccurate in the reporting, the different takes do make a point about the new regime at the Fed.

TBN

Talking Biz News Today — April 9, 2014

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The top business news stories for Wednesday:

The New York Times

Sliver of Medicare doctors get big share of payouts, by Reed Abelson and Sarah Cohen

The Associated Press

Toyota recalls about 6.4 million vehicles globally, by Yuri Kageyama

Bloomberg

Banana supply seen by UN’s FAO at risk as disease spreads, by Whitney McFerron
Restless workers on the hunt in U.S. exploit social media, by Victoria Stilwell

CNNMoney

Jobs recovery killing entrepreneurial spirit, by Parija Kavilanz

Business Insider

Here’s how to protect yourself from the massive security flaw that’s taken over the internet, by Kyle Russell
Workers are quitting their food service jobs, and that’s a really good sign, by Joe Weisenthal

Today in business journalism

Globe and Mail names new business editor
Wonkblog hires Ferdman from Quartz
Comcast makes the case for Time Warner deal

This date in business journalism history

2006: Inquirer PC columnist ends his run
2013: O’Brien named publisher of Bloomberg View

Business journalism birthdays

April 9: Dominic Cappa of Columbus Business First

April 9: Sam Ro of Business Insider

Comcast Time Warner

Comcast makes the case for Time Warner deal

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The mega merger between Comcast and Time Warner is under regulatory review, and Tuesday Comcast went into great detail to make the case that it should go through.

The Wall Street Journal story by Gautham Nagesh and Steven Perlberg outlined these details:

Comcast Corp. on Tuesday submitted a lengthy document to federal regulators to justify its $45 billion proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable. But its filing also had the effect of showing the many ways in which the combined entity could use its leverage over both cable lines and programming to pressure competitors.

In a 180-page statement with the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast walked through the various parts of the media industry that could be affected by the deal, including online video, television programming, and broadband Internet access, as well as local ad sales in the cable market.

So far, Washington has reacted to the proposed acquisition with cautious skepticism. FCC officials say they can’t talk about pending mergers. Many analysts say they expect it will be approved, with conditions imposed by regulators.

The Associated Press (via the Washington Post site) had these details of Comcast’s argument in favor of the merger:

Comcast has agreed to not discriminate against any traffic in its network through 2018 as a condition of its $30 billion purchase of NBCUniversal, which was completed last year. The company vowed to maintain the commitment despite a federal appeals court decision that struck down the FCC-imposed rules in January.

Comcast says pay-TV alternatives like streaming services from Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others have created competition in video, while there is at least one broadband Internet competitor in more than 98 percent of its markets.

“Comcast and Time Warner Cable do not compete against each other in any area. So this transaction will not result in any reduction in consumer choice in any market,” said Cohen on a conference call with journalists Tuesday.

Cohen also responded to calls by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to extend “Net neutrality” protections to the so-called “interconnection” area between major Internet backbone providers such as Comcast. In February, the two companies reached a deal in which Netflix pays Comcast to ensure its video streams faster and more consistently to Comcast subscribers. But Hastings said last month that the fee amounts to an “arbitrary tax” to companies like Comcast that act as gatekeepers to their networks.

The New York Times added in a story by Edward Wyatt and Eric Lipton that those looking to kill the deal were also getting ready to present their case:

Opponents, too, have been gearing up for a fight. A leading critic of the deal, Public Knowledge, a nonprofit group funded in part by donations from Google, DirecTV, Dish Network and other Comcast rivals, has hired SKDKnickerbocker, a prominent public relations firm led by Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director, and Hilary B. Rosen, a Democratic strategist and former lobbyist.

The maneuvers by both sides portend months of wrangling with regulators at the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department’s antitrust division — the two entities that have to approve combining the two huge cable TV and Internet service providers.

On a Tuesday call with reporters, the Comcast executive who oversees the company’s government affairs operations, David L. Cohen, made his case in favor of the $45 billion deal.

“There has been a lot of discussion about whether big is bad, and sometimes when companies join together, big can be dangerous,” Mr. Cohen said. “Sometimes big is necessary and good.”

Alina Selyukh and Liana B. Baker wrote for Reuters that Comcast is also arguing that its merger would be good for consumers:

Comcast also made the case that its sales of service including broadband to small and large businesses could present companies with an alternative to telecom providers such as Verizon and AT&T.

The company also reaffirmed its commitment to so-called network neutrality rules, which ban Internet providers from slowing down or blocking access to content online, and that have been struck down by a court as formal FCC rules in January.

Comcast, thanks to a condition placed on its 2011 merger with NBC Universal, is now the only company bound to uphold net neutrality for the next five years and has promised to apply it post-merger when it becomes larger.

The FCC is now reviewing how to rewrite the net neutrality and the treatment of web traffic, including the fees content companies pay Internet service providers in so-called interconnection deals, is likely to be part of the agency’s review of the merger.

Net neutrality is actually a huge point, especially for small businesses. If their pages load slower than bigger alternatives, that could make online sales even harder. Creating a huge company that spans all the major markets might seem like a monopoly, but it if guarantees equal access, then it might not be bad. The caveat is that it’s only for the next five years. What happens after that?

TBN

Talking Biz News Today — April 8, 2014

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Tuesday’s top business news stories:

The Wall Street Journal

DirecTV reaches deal with Weather Channel, by Suzanne Vranica and Shalini Ramachandran
AT&T’s plan for the future: No landlines, less regulation, by Ryan Knutson

Bloomberg

Samsung posts second straight profit drop on lower prices, by Jungah Lee

Reuters

U.S. says GM in violation of its order to answer questions about recall, by Eric Beech

The Washington Post

More moms stay at home, new research says, by Carol Morello

Forbes

Comcast argues merger with Time Warner Cable will be good for consumers, by Dorothy Pomerantz

Wired

The reason Twitter wants to look like Facebook: Your parents, by Isadora Lapowsky

Today in business journalism

Wonkblog hires Ferdman from Quartz
Washington Post hires new business reporter
Bloomberg’s Rooney leaves the company
WSJ hires finance reporters from Bloomberg, Reuters
New banking regulations looming

This date in business journalism history

2008: New investing blog from LA Times biz desk
2010: WSJ launches Pro edition

Money

New banking regulations looming

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The finance world is buzzing with news of even more regulations for various parts of the markets.

The Wall Street Journal reported in a story by Ryan Tracy and Stephanie Armour that capital requirements for large banks are about to go up, potentially making it even harder to get a loan:

U.S. regulators are set to impose another curb on risk taking at the largest U.S. banks Tuesday as part of a continuing push to force big banks to gird themselves against periods of market stress.

Under the new “leverage ratio,” scheduled for a vote by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve, the eight biggest U.S. firms would have to double the amount of capital they hold as protection against every loan, investment, building, security and other asset on their books—not just the risky ones.

The rule could force big banks to add tens of billions of dollars in new capital, though many have been bulking up since regulators first floated a leverage ratio in July

The biggest companies would be required to maintain loss-absorbing capital worth at least 5% of their assets, and their FDIC-insured bank subsidiaries would have to keep a minimum leverage ratio of 6%. The amounts, which are line with what banks expected from regulators, compare with the 3% set out by international accord.

For the largest banks, satisfying the new requirement will likely be manageable in the near term, but analysts warned it could constrain future growth since it would limit each bank’s ability to increase its asset base, forcing it to either raise more cash from investors or shed assets elsewhere if it begins to bump up against the ratio’s limits.

“In an environment where you are getting strong economic growth, it could be a limiting factor with how much you can grow,” said Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods.

And that’s not all for the conglomerate banks. They may also have to worry about their trading businesses as well. Nelson D. Schwartz wrote in a New York Times story that many are calling for trading surcharges:

But a burst of outrage in recent days generated by Michael Lewis’s new book about the adverse consequences of high-frequency trading on Wall Street has revived support in some quarters for a tax on financial transactions, with backers arguing that a tiny surcharge on trades would have many benefits.

“It kills three birds with one stone,” said Lynn A. Stout, a professor at Cornell Law School, who has long followed issues of corporate governance and securities regulation. “From a public policy perspective, it’s a no-brainer.”

Not only would the tax reduce risk and volatility in the market, Professor Stout said, but it would also raise much-needed revenue for public coffers while making it modestly more expensive to engage in a practice that brings little overall economic benefit.

Despite these arguments, and support from many economists on the left for what European advocates have called a “Robin Hood tax,” even backers acknowledge the idea faces a struggle to become law, especially in the United States but also more broadly in Europe.

Not only are Republicans in Congress against new taxes in general, as are many Democrats, but opposition from deep-pocketed campaign donors on Wall Street is enough to persuade even politicians who might favor the idea to back off. Last Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling allowing individuals to make much larger campaign donations to candidates and political parties strengthens the hand of donors.

But it’s not all rosy on the other side of the pond either. Mark Cobley reported for Financial News that banks could also have to set aside more to cover their pensions:

The UK’s five largest banks may have to find billions of pounds of extra high-quality capital to back their pension schemes under regulations coming in next year.

Pensions consultancy Redington has calculated the requirement as £12 billion. It cautions that it has used figures from the banks’ 2012 accounts. Banks could have reduced their liability by reducing equity exposure since then.

Redington based its analysis on an announcement in December by the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Bank of England’s risk watchdog, on how it would apply new EU capital requirements to banks’ pension finances.

The PRA said that under part of the EU Capital Requirements Directive IV, which comes into force on January 1 next year, the quality of capital banks hold against their pension schemes would have to be higher. Around half of their pension risk will have to be backed by core Tier 1 capital, the highest quality, consisting of shareholders’ equity and retained earnings.

The provisions are “far more punitive than the pension trustees’ usual deficit measures”, according to Antony Barker, director of pensions at Santander, one of the banks analysed by Redington.

All these new rules on various parts of the business don’t bode well for banks, particularly those with lending and trading in multiple countries. While it has always been complicated to be a multinational bank, regulators around the world are asking them to hold more money, which only means there’s less for the rest of us to borrow.

TBN

Talking Biz News Today — April 7, 2014

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Monday’s top business news stories:

The Wall Street Journal

Yahoo makes new push into video content, by Mike Shields and Douglas MacMillan

The New York Times

Young, rich and ruling radio, country walks a broader line, by Ben Sisario
Guarded optimism after breast cancer drug shows promising results, by Andrew Pollack

The Associated Press

India’s Sun Pharma to buy Ranbaxy in $4 Bln deal, by Kay Johnson
Lands’ End to start trading as public company

Reuters

Dark markets may be more harmful than high-frequency trading, by John McCrank

Re/code

Nielsen’s ability to measure mobile TV viewing takes step forward, by Dawn Chmielewski

Businessweek

Why education spending doesn’t lead to economic growth, by Charles Kenny

Today in business journalism

Cohn celebrates 25 years at CNBC
NYTimes’ Sorkin: I am not a Wall Street Insider
WSJ names Canada bank reporter
Bartiromo’s early ratings at Fox Business are terrible
Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism?

This date in business journalism history

2008: Mistrial declared in case of ex-Boeing employee who was source
2009: Watchdog group delivers petition with 21,000 signatures to CNBC

Birthdays

April 7: Charles Dubow of Bloomberg Businessweek

April 7: Josh Lipton of CNBC

Ezra Klein 1124

Vox, the forefront of technology and journalism?

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Ezra Klein is being hailed as the future of technology driven journalism in a Sunday profile in the New York Times by Leslie Kaufman. In the introductory quote, Klein says that while he respects the Washington Post, he was being hampered by its technology. He rolled out the new version of Vox.com on Sunday and talked about the decision with the Times:

Technology has become crucial to every newsroom, of course, but not all technology has been designed equally. News organizations born in the print era have generally knit together disparate systems over the years to produce websites that integrate graphics, social media and reader comments with various degrees of smoothness.

Many all-digital organizations have built their content management systems from the ground up with the Internet in mind. That strategy, many say, produces a more organic melding of journalism and technology.

The result is an increasingly dynamic publishing universe where sites like Vox, Vice and BuzzFeed, and new enterprises like Pierre Omidyar’s The Intercept, are luring seasoned journalists as well as a new generation of storytellers.

In this high-tech universe, Vox Media’s content management system — which even has its own name, Chorus, and is used to publish all the company’s websites — has earned recognition. It is credited with having a toolset that allows journalists to edit and illustrate their copy in dramatic fashion, promote their work on social media, and interact with readers — all seamlessly and intuitively.

What is interesting is that the site isn’t being hailed for its content, but the ability to make managing it easier and more accessible. The BBC reported that venture capitalists are:

The financial future of the news business is uncertain, but lately US venture capitalists have been placing their bets on journalism.

Over the past year, venture capitalists contributed at least $300m (£180m) to digital news organisations, many of them start-ups, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center.

“It’s a great time to build new brands in the media landscape,” says Eric Hippeau, managing director at Lerer Ventures, a venture capital fund that has invested in scores of digital start-ups, including Policymic, a news site geared towards millennials – people born between 1980 and 2000.

Mr Hippeau believes the youngest generation of news consumers are an appealing target audience.

“Young people do not really care about the old brands for the most part. They are attracted by brands that cater to and are building content that are specifically for what they like,” he says.

That sounds like good news for Vox. The Times story reported they’re trying to create a pool of reporters who are constantly updating pages, much like Wikipedia:

To help accomplish this, the developers have been building a tool they call the card stack. The cards, trimmed in brilliant canary yellow, contain definitions of essential terms that a reader can turn to if they require more context. For example, a story updating the battle over the Affordable Care Act might include cards explaining the term “insurance exchange.”

Ms. Bell said Vox.com would start with roughly 20 reporters with expertise around specific topics, a limited travel budget, and, of course, very inchoate technology.

Ms. Bell confessed that she was both “excited and terrified” to go out with a product that has had just three months to gestate. “I worry people will say, ‘Hey, you guys promised us magic,’ ” she said, “and I’ll say, ‘Hey, wait a minute. Give us some time and we will get there.’

Columbia Journalism Review also touched on the topic of journalism and technology this week:

Cultivating many small audiences of superfans in different subject areas isn’t exactly a new business model. Many old-school trade magazines share a single publisher. And digital powerhouses like Gawker segment their audience and appeal to advertisers with a portfolio of sites, each with a distinct, narrow focus. But with companies tracking individual users’ every click across the internet, advertisers can increasingly target users over sites. Rather than buy a large banner ad atop Jalopnik, Gawker Media’s car blog, the company can just serve its ad to a subset of car-interested people no matter where they browse. (If you’ve become annoyed when a product you clicked on once while online shopping shows up in ads on every other site you visit, you’ve experienced this phenomenon firsthand.) This sort of highly targeted ad usually involves a middleman, and therefore results in less revenue for the publication serving it. Soon the niches will have to be even niche-ier, the superfans even more devoted, to convince an advertiser to buy directly from a publication.

Digital trends point to the biggest media companies getting even bigger, with everyone else staying relatively small. Despite the explosion of blogs and media startups, the top 7 percent of news websites still attract 80 percent of all traffic, according to Nielsen. Most sites will never be big enough to appeal to advertisers on the basis of unique visitors alone, but they can embrace their size by making a play to keep the readers they do have engaged and coming back. But systematic thinking about how to do that has fallen by the wayside as even the little guys pursue viral hits—and the immediate Chartbeat spike that comes with them—to meet monthly traffic goals. According to Chartbeat, visitors from social are the least likely to return to a site in the future.

What if some of the effort spent writing the perfect tweet or shareable headline was focused instead on trying to deepen the relationship with existing repeat visitors?

It’s a good question. And according to CJR, Vox will have a lot of work to do to attract eyes. But if the model of deeper engagement is one that works, then there will be many following their example. And if not, then Klein will have a lot of questions to answer.

barnes_and_noble_logo

Liberty Media sells stake in Barnes & Noble

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It’s not looking good for brick and mortar bookstores these days. On Thursday, Liberty Media said it would sell most of its holdings in Barnes & Noble, signaling that physical books are becoming a relic of the past.

The New York Times had this story by Michael J. de la Merced:

Nearly three years ago, Liberty Media wanted to buy all of Barnes & Noble, before settling for a big stake. Now it appears that the media conglomerate has had enough.

Liberty announced on Thursday that it would divest the vast majority of its stake in the struggling bookseller through private sales of its holdings. Liberty Media took a 17 percent stake in Barnes & Noble for $204 million in 2011. After the latest move, Liberty will have just under a 2 percent stake.

Other investors in the bookseller were much less sanguine about the move. The stock slid more than 10 percent on Thursday morning, trading at around $19.79 a share.

The sale removes one of Barnes & Noble’s major backers as the company tries to navigate the changing landscape for books and media. Its Nook business, once considered its brightest hope, has instead sputtered, with sales dropping more than 50 percent in the most recent fiscal quarter from a year ago.

The Reuters story by Phil Wahba and Siddharth Cavale pointed out that the Nook also has been performing poorly:

Prior to that deal, Liberty had been in talks to buy the whole company for $17 per share, or about $1 billion. At that time, Liberty had praised the potential of the Nook.

Instead, the Nook business has faltered, with sales down 50 percent last quarter as the company did not launch a new device for the 2013 holiday season.

Losses from the Nook have run to hundreds of millions of dollars as it tried to keep up with deep-pocketed technology rivals Amazon.com Inc and Apple Inc. Barnes & Noble will continue to develop Nook products, but only with a partner yet to be named.

Barnes & Noble’s retail business has shown much more stability in terms of sales, and profits at its bookstores and college campus stores are up.

Maggie McGrath of Forbes quoted that Liberty tried to put a positive spin on the news, but that investors were still spooked:

“Liberty Media has been a strong supporter of the company and Greg Maffei and Mark Carleton have been and continue to be tremendous partners at an important time in the Company’s history,” Leonard Riggio, Barnes & Noble chairman, said in a statement Thursday morning. “Liberty’s decision to retain a portion of its investment and have active involvement on our board underscores Liberty’s ongoing commitment to Barnes & Noble,” he said, adding that Liberty’s reduced ownership also gives his company greater flexibility to pursue various strategic options (but did not clarify what those strategic options are).

Despite these optimistic tones, other Barnes & Noble investors were not quite as satisfied with the news, sending shares of Barnes & Noble for a near-12 drop in Thursday morning trading. Shares of Liberty, meanwhile, were relatively unaffected by the news, trading for an 0.53% decline Thursday morning. Interestingly, it’s the struggling bookseller that’s had the better 2014 on the market: Liberty is down 7.7% in 2014 trading, while Barnes & Noble is up a whopping 50% for the year.

Part of the Barnes & Noble stock boost traces back to its third quarter earnings report, which was released in February and revealed that the company turned a profit despite a decrease in revenue. However, as Forbes’ Steve Schaefer reported at the time, the Nook tablet business, which was supposed to be a shining star for the company, posted a more-than 50% drop in revenue for the quarter and its profit was even worse. “Sales of the actual device and its accessories dropped 58.2% to $100 million due to both lower volumes and lower selling prices, while sales of content for the Nook fell 26.5% to $57 million,” he wrote, noting that Nook’s quarterly loss was 62 million. The silver lining? This loss was 67.5% smaller than a year earlier.

The Wall Street Journal story by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Martin Peers made the point that the sale could ultimately free up Barnes & Noble for other strategic moves:

The divestiture removes a potential impediment to Barnes & Noble separating its retail stores from other parts of its businesses, an idea the company has considered in recent years. CEO Michael Huseby said in February a split was still being studied. Liberty, one of the biggest investors in the company, had the right to block the sale of any major portion of its business; it will lose that right in reducing its stake.

“Barnes & Noble will gain greater flexibility to accomplish their strategic objectives” as a result of the sale, Liberty Media Chief Executive Greg Maffei said.

One large investor pointed out that the Barnes & Noble investment was a relatively small stake for Liberty, “which has much bigger arenas in which to play.” Liberty lately has been trying to spark a consolidation of the cable-TV industry, among other efforts.

Barnes & Noble shares closed Thursday at $19.12, down $2.99, or 13.5%

Barnes & Noble’s stock rallied 66% between early February and Wednesday, when it closed at $22.11. That followed a stronger financial performance at the company. Mr. Huseby has cut costs, helping Barnes & Noble to report a profit for the third-fiscal quarter compared with a year-earlier loss and despite a 10% drop in revenue.

The retailer also reported a stronger-than-expected holiday performance at its 663 consumer bookstores. Core comparable sales, which exclude Nook-related digital products, were down only 0.5%. for the third fiscal quarter ended Jan. 25, compared to a 2.2% decline in the year-earlier quarter.

So while things aren’t looking totally dire at the retailer, it’s likely another blow to the publishing industry as another large buyer pulls back from purchases. And it doesn’t bode well for the fate of retail book stores despite the turnaround efforts.

TBN

Talking Biz News Today — April 4, 2014

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Friday’s top business news stories:

The Wall Street Journal

Airbus orders hurt by cancellations, by Robert Wall
Discounts are piled on as Americans buy fewer basics, by Serena Ng

The New York Times

Nest Labs stops selling its smoke detector, by Nick Wingfield
G.M. turns to experienced crisis experts, by Bill Vlasic and Hilary Stout

The Associated Press

Feds reach $5.15B settlement over mining cleanup, by Felecia Fonseca, Eric Tucker and Dina Cappiello
Milwaukee group wants to buy Pabst Blue Ribbon, by Carrie Antlfinger

Bloomberg

Brooklyn’s hipster economy challenges Manhattan supremacy, by Henry Goldman

Forbes

David Letterman retiring from TV, by Dorothy Pomerantz

Today in business journalism

South Florida Biz Journal refocuses its beats
WSJ’s Baker: We’re a better paper under Murdoch

Biz journalist Haj hired by American Lawyer

This date in business journalism history

2011: Engadget staff to launch new site
2013: Bloomberg adds Twitter to service

TBN

Talking Biz News Today — April 3, 2014

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Thursday’s top business news stories:

The New York Times

Out of work, out of benefits, and running out of options, by Annie Lowrey
Fake meats, finally, taste like chicken, by Stephanie Strom

The Wall Street Journal

Senators challenge GM’s Barra, push for faster change, by Siobhan Hughes and Jeff Bennett
Yelp reviews brew a fight over free speech vs. fairness, by Angus Loten

The Associated Press

Growing demand for US apartments pushing up rents, by Alexa Veiga

Bloomberg

Fed governor Stein resigns to return to teaching at Harvard, by Craig Torres and Jeff Kearns

CNNMoney

Mozilla CEO resigns over anti-same-sex-marriage controversy, by Heather Kelly

And in local news:

Triangle Business Journal

Alcohol board forces Mellow Mushroom to end beer club, by Dawn Kurry

Today in business journalism

ACBJ launching BizWomen.com on Monday
American Lawyer parent is on the market
Bloomberg hires new airlines reporter
Adding high-quality stores at International Business Times
Citigroup’s troubles in Mexico