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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to http://pennystockpaycheck.com for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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Ackman: P&G CEO may need to go

Category : Business, Stocks

Bob McDonald, who’s led P&G since July 2009, serves on the board of 21 different organizations, and Bill Ackman thinks that may be more than a few too many.

Excerpt from: Ackman: P&G CEO may need to go

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HTC profit slump confirms Samsung and Apple as smartphone leaders

Category : Business

HTC has reported a 98% drop in profits, leaving the top market tier to be dominated by Samsung androids and Apple iPhones

The divergent fortunes within the $200bn (£130bn) global smartphone market were laid bare this week when Taiwan’s HTC reported a 98% slump in profits, confirming Samsung and Apple’s seemingly unassailable lead over their rivals.

In 2010, HTC was the world’s biggest maker of smartphones that used Google’s Android operating system. Now it has joined two other former titans, Nokia and BlackBerry, in a desperate search for profit and growth.

As HTC reported a slump in first-quarter profits to £0.9m, Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest maker of mobile phones and smartphones, was basking in a forecast that its quarterly operating profit would be around 8.7trn (£5bn).

The market is splitting into three tiers that allow only for high-end products in developed markets, a bevy of barely profitable products in the middle, and a hugely competitive low-cost segment in developing markets such as China.

In the last quarter of 2012, the last period for which figures are available, Apple and Samsung together shipped 111.5m smartphones, according to researcher IDC. That’s more than 50% of a market that has tripled in volume over that time – and compares to a combined share of less than 20% back in the second quarter of 2010, when the once mighty Nokia had 37%.

The plight of HTC is even more stark when its market position is viewed through the prism of Google’s Android software. Android is the leading operating system thanks to Samsung, beating Apple’s iOS system and Microsoft’s Windows Phone, which is used by Nokia. If consumers are flocking to Android phones, they are choosing Samsung and not HTC.

Benedict Evans, technology and telecoms analyst at Enders Analysis, calls the Android smartphone market “Samsung and the seven dwarves” – a reference to the 1960s when IBM dominated the mainframe market, and its seven rivals fought for scraps. The modern equivalents are China’s Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE, Korea’s LG, Japan’s Sony, the now Google-owned Motorola, and HTC.

But Steve Brazier, chief executive of the research company Canalys, thinks that the HTC One phone, launched in February, offers a way back. “The HTC One is hot,” he said. “The problem is it’s not really shipping yet, which is why their first-quarter figures were bad. The product was delayed.” Nonetheless, it faces a significant challenge from the Samsung Galaxy S4 phones, which also hits retailers’ shelves this month.

Brazier adds that there is hope too for the other also-rans. For BlackBerry, he thinks it first needs to calm its US government clients, who have been eyeing the iPhone as an alternative. For Nokia, the solution is easier said than done: “It needs something radically different from what’s out there.”

HTC, BlackBerry and Nokia are fighting against a rapid decline. Since 2010, they have been squashed down from an aggregate market share of 61% to barely 10%. Now, none has more than 4% of the market. Samsung is at the top with 29%, ahead of Apple with nearly 22%.

HTC’s problems sum up the difficulties that competitors face when they are trying to overcome two players that dominate half the market. The One was delayed because, reports say, it couldn’t get enough cameras at the required specification to satisfy its needs.

Brazier said: “The big issue in the smartphone business is that Samsung and Apple are cornering the supply chain, so HTC can’t get ‘tier-one’ components.”

To be tier one you have to order in large enough volumes to demand quality and timeliness along with price discounts. Once you slip from that position, it’s hard to recover it.

A decade ago, Apple cornered the markets in small hard drives and then solid-state storage to build its iPod, and then iPod nano, and dominate the music player market. Now it uses its growing cash pile to hire factories and production well ahead of time – locking rivals out. “HTC has a real scale problem,” says Evans, the Enders analyst. “It’s a problem that Nokia is starting to face as well. It’s a problem of the reach and power that Apple and Samsung can bring to the market.”

Samsung, meanwhile, is completely vertically integrated, owning the factories that make everything from the memory chips to the screens, and writing its own apps and code to go on the only element of its smartphones that it doesn’t make – Google’s Android operating system. And even that is free. Buoyed by colossal advertising and marketing spend which dwarfs even the likes of Coca-Cola, and with worldwide distribution, it is determined to control the mobile phone market. It aims to ship 500m smartphones this year, more than the whole market in 2011.

Analysts argue that Apple needs to do something radical too to catch the growth in emerging markets as the west becomes saturated. A low-cost iPhone is widely expected. That could consolidate the Apple-Samsung duopoly more firmly.

Even, so Brazier thinks things can turn around. “The smartphone business is very dynamic. I don’t think it’s played out. HTC could bounce back.”

Does he think that bounceback will happen by the end of the year? He paused. “Well, no,” he said.

AUDIO: ‘We provide unlicensed drugs’

Category : Business, World News

Today’s Friday boss is Peter George chief executive of Clinigen, a company set up to supply unlicensed medicines to UK patients in cases when a prescribing doctor thinks an unlicensed drug maybe the best option.

Continued here: AUDIO: ‘We provide unlicensed drugs’

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Analyst meets Apple CFO, then expects 6% dividend.

Category : Business, Stocks

Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty thinks Apple should borrow cash to pay its shareholders.

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How banks could get blown away by bond bubble

Category : Stocks

A Federal Reserve governor is publicly raising concerns about a bond bubble, and he thinks banks could take a big hit.

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Dimon: Solve fiscal cliff, U.S. economy will soar

Category : Stocks

JPMorgan’s CEO thinks lawmakers will eventually reach a compromise, and that could spark ‘a booming economy in a few months.’

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Blankfein: Hold on, 2013 will be tricky

Category : Stocks

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein thinks Washington will resolve the fiscal cliff before the end of the year, but says 2013 will still be a tough year.

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Einhorn: Short Chipotle, go long GM

Category : Business, Stocks

Hedge fund manager David Einhorn thinks Taco Bell will eat Chipotle’s lunch with its new Cantina-style menu. GM is sitting on a big cash cushion.

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After a 72% Y/Y rise in the [[XHB]], the housing recovery rates the cover at Barron’s. "We’re in the early stages," says Lennar (LEN) President Rick Beckwith. The industry could triple in size to 1.8M housing starts in the next 3-4 years,…

Category : World News

After a 72% Y/Y rise in the XHB, the housing recovery rates the cover at Barron’s. “We’re in the early stages,” says Lennar (LEN) President Rick Beckwith. The industry could triple in size to 1.8M housing starts in the next 3-4 years, says Ivy Zelman, who thinks Lennar could earn $5.30/share in FY15 vs. $0.48 last year. A more speculative play is Beazer (BZH), which isn’t yet profitable, but has eased short-term liquidity fears with recent capital raises. 12 comments!

Continued here: After a 72% Y/Y rise in the [[XHB]], the housing recovery rates the cover at Barron’s. "We’re in the early stages," says Lennar (LEN) President Rick Beckwith. The industry could triple in size to 1.8M housing starts in the next 3-4 years,…

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Opinion: Google at 14 is better than ever

Category : Business

Shares are within spitting distance of their 52-week high and just 8% below their all-time high of $747.24 from November 2007. Maybe search is sexier than everyone thinks.

Continue reading here: Opinion: Google at 14 is better than ever

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