David Kirkpatrick

July 16, 2009

Wal-Mart’s Twitter terms of service …

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:57 pm

… is as stupid as it is vague.

I’ll just let this bit from the link make my point:

As Michael Masnick of Techdirt points out, it’s hard to understand who these terms are directed at — employees of Wal-Mart who use Twitter, or customers who talk about Wal-Mart products on Twitter, or both. But the fact that Wal-Mart had its legal counsel construct a 3,000-plus word document entitled “Wal-Mart’s Twitter Terms of Use” means they want to be cautious for what liability they incur over the medium.

What on earth would make Wal-Mart think that it could expect the average Joe, say someone who Tweets about a Wal-Mart customer experience, to play by rules that the company itself lays out? We’re not sure

March 9, 2009

McDonald’s sales up

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:44 am

Similar to the strong numbers posted by Wal-Mart last week, McDonald’s is seeing an uptick in its sales. Discounters always do well in tough economic conditions.

From the second link:

McDonald’s Corp <MCD.N> posted a 1.4 percent rise in February sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, as strength in the United States helped offset the impact of the stronger dollar.

Shares in the company — one of the restaurant industry’s top performers — were up 1.2 percent in morning trade.

The company booked higher sales despite having one fewer day in February, since 2008 was a Leap Year. The loss of that one day cut about 4 percentage points from same-store sales, the company said on Monday.

Still, McDonald’s cautioned that at current currency exchange rates the stronger dollar would cut first-quarter earnings by 7 to 9 cents a share. Analysts, on average, expect the company to post a first-quarter profit of 83 cents per share excluding stock-based compensation, according to Reuters Estimates.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Larry Miller said same-store sales were “better than fine,” noting that the company repeated an earlier warning about the impact of the stronger dollar and said commodity costs could weigh on results.

March 5, 2009

Wal-Mart has strong February

Looks like the discount powerhouse continues to makes gains in a weak economy.

People have to buy stuff somewhere and Wal-Mart is perfectly situated for an economic downturn. Either the main, or only, player in an area. One-stop shop for everything from groceries, convenience items, sporting goods, general merchandise, banking, eye care, hair salon, etc. And regardless what you think of the massive retailer, Wal-Mart does offer its customers very low prices.

From the link:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) reported a higher-than-expected rise in February same-store sales and said it was raising its dividend due to the strength of its business, sending its shares 3 percent higher.

The world’s largest retailer gave an overall boost to retail sales in February and proved it is pulling further ahead of rivals like Target Corp (TGT.N).

Target posted a same-store sales decline in February, while discounter Family Dollar Stores Inc (FDO.N) said second-quarter same-store sales rose far higher than expected.

Shares of Target fell 3.3 percent, while Family Dollar surged 11 percent.

Wal-Mart also increased its annual dividend 15 percent to $1.09 per share from 95 cents per share in its most recently completed fiscal year.

“Our free cash flow remains strong enough to fund Wal-Mart’s growth around the world, make strategic acquisitions and fund returns to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases,” CEO Mike Duke said in a statement.

Wal-Mart said its February sales at U.S. stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, rose 5.1 percent as lower gasoline prices eased some household budgets.

The results far surpassed analysts’ average estimate for a 2.4 percent increase, and Barclays Capital analyst Bob Drbul said it is clear that Wal-Mart is gaining market share.

“These guys are doing a great job at their agenda, which is widening the moat” between themselves and competitors, he said. “The dividend increase is simply gravy on top of today’s announcement.”

January 8, 2009

The Wal-Martization of the US

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:26 am

A fascinating visual of Wal-Mart growing to 3176 stores between 1962 and 2007 across the United States.

Hit the link for the time-lapse animation.

December 11, 2008

Wal-Mart announces new solar power system

Filed under: Business, Science — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:01 pm

The release from minutes ago:

The Light Shines on: Wal-Mart and SunPower Announce Solar Power on Central Valley Store

Solar Power Pilot Project Complete at Hanford Wal-Mart

HANFORD, Calif., Dec. 11 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWRA)(NASDAQ:SPWRB) today announced completion of a 554-kilowatt solar power system at the Wal-Mart store in Hanford, California.  The system is estimated to generate approximately 15 percent of the store’s electricity.

This Hanford store is part of a Wal-Mart pilot project to purchase solar power systems from SunPower and other solar providers for up to 22 Wal-Mart stores, Sam’s Club locations and distribution centers in California and Hawaii.

It is expected these solar power systems at Wal-Mart’s facilities will replace 7,000 to 8,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.  The systems help move Wal-Mart towards its long-term goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy, and will provide immediate cost savings over current utility rates.

“This project helps move Wal-Mart forward in our commitment to conserve energy, reduce energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said Kim Saylors-Laster, vice president of energy for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.  “We are very pleased with SunPower’s work on the Hanford solar project and on all of our facilities on which they are building solar power systems.”

The Hanford Wal-Mart store, as well as the nearby Wal-Mart distribution center in Porterville, are two of eight Wal-Mart facilities in California to receive SunPower solar power systems, totaling 4.2 megawatts, by the end of this year.  The other six Wal-Mart facilities included in the SunPower contract are located in Chino, Simi Valley, Brea, Orange and Lakewood and Palmdale.

“Companies like Wal-Mart are turning to solar power because it makes good business sense and supports their environmental initiatives,” said Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower Corp.  “Companies turn to SunPower because we have the most efficient solar technology in the world, and unparalleled experience in delivering high quality solar power installations anywhere and at any scale, from rooftops to parking structures to power plants.”

Wal-Mart plans to use the results of the solar power pilot project to explore additional ways to achieve its renewable energy goals and to determine how to move forward with solar power generation at additional Wal-Mart locations.

About Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates Wal-Mart discount stores, supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Club locations in the United States.  The Company operates in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom and, through a joint venture, in India.  The Company’s securities are listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol WMT.  More information about Wal-Mart can be found by visiting http://www.walmartstores.com/.  Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com/ and http://www.samsclub.com/.

About SunPower

SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWRA)(NASDAQ:SPWRB) designs, manufactures and delivers high-performance solar electric systems worldwide for residential, commercial and utility-scale power plant customers.  SunPower high-efficiency solar cells and solar panels generate up to 50 percent more power than conventional solar technologies and have a uniquely attractive, all-black appearance.  With headquarters in San Jose, California, SunPower has offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.  For more information, visit http://www.sunpowercorp.com/.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are statements that do not represent historical facts.  The companies use words and phrases such as “will,” “is expected,” “plans,” and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this press release include, but are not limited to, the companies plans and expectations regarding: (a) the system generating approximately 15 percent of the store’s electricity; (b) the systems replacing 7,000 to 8,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year; (c) the systems helping Wal-Mart achieve its long-term goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy and provide immediate cost savings over current utility rates; (d) Wal-Mart using the results of the solar power pilot project to explore additional ways to achieve its renewable energy goals and to determine how to move forward with solar power generation at additional Wal-Mart locations.  These forward-looking statements are based on information available to the companies as of the date of this release and management’s current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated by these forward-looking statements.  Such risks and uncertainties include a variety of factors, some of which are beyond the companies’ control.  In particular, risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ include: (i) actual electricity generation; (ii) the actual energy consumption rate; (iii) unexpected changes in utility service rates; (iv) variations in carbon dioxide emissions reductions; and (v) other risks described in SunPower’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 28, 2008, and other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  These forward-looking statements should not be relied upon as representing the companies’ views as of any subsequent date, and the companies are under no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any responsibility to, update or alter their forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SunPower is a registered trademark of SunPower Corp.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Source: SunPower Corporation
Web site:  http://www.sunpowercorp.com/

November 14, 2008

Retail feeling the crunch

Aside from Wal-Mart, the retail numbers this quarter are pretty bleak and not promising to be much better over the traditional big holiday season.

Here’s an example from today — Abercrombie & Fitch:

Abercrombie & Fitch Reports Third Quarter Results;

Third Quarter Net Income of $63.9 Million or $0.72 Per Diluted Share;

Board of Directors Declares Quarterly Dividend of $0.175;

Company Provides Update for 2008

NEW ALBANY, Ohio, Nov. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF) today reported unaudited results which reflected third quarter net income of $63.9 million and net income per diluted share of $0.72 for the thirteen weeks ended November 1, 2008, compared to net income of $117.6 million and net income per diluted share of $1.29 for the thirteen weeks ended November 3, 2007.

  Third Quarter Highlights

   — Total Company net sales decreased 8% to $896.3; comparable store sales
      decreased 14%

   — Total direct-to-consumer net sales decreased 6% to $57.5 million

   — Abercrombie & Fitch net sales decreased 8% to $385.8 million;
      Abercrombie & Fitch comparable store sales decreased 8%

   — abercrombie net sales decreased 14% to $109.5 million, abercrombie
      comparable store sales decreased 20%

   — Hollister Co. net sales decreased 7% to $383.6 million; Hollister
      comparable store sales decreased 18%

   — RUEHL net sales increased 7% to $13.5 million; RUEHL comparable store
      sales decreased 25%

   — Net income for the third quarter was $63.9 million

   — Net income per diluted share in the third quarter was $0.72

Mike Jeffries, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Abercrombie & Fitch Co., said:

“Our third quarter financial results reflect a pull back in consumer spending and a difficult economic environment that is having an affect on all retailers.  However, during these difficult times, we remain firmly committed to the aspirational positioning of our brands, providing an unparalleled store experience for our customers and investing in initiatives that will allow us to continue the international expansion of our brands.  We are mindful of the current environment and will continue to operate the business with a seasoned and disciplined approach, looking for efficiencies within our operations.”

Update — Here’s a Wall Street Journal piece on the sector.

From the link:

U.S. retail sales took a record dive in October as consumers afraid for their jobs continued a retreat heading into the holiday shopping season and cut back spending on a wide variety of goods ranging from cars to furniture to electronics.

Separately, U.S. import prices fell at a record pace last month, further evidence that falling oil prices and the slowing global economy are having a rapid damping effect on inflation. Assuming that trend is confirmed by upcoming producer and consumer price reports, Federal Reserve policymakers should have added flexibility to address the credit crisis through liquidity programs and even more rate cuts without worrying about an inflationary outbreak.

Retail sales tumbled 2.8% last month from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Friday. It was the fourth drop in a row. Sales in September decreased 1.3%, revised down from an originally estimated 1.2% decline.

Economists expected a 2.4% drop in sales during October, the first month of the fourth quarter. The 2.8% drop was the largest since records began in 1992. The previous record was a 2.65% decline in November 2001.

Update 11/19/08 — And here more news, a bit more focused on the online retail sector, via AccountantsWorld:

The retail industry continued to see signs of a sharp pullback in consumer spending, both online and in stores.

Growth in online sales slowed to a near halt in October, comScore, a research firm, is expected to report on Tuesday. Separately, Lowe’s and Target reported Monday that third-quarter profit fell as consumers cut back on large home-improvement projects and discretionary purchases.


Online spending grew by only 1 percent over October 2007, comScore said. That was the lowest monthly growth rate since comScore began tracking e-commerce in 2001, and was down from 5 percent in September.

In the past, e-commerce has been somewhat protected from cutbacks in consumer spending that have affected retail stores, because online shopping was perceived as more convenient. Consumers also turned to online outlets to compare prices easily.

October 1, 2008

BP Solar announces fourth Wal-Mart installation

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:28 pm

Wal-Mart is proving its committment to renewable energy is more than simple lip service.

The release from today:

BP Solar Completes Fourth Installation for Wal-Mart

Glendora Sam’s Club Now Energized by the Sun

GLENDORA, Calif. Oct. 1 /PRNewswire/ — BP Solar today announced the completion of a 546 kilowatt (kW) solar power system at the Sam’s Club in Glendora, California.  The system consists of over 3,122 modules and will provide approximately 27 percent of the store’s electricity.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000724/NYM120LOGO )

The Glendora installation is part of BP Solar’s commitment to develop 4.3 megawatts of solar energy systems for seven Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs in California.  Under the agreement, Wal-Mart will purchase all of the energy produced by the solar power systems and BP Solar will operate and maintain the systems.

“The Glendora Sam’s Club marks the fourth solar installation project we have completed for Wal-Mart,” said Felix Taubman, director of commercial development for BP Solar.  “Our commercial projects team is committed to completing the three remaining sites by the end of 2008, moving Wal-Mart one step closer to achieving their renewable energy goal.”

Since Wal-Mart announced its goal to be ultimately supplied by 100% renewable energy, and to significantly improve the energy efficiency of its operations in October 2005, BP has been working with the company on a growing range of sustainable energy solutions.  In addition to large-scale roof-top solar installations, these include the supply of biofuels to Sam’s Club gas stations and fuel-efficient lubricants to a portion of Wal-Mart’s UK truck fleet.

“We emphasize the importance of working together with Wal-Mart, because it generates lasting win-win successes,” said Mark Kerstens, vice president of BP’s strategic cooperation with Wal-Mart.  “Through our close cooperation, we are able to deliver a clean energy solution that saves Wal-Mart money when compared to grid power.”

“We are very pleased to partner with BP Solar on this and other projects that help Wal-Mart to reach its sustainability goals,” said David Ozment, director of energy for Wal-Mart. “This is another example of Wal-Mart’s commitment to making decisions that are good for the environment and good for business. This project is bringing us one step closer towards our goal of being supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.”

BP Solar’s commercial development team is focused on assisting corporations, such as Wal-Mart, to lower their energy costs while lessening the impact of their operations on the environment.  The company offers a variety of financing options for its business customers including power purchase agreements, leasing and traditional purchase plans.

  Notes to Editors:

  The following is a list of operational Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs facilities
   installed in California with BP Solar modules.

  Santa Ana, Wal-Mart       623.7kW
  Palm Desert, Sam’s Club   577.3kW
  Chino, Wal-Mart           591.6kW
  Glendora, Sam’s Club      546kW

  Photos available upon request.

BP Solar, part of BP Alternative Energy, is a global company with over 2,300 employees.  BP Solar designs, manufactures and markets products which use the sun’s energy to generate electricity for a wide range of applications in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.  With over 30 years of experience and installations in more than 160 countries, BP Solar is one of the world’s leading solar companies having 228MW annual manufacturing capacity in 2007, plus another 700MW capacity under construction.  BP Solar has solar cell and module manufacturing plants in Sydney, Australia; Bangalore, India; Madrid, Spain; and Frederick, MD, USA; and module manufacturing in Xi’an, China.  In Frederick it also has casting and wafering facilities. BP Solar invests more than $10 million annually in photovoltaic research and development.

BP Alternative Energy, launched in November 2005, combines all of BP’s interests in low and zero-carbon energy including wind, solar, hydrogen power with carbon capture and storage, natural gas-fired power generation, biofuels for low carbon transport and distributed energy for emerging markets.

  To learn more

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000724/NYM120LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
Source: BP Solar
Web Site:  http://www.bpalternativenergy.com/

September 1, 2008

Wal-Mart making solar a bit easier

Filed under: Business, et.al., Science — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:14 pm

Good solar installation newsfrom the retail behemoth Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club:

Getting a solar system installed on your house is decidedly complicated. There is no centralized system, only contractors who you may or may not be able to trust. Prices for installation vary wildly, as do prices for the modules themselves.

But in California, where things are getting a bit more consolidated and simplified, one retailer is trying to make solar easy. And it’s Wal-Mart. Or, Sam’s Club in nine California stores: Corona, Murrieta, Glendora, Ontario, La Habra, Chino, Long Beach, Fountain Valley, and Torrance.

The solar kiosks will hook consumers up with established solar sellers and installers including Borrego Solarand BP Solar. The kiosks also offer $100 off every kilowatt of installed solar power. Honestly, that’s not very much, considering a kilowatt of installed solar can cost up to $10,000, but Sam’s Club members expect savings — so savings they will have!

(Hat tip: Wes)

March 3, 2008

Wal-Mart’s blog, Check Out

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:58 am

Interesting NYT story today on Wal-Mart’s blog, Check Out. The blog is a third effort at the genre by Wal-Mart and written by the company’s buyers. Check Out was actually the source that broke the news Wal-Mart was going to stock only Blu-ray equipment and DVDs, rather than the HD-DVD format.

From the linked article:

Microsoft is one of Wal-Mart’s biggest suppliers. But that did not stop the Wal-Mart employee in charge of buying computers from panning Microsoft’s newest operating system, Vista.

“Is it really all that and a bag of chips?” he wrote on his blog. “My life has not changed dramatically — well, for that matter, it hasn’t changed at all.”

His public burst of candor was not isolated. On the same blog, a video game buyer for Wal-Mart slammed a “Star Wars” film as a “debacle” even though Wal-Mart still sells the movie.

Known for its strict, by-the-books culture — accepting a cup of coffee from a supplier can be a firing offense — Wal-Mart is now encouraging its merchants to speak frankly, even critically, about the products the chain carries.

This unusual new Web site, which was quietly created during the holiday shopping season, has become a forum for unvarnished rants about gadgets, raves about new video games and advice on selecting environmentally sustainable food.

Update 3/14/08 — I received a note from the folks at WalMartWatch.com outlining a few differences they have with the article’s characterization of the Check Out blog being uncensored by the company. In the interest of telling more of the story, I added the provided link to that site

From the link:

An article from last week’s New York Times applauded Wal-Mart’s latest online outreach effort – a blog called “Check Out”– for its transparency and honesty. Well, as long as Wal-Mart approves of that honesty, it seems.

The document above is a copy of Wal-Mart’s corporate internet policy for employees. At line 28:

    “Associates must not make statements or post items that negatively impact on Wal-Mart’s reputation and/or that are derogatory or defamatory to any Wal-Mart Associate, customer or supplier.”

Wal-Mart’s had a hard time with that whole transparency concept in the past, so what does this mean for Wal-Mart’s supposedly unbiased Check Out blog? Perhaps what bloggers have suspected all along: that the writers are merely toeing the company line.