McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Business Budget for Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated at 8 a.m. EDT (1200 UTC)
This budget is now available on MCT Direct at http://www.mctdirect.com, with direct links to stories and art. See details at the end of the budget.
^As Whole Foods grows, so does the spotlight
WHOLEFOODS-BIZPLUS:AU _ As it continues to grow into an internationally known brand, Austin-based Whole Foods Market Inc. is learning a lesson that has been taught to many up-and-coming corporations before it.
The bigger the company gets, the brighter the spotlight _ both for good and bad _ that shines on it.
That's become a fact of life for the Austin-based natural foods grocer, which is flying higher than ever with more than 350 stores and posting record profits. Nearly everything the company does makes news these days.
1000 (with trims) by Brian Gaar in Austin, Texas. MOVED
^Love for Fisker's Karma, against all odds
AUTO-FISKER-FANS:OC _ Things haven't gone well for Fisker Automotive. The Anaheim, Calif.-based company hasn't built one of its signature Karma hybrid-electric luxury cars in more than a year. The cars are notably buggy. And now Fisker's fate hangs on a government auction.
Oddly enough, that hasn't diminished the Karma's appeal in the eyes of some car buyers.
Sean Abdali, a North Tustin, Calif., tennis pro, fell in love with the distinctive vehicle through a friend who paid $130,000 to buy the car last year. For him, the turmoil surrounding Fisker has only served to make the Karma more affordable.
900 (with trims) by Ian Hamilton. MOVED
^Cars' safety systems are getting a whole lot smarter
AUTO-SMARTSAFETY:LA _ The big, black Mercedes-Benz is going 70 on the 101 Freeway making minor steering adjustments to hold the lane. The driver has taken his hands off the steering wheel. A computer is driving.
After maybe 10 seconds, the steering wheel icon on the dash turns bright red, as if to say: Dude! Hands back at 10 and 2.
Forget about Google Inc.'s self-driving Toyota Prius, jammed with technology only a legion of Caltech professors can understand. Autonomous driving is already here on cars in dealer showrooms.
The industry is still a long way from sending unmanned cars to the grocery store, but automated safety systems are starting to have a real effect now in protecting passengers and limiting accident damage, according to regulators and insurance industry experts.
1000 (with trim) by Jerry Hirsch. MOVED
^Starter cut-off devices keep car payments coming
AUTO-STARTER-CUTOFF:SL _ Back in the old days, if you couldn't make your car payment, you had to watch out for the repo man.
Now, the repo man is a robot that rides around in a little device under your dashboard.
Miss a payment, and the car becomes a hunk of useless metal _ immobilized by a starter-blocking device triggered from cyberspace.
The owner then has a choice _ pay up and get use of the car again, or wait until the human repo man eventually rolls up. He'll be guided right to the spot by a GPS tattletale in the device.
"Automated Collection Technology," as it's known in the business, is becoming a common part of the "deep subprime" auto lending market. That's the market that finances old used cars for people with little income and poor credit. The industry charges high interest _ often more than 20 percent.
1600 (with trims) by Jim Gallagher. MOVED
^MORE BUSINESS NEWS
^Today's market report
600 by MarketWatch staff.
^Auto review: Ford Fiesta ST takes the pole among sporty subcompacts
The Fiesta ST provides a lot of fun at a relatively low price. The appealing package faces very little competition. Surprisingly, no Japanese or Korean automaker sells a hot subcompact in America. The Hyundai Veloster turbo comes closest, but it's a compact.
700 by Mark Phelan. MOVED
^Auto review: High-tech goodies drive the all-new Acura RLX
AUTO-ACURARLX-REVIEW:MI _ Acura has an all-new flagship _ the RLX _ and it is a much-needed upgrade from the RL, which dazzled us like a librarian dazzles us with conversation.
Simply, not much of style, excitement or pizzazz.
Acura dressed up the librarian a bit with the 2014 RLX and taught her better road manners. Still, it's not likely that its bolder design or improved performance is what you'll notice most. That will come from the great improvements in technology, especially its new steering system and an outstanding Krell audio system.
850 by Barry Spyker. MOVED
^Auto review: Cadenza shouts that Kia has arrived
Bimmers, Benzes and others had a finely stirred mix of performance, head-turning style and leather-soaked luxury that no mainstream sedan could hope to match.
But here's a little secret about the auto industry today: While the rich eat more cake than ever, the class gap continues to narrow in cars.
Sure, you can spend six figures on some silver German missile that will drive itself in traffic while reading your emails to you, and then effortlessly whisk you to that SEC hearing downtown at 100 mph.
But $100,000 peasant-mashing sedans today are no longer twice as good as the plebeian $40,000 ones.
And believe it or not, we can add Kia to the growing list of contributors to this egalitarian cause.
1000 by Terry Box. MOVED
^Auto review: Jeep Grand Cherokee adds luxury
AUTO-JEEPGRANDCHEROKEE-REVIEW:FT _ Jeep has been around since 1941 _ it says so on the steering and headlamp housing.
Originally designed to move people and supplies in difficult situations, the brand has been redesigned and refined to become the most-awarded SUV ever.
It's grown in the number of models it produces, as well, beyond the original off-road model that's now called the Wrangler.
The top Jeep model is now the Grand Cherokee, which got a complete redesign for 2011 and a partial makeover for 2014.
1200 by Emma Jayne Williams. MOVED
These features regularly move on Friday:
WEEKAHEAD:MI _ A preview of the business world's biggest events in the coming week.
300 by Tom Hudson. MOVED
AUTO-HOOD:MCT _ Automotive questions and answers.
550 by Brad Bergholdt.
AUTO-PHELAN-COLUMN:DE _ Observations on the auto industry by Detroit-based auto critic.
650 by Mark Phelan.
AUTO-PRINTZ-COLUMN:VP _ Commentary on autos and America's car culture.
550 by Larry Printz. (Not moving this week.)
AUTO-MOTORING-QA:MS _ Questions and answers on auto maintenance and troubleshooting.
550 by Paul Brand.
^PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNS
These features move Friday for Sunday release:
PFP-MARKSJARVIS-COLUMN-ADV:TB _ Sunday release _ Personal finance strategies in response to the news of the day
800 by Gail MarksJarvis. MOVED
PFP-SPENDINGSMART-ADV:TB _ Not moving this week _ Methods for managing spending and budgets.
1000 by Gregory Karp.
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^NOW FROM MCT _ VIDEO
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^BEST OF BUSINESS: THE WEEK'S TOP FEATURES
EDITORS: The following are among the best McClatchy-Tribune News Service business stories that moved this week and are still suitable for use this weekend and beyond.
^Moto X born of new attitudes at Motorola Mobility
CPT-MOTOROLA-X:TB _ Paul Pierce remembers the reaction his team of designers elicited from their engineering colleagues when they proposed a smartphone with a gently curved back that would nestle into a person's hand.
"We didn't take it as a negative, but they were literally laughing when they saw the concept," recalled Pierce, Motorola Mobility's director of industrial design for the Moto X.
Pierce and the designers loved the natural feel of the rounded device, but the engineers saw a guffaw-inducing challenge: How would they fit a multitude of tiny, rectangular components into a curve without wasting space?
As it turned out, overcoming that engineering conundrum for the Moto X set the tone for solving another vexing problem at the stalled technology giant: Jump-starting a creatively inert culture that, through years of painful restructurings and cuts, prioritized cranking out dozens of products to meet nitpicky technical requirements rather than coming up with groundbreaking ideas. In setting out to reclaim Motorola's long-lost position as a dominant player in mobile technology, designers and engineers were given one directive: Think big.
1450 (with trims) by Wailin Wong. MOVED
^Another way to rent your house to vacationers launches
ONEFINESTAY:LA _ Move over, Airbnb. A new competitor in the rent-your-home-to-vacationers business is expanding with the aim of giving visitors the feel of living like a local _ or at least a local with money.
The London service, Onefinestay, is focusing on popular neighborhoods and niceties such as fresh linens and snacks from trendy restaurants. Along with a nicely appointed pad, starting at $250 a night, travelers also get use of a iPhone loaded with insider info on things to do and places to eat.
With its recent debuts in Paris and Los Angeles, Onefinestay joins the emerging "sharing economy," in which technology-driven businesses, including Lyft and TaskRabbit, tout rides and expertise.
900 (with trims) by Lauren Beale. MOVED
^Advertisers overlook black media, report finds
CNS-BLACK-SPENDING:TB _ The buying power of African-Americans continues to grow, but advertisers are missing the mark by passing over black-oriented media.
That is the conclusion of a Nielsen report, which shows that of the $75 billion spent last year in the U.S. on television, magazines, Internet and radio advertising, less than 3 percent went to media focused on black audiences.
With 43 million blacks in the U.S. representing about 14 percent of the population _ more than half under the age of 35 _ advertisers are not effectively reaching a growing population projected to account for $1.3 trillion in consumer spending by 2017, according to Nielsen. In short, the message and the medium matter when selling everything from feminine hygiene products to Big Macs, both of which are purchased more heavily by African-Americans than the general population, according to the report.
750 by Robert Channick. MOVED
^Mortgage relief didn't help many keep their homes, critics say
REAL-MORTGAGERELIEF:LA _ When five giant mortgage firms signed a landmark $25 billion mortgage settlement last year, officials hailed debt forgiveness as the primary strategy to preserve homeownership.
Advocates for borrowers thought the banks would prioritize debt write-downs on first mortgages, which banks resisted before the settlement. Now, with nearly all the promised relief handed out, it is clear that the banks had other ideas.
The vast majority of the aid to borrowers, it turns out, came in the form of short sales and forgiveness of second mortgages. Just 20 percent of the aid doled out under the national settlement went to forgiveness of first-mortgage principal, the kind of help most likely to keep troubled borrowers in their homes. In terms of borrowers helped, just 15 percent of the total received first-mortgage forgiveness.
950 (with trims) by E. Scott Reckard. MOVED
^GMO ballot battle replays in Washington state
FARM-GMO-WASHINGTON:SE _ Monsanto and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, the largest donors so far in Washington's upcoming ballot contest over labeling genetically engineered foods, know this fight well.
They squared off over the same issue in California last year.
Monsanto and others outspent the pro-labeling side there nearly 5-to-1 and narrowly defeated the proposition, which would have labeled foods sold at retail that contain genetically engineered ingredients, popularly called GMOs (for genetically modified organisms).
Initiative 522, on this fall's ballot here, is a nearly identical measure, written by some of the same people.
While the money likely won't match the $53 million spent in California, the rhetoric will be mostly the same.
1050 (with trims) by Melissa Allison in Seattle. MOVED
^Online marketing begins with people-oriented approach, panel says
SMALLBIZ-MKTG-SOCIALMEDIA:RA _ Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Websites. Don't forget Tumblr, Pinterest and Snapchat.
Modern-day social media marketing can be tricky for small-business owners trying to navigate and understand the ever-evolving channels and opportunities.
At a recent networking breakfast in Raleigh, N.C., a panel of five marketing and public relations professionals offered advice and expertise on how companies can build their business by using social media and other marketing channels.
To get started, the panelists said, small-business owners need to step back and create a larger marketing plan before worrying about social media strategies that include Facebook and Twitter.
1050 by Virginia Bridges. MOVED
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