These are stories Report on Business is following Wednesday, Oct. 5. Get the top business stories through the day on BlackBerry or iPhone by bookmarking our mobile-friendly webpage.
Upsetting the Apple cart It's a rare event when Apple Inc. doesn't blow the socks off investors, analysts and reviewers with a product launch. And I do wonder why a new CEO wouldn't make sure he comes out with a bang.
But, as The Globe and Mail's Omar El Akkad writes, the tech giant showed yesterday that it can't consistently churn out such revolutionary gadgets.
The world was expecting an iPhone 5, but what it got was an upgraded iPhone 4S. And for the record, Apple never promised a fifth, only that it would talk about the iPhone.
So, is the upgraded iPhone a disappointment, or still a cool device with a dual-core A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camer, and other neat stuff? Perhaps it's both. Here's what observers say:
"The iPhone 4S is what cruise control looks like." Omar El Akkad, The Globe and Mail
"iPhone 4S could be the first disappointing device since the launch of the brand.” David McQueen, Informa Telecoms & Media
"While iPhone 4S may be seen as a mild disappointment by investors as it retains the form factor of iPhone 4, we believe the model features several important hardware upgrades, including a dual-core A5 processor, 8mp camera, and re-designed cellular antenna that supports both HSPA+ and EVDO standards to provide 'world-phone' capabilities. Further, we believe compelling new capabilities in iOS 5 and iCloud will generate strong sales of iPhone 4S and increased iOS ecosystem stickiness to generate future recurring device sales." Michael Walkley, Canaccord Genuity
"At the end of the day, there are still going to be long lines for this. They could have been even longer if they’d changed the hardware more.” Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray, to The New York Times
"Despite upgrades to its internal components and some new software capabilities, the iPhone 4S looks like its predecessor physically and doesn't make a big leap in its overall capabilities. Many of its features are also already available on competitors' phones." Geoffrey Fowler and John Letzing, The Wall Street Journal
"It’s a measure of how Apple has habituated its legions of fans to regular, eye-catching design changes that the news about the latest version of the iPhone qualified as a disappointment for some." Nick Wingfield, The New York Times
“There are still many consumers who don’t have the iPhone experience, and Apple still has a lot of markets and carriers to enter, so when there’s a new model with better specs, it helps to lift shipments.” Ming-chi Kuo, Concord Securities, to Reuters
"Underwhelming is the word that hit me." Roger Kay, Endpoint Technologies Associates, to The Wall Street Journal
“It’s been 16 months and all you’ve got is an A5 processor in the existing iPhone 4. It’s a mild disappointment, but they’re still going to be selling millions of units.” Colin Gillis, BGC Partners, to Reuters
“Expectations for Apple's product roll-outs have become really unrealistic. What are (investors) expecting?” Channing Smith, Capital Advisors Growth fund, to The Associated Press
"That was a pretty big step forward. To be able to just converse with your gadget. You’ve got more options than just poking and swiping at it with your finger.” Frank Gillett, Forrester Research, to Reuters, referring to the new voice-recognition system called Siri
- The iPhone 4S puts Apple on hold
- The iPhone hangover: Technies groan as reality sets in
- Samsung seeks ban on iPhone 4S sales in France, Italy
Banks near rescue It's looking more likely that the European Union will move to prop up the region's banks through recapitalization, urged along by the International Monetary Fund.
Oli Rehn, the EU's top economic official, told The Financial Times that the group's finance ministers are studying ways to co-ordinate a package. That helped lift the mood of investors today, but, as has unfortunately become the norm in Europe, you have to wait to see it to determine the impact.
"Word that the EU is set to throw ailing banks a liquidity lifeline certainly injected some buoyancy into markets late last night, but in what seems to be [becoming]tradition, such intervention is already looking like being little more than a short-lived shot in the arm," said sales trader Yusuf Heusen of IG Index.
The IMF today pushed the EU to take swift action, saying it needs between €100-billion and €200-billion to boost the banks.
As The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins and Grant Robertson report, fears of a European banking crisis are mounting, heightened by the troubles of Franco-Belgian lender Dexia, which the two governments have promised to rescue.
- Fears grow as Europe's Dexia bank aided
- Deutsche Bank issues profit warning
- A flawed union breeds an intractable problem
- Up to $266-billion needed for Europe's banks: IMF
- IMF seeks radical change in euro crisis strategy
Talisman cuts forecast Canada's Talisman Energy Inc. has cut its projection for production this year to 425,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, from between 430,000 and 440,000 in an earlier forecast, as some operations ramp back up.
Production has now resumed at its Rev operation in Norway after maintenance, the company said, and its Claymore project in Britain is also poised to resume production after work done to comply with health and safety regulations. But it's also doing safety upgrades at its Tartan operation in the North Sea, and expects that will run throughout the fourth quarter.
"None of these repairs reflect substantive issues with respect to the integrity of the platforms, but are important for ongoing safe operations," the company said in a statement.
All told, Talisman's North Sea production will fall by 13,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the third quarter and 7,000 in the fourth.
"In our view, the revision of growth targets is indicative of the execution challenges faced by the company in the near-term," said analyst George Toriola of UBS.
Mr. Toriola held his 12-month price target on Talisman shares at $26, tough Phil Skolnick of Canaccord Genuity cut his.
"Despite new management's goal to significantly reduce headline risk around the North Sea, it remains a risk," Mr. Skolnick said.
Mattel in new environmental pledge Barbie is going green.
Toy giant Mattel Inc. said today it's moving to "advance sustainability" with a three-point plan packaging and product plan to boost recycled content, avoid "virgin fiber from controversial sources," and boost the use of material certified by a "credible" third party.
Mattel, the maker of Barbie and other toys, said its goal is to have 70 per cent of paper packaging come from recycled material or "sustainable fiber" by the end of this year, and to boost that to 85 per cent by the end of 2015.
Headlines of note
- Canadian home prices resilient in third quarter
- Precision drilling to build 8 new rigs
- Greek unions stage 24-hour strike
- Costco to hike some membership fees
In Economy Lab If commodity prices drift sideways for the next few months, Canada's not-particularly-rapid recovery will be slowed, and more at risk from another downturn in the U.S., Stephen Gordon writes.
In International Business To check the health of the dry-bulk shipping industry, don’t bother inspecting bunker fuel prices or cargoes leaving the Pilbara. Focus on the ongoing orgy of destruction in the ship-breaking yards of South Asia, The Financial Times Lex team writes.
In Globe Careers If you’re eager to climb the corporate ladder, international experience is essential. Miranda Gulland examines the issue.
In Personal Finance Between mobile phones and Skype, there’s not much reason to keep your home phone any longer.
From today's Report on Business