Friday, May 26, 2017
Where are car numbers stalling?
Why is it happening?
Where bikes rule the roads
Monday, May 22, 2017
Belgian battery component maker Umicore will invest €300m to increase its production for lithium-ion batteries sixfold by 2020, due to growth in demand for electric vehicles. The extra capacity will be to meet demand from Chinese electric cars and buses, and European carmakers, which are expanding electric car fleets, the company’s chief executive said. Umicore said demand for the company’s battery materials is “outpacing the market by a significant margin and the increased capacity will enable Umicore to cater for a surge in customer orders”. The money will be invested in Umicore’s plant in South Korea and in Jiangmen in China, it said, with first production lines expected to be commissioned in late 2018. Along with a $160m investment plan announced last year, the additional $300m will result in a more than sixfold increase in total capacity by 2020 compared with 2015. The company, which can trace its roots to the Congolese mining company Union Minière, which was founded in 1906, has for 15 years helped supply material for mobile phone batteries. It now aims to double earnings by 2020 and capture the growing market for electric vehicles. The company’s shares have risen 26 per cent over the past year and rose 3 per cent on Monday to €56.61. Marc Grynberg, Umicore’s chief executive, said it had benefited from “ethical” sourcing of cobalt, a key battery material, amid growing scrutiny over cobalt supply from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last year, Amnesty International issued a report saying very few companies “are taking steps to meet even the most basic due diligence requirements” when it came to sourcing of cobalt from the DRC for batteries. “We have a definite competitive advantage from having this widespread effort in sourcing cobalt in an ethical manner more than 12 years ago,” Mr Grynberg said. “Even though other people are now trying to clean up their own supply chain it will take time to get there.” Analysts at Liberum estimate that the market for cathodes in electric vehicle batteries will grow by five times in the next five years to $4bn and Umicore will capture about 20 per cent of the market. The cathode is key to how much power a battery can store. While battery makers are aiming to reduce costs of the materials by reducing metals such as cobalt, the company will benefit from growing average size of batteries in electric cars that gives them greater range, Adam Collins, an analyst at Liberum said. Umicore makes cathode materials for nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) batteries, which are widely used in electric cars. The company supplies major battery companies such as LG Chem, Samsung SDI and China’s BYD, according to Liberum.
Friday, May 19, 2017
Fast-Moving Consumer Goods
Here the impact is likely to be marginal. Vehicles already attract different levies, which add up to 28 percent -- the peak GST rate fixed for the sector. Gains derived from a unified tax system may still be passed on to consumers, analysts say. Maruti Suzuki India, Tata Motors and Mahindra and Mahindra could benefit.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
It’s not that Wendy’s Baconator or the Grand Slam Slugger Breakfast from Denny’s will soon go the way of the dodo. But some national chains are feeling the pain amid dismal sales. Subway Restaurants, the biggest U.S. food chain by number of locations, saw the number of domestic outlets declinefor the first time ever last year. Noodles & Co. and Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. are shutting locations after failing to attract customers. Applebee’s, owned by DineEquity Inc., reported same-store sales tumbled almost 8 percent in its latest quarter, and casual-dining chain Ruby Tuesday Inc. said in March it may sell itself after a prolonged slump.
Honors System At Chicago’s Brown Bag Seafood Co., where sales jumped 63 percent in 2016, lunch customers can grab a cookie out of the “honors system” mailbox for just $1. There are homey touches, like a watercolor painting of the Clark Street Beach in nearby Evanston, Illinois, that founder Donna Lee’s mother painted.
Lee started Brown Bag in 2014 after realizing chains didn’t do it for her. “It feels like you’re there only and solely to get your food quickly and get out the door,” she said. “There really is no charm.” Brown Bag’s top seller is its daily-catch powerbox with grilled fish -- barramundi was on the menu on a recent weekday -- served atop quinoa, wild rice and spinach for $9.99. A nearby Panera Bread Co., which has more than 2,000 locations in 46 states and Canada, charges the same price for a strawberry poppyseed salad with chicken.
Maggiano’s has new menu items and meals that cater to customers’ allergies and diets -- think vegetarian, vegan and the occasional gluten-free ravioli. The chain updated its menu to include executive chef photos and short bios, and in February it introduced an emblem of millennial hip: brunch.Some chains are trying to imitate the success of smaller, independent brands. At Maggiano’s Little Italy, which has 52 locations and is owned by Chili’s parent Brinker International Inc., traffic has been on the wane. Same-store sales dropped 1.6 percent in the most recent quarter for the fourth-straight decline.