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Car Makers Are Intensifying Their R&D Efforts

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Toyota cutting summer bonuses, VW and Ford about to close a deal on self-driving cars

Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM) will cut summer bonuses for its managers this year by 4% to 5% versus 2018, Although the carmaker’s earnings are steady at the moment, the company aims to instill a sense of urgency among its managers, amid intensifying competition in the car market, especially when it comes to the need to develop in areas such as autonomous driving and electrification. Toyota’s sales for the fiscal year ended March came to 30.2 trillion yen ($278 billion) and this was the first time a Japanese company’s revenue has topped the 30 trillion yen mark. But the company is aware that it needs innovation to keep going and it has announced it will use its hybrid technology as a bridge to the new chapter of electrification. President Akio Toyoda that just marked its 10th year as President has made clear that the company will focus more on new technology development to survive the drastic automobile industry transformation. Toyoda’s vision is to turn Toyota into a mobility company.

Volkswagen AG (OTC: VLKAF) and Ford Motors (NYSE:F) are close to reaching a deal on a partnership for developing self-driving cars, the German carmaker’s chief executive said on Thursday. Earlier this week, Volkswagen said it had ended its partnership with self-driving car software firm Aurora. The dissolution of the partnership came after Aurora said that it would build autonomous platforms for commercial vehicles with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. But Ford’s majority-owned subsidiary Argo AI is building an automated “driver” that could compete with Aurora’s technology so Ford will be ready to ‘strike back’.

Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) shares again went south, only one day after Elon Musk predicted a record quarter in a shareholders meeting filled with optimism to say the least. Tesla shares had jumped 4% in premarket trading Wednesday, but then they turned negative as by Wednesday’s close, the stock was down 3.6%. This rough patch gives Musk quite something to think about. Tesla may have outsold competitors last year, but faltering demand and a phase-out of EV subsidies in America are tough new challenges it has to face, despite Musk insisting that there is no fall in demand but rather just obstacles and freight delays.

And let’s not forget, neither Fiat Chrysler (NYSE: FCAU) nor Renault have ruled out resuming talks after the recent collapse of the potential deal. Fiat Chrysler walked away from its proposed merger with Renault on Wednesday, after the French company stalled on making a decision. Yet the logic behind the merger remains valid as combining Fiat Chrysler and Renault would have created the world’s third largest carmaker, relegating General Motors (NYSE: GM) to fourth spot. On its own, Fiat Chrysler ranks eighth. But for the merger to be back on the table, a complicated set of preconditions would need to be met involving all five parties, and more precisely the French Government that supposedly greatly contributed to the collapse in the first place. The trust between the two companies was already greatly damaged after the “Ghosn affair” and recent events only further eroded the already weakened relationship.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Mike Manley spent his first year trying to motivate employees stunned by the sudden death last summer of his charismatic predecessor, Sergio Marchionne. Chrysler on Monday did sign an agreement but with Aurora – a startup founded by former Google and Tesla executives. The two companies will combine their efforts to manufacture and deploy self-driving cars. Under the proposed pairing, Chrysler would put the Aurora Driver technology, the firm’s autonomous car platform, into its fleet. This arrangement “complements and enhances” Fiat’s ongoing approach to self-driving cars so FCAU is still going in the direction that Marchionne, the evangelist savior of Fiat and Chrysler, put in place as he was constantly calling for consolidation.

Germany’s BMW (NASDAQ: BMWYY) and Daimler (OTC:DDAIF) have formed a joint venture that will develop ride-sharing and charging services, while BMW has just agreed to work with Jaguar Land Rover, its fierce rival, on a new generation of electric engines with automated driving. Ford and Volkswagen are already developing some new vehicles together and now seem to be ready to the same for the electric and automated market. Overall, it seems everyone is seriously getting ready for the electric and all-automated race but not everyone has a steady financial position like Toyota. Auto manufacturers are increasingly coming together for this reason, to overcome the barrier of massive investment that is required to develop next-generation cars. And even Toyota is aware they cannot do it on its own as its president Toyoda stated the company is more than open for new associates who can bring in a fresh perspective. Teamwork seems to be the only way to go forward and face the new electric era.

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Earnings

Toyota’s News: Redesigned Corolla, New Investments and Partnerships

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Toyota Stock Market News

Toyota Motor Corporation (NYSE: TM) is managing something other automakers only dream of. The company is honouring its values while achieving sustainable growth for over a decade. The dependable Japanese giant continues to deliver on its promises as it prepares for an electric future.

A new sturdy yet sporty Corolla

On September 17th, the company announced a completely redesigned Corolla that now goes beyond just being a practical buying decision. The newly evolved Corolla has a sporty design, offering pleasurable driving and advanced safety equipment. Being built on Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), Corolla is ready to evolve to meet customers’ needs, according to Yasushi Ueda, chief engineer in charge of development.

Since its debut in 1966, this car is nothing less than adored by consumers all over the world and now, it will have its first hybrid version available to U.S. customers.

Hybrid strategy is actually paying off

Just like Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) with its 2020 CR-V Hybrid, Toyota is using its hybrid technology to position itself for future growth and transition to an all-electric future, despite the fact these energy saving vehicles do not qualify for government subsidies. But, this strategy is paying off as hybrid demand skyrocketed and the company proudly revealed in February that Lexus reached its 10 millionth vehicle sales milestone since its launch, with its 2018 sales performance achieving several ‘best-ever records’. And it is thanks to these figures that the Chinese government is also starting to see the potential of such vehicles so things can only get even better for Toyota. As the saying goes, persistence is the key to success and these two companies have been quite brave in sticking to HEVs.

New Investment – $391 Million Goes to Texas’ San Antonio Plant

This will be Toyota’s first expansion in nine years at the plant that produces its Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks. It is the part of the company’s strategy to invest $13 billion in its U.S. operations over the period of five years, ending in 2021.

Future Investment – $243.29 million to Produce New Vehicle in Sao Paulo

Toyota is also about to get an even stronger presence in Brazil as it will hire 300 new employees at the Sorocaba Plant to start the production of a new vehicle.

Partnership

And let’s not forget the ground-breaking partnership of Japan’s leading automakers that was revealed in August as Toyota and Suzuki Motor Co. (OTC: SZKMF) announced they will collaborate on developing autonomous car technology. This deal is cementing the bond that the two automakers kicked-off in 2016. They might seem like an odd couple as Suzuki is a everything but a big player, yet its strong presence in India is only one of the things that will greatly benefit Toyota. Although Suzuki admitted defeat on the world’s biggest playgrounds, China and the U.S., it cracked the code for emerging markets. And this is exactly where future global sales growth is expected to come from.

Inventing a car that will run forever?

According to Bloomberg, Toyota aims to go far further than electric by teaming up with Sharp Corporation (OTC:SHCAY) and Japanese governmental organization NEDO that encourages the development of innovative technologies. Considering that Toyota is a company that has even used the economic crisis and recession to only come out stronger, it’s not unlikely that it is set to out do the impossible by mixing the most efficient batteries with solar panels. The company’s strong financial performance and track record show that if anyone can do it, it’s Toyota Motor Co.

 

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Nike Exceeds Wall Street Expectations With Q1 Earnings for FY2020

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Direct-to-consumer sales and digital momentum strategies did the trick for Nike

When Nike (NYSE:NKE) released its better-than-expected first quarter of the fiscal 2020 results late Tuesday. Naturally shares jumped more than 5% to reach $91.80. The reported revenue increased 7.2% year comparing to last year, achieving $10.7 billion, greater than the expected $10.44 billion. Net income soared more than 28%, making adjusted earnings per share $0.86, also smashing expectations of $0.70 per share.

Nike managed to achieve a turnaround

The biggest contributor to total sales was Nike’s North American segment that increased 4% comparing to last year. But China sales also continue to grow and by double digit percentages: 22% to be exact, topping $1.68 billion. Overall, these are fantastic news for investors. Especially since the company’s rare earnings miss for the final quarter of the previous fiscal year. The company attributed this to increased marketing costs and a higher tax rate. But highly anticipated new product launches and solid results for continuing lines, along with efforts to draw new customers to the Nike SNKRS app, did their magic.

Digital momentum is key

Digital movement is transforming and amplifying everything Nike does and in Q1, Nike Digital grew 42% on a currency neutral basis. This growth is driven by enhanced digital services and the international expansion of its app ecosystem. Moreover, The Nike app and SNKRS app are now both live in over 20 countries, with more expansion coming throughout the year.

There are literally no weak spots for investors

Arguably, there are no weak spots for prudent investors to dig in as far as this quarter’s report is concerned. The company is literally firing on all cylinders. The company’s management attributes these results to “the depth and balance of the company’s complete offense, building on the strengths of its foundational business drivers and capitalizing on the untapped dimensions of its portfolio”. Management has also dismissed any concerns that US-China trade conflicts could harm its operations, disclosing no impact has been seen up to date.

Nike showed it can even handle the increased tariffs

Earlier this year Nike joined over 200 other footwear companies urging President Trump not to increase tariffs on footwear imported from China, calling the move “catastrophic for our consumers, our companies, and the American economy as a whole.” But while those tariffs are certainly catastrophic for small players, Nike seems more than capable of mitigating the consequences of this added expense.

Poor macroeconomic conditions are only masking Nike’s true power

The company made it clear that its figures would have been even stronger had it not been for macroeconomic challenges which are manifesting through tariffs and foreign-exchange rates. They implied that the weakening economic climate is essentially masking Nike’s true strength. And in addition to children, women are also a big opportunity for the company that Nike will continue exploiting. This is why Nike expects better-than-planned growth in its higher-margin NIKE Direct channels and international segments and consequently, its full-year gross margin. One thing is for sure: Nike has turned itself into so much more than a ‘sneaker-company’.

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Apple Will Be Making Its MacBook Pros in the US

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With a newly granted “federal product exclusion,” enabling it to import some Mac Pro parts without paying tariffs, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) will be able to save enough money to make US assembly worthwhile. The company announced on Monday that it will manufacture the new version of its Mac Pro desktop computer in Austin, Texas. It’s also a big political win for Apple, since President Trump has for years called on the company to make more products in the US. Tim Cook clearly made a compelling case during his meetings with President Trump. Apple described the decision to keep Mac Pro production in Austin as part of its “commitment to US economic growth.”

Macroeconomic climate is not favourable

The September figures around the world are simply awful. The uncertainty brought on by intensifying trade wars, the outlook for the car industry and Brexit are paralyzing investors, with September seeing some of the worst performance since the financial crisis in 2009, leading many to worry about whether yet another crisis is upon us. On a brighter note, Apple’s stock went up 0.2% after Bloomberg reported that ten of its 15 requests for an exemption from tariffs on imports from China had been approved.

New investments

Apple previously disclosed plans to spend $350 billion in the U.S. by 2023, a figure that includes new and existing investments. Its Apple TV+ is set to launch on November 1, with stars like Oprah Winfrey bringing her famed book club streaming show to the company’s subscription service. Among documentaries that will be released, there will even be a multi-series about mental health, featuring no other than Prince Harry himself. Apple’s subscription service will cost only $4.99 a month and will be available in 100 countries and regions at launch. Also, customers who buy a new Apple device will also get a free year of Apple TV+.

Competitors

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is still the leader when it comes to U.S. streaming, along with Amazon Prime (NASDAQ:AMZN), AT&T’s HBO (NYSE: T) and upcoming Disney+ (NYSE:DIS), it is certain that competition will be intense. Netflix’s stock has been dropping since July, which was the first time the number of subscribers fell. Moreover, Netflix’s stock price has now officially wiped out any gains it’s made over the year so far and both Disney and Apple have a shot at beating Netflix at its own game.

Apple is still facing impending import duties and innovation difficulties

Let’s not forget that the company still faces import duties scheduled for Dec. 15 that could affect nearly all of its major products including iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and Apple Watches. And more importantly, it is thought by many as facing an innovation problem so it heavily relies on customer loyalty that will continue driving its sales. We’ll just have to wait for November 1st launch of Apple TV+ to see the impact of Apple’s new streaming subscription service.

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