What’s Important in the Financial World (10/26/2012)

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Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy continues to move toward the East Coast, where it may combine with a front from the west, and has generated all sort of hyperbole. Hopefully, most of it is not true. The region has been hit by several hurricanes in the past decade, none of which did catastrophic damage. As is true with all storms, Sandy could wobble more out to sea than head into the Mid-Atlantic, New York or New England. But the press descriptions of what is likely to happen may trigger some mild panic. According to Bloomberg:

Hurricane Sandy will probably grow into a “Frankenstorm” that may become the worst to hit the U.S. Northeast in 100 years if current forecasts are correct.

Sandy may combine with a second storm coming out of the Midwest to create a system that would rival the New England Hurricane of 1938 in intensity, said Paul Kocin, a National Weather Service meteorologist in College Park, Maryland

IPad Mini Sold Out

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) already has run short of iPad minis. Advanced orders apparently wiped out inventory. According to CNET:

Four minutes into the day, Apple started accepting online orders for the iPad Mini, with initial promises to deliver the smaller, lighter, and less expensive tablet on November 2 soon turning into a promise to ship it in two weeks for some models.

Apple has played the supply and demand game too long, or its inventory management is atrocious. Neither is a good sign for the management of the huge consumer electronics company. One school of thought is that Apple keeps access to new products restricted so that consumers and the press believe that demand is off the charts. Another argument is that Apple consistently errs on the side of caution and underorders, based on a belief that demand for new products will be little more than modest.

Magazines in Distress

With the shuttering of Newsweek’s print edition, the attention of the media world has turned to other magazines with such severe print problems that they also will have to move entirely online. MIN is out with its monthly figures for the year through November, and several magazines are in substantial distress. Martha Stewart Living, owned by Martha Steward Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO), posted a drop of 29% year to date. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ad pages are down 23%. Rival Smart Money already has closed its print operation. Ad pages at Shape are down 24%. At National Geographic, pages are down 20% for the first eleven months, but it has a rich parent. So does Redbook, which posted a drop of 20% as well. The year generally has been a bad one for monthly magazines, and some will not make it into next year.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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