5 Most Important Things in Business Today

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) crushed earnings expectations as the stock rose to an all-time high after hours. According to MarketWatch;

Amazon.com Inc. has been known for years as a company that brings in a lot of money, and sends it back out the other way just as fast.

That is why Thursday’s earnings report was especially surprising, as it showed a whopping $2.5 billion in quarterly profit for a company that had never produced as much as $2 billion in earnings in a single quarter before. When asked on a conference call by surprised investment analysts, who were predicting about half as much profit from the e-commerce giant, where all that money came from, Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky summed it up pretty easily: Less spending, especially on new hires, and more ad sales.

The founder of Papa John’s International Inc. (NASDAQ: PZZA) brought legal action against the company. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Papa John’s International Inc.’s founder John Schnatter is taking his first legal action against the pizza chain since relations with his board of directors began crumbling months ago.

Mr. Schnatter, who owns 29% of Papa John’s and is a director, filed a complaint against Papa John’s in a Delaware court on Thursday alleging that the company failed to disclose documents he requested related to his resignation as chairman.

The head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NASDAQ: FCAU) was sick for some time before he died. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Sergio Marchionne had a “serious illness” lasting more than a year before the longtime Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV chief died this week, a Swiss hospital said Thursday, a condition the car maker said it didn’t know about.

FCA’s statement came after University Hospital Zurich disclosed that Mr. Marchionne had received recurring treatment at its facility. The Italian-American auto maker cited medical privacy as the reason why it had “no knowledge of the facts relating to Mr. Marchionne’s health.”

Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) announced strong earnings and had more good news for investors. According to CNBC:

Starbucks is raising its dividend and increasing its share buyback program to return $10 billion more to shareholders by 2020 than previously promised, CEO Kevin Johnson told analysts on a conference call Thursday.

In November, the company announced it would return $15 billion to shareholders through buybacks and dividends through fiscal year 2020

CNNMoney editors commented on Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) lack of focus:

Ford says it’s going to spend $11 billion on a plan to revitalize its business. There’s a big problem, though: Ford won’t say what the plan is.

To say some Wall Street analysts were peeved would be putting it politely.