What's Important in the Financial World (9/17/2012)


Record iPhone 5 Preorders

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) claims the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone 5 set a presale order record, supporting news over the weekend that even Apple itself is sold out. The news confirms a trend. Apple products are almost always sold out ahead of release. Apple is either poor at inventory control or likes to build demand by creating a scarcity that gives the products a wave of media coverage after the one triggered by the original product launch. So far, there is no similar news from Verizon Wireless or Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S), but there is bound to be today. The iPhone 5 should meet expectations, based on these sales, if it does not exceed them.

Bickering EU Finance Ministers

The bickering over the structure that banks and sovereign bailouts should take continues among Europe's leaders. As a meeting of the finance ministers of the region ended, two critical issues remain unresolved. The first is whether the European Central Bank should be the regulator of the entire banking industry among all members. Germany opposes the idea. That is no surprise, since its banks have, in most cases, the strongest balance sheets among those in Europe. Spain, on the other hand, has practically begged for a central financial services authority. To avoid a massive a national bailout, it would need to get direct aid for its banks, which the ECB might be able to offer if it has the wide regulatory powers suggested. Also, the core issue of how bailouts of sovereigns should work remains unresolved. Spain could be next in line for hundreds of billions of dollars. Germany has continued to press for relatively strict supervision of any new budget plans the Spanish government agrees to. Spain, on the other hand, wants to be essentially taken at its word that it can set austerity measures and effectively enforce them with outside observation, but nothing more.

HP Revival Plans

Meg Whitman's plans to revive Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) have become audacious. Various media report that she believes a more attractively designed family of PCs will bring back customers who have deserted to the Mac or to portable wireless devices. HP's new line would get individual consumers and businesses to come back to laptops and desktops. Or, perhaps she believes HP can take significant share from Dell Inc. (NASDAQ: DELL), Lenovo and Acer. In an interview with Fox Business, Whitman also said HP will reenter the smartphone business. For some reason, she thinks that HP can best products from Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and a cast of smaller smartphone companies, which usually have products that run on Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android OS. HP would have to rely on its widely known brand name to pull off a successful launch. But that brand has been badly tarnished.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Economy Tagged: AAPL, DELL, GOOG, HPQ, NOK, S, T