What's Important in the Financial World (11/2/2012)

Europe and the Rest of the World

Economists and business chiefs increasingly say that trouble in Europe is the greatest threat to the world's financial and GDP futures. In addition, political stability in many nations and regions in Europe and the Middle East is in trouble, driven often by turmoil within their business systems. Why bother to state the obvious? For the time being, the United States has escaped a recession, as has Japan, the world's third largest economy as measured by gross domestic product, just behind China. The recovery in the U.S. remains threatened by events tied to the fiscal cliff. The extent of the possible economic drag is anyone's guess. Housing and consumer confidence have come back so strongly that year's end may be only a bump in the American road. The solution to the European problem seems to be to talk it to death. The U.S. has not offered to outright buy sovereign debt of troubled nations there. Neither has China, although it has dropped hints. No other developed nations, including Australia or Canada, have made even a modest gesture. And not one major corporation based in any of these developed countries has offered to move jobs to Europe. Most companies are hardly willing to commit to keeping their current global head counts at present levels. Europe may pull the balance of the world's economy down. And it may be that this will happen because no government or company from outside was willing to throw it a lifeline.

Car of the Year?

Automobile magazine has named its Car of the Year. Unfortunately, it has chosen a vehicle almost no one has bought or will buy, and the car's maker may not even survive the next year. The Tesla Model S is an all-electric car that is faster than almost any other sports car on the road. It sells for more than $78,000. Automobile is the first to admit that "to say there's healthy skepticism regarding Tesla and its new wundercar is an understatement." While the editors of the car enthusiast publication are wildly positive about the speed, software, design, 21st century accessories and battery technology of the Tesla Model S, they leave as a footnote the fact that the company may run out of money. Also that there are few places to charge the car's battery other than at home. The reviewers write:

Want to take the family from Washington, D.C., to New York? No problem. Stop for an hour at one of Tesla's Supercharger stations being installed throughout the country, and you can travel on to Boston.

That is, if Tesla Motor Co.'s (NASDAQ: TSLA) supercharger stations are ever built.

Android Gobbles Market Share

Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android mobile OS is on the march again, gobbling market share from its competition, even Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL). The only thing that might stop Android's spread is a series of patent lawsuits many lawyers believe could be brought by Apple or Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT). Research firm IDC analysts report:

The Android smartphone operating system was found on three out of every four smartphones shipped during the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12). According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, total Android smartphone shipments worldwide reached 136.0 million units, accounting for 75.0% of the 181.1 million smartphones shipped in 3Q12. The 91.5% year-over-year growth was nearly double the overall market growth rate of 46.4%.

While Apple may make the most expensive smartphones, its iOS market share was only 15% in the quarter. Of course, iOS ships on only Apple phones. Android can be found on many, including those built by smartphone juggernaut Samsung. What the IDC report does not show is how many Android-based phones make money. Industry analysts expect that number is close to nil, except for those from Samsung, the profits margins of which are said to be quite small. Better to have little market share and make money than have large market share and lose it.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Market Open Tagged: AAPL, featured, GOOG, MSFT, TSLA