National / International News
Michel Martin heads to Detroit for a live conversation with some of the creative forces fueling the Motor City's economy. She'll ask what's driving Detroit's future now?
Disneyland in California turns 60 this summer, and it's kicking off festivities with a big party this weekend. Revelers can stay overnight at Disney's theme parks in California and Florida.
But Disney, the media company, has more than a birthday to celebrate. A couple of weeks ago it reported second quarter profits that beat expectations—led by its theme parks and the film Frozen.
How can a film from two years ago still be a profit maker for the company?
"We're a company with a very long tail," explained Disney CFO Jay Rasulo at a media industry conference last week.
That long tail refers to the various merchandizing, theme park attractions, and other efforts that can generate cash from popular films and Disney characters long after they last appeared on the big screen.
Disney's consumer product sales brought in almost a billion dollars last quarter.
"We really look at every aspect of our uniquely linked-together ecosystem," Rasulo said at the conference.
This is the Disney way of doing things, according to Marty Sklar, a longtime company executive who worked with Walt Disney when the first theme park opened.
"It really goes back to things that Walt did in merchandizing Mickey Mouse ... as early as the '30s," says Sklar. "So that is a pattern that was long ago established."
Sklar says even Disneyland attractions like Tomorrowland and Frontierland were prompted from content out of Disney's studio.
Clothing retailer Gap Inc. reports first-quarter results on Thursday. Revenue in 2014 totaled $16.2 billion, up 3.2 percent from the previous year. For the last four quarters, profit has gone up year-over-year by an average of 4 percent. But there's an interesting fragmentation within parent company Gap Inc. Last fiscal year, store sales fell 5 percent at Gap stores; Banana Republic's sales were also unimpressive. But at Old Navy, sales went up 5 percent.
Old Navy started out as a place where the whole family could pick up cheap fleece jackets and tank tops.
"They really weren't known very much for being fashion forward," says Jane Thomas, marketing professor at Winthrop University.
Other retailers, like H&M and Forever 21, started grabbing young shoppers. But then Gap Inc. hired the executive who led H&M's expansion into the U.S., Stefan Larsson, and asked him to revamp Old Navy.
"It's brilliant strategy," Thomas says.
Now, plain T-shirts and khakis are bold prints and crinkle-gauze tops. Mark Cohen, head of retail studies at Columbia University's business school, says Old Navy is making its merchandise more interesting and attractive. But the Gap has an identity crisis.
"Is it trading into the teen segment with American Eagle, Abercrombie and Aeropostale, or is it trying to move up market to an older customer? I'm not sure they get it," Cohen says.
If the Gap does get it, he says, it's not making it clear.
That's how much CVS Health Corp will reportedly pay to acquire Omnicare Inc, a pharmaceuticals provider. As Bloomberg reports, pharmaceutical companies are looking for ways to consolidate to take full advantage of the rising demand for pharmacy services.87 percent
That’s the percentage of afflicted chickens in the recent avian flu outbreak that are egg-laying hens, according to the New York Times. And that potentially means big business for a company like Hampton Creek, which sells an egg substitute product. The chief executive of Hampton Creek says eight companies, including General Mills, have been in contact about purchasing supplies. It seems that without planning for the inevitable shortage of the real stuff, these companies might really lay an egg.5 percent
That's how much sales for Old Navy increased last fiscal year. In an effort to shed its reputation as a store for cheap basics, Old Navy hired Stefan Larsson, who helped oversee H&M's expansion stateside. And the numbers show the style makeover has worked. That's good news for parent company Gap Inc., but leaves its sister franchise, The Gap, with an identity crisis—The Gap saw sales fall 5 percent in the same amount of time.60
That's how old Disney will turn this summer. We take a look at how the economic ecosystem of the company works—from parlaying the success of films into merchandising, as well as attractions in one of many theme parks. Frozen, for example, was released two years ago, and the company is still reaping the benefits—its recent second quarter earnings report showed stronger-than-expected numbers.$100 million
That's how much the city of Baltimore was given 20 years ago as part of a program called The Empowerment Zone. Delivered in the form of a block grant and a package of tax credits for businesses and employers, the award went to six cities, with some wiggle room for each to choose how the money could be used. Baltimore chose to focus on job creation in its poorest neighborhoods. Marketplace's Noel King recently took a trip to Baltimore to answer the question: How many jobs does $100 million get you?