13 posts categorized "Consumer electronics"


Motorola Mobility teams with Texas A&M and seven other U.S. schools

Motorola Mobility, which on May 29 announced plans to employ 2,000 people to build a smartphone at an Alliance development facility in north Fort Worth, says it is collaborating with eight U.S. universities in an effort to streamline new joint research projects and boost cooperation. Texas A&M is the only Texas school in the group, which also includes Stanford and MIT. The company will participate in the consortium through its  Advanced Technology And Projects group. Motorola Mobility, a Google company, said the Multi-University Research Agreement will let  ATAP and the schools to engage in research projects "in less than 30 days, rather than the several months that traditional sponsored research agreements can often take to establish."

-- Jim Fuquay


GameStop shares jump despite big third-quarter loss

Grapevine-based GameStop reported a big loss for the third quarter after taking $679 million in write-downs, but also said it expects the holiday season to produce slightly better profits than analysts are predicting for the fourth quarter. GameStop’s shares (ticker: GME) were up more than 4 percent in early trading on the news.

The world’s biggest video-game retailer said third-quarter sales were off 8.9 percent in the third quarter, to $1.77 billion, compared to a year earlier. It blamed the drop on an unusually strong 2011 third quarter that saw the introduction of “major new software titles.” Its net loss for the quarter was $624 million after the non-cash write-downs, which included $627 million in goodwill and $52 million in asset impairments. The company said the actions were based on a decline in its share price in the second quarter and on its international operations. Not counting the write-downs, GameStop earned $47 million in the quarter, or 38 cents a share, which topped Wall Street estimates by 2 cents.

It said that despite a “tough video-game market,” it expects to earn between $2.07 to $2.27 a share in the fourth quarter. The midpoint of that range, $2.17, is 1 cent above the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg News. A wild card is the scheduled Sunday release of Nintendo Co.’s new Wii U, the slumping video-game industry’s first new home console in six years.

-- Jim Fuquay


Motorola Mobility to cut 57 jobs at Fort Worth Alliance operation

Motorola Mobility, the cellphone maker that last week announced plans to cut 4,000 of its 20,000 employees, told the state it will lay off 57 workers at its facility in the Alliance area at 5300 Westport Pkwy. Company representatives were not immediately available to address the status of the local operation, which years ago had as many as 1,500 workers but which has wound down since then. Motorola was acquired by Google a year ago. According to Motorola's filing with the state, the layoffs are mostly permanent and will begin on or about Aug. 31. It also said it is possible that the number of employees cut could be smaller "because of alternative employment opportunities with Motorola Mobility." Laidoff workers will receive severance benefits, it said.

-- Jim Fuquay 


Arlington Cracker Barrel gets electric vehicle charging station

Electric vehicle owners can now recharge both their car and their own batteries at an Arlington Cracker Barrel restaurant.

NRG Energy took the wraps off of four new electric vehicle charging stations in the Dallas-fort Worth area Tuesday, including one at the Cracker Barrel located at 1251 North Watson Road, adjacent to Texas 360 in north Arlington.

Officials of NRG and Cracker Barrel caravanned in electric-powered cars from one site to another to mark the opening of the "eVgocharging stations. Each of the stations, which are available for use only to NRG customers, has a 240 volt charging outlet and a DC charging outlet. The latter "pumps" 350 volts of electricity directly into the battery of compatible vehicles and a 15 minute charge is good for about 50 miles of driving range.

NRG now has six charging stations installed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, with plans for at least 70. It has installed 11 of a planned 50 in the Houston market.

Customer usage of the charging facilities is picking up a bit faster than expected, said Arun Banskota, president of NRG EV Services division. "We've got people that use them quite a lot, depending on their commute."

Only about 18,000 electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2011, but Banskota said that compares favorably with the 6,000 annual sales rate that hybrids like the Toyota Prius enjoyed the first few years in the market.

Banskota said new studies show that while electric cars have high price tags their operating costs are much lower than conventional gasoline and diesel engine powered vehicles.

The other NRG charging stations opened Tuesday are at Cracker Barrel locations in Burleson, DeSoto and Mesquite.

For information on NRG's eVgo network and charging plans go the company's website.

- Bob Cox




RadioShack posts $11.9 million fourth-quarter profit

RadioShack is out this morning with its fourth-quarter results. They're off sharply, as the company forecast Jan. 30.

- Scott Nishimura


RadioShack introduces low-price guarantee on mobile phones

RadioShack, pushing further into wireless, on Wednesday rolled out a new price match guarantee on new mobile phones.

Customers can present a print ad from a newspaper or circular featuring a lower price on an identical phone to one RadioShack is selling. The RadioShack store employee will “validate the offer and match the lower price,” the Fort Worth company said.

Customers who already bought a new phone and then find a lower advertised price camn present the ad at a RadioShack store up to 30 days after purchase. The store employee will refund the difference, RadioShack said.

 The price guarantee doesn’t include online offers and doesn’t apply to advertised prices for unactivated handsets.

 “In a fast-changing and increasingly complex mobility marketplace, it is vitally important for consumers to have the assurance that they have made the right choice,” said Scott Young, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer for RadioShack.

 RadioShack has been aggressively expanding its mobile business, recently taking on Verizon products and rolling out kiosks at Target stores. Lower margin handsets, however, have been hurting profits. RadioShack shares took a dive earlier this week, after the company said its latest profits would come in sharply lower than expected. The company has asserted it intends to be a price leader in the mobile business.

RadioShack shares, off 30 percent Tuesday, closed up 9 cents to $7.27 Wednesday on the New York
Stock Exchange.

- Scott Nishimura


RadioShack shares down sharply on weak outlook

When RadioShack announced late Monday that it didn't earn nearly as much as expected in last year's fourth quarter (and that 2012 wasn't looking so hot, either), investors pummeled the electronics retailer's shares in after-hours trading. And with additional time overnight to ponder the Fort Worth-based company's disclosure, investors pounded the stock (ticker: RSH) even worse when regular trading opened today. The shares were down nearly 30 percent by late morning.

For our full report, click here.

-- Jim Fuquay


RadioShack shares plunge on preliminary earnings

Fort Worth-based electronics retailer RadioShack said Monday it expects to earn between 11 and 13 cents a share, a fraction of the 37 cents Wall Street was expecting for the fourth quarter and the 51 cents a share it reported a year earlier. The news was disclosed just after the close of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange, but the company's shares (ticker: RSH) were down about 18 percent in after-hours trading. RadioShack said it will report its final earnings on Feb. 21.

In its preliminary earnings statement, RadioShack said it expects revenues to rise about 6 percent to %$1.39 billion, with sales up 2 percent at stores open at least a year, an important performance measure for retailers. But its gross profit margin slipped tp 35 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to 41 percent a year earlier. It said the narrower margin reflected a sales shift to lower-margin smartphones and mobile devices, a more promotional holiday selling season and more mobility sales due to its growth of operations in Target stores.  Overall, the results "are due in large part to the underperformance of the Spring postpaid wireless business and reflect further unanticipated changes in Sprint's custom and credit models," RadioShack said.

CEO Jim Gooch said RadioShack expects 2012 net profit to be down from 2011, especially in the first quarter. He said the company also suspended share buybacks for the near term but will continue to pay a quarterly dividend.

-- Jim Fuquay


RadioShack offers limited trade-in deal for customers buying new iPhone 4s

Today's worldwide rollout day for the new Apple 4GS smartphone.

RadioShack, one of the retailers looking to cash in, is offering a limited-time trade-in program, taking certain old iPhones for customers buying the new ones.

Here's how it works: Beginning today, RadioShack is offering special, "guaranteed trade-in amounts" for iPhone 3GS and 4 phones for customers pre-ordering the 4S 16GB and 32GB from AT&T and Verizon.

Trade your 3GS 32GB in "working condition" and receive a guaranteed $125, RadioShack says.

Trade your iPhone 4 16GB or 32GB in working condition and receive a guaranteed $200.

Trade your iPhone 4 16GB or 32GB "broken or not working condition" and receive a guaranteed $75.

The offer ends Sunday Oct. 16.

RadioShack is offeirng various other smartphone trade incentives against the 4S.

- Scott Nishimura


Ranking Texas' biggest economic events in 50 years

Economist Ray Perryman this morning at a Fort Worth meeting of economic development officials offered his version of a Top 10 list: the state's most influential events since 1961. Perryman is a Texas native whose professional life has revolved around regional economics and forecasting, so he's probably as qualified as any to expound on the topic. Perryman divided the selections into 10 major categories, then decided on the most significant development within each. Here are his picks, with his own caveat that such a ranking leaves plenty of room for discussion. (That's what that "Comments" button is for, folks.)

1. Democraphics/sociological -- Air conditioning. Without AC, you don't have people relocating to the South, or moving to the suburbs and spending all that time driving into work.

2. Energy/natural resources -- The 1973-74 OPEC oil embargo, which pushed crude oil prices from $3 in the 1960s to $35  in the 1970s. As Perryman put it, "When the thing you sell the most increases in price by 1,200 percent, that's good."

3. Defense/aerospace -- Texas defense contractors landed plenty of big contracts during the Vietnam War, such as Bell Helicopter's Huey and General Dynamics' F-111. But the selection in 1961 of Houston by NASA as home of the manned spacecraft center tops the rest. When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, "Houston was the center of the world," he says.

4. Transportation -- Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Interstate highways are important, but the airport allowed the area to advance its position as the center of commerce and finance in the Southwest.

5. Tourism and culture -- TV's "Dallas?" The movies' "Urban Cowboy?" Willie Nelson and the Texas music outlaws? All good stuff. But Perryman picks the Astrodome's completion in 1965. Architects still vote it one of the most recognized structures in the world, he says.

6. Laws and regulations -- This one gets a little wonky. The move to branch banking in the 1980s and tort reform in the 1990s were major, but Perryman gives the nod to a state constitutional amendment in 1989 that declared economic development "a public purpose" that qualifies for public dollars, paving the way for city sales taxes for economic development.

7. Electronics -- Austin is the state's silicon center, and it started with two research consortiums: the Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corp. (MCC) in 1983, and the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology (Sematech) in 1987. They marked a change in attitude in state leaders from depending on petroleum to pushing new technology as an economic driver.

8. Healthcare and biomedical -- The heart advances of Drs. Michael DeBakey (first coronary bypass) and Denton Cooley (first artificial heart) established the reputational foundation for the Houston's huge Texas Medical Center complex.

9. Corporate relocation and recruitment -- Alliance Airport. Perry says that in 1987 Ross Perot Jr. invited him for a helicopter ride above the north Fort Worth prairie, pointed to Interstate 35 and a major Santa Fe Railroad line, then asked: "What if we put an airport right here?" 

10. Globalization -- Texas had few exports in 1960, but now ranks No. 1, accounting for 14 pecent of all U.S. exports. A big reason: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Texas' trade just with Mexico is bigger than the total trade of most of the world's nations, Perryman says.

-- Jim Fuquay


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