Staples (SPLS) announced on Sept. 25 that it plans to close 45 locations in Europe and accelerate the closing of 15 stores in the U.S. as part of a plan to save about $250 million a year. Sales at the largest office supplies chain in the U.S. have fallen in the last two quarters as use of traditional office products, such as pens and folders, declines. Staples has also been hurt by the recession in Europe, high unemployment in the U.S., and a shift toward online purchasing for office supplies. The company operates 1,583 stores in the U.S. and 331 in Europe and is the world’s second-largest online retailer after Amazon.com (AMZN). It plans to use the savings to invest more in online operations.
General Electric: Burrowing deeper into mining
After bulking up its energy portfolio with $11 billion in acquisitions during a six-month run that ended in March 2011, General Electric (GE) is planning to spend big on mining equipment and services companies. The company announced the creation of a new mining unit at an industry conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 24 and said it’s targeting $5 billion in sales within a few years. GE generated about $2 billion in revenue last year from mining. CEO Jeffrey Immelt is betting on rising demand for commodities from copper to coal even as the Chinese economy slows.
Apple: Record phone sales still disappoint
Apple (AAPL) sold 5 million iPhone 5s in three days after the handset’s debut on Sept. 21. The tally surpassed the record set last year by the previous iPhone model. Demand outstripped supply as Apple struggled with shortfalls among some component makers, including LG Display and Japan Display, who make the phone’s new thinner, lighter touchscreen. Apple said it’s working to catch up. Figures lagged behind some analyst estimates, which forecast that as many as 6.5 million phones would be sold over the debut weekend.
NFL: A blown call draws heat
A missed call on the final play of the Monday night game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers on Sept. 24 brought new pressure on the National Football League to end a lockout of union officials that began in June. “I’ve been saying for months we’ve got to get our refs back,” President Obama said the next day. Replacement officials have worked the first three weeks of the season. The two sides have clashed over pension benefits amounting to less than 1 percent of the league’s $9.3 billion in annual revenue.
Tesla: Carmaker trims forecasts
Billionaire Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla (TSLA) cut its revenue outlook because of parts shortages and other delays in production of its Model S sedan. The company said on Sept. 25 it expects to generate full-year revenue of $400 million to $440 million, down from $560 million to $600 million. Tesla also disclosed that the U.S. Department of Energy has asked for a speedier repayment plan on $465 million in loans issued in 2010. Tesla said it’s been given until Oct. 31 to submit a plan for early repayment of loan principal.