Food concession company Aramark is expected to launch its roadshow next week, as it prepares for what could be a $1 billion initial public offering. The purveyor of hot dogs in stadiums and on college campuses is heavily leveraged and some wonder if it is really a billion dollar business.
University of Florida finance professor Jay Ritter doesn't know if he’s ever eaten an Aramark hot dog. But if he did, it was probably at the stadium where the Gators play football.
"I’m sure I have although," he adds. "I’m more focused on the game than who owns the concession stand."
Ritter is an IPO specialist. He says, while Aramark’s hot dogs may not be memorable, what’s noteworthy is that it’s one of only a few companies to go public three times.
"There have been three other companies that have gone public, then gone private, gone public, gone private and then gone public again," Ritter says.
One reason Aramark is going public this time is debt -- the company is carrying nearly $6 billion.
Which, according to supermarket guru Phil Lambert, "It’s larger than probably it should be."
Debt is one of the company's problems, but, Lambert says, another more entrenched issue for Aramark is that people are eating out less and skipping the concession stand altogether.
"People just aren't willing to spend that $10 for a hot dog anymore," he says.
Today's a day to share, so that's why I want to share this moment: Two girls are on a city street, trying to figure out who's going to be friends with the nastiest person they can think of. Not an easy problem, but they solve it. Gorgeously.
Millions of people will head to the movies this weekend. It's one of the biggest opportunities for blockbusters and movie studios to rake it in. But it's also a time when some people will try to bootleg new movies. With good cameras and audio equipment becoming smaller and more powerful all the time, the issue is becoming an even larger concern for the film industry.
A new company called PirateEye is helping the situation by installing a technology that uses lasers and sensors to find camera lenses in the audience and alert the theater. Brian Dunn, CEO of PirateEye, says the technology originated for use in the military to detect snipers, but his company adapted it for use in movie theaters. He tells Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson of one example of catching somebody real-time in a theater in the Bronx trying to bootleg a movie.
"A guy showed up at Friday at 11 o'clock for the first show and pulled out his camera and we captured the evidence and New York City police arrested him."
Dunn says the company is testing other practical applications of PirateEye beyond catching bootleggers, such as using the technology for testing audience reactions, demographic analysis, and developing applications to make pre-show advertising more relevant.
Brian Dunn, CEO of PirateEye, spoke with Marketplace Tech Ben Johnson. Click on the audio player above to hear more.
When it comes to this week's holiday shopping plans, we seem to be looking at another Year of the Tablet. But that isn't the only shopping trend this year centered around gadgets. Smart devices like Wi-Fi capable smoke detectors and home-locking systems that talk to your smartphone are popping up everywhere.
Lindsey Turrentine, CNET editor-in-chief, says these not-so-essential stocking stuffers may be seem frivolous, but they are easy to use and can help get even the least tech-savvy person more connected with gadgets.
Lindsey Turrentine, CNET editor-in-chief, spoke with Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson. Click on the audio player above to hear the full interview.
Terry Gibbons is a nurse who's worked many a Thanksgiving caring for patients. Then, to allow more time to help with her elderly mother, she took at job a big department store chain near her home in Rochester, Minnesota. She thought it would be alright since we would get Thanksgiving off at least. She even invited guests for the big meal at her home. But, unfortunately for Gibbons, retail needs got in the way.
"I was signed up for a shift that I was not available for," she says. "The one and only day I will have my entire family."
But not everyone is unhappy about working on Thanksgiving. Phyllis Concorda from North Wildwood, New Jersey will also be working on Turkey Day.
"I for one in this economy am happy to be working on Thanksgiving," says Concorda. "Some of us, not all of us, who are working get holiday pay, so for those of us who don't have any entertaining to do," she says "it's a great opportunity for many of us to make this extra money."
Terry Gibbons and Phyllis Concorda spoke with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio. Click on the audio player above to hear the full interview.
It's supposed to be a time of thanks, not regrets. But if you had bought all the stocks listed in Japan's Nikkei Index last Thanksgiving, the return by this morning would have been 71 percent.
Today the key index in Tokyo went up another 1.8 percent to get very close to a six year high. Some of this was optimism projected from New York where the S&P 500 hit a record high of 1808 yesterday.
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes says all the easy money as a result of quantitative easing in the country has been pushing down the value of the yen.
"A weaker yen means bigger profits for Japanese companies, cheaper products for Japanese exports, and so that has boosted confidence the Japanese economy is going to continue improving and that profits are going to increase again next year as they have this year."
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes spoke with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio. Click on the audio above to hear the full interview.
Bad weather leading up to today’s Thanksgiving holiday has been snarling travel at one of the busiest times of the year for the country’s airports, but many of them have come a long way toward making our time in the terminals a lot less stressful.
"There's more awareness of that passenger experience," says Julia Bradley Rayfield, a senior designer with Gresham Smith & partners whose specialty is airports and other "high-abuse" interiors. "There’s been a realization, I think, that there was revenue there if people spent a little more time in the airport and enjoyed themselves while they were there."
A report from the Global Gateway Alliance says 80 percent of the country’s major airports have spas and museums and about a third have nap rooms. More local restaurants are popping up in terminals to compliment other forms of local flavor, including live music at Nashville International or the putting green at the airport in Palm Beach.
One driving force is that federal funds for airport maintenance are strained, according to Chris Oswald with the Airports Council International.
"Airports themselves are finding themselves under a lot of pressure to find ways to diversify their revenue streams and make themselves as successful a business entity as they can," he explains.
Oswald's favorite new feature is usually free -- he says the airport observation deck is making a comeback.
Millions are expected to shop this Thanksgiving weekend, but not everyone has big screen TVs and tablets on their shopping list. Hannah Trafton, a college junior in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has more practical items in mind.
"A Tupperware set, a hand mixer, a vacuum, new sheets for my bed, towels, a rug..."
Trafton geared up for Black Friday with detailed lists and a plan of attack of which stores she's planning to go to and at what time.
"My parents think I am being ridiculous," she says. But as a former retail employee, she says she knows the benefit of shopping this weekend.
"Right now I can take a little bit of my check and get a lot more, than taking that same amount and going to the store right before Christmas."
Hanna Trafton spoke with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.
A U.S. bankruptcy judge has cleared the way for a merger between U.S. Airways and American Airlines’ parent company, AMR. The ruling Wednesday okayed an anti-trust settlement with the Department of Justice. The merger is part of American’s plan to get out of bankruptcy after two years and repay creditors. The corporate deal will result in the world’s biggest airline.
It may be the last U.S. airline merger in a long time. The industry has now whittled itself down to four carriers that will dominate about 80 percent of the domestic market -- Southwest, United, Delta and the new "American Airlines Group." Mike Boyd, president of the consulting firm Boyd Group International, says after a decade of intense consolidation, he expects the industry to enjoy a little stability.
"The crazy people are gone," he says. "Fuel prices, they’re high, but they’re stabilized. There’s not a lot of excess capacity coming online. So the airline industry, financially, has a pretty healthy future."
So what should passengers expect? Higher prices, according to some analysts. However, Darryl Jenkins, chairman of the American Aviation Institute, insists that won’t be due to fewer airlines.
"I think this is one of the great myths that consolidation in and of itself will force ticket prices up," Jenkins says. "What’s more likely is if we see the price of jet fuel going up again, that will have a tremendous effect."
Also, expect a few glitches, technical and otherwise, as American and U.S. Airways merge. Jenkins says there are hundreds of thousands of decisions and changes to be made when two big airlines marry. There are bound to be some problems.
When America West took over U.S. Airways in 2005, for example, the online reservations system and check-in kiosks malfunctioned. Customers got angry. Adam Pilarski, senior vice president at the consulting firm Avitas, says that was "a textbook example of how not to do it."
If the American-U.S. Airways merger suffers too many problems that adversely affect business, Pilarski says, that could invite rivals to pounce. "If the competitors sense blood in the water, if they sense that the new airline is not doing well, they may try to gain market share, they may try to enter new markets," he says. "They may perceive them as being weak and this is the time to strike."
The two airlines are expected to officially merge on Dec. 9. Shares of the new company will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AAL.
When NPR's Renee Montagne thinks of her longtime producer Jim Wildman, she goes back a few years to their reporting adventures in Afghanistan. The two took five trips there from 2006 to 2011. Wildman will soon leave NPR, and in this National Day of Listening conversation, he says farewell to his friend and colleague.
New York has a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas, but the region is still benefiting from the drilling boom next door in Pennsylvania. A new pipeline is bringing gas into New York City, pushing down prices and improving the air quality as buildings convert from oil to gas furnaces.
The baseball season is just getting started in Cuba, the first since Communist authorities lifted a half-century-old ban on players' signing professional contracts in other countries. But fans are confident top players will come back home eventually — and that the island has enough talent to go around.
For a class project, three engineering students at Rice University devised an inexpensive robotic arm to help a teenager with an uncommon bone disease. The work took two years to complete, far longer than the class that was its starting point.
Space will serve up a banquet of activities on Thanksgiving, featuring a comet kissing the sun, a zero-gravity freeze-dried feast in orbit and a rocket launch attempt.
As anti-government protests entered a fifth day, Yingluck Shinawatra survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament by a vote of 297 to 134.
Snoopy, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu and 12 other massive balloons will fly in the iconic Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York police say. Forecasts had called for high winds close to the maximum that New York City will allow for the balloons to fly over the parade route.
"You know when you put something in the bin, and in your head, say to yourself 'that's a bad idea'? I really did have that," James Howells says. And boy, was his intuition right: Howells tossed a hard drive that held millions of dollars' worth of Bitcoins, the currency whose value has skyrocketed this year.
We’re coming up on two months since the government started signing folks up for the new Obamacare health exchanges, and let’s just say it hasn’t been the smoothest rollout in American history. If you look back a bit, there are a few times the government has pretty successfully managed to enroll a huge number of people. Like Social Security, and Medicare. So what’s so different this time?
First of all, and most obviously, this time it’s all about the website. In the fall of 1936, when the government wanted to get everybody over 65 to sign up for Social Security, the only way to connect with them was the Postal Service.
Then, they invented a whole new system to identify all of us – the social security number. Everyone’s information was stored in a cavernous warehouse in Baltimore.
“They had, you know, millions and millions of pieces of paper and numbers to keep track of, but they had people to do it, they had enough expertise to do it,” says Ed Berkowitz is a history professor George Washington University. “I don’t think we quite have that luxury today in terms of manpower because the government is very constrained in its operations.”
Also, it was easier to identify everyone who was over 65. With healthcare today, it’s tricky to figure out which Americans don’t have insurance. For Social Security, you didn’t get a choice – it was law and you had to sign up. 30 years later, signing people up for Medicare was a little more complicated. But still way simpler than Obamacare is. Ted Marmor is an emeritus professor at Yale who was part of the government team that rolled out Medicare.
“It’s easy to make the case to an older American in 1966, ‘you know what, you’ve got hospital insurance now that you’ve already paid for,’” says Marmor. “And this is going to be done under the auspices of the Social Security Administration, in which there was considerable public trust.”
The Social Security Administration used the whole apparatus they’d built over the previous 30 years to construct the new Medicare program. There were leaders who were experienced, everybody knew what their job was, and Marmor says there was a clear chain of command.
“Now just contrast that with the apparatus since March of 2010 and now. Do you have any comparable sense of that?” asks Marmor. “No, you don’t because it isn’t here.”
During the Medicare rollout, there were Social Security offices all over the country that people could just walk into and ask a question. We actually do have something like that today. Problem is, there’s just two. And they’re both in Connecticut.
Officials at the Connecticut healthcare exchange say the enrollment centers in New Haven and New Britain are the only storefront locations in the country specifically for helping people enroll in Obamacare. Sure, around the country there are navigators and application counselors. You can call them up or find them at health fairs. But Ted Marmor says it’s not the same as having a well established location in every town, like the Social Security offices back in the day.
For Jermaine Monk, who came to sign up at the New Haven enrollment center, the hardest part was creating a password that had enough numbers and symbols to satisfy the state’s website.
“I think it worked fine,” says Monk. “It actually didn’t take as long as I thought. I thought it would take maybe four hours or something.”
Of course, it’s not as easy other places, especially in states that aren’t as on board with the whole exchange thing. Jonathan Oberlander, who’s a health policy professor UNC Chapel Hill, says that’s a key difference between the Obamacare rollout and the big ones of yesteryear. Social Security and Medicare were federal programs through and through.
“And one of the Achilles Heels in Obamacare is that its success depends on the cooperation of states that want the law to fail,” says Oberlander.
He says as much as the current rollout has been bungled, when you compare it to Social Security and Medicare, this one was just a lot harder from the beginning.
Concerned by China's move to assert itself in an area claimed by Japan, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel spoke with his Japanese counterpart Wednesday. China's military says it monitored Tuesday's flight by U.S. bombers through an air defense zone outlined by China this week.
Helaine Olen says:
"Coming out against financial literacy is like coming out against apple pie. What on earth could be wrong about learning about your finances, right? But in fact, what I learned when I looked at it very carefully, that financially literacy had simply become a very personal way of attempting to solve what is essentially an economic and polical problem. Which is that the financial marketplace has become extremely complicated in the last 30-40 years. And at the same time, our ability to keep up financially has fallen behind, with income stagnantion and inequality"
"I think these efforts are helpful, but I think they miss the bigger point, and the bigger point is this: We've been thrown out there, almost defenseless, and we're being told, 'you can master all of this.' And some people can, but many can't, and many can't because of things that aren't their fault. We need to look at the financial structure"
Dan Kadlec says:
"Long-term, I think people need to be able to fend for themselves. This notion of 'just-in-time' education sounds nice, but it's really more problematic than teaching financial education. The time to learn about mortgages isn't when you're sitting down to sign the document, that would be just-in-time. The time is when you start thinking about buying a house, so that you know what houses you should even be looking at. The long-term solution: Start [teaching financial literacy] in Kindergarten, make it mandatory through 12th grade. Teach it as either part of other courses or as a standalone course, but teach it every year and build year after year as you do with any other subject."
What do you think? Leave a comment or vote!