Apple CEO mum on dividend hike
Apple's next big thing will likely be a large dividend increase financed by a tax cut on its overseas profits, but the famously secretive company isn't giving any clues about how big it might be.
CEO Tim Cook had an opportunity to address the issue Tuesday at Apple's annual meeting, when a shareholder asked if the iPhone maker might double its current quarterly dividend of 63 cents per share.
Not surprisingly, Cook dodged the question, rising from his seat because he said it suddenly felt "a little hot." He all but guaranteed Apple's board will raise the dividend in April, as it has done each year since the company reinstated the shareholder payments in 2012. But didn't giving any other specifics.
Apple's annual dividend increases have ranged from 8 to 15 percent since the payment was reinstated at a split-adjusted 38 cents per share nearly six years ago.
VW brand sales rise in January
The Volkswagen brand set a global sales record for January with high demand in China and stronger deliveries in the United States.
The German automaker with an assembly plant in Chattanooga posted world sales of 533,500 vehicles, up 7.1 percent over the same month a year ago.
In China, VW's largest single market, the Volkswagen brand delivered 296,900 vehicles, up 9.7 percent.
In the U.S., Volkswagen increased deliveries by 5.2 percent to 24,700 vehicles. Since the brand added family-friendly SUVs to its lineup, such as the Chattanooga-made Atlas, sport utility vehicles' share of total sales has risen to 52 percent, according to the company.
In South America, 37,700 vehicles were handed over to customers, up 16.1 percent, according to VW.
Google global event touts local AMP use
The Johnson Group's use of Google's Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) on a job recruiting website for U.S. Xpress was so successful that Google wants the Chattanooga advertising firm to speak today in Amsterdam.
Chris Luke, the chief technology officer at the Johnson Group, will be one of the keynote speakers during the 2018 AMP Conference sponsored by Google.
AMP technology is typically used by publishers and e-commerce websites to increase web load speeds. The Johnson Group's team was able to use AMP for advertising by creating a unique analytics setup that ensures users are being tracked effectively. As a result, the agency was able to significantly improve the load speeds of the landing page.
"In today's increasingly mobile-first world, brands often struggle with their conversion rates as more and more consumers demand a faster, consistently rich mobile experience," Luke said in a statement. "Google's AMP technology is an absolute game changer for the advertising industry as it provides a design platform that significantly improves page load speed while providing a more dynamic mobile experience — two things that are critical for retaining mobile users on your website and converting them into customers."
Barnes & Noble stores alter staffing rules
Barnes & Noble, which announced a round of layoffs this week, is pointing to new staffing rules that will allow stores to increase or decrease the number of people on the clock depending on need.
The nation's largest book chain said Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the change will lead to annual cost savings of $40 million.
The company insists the staff cuts will not affect customer service.
Barnes & Noble said Monday it was trimming its work force after a weak holiday shopping season. It did not say how many people were being let go.
The New York bookseller, which has struggled to compete with Amazon, said last month sales at established locations slid 6.4 percent during the holidays.