TODAY

– September 19, 2014

Beyond Twitter: The next wave of tech IPOs brews

(AP) — Just as one high-tech breakthrough often paves the way for the next big thing, technology IPOs move in virtuous cycles, too.

Twitter's scintillating stock market debut punctuated a procession of highly anticipated coming-out parties over the past two-and-half years, providing a springboard for a new generation of rapidly growing startups to make the leap to Wall Street.

The next wave of potentially hot IPOs includes trendy services such as AirBnB, Square, Spotify, Dropbox, Uber, Snapchat, Pinterest, Box, Scribd, Flipboard and King.com. Most of their services are tailor made for smartphones and tablets, a crucial characteristic that helped feed the rabid demand for Twitter's stock in its initial public offering last week.

Despite the short-messaging service's unprofitable history, Twitter is now worth about $29 billion — a valuation that has enriched its founders, employees and early investors.

"Twitter just made it clear that the IPO window is open and a lot of success can be had," says Ira Rosner, an attorney and shareholder for Greenberg Traurig, a law firm that helps prepare companies for IPOs.

Other startups —and the venture capitalists who provide them with rounds of funding— will be angling for similar windfalls by filing their own plans to go public over the next two years, Rosner believes.

"There is no question that a successful offering encourages other offerings," he says. "It gets people excited and it creates buzz."

Even before Twitter's IPO, good vibes were rippling through the stock market as the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 indexes repeatedly set new highs. The fertile conditions have produced 199 IPOs in the U.S. this year, according to the research firm Renaissance Capital. At the current pace, 2013 is on track to be the biggest year for IPOs in a decade.

Sentiment among venture capitalists is also strong — the highest since 2007 according to a survey by Mark Cannice, a University of San Francisco professor of entrepreneurship who polls Silicon Valley financiers every three months.

The companies generating the most interest from venture capitalists include Uber, the provider of on-demand car services that received $258 million so far this year and Pinterest, which nabbed $425 million. Pinterest's latest round of financing, for $225 million, valued the popular online pinboard service at nearly $4 billion. The San Francisco company just recently began trying to generate revenue, which means it could be several years before it becomes profitable. Snapchat, meanwhile, recently turned down a $3 billion buyout offer from Facebook, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous people briefed on the matter. The report also said China's Tencent Holdings had offered to invest in the company at a $4 billion valuation. A Snapchat representative did not immediately return a message for comment Wednesday.

"The market is signaling that it is very receptive again to these young, high-growth social media Internet companies," says Tim Loughran, finance professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Twitter's successful IPO even proved that it's irrelevant whether companies are profitable, he says.

A string of IPOs that began with the May 2011 debut of professional network LinkedIn Corp. helped fuel investors' interest in rapidly growing Internet companies. Other online services with large audiences followed LinkedIn into the public stock market, including online review site Yelp Inc., Internet radio station Pandora Media Inc., daily deal maker Groupon Inc., online game maker Zynga Inc. and social networking leader Facebook Inc.

Groupon and Zynga have been duds so far, largely because they didn't adjust quickly enough to shifting conditions in their respective markets, but all the others are trading above their IPO prices. LinkedIn and Yelp have more than quadrupled from their IPO prices, making the stocks star performers among the group.

Facebook's May 2012 IPO spooked many investors because of trading glitches and questions about the company's ability to grow mobile revenue. But the company has since soothed critics by proving it can make money from mobile advertisements. The stock is now trading well above its $38 IPO price after losing more than half of its value in the first four months of trading.

The next batch of startups expected to test their fate on the public market doesn't include names as well known as Twitter or Facebook, so splashy IPOs of either's caliber are unlikely. Twitter's $1.82 billion market debut made it the second largest Internet IPO in the world, relegating Google Inc.'s stock market debut in 2004 to third place.

Twitter could prove even more influential than its IPO predecessors because of the route to market it chose —and its shaky financial condition. The San Francisco company took advantage of a federal law passed last year that allows companies with less than $1 billion in revenue in its last fiscal year to keep its IPO documents under seal until the final few weeks before a price is set on a stock offering. This alternative — known as the Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS, Act — allowed Twitter to secretly fine-tune its filing to satisfy regulators.

Although Twitter filed its IPO paperwork in July, the information wasn't unsealed until Oct. 3 — just five weeks before its stock market debut. In contrast, Facebook's IPO filing was accessible — and picked over — for more than four months before the company's stock market debut.

The confidentiality provided by the JOBS act means some promising startups may have already started the process to go public, but haven't yet revealed their plans.

By keeping its finances under wraps, Twitter minimized the amount of time people had to dissect the mounting losses the company is absorbing as it expands its service to accommodate 232 million global users. Investors' willingness to embrace a company that has lost nearly $500 million since its 2006 inception is likely to embolden other unprofitable startups.

As privately held companies, startups rarely reveal anything about their finances until their IPO filings. But some, such as Snapchat and Pinterest, are generating little or no revenue as they subsist on venture capital. Many of the companies that are producing revenue rely on advertising, a dependence that worries Larry Chiagouris, marketing professor Pace University's Lubin School of Business in New York.

"If you fast-forward beyond the next 24 months, people will realize that these companies just aren't going to make a lot of money," he says. "Advertisers are not putting a large portion of their budgets into these companies."

Chiagouris thinks the stampede to invest in Twitter and other money-losing startups is heading in the same direction as the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s when a horde of unprofitable Internet companies were ushered on to Wall Street.

"People are chasing the dream of profits as opposed to any evidence of profits," Chiagouris says. "And it's a hope, it's a wish, it's a dream, but that's all it is right now."

 

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Written on 09/19/2014, 10:40 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Yahoo is making amends for years of blundering with one smart move: an early investment in China's Alibaba Group that has turned into a...
Written on 09/19/2014, 10:28 am by Associated Press
(AP) — The University of California's board of regents is boosting the six-figure salaries of its chancellors by as much as 20 percent.The Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1plEHlP) reports that the raises granted Thursday are part of a three-year plan to bring the salaries of top UC officials in line with those of their counterparts at other major research institutions. The 10-campus system's three lowest-paid chancellors — at Santa Cruz, Merced and Riverside — had their salaries set at $383,160. That meant 20 percent increases for the chancellors of Santa Cruz and Merced and a 5.1 percent boost for Riverside's top official. The UC's highest paid chancellor is San Francisco's Sam Hawgood, who receives $750,000 a year. Newly hired Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman will be paid $485,000 a year.
Written on 09/19/2014, 9:45 am by 
BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
(AP) — Responding to increasing criticism that the league has not acted quickly or emphatically enough concerning domestic abuse cases involving players, the NFL is partnering with a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource center. Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the clubs late Thursday announcing the partnerships. The league will provide financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. "These commitments will enable both the hotline and NSVRC to help more people affected by domestic violence and sexual assault," Goodell said in the memo. Goodell scheduled a news conference for Friday to discuss the NFL's personal conduct policies. The commissioner and some NFL teams have been heavily criticized for lenient or delayed punishment of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Less than three weeks into the season, five such cases have made headlines, the others involving Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and Jonathan Dwyer. Vikings star running back Peterson, Carolina defensive end Hardy and Arizona running back Dwyer are on a special commissioner's exemption list and are being paid while they go through the legal process. McDonald, a defensive end for San Francisco, continues to practice and play while being investigated on suspicion of domestic violence. As these cases have come to light, such groups as the National Organization of Women and league partners and sponsors have come down hard on the NFL to be more responsive in dealing with them. Congress also is watching to see how the NFL reacts. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides domestic violence victims and survivors access to a national network of resources and shelters. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in 170 languages. Goodell noted that the hotline received 84 percent more calls from Sept. 8-15, and the organization said more than 50 percent of those calls went unanswered because of lack of staff. "The hotline will add 25 full-time advocates over the next few weeks that will result in an additional 750 calls a day being answered," he said. NSVRC supports sexual violence coalitions across the United States. The NFL's initial support will be directed toward state coalitions to provide additional resources to sexual assault hotlines.
Written on 09/19/2014, 9:38 am by MAE ANDERSON, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Alibaba's stock is surging as the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse's begins its first day trading as a public company. The stock opened at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday morning, up 36 percent from the initial $68 per share price set Thursday evening. At Friday's opening price, the company is worth $228.5 billion, more than companies such as Amazon, Ebay and even Facebook. Jubilant CEO Jack Ma stood on the NYSE trading floor Friday as eight Alibaba customers, including an American cherry farmer and a Chinese Olympian, rang the opening bell from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. "We want to be bigger than Wal-Mart," Ma told CNBC shortly after the opening Bell. "We hope in 15 years people say this is a company like Microsoft, IBM, Wal-Mart, they changed, shaped the world." On Thursday, Alibaba and the investment bankers arranging the IPO settled on a price of $68 per share. The company and its early investors raised $21.8 billion in the offering, which valued Alibaba at $168 billion in one of the world's biggest ever initial public offerings. But after a two-hour trading delay due to strong demand, it opened much higher than that price. If the stock closes at $92.70, the IPO will have raised at least $29.67 billion. Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba will say "open sesame" to the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, as its shares begin trading in a highly anticipated debut that could raise up to $25 billion. The company priced its initial public offering of stock Thursday evening at $68 per share, the top end of the expected price range, according to Alibaba. The shares will trade under the ticker "BABA" on the NYSE. The IPO values Alibaba at $167.62 billion. That's bigger than the current market value of companies such as Amazon, Cisco, and eBay. The company has enjoyed a surge in U.S. popularity over the past two weeks as investors met with executives, including its colorful founder Jack Ma. As part of the so-called roadshow, would-be investors heard a sales pitch that centered on Alibaba's strong revenue growth and seemingly endless possibilities for expansion. Demand has been so high that the company raised its expected offering price to $66 to $68 per share from $60 to $66 per share on Monday, setting the stage for what could be the biggest ever IPO. Alibaba said it is offering 320.1 million shares for a total offering size of $21.77 billion. Underwriters have a 30-day option to buy up to about 48 million more shares. That means the offering size could be as much as $25 billion. The main reason investors appear breathless about the 15-year old Alibaba: It offers an investment vehicle that taps into China's burgeoning middle-class. Alibaba's Taobao, TMall and other platforms account for some 80 percent of Chinese online commerce. Most of Alibaba's 279 million active buyers visit the sites at least once a month on smartphones and other mobile devices, making the company attractive to investors as computing shifts away from laptop and desktop machines. And the growth rate is not expected to mature anytime soon. Online spending by Chinese shoppers is forecast to triple from its 2011 size by 2015. Beyond that, Alibaba has said it plans to expand into emerging markets and eventually, Europe and the U.S. "There are very few companies that are this big, grow this fast, and are this profitable," said Wedbush analyst Gil Luria. Alibaba operates an online ecosystem that lets individuals and small businesses buy and sell. It doesn't directly sell anything, compete with its merchants, or hold inventory. "The business model is really interesting. It's not just an eBay, it's not an Amazon, it's not a Paypal. It's all of that and much more," said Reena Aggarwal, a professor at Georgetown. Like China's consumer and Internet market, Alibaba is still growing rapidly. The company's revenue in its latest quarter ending in June surged 46 percent from last year to $2.54 billion while its earnings climbed 60 percent to nearly $1.2 billion, after subtracting a one-time gain and certain other items. In its last fiscal year ending March 31, Alibaba earned $3.7 billion, making it more profitable than eBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. combined. Amazon ended Thursday with a market value of about $150 billion while eBay's market value stood at $67 billion. Alibaba, is based in Hangzhou in Eastern China, Ma's hometown. The company got started in 1999 when Ma and 17 friends developed a fledgling e-commerce company on the cusp of the Internet boom. Today, Alibaba's main platforms are its original business-to-business service Alibaba.com, consumer-to-consumer site Taobao and TMall, a place for brands to sell to consumers. And while there's plenty of growth left in China, Ma has recently hinted about plans to expand beyond those borders. "We hope to become a global company, so after we go public in the U.S., we will expand strongly in Europe and America," Ma said to a group of reporters in Kowloon on Monday. The IPO's fundraising target handily eclipses the $16 billion Facebook raised in 2012, the most for a technology IPO. If all of its underwriters' options are exercised, it would also top the all-time IPO fundraising record of $22.1 billion set by the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. in 2010. Alibaba is offering up to 368 million shares, about 15 percent of the roughly 2.5 billion that will be outstanding after the IPO. Alibaba plans to sell 123 million of those shares itself. The rest will be offered by the company's early investors, including Yahoo Inc., which is parting with some of its 22 percent stake. Yahoo stands to be a big winner. The U.S. company, which has been struggling to grow for years, is in line for a windfall of $8.28 billion by selling 121.7 million of is Alibaba shares. And founder Jack Ma is selling 12.75 million shares worth $867 million. Although the IPO is likely to be the biggest in history, some analysts think the pricing is conservative. Wedbush's Luria gives the stock a 1-year price target of $80. And research firm PrivCo said the stock is worth $100 a share because of all of the private companies that Alibaba has taken stakes in. On Friday, Alibaba and its bankers will try to avoid mishaps like the ones that plagued Facebook's stock debut on the Nasdaq in May 2012. The social networking company's first day of trading was marred by technical glitches. Despite an IPO that was hyped even more than Alibaba's, Facebook's stock closed just 23 cents above its $38 IPO price on that first day and later fell much lower. The stock took more than a year to climb back above $38.
Written on 09/19/2014, 9:33 am by 
CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Unemployment rates rose in nearly half of U.S. states in August, even as employers in two-thirds of the states added jobs. The Labor Department says unemployment increased in 24 states, fell in 15 and was unchanged in 11. Hiring picked up in 35 states, while it fell in 15. Unemployment rates can rise even when hiring increases if more people start looking for work and don't immediately find jobs. The state figures suggest hiring was broad-based across most regions of the country last month, even as nationwide job gains in August were the weakest this year. Georgia's unemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent from 7.7 percent in July to the highest among all the states. It was followed by Mississippi at 7.9 percent. That's the first time Georgia has had the highest rate since the Great Recession ended. Previously, Nevada, Michigan and Rhode Island have had the highest. Georgia's rate rose even as its employers added the fourth-most jobs in the nation last month, gaining 15,800. The hiring and unemployment data can conflict because they come from two separate surveys. One is of households and the other survey covers businesses. The national unemployment rate dipped to 6.1 percent in August, from 6.2 percent the previous month. Employers added 142,000 jobs, below an average of 212,000 in the previous 12 months. North Dakota had the lowest rate in the nation, as it has for many years, at 2.8 percent. The state is benefiting from an oil and gas drilling boom. It was followed by three states with 3.6 percent unemployment: Nebraska, South Dakota and Utah. The biggest job gains were in Texas, which added 46,600 jobs, followed by California, with 27,700 and Michigan, with 17,900. The Midwest had the lowest unemployment rate among the nation's four regions, at 5.8 percent. The unemployment rate in the Northeast was 6.2 percent, followed by 6.3 percent in the South and 6.6 percent in the West.
Written on 09/18/2014, 2:01 pm by MATTHEW CRAFT, AP Business Writer
(AP) — More encouraging economic news and friendly signals from the Federal Reserve cheered investors on Thursday, as the stock market climbed to another record high. The gains came a day after the Fed made clear that it's in no hurry to raise a key bank lending rate, easing a major concern for the stock market. Eight of 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose, led by financial stocks. "The question isn't 'Why are we up today?'" said Dan Veru, chief investment officer at Palisade Capital Partners in New York. "It's 'Why aren't we up a lot more?' What you're seeing is the U.S. economy growing at a modest pace, not too hot and not too cold." Veru said it's an environment that allows the Fed to stick to a policy that coaxes businesses to borrow and spend and could fuel further gains for stocks. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average closed at all-time highs. The S&P 500 index gained 9.79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,011.36. The Dow surged 109.14 points, or 0.6 percent, to 17,265.99. The Nasdaq composite climbed 31.24 points, or 0.7 percent, to 4,593.43. The S&P Financials sector rose 1.1 percent. Bank profits could rise if short-term rates stay low while the rates they charge on longer-term loans creep higher. The day began with good news about the economy. Fewer Americans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits last week, according to the Labor Department. Weekly applications fell to 280,000, well below economists' forecasts. The four-week average, a less-volatile measure, also dropped. Major markets in Europe headed higher as voters in Scotland decided whether to break from the United Kingdom. Germany's DAX advanced 1.4 percent, and France's CAC 40 gained 0.8 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.6 percent. Scotland opened polling stations on Thursday for a referendum on whether the country should leave the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to become an independent state. Opinion polls have suggested the "Yes" campaign favoring independence is neck and neck with the "No" campaign that wants Scotland to stay in the U.K. "A 'yes' vote is likely to weigh heavily on the sterling and equities," said IG strategist Stan Shamu in a commentary. "A 'no' vote should result in a relief rally and is likely to be positive for the sterling and equities." The pound was trading at a two-year high against the euro at €1.27, and holding steady against the dollar at $1.64. On Wednesday in the U.S., the Fed maintained its stance of keeping short-term interest rates near zero for a "considerable time." Investors had speculated that the Fed might hint at an earlier start for rate hikes. Among companies making big moves on Thursday, Rite Aid plunged 19 percent after it cut its profit forecasts for the full year, laying part of the blame on higher costs for generic drugs. The drugstore chain still expects sales of $26 billion this year. Rite Aid's stock fell $1.23 to $5.41. ConAgra said its quarterly profits nearly tripled, sending its stock up $1.47, or 5 percent, to $33.48. Sales for the company behind Chef Boyardee canned pasta and Hebrew National hot dogs were flat, but other costs fell. Alibaba Group is expected to wrap up its mammoth initial public offering later Thursday, then make its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday under the symbol "BABA." The Chinese e-commerce company could raise as much as $21.8 billion from institutional investors, making it the largest IPO on record in the U.S. Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished 0.9 percent lower and Japan's Nikkei 225 gained 1 percent as the yen traded at a six-year low against the dollar. Markets in mainland China, India and Southeast Asia also rose. In commodity trading, prices for precious and industrial metals fell broadly. Gold dropped $9 to settle at $1,226.90 an ounce, and silver sank 22 cents to $18.52. Copper dropped 5 cents to $3.09. The price of oil fell on expectations of a quick return of Libyan production and continuing signals of lower global demand. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.35 to close at $93.07 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell $1.27 to close at $97.70 in London. In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 0.8 cent to close at $2.561 a gallon. Heating oil fell 3.3 cents to close at $2.712 a gallon. Natural gas fell 10.3 cents to close at $3.910 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Written on 09/18/2014, 1:27 pm by The Associated Press
(AP) — The number of jobs at U.S. airlines keeps growing — although slowly — as some of them post record profits. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday that the nation's passenger airlines employed the equivalent of 386,243 full-time workers in July, up 1.3 percent from the same month last year. It was the eighth straight monthly gain over year-earlier numbers. The largest employer, United Airlines, cut its workforce 3.3 percent, while Delta, American, Southwest and US Airways added jobs. Two small, low-cost carriers, Spirit and Allegiant, had double-digit gains. Some regional airlines that operate shorter flights for major carriers cut jobs, including Envoy (American) and Endeavor (Delta), while others grew. The government counts two part-time employees as one full-time worker.
Written on 09/18/2014, 1:23 pm by JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press
(AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown headed to the cradle of the Hollywood film industry Thursday to sign legislation that more than triples the state's tax credit to $330 million a year for films and TV shows produced in California. Brown said the increase from $100 million a year was needed to help prevent other states and countries from continuing to lure away film and TV production by offering their own lucrative incentives. The law will make key improvements in the state's Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work, the Democratic governor said last month after brokering a deal with Republican and Democratic lawmakers to pass Assembly Bill 1839. The new law increases California's film and TV tax credit for five years and replaces what's been called a flawed and arbitrary lottery system for awarding credits. Under the new system, credits will be awarded based on the number of jobs a production creates and its overall positive impact on the state. Tax credits will also be allowed for bigger-budget productions than in the past." California is on the move and this is a very important part of that," Brown said Thursday before signing the bill. State Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said last month that in-state film production has dropped by nearly half during the past 15 years. This year, California approved 26 projects for tax credits out of the nearly 500 that applied. Those receiving credits included the film version of the HBO series "Entourage" by Warner Bros., "The Gambler" drama by Paramount, and television series such as "Pretty Little Liars" and "Franklin & Bash." Brown signed the bill at Hollywood's historic Chinese Theatre, where the handprints and footprints of stars are embedded in concrete. Long known as Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the historic cinema is now TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX.
Written on 09/18/2014, 1:14 pm by 
KEVIN BEGOS, Associated Press
(AP) — Chevron has become the first energy company to meet a new set of voluntary shale gas drilling standards that aim to go beyond existing state laws in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, the Pittsburgh-based Center for Sustainable Shale announced Thursday. The center is a partnership between major energy companies, environmental groups and charitable foundations. Its certification process consisted of an independent review of Chevron documents and 22 of its production sites in the three states. The program is meant to work much like Underwriters Laboratories, which puts its familiar UL seal on electrical appliances. The review was conducted by Bureau Veritas, an international testing company that also handles the LEED review process for the U.S. Green Building Council. Nigel Hearne, president of Chevron's Appalachia operations, said that the 15 Sustainable Shale standards "will produce meaningful results" in reducing pollution and freshwater use, and that he hopes other energy companies join in the process. Chevron Corp. is based in San Ramon, California. The Sierra Club and other some environmental groups have harshly criticized the Sustainable Shale program, saying voluntary efforts are no substitute for tougher state and federal regulations. But one environmental group that worked on the project welcomed Chevron's announcement. Chevron's pledges to recycle drilling fluids, not use open waste pits and to reduce methane leaks address "very big" concerns for many people, said Davitt Woodwell, president of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. Chevron also says it now discloses all of the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process in the region. Woodwell said his group hopes other drilling companies take similar actions. The fracking process uses millions of gallons of high-pressure water mixed with sand and chemicals to break apart rock rich in oil and gas. That has led to a boom in production from the Appalachian Marcellus Shale formation and in other states, but also concerns about water and air pollution. When the Sustainable Shale project was announced in early 2012, some energy companies said they realized they needed to do more to reassure the public about the safety of fracking. Some environmentalists said they joined the Sustainable Shale project after coming to the conclusion that hundreds of billions of dollars in oil and gas is going to be extracted one way or another and that working with the industry is the quickest path to making the process safer. In addition to Chevron, other Sustainable Shale participants are Shell, EQT Corp., Consol Energy, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the Clean Air Task Force. Paul O'Neill, former treasury secretary, and Christine Todd Whitman, a former New Jersey governor and Environmental Protection Agency administrator, also serve on the board of directors.
Written on 09/18/2014, 1:12 pm by 
ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, AP Retail Writer
(AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it plans to hire 60,000 temporary holiday workers for the crucial holiday season, an increase of nearly 10 percent from last year. The world's largest retailer also emphasized that current workers who want more hours during the holidays will get priority. The retailer has been criticized by labor groups for low pay and intentionally keeping employees' hours low. Wal-Mart, which is based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said the holiday hiring includes workers in stores and distribution centers. The discount retailer said a number of factors are driving the increase, including a focus on better customer service and the fact that it has about 200 more U.S. Wal-Mart stores than last year, bringing its total to about 4,300. "We monitor traffic patterns, and we want to make sure we have adequate staffing, said Kayla Whaling, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman. About 25 percent of the seasonal workers will stay on in permanent roles, Wal-Mart said. Wal-Mart also noted that the retailer will have more registers open this year during the season compared with last year. It couldn't offer a figure. The news follows similar announcements from UPS, FedEx and Kohl's, which are also making more temporary hires this year. A retailer's hiring plans can indicate its expectations for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

Latest State News

Written on 09/19/2014, 10:40 am by Associated Press
(AP) — Yahoo is making amends for years...
Written on 09/19/2014, 10:28 am by Associated Press
(AP) — The University of California's...
Written on 09/18/2014, 1:23 pm by JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press
(AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown headed to the...
Written on 09/18/2014, 1:14 pm by 
KEVIN BEGOS, Associated Press
(AP) — Chevron has become the first...

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Written on 09/19/2014, 9:45 am by 
BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer
(AP) — Responding to increasing...
Written on 09/19/2014, 9:38 am by MAE ANDERSON, AP Technology Writer
(AP) — Alibaba's stock is surging as...
Written on 09/19/2014, 9:33 am by 
CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer
(AP) — Unemployment rates rose in...
Written on 09/18/2014, 2:01 pm by MATTHEW CRAFT, AP Business Writer
(AP) — More encouraging economic news...