December 12, 2017

Ex-Ad Chief Is Named Next Leader at Pandora

Mr. McAndrews, 54, is the former chief executive of aQuantive, an online advertising company, and most recently he was a partner with the Madrona Venture Group, a venture capital firm focused on technology. He serves on a number of corporate boards, including The New York Times Company, the food ordering service GrubHub Seamless, and AppNexus, an online advertising platform.

“I’m impressed with what the company has done in inventing a new type of product, transforming the way people listen to music and continuing to grow successfully,” Mr. McAndrews said in an interview on Wednesday. “My goal is to help the company continue that trajectory and take it to the next level.”

The company’s stock rose more than 5 percent in after hours trading after the news.

Mr. McAndrews’s experience with online advertising is crucial for Pandora, which makes almost 90 percent of its revenue from ads and has grown into one of the most popular places for people to listen to music. In August, the service had 72.1 million active users.

After beginning his career at General Mills and ABC, Mr. McAndrews took over Avenue A, a digital ad agency in Seattle, in 1999, and built it into aQuantive. It was bought by Microsoft in 2007 for $6 billion, during a rush by technology giants like Google and Yahoo to acquire digital ad companies.

Mr. McAndrews was promoted to lead Microsoft’s publishing and advertising group but left in 2008. In the years after that, the performance of aQuantive slid. In 2012, Microsoft took a $6.2 billion accounting charge in its online services division, which included aQuantive.

“We had very specific criteria for our new C.E.O., and we were very strategic about finding the right person. Brian is that person,” Tim Westergren, Pandora’s founder and chief strategy officer, said in a statement. “No one better understands the intersection of technology and advertising, which he clearly demonstrated during aQuantive’s meteoric rise.”

Pandora has also been pressured by investors to maximize its ad rates, particularly on mobile devices, and to limit expenses. Its push to reduce music royalties has led to a frosty relationship with the music industry. On Wednesday, Mr. McAndrews echoed the company’s familiar position on royalties.

“I share Pandora’s longstanding belief that musicians have to be compensated fairly, but the existing system has been put together piecemeal and does not serve anyone well,” he said.

Mr. McAndrews’s corporate biography has already been tailored for digital music. His playlists, according to Pandora, “reflect his love for Elton John, Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen,” as well as younger acts like Bruno Mars and Rihanna.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/business/media/ex-ad-chief-is-named-next-leader-at-pandora.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

General Mills Earnings Beat Expectations

The company, whose brands include Cheerios and Progresso Soups, also benefited from its longtime focus on reining in costs. Like most food companies, General Mills raised prices to try to offset some of the effects of higher costs for grains and other items.

But the company’s results outshine those reported by its rival food maker ConAgra Foods, which missed analysts’ expectations on Tuesday.

“General Mills operates with a stronger brand portfolio than ConAgra,” said a Morningstar analyst, Erin Lash. “That’s one of the things that we think serves General Mills well and will continue to serve them well in this tough consumer environment.”

General Mills said sales rose 8.9 percent to $3.85 billion in the first quarter ended on Aug. 28, helped by its recently acquired Yoplait yogurt business and the willingness of consumers to accept higher prices.

Snacks, which include Nature Valley bars, showed one of the largest sales gains among the segments in the United States with a 17 percent rise. In contrast, sales in the meals unit, which includes canned soups and dinner mixes, fell 4 percent. The business in the United States accounts for nearly two-thirds of sales.

The international Yoplait unit accounted for about one-third of General Mills’s growth, helping the company beat the $3.81 billion in net sales Wall Street was expecting, according to Thomson Reuters.

Net income fell to $405.6 million, or 61 cents a share, from $472.1 million, or 70 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, earnings came to 64 cents a share, beating the 62 cents that analysts expected.

The company maintained its fiscal 2012 earnings forecast of $2.59 to $2.61 a share, excluding the costs of integrating Yoplait. It still expects costs to rise 10 percent to 11 percent for the year, more than double its inflation rate in fiscal 2011.

General Mills’s shares closed up 2.5 percent to $38.44, on a down day on Wall Street.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=978ba54bf2cc3e5bfc2c3e2b243c7b8e

Encouraging Numbers, at First Glance

During the recession, the state’s unemployment rate never reached the double-digit peak suffered by the nation as a whole. Since the recovery began, it is among a handful of states whose rate has fallen at a faster clip than most other states. Minnesota’s rate is now 6.6 percent, well below the 9 percent across the country.

Farmers in the state’s large agricultural sector have benefited from surges in the prices for their corn and soybeans. Among big companies with headquarters in the state, 3M and General Mills have recently reported strong earnings growth, and Target and United Healthcare are hiring.

Dig a little, though, and the foundation looks wobblier. Economists point out that some of the drop in state unemployment merely reflects people giving up on the job search or retiring early, as well as an aging work force with fewer young people hunting for jobs.

“It really seems slow here,” said David Vang, an economist at the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas. “So if we’re rapid, other places must be terrible.”

Many people look to Minnesota as a state whose demographics, varied industries, educated citizenry and public policy could together provide a bit of a shield against hard times. But a closer inspection shows a disconnect between the more encouraging economic data of late and the harsher reality that people so often describe, here and across the country.

According to government data, which show that state unemployment peaked at 8.5 percent in the downturn, employers slashed roughly 154,000 jobs but have added back fewer than 27,000 — or only about 18 percent of those lost.

Big local employers including Medtronic, a medical device maker, and Hutchinson Technology, which makes components for disk drives, have announced layoffs in recent weeks. Small to medium-size companies say they are nervous about government policy and are reluctant to hire.

A depressed real estate market remains a drag on the local economy — as it does in many other places. In March, foreclosed homes made up more than 40 percent of sales in the Twin Cities. Construction workers have been idle for years, with little hope of imminent work. And the state government must resolve a $5 billion budget shortfall that some fear will lead to job cuts.

Over all, the nation continues to face a battery of economic challenges. Last week’s employment data showed a welcome bit of job creation for several months’ running, but other recent reports have been more lackluster. Unemployment insurance claims have been running at a higher level, and the main association of small businesses said it expected hiring to be sluggish.

Minnesota has some ability to outpace the rest of the country, with its tilt toward medical and food manufacturing and agricultural strength.

“In some ways it looks like it’s doing a little bit better,” said Terry J. Fitzgerald, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. “But not a lot better.”

Still, part of the reason Minnesota’s headline unemployment rate may have shown more rapid improvement is that it has fewer young people competing for jobs. According to Thomas Stinson, the state economist and a professor at the University of Minnesota, the proportion of workers in the 20-to-40 age group has slid from nearly half in the 1980s to about 38 percent now.

The people in the 40-to-60 age group, Mr. Stinson said, “are the people whose 401(k)’s got hit so hard and whose housing values have gotten hit so hard. So part of the reason for the slow recovery is that people are not spending, but are rebuilding their 401(k)’s. And we haven’t seen the release of pent-up demand that we would have normally seen” after a recession.

The state also faces many of the same trends that hamper job growth elsewhere. To the extent they are hiring, companies like 3M and General Mills are adding more people abroad than domestically. Connie Pautz, a spokeswoman for Hutchinson Technologies, which will cut about 600 people — or nearly half its Minnesota staff — over the next 12 months, said the company had automated much of its operations. “So we don’t need as many people,” she said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=87f177982d667a8e71adec134802fa61