Brexit ‘McCarthyism’, coffee’s ‘third wave’ and a wine drought?

Planet Business: Companies beating analysts’ expectations, cities that love Amazon

 

Image of the week: Wine evening

The sun isn’t setting on the wine industry, just this vineyard near the Vosges mountains in France, but production has dropped to a 50-year low as a result of extreme weather in Italy, France and Spain. The media has been its traditional calm self about this, naturally, with headlines such as as “Attention: The world is about to run out of wine” (Metro) and “We’re heading for a global wine shortage . . . and everyone’s freaking out about it” (The Sun) definitely not overstating the case. Anyway, total annual world output is on track to fall 8 per cent, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, leaving us with just 247 million hectolitres to get through. (One hectolitre = 133 standard 750ml bottles.) No need for an aisle stampede just yet.

In numbers: Add to basket

238

Number of cities in North America that bid to host Amazon’s second headquarters, aka HQ2. Well, it’s more cities than bid to host the Olympics, to be fair.

$5 billion

Estimated construction cost of HQ2, wherever it ends up. Newark, New Jersey, dangled $7 billion in potential tax credits while, in New York, mayor Bill de Blasio ordered that landmarks such as the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center be lit up in “Amazon orange” before the bids were due last week.

50,000

Planned jobs at the new headquarters, which will be a “full equal” to Amazon’s Seattle base. The quantity of drones that will be unleashed into the chosen city’s airspace is not known.

The lexicon: Third wave (of) coffee

Profits have gone a bit lukewarm at Costa Coffee, the chain owned by FTSE-listed hospitality group Whitbread, but it says it’s okay: the “third wave” of coffee will be along in a minute. At about 11.15am, to be precise. Whitbread defined this third wave as “a period in which consumers’ preferences for coffee becomes more sophisticated and [they] are willing to spend more per cup for higher quality and innovative drinks”. Whitbread reckons Costa, as the market leader in the UK, has “a prime opportunity to capitalise on these attractive structural trends”. Iced coffee with a hint of faecal bacteria – a drink discovered at Costa, Starbucks and Caffe Nero, by the BBC’s Watchdog last summer – is presumably not one of the innovative drinks Whitbread has in mind.

Getting to know: Chris Heaton-Harris

Pro-Brexit Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris thrust himself into an unflattering spotlight this week after it emerged that he wrote a “McCarthyite” letter to every university vice-chancellor in Britain demanding a list of tutors lecturing on Brexit and “a copy of the syllabus”. One vice-chancellor described the “sinister” request as “the first step to the thought police, the political censor”, while another academic compared it to Joseph McCarthy’s “Red Scare” hearings of the 1950s. Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner later dubbed him a “pound-shop McCarthy”, while the UK government distanced itself from the letter, leaving Heaton-Harris to tweet that “to be absolutely clear” he definitely believes in free speech in universities and in having “an open and vigorous debate on Brexit”. Okay, cool.

The list: Beating expectations

Amid a flurry of corporate earnings, the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 have been setting new highs, and there’s quite a few expectation-beating third-quarter results to be found beyond Wall Street too.

1. Kering: Luxury goods are glowing, which was especially good news for the French group’s superstar brand Gucci.

2. Caterpillar: The earth didn’t quite move, but the stock market did when the construction equipment giant handily beat forecasts.

3. General Motors: GM did better than expected, helped by its investment in self-driving tech and ride-sharing service, Lyft.

4. LG Display: Profits have surged at South Korea’s LG, the world’s largest maker of the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) used in mobile devices and high-end TVs.

5. 3M: The maker of Post-it notes made a quarterly profit of $1.43 billion. “Rating: outperform” analysts wrote on a piece of yellow paper that they then stuck to a wall.