Posts Tagged ‘Pacific

04
Aug
10

MasterCard 2Q profit jumps 31 percent, tops view

NEWS
MasterCard 2Q profit jumps 31 percent, tops view

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

••• Anaemic consumer spending in the U.S. was offset by strong international growth to help boost MasterCard Inc’s second-quarter profit by 31 percent.

The gain topped Wall Street profit expectations, but fell short of the 38 percent leap in operating income posted by the company’s larger rival, Visa Inc., last week.

MasterCard shares slipped $1.76, to $200.70 in midday trading as the broader market sputtered.

MasterCard’s gains showed the Purchase, NY-based payment processor’s reliance on overseas use of its cards and networks. Worldwide purchasing volume rose eight per cent, while U.S. purchasing volume eked out a gain of less than 1 percent.

Worldwide, credit card use rose 10 percent, while debit card use leaped 29 percent.

Chief Financial Officer Martina Hund-Mejean said in an interview that card use was particularly strong in Latin America and Asia Pacific, which both saw double-digit growth rates.

‘Even in Europe,’ she said, alluding to the economic turmoil on the Continent in recent months. ‘We do not see any significant impact on our numbers in terms of the Europeans not spending.’

U.S. credit card use edged down 1.5 percent, continuing a two-year decline, but showing the smallest drop since the third quarter of 2008.

Debit card use edged up less than 1 percent. That reflects more frequent use of debit cards, but was held down by MasterCard’s loss of several debit card deals with banks, most notably the former Washington Mutual, which was bought by JPMorgan Chase in 2008. Hund-Mejean said US debit growth was closer to 20 percent if the banks winding down their MasterCard programs are stripped out.

U.S. spending, particularly with credit cards, picked up in April but was less robust later in the quarter, Hund-Mejean said. ‘People still feel a little careful and cautious, and I think that’s what we saw in May and June,’ she said.

Analysts noted the growth compared with a weak quarter last year. Thomas McCrohan from Janney Capital Marketssaid it is hard to read into the results to say whether they indicate any real improvement in the economy. But there was ‘nothing alarming’ in the results.

‘There’s nothing that would support a double dip’ of the recession, McCrohan said.

The number of transactions MasterCard handled was basically flat at 5.6 billion. Cross-border volume jumped 15.2 percent.

Net income rose to $458 million, or $3.49 per share, compared with $349 million, or $2.67 per share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $1.37 billion from $1.28 billion in the 2009 second quarter. MasterCard said the revenue increase reflected the higher cross-border volumes, higher gross dollar volume of the transactions it processed and the impact of price increases of 4 percent.

Wall Street expected earnings of $3.33 per share on revenue of $1.38 billion.

Total operating expences dropped 10 percent to $648 million. The decrease was led by a drop in severance and compensation costs as a result of layoffs in 2009.

President and CEO Ajay Banga said it is too early to tell what results MasterCard will feel from the limits on debit card fees included in the financial overhaul bill signed by President Barack Obama last month.

‘I know that everybody is eager to fully understand the impact on our business, but the truth is we just have to wait for the (Federal Reserve) to develop the regulations, and for our customers to react, before we will know the full implications both for the industry and for our company,’ he said during a conference call.

Banga noted there are a number of options for implementing the new rules, and quipped that MasterCard benefits in this case from having a smaller market share of U.S. debit than Visa.

Regardless of the new regulations, Banga said he doesn’t see the shift from cash and checks to electronic payments slowing down. He spoke enthusiastically about a number of pilot projects and overseas ventures MasterCard has to expand its network beyond card payments. Deals the company struck on mobile payments in Latin America, money transfer services in China and contactless payments in the U.S. position MasterCard for continued growth as the payments market evolves, he said.

David Parker, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets, said it will be a few years before ‘electronic wallets’ are a reality, and there are some challenges in terms of customer and merchant adoption, but it is clear the market is moving in that direction.

MasterCard’s investments in this area could help it overcome its disadvantage in debit cards.

‘I think there is an opportunity there with mobile commerce,’ he said.
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15
Jun
10

5.7 earthquake rattles U.S. – Mexico border region

NEWS
5.7 earthquake rattles U.S. – Mexico border region

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Earth••• An earthquake has rocked Southern California, shaking the Los Angeles area and forcing a halt to the Toronto Blue Jays-San Diego Padres baseball game in San Diego.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-5.7 quake was 5 miles southeast of Ocotill, near the U.S. – Mexico border.

It struck on Monday at about 9:26 pm PDT.

The quake was initially reported as a magnitude-5.9 temblor.

It was felt as a gentle rolling motion in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Orange County.

San Diego’s Petco Park swayed during the earthquake, and the public address announcer asked that everyone at the ball game remain calm. The crowd cheered.

The Padres’ David Eckstein had just grounded out in the bottom of the inning when the stadium began shaking.

The next batter, Chase Headley, stayed out of the batter’s box for a few seconds, then stepped in.

San Diego Sheriff’s dispatch supervisor, Becky Strahm, said some of her colleagues reported things falling off their shelves, but there were no immediate reports of significant damage or injury.

The quake follows a series of temblors that struck Southern California over the weekend, including a pair of moderate earthquakes that rattled a desert area east of San Diego.

Residents in downtown San Diego could feel the ground rumbling during at least one of the Saturday quakes.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries from Monday night’s earthquake.
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• Source(s): USGS
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05
Apr
10

Three Killed, 233 Injured In Baja Quake Felt Throughout Southwest

NEWS
Three Killed, 233 Injured In Baja Quake Felt Throughout Southwest

Monday, April 5, 2010

Earth••• The death toll from Sunday’s 7.2 Baja earthquake felt across the Southwest increased to three Monday, with at least 233 people, mostly in the Mexican border town of Mexicali, reporting injuries, according to reports.

The Southern California Seismic Network recorded the quake shortly after 3:40:41 PDT.

The US Geological Survey said the 7.2 magnitude quake struck in Baja, California, about 104 miles east-southeast of Tijuana.

CNN reported the earthquake was stronger than the one that hit Haiti in January, and shook highrise buildings hundreds of kilometres away in Los Angeles and San Diego.

There have been a series of aftershocks in the region, with several topping magnitude 5 according to data recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey.

One person was killed when a building collapsed in Mexicali, the capital of Baja California, according to the assistant director of civil protection in Tijuana, CNN reported.
Mexicali, a city of 900,000 people, is just 11 miles from the epicentre and there were reports of sides of buildings falling apart, telephone poles collapsing and roads cracking.

But there were no reports of major damage or casualties in the US from the earthquake, which struck at 3:40 pm PDT at a depth of 6 miles, 16 miles south-southwest of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico.

Twitter users reported that Disneyland was evacuated. People were stuck in lifts and of many reported water sloshing out of swimming pools.

A spokesperson for Disneyland told that all rides were initially closed down following the earthquake, but they are back operating as normal.

“Our normal protocol following an earthquake is to cycle out all attractions for a safety inspection,” the spokesperson said. “We have no reports of injury or damage. Nearly all attractions have been inspected and are back online.”
The strong earthquake south of the U.S. – Mexico border shook high-rises in downtown Los Angeles and San Diego and was felt across Southern California and Arizona.

Residents said the quake shook “for a long time”.

“We felt it for about 30 seconds. It was rolling,” San Diego County Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Ybarrondo told CNN. “Nothing fell off the walls here, but we have reports of pictures falling off walls elsewhere in the county.”

The quake was felt as far north as Santa Barbara, USGS seismologist Susan Potter said.

A 4.1-magnitude tremor was recorded near Santa Rosa, in northern California, about nine minutes after the Baja California quake, CNN said. The USGS recorded a 5.1 aftershock 1 mile from Imperial, California.

People trapped in lifts, buildings damaged

In LA, the city fire department went on “earthquake status”, and some stalled lifts were reported. No damage was reported in LA or San Diego.
One woman called firefighters and said she was stuck in a lift descending from the 34th floor in a building in Century City, but there was no way to immediately know if the breakdown was tied the quake, LA firefighter Eric Scott said.

Los Angeles City Fire Department crews responded to people trapped in stalled elevators in the city, but there were no reports of serious damage, power outages or injuries in L.A.

In San Diego several buildings and water mains were reported damaged, according to the San Diego Fire Department.
While in Yuma, Arizona, the sheriff’s department said it was responding to building alarms.
The quake was felt for about 40 seconds in Tijuana, Mexico, causing buildings to sway and knocking out power in parts of the city. Families celebrating Easter ran out of the homes, with children screaming and crying.
Baja California state Civil Protection Director Alfredo Escobedo said there were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage. But he said the assessment was ongoing.

In the Phoenix area, Jacqueline Land said her bed in her second-floor apartment felt like a boat gently swaying on the ocean.

“I thought to myself, ‘That can’t be an earthquake. I’m in Arizona,'” the Northern California native said. “And I thought, ‘Oh my God, I feel like I’m nine years old.'”
Mike Wong, who works at a journalism school in downtown Phoenix, said he was in his second-floor office getting some work done when he heard sounds and felt the building start to sway.

“I heard some cracking sounds, like Rice Krispies,” coming from the building, he said. “I didn’t think much of it, but I kept hearing it, and then I started feeling a shake. I thought, ‘You know what? I think that might be an earthquake.”

Mr Wong said the swaying lasted for “just a few seconds”, and he didn’t notice any damage.

“Because of the location of the earthquake, it will have been felt by a large number of people,” said Susan Potter, a geophysicist with the USGS told The Wall Street Journal.

Within an hour of the earthquake, more than 4000 people had filed reports with the USGS saying they had felt shaking.

By comparison, the earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12 was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. An earthquake that struck near Concepcion, Chile on February 27 was listed as an 8.8-magnitude earthquake.
• Source(s): USGS, CNN and Wall Street Journal
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26
Mar
10

6.2-magnitude quake strikes Chile

NEWS
6.2-magnitude quake strikes Chile

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth

••• Chile has been hit by yet another earthquake on Friday, 375 miles to the north of the country’s capital, Santiago.

The epicentre was some 50 miles south west of the city of Copiapo, at a depth of 140 miles. Its effects were felt as far away as Santiago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake struck a few minutes before noon (10:52 a.m. local time). There have been no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

A deadly 8.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Chile on Feb. 27, killing 425 people and leaving 500,000 others homeless. It was the fifth strongest on record since 1900 and as expected has produced hundreds of aftershocks, mostly minor ones but also including two of 6.9 magnitude.

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14
Mar
10

YouTube video could bring charges in black sea bass incident at Newport Beach

NEWS
YouTube video could bring charges in black sea bass incident at Newport Beach

Monday, February 1, 2010
Last modification: Sunday, March 14, 2010

Earth

••• What initially appeared to be a case of a good Samaritan rescuing a huge black sea bass in Newport Beach could now result in criminal charges against the man for allegedly failing to help the animal, authorities said.

The controversy stems from a Jan. 3 incident during which a fisherman in a boat accidentally caught the fish, which is a protected species in California.


As the boat – sea bass in tow – pulled near shore, an unidentified man swam into the water and pulled the fish onto the sand. At the time, officials with the state Department of Fish and Game believed that the man had tried to rescue the floundering fish.

“They thought he made a reasonable effort to return the fish unharmed to the water,” department spokesman Harry Morse said Monday.


But a video posted on YouTube shows the man apparently pulling the fish onto the sand as a throng of people surround the animal, shouting and cheering.


After that video and others were posted on the Internet, Fish and Game officials reversed course and forwarded the case to the Orange County district attorney for possible prosecution.

“We’re reviewing it to determine what, if any, crime occurred,” said Farrah Emami, a district attorney’s spokeswoman.


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09
Mar
10

Chile Earthquake Moved Entire City 10 Feet to the West

NEWS
Chile Earthquake Moved Entire City 10 Feet to the West

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Earth

••• The magnitude 8.8 quake that struck near Maule, Chile, Feb. 27 moved the entire city of Concepcion 10 feet to the west.

Precise GPS measurements from before and after the earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded by seismographs, show that the country’s capital, Santiago, moved 11 inches west. Even Buenos Aires, nearly 800 miles from the epicenter, shifted an inch. The image above uses red arrows to represent the relative direction and magnitude of the ground movement in the vicinity of the quake.

The analysis comes from a project led by Ohio State earth scientist Mike Bevis that has been using GPS to record movements of the crust on Chile since 1993. The area is of particular interest to geoscientists because it is an active subduction zone, where an oceanic plate is colliding with a continental plate and being pushed into the Earth’s molten mantle below.

The world’s largest recorded earthquakes since 1900 have all occurred in subduction zones, including the largest quake ever recorded, which was a magnitude 9.5 in 1960 in Chile not too far from February’s earthquake. The second largest was a 9.2 in Alaska in 1964, and the third was the magnitude 9.1 Sumatra quake of 2004 that created the tsunami that killed more than 200,000 people. The fourth largest quake was a magnitude 9 on Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.

Bevis’ team hopes to add 50 more GPS stations to its current 25 to better measure the movement and deformation of the crust that will continue for years.

“The Maule earthquake will arguably become one of the, if not the most important great earthquake yet studied,” said project scientist Ben Brooks of the University of Hawaii in a press release. “We now have modern, precise instruments to evaluate this event, and because the site abuts a continent, we will be able to obtain dense spatial sampling of the changes it caused.”

“As such the event represents an unprecedented opportunity for the earth science community if certain observations are made with quickly and comprehensively,” Brooks said.

Source(s): University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology
United States Geological Survey

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