Business

Update at 4:33 p.m. ET. Right At Expectations:

Facebook reported slightly stronger than expected profits. For the second quarter, it reported a net loss of $157 million or 11 cents a share. But when it adjusted its earnings to remove stock compensation charges related to its IPO, Reuters reports, Facebook actually made 12 cents a share.

Former Citigroup CEO Says Big Banks Should Be Split Up

Jul 25, 2012

Sandy I. Weill, the former Citigroup CEO who helped usher in the era of super banks, said during an interview with CNBC today that big banks should be split up.

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That’s a lot of Chimichangas: The parent company of Austin restaurant chain Chuy’s made its initial stock offering Monday, raising $75.8 million.

Chuy's Holdings Inc. will begin trading shares today on the NASDAQ exchange, under the trading symbol CHUY. It makes Chuy’s Austin's newest publicly-traded company.

The Austin-American Statesman reports that the company originally filed for an initial public offering in August of last year, amid a market downturn when few companies were making IPOs. But the market has since strengthened, and the IPO window has reopened. 

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Computing giant Apple has acquired land to house its Americas Operations Center.

The Austin Business Journal reports Apple purchased three plots of land in Northwest Austin late last month:

Records at the Travis County Clerk’s Office show that McShane Development Co. LLC, through its Riata Vista LP entity, sold three tracts of land to Apple on June 21. The exhibits indicate that the land is in the Milwood Section 20 subdivision near Parmer Lane and Delcour Drive.

Apple’s opening of an operations center in Texas was assisted by numerous grants and tax abatements: a $21 million grant from the state, via Governor Rick Perry’s Texas Enterprise Fund; approximately $8.6 million in abatements from the City of Austin, and approximately  $6.4 million from the county.

Caleb Miller for KUT News

The House Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures met Wednesday to take a look at streamlining the alcoholic licensing and permitting process.

According to the Texas Tribune, interim Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) director Sherry Cooke told the committee that her agency wants to consolidate the processes for beer and liquor licenses.

The issue is that there are two separate processes for receiving a beer license and liquor licenses. Some of the applications for those permits can be processed through TABC, but others have to involve county courts.

Almost two billion dollars in Texas sales taxes were collected in June – some 15 percent more than the state collected in June last year.

Austin's share of sales taxes comes to about $12.5 million in revenue, which is up more than 10 percent from the same time last year.

"Sales tax revenue has increased for 27 consecutive months in Texas,” Comptroller Susan Combs says in a statement. “Strong business spending in industries such as manufacturing and oil and natural gas boosted the latest sales tax collections. Revenue from consumer spending in the retail trade and restaurant sectors also did well."

Tax Cap Added for Historic Homes; Exemption Increased for Elderly, Disabled

Travis County Commissioners voted to add a cap on historical tax exemptions. The new policy matches the City of Austin’s cap of $2,500 a year.

Historic home owners argued that a higher exemption is necessary for them to maintain the facades of their homes. County Judge Sam Biscoe says the county will continue to look at the impact of the historical tax exemptions.

Commissioners also voted to increase the tax exemption for Travis County homeowners who are 65 and older and for those with disabilities. The amount of value that had been taken off a home for taxing purposes had been $65,000 a year. They raised it to $70,000 annually.

Losing your job is rarely good. Not being able to find one for months can be disastrous for individuals, and bad for society as well. Yet during the recent recession and the current anemic recovery, more people in the U.S. have been unemployed for longer than at any time since 1948.

Of all Americans who were unemployed in June, almost half had been without a job for 27 weeks or longer. In other words, 5.4 million people have been jobless for more than half a year.

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Firing up the grill? Don’t expect to be fired up at work.

With this year's Fourth of July holiday falling on a Wednesday, many workers are taking vacations in addition to the mid-week day off. Though summer vacations are commonplace, the quantity of workers taking off at the same time could spell trouble for some companies.

But John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, told KUHF that not all companies will be hurt.

“For a busy company, there’s just the risk that they can’t produce the same amount worker-hours they need to provide a high quality service or product," he said. "For companies that are in a slowdown, it’s probably not a bad idea to get their vacations loaded up at the same time.”

If you want to know where your meat came from, you won't be happy with the World Trade Organization right now. Late last week, the WTO announced that the United States' country-of-origin labels, which took effect in 2008, discriminate unfairly against foreign meat suppliers such as Mexico and Canada.

KUT News

Home prices have again increased in the Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos area.

Prices rose 5.7 percent since last May, and 2.3 percent since last month, according to a home prices index released by a real estate data company.

Amand Nallathambi is the president of CoreLogic, the company that released the report.  "The recent upward trend in U.S. home prices is an encouraging signal that we may be seeing a bottoming of the housing down cycle," he says in a press release. "Tighter inventory is contributing to broad, but modest, price gains nationwide and more significant gains in the harder-hit markets, like Phoenix."

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Online retail giant Amazon.com began charging Texas sales tax this weekend. But that doesn’t mean everything you buy through the site will be taxed.

While most products on Amazon are sold by, well, Amazon, Wikipedia notes that as of 2007, the site had over 1.3 million third-party sellers and associates. And Amazon says it’s up to those sellers to determine whether they need to charge the tax.

“Third party sellers that use our platform must determine their tax collection requirements based on their individual circumstances,” Amazon Corporate Communications spokesperson Scott Stanzel tells KUT News.

KUT News

Round Rock-based computing company Dell announced a deal to purchase Quest Software for $2.4 billion today.

Founded in 1987, Quest Software offers IT management solutions to corporate clients, including database management, data protection, performance monitoring and more.

The move comes as Dell seeks to expand beyond its original model of personal computer sales. 

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In less than 48 hours, online retailer Amazon.com will start charging Texas sales tax on products you buy from its site.

Texas will become only the sixth state to charge sales tax on Amazon purchases. The switch comes after an agreement was made between the Texas Comptroller’s office and the online retailer. In 2010, the comptroller’s office claimed Amazon owed the state $269 million in uncollected sales tax. Under the new agreement, Amazon will create at least 2,500 jobs  in the state and will also bring at least $200 million in capital investment. 

For many brick-and-mortar operations the move will level the playing field. Jason Brewer is with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a national trade group.

Chip Skambis

Austin military veterans and Texas-based entrepreneurs have launched an online portal to connect vets and their spouses to openings in franchise employment and ownership.

The initiative aims to help improve the high unemployment rate among veterans, which has reached 7.2% in Texas.

The Texas Children’s Lighthouse Learning Centerand The Dwyer Groupannounced their support and collaboration with the International Franchise Association in creating The Veterans Franchise (VetFran) Toolkit.

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New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show the effects of a down economy: median household net worth declined by 35 percent between 2005 and 2010. That’s a loss of over $36,000, falling from $102,844 to $66,740.

”The overall decline in net worth reflects drops in housing values and stock market indices,” Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck says in a statement.

While the households of people over 65 lost more money over the period, people under 35 lost a much greater percentage of net worth. Similarly, while groups at all levels of education also experienced declines, education provided a degree of economic insulation.

A Federal Reserve study showing that Americans lost wealth in the Great Recession turned up another, perhaps more surprising, result: Credit card debt fell sharply.

"The percentage of families using credit cards for borrowing dropped over the period; the median balance on their accounts fell 16.1 percent" between 2007 and 2010, the report concluded.

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT News

One problem many freelancers, the self-employed and would-be entrepreneurs face is the challenge of balancing child care and a productive work life.

When Amy Braden had her son three years ago, she struggled with the same issues until hitting upon a solution of her own: creating a “coworking” space that also offers child care.

“Our tagline is: Make your life work,” Braden said of her new work-life center, Plug & Play. “I thought that there had to be a better way for working parents with young children to enjoy their children while they’re young and also be committed to their careers.”

President Obama used the White House press briefing room this morning to again make the case that Congress — and in particular the Republican-controlled House — needs to take up more of his ideas about how to boost job growth.

He also said it's "offensive" to suggest "my White House" may have leaked some secrets to gain political advantage.

We updated with highlights, so hit your "refresh" button to be sure you're seeing our latest.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. Romney Says Obama Is 'Out Of Touch':

Photo by Robb Jacobson for KUT News

The 16th floor of the Omni Hotel will now be a shared workspace for start-up technology companies.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce announced the initiative today. They’re calling it Austin TechLive.

The facility will provide entrepreneurs with office, meeting and event space in exchange for monthly membership. And with over 4,000 tech companies responsible for over 100,000 jobs in the Austin area – and that number expected to grow by 5,000 jobs this year – the city's tech community is burgeoning. 

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