Apple to build $1 billion campus in North Carolina and other business news – Chattanooga Times Free Press


Apple builds campus in North Carolina

Apple is expanding its U.S. spending and announced plans Monday to build its first East Coast campus, in North Carolina.

The iPhone maker is boosting U.S. spending to $430 billion over the next five years and doubling its hiring plans by 20,000 jobs. It had said it would spend $350 billion in January 2018, just after Congress approved a big tax overhaul that cut corporate taxes.

Apple says it is stepping up investment as the U.S. begins rebuilding from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company for years has emphasized its role in the U.S. economy to help counter criticism about its reliance on overseas factories, often taking advantage of local tax breaks.

Apple will invest $1 billion in North Carolina and the campus, in the Raleigh-Durham area’s Research Triangle Park, is expected to bring at least 3,000 new jobs to the state in machine learning, artificial intelligence, software engineering and other fields.

The exact timeline for the project was not immediately given.

«This is an important milestone that strengthens our position as a tech hub,» said Michael Haley, Executive Director of Wake County Economic Development.

FirstBank earnings jump tenfold on credit upgrade

With an improved credit outlook as the economy rebounds, the parent company of FirstBank boosted its adjusted first quarter earnings more than tenfold from a year earlier.

FB Financial Corp., the Nashville-based bank holding company that operates the second biggest banking firm in Tennessee, reported Monday net income of $52.9 million, or $1.10 share, for the first quarter of 2021. Adjusting net income to exclude non-operating activity, net income was $53.5 million, or $1.12 per share for the three months ended March 31, 2021, compared to $5.3 million, or 17 cents per share common share, for the three months ended March 31, 2020.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 84 cents per share.

«These strong financial results demonstrate the strength of our franchise as well as the ongoing recovery of our markets,» FirstBank CEO Christopher T. Holmes said. «Our credit metrics remained strong, resulting in a release from our allowance for credit losses and unfunded commitments of $13.9 million during the quarter.»

Tesla reports profits as electric vehicle sales double

Charged up by strong sales of its electric cars and SUVs, Tesla on Monday posted its seventh-straight profitable quarter.

The company made $438 million in the three-month period that ended March 31, as sales more than doubled the same period last year to nearly 185,000 vehicles. All but 2,000 of the sales were lower-priced Model 3 sedans and Model Y SUVs. Tesla said it didn’t produce any of its higher priced Model S sedans and Model X SUVs as it switched to new versions during the quarter.

Tesla said adjusted net income, excluding stock-based compensation, passed $1 billion for the first time in company history. The company, which also makes solar panels and batteries, made only $16 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Tesla, which now has the sixth-largest market value of all companies in the S&P 500 at $708.56 billion, saw its shares fall about 3% in extended trading Monday. The company released numbers just after the markets closed.

Factory orders rise 0.5% during March

Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods rebounded 0.5% in March as U.S. factories recovered from February weather disruptions. However, the recovery was not as strong as most had expected due to ongoing supply chain disruptions that continue to ensnare U.S. manufacturers.

It was the tenth time in the past 11 months that factory orders have increased with February being the exception, when orders declined 0.9% as severe winter storms raked much of the country.

Orders in a closely watched category that tracks business investment plans also rebounded, increasing 0.9% after having fallen 0.8% in February, the Commerce Department reported Monday.

However, the global supply chain has been snarled by surging demand and ongoing COVID-19 infections.

«Supply chain disruptions continue to be a headwind, preventing a complete recovery to pre-pandemic levels,» said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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